July is eye Injury Month

July is eye injury prevention month!  The summer is a great time relax, maybe do some work around the house, and fix things up.  But, not everyone remembers to wear sunglasses or safety goggles while doing all this work. American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that more than two million eye injuries occur each year in the United States.  45% of these occur in the home, with another 40% occurring from sports or other recreational activities.  90% of these are preventable and only 35% occur while wearing some sort of eyewear.

July is an especially important month for eye care because of July 4th.  Fireworks cause many injuries, especially eye injuries because almost nobody is wearing eye protection while viewing the show.  There are around 2,00 firework eye injuries every year, and 50% occur in children 15 and younger.  It can be hard to force your children to wear eye protection, but it would be more regrettable to not.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma recommend that every household have at least one pair of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) glasses.  These have side shields that protect any debris or fluids from splashing into the eye.  These will also have the ANSI marking on the side.

It is also important to remember that the sun is three times stronger in the summer, so always wear UV protection glasses.  If you are going to be working in the sun with a lot of hazardous materials try and find a pair of safety goggles that have UV protection as well.

It is an easy safety precaution that will help to prevent up to 90% of eye injuries.  Make sure to go out and by yourself a pair of safety as goggles, as well as actually using them!

Pregnancy and your Eyes

Did you know that the retinal drops used to dilate the pupils could be harmful to pregnant women?  Some of them have chemicals that neurologically affect the fetus.  Luckily, today we have retinal cameras to avoid this problem!  If you must get your eyes checked during pregnancy, or while trying to conceive, find out if your eye doctor has a retinal camera.

In a new blog post from The Eye Information Blog they found the vision disruptions starts in the third trimester and may last 3 months post partum.  Most women will notice blurry vision or intermittent visual disturbances.  This changes are not positively from pregnancy so if noticed it will be important to go see an eye doctor.  Some visual symptoms that may be noticed are intermittent blurs, headaches, dizziness, auras, double vision, glare at night, light sensitivity and eye strain.  Some women may experience changes in their eye sighted if they already have glasses, it may get worse or better.

Some women find that contact lenses become more irritating to the eyes because the eyes may become dryer.  In terms of eye drops no studies have shown that they are harmful to the mother or fetus.  It has been recommended that women do not get their pupil’s dilated with the eye drops.  Today, we have retinal cameras to help with this problem so anyone can avoid using the eye drops.

In terms of your baby a few studies have shown a few foods that may improve the child’s eyesight in uteri.  Oily fishes such as sardines or mackerel once every two weeks is good!  These fish have dha, a fatty acid, which is also found in breast milk.  NOT all fish can be eaten so make sure to consult your doctor before hand.

Once your child is born there are few toys that Optometrists have recommended they play with to improve eyesight.  Any toys with a black and white contrast help the cortex develop and swinging toys help teach the eyes to follow.  Any thing with a lot of colors and movement such as a fish tank or screen saver.  It is about training your child’s brain and eyes to react together.

All About Contact Lenses

Contact lenses have been around for a bit, but newer technology has made them more comfortable and convenient to wear.  Most doctors will offer the option of wearing contact lenses if they have suggested your wear glasses all the time.  Wearing contact lenses is a personal decision.  It is a matter of what your life style can manage, for some the hassle of putting in the contact lenses and remembering the solution and changing them is too much, for others they don’t want to wear glasses all the time.

When contact lenses were first invented they were rather rough and rigid.  Czech chemist Otto Wichterle and his assistant invented the modern soft contact lens.  The modern contact lens is tinted slightly blue in order to make it easier to see in the solution.  Modern technology has even allowed for contacts to be colored for a specific eye color as well as have UV protection in them to protect the eye.

There are two types of major contact lenses – soft or rigid.  The soft contact lens is extremely thin and comfortable to wear, while the rigid contact lens is hard but gives crisper, clearer, vision and can correct most vision problems.  They also last considerably longer than the soft lens.

The next step is to decide how often you would like to change them and dispose of them.  There are four main categories – daily wear, flex wear, extended wear and continuous wear.  Daily wear are only worn during waking hours, flex wear can be slept in for a night or two (like a weekend), extended wear can be worn for a week, and continuous wear can be worn for a month.

You then have daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly disposable lenses.  How often you dispose of your lenses is a very personal choice.  It is a matter of what your eye is comfortable with.  Many people who have allergies find that disposing more often is helpful because the dust and dirt doesn’t collect as much.

