Combating Dry Eye Syndrome

Do you experience itchy, burning, or dry eyes? You may be suffering from dry eye syndrome. Tears are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision, when there is insufficient moisture on the surface of the eye it can cause discomfort. Let’s looks at some common causes of dry eye syndrome, symptoms, and risk factors.

What are the causes of dry eye syndrome?

Tears keep the eyes surfaces moist and wash away dust, debris, and other microorganisms. Without constant, adequate moisture, dry eye will occur. Not enough oil in the tears causes them to evaporate too quickly, and without sufficient water production, eyes cannot maintain proper moisture.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome:

  • Scratchy or gritty feeling
  • Red eyes
  • Blurriness
  • Irritation from windy conditions
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Problems with contacts
  • Excessive tearing
  • Heavy eyes
  • Sore eyes

Contact lenses and dry eyes

One of the most common complaints from contact lens wearers is their contacts make their eyes feel dry. If you experience dry eye symptoms while wearing your contacts or immediately after removing your contacts, talk with your eye doctor, as it is irregular to feel discomfort.

If discomfort occurs, it is possible you are using the incorrect solution with your contact lenses; not all solutions are made equally. Your eye doctor may also recommend you use eye drops to help temporarily relieve dry eye symptoms.

Another means to relieve symptoms is to change your contact lens type to a more breathable or moisture-focused lens, which is specially made to help retain moisture. You may also want to discuss with your eye doctor the option to switch from reusable contact lenses to single-use lenses. Single-use lenses will help prevent your lens from drying out and work to maintain moisture in your eyes.

Factors that Increase Risk of Dry Eyes

Dry eye symptoms stem from multiple risk factors, including health conditions, environments, and eyewear choice. If you are suffering from dry eye try some of the tips below to help reduce your symptoms.  

  • Computer use. Humans blink less frequently when working at computers, allowing for more evaporated tears. When working on a computer for an extended period of time, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a rest.
  • Contact lens. Dry eye discomfort is a primary reason for wearers to stop using contacts. Use rewetting drops daily or talk with your eye doctor about contact lens types that work best for your eyes.
  • Indoor environment. Air conditioning, fans, and air heating systems can decrease the humidity indoors and cause symptoms of dry eye. Try using a humidifier in your house if you notice the air getting dryer.
  • Outdoor environment. If you are outdoors in dry or windy conditions, wear a pair of sunglasses or hat to reduce your exposure to the elements which can cause dry eyes.
  • Smoking. Can cause eyes to dry over time and is the root of various other eye problems.
  • Aging. Dry eye syndrome is more common after the age of 50.
  • Menopause. Women who have completed menopause are at a greater risk for dry eye than men the same age.
  • Health conditions. Certain diseases have a higher risk of contributing to dry eye- such as diabetes or thyroid diseases.
  • Medications. Prescription and nonprescription medications can have dry eye as a side effect.

Know the Facts About Cataracts

Did you know, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world? Cataracts affect nearly 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older.* If you are over the age of 50, you should have a yearly comprehensive eye exam to detect cataracts as they develop.

A cataract is the clouding of the lens in your eye. Many people describe the feeling as if you are looking through a foggy or frosted window.

What causes cataracts?

Clouding of the natural lens in your eye is caused by proteins clumping together within the lens. It is unknown why the eye changes as the body ages, but these changes may cause cataracts to grow larger over time, resulting in an increased difficulty to see clearly.

Some factors that have been linked to cataract development are diabetes, obesity, smoking, ultraviolet radiation, and family history.

Symptoms

Symptoms associated with cataracts can vary from person to person. However, there are a few key symptoms associated with most cases of cataract development. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, schedule a visit with your eye doctor to discuss your risk or development of cataracts.

  • Slight blur in vision
  • Vision is cloudy
  • Sunlight or lamps feel too bright
  • Headlights have more glare and/or a halo around them
  • Colors no longer appear as bright as they once did

Types of cataracts

Subcapsular

Subcapsular cataracts typically occur in the back of the lens and are most common in individuals with diabetes or those taking a high dose of steroid medication.

