“Howdy!   I am so happy to have you visit our website.   As an optometrist, my number one priority is your eye health. As it is impossible for me to examine your eyes every day, I have provided the information below. These articles are for you to learn more about your eyes and make sure you are keeping up with the health of them between your exams.  My hope is that you will read through this information and educate yourself on the health indicators your eyes provide, the many different innovations in surgery, and the various ways you can help your eyes throughout the day.”

— Dr. Sue Simpson

Eye Surgery

Eyeglasses have been a traditional solution for correcting vision problems for many centuries. When contact lenses arrived on the scene, they offered a new practical solution for restoring vision. Now an increasing number of eye surgery options have displaced glasses or contacts as the only solutions for healthy vision.

Eye Surgery Evolution

Advanced technology has made it possible to reshape eyes and restore vision to healthy levels for many people from all walks of life. Surgical techniques and tools have rapidly evolved over the past two decades to create procedures that are both safe and helpful.

Corrective surgeries for eyes now include everything from using lasers to reshape the cornea surface to inserting artificial lenses. These procedures correct how light entering the eye is processed – leading to much sharper vision in patients.

The state of the cornea is a determining factor in these surgeries. Thinner corneas with a high degree of myopia, for example, usually require a more invasive surgery to reshape the eye surface enough to improve vision.

Types of Eye Surgeries

Laser correction surgeries offer a snapshot of evolution in eye surgeries. Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) became the first successful surgery to change the shape of the cornea through removing tissue. The FDA approved PRK in 1995 and it is still widely used early in the 21st Century. With PRK, it only takes a few days for vision improvements to be realized.

LASIK followed on the heels of PRK. It involves cutting a thin flap in the outer covering of the eye to reshape the cornea. Unlike PRK, it only takes a few hours to gain sharper vision with LASIK surgery. There is some risk of suffering dry eye and other complications such as halos around bright lights until the flap fully heals. LASIK can be done with the aid of a mechanical cutting tool, using all lasers or incorporating wavefront technology that measures how light hits the eye.

Nearsighted patients are not alone in benefiting from surgeries. Farsightedness can be corrected through Conductive Keratoplasty (CK). It uses a small probe and low heat radio waves to create spots around the cornea periphery. CK steepens the cornea to give patients better near vision.

Some eye surgeries require implanting new artificial lenses to produce vision improvements. Implantable lenses similar to contact lenses can correct more severe levels of nearsightedness. These artificial lenses go permanently over the natural lens on the eye. Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) takes it a step further and replaces the natural lens with an artificial lens of a different shape. RLE is done to correct extreme farsightedness.

Eye Surgery Considerations

Our eyes change as we age, so some corrective surgeries are not a good option for everyone. People under 18, for example, are not good candidates for laser eye surgeries because their eyes change rapidly as their bodies are growing.

Health also factors into eye surgeries. If you have diabetes or other medical conditions that impact eyesight, certain eye surgeries may pose serious risks.

Sports Vision

Sports vision testing helps athletes determine how well their eyes perform. These tests go beyond standard eye tests that only evaluate the ability to see letters and objects clearly on a standard eye chart. Sports vision testing takes eyesight evaluation one step further, which is vital to overall athletic training as well as specifically enhancing visual function.

While sports vision testing can vary greatly depending on an athlete’s specific needs, in general, sports vision testing can be beneficial for assessing athletic abilities associated with hand-eye coordination, eye tracking, and depth perception. If you are a local athlete looking to improve your performance, Dr. Simpson can help.

Sports Vision Training Enhances Athletic Performance

Dr. Simpson offers several different vision tests for assessing athletic performance and capabilities. The first test is the classic Snellen Eye Chart. Patients are asked to read lettering on a standard eye chart that is placed 20 feet away. You must identify the letters along the lines of increasingly smaller sizes until the letters can no longer be identified. Usually the 20/20 line is the fourth from the bottom; if you can correctly read this line, you have 20/20 vision. If you can read the smallest line, then you have 20/15 vision. This basic eye test is very important for identifying an athlete’s visual acuity.

While correcting visual acuity can seem like an obvious step, some athletes are unaware that they suffer from an undetected refractive error. Refractive errors are any number of different size and shape abnormalities that affect the eye’s ability to focus light on the retina, affecting vision. Depending on your athletic goals, you may wish to undergo a vision correction procedure like LASIK, which could eliminate the need for glasses and contacts.

Contrast sensitivity is also important for athletic performance. During a contrast sensitivity test, you will be asked to identify the orientation of parallel gray stripes against backgrounds of various colors. The backgrounds gradually begin to match the shades of the stripes. Low contrast sensitivity, especially in low-light conditions, will make it more difficult to track objects. A variety of solutions can be effective for addressing contrast sensitivity concerns. These solutions include wearing eyeglasses with a special lens tint to increase visibility, depending on your vision needs.

Ocular alignment tests, like the Hirschberg test, evaluate how well both eyes work together. Alignment problems are detected by analyzing specific points on the cornea where reflections occur. Dr. Simpson also recommends eye dominance tests. Dominance is determined by focusing on an object as it moves closer; when one eye diverges or loses focus, this means that the other eye is dominant. If one eye loses focus too soon, you may be suffering from binocularity, a condition where both eyes struggle to work together to manage depth perception and visual coordination.

Athletic performance is not only enhanced in the gym; it also requires excellent visual processing speed and hand-eye coordination. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of sports vision training and to schedule your sports vision test today.

Eye Makeup for Sensitive Eyes

Do your eyes itch, burn and turn red when you wear makeup? Although cosmetics are supposed to enhance your appearance, you may feel anything but attractive as your eyes water and your makeup runs. Luckily, it’s possible to look your best without enduring any pain or discomfort when you follow these tips.

Don’t Let Makeup Come in Direct Contact with Your Eyes

Makeup can easily travel the short distance from your eyelashes or eyelids to your eyes, triggering sensitivity and dryness. The problem can be particularly painful if you wear contacts because the lenses trap the particles and prevent them from being washed away. If you have sensitive eyes, don’t apply mascara to the roots of your lashes and use eyeliner on the outer part of your lids only.

University of Waterloo researchers conducted a study that examined how much glittery eyeliner entered the tear film when the product was used on either the inner or outer eyelids. The tear film is a protective layer of tears that keep your eyes constantly moist. When study participants placed eyeliner inside the lash line, 15 to 30 percent more particles found their way into the tear film in just five minutes.

Avoid Sleeping in Makeup

When you’re exhausted, removing makeup may seem like an unnecessary step. Unfortunately, failing to remove eye makeup can clog oil glands, causing infections and styes on your eyelids and pimples on your face. Gentle cleaning products that don’t contain fragrances, oils, diazolidinyl urea or sodium lauryl sulfate are the best choices if you have sensitive eyes.

Clean Brushes and Applicators

Brushes and applicators may look perfectly clean, but can still harbor bacteria. Clean them at least once a week with a mixture of warm water and baby shampoo to reduce sensitivity and prevent infections. After your brushes and applicators air dry, place them in a covered container. Never store makeup on a bathroom vanity or the back of a toilet. Every time you flush the toilet, bacteria can travel through the air and coat nearby surfaces, including makeup brushes and toothbrushes.

Wash Your Hands

Clean brushes won’t matter if your fingers are covered in dirt, dust or bacteria. Before you apply any product to your face, spend a few minutes washing your hands.

Be Selfish, Don’t Share

Sharing makeup increases your risk of developing a bacterial infection. No matter how close you are to friends or family members, the last thing you want to do is catch an infection from them or expose them to bacteria from your makeup.

Contamination can also be a problem if you use testers at makeup counters. Ask if small, personal-size sample sizes are available instead.

Have you ever been tempted to take advantage of a free makeover at the cosmetics counter? Before you do, ask the employee to clean the brushes and applicators he or she plans to use on you.

Eliminate Problem Products

Spend a few days makeup free if your eyes start to itch and burn. Once your eyes feel more comfortable, reintroduce your usual makeup products one at a time. If sensitivity returns, get rid of the product causing the problem.

If one particular type of product, such as brown eyeshadow, causes frequent problems, avoid that product in the future. In some cases, sensitivity may occur if you’re allergic to the pigment that gives the eyeshadow its color. Keep in mind that it’s possible to suddenly become allergic to a makeup product even if you’ve used it for years with no previous problems.

Purge Your Makeup Collection

Replace eye makeup every three months to prevent bacterial infections. Pay attention to expiration labels for other makeup products, such as blushes, bronzers, and lip products, and trash these items when the “use by” date arrives.

Keep It Simple

Stay away from products that claim they’ll make your eyelashes so thick you’ll swear you’re wearing false eyelashes or boast that a super special ingredient will make your makeup last for days. These products usually contain a variety of added ingredients that can irritate your eyes. Stick to basic versions of your favorite products instead.

Read Labels

Chose products that are organic, fragrance-free or hypoallergenic. Avoid buying cosmetics that contain perfumes, preservatives, nickel, lead, sulfates, beryllium, added color, cadmium, parabens, talc, selenium or glitter.

Keep your eyes clear and comfortable with smart makeup choices and regular eye exams. If it’s time for your next eye exam, or you’re concerned about a problem, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

The Beauty Department: Makeup Tips for Sensitive Eyes

http://thebeautydepartment.com/2014/07/makeup-tips-for-sensitive-eyes/

Makeup.com: Eye Makeup Tips for Sensitive Eyes

https://www.makeup.com/eye-makeup-tips-for-sensitive-eyes

Health: 8 Tricks for Wearing Mascara When You Have Sensitive Eyes, 11/13/15

http://www.health.com/eye-health/best-mascaras-for-sensitive-eyes

American Academy of Ophthalmology: Using Eye Makeup, 1/7/11

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/eye-makeup

University of Waterloo: Study Finds Eyeliner Application May Cause Eye Problems, 4/1/15

https://uwaterloo.ca/news/news/study-finds-eyeliner-application-may-cause-eye-problems

Prime: Lifting the Lid on Toilet Plume Aerosol, 3/13

https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/23040490/abstract/Lifting_the_lid_on_toilet_plume_aerosol:_A_literature_review_with_suggestions_for_future_research_

Why Is My Eyelid Twitching?

Almost every person experiences some form of eyelid twitching in his or her lifetime. Known medically as blepharospasm, eyelid twitching is characterized by the involuntary movement or spasm of the eyelid muscles. Spasms typically occur every few seconds over the course of several minutes. Twitching episodes might occur for several days or weeks at a time. Blepharospasms occur in varying strengths, sometimes the spasm might force the eyelid shut. In other instances, it might only cause a slight fluttering of the eyelid. Typically, eyelid twitching is a harmless annoyance, but in rare cases it can signify a more serious neuromuscular problem.

Since blepharospasm is usually benign, no singular cause has been pinpointed, but several factors have been shown to increase the frequency or duration of eye twitching. These factors include:

  • Stress
  • Physical Exertion
  • Fatigue or Lack of Sleep
  • Eyelid or Eye Irritation
  • Caffeine
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Medication Side Effects

Patients who experience chronic eyelid twitching in both eyes have what is called benign chronic blepharospasm. While the causes of this condition are unknown, the following factors may worsen it:

  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
  • Blepharitis (Inflammation of the Eyelid)
  • Entropion (Inward Turned Eyelid)
  • Uveitis (Inflammation of the Eye)
  • Stress
  • Sensitivity to Light
  • Fatigue
  • Environmental Irritants

Though rarely, eyelid twitching can be a sign of a brain or nerve disorder. When this is the case, other symptoms are usually present in addition to blepharospasm. If eyelid twitching accompanies other uncontrollable facial spasms or symptoms, it could be a sign of a more serious neuromuscular disorder. These brain and nerve disorders include:

  • Dystonia: causes uncontrollable twisting spasms.
  • Cervical Dystonia: causes neck and head spasms.
  • Bell’s Palsy: causes one side of the face to droop.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: causes balance problems, trembling, muscle spasms, and difficulty speaking.
  • Tourette Syndrome: causes involuntary movement, facial tics, and vocal tics.
  • Multiple Sclerosis: causes tremors, muscle weakness, and slurred speech.

