Improve Your Eyesight

It’s a question heard in optometry clinics around the world: “Doc, can I improve my eyesight without lenses?”

It’s somewhat of a “yes and no” question. But at the end of the day, it’s more ‘no’ than ‘yes’. The vast majority of eyesight problems are progressive and physical in nature. For example, near- and far-sightedness are both caused by the eyeball slowly losing its shape over time, throwing off its internal focus.

Unfortunately, there are no proven non-surgical methods for preventing this sort of vision loss. There are various techniques promoted, generally called “The Bates Method,” which promise “natural” eyesight improvement. However, controlled optometry tests have failed to ever show these techniques to be effective.

Nearly all the best tips for improving your eyesight are preventative: Not looking at the sun, wearing protective goggles when appropriate, and so on. Preventing eye damage is the best way to “improve” your eyesight.

Nonetheless, there are still a couple things you can do:

Eye_Care

Eat For Healthy Eyes 

If there is an inarguable way to improve your eyesight, it’s through your diet. The ability of your eyes to quickly adapt to high- and low-light conditions is specifically tied to what you eat.

Dark green and yellow-orange vegetables are the key here. Spinach, kale, pumpkins, and carrots are just a few of the veggies that legitimately promote better eyesight. Adding them to your diet will definitely help your eyes.

Hard Contact Lenses

Progressive vision loss can be slowed in some cases with hard contact lenses. While less comfortable to wear for long periods than gas-permeable “soft” lenses, hard lenses force your eyes to maintain their proper shape.

It doesn’t exactly “improve” your eyesight, but optometry has demonstrated it will slow down your vision loss.

Returning Home after Cataract Surgery

Every year, an estimated three million Americans have cataract surgery as part of their eye care. Once a major operation, it is now a safe and nearly-painless outpatient procedure that results with better than a 99% success rate. In most cases, it won’t take more than a few hours.

However, there are still a few things that patients should keep in mind when looking at cataract surgery. Proper eye care over the next few days will ensure the surgery is a success.

Caring For Your Eyes After Cataract Surgery

1 – Find a ride home.

After cataract surgery, you’ll be woozy from the anesthesia, and your vision will be significantly impaired for a minimum of a day. Driving home safely in these circumstances is absolutely impossible, so you must have a ride.

2 – Use your prescriptions.

You’ll almost certainly be given eyedrops to keep your eyes hydrated, as well as some anti-inflammatants and antibiotics. As is always the case with prescriptions, follow the label and use the full course of medications to ensure there aren’t complications.

3 – Don’t rub.

For a few days, your eyes may be itchy, or even a bit painful. Please, remember that rubbing them is the worst thing you can do. Your eyedrops and some standard NSAID painkillers (like Advil or Aleve) should be all you need for any discomfort. Rubbing may damage your eyes, and increases chances of infection.

Phoenix_Eye_Care4 – Rest for a week.

It will take around a week for your eyes to heal enough to allow normal vision, although recovery times vary.  If possible, have someone on-call who can help you around the house. During this time, avoid strenuous activity, especially heavy lifting.

Cataract surgery is now routine, and there’s nothing to fear from it.  A little eye care afterwards will ensure your vision is quickly restored!

Preparing for Cataract Surgery in Phoenix

Phoenix_Eye_DoctorsAnyone who practices optometry will tell you that cataract surgery is quick, relatively easy, and virtually free of complications as long as you follow a few simple guidelines. Having eye surgery isn’t fun, but a one-day outpatient procedure can gain you years of clear vision.

So, if you’re looking at cataract surgery in the near future, here’s what you can expect:

Preparing For Your Cataract Surgery

Most of the preparations for cataract surgery is done by your optometrist, such as an ultrasound scan of your eyeballs to determine their exact shape and composition. Barring unusual circumstances, your own contributions will only come within a day of the surgery.

