During these last two months of the year, “to do lists” are abundant. There are honey do lists preparing for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Celebrations. There are grocery lists for dinners. There are also gift lists. Let’s add a to do list to better your vision and eye health.
In no particular order, the following are things we should all do to ensure that our vision stays as good as possible and our eyes remain comfortable.
Have you ever wondered why the sky is blue for most of the day, but at sunrise and sunset it has a red or orange hue to it? Maybe this is something that only we vision nerds think about. Either way, this week we hope to explain this phenomenon for you.
Light travels in waves. Like the ocean moves in waves to the shoreline, light travels in electronic and magnetic waves through the air. These waves of light come in various wavelengths. These different wavelengths represent different colors on the visible light spectrum. Think of the colors of a rainbow...maybe a good topic for a future blog. The shorter, higher energy waves are at the violet and blue end of the spectrum. The longer, lower energy waves are at the red and orange end of the spectrum.
The pupil is the aperture of the eye. It is the black hole in the center of the iris, the colored part of the eye. The pupil allows light to pass through the eye to the retina, which is the tissue that lines the back of the eye.
Have you ever wondered what the technician or doctor is doing during your eye exam? Hopefully, this blog is able to answer those questions for you.
The exam starts by gathering information about both your eyes and general health. We will want to know if you are having any eye or vision issues currently. You are also asked to report if there is a history of eye or medical conditions both in your past and in your family. Any medications that you are currently taking will be documented. You will be asked if there are any allergies that you have. This baseline information gives the doctor a frame of reference for what has happened in the past, what is currently causing a problem and what you may be at risk for developing.
You look in the mirror and staring back at you is 2 vertical lines between your eyebrows...the dreaded 11s. Your son or daughter says you look more angry than normal lately. These expression lines on our forehead happen to all of us at some point. Don’t fear...there is help available to get rid of these forehead wrinkles.
First, we will discuss why these wrinkles occur and what we can do to minimize their development. Then we will discuss their treatment.
Your mother probably told you as a child to not rub your eyes, don’t sit too close to the television, etc. Well she was right about the eye rubbing. Even though we shouldn’t, we all do it on occasion. We may do it because our eyes are itchy. We may do it in an attempt to get a foreign substance like an eyelash out of our eye. Or, we may do it because our eyes feel tired and rubbing the eyes helps them feel better by increasing tear production. Whatever the reason, we shouldn’t rub our eyes and below are 5 things that can happen to our eyes and the skin around them if we do.
Increased Risk of Infection
Bacteria are all around us. In fact, our hands are full of bacteria. Just think of everything your hands touch throughout the day...keyboards, door handles and shopping carts to name a few. Who knows who touched these items before you and whether or not they had a cold. This is the reason we need to thoroughly wash our hands before handling food, handling contact lenses, etc. Each time you rub your eyes, you are potentially exposing your eyes to these bacteria or viruses. This increases the risk of developing conjunctivitis, pink eye, which is highly contagious.
In today’s world, we are all looking at screens more than ever before. This screen time comes at all ages. Almost all jobs require more computer and technology use than 20 years ago. Grandparents are keeping up with their grandkids via mobile phones and computer screens. Students are on chromebooks or iPads issued from their school district. Toddlers are watching videos on their parent’s iPads.
With this increased screen time, a new condition has developed...computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. Studies show between 50-65% of adults report symptoms of digital eye strain. As you will see, this is a problem that involves more than just our eyes and visual system. It also is involves ergonomics and our muscular system.
This week, we will cover some of the most common questions we encounter when we discuss cataracts and cataract surgery with patients.
What Causes a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens that sits behind the iris, the colored part of the eye. With time, this lens clouds and affects the quality of our vision. Even a change in one’s glasses or contact lenses will not restore your vision at this point.
Have you ever wondered why we cry? If so, you are not alone. People have asked this questions for hundreds of years.
One major breakthrough occurred in the 17th century when a Danish scientist discovered the lacrimal gland. The lacrimal gland is responsible for producing the watery or aqueous component of our tears. The tear film also contains a mucus component produced by goblet cells on the white part of the eye and an oily component produced from the meibomian glands at the edge of our eyelids. These 3 components are joined by enzymes, lipids, metabolites and electrolytes to make up the tear film that coats and lubricates our eyes.
It seems that more frequently then ever we are seeing reports of natural disasters disrupting the lives of people all over the world. Have you ever taken a moment to think how you would respond if a tornado, flood, fire or other natural disaster hit your home, work or place you are visiting? Depending on where you are and any advanced warning that is available, your level of preparedness will vary. If you rely on glasses or contact lenses to see well, extra considerations are needed to ensure the safety of your eyes and your vision both during and after a natural disaster.
