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Diabetes and Eyesight

Did you know that diabetes is the main cause of impaired sight for men and women of all ages? As of 2014, over four million individuals in North America living with diabetes were found to have diabetes related blindness. Of this number, seventy thousand had severe diabetic retinopathy, which may result in total loss of vision.

While not every individual is at risk of diabetes related vision loss, it is essential to be aware of the relation between the disease and blindness.

Firstly, those diagnosed with diabetes are at risk. Anyone in this category should ensure that they have an eye exam once a year. The longer the disease remains undiagnosed, the greater the danger of diabetes caused blindness. Quick treatment is the key to preventing further damage.

Women who are expecting that are afflicted with gestational diabetes have a better likelihood of contracting diabetic retinopathy. It is important to undergo a complete dilated eye examination after diagnosis as well.

You may ask yourself why all the concern? Wouldn't it be obvious if you were going blind?

Well the truth is, not necessarily. There are many forms of diabetic retinopathy, and only those which are in the acute phases are easy to discern. Progressive diabetes may have no symptoms. Macular edema is another diabetes caused disease which results in severe sight loss. Both conditions may develop with no noticeable signs. This is why early diagnosis is central to halting any permanent deterioration.

A complete assessment will search for evidence of diabetic retinopathy. There are distinct stages to this exam which will reveal the typical clues, such as leaky blood vessels, swelling of the retina, the buildup of fatty deposits on the retina, and damaged nerve tissue. What is involved in a complete vision exam?

The eye doctor will perform a visual acuity examination by means of an eye chart that is used to check how correctly you are able to see at different distances. This is the same as the visual acuity tests given by your eye doctor, if you need corrective lenses.

While giving a dilated eye exam, the eye doctor puts drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. Though not a favorite of most patients, it can save you blindness in 10-15 years. This procedure makes it possible to see a larger part of the inside of your eyes to check for specific clues that imply the likelihood of diabetic retinopathy. The momentary discomfort may save your vision.

It is important to value your eye sight. Even a little laziness can cause severe loss. If you have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is of the utmost importance to schedule a vision exam with an optometrist today.

What You Need to Know About Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye, is a frequently seen eye infection, especially in kids. It can be caused by a virus, bacteria or allergies to ingredients in cosmetics, pollen, and chlorine in pools, or other irritants that touch your eyes. Certain forms of conjunctivitis are very transmittable and easily cause a conjunctivitis outbreak at schools and at the office.

This infection is seen when the thin clear layer of tissue that covers the white part of your eye, or conjunctiva, becomes inflamed. You'll be able to identify conjunctivitis if you notice eye discharge, redness, itching or inflamed eyelids and eyes that are crusty early in the day. Symptoms of pink eye may occur in one or both eyes. Conjunctivitis infections can be divided into three main types: allergic, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis.

The viral type is usually a result of a similar virus to that which makes us have those familiar watery and red eyes, runny nose and sore throat of the common cold. The red, itchy, watery eyes caused by viral conjunctivitis will usually stick around for a week to two and like other viruses cannot be treated with medication. To relieve uncomfortable symptoms, compresses applied to the eyes will give you some relief. The viral form of conjunctivitis is contagious until it is completely cleared up, so meanwhile, practice excellent hygiene, remove discharge and try to avoid sharing pillowcases or towels. If your son or daughter has viral conjunctivitis, he or she will have to be kept home for three days to a week until symptoms disappear.

The bacterial form which is caused by infections such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is most often treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. Usually you should see the symptoms disappearing after just a few days of antibiotic drops, but always make sure to adhere to the complete prescription dosage to prevent pink eye from recurring.

Pink eye caused by allergies is not infectious or contagious. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as hay fever or pet allergies that sets off an allergic reaction in their eyes. The first step in relieving pink eye that is a result of allergies is to remove or avoid the irritant, if applicable. To ease discomfort, cool compresses and artificial tears may help. When the infection is more severe, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. When the conjunctivitis lasts for an extended period, steroid eye drops could be tried.

In all cases of pink eye, implementing proper hygiene is the first rule of thumb. Try not to touch your eyes, and if you do, be certain to clean your hands thoroughly.

Pink eye should always be checked out by an experienced optometrist to determine the type and proper course of treatment. Don't ever self prescribe! Keep in mind the earlier you start treatment, the lower chance you have of spreading pink eye to others or suffering longer than you have to.

Contact Lens Solution Only!

A study performed by Bausch & Lomb in August revealed that an alarming number of adults regularly use potentially harmful lubricants instead of lens solution to clean their lenses. Everything from baby oil, to fruit juice to butter was reportedly used as a substitute to actual contact solution by 20% of the two thousand adults that responded in the UK.