Although these nerve and brain disorders are rare, if any other symptoms accompany eyelid twitching, a person should always see a doctor.

Most cases of blepharospasm will resolve on their own after a few days. To speed up the process or ease the symptoms, try applying a warm compress to the eye, using eye drops to keep the eye lubricated, drink less caffeine, and get more sleep. In extreme, chronic cases, an eye care professional might recommend Botox injections or surgery to remove the twitching muscles.

Does Outside Playtime Improve Children's Eyesight?

Do you see many children playing outside when you drive home from work? Although kids once spent long periods of time outdoors in previous generations, today’s youth are less likely to enjoy spontaneous games of hide and seek or kickball. In fact, parents of eight to 12 year olds reported that their kids spend three times as much time using computers and watching TV as they do playing outside, according to The Nature of Americans National Report. Unfortunately, lack of outdoor time can make it hard to see clearly.

What Happens When Kids Spend Less Time Outdoors?

Lack of exposure to sunlight has been linked to an increased incidence of myopia in children. Myopia, commonly called nearsightedness, makes it difficult to see distant objects clearly without prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. The refractive error occurs when the eye becomes too long from the front to the back. As a result, light rays don’t focus directly on the retina, but in front of it.

Although wearing glasses has always been a part of childhood for some children, myopia rates have been increasing lately. Genetics certainly plays a role in myopia. Children of myopic parents are more likely to develop myopia themselves, but inheritance isn’t necessarily the sole cause of nearsightedness. Close work, like reading or working on computers for hours at a time, may increase the chance that a child will develop the refractive error.

In most cases, myopia is merely an inconvenience, but it can cause other eye problems in adulthood if it’s severe. Retinal tears, cataracts, retinal and vitreous detachments, glaucoma and macular degeneration may be more likely to occur if you need corrective lenses greater than 5 diopters.

Myopia Rates Are on the Rise

In the past, myopia rates remained fairly steady, but that’s changed in the last several decades. Myopia cases increased by 66 percent from 1971-72 and 1999-2004, according to a National Eye Institute Research Study. Researchers believe that the increase is due to fewer hours spent outdoors and increased reliance on digital devices, like smartphones, laptops and tablets.

Spending Time Outdoors Offers a Simple Solution

Increasing outdoor exposure can have a very beneficial effect on kids’ eyes. Chinese children who spent an additional 40 minutes outdoors every day experienced a lower level of myopia when compared to their classmates who remained indoors. Another study determined that children who have myopic parents but spend 14 hours outside weekly have the same risk of developing nearsightedness as peers whose parents aren’t myopic.

Although it may not be possible to prevent every case of myopia, you can reduce your child’s chances of becoming nearsighted by:

  • Encouraging More Outdoor Time. Spending an hour or two outdoors every day is a simple way to protect your child’s vision.
  • Limiting Digital Devices. Reducing the time your child spends playing games or surfing the Internet not only offers protection against myopia, but also prevents painful back and neck pain that can occur when your son or daughter bends his or her neck to view digital devices.
  • Requiring Frequent Breaks. Whether your child is an avid reader or gamer, ask him or her to take breaks every half hour for at least 20 minutes. Breaks are the perfect time to spend a little time outdoors.
  • Provide Foods That Nourish the Eyes. Foods that offer vitamins A, C, E or other nutrients necessary for good vision can help your child reduce his or her risk of developing several eye disease and conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Vision-friendly foods include carrots, peppers, whole grains, dairy products, salmon, citrus fruits, blueberries, spinach and other dark, leafy vegetables.

Increased outdoor time, reduced reliance on digital devices and regular visits to the optometrist can help you protect your child’s vision. If it’s time for a vision exam, or your son or daughter has been complaining of blurred vision, headaches or eyestrain, call us to schedule an appointment.

Proper Contact Lens Care Keeps Your Lenses Comfortable and Clean

Have you ever worn your contact lenses longer than recommended or rinsed them with water? Those and other shortcuts can compromise your vision and increase your risk of dangerous eye infections. Following your optometrist’s care instructions will help you avoid common contact lens wear pitfalls.

Safe Handling and Cleaning Techniques Help You Protect Your Eyes

Preventing bacterial or fungal infections can be as simple as following these recommendations:

  • Wash Your Hands. You may introduce bacteria into your eyes if you don’t wash your hands with soap immediately before handling your lenses. Bacteria can quickly accumulate on your fingers, even if you just washed your hands 10 minutes earlier. Be sure to rinse your hands thoroughly and dry them with a lint-free towel before touching your lenses.
  • Clean Your Cases Frequently. A dirty or germ-laden contact case can increase your risk of an infection. Even though your case may look perfectly fine, it may be teeming with bacteria. Empty your case every day and rinse it with contact lens solution. Don’t top off the case with more solution, clean it with water or dry it with a towel or paper towel. Air drying offers the safest drying method.
  • Don’t Become Too Attached to Your Cases. The American Optometric Association recommends replacing your contact lens cases every three months. If the case is broken, cracked or dirty, replace it immediately.
  • Use Contact Lens Solutions Only. Water and saliva aren’t good substitutes for contact lens solutions. Acanthamoeba, a micro-organism found in water, can damage your corneas, causing blindness or visual impairment. Leave your contacts in their case when you shower or swim to avoid contamination with the amoeba. Don’t use rewetting or saline solution to fill your contact lens cases, as these solutions won’t kill microorganisms.
  • Disinfect Your Lenses If You Drop Them. Have you ever rinsed a dropped lens with solution then placed it back in your eye? Although the solution may have removed some bacteria, a few microorganisms probably remained on your lens. If you wear daily disposable lenses, throw away the lens and use a new one. Follow your usual disinfection routine for all other types of lenses.

Follow Your Eye Doctor’s Care Recommendations

Heeding your optometrist’s instructions for contact lens care is the simplest way to avoid discomfort and infections. If you use daily disposable contact lenses, you’ll throw away your contact lenses at the end of the day and won’t have to worry about cleaning solutions.

Other types of lenses require regular cleaning. Squirt a little disinfecting solution on each lens, then gently rub each side for several seconds to remove proteins, lipids and microorganisms. Consult the instructions printed on the solution to determine how long you should rub the lenses. After you rub them, rinse the lenses with the solution, place them in their case and fill the case with fresh solution.

Your eye doctor will let you know how often you should clean or replace your lenses, depending on their type. In some cases, your optometrist may alter the wear schedule. For example, although extended wear lenses can be worn overnight, he or she may suggest that you only wear them during the day.

Learn the Signs That May Indicate That You Have an Eye Infection

The sooner an eye infection is treated, the less likely it will temporarily or permanently damage your visit. Be alert for these signs of a possible infection:

  • Blurry vision
  • Redness or irritation
  • Lenses that feel uncomfortable, even if you’ve tried a new pair
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing
  • Pain in the eyes

Regular visits to the optometrist are a must if you wear contact lenses. If it’s time for your next appointment, or you’re having a little trouble with your lenses, call us to schedule an appointment.

What Happens When You Don't Wear Sunglasses?

Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement. Wearing sunglasses on a regular basis is a simple way to protect your vision and avoid common eye diseases and conditions.

How the Sun Can Damage Your Eyes

Too much sun is just as bad for your eyes as it is for your skin. When you spend time in the sun without adequate protection, you may be more likely to develop a variety of eye issues, ranging from corneal “sunburns” to cataracts. Eye conditions associated with sun exposure include:

  • Photokeratitis: Photokeratitis occurs when your corneas are exposed to intense sunlight. The condition is particularly common if you spend the day on the beach or on the ski slopes, as both snow and sand intensify the effects of the sun. This sunburn-like condition can cause redness, blurred vision, tearing and sensitivity to light. You might also feel as if there’s something stuck in your eyes. Photokeratitis generally only lasts about one or two days but can be very painful.
  • Pterygium: Pterygium, also known as “surfer’s eye”, can happen to anyone who spends long hours in the sun without wearing appropriate eye protection. The condition causes fleshy, raised bumps to appear on the whites of the eyes. If the condition isn’t treated promptly, the growth can cover the cornea, affecting vision, or may even cause astigmatism. Mild cases are treated with medicated drops, while more serious growths may require surgery.
  • Macular Degeneration: Sun exposure may be a factor in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The condition causes a blind spot in the center of your vision and is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 and older, according to the National Eye Institute. Although there is currently no effective treatment for AMD, low vision aides can help you make the most of your usable vision.
  • Cataracts: The sun also plays a role in the formation of a cataract, or cloudy lens. The lens of your eye focuses light rays on your retina and is necessary for clear vision. When it clouds, you may experience blurry or faded vision, halos around lights, double vision, light sensitivity and difficulty driving at night. Cataracts are removed during outpatient surgery when they begin to affect the quality of your life.
  • Cancer: Cancer is another potential unpleasant consequence of sun exposure. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, can affect several parts of your eyes, including the eyelids, iris or choroid, a layer of tissue between the retina and sclera. Common treatments include radiation, thermotherapy, and surgery.

Things to Consider When Shopping for Sunglasses

Fortunately, it’s easy to reduce your risk of developing sun-related eye conditions and diseases by wearing sunglasses every day. When you shop for sunglasses, keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Look for Glasses That Offer Maximum Protection. The most effective sunglasses block 99 percent of ultraviolet B (UVB) rays and 95 percent of ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, according to the American Optometric Association. Sunglasses don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Both inexpensive and costly glasses can provide the same protection from UVA and UVB rays.
  • Choose Gray, Green or Amber Lenses for Better Vision. Although lens color doesn’t have an impact on ultraviolet ray transmission, it can improve contrast, making it easier to see in sunny weather.
  • Choose Wraparound Styles. You may still experience eye damage if the sun’s rays penetrate the sides or top of your sunglasses. Styles that wrap around your face offer the best protection.
  • Make Comfort a Priority. If your sunglasses are uncomfortable, they’ll spend more time in their case than on your face. The most comfortable glasses may not necessarily be the most stylish, although manufacturers offer plenty of attractive frames in every price range.
  • Buy a Spare Pair. Sunglasses are one of the most common items collected by lost and found departments. In fact, more than 55 percent of adults lose or break their sunglasses every year, according to The Vision Council. Purchasing a backup pair will help you ensure that you’re always protected.

Whether you’re concerned about an eye condition, need prescription sunglasses or are due for an exam, we’re committed to helping you maintain your vision. Contact us to schedule your next appointment.

What Do Your Eyes Say About Your Health?

Have you ever wondered why your eye care provider spends so much time carefully examining your eyes? Although they are looking for diseases or conditions that can affect your vision during eye exams, he or she is also searching for signs that may indicate that you have a general health problem. These eight diseases often cause symptoms that can be seen in your eyes.

Diabetes

When your blood sugar is high for a long period of time, the small blood vessels in your retina may begin to leak, causing a condition called diabetic retinopathy. The retina lines the back of your eye and sends light signals to the brain, where they’re interpreted as images. When your vessels leak blood or fluid, your vision can become blurred, and you may lose central vision or the ability to see colors. If diabetic retinopathy progresses, new blood vessels form in the retina, worsening vision problems. Prompt treatment of diabetic retinopathy helps prevent permanent damage to your vision.

Cataracts, a condition that occurs when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy, can be another clue that you may have diabetes. People who have diabetes are 60 percent more likely to develop the condition than those who don’t, according to the American Diabetes Association. Cataracts may also appear at a younger age and progress more rapidly if you have diabetes.

