May is Healthy Vision Month

What does that mean for you? It means that now is the time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. 

While these are one of the exams we may often let fall by the wayside, they are extremely important to maintain our eye health. Comprehensive eye exams serve several purposes. During these exams, pupils, the circular black area in the center of the eye where light enters, are widened with eye drops or viewed without dilation through a special camera. This allows your Eye Doctor to check for vision problems and eye diseases, verify what stage of diseases your eyes may be in, and helps determine if you need glasses, contacts or other treatments. 

Comprehensive eye exams are crucial for all ages, here’s why: 

Pediatric exams test for visual acuity, lazy eye, color vision, ocular health, and more. These are extremely important to test for the school years ahead. 

For older children and teenagers, myopia (nearsightedness) is one of the biggest concerns that comprehensive eye exams detect. Myopia affects the eye’s ability to see distant images clearly. It is important to identify and treat early with glasses or contacts as children and teens begin to learn in larger spaces, play sports, and drive. 

Adult exams are recommended at least every two years, or as recommended by your eye care specialist. Exams for adults are necessary to catch eye conditions that can cause vision loss and even lead to blindness. Some of these conditions are cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. 

There are several other conditions that comprehensive eye exams can expose that may not be found without a visit to your optometrist. 

Outside of eye exams, here are 5 ways you can help protect your vision: 

  1. Healthy eating. You know this! Healthy eating helps every part of your body. For your eyes, make sure to add dark, leafy greens and seafood that is high in omega-3 fatty acids to your plate. A great excuse to treat yourself to sushi! We’re adding a spicy sake maki roll to our cart… for delivery. 
  2. Protective eyewear. Whether you’re chopping wood for the bonfire pit, mowing the lawn, painting your bedroom walls, or riding your motorcycle around town, protective eyewear is key. Blue-light protection glasses should also be considered to protect your eyes from all the time spent in front of computer screens.
  3. Sunglasses. Much like protective eyewear, sunglasses help protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation delivered by sun. Not all sunglasses provide the same level of protection. Let us help you pick the best pair! 
  4. Clean hands. Wash your hands before putting your contacts in and before taking your contacts out, simply to avoid infection. 
  5. Stop smoking. Smoking is known to cause several diseases, but it can also lead to vision loss. It can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and more. Mark your calendar for your comprehensive eye exam and mark it as the day to stop smoking. 

Happy healthy vision month! Get your appointment in the books with us today. 

The Dangers of UV Rays

It’s always fun to go out in the sun, but sometimes, the sun can cause more harm than good. Many people are aware of the damage the sun can cause on the skin but don’t know about the impact on our eyes. Without proper protection, the sun’s UV rays can negatively impact the health of your eyes years down the road. 

Eye Conditions Caused By UV Rays

Extended and unprotected exposure to the sun increases your risk of developing the following:

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision loss occurring when the retina starts to deteriorate. Over time, macular degeneration will cause central vision loss, impacting your ability to see with fine detail.

Cataracts

A cataract is the clouding of the lens in your eye. Many people are unaware they have a cataract in its early stages. Over time, cataracts can blur your vision, make objects less colorful, and cause difficulties reading or doing other day-to-day activities.

Pterygium

A pterygium is a growth of the conjunctiva or mucous membrane covering the white part of your eye over the cornea. Often, a pterygium doesn’t cause vision problems or require any treatment, but this growth can be removed if it interferes with your vision. 

Corneal Sunburn

Corneal sunburn is an effect of being exposed to high UV-B rays. Although temporary, corneal sunburn can cause a gritty feeling in your eyes, causing eye pain, tearing, swelling redness, or sensitivity to bright light.

UV Rays & Children

Typically, children are exposed to more annual sun exposure than adults. In addition to exposure time, a child’s lens cannot filter UV light or prevent it from reaching their retinas as effectively as an adult. As a result, by the age of 18, half of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation has already occurred.

Sunwear is a Must-Have for All Ages

With the proper protection for all ages, you can keep your and your child’s eyes safe from UV damage. To best protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays, always wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays, as well as a pair that protects the skin around your eyes.

