Skip to main content
Home »

Author: Dov Shore

Back to School – Tween’s and Teen’s Eye Care

Back to School - Tween’s and Teen’s Eye Care

Caring eye doctor Near You

Summer 2020 is halfway over! Before you know it school will be back in session. Now thanks to Covid-19, we are in front of the computer more than ever and our children are hearing more about Zoom school. Take this time before the second wave of Coronavirus to have a generic eye exam or pre-school eye exam screening.

Our optometrist in Virginia Beach, VA explains, that during Corona, “the digital age is stretching our bandwidth, health needs and safety in ways we never imagined in years. Whether you are now working from home, managing Zoom school or balancing going into the office, a comprehensive eye exam continues to be important and essential.”

If your child would rather suffer from blurred vision, headaches, and even trouble with schoolwork than wear glasses, the good news is that there are options that even the “coolest” preteen or teen might find acceptable.

  1. Fashion eyewear: It has never been more fashionable to wear glasses than it is today – just take a look at Hollywood’s red carpet. Encourage your child to seek out a look or a celebrity style they like and have your optician help to find that. The optician and optometrist can recommend what shapes and materials are available for the lens Rx, while your teen can have fun with the color and style. Or just browse around at the plethora of fun styles available for teens these days. “Make it fun and encourage your preteen to be excited about their new purchase. If it is within your budget you may even want to consider purchasing two pairs so he or she can have a choice depending on mood and wardrobe.
  2. Consider contacts: If your child feels self-conscious or inhibited, particularly in sports, by wearing glasses, look into contact lenses. Contact lenses are a great solution particularly for athletes because they provide safety and a full field of view as opposed to glasses or sports goggles. Before you can take the plunge into contacts you need to consider the following:
    • Is his or her prescription and eye health suitable for contact lenses? There are a number of conditions which prohibit contact lens use or require special lenses. Check with your optometrist to find out what options exist for your teen or tween.
    • Is he or she responsible enough to care properly for contact lenses? Improper care of contact lenses can cause irritation, infection, and damage to the eyes. Your teen must understand the risks and be responsible enough to follow the optometrists’ instructions when it comes to use and care. How do you know if your teen or tween is ready for contacts? Look at his or her bedroom. How clean and tidy is it usually? This is a good indicator if he or she is ready to wear contacts on a daily basis
  3. Does he or she have any preexisting conditions that would make contact lens wear uncomfortable? Individuals that have chronic eye conditions such as dry eyes, allergies or frequent infections may find contact use uncomfortable or irritating.

    If your teen or tween would like to consider contacts, you should schedule a consultation with your eye doctor and try a pair for a few days to see how it goes.

    Alternative options: In some situations, there may be other options such as vision therapy or Ortho-K (where you are prescribed special contacts to wear at night that shape the cornea for clear vision during the day) which could result in improvements in vision. Speak to your optometrist about what alternatives might exist for your teen or tween.

    7 Reasons To Wear Sunglasses

    Visit the Virginia Beach Optical Near You

    How times have changed. This year, spring is looking very different than it did a year ago. Yet despite COVID-19, it’s important to spend time outdoors, whether in your garden or on daily walks.

    Sunglasses Not Only Protect Your Eyes, But They Look Great and Can Accommodate Every Style and Budget

    Although sunglasses are ubiquitous symbols of style, they also serve an important function in protecting your eye health. Here are 7 often-overlooked reasons to wear a great pair of shades.

    • Sunglasses Provide UV Protection

    When most people think about sun-related damage, they think about their skin. But the sun’s ultraviolet rays also pose a threat to a person’s eyes. Protect your eyes by wearing a pair of sunglasses that block 100% of both UVB and UVA radiation.

    • They Help Prevent Cataracts and Macular Degeneration

    Both cataracts and macular degeneration are the leading causes of visual impairment and blindness worldwide. You’re at a higher risk of developing these conditions if you expose your eyes to excessive amounts of UV radiation. The risk can be minimized by wearing glasses that protect against this radiation.

