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Dr. Lance McNaughton &
Dr. Richard Solomon and Associates

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Dr. Lance McNaughton &
Dr. Richard Solomon and Associates

Located inside LensCrafters at Westfield Montgomery Mall
7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, MD 20817

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What’s New

What's in Your Household Cleaning Supplies?

Most of us have the basics: bleach, oven cleaner, air freshener, furniture polish, and window spray. Did you know that chemicals found in these kinds of cleaning products can be toxic and harmful to your health? In small amounts, they generally don’t cause much damage. But when used on a regular basis or in a poorly ventilated area, the level of toxicity rises.

If you’ve ever gotten a headache or developed watery eyes after scrubbing down your kitchen counters, you may have a sensitivity to the chemicals in your household products.

That Burns

Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, are gases that are released into the atmosphere, usually from burning fuel sources like wood or gasoline. They can also be found in many household products such as degreasers, aerosol sprays, and disinfectants. These gases are released not only during use, but also when kept in storage or transported between locations.

VOCs are generally less harmful when released outdoors, as the gases are absorbed into the atmosphere. However, in an indoor environment, the gases have 10 times the concentration!

People may come into contact with these compounds by breathing them in or through direct contact with their skin, which can lead to any of the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Respiratory problems
  • Nausea
  • Impaired coordination (ie. difficulty walking straight, buttoning a shirt, or holding a pen)
  • Eye problems (ie. itching, burning, redness, or soreness in the eyes)

Other Chemical Irritants

Chemicals like sodium hydroxide can be found in oven and drain cleaners. Air fresheners and leather cleaners may contain formaldehyde, which in high amounts, has been linked to certain types of cancer. Even laundry detergents and stain removers can contain irritants.

If you’ve been exposed to these types of chemicals, you may experience trouble breathing, irritation in the eyes, nose or throat, or develop a skin rash. So, use extra caution when handling these kinds of cleaning supplies.

If your job exposes you to higher levels of chemicals from cleaning products, such as janitorial staff or sanitation workers, artificial tears and protective eyewear can help. Use them daily to give you relief from chemical agents that irritate the eyes. Ask your optometrist about which types are best for you.

Immediate Eye Care

Should your eyes come into contact with chemical substances or VOCs, immediately irrigate your eyes with plenty of cold water. Tilt your head so that the exposed eye is down, to avoid flushing the chemical into the good eye, and avoid rubbing your eyes. Rinse your eyes for 15 minutes - this will flush acidic or alkaline chemicals out of the affected areas. This should be your first line of defense, even before calling a doctor. 

If you have saline solution or contact lens solution readily on hand (non-peroxide only), administer several drops of solution to the affected eyes. Contact your eye doctor or, if need be, visit an emergency room. Chemical burns can cause serious damage to the cornea, so schedule a checkup with your eye doctor as soon as possible.

5 Ways to Lower Your Risk of Chemical Exposure

Despite the potential harm to your health, there are some things you can do to minimize over exposure to these dangerous chemicals.

1. Wash Your Hands

Our mothers always said it, and with good reason. The #1 way to lower your risk of health issues from chemicals is to wash your hands after handling cleaning products. Use warm water and soap and be sure to wash the hands thoroughly, even if you used gloves. Consider washing to your upper arms in case of a splash or splatter, such as from paint or aerosol sprays. 

2. Don’t Rub Your Eyes

Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes until your hands have been completely washed and are clear of any lingering chemical substances. Even a little foreign substance in the eye can be incredibly painful. If you’ve ever had an eyelash stuck in your eye, you know what we mean. So just imagine how severe the pain could be if you accidentally touched your eye after contact with bleach or glass cleaner.

3. Go Outside

Get some fresh air. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, if your eyes burn or you have trouble breathing after using cleaning supplies, go outside. A short walk in the fresh air can quickly open the nasal passages and clear your eyes from strong chemical vapors.

4. Open Some Windows

Make sure there is plenty of ventilation when cleaning or using any chemicals like paint. Open windows or turn some fans on to circulate the air more effectively.

5. Read Labels

Read labels and warnings so you know what’s in the cleaners you’re buying and how to use them safely. Consider trying out some natural cleaning supplies that don't contain VOCs.

About “Green” Cleaning Products

In recent years, so-called “green” products have made their way onto store shelves, but just how green are they, and are they safer than standard ones?

While baking soda and vinegar have long been touted and praised for their cleaning abilities, there is a seeming plethora of new natural disinfectants and general cleaners on the market.

Buzzwords to Look out For

There are some buzzwords you can look out for, which are clues that certain products may not be as natural or as safe as you think. Consumer product manufacturers aren’t required by law to disclose the ingredients in artificial fragrances, so labels may simply list “fragrance” on their ingredient list. Items labeled “natural” are also vague; they don't have to be specified, and not all natural items are necessarily safe. However, if something is listed as “flammable”, that’s a pretty sure sign of a chemical ingredient.

Chemicals & You

Simply being aware of your body’s reaction to the everyday cleaning supplies in your home is the first step. Use these items safely and with caution. For any severe eye pain – especially if you notice any vision changes – talk to your eye doctor right away.

School and Vision: 2 Important Partners

It’s February and that means we’re smack in the middle of winter, which is also the middle of the school year. It’s the season when kids fervently hope for snow days and parents hope they don’t happen. As we head towards the second half of the school year, you’ve probably attended a few parent-teacher conferences and discussed your child’s education.

Like peanut butter and jelly, school and vision go hand-in-hand. Both are important partners in ensuring that children excel in their learning, extracurricular activities, and relationships with their peers.

ADD/ADHD and Vision Problems

Did you know that certain vision problems can mask themselves as behavioral or learning difficulties? In fact, education experts often say that 80% of learning is visual.

A 3rd grader may be misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD if they display behaviors like being fidgety, having difficulty focusing or concentrating, or having a short attention span. These symptoms may not always be purely behavioral; they could be vision-related. A child who experiences blurry vision, suffers from headaches or eyestrain, or itches their eyes excessively may, in fact, have a refractive error such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism, or another condition such as convergence insufficiency.

Undiagnosed myopia, for example can cause these same types of behaviors that are commonly attributed to attention disorders. That’s because if your child has to squint his eyes to see the board clearly, eyestrain and headaches are bound to follow. Struggling with reading or writing is common too. Other vision disorders can cause similar behavior patterns. An additional challenge is that kids don’t always express their symptoms verbally, and often they don’t even realize that other people see differently than do.

This can also impact kids emotionally. When they feel like they’re not keeping up with their peers or their learning is inferior in some way, this may lead the child to act out verbally or even physically. 

Distinguishing between colors is an important skill for early childhood development. While color vision deficiency affects both children and adults, kids, in particular, can experience difficulty in school with this condition. Simply reading a chalkboard can be an intense struggle when white or yellow chalk is used. When a teacher uses colored markers on a whiteboard to draw a pie chart, graph, or play a game, this can be a difficult experience for a young student with color blindness. A child, his or her parents, and teachers may even be unaware that the child is color blind.

What School Vision Screenings Miss

Many parents believe that an in-school vision screening is good enough. However, an eye chart test only checks for basic visual acuity, so kids with blurry or double vision, for example, may be able to pass a vision screening while still struggling to read, write, or focus on the board. Children who have problems with their binocular vision, which means using both eyes together to focus on something, can pass the screening when they use just one eye to read the chart.

Studies show that a whopping 43% of children who have vision problems can successfully pass a school vision screening. This means that the vision test may fail to detect the more subtle but significant and treatable vision problems. Early detection and diagnosis is critical to maintaining healthy eyes. That’s why it’s so important to make eye care a part of your child’s healthcare routine.

The Importance of Yearly Eye Exams

The #1 way to do this is to schedule annual eye exams. Your eye doctor can perform a comprehensive pediatric eye exam to check visual acuity, visual clarity, binocular vision, and screen for any eye diseases or vision problems. 

Because children develop so rapidly at different ages, it’s essential that eye exams are done at specific stages of their young lives. In fact, The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends regular eye exams at age 6 months, 3 years, before school starts, and every 2 years thereafter.

Simply being aware of the tendency to associate a child’s learning issues with a learning disability or attention disorder instead of an underlying vision problem is critical for parents and educators. Both are partners in a child’s education and they must work together to ensure that each child gets the health care and attention he or she needs. 

If you notice changes in your child’s schoolwork, behavior with friends or in sports or other after-school activities, it may be time to schedule an eye exam. You’ll want to be sure that your kids have all the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond.

What You Need to Know About Glaucoma – The Sneak Thief of Sight

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma, a silent eye disease, is the most common form of irreversible blindness in the world. It is actually a group of diseases that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve. 

  • Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that can lead to permanent vision loss if not controlled. 
  • There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but there are many treatments available for stopping and slowing the progressive damage to the eye. Treatment, however, can’t reverse damage that is already done.
  • Glaucoma affects the optic nerve which sends visual information from your eye to your brain. 
  • Glaucoma is called the “Thief Sneak of Sight” because there are often no symptoms in the early stages such as pain or "pressure sensation" as one may expect, and by the time it is diagnosed there may already be permanent vision loss.
  • When vision loss occurs, peripheral vision is typically affected before central vision. As a result, glaucoma is a major public health issue because individuals usually do not notice any problem with vision until end stages of the disease when there is severe and irreversible vision loss.
  • Awareness and regular eye exams are key to early detection and preventing vision loss. 

What Causes Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is caused by a buildup of natural fluid that doesn’t drain properly from the eye. The buildup of fluid can result in high pressure in the eye which is the most common cause of the condition. There are many types of glaucoma, which include:

Chronic (open angle) glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up over time, usually as a result of aging. This is the most common type of glaucoma. 

Acute (angle closure) glaucoma is an acute condition where pressure builds up suddenly and demands immediate medical attention. Symptoms include blurred vision, eye pain, headaches, seeing halos around lights, nausea and vomiting. 

Secondary glaucoma results from another eye disease, condition or a trauma to the eye. 

Normal tension glaucoma is when there is no build up of pressure but the optic nerve is still damaged. We are still not yet sure what causes this type of glaucoma. 

Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?

Everyone is at risk of glaucoma however there are certain factors which increase the likelihood of developing the condition. Vision loss from glaucoma can be greatly reduced when detected and treated early which is why knowing your risk factors can play a tremendous role in prevention. 

Age

Age is one of the biggest risk factors, as your chances of developing glaucoma increase significantly after the age of 40. In fact people over 60 years old are six times more likely to get the condition. 

Ancestry and Family History

Individuals from African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American or Aboriginal Canadian descent are at increased risk. Family history is a very strong factor as the condition occurs twice as much in people with close relatives who have had glaucoma. 

Previous Eye Injury, Traumas or Surgery

Eye injuries, traumas or surgeries have been known to sometimes cause secondary glaucoma which can happen immediately after the injury or procedure, or even years later. Even childhood injuries can result in secondary glaucoma later in life. 

Use of Steroids

Studies show that prolonged steroid use is linked to increased elevated intraocular pressure which increases the risk of open-angle glaucoma. 

 

Certain medical and eye conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high myopia (nearsightedness) also increase a person’s risk of developing glaucoma. 

Glaucoma Treatment

While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments to slow down the progression of the disease including eye drop medications, iridotomies, iridectomies, laser procedures and surgeries. 

Glaucoma Prevention

Other than taking care of any underlying conditions that may increase the risk of developing glaucoma, there is little one can do in the way of prevention. You can however reduce your chances of suffering vision loss. The first step is knowing the risk factors and signs of the condition (even though as mentioned most cases have no symptoms in the early stages, until vision is already lost). 

The best possible way to prevent vision loss is to have regular comprehensive eye exams to check the health of your eyes and if your eye doctors prescribes medication for glaucoma, make sure to diligently take them as directed. Your eye doctor will be able to conduct certain tests to detect eye diseases such as glaucoma before you even begin to notice symptoms. If you have any of the risk factors above, mention it to your eye doctor, and always be sure to schedule a yearly eye exam, or as often as your eye doctor recommends, to check the health of your eyes and rule out any underlying or developing eye conditions like glaucoma. 

World Braille Day 2019

Each year during the month of January we recognize World Braille Day which gives us the opportunity to take a moment and appreciate the incredible gift that Braille has given to those who are blind or suffer from vision loss. 

What is Braille?

Braille is a tactile representation of letters and numbers that can be utilized by people with vision loss to read using their fingers.  The system uses combinations of six raised dots - three rows of two - that serve to represent the numbers, letters and even symbols such as music notes. 

Braille History:

Braille was developed by a young Frenchman named Louis Braille and was first published in 1829. Braille invented the system at the age of 15 after he became blind as the result of an accident. The idea was originally based on night writing, a touch-based military code developed for Napoleon’s army by Charles Barbier as a strategy for soldiers to be able to communicate silently in the dark. Barbier’s code was ultimately rejected because it was too difficult to be used effectively by the soldiers. Barbier and Braille later met at the Royal Institute for the Blind in Paris and Braille was able to adapt the idea into a more functional system. In braille, the characters, or letters, are each represented by a cell or block with a particular arrangement of raised dots.

Not Just the ABC's

While first developed for the French alphabet, braille has since been expanded for many languages including all the European-based languages, as well as Arabic and Asian languages. Even within those languages there are different forms of the system.  For example, in English, there is Grade 1 braille which is composed of the representation of the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet and is primarily used for those learning to read and write the language. Grade 2 on the other hand is the type of braille you are likely to see written in public places such as menus or signs as it is more complex. Grade 2 includes higher level punctuation, abbreviations and contractions. Lastly, Grade 3 is a form of shorthand designed for personal use such as taking notes or writing letters. 

In addition to the cells which represent the letters, braille may also include illustrations, graphs and symbols such as bullets or arrows. Further, a cell can also represent a number, a word or a punctuation mark. Because braille takes up more space than standard print there are many abbreviations or contractions that represent words or word sequences to save space. This also helps to improve the speed at which one can read and write using the system. 

How To Write Braille

Writing braille requires some tools. To do it by hand you need a stylus, which is a metal tool that is used to create the dots, a slate, which is a type of stencil used to align the dots into neat cells and card-stock paper which is heavy enough to emboss.  You can also write braille with a special braille typewriter or an electronic brailler as well as certain computer programs with a braille embosser printer. 

Being able to read and write braille allows those with vision impairment to learn and express themselves in a way that they would otherwise not be able to. While newer technologies such as screen readers and other computer based programs have become more common in recent years, braille is the foundation of innovation in improving the lives of the blind and vision impaired. 

Are Nerf Guns a Dangerous Holiday Present?

Nerf Guns: Popular, Projectile... Safe?

With the newest Nerf guns and blasters reigning at the top of lists for the most popular toys this holiday season, many parents are excited to surprise their kids (or their spouses) with these coveted toy weapons. There is, in fact a whole culture behind these guns including a variety of themes, weaponry and ammunition, making finding the right Nerf gun for your loved one an additional part of the fun. Most don’t even bat an eye…(pun intended) about the possible dangers of these guns, specifically to the eyes and vision.

The truth is, Nerf guns have been reported to cause eye injuries including corneal abrasion (or scratch on the eye), internal bleeding in and around the eye, pain, blurred vision, and temporary loss of vision. Blurry vision is sometimes due to swelling in the retina after a traumatic injury. Experts warn that they can cause irreversible damage to the eye such as a torn or detached retina and vision loss. So this, of course, begs the question: Are these a dangerous toy to buy for my loved ones?

Well despite these troublesome facts, Hasbro, the company who manufactures the guns, claims that they go to extensive lengths to ensure the toys are safe. Based on years of research, consumer insights and rigorous testing, Hasbro assures that the toys “meet or exceed global standards and regulations” for safety. That is of course, when the toys are used properly and according to the recommended guidelines.

So if, when used according to the guidelines, Nerf guns are not inherently dangerous, it is up to the parent’s discretion to assess whether they are a good choice for their family. Parents (or users of any age) need to establish proper rules and ensure that those using the guns are responsible enough to follow those rules. They should also do their part to be informed and understand the dangers and precautions necessary for safe use.

Be Informed About Nerf Gun Safety

If you do chose to purchase a Nerf gun, make sure that you do the research to ensure that you are selecting the best and safest model and accessories for your desired use. While most models are designed for children ages 8 and up, there are a few models that are specified for older children, so pay attention to the age recommendations. Do not allow children under the age limitations to play with the guns. Further, it is recommended that all children are supervised by adults during play. 

Nerf brand darts, blasters and foam rounds are made to meet strict safety regulations, while other brands that claim to be Nerf compatible may not be. Only Nerf brand bullets, designed for the specific product purchased should be used. In addition to other safety hazards, it has been seen that some bullets manufactured by other brands have a harder end which pose a greater threat for injury. 

Think about eye safety. Rule number one should always be: Never aim at anyone’s face or eyes. A direct hit to the eye can cause serious damage and pain. Ideally, the guns should be used with eye protection such as sports or protective goggles to prevent accidental eye injury, so think about adding a couple of pairs into the gift package.

Never modify the guns, darts or blasters. There are many videos online that demonstrate how to modify the guns to shoot further, harder and faster. Tampering with the guns and ammunition in this way can undermine the safety measures built into the design of the toys and could result in more serious injury. Make sure to warn children against this as well. 

The Answer

So, what’s the verdict? Whether or not Nerf guns are the right choice for your family depends on how responsible your family members can be with their use. Like many other toys and machinery, they can pose a danger when not used properly so anyone that is gifted or using this toy should be aware of those possible dangers, as well as the rules that are in place for eye safety. If you or a loved one does get injured by such a toy, get a medical evaluation immediately, especially if the injured person is experiencing blurred vision. 

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles - the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million. 

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.  

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring. 

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes. 

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. 

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness. 

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages. 

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy. 

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision. 

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss. 

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids. 

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes. 

 

Have an Eye Safe Halloween

Brush Up Before You Dress Up

Halloween is one of the most fun times of the year for children and adults alike. When else do you get to dress up as anyone (or anything) you want, socialize with friends and eat lots of treats? Nevertheless, lurking behind those costumes and all that fun are some hidden dangers that you need to be aware of and many of them could affect your eyes and vision. Brush up on these preventative measures to help you and your children to stay safe and enjoy the holiday. 

Masks

Masks can really make or break a costume but they can also increase danger, especially for children. Masks that block visibility or the ability to breathe can be extremely dangerous. You want to make sure that you and your children have a complete, unobstructed visual field, especially if they will be crossing streets. 

Facepaint

Facepaint can be a great alternative to a mask, but it comes with its own set of precautions. Buy face paint that is hypoallergenic and do a spot test to make sure there is no allergic reaction anyway. Make sure to keep the paint out of the eyes and be careful during application especially with sharp, pointed brushes that can scratch the eye. If face paint or any other substances get into the eyes, immediately flush the eyes thoroughly with saline or water as chemical splashes can cause significant eye damage within minutes. This should be done before consulting your eye doctor. If irritation persists however, it should be looked at by an eye doctor. 

Props

Try to avoid costumes with sharp or pointed props such as spears, swords or guns that shoot. Warn children at play to never point an object at a person’s head or eyes. 

That goes for spray cans of silly-string, as well. The chemicals in these products can be very dangerous to the eyes, risking chemical conjunctivitis and serious eye irritation. The pressure at which the string is sprayed can also cause eye damage including a corneal abrasion (a scratch to the surface of the eye) if sprayed into the eye at a close range. These popular Halloween products should be avoided or, if necessary, children should be seriously cautioned not to spray anyone near the neck or face. 

Visibility

Speaking of sight, you want to make sure that you and your children are visible to motorists on the streets. Chose brightly colored costumes and carry a flashlight to increase visibility. Consider adding some reflective tape to the costume or props as well.

Decorative Contact Lenses

Decorative contact lenses can look great, but they can cause serious damage. That’s why even non-corrective contact lenses are considered a medical device, which must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada, and require a prescription from an eye doctor. 

Never buy fashion, decorative, cosmetic, colored or theater contact lenses (or any other name that they go by) from a beauty or costume supply store or any unauthorized vendor. You should purchase them only with a prescription from an eye doctor after an eye exam to measure your eye and assess your eye health. 

Why?

Contacts obtained through an unauthorized source may not be safe to wear. They might cause a corneal abrasion, allergic reactions, infections and decreased vision which can even lead to blindness.  

Plus, your optician or eye doctor will give you instructions for proper use and hygiene such as washing your hands, storing and cleaning the lenses properly and removing them as prescribed.  

If you are wearing any type of contact lenses and you notice redness, pain or blurred vision, take them out immediately. If symptoms persist, see your eye doctor as soon as possible. 

Stay Safe

Don’t make Halloween into a truly scary holiday. Take heed of these potential dangers and take the necessary precautions to stay safe. Happy Halloween!

Exercise and Your Eye Health

Regular exercise is an essential component of overall health and wellness. It is proven that exercise reduces sickness and disease; it increases strength, immunity, and mental health; and it also helps regulate bodily functions and maintain a healthy weight. Research shows that exercise can lower our risk of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, as well as other eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Whereas, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of these diseases and of vision loss, studies show that even moderate exercise at least three times a week can improve the prognosis of the above-mentioned chronic illnesses and reduce the risks of developing vision threatening eye diseases. 

Inactivity is an even higher risk factor if you have other co-factors for developing eye diseases, including: a family history, previous eye injury or surgery, diabetes, high blood pressure or very high myopia. A combination of healthy lifestyle habits which include regular exercise and a nutritious diet and tending to your mental and emotional well-being can reduce these risks significantly.

Tips for Incorporating Physical Activity Into Your Day

  1. Make it a priority. Schedule your exercise time into your day as if it is a non-negotiable appointment. Find the time of day that works best - for some that is early morning and for others late at night. Work your way up to a half hour at least three times a week. 
  2. Be realistic. You don’t need to become a fitness expert to experience the benefits of exercise. Walking, yoga, swimming, even dancing around the house are all options for staying fit. Find a type of exercise that you love so you will enjoy working this habit into your life.
  3. Just move. Find ways to move your body throughout your day. Park your car a little further away from the mall entrance, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk or bike to work. Remember, every little bit of movement helps.
  4. Find something you enjoy. Often finding the right exercise is a good stress reliever, and reducing stress will also reduce risk of many chronic diseases.
  5. It’s never too late. Exercise for the elderly can be a challenge especially during the cold winter months, when many seniors can’t get out of the house due to the weather. Even walking up and down the stairs in the house or following an exercise video can be helpful to keep from being sedentary.

Protection & Prevention

If you are exercising outdoors or playing contact sports, make sure to protect your eyes with sunglasses or sports safety glasses to ensure your eye health and safety. 

Regular exercise can significantly decrease your risks of certain eye conditions but you still have to ensure that you visit your eye doctor for regular exams. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to ensure your vision and your eyes are healthy and to catch any possible problems as early as possible.

Eye health and disease prevention are just two of the many health and wellness benefits you gift yourself when you make exercise a regular part of your lifestyle. Speak to your doctor if you have any health issues that need to be considered. At any age or level of physical fitness, you can find some form of exercise that works for you. 

 

Progressive Myopia: When Your Child’s Vision Keeps Getting Worse

What Is Progressive Myopia?

Nearsightedness or myopia is one of the most prevalent eye disorders worldwide and its incidence is increasing. In fact by 2050, myopia is projected to affect half of the world’s population!

Many children diagnosed with nearsightedness (myopia) experience a consistent worsening of their vision as they grow into adolescence. This condition can be so aggressive that for some, each time they take their child to the eye doctor for a vision checkup, their prescription gets higher. 

This is called progressive myopia and can be a serious condition for many children now and in the future. Not only is there a financial burden and inconvenience associated with having to replace eyeglasses on a regular basis, but high myopia is a risk factor for many eye diseases later in life such as retinal detachment, early onset cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. 

What Causes Progressive Myopia?

Myopia is a refractive error that happens when the eye focuses incoming light in front of the retina, rather than directly on it, resulting in blurred distance vision. While an exact cause of progressive myopia is not known, most research indicates that a combination of environmental and genetic factors trigger the condition. 

First of all, there is evidence that a family history of nearsightedness is a contributing factor. Additionally, spending a lot of time indoors may play a role in myopia development, as studies show that children who spend more time outside have less incidence of myopia. Lastly, near point stress, which can be caused from looking at a near object for an extended period of time, can prompt the eye to grow longer and result in myopia. Several eye doctors recommend following the 20-20-20 rule when using digital devices (stopping every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds) to reduce near point stress caused by computer use. 

What Can Be Done To Prevent or Treat Myopia?

There are several treatments that have been shown to slow the progression of myopia.

Orthokeratology (ortho-k):

Also known as corneal reshaping, this treatment uses rigid gas permeable contact lenses that are worn while the patient sleeps to reshape the cornea, which is the clear, front part of the eye. During the day, the patient is usually able to see clearly, glasses-free. In addition to allowing glasses-free vision during the day, this treatment has been shown to reduce the progression of myopia in many children. 

Distance Center Multifocal Contact Lenses:

This treatment uses distance center (which means the area for seeing at a distance is in the center of the lens) multifocal soft contact lenses to provide clear vision and slow the progression of myopia. The lenses are worn as normal contact lenses during the day.

Atropine Drops:

Atropine drops are a daily-use prescription eye drop that has been shown to reduce myopia progression. It can be used alone or in combination with ortho-k or multifocal contact lenses. 

