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eye health

The Best Foods for Your Eyes

We all know that eating nutrient-rich foods, drinking plenty of water, and exercising can boost our health. So it’s no surprise that these same activities also support eye health. Research has shown that regularly consuming certain vitamins and nutrients can actually prevent or delay sight-threatening eye conditions and diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. 

Here’s a list of the best vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can help keep your eyes healthy for a lifetime. 

We invite you to consult with our eye doctor, Dr. Micheline Young, to discuss which nutrients are most suited to your specific eye health and needs. 

Vitamins and Nutrients That Support Eye Health

*Always best to speak with your primary care doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements, and to ensure you consume the correct dosage for your body.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency can cause a host of eye health issues, including dry eyes and night blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Vitamins A and A1, which are essential for supporting the eye’s photoreceptors (the light-sensing cells) in the retina, can be found in foods like carrots, leafy greens, egg yolks, liver, and fish. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating Omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish can support eye health in a few ways. DHA and EPA, 2 different types of Omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to improve retinal function and visual development.  

Omega-3 supplements can also ease dry eye symptoms. A randomized controlled study found that people who consumed Omega-3 supplements experienced improved tear quality, which resulted in reduced tear evaporation and increased eye comfort.  

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that accumulate in the lens and retina and help filter out damaging UV rays and blue light. One study showed that individuals who had the highest levels of these nutrients in their diets had a 43% lower chance of developing macular degeneration than those who had consumed the least amount.  

Spinach, egg yolks, sweet corn, and red grapes are some of the foods that contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. 

Vitamin C 

High amounts of vitamin C can be found in the aqueous humor of the eye, the liquid that fills the eye’s anterior chamber and supports corneal integrity. This has prompted scientists to consider this vitamin’s role in protecting eye health. 

Research suggests that regularly taking vitamin C (along with other essential vitamins and minerals) can lower the risk of developing cataracts, and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.

While vitamin C appears to support eye health in a variety of ways, it’s still unclear whether taking this supplement benefits those who aren’t deficient. Vitamin C can be found in various fruits and vegetables, like bell peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits, broccoli, and kale. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect fatty acids from becoming oxidized. Because the retina has a high concentration of fatty acids, sufficient vitamin E intake is crucial for optimal ocular health. 

Vitamin E can be found in almonds, flaxseed oil, and sunflower seeds. 

Zinc

Healthy eyes naturally contain high levels of zinc. A zinc deficiency can cause night blindness, and thus increasing zinc intake can improve night vision. Zinc also helps absorb Vitamin A, an essential antioxidant. 

Make sure to avoid taking high doses of zinc (beyond 100 mg daily) without first consulting your eye doctor. Higher doses of zinc have been associated with side effects such as reduced immune function. You can increase your zinc intake naturally by consuming more oysters, meat, and peanuts. 

Phytochemical Antioxidants

Phytochemical antioxidants are chemicals produced by plants that contain several health benefits. Some studies show that these plant-based chemicals may enhance vision and eye health as well as prevent age-related eye diseases and complications by alleviating ocular oxidative stress. Oxidative stress within the eyes contributes to several eye conditions, including  dry eye syndrome. Consuming more produce with these antioxidants can help balance the anti-oxidant and pro-oxidant system, resulting in healthier eyes. 

Personalized Eye Nutrition 

If you or someone you know is looking for ways to boost or maintain eye health, speak with an optometrist near you about what supplements and vitamins are best for you. For an eye doctor in Copperas Cove, give us a call at 254-549-1142.

 

Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

Nation-wide awareness about the vast dangers of obesity is at an all-time high, with TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” and health initiatives such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign shining a spotlight on the importance of fitness and good nutrition. However, despite the public’s knowledge of obesity’s effects on hypertension, stroke, and diabetes, many are not aware of how it damages eye health and vision.

Increasing evidence shows that people who are clinically obese have an elevated risk of developing serious eye diseases. It is widely known that expanding waistlines place people at a higher risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, and cancer — but researchers say the link between obesity and deteriorating vision is the “risk factor that no one talks about”. Professor Michael Belkin and Dr. Zohar Habot-Wilner, from the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Center, found a consistently strong correlation between obesity and the development of four major eye diseases that may cause blindness:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy

The researchers said that although the evidence was out there suggesting a link between obesity and these conditions, their study emphasizes the optometric risks of obesity which can help motivate people to shed those extra pounds.

How Obesity Contributes to Eye Disease

A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is regarded as obese. A high BMI is tied to several chronic systemic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, among others. Recent research indicates that a handful of ocular diseases can now be added to that list.

