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Back-to-School Success Starts with Healthy Vision

It’s that time of year again. Children across the country are gearing up for the new school year with new bags, new books and loads of energy and excitement. This is the ideal time to take your child to get an eye exam, if you haven’t already done so.

(Proper vision is essential for success in school and as your child grows, there are various stages of development that can cause changes in his or her eyesight.)

Approximately 80 percent of learning is accomplished through the use of a child’s eyes. Despite the strong correlation between vision and learning, many parents underestimate or are simply unaware of vision problems and don’t include eye exams as part of their child’s back to school health check up. As your child’s vision may change frequently, regular eye and vision care is crucial to their classroom success and happiness.

(Children have the amazing ability to function with a vision problem and not express their difficulty as they themselves do not realize they are having a problem seeing.) It is especially important to monitor the signs and symptoms of vision problems as your child progresses in school. Impaired vision and increasing visual demands such as smaller print in textbooks or additional homework can significantly alter his/her performance. New technology brought into the classroom, such as the use of interactive whiteboards, can also potentially exacerbate less obvious vision problems. Without adequate vision, students may suffer not only in the classroom, but also mentally, physically and emotionally.

If your child already wears glasses, now is also a good time to reassess the suitability of his or her current frame and perhaps replace your child’s glasses to start off the new year. The more your child likes and feels comfortable in his/her glasses, the more likely he/she will wear them.

So visit us as part of your back-to-school routine so we can help your child start the year afresh with great vision.

Eye Dangers in the Dorm – Eye Health for College Students

It’s almost back to school time for college students and whether this is your first time away from home or you are already a pro, you want to be prepared with as much knowledge as possible to live safely on your own. This knowledge includes eye and vision safety, as failing to take care of your eyes today could cause damage to your eyes and vision now and in the future. 

So put down your text books for a second and learn these four simple lessons about protecting your precious eyes:

Blue Light Protection

College students spend a LOT of time in front of screens. From each class, homework assignment, and research project, to texting, tinder, netflix and gaming – life is largely digital. This comes with a slew of potential side effects known as computer vision syndrome, including sore and tired eyes, headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain, dry eyes and blurred vision, largely due to the effect of the blue light emitted from the screens. Research shows that blue light can also impact your sleep quality and may possibly be connected to the development of retinal damage and macular degeneration later in life.

There are a few ways to protect your eyes and vision from blue light and computer vision syndrome:

  1. Use computer glasses or blue-light blocking coated lenses or contact lenses when working on a screen for long periods of time. These lenses are made to allow optimal visual comfort for the distance and unique pixelation of working on a computer or mobile screen, by reducing glare and eye strain. They also block potentially harmful blue-light radiation from entering your eyes. 
  2. Prescription glasses may be considered as well. Many students who never needed glasses previously experience eyestrain with extensive hours studying in university. A minor prescription can make a big difference in reducing eye fatigue and helping to improve concentration.
  3. Implement the 20-20-20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows your eyes to pause from the intensity of the computer screen. 
  4. Depending on your environment, eye drops prescribed from the eye doctor may be helpful. Your blink rate often goes down substantially when you are concentrating on reading or computer work, which can cause dry eyes. Using eye drops and remembering to blink frequently can help reduce these uncomfortable symptoms. 
  5. Install bluelight filters on your digital devices to reduce the amount of blue light exposure. There are a number of free apps available to download on your phone or computer. 

Proper Contact Lens Use

Many college students opt for contact lenses as they are convenient and great for the appearance, but they come along with responsibility. The busy days and late nights can sometimes make contact lens care difficult so make sure to plan ahead. If you wear contact lenses you need to make sure that you always get them from an authorized lens distributor and that you follow your eye doctor’s instructions for proper care.

Always follow the wearing schedule and never sleep in lenses that are not designed for extended wear. Clean and disinfect as needed, and don’t rinse them with anything other than contact lens solution. Failing to follow the proper use and hygiene for contact lenses can result in irritation, infections and even corneal scarring which can result in vision loss.

One-day disposable lenses can be a great option especially for college students as they offer ultimate convenience (no cleaning and storing) and optimal eye health. 