Additional Myopia Treatments:

While these treatments are available in all of North America, some countries offer additional options that are approved for myopia control. For example, in Canada, ZeissTM MyoVision glasses that have an innovative lens curvature design are available to help reduce the rate of myopia progression. Additionally some doctors in Canada offer Coopervision MiSight® lenses, which are 1-day contact lenses that are worn during the daytime. These contacts have a multifocal lens design with distance centre and near surround that is specifically designed for children. 

Myopia & Your Child

If your child’s vision keeps getting worse, it's more than an annoyance - it can be a serious risk factor for their eye health and vision in the future. The best strategy for myopia control depends on the child and the severity of the case, and requires consultation with an experienced eye doctor in order to determine the best solution. If your child wears glasses, make his or her vision a priority; schedule an eye exam to ensure stable vision and healthy eyes. 

 

The Dangers of An Online Eye Test

An online eye test may seem like a convenient way to check your vision or get an eyeglass prescription but beware, these tests aren’t all they are chocked up to be. In fact, they may even be dangerous. 

What is an online eye test really testing? 

An online eye test is actually not an eye test at all but just a vision or sight test - and a partial test at that.  It is designed to measure your visual acuity and refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism) and to determine an eyeglass prescription - which is the lens power needed to correct the refractive error in your vision. 

Given that there is no one with medical training actually performing or checking the accuracy of the test, it is questionable how well the exam does even this. In fact, when an eye doctor does a refraction for glasses or contact lenses it also involves some judgement on the doctor’s part.  The eye doctor will often adjust the prescription slightly based on the patient’s age, occupation or hobbies.  The doctor may prescribe a prism in the lenses to help with binocularity and to prevent double vision in those who have deviations of the eye. There is no way an online exam can do any of this. 

Further, a refraction is only one very small part of an eye exam and if it takes the place of a regular comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor, you put your eyes and vision at serious risk. 

A Comprehensive Eye Exam - Where Online Tests Fail

Even if the eyes see clearly and you have 20/20 vision, there may still be vision problems or eye disease present even without pain, blurred vision or other symptoms.  What the online eye test fails to measure is your complete visual health and capacity (beyond just visual acuity), the curvature of the eye (which is needed for accurate lens prescriptions- especially for contact lenses) and an assessment of the health of the eye itself. 

Just as we need regular medical and dental checkups as a part of preventative health care to prevent disease and maintain our health, we also need regular eye exams. A vision test  does not suffice. A comprehensive eye exam will examine much more than just how well you see. It will also check for visual processing, color vision, depth perception and proper eye movement.  It will measure your eye pressure, examine the back of your eye and look for early signs of eye disease or conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes, tumors and high blood pressure - many of which threaten your eyes and vision if not caught early. 

If you do have some vision loss, the doctor will be able to determine if there is any serious underlying problem that is causing the disturbance in your vision. If you don’t have symptoms that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Many serious eye conditions develop gradually without any symptoms. Some eye diseases do not affect the macula, and therefore you may still have good vision even though there is a problem (such as glaucoma, early dry macular degeneration, early cataract, diabetes, blood pressure and even tumors). Many of these conditions threaten the eyes and even general health if not caught early and when undetected they can cause permanent and irreversible damage to your vision 

Eye exams are the best way to detect these early and treat them before they develop into serious eye problems. 

Whether online vision tests are inaccurate, misleading or simply insufficient, they can fail to provide essential information and can delay or prevent vision saving treatments. Additionally, you could be walking around with the wrong vision prescription which can cause unnecessary eye strain, headaches and difficulty.  

Will an Online Eye Test Really Save you Money?

No. Besides the fact that most eye exams are covered by insurance, the eye exam you are getting from an eye doctor is much more thorough and comprehensive than an online eye test, so you are not comparing apples to apples.  The eye doctor’s exam uses real equipment and performs a complete and professional evaluation of your vision and eye health. There is simply no comparing this to a self administered test on a computer screen. 

An online eye test may be touted as a time and money saving convenience however, that is hardly the case. An eye exam is a medical procedure that requires training, precision, and proper equipment.  Anything less can put your eyes and vision at serious risk. 

 

Signs That Your Child Has a Vision Problem

Healthy eyes and good vision are essential for your child’s growth and development. In fact, learning is 80% visual, which means a child’s success in school, athletics and many other aspects of life can be impacted by poor vision. Good vision goes beyond how far you can see, and also includes a number of other skills such as visual processing and eye movement abilities. 

Often times vision deficiencies are at the root of learning problems and behavioral issues and may unfortunately go unchecked and misdiagnosed. Remember, if your child is having trouble in school, an eye exam and a pair of prescription glasses is a much easier solution than treating a learning disorder or ADHD; yet many people fail to check that first. 

It is common for children to think that their vision deficiency is normal and therefore they often won’t report it to parents or teachers. That is why it is even more important to know what to look for. Here are some signs that your child may have a vision problem:

Vision Signs

  • Squinting or blinking often
  • Eye rubbing
  • Tilting the head to the side
  • Covering one eye
  • One eye that turns out or in
  • Reporting double vision
  • Holding books or reading materials very close to the face

 

Behavioral Signs

  • Complaining of headaches or eye fatigue
  • Short attention span
  • Difficulty reading
  • Losing their place frequently when reading
  • Avoiding reading or any activity that requires close work
  • Problems with reading comprehension or recall
  • Behavioral issues that stem from frustration and/or boredom
  • Poor performance and achievement in school or athletics
  • Working twice as hard to achieve minimal performance in school

Another issue is that many parents and teachers think that a school vision screening is sufficient to assess a child’s vision, so if that test comes back okay, they believe there is no vision problem. This however, is far from the case. A school vision test usually only assesses visual acuity for distance vision or how far a child can see. Even a child with 20/20 vision can have significant vision problems that prevent them from seeing, reading and processing visual information. 

Every child of school age should have comprehensive eye and vision exams on a regular, yearly basis to assess their eye and vision health, and ensure that any issues are addressed as soon as possible. It’s also important to have an exam prior to entering kindergarten, as undetected lazy eye may be more complicated to treat past seven years of age. 

Some of the issues the eye doctor may look for, in addition to good visual acuity, are the ability to focus, eye teaming and tracking, visual perception, hand-eye coordination, depth perception and peripheral vision. They will also assess the health of the eye and look for any underlying conditions that may be impairing vision. Depending on the problem the eye doctor may prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses or vision therapy to correct the issue. 

During the school years a child’s eyes and vision continue to develop and change so it is important to continually check in on your child’s vision. If you have a family history of vision problems, follow-ups are even more important. Progressive conditions like progressive myopia, strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye) or astigmatism can be treated and monitored for changes with early treatment so it’s important to seek a doctor’s diagnosis as soon as signs or symptoms are present. 

Make sure that your child has the best possible chances for success in school and add a comprehensive eye exam to your back to school to-do list. 

Eye Dangers in the Dorm – Eye Health for College Students

It’s almost back to school time for college students and whether this is your first time away from home or you are already a pro, you want to be prepared with as much knowledge as possible to live safely on your own. This knowledge includes eye and vision safety, as failing to take care of your eyes today could cause damage to your eyes and vision now and in the future. 

So put down your text books for a second and learn these four simple lessons about protecting your precious eyes:

Blue Light Protection

College students spend a LOT of time in front of screens. From each class, homework assignment, and research project, to texting, tinder, netflix and gaming - life is largely digital. This comes with a slew of potential side effects known as computer vision syndrome, including sore and tired eyes, headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain, dry eyes and blurred vision, largely due to the effect of the blue light emitted from the screens. Research shows that blue light can also impact your sleep quality and may possibly be connected to the development of retinal damage and macular degeneration later in life.

There are a few ways to protect your eyes and vision from blue light and computer vision syndrome:

  1. Use computer glasses or blue-light blocking coated lenses or contact lenses when working on a screen for long periods of time. These lenses are made to allow optimal visual comfort for the distance and unique pixelation of working on a computer or mobile screen, by reducing glare and eye strain. They also block potentially harmful blue-light radiation from entering your eyes. 
  2. Prescription glasses may be considered as well. Many students who never needed glasses previously experience eyestrain with extensive hours studying in university. A minor prescription can make a big difference in reducing eye fatigue and helping to improve concentration.
  3. Implement the 20-20-20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows your eyes to pause from the intensity of the computer screen. 
  4. Depending on your environment, eye drops prescribed from the eye doctor may be helpful. Your blink rate often goes down substantially when you are concentrating on reading or computer work, which can cause dry eyes. Using eye drops and remembering to blink frequently can help reduce these uncomfortable symptoms. 
  5. Install bluelight filters on your digital devices to reduce the amount of blue light exposure. There are a number of free apps available to download on your phone or computer. 

Proper Contact Lens Use

Many college students opt for contact lenses as they are convenient and great for the appearance, but they come along with responsibility. The busy days and late nights can sometimes make contact lens care difficult so make sure to plan ahead. If you wear contact lenses you need to make sure that you always get them from an authorized lens distributor and that you follow your eye doctor’s instructions for proper care.

Always follow the wearing schedule and never sleep in lenses that are not designed for extended wear. Clean and disinfect as needed, and don’t rinse them with anything other than contact lens solution. Failing to follow the proper use and hygiene for contact lenses can result in irritation, infections and even corneal scarring which can result in vision loss.

One-day disposable lenses can be a great option especially for college students as they offer ultimate convenience (no cleaning and storing) and optimal eye health. 

Further, if you enjoy wearing contact lenses, then remember to get a proper fit from your eye doctor. Many "exclusive" contact lenses available online may actually be poorly fit and made from inferior materials. One size does not fit all.

UV Protection

Ultraviolet rays from the sun are known to cause long term eye damage and lead to vision threatening eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Additionally in extreme cases of unprotected UV exposure you can get sunburned eyes, known as photokeratitis, which can cause a gritty, dry feeling, burning, swelling, light sensitivity, vision changes and sometimes serious pain. These symptoms typically go away within a day or two. Wearing 100% UV reflective sunglasses whenever you are outside - rain or shine - is a first step to eye protection. A large brimmed hat to protect the eyes from exposure from the top and sides is also a recommended addition for sunny days.

Get a regular eye exam

To start off college with the right foot forward, it’s recommended to get a comprehensive eye exam prior to the start of the the school year, especially if you haven’t had one recently. This way you can ensure that your eyes and vision are in top shape and, if you wear glasses, that your prescription is still accurate. The last thing you want to worry about when getting adjusted to college is problems with your eyes and vision. 

It’s also recommended for students that are going away to another city to get a recommendation for a local eye doctor in case of an emergency. Most eye doctors know of colleagues located in other cities who they could recommend.

Just remember to think about your eyes because the better you take care of them now, the healthier eyes and vision you will have down the line. 

Why You Shouldn’t Rub Your Eyes

While it may seem like a harmless action, rubbing your eyes can actually cause a lot of damage. There are a number of different reasons that people rub their eyes and for the most part, it does more harm than good. While rubbing your eyes might feel really good in the short term, it's best to find other ways to get relief from your symptoms. 

Why People Rub Their Eyes

Rubbing your eyes can feel good for a number of reasons. First of all, it can be therapeutic as the pressure can be soothing and can stimulate the vagus nerve, alleviating stress. It can also lubricate your eyes by stimulating the tear ducts and can flush out or remove dirt and particles. 

However, you don’t want to make eye rubbing a habit because there are a number of ways it can cause damage. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons people rub their eyes and some ways to avoid it.

Tired

If you are rubbing your eyes because you are tired, think again. Rubbing your eyes frequently can contribute to bloodshot eyes and dark circles due to the breakage of tiny blood vessels in and around your eyes. If you are already tired, this can add to an even more worn-out appearance.

Itchy

Itchy eyes can be caused by a number of reasons including allergies, inflammation or infections. In any case, rubbing them can often make things worse. For allergies, rubbing the eyes can actually make your eyes more itchy because it can spread more allergens around. Further, there is an inflammatory cascade response that is aggravated by eye rubbing, which can cause the intense fluid swelling and redness often associated with allergies. 

If you have an infection, rubbing your eye can cause more irritation, and often spreads the infection to your other eye, and potentially to the people around you. In fact, that may be how you got that infection to begin with. The hands carry a good amount of germs and bacteria, and your eyes are an easy access point for these germs to enter. Touching something, even as common as a doorknob or towel, which someone else with an eye infection also touched, is a common cause of conjunctivitis and other contagious eye infections. 

Something In Your Eye

If you have something in your eyes, rubbing may seem like the natural response to get it out. However, this can cause the object to scratch your eye and damage the cornea. Rubbing may occasionally push a foreign body deeper into the cornea making it more painful and difficult to remove. 

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can be temporary, resulting from environmental or physical circumstances, or chronic, due to a condition like blepharitis in which the eye produces a poor quality tear film. If you rub your eyes when they feel dry, it can exacerbate your discomfort and even sometimes cause infection if you don’t wash your hands first. When your eyes don’t have enough tears, they may not flush dirt and germs out as readily as well-lubricated eyes might. 

Other Eye Conditions

Eye rubbing can be especially risky for people with existing eye conditions such as glaucoma, thin cornea and progressive myopia, as it can worsen eyesight. In glaucoma the eye rubbing can lead to an increase in eye pressure which can lead to nerve damage and eventual vision loss. In individuals with a thin cornea, eye rubbing can exacerbate the problem sometimes resulting in a condition called keratoconus which seriously distorts vision.

Alternatives to Eye Rubbing

Eye Wash

Your eyes actually have built-in mechanisms to flush out particles and irritants, but when these don’t work, eye flushing, eye drops or artificial tears might bring relief or remove foreign bodies. If you think you have a foreign body in the eye, first flush the eye with saline, eye wash or water. If you have something stuck in your eye that you can’t flush out, go immediately to an eye doctor. 

Eye Drops or Cool Down

For chronic itching or allergies, speak to your eye doctor as there are remedies such as antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers or even steroid eye drops that can be prescribed to alleviate symptoms. If no prescription eye drops are available when needed, try cooling down by going to a cool area and putting cold water on a paper towel over the eyes for a few minutes. Cooling the eye area will reduce symptoms as the blood vessels constrict, while heat tends to make the itch worse.

If you have dry eyes there are a number of options available for treatment which include drops or procedures to clear out tear ducts to improve eye moisture. 

Remember, no matter how good it may feel to rub your eyes, there are potential consequences, some of them serious, so next time, think twice!

 

Ocular Migraines

Migraine Awareness Month:

An ocular migraine is any migraine headache that involves a visual disturbance such as flashes of light, seeing stars or zigzags or the appearance of blind spots in the visual field. Ocular migraines can interfere with your ability to go about your daily tasks such as driving, reading or writing, however, the visual symptoms don’t last long and do go away completely once the migraine has passed. 

What is an Ocular Migraine?

The term ocular migraine may refer to a couple of different conditions. Firstly, migraines with auras often have eye-related symptoms that precede the actual headache. An aura is a physical symptom that is experienced usually within 5 minutes to an hour before a migraine comes on, and can include:

  • Blind spots (scotomas) or partial vision loss
  • Flashes of light, spots or zigzag patterns
  • Visual, auditory (hearing) or olfactory (smell) hallucinations or disruptions
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Mental fog, trouble finding words and speaking

These types of ocular migraines commonly appear by obstructing a small area of vision which spreads gradually over 5 minutes. 

A second type of ocular migraine is when you actually experience temporary vision loss or disruptions (flashes, blind spots, zigzag lines etc.) during or immediately following the migraine headache. Ocular migraines can also sometimes appear without any head pain at all. They may also be called eye, ophthalmic, or retinal migraines. 

What Causes Ocular Migraines?

Similar to classic migraines, the exact cause of an ocular migraine is unknown. Genetic predisposition seems to be a factor to some extent, and having a family history of migraines does put you at greater risk. 

While they don’t know the cause, experts have seen that spasms in the blood vessels and nerve cells in the retinal lining at the back of the eye are associated with ocular migraine symptoms. 

For some, there are certain environmental triggers, or a combination of factors, that cause migraines. These differ on an individual basis but can include:

  • Stress
  • Bright lights or loud sounds
  • Strong smells
  • A sudden or drastic change in weather conditions
  • Eating, or exposure to, certain food substances such as, alcohol, caffeine, nitrates, MSG (monosodium glutamate), artificial sweeteners and tyramine. 

Since triggers are different for everyone it’s advised to try to identify yours by keeping a journal to track your environment, diet and lifestyle habits, when you experience a headache. 

Treatment for Ocular Migraines

Treatment for ocular migraines is usually not necessary as the symptoms typically resolve themselves within 30 minutes. It is advised to rest and avoid doing things that require vision and concentration until the headache goes away and the vision symptoms cease. If you are experiencing an ocular headache:

  • Lie down in a quiet, dark room when possible
  • Massage or apply pressure to the temples and scalp
  • Apply a damp towel to the forehead

If you experience auras, taking a migraine medication when the aura occurs, can often reduce the intensity of the headache that follows. In other words, you can use the aura as a warning sign that a headache is coming on and treat it preventatively. Your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever for associated head pain and, if migraines are chronic, a preventative medication may be given. 

It’s important to note that if you are experiencing any unusual visual symptoms or an increase in frequency or duration of symptoms, you should see an eye doctor right away to rule out any serious, vision threatening conditions. Symptoms such as floaters or flashing lights can also be a sign of a retinal tear or hole. 

If you get migraines, among the best ways to prevent them are to keep your mind and body healthy by eating nutritious foods, getting enough rest and managing stress effectively. 

How-to Guide for Buying Sunglasses

Sure, sunglasses might add the final touches to your chic ensemble, but the real reason to purchase your shades is to protect your eyes from the sun. Not only does glare from the sun make it difficult to see, but the UV rays it reflects can cause permanent damage to your eyes and vision. You want to make sure your sunglasses offer optimal protection, fit, comfort and of course, the best possible vision. Here are some things to consider when purchasing your next pair. 

UV Protection

There are two types of UV radiation, UVA and UVB. UVA rays are less intense yet more prevalent than UVB rays, making up 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the surface of the Earth. They have been linked to skin cancer, aging and the development of cataracts. UVB rays are very dangerous to the eyes and are the primary cause of sunburns and cancer. While they are dangerous year round, these rays are more intense during the summer months, especially mid-day between around ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. UVB rays also reflect off of snow, water, sand and concrete. 

The damage caused by UV rays is irreversible and cumulative, building up over a long period of time. This is why it is important to start wearing sunglasses when you are young (also because your eyes are more sensitive at a younger age). You want to make sure your sunglasses block out 100% of UV rays. This is the most important factor to consider when purchasing your sunglasses. 

Additionally, in certain circumstances of intense UV exposure, a condition called keratitis can occur, which is essentially a sunburn on the eye. Symptoms often occur hours after sun exposure and can include temporary vision loss and severe pain. 

Sunglass Lens Options

Once you are certain your sunglass lenses have the requisite UV protection, you can begin to consider other lens possibilities. Here are some other lens options to consider:

Polarized Lenses:

Reduce glare from light reflecting off glass, water, snow, sand or pavement. You should consider polarized lenses if you participate in water or snow sports such as fishing, boating or skiing as the water and snow can create a strong glare. They are also great for comfort while driving by reducing glare and to enhance vision when on the road. 

Tinted Lenses:

Certain lens tints enable you to see better or more comfortably under certain circumstances but you have to be careful. Lens tints can distort or reduce vision and some can even harm your vision by increasing your pupil size which leads to an increase of UV radiation penetrating the eye. Look for lenses with a medium tint that keep your eyes comfortable and do not have a negative impact on your vision. Your optometrists’ office can often make specific tint recommendations depending on your lifestyle or particularly activities (ex. golfing vs fishing) and the health of your eyes (for example, cataracts tend to cause more glare). 

Photochromic Lenses:

Automatically darken when exposed to UV light. Photochromic lenses are a great option for individuals that wear prescription eyeglasses: one pair can serve you both indoors and outdoors. As soon as you step outside, the lenses will darken, and they’ll reverse when you go back indoors. 

Lens Materials

There are also a few options when it comes to lens materials, such as plastics - including polycarbonate or acetate; trivex - which is a polymer material; or glass. The type of lens will determine the durability, clarity of vision and price of your lenses, so you should consider the factors that are most important for you and try out a few options to see how they feel. 

Sunwear Frames

Frame Size

The size of your sunglass frame is important for both comfort and protection. Your frames should fit according to your face size and provide ample coverage for your eyes. When you try on your frames, make sure they cover your eyes and feel comfortable around the bridge and temples. Also check that they don’t slip off when you move your head down toward the floor. 

Frame Materials

Frames can be manufactured from a number of materials and, these days, frame companies are constantly innovating to come up with new and improved options. These materials vary in strength, flexibility, weight, comfort and price. You need to choose a frame material that is comfortable, safe, and functional and that suits your lifestyle and your fashion style. 

Making the Purchase

When purchasing sunglasses, keep in mind that your vision insurance may help to cover the costs when purchased at an optometry office rather than at a sports or recreation store. Check with your insurance and your local optical to find out about any discounts or coverage. Another advantage of purchasing from an optometrist’s optical is that the optician can help you to find the perfect pair to suit your eye and vision needs, as well as your lifestyle and fashion preferences. 

The good news about choosing the right pair of sunglasses is that there are ample brands, colors, styles and materials to choose from. So when it comes to your shades, don’t settle for less than optimal protection, fit and comfort for your eyes. 

Sports Vision Deconstructed

Vision is a critical component to succeed as an athlete and this doesn’t just mean having 20/20 vision. There are a number of visual processes that are involved in optimal sports performance, whether you are playing a weekly little league game or competing in professional sports.  

The eyes and the brain work together to receive, process and respond to visual and sensory information and this amazing ability is what allows us to engage with the world around us. However, when one or more of these processes is disrupted, whether it be the eye itself or in the processing of the information that the eye brings in, it can cause difficulty in a number of areas, particularly movement and sports.  

Here is a breakdown of some of the visual skills you rely on for athletic performance:

Visual Acuity: the ability to see clearly is one of the most important aspects of vision.  To improve visual acuity your eye doctor can prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses, as well as prescription sunglasses, swimming goggles and sports goggles.  LASIK or refractive eye surgery or orthokeratology may also be options for improving visual acuity without having to wear vision correction during play.

Dynamic Visual Acuity: the ability to see moving objects clearly. 

Peripheral Vision: your side vision or the ability to see out of the corner or sides of your eyes when you are looking straight ahead. 

Peripheral Awareness/Visual Concentration: The ability to be engaged in a task while having awareness of peripheral and other visual stimuli without being distracted by them. 

Depth Perception: the ability to perceive the relative distance and speed of objects in your field of vision.

Visual Tracking: the movement of the eye that allows for the ability to follow a moving object, switch visual attention from one object to another or to track a line of text. This allows an athlete to “keep an eye on the ball”. 

Focusing: allows for the ability change focus quickly and clearly from one distance or object to another.  

Eye Teaming: the ability for the two eyes to work together in coordination. 

Hand-Eye, Body-Eye Coordination: the ability of your eyes to guide your hands and body to carry out movements accurately and effectively. 

Visual Reaction Time: how quickly your brain is able to interpret visual information and respond with the appropriate motor action. 

Often we take the wonder of our eyes and brain for granted, not realizing all of the systems that must be in place in order for us to perform optimally in our daily lives... all the more so for top notch sports performance (and these are just the functions that are related to your eyes!) 

Typically, visual processes occur automatically, without us paying much attention to them, but they are skills which can be improved. If you feel that you or your child might have some difficulty with one or more of these visual skills, speak to your eye doctor. Through proper eyewear, exercises, nutrition and sometimes vision therapy, it can be possible to improve upon these skills and as a result, enhance your performance on the field. In fact, professional athletes often utilize a combination of vision therapy and nutritional supplements (such as lutein and zeaxathin) to enhance their vision and reaction time for better performance on the field. 

Additionally, you want to make sure - whether you have visual processing issues or not - that you protect your eyes properly. Unfortunately, many injuries occur from an over-confidence that the eyes are safe during sports. Speak to your eye doctor about the right sports safety eyewear to protect your or your child’s eyes during your favorite sports. 

7 Eye Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

While we all know that regular eye exams can help detect warning signs of disease and prevent vision loss, many people fail to seek medical attention when there is an acute problem with the eye. In fact, only about half of Americans that are at risk for serious vision loss have been examined by an eye doctor within the last year, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

While it's true that some eye symptoms resolve on their own, it's better not to take the chance when your eyesight is at risk. Here are seven eye symptoms that should be checked out by an eye doctor immediately, as they could indicate a serious underlying condition that could threaten your vision. Remember, even if you think the issue is minor, getting proper medical attention could be vital to saving your vision. 

  1. Frequent Floaters

    Floaters are shadows or spots that appear to float through your field of vision, particularly when you are looking at a solid colored or bright background such as the blue sky or a white wall. They can appear in a variety of shapes such as a shower of dots or mosquito shaped for example. It is common to see floaters on occasion, however if you experience a sudden increase, especially in combination with pain, flashes or loss of peripheral vision, you should see a doctor immediately. Flashes of light may appear as a quick spark or jagged streaks of light or arcs among other shapes. This could be a sign of a very serious problem such as detached or torn retina, a hemorrhage or bleeding inside the eye, an inflammation of the vitreous or retina caused by an infection or injury or an eye tumor. In the case of a retinal detachment, the different pattern of floaters or flashes depend on how the retina tears, so if you suddenly notice a distinct pattern of floaters or light in your vision, don't delay: seek medical attention within 24 hours. 

