How Does Diabetes Affect Glaucoma?

Optometrist_PhoenixAs January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, it’s a great time to educate yourself on this serious eye health risk. If you or a loved one have Diabetes, chances are good that you’ve heard eye problems like this one are an associated hazard. What you may not understand is why the two are connected and how they may be managed together.

The Connection

Your eye’s structure includes many tiny blood vessels and drainage canals. For a diabetic patient with difficulty controlling their blood sugar, eye problems often result due to swelling of these vulnerable tissues. Glaucoma occurs as fluid fails to drain through the swollen canals and internal eye pressure sharply increases. The nerves of the eye are damaged as a result and the patient may lose partial or total sight.

Symptoms

One of the greatest problems with Glaucoma is that a victim may have little or no symptoms until it’s too late and permanent vision loss has occurred. Others may be fortunate to have signs before this happens and could experience headaches, unusual changes in vision, watery eyes or halos that appear around light sources. It’s important to act quickly and get to your ophthalmologist right away should you notice symptoms like these.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Be sure that your eye doctor knows about your diabetic condition as this will help him or her perform the right tests and be alert for eye conditions related to diabetes. To diagnose Glaucoma, the doctor may perform tests like eye pressure measurement or checking for optic nerve problems in addition to monitoring vision changes.

If your eye doctor confirms that you are developing the condition, you may be given prescription eye drops or oral medication to reduce your eye pressure. You may be referred to a specialist for laser eye surgery to correct drainage or eye circulation issues. For diabetics, the annual eye exam can mean the difference between blindness and sight. Follow your exam schedule and do your best to keep your blood sugar controlled.

Glaucoma can be a silent thief of sight for a diabetic patient. If you are diabetic, discuss your risks of this disease and other related eye health issues so that you can prevent vision loss and ensure that your eyes are healthy for years to come.

Digital Fatigue And Your Vision

In past decades, eye strain was a far less common condition than in current society. The problem was generally only found in people with occupational hazards of close-up work. Thanks to the trend of 24/7 technology, today’s story is significantly different. Here’s what you should know about preventing and treating this troublesome eye health hazard.

Eye_CareCauses

The increasing use of all things technology is a major contributor to the occurrence of eye strain, found across multiple generations. Smartphones, tablets, Google Glass, e-readers and portable video games force you to hone in on a very close screen. To amplify the problem, people are so zoned in on this close-range object that they fail to look away and let their eyes’ lenses flex and relax.

Symptoms

If you’ve ever backed away from your computer and felt the need to rub your eyes, chances are that you’ve suffered from eye strain. Burning eyes or eyes that feel very tired are common sensations after focusing on a screen for too long. You may develop a headache or migraine or feel your back and neck becoming stiff and sore. After too long of a screen session you may feel as if you can’t focus well.

Prevention and Treatment

A simple way to help prevent eye strain is to follow the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes of close-up or screen work, look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.  This allows your eyes to relax and reduces the chance of digital fatigue. You can even get an app to remind you to take your 20/20/20 break!

Shutting down electronics at least an hour before bed and making sure you are getting the best quality sleep possible is important for your eye health. You may also need to make modifications to your work environment to ensure good lighting and properly positioned screens in your workspace. Your eye doctor may recommend filters for your monitor or glasses that reduce the glare from your screen.

Digital fatigue is a very real issue. Give your eyes a break from technology as much as possible and talk to your optometrist about other ways you can reduce eye strain.

3 Things You Should Know About Children’s Eye Health

Childrens_Eye_HealthChildren’s eye health is a complicated topic as kids often cannot express when something is wrong with their vision. Childhood eye issues can have a permanent impact on a person’s life and should be handled with urgency and expert care. Here is what you should know about kids’ eye care.

Signs of a Vision Problem

When a child begins developing a vision problem, he or she may not be able to tell you what is happening. Parents and educators must be vigilant for signs of trouble. These red flags include more obvious signs like squinting and holding books very close to the face but also may present as learning delays or social issues. Kids may avoid participating in activities that require good close-up or distant vision. They may complain of headaches or rub their eyes a lot. Colorblind children may choose the wrong colors when drawing and coloring pictures of familiar objects.

