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May is Healthy Vision Month

What does that mean for you? It means that now is the time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

While these are one of the exams we may often let fall by the wayside, they are extremely important to maintain our eye health. Comprehensive eye exams serve several purposes. During these exams, pupils, the circular black area in the center of the eye where light enters, are widened with eye drops or viewed without dilation through a special camera. This allows your Eye Doctor to check for vision problems and eye diseases, verify what stage of diseases your eyes may be in, and helps determine if you need glasses, contacts or other treatments.

Comprehensive eye exams are crucial for all ages, here’s why:

Pediatric exams test for visual acuity, lazy eye, color vision, ocular health, and more. These are extremely important to test for the school years ahead.

For older children and teenagers, myopia (nearsightedness) is one of the biggest concerns that comprehensive eye exams detect. Myopia affects the eye’s ability to see distant images clearly. It is important to identify and treat early with glasses or contacts as children and teens begin to learn in larger spaces, play sports, and drive.

Adult exams are recommended at least every two years, or as recommended by your eye care specialist. Exams for adults are necessary to catch eye conditions that can cause vision loss and even lead to blindness. Some of these conditions are cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

There are several other conditions that comprehensive eye exams can expose that may not be found without a visit to your optometrist.

Outside of eye exams, here are 5 ways you can help protect your vision:

  1. Healthy eating. You know this! Healthy eating helps every part of your body. For your eyes, make sure to add dark, leafy greens and seafood that is high in omega-3 fatty acids to your plate. A great excuse to treat yourself to sushi! We’re adding a spicy sake maki roll to our cart… for delivery. 
  2. Protective eyewear. Whether you’re chopping wood for the bonfire pit, mowing the lawn, painting your bedroom walls, or riding your motorcycle around town, protective eyewear is key. Blue-light protection glasses should also be considered to protect your eyes from all the time spent in front of computer screens.
  3. Sunglasses. Much like protective eyewear, sunglasses help protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation delivered by sun. Not all sunglasses provide the same level of protection. Let us help you pick the best pair!
  4. Clean hands. Wash your hands before putting your contacts in and before taking your contacts out, simply to avoid infection.
  5. Stop smoking. Smoking is known to cause several diseases, but it can also lead to vision loss. It can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and more. Mark your calendar for your comprehensive eye exam and mark it as the day to stop smoking.

May is Healthy Vision Month Image.jpeg

Happy healthy vision month! Get your appointment in the books with us today.

The Difference Between Exams: Comprehensive vs. Contacts

Woman applying contact lens in bathroomRoutine comprehensive eye exams, scheduled annually, are important for several reasons. These general exams help determine if you need vision correction, search for eye issues, detect health conditions like diabetes, and more. However, if you are interested in wearing contacts, a contact lens exam is different—and necessary.

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL

Not one eye is the same. Each one has a differently shaped cornea, the transparent part of your eye covering the pupil and iris. If the lens does not match the unique design, it can cause discomfort or even eye damage. You may even require specialty lenses if you have astigmatism or presbyopia. This is just one reason why scheduling a contact lens is important. Contacts also require a certain amount of fluid for comfort. A tear film evaluation may occur during your contact lens exam. This test will ensure you produce enough healthy tears to keep both the lenses and your cornea hydrated throughout the day. If you face dry eye disease, you will likely need a specific contact lens that is more suitable for parched eyes. Keep in mind, an eyeglass exam is no substitution for a contact lens exam. Eyeglasses are positioned a certain distance away from your eyes compared to contact lenses, which sit directly on top of the eye.

TRIAL BY CONTACT

Following your contact lens exam, you will be provided with trial contacts to ensure that the chosen lenses provide you with clear vision and comfort. The trial contacts will allow your eye doctor to make any adjustments needed, if any, to the initial prescription.

DISCOVER THE BENEFITS OF CONTACTS

Contacts are great to wear when playing sports, won’t fog up like glasses occasionally do, and can cause fewer vision distortions than glasses. Let us help you find the perfect contacts and coach you on the proper lens care and application. Request an appointment at your nearest Eye Care One location today!

