Prevent Dry Eyes this Cold Season

Dry EyeDry eyes might not be a terribly debilitating condition on their own, but with cold season in full swing, they can lead to more severe problems.  People with dry eyes tend to rub them a lot, for one thing, which is unhygienic and encourages eye infections.

It’s best to do everything you can to keep your eyes well-hydrated from the outset, but it’s especially important when you have a cold.  Here are a few tips…

Keep Your Eyes Moist And Happy This Cold Season

1 – Approved Eye Drops

There are few better ways to combat dry eyes than with simple eye drops, available from virtually any pharmacy or convenience store.  However, only use fluids specifically designed to be put in your eyes – anything else may carry contaminants that do more harm than good.

2 – Air Humidifiers

During the Fall and Winter, a portable air humidifier will do a lot to keep some moisture in the air within your house, which in turn helps keep your eyes well-lubricated.  They’ll dry out more quickly in places with extremely low humidity.  (This is also true for doctor’s offices, airplanes, and other areas relying on recirculated air.)

3 – Lower Your Computer \ TV Screen

Here’s one you may not have known:  When your screen is above eye level, you open your eyes wider to see it.  This, naturally, leads to eyes drying out more quickly.  Keep the screen below eye level, and your eyelids will lower over the top part of your eye.

4 – Take Breaks From Eye-Intensive Activities

Reading, video games, close-up handiwork, and any other activity that requires constant sight work will tend to dry out eyes quickly.  Taking a break every hour or so will keep your eyes dry, especially if you take a couple minutes to close them so they can re-lubricate.

5 – Stop Smoking And/Or Avoid Smokers

Cigarette smoke is terrible for the eyes, as well as most every other part of the body.  Keep your eyes away from smoke at all times.

Remember: You only get one set of eyes.  Keep them protected to preserve your sight!

Symptoms Of Early Cataracts

Male ophthalmologist conducting an eye examinationOne of the many conditions that can be detected through yearly eye exams is the early onset of cataracts. This painless but sight-stealing condition happens to many people as they age, but can also affect a younger person. Here are the symptoms that should prompt an immediate call to the optometrist.

Cloudy Vision

As a cataract begins to develop, the changes are very slight. The lens of your eye becomes cloudy, and you may not catch it for a while. Vision in low light conditions may start to be noticeably difficult, and you may catch yourself squinting during nighttime driving. This is exactly the type of symptom that annual eye exams are designed to detect, since the doctor will notice them well before they can cause you trouble.

Sudden Shift in Vision

Have you been nearsighted most of your life, or had issues seeing up close? A sudden change in your ability to see near and far may indicate a cataract. This generally points to a more advanced condition, and your sight is likely to decline further from that point.

Glares and Halos

Night vision can be quite a challenge once cataracts begin to form. Not only can dark conditions make it difficult to see shapes and surfaces, but the glare from light sources (such as headlights and street lamps) can be nearly blinding. A bright ring will encircle light sources and may cause you to be temporarily blinded. Night driving can be quite a hazardous activity for those who have forming cataracts.

Double Vision

Last but not least, a symptom such as double vision is a strong indicator of cataract formation. This often happens in the beginning of the cataract’s life cycle, and may eventually fade as the cataract develops over time.

Early formation of cataracts can be brought on by diabetes, cancer treatments using radiation, and lifestyle choices such as alcohol and tobacco use. If you fall into any of those categories, eye exams are even more important for you. If you develop any of the above symptoms, call your Phoenix optometrist right away.

Young People Can Get Glaucoma Too

Doctor Examining Child's Eyes In Doctor's OfficeGlaucoma is a common condition of the eye. It is caused by damage to the ocular nerve, which is located in the back of the eyeball. Although there can be several causes, increased fluid pressure within the eye is the most common.

It can strike people of any age, so it’s important to know about this critical vision problem.

Glaucoma: A Vision Threat To All Ages

Because it is associated with “old age” conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, there’s a common misconception that glaucoma only affects the elderly. Unfortunately, this is not true.

While glaucoma is more likely to affect older people, it can happen at any age. In fact, roughly 1 in 10,000 babies are born with it congenitally.

Glaucoma is also one of the most common forms of blindness, and it’s largely treatable. The problem is that without regular eye checkups, it can go undetected for years. By the time a person’s glaucoma gets bad enough to begin causing noticeable vision problems, their vision is permanently damaged.

Caught early on, glaucoma can be treated with medication at a near-perfect success rate. However, according to research, half of people with glaucoma don’t know it.

This is just one of the reasons that getting a vision screening for your children is so important, even at a young age. Eye disorders can usually be detected at 12-18 months, and corrected before they cause permanent problems.