There are many new technologies helping to create better contact lenses for specific problems.  For instance the Toric contact lens came out recently which helps with astigmatism by fitting your eye and giving more power in one direction.  Talk to your doctor about the best options for you.

Personal Experience with the New Eye Technology

I went for my yearly eye check-up today and I was so impressed.  I did not know a lot about eye technology before I started to work with Kowa, but since then I have learned so much.  I was excited for this doctor visit because I wanted to see which technology they were using and I wanted to ask about the EMR technology.

I had a nurse check out my eyes in the beginning just the usual hold the tool over your eye read the screen and so on.  Then we did a peripheral vision test (mine is perfect).  THEN she asked if she could take a picture of the back of my eyes.  This was a first for me, I knew about the technology because I have been researching eye technology, but this was a new machine at this office.  She told me there would be additional co-pay for these pictures, but I figured I would try the machine out.  I held my face up and she made it look at this disk and then a large flash and I could see the picture on the screen next to me.

I was waiting to see how this would later be used, would the pictures be printed? Digitally shown to me? Can they be transferred around the office?  I was soon to find out.  The doctor came in to finish my eye check-up and give me my new prescription.  He then did a glaucoma test, which was easy and not disturbing to the eyes.  THEN he asked how I’d like my retinas tested – camera, or the old way?  Normally they do this horrible exam where they dilate my pupils and I can’t see for a few hours.  I realized that this would not be okay, since I had to work right after.  So I said yes, please take a picture!  After he turned on his computer and showed me pictures of both the back of my eyes and retina’s so I could understand what they were showing.

I was so impressed by all this new technology.  The visit took 30 minutes and another 20 for me to choose my classes.  This visit used to take 45 minutes to an hour and another 20 minutes for me to choose glasses.  It has cut the visit time down making it easier and faster for the patient and doctor.  My doctor’s office does not yet have any of the workflow technology but it’s planning on investing in some.  The new eye technology is very helpful and has improved doctor visits vastly.

EMR’S: The Revoltuion

Change is not always the easiest thing to do deal with.  It disrupts our comfort zone and forces us to be uncomfortable and unfamiliar – luckily this is not a bad thing.  Many of our best doctors grew up in an age where files were not on the computer, and digital photos didn’t exist yet.  Over the years the medical technology has become more and more advanced making care faster and easier.

Some doctors have been more willing than others to accept this new change into the digital age, while others have been more stubborn about sticking to their old ways.  The problem is that those who don’t adapt have a higher chance of being left behind; in the medical field having the most innovative technology is great!

As a world we must understand that going from paper into this technology age is not just a new phase, it’s a new movement into the new world.  Doctors are no longer just diagnosing but they have to analyze data and become a sophisticated software user.

We have to slow down and understand that this transition will not be over night.  We must help our doctors with this transition by being patient as they learn.  EMR’s are revolutionizing Optometry; lets see where it will take us.

Questions to ask the eye Doctor

When going to the doctor many people forget to ask simple questions and then forget to call to get answers.  Every doctor will tell you what he or she thinks you need to know, but there could be more information you may want.  Before going to any doctor make a list of questions you feel you may need answers to.  They can be broad such as what are the treatments?  What caused this to happen?  Or they can be specific?  Can you tell me exercises I can do to improve my vision?

I have compiled a list of questions that you should ask your eye doctor before leaving their office.  Most eye doctors will have some lenses for sale in their office, but if you plan on buying them outside the office then you will need a lot more information.

The first and most important question is how often should I have an eye exam?  This changes depending on your newest vision results.  Most doctors will say once a year but if you have a family history with eye problems then it could be more often.  Once they tell you it is recommended to put a reminder in your calendar to make an appointment a month in advance before your recommended next eye visit.

Next question to ask is what is my vision acuity?  Meaning what is the vision in each of your eyes.  You will definitely need to know this if you plan on buying eyeglasses outside of the office.  Along with this question you should ask if there are any other necessary precautions to take such as UV protection glasses or special night glasses.

Depending on the results of your eye exam ask what is the treatment for your results.  Even if you have 20/20 vision you can still do eye exercises to keep this acuity.  Most doctors have a print out of eye exercises that will help you maintain your vision acuity.

The last and most important question is which eye glasses/frames do you recommend.  Most doctors will not recommend a specific frame unless asked.  This is very important because some lenses don’t protect your eye as well and the shape can affect what you see.  Most of the time we go for the most fashionable frame, but it is important to make sure these will maximally improve your vision.

Remember that you can always call your eye doctors office because even if your doctor isn’t around a nurse will be happy to help!