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol occurs when a fatty substance called plaque narrows your arteries, increasing your risk for heart disease and heart attacks. In some cases, fat deposits form a partial or full white ring around the edge of your corneas. The deposits, common in older people, can be a sign of cholesterol problem if you’re under 40.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Iritis, an inflammation of the iris, may be more likely to occur if you have ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory form of arthritis. Pain often starts in the lower back but can eventually spread to your neck, hips, ribs, shoulders and heels as the disease progresses. If you have iritis, your eye may be painful, red and very sensitive to light.

Liver Damage

Yellow eyes or skin can be a sign of jaundice, a condition that occurs when your liver produces too much bilirubin in response to inflammation or damage. Damage can occur due to viruses, autoimmune disorders, genetic diseases or alcohol abuse.

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle-shaped blood cells block vessels, causing severe pain, anemia and fatigue if you have sickle cell disease. The blood vessels in the eyes can also be affected by the disease. Common eye symptoms of sickle cell disease include eye pain and redness, peripheral vision loss, blurry vision, floaters and jaundice. Blockage of the blood vessels in the retina may lead to a hemorrhage of the retina or vitreous, the clear gel that gives the eye its shape. It’s important to see your eye care professional as soon as possible if you have sickle cell disease and notice changes in your vision.

Myasthenia Gravis

Drooping eyelids are the first symptom of myasthenia gravis for 50 percent of people who develop the autoimmune disorder, according to Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The disorder attacks and weakens the muscles in your body under your control, such as those in your arms and legs. If you have myasthenia gravis, you may find it hard to walk or hold your head upright. The condition can also affect your ability to chew, speak and breathe.

Heart Disease

It makes sense that blood vessels in the eye would be just as affected as vessels in other parts of your body if you have heart disease. Minor changes to the vessels in your retina, such as swelling or narrowing, or swelling of the base of the optic nerve, may mean that you’re at risk of developing heart disease. Luckily, once you know that you have risk factors for heart disease, you can make diet and lifestyle changes to reduce your risk.

Brain and Nerve Conditions

Eye twitches often occur if you’re tired, stressed, or if your eye is irritated. Although most eye twitches aren’t serious, the symptom can sometimes be a sign of a brain or nerve condition, such as Bell’s palsy, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

Regular visits to your eye care provider not only helps protect your vision, but also safeguards your general health. If it’s been a while since you’ve visited our office, give us a call to schedule an appointment.

What to Expect During a Routine Eye Exam

Routine eye exams are straightforward, quick and painless. Most doctors recommend screening your vision on an annual basis to ensure your vision prescription is up to date (or to determine you need one) and to make sure your eyes are healthy. Regular eye exams are the first line of defense against eye disorders, such as chronic dry eye, inflammation, glaucoma, age-related issues and cataracts.

During a regular visit, you can expect your optometrist to perform the following tests to determine your eye health:

Pre-Exam Tests. A technician will often perform a few basic tests before you see the doctor, including a color sensitivity test, peripheral vision test, a glaucoma (or “air puff” test) and a cover test to determine how well your eyes work together. He or she may also use an autorefractor, which automatically measures your vision prescription, to gain a ballpark understanding of your vision needs.

Pupillary Reactions. Using a light, the doctor checks your pupils’ responsiveness. Your pupils’ response to light is a natural function of the eye and is critical to your vision. While using the light, the doctor will also look at the surface of your eye for signs of dry eye, corneal scratches and bacterial debris.

Slit Lamp Test. During a slit light test (also called a biomicroscope), the doctor will shine a vertical bar of light into your eye to magnify your eye’s surface and inspect for abnormalities on the cornea, iris and lens. This test usually takes a few minutes, and you may be asked to blink or stare at your doctor’s ear so he can look closely at your eye’s surface.

Visual Acuity and Refraction. The most well-known part of the eye exam is the visual acuity test. Your doctor will ask you to read an eye chart filled with numbers and letters with one or both eyes. Your ability to clearly read and identify the numbers and letters helps the doctor further determine your vision prescription needs. To hone in on your exact prescription, your doctor will place a large lens refractor in front of you and ask you a series of questions about which lenses make your vision better or worse.

Pupil Dilation. At the end of your exam, the doctor may ask you if you would like to have your eyes dilated. By dilating your eyes, the doctor can examine your retina and optic nerve more fully. To perform this part of the exam, the doctor will put a few drops in your eyes that cause your pupils to enlarge, letting more light in and giving him or her a better view into your eye. Your eyes may be sensitive to light for up to an hour after the test, so it’s best to avoid being outside in direct sunlight afterward.

The Science Behind Perfect Eyesight

It’s easy to take vision for granted when the eyes perform flawlessly. However, when eye problems crop up, it’s hard not to wonder how the eyes work. In a properly functioning eye, a number of elements must cooperate perfectly to create good vision; just one malfunctioning factor in this instantaneous process can cause blurry vision, pain or even blindness. The entire field of optometry is dedicated to managing vision problems and determining the best method of correcting poor vision.

The Birth of a Picture

Vision begins when light rays are reflected off objects and into the eyes via the cornea, a transparent bulge that covers the front of the eyeball. The cornea refracts, or bends, the light rays so that they pass through the dark, small round hole, called the pupil. The amount of light permitted to enter the pupil is regulated by the iris, the colored part of the eye that changes the size of the iris.

After passing through the pupil, the light rays shine through the lens. This remarkable component changes it shape to bend the rays as needed to focus them on the retina located at the back of the eyeball.

Translating the Picture

The retina is composed of millions of two types of nerve cells that detect the light. Cones are found primarily in the center of the retina, in a region called the macula, and specialize in sharp vision with fine details and colors. Rods reside beyond the macula to provide peripheral (side) vision, detect motion outside the central vision, and provide vision in dim or dark lighting conditions.

Decoding the Message

Both cones and rods convert the received light rays into specific patterns of electrical impulses to be delivered to the brain through the optic nerve. In the brain, the impulses are assembled and decoded to form an image.

When Things Don’t Line Up

The overall shape of the eyeball ultimately determines how well the eye can focus and receive the incoming image; when a patient experiences poor or blurry vision, an optometrist examines the eye to figure out what went wrong.

Normally, the eye retains a spherical shape. If the shape changes, such as with an elongated eyeball, the cornea’s curvature will no longer focus the incoming light rays appropriately to match the distance from the lens to the retina.

Consultation with an optometrist can determine whether corrective lenses or surgery are needed to restore properly focused vision.

Optometry Versus Ophthalmology: What’s the Difference?

Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians all play an integral role in eye and vision care. While they often work in collaboration, they require varying levels of education and are qualified to help you and your eyes in different ways.

If you aren’t sure who to talk to about your eyes, keep reading for an overview of the three O’s of eye care and how each of them can help you.

Optometrists

Optometry tends to be the first line of defense in maintaining healthy eyes. The scope of practice for optometrists can vary from state to state but primarily focuses on vision problems.

One of optometrists’ primary responsibilities is to perform eye examinations to detect the presence of vision problems. Many people associate eye examinations with poor vision, but they aren’t only for people who need glasses. Regular eye exams can play an important role in maintaining overall health and helping detect other diseases, including diabetes and hypertension.

Optometrists can also prescribe glasses, contact lenses and sometimes medicated eye drops to correct the problem.

Optometrists often collaborate with ophthalmologists, or eye surgeons, and recommend patients to them who may need specialized care. Sometimes, the optometrist provides pre- or post-operative care for patients undergoing eye surgery with an ophthalmologist.

Optometrists typically provide:

  • Vision services, such as eye examinations
  • Treatment of conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism
  • Eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions and fittings
  • Low vision aids and vision therapy
  • Diagnoses of eye conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and conjunctivitis
  • Medication prescriptions to treat certain eye conditions (in some states)
  • Pre- or post-operative care for people who need surgery

Ophthalmologists

Ophthalmology is the study of the anatomy, functions and diseases of the eye, and ophthalmologists deliver total eye care. As licensed medical professionals, their minimum of eight years of medical training allows them to diagnose, treat, manage eye diseases and perform surgery. They are experts in the entire optic system and provide insight into how both eye diseases and their treatments interact elsewhere in the body. Ophthalmologists can customize treatment to suit patients’ unique vision health needs.

Some of the services ophthalmologists provide include:

  • Eye health services, including regular eye exams and refractive eye care
  • Medical eye care for conditions such as chemical burns, glaucoma and iritis
  • Surgical eye care for trauma, cataracts, glaucoma and other vision problems
  • Diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions related to other diseases, such as arthritis or diabetes

In addition, some ophthalmologists provide plastic surgery — to correct drooping eyelids and to smooth wrinkles around the eyes.

If your eyes have been bothering you or you have any questions about the right person to see for your eyes, contact your doctor for more helpful information.

Considering Laser Vision Correction

Since the infancy of laser vision correction services in the 1980s, the field has made leaps and bounds in increasing the safety and efficacy of these procedures. Today, over 28 million LASIK surgery procedures have been performed worldwide, reports the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Furthermore, 9 out of 10 patients achieve vision quality between 20/20 and 20/40, making it an in-demand choice for correcting vision.

What Is Laser Vision Correction?

Laser correction surgery refers to a class of surgeries in which a high-powered laser is used to reshape the surface of the eye. The surgery begins with a small incision being made in the cornea, or the front of the eye. After this corneal flap is created, it is peeled back to reveal the surface of the cornea. The ophthalmologist then uses a laser to change the shape of the cornea’s surface, allowing light to focus more accurately. The result of the procedure is vision that is corrected to normal, removing the necessity of wearing contacts or glasses.

LASIK (standing for laser in situ keratomileusis) is the predominant vision correction surgery worldwide. In some cases, the ophthalmologist uses a small blade called a microkeratome to create the corneal flap. A newer procedure employs a special laser to create the flap, followed by corneal resurfacing by a second laser. This newer procedure is thought to improve physician accuracy and reduce the risk of side effects.

Weighing the Effects and Benefits of Laser Surgery

With millions of individuals choosing to receive laser surgery, it is a safe and affordable option for vision correction. One of the primary benefits of the procedure is eliminating the need for glasses or contact lenses. However, laser vision correction isn’t for everyone. In general, the following groups of people should exercise caution when choosing laser surgery correction:

  • People under age 18. Because vision continues to change in late adolescence and early adulthood, laser surgery is not recommended for individuals under age 18.
  • Pregnant women or nursing mothers. Pregnancy and nursing can lead to eye changes, causing incorrect measurements of refraction that could impair surgical accuracy.
  • Those taking steroid medications. Certain prescription drugs are not appropriate for use before undergoing laser surgery. Discuss your options with your regular physician and eye doctor to see if your prescription medications are safe.
  • Those with poor general health. Individuals with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts, diabetes, or retinal disease may be poor candidates for laser eye surgery.

Overall, laser vision correction is a procedure that millions of individuals undertake each year with excellent results. Discuss your medical history and eye health with your optometrist before making a decision.

What the Eyes Tell Us About Overall Health

Eyes are your window to the world. Everything you experience is enhanced by what you see. By the same token, eyes can be a window into your body.

When it comes to your overall health, your eyes act like an open book shedding light on your condition. A thorough eye exam with your ophthalmologist or optometrist can uncover clues about the state of your whole body. Your eye care provider may be able to tell whether or not you are suffering from a serious disease or medical condition just by examining blood vessels and nerves in your eyes.

What are Your Eyes Telling You?

Unusual eye symptoms raise a red flag. Your eyes act as an early warning system to let you know when something is wrong and you need medical attention. Diabetes, for instance, can cause blurred vision when symptoms began to flare up. Dim or double vision may be an early sign you are suffering a stroke.