Vision-Related Learning Problems

Children’s eye health issues could very quickly translate into learning difficulties. Challenges with long distance sight may mean that the child can’t see lessons written on the board at the front of the classroom. Trouble with close objects will result in reading challenges that may be misdiagnosed as learning delays.  Colorblind kids can have problems reading letters printed on certain colors. While schools often have vision screening sessions, they are not comprehensive tests and may miss an important diagnosis.

The Need for Eye Exams

The best way to prevent a children’s eye health issue from becoming a permanent problem is to see an eye doctor on the prescribed schedule based on the child’s age. These important exams help identify issues at their earliest stage and formulate the right plan for correction. Most vision problems can be aided with the right prescription eyewear or use of vision therapy. Your eye doctor can also recommend adapted teaching techniques to overcome issues such as colorblindness.

Children’s eye health is complex and requires attention from infancy onward. If your child shows any of the symptoms mentioned above, schedule an eye exam today to discuss these and their potential solutions.

4 Common Eye Care Problems

Eye_CareIn the office of an eye care specialist, many non-routine visits are the cause of the same culprits. Some conditions are simply annoying while others present a real hazard to your vision. Here is what you should know about four common eye problems.

Dry Eyes

A miserable eye care problem, dry eyes may burn, itch and feel like they are on fire. There are various reasons for dry eyes including allergies, wind, pollution, certain drugs, dry air, some medical conditions or simply age. Workers with heavy computer use may develop dry eye, since less frequent blinking occurs and females may be more prone to dry eye than males. Treatment for dry eye may include antibiotics, artificial tears (only as recommended by your eye doctor), procedures to modify your tear ducts or a lubricating daily eye-insert.

Foreign Particles

Whether it is an errant eyelash or construction debris, having something in your eye is definitely something to cry about. Should you experience this you must be very careful when dealing with the issue. Rubbing your eyes can scratch your cornea — a serious eye care incident that may easily result in vision loss. With clean hands, flush the eye with sterile saline until the debris is washed away and follow up with your eye doctor. If a flush does not help, keep your eye gently closed and have someone drive you to an emergency eye care professional as quickly as possible.

Sty

This painful condition is the result of a swollen or infected gland in your eyelid that looks like a raised and red lump. A sty can be painful and cause the eye to swell, perhaps completely closed. For many people, a hot compress on the eye may relieve the problem. If that method fails, you may need antibiotics from your eye doctor.

Eye Infection

Pink eye is a very common (and quite contagious) type of eye infection. Schools and work environments are incubators for the spread of this irritating infection. Eye infections may be fungal, bacterial, or viral and treatment is different for each type. Change your contacts as scheduled and never touch your eyes with unwashed hands.

Preventing eye care issues is often very easy. Use protective eyewear when needed for work, sports and home chores. Get help for an eye incident right away to prevent permanent damage. Talk to your optometrist for more tips on preventing eye problems.

Eye Care During Safe Toys and Gifts Month

Eye CareWith the holidays upon us, it’s a great time to focus on eye care! As gift-giving opportunities abound, putting some thought into vision safety this season may help save a child’s sight for a lifetime. December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, and a great time for some reminders.

Age-Appropriate Gifts

Purchasing toys should be done with the child’s age range in mind. Toys that shoot projectiles, for example, should never be given to young children. Check any gifts your child receives from other family members to be sure they are appropriate for their age group as well. If kids are playing in mixed age groups monitor play so it doesn’t become too rough for smaller tots, and ensure toys aren’t misused in dangerous ways.

Pre-Play Check

Before giving a child a new toy, be sure to inspect it thoroughly. Moving parts should be securely fastened, there should be no chipping paint or questionably loose surfaces. Eye care professionals warn that defective products pose great danger to children’s vision. Help your child understand how to play with the toy, and supervise for a period of time to ensure they are playing safely and appropriately.

Non-Toxic Chemicals

While it may seem fun to look for unique toys and gifts on the internet, be very aware of where toys are coming from. Products from overseas do not have the same stringent safety requirements as in the U.S. Internationally sold products have been known to use lead paint or other potentially dangerous chemicals that children should not be exposed to. Look for the label “non-toxic” anytime you purchase toys or art supplies for a child, especially for those of younger ages. In addition, be aware of the hazard that vintage toys may present because of poor design or unsafe and chipping paint.

Keep an eye on vision safety when giving to children this holiday season! For more advice on eye health this Safe Toys and Gifts Month, please consult your eye care professional.

 

4 Eye Care New Year Resolutions to Keep

The New Year is almost here, so don’t forget your eyesight and eye care when making resolutions.

