Posts Tagged optometry

The Scariest Word in Eye Care

Astigmatism – a long, hard to pronounce word that strikes fear to the faces of patients every day.  Follow up questions include, “Am I going to go blind?”

Rest assured, astigmatism is not a disease or pathology, it is simply a condition that causes blurry vision quite similar to nearsightedness or farsightedness.  In fact, astigmatism to some degree is extremely common.  Slight amounts of astigmatism may not even affect your vision, but larger amounts can cause distortion, blurry vision, eyestrain or headaches.

Technically, astigmatism is when your eye has two different focal points, thus preventing a sharp image from being focused on the back of your eye.  This most often results from your cornea, the clear part in the front of your eye, not being perfectly round.

The example we often use is to relate your cornea to the shape of a football rather than a basketball.  When light rays enter your eye from different directions, they are focused in different places.  And because your eye cannot focus what you’re look at into a single point, your vision is blurry at all distances.

There is usually no specific cause of astigmatism, although genetics certainly can be a factor.  Most people have it from birth. Other ways astigmatism may develop is from the lens inside your eye not being round, from an eye injury or from an eye disease.

One such disease is keratoconus, where the cornea becomes progressively thinner and cone shaped.  Early keratoconus causes symptoms of astigmatism, which can progress to severe astigmatism requiring special contact lenses or possibly a corneal transplant.

Astigmatism can be detected with a comprehensive eye examination from your Optometrist.  The tests are the same as any complete exam – we check your visual acuity, the curvature of the front of your eye, and what prescription lenses you may need to see better.  All of this information together helps to determine if you have astigmatism and to what degree, as well as any correction to help you see your clearest.

Astigmatism is a common and easily correctable condition affecting millions of people.  You shouldn’t fear the diagnosis, you should only correct your vision and check your eye health to ensure your are seeing at your optimum level.

This information is brought to you by Clarin Eye Care, a family Optometry practice in Palmetto Bay, Florida.  Please call or contact our office for more information.

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Just In Time For the Holidays!

On this day in December, it’s apropro that a patient presented with what can only be called a grinch – stealing vision from patients both good and bad.

I’m referring to a “christmas tree cataract.”

A christmas tree cataract gets its name from the red and green irridescent refractile crystals that form inside of the natural lens in the eye. These crystals are only visible with the high-powered microscopes your eye doctor uses.

This type of cataract occurs with aging but is very common in patients with myotonic dystrophy. Surgery is required soon after onset to restore vision.

The name of this cataract is a reminder this holiday season about the importance of regular eye exams. My patient today didn’t have any visual symptoms, but I was able to educate her on her eyes and the future course of her condition.

This information is brought to you by Clarin Eye Care, a family Optometry practice in Palmetto Bay, Florida.  Please call or contact our office for more information.

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Using Heat to Cool Down Your Burning Eyes ?!?

Dry and burning eyes, especially as the day goes on, is one of the toughest eye conditions to manage.  Often patients have a problem with their meibomian glands – special glands along your lid margins that produce a lubricating oil which helps prevent evaporation of tears right off of your cornea.

The oils in the glands become hard, close to a consistency of butter rather than olive oil, and clog the glands, thus stopping your tears from getting this all important oil layer.

In order to soften the oils, you need to use heat on the glands. This is the single most important step to alleviating the symptoms and returning your eyes to their optimal function.  This is also the least performed management tip in all of eyecare.

When I mention warm compresses or hot soaks most patients at least pretend to hear me, and some even try it once or twice. But most people think putting a hot towel on their eyes for 5 minutes is very inconvenient.

Warm water on a washcloth is also very inefficient – the washcloth only stays warms for 20 seconds before you have to put it back under the water.  So I usually go over a few other methods of warm compresses that I think are easier and more convenient.

The best method, however, comes from a website called The Dry Eye Zone:

CINDY’S RICE BAGGY RECIPE
1. Buy a box of knee-hi stockings. I buy L’eggs Everday knee highs, 10 pair to a box for $5.99.

2. Buy a bag of long grain rice.

3. Put about 1/2 cup of uncooked rice in a single knee high and tie it off with a knot to keep the rice from falling out. Experiment a little with the amount of rice and tying the stocking off at different lengths until you find what works best and is the most comfortable (not too heavy) for you.

4. Put in the microwave on high for 20 seconds to start. Keep nuking until it’s warm enough.

Easy, cheap and you get 20 rice baggies. Use one for as long as you want and then toss it out.

Other methods that work pretty well are buying a microwavable gel pack straight from the drug store, or even a hard-boiled egg, which retains heat for a long time.