Nuclear

Nuclear cataracts are associated with aging and occur in the central zone of the lens.

Cortical

Cortical cataracts occur in the lens cortex and are associated with streaks which interfere with light passage through the eye.

Congenital

Congenital cataracts are present at birth and may be due to genetics or intrauterine infection.

Are cataracts preventable?

No studies have shown a way to prevent cataracts, however, there are recommended practices to help maintain eye health and lower your risk of developing cataracts.

  • Yearly comprehensive eye exams help maintain eye health and detect the development of cataracts at an early stage.
  • Smoking has been linked to the development of cataracts. Quitting smoking provides a variety of health benefits lowering your risk for further cataract development.
  • Keeping up with treatment if you have diabetes or other medical conditions will help minimize your risk.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables, provides increased overall eye health.
  • Wearing sunglasses to prevent ultraviolet radiation will decrease your risk of UV damage which has been linked to the development of cataracts.

 

*National Eye Institute (https://nei.nih.gov)

Why Your Children Should be Wearing Sunglasses

As you may know, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause damage to your skin, but how often do you think about the damage these rays can cause to your eyes? What about your child’s eyes? At a young age, children’s eyes are still developing, and with the substantial time they spend outdoors, it is important to purchase sunglasses to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays.

What Are UV Rays?

UV rays or ultraviolet radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation or energy. These rays are emitted from the sun as well as a few man-made sources, like tanning beds. A key factor in what makes ultraviolet rays so dangerous is our inability to see them. Ultraviolet rays fall outside the range of visible light for the human eye. To read more about UV rays, click here.

Your Exposure to UV Rays

Eye Development

The lens inside a child’s eye is still developing and is not as capable of filtering high energy rays similar to eye lenses in adults. This inability to filter and fully protect their eyes causes children to have a higher risk of damage from UV rays. Shielding your infant’s or child’s eyes from UV rays as early as possible will help prevent overexposure to UV radiation throughout their lifetime. For younger children and infants, a sun hat provides additional protection to their skin and eyes throughout the day as the sun shifts and in case they remove their sunglasses.

Environment

Exposure to UV radiation increases at high altitudes, tropical locations, and in reflective environments. Consider the level of risk in your environment and if protective eyewear should be worn. Here are a few environment aspects and how they could affect your exposure to harmful UV rays.

  • Altitude: At higher altitudes, the earth’s atmosphere is thinner and unable to provide the same protection from UV rays.
  • Location: As you move closer to the earth’s equator, the level of UV rays increase. If you and your family are visiting a tropical location near the earth’s equator, always wear 100% UV blocking eyewear when outdoors.
  • Highly reflective services: Areas with highly reflective services like pools, lakes, oceans, and snow reflect UV rays. Snow can reflect up to 80% of UV rays creating a higher risk of UV damage to your eyes.
  • Clouds: Keep in mind clouds do not block UV radiation. UV exposure can be high on cloudy days.

Time of Day

  • Time of day: UV levels are higher between 10 am to 2 pm when the sun is at its peak.
  • Setting: Highly reflective surfaces like sand, water, and snow provide a much higher risk of eye damage due to UV radiation.

Children’s Eyewear

We understand convincing your child to wear sunglasses can be a challenge. Use these pointers when talking with your kids about sunglasses! Don’t forget, you know your children better than anyone else, so some of these tips may not work for them.

  • Match the current trends. If your child loves a certain color, pattern, or shape, purchase sunglasses to match their unique style.
  • TV shows, young celebrities, and brands like Disney create sunglass lines to appeal specifically to children. That’s right, children notice and prefer brand named items just like teens and adults.
  • Keep frame in the family. If the child has an adult or sibling they look up to and admire, purchase your child similar sunglasses to what the adult or sibling owns. This will appeal to the child’s desire to look more like their older sibling or parent!
  • Let them do the shopping. Take children shopping specifically to pick out their very own special pair of sunglasses. The more they like their sunglasses, the more likely they are to wear them, and the better protected their eyes will be from harmful UV radiation from the sun.

Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses are yet another way to tackle presbyopia, a condition making it difficult to focus on objects up close. Presbyopia, or farsightedness, affects nearly 111 million people in the United States with a large effect on individuals in their mid 40’s. If you suffer from near and farsighted vision, you may have thought glasses were your only option for corrective lenses. Think again! Similar to progressive or bifocal lenses , you can also wear bifocal or multifocal contact lenses to provide a natural transition between your near and distance vision.

What is presbyopia?

Presbyopia, a very common refractive error often referred to as age-related farsightedness, is a gradual, age-related loss in the ability to clearly view up-close objects. If you begin experiencing eye strain after reading or are holding reading materials at an arm’s length away to clearly view, schedule a visit with us to talk about your vision. While there is no way to stop or reverse the effects of presbyopia, factors that can lead to a higher risk of developing presbyopia include age, medical conditions, and drug use. Our practice offers a wide range of eyecare services, and vision correction including frames, lenses, and contact lens options to fit your vision needs and keep you seeing your best.

Why Use Multifocal Contact Lenses?

Multifocal contact lenses create a more natural viewing for the wearer because both eyes are corrected for distance and near vision. There are a variety of options available for multifocal contact lenses that can be worn depending on your preferences and lifestyle. From single and part-time to everyday use, there is a multifocal contact lens option for you.

If you have started experiencing signs of farsightedness and are interested in multifocal contact lenses, schedule your next appointment today to talk with our team. It is much easier to adjust the multifocal lens correction provided on lower prescription needs. If you have a strong prescription and would like to try multifocal contact lenses, contact our office today.

The Pros and Cons

Pros of Multifocal Contact Lenses

  • Convenient to use
  • Provide a variety of powers in one lens to allow for great vision at all distances
  • Offer a smooth transition between different prescriptions without the distinct lines found in bifocal contact lenses

Cons of Multifocal Contact Lenses

  • Some wearers find their vision is not perfect at both near and distance, in these situations a compromise is made so one distance vision is better than the other.
  • Adjustments are difficult with higher prescriptions
  • More difficult to adjust when compared with standard contact lenses
  • People who suffer from dry eyes may have more difficulty wearing contact lenses, which may not make the multifocal lenses a good solution to their presbyopia.

Types of Multifocal Contact Lenses

Simultaneous Design

The simultaneous vision design provides a gradual change between near and distance vision. Different zones of the lens are made for near, far, and intermediate vision providing a more natural transition and viewing experience.

Concentric and aspheric lenses are the most common simultaneous vision designs. The concentric design allows for the center of the lens to be the primary viewing zone and the rings around it gradually switch between near and distance vision. Aspheric lenses have a more gradual shift in prescription throughout the lens.

Segmented Design

Segmented contact lenses have a bifocal design. The distance vision is in the upper and central parts of the lens and the near vision is in the lower section of the lens. The two zones are separated by a visible line. When the user looks down the contact lens remains in place due to the flattened bottom edge.

Multifocal Contact Lenses - INTERNAL IMAGE

Ready to try out multifocal contact lenses? Give us a call or schedule your next appointment today!

Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Eyewear

Have you ever gone to pick out new eyeglasses, but been overwhelmed by all your options? Do you ever struggle to know what eyewear shape looks best on you? We’ve compiled our best tips for picking the perfect pair of eyewear to help make your decisions easier.

  1. Contrast your face shape

    • There are seven basic face shapes to review including oval, base-up or base-down triangle, oblong, square, diamond, and round. Eyewear should contrast your face shape but be in scale with your face size. Find your face shape below and try out our recommended shape frames
      1. Oval: wide or walnut-shaped frames
      2. Base-up triangle: frames with a wider bottom, light color or lightweight
      3. Oblong: frames with more depth than width
      4. Square: narrow frames and with more width than depth
      5. Diamond: cat-eye shaped frames or other detailing on the brow line
      6. Round: narrow frames which are wider and have a clear bridge
      7. Base-down triangle: frames with color or detailing on the top half
  2. Highlight your features

    • Pick your best or favorite feature and pick a frame to highlight it.
    • Some features to consider highlighting would be your eyes, hair, skin color, and face shape. For example, if you have blue eyes, try a blue frame to match and highlight your eye color.
  3. Match or complement colors