Your eyes are one of the most vital and most easily injured parts of the body. Make a few resolutions to protect them, and ensure your healthy eyesight for years to come!

Four Eye Care Resolutions For The New Year:

1 – I Will Get An Eye Checkup

With every year you get older, your need for an annual eye exam will increase. This isn’t just about keeping track of your vision’s accuracy. Certain eye conditions are early warning signs of other health concerns including diabetes and some neurological disorders.

Eye CareThe eye is a place in the body where a doctor can, without incision, directly observe muscles, blood vessels and nerve bundles in one place. Your eyes are also a window to your body’s overall health.

2 – I Will Get New Lenses When Needed

A lot of people keep old glasses as backups, or break a pair and then simply go back to their previous prescription. This is extremely stressful on the eyes, and can contribute to long-term degeneration form the increased eye strain.

Don’t use an old prescription any longer than is absolutely necessary. Keep your prescription current.

3 – I Will Always Wear Protective Goggles

When playing sports, working around heavy machinery or in an area with a lot of particles in the air, you need protective goggles and/or sports lenses. Your eyes are among one of the most vulnerable spots on your entire body.

Don’t take unnecessary risks. Wear protective goggles any time your eyes might be at risk.

4 – I Will Eat More Eye-Friendly Foods

Good eye care can be as basic as watching the things you eat. Certain foods like dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, and red and orange vegetables such as carrots and some squashes, are heavy in the nutrients your eyes need to stay healthy and properly adjust to the light/dark.

There’s also a fair amount of research suggesting Omega-3 fish oil, whether distilled or from the fish, will improve the long-term health of your eyes.

Eye Health Is A Year-Round Concern

Good eye care today will pay off in improved vision in your later years. Make these eye care resolutions part of your routine, and you’ll enjoy better eyesight in the future!

Holiday Eye Safety Tips

Eye SafetyThis holiday season eye safety may not be your foremost concern. However, this time of year can be dangerous for your eyes due to toys, sports and other potential hazards. Here’s how you can protect your precious sight during the holidays.

Age-Appropriate Gifts

Giving presents recommended for the child’s age group is incredibly important. Small children can get hurt very easily playing with toys that fire projectiles, are meant to be thrown or have sharp edges. Supervising kids of different age groups as they play is also helpful to make sure play doesn’t become too rough, and that toys aren’t misused. An avoidable eye injury can put a damper on your child’s holiday spirit.

Cooking Safety

With so much work to do in preparation for holiday parties, you may find yourself in front of the stove for long periods of time. Be cautious of boiling sauces, steaming pots and splattering grease as you work. Any of these hazards could burn your eye or the surrounding skin, which is incredibly painful and may cause vision loss.

Sports Protection

Part of the fun of the holidays is time spent with family and friends. Keep eye safety in mind while you play. Make sure everyone is equipped with safety eyewear while playing sports. If you’re spending your holidays in a colder climate, snow sports place a stronger need on having protective eyewear since snow and wind can dry out eyes. UV rays reflecting off of snowy surfaces can accelerate cataracts and cause eye cancer, in addition to photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye). Wear UV-blocking sunglasses for optimal protection.

Eye safety should be on your mind all year round, but especially during the holidays. Protect your own sight and that of your kids by using common sense, and staying aware of your surroundings this holiday season. To learn more about eye safety options, contact your optometrist today!

How To Care For Your Eyes As You Age

Eye HealthIt’s no secret that our eyes tend to give us more trouble the older we get. However, there are certain measures a person can take to improve eye health and slow the effects of aging.

Proper eye care during your 30s-50s can pay off with better eyesight in your older years.

Good Eye Health Today Means Better Vision Tomorrow

1 – Get regular eye checkups

Long term eye disorders can often show telltale signs early on. Diseases like glaucoma can be caught in early stages and controlled with medication, before causing severe eye damage.

2 – Control your blood pressure and\or diabetes

Diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the most common medical problems among older people, and they’re also two of the worst conditions for eye health. Chronic high blood pressure or poorly managed diabetes can cause irreversible harm to your eyes.

3 – Rest your eyes more

Those with jobs requiring low levels of light, or close up detail work, often face worse vision in older age. Don’t ignore pain or fatigue in your eyes. If you feel as if you’re straining your eyes, take a break every now and then to let them rest.

