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Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses

If you are over 40 and have difficulty seeing close up, you probably have a common age-related condition called presbyopia which is when the eye’s natural lens loses the ability to focus on close objects. Presbyopia is a natural process as the eye ages and affects the majority of people from age 40 and upward. Individuals with presbyopia are often familiar with the need to hold reading materials such as newspapers an arm’s length away from their eyes in order to see clearly, yet reading glasses with bifocal or multifocal (progressive) lenses can help.

Fortunately for those who don’t like the look, feel or inconvenience of reading glasses, there is another option. Bifocal and multifocal lenses are also available in contact lenses in both soft and Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) varieties.

The Difference Between Bifocal and Multifocal Lenses

Just as the name indicates, bifocal lenses are divided into two distinct segments for different vision powers, the first for distance vision and the second for near vision. This enables you to clearly switch your focus from near to far as needed, but your vision will not necessarily be clear in between. The term multifocal lenses can refer to any lenses with multiple powers including bifocals, trifocals or progressive lenses. Non-bifocal multifocal lenses have a range of powers that enable you to constantly adjust your focus to see clearly from up close to far and in between.

Multifocal contact lenses are generally designed in one of two ways, as either simultaneous vision lenses or alternating vision lenses.

Simultaneous vision lenses

The most popular version of multifocal contact lenses, simultaneous vision lenses present the distance and near vision zones of the lens at the same time. Typically after a short adjustment period your eyes learn to utilize the segment of the lens that they need to focus on the desired object and essentially ignore the other.

They come in two designs:

Concentric ring design: In the most basic form these are bifocal lenses that are comprised of a central circular area of one power with a ring around of the alternate power, similar to a bulls-eye. In this design the power of the rings (either near or distance vision is interchangeable). For intermediate viewing (18-24 inches away) extra rings can be added to create a trifocal or multifocal lens. The width of each ring is variable depending on the power that is needed most and the edges of the rings can be blended for a smooth transition of focus, similar to progressive eyeglass lenses.

Aspheric design: These multifocal lenses attempt to provide a natural vision experience by blending many lens powers across the surface and center of the lens. In this design both distance and near vision power are located in the central visual area and your eyes will adapt to focus on the area needed to view what you are looking at.

Translating or Alternating Vision lenses

Similar to bifocal eyeglass lenses, these contacts are divided into distinct areas or zones and your pupil will move to the desired zone depending on your vision needs. Typically the top of the lens, which is what you look through when looking straight ahead is for distance vision and the bottom area (what you look through when you look down) is for near vision. However, this can be reversed according to unique vision needs.

Since contact lenses sometimes move within your eye, translating lenses are held in place by a ballast which is an area that is thicker than the rest of the lens or by truncating or flattening the bottom to stay in line by the lower lid. These lenses are only available in gas permeable rigid lens material.

Another advantage of multifocal contact lenses is that they have the added freedom of allowing you to be able to view any direction – up, down and to the sides with similar vision. This is great for people with hobbies or work that require them to view many directions such as painting or electrical work which requires viewing upwards. People wearing progressive lens in glasses will relate to this as it is is often a problem when viewing up or to the side.

An Alternative Option to Multifocal Contact Lenses: Monovision

Monovision is another contact lens alternative for presbyopia particularly if you are having difficulty adapting to multifocal lenses. Monovision splits your distance and near vision between your eyes, using your dominant eye for distance vision and your weaker eye for near vision.

Typically you will use single vision lenses in each eye however sometimes the dominant eye will use a single vision lens while a multifocal lens will be used in the other eye for intermediate and near vision. This alleviates the mild shadowing that can be observed with simultaneous vision of multifocal lenses. Alternatively your doctor may prescribe a modified monovision fit in which you will have two different multifocals with varying focusing powers. Your eye doctor will perform a test to determine which type of lens is best suited for each eye and optimal vision.

If you have presbyopia, contact lenses may be a great option for you. Many people prefer the look and convenience of contact lenses over traditional reading glasses. Speak to your eye doctor about the options available to you.