Whatever method you choose, warm compresses are the single most important step you can do to help relieve dry, burning eyes.  Of course, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your Optometrist first to make sure you know your exact diagnosis and complete treatment options.

This information is brought to you by Clarin Eye Care, a family Optometry practice in Palmetto Bay, Florida.  Please call or contact our office for more information.

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Healthy Habits Can Cut Your Risk of Eye Disease

A new study has suggested that women who exercise, eat right, and don’t smoke can possibly cut their risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by more than two-thirds.

The authors wrote:

Adopting these healthy habits may markedly lower the prevalence of early AMD, the number of people who develop advanced AMD in their lifetime, and healthcare costs associated with treatment for this condition.

Participants in the study previously gave researchers a detailed dietary and lifestyle history about six years before AMD was assessed, making them ideal to look at to examine links between behavioral factors and AMD,  a leading cause of vision loss among U.S. adults ages 60 and older.

Self-reported diets at baseline were scored according to the content of relatively healthy foods, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and milk, as well as unhealthy foods including saturated fats, sodium, and added sugar.

Responses to questionnaire items on recreational and household physical activity were translated into estimated energy expenditures, expressed as metabolic energy task-hours (MET-hours) per week.

Lowered associations with AMD risk were found to be statistically significant for both diet and exercise. Interestingly, smoking by itself was not a particularly strong risk factor for AMD in this study. Compared with participants who never smoked.

But all three factors combined were a powerful indicator of AMD risk  ompared to women who practiced good diet and exercise habits.

The observational study provided no hard evidence for a causal mechanism, but the researchers suggested that healthy lifestyles may keep blood pressure down, which, in turn, could reduce AMD risk.

Behavioral factors can also affect the composition of macular pigment which potentially makes the macula more or less vulnerable to various pathologies such as oxidative damage – which causes AMD.

This information is brought to you by Clarin Eye Care, a family Optometry practice in Palmetto Bay, Florida.  Please call or contact our office for more information.

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Emma Thompson’s Mother Fears the Oscar Winner May Go Blind

Emma Thompson at the Nanny McPhee London premiere
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From the Herald Scotland:

Phyllida Law, the actress, has spoken about her fear that the blindness that struck her mother in later life will affect her daughters, Oscar-winner Emma Thompson and actress Sophie Thompson.

Glasgow-born Law, who has appeared in many of Emma’s films, including Nanny McPhee and Peter’s Friends, will appear on BBC Radio 4 next Sunday telling her personal and emotional story as part of the eye research charity Fight for Sight’s Christmas appeal.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Herald, the 78-year-old recalled how her mother’s glaucoma severely affected the last decade of her life. Law now suffers from the condition herself and fears the problem will, in turn, affect her daughters.

“She didn’t go completely blind, but her eyesight was extremely diminished,” she said. “Her ability to judge distance was diminished. She had tunnel vision really. She had to do things that blind people did, like put her finger on the top of a glass so she would know when it was full.

“Because of my mother’s condition, I was told rather firmly by the opthamologist to go get my eyes tested. I hadn’t had mine tested for ages.”

As a result, in 1993 Law was also diagnosed with glaucoma, but it was caught at a relatively early stage and was treatable. She needs eye-drops morning and night, which is “not inconvenient at all”.

“I’m a lucky one,” she said. “Glaucoma is rather creepy. You don’t know you have it because it doesn’t hurt. It means sometimes you don’t know you have it until it is too late. That’s what happened with my mother. She didn’t know she had it until it got really nasty.”

Glaucoma is the world’s second leading cause of sight loss. It occurs when pressure in the eye builds and, if untreated it severely damages the optic nerve. Around one in 50 people in the UK aged over 40 has glaucoma, rising to one in 10 over 75.

It is also hereditary. Once Law received her diagnosis she insisted Emma and Sophie be tested too. Their eyes are currently healthy, but Law still reminds them every year.

“Of course I worry about their sight,” she said. “I don’t get hysterical about it, but of course I worry. I’m a mother. I’m glad they get it checked.”

She said her concern for her loved ones was the reason for her fronting Fight for Sight’s Christmas appeal. Their work is “flipping brilliant”, she said. “Research happening now could not only improve treatments for me but could also save the sight of my children and grandchildren.”

Fight For Sight has been working in this area for 45 years. This year it spent £3 million funding research into ways of identifying glaucoma earlier and restoring sight lost through conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and diabetic eye disease.

