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Let’s Look At Women’s Eye Health

womens eye health 620We all know there are differences between men and women, but it might surprise you that some of those differences have to do with our eyes!

In general, women are less likely than men to sustain an eye injury during their lifetime, but the unfortunate tradeoff is being more susceptible to various eye diseases.

Women And Eye Diseases

Women tend to need glasses more often than men, and they are more prone to developing chronic dry eye. If you’re struggling with symptoms like blurred vision, irritation, pain, and redness in your eyes, it could be dry eye. Eye drops help in the short term, but if it doesn’t go away, it’s time to schedule an eye appointment.

Two serious, sight-threatening conditions that more women are diagnosed with than men are glaucoma (vision loss from damage to the optic nerve over time) age-related macular degeneration (causes the gradual loss of central vision). Don’t get too worried, though; the reason for this is simply that women tend to live longer than men, and the best way to fight these diseases is early detection through regular eye exams.

Risk Factors For Eye Disease

A few eye disease risk factors associated with being a woman include pregnancy, birth control, and menopause because all three cause a lot of changes in hormone levels. The likelihood of dry eye becomes much higher in these circumstances, and birth control may increase the likelihood of cataracts.

Being a woman is a risk factor no one can control, and another is age, but there are ones that we can do something about. The most important is neglect. In the hustle and bustle of making sure the rest of the family gets all the appointments they need, many women forget that their own health needs attention too. Don’t forget to schedule your own eye exams!

The Female Gaze

After all this talk about eye diseases, we want to switch gears to something more fun: the differences in how male and female eyes actually see! Studies have shown that women are better at distinguishing subtle differences in color, while men are better at tracking movement. Just think — there might actually be a biological reason behind all those married couples arguing over paint swatches!

What Your Optometrist Can Do

As eye health professionals, we encourage all our patients to be proactive in looking after the health of their eyes. Some important things we can all do is eat nutritious foods, avoid smoking, and schedule those regular eye exams. However, if you’re noticing any changes in your vision, don’t wait months for that regular appointment to come around. Give us a call today!

We love helping you keep your eyes healthy!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Flaxseed Oil Or Fish Oil For Dry Eye?

fish oil 620If you’ve ever been near the pharmacy in a grocery store, you’ve probably seen the aisles of nutrition supplements for sale.

These products claim to have a variety of benefits, but today we just want to focus on two: flaxseed oil and fish oil, and what they can do to combat dry eye.

The Dangers Of Dry Eye

The tear film is the eye’s first line of defense against irritants and germs, trapping them so they can be flushed away with each blink. Tears also help our eyes move comfortably. Tear production is somewhat complex, as there are three layers to the tear film that need to stay balanced. Whether overall tear production decreases, the oily layer is disrupted, or the balance is compromised, if something goes wrong, the result can be dry, itchy, irritated, and vulnerable eyes.

There are a number of things we can do to treat dry eye, including taking more breaks from staring at our screens, switching from contact lenses to glasses, and using eye drops, but we can also incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids into our diets. Two great sources of these are flaxseed oil and fish oil.

Flaxseed Oil

What makes flaxseed oil good for our eyes is that it contains high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an important omega-3. The digestion process converts it into two omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that promote strong cell membranes throughout the body, including in the eyes.

Flaxseed oil supplements come in both liquid and capsule form, but you can grind your own flaxseeds and sprinkle them over a salad or add them to a smoothie instead for the same omega-3 benefits. The capsules may be the most convenient, but it can take a large number of them to achieve the desired dose.

Fish Oil

Flaxseed oil will probably be the better choice for vegetarians, but it doesn’t provide as much EPA and DHA as fish oil. Our bodies only convert a small percentage of ALA from plant-based foods into these omega-3 fatty acids, but EPA and DHA are already present in fish oil, so we can get the full benefit without having to break them down first.

If fish oil capsules tend to leave a fishy taste in your mouth, you might prefer to get your omega-3 benefits from delicious grilled fish instead! The best fish for EPA and DHA are salmon, tuna, halibut, and sablefish.