  • Fasting: In most cases, you need to go into surgery with an empty stomach. Unless your optometry provider says otherwise, you’ll have to skip breakfast and potentially dinner the night before.
  • No alcohol: To prevent complications from the anesthetic or potential liver damage, you must abstain from alcohol for at least 24 hours beforehand. No exceptions.
  • Other medications: Be sure to tell your optometrist every medication you’re currently taking. Some may need to be discontinued for a day or two to prevent complications.
  • Time off from work: You’ll need a minimum of a day to recover and regain your vision.  A week’s rest is recommended, if possible.
  • A ride home: You generally won’t have to stay in the clinic for more than a couple hours after surgery, but you will not be able to drive yourself safely that day. Find a ride who can pick up your prescriptions and take you home.

Cataracts once promised blindness, but today, they’re relatively quick and easy to remove. If you have cataracts, don’t be worried about the surgery. Modern optometry has made it easier than ever to repair your vision!

Phoenix Eye Doctors Encourage Regular Eye Exams

Phoenix_Eye_CareIt’s probably no surprise, but Phoenix eye doctors are in agreement: regular eye exams should be part of your yearly health schedule.

After all, our eyes are arguably one of the most important part of our bodies, when it comes to getting along in day-to-day life. They’re also one of the most vulnerable body parts – protection is minimal, and it’s easy for them to be damaged in a variety of ways.

Regular eye exams help prevent vision problems before they occur!

Why Optometrists Say Ocular Checkups Are So Important

1 – Many disorders can be caught early.

Glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and more can all be caught early on, with regular screenings. Good eye care is preventative. You don’t want to have people operating on your eyes if you can help it, because it will always leave your eyes a bit more vulnerable to damage.

2 – Vision problems increase with age.

It’s sad but true: If you have vision problems which require glasses, your eyes will probably get worse over the coming years. Regular eye exams are needed to keep your lens prescriptions current and working properly.

Glasses or contacts that no longer properly correct your vision can also lead to increased eye strain headaches.

3 – Eye doctors can catch other diseases.

The eye is a truly unique organ, because it’s the only place in the body where nerves, blood vessels, and muscles can all be directly observed without any cutting. A trained optometrist can see telltale clues to a number of vascular or neurological conditions just by looking deep into your eyes. (Literally!)

Eye care exams are quick, easy, and totally painless. The appointment itself usually only takes a few minutes. So, if it’s been over a year since your last vision checkup, contact your Phoenix eye doctor for an appointment!

Spring Allergies and Eye Health

Phoenix_OptometryWhile most of us are happy that spring has arrived in Phoenix, spring brings with it a new eye health problem for millions of people: seasonal allergies. The blooms spring bring pollen… and therefore allergies.

The cause of allergies is easy enough to understand – allergy sufferers simply have over-active immune systems. When spring pollens hit, the defense mechanisms in your eyes, nose, and throat mistake it for a threat and start working to expel the “invader.” A runny nose and watery eyes is your body’s way of flushing out the system.

Unfortunately, the process isn’t exactly fun for allergy sufferers, and even potentially carries mild threats to your eye health.

Don’t Rub Those Itchy Eyes!

While it’s tempting, you and your family should try to not rub your eyes too often when suffering from seasonal allergies. The fine particles that fill the spring air can cause microabrasions – tiny tears – on your cornea which can build up over time, contributing to cataracts and other vision problems later in life.

Further, it’s easy to mistake common eye diseases for allergies, especially if you’re expecting spring allergies anyway.  If someone has an eye disease, rubbing their eyes just makes it easier for the disease to infect others. (I think we all know how quickly a pinkeye epidemic can spread!)

Treat Allergies Early And Often

For most people, standard over-the-counter antihistamines are all that are needed to keep seasonal allergies in check. Just remember that a person’s body can and will develop a tolerance to these allergy medications. Try rotating the antihistamines you use every now and then.

Allergies don’t have to be a threat to your eye health at all, as long as you take proper care of your eyes during allergy season!

