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The 6 Most Common Eye Problems

young blonde with pain in the eye

At some point in our lives, most of us will experience some form of vision loss — whether it happens in our youth or as we age. As an ophthalmologist, I’ve treated many different types of eye issues, ranging from fairly common to extremely rare.

Our eyesight is one of our most valuable assets. The eyes allow us to experience the world, take in our surroundings and are the mechanism by which external stimuli is captured and pieced together in the brain. Because of this, maintaining eye health should be of utmost importance.

Below, I’ve listed the top six most common issues my patients experience with their eyes and what you can do to keep a “lookout” for them:

1. Cataracts: Characterized by a clouding of the lens in the eye, most cataracts are age-related and more common in people aged 50 and older. However, they can develop at any age. Cataracts can be the result of injury or from protein deterioration over time that can cause the fluid inside the eyes lens to cloud. Risk factors include UV (ultraviolet light) exposure over time and trauma to the eye. If left untreated, cataracts can ultimately cause severe vision loss. Good news though: Cataracts are one of the only common eye problems that can be completely cured through surgery.

2. Keratoconus. This weakening of the collagen fibers inside the cornea lead to structure failure (like compromised steel beams in a building). The result is the cornea bulges out and can cause tremendous loss of vision if it is not treated early and quickly. Left untreated, many people will need an invasive cornea transplant. Fortunately now there are minimally-invasive treatments that can treat keratoconus early and avoid the need for a cornea transplant.

3. Diabetic Retinopathy: This common diabetic eye disease is caused by changes in retinal blood vessels. The prolonged high blood sugar associated with Types 1 and 2 diabetes can cause severe damage to various structures in the eye, with the most common being intraocular bleeding caused by the rupture or blockage of tiny blood vessels. According to the American Diabetes Association, roughly 30 million Americans have diabetes and millions more are pre-diabetic. These alarming figures are a sobering reminder to keep an eye out for some of the more unpleasant side effects of this disease.

4. Macular Degeneration: This leading cause of blindness is characterized by damage to the area of the retina that perceives light: the macula. Risk factors include: age, smoking, female gender, and family history. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for macular degeneration. However, current treatments can slow the progression of the disease. Seeing your eye doctor regularly can help you catch the symptoms early enough to begin medical intervention.

5. Refractive Errors: According to the National Eye Institute, refractive errors are the most common cause of vision problems. Put simply, refraction is the bending of light as it passes through one object to another. Refraction in the eye occurs when light passes through the cornea and the lens. Errors can occur as a result of the length of the eyeball, changes in the shape of the cornea or simply due to natural aging of the lens. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are categorized by refractive errors. The most common age-related refractive error is presbyopia, a hardening of the lenses which can cause vision changes after the age of 40.

6. Glaucoma: This condition causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve and only worsens over time. Unfortunately, glaucoma has few or no initial symptoms. In most cases, it is associated with a higher-than-normal pressure inside the eye, but can also occur under normal intraocular conditions. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause peripheral vision loss and can eventually lead to blindness. Once detected and dependent upon the severity, this disorder can be treated with either surgery, lasers or medicated eye drops.

Remember, these common eye problems can be either cured or curbed if caught early by a eyecare professional. Keeping up with your regular eye doctor appointments is the best way you can ensure healthy vision for years to come.

For more information regarding this post, please visit HuffingtonPost.com.

Back to School Eye Care Tips for Kids

Group Of Elementary Age Schoolchildren Standing Outside

With the school year fast approaching, parents are gearing up for their children’s enrollment with a plethora of forms, orientation seminars, immunizations and the standard yearly physical. August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, which serves not only as a great reminder to get your children’s eyes checked before school starts, but also to remember the importance of maintaining good eye health and safety throughout the year.

School is a place where ideas are freely exchanged, intellectual growth is nurtured and social interactions are shaped though experience. However, the school’s halls and classrooms so vital to our children’s development are also a hotbed of infectious bacteria and present various dangers to the eyes.

With kids busy running to class, staring endlessly at computer screens studying or training hard for their school’s athletics program, thinking about maintaining good eye health and safety may not be a top priority in their minds. By taking the time to teach them a few important safety tips, parents can ensure their kids will be able to focus on what really matters: education.

Here are a few of the most important things to remember:

1. Get your child an eye exam before school starts: Problems with your children’s vision can be detected through a routine eye exam. It’s important to correct these issues, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, before they create more serious complications such as difficulty learning or the development of recurrent headaches.

2. Kids should wash their hands regularly: According to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, more than 164 million school days are missed due to the spread of infectious diseases. Three million of those missed days are the direct result of acute conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. It’s important to remind your children to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their eyes as much as possible.