Be serious about home eye safety

The home can be a dangerous place if you aren’t aware of the risks that surround you. This is particularly true for your eyes and vision. Nearly half of all serious eye injuries take place in or around the home and the majority of these can be prevented with proper awareness and precaution. Whether you are cooking, cleaning, doing yard work or home repairs, it is important to be aware of the possible dangers to your eyes and to take preventative measures to protect them.

It is recommended that every household have at least one pair of protective eyewear on hand to use during activities, projects or tasks that could pose a danger to your eyes. While protective eyewear can reduce your risk of an eye injury by 90%, in fact, only 35% of North Americans wear protective eyewear during tasks that could be dangerous to their eyes. Such activities could include the following:

Use of dangerous or hazardous chemicals: Many substances, particularly cleaning chemicals, are hazardous and can be the cause of serious eye injuries and burns upon contact. In fact, household cleaning products like bleach cause 125,000 eye injuries a year.

Proximity to flying debris: Particularly when working in the yard mowing, trimming, shoveling and clipping, debris and particles can be thrown into the air that can enter your eye. This goes for those actually doing the gardening as well as bystanders.

Using sharp tools: Whether you are dealing with hammers, nails and screws or shovels and clippers, it is important to protect your eyes. Many eye injuries are caused by the actual tools which are mishandled, dropped or used carelessly.

Projectiles: Particularly with power tools, nails and screws, flying objects pose a serious danger to the eyes. Never use power tools without protective eyewear.

When it comes to selecting protective eyewear there are certain requirements that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established for eyewear to certify for safety. Our eyewear experts are happy to ensure that you find the best protection for you and your family.

Are You Missing Your Child’s Hidden Vision Problem?

Your toddler may show every sign of good eyesight including the ability to see objects in the distance, however that doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she doesn’t have a vision problem.

Amblyopia is one common eye condition is often hidden behind the appearance of “good eyesight”.

Amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye” usually occurs when the brain begins to ignore the signals sent by one eye, often because it is weaker and doesn’t focus properly. Sometimes it can occur in both eyes, in which case it’s called bilateral amblyopia. This eye condition is especially common in preemies, and tends to run in families as well, so it’s important to provide your eye doctor with a complete medical history and family history. There are several factors that can cause amblyopia to develop. These include:

  • high near or farsightedness,
  • astigmatism,
  • uneven eye development as an infant,
  • congenital cataract (clouding of the lens of the eye),
  • strabismus (cross-eyes) in which case the eyes are misaligned

However in many cases of amblyopia there may be no obvious visible structural differences in the eye. In addition to the fact that the eyes may look normal, vision often appears fine as the brain is able to compensate for the weaker eye by favoring the stronger one. Because of this, many children live with the condition for years before it is diagnosed. Unfortunately, as a person ages, the brain loses some of its plasticity (how easy it is to train the brain to develop new skills), making it much harder – if not impossible – to treat amblyopia in older children and adults. That’s why it’s so important for infants and young children to have a thorough eye exam.

Are there any signs of Amblyopia?

If you notice your child appears cross-eyed, that would be an indication that it’s time for a comprehensive eye exam to screen for amblyopia development.

Preschoolers with amblyopia sometimes show signs of unusual posture when playing, such as head tilting, clumsiness or viewing things abnormally close.

However, often there are no signs or symptoms. The child typically does not complain, as he or she does not know what normal vision should look like. Sometimes the condition is picked up once children begin reading and have difficulty focusing on the close text or when a standard vision test is done that examines vision in each eye.

So How Do You Know If or When To Book a Pediatric Eye Exam?

Comprehensive eye and vision exams should be performed on children at an early age. That way, hidden eye conditions would be diagnosed while they’re still more easily treatable. An eye exam is recommended at 6 months of age and then again at 3 and before entering first grade. The eye doctor may need to use eye drops to dilate the pupils to confirm a child’s true refractive error and diagnose an eye condition such as amblyopia.

Treatment for Amblyopia

Glasses alone will not completely correct vision with amblyopia because the brain has learned to process images from the weak eye or eyes as blurred images, and ignore them. There are several non-surgical treatment options for amblyopia. While your child may never achieve 20/20 vision as an outcome of the treatment and may need some prescription glasses or contact lenses, there are options that can significantly improve visual acuity.