Blood vessels are especially revealing. If blood vessels in your eyes turn from red to bronze or gray, this could be an early sign of high blood pressure or diabetes. Both conditions can damage your retinas by causing excess fluid to accumulate in your eyes. Blocked blood vessels may be a sign you have an autoimmune disease. This can in turn lead to red, itchy eyes, sensitivity to light, eye pain, and vision problems.

If your body is fighting a virus, bacteria or fungal infection, it will often show up in the eyes as well. If the whites of your eyes turn yellow, for example, it could be a sign of hepatitis or jaundice.

Following Up After an Eye Exam

Eye symptoms alone are usually not enough to diagnose an infection, disease, or other serious medical condition. Still, your eyes can reveal the fact that problems do exist. This will make it easier to obtain quick medical care before any problems manifested in the eyes have a chance to do serious damage elsewhere in the body or even turn fatal.

Knowing what steps are necessary to improve your health is easier when an eye care professional takes a look in your eyes.

Teaching Kids About Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis is by no means limited only to children. An infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva — the membrane within the eyelid and protecting the white aspect of our eyes — can occur in individuals of any age secondary to an infection, an allergic reaction or chemical irritation. Infectious conjunctivitis can be the result of a bacterial or viral infection.

In children, however, a highly contagious type of bacterial conjunctivitis can often run throughout a school or daycare facility’s entire population due to the isolated subpopulation of children available as victims and habits children engage in throughout the day. According to an interview with Dr. Laura Perrin of the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians, children are often prohibited from attending school until they have been treated with antibacterial eye drops or ointments for at least 24 hours in an effort to help prevent the infection of an entire school.

Teaching Kids About Pink Eye

Both the viral and the bacterial form of infectious conjunctivitis can be transmitted directly by touch. Knowing this aspect of the disease’s transmission as well as the frequency with which children rub their eyes — particularly throughout a school day — clearly indicates the ease by which the infection can spread throughout a classroom, school or daycare center. Depending upon their age and grade, children should be instructed about the following aspects of this disease:

  • “Pink Eye” is the common name for the eye infection known medically as infectious conjunctivitis.
  • Germs or bacteria cause most infectious conjunctivitis. Treatment requires antibacterial eye drops or eye ointment to help your body’s defenses fight the infection.
  • Viral or infectious conjunctivitis can be spread by touch, both direct and indirect. Teach your child never to intentionally touch another child’s face or eye area. If this occurs accidentally, your child should wash his or her hands immediately or use an antibacterial gel.
  • While it may be good manners to share school supplies, the practice shares germs and potential infections as well. Provide your child with his or her own supplies and provide instructions on how to combine courtesy with disease prevention.
  • Emphasize regularly the importance of your child washing his or hands throughout the day.
  • Teach your child the symptoms of pink eye that they may begin to experience before the infection becomes apparent, such as itchy eyes, blurry vision, feeling as if an eyelash or other foreign object is in the eye or light sensitivity. Children may not understand these common terms and they may need to be explained at their level, such as “if bright light hurts your eyes” as opposed to the term “acute photo-sensitivity.”
  • Teach your child the advanced symptoms of pink eye, such as matted eyelashes, pain with each eye blink and discolored sclera or whites of their eyes. Remove the child’s pillowcase and any washcloths or towels used to be laundered so as not to spread the infection among family members.
  • Teach your child why the medication they are prescribed must be applied on a regular basis until the entire prescription is complete.

How Vision Problems Affect Learning

Reading is an instrumental part of your child’s ability to learn. In order to write complete sentences or do mathematical problems, a child must first be able to understand what is on the page in front of them. If your child is suffering from vision problems, it may be drastically interfering with their ability to learn.

Types of Vision Problems

There are several types of vision problems, all of which can affect your child’s ability to read, write and succeed in the classroom in different ways. The following are some common vision problems that children may suffer form.

Refractive Errors

Children and adults with a refractive error have an irregularly shaped cornea that does not bend light properly. This leads to images appearing blurry. Refractive vision problems include farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism. If your child holds a book very close to their eyes or squints when trying to read, they may be suffering from a refractive vision problem. If children with refractive errors cannot properly see the chalkboard or a book in front of them, learning becomes difficult — especially if the refractive error goes undiagnosed.

Functional Vision Problems

These refer to problems affecting the way that the eye and brain work together. When neurological control of certain eye functions fail, problems in eye teaming (binocularity), accommodation (i.e., the ability of the eye to change optical power to focus on an object at different distances), hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision or fine eye movements (which are necessary for reading) may occur. A child with a functional vision problem may spend the majority of their time simply trying to focus on a written word instead of comprehending what is being described in the text.

Perceptual Vision Problems

Perceptual vision problems are characterized by difficulty understanding and identifying what one sees and judging the importance of it. Another characteristic of a perceptual vision problem is difficulty relating an image to information that has been stored in the brain. For example, children with perceptual vision problems may not recognize a word that they have already seen, making learning difficult for the child.

If you think that your child may be suffering from a vision problem that is affecting their ability to learn, contact us for help.

Curbing Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration represents one of the most significant causes of vision loss in older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.8 million people currently suffer from macular degeneration, with an additional 7.3 million people at risk of developing this condition. Understanding the causes of and treatments for macular degeneration allow you to receive the optometry care needed to curb the incidence and progression of this disease.

What Is Macular Degeneration?

Dry macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease in which the macula, a portion of the retina, deteriorates. When light enters the eye, it hits the retina, which lies on the back of the eyeball. Neural signaling from cells in the retina allows us to see clearly. If the macula degenerates, it cannot transmit visual signals to the brain, leading to blurred vision or a blind spot in the central portion of the visual field. A less common form of the disease, called wet macular degeneration, occurs when blood vessels behind the retina leak fluid, causing changes in central vision.

Curbing Macular Degeneration

Certain characteristics put individuals at a higher risk of developing macular degeneration. Being Caucasian, growing older, and having a family history of macular degeneration are strong risk factors outside of your control. Other risk factors, such as obesity, smoking, poor diet, cardiovascular disease, and high cholesterol can be modified through lifestyle change.

To prevent macular degeneration, optometrists recommend incorporating healthy fruits and vegetables into your diet, reducing caloric intake to manage your weight, quitting smoking, increasing physical activity, and reducing your consumption of saturated and trans fats to lower your cholesterol. Your doctor can help you construct a healthy diet and lifestyle plan to reduce your risk.

Currently, dry macular degeneration is irreversible. However, it often progresses slowly and certain treatments may reduce the rate of progression. Annual visits to the optometrist to receive an eye exam are essential to monitoring the condition. Your eye doctor may recommend taking supplements, as high levels of vitamins A, C, and E as well as zinc and copper may reduce the progression of macular degeneration. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and lutein may also help, although more research is needed to confirm the efficacy of these treatments.

Treatment for wet macular degeneration may include injection of prescription medications, photodynamic therapy, or laser treatment to destroy abnormal blood vessels and prevent new vessel growth. In very advanced cases of macular degeneration, an optometrist may recommend surgery to implant a telescopic lens in one eye.

Amblyopia

Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a visual disorder caused by abnormal vision development, often occurring during infancy. Patients with amblyopia have reduced vision in one eye, because it is not working properly in conjunction with the brain.

With early detection and proper treatment, loss of vision can be avoided for many children. However, when left untreated, amblyopia can cause significantly decreased visual acuity — including legal blindness.

What Causes Amblyopia?

When one eye sees clearly and the other does not, the brain tries to overcompensate for the one that does not see as well. Essentially, the brain begins to ignore images sent from the eye that does not see as well as its counterpart. The brain begins to favor the stronger eye over the other, and the eye that is not being used properly develops increasingly poor visual acuity, becoming the amblyopic eye.

Amblyopia can be caused by a variety of pre-existing conditions that prevents the amblyopic eye from focusing clearly.

Types of Amblyopia

Common types of amblyopia include the following:

Strabismic amblyopia is the most common type of amblyopia and is caused by poorly aligned eyes. If one eye is misaligned, the brain ignores visual input from that eye. This causes underuse in the eye with poorer visual acuity, leading to amblyopia in that eye, or lazy eye.

Refractive amblyopia can occur despite perfect eye alignment. In this case, amblyopia is caused by unequal refractive errors in the eyes. For example, one eye may have uncorrected nearsightedness or farsightedness while the other eye does not. In these cases, the brain depends on the eye with the less severe uncorrected error to see, and ignores the images transmitted from the other eye. This causes amblyopia in the underused eye.

Deprivation amblyopia is amblyopia caused by something that obstructs light from entering a baby’s eye. A congenital cataract is frequently responsible for this form of amblyopia, and proper treatment is necessary to support continued visual development.

Treatment

Amblyopia is not correctable with glasses or contact lenses alone. However, vision therapy is often an appropriate treatment option.

Vision therapy involves an individualized treatment program that is designed to correct or improve visual deficiencies. Vision therapy includes different techniques and eye exercises (depending on the vision deficiency being treated), such as patching the stronger eye to force the brain to pay attention to signals transmitted from the amblyopic eye, eye alignment exercises and eye teaming activities, which help correct and enhance the brain’s ability to communicate with the eyes. It has been found to be far more successful in treating amblyopia than eye surgery or corrective glasses alone.

The earlier a child with amblyopia enters vision therapy, the better. Research has long since disproven the popular belief that older children or even adults with amblyopia cannot be helped; however, it is best to begin treating amblyopia as soon as possible.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a serious disorder that can damage the optic nerves of your eyes if left untreated. The optic nerve carries images from your eyes to your brain. If the nerve is damaged, full or partial vision loss can occur. In some cases, people develop glaucoma because the pressure in their eyes begins to increase while, in others, ocular (eye) pressure is not an issue.

Although the word “glaucoma” is used as a blanket term to describe this condition, there are actually several different forms of the disorder.

Primary Open Angle Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma occurs when you produce too much aqueous humor, the clear liquid that fills your eyeball, or when channels that drain the aqueous humor become blocked. In both cases, pressure in your eye begins to increase, which can lead to optic nerve damage. If you do not have a glaucoma test at your optometrist’s office regularly, you probably will not know that you have primary open angle glaucoma until you begin to notice problems with your side, or peripheral, vision.

Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma

Acute angle closure glaucoma occurs due to a sudden blockage in the drainage channels in the eye. Eye pressure rises quickly, causing severe pain, redness, decreased vision and nausea. If you develop any of these symptoms, go to the emergency room immediately. If the problem is not corrected promptly, you may experience permanent vision loss.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma

In normal-tension glaucoma, optic nerve damage occurs even though the pressure in your eye remains at normal levels. The first sign that you have this form of glaucoma is often tunnel vision.

Less Common Forms of Glaucoma

Pigmentary glaucoma occurs when a tiny piece of pigment breaks loose from your iris and blocks the drainage channels in your eye while secondary glaucoma develops after an eye infection or injury. Some children are born with congenital glaucoma, an inherited form of the disorder.

Who Gets Glaucoma?

Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people have an increased risk of developing the disorder. Your chances of getting glaucoma may be higher if:

  • You have structural abnormalities in your eyes.
  • You are very nearsighted or have a family history of glaucoma.
  • You are over 60, or are black, Hispanic or Asian.
  • You recently had an eye infection or eye surgery.
  • You have sickle cell anemia, diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.
  • You take corticosteroids.

How Is Glaucoma Treated?

Optometrists prescribe a variety of eye drops that work by either decreasing fluid production or improving drainage. In some cases, oral medication also helps lower the pressure in your eye. Surgery can help improve drainage in your eye and is the recommended treatment if you suddenly develop acute angle closure glaucoma. Both traditional and laser surgery is used to treat the disorder.

How Can I Find Out If I Have Glaucoma?