Bring Us Your Omega-3 And Dry Eye Questions

As with all supplements and remedies, it’s important to seek professional medical advice before taking matters into your own hands. What works for other people won’t always work for you, so give us a call or schedule an appointment so that we can determine whether flaxseed oil or fish oil is a good dry eye solution!

We can help you choose the best option for your eye health!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Protecting Your Eye Health While You Work

workplace eye wellness 620March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, and we want to make sure our patients have all the information they need to protect their eyes at work!

The type of job you have will determine what kinds of risks your eyes may be in for injury or health issues, so we’re going to break them up into two main categories: jobs that mainly involve physical labor and office jobs.

Preventing Workplace Eye Injuries

Jobs such as construction or manufacturing work, mining, carpentry, auto repair, electrical work, plumbing, welding, and maintenance are all high risk jobs when it comes to eye injury. More than two thousand workers in these fields have to seek medical attention for an eye injury every day.

That may sound alarming, but the good news is that 90 percent of these injuries can be prevented or at least reduced in severity through the use of proper safety equipment. If you work in one of these fields, make sure you wear your safety glasses, goggles, face shield, welding helmet, or full-face respirator as needed.

Office Jobs And Eye Safety

If you have an office job, you likely don’t face the same risks of eye injuries, but your work conditions could still be hazardous to your eye health. The most common eye problem for office workers is computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain.

Constantly staring at your computer screen might not cause permanent damage to your eyesight, but it can make your eyes tired and irritated and negatively impact your work, with symptoms including headaches, neck pain, inattentiveness, back strain, and dry eye.

A few ways you can fight back against that eye strain include repositioning your screen, following the 20-20-20 rule, making an effort to blink more often, using artificial tears, drinking plenty of water, using an anti-glare screen or wearing computer glasses, and, finally, scheduling regular eye exams!

If you don’t know what the 20-20-20 rule is, just watch this short video:

 

Bring Us Your Questions About Workplace Eye Safety

If you’ve been experiencing eye strain symptoms or think you might not be doing everything you can to protect your eyes from injury at work, just call us or stop by. We’d love to answer any questions you have, because we want all of our patients to be able to do their best work without having to fear for their eyes’ safety!

Make sure you’re showing your eyes some love!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

AMD 620Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of vision loss for people over the age of 50.

In AMD patients, vision loss occurs as the macula deteriorates over time. The macula is the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision, AMD can make it difficult or impossible to do daily tasks like reading, writing, and driving.

Who Is At Risk?

Macular degeneration can happen earlier in life, but age is easily the biggest risk factor. A few others include race and genetics. Unfortunately, none of these factors are things we can control, but we can control whether or not we smoke, as smoking is yet another risk factor for AMD.

Symptoms Of AMD

AMD often goes undetected for a long time because it is painless and the negative effects on vision take a while to manifest. Over time, however, blurry patches or dark spots will begin to appear in the central vision. Objects may also appear less bright than they used to, or they may seem warped.

Wet And Dry AMD

AMD cases fall into two main categories: wet and dry. The most common form is dry macular degeneration, accounting for up to 90 percent of people with the condition. Dry AMD happens when the tissues of the macula grow thinner over time, accompanied by fatty deposits of drusin in the retina. The effects of dry AMD tend to be less serious.

The remaining 10 percent of AMD cases will progress to the more dangerous form: wet AMD. This occurs when new blood vessels grow under the retina in an effort to strengthen the blood supply. However, these new vessels are unstable and can leak fluid and scar the macula, resulting in faster and worse vision loss.

Helping Your Eyes Stay Healthy

There is currently no cure for AMD, but there is still a lot we can do to reduce our risk of developing it and slow its progress after diagnosis. The most important thing is to build and maintain healthy habits.

Regular exercise and healthy eating promote whole-body wellness, and that includes eye health. Make sure to include plenty of carrots, fish, leafy greens, and eggs. Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and avoiding smoking will also help protect your eyes.

The Role Of The Optometrist

In addition to those good habits, scheduling regular eye exams is critical. The earlier we can catch AMD, the more we can do to slow it down. If you’re worried that you could be at risk of AMD and especially if you’ve been experiencing any symptoms, call us or stop by to schedule an appointment right away!