Serious eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration are more common in individuals with obesity, as well as floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, thyroid-related eye diseases, and stroke-related vision loss.

The connection between obesity and these eye diseases is likely due to the increased risk of peripheral artery disease. This occurs when the tiny blood vessels bringing oxygen to parts of your body like the feet, kidneys, and eyes become compromised.

Your eyes are particularly prone to damage from obesity because the blood vessels in the eyes (called arterioles) are easily blocked, since they’re extremely thin and small — as thin as ½ the width of a human hair!

Most people are not aware that obesity may increase the rate of developing cataracts, too. Cataracts result when the focusing lens in the eye becomes cloudy and requires surgery to be replaced. In addition to age, cataract development is associated with obesity, poor nutrition, gout, diabetes and high blood sugar levels, though the exact cause isn’t clear.

A Healthy Lifestyle Can Reduce Your Risk of Ocular Disease

Knowing about the risk of vision loss may give those with a high BMI the extra motivational boost they need to lose weight. The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can reduce the associated risks.

An active lifestyle and a balanced, nutritious diet lower obesity and improve overall physical and eye health. Give your body a boost by incorporating important nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega 3, zinc, and lutein, many of which are found in green leafy and dark orange vegetables, as they have been shown to reduce the onset, progression, and severity of certain eye diseases.

We Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy in Copperas Cove

While a healthy diet and regular exercise greatly increase your chances of living a disease-free long life, they alone are not enough to ensure long term healthy eyesight. Regular eye exams with Dr. Micheline Young can help prevent or detect the onset of ocular disease, and maintain vision that is clear and comfortable.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health, don’t hesitate to call Cove Eyecare — we’re here for you.

How Smoking Impacts Vision

Smoking harms nearly every system in your body — including your eyes.

Though we are all aware of the health effects associated with smoking, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and bad teeth, few know about the negative impact it can have on our vision.

Smoking and Eye Disease

Smoking, especially 20 cigarettes or more daily over a long period of time, can adversely impact your vision. Cigarette smoke is made up of compounds that can damage health and have been shown to cause cerebral lesions which affect the area of the brain that processes vision.

More specifically, tobacco addiction increases the risk of developing vision-robbing diseases such as macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy. Moreover, smoke is an irritant that can cause or exacerbate dry eye syndrome. Below we’ll delve a little further into each of these conditions.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Smokers run a high risk of developing AMD, a condition that severely impairs central vision, making it difficult or impossible to read, drive, recognize faces and colors, and leads to permanent vision loss in those aged 65 or older. Fortunately, the risk can be dramatically diminished by putting an end to tobacco smoking — even if later in life.

Cataracts

Heavy smokers double their risk of developing cataracts, the leading cause of blindness. Cataracts are characterized by clouded, blurred or double vision, photophobia, and reduced night vision. However, cataract surgery is common and replaces the clouded lens with an artificial intraocular lens.

Uveitis

Uveitis, the inflammation of the eye’s central layer, is an ocular disease that can lead to blindness. This condition damages important structures of the eye, notably the iris and retina, and can lead to cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment. Smokers have a 2.2 times higher risk of developing uveitis than non-smokers.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Smoking raises one’s risk of developing diabetes by up to 40 percent thereby increasing the risk of retinopathy as well. Diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to leak blood into the eye, which — in severe cases — can deprive the retina of oxygen and result in blindness.

Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition characterized by insufficient tears to keep your eye lubricated, or the tears are not composed of the correct balance of water, lipids, and mucous to maintain proper lubrication. Common symptoms include red, itchy, and gritty eyes.

Heavy smokers, and those exposed to secondhand smoke, not only double their risk of developing dry eye but also exacerbate an existing condition, especially among the contact lens wearers.

Secondhand Smoke and Eye Disease

Secondhand smoke— which includes the smoke that emanates from the end of a cigarette as well as the smoke exhaled— is nearly as harmful to health and vision. Second-hand smoke places others’ eyesight in danger, particularly in young children and infants. Furthermore, studies indicate that women who smoke during pregnancy put the newborn baby at risk of being born with eye disease or visual impairment that could affect his or her ability to learn.

Stop Smoking to Save Your Vision

The good news is that giving up smoking can have an immediate effect on your health — and it’s never too late to quit! Once the habit is broken, your body will begin to repair itself to prevent vision loss. It can be challenging to quit, as it requires dedication, support, and advanced planning. Dr. Micheline Young and the rest of the staff at Cove Eyecare in Copperas Cove care about your health and will be happy to provide any assistance or resources to help you quit smoking and improve your eye health. Keep in mind that if you smoke, quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to protect your health and vision.

