Health Blog - Page 4 of 7 - All About Eyes

Eye Checkup = Health Checkup

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Your eyes are more than the windows to your soul – with a comprehensive eye checkup – they are a doorway to your overall health

eye dropReasons to visit your eye-care professional for a checkup usually center on getting corrective lenses for your eyes when you notice your vision has changed. But did you know that there are many general health benefits to having a regular checkup as well?

As we discussed in last month’s blog post, Your Eyes and Diabetes, getting an annual comprehensive eye exam performed will shed light not only on your vision issues, but overall health issues as well. In addition to detecting diseases like diabetes, your eye-care professional will be able to tell if you have hypertension, high cholesterol, thyroid issues, tumors, sexually transmitted diseases, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “The eye is the only place in the body where a doctor can have an unobstructed view of our blood vessels, nerves, and connecting tissue — without any need for surgery. Because the eye has the same microscopic tissue as our other major organs, and is an important part of our larger nervous system, abnormalities spotted in the eye may signal the same changes in other parts of the body.”

So, it’s a good idea to have your eyes checked regularly, as a visit to your eye-care professional could literally save your life through early detection of some serious health issues! You can schedule an appointment by calling 609-653-9933 or using our online scheduler.

Don’t forget that now is a good time to use any remaining eye care benefits or flex spending before the end of the year!


Learn About Your Eyes and Diabetes

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November is National Diabetes Month

Did you know that this disease can be detected through a routine, comprehensive eye exam? The American Optometric Association says that diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss for Americans under the age of 74. If left untreated, it may lead to blindness, so it is important to keep diabetes under control through dietary choices, exercise, not smoking, and if needed, medicine.

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What is diabetes?

The Diabetes Research Institute describes this condition as, “A group of diseases where there is too much sugar (glucose) in the blood. Sugar comes from the foods we eat, like bread, cereals, pasta, rice, fruit, starchy vegetables and dairy items. Sugar is used by the body for energy. Insulin is a hormone that is made in the pancreas and works like a key to a door – insulin opens the door of the cells of our body allowing the sugar to go from the bloodstream into the cells where it is then used for energy. If there is not enough insulin or if the insulin can’t open the door to the cell, the sugar levels rise in the blood and diabetes occurs.”

The most common type of the disease is type 2 diabetes (a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes glucose), type 1 diabetes (also a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin), prediabetes (where blood sugar is high, but not high enough to trigger type 2 diabetes), and gestational diabetes (which affects pregnant women).

The primary effects of diabetes are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a lack of blood glucose control.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Typically, people with diabetes will feel thirsty, hungry, tired, have to urinate frequently, and have blurry vision.

How does diabetes affect the eyes?

Because diabetes increases blood sugars in blood vessels, causing them to swell and leak, it can affect the blood vessels in the eyes as well. This can lead to several eye conditions, most noticeably in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

A major complication of the disease is diabetic retinopathy, which is a condition causing progressive damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina.

According to the American Diabetes Association, having diabetes may increase your chances of having additional eye-related complications as well: a 60 percent increased risk for cataracts, a 40 percent increased risk for glaucoma.

How can comprehensive eye exams help?

During the comprehensive eye exam, eyes are dilated with eye drops, allowing a clear view of the blood vessels at the back of the eye. By having yearly exams, an eye-care professional can detect retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma early and start treatment programs.

 

 

 


Glaucoma: Closed-Angle – Part two

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closedangleglaudoma

Graphic: Glaucoma Research Foundation

This is part two of a two-part series on glaucoma that includes the main types of the disease, the symptoms and risk factors, and treatments available to combat the disease.

In last week’s post, the focus was on the most common form of glaucoma, open-angle, which affects about three million Americans and accounts for 90 percent of all glaucoma cases. The next most common type is called closed-angle glaucoma (also known as narrow-angle glaucoma and/or angle-closure glaucoma).

Closed-Angle Glaucoma

While the drainage canals are also blocked as with open-angle glaucoma and this causes eye pressure, in this form of the disease, the angles are narrow or closed, which can result in sudden, severe pain, requiring immediate medical attention.

Risk Factors

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, people with a family history of closed-angle glaucoma, those of Asian descent, and people with hyperopia (farsightedness) tend to be at risk of developing this type of glaucoma. As with glaucoma in general, age is also a factor. 

Symptoms and Treatment

Typically, closed-angle glaucoma is a medical emergency with an onset of severe eye pain, blurry vision, a headache, nausea, and seeing halos around lights. People at risk for developing this form of glaucoma often have no symptoms ahead of an acute attack. Once an acute attack happens, the patient will need to seek medical care straight away, otherwise, they risk permanent vision loss in that eye.

However, yearly eye exams can help in detecting this form of the disease, which can allow the patient the opportunity to have an iridectomy performed in a non-emergency situation. An iridectomy is a procedure whereby a laser beam is used to create a drainage hole in the iris, which provides relief of eye pressure. The procedure is done on an out-patient basis and has minimal recovery time.