Yearly eye checkups can help you avoid vision loss due to glaucoma. Since symptoms do not usually occur until there is already damage, frequent glaucoma tests are a must. Optometrists use several painless screening tests. Tonometry measures the pressure inside your eye while visual field testing tests your peripheral vision.

Special eye drops that dilate the pupils allow doctors to take a close look at your eyes and spot any signs that could indicate that you have glaucoma. Optic nerve imaging provides a picture of your nerve and is useful for spotting changes or damage.

Concerned that you are at risk for glaucoma? Call us today to schedule an exam and testing.

Binocular Vision: Disorders and Treatment

For many, the term binocular vision conjures images of super powers or the rare ability to spot objects far away, but having binocular vision simply means having two eyes with which to see. Binocular vision does lend creatures with two eyes advantages over those with only one, such as enhanced vision, depth perception, and a wider field of view. Our two eyes functioning properly allow us to view the world in the way we do, perceiving objects both up close and far away, using peripheral vision to see objects at our sides, and using our overlapping field of vision to see objects in greater detail.

In order for binocular vision to function properly, both eyes have to work together. When eyes cannot work together, vision disorders occur. Disorders with binocular vision occur in a large percentage of optometry patients, as many as 20 percent, and can affect those patients’ ability to see properly using both eyes. Binocular vision disorders affect normal, daily activities like driving, reading, seeing a computer screen, and participating in sports. The two most common binocular vision disorders are strabismus (crossed eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye). These disorders often present themselves in young children. The two conditions often occur together, but can present individually.

Six muscles support each eye, and ideally work together to keep the eyes pointed in the same direction. In strabismus, these sets of muscles do not coordinate. As a result, the two eyes do not line up in a single direction, and end up focused on different objects. The brain receives two separate images. Unable to combine the images, the brain begins to favor the dominant eye and ignore images from the other. Symptoms of strabismus include double vision, crossed eyes, eyes which are not aligned, independent eye movements, and loss of depth perception. If left untreated, the less dominant eye will become even weaker, eventually leading to amblyopia.

Amblyopia, the most common childhood vision problem, is the loss of one eye’s ability to see details, when the nerve path connecting the eye to the brain does not develop. Though strabismus is the most common cause of amblyopia, it can occur independently. Astigmatism, cataracts, nearsightedness, and farsightedness can all cause amblyopia. Symptoms include eyes which do not move together, poor vision in one eye, loss of depth perception, and eyes which turn in or out.

Diabetic Retinopathy: What Is It?

Diabetic retinopathy refers to several eye problems that are characterized by damage to the light-sensitive retina, caused by excessive blood sugar levels. Almost half of Americans with diabetes suffer from some level of diabetic retinopathy. When glucose levels in the blood are not properly controlled, it can result in the formation of glaucoma, cataracts or blood vessel damage in the retina — all of which can cause vision loss if not diagnosed and treated early.

Damage to the blood vessels in the retina can eventually lead to permanent vision loss. High blood sugar levels can lead to the blood vessels in the retina swelling and leaking. This leaked blood in the eye damages vision. In severe instances, the retina can thicken and crack, causing new blood vessels to grow under the retina and through those cracks, which severely affects visual acuity.

Symptoms

For many people, the earliest stages of diabetic retinopathy do not have any easily noticeable symptoms. By the time vision loss is prominent enough to be noticed, most individuals have progressed to advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy that are harder to treat and manage.

Thankfully, regular eye examinations can help monitor the eyes for many of the common initial warning signs of diabetic retinopathy, including the following:

  • Floaters or spots roaming around in your field of vision
  • Poor night vision
  • An empty or dark spot in the middle of your field of vision
  • Blurred vision

Treatment

Treatment of diabetic retinopathy depends on the stage and severity of the condition. Through regular eye examinations and pupil dilation, diabetic retinopathy can be monitored closely to ensure accurate treatment. Keeping blood sugar levels within recommended ranges can also help manage or slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

In more severe cases, treatment also includes:

  • Laser surgery to repair retinal detachment
  • Intravitreal injections of medications into the jelly-like vitreous, near the retina, to stop the proliferation of blood vessels and halt further retinal damage
  • Laser photocoagulation (to close leaking blood vessels in the retina)

Glaucoma Care: What You Need to Know

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, reports the Glaucoma Research Foundation. This common eye condition typically affects older adults, although infants and young adults are also at risk. Fortunately, however, cutting-edge research is improving diagnosis and treatment of this common eye disease. Talk to your optometrist about glaucoma care for the latest information about treatment options.

Causes and Symptoms of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition characterized by increased pressure within the eye, which damages the optic nerve that sends visual information to the brain. Most cases of glaucoma are called open-angle glaucoma, which occurs when drainage channels are partially blocked and cause gradual increases in intraocular pressure. The primary symptom of open-angle glaucoma is gradual loss of peripheral vision. Acute angle closure glaucoma, on the other hand, occurs when the iris bulges and suddenly blocks drainage channels. This form of glaucoma causes rapid pressure increases, associated with eye pain, nausea, and vision problems.

Traditional Glaucoma Care

For many years, the approach to glaucoma care included medications in the form of eye drops. The traditional approach most commonly featured beta blocker eye drops, which were used to alleviate intraocular pressure. Many patients disliked beta blockers because of their adverse side effects. Surgery was another alternative for severe cases of glaucoma, but surgical techniques often came with unpleasant side effects as well.

Advances in Glaucoma Care

Pharmaceutical Treatments

Today, improved medication options and surgical procedures offer hope for patients with glaucoma. Many individuals now use prostaglandin eye drops, which are more effective at reducing intraocular pressure and come with fewer side effects than beta blockers. Recent studies have found a single injection of anecortave acetate, a steroid medication, to effectively lower intraocular pressure to normal limits. Other pharmaceutical treatments, including alpha-adrenergic agonists or miotic agents, are also used in glaucoma treatment. New classes of medications continue to be investigated.

Surgical Treatments

New surgical techniques are also being employed. Glaucoma experts are excited about micropulse laser trabeculoplasty (MLT), a surgery that uses a laser pulse to reduce intraocular pressure. MLT has a lower risk of side effects than more traditional surgical options. Canaloplasty, in which is tiny catheter is placed into the eye’s drainage canal, is another new surgical technique to lower intraocular pressure. One of the most exciting advances in glaucoma care is the Trabectome procedure, which improves fluid drainage in the eye. This surgery is performed in out-patient clinics, allowing patients to undergo surgery and return home the same day.

Strabismus

Strabismus is the medical term for the misalignment of the eyes. Commonly referred to as cross-eyed or wall-eyed, strabismus may involve either one or both eyes turning inward, outward or even up or down. It is one of the most common vision conditions in young children, affecting somewhere between 2 and 4 percent of the population.

Symptoms of strabismus typically reveal themselves in children between the ages of 1 and 4. In some cases, children with strabismus experience double vision or low vision in general, and those who may be too young to vocalize their discomfort may tilt their heads or squint frequently. Many children will not report vision problems on their own and, typically, parents or teachers notice a misalignment of the eyes.

What Causes Strabismus?

Strabismus can have many different causes. In particular, strabismus is often caused by abnormal functioning of: the part of the brain that controls eye movements, the nerves that transmit signals to the muscles or the eye muscles themselves. It can also be caused by certain general health problems, eye conditions, head injuries, refractive errors or, in part, family history.

Types of Strabismus

Common types of strabismus include the following:

Esotropia is the most common cause of childhood strabismus. It tends to appear very early on in a person’s life — primarily occurring in infants — and involves one eye turning inward, toward the nose, instead of aligning with the second eye and looking straight ahead.

Exotropia often appears in children between the ages of 1 and 6. Exotropia occurs when one eye turns outward, away from the nose. This type of strabismus is commonly referred to as walleye.

Hypertropia is considered the least common form of strabismus. This form of strabismus, also referred to as vertical deviation, is characterized by one eye turning upward, toward the eyebrow.

Strabismus Treatment Options

Treatment for strabismus is tailored to address the initial source of the problem and can vary depending on the severity of the eye misalignment.

One of the most common treatments for strabismus is eye patching. If the same eye consistently turns in the same direction, a patch may be placed over the regularly functioning eye. In this way, patching may be used to train the weaker eye to do the “seeing” work in place of the stronger eye. Patches block out all light and, over time, may strengthen the eye and restore alignment. Depending on the case, children may be recommended to wear a patch anywhere from only a few hours a day to, occasionally, more than six hours each day.

How Vision Therapy Can Help With Strabismus

Vision therapy involves an individualized, non-surgical treatment program that is designed to help correct or improve certain eye conditions, including strabismus. Treatment will vary, depending on the eye condition and the patient’s unique visual needs. Specific exercises — including ones that address eye alignment, eye teaming, focusing abilities and more — can be used to help manage strabismus and realign the eyes.

Astigmatism

Strabismus is the medical term for the misalignment of the eyes. Commonly referred to as cross-eyed or wall-eyed, strabismus may involve either one or both eyes turning inward, outward or even up or down. It is one of the most common vision conditions in young children, affecting somewhere between 2 and 4 percent of the population.

Symptoms of strabismus typically reveal themselves in children between the ages of 1 and 4. In some cases, children with strabismus experience double vision or low vision in general, and those who may be too young to vocalize their discomfort may tilt their heads or squint frequently. Many children will not report vision problems on their own and, typically, parents or teachers notice a misalignment of the eyes.

What Causes Strabismus?

Strabismus can have many different causes. In particular, strabismus is often caused by abnormal functioning of: the part of the brain that controls eye movements, the nerves that transmit signals to the muscles or the eye muscles themselves. It can also be caused by certain general health problems, eye conditions, head injuries, refractive errors or, in part, family history.

Types of Strabismus

Common types of strabismus include the following:

Esotropia is the most common cause of childhood strabismus. It tends to appear very early on in a person’s life — primarily occurring in infants — and involves one eye turning inward, toward the nose, instead of aligning with the second eye and looking straight ahead.

Exotropia often appears in children between the ages of 1 and 6. Exotropia occurs when one eye turns outward, away from the nose. This type of strabismus is commonly referred to as walleye.

Hypertropia is considered the least common form of strabismus. This form of strabismus, also referred to as vertical deviation, is characterized by one eye turning upward, toward the eyebrow.

Strabismus Treatment Options

Treatment for strabismus is tailored to address the initial source of the problem and can vary depending on the severity of the eye misalignment.

Astigmatism is an extremely common eye condition that affects both children and adults. It occurs when there is an imperfection in some part of your cornea, the clear tissue that covers your iris. Light rays pass through the cornea as they travel to the retina, a thin layer of cells at the back of your eye. The retina turns light rays into impulses that are transmitted to your brain, which interprets them as images.

Normally, the cornea is completely round. If you have astigmatism, some parts of your cornea may be rounder than others, which can cause a distortion in the way light rays focus on your retina. Astigmatism is considered a refractive error because it affects the way your eyes refract, or bend, light. It often occurs in conjunction with other refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Common symptoms of astigmatism include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Trouble seeing clearly when driving at night
  • Squinting
  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches

If you have a mild case of astigmatism, you may not notice any changes in your vision.

Diagnosing Astigmatism

Many of the symptoms of astigmatism, such as blurred vision and eyestrain, can also occur if you need glasses or you already have glasses or contacts, but your eyes have gotten worse. Luckily, astigmatism can be easily spotted during an eye examination.

During the examination, your visual acuity will be measured based on your ability to read letters or numbers on an eye chart. The focusing power of your eyes will also be determined, and an instrument called a keratometer may be used to measure the curvature of your cornea. These tests help eye care professionals determine if you have astigmatism.

