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Healthy Aging Month

It’s no secret that each year we grow older! September is Healthy Aging Month, an inspiration for those over the age of 45 to improve their physical, mental, and social well beings as a way to get the most enjoyment out of life. In this article, we will discuss the importance of getting regular comprehensive eye exams and general tips to keep your eyes healthy.

When we age, our eyes and vision gradually begin to weaken. This usually means wearing glasses or using brighter lights to see better and avoid accidents. Beyond short-term measures, it is essential to get regular comprehensive eye exams to screen for age-related eye diseases. One should see an optometrist at age 40 to develop an eye health benchmark, which tracks any eye or vision changes in the future. Those with diabetes or a family history of eye disease should receive an eye exam at least once a year. Many eye diseases are asymptomatic until the late stages of the disease. Getting regular comprehensive eye exams is the best way to detect eye disease. Early discovery of eye disease will ensure better treatment outcomes, as vision loss is permanent.

Some common age-related eye diseases include:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – AMD is an eye disease that can blur your central vision. AMD happens when your macula, the part of the eye responsible for straight-ahead vision, is damaged due to aging.
  • Diabetic retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that causes vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes. Vision loss is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
  • Cataracts – A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye. Most cataracts develop with age, but they can also occur due to other reasons, such as eye injury or surgery.
  • Glaucoma – Glaucoma is a family of eye diseases that can cause blindness due to damage to the optical nerve. The damage is caused by a buildup of pressure in the eye.
  • Dry eye – Dry eye occurs when your eyes either do not produce enough tears or there is a problem with tear production. The risk of dry eye increases as you age.
  • Low vision – Low vision refers to a vision problem that interferes with everyday activities, such as reading, driving, or recognizing other people’s faces.

Besides receiving regular comprehensive eye exams, there are other lifestyle choices one should make to ensure their eyes remain healthy. Some of these choices include:

  • Not smoking – Current and former smokers have a much greater chance of developing age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Putting on extra weight increases the chances of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Using sunglasses – Exposure to ultraviolet light increases the chances of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Be physically active – Those that participate in regular physical activity experienced less vision loss than those who weren’t physically active.

Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month

With summer coming to an end, it’s time for parents to start getting their back-to-school plans together. Most parents intuitively know getting ready for the new school year means purchasing new backpacks, notebooks, clothes, and other school supplies, but are your child’s eyes prepared for another year of learning? August is Children’s Eye Health Month, a reminder for parents to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams for their children to ensure their child’s eyes are both healthy and ready to partake in learning. We will explore the benefits of regular comprehensive eye exams for children, vision problems to look out for, and safety tips for protecting children’s eyes from injury.

Eye exams for children ensure they can learn without visual interference. An optometrist can detect common eye issues in children like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, as well as serious eye issues like color blindness, lazy eye, drooping eyelid, and crossed eyes. A child should receive their first eye exams at six months, age 3, and before entering the first grade. Regular eye exams are essential for children, as untreated eye conditions can worsen and become difficult to treat.

Good eyesight is instrumental for children’s learning and development. Unfortunately, many children do not realize they have a vision problem. Undetected vision problems can lead to learning issues and behavioral problems in children. Here are some signs to look out for to ensure your child isn’t suffering from a vision problem.

  • Squinting, eye rubbing, or tilting the head while reading the whiteboard.
  • Holding a book too close to their face or consistent use of their finger when reading.
  • Excessive tearing, light sensitivity, wandering eyes, and digital eye strain when using digital devices.

A crucial component of school besides learning is partaking in sports and other recreational activities. Unfortunately, thousands of children will suffer related eye injuries due to physical activities. Here are some helpful tips to ensure your child does not suffer an accidental eye injury.

  • Children should wear suitable eye protection when playing sports or partaking in other recreational activities.
  • Children should only play with age-appropriate toys and avoid ones with sharp protruding components or fire projectiles.
  • One should store cleaning supplies, sprays, and other household chemicals away from children.

Healthy Vision Month

Taking care of your vision is a health priority similar to eating well and exercising. Your vision keeps you safe and allows you to experience the beauty of the world. Despite the importance of maintaining one’s eye health, Optometrists are often challenged with educating the public on the necessary steps to take care of their eyes. The need for proper eye care education has developed into Healthy Vision Month, a reminder every May from the optometry community to take the necessary steps to ensure your vision remains healthy for the years to come. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of receiving regular comprehensive eye exams and other health strategies that will benefit and protect your eyes.

