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.

How Can I Protect My Eyes In The Winter?

Eye CareSummer might seem to be a more obvious time for eye injuries, but winter is no time to disregard your eye care and safety. Bright conditions and wintertime activities can be just as hazardous to your precious peepers. Fortunately, most eye injuries are preventable.

Sunglasses All Year

The brightness of the sun glancing off of snow or water isn’t just annoying, it’s detrimental to your eye health. UV rays are present all year round, and the reflection of the sun off of those surfaces means double the chance for UV rays to find your eyes. Wearing the right UV-blocking and polarized sunglasses will protect your vulnerable eyes from conditions such as skin cancer and cataracts. Sunglasses are also a benefit in windy conditions that typically make your eyes water and burn.

The Right Sporting Goods

The best piece of sports equipment you can invest in is a proper pair of protective glasses or goggles for your sport. If you’re planning on snowboarding or skiing this winter, make sure to buy goggles that fit your face and protect your eyes. Today’s protective equipment is light and far more stylish than in the past, plus you can often kill two birds with one stone and get a pair that is UV-blocking and polarized. You’ll protect your eyes from the elements, plus see everything crisply during play.

Dry Eyes

When you participate in wintertime activities, the colder temperatures and windy conditions can make your eyes feel gritty and dry. Keeping your eyes as moist as possible will improve your comfort, and prevent your vision from becoming blurry or obscured. Ask your optometrist about moisturizing drops, wear sunglasses outside and make sure you give your eyes an occasional break from the winter weather.

Your eye care is something you should think about at all times of the year, but winter brings its own form of eye care problems. Talk to your optometrist for suggestions on wintertime eyewear and other methods to defend your sight this season!

 

Benefits of Vision Insurance

VisionIf you are someone with eyesight issues, you know how expensive it can be to have an eye exam, and pay for glasses or contacts. Having vision insurance can really help keep costs down. Here’s what you’ll want to know about this type of insurance, and what it covers.

Eye Exams

One major perk of having vision insurance is that most plans cover the cost of a yearly eye exam. Many policies will completely pay for the annual exam, but check your plan to be sure. You may have to pay a set co-pay amount, or pay a percentage of the exam fee at the time of the service.

Frames and Lenses

Vision insurance will typically cover the expense of new glasses on a periodic basis, very commonly every one to two years. This portion of insurance coverage may provide an allotment toward the glasses of your choice, or have you select from a specific collection of frames. Lenses are usually standard plastic or glass without any extra options. Anti-glare and scratch-resistance are valuable options for which you may want to pay a little more.

Contact Lenses

Most vision insurances provide a set amount toward a year’s supply of contact lenses. Your optometrist will prescribe the best brand and type for your particular needs. Some people have conditions like astigmatisms or severe near- or far-sightedness, that requires specialized lenses which are more expensive than standard offerings. Though you may have to spend extra to get a year’s supply, be sure to change your contacts on the prescribed schedule to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable.

If your company offers vision insurance and you have already had eyesight issues, it can be a very minimal investment from your paycheck to cover all of your eye care needs. Talk to your optometrist’s office to see what plans are accepted, and to your employer about enrollment in your company’s plan. If you have any additional questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact your Phoenix eye doctor.

Do I Have Chronic Dry Eye?

Dry EyeIf you experience dry eyes frequently it may be Keratoconjunctivitis siccadry, also known as dry eye syndrome.

Dry eye syndrome is a relatively common vision problem. About 6% of the public suffers from it, and odds increase significantly in postmenopausal women and senior citizens. It can be caused by either insufficient tear creation, or by having tears which evaporate too quickly. Either way, the result is the same.

Beyond simply having painful eyes, those with chronic dry eyes may actually risk future vision problems. Dry eye syndrome is much more likely to cause microabrasions -tiny cuts- which result in corneal damage over time. This is a long process so you’re not in immediate danger, but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind.

There is no true cure for dry eye syndrome, besides some surgical options that are only used in extreme circumstances. Thankfully dry eye can be easily controlled in most cases.

Caring For Chronic Dry Eye Syndrome

1 – Control your environment. Stay away from smoky locations, like smoker’s bars, and use a portable humidifier to keep moisture in the air.

2 – Use tear drops. Any decent brand of eye drops or “fake tears” will alleviate dry eye problems. A few drops in each eye should keep them hydrated for hours.

3 – Clean your eyelids in the morning. Those with dry eye problems are more likely to wake up with crusty eyelids. If not cleaned, the crust can contribute to eye damage. Gently clean using a warm, damp washcloth.

4 – Take Omega-3 supplements. Fish oil pills with Omega-3 fatty acids, found in virtually any grocery or health food store, have been proven effective at decreasing the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

5 – Do NOT rub. In virtually all cases,  rubbing dry eyes will do no good, and may even contribute to more microabrasions.

Tell Your Optometrist If You’re Experiencing Chronic Dry EyesDon’t forget, your local eye care professional is still your best source of support when dealing with chronic dry eye. Be sure to consult with a professional if you have any questions, or if dry eye symptoms continue.

Eye Strain And Electronic Devices

Eye StrainAre you protecting your eyes from unnecessary eye strain when using electronic devices? All those screens everywhere can quickly wear out your eyes!