Even more of the respondants reported that they have used spit when inserting their contacts. Knowing that the typical adult mouth is known to house 500 to 650 varieties of bacteria, this can pose a serious health risk to your eyes. To worsen the situation, far too many people believe that water from a tap or bottle is a safe alternative for contact lens solution, nevertheless even those may contain parasites that can cause damage to the eye and have been linked to Acanthamoeba keratitis, an infection that threatens your eyesight. Even moreso, if you get water in your eyes from a pool, ocean or even a bath while your contacts are in, it's advised to take out your contacts as soon as you can and disinfect them to rinse off any microorganisms that may have adhered to them.

Sterilizing your contacts is an absolute and only approved lens solution should be used. Never keep your contacts in water! Storing contact lenses in water does not sterilize them and dangerous pathogens can multiply on your lenses almost instantly and enter your eyes once you put them in. In addition, lens solution is balanced to match the acidity of the tear film in your eyes and conversely water can cause discomfort or blurred vision since your lenses may stick or change shape.

At times that adequate care is not possible for you, you should use daily disposable contact lenses rather than lenses that you reuse. You should always take age, lifestyle and level of responsibility into consideration when deciding which contacts are best for the members of your family.

Keep in mind that failure to properly clean and disinfect your contacts with approved lens solution can cause serious eye damage or even total loss of sight.

This month is Sports Eye Safety Month

With the spring, along with more opportunity to engage in outdoor sports, comes a rise in the number of sports related eye injuries. Each year, many people, both young and old sustain sports related eye injuries that could be prevented with the right defense. Protecting your eyes while participating in sports is particularly important in high-risk sports or those that expose you to the sun such as hockey, baseball, lacrosse, racquetball, boxing, volleyball, or fishing.

You can prevent most sports eye accidents by using the proper protective eyewear right for the activity you're involved in. This will keep you injury-free and will often also have additional protection to block harmful ultra-violet light for outdoor play. This sort of eye wear is made to protect your eyes from certain accidents. Regular glasses typically aren't adequate for preventing impact, which means that a minor tumble can mean a serious sight-threatening injury.

Sports vision goes beyond using the appropriate eyewear. Eyesight is a primary factor of how well you play sports, so you must have clear vision. If you already need eyeglasses, you can get protective sports glasses or goggles with a prescription that will also help to correct your vision. If you wear contact lenses, you may require a different lens than the lenses you normally wear. Call your eye care professional about the options at your disposal.

Each sport has differing dangers and demands, so let your optometrist assess your unique situation and fit you with the correct glasses or lenses best for your vision. This will only help you gain the winning edge you need to excel and have fun and be safe when you play sports.

Each sport has different needs and risks, so it's important to let your optometrist identify your unique needs and provide the right glasses or lenses to maximize your vision. This will only help you gain the winning edge that'll help you succeed and have fun safely.

Playing sports and physical activity is an important part of a positive lifestyle. Nevertheless remember never to overlook the safety of your eyes and vision. Taking these extra precautions will only let you enjoy more years of playing sports and healthy vision.

Vision on the Road

When driving, the value of good vision can not be underestimated. In fact, safety on the road depends on several different visual capabilities – for example, distance and near vision, side or peripheral vision, night vision and color vision, plus many others.

Distance vision is very important because of how it allows you to observe the road in front of you and become aware of any danger that might be present. Being able to see ahead gives you more time to react early and avoid an accident from happening. On the other hand, if you struggle with distance vision then there's a chance you might not be able to see hazards soon enough.

Distance vision is also influenced by the condition of your windshield and glasses (including sunglasses), so make sure these are kept clean and clear of scratches and dust which can negatively affect your vision, mostly when it's dark or sunny.

Equally as important is peripheral vision, which enables you to see to the sides of your car, which is important to be aware of pedestrians, animals and cross traffic without needing to even glance away from the road ahead. Strong peripheral vision is also important when you're switching lanes and turning. Make sure you know how to use both your side and rearview mirrors. Check they're well-positioned, to help your side vision.

Additionally, good depth perception is important for road safety. It helps you measure distances properly in busy traffic, switch lanes and overtake other cars. Good depth perception requires adequate functioning in both eyes. If you've lost visual acuity in one eye, it's important to check with your optometrist to see whether it is safe for you to get behind the wheel. You may have to refrain from driving until a solution is found to correct your vision.

Near vision focusing or the ability to accommodate instantly also plays an important role while on the road. If you're unfamiliar with the term accommodating, it is the ability to move your focus from something ahead to something in front of you, for example, from the road to the dashboard. If you're over the age of 45 it's common for you to have increasing difficulty with near vision, and you might need reading glasses or some other corrective device to help you see your dashboard. Call your optometrist to discuss the options.