  2. Persistent Redness or Irritation

    While minor redness can simply be a result of allergies, exhaustion or extended contact lens wear, there are some more serious causes of eye redness, especially if it persists or is accompanied by pain, swelling, discharge, vision disturbance or severe itchiness. Along with conjunctivitis (or pink eye) which can be a very contagious eye infection, redness can indicate a corneal scratch, uveitis or glaucoma. 

  3. Excessive Watery Eyes 

    Whether you have a foreign object in your eye or are experiencing dryness due to allergies or environmental factors, eye watering is a natural response to keep your eyes healthy, comfortable and safe. When it is constant and disruptive, however, this is no longer normal. Excessive eye watering could indicate a chronic condition such as dry eye syndrome, tear duct problems or problems with the cornea such as a scratch or an ulcer.

  4. Foreign Body in the Eye

    If you experience a foreign object in your eye, the first thing to do it try to flush it out. Never rub the eye as it could cause even greater damage. If your efforts to flush the object out are not successful it is time to see a doctor. Additionally, if you are experiencing vision disturbances, pain or redness while the object is there or after you think you have removed it, see an eye doctor immediately. 

  5. Ptosis (Droopy Eyelid) 

    Ptosis or drooping eyelids is seen in one or both eyelids and can be caused by benign conditions such as allergies or merely part of the aging process. Nevertheless, it can also be a sign of a serious condition such as nerve damage, a stroke, brain tumor or a condition called myasthenia gravis, which is a neurological condition that affects the muscles of the eye. It is also sometimes a result of eye surgery or injury. Often ptosis will resolve gradually on its own, however it is something that should be checked out, especially if it occurs suddenly, to ensure there is no serious underlying cause. 

  6. Bleeding Eyes 

    A subconjunctival hemorrhage in the eye is when a blood vessel right under the surface of the eye breaks. You will see that the white part or sclera of the eye has turned red. Usually, this common occurrence is nothing to be concerned about as this can happen from something as simple as straining, a sneeze or cough. In this case there is nothing to do and it will resolve on its own. If however, the redness comes after an injury to your eye or head it could indicate that there is bleeding in the brain and should be examined immediately.

  7. Moderate to Severe Eye Pain 

    There are several causes of eye pain, the most serious of which is acute angle closure glaucoma or uveitis. Other causes of pain can include corneal abrasions and ulcers, scleritis, orbital cellulitis and sinusitis. 

When it comes to problems with the eye, it's always best to err on the side of caution and get them checked out. Doing otherwise, could cost you your eyesight. Your eye doctor can help.

Women’s Eye Health – 7 Tips for Optimal Vision for Life

April is Women’s Eye Health Month in the USA and May is Healthy Vision month in Canada too, so let’s take the opportunity to look at some tips for maintaining eye and vision health, with a special focus on women. 

Statistically, women are more at risk than men for eye disease, visual impairment and blindness, especially after age 40. In fact, when it comes to serious age-related eye diseases, women represent well over half of the cases, with 61% of glaucoma cases and 65% of age-related macular degeneration cases being female. Women are also more prone to cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye syndrome and untreated refractive errors.

One of the reasons for women’s increased risk of age-related eye disease is that they statistically live longer than men. In fact, a recent study showed that there are twice as many women than men over the age of 85 in America. Additionally, not only are they living longer but they are sometimes they’re working longer as well, which often involves added computer and device use, so they tend to suffer more from conditions exacerbated by blue light and ultraviolet exposure such as dry eyes and eyestrain. 

The good news is there are certain lifestyle changes that women can make to reduce that increased risk of developing age-related eye diseases. In many cases, blindness and visual impairment are preventable or treatable with proper awareness and precautions. 

Here are seven lifestyle tips to protect your eyes and vision and reduce your risks of vision-threatening eye diseases:

  1. Protect your eyes from UV exposure.
    UV radiation has been implicated as a risk factor for a number of eye diseases including macular degeneration and cataracts. Sunglasses should be more than a fashion statement, they should have high quality lenses that fully block UVA and UVB rays. Further, sunglasses shouldn’t be reserved for the summer. UV rays can penetrate clouds and bounce off snow and water, so rock your shades year round, any time you go outside.
  2. Exercise regularly and eat a proper diet.
    Studies show that regular exercise and a diet rich in a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins and fats promotes eye health. Reduce sugar, processed foods, and white flour and of course refrain from smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. This is the recipe not only for improved eye health, but for the health of your whole body and mind as well.
  3. Take care of chronic conditions.
    If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or chronic stress, managing these conditions will reduce your chances of developing eye diseases. Make sure you take care of your overall health, as it is all related to the health of your eyes.
  4. Throw away expired makeup and skincare products, and replace brushes periodically.
    Many women habitually use makeup and skincare products beyond their expiration dates. This can be problematic, especially with liquid products and those that you apply close to the eyes, as they can carry harmful bacteria which can cause infections and irritation. Check your products regularly and toss any that are past their prime.
  5. Clean eyes from makeup daily.
    Eye cosmetics are a frequent cause of dry eye, as they can block glands within the lids. Beyond eye irritation, styes or other eye infections can result, so do yourself a favor and clean your eyelids are carefully at the end of the day.
  6. Steer clear of over-the-counter contact lenses!
    Colored contact lenses in particular are frequently worn by women. It is important to be fitted by a trained eye care professional for any pair of contact lenses, even if you don’t need vision correction. Contact lenses bought without a prescription and proper fitting can seriously damage the eyes.
  7. Schedule regular eye exams.
    Many of the serious eye diseases mentioned above require early diagnosis and treatment to prevent vision loss. When caught early, vision can be saved or restored; otherwise permanent damage can occur. That’s why it’s critical to schedule comprehensive eye exams on a regular basis to check in on your eye health and identify any early signs of disease. Your eye doctor should also know about your family history and any other relevant lifestyle concerns that may put you at a higher risk of certain conditions. 

Vision loss can be a devastating blow to one’s quality of life and independence, but so much of it can be prevented. Education and lifestyle changes can be key to helping women to live a long life with clear vision and healthy eyes. 

Ultraviolet Light and your Eyes

If you want strong, healthy eyes and clear vision for life, a major step you can take is to protect your eyes from UV radiation.  Wearing proper eye protection from the sun reduces the risk of a number of eye diseases and other conditions that are caused or worsened by UV exposure.  

Eye Diseases Linked to UV Exposure

UV exposure has been linked to a number of serious eye diseases including macular degeneration and cataracts. 

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a condition in which the macula of the eye breaks down, leading to a loss of central vision and is a leading cause of age-related vision loss.  Macular degeneration develops over time so a lifetime of exposure to UV can contribute it’s likelihood.  

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye becomes clouded, resulting in blurred vision and eventually blindness. The len is responsible for focusing the light that comes into the eye, allowing clear vision. Cataracts can be treated by a simple surgery to replace the clouded lens with an artificial lens.  UV light contributes to certain types of cataracts, which account for about 10% of all cases. 

Skin Cancer

Another serious disease that can affect the eyes is skin cancer which can appear on the eyelids or the area around the eyes.  Skin cancer is known to be linked to extended exposure to UV and your eyes can be a difficult area to protect with sun block as you don’t want it to get too close to the eyes. 

Other Eye Conditions Linked to UV Exposure

Photokeratitis or Corneal Sunburn

Photokeratitis or a corneal sunburn in layman’s terms can occur with intense exposure to the sun without proper eye protection. It is commonly experienced after a day skiing or snowboarding at a high altitude or at the beach. Corneal sunburns can be extremely painful and can sometimes cause a temporary loss of vision. 

Pterygium 

Pterygium, also known as “surfer’s eye” is a growth that forms on the conjunctiva which is a layer over the sclera or the white part of your eye. Sometimes they grow onto the cornea as well. Often pterygia are harmless but if they grow too large they may begin to impact your vision. In this case, surgery may be necessary. Pterygia are commonly found in individuals who spend a significant amount of time outside in the sun or wind. 

How to Properly Protect Your Eyes From UV

The more time you spend outside, the greater the risk for your eyes, however you can easily minimize this risk with proper protection. Here are a few tips to ensure you are doing what you can to safeguard your eyes:

Proper Sunglasses

Fully protective sunglasses should block out 99-100% of UV-A and UV-B rays. You can achieve this through purchasing a pair of sunglasses, applying a UV blocking coating to your glasses or opting for photochromic lenses which are eyeglass lenses which turn dark when exposed to sunlight. Most contact lenses will also have UV protection but this is just for the area of the eye covered by the lens. 

Since UV exposure can enter from the air, the ground or from the sides, wrap-around and large lensed frames can provide added protection.

Add a Wide Brimmed Hat

A wide brimmed hat or visor will stop about half of the UV rays from even reaching your eyes as well as reduce the exposure coming in from the top or sides of your sunglass frames. 

Know Your Environmental Risk Factors

UV exposure is largely dependent upon your location and your surroundings. If you are located at a high altitude you will likely be exposed to more UV than at lower altitudes.  UV also reflects off of snow, sand, water and even asphalt so be aware that you are getting increased exposure under these conditions.   

Know Your Additional Risk Factors

There are a number of other factors that can increase your exposure or risk of eye damage from UV.  For example, certain medications increase the sensitivity of your eyes and skin to sunlight (speak to your doctor about any medications you are on). Previous eye surgery or eye diseases can also increase your risk factors for UV eye damage. Additionally if you work in certain fields such as welding or medical scans or radiation or use tanning beds, you can be exposed to additional UV radiation. If there is nothing you can do to change your exposure, make sure you are properly protecting your eyes with goggles or glasses and a hat. 

Regular Eye Exams

Make sure you schedule a comprehensive eye exam on a regular basis to ensure your eyes are healthy.  If you are over 50 or have increased risk factors for eye disease, you should schedule exams at least on a yearly basis or according to your eye doctor’s recommendations. 

 

Should I Be Concerned When My Eyelid Twitches?

We all experience the occasional eyelid twitch, which is when the muscle of the eyelid spasms involuntarily. Usually, it comes and goes without intervention and while sure, it can be irritating, is a twitching eyelid ever something to be concerned about?

An eyelid twitch, also known as a myokymia, can affect the upper or lower lid and usually lasts for at least a few seconds and then may continue off and on for a few minutes. Usually unpredictable, twitching episodes can last several days and sometimes they may go away and then return weeks or months later. 

Causes of Eyelid Twitching

Although they may be bothersome, most eyelid twitches are nothing to cause concern and usually resolve on their own. However, in some rare cases, they may be a sign of a more serious problem, especially if they are accompanied by other symptoms - we will discuss this further below. 

Some known causes of eyelid twitches include:

 

  • Fatigue or lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Eye irritation or dry eyes
  • Medications
  • Alcohol or caffeine
  • Physical exertion
  • Allergies
  • Eye strain (such as with extended digital device use)
  • Poor nutrition

 

Preventing and Treating Eyelid Twitching

Usually eyelid twitching will resolve itself within a couple of days or weeks but if it persists try to determine the cause in order to speed up the process. Consider going to bed a little earlier, cutting out caffeine or alcohol or finding ways to reduce or manage your stress. You can also try lubricating eye drops to add moisture to your eyes. If you take notice of when the spasms are happening and what else is going on in your life at that time (time of day, food intake, stress level, exhaustion) you can make some changes that will stop or prevent eye twitching from occuring. 

If you notice eye twitching in addition to vision disturbances or eye strain, contact your doctor for a vision assessment as it could be a sign of a refractive change. 

When is Eyelid Twitching a Concern?

If the eyelid spasms don’t pass and become chronic it may be a sign that you have a condition called benign essential blepharospasm. This condition is when the eye muscles blink uncontrollably and it usually affects both eyes. While the cause of blepharospasm is not known, it is more common in middle age women and there are a number of conditions that can exacerbate symptoms including: 

  • Eye inflammation (blepharitis) or infection (pink eye)
  • Dry eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Alcohol, caffeine or tobacco
  • Irritants or allergens in the environment

Blepharospasm is usually a progressive condition that can eventually lead to spasms in other muscles in the face, blurred vision and light sensitivity. The condition is sometimes treated with medication or Botox (botulinum toxin) to temporarily reduce the spasms and in severe cases, surgery may be performed to remove some of the muscles that are affected. 

On very rare occasions eye twitching can be a symptom of a more serious disorder affecting the brain or nervous system, however, usually it will be accompanied by other symptoms. Examples of such conditions include: glaucoma, hemifacial spasms, Parkinson’s disease, Bell’s palsy, multiple sclerosis, dystonia, and Tourette’s. A corneal scratch or abrasion can also be a cause of the eyelid muscle spasm. 

If you experience any of the following symptoms along with your eye twitching, see your doctor as soon as possible: 

  • Twitching that continues for more than a few weeks
  • Twitching that spreads to other areas of the face
  • A drooping upper eyelid
  • Red, irritated or swollen eyes 
  • Discharge coming from the eye
  • Spasms that cause the eyelid to close completely or difficulty opening the eyelid. 

In most cases, eye twitching is not something to worry about, but when you do experience a spasm it is worthwhile to take note of the circumstances so you know when your body is trying to tell you that something is out of balance. 

Signs of Eye and Vision Problems in Infants

Infant Eyesight

Despite nine months of growth in utero, babies are not born with fully developed eyes and vision - just like they can't walk or talk yet. Over the first few months of life, their visual systems continue to progress, stimulated by their surroundings.

Babies will develop the ability to track objects, focus their eyes, and move them like a team. Their visual acuity will improve and they will gradually be able to see more colors. They will also form the neural connections that will allow them to process what they see, to understand and interact with the world around them. 

Healthy eyes and good vision are necessary for proper and timely progress; ocular or visual problems can lead to developmental delays. 

So how do you know if your infant is developing normally? What can you do to ensure your baby's eye health and vision are on track? While infant eye problems are not common here are some steps you can take to ensure your child's eyes are healthy. 

#1 Schedule a six month check-up.

It is recommended to get the first professional comprehensive eye and vision exam for your child between six and 12 months of age. 

Your optometrist should check for the following skills at the 6-month checkup:

  • Visual acuity (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism)
  • Eye muscle and movement capabilities
  • Eye health

If you have any concerns prior to six months, don't hesitate to take your baby for an exam earlier. 

#2 Engage in visually stimulating play.

Incorporating visually stimulating play for your child will help develop visual processes like eye tracking and eye teaming. 

A baby's initial focusing distance is 20-30 cm, so to nurture healthy vision skills, keep high contrast "reach and touch" toys within this distance. Alternate right and left sides with each feeding, and provide toys that encourage tracking of moving objects to foster eye-hand coordination and depth perception.

Pediatricians in North America recommend that NO screen time be allowed under the age of 2, as many forms of development may be delayed from premature use of digital devices. 

#3 Be alert to eye and vision problems.

Keep an eye out for indications of an eye health problem, and contact an eye doctor to discuss any concerns you may have. Some symptoms to pay attention to include:

  • Red eyes or eyelids, which may or may not be accompanied by discharge and crusty lids. This may indicate an eye infection that can be very contagious and may require medication. 
  • Excessive eye watering or tearing. This may be caused by a problem with the tear ducts, such as a blockage.
  • Extreme light sensitivity. While some light sensitivity is normal, significant sensitivity to light can be a sign of disease or elevated eye pressure. 
  • Eye “jiggling” or bouncing. This suggests a problem with the muscle control of the eyes.
  • Eye turn. Whether it is an eye that seems to cross in or a “lazy eye” that turns out, this is often associated with a refractive error or eye muscle issues that could require treatment such as eyeglasses, vision therapy, patching or surgery.
  • White pupil. This can be a sign of a number of diseases, including cancer. If you see this have it checked out immediately. 

Since your infant's eyes are still maturing, any issues that are found can likely be corrected with proper care and treatment. The important thing is to find a pediatric eye care provider that you trust because you will want to regularly check the health of your child's eyes to ensure proper learning and development throughout infancy and beyond.

AMD Awareness Could Save Your Vision

It’s that time of the year again. Each February, the optometric community bands together to create awareness about age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a leading cause of vision loss for people 50 years and older; early detection plays a key role in the outcome of the disease. That’s why bringing awareness to the disease and its risk factors is so important. 

Macular degeneration is a disease that damages the macula, which is a small area in the center of the retina responsible for sharp, clear central vision. The disease comes in two forms, wet AMD and dry AMD. The most common form, dry AMD, which affects around 80% of AMD patients, is when the macula gradually thins, and small clusters of protein called drusen begin to grow. Drusen result from cells in the macula that cannot rid themselves of metabolic waste called lipofuscin. The lipofuscin accumulates as drusen which causes a gradual vision decline. 

Dry AMD can turn into wet AMD when abnormal new blood vessels grow through breaks in a membrane layer of the thinning macula. The fragile blood vessels leak fluid into the macula, causing rapid decrease in central vision.The wet form is less common, yet it can cause a faster and more drastic vision loss. If a person has dry AMD which turns into wet AMD, this should be treated as soon as possible, as within days this can cause permanent scarring. Fortunately, there is effective treatment for wet AMD if detected before scarring arises. 

Both forms of AMD result in a loss of central vision, while peripheral vision stays intact. Symptoms can present as difficulty focusing on objects in front of you, or a blurred or dulled area in the central visual field which leads to having trouble reading, doing close work, driving or even recognizing faces. With time, the size of the blurred area can grow and eventually develop into black spots in central vision. Oftentimes patients don’t even notice symptoms until a significant amount of damage has been done. This is why regular eye exams are critical, especially if you are at risk. 

While AMD alone won’t cause complete blindness, it can cause a permanent, total loss of central vision if not treated. Vision loss can lead to a condition called low vision which can have a very serious impact on daily living and require a lot of assistance both by vision devices and the help of others. 

Are You at Risk? 

As it is an age-related disease, age is a significant risk factor for AMD, specifically once you reach 60. However, age is not the only risk factor. While some risk factors for AMD cannot be controlled there are lifestyle factors that you can change to prevent AMD.

Other than age, risk factors include:

  • Family history: If you have a family history of AMD, you are more at risk. Research has identified at least 20 genes that are associated with AMD, showing there is a genetic factor.
  • Race: Caucasian descent is a higher risk factor for AMD, and in fact, Caucasians with light irises have an increased risk from age 50.
  • Smoking: Smoking doubles your risk of developing AMD. 
  • Overweight/Obesity: Research shows that being overweight is a risk factor for AMD.
  • Having heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your risks.
  • Diet: An unhealthy diet rich in saturated fats is a significant risk factor.
  • Early exposure to UV light and blue hazard light (especially with the younger generation having increased exposure to digital devices) can cause early onset AMD. 

Here are some lifestyle steps you can take to reduce your risk of AMD:

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, (from fatty fish or flax seeds), leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables. 
  • Know your family history.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Protect your eyes using UV protection and blue blocker coatings on eyeglasses.
  • Get regular eye exams.

In addition to a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor may be able to test for certain risk factors. For example, there is now technology available that can test for lutein levels via technology such as QuantifEye and Macuscope, (low lutein can indicate increased risk). In addition, genetic testing is also now available through a simple cheek swab to determine an individual’s risk for developing AMD. 

Treatment

There is no known cure for AMD, however there are treatments available that may slow the progression of the disease. For dry AMD, studies (AREDS and AREDS2) have concluded that a particular high-dose combination of nutritional supplements taken daily can slow the disease. The combo includes vitamins C and E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc and Copper. For wet AMD, the goal is to reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels and the leakage that takes place and this is done through certain medications called anti-VEGFs which are injected into the eye or with laser surgery. 

Untreated macular degeneration can have devastating effects on your independence and quality of life. If you are 50 or over, speak to your eye doctor about your risk factors and what you can do to prevent AMD. 

10 Tips to Protect Your Vision

eyes female blue

Did you forget to put on your sunglasses today? Are you constantly sitting in front of a computer screen without taking breaks to look away? Maybe you also skipped your yearly eye exam, again. These are just some of the things we tend to overlook when it comes to our eye health. But these seemingly innocent oversights, along with small decisions that we make on a daily basis can eventually take a toll on our eyes and our vision.

Now is the time to make changes to safeguard your vision - it's never too late to change a routine or break a habit. Here are a few tips that will help you get your eye health and vision on track in the blink of an eye.

1.     Keep Screens at a Distance.
Screens and monitors are part of our everyday lives. We encounter them everywhere, from our personal smartphones, desktop computers, tablets and MP3's to movie theatres, sports games, airports, train stations and subways. Throughout the day, we tend to look at screens for long periods of time and we may work from handheld devices at much closer distances than we would read printed pages. Glare from screens can lead to eyestrain and computer vision syndrome. It’s recommended to position your computer screen at least an arm's length away and hold handheld devices 16 inches away from your eyes.

2.     Blink, Blink, Blink. Another result of extensive device use is that your blink rate tends to drop when you stare at text on a screen. Not blinking often enough can lead to dry, irritated eyes.  Apply the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds and don’t forget to blink!

3.     Always wear your sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays when you are outside or driving during daylight. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays during any time of year can lead to cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as well as sunburns on your eyes in extreme cases. Make sure that your sunglasses block 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays.

4.     Eat seafood with Omega -3’s. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines, may help lower the risk of dry eyes and eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. If you don’t like seafood, consider taking fish oil supplements or other supplements that contain omega 3’s such as black current seed or flaxseed oils.

5.     Go for Greens. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, zucchini, peas, avocado and Brussels sprouts contain lutein and zeaxanthin. The AREDS 2 – Age Related Eye Disease Study – research conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI) demonstrated that certain dietary supplements including these important pigments help prevent the progression of some eye diseases.

6.     Drink green tea. Green tea is another great source of antioxidants which keep eyes healthy and defends them from cataracts and AMD development.

7.     Care for your contact lenses. Always wash your hands before inserting or removing contacts and store them properly in cleansing solution. Never use any substances other than proper contact lens solution and make sure you follow your eye doctor’s instructions for proper use, because some eye drops contain ingredients which can react badly with your contact lenses. Keep a backup pair of glasses for days when the contacts “don’t feel right” or if you develop an eye infection. Do not wear contacts for longer than they’re supposed to be worn. If you keep waiting until your eyes begin to feel irritated before you change to a new pair of lenses, the eyes can gradually get desensitized, and damage may occur before the lenses feel dry.

8.     Throw away old eye makeup such as mascara that is over four months old. Sharpen eyeliner pencils regularly and don’t put liner on the inside of your eye lid. If your eyes become irritated, stop using eye makeup until they heal.

9.      Protect your eyes from danger. Always wear protective eyewear or safety goggles if your work requires eye protection and when working in the garden, doing home repairs or when dealing with strong cleaning substances such as bleach or oven cleaners.

10.      Visit your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. Yearly eye exams are not only helpful in detecting early signs of eye disease, they are also an important indicator of your overall health. An eye exam can detect signs of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, brain tumors, aneurysms, and multiple sclerosis. Proper attention to vision problems can also enhance your safety and quality of life.

Knowing what you have to do is the first step in keeping your eyes and vision safe. Thinking about your eyes and vision and forming the right habits will lead to a lifetime of good vision.

This Halloween Be Wary of Costume Contact Lenses

blue 20eye 20between 20fingers

As Halloween approaches and costume planning gets more serious, many consider the use of novelty or costume contact lenses as a way to add that extra flair. Whether you are dressing up as a cat, a vampire, or looking for something fun that glows in the dark, dressing up your eyes can certainly add the finishing touch to your outfit. However, most people are unaware that costume contact lenses can pose a serious danger to your sight. If used improperly and bought without a medical prescription from an eye care professional, costume contact lenses can cause serious infection, corneal abrasions and in some cases lead to permanent vision loss. 

As contact lenses are considered a medical device they need to be prescribed and fitted by a licensed eye care professional, according to the FDA and Health Canada. Most of the lenses sold in novelty and retail stores are not approved by the FDA or Health Canada. This is because the material they are made from can scratch your cornea, distort your vision or cause an infection. In fact it is illegal for retailers to sell any kind of contact lenses without a prescription. That’s why contact lenses for costumes are often purchased at discounted rates online, where regulations are negligible.

Here are a few tips to take into consideration if you decide to use costume contact lenses on Halloween or at any other time during the year.

1.     Visit your eye doctor for a thorough eye exam. Your doctor will also measure your eyes for the correct contact lens fit and explain the correct way to use and care for your lenses. This rule applies even if you have perfect vision.

2.     Purchase costume contacts only from a retailer that requests a prescription and sells FDA approved colored lenses.

3.     Be sure to follow the instructions for contact lens usage, care and cleaning.

4.     If you experience redness, swelling or discharge, remove your lenses and seek medical attention from your eye doctor.

5.     Do not share your contact lenses with anyone else.

6.     Schedule a follow up eye exam with your eye care professional.

Don't let an impulsive buy from a costume store ruin your vision.

For more information, watch the FDA's video on improper use of decorative lenses below:

How to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

backpack 20man

Many travelers experience dry eyes after extended travel by air. The dry environment of a temperature- and pressure-controlled air plane cabin can take its toll on your eyes.

The good news is there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms associated with travelers’ dry eye. Here are some tips to keep in mind when traveling to help prevent dry eye:

  1. Since dehydration makes dry eye symptoms worse, drink consistently before, during and after the flight. If you enjoy an on-flight alcoholic drink or caffeinated tea or coffee, be sure to drink extra fluids to rehydrate.
  2. Make sure to pack a bottle of artificial tears to apply as needed. If you suffer from dry eyes on a regular basis, consult with your eye care professional before you fly as you might need a more effective lubricant to keep with you on the flight.
  3. Use an eye mask to protect your eyes while sleeping.
  4. If you wear contact lenses, switch to a pair of glasses for the duration of the flight to avoid additional dryness that often accompanies contact lens use or talk to your doctor about special moisture retaining contact lenses.
  5. Turn off the air conditioning vent above your seat to prevent dry air from blowing directly into your face.​
  6. If you suffer from severe dry eye and over the counter artificial tears only give temporary relief, talk to your eye doctor about more aggresive medical treatment to reduce severe dry eye symptoms such as burning and sandy, gritty sensation.