Your clear vision is our top priority!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Smart Contact Lenses?

smart contacts 665 e1550090425573It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of a smart contact lens seemed like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s pretty close to becoming science fact.

What exactly are smart contact lenses, and what would they be for? Let’s take a look at a few of the different possibilities we could be seeing in the not-so-distant future.

Contacts For Monitoring Blood Sugar

One application smart contacts will likely have is monitoring blood sugar levels of diabetics by measuring the amount of glucose in the tear film. When these become available, diabetics will be able to say goodbye to the daily finger prick test, because their contacts will be able to get the same information simply by wearing them!

Contacts For Eye Medication

In 2018, a team from Harvard Medical School developed contact lenses that can deliver medication directly to the eye over a period of days or weeks. These lenses could be used to treat eye diseases like glaucoma or help with the recovery from an eye surgery. How would you like to simply put in a contact lens instead of having to remember to use eye drops?

Smart Vision Correction For Presbyopia Patients

If you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, can you imagine wearing contact lenses that automatically adjust to help you see up-close or far away? That would mean no more lines across your vision, and you wouldn’t need to turn your head to see things at different distances. We look forward to hearing more about this kind of smart contact lens technology.

One day, we might even be able to wear computer screens on our eyes:

 

Obstacles To Smart Lenses

As exciting as this futuristic technology is, there are a number of roadblocks that make it incredibly complicated. It isn’t just about making smaller circuitry and computer chips — this stuff also needs to be wearable, breathable, see-through, and safe. It will be very exciting to see the kinds of smart contact lenses that come out, as well as the other ways that kind of technology could be used.

Find The Right Contact Lenses For You

While we wait for contact lenses that incorporate all kinds of amazing technology, we’ll still be wearing our regular contact lenses to help us see clearly. If you’re interested in switching to contact lenses or you have questions about contact lens care and safety, just give us a call!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

Top image by Flickr user Lee Haywood used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

We are now an accredited DRY EYE CENTER

Insight Eyecare is thrilled to announce we are now an Accredited DRY EYE CENTER!

There are too many beautiful things to see and do to let Chronic Dry get in your way. InSight Eyecare is proud to be a Certified Dry Eye Center and excited to bring the latest technology for Dry Eye assessment and treatment including the OCULUS Keratograph. For a personal evaluation and customized treatment plan, make an appointment with one of our doctors today!

Yes, there is freedom from dry, itchy, gritty eyes.

See our attached PDF to learn more! Dry Eye Examination with the OCULUS Keratograph 5M

Progressive Lenses Versus Bifocals

presbyopia 620Nearly everyone over the age of 65 will experience a reduced elasticity of the lenses of their eyes — a condition called presbyopia.

Those of us lucky enough to have perfect vision until that age will only require reading glasses to help with up-close vision. However, for the 42 percent of Americans who are nearsighted to begin with, a more complex solution will be necessary, such as bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses.

Bifocals: Pros And Cons

Bifocals are just what they sound like: glasses with one area that corrects nearsightedness and another area that corrects farsightedness. The worse presbyopia gets, it can start to affect middle distances too, and trifocals help by adding a middle strip for things like reading a computer screen.

If you’ve ever worn bifocals or trifocals, you know all about the line between the sections of the lenses. These lines can be distracting and create an odd “image jump” effect, and they can also serve as evidence of advancing age to anyone who sees them. Anyone who feels these drawbacks are too great to overlook might be more interested in progressive lenses.

The Science Of Progressive Lenses

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, progressive lenses do what bifocals and trifocals do but without the distracting lines. The way this works is that the prescription gradually changes along a corridor of power, going from supporting distance vision at the top to close vision at the bottom.

The tradeoff to make such a complex lens work is that the bottom corners of progressive lenses make things appear blurry. Fortunately, newer technology is helping to minimize this flaw. When we examine patients wishing to buy progressive lenses, we measure pupillary distance so that we can place the corridor of power in the best place.