This information is brought to you by Clarin Eye Care, a family Optometry practice in Palmetto Bay, Florida.  Please call or contact our office for more information.

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Do 3-D Movies Cause Motion Sickness?

VSP has partnered with Bill Nye the Science Guy and Dr. Roger Phelps for a series of webisodes debunking popular eye health myths.

In this episode, Bill and Dr. Phelps discuss the truth behind the symptoms of motion sickness some experience while watching 3-D and how to “get your eyes right” to enjoy 3-D movies. For more information visit www.facebook.com/vspvisioncare

This information is brought to you by Clarin Eye Care.  Please call or contact our office for more information.

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Up Close and Blurry

Have you ever found yourself needing to hold books, newspapers or menus at arms length in order to focus properly? Maybe computer work causes you headaches, or staring at your iPhone constantly leaves your eyes fatigued?  You may be experiencing a condition called presbyopia, a normal age-related change in your vision that affects your ability to see objects up close.

To understand this condition, imagine a video camera focused far away.  When you bring it to a close object it’s initially blurry before you hear the lens inside moving and the image becomes clear.  The eye works similarly, with a lens inside that changes shape and makes up close images clear.

When you are born, your lens has a large range of focus; but everyday since birth, the human eye can focus less and less.  It takes about 40 years for your lens to no longer be able to meet your near demands. And with more than 135 million Americans over the age of 40, more people than ever are experiencing blurry vision with reading. As the population ages, there is a growing need for vision correction to help with this ever-increasing problem.

Presbyopia, or the loss of focusing, affects everybody differently – but there is no avoiding it.  Some nearsighted people don’t realize that their focusing has decreased because they can see up close with no correction. And some people who are farsighted may experience symptoms even earlier.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent or delay this normal change, it will happen no matter how you try to stop it.  So the best course of action is to see your Optometrist to explore what vision correction options will work best for you.

Presbyopia is a normal and common problem. This problem may be new to you, but as eye doctors, we have been managing presbyopia for a long time. In order to make your vision clear and comfortable, and to know all of your correction options, make an appointment with your Optometrist today. Remember, as my father says, “don’t wait until you have to stand on the newspaper in order to read it.”

This information is brought to you by Clarin Eye Care.  Please call or contact our office for more information.

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Can Video Games Actually Improve Your Eyes?

To the dismay to parents everywhere, recent studies have come out showing that video games can actually improve some aspects of vision.

For one, playing fast-moving action games is shown to increase hand-eye coordination. Kids learn to respond quickly to a visual stimulus, thus speeding up their  response time.

Another use for video games is for children with amblyopia, a condition where one or both eyes never develop 20/2o.  Forcing a child to use their weak eye can help exercise and improve vision. Using video games has actually shown even better results by teaching the brain to pay more attention and respond faster.

Of course everything is better in moderation, so too many video games can casue eye strain.  Frequent breaks are needed especially for small hand-held games like the Nintendo DS or PSP. Just as with computers, it’s always best to use the 20-20-20 rule– for every 20 minutes of work, take a 20 second break and look at least 20 feet away.  That will decrease the strain and discomfort on your eyes.

Remember parents, assuming the homework is done, there are worse things for the eyes than video games.  But rest assured, I won’t volunteer that information while examining your child!

This information is brought to you by Clarin Eye Care Center. Please call or contact our office for more information.

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How I Use Intuition to Prescribe Eye Glasses

An optical refractor (phoropter) in use.
Image via Wikipedia

When you think about an Optometrist, it conjures up images of someone standing next to you flipping lenses in those ‘big glasses’ to find your prescription.  And that certainly sums up a lot of my day, but there is much more than meets the proverbial eye.

It’s my belief that intuition as well as understanding the psychology of a patient’s response to either ‘#1 or #2′ is what makes a prescription good or bad, and what makes one Optometrist more successful in prescribing glasses versus another.

Slight hesitations or common letter mix ups tell me a lot about what you are, or are not, seeing.  When I flip a lens and have my patient re-read a line on the chart, I’m watching facial expressions and body language to gauge how much that lens might have helped or if I’m headed in the wrong direction.

To me, understanding a patient’s wants and needs along with their response to the vision test is what leads me to prescribing certain glasses.  No one part on its own is enough, but if I had to err, I’d rather see the body language and response time rather hearing the actual answer to “which is better, one or two?”

So if it seems like your eye doctor is going too fast or not listening to your response, often we do know what we’re doing.  I know I’m trying to ‘see’ everything in order to prescribe your best vision!

This information is brought to you by Clarin Eye Care Center. Please call or contact our office for more information.

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