Diabetes Awareness Month and Your Eye Health

This month is Diabetes Awareness Month.  Diabetes is a very serious disease affecting millions of Americans, and the rate of diabetes is steadily increasing.  Diabetes is a chronic disease in which there are abnormally high levels of sugar in the blood.  Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that controls blood sugar levels. Too little insulin in the blood, resistance to insulin, or both can cause diabetes.

When we eat food a sugar called glucose, a source of fuel for the body, enters our blood stream.  The role of insulin is to move glucose from our blood into our other organs, fat, and muscle to then be used as fuel.  When a person has diabetes their body cannot remove the glucose from the blood stream to the other areas in our body because not enough insulin is produced, or the cells do not respond to insulin normally.  There are three types of diabetes – type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.  Type 1 can happen at any age, but it is mainly found in children and it caused by lack of insulin.  Type 2 diabetes is the most common.  Gestational diabetes happens to women during pregnancy, but this is not chronic.

One of the most common causes of eye problems in adults is diabetes.  It is a disease called diabetic retinopathy and it affects the retina.  The retina is the light-sensitive tissue in the back of your eye and you need a healthy retina in order to see properly.  Diabetic retinopathy happens when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye.  Some other diabetic eye problems are cataracts and glaucoma.

Any one with diabetes should make sure to have a yearly eye check up – along with all those who think they may have perfect eyesight!


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!


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!


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.