Patch or Drops

In order to improve vision, one needs to retrain the brain to receive a clear image from the weak eye or eyes. In the case of unilateral amblyopia (one eye is weaker than the other), this usually involves treating the normal eye with a patch or drops to force the brain to depend on the weak eye. This re-establishes the eye-brain connection with the weaker one and strengthens vision in that eye. If a child has bilateral amblyopia, treatment involves a regimen of constantly wearing glasses and/or contact lenses with continual observation over time.

The earlier treatment starts, the better the chances are of stopping or reversing the negative patterns formed in the brain that harm vision. Amblyopia treatment may be minimally effective in improving vision as late as the early teen years (up to age 14) but better results are seen in younger patients.

Vision Therapy

Many optometrists recommend vision therapy to train the eye using exercises that strengthen the eye-brain connection. While success rates tend to be better in children, optometrists have also seen improvements using this occupational therapy type program to treat amblyopia in adults.

The key to improvement through treatment is compliance. Vision therapy exercises must be practiced on a regular basis. Children that are using glasses or contact lenses for treatment, must wear them consistently. The schedule for drops or patches must be adhered to. Your eye doctor will prescribe the number of waking hours that patching is needed based on the visual acuity in your child’s weak eye. However, the periods of time that you chose to enforce wearing the patch may be flexible. During patching the child typically does a fun activity requiring hand eye coordination to stimulate visual development (such as a favorite video game, puzzle, maze etc) as passive activity is not as effective. Your eye doctor will recommend the parameters of the patching, drops, or vision therapy eye exercise schedule and best course of treatment.

Amblyopia: Take-home Message

If your child is showing any signs of vision problems, it is important to have an eye examination with an eye doctor as soon as possible. While the eyes are still young and developing, diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions such as amblyopia are greatly improved.

Enjoying Life During Eye Allergy Season

Spring is in the air. But along with the beauty of the blooming flowers and budding trees, comes allergy season. The high pollen count and allergens floating in the fresh spring air can certainly wreak havoc on the comfort level of those suffering from allergies, causing an otherwise nature-loving individual to seek respite indoors. Your eyes are often one of the areas affected most by allergens which can leave them red, itchy and watery, making you feel achy and tired.

Tree pollens in April and May, grass pollens in June and July and mold spores and weed pollens in July and August add up to five months of eye-irritating allergens. That is quite a long time to stay indoors!

Don’t hibernate this spring and summer!

Here are some practical tips to keep your eyes happy as the allergy season comes upon us.

  1. Allergy proof your home:
  2. Taking a shower or bath helps wash off allergens from the hair and skin. Cool down with some cool compresses over your eyes. This reduces the inflammatory response and the itchiness.
  3. Use a humidifier or set out bowls of fresh water inside when using your air conditioning to help moisten the air and ensure that your eyes don’t dry out.
  4. Check and clean your air conditioning filters to make sure they are working properly to filter out irritants.
  5. Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes, not only from UV rays, but also from allergens floating in the air.
  6. Plan your outdoor time wisely. One of the seasonal allergens that disturbs eyes is pollen, so it is a good idea to stay indoors when pollen counts are high, especially in the mid-morning and early evening.
  7. Avoid rubbing your eyes. This makes the symptoms worse because it actually sets off an allergy cascade response which causes more inflammation and itch. Plus, rubbing might lead to a scratch which will cause greater, long term discomfort.
    • use dust-mite-proof covers on bedding and pillows
    • clean surfaces with a damp cloth rather than dusting or dry sweeping which can just move dust to other areas or into the air
    • remove any mold in your home
    • keep pets outdoors if you have pet allergies
  8. Remove contact lenses as soon as any symptoms appear. Some contacts can prevent oxygen from getting to your eyes and tend to dry them out or blur vision due to oil or discharge build up under the lens. This will just worsen symptoms and cause greater irritation. Further because allergies can swell the eyes, contacts might not fit the way they usually do, causing discomfort.
  9. Speak to your optometrist about allergy medications or eye drops that can relieve symptoms. Certain allergy eye drops are not compatible with contact lens wear and in fact can bind onto the lens and cause further irritation. If your allergies are severe and you don’t want to stop contact lens wear, then ask your OD for a prescription allergy drop that can be applied before inserting your contacts. This may help prevent the allergic response and provide more comfortable lens wear.