Treating Astigmatism

Eyeglasses will help improve your vision if you have been diagnosed with astigmatism. Although you probably will not be able to notice any difference just by looking at your new glasses, a subtle change in your lenses will allow you to see better. Glasses improve vision in people with astigmatism because the lens power is increased in a small area of a lens to compensate for the imperfection in your cornea. Some people with astigmatism feel that contacts offer better vision than glasses, but either option will help improve your eyesight.

Reshaping the cornea can alleviate astigmatism temporarily or permanently. Special contact lenses that are worn overnight change the shape of the cornea, allowing you to see clearly during the day. However, if you stop wearing the lenses at night, your symptoms will return. Two types of laser surgery, LASIK and photoreactive keratectomy (PRK), permanently reshape the cornea but may have associated risks.

Helping you make the most of your vision is our priority. If it’s been awhile since we have seen you, call us today to schedule an appointment.

What You Need to Know About Dry Eye

Strabismus is the medical term for the misalignment of the eyes. Commonly referred to as cross-eyed or wall-eyed, strabismus may involve either one or both eyes turning inward, outward or even up or down. It is one of the most common vision conditions in young children, affecting somewhere between 2 and 4 percent of the population.

Symptoms of strabismus typically reveal themselves in children between the ages of 1 and 4. In some cases, children with strabismus experience double vision or low vision in general, and those who may be too young to vocalize their discomfort may tilt their heads or squint frequently. Many children will not report vision problems on their own and, typically, parents or teachers notice a misalignment of the eyes.

What Causes Strabismus?

Strabismus can have many different causes. In particular, strabismus is often caused by abnormal functioning of: the part of the brain that controls eye movements, the nerves that transmit signals to the muscles or the eye muscles themselves. It can also be caused by certain general health problems, eye conditions, head injuries, refractive errors or, in part, family history.

Types of Strabismus

Common types of strabismus include the following:

Esotropia is the most common cause of childhood strabismus. It tends to appear very early on in a person’s life — primarily occurring in infants — and involves one eye turning inward, toward the nose, instead of aligning with the second eye and looking straight ahead.

Exotropia often appears in children between the ages of 1 and 6. Exotropia occurs when one eye turns outward, away from the nose. This type of strabismus is commonly referred to as walleye.

Hypertropia is considered the least common form of strabismus. This form of strabismus, also referred to as vertical deviation, is characterized by one eye turning upward, toward the eyebrow.

Strabismus Treatment Options

Treatment for strabismus is tailored to address the initial source of the problem and can vary depending on the severity of the eye misalignment.

Astigmatism is an extremely common eye condition that affects both children and adults. It occurs when there is an imperfection in some part of your cornea, the clear tissue that covers your iris. Light rays pass through the cornea as they travel to the retina, a thin layer of cells at the back of your eye. The retina turns light rays into impulses that are transmitted to your brain, which interprets them as images.

Normally, the cornea is completely round. If you have astigmatism, some parts of your cornea may be rounder than others, which can cause a distortion in the way light rays focus on your retina. Astigmatism is considered a refractive error because it affects the way your eyes refract, or bend, light. It often occurs in conjunction with other refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Common symptoms of astigmatism include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Trouble seeing clearly when driving at night
  • Squinting
  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches

If you have a mild case of astigmatism, you may not notice any changes in your vision.

Diagnosing Astigmatism

Many of the symptoms of astigmatism, such as blurred vision and eyestrain, can also occur if you need glasses or you already have glasses or contacts, but your eyes have gotten worse. Luckily, astigmatism can be easily spotted during an eye examination.

During the examination, your visual acuity will be measured based on your ability to read letters or numbers on an eye chart. The focusing power of your eyes will also be determined, and an instrument called a keratometer may be used to measure the curvature of your cornea. These tests help eye care professionals determine if you have astigmatism.

Treating Astigmatism

If you have never suffered from dry eye, you might not appreciate how important your tears are to your eye health. Without enough moisture, your eyes can become dry, itchy, red and uncomfortable. Dry eye occurs when you do not make enough tears or the tears you produce are not high quality.

The Importance of Tears

Although you might not realize it, your eyes constantly produce tears. Tears are needed to keep the front of your eyes moist and comfortable. They help remove tiny specks of debris or dust from the eyes. When something falls into your eye, tear production increases, in an attempt to wash away the foreign object.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Dry eye symptoms include:

  • A feeling that there is a foreign object in your eyes
  • Gritty or sandy feeling in the eyes
  • Burning and stinging
  • Itching
  • Eye fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain and redness
  • Difficulty reading or working on a computer for long periods of time
  • Stringy discharge
  • Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
  • Inability to cry

Who Gets Dry Eye?

Dry eye can occur at any age; although it is most common in people over the age of 65. Hormonal changes in women during pregnancy and menopause can increase the risk of dry eye, as can the use of hormonal birth control methods, such as birth control pills.

No matter what your age, you may experience dry eye if you are exposed to wind, dry conditions or smoke, or have allergies. Some types of medications can affect tear production, including antidepressants, tranquilizers, hormone replacement medications, antihistamines, blood pressure medication and decongestants. If you have thyroid disease, diabetes, chronic conjunctivitis, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis, you may be more likely to develop the condition.

Dry eye can also be a problem if you have worn contact lenses for many years or have had LASIK surgery to improve your vision. In some cases, LASIK can decrease tear production. Failure to blink regularly, which can occur when you stare at a computer monitor for a long time, can also trigger the problem.

Treatment Options

Optometrists can offer several strategies and treatment options that will help your eyes feel more comfortable, including:

  • The use of artificial tears for added moisture
  • Changing a medication if dry eye is a side effect
  • Treating underlying diseases and conditions that cause dry eye
  • Plugging the drainage holes in your eyes to prevent tears from draining too quickly
  • Changing the type of contact lenses you wear
  • Recommending that you use an air purifier to remove allergens from the air
  • Prescribing cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory medicine that increases tear production

If you have a severe case of dry eye, your eye doctor may suggest punctal cautery, a minor surgical procedure that permanently plugs the drainage holes in your eyes.

Keep your eyes healthy with regular eye examinations. Is it about time for your next exam? If so, call us today to set up an appointment!

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is a doctor-supervised program that helps people of all ages improve their visual-motor skills. Therapy helps your eyes and brain work together better, even if you have perfect vision. For years, people believed that some types of eye conditions, such as lazy eye or crossed eyes, could not be corrected after childhood, but, today, vision therapists and other eye care professionals know that’s not true. Here’s how vision therapy can help adults!

Conditions Treated

Vision therapy is used to treat a variety of conditions, including:

  • Poor binocular vision. When your eyes do not work well together, problems with reading, depth perception and other problems can occur.
  • Convergence insufficiency. Convergence insufficiency makes it difficult to focus on close objects.
  • Amblyopia. Also known as lazy eye, amblyopia occurs due to lack of central vision in one eye, even though there is no problem with eye health.
  • Diplopia. Diplopia causes double vision.
  • Strabismus. If you have strabismus, your eyes may appear crossed, or one eye may wander or turn in.
  • Other conditions. Brain damage, strokes and injuries can affect your ability to use your eyes, even if your vision is not affected.

Vision Therapy Can Improve Everyday Performance

Your ancestors did not spend their days reading, working on the computer and checking their text messages. Because cave men used near and far vision about equally, they probably did not experience the problems that modern man does. Since hunting and gathering is no longer a viable job option for most individuals, many people spend hours intently focusing on computers and spreadsheets, often with uncomfortable results. The resulting fatigue, eye strain and eye irritation can affect your ability to function at work. The good news is that vision therapy can help!

Vision therapy is also helpful in improving sports performance, whether you are an aspiring professional athlete or a weekend tennis player. Therapy can improve eye-hand coordination, visual reaction time, focusing and eye tracking and teaming.

Symptoms That Can Indicate a Problem

Symptoms can vary based on your individual problem, but vision therapy may be able to help you if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble reading for long periods of time
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain when reading or using a computer
  • Double vision
  • Attention span problems when you must use your near vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Omitting words when you read
  • Inability to retain what you have just read
  • Reversing letters or numbers
  • Words seeming to run together when you read
  • Irritated or red eyes
  • Trouble with vertigo or motion sickness
  • Losing your place when you read
  • Feeling tired when you read
  • Squinting or covering an eye to see better
  • Words jumping or floating on the page or screen
  • Difficulty with night driving or judging distances
  • Trouble using binoculars

How Can Vision Therapy Help?

Vision therapy has been called physical therapy for the eyes. It can help improve focusing, visual tracking, eye teaming and alignment, visual processing and eye movements. During therapy, you will train your brain, eyes, visual pathways and eye muscles to ensure that your eyes work together and focus properly. You will: learn how you can spend hours on the computer without developing eyestrain and headaches; learn techniques that will help you improve your sports performance; do a better job of judging distances when you drive; or finally overcome lazy eye. Therapy is tailored to your specific problem and is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

If you think you could benefit from vision therapy, contact us today!

Tips to Alleviate Dry Eyes

Studies show that dry eyes are one of the most common eye problems throughout the United States. Dry eyes are caused by a lack of quality tear production, and are most common in both men and women over the age of 50. Tear production can be limited by a variety of causes; one of the most common is a specific eye inflammation known as blepharitis. Here, we discuss ways to alleviate dry eye caused by blepharitis.

What Is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid that is often associated with an infection.

Dry eye is one of the most common symptoms of blepharitis. However, other symptoms may include red or swollen eyelids, sensitivity to light, blurry vision and crusting of the eyelashes.

Blepharitis is classified in two different types:

  • Anterior blepharitis. The two most common causes of anterior blepharitis are bacteria and a skin disorder that causes itchy, flaky skin called seborrheic dermatitis. Anterior blepharitis usually occurs near the eyelashes and affects the front of the eyelids.
  • Posterior blepharitis. This condition is usually caused by problems with the oil glands in the lid margin, and is often associated with acne rosacea and dandruff on the scalp. It affects the inner surface and the edge of the eyelid that comes into contact with the eye.

How Is It Treated?

Treatment for blepharitis varies depending on the specific type. Keeping your eyelids clean and free of crusts is typically the key to treating blepharitis. In addition, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following.

  • Wash your eyelids with a mixture of diluted baby shampoo and warm water.
  • In some cases, artificial tear solutions may be prescribed.
  • The eyelids may need to be massaged to wash out oil accumulated in the eyelid glands if the glands in the eyelids are blocked.
  • Using an anti-dandruff shampoo on the scalp can also help.
  • Using eye makeup will make lid hygiene more difficult, and limiting or stopping its use is recommended.
  • In some cases, artificial tear solutions may be prescribed.

If you wear contact lenses, you may have to temporarily discontinue wearing them during treatment.

Want to Know More?

If you suffer from red or irritated eyes, discuss the problem with your eye doctor right away. He or she can provide self-care tips as well as share additional ways to prevent future eye infections and protect your eyes.

Stop Rubbing Your Eyes!

It feels like a natural thing to rub your eyes when they are itchy, watery, or otherwise irritated. Keeping your hands away from your eyes, however, is a smart choice for promoting better eye health. Rubbing your eyes can lead to everything from eye injuries to damaged vision. Rubbing your eyes offers only short-term relief at best, and isn’t worth the problems it causes.

How Can Rubbing My Eyes Cause Damage?

Eyes can become itchy or irritated for multiple reasons. Sometimes, it is a reaction to pollen, dander or other allergens in the air. Other times, a foreign object can be the source of irritation when it becomes trapped inside your eyelid.

In either case, rubbing your eyes can be dangerous. Your eyes have a natural defense mechanism for removing irritants. Tears are produced by your tear ducts and these work to flush irritants from your eyes. Eye drops can be used as a supplement to natural tears in a person who has dry eyes and does not get enough tear production to relieve irritation.

Rubbing your eyes when a foreign object is trapped inside your eyelid can cause it to scratch your cornea. It will also increase irritation by releasing additional histamine into the affected eye and can potentially cause infections to develop.

