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Prevent Glaucoma: Regular Eye Exams

Did you know, half of Americans with glaucoma don’t know they have it? Glaucoma is often called a silent thief of sight because the early stages often have no symptoms. In the US glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease damaging the optic nerve in the eye; the optic nerve connects the retina to the brain to produce sight. The most common type of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, over 3 million Americans have glaucoma.

Eye pressure is a significant risk factor for optic nerve damage. We recommend annual eye exams to measure eye pressure and detect glaucoma before you lose vision.

Populations at a Higher Risk Include:

  • African Americans over age 40
  • Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
  • People with a family history of glaucoma

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Typically glaucoma has no signs or symptoms, by the time you notice your loss of vision the disease has progressed to irreversible vision loss. Regular eye exams are the best way to detect and prevent glaucoma because several tests are performed to look for signs of glaucoma.

Potential Signs/Symptoms Include:

  • High Intraocular Pressure
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Vision Loss
  • Blurry Vision
  • Distorted Vision
  • Eye Pain

Can you reduce your risk for glaucoma?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential to reduce your risk of developing glaucoma. A few ways to reduce your risk include not smoking and eating a varied healthy diet. Healthy weight and blood pressure are also essential to lowering your chance of getting glaucoma.

Recent studies have also found that physical exercise may also lower your intraocular pressure. Glaucoma development may be due to high intraocular pressure. Therefore, physical exercise and an active lifestyle are great ways to prevent glaucoma along with other serious health problems.

Why You Need Multiple Pairs

Thanks to our busy lives, multiple hobbies, and all the activities in between, having multiple pairs of eyewear handy is a necessity. Even contact lens wearers should have alternative pairs of eyewear. But some of us still haven’t jumped on that bandwagon. If you’re still on the fence, here are a few reasons why it’s a great idea to have at least two pairs of eyewear:

Misplacement

We’ve all been there, searching for missing glasses just when we need them the most. An additional pair of eyewear can’t guarantee they won’t keep slipping through the cracks, but it will significantly reduce the chances of having to go without. Lost a contact lens and don’t have a replacement? Backup glasses can hold you over until your new contact lenses come in!

Style

Think about it: a night out on the town is going to call for more stylish eyewear than the amber-tinted lenses you wear at your computer desk. Funky frames may better showcase your personality, but a more neutral pair may be needed for professional situations. Having different styles of glasses removes this dilemma by giving you situation-specific options.

Protection

Chances are, your standard glasses aren’t going to adapt and darken in reaction to sunlight (unless you have photochromic lenses), so it only makes sense to invest in a pair of prescription sunglasses to protect your eyes. Polarized lenses are a good option, especially since the tint can be tailored to your specific sport or hobby.

Contact Lens Wearers

Plano sunwear is a must have for all contact lens users. Contact lenses do not protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun. We recommend plano sunwear that blocks 100% of UV rays for anyone who wears contacts.

Schedule an appointment with our office if you’re interested in investing in a second pair of glasses! We will help you find the best frames and lenses for your lifestyle!

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye syndrome is caused by a chronic lack of moisture and lubrication of the eyes. Your eye’s tears keep the surface of the eye moist and lubricated, as well as washing away dust, debris, and other microorganisms.

What causes dry eye?

Typically dry eye occurs when there is a problem with your tears. Tears are made up of an oily, watery, and mucin component. Any issue with those components could cause dry eye. It could be tear instability, tear film evaporation, or insufficient tear production. The only way to detect the cause of your dry eye is an eye exam.

Symptoms

  • Burning sensation
  • Itchy eyes
  • Aching sensations
  • Heavy eyes
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Dryness sensation
  • Red eyes
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Blurred vision

Who gets dry eye?

Dry eye can happen to anyone at any age. Each case of dry eye varies in severity and individual tolerance. However, there are certain factors which can increase your risk for dry eyes. These factors include:

  • Computer use: Humans blink less frequently when working at computers, allowing for increased tear evaporation.
  • Smoking: Causes eyes to dry over time and is the root of various other eye problems.
  • Aging: Dry eye syndrome is more common after the age of 50.
  • Menopause: Women who have completed menopause are at a higher risk for dry eye than men of the same age.
  • Health conditions: Certain diseases have a higher risk of contributing to dry eyes- such as diabetes or thyroid diseases.
  • Medications: Prescription and nonprescription medicines can have dry eye as a side effect.

