October is Eye Injury Prevention Month

October is Eye Injury Prevention Month.  Preventing injury starts with precautionary safety measures.  For most people thinking about eye protection is not primary, we wear gloves when gardening, hats for sun, shoes and hard hats for machinery.  But, during all of these tasks are eyes are also in danger.  Our eyes should be on the first things we think about, and the good news is they are easy to protect!

More than 1 million people suffer from eye injuries each year in the US, almost 90% of these are easily preventable.  The first step is to buy, and wear safety goggles.  Today, as fashion can be a big issue, these safety goggles comes in different colors, shapes, and sizes.   They even sell tinted ones for wearing outside.

When working with any inside with any chemicals always read the labels first.  Many times the label with explain precautionary steps to take for your eye health, as well as steps to take if the fluid does get in one’s eye.  By reading the label before hand, one is not caught off guard when the fluid does come into contact with one’s eye.

When in a workshop think about the work one will be doing: will debris particles be in the air?  Are you working with gases or chemicals?  Are you working with fire?  Will your eyes be exposed to the sun?  When any of the answers to these questions are “yes” wearing protective goggles is a must.

When working outside it is important to wear at the very least sunglasses.  Sunglasses will protect your eyes from UV radiation.  They also help to protect your eyes from other debris, but they are not as protective as safety goggles, as they don’t have a protective side.

Prevention is key to protecting your eyes from injury.  In the case that an injury does occur go to the doctor or hospital as soon as possible so that as little damage as possible may be done.  Keep your eyes safe and healthy this month, no one wants to be wearing a  real patch for Halloween!


Taking Care Of Your Eyes Is Easy

Taking care of your vision should be one of your top priorities.  Our eyes take in the world around us, and sadly out of the five senses this is fastest growing one to be lost.   There are four main ways to take of your eyes – protecting them, preventing eye problems, finding out about congenial eye disease, and looking into temporary eye conditions.  It is recommended to get an eye check up at least once a year!

Protecting your eyes is the first most important thing, and it is fairly easy, it just requires a little bit of extra effort.  Recent studies have found that certain vitamins are key to good eye health.  Vitamin A, found in carrots and multi-vitamins, is key to preventing deficiencies.  One of the symptoms of a Vitamin A deficiency is a chronic dry eye, if you have this we highly recommend you ask both your physician and optometrists about this condition.  The next great nutrient for your eyes is antioxidants – they help prevent macular degeneration.  They also have a lot of other nutritional value for your whole body.  The other key to protecting your eyes is wearing the correct protection.  When in the sun wearing sunglasses is crucial to prevent UV damage.   When doing house work, or work where small debris may fly into the eye wearing safety goggles is a must.  A small step like this could prevent a much larger disaster from happening.

Preventing eye problems is the next step.  This is again easy, but it requires making the extra effort.   The first step is to wear sunglasses, just like your skin can get burnt so can your eyes.  Wearing a hat and sunglasses is the best idea because it cuts down light reflecting off the water or other surfaces as well.  The other unintentional problem that we face is eyestrain.  When one works in front of a computer all day or reads all the time this can cause a lot of strain on the eyes.  Make sure to take breaks, take a walk, and let your eyes wonder.  They’re many exercises to do to prevent eyestrain.

Sadly, there some eye diseases we cannot prevent fully, but being aware of them is key.  Some of the main congenial eye diseases are cataracts and astigmatism.   Cataracts are a clouding of the lens that results in obscured vision.  Astigmatism is caused by a defect in the curvature of the eye, which mainly affects the peripheral vision.   If you would like to find out more about congenial diseases ask your optometrist, many of the diseases your doctor will test for on a regular basis such as glaucoma.

The last step to good eye health is finding out about temporary conditions.  The most common temporary condition is conjunctivitis also known as pink eye.   It is caused by inflammation of the conjunctiva.  If your eyes are bothering you in any way such as dry eyes, itchy eyes, watery eyes, these are all temporary problems that can be fixed.

Remember to get a yearly check up at your optometrist.  With today’s technology it is a quick easy visit, that no longer requires drops and wait periods, everything is done electronically!


Smoking Cigarettes has Been Linked to Blindness

Smoking is already known to kill by causing lung cancer – we are now finding it may also cause blindness.  Smoking has been directly related to increase risk of cataracts, which are directly linked to blindness.  Cigarettes have over 4000 chemicals, and over 200 toxic chemicals.  Many of these toxic chemicals are carcinogenic which cause free radicals.  These free radicals at first were only linked to lung cancer and other cancers, but they are now linked to cataracts.

The combination of free radicals, fat build-ups, and hypoxia result in a cataract.  It also may result in age-related macular degeneration, loss of night vision, as well as permanent damage to the retina and optic nerve.  Smoking increases your risk for many eye diseases because of the build up of free radicals.  Many of the eye problems it creates are irreversible, and cause blindness.

Second-hand smoke has recently been found to be very harmful for ones eyes.   Second-hand smoke can linger in a room for over two hours without any odor meaning your body is inhaling many of the chemicals from the tobacco even though you did not smoke it yourself.

Many states in the US have outlawed smoking in an in-closed space, and some have gone so far as to out law it in outdoors spaces as well.  This is a great beginning for the future of a smoke free environment.  For the moment, we are inhaling many chemicals that are causing faster degeneration of the body.   If you must smoke, or be around smoke, be sure to open windows and keep cleaner air flowing in.


August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety month.  In September most children will be going back to school and everyone should have their eyes checked before.  Many learning problems come from problems with the eyes, and at a young age children may not know how to voice their discomfort.

Even though you may not think your child is having eye problems, it is always smart to take them to the eye doctor.  When your child is born their eyes are checked and this test can pick up on a range of eye problems that can hopefully be fixed immediately.  From ages zero – 2 your child’s wellness check up will include eye assessments mainly based on eye history.  From ages 3 – 10 vision exams are normally given to test acuity and ocular alignment.  Most Ophthalmologists will recommend that your child gets checked at 6 moths, 3 years and again at 5 years regardless of eye history and eye health.

During the school years a child should start having a yearly check up because eye problems can develop fast.  If a child cannot see properly they will not have the patience or attention span to sit through school.  This can develop many learning problems, as well as misdiagnosed learning problems, throughout the school years.

If you see your child doing any of the following signs you may want to take them to an eye doctor.

  • Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
  • Frequent headaches
  • Covering one eye
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading assignments or holding reading materials close to the face
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Losing his or her place when reading
  • Difficulty with reading retention

Allergies can also show up in the eyes and you can ask your eye doctor about getting eye drops to relieve the itchiness, watery, and redness.

Children’s eyes are highly sensitive so remember to always wear sunglasses and eye protection.  Regular doctors visit could prevent your child from the stress of learning problems, get a check up today!


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.


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!