Dark circles may also appear over time if you frequently rub your eyes. Rubbing causes blood vessels in the eyelids to break and leak blood. The blood pools under the skin to create dark circles. Once dark circles appear, it can be difficult to get them to disappear. Wearing an eye mask when you sleep may be necessary to fully eliminate dark circles caused by rubbing.

Rubbing Leads to Keratoconus

Consistent eye rubbing over an extended period can lead to a condition called Keratoconus. This condition causes a thinning of the cornea and results in the cornea losing its shape. Keratoconus can lead to blurry vision and sometimes cannot be fully corrected even with glasses or contact lenses.

Severe infections can accompany keratoconus. Fingers often carry germs, even if you wash your hands regularly. Those germs can result in pink eye and other similar complications if you rub your eyes. Chronic eye rubbing opens the door to suffering long-term vision damage that cannot be fully corrected or reversed.

How Did I Get a Stye?

A stye, medically known as a hordeolum, appears in the eyelid area as a red pimple-like bump, and is usually tender or painful. Styes typically occur near the lash line (external hordeolum), but can also appear on the underside of the eyelid (internal hordeolum). In addition to the telltale lump, a stye can cause swelling, tearing, eyelid pain, crusting around the eye, and an irritated/scratchy sensation on the eye.

Styes occur as the result of either an infected gland or hair follicle on the eyelid. An infected meibomian gland causes a stye on the underside of an eyelid, and an infected hair follicle causes an external stye. Commonly found on the surface of the skin, the bacteria staphylococcus aureus is responsible for 90 to 95 percent of all styes. Glands and follicles can become infected in a number of ways:

  • Frequently touching or rubbing eyes with unwashed hands
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses with unwashed hands
  • Using contact lenses which have not been properly disinfected
  • Sleeping with eye makeup
  • Using expired cosmetics
  • Sharing eye makeup
  • Using eye makeup used at the time a sty was present

Bacterial infections, however, are not the only cause of styes; complications from chronic inflammation due to a condition called blepharitis can also result in recurring styes. Other medical conditions can also increase the risk of developing styes. Seborrhea, diabetes mellitus, or other chronic ailments have been shown to make people more susceptible to styes. Also people with high lipid counts are more likely to develop blockages in their oil glands, leading to a greater chance of suffering from frequent styes. Notorious for compromising healthy immune systems, stress also commonly triggers styes.

You can reduce your risk of developing a stye by practicing good hygiene. Do not touch or rub your eyes with unwashed hands, always wash your face and remove makeup at the end of the day, thoroughly cleanse contact lenses, and discard old or expired makeup.

In most cases, a stye and its symptoms will clear up on their own within 48 hours. To help expedite the healing process and soothe symptoms, apply a warm compress on the eye for ten to fifteen minutes several times a day. Do not touch the sty or attempt to pop it, as this can spread the infection. If you have a stye, do not wear eye makeup, and go without contact lenses until the stye has healed completely.

How Can You Prevent an Eye Infection?

Do your eyes feel swollen, itchy or watery? If so, you might want to book an appointment with your eye doctor to have your eyes examined. Although many people automatically attribute their discomfort to allergies, it’s important to leave the diagnosis to a trained professional that is knowledgeable about eye health.

Often, the true cause of a person’s eye irritation is an eye infection. Eye infections are extremely common and can affect any part of the eye — from the eyelids to the retinas. While there are many different types of infections that can affect our eyes, each one can be categorized as fungal, bacterial or viral. Eye infections can range from pink eye (conjunctivitis), the inflammation of the outermost layer of the eye, to blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelid that is often associated with an infection.

What Can Cause an Eye Infection?

Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are an excellent alternative to eyeglasses, but they can also cause infections if you do not maintain a strict hygiene routine. This is because contact lenses restrict the amount of oxygen that reaches your corneas, transforming the eye area into a potential breeding ground for bacterial or fungal buildup. However, practicing good ocular hygiene habits helps ensure that your eyes receive a sufficient amount of oxygen, bolstering their ability to stave off infection.

Ways you can decrease your chance of developing an eye infection due to contact lens use include:

  • Washing your hands before placing a contact lens on your eye.
  • Removing your contacts immediately if one (or both) of your eyes becomes red or irritated.
  • Always disposing used lenses into the garbage, if you use daily-wear contact lenses. Do not reuse them.
  • Always placing weekly- or monthly-use contact lenses in contact lens solution for the recommended amount of time, to remove bacteria from the lens. Once their allotted time is up, dispose them immediately and replace them with a fresh set.

Sharing Eye Makeup

Another potential cause of infection is using old or borrowed makeup. While keeping your old mascara can save you money, it can also increase your chance of getting an eye infection. Human eyelashes naturally have bacteria on them, which are transferred into your mascara tube with each use. Using old mascara from a tube that has been sitting for a long period of time increases your chance of getting an eye infection, because very little oxygen has been introduced into the old tube over time, contributing to the potential buildup of bacteria.

Borrowing someone else’s makeup can also transfer bacteria. That is why, in addition to replacing old makeup within a reasonable time frame, it is highly recommended that individuals refrain from sharing makeup.

To help prevent an eye infection due to makeup use, you should:

  • Replace old makeup within the manufacturer’s recommended time frame.
  • Avoid sharing any of your cosmetics with friends or family.
  • Always wash your hands before applying makeup on or around the eye.
  • Avoid using sample products at any retail location. Many individuals apply these cosmetics directly on their face, increasing the risk of spreading bacteria.

Questions?

If you suffer from eye irritation, discuss the problem with your eye doctor right away. Your physician can treat your eye condition as well as share additional ways to prevent future eye infections.

5 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Eye Health

Protecting your eyesight is an important part of maintaining your quality of life. Here are five simple things you can do to help preserve your vision.

1. Stop Smoking

It is no secret that smoking is strongly linked to many health problems; however, did you know that it can also damage your eyes and vision health? Smoking increases your risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma. In addition, smoking increases your risk for diabetes and its many complications, including new blood vessel growth, diabetic retinopathy and permanent vision loss. Cigarette smoke can also irritate your eyes and cause dry eyes. This can cause general discomfort and make wearing contacts uncomfortable.

2. Eat Well

In order to function optimally, our eyes require a wide assortment of nutrients. Certain vitamins, including vitamins A, C and E, are instrumental in protecting your eyesight and can be found in brightly colored vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Your eyes also need antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, to protect against sun damage. Dark leafy greens, egg yolks and yellow peppers are dense with these antioxidants.

3. Exercise

Physical exercise is an essential part of maintaining your overall physical health. Regular exercise can help lower blood pressure, release tension and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. It can also be highly beneficial for your eyes. Research has shown that regular exercise lowers your likelihood of developing some serious eye conditions, including reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration by nearly 70 percent. In addition, physical exercise can reduce pressure and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve. This may help slow general vision loss from diseases such as glaucoma.

4. Go to Sleep

Getting quality sleep is important for your eyesight. It helps prevent your eyes from drying out and being overly strained. Sleep allows your body to recover and heal from the previous day. This is especially important if you spend the majority of your day sitting at a computer or looking at electronic screens. Aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to counteract some of the strain you put on your eyes throughout the day.

5. Turn off the Computer

In today’s online world, most people spend many hours staring at a computer screen or alternative electronic device. However, technology can cause permanent damage to your eyes. Spending too much time staring at electronic screens can cause discomfort, including dry eyes and eye strain. For many people, it can even cause persistent tension headaches. Although in this day and age, it is difficult to turn away from screens entirely, you can protect your eyes from excessive strain by looking away from your screen for a few minutes every hour to give your eye muscles a break.

Is Office Lighting Affecting Your Vision?

Do your eyes hurt, burn or itch after a day at work? Poor lighting may be to blame for your symptoms. Many companies use inexpensive fluorescent lighting to light large areas because it’s a fairly inexpensive option. Unfortunately, your eyes pay the price.

What Kinds of Eye Problems Can Fluorescent Lighting Cause?

Exposure to harsh fluorescent lighting can cause eye strain and blurred vision. The longer you’re exposed to the light, the more likely you’ll experience the problem. Symptoms of eyestrain include sore, burning, watery or dry eyes. Double vision and increased sensitivity to light can also occur. At times, you may feel that it’s hard to keep your eyes open or concentrate on your work. Headaches are common, particularly if the fluorescent lights flicker. If you suffer from migraines, exposure to the lights may cause more frequent episodes.

Overhead fluorescent lights aren’t the only cause of the problem. Compact fluorescent lights (CFL), an energy efficient substitute for incandescent bulbs, can trigger the same symptoms. Researchers who published an article in the American Journal of Public Health noted that exposure to both traditional fluorescent lights and CFLs can increase your eye disease risk because fluorescent lights produce an artificial source of ultraviolet (UV) light. Frequent exposure to UV light can cause several eye diseases, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Those Baby Blue Are at Particular Risk

If you have blue or light-colored eyes, you may experience eyestrain and sensitivity problems more intensely than your friends with dark eyes. People who have darker eyes have more pigment in the layers of their eyes. Pigment helps protect the eyes from the effects of fluorescent light and UV light.

Dim Lighting Can Also Cause Problems

Working in a dimly lit environment can be just as uncomfortable as working under bright lights. Dim light can cause eyestrain and make your eyes feel tired quicker. Not surprisingly, productivity can suffer when there’s not enough light.

Preventing Eye Problems

Proper lighting can help you avoid eye problems. Adding lamps to dark areas is a good option. Using lamps instead of overhead fluorescent lighting will also be more comfortable if harsh lighting is a problem. Unfortunately, turning off the lights probably isn’t an option if you work in a cubicle farm, but these tips can make a day at the office more comfortable.

  • Blink frequently to keep your eyes moist.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses or a visor if fluorescent lights bother your eyes.
  • Use lubricating eye drops to prevent dry eye.
  • Reduce glare from the sun by positioning your computer away from windows.
  • Take regular breaks during the day.
  • Use an anti-glare shield on your computer or install a computer hood if glare is a problem.
  • Ask your eye doctor about glasses with a special anti-glare coating.
  • Lower blinds and shades during the sunniest parts of the day.
  • Ask your co-workers to join you in requesting healthier lighting choices.

Taking steps to protect your eyes at work can help you avoid eyestrain. If eyestrain is still a problem, we can help. Give us a call today and schedule an appointment.

Getting Used to Contacts

Contacts are a smart choice for individuals who are active and dislike the feeling of wearing glasses. However, the process of caring for contacts and getting used to them can take a week or two. Navigate the transition with ease by learning how to properly care for contacts and becoming familiar with common symptoms that occur when you first wear contacts.

What to Expect When First Wearing Contacts

As with any new eye prescription, it may take a few days for your eyes and brain to adjust to the changes. New prescriptions may cause mild headaches or slight dizziness. If this persists after the first week, it may be a sign that your prescription needs to be adjusted. Talk to your optometrist immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Contact lenses sometimes cause mild eye irritation during the first few days of use as you get used to the new sensation. You may feel uncomfortable that there is something in your eye or notice when your contact lenses begin to dry out. After a day or two, these symptoms typically go away. If you continue to experience eye irritation after a week, contact your optometrist for recommendations.

Does the Type of Lenses Matter?

Most contact lens users start with soft lenses, which are flexible and conform to the surface of your eye. Individuals with certain eye conditions must use rigid gas permeable lenses, or “hard” contact lenses. These lenses may cause eye irritation or redness that persists for several days. Eye irritation and other side effects are more common with hard lenses than with soft disposable contacts.