Contacts vs Glasses

Phoenix_OptometristOne of the most common questions a Phoenix optometrist hears is “Which are better: contacts or glasses?”

Well, both are good options.  It’s really a matter of personal choice, based on what you’re looking for in four key areas.

Vision Improvement

Most importantly: Which does a better job at correcting your vision?

Contacts are the hands-down winner here.  They cover 100% of your vision, with no frames covering your view.  They aren’t blocked by rain or snow like glasses, either.   There are even multi-focal and progressive contacts available.

Care and Usage

Glasses win here, easily.  They can be taken off and on quickly, and require little more than a soft cleaning cloth and a storage case.

While contacts are much easier to use than they were in years past, non-disposable lenses will still require cleanings.

Costs

Glasses are going to be the more affordable option, especially with reasonably-priced frames.  A single pair of glasses can last for years, even decades, with minimal care and no special cleaning products.

Contacts wear out more quickly, meaning more trips to the optometrist.  There are also the ongoing costs of their cleaning fluids.  Disposables eliminate the maintenance, but cost about $1-$2 a day.

Looks

Aesthetics are a matter of preference, but you’ve got a choice here.  Glasses are, of course, a popular fashion choice in virtually any setting.  Wearing them opens up new horizons in accessorizing. Plus, glasses won’t make your eyes red with long use.

On the other hand,  no one has to know you wear contacts at all.  Unless, that is, you wanted to change the apparent color of your eyes… or even their shape.

So, next time you’re looking for corrective lenses, remember to talk to your optometrist about the benefits of both choices for your family!

Vitamins For Your Kids’ Eye Health

Kids_Eye_CareFor decades, Phoenix parents have known that vitamins help children thrive with fewer health problems, but can vitamins also protect your kids’ eye health?

Very possibly!

Currently, the scientific research that’s been conducted has shown good reason to believe that a regimen of vitamins early in childhood may prolong eyesight into adulthood. They appear to slow down the development of progressive problems like myopia or macular degeneration.

While the evidence is not yet entirely conclusive, there’s a lot of reason to think that vitamins can help your kids’ eye health!

The Benefits Of Vitamins And Minerals To The Eyes

Vitamin C: Typically found in citrus fruits, Vitamin C is vital for our immune systems. Vitamin C appears to slow the development of cataracts, as a lack of Vitamin C directly harms the eye.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is well-known as an antioxidant, preventing breakdown of the body’s cells as we age. The beta-keratin in carrots, which is necessary for our night vision, is actually a form of Vitamin A.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is another anti-oxidant, like Vitamin A. While necessary for ocular health and immune system strength, supplements are rarely required.

Zinc: We require the metal zinc in small quantities, and it helps create the melanin pigment which protects our eyes. (Warning: A few people have zinc allergies and can become dangerously ill from zinc supplements.)

Copper: In some rare cases, copper deficiency can degrade the eyesight. However, supplements are usually not needed.

Vitamins Do The Body Good

Of course, keep in mind that there’s really no reason not to protect your child’s health with multivitamins. There are already plenty of arguments to be made for children’s vitamin regimens.

There is strong evidence that vitamins probably protect your kids’ eye health – just one more reason to use them!

Can Your Eye Health Predict Other Health Problems?

Eye_DoctorsThere are plenty of things that make our eyes unique, but they’re especially useful for  Phoenix eye doctors and diagnosticians of every stripe. Did you know, there are a variety of diseases which can be detected through your eyes, even if the disease isn’t specifically ocular.

It’s just one more reason that regular eye exams are so important: you see the early warning signs of other diseases.

Things Your Eye Health Can Say About Your Body Health

1 – Yellowing Eyes

Jaundice is a condition most parents are familiar with, since it’s common in children, but it can strike nearly anyone.  If a person’s liver isn’t properly filtering toxins, a yellowish tinge to the skin or eyes is one of the first warning signs.  Definitely mention this to your doctor if you’ve seen the symptom.