Don’t let glaucoma steal your vision, contact All About Eyes and get your eyes examined today!


Glaucoma – A two-part series

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This will be a two-part series on glaucoma that will include the main types of the disease, the symptoms and risk factors, and treatments available to combat the disease.  

What is Glaucoma? 7544734516_bc4180a6f4_z

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases which produces increased pressure within the eye, due to a fluid build-up. Over time, according to the Glaucoma Foundation, this pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve and cause vision loss. The optic nerve is part of the central nervous system and carries the visual information from the eye to the brain. Once pressure builds on this nerve, it can start to die, and may lead to blindness.

There are several types of glaucoma, but the two most common are open-angle and closed-angle, with open-angle being far more common of the two. In fact, it is estimated that at least 90 percent of all glaucoma cases are this type, affecting about three million Americans.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma tends to develop slowly over time and does not present with noticeable symptoms until well into the disease. The Glaucoma Research Foundation says, “Glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually steals vision.” By the time the patient is aware of vision loss, it is often too late to prevent it. Vision loss due to glaucoma is permanent. Open-angle glaucoma is caused by the slow clogging of drainage canals within the eye structure, which results in increased eye pressure. The aspect of “open angle” refers to the angle where the iris meets the cornea is as wide and open as it can be.

Risk Factors 

So the question begs, if you don’t know it’s happening, how can you prevent it or stop it? One way is to understand common risk factors. Knowing your family medical history is an excellent place to start since glaucoma tends to be hereditary. Those of African-American or Latino descent are also at risk. And those who are diabetic, obese, or have cardiovascular disease may also be at higher risk of developing glaucoma. Of course, age plays a factor as well.

Prevention

Knowing if you are at risk is just one part of the equation, however. The best line of defense is getting annual check-ups with your eye-care professional. They will perform a comprehensive dilated eye exam, which will help to diagnose early signs of glaucoma.

Treatment

If it is determined that you have open-angle glaucoma, medications are available to help reduce eye pressure, and several different types of surgery are available as well, including selective laser trabeculoplasty and argon laser trabeculoplasty.

Part two of this series will focus on closed-angle glaucoma and will be posted on Monday, October 10. 

 


Aging Eyes

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 Reading Newspaper It starts out simply enough. One day, you hold the newspaper, magazine, book, or menu you’re reading a little farther away than you did before. Time marches on and a while later – after you’ve been slowly adjusting – you realize that you’ve run out of arm to hold your newspaper and that’s when it dawns on you: either your arms have gotten shorter or your eyes are starting to go.

Welcome to middle age.

According to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), right around the age of 40, many adults begin to develop age-related eye conditions. The most noticeable one is called presbyopia (prez-bee-OH-pee-uh), a loss of near vision. This happens when the lens of the eye starts to stiffen, making it harder to see close objects. In addition to your vision changing, the National Institute on Aging says presbyopia can cause headaches or strained, tired eyes. A visit to an optometrist will help you to identify if just a pair of reading glasses or a bifocal or multi-focal prescription is necessary. All About Eyes has a wide variety of eyeglasses available to choose from.

Aging Eyes

In addition to presbyopia, some adults will begin to see a need for better lighting when they read. When the lens of the eye becomes less transparent, it makes it harder for light to pass through to the retina. The Merck Manual, a reference for doctors, says that adults ages 60 and above need three times more light to read than a 20-year-old.

Other issues that can affect aging eyes are changes in how color is perceived, due to the lens yellowing over time, making it harder to spot the difference between shades of the same color or similar colors. Dry eyes can also start to happen, where the fluid lubricating the eyeball begins to diminish. And then, there are the floaters. As we age, more floaters will begin to appear in our field of vision. The spots can look like clear or dark strings. You may notice them more when looking at the sky during daytime or other bright, plain surface. They are made up of bits of normal fluid that have solidified. And finally, cataracts may also develop as we age. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in the eye which causes the vision to progressively get blurrier. They can be removed by surgery.

Regular check-ups with your optometrist can help to identify – and in many cases – correct all of these aging eye issues.


Free E-book about Back-to-School Eye Exams

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August and September are busy months for us and many of our new patients are students who discover they are having trouble seeing the white board. If your child needs an eye exam for the first time, they may feel a little anxious or excited or both. To help them understand what will happen at the eye doctor, we recommend downloading and reading this free e-book from The EyeSolution called Howard and the Amazing Eye Exam. Howard is a hedgehog who goes to the optometrist and learns how his eyes work and how fun a visit to the eye doctor can be.

We encourage you to share this book with your child or grandchild and let us know if it was helpful. Enjoy the rest of your summer and don’t forget to schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam!


Add to Back to School List: Eye Exams for Kids

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Child getting an eye exam.