Caring for Your Contacts

One of the most common causes of eye irritation is improper care for contact lenses. Always wash your hands before and after touching your eyes to avoid spreading bacteria. Lens manufacturers recommend carefully rubbing contact lenses with your fingers and thoroughly rinsing them using a multi-purpose solution. Remember that rewetting drops, saline solutions, and tap water are not appropriate ways to clean your contact lenses. Always use fresh solution to store your contacts overnight. Reusing contact solution may cause eye irritation or infection. Following the proper disposal schedule also helps you adjust to wearing contacts and keeps your eyes healthy. Ask your optometrist for more specific recommendations about your contacts.

Are Specialty Contacts Dangerous?

Specialty contact lenses are a fun way to change your eyes to look like your favorite entertainer or to create a spectacular costume. Specialty contacts, sometimes called decorative, fashion or theater contact lenses, temporarily change the look of your eyes without correcting your vision. Eye care professionals can prescribe specialty contact lenses that fit well and look amazing. Wearing specialty contacts without a prescription, however, can be dangerous.

Specialty Contacts Safety

Health regulators warn that buying contact lenses without a prescription is dangerous. Contact lenses are medical devices; incorrect use or poorly fitting contacts can cause real damage to eyes. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all contact lens,” as eyes vary slightly in size and shape from person to person.

All contact lenses, including specialty contacts, can pose a danger when they do not fit the wearer correctly. Poorly fitting contacts can scratch the surface of the eye or even cause blood vessels to grow into the cornea, which is the transparent window covering the front of the eye. Improper use and care of specialty contacts may lead to painful eye infections that cause blurred vision and require weeks of medication. Damage to the eye may be permanent and affect lifelong vision.

You may be tempted to leave specialty contacts in too long, especially in cases where you are wearing them as a disguise or as part of theatrical makeup. If you do not wear contact lenses regularly, you may not be aware of the signs telling you that it is time to take out your lenses. To reduce your risk for eye damage, remove your lenses if you notice signs like red eyes, swelling, excessive discharge, or pain in or around your eyes.

You can reduce your risk for eye problems associated with specialty contacts by taking a few precautions, such as:

  • Getting a prescription from a licensed eye care professional
  • Asking your eye care professional for instructions on inserting, taking out, and caring for your contact lenses, and following these instructions
  • Purchasing contact lenses only from an eye product dealer who requests a prescription
  • Never sharing specialty contacts with others
  • Removing contacts at the first sign of trouble
  • Getting regular follow-up exams with a licensed eye care professional

What's in a Frame?

Finding a great looking eyeglass frame can be tough work. What looks good on you? Should you go with round lenses, or square? What should your frame be made out of? Choosing the material of your eyeglass frame is the first order of business, since that will narrow down your search to one specific category.

Metal

There are two major categories of frame materials — metal and plastic. Metal frames are easy to adjust, they hold their shape fairly well, and they can last for years. Metal frames are most often made of “monel,” a blend of a variety of different metals that vary from brand to brand. There are many different sub-categories of metal frames:

Semi-Rimless

Semi-rimless frames are quite popular, and feature a “clear looking” bottom half of the lens. The lens is mounted in the metal top half of the frame with a very thin metal or plastic monofilament that holds the lens in place.

Rimless

A full rimless frame, also called a “drill mount” features temples and a bridge that are mounted directly into the lenses. The bridge and the temples can be made from metal, or a hybrid of metal and plastic.

Flexible Frames

Flexible frames are becoming more popular among athletes and children, because their titanium based material allows the frame to bend and flex without breaking.

Who Shouldn’t Wear Metal Frames?

All metal frames have nose pieces that lift the frame off the bridge of the nose and provide support for the frame. Some individuals do not like the feel of nose pieces, especially those who have stronger prescriptions and thus thicker and heavier lenses. Additionally, some individuals are allergic to the metal used and may break out if the metal touches their skin.

Plastic

Plastic frames are the second major material for eyeglass frames, and are as equally popular as metal. Plastic frames can be thick or thin, and can be made in a broad range of colors. Plastic frames must be adjusted by using heat in order to soften the material and allow malleability.

Zyl

Zyl, also known as cellulose acetate, is a lightweight but strong material used for the majority of plastic frames. Laminated zyl frames can have a layered color look, or traditional zyl can be made in bolder, darker colors like black and brown.

Who Shouldn’t Wear Plastic Frames?

Most anyone can wear plastic frames, however, individuals with stronger prescriptions and thicker lenses may notice that plastic frames are quite heavy and cumbersome.

Before you choose what material you’d like for your frame, visit an eye care professional and try on several different styles. Take note of the feel of each frame in addition to how it looks, and don’t be afraid to ask about the different options available to you.

Sunglasses: More than Just Fashion

Sunglasses can make us look awkward or chic, but their real value lies in their ability to protect our eyes. Since damaged eyesight is difficult to correct, choosing the right sunglasses is key to maintaining good vision and eye health. Most optometry clinics have specially trained staff who can help you select a pair that preserves your vision while helping you look your best. For now, here are a few tips on finding sunglasses that protect eye health.

1. Look for UV protection.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun damage both the skin and the eye’s lens and cornea. As optometrists know all too well, UV exposure has been linked to two medical conditions that degrade your eyesight: cataracts and macular degeneration. In addition, UV light can increase the chances of developing skin cancer and cause premature aging in the form of wrinkles and crow’s feet.

For the best protection, choose sunglasses that have a label certifying at least one of the following regarding the lenses:

* Block at least 99% of both UVA and UVB rays

* Meet ANSI Z80.3 blocking requirements

* Offer UV 400 protection

2. Select the right color.

The hue of the lenses doesn’t affect UV protection, but it can influence how you perceive colors. Avoid lenses with a yellow or rose tint; these make it hard to read traffic lights. Look for gray, brown or green lenses for minimal color distortion and safer driving.

3. If you love the water, opt for polarized lenses.

Polarized lenses decrease glare from reflected light, so they’re great for boaters or folks who spend a lot of time on the road. However, it might be trickier to read a GPS device, cell phone or LCD dashboard display.

4. Check for good quality lenses.

Inexpensive sunglasses can offer the same level of UV protection as higher-end brands, but those with lower price points may have more quality concerns. Whichever end of the spectrum you choose, try on the pair you’re considering and focus on a vertical line or edge. Move your head from side to side while keeping your eyes still; your eyes should sweep across the lens. If you see any wiggle in the line, then the lens likely has an optical defect; choose a different pair and repeat the test.

Selecting the Right Glasses

When they’re great, the correct pair of glasses perfectly complements your face and seamlessly facilitates your experience of the visual world. When they are not the right prescription or hastily chosen, glasses can be uncomfortable, cause headaches, detract from your appearance, and become a nuisance that distracts from everyday life. A few easy tips can help you choose glasses that look and feel so great that you forget they are there.

Types of Lenses

Glasses come with a variety of lens types, and manufacturers continue to make advances in lens technology. Today, most lenses are actually made of plastic, not glass. Plastic tends to be lighter and less damage-prone than more traditional glass lenses.

One of the most popular types of lenses are made of polycarbonate. These lenses are perfect for active individuals or children, because they are impact-resistant and durable. Polycarbonate lenses also block ultraviolet rays, protecting your eyes from sun damage. Those who want further sun protection may choose photochromic lenses, which change from clear to a darker tinted shade when exposed to UV light.

If you have a very strong prescription, you may have resigned yourself to thick lenses. But newer high index plastic lenses provide a lighter, thinner lens for strong prescriptions. Aspheric lenses also tend to be thinner and flatter because of their unique surface curvature, which also corrects for minor visual distortions.

Bifocal or Trifocal Lenses

In the past, bifocal lenses were easy to spot by the clear line delineating the two sections of the lens. Today, multifocal lenses — also known as progressive lenses — look indistinguishable from regular lenses. Bifocals are commonly needed by individuals over 40 who have difficulty focusing on near objects, such as reading a book. Trifocal lenses add an additional section to enhance your ability to see objects about an arm’s length away. These objects fall in an intermediate zone that may be challenging to see with bifocal lenses.

Lens Coatings

After discussing the lens material and your potential need for multifocal lenses, your optometrist can advise you on the need for lens coatings. Many people opt for scratch-resistant coating, which adds a further layer of protection on the lens. Ultraviolet coating may also be a good choice to prevent sun damage. Also remember to ask your eye doctor about tinted lenses, which can improve ability to detect contrast or certain colors.

With careful consideration, you can find the perfect pair of glasses to frame your face and improve your vision. Review your options with your optometrist to get a professional opinion about what features are best for you. If you make the right choice, your glasses will become an unnoticeable addition to your everyday look.

Frame Your Face: Which Frames Look Best?

Finding frames that fit your face, your style and your budget isn’t always so easy. It’s tempting to just pick the first pair of frames that are barely acceptable than face the daunting task of sorting through hundreds of frames to find the perfect option. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to simplify the process.

Consider the Shape of Your Face

Although some people look good in any type of frames, most of us aren’t so lucky. Narrowing down frame choices is easier when you understand which types of frames look best for these common face shapes.

  • Round. Square frames help balance a round face, as long as they’re not too small. Too-small frames, whether they’re square or any other shape, can make your face look rounder.
  • Square. Oval, round or rectangular frames with rounded edges soften a square face. Do you wish your face was a little longer? Select narrow frames to visually elongate your face.
  • Heart. Round, oval and rimless frames are also a good choice if you have a heart-shaped face. Stay away from glasses that are thicker on top than the bottom.
  • Diamond. Both oval and rimless styles are a good choice if your face is diamond-shaped. Cat-eye glasses or frames that contain decorative details can help provide balance.
  • Oval. If your face is a perfect oval, you probably love shopping for frames. Nearly any type of frame looks good on an oval face.

Find Your Perfect Color

These days, glasses are available in almost any color. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that those neon green specs will look good on you. When you choose a color, consider your eye and hair color and your complexion. Your complexion is probably cool if you have blue, gray or green eyes with silver, gray or strawberry blond hair, or black hair with a touch of blue. People with warm complexions often have brown or hazel eyes and blond, brown or black hair.

Try on blue, purple, black or silver frames if you have a cool complexion and green, aqua, brown, tortoise or bronze if your complexion is warmer.

Pick a Frame Thickness

The thickness of your frames, in addition to the shape and color, is another important consideration when you choose new glasses. Heavy frames can overwhelm delicate features, but can be the perfect choice if you want to draw attention to the upper part of your face. You’ll also want to make sure that your frames are thick enough to accommodate your prescription lenses. Although stronger prescriptions generally increase lens thickness, choosing ultra-thin lenses can help you ensure that you can wear the frames you love.

Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Rules

What if you follow all the rules but don’t like the frames that are supposed to be perfect for you? Frame selection guidelines can help you identify styles that will probably look good on you, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll work for everyone. It’s more important to find frames that you’ll enjoy wearing for the next year than to follow rules.

Need a little help picking frames? Our staff can help you find a style that’s just right for you.

Technology and Vision

The primary sufferers of technology-related eyestrain used to be adults whose work involved computers. Now, however, people of all ages use computers, smartphones, tablets and gaming devices, which can take their toll on the eyes. As people’s reliance on technology grows, so does the incidence of eyestrain. Keep reading to learn more about digital eyestrain and how you can protect your eyes in the digital age.

How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?

After two hours of screen time, the eyes typically begin to get tired and suffer from digital eyestrain. Additional contributing factors to developing eyestrain include small print, devices held at non-ergonomic angles too far from eyes and the blue light emitted from digital screens. People who wear glasses or contacts are even likelier to strain their eyes, as their prescriptions might not be ideal for mid-range viewing of electronics.

Screens and Blinking

When going about their day, the average person blinks approximately 18 times per minute. However, staring at a screen slows the blink rate. This can lead to itchy, dry and burning eyes. Office workers with computer-related jobs may even undergo physiological changes to their eyes that are similar to those experienced by people who suffer from dry eye disorder.

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