4 Eye Care Mistakes to Avoid

Few parts of our bodies are more important for day-to-day life than our eyes.  These vulnerable organs are our main link to the outside world, and damage to the eyes is usually irreparable.

Poor eye care is often worse than no eye care.  Sometimes, it only makes things worse.

Eye_CareFour Important “Don’ts” For Proper Eye Care

1 – Using Anything But Water Or Tear Drops

Never clean your eyes or lenses with anything but water or eye drops designed for that purpose.  If possible, use distilled water rather than tap water, because even most tap water will still have some particles–or microorganisms–that can damage your eyes.

Most especially, never try to clean your contacts or your eyes with spit.  It’s incredibly unhygienic.  Your mouth always has a lot of bacteria in it, no matter how much mouthwash you use.

2 – Driving With Vision Problems

If you’re experiencing any sort of direct problems with your vision, such as blurriness, gray-outs, or migraine-style rainbows, do not drive yourself to the doctor.  There’s no telling when such conditions could take a turn for the worse, and losing your vision while driving is one of the most dangerous things that could happen.

Have a friend drive, or call 911 for an ambulance.

3 – Playing Sports Without Protective Gear

A single flying baseball, hockey puck, or other gaming object can achieve speeds in excess of 100 mph.  That can simply destroy an eye with a direct hit.  Sports goggles are the only safe form of eyewear for sports like these, and they can often do a lot to mitigate the damage done by direct hits.

Also, do not wear contact lenses when playing such games.  They’ll make the damage from an impact worse, not better.

4 – Not Calling Your Eye Care Specialist

Broadly speaking, if you’re having a problem with your vision that can’t be fixed with either water or over-the-counter painkillers, don’t waste time guessing.  Give your Phoenix optometrist a call for a consultation.

Our eyes are extremely fragile, and there honestly are few home remedies that actually help with eye trouble.  When in doubt, contact a specialist with your questions!

Are Women More Likely To Have Eye Problems?

 

Eye_HealthDid you know that women are more likely to develop eye health issues than men?

In fact, according to the Women’s Eye Health Task Force, nearly two-thirds of people suffering from blindness or high levels of visual impairment are women.  Domestically, it’s much the same:  Prevent Blindness America reports the same figures here at home.

This is a medical statistic that’s only started to become widely-known, and doctors around the world are just beginning to look into the reasons why.

Links Between Women And Vision Trouble

Why do women have more vision problems around the world?  There are several proposed reasons for this, and it’s likely they’re all contributing to the issue:

1 – Women live longer than men, statistically.  In the US, for example, women live roughly five years longer.  Since vision problems accrue over time, and are worst in old age, this is going to naturally increase the number of blind women, relative to men.

2 – Hormonal changes.  Men don’t suffer menopause, or anything like it, which removes this as a risk factor.  The hormonal changes in a woman’s body later in life can cause changes in eye shape or composition, especially if “bloating” is involved.  This can lead to ocular hypertension and other eye disorders.

3 – Lower access to health care.  While not globally true, in many places in the world -and even in America- women generally have lower access to health care than men, especially among the low-income.  Many eye conditions are treatable if caught early on, but can lead to irreversible damage if left untreated.

Along with this, there are the environmental and behavioral issues that both men and women share.  However, due to women’s existing higher chances of vision problems, that means problems like smoking, or high blood pressure, carry a greater chance of vision damage.

Keep Watch On Your Eyes Past Forty

The best eye health measures are preventative.  Our eyes are fragile, and there are many things in this world which can damage them irreparably.  Optometrists recommend women over 40 to have an eye checkup at least once a year.  This is especially important in the first year or two past menopause, when many new problems may develop.

Women may have higher chances of eye disease, but it’s not inevitable.  Consult with your Phoenix Optometrist if you’d like more recommendations on how to reduce your own chances of vision loss.

Back To School Eye Exams For Kids

Eye_ExamsIf you’ve got little ones going back to school this fall, it’s time for an eye exam!

In the back-to-school rush, this is easy to forget about, but it’s absolutely vital to ensure your child remains fully able to keep up in class. To a child, what they see is “normal.” A child’s vision could be wildly out-of-focus, and they’d never know because what they see is literally all they have ever seen.