Getting Used To Progressive Lenses

Any time we change the prescription or frame shape of our glasses, it will take some time to get used to the way things look. This is certainly the case for progressive lenses, especially if it’s your first time wearing them. A few things you can do to adjust more quickly include:

  • moving your head instead of your eyes to see different things
  • making sure the glasses fit properly so that the corridor of power stays in the right place
  • practicing looking at objects at different differences by watching TV and reading a book at the same time
  • not giving up! If you switch back and forth between your progressive lenses and your old bifocals, you’ll reset the clock on your eyes getting used to them!

Talk To Us About Your Next Pair Of Glasses

If you have any questions about progressive lenses, don’t hesitate to bring them to us. We want all of our patients to have the perfect lenses to help them see clearly. And while we’re at it, we’ll help you find the perfect frames!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Glaucoma 101: Eyes Under Pressure

glaucoma 620Human eyesight is an incredibly complex system, and a problem anywhere along the way can lead to seriously compromised vision.

One such problem is glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that affect millions of people in the US, making it the second most common cause of vision loss and blindness in the country. In most cases, glaucoma is the result of damage to the optic nerve from increased pressure in the eye.

Intraocular Pressure: A Delicate Balance

The human eye is filled with fluid — aqueous humor in the front chambers, vitreous humor in the larger rear chamber behind the lens. In a healthy eye, the pressure of this fluid remains within a safe range because the amount of aqueous humor being produced is roughly equal to the amount flowing out through the pupil. In an eye with glaucoma, this drainage system does not work the way it should.

2 Common Types Of Glaucoma

At least three million Americans have open-angle glaucoma, which comes on very gradually (over the course of years) and accounts for 90 percent of glaucoma cases. The drainage canals of the eye become clogged, stopping the fluid from draining effectively and causing the pressure to build. Because this process is so slow and vision isn’t noticeably affected until late in the disease, regular comprehensive eye exams are essential for catching it early on and halting its progress.

The second most common type of glaucoma is angle-closure glaucoma. Unlike the gradual progression of open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma happens very suddenly, when the iris (the colorful circular muscle that regulates the amount of light that comes in through the pupil) actually blocks the drainage canals. This tends to come with a variety of symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, eye pain, very blurred vision, and rainbows around lights. Get to the eye doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms.

Common Risk Factors

While everyone has some risk of developing glaucoma, certain factors can make it more likely. Glaucoma is far more common in people over 60, particularly African Americans and Hispanics. People of Asian descent are at greater risk of angle-closure glaucoma.

A major risk factor for glaucoma is heredity. Studies estimate that over half of glaucoma cases are familial. Someone with a sibling who has glaucoma is ten times more likely to develop it than someone who doesn’t. Other risk factors include eye injury and steroid use.

Why Early Diagnosis Matters

Vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible and there is currently no cure for the disease, but medication and/or surgery can halt its progress as long as it is diagnosed in time. The key to early diagnosis is regular eye exams, especially for those with a high risk of developing the condition. Make sure you’re familiar with your family’s eye health history, and don’t forget to keep us in the loop!

Your lifelong healthy vision is our top priority!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Warning Signs Of Child Vision Problems

childhood vision problems 620An estimated 60 percent of children with learning difficulties have undiagnosed vision problems, and 80 percent of learning is visual.

This puts these children at a serious disadvantage in their education and their social development. So what can we do as parents to make sure this doesn’t happen to our children? Fortunately, there’s plenty!

Why Are So Many Vision Problems Undiagnosed?

One reason childhood eye problems aren’t diagnosed as often as they should is that children don’t self-report. Adults sometimes compound this issue by mistaking the symptoms for those of learning disabilities. When children struggle with visual tasks, they may not recognize that the problem is with their eyes. All they know is that they’re having a harder time with these things than their peers, which can be confusing and upsetting, especially if adults are scolding them for failing to do the tasks.