Further, if you enjoy wearing contact lenses, then remember to get a proper fit from your eye doctor. Many “exclusive” contact lenses available online may actually be poorly fit and made from inferior materials. One size does not fit all.

UV Protection

Ultraviolet rays from the sun are known to cause long term eye damage and lead to vision threatening eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Additionally in extreme cases of unprotected UV exposure you can get sunburned eyes, known as photokeratitis, which can cause a gritty, dry feeling, burning, swelling, light sensitivity, vision changes and sometimes serious pain. These symptoms typically go away within a day or two. Wearing 100% UV reflective sunglasses whenever you are outside – rain or shine – is a first step to eye protection. A large brimmed hat to protect the eyes from exposure from the top and sides is also a recommended addition for sunny days.

Get a regular eye exam

To start off college with the right foot forward, it’s recommended to get a comprehensive eye exam prior to the start of the the school year, especially if you haven’t had one recently. This way you can ensure that your eyes and vision are in top shape and, if you wear glasses, that your prescription is still accurate. The last thing you want to worry about when getting adjusted to college is problems with your eyes and vision. 

It’s also recommended for students that are going away to another city to get a recommendation for a local eye doctor in case of an emergency. Most eye doctors know of colleagues located in other cities who they could recommend.

Just remember to think about your eyes because the better you take care of them now, the healthier eyes and vision you will have down the line. 

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

What You Need to Know About Glaucoma – The Sneak Thief of Sight

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma, a silent eye disease, is the most common form of irreversible blindness in the world. It is actually a group of diseases that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve.

  • Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that can lead to permanent vision loss if not controlled.
  • There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but there are many treatments available for stopping and slowing the progressive damage to the eye. Treatment, however, can’t reverse damage that is already done.
  • Glaucoma affects the optic nerve which sends visual information from your eye to your brain.
  • Glaucoma is called the “Thief Sneak of Sight” because there are often no symptoms in the early stages such as pain or “pressure sensation” as one may expect, and by the time it is diagnosed there may already be permanent vision loss.
  • When vision loss occurs, peripheral vision is typically affected before central vision. As a result, glaucoma is a major public health issue because individuals usually do not notice any problem with vision until end stages of the disease when there is severe and irreversible vision loss.
  • Awareness and regular eye exams are key to early detection and preventing vision loss.

What Causes Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is caused by a buildup of natural fluid that doesn’t drain properly from the eye. The buildup of fluid can result in high pressure in the eye which is the most common cause of the condition. There are many types of glaucoma, which include:

Chronic (open angle) glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up over time, usually as a result of aging. This is the most common type of glaucoma.

Acute (angle closure) glaucoma is an acute condition where pressure builds up suddenly and demands immediate medical attention. Symptoms include blurred vision, eye pain, headaches, seeing halos around lights, nausea and vomiting.

Secondary glaucoma results from another eye disease, condition or a trauma to the eye.

Normal tension glaucoma is when there is no build up of pressure but the optic nerve is still damaged. We are still not yet sure what causes this type of glaucoma.

Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?

Everyone is at risk of glaucoma however there are certain factors which increase the likelihood of developing the condition. Vision loss from glaucoma can be greatly reduced when detected and treated early which is why knowing your risk factors can play a tremendous role in prevention.

Age

Age is one of the biggest risk factors, as your chances of developing glaucoma increase significantly after the age of 40. In fact people over 60 years old are six times more likely to get the condition.

Ancestry and Family History

Individuals from African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American or Aboriginal Canadian descent are at increased risk. Family history is a very strong factor as the condition occurs twice as much in people with close relatives who have had glaucoma.

Previous Eye Injury, Traumas or Surgery

Eye injuries, traumas or surgeries have been known to sometimes cause secondary glaucoma which can happen immediately after the injury or procedure, or even years later. Even childhood injuries can result in secondary glaucoma later in life.

Use of Steroids

Studies show that prolonged steroid use is linked to increased elevated intraocular pressure which increases the risk of open-angle glaucoma.

Certain medical and eye conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high myopia (nearsightedness) also increase a person’s risk of developing glaucoma.

Glaucoma Treatment

While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments to slow down the progression of the disease including eye drop medications, iridotomies, iridectomies, laser procedures and surgeries.