3. Ensure children wear protective eyewear when playing sports: Most eye injuries among kids aged 11 to 14 occur while playing sports, with nearly 35,000 incidents per year according to the National Eye Institute. Protective eyewear, such as goggles or a helmet-mounted eye/face shield, can drastically reduce the risk of serious eye injury. As parents, a great way to help is by setting a good example whenever you participate in sports.

4. Encourage kids to give their eyes a rest: With the school year in full swing, your children will likely be spending a lot of time with their nose stuck in books or staring at the computer screen. Over time, this can cause eye strain, headaches, blurred vision or even nearsightedness. Remind your children to give their eyes a rest every 20 to 30 minutes. It’s a good idea to minimize glare where they are working, as this can force the eyes to work harder than need be.

5. Purchase your children high E-SPF glasses: A lot of activities that kids participate in after school expose them to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Over time, UV exposure can lead to a host of problems for the eyes, including the early development of cataracts. By purchasing protective, high E-SPF prescription glasses or sunglasses for your child, you’ll foster and encourage their good eye health years to come.

If at any time you suspect your child may be having vision issues, please consult your family eye doctor.

For more information regarding this blog, please visit HuffingtonPost.com.

Dry Eyes? 25 Solutions To Try.

Closeup, cropped portrait, young woman, girl applying eyedroppers, isolated white background. Face expression. Eye health care concept

Approximately 20.7 million Americans suffer from Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, otherwise known as Dry Eye Syndrome (DES). Since I have personally been dealing with this condition for the past 11 years, my blog www.ICanHearMyselfBlink.com provides suggestions for alleviating discomfort and updates readers on the latest ophthalmological developments.

In this introductory post to a new series on dry eye, I decided what better way to start than by giving you my thoughts on the topic, alphabetically — There is that much that you can do in order to make your environment better for your eyes. We posted the first ten, visit HuffingtonPost.com for the entire list.

Air
Keep that humidifier going. In my house, we have a cold air humidifier, which is the safest option when there are kids around. Windy and smoky conditions outdoors can exacerbate dry eye symptoms, so look into protective sunglasses that shield you from outdoor irritants.

(Polyphenol) Antioxidants
Dry eye can also be caused by free radical damage (oxidative stress) in the body caused by aging; poor diet; lack of exercise; and unhealthy lifestyle factors such as smoking, excess alcohol, medications (i.e. allergy medicines, anti-depressants) and chronic stress. Healthful foods rich in polyphenol antioxidants may help slow down the process of oxidation and help to “turn back the clock.”

Babies And Breastfeeding
Hormones do strange things — You may find that your eyes are less dry during pregnancy and drier during breastfeeding, or vice versa. You may have to use more drops during these times (I did during my pregnancies) and you will probably have to change your diet. Foods like salmon that are high in omega 3 fatty acids can really help with dry eye during these periods, but I’ll get to that shortly.

Computer-Usage
The computer is hard on your eyes. Limit computer usage if possible or make sure to take frequent breaks. Position your laptop below eye level so that you are blinking and closing your eyes more, advises Dr. William Trattler of the Center for Excellence in Eyecare in Miami, FL. Montefiore Medical Center in NY’s Roy Chuck, M.D. makes the same recommendation to his patients.

Crying
I’m not suggesting you plunge into depression, but your own tears are the best and most natural lubricant. A touching movie or book might not be such a bad idea when you require some all-natural relief that no drop seems to provide.

Drops, Drops, Drops
Every hour to a half an hour I apply drops and in between I use something with less viscosity, specifically preservative free vials. Saline may also be an option.

Exercise
Yoga and tai chi are great anti-aging exercises and will keep oxidative stress at bay, plus exercise will help you forget about your eyes while keeping you busy.

Eye Ointment
There are several brands of mineral-oil based ointments for dry eyes recommended for nighttime usage. I actually use mine during the day. These ointments really alleviate the dry eye symptoms, but you don’t want to have eye makeup on while it’s in your eye. Most irritating to dry eye is when eye makeup gets into it!

Vitamin E
When taking fish oil supplements for dry eye, it’s recommended that you also take Vitamin E. Long term usage of fish oil may deplete you of the vitamin so it’s best to be on the safe side and consult your physician before beginning any regimen. (See the important disclaimer at the bottom of this post!)

Evening Primrose Oil
This helped bring me into labor with my first child, but I’ve also heard that some folks use it as a natural remedy for dry eye and swear by it. I don’t take it yet, but I am curious to find out more and I am in the process of researching EPO.

Remember, for the rest of the article, please visit HuffingtonPost.com.