We can’t avoid all the computers, smartphones and TVs in our lives, but we can protect our eyes from their harm. While no research has shown that screens can cause true damage to the eyes, you’re still at risk for painful headaches and eye soreness if you don’t take a few simple steps to keep your eyes happy.

Three Ways To Prevent Eye Strain When Staring At Screens:

1 – Remember To Blink

No, this is not a joke. People tend to blink less often when staring at electronic screens, which of course leads to dry eyes and eye pain. If you have to use screens frequently in your daily life, consider keeping some eye drops around to help your eyes stay hydrated.

2 – Take Frequent Breaks

To prevent unnecessary eye strain, you should ideally take a five minute break for every hour spent staring at a screen. For best results, close your eyes for that time so they can get a little rest. The break time should be doubled if you are using a 3D screen, as with some TVs or the Nintendo 3DS. These screens require your eyes to move their focus in and out as well as side-to-side, wearing out your eyes even faster.

3 – Use A Higher-Resolution Screen

If you’re using a smartphone or tablet from a few years ago, it may contribute to eye strain problems. Newer displays such as the Apple Retina or Samsung’s AMOLED, where the user cannot see the individual pixels (onscreen dots), are easier for your eyes to focus on.

Don’t Forget Yearly Eye Exams!

If you spend a lot of time staring at screens, it’s important to remember your yearly eye exam. Undiagnosed vision problems can quickly lead to extra eye strain and pain when working with electronic devices.

If it’s been more than a year since your last checkup, contact your Phoenix eye doctor for a vision test!

Do Cheap Reading Glasses Cause Eye Damage?

Eye ExamYou can find them just about anywhere these days: cheap reading glasses, sometimes for as little as a dollar each. They may be a cheaper alternative, but are they really an adequate substitute for a proper eye exam and prescription lenses?

Not really.

While claims that these cheap glasses can permanently damage your eyesight are overblown, they’re still not a good solution. Their overall poor quality can cause headaches or more vision trouble while wearing them.

Problems With Cheap Reading Glasses

1 – They’re “One Size Fits All”

Is your head the exact same shape and size as everyone else? Of course not. Everyone is built differently, and even minor differences (such as the width of your eyes) can drastically affect how well the lenses work. You might get lucky and find a pair that just happen to fit your head well, but a real optometrist can guarantee a proper fit.

2 – They’re Rarely Well-Made

Dollar-store lenses have very poor quality control. In repeated surveys they’ve shown to have significant differences from well made prescriptions. The strengths may be different, or they have different focal points. These can cause blurry vision, double vision and eye strain headaches. Even worse, such subtle differences are almost impossible to detect while in the store.

A proper eye exam guarantees lenses that exactly match your vision needs.

3 – They Only Magnify

Cheap glasses cannot correct for any vision problems besides those that can be solved with magnification. They cannot fix astigmatism, myopia or other common problems which can be corrected with prescription lenses.

Dollar Store Glasses Are Rarely Worth It

Cheap reading glasses are only good as an alternative backup pair, which are only used for short periods of time. If you just need to throw on a pair to read a label,that’s fine, but they are very likely to cause problems with more extensive use.

If you need reading glasses, it’s much better to get a proper eye exam.  It ensures you get lenses that best fit your face, and provide the exact vision correction you need! Contact your eye doctor today.

How To Take Care Of Your Eyeglasses

Eye CareProper eye care goes beyond just your eyes. If you wear glasses it’s very important to take the best possible care of your lenses. Broken or damaged glasses might not hurt your vision in the long-term, but they can interfere with your vision as well as cause painful headaches.

Good Eyeglasses Care Is Good Eye Care

1 – Keep them in a case.

It’s tempting to just throw your glasses onto a side table at night, but that’s asking for accidents to happen. Keeping them in a solid case when not in use will protect against most everyday damage and accidents.

2 – Only use soft cloths to wipe them.

Different kinds of lenses have varying scratch-resistance, but the easiest way to accidentally scratch them is by “cleaning” with improper materials. Cotton and other rough fabrics will put tiny scratches in the lenses that, over time, build up to create constant refractions, or “lens flair” effects.

These can make the glasses distracting to wear, as well as increase your chance of eye-strain headaches.

3 – Never wear broken lenses.

Avoid wearing broken lenses unless you truly have no other option. Besides impairing your vision, broken lenses have a much higher chance of breaking further. If this happens, they’re far more likely to cause eye damage with shards or slivers of glass or plastic.

4 – Occasionally clean with mild detergent and disinfectant. 

It’s not necessary to clean your glasses as often as contacts. However, over time they will build up dirt and grime (especially around the nosepiece and rims) and a layer of oil can form on the lenses. They’ll last longer and be more hygienic with a thorough wet cleaning about once a week.

5 – Wear Sports Goggles For Sports

Only true sports goggles are rated to protect your eyes against an impact to your corrective lenses. Both glasses and contacts increase your risk of eye injury from a hit to the face.

And, of course, don’t forget to update your prescription at least once a year! Contact your Phoenix eye doctor today for more eye care information.

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.