    • Your skin, eyes, and hair work together to create your overall coloring. Everyone has either a cool (blue or pink undertones) or a warm (yellow or orange undertones) overall color. Try a frame from our color list below to complement your coloring.
    • Warm coloring: camel, khaki, gold, copper, peach, orange, coral, red, or warm blue
    • Cool coloring: black, silver, rose-brown, blue-gray, plum, magenta, pink, blue, or tortoise
  4. Find the perfect size

    • Try on multiple pairs to see what size fits your face shape best.
    • If the frames are too small your peripheral vision will be limited and could potentially feel tight on the head. The frames should not pinch your nose, leave red marks, slide down your nose, or easily slip off your head. The tightness around your ears can be adjusted to get the perfect fit.
  5. Match your frames to your lifestyle

    • Make sure your frames will work for every part of your life and will be a representation of you and your personality.
    • Pick frames to match your unique lifestyle and hobbies. Consider your common activities when choosing frames. For example, if you are more active you may want a pair of sports eyewear or a wraparound band. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, you may want eyeglasses with a tinted lens.
  6. Anti-reflective coating

    • An anti-reflective coating helps eliminate reflections on both sides of your lenses to cut down annoying glare and improve night vision.
    • Anti-reflective coatings allow for sharper, clearer vision with less glare. The lenses appear to be nearly invisible, giving the eyeglasses a more attractive appearance and allowing for better eye contact.
  7. Are weight and material important to you?

    • Frames are most commonly made of plastic, metal, or a combination of materials. This combination determines the longevity, weight, and average cost of a frame.
    • Key Features:
      • Stainless steel and titanium are long lasting
      • Metal frames often have adjustable nose pads
      • Metal frames can come in hypoallergenic materials
      • Plastic frames tend to be less expensive
      • Plastic frames are lighter
      • Plastic frames typically need less maintenance than metal frames
      • Flexible hinges allow the “arms” to bend more than regular hinges

Macular Degeneration

Individuals over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes gradual vision loss. If you are over the age of 50 and have noticed changes in your vision, call our office to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss your risk for AMD.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a condition in which the macula in the eye breaks down resulting in gradual central vision loss. This vision loss is commonly referred to as age-related macular degeneration due to its increased development in individuals over the age of 50. Early signs of this condition include shadows in your central vision, fuzzy vision, or distorted vision. While AMD is not curable, early detection, prevention, and treatment can help slow or stop the progression.

Symptoms of AMD

  • Straight lines appear wavy
  • Fuzzy vision
  • Night vision problems
  • Gray, dark, or empty area in central vision
  • Dramatic vision loss

Types of macular degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is the most common type of AMD, diagnosed in nearly 90% of cases.* Dry macular degeneration causes yellowish deposits to form in the retina resulting in deterioration. Dry AMD will not result in full vision loss, but it is not curable or reversible. By maintaining good health and protecting your eyes from UV rays, you can decrease your risk and prevent early development of dry macular degeneration.

Wet macular degeneration is a severe form of AMD and accounts for about 10% of macular degeneration cases.* Wet AMD is an advanced form of macular degeneration and can result in full loss of central vision. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and macula in the eye. As these blood vessels start to leak blood and fluid into the eye, the macula is forced to lift away from its base causing distorted central vision.  

Who is at risk?

Macular degeneration primarily affects female Caucasians over the age of 50 people. While smoking is one of the highest risk factors for developing macular degeneration, other risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, lighter eye color, and a family history of AMD.

If you are concerned about changes in your vision or suffer from one of these risk factors, call our office to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor and discuss your vision and risk of macular degeneration.

*American Macular Degeneration Foundation

Glaucoma: The Silent Thief of Sight

Did you know, nearly 2.2 million people in the United States are affected by glaucoma?* Due to the lack of symptoms in the early stages of glaucoma, almost half of Americans with glaucoma do not know they have it; causing glaucoma to be the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and worldwide.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition that damages the optic nerve in the eye and, if left untreated, can result in blindness. High pressure within the eye causes damage to the optic nerve and prevents the nerve from sending messages from the eye to the brain.

