Health Blog - All About Eyes

September: Sports Safety Month

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September, the month when crisp air makes its return, school buses make their way down neighborhood streets, and school sports start for elementary children on up to college students. And with those sports come eye injuries, unfortunately. In fact, every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the United States treats a sports-related eye injury (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 2000). Each year, 25 percent of the estimated 2.4 million eye injuries reported are due to sports.

Sports with the Highest Injuries

The number one eye-injury causing sport for those aged 14-25: college basketball, with the Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries reporting one in ten college players having an eye injury playing the game. For the under 14 age group, it’s baseball.

Coming in second highest on the list are all manner of water sports: swimming, surfing, scuba diving, and water skiing. And it turns out, Mom was right about those BB guns taking your eye out. Third highest on the list of eye injury offenders (ages 14 and under) are air, gas, spring, and BB guns.

Types of Injuries

Prevent Blindness, sponsors of the September Sports Safety Month program, notes that sports-related injuries include infections, corneal abrasions, blunt trauma, inflamed iris, fracture of the eye socket, swollen or detached retinas and traumatic cataracts.

Photo of children wearing sports safety glasses.

Prevention

The National Eye Institute says that 90 percent of all eye injuries can be prevented by wearing proper eyewear. All About Eyes recommends eyewear that is ASTM F803 approved, providing the best protection for your eyes. Stop by and pick yours up!

 


Safely See the Solar Eclipse

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US map of the eclipse

Credit: Michael Zeiler / GreatAmericanEclipse.com

On Monday, August 21, 2017, portions of North America will experience a total eclipse of the sun. Total eclipses occur when the moon passes over the sun and covers it from view on Earth. The last such event was in 1918, and the next one won’t happen again until April 8, 2024. So it is something to see, albeit safely. Remember, looking directly into the sun may permanently damage your vision.

The American Optometric Association, NASA, and the American Astronomical Society have put together detailed guidelines on how to safely see the solar eclipse. The main points they each discuss are:

DON’T look directly at the sun without eye protection, even briefly. When is the right time to take off the viewers? “If you’re wearing your eclipse glasses and it becomes so dark you can’t see anything, you know it’s safe, and it’s time to take them off,” says Alex Young, a solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. Note that in New Jersey, the eclipse will be around 75 percent, so the filtered glasses must be worn throughout the eclipse.

DO get special approved solar eclipse viewers. The only safe way to view a partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters such as “eclipse glasses” or viewers that meet international standard ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing. All About Eyes will be selling a limited number of eclipse glasses available for $2.

Credit: Courtesy Mark Margolis / Rainbow Symphony

Credit: Courtesy Mark Margolis / Rainbow Symphony

DON’T use sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, or polarizing filters. They are unsafe for viewing an eclipse.

DO put the special glasses on before looking at the sun to view the eclipse, and when removing them, turn away from the sun before doing so.

DON’T use any filter if it is scratched or damaged.

If you should experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse, visit All About Eyes for a comprehensive eye examination.


An Overview: Comprehensive Eye Exams

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We have a lot of blog posts here at All About Eyes that mention and/or encourage our visitors to get a comprehensive eye exam. So we thought we take this opportunity to talk about what it is and why it’s important to not just your eye health, but your overall health as well.

The first phase of the comprehensive eye exam focuses on your vision and any issues you may have there. The second phase of the exam evaluates your eye health.

What is a Comprehensive Eye Exam?

At the start of the visit, a technician will have a medical history conversation with you and will perform a pre-test using an autorefraction machine that measures the eyes for the preliminary prescription and also does keratometry, an examination of the curvature of the eye itself. This is useful in determining astigmatism. Then they perform what’s called tonometry with the non-contact tonometer (no drops needed). A tonometer is used to apply a puff of air onto the eye to measure eye pressure and is used to determine if you have glaucoma.

If the results from that test are high, then the doctor will apply numbing drops in the eyes and a further check of the intraocular pressure with an applanation tonometer will happen. Applanation tonometry uses a small lens to rest on the tear film/cornea to check the pressure. This test is usually painless and quick.