In addition to sunglasses, try wearing a wide-brimmed hat on sunny days. It has been shown that wearing a hat can reduce exposure to UV rays by up to as much as 50%. 

So, are you ready to take the next steps in protecting your eyes from the sun and dangerous UV rays? Contact our office today to learn more.

Are you managing your eye allergies?

What are eye allergies?

Eye allergies occur when your eyes react to an irritant in the environment. These irritants, also called allergens, can include dust, pollen, smoke, fragrances, and pet dander, which can come from a variety of sources.

When exposed to an allergen, your eyes produce a substance called histamine to fight it off, and in turn, causing your eyes to become red, swollen, and itchy. Eyes can also tear, have a burning sensation, or even develop a sensitivity to light. 

Symptoms

  • Redness in the eye
  • Eye swelling
  • Eye itching
  • Burning sensation in the eye
  • Excess tearing of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light

Managing Your Eye Allergies

To manage your eye allergies, you first need to understand the cause or allergen. If needed, skin or blood tests can be performed by an allergist to determine the best way to manage allergies and reduce irritation. Once known, try these recommended ways to reduce and manage your eye allergy symptoms.

Avoidance

Avoiding or reducing your exposure to the cause of your allergies is typically the first course of treatment to relieve symptoms. 

Outdoor Allergens

For example, if you are allergic to pollen, avoiding the outdoors when pollen counts are high, closing windows, and wearing sunglasses to keep pollen away from your eyes. By using your AC instead of window fans during high pollen counts, you can reduce irritants indoors. 

Indoor Allergens

For indoor allergens like dust or dander, use mite-proof covers and clean your bedding frequently. Remember to keep your windows closed and air conditioning filter clean during allergy season.

Eye Drops / Medication

  • Use artificial tears to help temporarily wash allergens away from the eye. 
  • Take a decongestant (which may include antihistamines) for a short-term basis to help reduce redness and itchiness in the eyes. 
  • Oral antihistamines can help reduce redness and itchiness but may make your eyes feel dry.

Are you suffering from eye allergies? Talk to us about the steps we can take to treat them. 

FAQ: Dry Eye Syndrome 

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is caused by your eyes not producing enough lubricant to keep the surface of your eyes moist. You may experience a burning and aching sensation, heavy and itchy eyes, sore and dry sensation, and blurred vision. Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition, and if you are a female, aging, and use the computer often, you are at a higher risk.

What causes it?

So what exactly causes dry eye? Your eye’s tears contain three components: an oily component, a water component, and a mucous-like component. Each of the three plays an essential role in helping the tears in your eyes from evaporating too quickly. A problem with any of the tear components can result in dry eye syndrome. 

Many factors can increase the chances of developing dry eye. If you use a computer, it’s normal not to blink as much, which leads to more of the liquids in your eyes evaporating, increasing the risk of developing dry eyes. You are also more likely to develop dry eye after the age of 50.  

Another factor that increases the risk of developing dry eye syndrome is heavy use of air conditioning and forced-air heating because they lower the amount of humidity in the room, speeding tear evaporation. Smoking also causes various problems for the eyes, such as dry eye, macular degeneration, and cataracts. 

How is it treated?

If you believe that you have dry eyes, contact your eye doctor. Your eye doctor will look at your medical history to see if medications or environmental factors may be making your eyes worse. Your doctor may also look at your eyelid structure and evaluate your blinking pattern to see if it is contributing to your dry eyes. 

There is treatment available for dry eye syndrome, and your doctor may suggest using artificial tears while also implementing small lifestyle changes, such as taking breaks from using a computer.  

If you have any of the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, contact our office today! We are ready to answer all of your questions and help you with all of your vision care needs.

Healthy Living for Healthy Eyes

Everyone probably tells you to eat healthy, exercise, and spend time away from the screen. Sure, it’s good for your health, but does it help your eyes?  Absolutely! Here are a few key areas of healthy living that are also essential to your healthy eyes and vision.