Some airlines add moisture to the cabin atmosphere to reduce the dryness on the flight. You may want to consider seeking out airlines that do this before booking your tickets.

Don’t forget to check if your airline has any regulations regarding the types of liquids you are allowed to carry with you on the flight so you will be able to pack your eye drops with you in your hand baggage. That way, you will be able to lubricate your eyes during the flight, and if your baggage gets lost or does not arrive when you do at your destination, you will be able to give your eyes the relief they need upon arrival.

There is no need to suffer from dry eyes when you travel; just drink plenty and treat your eyes well during the flight.

Does Chlorine Hurt your Eyes?

little girls swimming

Just because the summer is coming to an end, doesn’t mean that we have to say goodbye to the swimming pool. Whether it means a nice refreshing dip on a warm fall afternoon or a winter swim in an indoor pool, swimming is a great activity for both fun and exercise. Nevertheless, have you ever wondered if all of this splashing around in chlorine-filled water can affect your eyes and vision?

Swimming pool water is chlorinated to keep it sanitized. The chlorine helps reduce water-borne bacteria and viruses to prevent pathogens and disease from spreading. While chlorine is a successful water sanitizer, its efficacy depends on a number of factors including how recently it was added to the water, the concentration of the chemical and how much the pool is used.

When your eyes are submerged in chlorinated pool water, the tear film that usually acts as a defensive shield for your cornea is washed away. This means that your eyes are no longer protected from dirt or bacteria that are not entirely eliminated by the treated pool water. So, swimmers can be prone to eye infections. One of the most common eye infections from swimming is conjunctivitis or pink eye, which can either be viral or bacterial.

Another eye issue that often develops from contact with chlorinated water is red, irritated eyes. When your cornea dehydrates as a result of exposure to chlorine, the irritation is often accompanied by blurriness, which can result in distorted vision temporarily. Although these symptoms usually disappear within a few minutes, the recovery time tends to increase with age. Using lubricating eye drops can help alleviate symptoms by restoring the hydrating, protective tear shield in your eye.

If you wear contact lenses, be sure to remove them before jumping in the pool. Contact lens patients are prone to an eye infection called acanthamoebic keratitis, which develops when a type of amoeba gets trapped in the space between the cornea and the contact lens and begins to live there. This infection can result in permanent visual impairment or lead to ulcers on the cornea. If you have taken a dip with contacts on, be sure to remove your lenses, rinse them with lens solution and refrain from sleeping in them after you've had a swim.            

There is no way to be one hundred percent sure of what is floating around in a swimming pool, so the best way to protect your eyes is to use water-tight goggles that fit you well. This way you can enjoy your swim without risking your eyes or your vision.

Technology in the Classroom and the Eyes

boy 20in 20front 20of 20eye 20chart

The use of technology has become commonplace in the classroom. So much so that today’s generation of students, from kindergarten to university, navigates computers, smartphones and tablets all the time.  Many schools have even implemented the use of smart boards and bring your own device (BOYD) programs.

However, as amazing as this educational technology can be, it is important to be aware of the potential visual challenges that can arise from prolonged use of digital technology.

According to a recent study by the American Optometric Association's (AOA), 85 percent of parents surveyed said their children use an electronic device for up to four hours every day. The survey also found that 41 percent of children have their own smartphone or tablet while 32 percent use both e-books and textbooks at school. Additionally, 66 percent of children use a computer or tablet to do homework or study.

Staring at a screen for a few hours a day can cause visual discomfort and interfere with your child's ability to focus. Although regular use of digital devices won't damage vision, extended use of technology at school or for homework can lead to a temporary vision condition called computer vision syndrome (CVS). Symptoms of CVS include eye strain, fatigue, burning or tired eyes, the inability to focus, headaches, blurred vision, double vision or head and neck pain. To alleviate and prevent CVS, teach your child the 20-20-20 rule when using technology or doing near work: take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes to look at an object 20 feet away.

There are also a number of physical indicators that parents should be aware of that point to vision problems. These include squinting or covering an eye to see a screen, repeated eye rubbing and excessive blinking. If your child complains of headaches or swimming words on a screen, consistently performs below his or her potential and has challenges completing homework, it is important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam to assess whether there may be any vision problems.

In addition, your child should hold any digital device a half to a full arm's length away from the eyes and slightly below eye level. Parents should encourage children to take breaks regularly while at the computer. Kids should also use ergonomic desk areas or gaming chairs to ensure comfort and proper posture. You can prevent glare on screens by using low-wattage light bulbs, dimmers, or curtains in the room. Avoid staring at screens in a completely dark room, and adjust the brightness and background color settings on the device.

Usage of digital devices will likely increase as technology advances. Teach your children good habits to keep their eyes comfortable and to protect their vision. 

Treating Vision Problems Lowers Risk of Falling in Seniors

senior man in thought2

For adults over the age of 65, the right pair of vision correcting glasses can literally be a life saver. Seniors aged 65 and up are at increased risk of falling, which is the leading cause of injury, injury-related death, and hospitalization for this age group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, one in three adults over 65 falls but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.

According to a recent study, 65% of those who wear glasses and break a hip as a result of a fall were not wearing their glasses at the time of the fall. Whether it is a pair of corrective glasses or surgery to remove a cataract, treating vision problems promptly can have a huge impact on preventing injury related to falling in seniors.

It is important to raise awareness with your loved ones about the need to have a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. This is vital as there are often no noticeable warning signs that vision problems such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration are developing. Additionally, a simple reminder to loved ones to wear their glasses as prescribed by an eye doctor will go a long way to help to maximize vision.

Poor vision doesn’t only increase the risk of falling; it also has an impact on the quality of daily life. If left untreated, a visual disorder can affect both social and physical activities. A person who is unable to see clearly will have difficulty participating in stimulating activities such as reading, playing cards and board games as well as day-to-day physical exercise such as walking.

Vision difficulties for seniors can often be treated once detected, but a thorough eye exam is necessary to determine the cause. With most vision diseases, earlier detection leads to increased chances of vision improvement. Raise your awareness about the relationship between vision difficulties and health problems for seniors to increase quality of life and help lower the risk of serious injury associated with avoidable falls. 

The Great Glasses Play Day 2013

The first weekend of August (August 3rd and 4th) has been marked as the 2nd annual Great Glasses Play Day. The event, which first launched in 2012 was created for parents, eye care professionals, educators and children who wear glasses or have other vision challenges to celebrate and create awareness about the positive aspects of children wearing glasses. The event also aims to bring to light the importance of early vision health. The day will include parent organized meet ups that will take place online, as well as at parks and other locations around the United States and internationally.

The Great Glasses Play Day is a day to let children who have glasses enjoy all the amazing things their glasses allow them to do. It was initially conceived when Peeps Eyewear founder, Kristin Ellsworth, teamed up with Great Glasses Play Day co-sponsor Ann Zawistoski, the creator of Little Four Eyes, an online support community for parents of young children who wear glasses. Both women were inspired to create an event to show how proud they were of their children who adjusted to life with glasses.

The day also serves to celebrate the unique style of children with glasses and how advances in eyewear allow them to see more clearly. Additionally, it is an opportunity to raise awareness of children's vision challenges and highlight how vital it is to give your child an eye exam at an early age, as well as follow up treatment of any issue identified.

Here are a few ways you can celebrate Great Glasses Play Day:

  • Spread the word about the event, particularly to anyone you know who has children with glasses
  • Wear your own glasses or pick up a fun non-prescription frame to show your support and encourage your child as to how fun wearing glasses can be.
  • Read your child a positive book about children who wear glasses or make glasses for their toys and dolls.
  • Discuss or participate in an activity that was difficult for the child before she began wearing glasses and how that is now improved due to enhanced, clear and comfortable vision and the ability to concentrate, such as puzzles, word games and baseball.
  • Throw a glasses party on the day or make a glasses party when your child starts wearing glasses.
  • If you have a child with a vision problem, this is your chance to reach out to other parents and tell your story. Explain how you had your child's eyes examined and how correcting your child's vision made a significant, positive change in his life. This is the best way to help other parents understand how vital it is to take visual health seriously and to follow up on any referrals or instincts that something isn't right.

The Great Glasses Play day is supported by the American Optometric Association, the Children's Eye Foundation and Prevent Blindness Wisconsin. Take part and help spread the word about children's eye health.

Learn more about how you can participate by checking out the Great Glasses Playday website.

First Aid for Eye Injuries

To ensure that your eyes remain healthy, it is essential to protect them from injury and to take proper care measures if an injury has occurred. As July is Eye Injury Prevention Month, here are a number of practical first aid tips to remember if you or anyone you know suffers an eye injury.

The very first step with any eye injury is of course to consult with your eye doctor or get a medical doctor to examine your eye as soon as possible. This is true even if the injury does not seem to be extensive, as often signs of a serious eye injury are not apparent immediately. When it comes to eye injury it is important not to rub, touch, or apply pressure, ointment or medication to the eye. Try to leave the eye alone as much as possible until you are in proper care of a doctor.

Common eye injuries include foreign particles that scratch the eye, foreign bodies that penetrate the eye, a blow to the eye and chemical burns. Here are some tips for each of these common injuries:

Foreign Particles

  • If you have a foreign particle in your eye, refrain from rubbing it.
  • Blink and apply artificial tears to attempt to loosen and flush out the particle. If blinking this way is unsuccessful in providing relief, keep your eye closed and see your eye doctor right away.

Chemical Burns

  • Flush your eye for 20-30 minutes, preferably with sterile saline, but tap water is acceptable. Copious but gentle irrigation is needed right away to avoid acid or alkali burn penetrating into the deeper tissues of the eye.
  • Contact your eye doctor or the emergency room to find out the next step to take.
  • Be sure to identify the substance that entered your eye and tell your doctor.
  • If your vision is extremely blurry or your eye very red, place a cool compress or icepack on it until you receive medical attention.

Blow to the eye

  • A minor blow can cause significant damage to the eye. Apply a small cold compress to reduce swelling and pain but be sure not to apply any pressure.
  • If you develop blur, floaters or flashes of light, pain or a black eye seek immediate assessment from your eye doctor or the emergency room.

Cuts, Penetrating or Foreign Objects

  • If possible, protect your eye with an eye shield such as a paper cup taped around the area.
  • Seek medical help immediately.
  • Do not rub, attempt to remove the object or apply pressure to the eye.
  • Even small cuts can pose a risk for infection so it is important to consult with a doctor for any penetration injury.

Most eye injures occur at work, at home, in the garage or the garden. The best way to prevent one is to ensure that your eyes are protected during any potentially dangerous activity. Wear protective eyewear if your job requires it and when you play sports that involve flying objects of any kind. Preventing damage to your eyes can be as simple as wearing a pair of ANSI (American National Standards Institute) approved protective eyewear. Don't take any risk with your eyesight. Treat all eye injuries as emergencies and seek medical care as soon as possible.

Understanding the Eye Chart

Eye charts of different variations have become a standard in vision screenings and eye exams. One of the most familiar charts associated with vision is the Snellen eye chart, designed by Dutch ophthalmologist Hermann Snellen in 1862 to measure visual acuity- how well you can see at various distances.

Although there are variations of the Snellen chart used today, a traditional Snellen chart has eleven lines of block letters. The first line has one very large letter, which is one of several letters, for example E, H, or N. The following rows have increasing numbers of letters that become smaller in size as you read from the top to the bottom of the chart. The letters used on the chart are C, D, E, F, L, N, O, P, T, and Z.

When taking a vision exam, one eye is covered and you are asked to read the letters of each row aloud beginning at the top of the chart. The smallest row that you can read correctly indicates the visual acuity in the eye being tested.

The chart is positioned at a distance of 20 feet in the United States or 6 meters in the rest of the world. The term 20/20 vision is used to indicate the clarity and sharpness of your vision measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet objects that can normally be seen at that distance. If you have 20/40 vision, it means that you need to be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 40 feet. The largest letter on an eye chart often represents an acuity of 20/200 which is associated with the term "legally blind."

You will be asked to read the letters one eye at a time. Some people can see well at a distance, but are unable to bring nearer objects into focus, while others can see items that are close, but cannot see them far away. By having you read the chart, your eye doctor is able to ascertain whether you have difficulty with distance vision and can determine which corrective lenses can be used to improve it. Near vision problems or other vision and eye health issues may not be detected with the Snellen eye chart alone, so a comprehensive eye exam is always recommended.

The next time you hop into the chair at your optometrists' office, you'll be able to understand why you have to read the letters on the chart in front of you and what the results mean for your vision.

June is Cataract Awareness Month

cataracts diagram

Cataracts, one of the most common causes of blindness, develop when the lens of the eye, located behind the iris and pupil, becomes opaque or cloudy. A cataract can result in loss of vision as it prevents light from passing into your eye and focusing on the retina.

While cataracts most frequently result from the natural aging process, other risk factors include exposure to UV radiation, medical disease or a family history of the condition, trauma to the eye and smoking.

Cataracts occur when over time, pigment or protein is deposited in the lens and this, together with disruption of the normal structure of the lens fibers, can lead to reduced transmission of light, which causes visual problems. The condition can affect one's ability to see colors, drive, read, and recognize faces. Although cataracts aren't painful, the following signs could indicate cataract development:

  • Blurry vision or distorted vision, or the sensation that there is a film over your eye. You may also notice that colors appear to be dull.
  • Sensitivity to light. Sunlight or light from a lamp seems to be too strong and glare while driving may be worsened, especially at night.
  • Worsened vision that does not improve with a new glasses prescription or a new pair of glasses.

Cataract surgery can be avoided in the early stages as you may be able to improve your vision on a short term basis by using new glasses, strong magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids. Once the cataract progresses to a stage where it interferes with your vision and daily functioning, the best option is to have it treated surgically. Cataract surgery is a simple, relatively painless procedure that is usually very successful in restoring vision. The surgery, which is actually one of the most common surgeries in America, involves removing the clouded lens and in most cases replacing it with a plastic lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). Nine out of 10 patients recover near perfect vision after cataract surgery.

While there is nothing proven to prevent cataracts, there are number of steps you can take to reduce your risk.

  • Ensure you use adequate UV protection from the sun such as sunglasses and a hat.
  • Studies show that eating a diet rich in antioxidant foods, may prevent the formation of cataracts. Vitamin E, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids are known to have significant benefits to your eye health.
  • Have a comprehensive eye exam including a dilated eye exam every year.

Pay attention to your eyes and your vision and make your eyesight a priority. If you notice any changes in your vision, make an appointment with your eye doctor immediately.

Age Related Macular Degeneration and Your Central Vision

Did you know that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness among adults aged 50 and above?

AMD occurs when the part of the retina responsible for your sharp central vision, the macula, begins to deteriorate. Central vision is the visual field that you rely on to focus on objects clearly, to read or to drive. As AMD affects your macula, the condition often results in gradual central vision loss. AMD does not cause complete blindness, as those affected by the condition are able to see by relying on their peripheral or side vision.

AMD is usually diagnosed as either dry or wet. The dry form is more common than wet macular degeneration. In dry AMD, light-sensitive cells in the macula gradually break down and slowly begin to blur central vision in the affected eye. Over time, central vision in the affected eye can be slowly lost as the macula begins to further deteriorate.

In its wet form, macular degeneration can lead to more severe vision loss, as the more advanced stage of the disease causes new blood vessels to grow beneath the retina. These new blood vessels are delicate and can leak blood and fluid, causing damage and scarring of the retina, leading to further vision loss.

The early and intermediate stages of AMD usually occur without symptoms. A comprehensive dilated eye exam or Optomap retina scan can detect AMD. The eye exam includes a visual acuity test that measures how well you see, a dilated eye exam and/or Optomap retina scan and the use of an Amsler grid. An Amsler grid consists of a grid of straight lines with a central focus point in the center. Someone with AMD may see the central area darkened or will report that the lines are wavy. This is a very effective and easy way for you and your eye practitioner to monitor changes in your central vision.

Aside from age, other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing AMD include smoking, high blood pressure, UV exposure and family history of the disease. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes quitting smoking, exercising regularly and maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Eating a diet rich in colorful vegetables  can boost the nutrients needed to naturally protect the eyes from AMD. We may recommend nutritional supplements based on your risk factors for developing macular degeneration.

Early detection of AMD is the best way to control the condition and reduce damage to your eyesight. That's just one of the reasons why it's so important to get a comprehensive eye exam from an eye care professional at least once a year.

How to Choose the Right Sunglasses

Do your sunglasses have what it takes to protect your eyes? As the summer heats up and people spend more time outdoors, it is very important to wear UV blocking eyewear to protect against exposure to ultraviolet rays that can cause damage to your eyes.

Damage caused by UV from the sun can occur without you even being aware of it, as often symptoms are delayed. Intense, short-term exposure to UV rays can lead to sunburn of the eye, or photokeratitis, while long term exposure can lead to and intensify ocular damage which can result in the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Although it is convenient to grab a cheap pair of sunglasses from the drugstore, they often won't do the trick. Always look for a sticker that says they have 100% UV filtration, but unfortunately even sometimes that is not enough. Depending on the lens material there can be degradation in UV protection over time. In some cases the UV protection can begin to wear off your sunglasses as a result of extensive cleaning or from contact with certain substances such as sunscreen.

In order to really protect your eyes from the sun, you should look for a good quality lens that will block 100 percent of UV rays. Polarized lenses are an added feature on some glasses. They block glare coming directly into your eyes or reflected off surfaces such as water, roads, and buildings. Often polarization and UV protection will come together, and some polarized lenses manufacturers guarantee that they will retain their protection for the life of your sunglasses.

The shape of your sunglasses also plays a role in protecting your eyes from the sun. Try to find a pair of sunglasses with large lenses or a wraparound style to protect as much of the skin around your eye as possible and to prevent the sun from creeping in along the sides. You can also explore the option of performance sunglasses or sport sunglasses if you spend a good deal of time outdoors, or engage in activities that may require more durable shades. Sports sunglasses are made to address the particular light conditions that you may encounter during different activities in addition to providing stability and durability to enhance performance.

It's important to pick the right sunglasses to prevent damage to your eyes. Speak to your eye doctor to discuss your options and to make sure that you are doing all you can to protect your eyes from harmful UV.

Women’s Eye Health Month: An Eye on Cosmetics

Women's eyes are regularly exposed to potential irritants through the use of cosmetics. As eye shadow, mascara and eye liner can breed unseen dirt and bacteria, it is vital to ensure that the products you use to apply and remove your makeup are hygienic to prevent irritation that can cause redness, discomfort and the potential development of an eye infection.

Here are a few tips to help ensure that your beauty routine is safe and hygienic:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before you start and make sure that any applicator you use near your eyes is clean.
  • Make sure that the containers housing your products are dirt free and that you don't leave brushes or applicators on a surface where they can pick up germs.
  • Avoid dampening or adding saliva to your makeup as this can introduce bacteria and reduce its shelf life.
  • Discard any product that you know was exposed to germs or dirty surfaces.
  • Steer clear of sharing eye cosmetics, whether it is with family or friends. It is likely to transfer bacteria to your eyes.
  • Stay away from testers in stores unless they use single-use applicators or brushes.
  • If you wear contact lenses, insert the lenses before applying eye makeup to avoid getting makeup underneath the lens.

It's also important to be aware of injuries that can be caused by applying and removing eye makeup.

  • Never apply mascara or eye shadow in a moving vehicle or in a location where a sudden bump will cause the applicator or cosmetic brush to jab your eye and scratch the eye surface. In addition to scratching or injuring your eye, this could allow chemicals to enter the eye and can cause burning and inflammation.
  • Don't use your fingers to put on eye makeup as they might accidentally touch the surface of your eye in the process, leading to irritation.

As many cosmetics contain chemicals, it is likely that they will cause irritation if they come into close contact with your eye. This is especially true if a product you use is not intended for use on your eyes (make sure to use your lip liner on your lips and not on your eyes)!

If you do experience redness, irritation, discharge or itching of your eyes, speak to your eye doctor to find out the best way to get relief from your symptoms. Do not apply makeup if your eyes are infected as this will only make the infection worse. If you were diagnosed with an eye infection, dispose the eye makeup previously used as it is contaminated and the infection could recur.

Lastly, follow the manufacturer's recommendations for discarding products such as mascara (which should be changed every few months) and throw away any dried up products. Even though cosmetics can be expensive, it is not worth risking damage to your eyes.

A Recipe for Eye Health

Did you know that your dietary choices have an impact on your eye health and vision? Opting for appetizing food that at the same time provides you with all the nutrients that are essential for preserving your vision, is taking a major step towards minimizing the risk of eye disease and age-related vision changes.

To consume an eye healthy diet, choose foods rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C and E, zinc and copper, Lutein, zeaxanthin and Omega 3 fatty acids. This includes leafy green vegetables, orange peppers, eggs and fish.

Vitamin A is found in colorful fruits and vegetables such as apricots, papaya, carrots, and tomatoes as well as in fortified milk, beef, chicken, cod liver oil and eggs. This vitamin is vital for night vision and helps prevent dry eye syndrome, eye infections, cataracts and macular degeneration.

Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as grapefruits, oranges and strawberries as well as in red and green bell peppers, broccoli and kale. This vitamin helps support blood vessels in the eye and reduces the risk of cataracts.

Vitamin E is found in nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and peanut butter as well as spinach avocados, olive oil and whole grains and is thought to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. It is also a powerful anti-oxidant and protects your eyes from free- radical damage.

It is also worthwhile incorporating foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants that may help protect against retinal damage and the onset of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration to your menu. Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, collard, turnip greens and broccoli.

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for eye health as well as general health. It is an essential fatty acid which means that your body cannot manufacture them without dietary intake. They provide anti-inflammatory protection to the delicate blood vessels of your eyes, and can help with age-related macular degeneration as well as dry eyes.

This is best obtained through 2 servings/week of deep ocean cold water oily fish e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines, char fish.

If you have trouble keeping up with fish intake or are concerned about mercury or PCBs, a good solution is to take an omega 3 supplement with DHA and EPA.

Research also suggests that obtaining a combination of eye health nutrients from a variety of food sources provides the best results for slowing the progression of eye diseases. So do your eyes a favor and ensure that your diet includes a rich assortment of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and healthy oils.

Here is a recipe courtesy of Dr. Laurie Capogna and Dr. Barbara Pelletier, optometrists who specialize in nutrition and eye health. As you can see this recipe is filled with important nutrients that help save your sight.

Chicken Almond Wraps

These tasty wraps can be enjoyed as a nutritious lunch or a light snack. They are filled with nutrients that help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, including lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C and zinc.

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and pulled into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large orange, peeled with a knife, quartered and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Leaf lettuce leaves, Romaine lettuce leaves or kale leaves, washed and dried completely
  • Optional zeaxanthin boost: garnish with goji berries.

Dipping Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons natural almond butter (or natural peanut butter)
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • Dash hot sauce
  • Hot water

Directions

  1. Mix poultry, peas, pepper, green onion, orange, almonds and cilantro in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine almond butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey and hot sauce.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons hot water and stir well. If sauce is too thick, add another tablespoon hot water. Continue until the sauce has the consistency of a thick salad dressing.
  4. Use 2 tablespoons of the sauce as dressing for the poultry mix. Toss gently to combine.
  5. Separate remaining dipping sauce into an individual bowl or ramekin for each person.
  6. Spoon chicken mixture into a lettuce or kale leaf and fold.
  7. Enjoy with the dipping sauce.

Tip: The chicken mixture can be refrigerated for up to two days. Serve cold or warm.

Serves 4

Spring Eye Allergies

Spring is right around the corner, as the winter begins to wind down and the fresh, warmer air begins to rear its head. Unfortunately for many, it's often hard to enjoy nature's blooming beauty as the warmer weather also brings about the onset of itchy, watery eyes that come with spring eye allergies.

Seasonal eye allergies are the eyes' reaction to allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander that enter your eyes and cause inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner eyelid. In addition to causing significant discomfort, eye allergies can have an effect on many areas of daily life, from work to driving, to watching television.

Although the majority of individuals suffering from seasonal eye allergies use anti histamines to treat and alleviate itchy, watery eyes, it's best to speak to your optometrist about the most effective allergy relief. In most cases, allergies can be treated with prescription oral medications, prescription eye drops or sometimes over the counter eye drops. Cool compresses can alleviate itchiness and swelling - a towel and some cold water may be all you need to inhibit the allergic cascade reaction and curb the urge to rub your eyes.

In addition, here are a few tips to help you minimize the effect of spring allergens on your eyes.

  • Don't rub your eyes as this actually makes the allergic reaction you are experiencing worse.
  • Be sure to wash your hands often with soap and water and wash bed linens and pillowcases in hot water to minimize allergens.
  • Avoid walking, exercise and outdoor activities in the early morning when pollen counts are high.
  • Check your weather forecast for the daily pollen count and wait till midday if possible to go out.
  • When maintaining your garden, it's preferable to have someone else mow your grass and limit your exposure to wooded areas.
  • Keep windows closed and run your air conditioner, ensuring that it is properly filtered and clean. Alternatively, use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. These filter systems are very effective at removing allergens from the air in your room or house.
  • If you wear contact lenses, try to reduce your wearing time or talk to your optometrist about changing your cleaning method or using single-use contact lenses during allergy season.