The other tests offered during pretesting are the Optomap digital retinal imaging which gives a wider, more complete picture of the retina and can detect problems not seen with the other tests. All About Eyes also uses an ocular coherence tomographer (OCT) which is a non-invasive imaging machine used to check the layers of the retina. It is beneficial for early glaucoma detection and in diagnosing macular problems.

Classic Eye Chart: Comprehensive Eye Exam

A visual acuity test will be given, where you will be asked to read off rows of random letters that gradually decrease in size until you reach a point to where you can no longer read with certainty. Also in included in the visual acuity testing are checking your vision for color blindness (if any) and 3-D testing to check your depth perception.

In the visual mobility tests, your practitioner will use various instruments (lights, eye covers) to see how your eyes are working. They will watch for eye muscle movements, check your peripheral (side) vision, and for your pupils’ response to light. Phoropter: Comprehensive Eye Exam

A phoropter is a refractor machine that determines the lens power needed for glasses (nearsighted, farsighted, and/or astigmatism). The doctor will give you an option of which lens looks clearer (“one or two”) and this helps to set your prescription for glasses or contact lenses if needed.

Slit Lamp: Comprehensive Eye ExamTo look at the back of the eye, the doctor will use a small, high magnification lens in addition to a biomicroscope. The biomicroscope, also called a slit lamp, is used to shine a light onto the eye so that its structure can be examined up close. This binocular microscope looks at all the areas towards the front of the eyes: eyelids, cornea, conjunctiva, iris (colored area), and the lens itself. This test can detect many diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal ulcers, and diabetic retinopathy. Sometimes dilating drops are necessary during this exam if the patient has tiny pupils, is very light sensitive, or they have retinal problems.

Why are Comprehensive Eye Exams Important?

First and foremost, as the American Optometric Association says, annual comprehensive eye exams can help with early diagnosis of vision issues which can help to prevent vision loss. Quite simply, they help to save your sight.

But, as we talked about in our article, Eye Checkup = Health Checkup, a comprehensive eye exam can also go a long way toward early detection of other major health issues such as stroke, heart disease, and sexually transmitted diseases, to name a few.

So schedule an appointment with either Dr. Dave Roell or Dr. Cheryl Roell today!


New Sunglasses for National Sunglasses Day!

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SoMe_StackedLogoIt’s that time of year again:  time to break out your sunnies and celebrate National Sunglasses Day on Tuesday, June 27. Don’t have any sunglasses? Not to worry! All About Eyes has you covered. We are running a special two-week promotion on sunglasses starting on Thursday, June 22, and running through to Saturday, July 8! 

All About Eyes is happy to work with the sponsors of National Sunglasses Day, the Vision Council, in raising awareness about the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV radiation is well-known to cause sunburns and skin cancer, but according to the Vision Council, “Most people don’t realize the damaging impact the wavelengths inflict on their vision.”

Temporary issues from unprotected UV exposure can cause swollen, red eyes and hypersensitivity to light. Years of unprotected exposure, however, can cause cancer to the eye and eyelid, and accelerate conditions like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

So be smart and protect your eyes! Wear your sunnies — not just for National Sunglasses Day but every day — and drop by All About Eyes to pick up the latest fashions!


Condiciones y enfermedades de los ojos

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For our Spanish-speaking patients, we’re providing a link to articles in Spanish about common eye conditions at AllAboutVision.com. This site provides information about the following conditions:

If you have specific questions about your eyes, call us at (609) 653-9933 and ask to speak to Fransheska who speaks both English and Spanish and can help you.


Melanoma in Your Eyes

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Eye Graphic - Melanoma

Graphic courtesy of National Cancer Institute

When people generally think of melanoma, they usually think of skin cancer. And while it is rare, melanoma can develop in the eyes. It is called ocular melanoma and, according to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation, up to 2,500 Americans are diagnosed with this form of cancer each year.