Glaucoma Prevention

Other than taking care of any underlying conditions that may increase the risk of developing glaucoma, there is little one can do in the way of prevention. You can however reduce your chances of suffering vision loss. The first step is knowing the risk factors and signs of the condition (even though as mentioned most cases have no symptoms in the early stages, until vision is already lost).

The best possible way to prevent vision loss is to have regular comprehensive eye exams to check the health of your eyes and if your eye doctors prescribes medication for glaucoma, make sure to diligently take them as directed. Your eye doctor will be able to conduct certain tests to detect eye diseases such as glaucoma before you even begin to notice symptoms. If you have any of the risk factors above, mention it to your eye doctor, and always be sure to schedule a yearly eye exam, or as often as your eye doctor recommends, to check the health of your eyes and rule out any underlying or developing eye conditions like glaucoma.

Welcome to our New Website

We invite you to take a look around our new site to get to know our practice and learn about eye and vision health. You will find a wealth of information about our optometrists, our staff and our services, as well as facts and advice about how to take care of your eyes and protect your vision.

Learn about our Practice specialties including comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings and the treatment of eye diseases. Our website also offers you a convenient way to find our hours, address and map, schedule an appointment online, order contact lenses or contact us to ask us any questions you have about eye care and our Practice.

Have a look around our online office and schedule a visit to meet us in person. We are here to partner with you and your family for a lifetime of healthy eyes and vision. We look forward to seeing you!

Pink, Stinging Eyes?

Conjunctivitis, also called pink eye, is one of the most frequently seen eye diseases, especially in kids. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria or even allergies to pollen, chlorine in swimming pools, and ingredients in cosmetics, or other irritants, which touch the eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis might be quite transmittable and quickly spread in school and at the office.

Conjunctivitis is seen when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue covering the white part of the eye, becomes inflamed. You can identify conjunctivitis if you notice eye redness, discharge, itching or swollen eyelids and a crusty discharge surrounding the eyes early in the day. Pink eye infections can be divided into three main types: viral, allergic and bacterial conjunctivitis.

The viral type is usually a result of a similar virus to that which produces the recognizable red, watery eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. The red, itchy, watery eyes caused by viral pink eye are likely to last from a week to two and then will clear up on their own. You may however, be able to reduce some of the discomfort by using soothing drops or compresses. Viral pink eye is transmittable until it is completely cleared up, so in the meantime maintain excellent hygiene, remove eye discharge and try to avoid using communal pillowcases or towels. If your son or daughter has viral conjunctivitis, he or she will have to be kept home from school for three days to a week until symptoms disappear.

A bacterial infection such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. One should notice an improvement within just a few days of antibiotic drops, but be sure to adhere to the full prescription dosage to prevent pink eye from recurring.

Allergic pink eye is not contagious. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as hay fever or pet allergies that sets off an allergic reaction in their eyes. First of all, to treat allergic pink eye, you should eliminate the irritant. Use cool compresses and artificial tears to relieve discomfort in mild cases. When the infection is more severe, your eye doctor might prescribe a medication such as an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine. In cases of chronic allergic pink eye, topical steroid eye drops could be used.

Pink eye should always be diagnosed by a qualified eye doctor in order to identify the type and best course of treatment. Never treat yourself! Keep in mind the sooner you begin treatment, the lower chance you have of giving pink eye to loved ones or prolonging your discomfort.

 

Progressive Frames or LASIK: Which Would You Choose?

senior woman wearing glassesEye doctors today can help most patients who have vision problems stemming from presbyopia. Glasses and laser surgery are both options that are available to correct vision in this circumstance. Each option to correct vision has some advantages and disadvantages.

Progressive Frames

Glasses are an effective and common way to correct most vision problems, including presbyopia. Stylish, sophisticated and funky glasses are available for every occasion and personality.

Advantages:

Glasses are easy to wear, convenient, and comfortable. Progressive eyeglasses have become a common way to treat presbyopia, as you have one pair of glasses for reading, computer work, and distance, as opposed to needing different glasses for near and far vision. The newest lens technology makes lenses light and accurate. A wide selection of coatings for lenses are available, such as anti-reflective coatings, photochromatic coatings, and polarized coatings. Special glasses can be created for those who have special needs for work or sporting events.

