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.

Eye Exams 101

Regular comprehensive eye exams are key to early detection of eye-related diseases to keep you seeing your best every day. Adults should have a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years. Children should have an eye exam as early as 6 months, before they start school, and then every 1-2 years. If you or your family need a comprehensive eye exam, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

We often get questions about what an eye exam is like, so we’ve created an overview of a typical eye exam in our office.

Eye Exam Basics

What does an eye exam test for? Eye exams test your visual acuity and the overall health of your eye.

Why is an eye exam important? Eye exams check for early signs of serious eye and health problems; some of which may not present with any symptoms.

Who gives an eye exam? Your eye exam is performed by a licensed eye doctor.

Terms to know:

  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in eye care. Ophthalmologists can prescribe eyeglasses and contacts but commonly specialize in treating medical conditions of the eye and performing eye surgery
  • Optometrist: Optometrists are eye doctors who prescribe glasses, contacts, vision therapy, and medication to treat eye diseases. Optometrists are not trained or licensed to perform eye related surgery.
  • Optician: An optician is not an eye doctor, but is an eye care professional who fits, adjusts, and repairs your eyeglasses. They can also help patients learn to apply, remove, and care for contact lenses.

What to prepare for your appointment?

Before your comprehensive eye exam, there are several materials you can prepare. First, create a list of all your prescription and non-prescription medications you take along with the dosage. This will help your eye doctor determine any vision risks you may have. Bring your most recent pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses, if you have them. Don’t forget to have a copy of your vision insurance card and other medical insurance cards with you. To learn more about the insurance providers our office accepts and other payment options, please call our office directly. Finally, bring a list of questions or concerns you may have about your eyesight to discuss with your eye doctor.

What to expect during your appointment?

Prepare for your eye exam to take an hour or more depending on the number of tests your eye doctor needs to evaluate your vision and eye health. A typical comprehensive exam is a series of visual tests to inform your eye doctor about your vision.

These tests help determine:

  • Sharpness of near and distance vision
  • Color blindness
  • Lazy eye
  • Ability to follow moving object and/or move between two separate fixed objects
  • Depth perception
  • Determine your eyeglass prescription
  • Structures of the eye
  • Glaucoma test
  • Eye drop test to look inside your eyes
  • Blind spots

What to do after the exam?

Following your exam, you will have the opportunity to explore the various frames and lenses found in our optical space. An optician will be available to assist you in selecting a pair of eyewear that best fits your lifestyle needs. If you choose to wear contact lenses, you will need to schedule a contact lens fitting appointment.

Once your new eyewear is ready to be picked-up, an optician will adjust your frame to fit you best and make it comfortable for everyday wear.

Finally, schedule your follow-up appointment for the next year. Regular comprehensive eye exams are essential in maintaining healthy vision. If you ever experience any sudden vision changes or eye injuries be sure to contact our office.

Eye Color & Genetics

Ever wonder why your eyes are blue, green, brown, or somewhere in between? The colored part of your eye, the Iris, contains pigmentation which determines our eye color. Your parents pass on chromosomes which combine to customize your eye color.

How eye color develops

Eye color is not as simple as other genetic traits. Three different genes contribute to your eye color. Due to dominant gene types, darker colors like brown overpower lighter colors like blue and green. Colors such as gray, hazel, and multiple combinations are not as common and are not yet completely understood.

Most babies are born with blue eyes, but did you know their eyes can darken for three years? Melanin is a pigment not present at birth, which develops with age and causes eyes to darken. The more melanin someone has, the darker their eyes will be.

Facts About Common Eye Colors:

  • Brown: Most common eye color worldwide. This varies between dark brown, light brown, and honey brown eyes.
  • Blue: People with blue eyes have less melanin in their eyes than any other color. Blue eyes are thought to come from a genetic mutation of one individual.
  • Green: Thought to be the most attractive and one of the rarest eye colors.
  • Hazel: The hue of hazel eyes changes based on what you are wearing and the type of lighting you are in. Hazel eyes host a variety of colors.

Changes in eye color

When your pupil changes size, the pigments in the iris of your eye compress or spread apart causing the color of your eyes to change. Your pupils change size for a variety of reasons including changes in light and the distance of the object you are focusing on. Emotions can also change the pupil size and iris color.

Heterochromia

Heterochromia is a condition in which a person’s eyes are different colors, caused by one eye having more melanin than the other. Typically, present at birth and is not considered an eye disease as it does not commonly cause vision problems.

Enhancing your eye color

  • Wear eyeglass frames to compliment your eye color and skin tone.

Example: Determine if you are “warm” or “cool” toned skin and eye color then match your frames with a complementary color.

  • Use eye makeup to bring out the color of your eyes.

Example: Pinks, purples, and silvers bring out the warmth in brown eyes.

  • Wear clothing which compliments or contrasts your eye color.

Example: Orange, red, and gold highlight the natural hue of blue eyes.

  • Choose hairstyles and colors to accentuate your eyes.

Example: Bangs and layers which frame the face draw more attention to your eyes.

  • Colored contact lenses give you the opportunity to try out a new look.

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

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

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.