    • Cataracts cloud the lenses of the eyes, causing blurred vision. Years of exposure to UV rays cause the protein in the lens of the eye to clump and thicken, preventing light from passing through it. ..
    • Macular degeneration refers to central vision loss due to a damaged retina. UV light can be harmful to the eyes, specifically the retina and exposure to UV rays is a risk factor for the onset of age-related macular degeneration later in life.
    • Sunglasses Can Help Prevent Certain Cancers

    Ultraviolet exposure has been associated with certain eye cancers and several types of skin cancer found on the eyelids. You can reduce your risk significantly by wearing a pair of sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection. Keep in mind that when choosing shades, it doesn’t matter how dark they are or the color of the lenses. The most important thing is that they block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays.

    • Sunglasses Keep You Looking Younger

    Though a stylish pair of shades makes anyone feel youthful on the inside, it can also make you actually look younger on the outside. By protecting the delicate skin around your eyes, sunglasses slow down the development of wrinkles and crow’s feet. This leads to a more youthful appearance over the years.

    • They Protect Highly Sensitive Eyes

    If you have light-colored eyes, take medication that causes photosensitivity (light sensitivity), or have a medical condition that causes you to be more sensitive to light (such as dry eye, corneal abrasion, scleritis or conjunctivitis) you’ll need to protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses. Note that large sunglasses block more UV rays than smaller ones.

    • Shades Protect Eyes Recovering From a Medical Procedure

    Eye surgeries such as LASIK or cataract surgery are common nowadays. It’s important that you continue to wear sunglasses following a procedure to prevent complications.

    • Sunglasses Enable You to See and Enjoy More

    Aside from protecting your eye health, wearing sunglasses helps you see better in bright light. They reduce glare and improve the contrast of what you see, allowing you to better enjoy the sunny outdoors or drive more safely.

    Visit the Virginia Beach Optical Near You

    In addition to the countless eye health benefits that come with regularly wearing sunglasses, a pair of stylish shades can really spice up your look. Moreover, at Morgan Vision Care, we offer a range of styles to choose from, whether you’re on a tight budget or want to splurge on high-end designer shades. So come visit us in and select your favorite pair.

    At Morgan Vision Care, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain a healthy vision. Call us today: 757-219-2713 or book an appointment online to see one of our Virginia Beach eye doctors.

    Best Eye Hygiene Tips

    4 Tips to Prevent Eye Infections | Eye Doctor Near You

    What Causes Eye Infections?

    Viruses are responsible for many infections, such as the flu, the common cold, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and coronavirus. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in full-swing, it’s important to be aware of good hygiene practices, especially for the eyes, as they are a portal for infectious diseases. By implementing the practices below, you can significantly reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting a viral infection.

    What Is a Virus?

    A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent that reproduces itself by invading a host cell, replicating its DNA inside it. This infected cell then replicates rapidly, spreading millions of new viral cells throughout the body. Once infected, we feel sick and experience the unpleasant side effects of rising temperature, sore limbs and other symptoms as our immune system recognizes the virus as being foreign and vigorously fights against it.

    How Does a Virus Travel Between Organisms?

    For a virus to cause disease, it must first enter a body, called a target host. A target host can get infected directly, via infected droplets (such as when kissing), or indirectly, when coming into contact with droplets from a cough, sneeze, or tears left on a surface. Infected droplets enter the body through one of the mucous membranes, such as the eyes, nose or mouth.

    Even if the infected person near you shows no symptoms, they can still be contagious. Depending on the virus, it can survive on a surface for some time and can be picked up from a doorknob or an elevator button. This is why practicing good hygiene is an effective way to prevent indirect viral transmission.

    4 Crucial Eye Hygiene Practices

    By implementing the following hygiene practices, you will better protect yourself and others from viral infection.

    1. Routinely wash your hands

    We, humans, touch many surfaces throughout the day. If we’re not careful, we can catch an infection, particularly from hard surfaces like plastic and stainless steel.

    Viruses can also be picked up while preparing and eating food; using the toilet; or handling an animal. Make sure that you regularly and thoroughly wash your hands, ideally for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water, to kill viruses (and bacteria) on the surface of your skin. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

    2. Keep your hands off your face

    Studies show that the average person touches their face up to 23 times per hour, and that the majority of contacts involve the eyes, nose and mouth. Doing so puts you at risk for getting a virus or transmitting the virus to another. Try to be conscious and avoid touching your face whenever possible.

    3. Avoid rubbing your eyes

    Rubbing your eyes is an instinctual response to tiredness or itchy eyes. It feels great to rub your eyes because doing so stimulates tear production, temporarily relieves itchiness, lubricates the eyes, and removes irritants. However, if your hands are unwashed, rubbing your eyes can put you at risk of contracting an infection, such as conjunctivitis or coronavirus. In fact, conjunctivitis has been linked to respiratory infections like the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19.

