What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye syndrome is caused by a chronic lack of moisture and lubrication of the eyes. Your eye’s tears keep the surface of the eye moist and lubricated, as well as washing away dust, debris, and other microorganisms.

What causes dry eye?

Typically dry eye occurs when there is a problem with your tears. Tears are made up of an oily, watery, and mucin component. Any issue with those components could cause dry eye. It could be tear instability, tear film evaporation, or insufficient tear production. The only way to detect the cause of your dry eye is an eye exam.

Symptoms

  • Burning sensation
  • Itchy eyes
  • Aching sensations
  • Heavy eyes
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Dryness sensation
  • Red eyes
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Blurred vision

Who gets dry eye?

Dry eye can happen to anyone at any age. Each case of dry eye varies in severity and individual tolerance. However, there are certain factors which can increase your risk for dry eyes. These factors include:

  • Computer use: Humans blink less frequently when working at computers, allowing for increased tear evaporation.
  • Smoking: Causes 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 higher risk for dry eye than men of the same age.
  • Health conditions: Certain diseases have a higher risk of contributing to dry eyes- such as diabetes or thyroid diseases.
  • Medications: Prescription and nonprescription medicines can have dry eye as a side effect.

Visiting The Doctor

Getting an eye exam by an eye doctor is the only way to know for sure you have chronic dry eye syndrome. Symptoms of dry eye can vary significantly from person to person and may even be symptoms of other eye problems. Personal perception of dry eye severity does not indicate whether or not an individual has chronic dry eye syndrome. Some individuals with mild dry eye may feel their eyes are very bothersome, while some individuals with severe dry eye may not consider their symptoms significant.

If you are showing symptoms of dry eye, schedule an appointment with our office as soon as possible. The only way to know the medical severity of your dry eye is through an eye exam.

 

Nutrition and Your Eyes

The foods you eat and the dietary supplements you take affect your overall health and the health of your eyes. Nutrition and your eyes are linked together and can help prevent certain eye diseases along with other health problems.

Healthy Foods

Choosing healthy foods improves your overall health as well as your eye health. Dark green or brightly colored fruits and vegetables are essential parts of a healthy diet. These fruits and vegetables may also help to reduce the risks of developing eye diseases. Sugars and white flours may increase your risk of age-related eye disease, instead, opt for whole grains which do not have the same risks. Healthy fats containing omega-3 essential fatty acids are critical to your diet. These healthy fats can help prevent dry eyes and cataracts.

Hydration

Staying hydrated is essential to the health of your eyes. Drink plenty of water every day! We also recommend choosing healthy beverages and avoiding high sugar beverages. Proper hydration is linked to the reduction of dry eye symptoms.

Nutrients

Nutrients are an essential part of a healthy diet. These nutrients can be found in foods but can also be taken in supplements to ensure you are receiving the proper amount in your diet. Consult with your primary care provider before taking any dietary supplements. Here are a few nutrients that may have a link to eye health:

  • Vitamin A: may protect against night blindness and dry eyes
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: may prevent macular degeneration and dry eyes
  • Vitamin C: may reduce risks of cataracts and macular degeneration
  • Vitamin D: may reduce risks of macular degeneration
  • Zinc: may reduce risks of night blindness
  • Vitamin E: may reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration

Aging Eyes

As you age, it is essential to consider all factors that could affect the overall health of your eyes. Not only should you adopt a healthy diet, but you can also do several other things to protect your eyes. One way to protect your eyes is to avoid overexposure to ultraviolet rays, which includes wearing sunglasses outdoors and staying away from tanning beds. Now is the time to quit smoking, not only is smoking harmful to your overall health it also increased your risks for many eye diseases. Finally, ensure that you are getting annual eye exams to detect any eye diseases before they cause permanent vision loss.

Nutrition and your eyes are highly connected, continue to find ways to feed your body the food and nutrients it needs to live a healthy life with healthy eyes.

Eye Allergies in Every Season

Eye allergies are caused by the same substances that give you a runny nose and sneezing. Individuals with seasonal allergies typically experience various reactions to their allergens such as sneezing, itchy eyes, or a headache. Symptoms of eye allergies include itching, redness, burning, and clear watery discharge. Additionally, you may notice dark circles under the eyes and puffy eyelids. It is essential to manage your allergies to prevent these allergy symptoms and other eye infections related to seasonal allergies.

Winter Allergies

Indoor allergens are the most common cause of eye allergies during the winter months. Spending more time inside with the house closed up tends to worsen these allergens. We recommend using mite-proof bedding to limit exposure to dust mites. Frequently wash bedding, blankets, and furniture to decrease allergy symptoms from both dust mites and pet dander. Additionally, using a dehumidifier is the best way to control mold in your home mainly focused on basements and bathrooms.

  • Dust Mites
  • Mold
  • Pet Dander

Spring Allergies

Spring can be a dreaded season for seasonal allergy sufferers. Pollen is the primary cause of reaction during the spring months. With the trees, flowers, and plants coming into bloom their pollen can severely irritate your eyes. Wearing glasses or sunglasses outdoors can help to prevent pollen from entering your eyes.

