Eye Health Misconceptions

Eye_HealthIn terms of ensuring a successful future for yourself and your family, few things are more important than eye health. The eyes we each receive at birth are the only ones we’re going to get, and it’s vital that we take the best possible care of them throughout our lives.

Valley Eyecare Center offers a few common misconceptions about eye health, and what does -or doesn’t- damage your eyesight.

1 – Sitting Close To The TV/Computer Damages Your Eyes

Let’s start some good news. Contrary to what you might have heard (or might have told your kids), sitting too close to the TV can’t do anything worse than give you a headache. There’s no evidence that extended close-up viewing, even in low light, actually damages your eyes.

2 – Carrots are the best eye food.

While it’s true that carrots are a great source of beta-keratin, which is necessary for night vision, dark leafy vegetables are actually best. Kale, spinach, and other dark greens don’t just maintain your vision; they help prevent sun-related damage to your eyes over time.

3 – Corrective lenses weaken your vision.

This is another myth: vision aids cannot harm or degrade your eyes. In fact, sometimes hard contact lenses can actually reduce sight loss by forcing your eyes to maintain their proper shape.

4 – Only boys can be colorblind. 

Here’s one a lot of people don’t know: While it’s true that men are more likely to be somewhat colorblind (approximately 8% of them), girls aren’t entirely immune. Around 1% of women have some form of colorblindness.

 

Common Problems Seen in the Retina

Phoenix_OptometryAsk any Phoenix optometrist, and he or she will tell you that the eye is an amazingly complex organ, with multiple parts that all have to work together to ensure you have proper vision.

However, the retina may be the most important element of all. Lying behind your iris and lens, your retina is the layer of light-sensitive tissue that sends visual information to your brain. If your eye is a camera, your retina is the film.  It’s how your brain sees.

So, your eyesight is only as good as the information your brain receives.

What Are The Most Common Retinal Problems?

1 - Diabetic Retinopathy

The leading cause of blindness among those under the age of 65 is Diabetic Retinopathy. It causes blood circulation to the eyes to fail, starving them of oxygen, eventually causing the blood vessels to burst.

90% of D.R. cases can be treated if caught early. Anyone with diabetes is at risk.  In fact, diabetics are twenty-five times more likely to go blind needlessly.  If you or anyone in your family is a diabetic, we urge yearly eye exams with a qualified optometrist.

2 – Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment can be caused by several different conditions, and is exactly what it sounds like:  The retina detaches from the back of the eye, severing the connection to the brain.

Although reattachment can be successful in most cases, it usually requires surgery.  The earlier it’s caught, the more likely the surgery is to be successful.

3 – Macular Degeneration

The macular is the very center of your vision, vital for reading, facial recognition, and even color perception. As a person ages, buildup in front or behind the macular blocks its reception, causing a slowly-growing grayish blank spot.

As the process is painless, it can often go unnoticed for some time. Worse, there is no reliable cure. Most M.D. patients can only slow the degeneration with medication.  A vitamin regimen, along with some newer prescription medications, sometimes shows positive results.

Any problems with your retinas are serious, and can lead to permanent blindness.  Please remember to visit your optometrist regularly for vision checkups.

Can Stress Affect Eyesight?

Eye_CareIn today’s society where we’ve all become accustomed to doing more for our organizations, stress seems to come with the territory. You might be aware of how stress affects your body, but did you know that it may also have a negative effect on your vision? Doctors of Optometry want you to know about those impacts so you can avoid trouble.

High Blood Pressure

Stress makes us anxious, agitated, restless, and sleepless. High blood pressure is a common medical result of being overly stressed, and one that makes the eyes suffer as well. When blood pressure goes up, your internal eye pressure may do the same. Glaucoma is a condition that results from high eye pressure damaging the optic nerve, and has the potential to cause permanent vision loss and blindness.

Eye Strain

As deadlines loom and your stress level increases, endless days of staring at a screen and not getting enough sleep will combine to cause eye strain. Optometry patients experience red, irritated, or watery eyes, an uncomfortable gritty feeling, and blurry vision. Headaches often accompany a bad case of eye strain and it becomes more difficult to focus and be productive.

Eye Twitch

Stress is a known trigger of the mysterious eye twitch, when the tissues and small muscles around the eye experience involuntary movement. The twitch may occur for minutes, hours, or even days. Though typically not dangerous, this condition is certainly annoying and can interrupt your concentration and focus. The best solution is to make sure you are rested and use stress-reduction methods so the twitch will cease.

Talk to your doctor of Optometry for more advice on how to manage your stress effectively and keep your eyes healthy and clear. Anxious and intense periods of your life don’t have to harm your vision.

Three Ways Cosmetics can be affecting your Eye Health

The majority of adult women wear some type of makeup, and many wear eye makeup. While cosmetics can boost self esteem and look attractive, they are not without a set of hazards. Here’s what eye doctors want you to know about the dangers of cosmetics to your vision.

Eye_CareAllergies

Cosmetics have many types of ingredients such as oil, minerals, pigments, and traces of metals. It’s not uncommon for a person to suffer allergic reactions to any of these elements, which can leave your eyes red, itchy, swollen, watery, and burning. Your vision may become blurry or you may have difficulty seeing due to the swelling. If you notice any of these symptoms after applying a cosmetic, remove it promptly, discontinue use, and consult eye doctors right away.