LASIK and other vision correction procedures are popular choices for first responders in need of vision correction. They need to be confident that there vision is clear, comfortable and dependable at all times, no matter the environment. They not only need this vision at the drop of a hat when disaster hits, but also for the hours to weeks of hard and potentially dangerous work required to keep people and property from harms way after the disaster.
We have all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” It is easy for us to believe that eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables is better than a diet of french-fries and potato chips. Most of us also believe that getting some exercise is better for our body than spending the afternoon on the couch watching football...unless the Chiefs are playing! This week’s blog will focus on some of the things we can do to help our eyes maintain as good of vision as possible as we age.
Not smoking is probably the #1 lifestyle decision we can make for our eyes and our bodies as a whole. Smoking leads to earlier development of cataracts. Those who smoke are twice as likely to suffer from dry eye symptoms. There is a 3x risk of developing macular degeneration in smokers versus nonsmokers. If we break this down to women who smoke versus women who do not smoke, the risk of developing macular degeneration is 5.5x higher in those who smoke. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of vision loss. The incidence of diabetes is 30-40% higher in those who smoke. Those who smoke are 4x more likely to go blind in old age. It is never too late to quit! The following link from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides resources for those interested in breaking the habit. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/index.html
September is Healthy Aging Month. We can’t think of a better time to discuss 5 of the most common eye conditions encountered, as we get older. In no particulare order, presbyopia, dry eye, cataract, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are the most frequent ailments of the aging population.
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens that sits in the eye right behind the iris, the colored part of the eye. Typically, cataracts are a result of the normal aging process of the lens. From childhood until the time of cataract surgery, this lens is changing. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss over the age of 40.
Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts
Early on, you may not even know that you have the beginning of a cataract. Often, the first symptoms of a cataract are an increase in nearsightedness called “second sight”. These patients notice that their near vision is actually improving from where it had typically been. This improvement in near vision is short-lived. As the cataract continues to grow, it will cause an overall blurring of one’s vision. Patients will also develop glare and halos around streetlights and headlights at night. This is a result of the scattering of light by the cataract. One’s perception of colors will also change as a cataract progresses. Colors will be less bright and may have a brownish hue.
There has been a lot of discussion and research lately about glaucoma and sleep disorders. Factors such as sleep apnea, sleep duration and the length of time it takes a person to fall asleep have all been linked as a risk factor for developing glaucoma or a consequence of having glaucoma. This blog will delve into the relationship between sleep and glaucoma. First, we will give a brief description of what glaucoma. We will then discuss why we sleep, followed by discussion of circadian rhythm. Finally, we will discuss how all of this is intertwined.
First what is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. This is the nerve in the back of the eye that is responsible for carrying all the visual information from the eye to the back of the brain, where it is processed into the pictures that we see. Glaucoma typically begins without any symptoms, making yearly eye exams important for anyone over the age of 50 or with a history of glaucoma in their family. Glaucoma often affects portions of our peripheral or side vision early on. When it affects larger or more central areas of our vision, we become symptomatic. Unfortunately, once symptoms occur they are likely permanent. If it is determined that you have glaucoma, there are numerous treatment options both medically and surgically that can help treat the disease. Learn more about glaucoma here: https://www.summiteyekc.com/blog/what-is-glaucoma
“Am I too young or too old for LASIK?” are common questions we hear from patients. The quick answer is that once you reach 18 years of age you are potentially a good LASIK patient. On the other end of the spectrum, although at age 60, LASIK may be an option for you, there could be a different procedure that would be the recommended surgery at this stage of life.
LASIK works by using a laser to reshape the cornea, the clear layer over the colored part of they eye. This allows the correction of a person’s nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.
One of the most common questions patients have about LASIK continues to be, “Is LASIK safe?” The answer to this question is a definite YES! They will then follow up with, “Is LASIK safe for my eyes?” The only way we can answer this question is with a thorough LASIK evaluation. The doctors at Summit Eye Center are available to perform this evaluation.
First, what evidence do we have that LASIK is safe?
The rate of safety for LASIK ranks among the highest of any medical procedure today. Both the safety and benefit of LASIK have been documented in a large number of scientific journals and clinical studies. In fact in the first ten years after LASIK’s FDA approval in 1998, there were over 300 published, peer-reviewed clinical studies.
As we enter August, students heading off to college are a common theme. These young men and women are embarking on their first period of independence. They are living away from home, making choices on how they balance their studies with the social experiences that will shape their early adulthood.
LASIK provides a safe, effective alternative to glasses and contact lenses. No longer will these students have to reach for glasses before they start the day. No longer will they have to endure the daily grind of putting in contact lenses every morning and then taking them out prior to going to bed.
Dry eye is one of the most challenging conditions for both patients and doctors to manage. Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from dry eye. However, less then half of these patients are actively treated for dry eye.