It's best not to wait until you renew or apply for your driver's license to have an eye exam. You never want to risk your life or those of other people on the road! If you think your eyesight isn't adequate, visit your optometrist, and get a thorough eye exam as soon as you can.

Vision at Work

March is Workplace Vision Wellness Month, an initiative by Prevent Blindness American (PBA). The purpose of this directive is to educate companies and their employees about the importance of vision wellness, including safety tips on how to prevent vision-impairing eye accidents.

Every day, people suffer from workplace related eye injuries that need the attention of an eye care professional or doctor. Workplace safety experts and healthcare professionals believe the two most prevalent reasons that workers get eye injuries is because they fail to use anything to protect their eyes or they are using the wrong kind of eye protection.

The most common dangers present in the work environment include flying particles or falling objects such as dust, concrete, metal or wood that can penetrate or cause abrasions on the eye. Chemical sprays, gases and flames can also scorch and damage the eye tissues.

Keeping your Eyes Protected

Your eye care professional can assist you to identify possible eye dangers at work and judge the optimal type of eye safety for you.

Often, workplaces possess multiple eye hazards and using the right eye protection needs to take all potential risks into consideration.
People working with chemicals need to wear goggles, and if you work in an environment where there are flying objects or particles, choose safety glasses with side shields.
For those who work in close proximity to hazardous radiation when welding, working with lasers, or fiber optics calls for the use of special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets made just for your kind of work.

Healthy Screen Vision

Working at computers or using mobile and hand held devices can also be dangerous for your vision.

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

Implement the 20-20-20 rule which will allow your eyes periodic rest. At least every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something about 20 feet in the distance. If you're using a mobile device, increase the font size so you'll be able to use it at a distance better for your eyes.

Additionally try to keep the brightness of your screen to a comfortable resolution and position your monitor right under eye level to reduce any pressure on your eyes. You may also want to speak to your eye doctor about computer glasses.

If you think that you may be at risk of any eye or vision damage due to your workplace don't delay! Give us a call to discuss the hazards and solutions for a lifetime of eye and vision health!

Things to Know About Astigmatism

Around your iris and pupil is your cornea, which is, under usual conditions, round. As light hits the eye from all angles, part of the job of your cornea is to project that light, aiming it toward your retina, right in the back of your eye. But what happens if the cornea is not exactly round? The eye can't direct the light properly on one focal point on your retina, and your vision becomes blurred. This is referred to as astigmatism.

Astigmatism is actually not a uncommon diagnosis, and mostly accompanies other vision problems that require vision correction. It often appears during childhood and often causes eye strain, headaches and the tendency to squint when left uncorrected. With kids, it may cause difficulty in the classroom, often when it comes to highly visual skills such as reading or writing. Sufferers who work with fine details or at a computer for excessive lengths of time might experience more difficulty with astigmatism.

Diagnosis of astigmatism starts with a routine eye exam with an eye care professional. Once detected, an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test is performed to check the amount of astigmatism. Astigmatism is commonly corrected by contacts or eyeglasses, or refractive surgery, which changes the flow of light onto the retina to readjust the focal point.

For contact lenses, the patient might be prescribed toric lenses, which control the way the light bends when it enters the eye. Regular contacts generally shift when you blink. But with astigmatism, the most subtle eye movement can totally blur your vision. Toric lenses return to the same place immediately after you blink. You can find toric contact lenses as soft or rigid lenses.

Astigmatism can also be corrected using laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical procedure involving the use of special rigid contacts to gradually reshape the cornea over night. You should explore your options and alternatives with your eye care professional in order to determine what the best option might be.

When explaining astigmatism to young, small children, have them look at a circular teaspoon and an oval teaspoon. In the round teaspoon, their reflection appears regular. In the oval one, their reflection will be skewed. And this is what astigmatism means for your vision; those affected wind up viewing everything stretched out a bit.

Astigmatism can get better or worse gradually, so be sure that you're periodically making appointments to see your eye doctor for a comprehensive exam. Also, be sure you have your children's eyes checked before they begin school. The majority of your child's education (and playing) is predominantly visual. You'll allow your child make the best of his or her schooling with a thorough eye exam, which will diagnose any visual irregularities before they affect education, play, or other activities. It's important to know that astigmatism is very treatable, and that the sooner to you seek to treat it, the better off your child will be.

Risk Factors and Symptoms of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

This month has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to raise awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in those over the age of 65. AMD is a condition that causes a breakdown of the macula of the retina which is responsible for clear central vision.

AMD Indications

Early warning signs of age related macular degeneration are often unclear vision and dark spots in the center of vision. Due to the fact that the loss of vision typically occurs slowly without any pain, the effects are sometimes not observed until the disease has reached a later stage. This is why every individual over 65 years of age should make sure to have a routine eye exam at least annually.