    4. Use makeup with caution

    Given the information provided above regarding infections, the following advice should come as no surprise:

    • Don’t share your makeup with anyone else, whether for eyes, lips or face.
    • Don’t use a cosmetic brush previously used by another when testing makeup products. Instead, request single-use applicators and wands.
    • Don’t use a product past its expiration date.
    • Don’t use the same makeup products after you’ve been sick or have had an eye infection.
    • Don’t share face cloths or face towels with anyone else.
    Morgan Vision Care at Virginia Beach is committed to helping you manage your long-term eye health. From all of us at Morgan Vision Care, please stay safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones. Call us today: 757-219-2713 to find out our eye exam appointment availability. or to request an appointment with one of our Virginia Beach eye doctors.

    The Power of Tears

    tears dry eyes rubbingTears literally enable us to see. They lubricate our eyeballs and eyelids, thus preventing our eyes from dehydrating. They also provide a smooth surface for refracting light, supply oxygen, and are a vital component of the ocular defense system that protects against a range of pathogens. Below we’ll delve into the composition and types of tears, and further explain why they are so beneficial to our physical and emotional well-being.

    Structure of Tears

    Tears are made up of three layers: lipids, aqueous and mucous.

    The lipid layer is the outermost layer and prevents the evaporation of tears. The lipids are produced by tiny glands in the eyelids called the meibomian glands.

    The aqueous layer, which is the middle layer, makes up 95% of our tears. This layer supplies nutrients to the cornea, prevents infection, and heals ocular damage. This layer is effectively made up of water and is produced by the lacrimal gland.

    The mucous layer is the one closest to the eye. It coats the cornea and provides a level platform that allows for an even distribution of the tear film over the eye. This layer is produced by even smaller glands called goblet cells.

    The Three Types of Tears

    Tears are composed of water, salts, amino acids, antibodies and lysozymes (antibacterial enzymes). However, there are several types of tears, and their composition varies. For example, the tears we shed while crying are different from the tears that flood our eyes in the presence of irritants like onions, dust or allergies.

    Humans produce the following three kinds of tears:

    1. Basal – these tears are constantly at the front of the eyeball and form the liquid layer over the eyeball to keep it lubricated.
    2. Reflex – these tears appear when the eye is irritated, such as when the eyes feel gritty or when we get dust, sand or other small foreign objects in our eyes.
    3. Psychogenic – these tears are sparked by emotion. They possess a higher protein level than basal and reflex tears, which makes them thicker, causing them to stream more slowly. Psychogenic tears are made up of higher concentrations of stress hormones such as adrenocorticotropic hormone and leucine enkephalin (a natural painkiller). This suggests that emotional tears play an important role in balancing stress hormone levels.

    Tears Serve the Following Functions

    Prevent dryness
    Tears prevent dryness by lubricating the surface of the eye. Each time we blink we spread this cushioning layer of tears across the front of the eyes.

    Supply oxygen and nutrients
    Oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the cornea through our tears.

    Prevent infection
    Not only do tears wash away foreign bodies that enter the eye, but they can also prevent infection thanks to an antibacterial property contained within tears called lysozyme. This antibacterial agent fights off the germs we pick up in our surroundings.

    Heal ocular damage
    Tears are made up of substances that heal damage to the surface of the eye. Damage can be caused by foreign objects and even high exposure to UV rays.

    Create a smooth surface on the eye
    Tears lubricate and smooth our eye’s surface, leading light to be correctly focused and enabling us to see clearly.

    Remove Toxins
    Emotional tears contain more toxic byproducts than reflex tears (caused by irritation), and can thus flush out many toxins and stress hormones.

    Dull pain and improve mood
    Crying for extended periods of time releases Oxycontin and endorphins. These feel-good hormones can help diminish both physical and emotional pain. Once the endorphins are released, your body may enter a more relaxed stage, with Oxycontin providing you with a sense of calm and well-being.

    As you can see, tears are invaluable for clear vision, protecting your eyes, flushing out irritants, and soothing emotions.