So a child is unlikely to complain about eye problems in the same way they would about a toothache, or a flu.

That’s why it’s important to take children for a yearly eye exam, before the start of a new school year. It can prevent numerous problems that can arise over the course of a school year.

What You’re Preventing With Yearly Summertime Eye Exams

1 – Poorer Grades

Reading is, of course, one of the true cornerstones of our educational system. A student who is unable to focus their eyes on both a book at their desk and the whiteboard up front is going to be at significantly higher risk of falling behind during classroom work. If left unnoticed long enough, vision problems can even create serious deficiencies in a child’s reading ability.

2 – Behavioral Issues

Poor vision is also linked to behavioral problems. There are several causes for this, but they can all add up to a child “getting in trouble” when it’s really their eyes that are the problem.

  • Boredom. If they can’t see/follow what’s happening at the front of the class, they’re more likely to create disruptions to keep themselves occupied.
  • Avoidance. Kids often don’t understand the difference between “can’t read” as in illiterate and “can’t read” because of physical vision problems. So a student with vision trouble may create distractions specifically to “change the subject” away from reading to avoid admitting a seemingly-shameful deficiency.
  • Pain. It’s surprising, but a lot of kids with vision problems experience frequent headaches and still accept them as normal without comment… but it still puts them under stress, and makes them more likely to act out.

Children’s Eye Exams Are Easy!

Vision checkups today are quick, simple, cheap, and totally painless. Some computerized systems can do them in just a few moments. Eye exams are an easy addition to your back-to-school schedule, and can pay off across an entire school year. Schedule your eye check up with your Phoenix Optometrist today!

Children’s Eye Health And Safety Month

Childrens_Eye_HealthAre you staying on top of your children’s eye health?

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, just in time for back-to-school activities.  If your child is more than a year old, this is an excellent time to take them in for an eye exam!  After all, vision trouble is one of the leading causes of unnecessary behavioral problems in school, and can even contribute to poor grades.

Besides that, what other activities can a parent engage in to help protect their child’s eyesight?  We’ve got some suggestions!

Four Ways To Protect Your Children’s Eye Health

1 – Talk to your child about eye safety.

This is one of the basic things, but commonly overlooked.  You can’t protect your child’s eyes 24/7.  It’s vital to teach them how precious their vision is, especially in terms of using protective eyewear whenever their eyes might be at risk

2 – Model good behavior.

Those talks go down better if the child’s parents are showing how things should be done.  Make sure you and your spouse are always using protective goggles, such as when working with fireworks or around machinery.

3 – Require sports goggles for physical outdoor play.

Broadly speaking, we wish every child playing baseball or hockey -or any other sport with small flying objects- were using goggles.  A single accidental impact can ruin an eye, or an eye socket.

And no one has the reflexes to reliably duck a 100mph flying object.  That’s why goalies and catchers wear full facemasks.

However, this is especially relevant if your child already wears corrective lenses.  Damage from flying objects can be made worse by traditional glasses or contacts.  Prescription sports goggles truly are the only safe option here.

4 – Watch for the following warning signs.

Generally speaking, a child’s eyes should develop “by themselves” without the need for parental intervention.  After all, we’ve been doing it for a very long time.   However, if you see any of the following in your child, you should contact an eye doctor:

  • Pink or bloodshot eyes
  • Yellow-tinted “whites” of their eyes
  • Mismatched coloration
  • Miscolored or mirror-like pupils
  • Visible cysts or lesions around the eyelid
  • Consistently mis-aimed or uncoordinated eyes
  • Excessive tearing, especially when not truly crying
  • Moving nearer/further from objects to read them

Remember, children’s eye health is crucial because they only get one set of eyes.  Don’t hesitate to contact your Phoenix Optometrist if you have any concerns!

Blood Pressure And Eye Care

Eye_CareIt’s easy for people to think that eye care only relates to the eyes, but in fact, the eyes are closely linked to many bodily systems.  Diseases in the body can often have adverse effects in the eyes, and that’s certainly true of high blood pressure.