Eye allergies can affect anyone, but don't let them prevent you from enjoying the gorgeous spring outdoors! Taking the proper preventative measures and finding the right treatment can make a huge difference in your comfort level and your ability to enjoy the nicer weather.

The Right Way to Clean Your Eyeglasses

We all know how frustrating it can be trying to see clearly through a smudged pair of glasses; clean lenses can really make a world of difference. While it may not be something that you pay much attention to, the way you clean your lenses can also make a difference, not only for your vision, but for your eyewear as well.

Unfortunately, most eyeglasses owners are guilty of the number one crime when it comes to caring for their eyewear: breathing onto the lens and then wiping the resulting vapor away using the corner of a shirt or garment. Not only is this an inefficient way to remove dirt, it actually can damage your lenses as clothes carry dust, which when wiped onto the surface of your lenses, can result in scratches. Sometimes hard fabrics can also damage lenses.

The easiest way to get rid of dirt and residue on your glasses is simpler than you'd think. Start by running the front and back of the lens under warm water. Next wash the lenses carefully with a mild soap such as dish soap together with warm water. Once that is done, wipe the soap off in a circular motion as you once again rinse the glasses under warm water. Repeat if necessary and then dry your glasses using a soft cotton towel. There are also cleaning solutions that can be purchased to protect the anti-glare and anti-scratch coatings on glasses.

Although tissue, paper towels and napkins are often convenient to use for a quick cleaning, they are not a wise option as they are made up of rough fibers that more often than not leave debris behind. Another common cleaning substance - saliva - is not only unhygienic but also ineffective in properly removing dirt and smudges. Additionally, it is crucial to avoid using ammonia, bleach, vinegar and window cleaner to clean your specs as these substances contain chemicals which can damage the coating on your lenses.

Of course the next time you visit your eye doctor feel free to ask us for one of the microfiber cloths made especially for cleaning eyeglasses, which are helpful for a dry touch up of your glasses during the course of the day. Try to keep the cloth in a contained place away from dirt such as inside your eyeglasses case.

Another cause of dirty glasses is poor alignment - when the skin or eyelashes touch the lens, smudging is a never-ending problem. You can return to the eye doctor and ask the optician if it is possible to adjust the glasses for optimal alignment of the glasses. Be careful when you first purchase eyewear that the frame fits well so you can avoid this problem.

Get the most out of your eyewear. Keep your lenses clean and clear so you can see your best.

Dry Eye Syndrome: When Dry Eyes are Chronic

Dry eyes are a common problem for many individuals particularly during the winter months when exposure to dry air and whipping wind is increased. However, if you are suffering from dry eyes that just won't go away, you may have what is known as Dry Eye Syndrome - a condition in which the tears that lubricate and nourish the eye are not being produced sufficiently.

Tears serve to keep the surface of the eye moist, smooth and clear, to reduce the risk of infection and to remove foreign substances. Tear ducts in the corner of the eyelid drain the excess tears. Dry eyes syndrome is a chronic condition characterized by inadequate tear production or poor quality of the tears produced. A number of factors contribute to the condition including advanced age, female gender, environmental conditions, medication or particular medical conditions. Extended periods reading or working on a computer without blinking, prolonged use of contacts or refractive eye surgeries can also contribute to decreased moisture and tear production.

An optometrist will be able to determine whether you have chronic dry eye syndrome by examining your eye and your blinking pattern, measuring the amount and quality of your tears and assessing your medical and environmental history.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome include:

  • Persistent dry eyes
  • Scratchiness or gritty sensation
  • Burning sensation
  • Feeling like there is something is in your eye
  • Excessively watery eyes
  • Blurred vision

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is worthwhile to schedule an appointment with your optometrist. If you have dry eye syndrome, there are treatments available to relieve your discomfort.

Diabetes and Vision Loss

Far too many people are unaware of the fact that diabetes increases the risk of vision loss. The NIH reports that diabetes is the primary cause of blindness among individuals aged 20 to 74 years old. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is retinal damage caused by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye, which is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition is one of the most serious complications of the disease and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.

Diabetic retinopathy is often asymptomatic until there has been significant vision loss. When the pressure in the blood vessels in the retina builds up they begin to leak resulting in retinal damage. This damage can cause vision loss and when not treated, blindness.

Because symptoms are often not noticed until significant damage is done it is important to schedule a yearly comprehensive eye exam if you have diabetes. Warning signs of developing diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, shadows in the field of view, blurred vision, corneal abnormalities, seeing double, eye pain and near vision problems that have nothing to do with presbyopia. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.

The risk of diabetic eye disease is higher when blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. Controlling your sugar levels through diet, exercise and staying healthy and annual eye exams is the best defense for preventing vision loss.

This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy and consult with your eye doctor if you have any questions. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.

Toric Lenses: A Life Changer for Astigmatism

If you are someone with astigmatism and you don't wear contact lenses, then listen up. Contact lenses can actually be a way to correct the condition. To begin, what's astigmatism, anyway? Astigmatism means that your eye has an irregularly shaped cornea, and that means that light entering your eye through the cornea struggles to come to a single focal point on the retina, resulting in blurred vision.

Contact lenses designed to correct astigmatism, known as toric contact lenses, are manufactured from the same material as regular lenses. Toric lenses have a design that is different from that of regular lenses. Compared to regular lenses, which have one power throughout the lens, toric lenses have two different powers; one which addresses astigmatism, and one for trouble with distance vision. They feature curvatures at various angles. Since they feature two different powers, these lenses must remain in place on your eye in order to correct your vision, unlike normal contact lenses, which have no effect if they rotate on your eye when you blink. However, lenses for astigmatism are smartly designed with this in mind, and they are a little heavier at the bottom, which helps them stay in place.

There are multiple scheduling options for toric contact lens users, including soft disposable contact lenses, daily disposable lenses, and frequent replacement lenses. Toric lenses are also available as color contact lenses, and as multifocal lenses. Hard contact lenses are made from a firmer substance that keeps their shape when you rub your eyes or blink, and sometimes give better vision than other lenses. But the disadvantage is that they are often not as comfortable. There's a contact lens which perfectly suits your needs, and together, we'll find it for you.

Fittings for toric lenses can often require more time than the regular lens fittings you might be used to, because of the relative complexity of the lens. But it's worth it. With constant growth in the field of optometry, individuals with astigmatism have lots of life-improving options to choose from.

How Retinoscopy Works

On occasion, particularly when performing an eye exam on a small child the optometrist will direct a light in the eye. But what does this do? Such as test is used to help determine the refractive error of your eye, and it's called retinoscopy. By just looking at the reflection of light off your retina, the eye doctor can assess if you are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism, and can also get a pretty good reading on the prescription you would need to correct your vision.

Essentially, what we are doing during a retinoscopy exam is checking how well your eye focuses. When we use the retinoscope to shine light into your eye, a reddish light reflects off your retina, through your pupil. This is known as the red reflex. The degree at which the light reflects off your retina, also called your focal length, is the thing that tells us how well your eye can focus. If it's apparent that you can't focus well, we hold several lenses with varying prescriptions in front of the eye to see which one fixes the refractive error.

The eye doctor will run your exam in a dark room. The patient will usually be asked to look at something ahead, just behind the doctor. This makes eyes easier to examine. Not having to read any eye charts means that a retinoscopy exam is also a really useful tool to determine the prescriptions of those who may struggle with speech, like young children and the elderly.

Staying Safe with Your Smartphone

Lately, it would be difficult to find someone not on some sort of mobile device. In truth, these devices are wonderful, because they let us stay in touch with whoever we want no matter where we are. However a lot of people hold their phones and tablets right in front of their eyes. Reading like this can really be a strain on your eyes.

Because people tend to hold smart phones so close, our eyes end up working hard, just to look at text and images. It won't come as a shock to know that this can lead to issues, especially for people who already have vision correction such as glasses or contact lenses. If you already wear glasses, holding your phone or tablet too close can make it even harder for your eyes to correct for distance. Eventually, these difficulties can lead to eyestrain and headaches.

But there are more symptoms that can arise. Holding your device too close can make you blink less, which can lead to dry eyes and blurry vision.

What can we do keep our eyes strong, while still using our phones? In order to lessen eyestrain and blurred vision resulting from the use of handheld devices, it is recommended to make the text on your device as big as possible and try to hold your smart phone as far away from your eyes as you can. And don't use your phone too much! If it's been a while, allow your eyes to have a little time away from the screen. If you still experience headaches, you might have presbyopia, and need glasses to correct that. Call us to book an exam, if this is something you're experiencing. We all need technology, but it's important to be smart about how we engage with it, in order to help preserve our vision.

Seeing Clearly with Multifocals

If you're close to the age of 40 and starting to notice difficulty reading fine print, you might have developed presbyopia, a common age-related condition that prevents you from clearly seeing near objects. It's comforting to know that developing presbyopia when you already need glasses for near sightedness doesn't mean you need to start switching between two pairs of specs. This is because of multifocal lenses, which correct both problems, making sure you always see clearly.

Multifocals are far superior to bifocals. Bifocals corrected poor near and far vision, but usually things in between were blurry. In an effort to create a better product, progressive lenses were made. These give you and intermediate or transition part of the lens allowing you focus on the area between near and far distances. Progressive or no-line lenses are a type of multifocal lens featuring a gradual curvature across the lens surface rather than a sharp line distinguishing the two areas of the lens. This creates not just clearer vision at all distances, but also good transitions in between.

These lenses, although better, can require some time to get used to. While the subtle lens curve results in a product that is elegant, the lens's areas of focus are relatively small, so that there's also room for transitional areas.

Bifocals still have their uses though; they are used to treat children and teenagers who have a hard time focusing when reading.

Even though it may appear to be an easy solution, it's best to steer clear of pharmacy bifocals. A lot of these types of glasses have the same prescription in both lenses, which will not help a lot of people.

Glasses that aren't properly customized to you can lead to eye strain, discomfort and headaches. Unfortunately, presbyopia is a reality of aging. But keep in mind that multifocal lenses can make all the difference.

Helping Lazy Eyes Get Active

Lazy eyes are pretty common, and are also quite easy to rectify. Amblyopia forms when the brain switches off or suppresses vision in one eye. This can occur if someone struggles to see as well with one of their eyes because of issues with distance vision, and in some cases, astigmatism. In addition to eye glasses, a common treatment option is putting an eye patch on your child's eye for a number of hours per day to strengthen sight in the lazy eye. But how does wearing a patch really help? Basically, wearing a patch encourages your child's brain to connect with the weaker eye, and over time, strengthen it.

Often, parents find it extremely difficult to fit their children with patches, particularly when they're on the younger side. Their more active eye is patched, which restricts their ability to see. It's a confusing conundrum- your child must wear the patch to improve their weaker eye, but that weak eyesight is just what makes the patching so difficult. There are a number of methods to encourage your child to wear their patch. With preschoolers, use a reward chart with stickers. Eye patch manufacturers understand your plight; patches are available in lots of kid-friendly colors and patterns. Make it an activity by giving them the opportunity to choose their patch every day and using the aforementioned stickers as rewards. For kids who are a little older, explain the helpfulness of wearing a patch, and refer to it as an exercise to help their vision in the long term.

For very young children, you can use flotation wings to prevent them from reaching their eyes to remove the patch.

Patches are a great solution to lazy eyes and can be really effective, but it depends on your child's cooperation and your ability to stick to the long-term goal of improving your child's vision.

What Our Eye Doctors Need to Know

Do you have an eye exam coming up in the near future? There are a few things you should let us know about so that we can ensure you are analyzed completely and thoroughly.

It's of great importance that you let us know about any current health conditions or problems you may have noticed, because your eyes can be affected by changes in your body. What are some things we'd need to be informed of? Here are some examples: allergies, pregnancy, high blood pressure, diabetes or any other serious illness.

Our doctors will also take into consideration some details regarding your lifestyle habits, like if you're a smoker, because this can have a poor effect on your eyes. Tell us what you're using your eyes for. Does your job take place in a factory, or do you sit at a computer the entire day? Being informed of these details will make it easier for us to determine your treatment plan.

And if there are any eye diseases effecting members of your family, it's important to inform us, because a few of them are hereditary. It's a lot easier to keep an eye out for certain signs when we already know which conditions you may be prone to.

Some symptoms include changes to your vision like seeing double, spots or flashing lights. If you begin to experience any of these, call us as soon as you can. We'll then do our very best to get to bottom of the cause of the condition, and suggest the best possible treatment. Do remember to bring your newest pair of glasses along to the exam. Your specs can give us information about your vision, even if you're a contact lens wearer. Together, we will discover the most efficient way to resolve your eye needs.

In the Middle of the Night: Seeing in the Dark

Imagine your house loses power and suddenly, you need to locate a flashlight or the fuse box. It takes a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. This process is known as ''dark adaptation'' and it helps our eyes adjust to the dark.

In order for night vision and dark adaptation to occur, many physiological, neurological and biochemical mechanisms must take place behind the scenes. Let's talk about how your eye actually operates in these conditions. The retina is a layer of cells at the back of the eye. The section of the retina directly across from the pupil which produces the point of focus is called the fovea. The retina is made up of rod-shaped and cone-shaped cells. The rods are able to function even in low light conditions but those cells are not found in the fovea. What's the difference between rods and cones? In short, details and colors we see are detected by the cones, while rod cells allow us to see black and white, and are light sensitive.

Let's put this all together. Imagine you're attempting to focus on an object in the dark, you'll be better off if you look at something next to it. If, on the other hand, you focus on the object itself, you'll use the fovea, which is made up of cone cells that are less responsive in low light conditions.

Your pupils also dilate when it's dark. Your pupil grows to it its biggest capacity in less than a minute; however, your eyes will get better at seeing in the dark over a 30 minute time frame and, as you've experienced, during this time, your ability to see in the low light setting will increase greatly.

Here's an example of dark adaptation: when you exit a bright area and enter a dim one, for example, when you go inside after being out in the sun. Even though you need several moments to adapt to the darker conditions, you will immediately be able to re-adapt upon returning to bright light, but then the dark adaptation process will have to begin from scratch if you go back into the dark.

This is actually one reason behind why a lot people don't like to drive when it's dark. If you look right at the ''brights'' of an oncoming car in traffic, you are momentarily blinded, until you pass them and your eyes readjust to the night light. A helpful way to prevent this sort of temporary blindness is to avoid looking directly at headlights, and instead, try to allow peripheral vision to guide you.

There are a number of things that could, hypothetically lead to difficulty with night vision. These include not getting enough Vitamin A in your diet, macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and others. If you notice that you have problems with dark adapting, call to make an appointment with one of our eye doctors who will be able to shed some light on the issue.

Middle Age and Presbyopia

Often, around age 40, people find that they're beginning to have a hard time reading. Here's why: Because as you age, the lens of your eye is likely to become less flexible, decreasing your ability to focus on handheld objects. This is called presbyopia. It's something that affects all of us.

Often, to prevent having to strain their eyes, people with untreated presbyopia may hold reading material at arm's length in order to focus properly. Performing other tasks at close range, such as needlepoint or writing, can also result in headaches, eyestrain or fatigue in individuals who have developed presbyopia. In order to treat presbyopia, it's good to know that there are a number of alternatives available, which take your eyewear preferences into account.

Reading glasses are generally most efficient for those who wear contacts or for people who don't need glasses for correcting distance vision. These are readily available, but you shouldn't get them until you've seen the results of a comprehensive eye examination. Unfortunately, these sorts of reading glasses may help for brief blocks of reading time but they can cause fatigue when people wear them for a long time. Custom made readers are often a superior solution. These can address additional eye issues such as correct astigmatism, accommodate prescriptions that are different between the two eyes, and furthermore, the optic centers of every lens are customized to suit the wearer. The reading distance can be adjusted to meet the individual's needs.

If you don't want to switch between different pairs of glasses, think about bifocal or multi-focal corrective lenses, or PALs (progressive addition lenses), which a lot of people find very beneficial. Essentially, these are eyeglasses that have more than one point of focus, and the lower part of the lens contains a prescription to give you the ability to focus on things right in front of you. If you already wear contacts, it's recommended to talk to your eye care professional to discuss multifocal contact lenses, or a treatment technique known as monovision. Monovision is when one eye wears a lens for distance vision and one eye wears a lens for close vision.

Due to the fact that your vision changes as you grow older, it's fair to expect your prescription to increase periodically. Presbyopia is seen in people even after refractive surgery, so it is it's worthwhile to take the time to find out about all the options before making decisions about your vision care.

Have to chat with your optometrist for a helpful perspective. We can give you the tools to help you deal with presbyopia and your changing vision in a way that's both beneficial and accessible.

Focusing on Kids’ Eye Safety

Understandably, moms and dads worry about keeping their kids' eyes safe. But it can be difficult to know how to choose the toys that are the safest and most educational.

Children are born with only semi-formed vision. Nothing stimulates a child's visual development more efficiently than toys that involve hand-eye coordination and learning about spatial relationships. Good toys to encourage a baby's sight in his or her first year include geometric mobiles or colors, and play mats that have interactive or removable objects, balls, books and puppets. Between the ages of 0-3 months, babies can't fully differentiate between colors, so simple black and white shapes and patterns are really great for their age group.

Kids spend a considerable amount of time with toys, so it's good for parents to know if those toys are safe or not. A toy that is not age appropriate is usually not safe. Don't forget to be sure that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Despite the fact that companies indicate age and developmental appropriateness on the box, it is up to you to make the call, so your son or daughter avoids playing with something that could be harmful to them.

Blocks are a really good choice for kids of most ages, but for younger children, you need to make sure that they have no sharp edges and corners, to decrease the possibility of eye injury. And don't forget to look at the how small a toy is. If you have little children a toy that is mouth size is not something they should be playing with. Be watchful of toys that can be pressed or shaped into a smaller size also. It's advised to put small toys aside until your son or daughter is older.

Avoid toys with edges or any sharp parts for little ones, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, always make sure the ends aren't sharp. Always pay attention when they play with those kinds of toys.

For children younger than 6, stay clear of toys projectiles, like dart guns. Even when they're older than 6, always pay close attention with those kinds of toys. Whereas, for older kids who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they are wearing safety goggles.

So the next time you're looking for a gift, look for the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Be certain that there's no harm posed to your child.

A Strong School Year Starts With Good Vision

It's that time of year again. Boys and girls across the country are preparing for the next academic year, with their new bags, new books and a whole lot of anticipation. And if you haven't already done so, it's also an optimal time to bring your child in for an eye exam.

As you might have guessed, a lot of school-based learning is achieved visually. But even with this overt connection between sight and learning, a lot of people seem to be unaware of this, and don't include a visit to the eye doctor as part of their child's back to school medical check-up. As your child's vision may change frequently, regular eye care is necessary for success at school.

It is even more important to monitor the signs and symptoms of vision problems as your child progresses in school. Telltale signs may include not properly seeing numbers or letters, frequently watering eyes, eye rubbing, squinting, avoiding small print, and head tilting.

Not having the ability to meet the visual requirements in the classroom can affect his or her academic growth. Recently developed educational technology, such as interactive whiteboards, can even provoke previously hidden vision issues. Without adequate vision, kids can be at a disadvantage not just in the classroom, but also mentally, physically and emotionally.

If you're the parent of a glasses-wearing child, the start of the school year is a great time to reassess the suitability of his or her current frames and perhaps buy new glasses for your child for the new school year. Sometimes, although a child can see well wearing his or her old glasses, they may be uncomfortable to wear or perhaps the optical centers of the lenses are not optimally positioned anymore due to normal growth. If kids don't feel good in their glasses, they probably won't wear them much.

So don't forget to visit us when you're getting your kids ready for their year. We'll do our very best to help all the children we treat begin the new school year with vision that's in excellent condition.

What is Convergence Insufficiency?

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Does your child excel in so many things, but struggle at school? You may be relieved to know that he or she may be one of many kids who have a hard-to-detect vision issue, which creates an obstacle in the way of learning. It's known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

Here's the breakdown: CI is a problem that affects a child's capacity to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A sufferer of CI has a hard time, or is more or less unable to coordinate his/her eyes at close distances, which impairs things like reading. And because they want to avoid double vision, schoolchildren try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. That might not sound all that bad, but that additional burden on the system can lead to a whole range of frustrating symptoms like eyestrain, headaches, blurry or double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and the inability to comprehend even during relatively small reading periods.

You might also notice that your son or daughter often loses the place in a book, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles when trying to repeat what was just read, or reports that words seem to move around on the page. It is not uncommon for all these symptoms to get worse after a long time spent reading or writing, and even more so if he or she is tired or nervous.

CI is usually diagnosed incorrectly as ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, or an anxiety disorder. And furthermore, this eye problem is often unable to be detected when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart. Your son or daughter might have 20/20 vision, but also have CI and therefore, struggle with reading.

But there's good news too! It's been shown that CI often responds positively to treatment. These treatments are usually comprised of vision therapy performed by an eye care professional with reinforcing practice sessions at home, or the use of devices known as prism glasses, which can minimize some symptoms. Sadly, people aren't tested thoroughly enough, and as a result, aren't getting the help they require early enough. So if your child shows signs of having a hard time with anything mentioned above, see your optometrist to discuss having your child tested for CI.

So What IS 20/20 Vision?

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Everyone has heard the expressions visual acuity and 20/20 vision. Yet, what do these terms truly mean? When you really understand what they imply, you will get why an optometrist asks you to do more than simply read from the eye chart.

The term 20/20 refers to the clarity and sharpness of eyesight from 20 feet away. If you have 20/20 eyesight, it means that from 20 feet away you are able to clearly see that which is normally seen from that distance. To give an extreme example, 20/100 eyesight would indicate that you would need to be as close as 20 feet away to see what a normal-sighted person would see from 100 feet away. Obviously, in this scenario, you would be extremely near sighted.

Your eyes are tested separately. When you're asked to look at the eye chart and read out the letters, the smallest letters you can clearly read determine the visual acuity of the eye being examined.

20/20 sight doesn't necessarily mean your vision is perfect, because, after all, it can only judge how accurately you see at a distance. There are other really crucial components to seeing accurately; being able to focus on objects that are close by, contrast sensitivity, peripheral awareness, depth perception, eye coordination and color vision - these all contribute to your overall ability to see. And actually, a patient who has 20/20 vision can have eye problems. Even those who have suffered damage to the retina due to glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure, or numerous other diseases are still able to have 20/20 vision without glasses. This is why an optometrist always conducts a comprehensive eye exam, as opposed to just a simple visual acuity exam.

When you're having your next eye exam, you'll understand why you're being told to read letters off an eye chart, and more!

Get The Fresh Look

Do you want a different, newer look for your eyes? Introducing FreshLook®. They offer a large range of colored contact lenses, which let you subtly enhance or noticeably transform your natural eye color.

This cutting edge collection of lenses includes such an extensive amount of options, that you're sure to get exactly what you're looking for. Whether your eyes are dark or light, FreshLook® contacts are able to change your eye color, to provide a fresh, gorgeous and most importantly, natural look. Every item in the range comes in 2 week or daily disposable alternatives.

When it's time to choose a color contact lens for your eyes, think about the color of your skin, hair and eyes, and the sort of look you want. Additionally, if you want to check out the many color choices and see how these contacts will look, you can virtually ''try on'' a whole range of color contact lenses by visiting the FreshLook® website and just uploading a headshot of yourself, before going to see your eye doctor.

Whether color contacts are used as prescription lenses or only cosmetically to enhance your natural color, they must be fitted by an optometrist, so be sure to see us to hear all about your FreshLook® options.

Clean Lids for Healthy Eyes

Inflamed eyelids, also called blepharitis, is something that many people suffer from at some point during their lives. Blepharitis is a common eyelid inflammation, usually associated with an already existing bacterial eye infection, specific kinds of skin conditions, or dry eye symptoms.

Common symptoms include itching, burning, redness, the sensation of a foreign body in the eye, tearing and crusting around the eye. The condition can sometimes be problematic to manage, because it's usually chronic.

You'll be glad to hear that there are numerous options available to handle blepharitis and make sure your eyes stay clean and healthy. Firstly, apply a warm towel to your closed eyelid to help the crust begin to loosen before you clean them. The warmth from the washcloth will also help remove any clogged residue in the oil-secreting glands in your eyelids. When you begin treatment, you will probably need to remember to do this several times throughout the day for approximately 5 minutes every time. After that, you can use the compress one time per day, just for a few minutes.

Cleaning your eyelids is central to blepharitis treatment, so it's best to use a commercial lid scrub or whatever product your optometrist recommends. You want to gently massage your outer eyelids and all residue should be rinsed off after the cleansing process.

Although it may be uncomfortable, blepharitis isn't catching and generally, doesn't lead to any enduring damage to your vision, so speak to your O. D. about how to make sure your lids are clean and healthy.

A Lens a Day Keeps the Redness Away

Do you ever leave your disposable contact lenses in for too long? It's a pretty accepted fact that most things are in their best condition when they haven't been used too much. You won't be surprised to hear that the same principle is also applicable to your contact lenses. There are so many reasons why you shouldn't keep them in for any more time than you need to. Despite that fact that it might not seem so bad, if you care about having healthy eyes, stick to the replacement and wearing routine your optician determines. In other words, if your optometrist tells you to change pairs daily, change them daily, because they're not made to withstand reuse.