Healthy Diet

To help keep your eyes healthy, make sure to load up on nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins c and e. Foods like green leafy vegetables, salmon or other oily fish, eggs and nuts, oranges, and pork contain these essential nutrients. Additionally, the vitamins and minerals found in these foods can help prevent many age-related problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

A well-balanced diet also helps maintain a healthy weight. Generally speaking, when you eat healthily and are at a lower risk of obesity, you have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the leading cause of blindness in adults.

Exercise

Exercise also impacts your eye health. By simply going for a walk, you can significantly lower the chances of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. When someone develops glaucoma, doctors usually treat it by lowering high intraocular pressure. Recent research has implicated that, by exercising, you can reduce the pressure in your eye, helping to lower your risk for glaucoma. 

Staying Hydrated

Staying hydrated is another critical factor to consider in keeping your eyes healthy. When you don’t drink enough water, your body’s instinct is to conserve it in any way that it can. This conservation includes altering your eyes! Your body will decrease the number of tears produced when it doesn’t have enough water. When this happens, you may develop symptoms of dry eye or eye strain. So what can you do? Drink water! The average water intake per day is about eight, 8-ounce glasses of water, but make sure to consume more during warmer weather or intense exercise. 

Habits to Avoid

There are a few bad habits most individuals do that are bad for your eyes. 

Rubbing Your Eyes

First, make sure you don’t rub your eyes! Rubbing your eyes can break blood vessels under eyelids, causing bloodshot eyes or dark circles that make you look tired. 

Overusing Eye Drops

Another problem that you may not realize is the overuse of eye drops. While eye drops may temporarily soothe your eyes, overusing them may cause your eyes to become irritated over time. 

Do you have more questions about ways your lifestyle can help your eyes? Contact our office today and ask us your vision questions!

FAQ: Computer Vision Syndrome

What is computer vision syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome, or CVS, is the discomfort or symptoms caused by focusing on a computer or technological device for a long and uninterrupted time.

Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Loss of Focus
  • Burning Eyes
  • Tired eyes
  • Red Eyes
  • Double Vision
  • Eye Twitching
  • Blurred Vision
  • Neck and Shoulder Pain

Commonly Asked Questions

What causes Computer Vision Syndrome?

Characters, when read on a computer screen, don’t have the same level of contrast and definition as printed materials. This lack of contrast makes it harder for your eyes to focus. When your eyes and brain react differently to the various characters on a computer screen than on a print, you can develop symptoms of eye strain like blurred vision or headaches.

Who is affected?

Anyone working on a computer for extended periods has an increased risk of developing computer vision syndrome. When you stare at a screen, you are forcing your eyes to focus and refocus for long periods. As a result, your eyes are using more muscles, causing fatigue and tired eyes. 

What can I do to reduce symptoms?

It’s easy! Talk to your eye doctor about their recommendations on how you can handle CVS. Your eye doctor may do a few tests to detect vision problems that may worsen your symptoms. Depending on the results, your doctor may recommend computer eyewear to protect your eyes or tips and tricks habits to reduce your symptoms. 

For example, try practicing the 20/20/20 rule when using digital devices for an extended period. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This exercise gives your eyes a break from the continued work of focusing on your computer screen.

Finding a Solution

What is Computer Eyewear?

Computer eyewear are prescription glasses specifically designed for work on a computer. Generally speaking, these lenses enable you to focus better on a computer screen, which is usually at about 20in from your eyes. 

Are there Different Types of Computer Lenses?

Yes! When shopping for the right pair of computer eyewear, ask us about the different options. Computer lenses are available in both single vision and progressive lens options to fit your vision needs. 

I don’t have Computer Vision Syndrome now. Should I still look into computer eyeglasses?

Yes. Even though you may not have computer vision syndrome now, you can still develop symptoms down the road. Many individuals experience reduced productivity and accuracy when working behind a screen, even without vision problems.

Do you have more questions about computer vision syndrome and the possible solutions that you can take? Contact our office today and ask us your vision questions!