9 Worst Eye Care Mistakes You’re Making

http://abcnews.go.com/

You rely on them from the moment you wake up to when you turn off the lights at night. But are you really giving your eyes the care they deserve? We talked to Deeba Chaudri, OD, a New York City-based optometrist with LensCrafters, about her patients’ biggest bloopers when it comes to taking care of their baby blues (or browns, greens, or hazels).

Here’s what not to do to make sure your vision stays healthy well into your golden years.

Sleeping in contact lenses
There are two types of contacts that are FDA-approved for overnight wear, but Chaudri says even those can be risky. In fact, an American Academy of Ophthalmology study revealed that the risk of developing a corneal ulcer is 10 to 15 times greater in extended-wear contact lens users than those who only wear their contacts during the day. And don’t even think about sleeping in any other type of contact lens. “You’re depriving your corneas of oxygen, and that’s a great way to cause infection and encourage bacteria to grow,” Chaudri says.

It’s fine to take a 20-minute nap in your contacts, she says, but it’s safer to take them out beforehand—just in case you oversleep! If you do wake up to realize you’re still sporting your lenses, don’t try to take them out right away; if your eyes are dried out, you could actually pull the top layer of your cornea away with them. Instead, wait 20 to 30 minutes and lubricate with artificial tears before you remove the contacts. Then stick to glasses for the rest of the day.

Touching and rubbing your eyes
Whether you wear contacts or not, you’re asking for trouble by unnecessary poking and rubbing your eyes. “Sometimes your eyes itch and you have to rub, but it’s best to keep the lid closed and only touch the outside of the eye,” Chaudri says. Rubbing too hard can also lead to broken blood vessels and inflammation.

Another reason to keep your hands off? Your eyes are protected by mucous membranes—moist tissue that can easily collect dirt and germs—so they’re a great place for bacteria to grow. “If you shake someone’s hand and then you rub your eyes, you’re transmitting those germs and there’s a good chance you can catch whatever cold he’s got.”

Not getting annual eye exams
“A lot of first-time patients tell me ‘I haven’t had an eye exam in 12 years because my vision was 20/20 the last time I was checked,’” Chaudri says. Vision changes aren’t even the most important reason you should still see an eye doc every year, she says. “It’s about getting your overall eye health checked out: There are no pain receptors behind the eye, so if you have a broken blood vessel or a tumor back there, you would otherwise not know it until it starts to interfere with your vision, or worse.”

Staring at devices all day (and night)
Electronic screens, like those on our computers, tablets, and smartphones, emit blue light, which some eye doctors believe to be as harmful as the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Plus, focusing on anything for hours on end can cause eye strain and headaches, Chaudri says.

“If I told you to run around Manhattan and not stop for hours, your calves would be pretty sore afterward, wouldn’t they? Think about what your eyes are going through when you don’t take a break from your computer all day,” she says. Instead, follow the 20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes you look at a screen, take a 20-second break to look into the distance, refocus your eyes on something else, and make a conscious effort to blink—you may not have been doing enough of it before!

Applying eyeliner to your waterline
Even though makeup artists often swear by putting liner on the inside of your lower lashes, Chaudri says it’s actually quite risky. “When you put liner inside your eye, you’re mixing it with your tears,” she explains. If you’re wearing contacts, your lenses then get coated in tiny makeup particles, which can deprive your eyes of oxygen. And even if you’re not wearing contacts, those makeup particles can also be carrying germs that can cause infection.

Liquid liners are especially dangerous, she adds, since the applicator tip sits in a tube that can harbor bacteria. Soft pencils are safer since they are continuously being worn down and a new “tip” is exposed, but she still recommends applying them outside the eye only.

Sleeping in your makeup
Hitting the sack without washing your face can do more than leave mascara stains on your pillow; it can also clog the glands around your peepers and lead to irritated skin, pimples, and even styes—painful, raised bumps that can appear on or around the eyelids.

False lashes are a no-no in Chaudri’s book, too. “If you’re sleeping in them and rubbing them, that glue can get into your cornea and lead to major inflammation.”

Using expired solution, lenses, or drops
There’s nothing wrong with saving a slightly-past-its-prime bottle of contact lens solution, right? Actually, there could be. “These solutions have cleansers that kill bacteria on your lenses, so you want to make sure all of those ingredients are still doing their job,” Chaudri says. The same thing goes for the lenses themselves, which sit in a sterile solution that can break down over time. Artificial tears and prescription eye drops also have expiration dates that you should pay close attention to, as well. And definitely don’t rinse your contact case or store contacts in any liquid that’s not sterile, like tap or distilled water; both have been associated with Acanthamoeba keratitis, a drug-resistant corneal infection.