Disadvantages:

Glasses without high index lenses that have strong prescriptions can be thick, and heavy, and less comfortable on your face than not wearing glasses. Glasses can fog up in the cold, and lesser quality lenses can have spots that appear blurry.

Laser surgery

Laser surgery has been an available vision correction option for about twenty years. Various procedures are available, and your eye doctor will decide what method is best for you. Generally, patients can see clearly shortly after the procedure. The most important requirement for an optimal procedure is that you are a good candidate for laser surgery to begin with. The surgical procedure is often performed as out-patient surgery, and usually only takes a few minutes.

Advantages:

You will not need glasses after the laser surgery. Modern laser correction procedures correct presbyopia. For people who hate glasses and can’t wear contact lenses, laser surgery can be a great solution. The other requirements for laser surgery are that the eye be fully formed (adults only can have this surgery), your refraction has not changed in two years, and and the cornea needs to be a certain thickness. As long as you use an experienced eye doctor, laser surgery is very low risk.

Disadvantages:

As with any surgery, laser surgery is an invasive procedure, which is performed on a basically healthy eye. Some side effects and complications could include temporarily dry eyes. These symptoms can last up to twelve weeks. Also, it’s possible that the procedure, while successful, won’t completely correct your vision, and you may need to continue to wear glasses.

Still not sure which is best for you, eye glasses or laser surgery? Schedule an appointment with our eye doctor to discuss the options.

Safety and Sports Glasses

Each year, thousands of individuals sustain eye injuries due to sports and other accidents, many causing permanent damage and vision loss. Over 98% of these injuries can be prevented by proper eye protection. Further The National Eye Institute states that when it comes to children, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness and that most of these injuries are sports-related.

Just like wearing a helmet when riding a bike or swinging a bat, sports safety glasses or goggles should be part of the uniform and equipment of any high impact sport. Not only do sports glasses protect your eyes but they can also improve vision and performance. Similarly, when involved in work or hobbies that pose a danger on the eyes, such as construction, chemical use, or home improvement projects, safety goggles should always be worn.

What are Sports and Safety Glasses or Goggles?

Sports and safety glasses or goggles are specialized, protective eyewear that are made to reduce the risk of eye damage during sports or work that could be dangerous to the eyes. They are typically made from impact resistant and shatterproof materials such as hard plastics and polycarbonates (frames) or polycarbonate or Trivex (lenses) and cover a larger surface area around your eyes for enhanced protection. Depending on the type of glasses and for what sport or activity they are intended, they may have additional features such as UV protection, polarized lenses, scratch resistance or ultra flexibility or coverage.

When it comes to sports, protective eyewear is becoming more of a norm that it was in previous generations with many leagues requiring their use as a prerequisite to play. Whether it is high speed balls, elbows, debris, snow, sun or water, sports glasses come in a variety of options to suit the particular needs of the sport you play.

Many options will come with rubber padding around the frame to improve safety to the area around the eyes and increase comfort, fit and stability.

Prescription Sports and Safety Eyewear

Advances in sports and safety eyewear technology not only allow for enhanced sharpness and color vision but for corrected visual acuity for those with vision impairment. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, chances are most safety glasses are available with prescription lenses, allowing you to see and perform your best under all circumstances. Another option is to wear contact lenses under your safety eye gear.

Look for Fit and Comfort

Especially when it comes to children, comfort and fit are essential for compliance in wearing protective eyewear. Additionally, instead of enhancing performance, glasses that don’t fit will cause a distraction that hurt your ability to play or work at optimal success. Look for frames that are held in place (wraparound frames and bands help with this), don’t slip, don’t press in at the temples or nose and that fit nicely around the eyes. If you plan to wear goggles over your prescription glasses, make sure that you try them on together and that they fit properly and are able to provide full protection with your prescription glasses on. Similarly, if a helmet will be worn, make sure that the glasses fit, snug but not too tight, within the helmet.

With children who grow, it is important to reassess sports glasses each year to make sure they have not gotten too tight or small, otherwise they could be doing more harm than good.