Someone with untreated blood pressure problems and/or hypertension is likely doing damage to their eyesight.  Worse, many of the vision problems associated with hypertension are irreversible, although many can be controlled with medication.

Common Eye Care Issues Stemming From High Blood Pressure

Hypertensive Retinopathy

Retinopathy is a condition where the blood vessels in the back of the eye burst from high pressure.  This damages vision in two different ways: lack of blood flow to the eye reduces its effectiveness and, left untreated, the interior of the eye can begin to fill with blood.

Damage done by retinopathy cannot be repaired, only mitigated with corrective lenses.  So far, rebuilding damaged eyes is beyond the ability of science.

High Intra-Ocular Pressure (IOP)

The increased blood pressure won’t only affect the backs of the eyes, but can eventually cause the eyes themselves to start (slowly) expanding, especially if excess fluid begins to leak into the eye.

This can damage virtually any part of the eye, and is a leading cause of glaucoma – the destruction of the most sensitive areas of the retina.   Glaucoma can be controlled with drugs but, as with retinopathy, any damage done is basically permanent.

Symptoms And Prevention

There’s also bad news here for those with undiagnosed or untreated hypertension:  By the time you’re experiencing vision problems, damage has already been done.  The only “early warning signs” would be headaches or ocular soreness that are indistinguishable from harmless common eye-strain.

Otherwise, the first major warning sign is usually blurriness around the edges of a person’s vision, or less-commonly, visible blood on/in the eye.

Hypertension Care IS Eye Care

It’s really this simple:  Male or female, you should be monitoring your blood pressure with regular checkups.  If you’re suffering from hypertension, it must be kept under control.  Otherwise, the longer a person has untreated hypertension, the more real and irreversible damage they’re doing to their eyesight.

Keep a close watch on your blood pressure, and make sure to tell your Phoenix Optometrist if you’re diagnosed with hypertension so they can update your care accordingly.

 

Eye Care Concerns In Babies

Eye_CareProper children’s eye care is a common concern among parents.  However, the good news is that in most cases, there’s not that much a parent has to do in terms of their child’s vision in the first year.  While there are a few issues to watch for, generally speaking, a child’s eyes take care of themselves for the first year.

In fact, many of the eye care concerns new parents have aren’t really issues at all.

Problems And Non-Problems During Early Vision Development

It’s important to think of a child’s vision in terms of milestones.  Like every other part of their body, their eyes are still developing and their brains are still figuring out how to use their eyes.

The First Few Months

For the first three months of a baby’s life, their eyes will have very limited ability to focus.  Babies can only focus about 8-10 inches from their face.  Likewise, they’ll have trouble getting their eyes to coordinate.  It’s not at all uncommon for a baby to go cross-eyed or wall-eyed every now and then.

By about 4-5 months, a baby should be able to focus on objects a few feet away, as well as following moving objects with their eyes.  Parents who want to encourage good vision development should focus on moving objects around for babies to look at.

Five To Eight Months

This is when a child should develop 3-dimensional vision and begin being able to accurately reach out and grab for things.  Grabbing will start around 3-4 months, but will be initially unfocused and uncontrolled.  Again, this is totally normal:  Their brains still have to sort out the 3D world around them.

Then, by 8-12 months, they should be displaying decent hand-eye coordination and -in particular- will start becoming skilled at throwing objects.  This is the big clue that their 3D sight is working properly.

Warning Signs

There are a few symptoms a parent should beware of, which aren’t part of normal eye development:

  • Consistently red/splotchy eyes can indicate infection.
  • Excess tears, especially when not truly crying.
  • Frequent or constantly misaimed eyes past 3-4 months.
  • High sensitivity to light past 6 months.
  • Cysts or styes on eyelids.
  • White pupils, or yellow “whites.”

Whether you find these symptoms or not, your child’s first eye care appointment should happen around 10-12 months.  Once their eyes have had time to develop, it’s time to contact your Phoenix Optometrist for their first checkup!

Does Diabetes Affect Vision?