“Melanomas are a type of cancer that develop in the cells that produce pigment. Pigment is the substance that gives your skin, hair and eyes color,” explains the American Academy of Ophalmology’s website. Melonaomas tend to develop in the uveal part of the eye, which is one of the three layers of the eye, the other two being the sclera (outer layer) and retina (innermost layer).

The problem with ocular melanoma is that it typically doesn’t have symptoms and is usually only detected during a routine, comprehensive eye dilation exam.

Who is at Risk?

Research suggests that there is a strong genetic component for people who develop eye cancer and that it tends to affect those with lighter skin tones who have blue or green eyes and of that group, it tends to affect people ages 50 and above. Another major factor, not surprisingly, is overexposure sunlight or ultraviolet light from tanning beds. The simple act of wearing sunglasses can go a long way toward reducing the risk of developing ocular melanoma.

How is it Detected?

As mentioned above, a routine eye exam where eyes are dilated is the best detection method, given that the cancer is relatively symptom-free. That said, if you notice dark spots on your iris (colored part of your eye), a change in the shape of your pupil, blurred vision, or a loss of vision, you should see your eye care professional. These issues can also be present for other eye problems, so further assessment will be needed.

If eye cancer is suspected during the routine eye exam, the next step may be to see a specialist for an ultrasound of the eye, a fluorescine angiography (where dye is injected into your body and a special camera takes pictures of the contrast image), or a biopsy (where eye tissue is removed and examined).

How is it Treated?

Depending on the severity of the ocular melanoma, radiation and/or surgery are the traditional treatments. In the last few years, medical oncologists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have been testing experimental drug therapies and are having promising results.


Itchy Eyes and Their Allergens

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Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis

Flowering Tree2It’s that time of year again – spring – or for 20 percent of the population, Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAC) season. Seasonal allergies cause red, itchy, watery, and burning eyes, all thanks to blooming trees, flowers, and weeds releasing pollen. Sufferers may have chronic dark circles under their eyes, their eyelids may be puffy, and bright lights may be bothersome. If the eyes are rubbed too much, it can lead to secondary infections requiring medical attention.

When the pollen comes out, allergy sufferers should close their windows, turn on their air conditioning in their homes and cars, and stay indoors for the mid-morning and early evening time periods, when pollen counts are at their highest. If they do go outdoors, sunglasses or eyeglasses are their best defense against blowing pollen.

Obviously, pollen is not completely unavoidable, requiring a trip to the pharmacy for supplies to help alleviate the symptoms. Artificial tears, decongestant eye drops, and oral antihistamines can help to get through the season (just be aware that antihistamines can have a drying effect on eyes).

Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis

While seasonal allergies tend to affect sufferers during the active growing months of plants (spring, summer, and fall), Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis (PAC), is a year-long affair. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, perennial allergies are typically caused by the indoor allergens of dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, or other household/indoor irritants.

The symptoms will appear the same as for its seasonal allergy counterpart and is treated the same with over-the-counter remedies. Sufferers are strongly encouraged to keep their homes, offices, and cars (interior environments) clean and to regularly wash linens and other fabrics (i.e., rugs, draperies, curtains, upholstery) to eliminate dust mites, spores, and dander.

These two types of eye allergies are the most common, affecting 50-85 million Americans each year. If you find yourself being affected, wash your face, use a cold compress on your eyes, try the over-the-counter remedies, keep your environment clean, wipe surfaces with a damp cloth, and if all else fails, see your eye care professional for prescription medications.


It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Never mind, it’s just a floater.

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Floaters are tiny spots that randomly appear in your vision. According to the Mayo Clinic, “they may look like black or gray specks, strings, or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes and appear to dart away when you try to look at them directly.” They tend to be more visible when you look at bright surfaces such as computer screens, white paper, or a blue sky.

But where do they come from in the first place? Are they harmful? And can they be treated?

Drawing of the various components of the human eye.

Image Provided by National Eye Institute

Floaters, while an apt description, are actually formed from vitreous, the gel-like substance that makes up around 80 percent of the eyeball (see diagram) and helps to maintain the round shape of the eye. As we begin to age, it begins to shrink. During this process, microscopic vitreous fibers begin to clump together and they then form the floaters.