Introducing Germs

Your eye has a delicate system of moisture, drainage, and mucus membrane. A brief touch of your eye area with dirty hands could wreak havoc very quickly, and this is common with cosmetic use. Old cosmetics should be discarded and you should never use saliva to moisten products like mascara or eyeliner. NEVER share cosmetics, especially eye makeup. Doing so can introduce foreign bacteria or fungus to your eyes and facial skin. Wash your hands well before applying makeup to avoid inadvertently contaminating your eyes.

Harmful Ingredients

In the United States, the ingredients of cosmetics are regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) so harmful elements are banned for a consumer’s protection. This is not the case with cosmetics from other countries, which may contain heavy metals and dangerous ingredients. Kohl is one such product, which is especially dangerous to children due to its lead content. The FDA has gone so far as to publish a list of ingredients that are safe for cosmetic use. If ever in question about a new cosmetic, consult this list before using.

Cosmetics can be a fun way to express yourself, but caution should be taken to ensure their use is not harmful to your vision. Consult with  your Phoenix eye doctors with any cosmetic questions involving eye safety prior to wearing questionable products.

Can Caffeine and Alcohol Affect your Vision?

Eye_CareAlmost everyone starts off a new year with grand thoughts of taking better care of him or herself. A common resolution is to give up bad habits, especially those including alcohol and caffeinated beverages. You might have a good understanding of how these two substances impact your medical health, but did you know that your eye health is also affected when you use them?

Caffeine

As with most things in life, the use of caffeine has pros and cons. For dry eye sufferers, caffeine can be useful as it seems to increase tear production. A drawback to caffeine that is specific to caffeinated coffee is the increased risk of a condition called Exfoliation Glaucoma. In Exfoliation Glaucoma, the eye sheds little flakes that are then washed into the eye’s drainage system, clogging the pipeline. Internal eye pressure escalates and the higher pressure could result in permanent vision loss, even blindness. If you are a coffee lover, try to keep your consumption under three cups a day or switch some of your coffee drinks to decaf in the interest of protecting your eye health.

Alcohol

Since alcohol is a depressant, it’s a fairly logical assumption that excessive consumption will slow down the performance of your eyes. Your pupils will not react to light changes as quickly, you’ll have a harder time tracking moving objects and detecting color contrasts, and possibly lose some of your peripheral vision. You may have a very difficult time seeing as alcohol blurs your vision, and habitual drinkers could see these issues become permanent. Nutrition deficiencies caused by heavy alcohol consumption and damage to brain and eye tissue will destroy the quality of your eyesight.

The key to any lifestyle choice is moderation. While small amounts of either caffeine or alcohol probably won’t pose a major eye health risk, the more ingested of either, the more likely you’ll have a vision problem. For more information on the effects of alcohol and caffeine on your eye health, talk to your optometrist.

Eye Care Tips for Diabetics

Eye_HealthAs a new or long-time patient with Diabetes, you are probably well aware of how the disease affects your body. An impact you might not have considered is your eyesight. Diabetes can take its toll on your vision, and your optometrist wants you to have the following eye care tips to protect your eye health.

Full Disclosure

As soon as you receive a diagnosis of Diabetes, be sure to tell your eye doctor immediately. He or she will be able to monitor for certain changes that could occur due to the disease. By communicating effectively with your medical doctor and optometrist, the odds of quickly catching a problem increase, potentially saving you from sight loss.

Annual Eye Exams

It’s important for just about everyone to have an annual eye checkup, but even more so for Diabetic patients. Failing to follow this advice can mean that a problem will go undetected and could turn into permanent vision loss. Many of the eye health issues related to Diabetes such as Retinopathy and Glaucoma are irreversible once they begin, but with proper treatment the progress of deterioration can be slowed or stopped. Catching them quickly is a must.

Maintain Medical Health

The most important thing to do as a patient with Diabetes is to follow your medical doctor’s advice to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control. This may be achieved by taking medication as prescribed, eating healthy foods, getting enough exercise, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco. When your blood sugar or pressure becomes abnormal, your eyes will go through changes potentially resulting in a catastrophic and permanent loss of vision.

Eye health is an especially big deal for vision patients who also suffer with Diabetes. Be sure to talk to your optometrist any time you notice a difference in your vision, your medical condition changes, or a new medication is added to your routine.

Safe Toys and Gifts month

Eye_HealthAs the holidays come and go and the children play with their new treasures, in the blink of an eye, a toy can cause tragedy if in the wrong hands. December is Safe Toys and Gifts month, so please take the time to learn from past children’s eye care mishaps to protect your loved ones.

Adequate Supervision

The best tactic you can take to save your child from vision accidents is to supervise their play with a new toy until you are confident that he or she is using the toy appropriately and find it to not pose as a hazard to them. When kids of mixed age groups are together, keep an eye on them to make sure that playtime doesn’t get out of hand.