12 Tips for Optimal Eye Health

Good Eye Care Habits & Hygiene

By practicing good eye care habits and hygiene, you can prevent many vision problems from occurring. Eye problems and the risks associated with vision loss only grow as you age. By neglecting eye care, you place yourself at a higher risk of suffering from cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and low vision.

So make sure you maintain great eye health by following these 12 tips for optimal eye health.  

1. Avoid rubbing your eyes

Itchy eyes can be a hallmark symptom of allergies, and though rubbing may bring temporary relief, it ultimately increases swelling and worsens the itch. If you wear contact lenses, rubbing your eyes can also dislodge or even break a lens, causing the lens to get lost or scratch the cornea. Plus, eye rubbing can lead to eye infections, since our hands are typically covered with a host of germs.

2. Regularly wash your hands

Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is often caused by germs and bacteria carried to your eyes by unclean hands. Frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water helps keep bacteria away and prevents eye contamination. Prior to inserting or removing contact lenses, make sure to wash your hands with mild soap and dry them using a lint-free towel. 

3. Beware of UV rays

By exposing yourself to sunlight and UV rays, you increase the risk of developing macular degeneration and corneal sunburn. Beyond just adding some style and zest to your look, sunglasses should protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays. Speak to your optometrist about the different options available for people who wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses too, to keep your eyes safe in the sun.

4. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial for your body’s overall health and wellbeing — and that includes your eyes. Among other complications, if you don’t have enough fluid in your body, it impacts tear production and can cause dry eyes and irritation. Drink up!  

5. Don’t smoke cigarettes

Need some extra motivation to quit smoking? 

Smokers are more prone to developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye conditions. Cigarette smoking can also destroy optic nerves, which can adversely affect your vision over time. So think twice before you light up, and speak to your doctor about getting help to quit. 

6. Eat a healthy diet

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure that your diet is rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamins A and C. These can be found in leafy greens (your mom was right about spinach!), orange vegetables (think, carrots and sweet potato) and citrus fruit. Furthermore, fatty fish like salmon contain essential omega-3 fatty acids which also promote excellent eye health. 

7. Keep a healthy distance from screens

Nip digital eye strain in the bud by positioning your computer monitor about an arm’s length away from the eyes and 20 degrees below eye level. Ideally, work in a room with enough diffused lighting to reduce stress on your eyes from the computer light.

8. Remember the 20-20-20 rule 

Speaking of computers, have you heard of the 20-20-20 rule? When using digital devices, rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 continuous seconds. 

Once you’re at it, blink 20 times in succession to prevent dry eyes, and make it a habit to rise from your seat and take 20 steps to promote good posture and blood circulation, which helps your vision too.  

9. Be careful with eye make-up 

Make sure that your eye shadow, mascara, and eyeliner don’t cause your eyes an allergic reaction. Get in the habit of removing your make-up before going to sleep in order to avoid bacterial build-up from residual make-up left in the eye area. And, from time to time, clean your make-up brushes, especially those used to apply cosmetics around the eye area.

10. Sleep is golden

Just as with the rest of your body, your eyes need a break. So make sure that you get sufficient shut-eye (8 hours) each night to keep your eyes revitalized and healthy.

11. Wear protective eyewear 

Whatever you do, make sure your eyes are well-protected. If you’re swimming, wear goggles to prevent chlorine from entering your eyes. If you’re gardening or engaged in a DIY project at home, wear safety glasses to keep dust particles and bacteria at bay and prevent eye injuries. Ask your local eye doctor about protective eyewear for sports and other activities.

12. Regularly visit your eye doctor

Don’t underestimate the importance of getting a routine eye exam, whether you need an updated prescription or not. Even if you can see well today, a comprehensive eye exam can pick up early signs of eye diseases and conditions before symptoms become noticeable, such as glaucoma, diabetes, retinal holes which could lead to retinal detachment, and cancers like melanoma. Early detection and management can prevent further complications and serious vision loss down the line.

Only an eye doctor has the required knowledge, experience, tools and techniques to determine whether you have these or other eye conditions.

It is recommended that everyone gets a comprehensive eye exam once a year (or at least every two years). Children, whose eyes are rapidly developing, and people at higher risk for developing eye problems such as diabetics and older people, need to undergo eye exams even more frequently: at the minimum, yearly. 