Toys & Toddlers: Eye Safety

Pull on those red things to open. Christmas holidays with gifts for these two kids that sitting indoors in the nice room near the bedTis the season for tons of toys arriving in wrapping from family, friends, and Santa. While toys are all fun and games and can help stimulate a child’s vision, their eyes can be easily hurt by toys. Prevent Blindness, an organization formed over a century ago, posted in 2019 that nearly 184,000 children under the age of 15 had been sent to an emergency room due to toy-related injuries. While eye health is always something to look out for, it is especially important during the holiday season when new toys and trinkets come a child’s way.

Determining Toy Safety

First and foremost, don’t just give presents, be present! On top of all the suggestions to help determine toy safety, one of the most important tips is to have an eye on your little one while they have their hands on any type of toy. Additionally:

  • Check packaging labels for age recommendations and only purchase age-appropriate toys. Has someone else gifted them without taking a peek? Still say thanks and save the gift for later!
  • Look for toys marked with “ASTM”. This marking stands for the American Society for Testing and Materials, meaning the toy meets national safety standards.
  • Determine if protective eyewear is necessary, especially with older children and sports equipment.
  • Play with it yourself first! Make sure the toy is unbreakable and does not have sharp ends, or small pieces that are not securely attached.

Handling an Eye Injury

When an eye injury happens, you might feel overwhelmed and unsure of what steps to take while you’re seeking medical assistance. You are not alone! Here are some tips provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology when it comes to caring for children’s eye injuries:

  • Avoiding flushing with water might be a surprise, but unless the eye has been exposed to a chemical, avoid rinsing with any fluids.
  • In the beginning, applying pressure to the eye might give a bit of relief, but should be avoided along with any eye rubbing. However, if there is a clear cut or puncture to the eye, it is recommended to gently cover the wound.
  • Do not try to remove any small debris or objects stuck in the eye. Try, instead, to have your child blink rapidly with their eyelid lifted. This movement is likely to bring about tears that may flush out any particles.
  • Most importantly, seek treatment! Especially if the injury appears to worsen over time.

While eyes are relatively durable parts of the body, they are still vulnerable to injuries caused by toys. While some injuries are meager; others are major and may lead to severe optical trauma and even blindness. Remember to keep an eye out as children frolic and play!

Our team at Eye Care One hopes that you have a wonderful holiday season! Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Block the Blue Light

Cheerful lovely young girl wearing pajamas laying in bedThe truth is, blue light isn’t all bad. It shouldn’t be blocked at all times. It can help memory, boost alertness, and elevate your mood! Still, the eye cannot take blue light all day long and it can easily contribute to eye strain especially when it is coming from computer screens and tablets, and cellphones.

These days, we’re working, learning, and relaxing in front of screens emitting blue light all throughout the day—and night. Even your average indoor lightbulb can give off blue light.

You’re probably wondering. Okay, but what is blue light anyway?

Blue light is the highest energy visible light on the UV spectrum, and before the advent of technology, the sun was our only significant source of blue light. Problems arise, however, with the amount of blue light to which we are exposing our brains and bodies, potentially causing undue stress to our eyes and even making it hard to sleep at night.

There are a few ways to avoid this strain. First, let us introduce you to one of the best options on the list: blue light blocking lenses.

What are blue light blocking lenses?

Good question. Glasses equipped with lenses with blue light protection are a simple solution to combat the symptoms caused by increased screen time. The technology in these lenses has a subtle tint that softens harsh blue light rays as they pass through, reducing the amount of blue light to which the wearer’s eyes are exposed. They aren’t heavy or thick and can be made without a prescription attached to them. They can be made to fit adults, teens, and children and are safe for all to wear. All blue light blocking glasses aren’t made the same. They can be made to block a certain percentage of blue light. How much you decide to block, well, that is up to you. Give our practice a call and we will gladly talk you through your options!

What else can I do to block blue light?

While you won’t be able to block it without the correct lens as your shield, you can still manage it.

When working at a computer, for example, you’re often looking up and down, from screen to paper, and your eyes are moving around and refocusing time after time. This is where the 20-20-20 rule can come into play. For every 20 minutes you’re in front of a screen, turn your head and look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Just, give your eyes a break.