Similarly, try to avoid using out-of-date lenses if you can. In terms of putting additional strain on your eyes, an improper lens prescription can almost do as much harm as no prescription at all.

4 – Ask your doctor about medication’s side effects on your eyes

As you age, you may end up taking more medicines. Unfortunately, even common medications such as antihistamines can cause eye problems, or interact with other medications. Keep your regular doctor updated on your eye health, and be sure to ask if any new prescriptions might effect your eyes.

You Determine Your Future Eye Health

Choices you make today can have an impact on your eye’s health decades from now. With proper eye care and regular visits to your optometrist, you can ensure healthy vision for plenty of years to come. Schedule an appointment with your Phoenix optometrist today.

Eye Health and Diabetes

Eye HealthWhile every month is a good time to focus on eye health, November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month. Diabetes ravages the body in many ways, and could have a serious impact on your sight. Many diabetic patients are not aware of the possibility that they could lose their vision. If you or someone you love suffers from diabetes, here are some of the eye troubles you should know about.

Background

For diabetic patients, controlling blood glucose (sugar) levels carefully is key to overall health, and therefore ocular health. High blood glucose causes swelling in the soft tissues and vessels of the eye. This swelling contributes to a multitude of eye problems that may ultimately lead to blindness. Diabetic complication is a common cause of blindness in adults, however it is preventable.

Diabetic Retinopathy

The retina converts light entering the eye into a signal, which is what the brain “sees” as an image. In a case of diabetic retinopathy, this component is flawed, usually due to damage to the tiny blood vessels of the eye. An annual eye exam is a critical tool in catching and preventing permanent damage. An advanced case may lead to permanent blindness. Blood pressure control is especially important for a diabetic patient to reduce risk of retinopathy, as well as abstaining from smoking.

Cataracts

A surprising majority of aging adults will develop cataracts, where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy or discolored. Low-light conditions can be very challenging if you have cataracts, so night-time driving is dangerous. Diabetic patients can be more prone to developing cataracts in addition to other eye health issues. Fortunately, cataracts are treatable with laser surgery.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when pressure inside the eye rises, causing damage to the optic nerve. This could occur very suddenly or develop over time. Due to the swelling of soft tissues that may happen with diabetes, glaucoma is much more prevalent for diabetic patients. Catching this problem early can help prevent permanent vision loss.

Patients with diabetes face many challenges, including serious eye health issues. The best way to protect your sight are to keep your blood sugar under control, and have an annual eye exam so your optometrist can spot problems in their earliest stages.

Contact Lens Tips for Newbies

Contact lenses might be the best thing invented for those who require vision correction. Convenience, better vision and cosmetic enhancement are just a few of the reasons someone with sight issues may opt to wear contacts instead of glasses. As a new contact-wearer, there are a few tricks and tips you’ll want to know.

Hand Washing

Contact lensesBefore you handle your contact lenses or touch your eye area, start off by washing your hands with soap, rinsing and drying them thoroughly to prevent infection or irritation.

Storage and Handling

When you’re not wearing your contacts they should be stored in sterile saline solution, recommended by your optometrist for your lens type. Keep them in a clean case. Between uses be sure to rinse and clean out the case. Before storing your contacts for the night, fill the case with fresh saline solution.

Flipping Out

Although it is not dangerous, it is uncomfortable to put your contact lenses in the wrong way! You will know fairly quickly if this has happened, and will want to remove them and try again. The easiest way to tell if your lens is right side out is to place it on your finger and look at it. If it’s shaped like a cup it is seated correctly. However, if the lens appears to have a lip or outward facing edge, it’s inside out. Gently flip it over before inserting.

Inserting

First and foremost, NEVER use saliva or water to put in a contact lens. Saliva will introduce bacteria, and could result in a terrible infection. Water is also unsterile, nor is it comfortable. To insert, stand in front of a mirror (after thorough hand-washing), gently retrieve one lens and position it at the tip of your finger. Use a drop of recommended saline or multipurpose solution for wetting your contact. Look at your image in the mirror, and place the contact on your eye. Sometimes it helps to look up when applying, then close the eye and allow the contact to slide up into position.

Contact lenses are an appealing alternative to glasses, and a comfortable way to enhance your vision. Most people adapt very quickly, and have a lifelong preference for contacts over glasses. For more information, or to schedule an appointment to be fitted for contact lenses, speak with your eye care professional.