During the evaluation, the eye doctor will check for things like: 

  • Farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism and/or presbyopia
  • Eye coordination 
  • Optic nerve and eye pressure tests to spot glaucoma

It’s also important to be on the look-out for any changes in your vision. If you experience hazy or double vision, worsening eyesight, red eyes, eye pain, swelling or floaters, contact Dr. Micheline Young.  

Incorporate these tips and habits into your lifestyle to maintain healthy eyes and a high quality of life. Cove Eyecare offers comprehensive eye exams in Copperas Cove, Texas, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about ways to maintain healthy vision.

Cataracts: A Normal Part Of Aging

Senior man, cataract in Copperas Cove, TX

Cataract Treatment By Our Copperas Cove Eye Doctor

The statistics are clear and point to the fact that cataracts develop as a normal part of aging. According to estimates, over half the population over age 80 in the United States has experienced cataracts. To learn more about this eye disease and the types of cataract treatment we offer in Copperas Cove, read on.

Basic Definition Of Cataracts

Eye Gallery Catarcts in Copperas Cove, TXAs you get older, so does the lens structure in your eyes. The lens is composed primarily of protein and water, arranged precisely so that the lens is clear. Sometimes, the protein clumps together and crystalline fibers of your eye’s lens change.

This leads to the formation of a cataract, best described as a clouding of the lens. Over time, the cloudy area grows. Because the cataract is opaque, it prevents light from entering your eye properly. In turn, clear images cannot appear on your retina, resulting in blurred vision.

Progression Of Cataracts

Cataracts develop and progress slowly, and it is typical for people to miss the early signs of this eye disease. However, as they grow, they begin to affect vision. The early symptoms are usually mild, and people manage to cope and live normally.

Yet, once they interfere significantly with your ability to see, it is time to schedule an eye exam and consultation with your eye doctor to discuss the best cataract treatment for your condition. Dr. Micheline Young, your experienced eye doctor in Copperas Cove, offers complete co-management for cataracts.

Cataract Symptoms

At the beginning stages of cataracts, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Colors appear less bright and dimmer
  • Cloudy or blurred vision
  • Poor vision at night
  • Glare from lights, halos around oncoming traffic at night, sunlight, or outdoor lighting
  • Sudden improvement in near vision
  • Double vision

Early Cataract Treatment

Grandmother Glasses Outside in Copperas Cove, TXAt first, vision with cataracts may be improved with new eyewear,  anti-glare sunglasses, brighter lighting conditions, or magnifying glasses. Once these aids cease to help, surgery is the only effective cataract treatment.

Cataract surgery is generally recommended when vision loss gets in the way of doing daily tasks, such as reading, watching TV, or driving. Delaying the surgery will not cause any long-term damage to your eye, so there is no need to rush into emergency surgery.

However, if you have another eye disease, such as diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration, you may need cataract surgery sooner because it can prevent a detailed inspection of your eye. The decision to undergo cataract surgery will be made together by you and your eye doctor.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract removal is one of the most widely performed procedures done in the United States. Safe and effective, approximately 90% of all people who have cataract surgery enjoy improved vision afterward – between 20/20 to 20/40. If cataract surgery is for you, Dr. Young will co-manage your condition and provide full preoperative and postoperative care in the comfort of our Copperas Cove eye care clinic.

During the procedure, your eye surgeon will remove the clouded lens and replace it with a transparent, plastic intraocular lens (IOL). Many types of IOLs are available, and your eye doctor will advise you on the most suitable lenses for your vision condition.

Eye Exams Detect Cataracts

At Cove Eyecare, we will evaluate the health of your eyes to inspect for any signs of cataract formation. If we diagnose a cataract, our eye doctor will provide full co-management for cataract treatment. Presently, surgery is the only foolproof cure to treat cataracts, and Dr. Young is experienced and qualified to handle all of your pre-op and post-op eye care.

Call Us (254) 547-2020

Glossary of Eye Care Terms

Amblyopia: Also called lazy eye. Decreased vision in one eye that leads to the use of the other eye as the dominant eye. A problem most commonly associated with children.

Anti-Reflective (A/R coating): A lens treatment for your glasses that helps to reduce distracting glare and eye fatigue by reducing the amount of light reflecting off the lens surface and making the lenses appear clearer. Your eyes will also be more visible behind the lenses.

Astigmatism: An eye condition where the eye cannot focus light uniformly in all directions resulting from an irregular curvature of the cornea, the crystalline lens, or the eye itself. Astigmatism results in mild to moderately blurred vision and/or eyestrain.

Bi-Focal Lenses: Lenses that use two different distinct powers in each lens, usually for near and distance correction.

