Eye Safety

How a Concussion Affects Vision

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A concussion, also known as a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI), happens when you get hit in the head hard enough that it bruises the brain. While not typically life-threatening, a blow to the head can leave you with headaches, dizziness, fatigue, vomiting (in more severe cases), and vision problems.

Causes of Concussions

The Centers for Disease Control says that the majority of concussions — around 47 percent — happen after a fall (off a bike, missteps, etc.). Being struck by an object (baseballs, football tackle, etc.) account for around 15 percent of mTBIs. While 14 percent happen as a result of a motor vehicle accident.

Symptoms of a Concussion

Common symptoms of a concussion are headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and at least initially, blurred vision and light sensitivity. Unlike the other symptoms, which can happen shortly after the blow, vision problems, as noted by All About Vision, can actually show up later and may not present themselves right away. So, you need to be on the lookout for them throughout the healing process.

For further reading, the Brain Injury Association of America has provided information on this condition.

Red CrossPlease note: It is a medical emergency and a strong indicator of severe trauma if one pupil (dark dot in the center of the eye) appears larger than the other. You must go to the Emergency Room straight away to be seen by a medical professional.

Vision Problems to Watch For

According to BrainInjuries.org and the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association, concussions can trigger many vision issues. They are:

NEURO-OPTOMETRIC REHABILITATION ASSOCIATION

Graphic Provided by Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association

    • Blurred or fuzzy vision
    • Light sensitivity
    • Reading difficulties
    • Comprehension problems
    • Double vision
    • Aching eyes
    • Headaches when tending to visual tasks
    • Visual-field loss
    • Eye movement issues such as tracking, shifting focus, and binocular focusing

If left untreated, the concussed patient may begin to have trouble making sense of visual information, so it is important to remain vigilant for at least a month after getting an mTBI to watch for these other symptoms.

Treatments

The single best thing you can do after receiving a concussion is to rest and avoid environments where you may re-injure yourself while you are healing. The brain takes a few weeks to recover. If it is determined that your vision has been affected, there are various optometric vision therapies and vision rehabilitation therapies that can help. Talk with your eye-care professional for recommendations on which therapy would work best for you.


Playing it Safe this Holiday Season

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Projectile Toy ExampleGift-giving holidays are right around the corner and, as fun and exciting as new toys are, playing it safe is important, too. Here’s a not-so-fun statistic to consider: One in ten eye injuries for children at emergency rooms in the United States are from toys, primarily from projectile ones such as crossbows, darts, BB guns, air-soft guns, Nerf guns, and slingshots. While those toys are fairly obvious that they may cause an eye injury, there are other toys that shoot small projectiles as part of the overall play experience that can also be a problem (i.e., Legos, Paw Patrol) too. A good rule of thumb for those kinds of toys is that parents should be able to explain the risks to their children to help them to avoid eye injuries. If the child can’t understand what they’re being told, they’re probably too young or too immature to play with it just yet.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also adds laser toys to the list, saying in their bulletin that the highly concentrated light can cause serious vision issues if pointed directly at eyes.

Avoiding those kinds of toys, especially for children under the age of 6, is but one way to prevent eye injuries. Here are several other things to look for in choosing toys for your children:

  • Well-constructed toys (check for flimsy plastics that may break and cause sharp edges).
  • Toys with rounded edges (eliminates potential hazards).
  • Age-appropriate toys (if in doubt, follow the recommended age guidelines for the toys).
  • Developmentally appropriate toys (you know your child best, choose toys that you know they are ready for).

Let’s all help to keep toys fun, by keeping them safe to enjoy as well. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year from all of us at All About Eyes!


Effects of Smoking on the Eyes

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smoking-infographic-580x2218Smoking. It’s not just bad for your lungs, heart, and pretty much every organ in your body according to the Centers for Disease Control, but it’s detrimental for your eyes, too. In addition to increased risks of heart and lung cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, smoking can dramatically increase your chances of vision loss as you age.

Eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) skyrocket by 25 percent for smokers. And it doesn’t end there: nonsmokers will double their risk of getting AMD just by living with a smoker and being exposed to second-hand smoke. AMD is an incurable vision disease that attacks the center part of the retina causing a dark spot in the center of your field of vision. Cataracts, a white, cloudy film that forms over the lens, are two times more likely to develop in a heavy smoker (15 or more cigarettes a day) than to a nonsmoker.