People who are nearsighted, those who have diabetes, or folks who have had cataract operations tend to have more floaters than others (National Eye Institute). While not harmful in and of themselves, as with most things, a sudden increase in their volume – to where they begin to affect your vision – can be problematic. If you lose your peripheral vision or see flashes of light with the increased floaters, you may have a retinal detachment, which is a serious condition requiring immediate medical attention.

In cases where the floaters are affecting vision and can no longer be simply ignored, a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy can be performed. In this surgery, the vitreous gel is removed from the eye and replaced with a salt solution. As with most surgeries, the risk of complications must be fully considered as your sight could be adversely affected.


Eye Emergency – What to do

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Red CrossEye injuries happen from time-to-time – even after all reasonable efforts to protect our eyes have been made. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Americans have over 2.5 million eye injuries every year. So if you find yourself in that statistic, it’s important to know what to do in case of emergency to help reduce an injury’s impact on your vision.

Common injuries include chemical burns, specks of debris (sand, dust, etc.), blows to the eye, and cuts/punctures. These types of injuries may result in either a trip to the emergency room or to your eye doctor.

 

Here’s what to do in case of emergency:

Chemical Burns

What it is:  Chemicals like shampoos, gasoline, cleaning products, etc., that splash into the eye and cause a burning sensation.

What to do: Immediately flush the eye with clean water for 15 minutes.

What not to do:  Do not bandage the eye.

Specks

What it is:  Any small foreign object like a gnat, dirt, sand, etc., that flies into your eye.

What to do:  Lift your upper eyelid over your bottom lid to help flush the eye with your tears. If that doesn’t work, use a commercial eye wash (saline solution) available from your local pharmacy.

What not to do:  Do not rub your eye. Do not use tweezers or any other object to try and dislodge the particle.

Blows

What it is:  A direct hit to the eye from a fist, baseball, or other objects.

What to do:  Apply a cold compress (i.e., ice pack, a bag of frozen peas) to the eye area. Check for any eye pain, blurry vision, protruding eyeball, blood, or discoloration.

What not to do:  Do not apply any pressure on the injured eye.

Cuts and Punctures

What it is:  Any cut or puncture to the eyelid, eyeball, or eye socket.

What to do:  Cover the eye area with a rigid shield to protect it and tape it in place. The bottom of a paper cup is a good quick-fix until you’re able to get to an emergency room.

What not to do:  Do not try to remove any object stuck in the eye. Do not wash the eye.

Remember:  If you feel any pain in your eye or have blurred vision after an injury incident, please see a doctor or eye care professional straight away.


All About Eyes – Favorite Songs About Eyes

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The staff at All About Eyes wish all our clients, readers, and friends a Happy New Year! To start the new year off with some fun, we decided to get musical and asked each of our staff members what their top three favorite songs are – and since we’re all about eyes – the songs are all about eyes. We’d love to hear what your favorites are as well!

Staff Picks:  Top Three Favorite Songs About Eyes*

 

Cheryl:

  1. In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel
  2. Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
  3. Lyin’ Eyes by the Eagles

Dave:

  1. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Stills & Nash
  2. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
  3. Behind Blue Eyes by The Who

Karen:

  1. Dr. My Eyes by Jackson Browne
  2. My Eyes by Blake Shelton
  3. Lonely Eyes by Chris Young

Sarah:

  1. Goodbye in Her Eyes by the Zac Brown Band
  2. My Eyes by Blake Shelton
  3. Fresh Eyes by Andy Grammer

Anna:

  1. Fresh Eyes by Andy Grammer
  2. Hungry Eyes by Eric Carmen
  3. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Franki Valli

Nancy:

  1. Behind these Hazel Eyes by Kelly Clarkson
  2. Close Your Eyes by Michael Bublé
  3. Eyes Open by Taylor Swift

Fransheska:

  1. Spanish Eyes by Backstreet Boys
  2. Close My Eyes by Mariah Carey
  3. Open Your Eyes by John Legend

*Wherever possible, highlighted songs link directly to the artist’s official page/song.