Cataracts: A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens of the eye that makes it hard for light to pass through and be focused properly. In a normal eye, the crystalline lens is almost transparent, however injury, age or disease can cause the lens to eventually lose its clarity. When the lens becomes ‘opaque,’ it is called a cataract. Treatable by surgery.

Color deficiency: A lack of ability to distinguish certain colors. Commonly called “color blindness”, the most common form of color deficiency is the inability to distinguish shades of red and green.

Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye): An eye condition caused by the inflammation of the conjunctiva, or clear membrane covering the white part of the eye and lining of the eyelids. The eyes will often appear swollen and red while also feeling gritty. It is often viral and may be contagious. There are actually 20 different types of conjunctivitis – from fairly common strains that usually pose no long-term danger to you or your child’s vision – to types that are resistant to antibiotics. Call or see your doctor to treat pinkeye.

Cornea: The transparent, multi-layered front part of the eye that covers the pupil and iris. It provides most of the eye’s optical power.

Dry Eye Syndrome: An eye condition that presents itself as itching, burning, and irritation of the eyes, is often called “dry eye syndrome”. It is one of the most common problems treated by eye care professionals. It is usually caused by the breakdown (or deficiency) in the tears that lubricate the eyes. As we age, our bodies produce less oil to seal the eyes’ watery layer. Hot, arid climates, air conditioning, certain medicines and irritants such as cigarette smoke can all increase dryness of the eye. Your eye care professional might prescribe “artificial tears” or other eye drops to help alleviate the problem.

Floaters and Spots: A generalized term used to describe small specks moving subtly but noticeably in your field of vision. A floater or a spot is likely a tiny clump of gel or cells in the vitreous – the clear, jelly-like fluid inside your eye. Aging, eye injury and breakdown of the vitreous are the main causes of floaters and spots. If you notice a sudden increase in the number you see, call your eye care professional.

Fovea: A tiny spot in the center of the retina that contains only cone cells. This area is responsible for our sharpness of vision.

Glaucoma: A common cause of preventable vision loss when excessive pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve. Treatable by prescription drugs or surgery.

High(er) Index: A dense lens material that results in thinner, lightweight lenses than standard plastic. Index refers to index refraction which is the speed that light travels through the lens. Higher index lenses are available from 1.56 to 1.74 (the higher the number, the thinner the lens). They benefit people with stronger prescription eyeglasses.

Hyperopia: A condition where distant objects are seen clearly, yet objects close up are seen less clearly. Also commonly referred to as “farsighted.”

Iris: The pigmented (colored) membrane that lies between the cornea and the crystalline lens that controls the size of the pupil.

Crystalline Lens: The eye’s natural lens located directly behind the iris. It has the ability to change shape to focus light rays onto the retina.

Macula: The part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to read or drive.

Macular Degeneration: A group of conditions that include a deterioration of the macula causing a loss of central vision needed for sharp, clear eyesight. It is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in those 65 years of age and older. Macular Degeneration is also called AMD or ARMD (age-related macular degeneration).

Minor Eye Irritation: Slight irritation of the eye caused by a foreign body on the eye’s surface such as sand, dirt or eyelashes. Wash your hands, then flush the eye with lukewarm water for up to 15 minutes. If the irritation remains and discomfort continues, seek professional medical help immediately.

Multi-Focal Lenses: Multi-focal lenses let you focus on two or more distances through the same lens (usually distance, intermediate, and near). Also known as Bi-focals, Tri-focals, Multi-focals.

Myopia: A condition where distant objects appear less clearly and those objects up close are seen clearly. Also commonly referred to as “nearsighted.”

Nyctalopia: Commonly called “night blindness,” this is a condition that presents as impaired vision in dim light or darkness.

Optic Nerve: A bundle of nerve fibers that carries messages from the eyes to the brain.

Photochromic lenses: Refers to lenses that automatically change from clear to dark in the presence of ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Photophobia: Also called “light sensitivity”, this is a condition that can have many underlying causes, and can be prompted by many medications. Protection from bright light is critical for anyone with photophobia.

Plastic 1.50: This is a lens material often used for minor prescriptions. Very few lenses are made from glass today, since glass is heavier, thicker, and can shatter. Also referred to as standard index or by the brand name CR-39.

Polarized lenses: This type of lens includes an invisible “polarized” filter that helps to cut down on blinding glare from reflective surfaces like water and snow for increased visual acuity (sharpness) in bright light conditions.

Polycarbonate lenses: A lens material that is thinner, lighter, and more impact resistant than standard plastic. Polycarbonate lenses are the standard for children’s eyewear.

