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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Eye Care Concerns In Babies

Eye_CareProper children’s eye care is a common concern among parents.  However, the good news is that in most cases, there’s not that much a parent has to do in terms of their child’s vision in the first year.  While there are a few issues to watch for, generally speaking, a child’s eyes take care of themselves for the first year.

In fact, many of the eye care concerns new parents have aren’t really issues at all.

Problems And Non-Problems During Early Vision Development

It’s important to think of a child’s vision in terms of milestones.  Like every other part of their body, their eyes are still developing and their brains are still figuring out how to use their eyes.

The First Few Months

For the first three months of a baby’s life, their eyes will have very limited ability to focus.  Babies can only focus about 8-10 inches from their face.  Likewise, they’ll have trouble getting their eyes to coordinate.  It’s not at all uncommon for a baby to go cross-eyed or wall-eyed every now and then.

By about 4-5 months, a baby should be able to focus on objects a few feet away, as well as following moving objects with their eyes.  Parents who want to encourage good vision development should focus on moving objects around for babies to look at.

Five To Eight Months

This is when a child should develop 3-dimensional vision and begin being able to accurately reach out and grab for things.  Grabbing will start around 3-4 months, but will be initially unfocused and uncontrolled.  Again, this is totally normal:  Their brains still have to sort out the 3D world around them.

Then, by 8-12 months, they should be displaying decent hand-eye coordination and -in particular- will start becoming skilled at throwing objects.  This is the big clue that their 3D sight is working properly.

Warning Signs

There are a few symptoms a parent should beware of, which aren’t part of normal eye development:

  • Consistently red/splotchy eyes can indicate infection.
  • Excess tears, especially when not truly crying.
  • Frequent or constantly misaimed eyes past 3-4 months.
  • High sensitivity to light past 6 months.
  • Cysts or styes on eyelids.
  • White pupils, or yellow “whites.”

Whether you find these symptoms or not, your child’s first eye care appointment should happen around 10-12 months.  Once their eyes have had time to develop, it’s time to contact your Phoenix Optometrist for their first checkup!