Typically, there are no symptoms or pain associated with glaucoma until severe vision loss has occurred; at which point vision loss is permanent and cannot be reversed. The degree of vision loss differs from each individual.

Symptoms

  • Most often has no symptoms
  • Damage starts in peripheral vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Distorted vision
  • Vision loss

Who is at risk?

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, African Americans are three times more likely to be affected by glaucoma, and six times more likely to suffer from blindness as a result of glaucoma. Hispanics and Latinos have the second highest risk for glaucoma. Those with a family history of glaucoma and diabetes are also at a higher risk. In order to help with early detection and to prevent irreversible vision loss, be sure to notify your eye doctor if glaucoma runs in your family or if you have diabetes.

Primary Types of Glaucoma

  • Primary open-angle glaucoma: Primary open-angle glaucoma causes peripheral vision to gradually reduce without any other symptoms. If not controlled or discovered, it can progress to tunnel vision and ultimately lead to blindness.
  • Acute angle-closure glaucoma: Acute angle-closure glaucoma, also called narrow-angle glaucoma, produces a variety of sudden symptoms such as eye pain, headache, halos, dilated pupils, vision loss, nausea, and vomiting. Each onset of new symptoms causes additional vision loss.
  • Normal tension glaucoma: Normal tension glaucoma occurs in patients with a normal pressure within their eye and typically has no symptoms associated until tunnel vision occurs.

 

*Glaucoma Research Foundation

FAQs: About My Symptoms

An overview and explanation of common eye symptoms.

Whether you or someone you know is suffering from a common eye-related condition, we know that you want the facts! Here are some of the most common questions and eye-related disorders we see in our office every day. If you are experiencing any of these eye symptoms or have questions about your eye health, give us a call to schedule your next appointment today.

Why are my eyes red?

Red or bloodshot eyes are a common problem caused by swollen or dilated blood vessels on the outer surface of the eye. Sometimes red eyes bother people because they are in pain, but that’s not always the case.

Potential causes of red eye include:

  • Allergies
  • Pink eye
  • Eye trauma

Why are my eyes itching?

Itchy eyes are one of the most common eye-related condition that patients experience. When an allergen (irritating substance) enters the eyes, your immune system responds with a natural defense mechanism by releasing a chemical causing the itching sensation.

Potential causes of itchy eyes include:

  • Allergies
  • Prolonged use of digital devices
  • Contact lens usage

How do I reduce my symptoms of itchy eyes?

To reduce your allergy symptoms try using eye drops to help lubricate your eyes. While rubbing can provide temporary relief it puts you at risk for damaging your cornea or adding even more allergens and bacteria into your eye.

Why are my eyes puffy?

Swelling around the eyes is due to excessive fluids in the skin tissue. As this fatty tissue gains fluid it begins to push forward and “bags” form under the eye.

Excessive fluid and puffy eyes can be caused by:

  • Allergies
  • Sinus problems
  • Dehydration
  • Overconsumption of salt
  • Fatigue or lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Aging
  • Crying  

What is causing my burning, itchy eyes?

The sensation of burning eyes can be caused by a variety of everyday environments. For example, exposure to products such as makeup, facial cleansers, or shampoo may cause burning or itchy symptoms. Other factors like allergies, wind, and environmental irritants can also cause burning in your eyes. Keep track of what surroundings or products are causing these symptoms and try to reduce your exposure. If you live in a high wind or sandy environment, try wearing a pair of wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from the elements when outdoors.

I’m seeing spots and floaters, why?

Spots and floaters are a shadow in your vision caused by bits of protein and tissue in the gel-like matter in your eyes. It is normal to occasionally see spots or floaters in your vision and will become more common with age as the gel-like material in your eye begins to dissolve and liquefy.

I am experiencing eye pain, what should I do?

If you are experiencing prolonged eye pain or have a foreign object enter your eye, call our office immediately. It is important not to rub your eyes or try to remove the object yourself as this may irritate your eye further.