Presbyopia: Condition in which the aging crystalline lens (at around age 40) becomes less able to change shape to focus light at all distances, especially near vision. Presbyopia can be corrected with reading glasses, bi-focal glasses, or progressive lenses. Additional symptoms include eyestrain, headaches, and squinting.

Progressives: Bi-focal or multi-focal lenses with no visible lines where the lens power gradually changes from distance to near. Also called PALs (Progressive Addition Lenses).

Pterygium: A raised growth on the eye that is most often directly related to over-exposure to the sun. Dry, dusty conditions may also contribute to development of these growths. Protecting your eyes from UV radiation is a critical preventive measure.

Pupil: The opening in the center of the iris that changes size to control how much light is entering the eye.

Pupillometer: An instrument used to measure the distance between pupils. This measurement is used to position the eyeglass prescription correctly in front of the eye.

Refraction: Test to determine an eye’s refractive error and the best corrective lenses to be prescribed.

Retina: Part of the rear two-thirds of the eye that converts images from the eye’s optical system into impulses that are transferred by the optic nerve to the brain. Consists of layers that include rods and cones.

Rods and cones: These are cells inside the eye used by the retina to process light. Rods are used for low light levels (night vision), cones are used for sharp visual acuity and color perception.

Sclera: The white part of the eye – composed of fibrous tissue that protects the inner workings of the eye.

Single-Vision: Types of lenses that correct one vision problem, like near or far-sightedness.

Snellen Chart: This is the commonly seen eye chart often topped by a large letter “E” used in eye examinations. This measures your eye’s visual acuity, or the ability to see sharp detail clearly.

Strabismus: Sometimes called “crossed eyes” in young children, this condition is the lack of coordination between the eyes, such as one or both eyes turning in, out, up or down.

Ultraviolet radiation (UVR): Commonly referred to as “UV Rays”, these are light waves that consist of both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Without proper protection, chronic exposure to UV rays can lead to various eye conditions and damage.

UV Protection: Relates to a lens’ ability to filter out harmful rays of the sun. It is recommended that glasses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays to minimize eye damage from the sun’s rays.

Visual Acuity: Assessment of the eye’s ability to distinguish object details and shape – numerically expressed as 20/20, 20/70, etc.

 

Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!

Photophobia

All types of light, ranging from interior lighting fixtures to streetlights and to the bright rays of the sun, have the potential to cause eye discomfort or pain. Photophobia refers to this ocular sensitivity to light.

An eye irritation or infection may cause photophobia. Other culprits include albinism, migraines, recent eye surgery or a variety of vision problems. In rare incidences, a congenital disease or certain medications may increase your sensitivity to light. The retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye, is responsible for processing images. Treatment for photophobia involves treating the underlying cause that is disturbing the retina.

With light-sensitivity, the retina sends signals to the brain that are interpreted as discomfort or pain. The level of discomfort is in direct proportion with the strength of the light source, and it doesn’t matter if the light is man-made or natural.

Signs of Photophobia

When exposed to bright light, symptoms of itching, burning, wincing and squinting may all be experienced. Excessive tear production is another sign of photophobia.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suffer from light-sensitivity, you should schedule a consultation with your eye care professional.

People with lighter-colored eyes generally have more of a tendency towards photophobia, and intense light is likely to bother them. If you have light eyes, the lower quantity of pigment is less efficient at diffusing the light beams.

Photophobia may be temporary, or it can appear as a permanent side-effect of an underlying eye condition. The only way to treat photophobia is therefore to get to the root of the problem with a comprehensive eye exam. It’s important to mention any current medications to your eye doctor, as they may be associated with photophobia.

Cataracts

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. The lens works much like a camera lens, focusing light onto the retina at the back of the eye. The lens also adjusts the eye's focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away.

The lens is made of mostly water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and allows light to pass through it. But as we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This is a cataract, and over time, it may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.

Most cataracts occur gradually as we age and don't become bothersome until after age 55. However, cataracts can also be present at birth (congenital cataracts) or occur at any age as the result of an injury to the eye (traumatic cataracts). Cataracts can also be caused by diseases such as diabetes or can occur as the result of long-term use of certain medications, such as steroids.

Cataract Signs and Symptoms

A cataract starts out small and at first has little effect on your vision. You may notice that your vision is blurred a little, like looking through a cloudy piece of glass or viewing an impressionist painting. However, as cataracts worsen, you are likely to notice some or all of these problems:

  • Blurred vision that cannot be corrected with a change in your glasses prescription.
  • Ghost images or double vision in one or both eyes.
  • Glare from sunlight and artificial light, including oncoming headlights when driving at night.
  • Colors appear faded and less vibrant.