Sunglasses: High Style with High-Level Protection against Skin Cancer and Vision Loss

It’s common knowledge that ultraviolet sun rays are harmful to skin, and too much exposure will put you at a greater risk of skin cancer. This damage begins from a young age, starting with kids who fail to adequately protect their delicate skin from the sun. Kids’ skin is particularly sensitive to sun damage, and the effects are cumulative. Children love to spend time in the shining, bright outdoors. It’s critical to keep them safe while they have fun in the sun. Wearing UV protective sunglasses is one eye-catching, effective way to help prevent skin cancer around the eyes and nose and to keep vision healthy.

Woman Blue SunglassesSunburn, which indicates damaged skin cells, is the most immediate symptom caused by UV rays. Red or blistered skin should serve as a warning sign that your child is being placed at risk for worse problems – as burnt, damaged skin cells are at a much higher risk of becoming cancerous. Some of your child’s most vulnerable skin tissue surrounds the nose and eyes. Sunglasses are a voguish way to save this skin and keep it healthy, supple and soft.

In addition to blocking UV rays from reaching skin, sunglasses act as a barrier over your child’s eye lens. Until about age 10, the lens is clear, which enables more solar rays to penetrate. As kids grow and their visual system develops, the lens becomes more opaque, providing enhanced natural protection. Retinal exposure to UV rays is linked to cataracts and macular degeneration later in life. When you take measures to protect your young child’s eyes, you’re setting the base for healthier vision later on.

When shopping for the ideal sunwear for kids, it’s best to buy sunglasses that block 99-100% of UV rays. Another rule of thumb is that the more skin covered by the sunglasses – the more efficient the protection. Think wraparound designs for high coverage. Kids nowadays are tuned into their own fashion sense and expression. Save yourself loads of time and energy by letting them choose their own trend-setting sunglasses. They’ll look forward to showing off their new style, and soon all their friends will be sporting sunglasses too.

Macular Degeneration: Who is at risk?

There are many risk factors for Macular Degeneration. Some of these risk factors are things that you cannot control, and some are things that you can control.

senior couple at risk for AMDRisk Factors that you can’t control:

Age – Age is a major risk factor for AMD. The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier.

Gender – AMD is more common in women than men

Eye Color – AMD is more common in people with blue eyes

Smoking – Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD.

Race – AMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.

Family history and Genetics – People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk. At last count, researchers had identified nearly 20 genes that can affect the risk of developing AMD. Many more genetic risk factors are suspected.

Risk Factors you can control:

Smoking – Smoking increases your risk, especially if AMD runs in your family

Diet – A poor diet, low in antioxidants and high in saturated fats and processed foods.

Obesity – People who are very overweight have a higher risk of AMD.Exercise – A sedentary lifestyle contributes to AMD.

Cholesterol – High cholesterol is bad for your eyes and your heart.Blood Pressure – High blood pressure may be involved in AMD.

Sun Exposure – Ultraviolet and blue light from the sun and electronics can damage the eye.

What Steps Can You Take to Decrease Your Risk for AMD?

nutrition for AMDTo decrease your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, or to decrease the rate of progression if you already have age-related macular degeneration, here are some actions you can take:

  • Don’t smoke – and if you do smoke, try to stop.Don’t eat packaged, processed foods, as much as possible.Don’t eat artificial fats.
  • Eat real bakery goods, made with real fat – just don’t eat the whole box.
  • Do wear sunglasses, preferably with an amber, brown, or orange tint that blocks blue light.
  • Do eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables. These vegetables – such as kale, spinach, and collards – contain lutein, a substance that neutralizes the free radicals that will otherwise cause damage to the macula. If you are taking Coumadin and can’t eat these vegetables because of the vitamin K in them, you can take a lutein supplement.
  • Do eat lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, fish oil, flaxseeds, and some nuts. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation.
  • Do control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Do exercise regularly and keep your weight down.

Davis Eye Care is growing! We are delighted to announce a new addition to the team – introducing Dr. Jacob Smith, O.D.

He will begin seeing patients at Davis Eye Care in July.

Please join us in welcoming our new addition, Dr. Jacob Smith, O.D.

He looks forward to meeting our patients and helping you maintain optimum eye health and best vision.