    If you feel that your eyes are not as comfortable or your vision is not as clear as usual, contact Dr. Troy Morgan at Morgan Vision Care in Virginia Beach today. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 757-219-2713 to find out our eye exam appointment availability, or to request an appointment with one of our Virginia Beach eye doctors.

    Workplace Eye Wellness: The Dangers of Blue Light

    woman 20with 20laptop

    When people think of workplace dangers to the eyes, it is usually machinery, chemicals or construction materials that come to mind.  However, a growing danger to the eyes is one that may be less obvious – exposure to blue light from digital devices, television and computer screens and artificial lighting.  

    While the long-term effects of blue light or high-energy visible (HEV)  light emission are not yet fully known, what is known is that blue light is a cause of computer vision syndrome (CVS) and sleep disruptions.  60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device and 70% of adults report some symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) which include eyestrain, headaches, blurred or double vision, physical and mental fatigue, dry or watery eyes, difficulty focusing, sensitivity to light, or neck, shoulder or back pain (caused by compromised posture to adjust to vision difficulty). Most people do nothing to ease their discomfort from these symptoms because they are not aware of the cause. 

    In its natural form, blue light from the sun is actually beneficial to your body by helping to regulate your natural sleep and wake cycles – also known as your circadian rhythm.  It can also boost your mood, alertness and overall feeling of well-being. However, prolonged exposure to artificial sources of blue light, such as that found in electronic devices, television and energy-efficient fluorescent and LED lights, has been shown to cause disruptions in the circadian rhythm as well as more serious vision problems. Researchers at Harvard University have linked blue light with damage to the retina at the back of your eyes, indicating that long-term exposure to blue light could be linked to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and possibly other serious health and vision problems. 

    Since 43% of adults work at jobs that require prolonged use of a computer, tablet or other digital monitor, blue light is an increasingly serious threat to your vision, health and productivity. There are a number of options for reducing your exposure to blue light which include computer glasses, specialized lenses and protective coatings. Speak to our eye care professionals to determine which option is best for you.

    • Single Vision Computer Glasses: Provide the optimum lens power and field of view for viewing your computer screen without straining or leaning in to reduce symptoms of CVS. These are ideal for when the computer is at a fixed working distance, and work well if the user needs to view multiple screens at the same working distance.
    • Office Lenses or Progressive Lenses: No-line multifocal eyewear that can be made to correct near, intermediate and some distance vision with a larger intermediate zone for computer vision if indicated. Perfect for those with presbyopia which is the gradual loss of focusing ability that occurs naturally with age. Office lenses work like progressive lenses but provide a wider field of view for intermediate (1-3 m) viewing distance and near working distance (about 40 cm). 
    • Blue-Blocking Lenses: Definitely recommended for this electronic age, blue-blocking lenses block blue light emitted from computer screens that is associated with glare, eye strain and possible sleep disturbances. 
    • Anti-glare and filtering coatings (treatments): Eliminate reflections from the surfaces of your lens to reduce eye strain and discomfort from glare. Some coatings can also block blue light emitted from computer screens. 

    While all of these are good options for protecting your eyes, the 20/20/20 rule still applies – after every 20 minutes of near tasks, look at something beyond 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds…it’s a good time to stretch the rest of the body too. 

    Additionally, diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids found in dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale are protective to blue light damage.

    A note about children and blue light:

    Children are more prone to blue light damage than adults because the natural lenses in their eyes are so clear that blue light passes easily through to reach the retina.  Adults are somewhat less prone since the older we get our natural lenses become more cloudy and blue light does not pass through quite as easily. Pediatricians recommend that young children under the age of two should get ZERO screen time.   They have much better ways of developing their eyesight with activities requiring hand eye coordination with high contrast physical objects.

    Technology is advancing the world, and our jobs and daily lives will only continue to rely upon it. Don’t let technology get in the way of your vision and your health. Ask us about the best solution for you. 

    How to Find the Right Pair of Glasses for your Child

    glassesondogs

    Whether you are looking for regular prescription glasses, sunwear or protective sports eyewear, it can be tough choosing the best eyewear for children and teens. On the one hand, they need to be comfortable and provide the optimal fit for improved vision and protection. At the same time, they also need to be durable, especially if your child is active, plays contact sports or tends to drop or lose things. Not to mention, particularly once you get into tween and teenage years, they have to be stylish and look good. When you add in a budget and your child’s opinion, the decision can be truly overwhelming.