Visiting The Doctor

Getting an eye exam by an eye doctor is the only way to know for sure you have chronic dry eye syndrome. Symptoms of dry eye can vary significantly from person to person and may even be symptoms of other eye problems. Personal perception of dry eye severity does not indicate whether or not an individual has chronic dry eye syndrome. Some individuals with mild dry eye may feel their eyes are very bothersome, while some individuals with severe dry eye may not consider their symptoms significant.

If you are showing symptoms of dry eye, schedule an appointment with our office as soon as possible. The only way to know the medical severity of your dry eye is through an eye exam.

Types of Diabetic Eye Disease

More than 28% of diabetics age 40 or older have a diabetic eye disease. These numbers are only expected to grow in the upcoming years due to the decrease in physical activity and healthy eating.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1

A chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. About 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes was previously known as juvenile diabetes. However, anyone at any age can get type 1 diabetes.

Type 2

90% of Americans with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This occurs when your body is not using insulin correctly, called insulin resistance. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity.

Complications of Diabetes

Not managing or treating your diabetes can cause serious health complications including hypoglycemia, skin infections, neuropathy, kidney disease, foot complications, and eye complications. Additionally, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for blindness and eye problems. The good news is with the correct treatment and lifestyle changes many people can prevent the onset of these complications. Therefore, we recommend regular eye exams to avoid eye problems and vision loss.

Diabetic Eye Disease

  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Damages the blood vessels in the retina in the back of the eye. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is more likely to result in diabetic retinopathy. Consequently between 12,000 and 24,000 new cases of blindness due to diabetic retinopathy occur each year in the U.S. according to the CDC.
  • Clinically significant macular edema: Swelling of the macula in the back of the eye. Macular edema is most common in those with type 2 diabetes.
  • Cataract: Clouding in the lens of your eyes. Cataracts are two-five times more likely in people with diabetes.
  • Glaucoma: Optic nerve damage to the fibers that connect the eye to the brain. Diabetes doubles the risk of glaucoma.

Those with diabetes should get a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year to ensure their eyes are healthy. Call our office today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam!

Screen Time and Children

Screen time is the amount of time a person spends staring at digital displays including computers, tablets, smartphones, and TVs. In our modern and technology-focused world children are spending time on digital displays for educational and recreational purposes. Children who spend several hours on digital devices are at risk of developing vision-related problems.

Average Time Children Spend On Digital Devices

According to the Vision Council, 72% of American parents report their children regularly spend more than two hours on screens per day. It is likely that children spend significantly more time on screens than their parents think. Common Sense Media reports that children under age eight spend more than two hours a day with screen media. For 8 to 10-year-olds screen time triples to six hours per day. Kids in middle school and high school spend up to nine hours per day looking at digital displays.

Risks of Screen Time

Too much screen time can be dangerous for anyone’s eyes, children included. Screens emit a broad spectrum of visible light. While most of these light rays are harmless, blue light is a high-energy visible light that can cause damage to your eyes. Blue light has shorter wavelengths and higher energy causing harm to the retina over time. Overexposure to blue light can cause:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Eye strain
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behavior
  • Irritability

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome is a condition caused by visual stress. Symptoms include tired eyes, dry eyes, headache, and fatigue.

Unhealthy Posture

Your body naturally slouches inwards when on digital devices. Your back and shoulders round, your head tilts back, and your chin justs forward. This reaction to digital devices is called “turtling” and can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain.

How To Protect Your Child’s Eyes

It is clear digital devices will not be going away anytime soon. Therefore it is essential to ensure you are doing everything you can to protect your children’s eyes from digital screens. One way you can do this is by limiting screen time for your children while at home. You can also apply blue light filters or download blue light filtering apps to all digital devices. If your child wears prescription glasses, ask us about add blue light blocking to their lenses during your next appointment.

Nighttime Use

The largest source of blue light is our sun, which tells our brain when to be awake or sleep. The high use of digital devices emitting blue light may disrupt your natural circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) by miscommunicating the time of day and if you should be awake or asleep. Stop digital device time two hours before usual bedtime to ensure your child’s sleep schedule affected by blue light.

Do you have more questions about screen time and blue light? Stop by our office or give our office a call and we would be happy to answer your questions!

Who Gets Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula, the small central area of the eye that controls visual acuity. Typically developing macular degeneration is a slow, painless vision loss.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Macular degeneration is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration because it most frequently occurs in older generations. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among older Americans and will grow significantly in the years to come due to the aging of the US population.