2 – Bulging Eyes

While some relatively harmless conditions can cause bulging eyes from birth (see: Marty Feldman), eyes that begin to bulge over time usually indicate hyper-thyroidism.  An overactive thyroid gland is easily treated with medication, but can cause numerous health problems, including obesity and heart problems.

3 – Sudden Double-Vision Or Visual Loss

A sudden change in the functioning of the eyes, without any other obvious cause, is usually a sign of serious problems in the brain such as a stroke.  If you or your children experience significant visual loss that persists more than a few minutes, seek emergency medical care ASAP.

4 – Diabetes

People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to have eye health problems than non-diabetics, including far higher instances of cataracts and glaucoma.  Childhood or teenage glaucoma, for example, is often among the first indicators of diabetes.

What Phoenix Parents should know about Contact lenses

Phoenix_Contact_LensesIf your child needs corrective lenses, there are a lot of reasons they might want contacts rather than glasses. Even today, glasses can still cause self-esteem issues. Or, if your child is in sports, they may worry about accidentally breaking their glasses.

In fact, one of the most common questions we hear at Valley Eyecare Center, “When will my child be ready for contacts?” The basic answer is “any time,” but of course, it’s a little more complex than that.

Frequent Questions About Childhood Contact Lenses

1.  What ages can use contact lenses?

There’s actually no minimum age, because our eyes don’t grow over time. In rare cases, infants have even been fitted with contact lenses.

Usually, the “right age” for contacts is simply whenever the child is capable and responsible enough to use them properly, including cleaning and storage.

2. Hard or soft lenses?

There are two types of contact lenses: soft, and “Rigid Gas Permeable” hard lenses. Each has its advantages. The short version is that soft lenses are generally more comfortable, but RGPs can sometimes slow down the progress of myopic vision loss by maintaining the eye’s proper shape.

3. Are childhood contact lenses more expensive than glasses?

Given the variability of lens and frame pricing, it’s hard to say. Much of the cost depends on the level of vision correction needed. Or, if you’re interested in disposable lenses -which are great for teenagers- the costs usually only come to about $1 a day.

4. Are contact lenses safe for sports?

Yes! Even hard-frame sports lenses are vulnerable to breaking on impact, causing cuts or worse. While the chances of serious injury are quite low in either case, the odds are even further reduced if your child is wearing contacts while they play.

Should You Take a Break from your Glasses?

Eye_Health_PhoenixHere’s a common misconception that is completely invalid: That it’s a good idea to “take a break” from your glasses, or that consistent use of corrective lenses can harm the eyes.

The truth is, wearing corrective lenses can never make your eyesight worse.

Keep Wearing Those Glasses! They Only Help.

Phoenix eye doctors know, eyesight problems are ultimately physical in nature. They’re caused by changes to your eyeballs over time and as you age.

Damage to the outer layers can build up over time. Your eyes can slowly go egg-shaped, throwing off their focus. Diseases can damage the inner surface or the nerve connections linking your mind to your eyes.

Occasionally, even neurological problems can harm one’s eyesight – but not corrective lenses. These simply attempt to adjust for problems that have already occurred.

Instead, most people tend to mistake simple eye strain for eyesight damage.

Eye Strain Is Not Permanent

People often forget that their eyes include a system of muscles, controlling their eyes’ movements, blinking, and focus. If you overwork your eyes, they can feel sore for the same basic reasons that jogging makes your legs burn.

That’s why, for example, many people get headaches from “3D” movies and video games. The illusion of depth causes folks to refocus their eyes constantly, leading to an ocular “workout” that they don’t even realize is happening!

If you’re feeling the effects of eye strain, don’t push your eyes unnecessarily. Phoenix eye doctors suggest to take off your glasses for a few minutes, or close your eyes to rest them. Otherwise, simple NSAID painkillers (like Aspirin or Aleve) are usually all you need for an eye strain headache.

However, if you or someone in your family experiences frequent or extreme eye strain headaches, it may be time to contact your Phoenix eye doctor for a checkup.