Comprehensive eye exams performed by an optometrist are an essential component of taking care of your eye health and vision. Your optometrist will discuss your family’s health history with you, screen for your vision quality, and perform tests to evaluate your eye health. It is recommended for a healthy adult to receive a comprehensive eye exam once every two years. Bi-annual eye exams ensure that your vision is accurate and that you’re not at risk of an eye condition. The early detection of eye diseases is essential for effective treatment, as timely treatment will result in better outcomes.

Some special considerations for examination frequency include:

  • Those that have refractive errors and need glasses or contact lenses should receive an eye exam annually. Annual eye exams will ensure one’s prescription is up to date.
  • Infants and Children should receive their first eye exams between 6-12 months old, 3-5 years old, and just before they enter kindergarten. Healthy vision in children is important for their learning and early development.
  • Those over the age of 65 should receive an eye exam annually. Aging makes one more vulnerable to eye conditions, such as Glaucoma and Age-related Macular Degeneration. It is important to detect eye conditions quickly before they can irreversibly claim one’s vision.

Outside of the optometrist’s office, your health habits play an important role in determining your overall eye health. Here are some healthy strategies to improve your eye health and avoid eye-related injuries.

  • You should eat well to ensure you’re eyes receive proper nutrition. Some eye-health foods include dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and spinach for their vitamin content and fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout for their omega-3 fatty acid content.
  • Physical exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are necessary steps in assuring your eyes are healthy. Physical exercise increases blood flow to the eyes and lowers intraocular pressure. Maintaining a healthy weight lowers the risk of eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
  • You should quit smoking or never start to protect your eye health. Smoking increases the prevalence of eye conditions, such as dry eye and blurry vision, as well as eye diseases. Quitting smoking will improve the damage caused by smoking.
  • You should wear eye protection when performing yard or housework. Every year, there are thousands of emergency room visits due to eye injuries sustained from chemicals in household cleaners and debris from yard work.
  • The blue light emitted from computer screens, smartphones, and other electronic devices are responsible for dry eyes, blurry vision, and eye fatigue. That’s why it’s important to take regular breaks when working on the computer. The 20-20-20 rule recommends that every 20 minutes, one should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

 

Daily vs. Monthly Contact Lenses: Which are right for you?

Consumers have an overwhelming number of options when choosing the right contact lens for their unique vision needs. One of the most important considerations when selecting a contact lens is, “should I purchase daily or monthly contact lenses?”. Each of these lens types has its benefits and drawbacks. After learning the nuances between each lens, you will be well-equipped to make the right purchasing decision.

Monthly contact lenses used to be the standard when contact lenses first hit the consumer market. They are designed to be worn each day for about 30 days before they need to be discarded. The lenses are taken out every night and need to be stored in a cleaning solution. Monthly contacts are thicker and more durable than their daily counterparts.

Daily contact lenses come in blister packs and are designed to be discarded every day after use. Their disposable nature means they do not require cleaning. Daily contacts are lighter and more comfortable compared to monthly contact lenses.

Benefits vs. Costs

We’ll compare the benefits and costs between daily and monthly contacts by their fundamental differences.

Convenience

  • Daily contacts require no cleaning and are less likely to be overworn. Their replaceability makes them great for active lifestyles, where getting dirt in your eye can be fixed by simply replacing the contact lens.
  • Daily contacts are not safe to sleep in. Wearing daily contacts to bed will put you at risk for an eye infection. Monthy contacts, on the other hand, are safer to leave in at night.

Comfort

  • Daily contacts are thinner, which is conducive to reduced dryness and irritation on the eyes, as there’s increased oxygen permeability and water content.

Cost

  • Daily contacts are costlier upfront than monthly contacts. Those who wear contacts every day will spend more money overall on daily contacts.
  • Daily contacts can be cheaper for those that have light prescriptions and wear contacts infrequently.

Construction

  • Monthly contacts are more durable than daily contacts. The increase in lens density allows monthly contacts to be available in higher prescriptions.
  • Although monthly contacts are more durable than daily contacts, monthly contacts run the risk of over-wearing due to their longer use time.

Eco-Friendly

  • Monthly contacts are less wasteful than daily contacts, as they are disposed of less frequently. Throwing out old lenses has an accumulative effect; monthly contacts are thrown out about 12 times compared to every day with daily contacts!