What Causes Cataracts?

No one knows for sure why the eye's lens changes as we age, forming cataracts. Researchers are gradually identifying factors that may cause cataracts and gathering information that may help to prevent them.

Many studies suggest that exposure to ultraviolet light is associated with cataract development, so eye care practitioners recommend wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to lessen your exposure. Other types of radiation may also be causes. For example, a study conducted in Iceland suggests that airline pilots have a higher risk of developing a nuclear cataract than non-pilots, and that the cause may be exposure to cosmic radiation. A similar theory suggests that astronauts, too, are at greater risk of cataracts due to their higher exposure to cosmic radiation.

Other studies suggest people with diabetes are at risk for developing a cataract. The same goes for users of steroids, diuretics and major tranquilizers, but more studies are needed to distinguish the effect of the disease from the consequences of the drugs themselves.

Some eyecare practitioners believe that a diet high in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene (vitamin A), selenium and vitamins C and E, may forestall cataract development. Meanwhile, eating a lot of salt may increase your risk.

Other risk factors for cataracts include cigarette smoke, air pollution and heavy alcohol consumption.

Cataract Treatment

When symptoms of cataracts begin to appear, you may be able to improve your vision for a while using new glasses, stronger bifocals and more light when reading. But when these remedies fail to provide enough benefit, it's time for cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery is very successful in restoring vision. In fact, it is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, with nearly 3 million cataract surgeries done each year. More than 90% of people who have cataract surgery regain very good vision, somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40, and sight-threatening complications are relatively rare.

During surgery, the surgeon will remove your clouded lens and replace it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL). New IOLs are being developed all the time to make the surgery less complicated for surgeons and postoperative outcomes better for patients. Presbyopia-correcting IOLs not only improve your distance vision, but can decrease your reliance on reading glasses as well.

If you need cataracts removed from both eyes, surgery usually will be done on only one eye at a time. An uncomplicated surgical procedure lasts only about 10 minutes. However, you may be in the outpatient facility for 90 minutes or longer, because extra time will be needed for preparation and recovery.

Presbyopia-Correcting IOLs: Frequently Asked Questions

If you need cataract surgery, you may have the option of paying extra for new presbyopia-correcting IOLs that potentially can restore a full range of vision without eyeglasses.

Presbyopia-correcting IOLs are a relatively new option, so you may have questions such as:

1. What are presbyopia-correcting IOLs?

Presbyopia-correcting intraocular lenses (IOLs) are lens implants that can correct both distance and near vision, giving you greater freedom from glasses after cataract surgery than standard IOLs. They are available in two forms: multifocal lenses and accommodating lenses. Multifocal lenses are similar to multifocal contact lenses – they contain more than one lens power for different viewing distances. Accommodating IOLs have just one lens power, but the lens is mounted on flexible “legs” that allow the lens to move forward or backward within your eye in response to focusing effort to enable you to see clearly at a range of distances.

2. Aren't presbyopia-correcting IOLs a lot more expensive? How much extra do I have to pay?

Yes, presbyopia-correcting IOLs are more expensive than standard IOLs. Costs vary, depending on the lens used, but you can expect to pay up to $2,500 extra per eye. This added amount is usually not covered by Medicare or other health insurance policies, so it would be an “out-of-pocket” expense if you choose this advanced type of IOL for your cataract surgery.

3. Why won't Medicare or health insurance cover the full cost of presbyopia-correcting IOLs?

A multifocal or accommodating IOL is not considered medically necessary. In other words, Medicare or your insurance will pay only the cost of a basic IOL and accompanying cataract surgery. Use of a more expensive, presbyopia-correcting lens is considered an elective refractive procedure, a type of luxury, just as LASIK and PRK are refractive procedures that also typically are not covered by health insurance.

4. Can my local cataract surgeon perform presbyopia-correcting surgery?

Not all cataract surgeons use presbyopia-correcting IOLs for cataract surgery. Make sure your eye surgeon has experience with these lenses if you choose a multifocal or accommodating IOL. Studies have shown that surgeon experience is a key factor in successful outcomes, particularly in terms of whether you will need to wear eyeglasses following cataract surgery.

5. Are any problems associated with presbyopia-correcting IOLs?

At a 2007 American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery conference, some reports indicated that even experienced cataract surgeons needed to perform enhancements for 13% to 15% of cases involving use of presbyopia-correcting IOLs. Enhancements don't mean that the procedure itself was a failure, because you likely will see just fine with eyeglasses even if your outcome is less than optimal. But it's possible you may need an additional surgical procedure (such as LASIK) to perfect your uncorrected vision after cataract surgery with a presbyopia-correcting IOL. Depending on the arrangement you make with your eye surgeon, you also may need to pay extra for any needed enhancements.