Populations Affected

The prevalence of macular degeneration increases significantly in individuals over the age of 80. In particular, the white American population is affected the most, with 14% of white Americans age 80 and older affected by AMD.*  Women also have a higher occurrence of AMD as compared to men due to their longer life expectancy. In 2010, 65% of AMD cases occurred in women as compared to only 35% in men.*

Risk factors

  • Obesity: Overweight patients with macular degeneration double their risk of developing advanced forms of macular degeneration.
  • Inactivity: Those who perform vigorous activity three times weekly reduce their risk for developing AMD compared to inactive patients.
  • Heredity: Family history and specific genes can link to a high risk of developing AMD.
  • High blood pressure: Some studies show a link between high blood pressure and macular degeneration.
  • Smoking: Living with a smoker doubles your risk for developing AMD. Smoking is a factor in about 25% of AMD cases with severe vision loss.

Currently, the best way to protect your eyes from developing macular degeneration is to eat healthy, exercise, and wear sunglasses. Annual eye exams can detect the early onset of macular degeneration and help to preserve your vision. Schedule an appointment with our office today!

*National Eye Institute, 2010

Puffy Eyes and Dark Circles

Ordinary swelling around the eyes is due to an excessive accumulation of fluids in the surrounding skin tissue. Puffy eyes and dark circles can occur for many reasons, and a visit to your eye doctor can usually detect the underlying cause behind your puffy eyes.

Causes

The skin around your eyes is the thinnest skin on your body; therefore it shows swelling and discoloration more prominently. There are various factors which can cause puffy eyes, a few of the most common causes include:

  • Overconsumption of salt
  • Allergies
  • Sinus problems
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue and lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Crying
  • Aging
  • Inherited facial features

Why are my eyes puffy in the morning?

Some individuals may notice their eyes are puffy when they wake up in the morning. Since we don’t blink when we sleep, this allows fluids to settle or get trapped in the skin around the eyes. As soon as you wake up and start blinking this swelling will begin to diminish. Likewise, some individuals develop swelling in their lower extremities while sleeping, which reduces upon walking.

Medical condition

In some situations, puffy eyes can be due to an underlying medical condition. Those with thyroid disease can develop swelling around their eyes. Eye allergies can cause swollen eyelids due to the release of histamine. Additionally, eye infections such as pink eye can cause swelling and puffiness. However, the best way to detect the cause of your puffy eyes is through a comprehensive eye exam by your doctor.

What can be done?

To find the best solution or remedy to your puffy eyes, your eye doctor must first determine the underlying cause. Temporary solutions include eye drops, hydration, iced compresses, cucumber slices, creams, reducing salt in your diet, and getting plenty of rest. In other circumstances, cosmetic solutions may be the only long term way to reduce swollen eyes.

To learn more about your puffy eyes, schedule an appointment with our office. We are here to answer all of your questions and advise you on the best steps to alleviate your puffy eyes.

Nutrition and Your Eyes

The foods you eat and the dietary supplements you take affect your overall health and the health of your eyes. Nutrition and your eyes are linked together and can help prevent certain eye diseases along with other health problems.

Healthy Foods

Choosing healthy foods improves your overall health as well as your eye health. Dark green or brightly colored fruits and vegetables are essential parts of a healthy diet. These fruits and vegetables may also help to reduce the risks of developing eye diseases. Sugars and white flours may increase your risk of age-related eye disease, instead, opt for whole grains which do not have the same risks. Healthy fats containing omega-3 essential fatty acids are critical to your diet. These healthy fats can help prevent dry eyes and cataracts.

Hydration

Staying hydrated is essential to the health of your eyes. Drink plenty of water every day! We also recommend choosing healthy beverages and avoiding high sugar beverages. Proper hydration is linked to the reduction of dry eye symptoms.

Nutrients

Nutrients are an essential part of a healthy diet. These nutrients can be found in foods but can also be taken in supplements to ensure you are receiving the proper amount in your diet. Consult with your primary care provider before taking any dietary supplements. Here are a few nutrients that may have a link to eye health:

  • Vitamin A: may protect against night blindness and dry eyes
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: may prevent macular degeneration and dry eyes
  • Vitamin C: may reduce risks of cataracts and macular degeneration
  • Vitamin D: may reduce risks of macular degeneration
  • Zinc: may reduce risks of night blindness
  • Vitamin E: may reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration

Aging Eyes

As you age, it is essential to consider all factors that could affect the overall health of your eyes. Not only should you adopt a healthy diet, but you can also do several other things to protect your eyes. One way to protect your eyes is to avoid overexposure to ultraviolet rays, which includes wearing sunglasses outdoors and staying away from tanning beds. Now is the time to quit smoking, not only is smoking harmful to your overall health it also increased your risks for many eye diseases. Finally, ensure that you are getting annual eye exams to detect any eye diseases before they cause permanent vision loss.