Age Appropriate

One of the biggest problems when it comes to children’s eye care is that children often receive and play with toys that are for older age groups. This might seem harmless enough, but small children do not have the logic and reasoning ability to know that sharp corners or thrown objects have the capability to hurt them, even so drastically as stealing their vision permanently. Avoid giving children gifts that are marked for an older age group, and stay away from items that shoot projectiles.

Eye Protection

For kids receiving sports equipment for the holiday gift giving season, be sure that they also receive the correct protective gear they’ll need to stay safe during their playtime. Sports goggles or glasses should be worn during most sports. Consult your children’s eye care specialist for guidance on the styles and criteria to look for when selecting this type of eyewear.

Keep the holidays safe and your kids out of harm’s way by considering these tips, and talk to your Phoenix eye doctor with any eye safety questions before giving questionable gifts to your child.

Sleep Apnea and the Health of your Eyes

Many medical conditions or the medications that treat those conditions have the potential to affect your eye health in ways you might not expect. Sleep apnea may seem like it would be unrelated to your eyes, but eye doctors see a number of common and serious eye problems in sleep apnea patients.

Glaucoma

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when the throat muscles relax to the point where the muscles become an obstacle for air trying to pass through the airway. The result is that the patient stops breathing during sleep. Generally the body shocks itself into resuming normal breathing, but as you may imagine this situation puts the body under extreme stress. High blood pressure develops, which may raise the internal eye pressure and cause Glaucoma. This can be very dangerous to your vision, causing blindness if the optic nerve is severely damaged. OSA patients have a significantly higher rate of glaucoma than most people.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome

This odd condition occurs when the eyelids of a sleep apnea patient turn inside out. Blurry vision, watering, and uncomfortable eyes are the result. This is generally not a serious condition in and of itself, but some patients who do not know they have sleep apnea will go to eye doctors with symptoms of Floppy Eyelid first, signifying the problem.

Optic Nerve Swelling

Also known as Papilledema, swelling of the optic nerve occurs much more frequently in OSA patients. You may lose vision over time, and eventually completely. The root cause is increased fluid pressure within the skull, again a result of OSA.

For patients who know they have sleep apnea, it’s particularly important to see eye doctors on a regular basis to help diagnose and treat related eye health issues right away. Otherwise healthy people should have an eye exam annually to do the same.

Why is Blinking Important?

The mysteries of the human body are countless, and there is science behind everything your body does. Blinking is no exception to this, and the rate at which a person blinks is actually very important for a number of reasons, related both to your eye health and general medical state. Your optometrist wants you to know why blink rate is so critical.

Eye_CarePrevent Irritation

Your eyes need to remain moist and dirt-free, which is the primary job of blinking. As you blink, your eyelids wipe away any built up dust and debris that has entered the eye. The eyelashes sweep the particles further away, and the cycle repeats. Without blinking to carry away these objects, they may scratch your cornea and cause vision loss, or at the very least, create a significant amount of pain.

Replenish Moisture

Most people have a diminished blink rate when working on computers, and the result of this is eye strain, dry eye and irritation. Optometrists often see patients who complain about these problems, but upon further examination the patient’s blink rate is minimal. While blinking is a fairly automatic response, you can train yourself to blink more often, increasing the moisture flow to your eye’s surface and circulating vital nutrients. This will help your eyes feel more refreshed and improve your comfort and eye health.

Signals for Trouble

An abnormal blink rate could be the first signal for an unrelated problem. Excessive blinking could indicate Tourette’s, while slow blinking is a marker for Parkinson’s. If your optometrist notices abnormal blink rates, he or she will refer you to the appropriate doctor.

An adequate blink rate is vitally important to your eye health and comfort. If you have any concerns about blink rate or any other question about your vision, please do not hesitate to consult your Phoenix optometrist.

Fear and Avoidance of Eyes

Fear is a powerful thing and comes in many varieties. What one person sees as nothing to be uncomfortable about can terrify another past the point where they can’t function. The eye care world is not immune to the world of phobias, one of which is called Ommetaphobia.

Background

A fear that has become severe or irrational is called a phobia. Ommetaphobia is the fear of eyes or eye care, and can have a serious impact on a victim’s eye health. This problem can be the result of some sort of eye-related trauma occurring at a younger age, or being exposed to disturbing images involving eyes.

Ommetaphobia’s Effect

When a person cannot bring themselves to allow a doctor to check their eyes, many eye diseases that could be caught early have a risk of being missed. The result can be pain and/or permanent vision loss. If the fear also involves having one’s own eyes touched, the patient may miss out on vision correction options such as contact lenses, LASIK or PRK.

Another way that Ommetaphobia might manifest is by not being able to make eye contact or look at the eyes of another person. This may lead to poor social interactions and difficulties being with other people altogether, which of course has a potential for other psychological issues.

Help for Ommetaphobia

Mental health professionals have worked wonders for the majority of people who suffer from phobias. Hypnotherapy, behavioral therapy, medication, or other types of psychiatric methods have shown to be helpful for Ommetaphobia patients.

Ommetaphobia is more common than you may realize, and can be difficult to manage. If you suffer with this phobia to any degree, talk to your optometrist for recommendations for treatment options.