A lot of people think to themselves, would it be so bad if I got two or three additional days out of them? To explain this, let's examine protein - not the dietary kind, but the natural protein contained in your eye fluids that gathers over time on the surface of your lenses, creating a light haze. Blurry eyesight is just the start.

Eventually these proteins change form and confuse your immune system, which begins to think that the buildup is a foreign particle, and the body's reaction can be expressed as itchy, swollen and irritated eyes. And when this occurs, a toll is taken on your vision. Other factors can also attribute to this, like the build up of dust or pollen on the lens But even when people take great care of their contacts, over time they become less smooth and clear, due to normal wear and tear.

So adhere to the plan your eye care professional decides on for you. Everyone's eyes are unique, so only your eye care professional should determine the correct contact lens replacement routine for you. When you dispose of and replace your contact lenses on time, you'll never notice the difference that becomes so apparent when you wear them any longer than you're meant to.

Focusing on Cataracts

June is Cataract Awareness month. Have you been informed that cataracts are the leading source of vision loss among those 55 and older? In fact, more than 50% of the population who are 65 and older have at least some cataract development.

So what exactly is a cataract? A cataract is a fogging of the eye's lens, which blocks or affects the way light enters into the eye. When it comes to most people, cataracts are an expected result of aging. Additional causes for developing a cataract include harsh heat or ongoing exposure to the sun's UV rays, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, family history, eye injuries and smoking.

During the early stages of cataract development, more efficient lights and glasses may be prescribed to reduce the vision problems you might experience. Eventually, however, a surgical procedure might be necessary in order to fix your eyesight. More than 9 out of 10 sufferers who have undergone cataract surgery reacquire excellent vision.

If you are in your 60s and perceiving cloudy vision, the time has come to discuss cataracts with your eye care professional. Cataracts are treatable, and we know you want to see well throughout your golden years.

How To Protect Yourself from UV Rays

It's a fact: almost everybody is regularly exposed to UV rays. But the dangers of many years of exposure to these harsh rays are rarely considered, to a point where most people take little action to protect their eyes, even if they're expecting on being outside for many hours. Overexposure to UV is unsafe and cannot be reversed, and may also lead to more than a few severe, sight-stealing diseases down the road. This means that ongoing protection from these rays is equally important for everybody.

UV radiation, which comes mostly from the sun, is made up of 2 categories of damaging rays: UVA and UVB. Although only minimal amounts of UVA and UVB light reach the inner eye, the eye cells are very receptive to the dangerous effects of their rays. Intense, short-term of exposure can easily lead to sunburnt eyes, or photokeratitis. When the cornea receives UVB rays, the cells that make up its exterior are destroyed, which can lead to pain, blurred vision or temporary blindness. UVA rays can penetrate much deeper into the eye, which causes damage to the retina. Over time, being exposed to UV rays may cause significant damage to the eyes.

An ideal way to protect your eyes from UV rays is through the use of high quality eyewear. Be sure that your sunglasses or prescription glasses block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. An inadequate pair of sunglasses can sometimes be worse than using no sun protection at all. Think about it this way: if sunglasses offer no UV protection, you are actually increasing your exposure to UV rays. Sunglasses that are inadequate will reduce the light, forcing your iris to open and allow more light in. This means that more UV will reach the retina. It's important to check that your sunglasses give enough protection against UV.

Speak to your optometrist about the various UV protection options, including adaptive lenses, polarized lenses and fixed tint sunglasses.

Focusing on Comprehensive Eye Exams

May is healthy vision month. When was the last time you had a comprehensive eye exam? Getting your eyes tested periodically is one of the best steps you can take to ensure your eyesight remains strong and healthy. During the session, your optometrist examines your eyes to look for common vision problems and eye diseases, some of which have no early warning symptoms.

The exam commences with a visual acuity test, using an eye chart to assess how well you see at different distances. The outside of your eye will also be assessed.

As soon as your tests are finished, your eye care professional may examine your retina using specialized diagnostic technology. This examination is extremely important, because it provides crucial information about the health of your eyes, as well as information concerning your overall health. To give an example, it can show signs of diseases such as diabetes and also point to unhealthy blood pressure.

Finally, you will be checked for signs of glaucoma. This is done by measuring the pressure in your eye, with a quick puff of air pointed onto your eye.

It's time to take the extra measure for your vision. Commit to making your eye health a foremost concern, and call to schedule an eye exam today.

See Clearly with Transitions® Optical’s Vantage™ Lens

One of the most reputable lens manufacturers, Transitions® Optical, have announced a new addition to their extensive range. It's called the Transitions® Vantage lens. The company has created an even better version of their impressive light adapting lens with the addition of groundbreaking variable polarization.

Sunlight reflecting off smooth surfaces like water or glass can make it harder and more uncomfortable to see. The process that filters these reflections, to allow you to see with clarity, is called polarization.

The new lens is the first photochromic lens with variable polarization - polarization that increases as the lenses get darker in sunlight.

When the lenses get darker as the light gets brighter, your vision becomes clearer and crisper while glare decreases, regardless of the lighting conditions.

This lens is made for everyday wear, and are great for an extensive assortment of activities, from reading or writing and using a computer, to working outside and driving. The lens is completely clear indoors and turns into a highly effective dark lens when you go outside.

If you're in need of eye wear that can be used every day, inside and in the sun, talk to your optometrist about Transitions® Vantage lenses and how they can improve your quality of sight.

Watching Out for Poor Vision

Often, when either children an adults experience poor vision, it can be caused by several possible conditions such as changes in the body or abnormalities in the eye, diseases affecting the eye, side effects caused by medication or injury. Lots of people also suffer from visual abnormalities resulting from aging or eye strain. This can lead to changes in your eyesight, which might sometimes make it uncomfortable or difficult to perform daily activities such as reading the newspaper or looking at a computer screen for long periods. These vision problems can be expressed through the following symptoms: eye strain, headache, blurred vision, and trouble seeing from short or long distances.

Blurred vision is one of the most oft-reported signs of a vision problem. If you have blurred vision when you're looking at distant objects or signs, you may very well have myopia, or be nearsighted. Blurred vision that's present when you are looking at anything at close range may be a sign of farsightedness, or hyperopia. Blurred vision can also mean you have astigmatism because of an irregularity in the shape of the cornea, or the curvature of the lens inside the eye. Whatever the cause of blurry vision, it's vital that an eye care professional examine your eyes and decide on the best way to improve your sight.

A sudden onset of flashes of light, often combined with floating black spots and the feeling of a dark curtain or veil that limits a section of your vision indicates the possibility of what's known as a retinal detachment. In this case, make an appointment to see your eye doctor as soon as you can, because this can have severe consequences.

Another common warning sign of a vision problem is trouble distinguishing different colors or intensity of color. This indicates color blindness. Color blindness is generally unknown to the patient until diagnosed with a test. Color blindness is mainly something that affects males. If a woman has problems seeing color it could mean she has ocular disease, in which case, an optometrist should be consulted. For those who have difficulty distinguishing objects in minimal light, it could mean the patient suffers from night blindness.

Cataracts, a condition frequently seen older people can have numerous telltale signs including: blurry sight that is worse in bright light, trouble seeing in the dark or reduced light, trouble discerning small writing or objects, colors that appear faded or yellowed, unexpected improvement in near vision but a decline in distance vision, painful puffiness around the eye, and a milky white look to the normally dark pupil.

Throbbing eye pain, headaches, blurry vision, inflammation in the eye, colorful halos around lights, nausea and vomiting are also signs of glaucoma, a severe medical illness, which requires medical attention.

With younger patients, it is important to keep an eye out for uncoordinated eye movement, or crossed eyes, which may indicate a vision problem called strabismus. Some behavior in children, like rubbing one or both eyes, squinting, or the need to shut one eye in order to look at things better, often indicate strabismus.

If you are familiar with any of the symptoms listed here, see your eye doctor promptly. Though some conditions could be more problematic than others, anything that restricts normal eyesight will be something that really affects your quality of life. A quick consultation with your optometrist can save you from being avoidably uncomfortable, not to mention further eye and vision damage.

A Look Inside Women’s Eye and Vision Health

In April, Prevent Blindness America addresses eye health issues specific to women.

Women go through many changes during their lifetime. Each change could affect her vision differently. Eye disease in women is increasingly common, particularly in older women. In fact, studies indicate that large numbers of women over the age of 40 exhibit some sort of visual impairment, and may be in danger of developing conditions like dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's worth noting that the risk of women developing vision impairments has increased due to women's growing longevity.

As a woman, an important step to take to ensure good vision is to make a thorough eye test part of your normal health check up. Be sure to go get a full eye test before reaching the age of forty, and that you adhere to the advice your eye care professional recommends. Additionally, be familiar with your family history, as your genes are a highly relevant factor in comprehending, diagnosing and stopping eye diseases. Don't forget to look into your family's medical history and alert your eye doctor of any diseases that show up.

When it comes to nutrition, maintain a healthful, varied diet and make sure to include foods rich in zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, all which help prevent vision loss as a result of eye disease. You can also take vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A tablets, which are all great starting points to keeping up top-notch eye care.

For women who smoke, make a commitment to stop, as even second-hand smoke can add to the danger of eye disease and is a known cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also aid in the development of cataracts and AMD, are very harmful for your eyesight. When you go outside, and not just during the summer, don't forget to wear 100% UV protective sunglasses and a sun hat that will protect your eyes from harsh rays.

Hormonal shifts such as what might occur during pregnancy or menopause, can also influence your vision. Sometimes, these shifts can even make contacts ineffective or uncomfortable to wear. During pregnancy, you may want to reduce lens wearing time and alter your eyeglass prescription if necessary. It's worthwhile to make an appointment with your eye care professional during your pregnancy to talk about any eyesight or vision changes you may be noticing.

It is also important to shield your eyes from household dangers, such as domestic cleaners. Be sure that household chemicals, including cleaning agents, paints and strong detergents are stored safely and are out of reach of small children. Wash your hands properly after working with all chemicals and wear eye protection if employing the use of strong chemicals. Wear proper safety goggles when repairing things around the house, most importantly when working with potentially dangerous objects or tools.

 

Women need to be informed of the risks and considerations when it comes to caring for your eyes. And of course, it can't hurt to inform the women in your life, such as daughters and friends, about how to look after their eyes and vision.

This month we recognize Sports Eye Safety Month

With the spring, along with more chance to participate in outdoor sports, comes an increase in the danger of eye injuries related to sports. Each year, far too many children and adults incur sports related eye injuries that could easily be avoided with the right safety measures and information. Protecting your eyes while participating in sports is essential particularly in contact sports or those that bring you out into the sun such as ice hockey, baseball, lacrosse, badminton, boxing, volleyball, or golf.

You can avoid the majority of sports related eye accidents by wearing the proper protective eyewear right for the type of physical activity you are participating in. Protective eyewear will keep you safe from injury and will also have lenses that shield you from UV light for when you're outdoors. Eye wear made specifically for sports is made to prepare you for frequently occurring accidents. Regular frames and lenses typically don't meet the minimum requirements for preventing impact, meaning that a minor tumble can turn into an actual eye injury that could potentially threaten your eyesight.

Sports and eye safety goes beyond choosing the appropriate eyewear. Your sight is an essential part of your ability to compete, so you need to have strong vision. If you normally wear glasses, you might need protective sports glasses that have a prescription that will also help to correct your vision. For contact lens wearers, you might need a different lens than the lenses you normally wear. Speak to your optometrist regarding the options at your disposal.

Each sport has differing dangers and demands, so it's important to let your eye care professional determine your unique situation and suggest the right glasses or contact lenses to maximize your visual skills. This is key in helping you get the edge you need to excel and have fun safely.

Different sports include differing needs and risks, so it's important to allow your eye care professional to assess your unique needs and suggest the correct eyeglasses or contact lenses best for your vision. This is key in helping you give you the boost that'll help you excel and have fun safely.

How Vision Affects Road Safety

One of the greatest necessities for safe driving is, undeniably, good vision. As a matter of fact, staying safe on the road relies on a combination of a number of different visual abilities like distance and near vision, side or peripheral vision, seeing at night and color vision, just to name a few.

Being able to see well into the distance is crucial because of how it lets you scan the road ahead of you and become aware of any dangerous things that might come up. Most importantly, it gives you more time to act fast and stop any accidents that might have otherwise taken place. On the other hand, if you lack strong distance vision then there's a chance you may not see the dangers until it's too late.

Just as important is peripheral or side vision, which enables you see to the sides of your vehicle, which is crucial to see other cars, animals and pedestrians without needing to look away from the road ahead. Strong peripheral vision is also important when changing lanes and making turns. Use both your rearview and side mirrors. Make sure they're angled properly, to enhance your view of the road to your sides and back.

Additionally, good depth perception is important for road safety. This allows you to judge distances correctly in dense driving conditions, change lanes and overtake other cars. Good depth perception requires proper sight in both of your eyes. If one lacks proper vision in one eye, it's essential to check with an eye doctor to see whether it is okay for you to drive. You may need to stop driving until a solution is found to correct your vision.

Accommodation also comes into use while on the road. Accommodating is the ability to move your focus from a view ahead to something in front of you, such as from the road to the speedometer. If you've recently hit middle-age it's common for you to have increasing difficulty with near vision, and you might need reading glasses or another corrective device to see objects up close. Call your optometrist to talk about the best option.

Don't wait until you renew or apply for your driver's license to get your eyes checked. You don't want to endanger your life or those of others on the road! If you think your eyesight isn't adequate, visit your eye doctor, and get a thorough eye exam as soon as you can.

Your Vision in the Workplace

To educate businesses and their workers about the necessity of eye wellness, and to spread advice on how to avoid vision-endangering eye accidents, Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has marked the month of March as Workplace Vision Wellness Month.

Each day, workers are inflicted by job related eye injuries that demand the attention of an eye care professional or doctor. Workplace safety experts and doctors say that the two most common reasons that employees get eye injuries is either because they don't use anything to protect their eyes or they are taking the wrong sorts of safety measures.

Building, factory work, mining, woodwork, auto repair, electrical work, plumbing, welding and maintenance are all high risk occupations for eye accidents.

Making Work a Safe Site

Here are four important tips to avoid eye accidents at work:

  • Be aware of the eye safety dangers related to your work.
  • Reduce your exposure to risks before starting work by asking for machine guards, work screens or other engineering controls.
  • Wear protective glasses that are fitted well and give enough protection for your job. Your optometrist will be able to help to determine the best safety eyewear for your particular situation.
  • Make sure to keep your protective eyewear in great condition, and replace when damaged.

Healthy Screen Vision

Those who spend a large portion of their day working on computers or using mobile devices are also at risk of discomfort such as blurred vision, headaches and eye strain. Because of the increase in the use of computers in our lives, these dangers are becoming increasingly prevalent.

Here are some suggestions to avoid eye strain and visual discomfort when working on a computer or using a hand held device:

Utilize the 20-20-20 rule which will help your eyes rest. At every 20 minute interval take a 20 second break and watch something about 20 feet in the distance. If using a hand-held device, enlarge the text so you can use it at a distance better for your eyes.

Also adjust the light intensity of your monitor to a resolution that is not too bright or too dim and place your monitor right under eye level to reduce any pressure on your eyes. You may also want to consider purchasing computer glasses.

If you have any further questions about protecting your vision at work, please talk to us today!

What is Astigmatism

Surrounding your iris and pupil is your cornea, which is, under normal circumstances, round. When light enters your eye from all angles, part of the role of your cornea is to help project that light, directing it toward your retina, right in the back of your eye. But what is the result if the cornea is not exactly spherical? The eye can't focus the light correctly on one focus on your retina, and will cause your vision to be blurred. This is referred to as astigmatism.

Astigmatism is actually a fairly common vision problem, and usually comes with other refractive errors that require vision correction. Astigmatism often appears early in life and often causes eye strain, painful headaches and squinting when uncorrected. In kids, it can lead to difficulty at school, often with reading or other visual tasks. Sufferers who work with particularly small or detailed objects or at a computer for long lengths of time may experience more difficulty with astigmatism.

Diagnosis of astigmatism starts with an eye test with an eye care professional. Once detected, an automated refraction or a retinoscopy exam is performed to measure the amount of astigmatism. Astigmatism is commonly corrected by contact lenses or glasses, for those who prefer a non-invasive procedure, or refractive surgery, which alters how that light hits the eye, allowing your retina to get the light properly.

Toric lenses are commonly prescribed for astigmatism because they control the way the light bends when it enters the eye. Regular contacts have a tendency to move each time you close your eyes, even just to blink. But with astigmatism, the slightest eye movement can cause blurred vision. Toric lenses are able to return to the exact same position right after you blink. You can find toric lenses as soft or rigid varieties, to be chosen depending on what is more comfortable for you.

In some cases, astigmatism may also be corrected by laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative involving wearing hard contacts to slowly reshape the cornea. You should explore your options and alternatives with your eye care professional to decide what your best option is for your needs.

For help demonstrating the effects of astigmatism to children, let them compare a round teaspoon and an oval teaspoon. In the round one, their reflection will appear normal. In the oval teaspoon, their reflection will be skewed. This is what astigmatism means for your eye; you end up seeing everything stretched out a little.

Astigmatism can get better or worse gradually, so make sure that you're periodically seeing your eye doctor for a comprehensive exam. Additionally, make sure that your 'back-to-school' checklist includes a trip to an eye doctor. A considerable amount of your child's schooling (and playing) is predominantly visual. You can allow your child make the best of his or her schooling with a full eye exam, which will help pick up any visual irregularities before they impact academics, sports, or other extra-curricular activities. It's important to know that astigmatism is highly treatable, and that the sooner to you begin to treat it, the better off your child will be.
 
ECP

Pink Eye: Don’t Let it Go Untreated

Conjunctivitis, colloquially called pink eye, is a frequently encountered eye infection, especially when it comes to kids. Conjunctivitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria or sensitivities to ingredients found in cosmetics, pollen, and chlorine in pools, or other products, which touch the eyes. Certain forms of conjunctivitis may be highly contagious and rapidly spread at school and in the home.

Pink eye develops when the thin clear layer of tissue protecting the white part of your eye, or conjunctiva, becomes inflamed. You can identify pink eye if you notice itching, redness, discharge or swollen eyelids and crusty eyes in the morning. Symptoms of pink eye may occur in one or both eyes. Conjunctivitis infections can be divided into three main kinds: bacterial, allergic and viral conjunctivitis.

Viral conjunctivitis is often a result of the same viruses that produce the recognizable watery and red eyes, runny nose and sore throat of the common cold. Symptoms of the viral form of pink eye will usually be present for a week to two and then will disappear on their own. Applying compresses to your eyes in a dark room may provide some relief. The viral form of pink eye is transmittable until it's gone, so meanwhile, remove discharge and try to avoid sharing pillowcases or towels. Children who have viral pink eye will need to stay home for three days to a week until they are no longer contagious.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a common bacterial infection that gets into the eye usually from something external entering the eye that is carrying the bacteria, such as a dirty finger. This form of pink eye is most commonly treated with antibiotic cream or drops. Usually one should notice an improvement after just a few days of antibiotic drops, but make sure to complete the entire course of antibiotics to prevent conjunctivitis from coming back.

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. It occurs more commonly in people who already have seasonal allergies or allergies to substances such as pets or dust. The allergic symptoms in the eyes may be just a small part of their overall allergic response. The first step in treating allergic pink eye is to remove or avoid the allergen, if applicable. To ease discomfort, try artificial tears or compresses. When the infection is more severe, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. When the infection remains for a long time, topical steroid eye drops could be prescribed.

Although pink eye is usually a highly treatable eye infection, it can sometimes worsen into a more serious condition. If you have signs of conjunctivitis, be sure to visit your optometrist so he or she can decide what the best treatment will be.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness


We are currently in the midst of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision month.


Are you aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the foremost reasons for loss of vision in individuals over 65? AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula in the eye which is responsible for sharp central vision.


Symptoms of AMD


Early symptoms of age related macular degeneration are usually blurred eyesight and blind spots in the center of vision. Since the symptoms typically come on at a slow pace and painlessly, signs may not be observed until the disease has reached a later stage. This is why every individual 65 and over should make sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam regularly.


Risk Factors for AMD


A number of risk factors have been determined including being Caucasian, being over the age of 65, being a cigarette smoker, obesity, high blood pressure and family history. For those that are categorized as being at greater risk, yearly eye exams are crucial. Discussing proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor can also help reduce your chances of vision loss.


Dry Macular Degeneration vs. Wet Macular Degeneration


While the causes are not known for certain, AMD is typically diagnosed as either wet or dry. Dry macular degeneration is more commonplace and is theorized to be caused by advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment build-up in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels under the retina which leak blood and fluid, causing the cells to die and resulting in blind spots. Often wet macular degeneration causes more serious vision loss.


Is There Treatment for AMD?


While there are treatments that can reduce the vision loss that results from macular degeneration, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist depends on the type of AMD and may involve vitamin supplements, laser surgery or certain medications that stop abnormal blood vessel growth. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis greatly enhances the chances of successful treatment. An eye doctor will also be able to suggest devices to help you deal with any vision loss that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are a growing number of low vision devices on the market today to greatly assist in sustaining autonomy in daily activities.


It's possible to protect your eyesight by being knowledgeable about the risk factors and signs of AMD. Visit your eye doctor to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.

The Best Solution for Your Contacts

Research performed by Bausch & Lomb in August showed that a large number of adults regularly use potentially harmful substances in place of contact solution to wet their lenses. Everything from baby oil, to beer to butter was reportedly used as an alternative to actual contact solution by one eighth of the 2,000 adults that responded in the British survey.

A larger number of the respondants indicated that they use spit when putting lenses in their eyes. Considering we know that the mouth of the average adult contains hundreds of varieties of bacteria, this can pose a serious health risk to your eyes. Further, far too many individuals believe that water from a tap or bottle is a suitable replacement for contact solution, but even pure bottled water or distilled water can contain microorganisms that can cause damage to the eye and have been associated with Acanthamoeba keratitis, an infection that could lead to blindness. In fact, if you get water in your eyes from a pool, ocean or even a bath while your lenses are in, it's a good idea to take out your lenses as quickly as you can and disinfect them to rinse away any microorganisms that may have stuck to them.

The only liquid that you should use to rinse, sterilize, lubricate or soak your contacts is approved contact lens solution. It's dangerous to keep your lenses in water! Leaving contact lenses in water does not sterilize them and harmful bacteria can multiply on your contacts almost instantly and enter your eyes once you put them in. Further, contact solution is balanced to match the saltiness of your tears and conversely water can cause discomfort or blurred vision since your lenses may stick or change shape.

When necessary storage or cleansing is difficult for you, you should definitely consider using daily disposable contact lenses instead of resusable lenses. You should always take age, way of life and level of responsibility into consideration when deciding which contact lens options are best for the members of your family.

Only those who can understand how to properly care for contacts and the importance of doing so should use contact lenses, particularly long-term wear contacts. Failure to do so can lead to irreversible harm, vision loss and even total blindness!

Wintertime Dry Eyes Syndrome Got You Down?


Tears are an essential part of eye health. They flush out any small particles that may be in the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. They also contain enzymes that guard the eyes against bacteria that are occasionally found in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes lack sufficient tears, symptoms can result such as perpetual feelings of dryness, burning, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes can cause watery eyes as the eyes try to compensate for inadequate tearing.


Dry eye syndrome can be a result of a several factors. The first factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, particularly women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also be a side effect of some medicines such as antihistamines, beta blockers, blood pressure pills as well as others. Environmental conditions that are especially windy, or dry heat or air circulation can also cause or worsen dry eyes. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in producing tears, continual sitting in front of a computer screen which can reduce blinking, or contact lens wear can result in dry eye syndrome.


The preferred treatment to try is usually artificial tears which work by putting moisture back into the eye. It’s advisable to consult with your optometrist to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If over the counter drops aren’t helpful your doctor might prescribe prescription drops that enhance tear production.


If eye drops don’t relieve your discomfort, your eye care professional might want to try Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that periodically releases lubricating ingredients during the day. You may also want to try lacrimal plugs which help the eye remain lubricated by reducing the drainage of tears. Some optometrists will discuss a few ways for you to adapt your environment and your diet to lessen discomfort.


In most cases, dry eyes will not result in any permanent harm but can be an annoyance. However, severe cases could make you more vulnerable to infection so it is advised to speak to your optometrist.


Especially in the wintertime, it is important to try to safeguard your eyes from dryness, biting winds and particles. Using sunglasses when outside, and using humidifiers indoors to combat dry heat may be helpful.


You don’t have to suffer from dry, itchy, burning eyes - schedule a visit to your optometrist today!

You Need to Wear Sunglasses in the Wintertime too!


It's official! Winter is here, which means in some areas biting winds and cold rain, snow and sleet are also in the forecast. The majority of us wouldn't ever contemplate of leaving the house without a jacket in freezing conditions, however surprisingly, far too many people don't think to put on their sunglasses. Although the sun may not be our first concern when we are venturing out to the freezing cold, the sun is still shining down in colder climates, and in many instances can be even stronger.


If you find yourself snowed in, you should be even more careful. Particularly following a blizzard, the blanket of snow covering the ground, trees and everything else in sight, actually intensifies the reflection of the sunlight. In fact, it can downright hurt your eyes when you first step outdoors after a glistening snow. The ultraviolet radiation that most people are so vigilant about during the summer months can actually be more dangerous in the winter due to the fact that it bounces off the snow or ice, giving you a second exposure. This is why a good pair of sunglasses is an essential part of your winter attire.