Eye_DoctorsIt’s unfortunate, but if you have diabetes, it means you’re at a significantly elevated risk of some forms of vision problems.  It’s important for diabetics to maintain regular visits to their eye doctors, because their vision is more likely than most to degrade as the years go by.

In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people between ages 20 and 74.  Largely speaking, however, true blindness only threatens those who aren’t properly managing their disease.  Like other elements of diabetes, proper care minimizes risks to your vision.

Diabetic Vision Problems Your Eye Doctors Can Diagnose

The largest vision problem stemming from diabetes is swelling in the eyeball, due to increased amounts of glucose.  Patients with unbalanced blood sugar may experience temporary vision blurring, which goes away when their levels balance.

Cataracts are one of the biggest concerns.  Patients with diabetes get them earlier, and they’re often thicker.  They’re caused by damage to the eyeball as it swells and contracts with blood sugar levels.

That said, corrective surgery is pretty much the same in all cases, although there is also greater chance of future cataracts.

Glaucoma is the other vision problem most commonly associated with diabetes.  It develops due to fluid buildup within the eye, behind the iris, which throws off a person’s ability to focus.

Glaucoma is 100% treatable, and usually just with medication.  Although, in severe cases, draining the fluid may also be needed.

Finally, retinoplasty is the third major form of eye disease that commonly comes from diabetes.  It is also in many ways the most serious, because if it’s not caught early, it absolutely can lead to blindness.

The swelling that diabetes causes extends to blood vessels as well, and sufficient pressure can cause blood vessels at the back of the eye to burst, hemorrhaging blood into the eyeball.  Usually it starts small, with microscopic blood vessels and tiny amounts of blood.  Left untreated, larger vessels burst, and  it can ruin an eye.  Or both.

Proper management of blood sugar reduces the risk significantly.  Those with daily insulin shots, or insulin pumps, are 50%-75% less likely to develop retinoplasty.  Their chances of other diabetes-related vision problems decrease as well.

Do Your Eye Doctors Know About Your Diabetes?

If not, this is the time to tell them.  Diabetics are at higher risk of a range of vision problems, making this crucial information to your Phoenix Optometrist.

Which Contact Lenses Are Right For Me?

Contact_lensesSo, you’re interested in contact lenses for yourself or your children?  They can be an excellent investment for people who want discrete vision correction.  Most people never know when you’re wearing contacts, and there are even options that change the appearance of your eyes as well.

Today, there are several different types of contact lenses on the market.  But how do you know which is right for you?

Choosing The Right Contact Lens For You

1 – Rigid Gas Permeable 

RGP, or “hard” contact lenses, are the oldest style of contact lens still in use.  These carry with them many of the drawbacks associated with contact lenses:  They’re a bit less comfortable to wear, they have to be taken out at night, and they have to be cleaned daily.

There are two main benefits to RGPs:  First, they work with any sort of eye or vision problem.  Second, because of their rigidity, they can in some cases prevent progressive vision problems by encouraging the eyeball to hold its shape.

2 – Soft Contacts 

Soft lenses conform to the shape of your eye, making them more comfortable and easier to wear for extended periods.  Some soft lenses can be worn for up to a week straight, even while asleep, without being removed.  Their shape-changing comfort, however, means they cannot slow vision loss like RGPs can.

These are a good “all around” option, especially for children who may have trouble dealing with RGPs.

3 – Disposable Contacts 

Disposable lenses are almost always “soft” lenses.  These are the most expensive option on the market for eye wear – costing about $1-$2 per day – but also offer the most convenience.

These are excellent for people who only occasionally wear contacts, such as for formal appearances.  However, be careful.  Because disposables are meant to be thrown out, their edges wear down quickly and can become dangerously sharp.

4 – Bi- or Tri-Focals

If you need multiple lenses, you can still get contacts!  Depending on your needs, optometrists have several options.  You could get contacts with the traditional “over / under” style of lens.  Or, in special cases, a patient might get two different lenses, creating a “far-sighted eye” and a “near-sighted eye” that, together, combine into a single clear image in their brain.  (With a little adjustment.)

There are plenty of options! Talk to your Phoenix Optometrist for more information on what contacts might be right for you.