These are only a few steps you can take to make your eyes more comfortable during allergy season. Remember to seek medical help from your eye care professional if symptoms persist or worsen.

Living With Low Vision

(U.S. only:) February is Low Vision and Age-Related Macular Degeneration awareness month.

Low vision describes a set of conditions in which there is significant visual impairment which can not be corrected with traditional means such as glasses, contact lenses, medication or eye surgery. Low vision includes a loss of visual acuity which can’t be corrected to better than 20/70, significant visual field loss such as tunnel vision or blind spots, legal blindness (20/200 or less visual acuity in the better eye) and almost total blindness.

While it can affect both children and adults, low vision is most common in the elderly. Since vision is significantly impaired and can’t be corrected the condition requires significant adjustments to daily life. Here are some facts about the condition and tips for coping with it on a daily basis.

What causes low vision?

  • Eye diseases such as: glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and retinitis pigmentosa
  • Eye injury
  • Heredity

How does low vision affect daily life?

While people with low vision are not considered to be totally blind, often the poor quality of their vision makes it incredibly challenging to complete common daily tasks including reading, writing, cooking and housework, watching television, driving or even recognizing people. The adjustment can be especially for those who suddenly lose their vision.

The good news is there are numerous resources and products available to assist individuals with low vision often by enhancing the small amount of vision that is intact.

Visual Aids

Visual aids enable millions of people who suffer from low vision to be able to function and live relatively normal lives, by maximizing their remaining eyesight. An optometrist can do a low vision eye exam and provide specialized glasses or tints to optimize vision, or recommend quality magnifiers with appropriate magnification and working distance. Full spectrum lighting or magnifiers with an attached light source are often used to aid individuals with low vision. You can also get special lens tints, which are used to enhance contrast and reduce glare, with special coatings for specific conditions. Other low vision aids act as guides to help the person focus on non-visual cues, such as sound or feel.

Many people unfortunately try a “trial and error” or “dollar store” readers or magnifiers when it comes to vision aids which can lead to frustration. In fact, there is a systematic approach to finding the right visual aid, which is a matter of consulting with a professional to determine what works for each individual and his daily needs. Speak to your optometrist about the best place to obtain quality, optical and non-optical aids to assist with your low vision.

(For Canada only:) In Canada, CNIB is a major source of optical and non-optical AIDS. After an exam and diagnosis by an optometrist, he can start the process to access CNIB, and offer follow-up customized support to complement CNIB services.

If you or a loved one suffers from low vision, here are some ways to make life with low vision easier

  1. Adjust Lighting. Ensure that your home is well lit. This may require some trial and error with different lights and voltages to determine what works best for you.
  2. Use a magnifier. There is a vast selection of magnifiers available, ranging from hand-held to stand magnifiers. Binoculars and spectacle mounted magnifiers are also an option.
  3. Your optometrist or low vision specialist can recommend specialized lens tints for certain conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa or cataracts, which enhance vision or reduce light sensitivity.
  4. Use large print books for reading. Alternatively, try digital recordings or mp3s.
  5. Make use of high contrast for writing. Try writing in large letters with a broad black pen on a white piece of paper or board.
  6. Add a high-contrast stripe on steps (bright color on dark staircase, or black stripe on light stairs) can prevent falls in people with low vision, and may enable those who suffer to remain independent in their home.
  7. Find out what other technology is available to help make your life simpler.

If you or a loved one has low vision, don’t despair. Be sure to consult with your eye doctor about the best course of action to take to simplify life with low vision.