AMD Risk Factors

If you are of Caucasian decent, over 65 years of age, who smokes, is obese and has high blood pressure or has family members that have had AMD, you are at higher risk of developing the condition. For those that are categorized as being at greater risk, annual eye exams are essential. Discussing proper nutrition with your eye doctor can also help lower your risk of vision loss.

Dry AMD vs. Wet AMD

While the causes are not known for certain, AMD is typically diagnosed as either wet or dry. The dry form is more commonplace and is thought to be caused by advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues or deposits of pigment in the macula. Wet macular degeneration, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which seep blood, which kills the retinal cells and causes blind spots in the central vision. Typically wet AMD leads to more severe vision loss.

Treatment for Macular Degeneration

While there are treatments that can delay the progression of macular degeneration, the disease currently has no cure. Depending on whether one has dry or wet AMD the treatment may involve vitamin supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. For any treatment to succeed, early detection and treatment is essential. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you adapt to any visual difficulty that has already occurred. Vision loss that can't be improved by glasses, contact lenses or surgery is known as low vision. There are many low vision aids on the market today that can greatly assist in sustaining self-sufficiency in routine activities.

Learn about the risk factors and symptoms of AMD before it's too late. Don't delay in scheduling your yearly eye exam, particularly if you are over 65.

A Tearless Winter

Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. They flush any dust or particles out of the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Certain enzymes found in tears guard the eyes against microorganisms that are found in the eye.
In instances where the eyes have insufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as constant feelings of dryness, burning, itching or a foreign body sensation. To the surprise of many, dry eyes often can cause eyes to water excessively if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to make up for inadequate tearing.

Several causes can contribute to dry eye syndrome. The first factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, especially women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also result from certain medicines. Climate that is particularly dusty, or excessive heating or air conditioning can also be to blame. In addition, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in tear production, extended computer use which can limit blinking, or usage of contact lenses can contribute to dry eyes.

The preferred treatment option is usually lubricating eye drops which work by adding moisture. Your optometrist can tell you which eye drops to buy and how to use them. If over the counter artificial tears don’t help you may need prescription drops that enhance tear production.

If eye drops don’t help, your eye doctor might opt for Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and continually lets out lubricants at various intervals. You may also want to try punctual plugs which help keep moisture on the eye by keeping tears from draining too rapidly. Some eye care professionals will recommend dietary or environmental changes to alleviate the symptoms as well.

In the majority of cases, dry eyes do not result in any sustained harm but can be a discomfort. Although, severe dry eyes have a chance of making you more vulnerable to infection so it is a good idea to consult with your optometrist.

If you are feeling symptoms of dry eye schedule a visit to your eye doctor right away!

The Winter Sun and Your Eyes

It's official! Winter is here, which means in some locations whipping winds and freezing precipitation aren't far behind. You wouldn't ever contemplate of leaving the house without a coat in overcast conditions; nevertheless unfortunately, a lot of people don't think to take their sunglasses. While the sun isn't always our primary consideration when we are venturing out to the frigid winter climate, the sun's rays are still a present danger in colder climates, and in many instances can be even stronger.

For times when you find yourself snowed in, it is wise to be even more careful. In particular in the aftermath of a snow storm, the world around takes on a sparkling glow thanks to the sunlight reflecting off of the snowy cover blanketing the earth. In fact, in many cases it can downright hurt your eyes when you first step outdoors after a heavy snow. The ultraviolet sunlight that we are all so careful in protecting ourselves against during the summer may actually be more hazardous during the winter months due to the fact that it reflects off the snow or ice, giving you double exposure. This is the reason a pair of sunglasses is a crucial winter accessory.

Even though you want to pick a style you look good in, the most important consideration when selecting sunglasses is checking that they will properly do their job. Be sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by checking for an indication that they are labeled UV 400 (this means they block all light with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers, which includes both UVA and UVB rays.) Don't worry, proper protection for your eyes doesn't mean you have to buy the most expensive pair. Dozens of inexpensive brands are made with full ultraviolet defense.

Another important consideration in choosing sun wear is the size of the frame. You will have the most protection when your glasses completely shield your eyes and if possible the areas around them as well. The larger the surface area covered by your sunglasses, the less harmful UV rays will be able to penetrate. Wrap around frames will also keep radiation from entering through the periphery.

Just as most people are aware that sunglasses are essential to wear on the water because the water intensifies the sun's rays, this also applies to snow and ice. Consequently it is equally important to put on sunglasses during times when you go out in the snow. Further ultraviolet radiation is more powerful at greater elevations such as mountain ski slopes.

Be knowledgeable about suitable eye protection all year round. Don't forget to wear your sunglasses.


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