    Before you begin looking, it is best to narrow down your options by answering the following questions (and consulting your eye doctor when necessary):

    1. Does my child need to wear his or her glasses all the time or are they for part time wear?
    2. Does my child’s prescription call for a thicker or wide lens requiring a certain type of frame?
    3. Does my child have any allergies to frame materials?
    4. What type of sports protection does my child need?
    5. Would cable (wrap around) temples or a strap be necessary for my child (particularly in toddlers)?
    6. Do I have a preference in material or features (such as flexible hinges or adjustable nose pads)?
    7. Are there particular colors or shapes that my child prefers or that will look most attractive?

    Armed with the answers to those questions and a qualified optician, you can begin your search. Keep the following tips in mind:

    1. Including your children in the selection process will greatly enhance the chances of them actually being excited about wearing and caring for their glasses. So make it fun and exciting for them!
    2. Polycarbonate or Trivex lenses are impact-resistant lenses that are recommended for children’s eyewear to protect their eyes. Also consider adding a scratch resistant coating. 
    3. When trying on options, consult with the optician to ensure proper fit. Make sure the frames don’t slide off the bridge of the nose, cover the eyes, squeeze at the temples or extend too far behind the ears. Proper frame fit is especially important for kids with specialty prescriptions like bifocals or Myovision, and for kids with lazy eye (amblyopia) and high spectacle Rx.
    4. If shopping for protective sports eyewear, consider the conditions of the sport your child plays to ensure proper eye protection. They now have much more selection in children’s safety eyewear with cool designs and some glasses even have convertible temples (arms) and straps to become interchangeable dress wear and safety wear.
    5. Keep in mind that it may be more cost effective to spend a little more on strong and durable eyewear now than to have to replace a flimsy pair later. Each office differs in the warranties they offer and the length and terms of coverage. Ask your optician about what is and is not covered under their frame and lens coverage policy.
    6. If your child is put into bifocal lenses for reading issues or poor focusing issues (commonly used in pediatric vision therapy) they will generally require a deeper frame in order to have enough room for the bifocal, which is often difficult when dealing with smaller frames.
    7. Consider a blue light protecting anti-reflective coating. Children are especially prone to damage from blue wavelengths of light because their human lenses are so clear. Blue light is emitted from many of the devices we use such as cell phone screens, tablets, laptops, TVs, and the sun as well.

    The great news is that the options in children’s eyewear in terms of style, quality and innovation is progressing rapidly. Rather than dreading the eyewear shopping experience, have a positive attitude. This will have a positive influence on your child’s relationship to eyewear and good vision that can last a lifetime.

    Preventing Age-related Macular Degeneration

    dad riding bike with daughter

    February is AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month in the United States, and it’s White Cane Week in Canada. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in adults aged 50 and older. Awareness about the disease, the risk factors and prevention are critical, even for younger generations because taking care of your eyes while you are young will help to reduce the risks later on in life.

    Understanding AMD

    AMD is a disease that damages the macula, which is the center of the retina responsible for sharp visual acuity in the central field of vision.  The breakdown of the macula eventually results in the loss of central vision and can occur in one eye or both eyes simultaneously. While AMD doesn’t result in complete blindness, the quality of vision is severely compromised leading to what we refer to as “low vision”.

    The loss of central vision can interfere with the performance of everyday tasks such as driving, reading, writing, cooking, or even recognizing faces of friends and family.  The good news is, there are many low vision aides on the market now that can assist in helping you to perform these tasks. 

    There are two types of AMD, wet and dry.

    Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease. It is characterized by blurred central vision or blind spots, as the macula begins to deteriorate. Dry AMD is less severe than the wet form, but can progress to wet AMD rapidly.

    Wet AMD is when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the retina and leak fluid and blood into the macula, causing distortions in vision. Wet AMD can cause permanent scarring if not treated quickly, so any sudden blur in vision should be assessed immediately, especially if one is aware that they have AMD.

    Are You at Risk?

    The biggest risk factor for AMD is age. Individuals over 60 are most likely to develop the disease however it can occur earlier.  Additional risk factors include:

    • Smoking: According to research smoking can double the risk of AMD.
    • Genetics and Family History: If AMD runs in your family you are at a higher risk. Scientists have also identified a number of particular genes that are associated with the disease.
    • Race: Caucasians are more likely to have AMD than those from Hispanic or African-American descent.
    • Lifestyle: Obesity, high cholesterol or blood pressure, poor nutrition and inactivity all contribute to the likelihood of getting AMD. 