Further Resources:

Sources

8 Tips to Beat Winter Dry Eyes

One of the most common patient complaints during the winter months is dry eyes. In the cooler climates, cold winds and dry air, coupled with dry indoor heating can be a recipe for an eye disaster. Dryness and irritation can be particularly debilitating for those who wear contact lenses or suffer from chronic dry eyes – a condition in which the eyes do not properly produce tear film.

The harsh weather conditions can reduce the natural moisture in your eyes and the irritation usually results in a burning or itching sensation that often leads to rubbing or scratching your eyes which can worsen the symptoms. Sometimes it feels like there is a foreign object in your eye and for some, dry eyes can even cause excessive tearing. Prolonged, untreated dry eyes can lead to blurred vision as well.

Whatever the symptoms, dry eyes can cause significant discomfort during the long winters and relief can seriously improve your quality of life.

Here are eight tips to keep your eyes comfortable during the harsh winter months:

  1. To keep eyes moist, apply artificial tears/eye drops a few times a day. If you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about the best product for your condition.
  2. Drink a lot of fluids – keeping your body hydrated will also help maintain the moisture in your eyes.
  3. If you spend a lot of time indoors in heated environments, use a humidifier to add some moisture back into the air.
  4. Try to situate yourself away from sources of heat, especially if they are blowing. While a nice cozy fire can add to the perfect winter evening, make sure your keep your distance so dry eyes don’t ruin it.
  5. Staring at a computer or digital device for extended amounts of time can further dry out your eyes. If you spend a lot of time staring at the screen, make sure you blink often and practice the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  6. Don’t rub your eyes! This will only increase irritation and can also lead to infections if your hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a break and break out your glasses. If your contact lenses are causing further irritation, take a break and wear your glasses for a few days.
  8. Protect your eyes. If you know you are going to be venturing into harsh weather conditions, such as extreme cold or wind, make sure you wear protection. Try large, 100% UV protective eyeglasses and a hat with a visor to keep the wind and particles from getting near your eyes. If you are a winter sports enthusiast, make sure you wear well-fitted ski goggles.

If you find that after following these tips you continue to suffer, contact your eye doctor. It could be that your condition requires medical intervention.

6 Things You Need To Know About Cataracts

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. Here are 6 things you need to know.

1. You’re more than likely develop a cataract!

Cataracts are part of the natural aging process so if you live long enough, you will likely eventually develop one.

2. A cataract is a clouding of the usually transparent lens in your eye.

The lens in your eye focuses light onto the retina at the back of your eye, allowing you to see. When your lens starts to clouds up, the images projected onto your retina become blurry and unfocused. You can compare this to looking through a dirty or cloudy window. If the window is not clear, you can’t see!

3. Age is not the only risk factor for cataract development.

While the risk of developing a cataract does increase as you age, it is not the only factor. Other risk factors include diseases such as diabetes, lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumption or smoking as well as prolonged exposure to the sun.

4. Your treatment options are not limited to surgery.

If cataracts are detected in the early stages of development, non-surgical options including medicated eye drops, stronger glasses or even better lighting go a long way to help alleviate the condition’s detrimental impact on your vision.

5. Cataracts have warning signs

Cataracts don’t suddenly develop overnight. If you notice you have cloudy vision or see halos around lights, have trouble with night vision or see double in one eye, make a visit to your eye doctor a priority to check it out.

6. What you eat can reduce your risks.

While making healthy food choices plays a vital role in your overall health, it can also play a very specific role in reducing your risk of cataract development. A study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increased intake of vitamin C or the combined intake of multiple antioxidants significantly reduced the risk of cataracts in older adults.

(source: http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/cataracts.htm)

Don’t let cataracts interfere with your quality of life. Be sure to schedule regular eye exams so that you stay on top of your overall eye health.

6 Common Eye Myths Debunked

Over the centuries there have been a lot of old-wives tales circulating about eyes and vision. You know, like the one that if someone hits you on the back while your eyes are crossed they will stay that way. Unlike this example, some of these myths do have roots in truth, yet filtering out those truths isn’t an easy task.

Here are a few of the most common myths and truths about the eyes and vision.