Genetics And Your Eye Health

Eye_HealthCan your family’s medical history have an influence over your own eye health, or that of your children? Unfortunately, it is so.

There are several known eye-related medical problems that have strong genetic factors. If these are in your family’s history, you and the rest of your family are going to have a higher chances of seeing those same problems. Knowing your own medical lineage is important, because you can tell an optometrist what to look for.

Common Eye Health Disorders With A Genetic Basis

1 – Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is one of the most common causes of blindness in people as they age. The macula is a circular region at the center-back of your eyeballs, which contains the most dense collection of light-sensing rods and cones in your eye. The macula is necessary for all types of vision, day and night.

AMD is the slow and steady breakdown of this region, leading to reduced vision and eventually blindness. It currently cannot be halted or reversed, but it can be slowed significantly if caught early. It’s also very strongly influenced by genetic factors.

2 – Glaucoma

Glaucoma is one of the other major forms of adult blindness, and it’s also been definitively linked to several genetic markets. Glaucoma is caused by damage to the ocular nerve itself, coming out the back of the eyeball, usually due to increased vascular (blood) pressure.

Unlike AMD, Glaucoma is 100% treatable with medication.

3 – Strabismus (Ocular Misalignment)

Strabismus covers nearly any situation where two eyes are misaligned, or cannot move together. Roughly 40% of children who are “cross-eyed” or “wall-eyed” or have other misalignments are carrying genetic traits for this.

Strabismus is usually obvious from birth, and can be corrected in a number of ways during childhood.

4 – Other Indicators

Eye issues can also indicate non-ocular genetic conditions. For example:

  • Yellow eyes indicate jaundice, or other serious liver disorders.
  • Dislocated lenses can confirm Marfan syndrome.
  • A bright red ‘blood’ spot in the eye is a telltale sign of Tay-Sachs.
  • Retinopathy, a symptom of diabetes, involves blood vessels hemorrhaging into the eye.

Know Your History!

If you have never inquired into your family’s eye health history, now may be a good time. Knowing your genetic background makes it easier for your Phoenix Optometrist to spot vision problems in time for treatment.

Eye Safety In The Summer!

Eye_SafetyIt probably comes as no surprise, but eye injuries are most common in the summer, especially among children. Eye safety is always an important concern, but special care should be taken during summer activities. It’s all too easy for a small accident to turn into an ocular emergency.

Whether it’s for you or your child, here are a few great tips for protecting your eyesight during summertime fun!

Eye Safety In The Summer: Four Hot Tips

1. Wear Goggles In Any Sports

A pair of sports goggles is a good investment for anyone who plays outdoor sports and needs corrective lenses. Glasses and contacts can both be shattered in the case of an impact, such as from a baseball or basketball. This makes an accidental head shot far more likely to cause eye damage.

Sports goggles, however, are reinforced to resist shattering, even in high-speed collisions. They’re the only safe option when flying objects are part of the game.

2. Immediately Flush Eyes Of Foreign Objects  

If someone ends up in the dirt and foreign materials get in their eye, the most important thing is to not rub them. We have an instinct to do so, but this can easily damage our corneas with scratching or tearing. Simply flush the eye with water (or saline eye-drops) while blinking rapidly until the particles are cleared.

3. Use Masks In The Water

One of the most common sources of eye infections is from swimming, especially with eyes open underwater. A properly Ph-balanced pool should be germ-free, but the chemicals in the water can still irritate the eye – remember, you’re pouring acid in that pool. And, of course, exposing your eyes directly to untreated water, like lakes or oceans, is an incredibly bad idea.

Swim masks or (non-corrective) goggles can prevent a lot of needless eye infections among swimmers.

4. Fireworks Are Always Dangerous

Please take caution when using any sort of fireworks. Even common sparklers can cause eye damage, if a spark makes a direct hit. Anyone working with any sort of fireworks should be wearing protective eyewear. Even wearing your glasses, rather than contacts, will help a lot here.

Stay Safe This Summer!

Your eye safety should be paramount in any summer activities.  In the case of any eye emergency that can’t be fixed with water, your next step should be to call your Phoenix Optometrist immediately for further advice.