Although you want to pick a style you look good in, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure they are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is you don't necessarily have to purchase designer glasses to guarantee complete protection from the sun. Many of the more affordable options exist that still provide total UV protection.


A further important consideration in picking the right sun wear is the size of the lenses. You want to make sure the lenses totally shield your eyes and the surrounding areas. The more coverage you have, the less harmful UV rays will be able to enter. Glasses with side shield will also keep radiation from sneaking in through the periphery.


Although it's much more commonly known these days that sunglasses are essential to wear at the beach because the water intensifies ultraviolet rays, this is also true for wintery water as well. Therefore it is equally important to wear sunglasses during times when you go out in wintery conditions. Further UV exposure is more powerful at high elevations, so if you are skiing or snowboarding, take this into consideration.


This wintertime, keep warm and keep your eyes safe! Don't leave home without your shades.

National Glaucoma Awareness Month


As January marks National Glaucoma Awareness Month, this post is intended to spread the word about the importance of being aware of the threat of this vision threatening disease. Glaucoma is a category of ocular diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve, which can lead to blindness. If untreated, the damage often first shows up as peripheral vision loss until it eventually results in total blindness. Glaucoma is the number one cause of preventable vision loss and, according to estimates, over 60 million people around the world have the disease.


A significant source of glaucoma is known to be increased pressure around the optic nerve called intraocular pressure. As pressure around the eye is elevated, this damages the optic nerve which is responsible for delivering messages to the brain. In instances where this system is damaged eyesight is affected. Regrettably, damage to the optic nerve is usually permanent.


The most dangerous fact about glaucoma is that distinct from other causes of vision impairment, there are no symptoms that warn of the progression of the condition until irreparable damage is done.
This is why glaucoma has acquired the nickname the "sneak thief of sight." This may leave you wondering is it possible to detect an illness which is asymptomatic?


Prompt detection of the disease is required for effective management. While everyone may be at risk for glaucoma, specific groups have a higher risk than others. Serious risk factors for glaucoma may include anyone over 45, anyone with a family history of glaucoma, diabetes, or known eye conditions such as elevated intraocular pressure.


There are several different kinds of glaucoma such as open or close angle glaucomas. As a rule of thumb, both eyes are affected, however the disease can advance more quickly in one eye than in the other.


To learn more about glaucoma speak to an eye doctor. There are several diagnostic eye examinations employed to assess damage to the ocular nerves caused by glaucoma. Particularly if you are over 45 or know that you are at risk, you should schedule a comprehensive eye examination at least once a year.


It is unfortunate that most types of glaucoma cannot be prevented. That being said, the optic nerve damage and loss of vision may be slowed by early diagnosis and quick treatment. Contact Dr. Solomon and Associates today, for a yearly screening for glaucoma.

How Age Affects Your Vision – Presbyopia


Contact your Bethesda, MD Optometrist to Learn More About Treatment Options


Presbyopia is a vision impairment related to aging in which objects at a close range, such as newspapers, books or sewing, become blurred. With the growing worldwide population reaching older ages a larger number of individuals develop the condition, which is an unavoidable result of your aging eye.


Your natural lenses curve when focusing on objects at differing distances. Some theorize that with age, that curvature diminishes since the lenses become thicker. This condition is known as presbyopia and is defined by difficulty reading or seeing objects at close range. This usually begins to take place any time after someone turns forty. Those with presbyopia usually cope with the reduced vision by holding the paper far away or standing back from the object they are looking at. Transitions from focusing on distant objects to closer ones can often be straining for people with presbyopia. This tension might worsen the situation by causing eye strain, fatigues or headaches.


Most of the time bifocal lenses or progressive addition lenses (PALs) are worn to resolve this condition. A bifocal lens is separated into two points of focus, the main part of the lens has a prescription for seeing things from far away and the other part of the lens is for seeing objects that are close by. PALs work similarly to bifocal lenses, but they provide a more gradual gradient between the separate prescriptions and have no visible distinction between them. Users will more easily shift their focus, as they could with normal sight. An alternative would be reading glasses which are usually worn just when needed as opposed to all day.


If contacts are preferable, you might want to consider multifocal contact lenses. People react differently to multifocal lenses, so it may take a few tries to determine if and in what combination they work for you.


There are also surgical options available that you may want to discuss with your eye doctor. Many people are most successful using a combination of options for presbyopia. Additionally, since your vision will likely deteriorate as you get older, you will probably need to keep adapting your prescription. The positive news is, there continues to be quite a bit of experimental treatment on the market currently to discover other and perhaps more permanent solutions for the growing number of people dealing with presbyopia.


If you are starting to see signs of presbyopia, schedule an appointment with your Bethesda, MD optometrist. A return to normal eyesight is only a call away!

A Holiday Guide to Toy Eye Safety


Holiday season is almost here and that means gifts and new toys. Adoring relatives enjoy surprising the little ones with the ''in'' toys for the holiday season.
It is crucial that parents explain to relatives some restrictions when it comes to safe and age appropriate toys. Injuries involving toys and games may occur, occasionally resulting in damaged vision.


How can parents prevent toy related injury?


  1. Remember, developmentally appropriate toys only! Do not allow little children to handle toys meant for older brothers or sisters.

  2. Look for a toy that is well made and look for any rough corners. Make sure long-handled toys such as swords or brooms are smooth on the end.

  3. Be careful not to let small kids play unsupervised.

  4. Promote eye safety awareness by discarding any toys or games with sharp edges or projectiles, such as BB guns.


Before you buy the game that your kids have been itching for, take a minute to look over eye safety tips for toys and games. The holidays are a great time for creating special moments with your family members, not the emergency room doctor. Happy Holidays.

Use Those Flex Spending Account Credits Before it’s Too Late!


Looking for new eye glasses for the kids? Guessing your contact lens prescription has changed? Contemplating Lasik? The season has arrived to save big on your eye care needs. December 31st is quickly approaching which means that your annual flex plan will soon expire. If flex spending doesn’t strike a familiar chord you probably don’t have a flex spending account but you might want to verify your insurance plan to make sure.


If you participate in an FSA through your employee benefits check how much credit you have left. Many plans require you to use all money you've contributed before January 1st or risk losing it for good!


You can use your FSA to really save on your optometry needs. Comprehensive eye exams, eyeglasses, contacts, even laser vision correction may all qualify for repayment. Be aware that some procedures, such as laser vision correction have a screening process that could cause a delay so call for your appointment as soon as possible.


Call us if you have questions about your eye and vision care benefits. Our Frederick, MD Optometry Practice is here to help you with all of your eye care concerns!

All About Color Blindness


Color blindness is a condition impacting one's capability to see colors under typical lighting conditions or to perceive colors as they are typically viewed. Usually, the disorder is genetic, but it can also be caused by old age or a variety of eye diseases.


The perception of different hues is dependent upon the cones located in the eye. People are generally born with three kinds of pigmented cones, each perceiving different wavelengths of color tone. This is similar to wavelengths of sound. With colors, the length of the wave is directly connected to the perceived color tone. Long waves generate red tones, medium-length waves produce greens and short waves produce blue tones. The type of cone that is affected determines the spectrum and severity of the color deficiency.


Being a gender-linked genetically recessive trait, many more males are green-red color blind than females. Still, there are plenty of females who do suffer varying degrees of color vision deficiency, specifically yellow-blue deficiencies.


Some people develop color blindness later on as a result of another condition including macular degeneration, aging and injuries. Thankfully, it could be possible to restore color vision once the cause is treated


Optometrists use a few examinations for color blindness. The most common is the Ishihara color exam, called after its inventor. In this test a plate is shown with a circle of dots in differing sizes and colors. Inside the circle one with proper color vision can see a numerical figure in a particular shade. The individual's ability to see the number inside the dots of clashing hues indicates the level of red-green color blindness.


Although inherited color blindness can't be corrected, there are a few options that can help to make up for it. For some using tinted lenses or anti-glare glasses can help to perceive the differences between colors. More and more, computer applications are on the market for regular PCs and for smaller machines that can help users enhance color distinction depending upon their specific diagnosis. There are also promising experiments underway in gene therapy to enhance color vision.


The extent to which color blindness limits a person is dependent upon the kind and degree of the deficiency. Some patients can adapt to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with substitute cues for determining a color scheme. For example, many people can learn the order of traffic signals or contrast objects with reference objects like green trees or the blue sky.


If you notice signs that you or a child could be color blind it's advised to see an optometrist. The sooner you are aware of a problem, the sooner you can help. Contact our Frederick, MD optometrists to schedule an exam.

Diabetic Retinopathy: A Leading Cause of Blindness


Diabetes is the chief causal factor of impaired sight among men and women between age twenty and seventy-four. In just the last four years, over four million individuals in North America living with diabetes were subsequently diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. Of this group, seventy thousand were afflicted with severe diabetic retinopathy, which may result in a serious vision loss.


While not everyone is at risk of diabetes related vision loss, it is important to understand the connection between the disease and vision loss.


To start, those diagnosed with diabetes are at risk. One method to find out if you have vision loss caused by diabetes is to have your eye care professional give you a complete eye test yearly. The longer the disease remains undiagnosed, the greater the danger of diabetes caused vision loss. Speedy treatment is necessary to halting further deterioration.


Pregnant women that have been found to have pregnancy-related diabetes have a stronger risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. It is advisable to schedule a complete dilated eye exam after diagnosis as well.


Maybe you are wondering, why all the worry? Wouldn't you notice if you were losing your sight?


Well the answer surprisingly is, not always. There are several types of diabetic retinopathy, and only those which are in the severe stages are easy to discern. Progressive diabetes can have no signs. Macular edema is another diabetes related disease which results in severe blindness that may manifest with no noticeable symptoms. This is why early recognition is crucial to stopping any long term loss.


An extensive analysis will search for signs of diabetic retinopathy. There are several stages to this exam which will expose the typical signs, such as leaky blood vessels, swelling of the retina, the buildup of fatty deposits on the retina, and damaged nerve tissue. What is entailed in a comprehensive eye exam?


First of all you will undergo a visual acuity exam by means of an eye chart that is used to determine how correctly you see at varying distances. This is identical to the visual acuity exams given by optometrists, if you require glasses.


While giving a dilated eye exam, the optometrist places drops in your eyes to exaggerate your pupils. Though not a favorite of most patients, it can prevent deterioration in your sight later on. This procedure makes it easier to see a larger section of the interior portion of your eyes to check for unique signs that show the presence of diabetic retinopathy. The momentary discomfort will probably save your ability to see.


Regularly monitor your health. Even a little hesitation might cause irreversible damage. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is necessary to book a vision examination with an optometrist as soon as possible.

All You Need to Know About Lazy Eye. Treatment in Frederick, MD


For adequate sight, the eyes need to operate in cooperation with each other and with the brain. In instances when this does not happen, the result can be amblyopia or lazy eye. In the majority of cases of lazy eye the eyes themselves are usually healthy however visual acuity cannot be achieved by just the use of prescription eyeglasses. When untreated lazy eye can cause severe visual disability, even blindness in the affected eye.


Amblyopia is the most frequently diagnosed cause of visual impairment in children. Usually beginning in the developmental stages of infancy, the condition can be difficult to discern. Unless it is successfully treated at an early age, the likelihood of achieving normal vision is reduced. Patients that don’t start treatment until adolescence or adulthood frequently find that it can take much longer and is less effective.


Therefore it is important to have your child’s vision tested at a young age. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should receive a comprehensive optometric examination at half a year and another when the child turns three.


What are the Causes of Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)?


Amblyopia occurs when the eyes or visual system do not function in unison. One common cause is strabismus, a condition where the eyes are not properly aligned. Strabismus can cause the eyes to cross in (esotropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Lazy eye can also be caused by a condition where the eyes have different levels of acuity. This condition is called anisometropia. Occasionally, amblyopia is caused by other optical diseases such as a cataract or another pathological problem.


Treatment for Amblyopia


Treatment for lazy eye aims to achieve normal binocular vision. Along with the use of prescription eyeglasses or contacts, the most common way to do this involves making the patient use the eye with the reduced vision. A few treatment options exist to occlude the better eye and the treatment is selected based on the individual situation anda consultation with an optometrist.


Frequently you will see a patch used to be worn over the good eye. The patient is then forced to use the weak eye, which stimulates proper sight in the underdeveloped eye and helps the visual processing system to develop properly. Nevertheless this treatment is dependent upon compliance with wearing the patch, which can be difficult especially in the case of children.


An alternative to patching is the use of a drug known as atropine. When a drop of atropine is placed in the strong eye, this will blur the vision and therefore force the preference of the weaker eye.


Other treatment options include vision therapy to help the eyes to coordinate with each other and in some cases a surgical procedure to straighten out the alignment of the eyes. Specialized contacts or other aides to improve visual acuity may also be tried.


Since lazy eye involves a problem with the proper development of the visual system, the younger the age of treatment, the more chance there is of improvement. Nevertheless, there are many factors that are involved and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has lazy eye should schedule an appointment immediately with their optometrist If you are in need of lazy eye management in Frederick, MD, contact us to schedule an appointment. Amblyopia doesn’t heal itself so don’t delay in starting to restore your eyesight!

Frederick, MD Eye Exams: Exploring the Eye Chart

 

Have you ever asked yourself what 20/20 vision actually means? 20/20 vision is a phrase to express normal visual acuity or clarity of vision. In other words an individual with such visual acuity can clearly see an object at a distance of 20 feet that most people should be able to see from such a distance.

In cases of individuals that cannot see an object clearly at 20/20, their visual acuity score is designated based on where they begin to see clearly compared to what is normally expected. As an example, 20/100 vision indicates that at a distance of 20 feet you can only see an object that a person with normal vision can see from 100 feet distance.

You can also have vision that is above 20/20. For example a person with 20/10 eyesight can see clearly at 20 feet what the average person can only see at 10 feet distance. Certain animals have more acute vision in comparison to the human species. For example, hawks have been known to have 20/2 vision, enabling them to locate prey from great heights.

Most eye care professionals employ some version of the Snellen eye chart, developed by Dutch eye doctor, Herman Snellen in the mid-1800's, to conduct an eye screening. While there are many versions, the chart typically shows 11 lines with uppercase letters which get smaller in size as one looks downward. The top of the chart usually shows one capital letter - ''E'' and gradually includes more letters on the lines as they get smaller. During the eye exam, the optometrist will determine which is the line with the smallest lettering you can make out. Every line is assigned a distance, with the 20/20 row usually being ascribed the eighth row. In instances where the patient can't read, such as young children or disabled persons, the ''Tumbling E'' chart is employed. At the same scale as the standard Snellen chart, the ''Tumbling E'' shows only the uppercase letter E in different directions. The eye doctor tells the patient to show which rotational direction the ''fingers'' of the E are pointing.. Both charts needs to be placed 20 feet away from the patient's eyes.

Although 20/20 vision does show that an individual is able to see as expected from a distance this measure on its own does not imply that someone has flawless eyesight. ''Perfect'' eyesight involves a number of other necessary abilities such as peripheral vision, depth perception, focus for near vision, color vision and coordination between the eyes to name a few.

It's important to remember that even though an eye exam using a Snellen chart will establish if you need eyeglasses to improve distance vision it will not provide the optometrist a complete picture of the total status of your eyes and vision. Make sure you still schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam to screen for vision-threatening diseases. Call us now to schedule an eye exam in Frederick, MD.

Autumn Ocular Allergy Treatment in Frederick, MD

 

While many associate seasonal allergies with the arrival of springtime, a large number of individuals endure symptoms during the autumn months as well. In addition to sneezing and congestion, ocular allergies can significantly impede one's ability to go about one's normal functions.

When suffering from allergies, the eyes can become itchy, swollen, and irritated and often burn or water. Often vision becomes blurry or eyes become sensitive to light. These symptoms can make it so uncomfortable for allergy sufferers that they interfere with work, school, sports and leisure activities.

Allergic reactions happen when an individual comes into contact with an allergen he or she has a sensitivity to causing the immune system to release histamines to fight the allergen. This reaction by the oversensitive immune system results in typical allergic symptoms which include general symptoms as well as eye related symptoms.

If you wear contacts, eye allergies can frequently be exacerbated since contact lenses can often attract allergens. Further, when our eyes itch, our first instinct is to rub them which can result in even more discomfort for contact lens wearers. Use of artificial tears can sometimes reduce symptoms but many lens wearers choose to reduce the use of their contacts. If you wear contacts and experience seasonal allergies, it could help you to try a different brand of contacts, particularly if you don't use daily disposables which minimize the likelihood of pollen accumulation. If you are experiencing discomfort from your contacts, visit our Frederick, MD eye care practice to talk to a professional about your condition.

For anyone suffering here are a few ways to reduce fall eye allergies:

  • Check the local pollen count and remain indoors when counts are high, particularly at peak times such as midday.
  • Keep windows closed when possible, especially when driving.
  • Use a clothes dryer rather than hanging clothing out to dry whenever possible.
  • Rather than sweeping, use a damp mop to clean floors, which is more effective at cleaning away allergens.
  • Try not to rub your eyes. Use a cool compress for soothing irritation or itchiness.
  • Shower each night to clean yourself of any pollen you may have collected throughout the day.

If over the counter medications are not helping you may need something stronger. In this case, schedule a visit to your optometrist as soon as possible to discuss your options and begin effective treatment. Our Frederick, MD optometry office would be happy to help your eyes feel their best despite allergy season!

This Halloween Watch Out for Special Effect Lenses

 

With the autumn comes Halloween and with that, dressing up. It's important to be aware of some threats to your eyes that sometimes accompany with the holiday spirit.

A popular costume prop as of late has been decorative contact lenses and this is causing serious concern amongst eye care professionals. Contact lenses are an FDA regulated medical device. It is against federal law for unlicensed distributors to sell contact lenses which is applicable to costume and party stores, however clearly the laws are often ignored. Unlicensed production may use inferior materials or even dangerous dyes to dye the lenses. Additionally, using contacts without adequate instruction and treatment, can cause serious damage to the eyes such as infection, abrasion or even blindness.

For those who do wish to use decorative lenses, it is necessary to schedule an exam with a licensed eye care professional. After a contact lens evaluation and eye exam, the practitioner will be able to recommend a lens that fits well and is safe for your eyes. The eye doctor will also provide vital instructions on proper handling and cleaning of contact lenses.

Although many individuals mistakenly view vanity contacts as just another cosmetic accessory, uneducated use of contacts can cause serious damage to your eyes and eye sight. Nothing should ever be put into the eye without consultation with an eye care professional.

Only purchase contacts from a licensed distributor that you can guarantee comply with all FDA regulations. Non-corrective lenses must also adhere to health regulations and require a prescription. Beware of e-commerce sites, open markets or party supply stores that may sell homemade contacts colored with unapproved materials. To find out whether the store has a license to sell contacts you can ask for the state license number and call the state Department of Professional Regulations (DPR) to check.

If your costume just won't be the same without special effect lenses, consult with your trusted optical store to discuss your options. Halloween shouldn't be a "Hallowed" night for your eyes. Be knowledgable about how to dress up your eyes safely.

Frederick, MD Treatment for Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and Eye Fatigue

 

The American Optometric Association states that more than seven out of 10 of the American citizens that sit every day at a computer (which is over 140 million people) suffer the affects of computer vision syndrome or eye fatigue. Excessive computer use can cause eye strain and impact typical vision processes in children as well as adults. If you work at a computer more than two hours on a daily basis you are likely to suffer some degree of CVS.

Signs of Computer Vision Syndrome

Prolonged computer use can cause some or all of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome such as:

  • Headaches
  • Distractibility
  • A Burning Sensation
  • Dry Eyes
  • Double Vision
  • Blurred Vision
  • Pain in Neck and Shoulders

What Are The Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome?
Eye fatigue from prolonged computer use results from the need for our visual processing pathways to adapt to processing characters on a computer screen in a different way than they do for characters in print. While our visual systems are used to focusing on printed material that has dense black font with well-defined edges, they are less familiar with letters on a digital screen that lack the same level of contrast and sharpness.
Characters on a digital screen are created by pixels, which are brightest at the middle and lower in brightness as they move outward. Consequently, it is harder for our eyes to keep focus on these letters. Rather, our eyes feel more comfortable at the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.

Through involuntary movements, our eyes revert to the resting point of accommodation and then have to make a great effort to regain focus on the text. This continual effort by the eye muscles to focus creates the symptoms listed above that often are present during and after computer use. Computer vision syndrome isn't a concern just for computer users. Other handheld gadgets such as smart phones or iPads can result in the same conditions and in some cases even worse. Since mobile screens are often small in addition to pixilated the user often strains even more to focus on images.

Computer Vision Syndrome Treatment
Computer vision syndrome can negatively affect your productivity so if you are suffering from discomfort it is worthwhile to see an eye care professional sooner than later.

At a computer vision exam, your eye doctor will check to see if you have any vision issues that might worsen CVS. Depending on the outcome of these tests, your doctor may suggest prescription computer eyeglasses to reduce discomfort at your screen. An anti-reflective coating is highly recommended for computer eyeglasses. An anti-reflective coating lessens glare that may affect your ability to see images clearly on your screen.

Ergonomics for CVS
Ergonomics, or setting up your computer workstation to limit the need for your eyes and your body to accommodate in unhealthy ways, can help reduce some of the discomfort of computer related eye strain. Sufficient lighting and taking periodic breaks from staring at the screen can help to some extent. However, since ergonomics alone cannot solve a visual problem, using ophthalmic computer eyeglasses is also necessary.

If you think you are suffering or at risk of computer vision syndrome, contact our Frederick, MD optometry office.

Maintaining Safety for Your Eyes at Home

 

As September marks Home and Sports Eye Safety Month, this post will focus on ways to keep your house safe for your eyes particularly for kids. It's important to be proactive to guarantee your home is an eye-safe zone.

Generally, kids enter the world with an underdeveloped optical system that develops with them. As part of standard infant optical development, newborns can view an object at close range only. Throughout their developing stages, kids are visually stimulated. Children's games and toys can be one of the fastest methods for stimulating children's sight. However, at the same time, it's important to remember that a large number of childhood mishaps take place at home, many with games and toys.

What's the simplest way to avoid accidents? There are many precautions you can take when choosing games for the home to guarantee your child's eyes are safe.

First of all, be sure long-handled playthings - such as a pony stick- have rounded edges, and prohibit or monitor young children carefully if they are handling them. While blocks pose little danger for almost any age, it's good to check that the edges are not sharp, in order to avoid eye injury. It's a good idea to steer clear of shooting toys, such as arrows or guns. In an instance where you can't eliminate them altogether, then shooting toys should be monitored by a responsible grown-up. When letting older children play with a chemistry set or woodworking tools, be sure he or she wears protective goggles.

In addition to games and toys, other domestic dangers might be present that you want to be on the look out for. Sharp corners on counters or tables are right at eye level for small children and can too often cause serious injury. Cleaning solutions that are not stored properly are a further culprit for injury for children and must be stored out of reach or behind a locked cabinet at all times.

Yes, toys can sometimes be dangerous, but it's important to not overlook all of the benefits they can provide. There are many toys customized for certain ages that offer terrific ways to stimulate optical development. When buying toys for children, look for those that focus on coordination between the hands and eyes and will encourage kids to learn about spatial relationships. It can also be a good idea to look on the Internet before stopping at the toy store. This way you can ensure that your purchase is safe for your children's eyes and will enrich their visual development as well!

Contacts and Cosmetics: Suggestions from your Frederick, MD Eye Care Practitioner


If you use contacts a few guidelines should be followed when applying cosmetics. Below are some professional pointers for ways to be sure you keep your eyes beautiful and healthy.


Buying Makeup


To start, we recommend that you purchase only brands that are fragrance and oil free. Additionally, to avoid flaking or smearing, which could end up irritating your contacts, use waterproof mascara and eye liner pencils. Lastly it's important to switch makeup used for your eyes frequently - it is preferable to switch mascara monthly, eyeliner every 3 months and eye shadows after half a year.


How to Safely Apply Cosmetics


Always make sure you rinse your hands thoroughly prior to inserting your contacts. Apply eye shadow, liner and mascara with care to prevent scratching your contacts. Make sure you don't apply mascara or eye liner to the inside eye lid and start mascara from the middle of the lashes instead of the base. Don't share makeup with others or apply if your eyes are red or irritated.


It's also very important to clean off makeup every night with a hypoallergenic, oil-free remover. It's advised to remove contacts before cleaning off cosmetics.


Being careful when applying cosmetics when wearing contact lenses can avoid red, swollen or inflamed eyes as well as damage to lenses.


If your eyes are red or irritated don't apply makeup. Feel free to call your optometrist if you experience any swelling, pain, or irritation. Our Frederick, MD eye doctor will be glad to help you with any lens problems that you may be having.

Sunblock and your Eyes


If you have ever witnessed an unfortunate encounter between sunscreen and eyes, you know firsthand just how much it can hurt. In fact, someone who has experienced a severe case may compare it to mace or pepper spray. It can be a while before the victim can feel comfortable enough to open his eyes, particularly in the glaring sun.


Needless to say getting sunscreen in your eyes can ruin a day at the beach. While the discomfort will likely remain for a while, you should try to tend to it as soon as possible.


The most effective way to treat the condition is to right away flush the eye out with running water for a while. Doing so will rinse the lotion out of the eye however it may not eliminate the burning immediately. For discomfort, cool, wet compresses to the eyes may cause some relief. Use of eye drops such as Visine may be useful in rinsing out the eye, but it is likely they will burn.