    Prevention of AMD:

    If you have risk factors, here is what you can do to prevent or slow the progression of AMD:

    • Regular eye exams; once a year especially if you are 50 or over.
    • Stop smoking.
    • Know your family history and inform your eye doctor.
    • Proper nutrition and regular exercise: Research indicates that a healthy diet rich in “Eyefoods” with key nutrients for the eyes such as orange peppers, kale and spinach as well as regular exercise may reduce your risks or slow the progression of AMD.
    • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure. 
    • Dietary supplements: Studies by the National Eye Institute called AREDs and ARED2 indicated that a high dosage of supplements of zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and lutein may slow the progression of advanced dry AMD (it is not recommended for those without AMD or early AMD).  Speak to a doctor before taking these supplements because there may be associated risks involved. 
    • Wear 99% -100% UV-blocking sunglasses.

    The first step to eye health is awareness. Help us to spread the word about this debilitating disease and the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle.

    Macular Degeneration and The Advantages of Genetic Testing

    Macular degeneration is a potentially sight threatening eye condition affecting the small area of the retina, that is involved with both central and detail vision. This area is known as the macula. As this critical area of the retina begins to deteriorate, the associated loss of central and detail vision can make close-up work such as reading small print or street signs, very difficult or even impossible. Macular degeneration can be a heartbreaking experience, as it can sometimes make even recognizing the faces of your most beloved family members difficult, as a result of exceedingly blurry or blank spots in the center of your vision, which are characteristic of this conditions. Unfortunately, macular degeneration usually comes on slowly. This can often lead to it being completely overlooked until significant sight has already been lost. Routine eye exams, especially after the age of 40, are essential for early detection and treatment.

    After detection, your eye doctor will work hard to understand the specifics of your case and how to best treat your individual case of macular degeneration to prevent your eye sight from deteriorating drastically. Fortunately, optometrists have recently developed specialty genetic tests that can provide information about specific genetic markers that are known to contribute to sudden, rapid vision loss and deterioration of cases of mild, or dry, macular degeneration into the more severe, or wet, macular degeneration.

    The test is designed with maximum patient comfort and convenience in mind. To this end, it is made to be as non-invasive as possible. Your eye doctor simply collects a swab sample from the inside of your cheek. The swab is then air dried and sent off to a lab for testing.

    While there are no known cures for macular degeneration, an indication of high risk in your genetic testing will inform both you and your doctor of the need to create a special program to reduce risk factors that are under your control that may otherwise lead to a faster progression of vision loss. If you smoke, your doctor will recommend you stop. Your doctor may also be able to put you on specialty vision-friendly supplements and advise you on what foods you may be able to eat to reduce your risk through diet. You may also ask your eye doctor about the possibility of starting special treatments such as microcurrent stimulation and oxygen inhalation.

    For more information about macular degeneration, genetic testing and treatment options, contact your Morgan Vision Care eye doctor today.

    Resolve to Prevent Glaucoma in 2016

    Glaucoma 20Eye 20Diagram

    This year, make healthy eyes and vision your resolution. Find out if you or a loved one is at risk for glaucoma, and take steps for prevention.

    Glaucoma is a leading cause of preventable vision loss and blindness in adults in the United States and Canada and the second leading cause of blindness in the World. Projections show that the number of people with the disease will increase by 58% by 2030. These facts however could change with proper awareness.

    When detected in the early stages, glaucoma can often be controlled, preventing severe vision loss and blindness. However, symptoms of noticeable vision loss often only occur once the disease has progressed. This is why glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight”. Unfortunately, once vision is lost from the disease, it usually can’t be restored.

    Risk Factors

    Prevention is possible only with early detection and treatment. Since symptoms are often absent regular eye exams which include a glaucoma screening are essential, particularly for individuals at risk for the disease. While anyone can get glaucoma, the following traits put you at a higher risk:

    • Age over 60
    • Hispanic or Latino descent, Asian descent
    • African Americans over the age of 40 (glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans, 6-8 times more common than in Caucasians.)
    • Family history of glaucoma
    • Diabetics
    • People with severe nearsightedness
    • Certain medications (e.g. steroids)
    • Significant eye injury (even if it occurred in childhood)

    What is Glaucoma?

    Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve due to an increase in pressure inside the eye or intraocular pressure (IOP). Treatments include medication or surgery that can regulate IOP and slow down the progression of the disease to prevent further vision loss if detected early. The type of treatment depends on the type and the cause of the glaucoma.

    What are the Symptoms?

    Most times glaucoma does not have symptoms. There is no pain unless there is a certain type of glaucoma called angle closure glaucoma. In this case, the channel of outflow gets crowded then blocked, causing foggy, blurred vision, halos around lights, headache and even nausea. This is a medical emergency and should be assessed immediately as the intraocular pressure can become extremely high and cause permanent damage within hours.

    Most forms of glaucoma have an “open angle”, which is not so urgent, but does need compliance with the treatment plan (which is sometimes difficult as some of the glaucoma drops have uncomfortable side effects). Once vision loss develops it typically begins with a loss of peripheral or side vision and then progresses inward.

    What Can You Do To Prevent Glaucoma?

    Because there are no symptoms, regular eye exams are vital to early detection. If you have any of the above risk factors or you are over 60, make a yearly comprehensive eye exam part of your routine. Make sure that your eye doctor knows your family history and any risk factors that are present.

    A comprehensive eye exam can determine your risk of developing glaucoma; if you have been diagnosed with glaucoma and have concerns about your treatment, it is best to speak openly with your doctor. Remember, a simple eye doctor’s appointment on a regular basis could save your vision for a lifetime.

    All About Dry Eyes

    Sometimes a person is unable to produce enough tears or their tears do not possess the right qualities to keep eyes healthy and comfortable. This can cause a consistent lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye, known as dry eyes.

    Normally, the eye constantly lubricates itself with tears by producing them at a slow and steady rate, keeping itself moist and comfortable. Usually these tears consist of three layers, an oily, a watery, and a mucus layer. Each layer has a specific role in lubricating your eyes. The oily layer is outermost. It's main purpose is to slow evaporation of the tear. The watery layer is in the middle. This makes up the majority of what a person normally thinks of as tears. This layer cleans the eye and helps to wash away small foreign objects and particles. The inner layer consists of mucus. This mucus allows the watery layer to stick to the eye and spread evenly over the eye in order to keep it lubricated. In a person with dry eyes, either hormonal changes, side effects from medication or some other factor causes the eye to either not produce enough tears, or leave out parts of the tear that make proper lubrication possible.

    Dr. Troy Morgan, of Troy Vision Care in Virginia Beach, Virginia explains, “Symptoms of dry eyes include stinging or burning in the eyes, scratchiness, and excessive irritation from smoke or wind. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, the eyes' response to the consistent irritation caused by dry eyes may also cause a person to experience excessive tearing. In this case, the eye is attempting to flush and lubricate itself by producing more tears, but is unable to do so successfully due to the rate of evaporation or inability to spread the tears properly.”

    Although dry eyes are not always curable, your optometrist may prescribe artificial tears to help with some of the symptoms. Artificial tears are lubricating eye drops that may help with dry, scratchy feeling eyes. Different artificial tears work in different ways. Some help replenish parts of the tear that your eyes are not producing on its own, others help to produce more tears overall. Your eye doctor will assist you to choose which will help you most. Dr. Morgan cautions, however, “These artificial tears should not be confused with eye drops that are advertised to 'get the red out.' These eye drops may indeed reduce the appearance of redness in your eyes, but this is accomplished by making the blood vessels in your eyes smaller rather than actually lubricating your eyes. As such, these drops can sometimes actually make your symptoms worse. One should also be aware that if you wear contacts, some eye drops require you to take them out before using the drops and wait 15 minutes or more before reinserting your contact lenses.”

    Some cases of dry eyes are seasonal, such as those which occur as a result of cold, dry winter air. In this case, your eye doctor may recommend wearing sunglasses or goggles when outdoors to reduce your eyes' exposure to the sun, wind and dust. For indoors, your optometrist may recommend an air cleaner and humidifier to take dust out of the air and add moisture to air which is too dry.

    Studies have also shown that nutrition may have a part in helping to relieve some symptoms of dry eyes. Your eye doctor may recommend nutritional supplements such as omega-3. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish, cod, herring and salmon, as well as flaxseed oil. Mild dehydration can make symptoms worse too, so be sure to drink plenty of water, 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices and milk.