Heading back to school often means loading up on supplies, new clothes, and a physical exam to ensure immunizations are all up-to-date. It’s also an optimal time to add in a trip to the eye doctor for your child’s annual exam (Schedule an appointment here). Given that an estimated 80 percent of learning is visual, it’s important for your child’s academic development to make sure that they’re seeing things as they should.

While most elementary schools in the United States and pediatricians’ offices provide vision screening, which may help to detect vision problems, nothing beats an actual visit to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for an eye exam.

Types of Vision Problems:

  • Amblyopia:  The medical term used when the vision in one of the eyes is reduced because the eye and the brain are not working together properly. The eye itself looks normal, but it is not being used normally because the brain is favoring the other eye. This condition is also sometimes called lazy eye.
  • Strabismus:  This condition is a misalignment of the eyes. When the eyes point inward, it is commonly referred to as “crossed-eyed” and when they point outward, it is commonly called “wall-eyed”. This can happen with one or both eyes.
  • Refractive Errors: These include nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.
  • Color blindness: An inherited condition that affects the way your eyes distinguishes certain colors.

 

Early Signs of Vision Problems:

While the above conditions are best detected by your eye doctor, here are some signs of vision problems parents, teachers, and caregivers can look for in children:

  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Squinting
  • Tilting the head to look at objects

 

Many vision problems can be corrected if caught early! So book your back-to-school eye exam today!


Eye of the Beholder

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Check out this fun infographic, Eye of the Beholder,eye-of-beholder  with lots of information about taking good care of your eyes. The author, Mark Kirkpatrick, shares some quick and easy ways to look and feel better, including top tips for bright, beautiful eyes! Have questions about taking care of your eyes? Give us a call at 609-653-9933.


National Sunglasses Day – Cool Eye Safety Essentials

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June 27th is National Sunglasses Day and a good day to remember that sunglasses are more than a cool fashion accessory, they are instrumental in protecting your eyes from ultraviolet rays. Sunglasses can help block out 99-100 percent of these harmful UV-A and UV-B rays. And fortunately for those living in the United States, most sunglasses sold here — regardless of cost — meet that standard.

So what’s the big deal about National Sunglasses Day? Is it just another marketing day to sell products? Unlike say, National Donut Day, where we celebrate the deliciousness of donuts (and perhaps regret it later), National Sunglasses Day really is about promoting healthy vision. Trust us, you won’t regret it later …

According to the National Vision Council, “Prolonged exposure to UV light can cause serious long-term damage to the human eye. The negative effects can take years or even decades to show and can have a big impact on vision health later in life.” That’s why it’s important to start wearing sunglasses as a child on through to old age.

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Sunglasses can help to prevent serious damage such as eyelid cancers (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma) which, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, account for five to ten percent of all skin cancers. And note that it isn’t the upper eyelid that is usually affected, it’s primarily the lower lid. In addition to skin cancers, UV rays can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and corneal sunburn. Yes, your eyeball can get sunburned, too!

So why not stop by All About Eyes and check out our wide array of sunglasses to protect your eyes?

#NationalSunglassesDay

 

 

 

 

 


Cataracts – Causes and Detection

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Cataracts cause a clouding effect in your vision but fortunately, they can often be corrected with surgery (click here for expanded information on what cataracts are, available treatments, and prevention tips). So, what actually causes cataracts and how can you detect them?

First, the bad news. Cataracts are mostly caused by age and there really isn’t anything any of us can do about that. Time marches on, proteins develop in the eye’s lens, and the cloudiness develops. According to the National Institutes of Health, by age 80, more than half of all Americans will either have a cataract or will have had surgery to remove them.

Sometimes, cataracts are caused by things that aren’t necessarily within our control, like a traumatic eye injury, diseases like diabetes and glaucoma, or in rare cases, you’re born with them or they develop in childhood because they’re congenital. However, cataracts can also be caused by things within our control such as smoking, alcohol consumption, steroid use, and prolonged exposure to sunlight without wearing sunglasses.

Dilated Eye

Dilated Eye

So the good news is, by living a healthy lifestyle, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and taking good care of ourselves, we can extend the health of our eyes. Part of taking good care of ourselves is making sure to get yearly eye exams, specifically a comprehensive eye exam, which may include dilation and/or Optomap retinal imaging. This type of exam allows the eye care professional to look deep into the inside of your eye. In a dilated exam, drops are placed in each eye which dilates the pupil (the black dot in the center of the eye), making it larger to allow more light in. A large magnifying lens is then used to see into the back of the eye. Optomap retinal imaging takes a 200-degree image of the back of the eye and often does not require dilation. Both of these tests are important, as they can detect early stages of disease, often before any other warning signs appear.

If you suspect you have cataracts in one or both eyes, make an appointment at All About Eyes. Dr. Dave or Dr. Cheryl will conduct a comprehensive eye exam and discuss cataracts with you in more detail. Give us a call at 609-653-9933 to set up an appointment today.