Remember, although the summer is coming to an end, it is very important to apply sunscreen all year round to protect your skin from the dangers of UV rays.


Tips for Sunblock Safety


  1. Never spray sunblock straight on the face. Always apply to the hands and rub into the face.

  2. Never permit small children to apply sunblock themselves.

  3. Don't leave sunscreen where children can reach it and use the lock mechanism when not in use.

  4. Never let small children rub in sunscreen. If they get sunblock on their hands they may rub it in their eyes.

  5. Be very careful not to apply sunblock too close to the eyes.

  6. Wear large sunglasses to protect the eyes and the areas around them from UV rays.

Schedule Your Yearly Eye Exam in Frederick, MD, in Honor of Cataracts Awareness Month


A surprising number of adults aren't aware that cataracts are the number one cause of sight loss in people 55 and over. In fact, over half of the people over 65 have some amount of cataracts.


What are cataracts?


Cataracts occur when the ocular lens, the part of the eye that focuses light to produce images, becomes clouded. The clouding prevents the passage of light necessary for proper eyesight.


How do I know I have cataracts?


Often adults attribute vision loss with age however cataracts do present some signs that are distinct from typical age-related vision loss. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly blurry vision, sensitivity to light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some cataracts show no signs until they are well developed while others may even result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.


Types of Cataracts


There are three types of cataracts which are categorized by the position within the lens. A cataract found at the rear of the lens is referred to as a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are a higher risk for people with diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroid medications. A cataract found in the nucleus or center of the lens is called a nuclear cataract and is typically associated with increased age. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract generally occurs in the lens cortex, the part surrounding the nucleus. Cortical cataracts often start off with white opacities that start in the outer areas of the lens and work their way to the center.


Preventing and Treating Cataracts


Researchers have not yet found fail-safe ways to prevent cataracts but some say that protecting your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies suggest that antioxidants and limited salt consumption may also prevent development.


During the early stages, eyeglasses can help treat vision loss, nevertheless, eventually eyesight will likely be impaired to a level to require surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in America and is typically very successful. In the standard surgery, the surgeon removes the opaque lens and replaces it with what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. For 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.


If you are 40 or over it is important to schedule a yearly eye examination to check for signs of vision diseases such as cataracts. Call our Frederick, MD optometry practice today to schedule an appointment.

Make a Frederick, MD Eye Exam Part of the Back to School Checklist


Many professionals emphasize that almost 80% of learning occurs through a child's eyes. Since a child's vision may change occasionally, consistent eye and vision care is crucial to a student's classroom success. Surprisingly, most parents are not including vision tests as part of their child's back-to-school health check-up. In addition survey results demonstrate that 58% of parents don't bring their child for an eye screening until age three or older. The AOA actually suggests that children have their first sight screening at half a year, then thorough vision examinations beginning at age three, before starting school. Screenings should continue to be scheduled routinely every two years after.


Many of the issues a child suffers from in school may be the result of vision impairment. The number of children who have undiagnosed vision problems is quite large. Over 60% of children identified as "problem learners" really have undetected vision troubles. You can avoid childhood trauma if you take a proactive role in ensuring your child is seeing properly.


Don't wait until your child enters kindergarten for his first complete eye exam. Your child's doctor should perform a dilated eye exam to detect any major eye problems by the first two months after birth. Every child should have a comprehensive eye exam by age three, as early intervention can affect development. Furthermore as a parent, it's important to see whether your child takes time to read. Generally, preschoolers are excited to look at books and try and figure out words. Children that don't read books may be experiencing a vision impairment. A thorough vision screening by a pediatric optometrist should be one of the methods used in making a diagnosis. For a pediatric eye exam in Frederick, MD, call us to schedule an appointment.


Remember that the sooner a vision impairment is detected and treated, the more likely treatment will be successful. And eyesight is an essential component for school. If a child's vision is impaired, he will have a much harder time in the classroom. At the same time new technology in the classroom, such as using interactive SMARTboards, can also possibly exacerbate less obvious vision impairments. Without healthy vision, students may struggle not only at school, but also socially. This year, guarantee your child a super year in school, by making sure their eyesight is in perfect condition. Contact us to book a Frederick, MD eye exam today.

Why Contact Lenses Are a Good Option for Teens


Requiring eyeglasses is often met with resistance from a teen. The mere thought of wearing glasses can make a teenager go to pieces. In comparison with glasses, kids and teens who use contact lenses report a significant improvement in their looks, reports a recently released study. The research report demonstrates that beginning from the age of eight, pre-teens should be offered the option of lenses. Researchers published the study in the November issue of Eye & Contact Lens, published by the Contact Lens Association.


So what makes contact lenses so crucial for teenagers? Teens are self-conscious, and they often feel better about themselves if they're not sporting a pair of eyeglasses. Contact lenses can help teens have a sense of greater self-esteem and more ease around others by providing them a less obvious option for their vision needs.


Additionally, contact lenses can be better for young adults who are involved in sports. For teens, contact lenses may be more protective than eyeglasses in many circumstances. Unlike glasses, lenses are not easily during football, and other rough sports. Contacts are also more convenient when participating in sports that necessitate safety masks. In allowing for a full range of vision, they can also enhance teenager's peripheral vision during sport games.


Generally before your child tries contacts you will want to ask your eye care practitioner to find out about any possible issues your child might encounter. Our optometry practice located in Frederick, MD, can assist you in determining the right plan for your young adult's contact lenses.


If your pre-teen or adolescent needs vision correction, why not try lenses? Through just a simple contact lens, you can really change your teen's life. With the wide assortment of lenses available, you and your optometrist can work with your child to determine what modality is most suitable for their character and style of life.

Spotting and Dealing with the Most Commonly Reported Eye Injuries


There are many kinds of eye accidents that can occur, some more serious than others. Some may necessitate emergency action and immediate care by an optometrist, while others can be treated at home. Read these guidelines for routine eye injuries, to plan out the next step following an accident. Keep in mind that common sense preventive measures including using protective goggles may be the best way to maintain healthy vision.


One injury that should be treated seriously is a scratched eye. It can cause serious harm very quickly and possibly result in blindness. Abrasions are normally caused by a poke in the eye, or rubbing the eye when there is a particle of dust or sand in it. Since a scratch can open your eye to bacterial infection it's crucial that you contact your eye doctor or an emergency room. The best care for a corneal abrasion is to keep it loosely closed and to see your eye care practitioner immediately to inspect it. Touching the eye will only make it worse and patching the eye can give bacteria a place to grow.


It's important to be aware of what to do if you've been sprayed in the eye by a chemical. First, you need to rinse out your eye by putting your head beneath a steady flow of lukewarm water for approximately a quarter of an hour. Then contact your eye care practitioner or an urgent care clinic to find out what they recommend for such injuries. Make sure to tell the medical professional precisely what chemical got into your eye and what you're doing. If your eye is extremely red or blurry, go straight to your eye care practitioner or an urgent care clinic after rinsing it with water. Exposure to chemicals in the eye can cause a range of degrees of damage, from minimal pain to serious harm and even vision loss.


While it is sometimes unpleasant to think about an injury to the eye, it's suggested to know how to react in such emergencies. By following this guide you can feel confident that you'll know how to handle most typical eye problems. Don't forget, extra safety protections can help you avoid this type of injuries from the get go so speak to your eye care practitioner about preventative eye care!

The Importance of Comprehensive Eye Exams


For those of us with eyes that are in good condition, it's common to miss the importance of taking preventative action namely, an eye examination. However, early detection of eye disease is necessary to keeping your eyes healthy. This can easily be done with an eye exam.


Many eye and vision problems don't have any obvious symptoms. Consequently, individuals are often unaware that problems exist. You can book a thorough eye examination at our office in Frederick, MD , where our highly-trained optometry team offers service suited to the needs of every patient. Our Frederick office employs cutting-edge technology ensuring a thorough eye exam.


Unfortunately, over than three million Americans have glaucoma, the main cause of blindness but only 50% of them realize this. Glaucoma is sometimes called ''the sneak thief of sight'' because it can impair vision without any forewarning. Nearly two-thirds of adults in America don't use corrective lenses and don't receive regular eye exams, thus leaving their eyes at substantial risk.


To make matters worse, many Americans lack knowledge about the actual severity of glaucoma. In a poll, the American Optometric Association reported that well over half of Americans believe glaucoma is avoidable. In actuality the disease is unpreventable, though it is treatable if diagnosed in the early stages, making early detection much more important. Early detection and treatment are also necessary for preventing the harmful symptoms of additional diseases including macular degeneration or cataracts.


Early eye disease detection should be a priority. Be sure to set up regular eye exams with your local eye doctor to ensure your vision and eye health for many long years.

10 Ways to Care For Your Eyes This Summer


It’s officially summer and it’s time to make sure you keep your eyes protected from summertime hazards.


Here are some tips to remain safe in the sun:


  1. Purchase sunglasses that block 100% of UV – and wear them! If your sunglasses don’t have 100% UV protection to protect your eyes from the dangers of UV exposure, they may be resulting in more harm than good.  It’s important to consider that sufficient UV blockage doesn’t have to cost more – many cheaper products offer full UV blockage.

  2. Sport shades that provide more coverage. In the realm of shades, the larger the better. It’s advised to find shades with wide lenses and wraparound frames.

  3. Wear a wide brimmed hat or visor. A hat with a wide brim will provide an extra layer of defense against the sun’s rays.

  4. Sport sunglasses on cloudy days. Even when the sun is hiding behind the clouds, harmful UV light is still able to peek through the clouds and do damage to your eyes. Even when the sun is hiding, it’s important to keep protected.

  5. Keep a second pair of sunglasses. It’s always good to be ready for the occasional mishap. Better to be safe than sorry.

  6. Stay hydrated. In order to ensure that you are properly hydrated, drink at least 2 liters of water each day. This will keep your skin and eyes hydrated as well.

  7. Stay indoors during the middle of the day. Stay indoors when possible especially between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm when the sun is at its strongest and the highest levels of UV are in the air.

  8. Consider purchasing polarized lenses. Polarized lenses reduce the glare from reflective surfaces such as water. Perfect for a day at the beach or pool, they offer more comfortable vision during outdoor activities.

  9. When participating in outdoor sports or activities such as riding a bicycle, watching fireworks or camping, be sure to safeguard your eyes as necessary to avoid injury.

  10. Be careful not to apply sunscreen too close to the eyes as it can enter the eye and cause discomfort.

Safety Eyewear for Children


Studies show that eye injuries account for 40,000 trips to the emergency room annually. That's equal to an injury every 780 seconds! Eye Care professionals believe that 90% of those damage would have been easily prevented by wearing protective eyewear. The majority of eye damaging accidents take place when individuals are enjoying recreational activities or during household chores. Children are particularly at risk for eye accidents, which often happen during active play.


Children should guard their eyes with safety glasses during all team and contact sports such as baseball, soccer and hockey. This will significantly reduce the likelihood of a sports related eye accident. Allowing your child to select the protective glasses they like best will also increase the likelihood that they will enjoy wearing them.


To ensure you get the appropriate fit and the correct amount of safety, speak to a qualified optician for advice. Our staff members can assist you in purchasing the best pair of protective eyewear for your child, depending on your child's particular needs. If your child wears glasses, safety glasses can be purchased with prescription lenses from your eye care center. Trivex or polylcarbonate lenses are recommended for a child that plays rough sports . Not only are they more durable, but also lighter than plastic lenses, which tends to be less obtrusive during activity.


Don't skimp when buying a pair of protective goggles. It's an easy way to safeguard your child's vision!

Optometrist Insight: Carrots and Vision

Can carrots really enhance eyesight? While optometrists affirm that carrots are made up of large quantities of a vitamin that has proven to be beneficial for the eyes, carrots can not replace suitable corrective eye care.

Beta-carotene is an orange colored pigment (carotenoid) that converts into vitamin A once absorbed in the human body. Vitamin A helps to guard the surface of the eye (cornea) and has been determined to be preventative for certain eye diseases such as corneal ulcers. Vitamin A, which is composed of a number of antioxidants, protects the cornea to reduce the risk of eye infections and other infectious diseases. Vitamin A has also shown to be a successful treatment for dry eye syndrome as well as other eye disorders. A lack of this important vitamin (which tends to be more common in underdeveloped countries) often causes night blindness, corneal ulcers and retinal damage which can lead to blindness.

There are two variations of vitamin A, which relate to the food source they come from. Retinol is vitamin A derived from an animal origin such as beef, chicken liver, or dairy products. Vitamin A that is fruit and vegetable-derived exists in the form of ''provitamin A'' carotenoids, which break down to retinol after the nutrients are absorbed. In addition to carrots, carotenoids can be found in colorful fruits and vegetables such as oranges, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and cantaloupes.

It is proven that vitamin A contributes to the health of your eyes and your overall well being. Even though carrots themselves can't correct near or far-sightedness, mother had it right when she said ''eat your vegetables.''

This May is UV Awareness Month

 

As a result of ongoing efforts to increase knowledge of the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) light to your skin, (which include sunburn and skin cancer), most are aware of the necessity of using UV blocking sunscreen and using other forms of sun protection particularly during the blazing summer months. What is less known is that ultraviolet rays and other harmful types of radiation from the sun are also a risk to your eyes.

If you are considering going outside without proper eye protection, think about this: Prolonged exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays has been shown to cause damage to the eye.

UV Risks to Vision

Exposure to large levels of UV for a short interval is known to result in photokeratitis or a ''sunburn of the eye'', which results in pain, blurry vision or even temporary vision loss. Long-term UV exposure can lead to more threatening eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can be a threat to vision. Individuals that come into frequent contact with welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at heightened risk of exposure to UV radiation.

Selecting UV Protective Sunglasses

To shield your eyes from harmful UV rays, sunglasses should block 100 percent of UV light. Look for shades that specify they are ''UV 400'', which means that they prevent all UV light from entering your eyes (400 refers to the wavelength of light in nanometers).

You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Wraparound sunglasses can prevent dangerous ultraviolet rays from coming in through the rear of the sunglasses.

It's not necessary to pay a lot to have sufficient UV defense, but you should not make a purchase until you are certain the sunglasses provide complete UV coverage. More and more manufacturers recognize the importance of offering proper UV coverage. Further, in addition to defending your eyes from the sun's harmful rays, stylish shades are at the height of fashion, so find something you love and have fun in the sun!

A Guide to Proper Contact Lens Care

 

Many consumers find it fairly confusing navigating the contact lens care aisle of most drug stores. Nevertheless as daunting as this experience can be, it's crucial to understand proper lens care. Those who aren't appropriately caring for their contacts, risk contracting a number of eye problems including some that may cause blindness. Improper care can lead to ripped or torn lenses, or even worse, eye infections or abrasions, which rarely but sometimes can lead to blindness. Children and adults that are not ready to take care of their contacts may want to consider an alternative option for vision correction.

Not to worry, though... contact lens care is simpler than it may seem. With ''multipurpose'' solutions and one-use contacts, caring for your contacts is less expensive, takes less time and requires less hassle than before. However, there are some necessary guidelines to keep in mind.

First of all it is advised to speak to your optometrist to receive personalized recommendations. In addition, it's important that you don't switch care regimens without checking with your optometrist first. Some products can react with each other or with specific lenses and can harm your eyes. Our experienced staff can help you determine the right treatment for your lenses.

All eye doctors recommend cleaning and disinfecting your contacts once a day. It's important to do this immediately after you take out your lenses. Not only will clean contacts ensure that your eyes will be safer, your lenses will feel more comfortable. Never press solution bottle tips to any surface including your body because it can contaminate the solution. Do your best to avoid getting tap water on your lenses, including rinsing your lens container, as it often transports a microorganism that can cause serious eye infections. And of course, don't forget to dispose of your lenses after their intended use time to reduce the likelihood of infection.

Yes, there may be an assortment of lens care options, but with a little planning you can be sure you are treating your lenses properly, guaranteeing healthier eyes and clearer vision!

Rigid Lenses – The Alternative to Soft Contact Lenses

 

While soft contact lenses are more common, a second, lesser-known brand of contact lens materials exists: rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, sometimes known as oxygen permeable lenses.

Actually, RGP lenses involve newer technology than soft contacts, which last longer, are often more effective in improving eyesight, and provide increased resilience. Further GP lenses can also be less expensive in the long run than soft lenses. Of course, you need to first consult with your optometrist to determine if hard lenses suit your lifestyle. Our optometry office can assist you in ascertaining if hard lenses are right for you.

Because a GP is made of inflexible material, it retains its form well when you blink, which can provide sharper vision than the average soft lens. Furthermore RGPs are particularly long-lasting. Though they can crack if stepped on, they don’t easily rip like soft lenses. Further, because they consist of substances that don't contain water, proteins and lipids from your tears won't stick to RGPs as easily as they do to soft lenses. Those of you who are especially fussy about quality of vision will most likely choose GPs.

RGPs are also sometimes preferred for people that have certain conditions such as astigmatism, presbyopia or keratoconus, where soft lenses may not fit properly or offer enough variety. RGPs are also a better choice for those who need contact lenses after refractive surgery.

If you're considering GP lenses, be sure to first ask your eye care practitioner to verify if you truly are a suitable candidate. You never know…hard lenses could be the perfect match for you!

Don’t Let Eye Allergies Get You Down

Do you have red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes? If yes, it could be due to seasonal eye allergies. For many, March begins eye allergy time, which means uncomfortable symptoms such as red eyes, itchy eyes, stinging, burning and watery eyes. Springtime eye allergies are largely due to the release of tree and flower pollen into the air and can greatly inhibit everyday functioning for those that suffer from them.

How can you guard your eyes during allergy season? If at all feasible, try to limit contact with pollen which means staying indoors, particularly when the pollen count is high. Keeping windows closed, cooling off with air conditioners and wearing full-coverage shades when going outside can also help to protect your eyes from irritants in the atmosphere. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter is also known cleanse allergens from the air inside your home or office.

Nevertheless, for those of us that must go outside, certain medications can alleviate symptoms such as red eyes, watery eyes or itchy eyes. Often times a simple over-the-counter lubricating eye drop will moisturize and relieve itchy eyes or red eyes and remove allergens. Medications containing antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers will reduce redness and swelling of the eyes and treat non-eye related symptoms such as stuffed or runny nose and sneezing. Eye drops are sometimes recommended because they can work more quickly and effectively than oral products to treat eye problems.

Contact lens wearers sometimes experience greater discomfort from eye allergy season due to the fact that irritants tend to accumulate on the outer surface of the lens, bringing about inflammation. This is compounded when oral antihistamines are taken which have a drying effect on the eyes. Individuals who wear contacts should take measures to keep their eyes lubricated and switch contacts as directed. Some eye care professionals prefer the use of daily disposable contacts, because changing your contact lenses each day reduces the opportunity for allergens to accumulate.

Most importantly, don’t rub red, itchy eyes. Doing so can just increase the inflammation. Due to the fact that often products that work to alleviate symptoms do need a prescription, if over-the-counter medications are not working for you, book a visit with your optometrist.

Buying Eyeglasses: Online vs. Optical Store

While many Internet users are used to buying anything and everything through the Internet, glasses are one item that needs to be carefully reviewed prior to clicking that purchase button. Why? Although online optical dealers often advertise cheap prices, the benefits of going to an optician far outweigh the ''deals'' you might find on the Web.

One of the best reasons for buying eyeglasses at an eye wear store rather than online is that you have a qualified optician to help you make your decision. Our staff can assist you with the numerous variables you need to consider in selecting the right pair of glasses. When you purchase through the Internet, you forgo the specialized input of a professional optician.

As each of us has a unique shape and structure, it is hard to find the proper fit for glasses without first testing them on your face. An optometrist will take your measurements and assist you in choosing a pair of eyeglasses that are a good match and won't cause discomfort. Eyeglasses that are not wide enough will pinch the sides of your head, while glasses that are too large can slip off your nose. Online eye wear sites may give tips, but it is difficult to try and fit yourself.

Even more than the comfort and alignment of your eyeglasses, good vision demands correct Pupillary Distance measurement. The optical focus of your lenses provides you the truest vision, so it's essential to properly determine the space between your pupils, or PD. It can be complicated to determine your PD by on your own, but without this measurement, your lenses won't be placed properly in the frames.

Yes, Web-based shopping can be good for other types of products, but when it comes to eyeglasses you're best off sticking to your local vision practice where you are able to get eye glasses that are most appropriate for you and your lifestyle.

Ways to Avoid Dry Eye Syndrome This Winter

While you may refer to winter as the wet time of year due to the precipitation, the air is really more dry during the colder months, which often causes your eyes to become irritated more quickly.

Our staff is available to assist you in selecting the most effective options to hydrate your eyes this winter. While you are indoors you can prevent dryness by using a humidifier. Optometrists suggest using humidifiers in spaces with forced air heating, which can take away moisture from the environment.

In addition, make sure to take added precautions once you step outside into the cold air. Keep your eyes shielded by dressing with a hat with a brim and wearing sunglasses. The point is to protect your eyes from the harsh winds and stop evaporation of your eye's tear film.

If your dryness is persistent you may want to consider lubricating eye drops which may help manage the bothersome symptoms of dry eyes. Consult with your optometrist before you start using artificial tears to confirm that they are suitable for your symptoms.

Remember that if you wear contact lenses you need to be especially careful in the colder months. If possible, make use of rewetting drops often. Lenses are like sponges and need to stay wet to retain their shape. If they loose moisture, the lenses can change shape and stick to the eyeball, which causes pain and blurriness. So let your lenses drink up...  and make sure to keep them lubricated this winter. With a little knowledge and planning, you can stay clear of the hazards of winter and keep your eyes clear and moisturized the whole season!

LensCrafters 50% off sale

LensCrafters is currently running their semi-annual sale! You can receive 50% off all prescription lenses with the purchase of a frame. This offer can't be beat and it ends on April 3, 2011. For full details go to http://www.lenscrafters.com/eyeglasses/coupons-discounts-and-offers?SID=USstaticHP_Offers

Do You Know About Age-related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision? Become Informed This February

February is age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision awareness month. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the foremost source of vision loss for individuals age 65 and over. Macular degeneration often leads to low vision, a phrase optometrists use to categorize substantial vision loss that cannot be helped by usual measures such as normal eye glasses, contact lenses, medication or even surgical procedures. For those with AMD, a degenerative eye disease, damage is caused to the macula, the area of the retina which produces clear vision in the central visual field. AMD causes a vision loss relating to the central vision zone, but typically doesn’t affect peripheral vision.

Vision Impairment from age-related macular degeneration is usually progressive but on occasion impairment can drastically appear seemingly overnight. Early symptoms of vision impairment from AMD include shadowy areas in your central visual field or very fuzzy vision. Although AMD doesn’t have a cure yet, early detection and attention is known to halt progression of the disease and subsequently prevent vision loss. For those who have already lost acuity, low-vision rehabilitation and aids can help.

Those at higher risk of AMD include seniors, females, Caucasians and individuals with light eyes, severe farsightedness or a genetic disposition. Controllable risk factors include smoking, hypertension, exposure to UV light and inactivity. Paying attention to overall physical health and good nutrition has been shown to be preventative.

Individuals who are living with low vision should speak to their eye doctor about low vision training and specialized devices that can support self-sufficiency. After a proper eye exam, a low vision expert can suggest suitable low vision devices such as magnifiers and non-optical adaptive aids such as electronic ''talking'' clocks and large-face printed material.

Although macular degeneration is more common in those over age 65, it can affect anyone and therefore it is wise for everyone to schedule a regular eye exam to assess eye health and discuss preventative measures for this and other serious eye diseases.

Up to 30% off all prescription eyeglasses

From now until February 19th, 2011 LensCrafters is offering up to 30% off a complete pair of prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses.  Make sure to take advantage of this great sale.  If you do not have a current prescription make an appointment with our office today.

Rates of Myopia Increasing

 

By: Roan, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times (12/15, Roan) reports that, according to a study published in the Dec. issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology, "17% more Americans aged 12 to 54 are afflicted with mild to severe distance vision problems than 30 years ago." In their study, "researchers at the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, found that rates of myopia...in people ages 12 to 54 increased from 25% in 1971-72 to 41.6% in 1999-2004. The study included people with a range of myopia, from mild to severe."

Study lead author, Susan Vitale, PhD, MHS, explained that "the likely cause is less outdoor time and more activities requiring close-up viewing, such as text-messaging, playing hand-held video games, and Web surfing," Bloomberg News (12/15, Gibson) reports. Importantly, myopia "ends up costing a lot," Vitale said, pointing out that "it costs $3.8 billion a year to treat poor distance vision, a tab that rises by $1 billion for every 12 percent increase in the rate of nearsightedness."

MedPage Today (12/14, Fiore) reported, "The researchers noted that improved methodologies have pegged the actual prevalence of adult myopia at 33% in 2008. They said they used older formulas, which overestimated nearsightedness, on both old and new data to show the rate of growth." Noting specific trends, the authors found that "among blacks, estimates of myopia prevalence grew faster over the period than it did among whites, more than doubling -- from 13% to 33.5%." Meanwhile, "among whites, estimated prevalence increased from 26.3% to 43%," while overall "prevalence was...higher in 1999-2004 for all levels of myopia severity."

Online Registration Forms

You can now request your next appointment online. 

Visit the Contact Us section of our web site and complete the Patient Registration Form.  The form is secure and our office will be notified once the form is complete.  When you walk in for your next appointment, we'll already  have the information entered into our computers.  We're always looking for ways to serve our patients better.