Nutrition and your eyes are highly connected, continue to find ways to feed your body the food and nutrients it needs to live a healthy life with healthy eyes.

Non-Glare: See Better and Look Better

We understand your eyewear has become part of your style and fashion. Not only do you want to show off your cool new frames, but you also want to make sure to reduce the glare on your lenses so people can see the natural beauty of your eyes. A non-glare coating is a simple lens treatment virtually eliminating those unattractive glares and reflections!

Benefits of Non-Glare Coating:

  • Reduce eye strain
  • Invisible-looking lenses
  • Sharper vision with less glare
  • Anti-scratch for better cleaning

Improve Vision

The non-glare coating allows 99.5% of light to pass through the lenses and reach your eyes. Regular plastic lenses only allow 92% of light to pass through, and high index plastic lenses only allow 88% of light to pass through. Why does this matter? The smaller amount of light that gets to your eyes the more work your eyes have to do to see. Non-glare coatings have become popular because they allow for clearer vision and reduces eye strain.

Eliminate Reflections

Non-glare coatings eliminate distracting reflections from the front and back of your lenses. With reflections gone, light is able to pass through the lens for better visual acuity. This becomes particularly noticeable during night driving. Individuals with a non-glare coating on their lenses find night driving less difficult because the coating reduces glare and halos around lights.

Enhance Appearance

Overall, non-glare lenses improve the visual appearance of your glasses. Have you ever looked at someone and the overhead light was reflecting off their lenses so you could barely see their eyes? A non-glare coating prevents those reflections which then allows you to see better through your glasses and for others to see you better! It helps to draw more attention to your eyes and provides the opportunity for better eye contact. Additionally, a non-glare coating will help to eliminate the distracting reflections off your lenses in photos.

The non-glare coating makes your lenses appear nearly invisible. What’s stopping you from adding non-glare to your next pair of eyeglasses? Chat with our staff today about the potential of non-glare lenses!

Myths and Facts: Contact Lenses

Are you a contact lens wearer? If so, you’ve probably heard some myths about wearing contact lenses. Typically, these contact lens myths grow from an unusual experience or misunderstanding information. Many contact lens myths are based on the way contact lenses used to be, instead of the current design and technology of contact lenses. We wanted to debunk some of the contact lens myths and give you the facts instead!

1.I’m too old to wear contact lenses

Fact: Anyone, at any age can wear contact lenses. Many older adults choose to wear contact lenses instead of reading glasses.

2. Contact lenses will get lost behind my eye

Fact: It is physically impossible for a contact lens to get lost behind your eye. A membrane covers your eye which connects inside your eyelids to prevent anything from getting behind your eye.

3. Contact lenses are uncomfortable

Fact: Modern contact lenses are thin and soft, making them very comfortable and often unnoticeable to wear. Some of the early contact lenses made 40-50 years ago were uncomfortable. However, we recommend you try modern contact lenses before sticking with this assumption.

4. Contact lenses can get stuck on my eye

Fact: If you follow proper wear, care, and removal advice from your eye doctor your contact lens cannot get stuck to your eye. Should your lens feel dry, apply some rewetting drops, and they should loosen right up.

5. Contact lenses are too much trouble to take care of

Fact: Daily disposable contact lenses make lens care irrelevant. You wear them one day and throw them out when you are done. However, reusable contact lens care is relatively simple with modern solutions. Most contact lenses can be cleaned and stored using one multi-use contact lens solution.

6. I’ll never be able to put in contact lenses

Fact: Our staff will show and teach you how to put in contact lenses. We ensure that you are confident in your abilities to put in and take out your contacts before you leave our office. Most people can figure it out after a handful of tries!

7. Contacts can pop out of my eye

Fact: Properly fitted contact lenses should never pop out of your eye. Typically, the only way a contact lens will move is shifting around your eye. Therefore blinking a few times or closing your eyelid and gently pressing on it should move the lens right back into place.

8. Contact lenses are too expensive

Fact: The cost of contact lenses varies depending on brand, replacement schedule, and how often you wear them. Typically, the price is comparable to a new pair of glasses. Above all our team will help you select contact lenses that work best for your lifestyle and your budget.

9. Children and teenagers cannot wear contacts

Fact: There is no age restriction on wearing contacts. Anyone can wear contact lenses; ultimately it depends on enthusiasm, responsibility, and maturity. Our staff can advise whether contact lenses are a suitable option for your child.

If you have more questions about contact lenses, give our office a call! We want to help you feel confident in your knowledge of contact lenses.