Common Vision Problems

Another reason vision problems go undiagnosed is that many children don’t get comprehensive eye exams. The school nurse may test their visual acuity with the big E chart, but that’s it. While this is certainly an important test, there’s a lot that it doesn’t check for, such as:

  • Convergence Insufficiency: a binocular vision problem in which the eyes tend to drift outward when looking at up-close things, making tasks like reading difficult.
  • Astigmatism: a refractive error that causes blurry vision, but whose effects can be subtle enough that a vision screening might miss it. If left untreated by corrective lenses, this can cause amblyopia.
  • Strabismus: misalignment of the eyes where they turn in, out, up, or down. Untreated strabismus can also cause amblyopia, but it can be corrected by patching, specially designed glasses, or sometimes surgery.
  • Amblyopia, or “lazy eye”: poor vision in one eye, typically caused by astigmatism, difference in each eye’s refractive error, or crossed eyes. Without treatment, amblyopia can lead to irreversible vision loss.

Signs Parents Can Watch For

Some symptoms of an eye problem are easily observable, such as an eye turning in or out or frequent squinting, but others may require more careful observation. It’s never a bad idea to bring your child in for a comprehensive eye exam, but you should definitely schedule one if you notice that they…

  • frequently rub their eyes or blink rapidly
  • have a short attention span
  • struggle with or avoid reading and other up-close activities
  • get frequent headaches
  • often cover one eye
  • tilt their head to one side
  • hold their reading materials close to their eyes
  • often lose their place while reading
  • have difficulty remembering what they just read

Don’t Wait To Schedule Your Child’s Eye Exam

As parents, we want to give our children the very best, and an important part of that is making sure that if they have a vision disorder, it gets diagnosed and treated as soon as possible so that they don’t have to struggle against it as they learn and grow. If you want to know more about any of these eye conditions or schedule an eye exam for your child, just give us a call!

Healthy vision is the gateway to learning!

Top image by Flickr user popofatticus used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Our Top Tips For Winter Eye Safety

winter eye safety 620Because it’s so much colder outside in winter, our instinct might be to assume that we’re safe from damage from the sun.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. We are just as vulnerable to harmful UV rays in winter as we are in summer. Our skin might be mostly bundled up from the cold, keeping it safe from UV rays, but what about our eyes? And what about other ways our eyes are vulnerable in the winter months?

Snow Blindness: A Winter Sunburn On Your Eyes

One way the sun can impact our eyes in winter is snow blindness. Too much sunlight can actually sunburn our eyes and cause temporary blindness, and this condition is much more common in winter due to sunlight reflecting off the snow. Because it can take hours for symptoms to appear, we often don’t know we have it until it’s too late and we’ve been exposing our eyes to all that sunlight for even longer. Luckily, there are things we can do to protect our eyes from winter conditions.

Sunglasses: Not Just A Summer Look

If you think sunglasses are only for summer, think again! A pair of polarized, 100 percent UV-blocking sunglasses are your best defense against harmful UV rays when you’re going about your day in snowy conditions.

Don’t Hit The Slopes Without Your Goggles!

Those of us who enjoy skiing or snowboarding will actually be exposed to more UV rays than people who prefer summer activities, because the atmosphere is thinner at high altitudes, making the sunlight harsher. This is just one reason ski goggles are a crucial piece of equipment for winter athletes.

When you’re looking for the right pair of ski goggles, there are a few things to consider. In addition to finding goggles with 100 percent UV protection, you can buy a pair that has vents or an anti-fog coating, preventing them from fogging up when you get going. Polarized lenses will eliminate that harsh glare off the snow, making it much easier for you to see the slope. If you wear prescription glasses, you can also find ski goggles that fit comfortably over them.

Combating Dry Eye In The Winter Air

The air can often be drier in winter than at other times of the year, and the heating we use indoors can dry it out even more. This can leave our eyes dry and irritated. To fight back against dry eye in winter, make sure you’re staying hydrated, use the seat warmers in the car a little more and the heater a little less, and consider getting a humidifier for your home.

Ask Us For More Winter Eye Protection Tips

If you’d like to know more about what you can do to protect your eyes from snow blindness, winter dry eye, and other problems we’re more susceptible to in the colder months, just let us know! We want to make sure all of our patients have the information and tools they need to keep their eyes healthy year round!

We hope everyone stays warm this winter!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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