1. Myth: Eating a lot of carrots will help you see in the dark.

Truth: Carrots have a lot of Vitamin A, a vitamin that is essential for good eyesight, but eating a lot of carrots isn’t going to give you 20/20 vision or help you see in the dark. Likely, the basis of this over-exaggeration is that night-blindness and vision loss found in underdeveloped countries can be a sign of malnutrition due to Vitamin A deficiency. The relatively small amount of Vitamin A needed for vision is easily obtainable in a normal balanced diet from a lot of sources not limited to carrots.

Higher-than-normal doses of Vitamin A could be useful in treating dry eye, some eye infections and as part of a combination of vitamins used to slow the progression of early-stage macular degeneration. However, in any of these cases, do not take Vitamin A supplements without instructions from your eye doctor.

2. Myth: Wearing glasses makes your vision worse.

Truth: People think this is true because often once we start wearing glasses our vision continues to deteriorate and we have to keep going back for a higher prescription. The notion that wearing glasses causes your vision to get worse is simply not true. Distance vision or myopia typically gets worse over time, especially during adolescence, and does depend on whether the child wears glasses. Additionally, most people begin to experience vision deterioration as they enter their 40’s and 50’s with or without the use of vision correction devices.

3. Myth: Sitting too close to the TV is bad for your eyes.

Truth: While it may cause your eyes to feel tired, there is no evidence that sitting too close to the TV will harm your eyes or vision. Children in fact have a heightened ability to focus on close objects so often it is natural and relatively comfortable for them to sit close to a screen.

4. Myth: Reading in dim light can damage your eyes.

Truth: This one also has no good evidence. While yes, your eyes are working harder and may feel tired when reading in dim light, there is no evidence of permanent or long-term damage to your eyes.

5. Myth: As you get older there is nothing you can do to prevent vision loss.

Truth: While most older adults will eventually develop some degree of presbyopia which is near-vision loss, and eventually cataracts, no sign of vision loss should be ignored. Vision problems like these can be treated, allowing you to see clearly again. Moreover, there are many serious eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration that can threaten your vision and eyes with permanent and severe vision loss if not diagnosed and treated early. If you are 40 or older, you should have your eyes checked with a comprehensive eye exam on a yearly basis. In many cases, early treatment can save your eyesight.

6. Myth: Squinting causes vision loss.

Truth: Squinting is a natural reaction of your eyes to let less light into the pupil in order to sharpen your focus. Rather than impairing your vision, squinting is usually a sign that someone can’t see clearly which often suggests that their vision is impaired and that they need glasses to see better in the first place.

Got any other eye myths that you are curious about? Just ask at your next visit to our office. We are happy to help weed out the fact from the fiction.

5 Ways to Ensure Healthy Vision

Your eyes work for you day in and out, playing a vital role as you navigate through the day. As May is healthy vision month, here are some tips for taking charge of your eye health.

1. Know your Genes

While your eyes may be the same color as your father’s eyes, you may have inherited glaucoma from your mother’s side of the family. Your genes are an important factor in your eye health as many eye diseases are known to be hereditary. It’s vital that you know your family’s eye health history. Sharing this with your eye care practitioner will help us determine which diseases you’re at risk for so that we can help put you on the right path for prevention or treatment.

2. Protect your eyes

Whether it’s from strong UV rays from the sun when you are outside or from hazards in the workplace, there is protective eyewear available that is suitable to the environment you’re in. That means sunglasses when you’re outside, specialized glasses for the sports you play or protective goggles to keep dangerous substances found at home or in the workplace from harming your sight.

3. Maintain your eye health by eating right

Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale have proven to be beneficial for your eye health. Fish high in omega 3 fatty acids are also known to aid in maintaining healthy eyes. It is important to have an overall healthy lifestyle so if you smoke, quit. Be sure to maintain a healthy weight too.

4. Give them a break

Your eyes work really hard every day, especially if you are in front of a screen. Remember to apply the 20-20- 20 rule to prevent eye strain: every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

5. Get a Dilated eye exam

Be sure to have a dilated eye exam at least once a year. A thorough check is the only way to spot any problems that exist or are developing. Some eye diseases have no warning signs at all and can only be detected in this way.