Smokers are twice as prone to uveitis (an inflammation of the iris area of the eye) and dry eye syndrome (where there aren’t enough tears to lubricate the eye).

And if all that wasn’t bad enough, the risk of developing diabetes is 30–40 percent higher for smokers, which can trigger eye diseases like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Traditional cigarettes are not the only cause for concern amongst smokers either. According to Vaping Daily, an online trade magazine covering the latest trends in e-cigarettes (smoking e-liquids via an electronic cigarette), the vapor clouds that are created in exhalation are being studied for their effects on vision as well.

To increase your chances of slowing down or halting the onset of these diseases the solution is simple: stop smoking and limit your exposure to people who do in your environment.


Eyelid Cancers – Shade Your Eyes in Summer!

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SunWith the summer months stretching out before us, there will be plenty of opportunities to be outside. And that means exposure to the sun will increase along with those opportunities. Most people think to apply suncream to protect their skin but they don’t always think about protecting their eyelids from the sun. The eyelid area, according to SkinCancer.org is where up to 10 percent of all skin cancers happen. Most of those, 90 percent, are basal cell carcinomas (benign), just over 5 percent are squamous cell carcinomas, and 1-2 percent are malignant melanomas.

Symptoms

Since most of the tumors grow undetected at first, there are several things to look for — and note that most eyelid cancers happen on the lower lid:

  • Change in appearance
  • Bleeding lump or bump
  • Swelling
  • Sudden loss of eyelashes
  • Chronic infection that doesn’t respond to treatment
  • Wound that won’t heal
  • Spreading, colored mass
  • Flat, irregularly shaped, pigmented lesions

 

Treatment

Once a biopsy has been performed (where they remove a portion of the affected area to test it) and cancer has been diagnosed, a team of doctors will help you. The team usually consists of an ophthalmologist, dermatologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist and/or a medical oncologist.

Surgery can remove the cancerous tissue. In some severe cases, the eye will need to be removed and a prosthetic added, and radiation/chemotherapy treatment may be necessary to prevent cancer from causing tissue damage or spreading to the nasal and orbital cavities behind the eyes.

Prevention

Sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection, along with a wide-brimmed hat will go a long way toward preventing eyelid cancers. There is also suncream available for the eyelid with an SPF15 that can help, too. As always, regular comprehensive eye exams with your eye-care professional can help to detect cancers early, leading to faster treatment.

Next month celebrates #NationalSunglassesDay and All About Eyes has a wide-array of sunglasses to choose from! Come see us to get a head-start on prevention!


Scary Eyes for Halloween? Scarier Than You Think!

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Decorative contact lenses.Halloween is nearly here! Time to get the decorations out, purchase the candy, and assemble your costume. For some, the devil is in the details and colored or decorative contact lenses can give that finishing touch to their costume.

But before you rush out to buy those cool, spooky lenses from your nearby pop-up Halloween store, consider this:  they are contact lenses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies all contact lenses as medical devices, and because of that, they are regulated by the FDA. Which means, quite simply, you need a prescription for them. You can’t just run out to the store to buy them.

Why You Need a Prescription for Decorative Contact Lenses

Corneal Infections. Tight Lens Syndrome. Corneal Scratches. That doesn’t scare you? How about conjunctivitis (pink eye), decreased vision, or blindness?

Unlike picking up a pair of nerdy-geek glasses that have clear lenses and don’t affect your vision in any way, contact lenses can and do. They are not a “one-size-fits-all” item — they need to be fitted to your eyes. Otherwise, the lens could be too small and result in Tight Lens Syndrome where the lens acts as a suction cup and sticks to your eye. Ouch! Or, as is the case with the “anime” lenses that make your eyes look like a cartoon character’s, the contact lens is too big, causing oxygen deprivation and may lead to infection. And of course, for people who don’t wear contact lenses normally, putting them in and taking them out wrong could cause scratches on the cornea. Those freaky-looking designs may also cause allergic reactions. All pretty scary stuff.

How to Safely Get Spooky Eyes

You can still have fun! You can still buy decorative lenses from FDA-approved distributors!

But first, you need to get examined by your eye doctor. Get a prescription for properly fitting contact lenses. And learn from your eye-care professional how to put lenses in, take them out, and clean them – just as you would if you were being fitted for vision-correcting lenses.

Be scary safely.


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!


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.