Additionally, there may be a higher risk of glaucoma in:

  • Those with a family history of the disease
  • Children with diabetes
  • Severely nearsighted children
  • African Americans (who are 8-10 times more likely to be affected)

Anyone in these groups will be at elevated risk of glaucoma throughout their lives.

Glaucoma Is Preventable With Regular Eye Checkups

It is truly important to remember that in many cases glaucoma shows no symptoms for years, or even decades. It is crucial to catch it before enough damage is done to the optic nerve that it harms vision. Only regular eye exams can ensure it’s caught early enough to treat.

Remember to have your child’s vision checked at least once a year. It’s quick, easy, painless and can help them avoid a lifetime of vision problems. Make your appointment with your Phoenix Optometrist today!

Tips To Prepare For An Eye Exam

Eye ExamOne of the most common questions we hear from new patients (especially those who are a bit nervous) is, “what do I have to do to prepare myself for an eye exam?”

Well, the good news is that there’s very little real preparation that is necessary. Eye exams are quick and painless, usually only taking a few minutes at most. A child as young as 12-18 months can, and should, have an eye exam. It’s one of the least demanding medical procedures a person could undergo.

If you want to prepare for the exam, the most important thing to bring with you is information. Here are some of the things that an eye doctor might want to know. Being prepared can help them create a more accurate diagnosis of your eyesight.

Three Things An Optometrist Wants To Know About Your Eyes:

1 – Family Medical History 

Ocular problems are an early warning sign for many forms of disease, including maladies like diabetes, which are not directly related to vision. If you have a history of diabetes, glaucoma, strokes, high blood pressure or similar problems that are passed down genetically, you should tell your eye doctor during the exam.

2 – How You Use Your Eyes

Take a moment before the appointment and reflect on how you use your eyes during the day. How much time do you spend staring at computer screens, or printed materials? Do you more often focus on things up close or far away? Are you doing a lot of precise detailed work?

Being able to tell your optometrist these things may help them decide on the right prescription if, for example, you need corrective lenses. Your lenses should comfortably fit your lifestyle.

3 – Previous Vision Problems

If you’ve had any issues with your vision in the past, your eye exam is the time to mention them. This would include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Grey-outs or loss of vision
  • Extreme / frequent eye strain, pain or headaches
  • Difficulties with night vision or “halos” around lights
  • Physical alterations such as coloration

Telling your eye doctor about previous problems helps clue them into things to look for when examining your eyes.

The next time you have an upcoming eye exam, you have nothing to worry about. If you have any further questions, ask a qualified Phoenix optometrist.

Vision After 40: What To Expect

Phoenix OptometristAsk any Phoenix optometrist and they’ll tell you the same story: With a few lucky exceptions, nearly everyone’s eyesight will slowly get worse over time. Changes in the body as it ages can cause the eyes to change, and even minor alterations to the eyeball’s shape will cause big shifts in vision.

While proper eye care in youth can help stave off or slow down the progressive effects, nothing can truly halt the aging process of the eyes. As someone passes 40, they’re likely to start experiencing new vision problems.

If you’re nearing this critical period of your life, here are a few things you should know about your vision as you age.

Quick Notes On Middle-Age Vision Problems From Your Phoenix Optometrist

1 – Reduced Near Vision

A person is much more likely to lose close-up vision as the years pass and their eyes slowly change shape. There’s really not much that can be done other than transitioning into reading glasses and/or bifocals.

For this reason, regular eye exams become more important after 40 – your eyesight can, and most likely will, start requiring higher-powered lenses.

2 – Menopause

Obviously this is just for the ladies. Menopause will almost certainly bring on new vision challenges. Any “bloating” or water-retention will affect the eyes, and cause them to lose focus. It is also fairly common for post-menopausal women to have issues with dry eyes.

3 – Diabetic Conditions

Diabetes is the #1 cause of degenerative vision problems later in life, and it can contribute to both glaucoma and macular degeneration. If you have a history of diabetes in your family it is important to mention it to your Phoenix optometrist, even if you haven’t been diagnosed yourself.

Eye conditions can, in fact, be early warning signs of late-onset diabetes.

4 – Pharmaceutical Side-Effects

Finally, here’s something to keep in mind that is often overlooked: Many of the common pharmaceuticals prescribed to middle-aged patients can have ocular side-effects. Medications for blood pressure, depression or anxiety, thyroid conditions, or even arthritis can subtly affect your eyes.

If you notice vision problems after beginning a new medication, be sure to tell your doctor or optometrist as soon as possible.

Need More Help?

We’re here to answer your questions! All the advice you need from a great Phoenix optometrist is only a click away!

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.