All of these tips will help you keep your sight in check and go a long way in ensuring that you maintain healthy sight your whole life through.

10 Steps to Prevent Vision Loss

March is Save Your Vision Month, a time to raise public awareness about how to protect your eyes and your vision. Most people aren’t aware that 75% of potential vision loss can be prevented or treated. This largely depends on patients being proactive and educated about their eye health.

Here are 10 important steps to protect and preserve your precious eyesight:

  1. Regularly have your eyes checked: For a number of eye diseases, early detection and treatment is critical to success in saving your vision. Many conditions – such as diabetic eye disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma – have minimal or no symptoms, particularly in the early stages. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is sometimes the only way to detect eye disease early enough to save your sight and prevent vision loss.
  2. Know your family history: A number of eye diseases involve genetic risk factors, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Be aware of the incidence of eye disease in your family and if you do have a family history make sure to be monitored regularly by a trusted eye doctor.
  3. Wear sunglasses: Exposure to UVA and UVB rays from sunlight is associated with a higher risk of AMD and cataracts. Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection year round, any time you are outdoors. It’s worthwhile to invest in a pair of quality sunglasses which will have UV protection that lasts, as well as better glare protection and optics.
  4. Eat healthy: Diet plays a large role in eye health, especially certain nutrients such as antioxidants, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins and minerals found in leafy green and orange vegetables. Keep your diet low in fat and sugar and high in nutrients and you can reduce your risk of developing AMD or diabetes, two of the leading causes of blindness.
  5. Stop smoking: Smokers are four times more likely to develop AMD.
  6. Wear eye protection: If you play sports, use power tools or work with dangerous equipment or chemicals, make sure to wear proper safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from injury. Never take risks as many permanent eye injuries happen within seconds.
  7. Manage diabetes: If you have diabetes or hyperglycemia, manage your blood sugar levels to reduce the risks of diabetic retinopathy.
  8. Limit alcohol intake: Heavy drinking is associated with higher risks of developing cataracts and AMD.
  9. Exercise: Yet another benefit of regular physical activity is eye health including reduced risk of AMD.
  10. Educate yourself: Below is some basic information about four of the most common vision impairing eye conditions.

4 Most Common Eye Conditions:

  • Cataracts –

Typically an age-related disease, cataracts cause a clouding of the lens of the eye which impairs vision. You can’t completely prevent this condition as more than half of individuals will develop a cataract by the time they are 70 years old. Cataract treatment involves a common surgical procedure that is one of the safest and most commonly performed medical procedures with a 98% success rate.

  • AMD (age-related macular degeneration) –

A progressive condition that attacks central vision, AMD usually affects individuals 50 and older. Disease progression may be slow and early symptoms minimal, making an eye exam critical in early detection. Risk factors include race (more common in Caucasians), family history, age, UV exposure, lack of exercise, smoking and poor diet and nutrition. AMD can cause irreversible vision loss. While there is no cure, the progression of the vision loss can be slowed or halted when caught early. Individuals often develop a condition called low-vision which is not complete blindness but does require a change in lifestyle to deal with limited eye sight.

  • Glaucoma –

Glaucoma is the 2nd leading cause of blindness worldwide, resulting from damage to the optic nerve most often caused by pressure build up in the eye. Vision loss is progressive and irreversible. Studies show that 50% of people with the disease don’t know they have it. While there is no cure, early detection and treatment can protect your eyes against serious vision loss and if caught early enough vision impairment could be close to zero. Risk factors include old age, diabetes, family history, ethnic groups (African Americans and Mexican Americans have higher risk factors), and previous eye injury.

  • Diabetic retinopathy –

The most common diabetic eye disease, this is a leading cause of blindness in adults which is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. All people with diabetes both type 1 and type 2 are at risk, and the disease can often progress without symptoms, so regular eye exams are essential to prevent permanent vision loss. Regular eye exams and maintaining normal blood sugar levels are the best ways to protect vision.

The best way to protect your vision is to be informed, develop healthy habits and to get your eyes checked regularly. See you soon!