  • Tree Pollen
  • Flower Pollen

Summer Allergies

During the summer months, grass pollen and mold spores are the most common allergens. On high pollen count days, we recommend staying indoors as much as possible. To limit your exposure to allergens we recommend keeping your windows closed and using air conditioning in your car and home. Avoid using fans, as they can draw pollen and mold into the house.

  • Grass Pollen
  • Molds Spores

Fall Allergies

As fall comes around, seasonal allergies come back on the horizon. Check the pollen count and avoid spending time outside during peak pollen times. Mold spores begin to grow on damp leaves in the fall. While it can be challenging to prevent seasonal allergens completely, we recommend limiting your exposure as much as possible. Additionally, replacing the carpet in your home with hardwood, tile, or linoleum helps to keep pet dander and pollen from settling in your home.

  • Ragweed
  • Mold Spores
  • Pet Dander

Don’t let eye allergies stop you from living your life. We can help you manage your eye allergies and control your symptoms. Give our office a call or request an appointment to discuss your allergies with your eye doctor!

Who Gets Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula, the small central area of the eye that controls visual acuity. Typically developing macular degeneration is a slow, painless vision loss.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Macular degeneration is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration because it most frequently occurs in older generations. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among older Americans and will grow significantly in the years to come due to the aging of the US population.

Populations Affected

The prevalence of macular degeneration increases significantly in individuals over the age of 80. In particular, the white American population is affected the most, with 14% of white Americans age 80 and older affected by AMD.*  Women also have a higher occurrence of AMD as compared to men due to their longer life expectancy. In 2010, 65% of AMD cases occurred in women as compared to only 35% in men.*

Risk factors

  • Obesity: Overweight patients with macular degeneration double their risk of developing advanced forms of macular degeneration.
  • Inactivity: Those who perform vigorous activity three times weekly reduce their risk for developing AMD compared to inactive patients.
  • Heredity: Family history and specific genes can link to a high risk of developing AMD.
  • High blood pressure: Some studies show a link between high blood pressure and macular degeneration.
  • Smoking: Living with a smoker doubles your risk for developing AMD. Smoking is a factor in about 25% of AMD cases with severe vision loss.

Currently, the best way to protect your eyes from developing macular degeneration is to eat healthy, exercise, and wear sunglasses. Annual eye exams can detect the early onset of macular degeneration and help to preserve your vision. Schedule an appointment with our office today!

*National Eye Institute, 2010

Prevent Glaucoma: Regular Eye Exams

Did you know, half of Americans with glaucoma don’t know they have it? Glaucoma is often called a silent thief of sight because the early stages often have no symptoms. In the US glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease damaging the optic nerve in the eye; the optic nerve connects the retina to the brain to produce sight. The most common type of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, over 3 million Americans have glaucoma.

Eye pressure is a significant risk factor for optic nerve damage. We recommend annual eye exams to measure eye pressure and detect glaucoma before you lose vision.

Populations at a Higher Risk Include:

  • African Americans over age 40
  • Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
  • People with a family history of glaucoma

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Typically glaucoma has no signs or symptoms, by the time you notice your loss of vision the disease has progressed to irreversible vision loss. Regular eye exams are the best way to detect and prevent glaucoma because several tests are performed to look for signs of glaucoma.

Potential Signs/Symptoms Include:

  • High Intraocular Pressure
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Vision Loss
  • Blurry Vision
  • Distorted Vision
  • Eye Pain

Can you reduce your risk for glaucoma?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential to reduce your risk of developing glaucoma. A few ways to reduce your risk include not smoking and eating a varied healthy diet. Healthy weight and blood pressure are also essential to lowering your chance of getting glaucoma.

Recent studies have also found that physical exercise may also lower your intraocular pressure. Glaucoma development may be due to high intraocular pressure. Therefore, physical exercise and an active lifestyle are great ways to prevent glaucoma along with other serious health problems.

Types of Diabetic Eye Disease

More than 28% of diabetics age 40 or older have a diabetic eye disease. These numbers are only expected to grow in the upcoming years due to the decrease in physical activity and healthy eating.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1

A chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. About 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes was previously known as juvenile diabetes. However, anyone at any age can get type 1 diabetes.

Type 2

90% of Americans with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This occurs when your body is not using insulin correctly, called insulin resistance. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity.

Complications of Diabetes

Not managing or treating your diabetes can cause serious health complications including hypoglycemia, skin infections, neuropathy, kidney disease, foot complications, and eye complications. Additionally, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for blindness and eye problems. The good news is with the correct treatment and lifestyle changes many people can prevent the onset of these complications. Therefore, we recommend regular eye exams to avoid eye problems and vision loss.