Which One Should You Choose?

The decision of which contact is best ultimately resides on what your unique needs are. Talk to your optometrist for recommended brands based on your prescription and lifestyle.

What Is Glaucoma?

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a family of eye diseases where an abundance of pressure build-up in the eye causes damage to the optical nerve, the part of your eye responsible for sending images to your brain. In most cases, the pressure build-up is due to areas in the front of the eye becoming insufficient in draining vital fluids. The destruction of the optical nerve eventually leads to permanent vision loss and blindness.

Signs & Symptoms

Glaucoma is a clandestine eye condition. The disease often has no warning signs or pain associated with its onset. The pressure build-up in the eye is so gradual that symptoms are not perceived until the disease enters an advanced state. Vision loss usually occurs along the peripheral of one’s sight, leading many to unconsciously compensate by turning their head in a way that lets them see normally. One should promptly go to the emergency room or seek an optometrist if they experience any symptoms of glaucoma, including severe headaches, eye pain, and blurred vision.

Risks

Since glaucoma is difficult to detect through symptoms alone, it’s essential to be conscious of its risk factors. Risk factors of glaucoma include being over the age of 60, genetics, having a family history of glaucoma, having severe nearsightedness or farsightedness, and having other diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Those with multiple risk factors should schedule regular dilated eye exams.

Treatments

Regular dilated eye exams are essential to the discovery of glaucoma. Early discovery of glaucoma can facilitate effective treatment. Glaucoma treatment options include special eye drops, oral medications, laser surgery, and microsurgery. All treatment options perform one of two things, they either lower the creation of fluid in the eye or increase the flow of fluid in the eye. Other prevention measures include being aware of one’s family eye health history, getting regular exercise, eating healthy, not smoking, and wearing eye protection. Schedule regular eye exams with your optometrist to ensure you are not at risk of glaucoma.

Blue Light: How to Protect Your Eyes from Electronic Devices

With the adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other computing devices, we find ourselves with an increasing threat to our eye health. Blue light is a concern for most of us, as it has proven harmful effects on our sleep and may contribute to eye problems such as digital eye strain, blurry vision, dry eyes, and possible retina damage. We’ll go over what blue light is, where it comes from, and how we can protect ourselves from it.

 

What is Blue Light?

Blue light refers to one of the several colors in the visible light spectrum. Each color has different wavelengths and energy levels. On one side of the visible light spectrum, red has the longest wavelength and the least amount of energy. On the opposite side of the spectrum, violet has the shortest wavelength and most amount of energy. When combined, these colors become the white light we see, with blue light being a large component.

 

The largest source of blue light comes from the sun. This light is beneficial during the daytime, as sunlight helps boost alertness, mood, and reaction times. Blue light also comes from our electronic devices, such as fluorescent lights, LED televisions, CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, computer monitors, smartphones, and tablet screens. The blue light exposure received from electronic devices is much smaller than the blue light received from the sun, but the timing and length of the exposure are what causes eye problems.

 

Where Blue Light Comes From?

The largest source of blue light comes from the sun. This light is beneficial during the daytime, as sunlight helps boost alertness, mood, and reaction times. Blue light also comes from our electronic devices, such as fluorescent lights, LED televisions, CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, computer monitors, smartphones, and tablet screens. The blue light exposure received from electronic devices is much smaller than the blue light received from the sun, but the timing and length of the exposure are what causes eye problems

 

How can we protect ourselves from blue light?

Blue light is detrimental in many ways, mostly to our sleep. Our circadian rhythm is disturbed when we observe blue light before bedtime. Any light can block the creation of melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain in response to darkness, with blue light doing so more powerfully. Therefore, shutting down electronics before bedtime by at least 30 minutes is essential to getting a night of good sleep.

 

Many desktop displays, smartphones, and tablets have blue light filters, sometimes known as night mode, built into them or have applications you can download to achieve the effect. Blue light filters help cut down on blue light exposure by reducing screen brightness and blue light emissions from devices. Blue light filters are an easy way to cut down on blue light exposure by going after the source.

 

Blue light-blocking computer glasses are orange filtered glasses that shield the eyes from blue light sources. Computer glasses work great for those who use electronic devices at night or for an extended time. Computer glasses are available in both prescription and non-prescription and can be equipped with glare-reducing anti-reflective coatings or photochromic lenses. Talk to your eye doctor or optician for advice on what computer glasses will work best for you.