Another option: simply lower the brightness. The display settings for your screen on your phone or computer allow you to adjust the amount of light seeping from the screen. If your screen looks like a light source, lower the brightness. If your screen looks dull and a bit too dark, it’s okay and probably for the best to brighten it up. A dull screen can also strain your eyes.

Bottom line, protect your eyes the best way you can, and remember that we are here to help! Looking to get a pair of blue light protection glasses that fit your lifestyle and your budget? Here at Eye Care One, we can customize any style of frame and lens prescription with blue light-blocking technology.

When Sweat Stings

People exercising at fitness gym

Do your eyes sting when drops of sweat travel down your forehead and into your eyes? Ouch!

You may have noticed that sometimes your eyes feel irritated, and other times, they feel fine. Whether you start to your eyes sting while you’re getting a workout in or just hanging out under the last few days of warm sun, you are not alone, and there are a few reasons why.

While there is no evidence that your sweat can do any harm to your eyes, it would still be nice to avoid the prickly feeling. What it basically comes down to is how you have prepared for your day. Here are a couple of things to consider:

Hydration

What sweat consists of on its own is water, salt, proteins, ammonia, and other minerals. It is the salty matter that can cause your eyes to become irritated and burn. Luckily, there is a simple way to make sure the salt load is low.

You guessed it. Drink water.

And if not water, a sports drink can also help hydrate you before becoming active or heading out into the sun.

Hair & Skin Care

The sweat that gets into your eyes often makes a couple stops on the way: your scalp, hair, and forehead.

On these pit stops, the sweat picks up some hitchhiker germs and grime like the pomade you added to style your hair or the face cream and sunscreen you massaged into your skin.

Although these products are necessary [#selfcare], they are often formulated with ingredients that your eyes do not particularly care for.

Consider lightening up on the products you apply or pick something a bit more delicate on days when you know you’ll be on the sweatier side.

Block it or Battle it

Some more easy ways to avoid the sting of sweat include using a sweat headband to absorb sweat before it reaches your face, look into a good brand of eyedrops to help relieve any pain, or just close your eyes and splash your face with cool water for a quick fix.

If stinging, burning eyes remain a consistent issue, contact your nearest Eye Care One to set up an informative appointment today!

Getting Back to Learning Requires Healthy Vision

Board 9There is so much uncertainty as our kids, teens and young adults go back to school this fall! But one thing is for sure – our eyes are remarkably important to learning!

Did you know that 80% of the sensory information that reaches our brain comes from our eyes? Not only that – 80% of learning is through our eyes!

Vision and eye health issues are not always obvious.

Children who can “see” well may still struggle with their vision while learning. Eye alignment, eye teaming, eye movement and coordination, eye focus, and dry eyes all influence how we visually perform.

Parents and educators alike often assume that if our child passes a vision screening, they are ok. Vision screenings are definitely not comprehensive eye exams.

Vision is a sense that is not always automatic! It develops in our formative years. Comprehensive eye exams can detect issues that once addressed can have lifelong impacts. For school-aged children, the American Optometric Association recommends annual eye exams begin before 1st grade and each year thereafter.

Let’s give our children the best chance at success! Make sure you get your child’s annual eye health and vision exam checked off your list!

We at Eye Care One provide comprehensive eye exams and vision therapy treatment options to help children’s learning and development.

Request your appointment today!

Essential vs. Non-Essential Eye Care

blog preventative 1024×640 900×600As we navigate new processes and protocols as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, you may be wondering, what’s the difference between Essential and Non-Essential Eye Care.

Essential Eye Care services include treatment for medical conditions, including urgent care needs that keep patients from carrying out their regular daily routines. These include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Broken or lost eyewear
  • Eye trauma
  • Vision loss
  • Contact lens-related pain
  • Flashes or floating objects in the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Double vision
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Severe or recurring headaches

We are equipped to handle your Essential Eye Care needs so you do not have visit the ER – which may put you at risk of exposure to infection while also potentially taking from patients with critical conditions having no other alternatives.

Non-Essential Eye Care services might also be called “routine,” and not impeding a patient from his/her day-to-day activities, such as:

  • Routine eye exam with no problems
  • First time routine contact lens fittings

As always, our top priority is always your well-being. If you have questions or concerns about any eye health or eye care services – reach out! We are here to help you in any way we can!

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.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.