Relying on redness-reducing drops
“My biggest pet peeve is the overuse of redness-reducing eye drops,” Chaudri says. The kinds you buy in the drugstore contain vasoconstrictors, which shrink blood vessels and temporarily make your eyes appear less red. “But they also contain preservatives and other chemicals that can make your problem even worse in the long run, and it’s only a matter of time before you experience a rebound effect.” If your eyes are constantly red or irritated, it’s important to see an eye doctor who can get to the root of your problem, Chaudri says. He or she can recommend an over-the-counter product (like a moisturizing “artificial tears” drop) or suggest other forms of treatment.

Not wearing sunglasses year-round
“A lot of people think sunglasses are only for the summer, or that they’re only for fashion purposes,” Chaudri says. “But wearing them in the winter can be even more important because the sun reflects off the snow.”

Failing to wear proper UV protection can result in corneal burns, skin cancer on the eyelids, and visible spots on the whites of the eyes. Make sure your glasses provide protection against UVA and UVB rays, advises Chaudri, and wear them whenever you’re out in the sun.

Children’s Sunglasses and Why They Are Important

Five adorable kids, lying on the grass, smiling, having fun, wearing glasses

Children may not be as interested as adults are in the fashion aspect of sunglasses. But because kids spend much more time outdoors than most adults do, sunglasses that block 100 percent of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays are extra important for children.

In fact, because children spend significantly more time outdoors than most adults, some experts say that up to half of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation can occur by age 18. (Other research cited by The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests the amount of lifetime exposure to UV radiation sustained by age 18 is less than 25 percent.)

And since excessive lifetime exposure to UV radiation has been linked to the development of cataracts and other eye problems, it’s never too early for kids to begin wearing good quality sunglasses outdoors.

UV rays aren’t the only potential danger from sunlight. Recently, researchers have suggested that long-term exposure to high-energy visible (HEV) light rays, also called “blue light,” may also cause eye damage over time. In particular, some believe a high lifetime exposure to HEV light may contribute to the development of macular degeneration later in life.

Children’s eyes are more susceptible to UV and HEV radiation than adult eyes because the lens inside a child’s eye is less capable of filtering these high-energy rays. This is especially true for young children, so it’s wise for kids to start wearing protective sunglasses outdoors as early in life as possible.

Also, be aware that your child’s exposure to UV rays increases at high altitudes, in tropical locales and in highly reflective environments (such as in a snowfield, on the water or on a sandy beach). Protective sunwear like children’s sunglasses, are especially important for kids in these situations.

Choosing Sunglass Lens Colors
The level of UV protection sunglasses provide has nothing to do with the color of the lenses.
As long as your optician certifies that the lenses block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays, the choice of color and tint density is a matter of personal preference.

Most sunglass lenses that block the sun’s HEV rays are amber or copper in color. By blocking blue light, these lenses also enhance contrast, a positive feature for outdoor sports and cycling.

Sunglass Styles for Kids
Colorful, adolescent frame styles are still available, but sunglass companies have found a niche in appealing to children’s desire to look like their parents or older siblings.

Oval, round, rectangular, cat-eye and geometric shapes are all popular in cool, sophisticated colors like green, blue, tortoise and black. Metal frames are very popular, but so are plastic sunglass frames that look like scaled-down versions of trendy adult styles. Also, sporty styles for kids like wraparounds are available in miniature adult editions.

Where to Get Kids’ Sunglasses
Some opticians even specialize in children’s sunglasses and eyeglasses and have dedicated areas just for kids to play and shop for their frames.

Wherever you go, look for a good selection of sunglass frames scaled specifically for a child’s facial dimensions and a professional staff experienced in fitting children’s eyewear.

Don’t Forget the Accessories
During the selection and fitting of your child’s sunglasses, the optician should explain the benefits of the sunglasses and how to care for them.

Often, the optician will include or recommend cleaning cloths, solutions and a protective, hard-shell case to store the sunglasses in when they are not worn.

Sunglass cords (commonly called “retainers”) are also a good idea. These can be attached to the temples of the sunglasses so that when removed (or knocked off), the sunglasses can hang from the neck and not get misplaced.

One important factor to remember is that sunglass lenses are impact resistant (as required by the FDA) but they are not shatterproof.

Many parents prefer polycarbonate lenses for their children’s eyewear and sunwear since they are strong, durable and impact-resistant.

Special frame materials and styles designed for rough activities are available as well for kids’ sports eyewear and sunglasses.

Please visit allaboutvision.com for the full article.

Location

Moreland EyeCare
100 Peach Ridge Road
Anna, IL  62906
Phone: (618) 833-9208

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Monday: 8:00am - 7:00pm
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