Describing Your Symptoms

Being able to describe the type of pain you are experiencing will help your eye doctor diagnose the problem. For example, pain behind the eye can be attributed to migraines or sinus infections.

Use descriptor from the list below to help describe the pain to your eye doctor.

  • sharp or dull
  • internal or external
  • constant or inconsistent
  • stabbing or throbbing

Reasons Not to Compromise on Price

Have you ever been tempted to buy cheap glasses you see online or the reading glasses you found at a discount store? They look just as good as the prescription eyeglasses you paid full price for, right?

The hard truth is they are not the same as the high-quality prescription eyewear provided by our office. Unreliable eyeglasses are more likely to break, scratch, and discolor over time. Your goal should be to buy glasses that will last and will not need frequent replacement. The cost of replacing cheap glasses can add up to the same cost as purchasing a more expensive, quality pair, originally.

Know what you lose

When comparing costs, there is always a compromise to be made. One of the biggest elements lost when buying cheap eyeglasses is individual care. Opticians recommend eyewear based on your daily routine, provide professional fittings, and ensure the quality of your eyewear is examined.

Same top quality?

Online glasses retailers often state that they offer the “same top quality” as eyecare practices. How do you know what their definition or range of top quality is? Cheap price often means cheaper materials.

Try before you buy

Usually, when buying glasses from an online retailer, you sacrifice the opportunity to try the glasses on and see how they fit your face. A virtual try-on does not allow for an accurate representation of how glasses look and fit on your face.

You cannot receive a proper fitting

If you choose to purchase eyeglasses from an online supplier, you forfeit a proper fitting. As a result, you may purchase a pair of glasses that are too tight or loose for your face.

Cheap frames

A downside to cheaper frames is they are more likely to cause skin irritation. Cheaper metal frames can discolor your skin or even cause a skin rash due to allergy. With prolonged wear, cheap plastic frames will discolor in sunlight and the smooth finish will diminish.

Durability

Another inevitable loss with cheaper eyeglasses is durability. Frames made with inexpensive materials are not designed to withstand extended use as well as eyeglasses sold by eye practitioners are able to.

Reading glasses

A wide-spread myth: all reading glasses are the same whether you purchase them at a discount store or at an eye practitioner. The truth is, your eye practitioner is able to customize the lenses to fit your exact eye and lifestyle needs. Read more about progressive lenses available at our office here.

Sunglasses lose UV protection

It’s tempting to buy cheap sunglasses because you are worried you might misplace or scratch them. However, it is crucial to protect your eyes from UV radiation damage. Don’t give up 100% UV protection for a cheap sticker price.

Flashes, Floaters, and Spots: What’s in my Vision?

Have you noticed tiny shadows cast upon objects you are looking at? Do you see small spots in your vision when looking at a clear or overcast sky? You may be seeing floaters and spots in your field of vision.

What is the spot in my vision?

It is completely normal to see spots or floaters in your vision. As you age the gel-like consistency in your eyes begins to dissolve creating floaters in the watery center of your eye. While you cannot see the particle floating in your eye, a shadow of these particles can be seen reflected in the objects you are viewing.

Do I need treatment for my floaters?

No, most of the time treatment is not required for floaters in the eye. The floaters and spots are harmless, and most will fade over time. If your vision is inhibited by large floaters, give our office a call to discuss options available to reduce these symptoms.

Why is there a flash in my vision?

When light enters your eye it sends a message to the retina, the retina then produces an electrical impulse which is sent to the brain. The brain interprets this impulse as an image. If the retina is tugged, torn, or detached from the back of the eye it is common to see a flicker of light. The flashes or flickers of light can be temporary or continue indefinitely depending on the severity of the retinal issue.

Is this ever a medical emergency?

Seeing a few new floaters is not an emergency, however, if you suddenly see a shower of floaters or spots this may be cause for concern. The sudden appearance of flashes of light could mean that damage is occurring to your retina. If any of these symptoms suddenly appear, call our office immediately to discuss with your eye doctor.

Conditions associated with eye floaters and flashes:

  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Inflammation of the interior of the eye
  • Nearsightedness
  • Cataract surgery
  • Laser eye surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Eye infections