Diabetic Eye Disease

  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Damages the blood vessels in the retina in the back of the eye. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is more likely to result in diabetic retinopathy. Consequently between 12,000 and 24,000 new cases of blindness due to diabetic retinopathy occur each year in the U.S. according to the CDC.
  • Clinically significant macular edema: Swelling of the macula in the back of the eye. Macular edema is most common in those with type 2 diabetes.
  • Cataract: Clouding in the lens of your eyes. Cataracts are two-five times more likely in people with diabetes.
  • Glaucoma: Optic nerve damage to the fibers that connect the eye to the brain. Diabetes doubles the risk of glaucoma.

Those with diabetes should get a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year to ensure their eyes are healthy. Call our office today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam!

Computer Vision Syndrome: Eye Strain

According to The Vision Council, 65% of adults experience some form of computer vision syndrome. Often individuals associate eye strain as a “normal” part of computer work. However, the eye strain you are experiencing is a symptom of computer vision syndrome and can be reduced or avoided!

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome is caused by the eyes and brain reacting to the characters on a computer screen. On-screen characters have less contrast than characters in print and are more challenging for our eyes to focus on. The difficulty of having to focus on the characters on computer screens is what causes eye fatigue and strain.

Symptoms of CVS

Depending on the individual they may experience one, several, or all symptoms of computer vision syndrome. These symptoms can cause discomfort for the individual and make it difficult to complete work effectively.

  • Headaches
  • Loss of focus
  • Burning eyes
  • Tired eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Double vision
  • Eye twitching
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Ways to Combat CVS

Many computer users find their eyes feel strained working under fluorescent lights. Users feel more eye comfort when using floor lamps instead of harsh overhead lights. Minimize the reflection of glare off your computer screen by installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor. Consider closing the blinds to prevent the sun from reflecting off your computer screen as well.

The type of screen and settings of your screen can also impact your eye strain. We recommend making sure you have an LCD screen because it has an anti-reflective surface and is more comfortable for the eyes.

Additionally, you can adjust the settings of your screen for optimal viewing. A few settings to adjust are the brightness, text, and color temperature. The brightness should be the same as your surrounding workstation, the text size and contrast can be changed to your comfort level, and reducing the color temperature lowers the amount of blue light emitted by your screen.

Computer Eyewear

One of the best ways to reduce your risk of computer vision syndrome is to visit our office. Your eye doctor can perform a few tests to detect vision problems which could be contributing to your computer vision syndrome and help decide if computer eyewear is the solution for you. Many individuals discover computer eyewear helps reduce their symptoms and improves their productivity.

Schedule an appointment with our office to discuss the impact computer work is having on your eyes and the best ways to reduce your eye strain and fatigue.

 

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

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)

Pink Eye Prevention

Pink eye might look and sound scary, but it is a common and easily treatable eye irritation. Also called conjunctivitis, pink eye most commonly affects those working in close proximity with one another. While anyone can get pink eye, schoolchildren, college students, teachers, and daycare workers are at a higher risk.

What is pink eye?

Pink eye is inflammation in the clear covering of the white part of the eye. It is a highly contagious viral infection caused by several types of viruses.

Symptoms of pink eye

  • Pink appearance in the eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sticky eye discharge
  • Waking up with eyes stuck shut

What causes pink eye?

Viral conjunctivitis is very contagious and is caused by a virus, such as the common cold. Typically, this will clear up on its own after a few days.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria entering the eye and must be treated by a doctor.

Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by individual allergy irritants, which could include pollen, dust, and animal dander.

Tips for preventing pink eye

  1. Do not share washcloths, hand towels, or tissues.
  2. Never share contact lenses (prescription, colored, or special effect).
  3. Cover your mouth when coughing.
  4. Wash your hands, often.
  5. Use hand disinfectants or hand sanitizers frequently.
  6. Clean shared surfaces such as counters, door handles, faucet handles, and phones.
  7. Properly clean your contact lens.
  8. Wear swim goggles to prevent bacteria from entering your eyes.
  9. Before going into the water of any kind, remove your contact lenses. This will prevent bacteria from getting trapped between the lens and your eye.

Pink Eye Q&A

How long does pink eye last?

This depends on the type of infection you have, but typically it lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If you experience prolonged discomfort or suspect you have pink eye, give us a call to schedule your next appointment today.

How long is pink eye contagious for?

If the pink eye is caused by virus or bacteria it can be contagious for several days to several weeks.

How long should I wait to return to work or school after pink eye?

Typically, you may return once the obvious signs of pink eye are gone. This can take anywhere from 3 to 7 days. Check with the facility to see if they have specific requirements for returning after experiencing pink eye.

Is there a way to avoid pink eye if someone else in my house has the infection?

The best way to avoid contracting pink eye in close quarters is to clean all surfaces touched by the infected individual, frequently wash your hands, and avoid sharing washcloths and towels. This doesn’t guarantee you won’t get pink eye but can help to prevent it.

Do I need to come to the doctor if I think I have pink eye?

Yes, it is always recommended you, or your family, visit our office if you have any type of eye infection.