 

Source: AllAboutVision.com. Article © 2015 Access Media Group LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction other than for one-time personal use is strictly prohibited.

Visiting Your Eye Care Professional

eye doctor and patientWhether you or a loved one are having a first eye exam, a repeat eye exam, or are seeing a new eye doctor for the first time, there are a number of routine questions you can expect. But your answers to these questions during eye exams are anything but routine for your eye doctor.

That’s because there are any number of factors in your medical history that can contribute to current or potential vision problems. Understanding your lifestyle and describing any visual problems you’re having helps to point your eye exam in the right direction. And there are medical conditions, medications and circumstances that can put you or a family member at a higher risk for certain eye diseases.

Though the processes and procedures involved in an eye doctor visit and exam are similar for everyone—your exam is unique to you and you alone. That’s because the process of examining your visual acuity (sharpness), visual ability, and then using different machines and procedures to examine your eyes, is as individual as a fingerprint.

Over time, your vision and overall health changes. That, more than anything, is why there’s a general procedure to follow during an eye exam, and why it’s important to visit your eye doctor. Without eye doctor visits, these critical changes in vision and eye health may go unnoticed.

An eye doctor visit is a process

Beyond what you need to know going into an exam, know that visiting your eye doctor is a process you should repeat regularly to maintain eye health and ideal vision.

  1. You can expect an eye doctor visit to last about an hour or so, depending upon whether or not you’ll need to have your pupils dilated (opened up) with special drops to allow your eyecare professional to fully analyze the internal structure of the eye.
  2. Your eye doctor visit starts with a review of your eye exam history, and any visible changes in your sight, your lifestyle, and any changes in your medical condition that may affect your vision. (This includes knowing all medications you’re taking.)
  3. Then you’ll undergo simple visual acuity tests designed to check your overall vision, near vision, and side vision. These tests may reveal vision errors that need correction; errors that usually direct your exam toward special equipment used to accurately determine your prescription.

But expect even more out of your visit to the eye doctor—because correcting vision and maintaining good eye health do require additional, regularly-performed tests.

Visit regularly

Visiting your eye doctor regularly is the only reliable way to maintain healthy sight and possibly prevent mild to serious eye diseases.

For children, teens, and adults of all ages, an eye doctor visit needs to happen regularly; at the minimum once every two years, and more frequently if you currently have eye disease, are at risk or have diabetes, or are approaching stages in life that put you at risk for age-related eye disease.

Things to know before eye exams

Beyond having your vision insurance information, necessary payment and identification ready, here’s a checklist of things to know before you approach the front desk at your next eye exam.

  • What eye problems are you having now? Is your vision blurry or hazy at certain distances? Do you have problems in your side vision? Are you experiencing pain or discomfort in certain lighting situations?
  • Do you have a history of any eye problems or eye injury? Do you have a current prescription for glasses or contact lenses? Are you wearing them regularly, and if so, are you still happy with them?
  • Were you or your loved one born prematurely? Have you had any health problems in the recent such as high blood pressure or heart disease? Are you diabetic? Are you considered overweight?
  • Are you taking any medications? Do you have allergies to medications, food or other materials? Seasonal allergies?
  • Has anyone in your family (including parents) suffered from eye problems or diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration?
  • Has anyone in your family (including parents) suffered from high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes? What about other health problems that can affect the whole body like blood disorders or cancer?

Eye exams include a detailed history because many things you might consider unrelated to vision may actually affect your current vision, or reveal potential risks for developing certain eye diseases. Be ready to provide a complete history at your next eye exam, and help the front desk, and your eye doctor, best prepare for the examination that follows.

 

Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!

More About Cataracts

Though cataracts are often associated with aging—particularly men and women over age 60, people in their 40’s and 50’s are also more prone to developing cataracts. Research suggests that lifestyle factors like cigarette and alcohol use, diabetes and prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays could all contribute to lens yellowing with age, and cataracts.

Other types of cataracts include secondary cataracts from surgery for other eye disorders like glaucoma; cataracts that form as a response to eye trauma or injury; cataracts that develop after exposure to certain forms of radiation; and in some cases, cataracts are congenital—you’re born with them.

The point is—with cataract symptoms and treatment, as with all things eyecare-related—there’s no substitute for a comprehensive, regularly schedule eye exam to check for vision problems and maintain healthy sight.

 

Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!