cataracts

Seeing Signs: Teen Driving

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Photo of a blurry stop sign.The beginning of the new school year for high schoolers often means the start of driver’s education courses and getting permits for most teenagers. While most kids focus on passing the written portion exam for their permit, there’s another, equally important exam to pass: the vision test. As part of the permitting process, eye exams are given at the state’s motor vehicle facility to ensure that peripheral (side) and distance vision are up to the task of driving.

It can also be a time when teens and their parents first learn about myopia, or “nearsightedness.”

As children grow into their teenage years, their eyes grow as well, and this can change the shape of the eye. This, according to the Mayo Clinic, causes light rays to bend (refract) incorrectly, focusing images in front of your retina instead of on your retina. Thus, making objects farther away, blurry. Objects like road signs and license plates in the car ahead.

Nearsightedness is a rapidly growing concern in the United States. From 1972 to 2004, myopia in people ages 12-54 increased from just 25 percent of the population to nearly 42 percent, according to the National Eye Institute. Why? Computers and hand-held devices are the culprits. The Nielsen Report, which monitors media usage, says that Americans are now spending upwards of 11 hours a day on their devices, up from 10 hours a day last year. All this time spent on computers and smartphones is causing problems for people in their distance vision.

Myopia, for some people, can be associated with other eye disorders like cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment. Signs of the condition include squinting, eye strain, headaches, and feeling tired when driving. Nearsightedness can be corrected with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, and in some cases, refractive surgery.

Schedule a comprehensive eye exam today!


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.


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!


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.

DEDInfographic

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.

 

 

 


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.


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.


Cataract Surgery Video

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Many people over 50 years of age are diagnosed with cataracts. The good news is that cataracts can be treated with out-patient surgery. Wondering what to expect during cataract surgery? Watch this short video to find out about a typical procedure to remove cataracts..


Cataracts

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drawing of an eye with and without a cataract

Cataracts occur when the protein in a person’s eyes clumps together, causing a cloudy area on the lens of the eye. A cataract may occur in one or both eyes, at the back, center, or edge of the lens. Cataracts cause a progressive loss of vision with symptoms including blurred vision, glare, and/or dullness of light. Cataracts are not painful.

Cataracts are often age-related. They are common in people over 60 years old, but they can occur in people of any age who have had trauma to the head or eye. In rare cases, babies and children can experience cataracts. Luckily, with recent advances in surgery, cataracts can be treated successfully with a minimal chance of complication.

Treatment

Cataracts are treated using surgery to replace the lens of the eye with a clear plastic intraocular lens, not only improving glare, contrast, and depth perception, but restoring vision to 20/20 or better.

Prevention

If a person lives long enough, they will inevitably develop a cataract. But there are ways to minimize early onset of cataracts in your eyes.

  • Start by wearing a quality pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV rays of the sun
  • If you smoke, please stop. Smokers are more than 2 times likely to get cataracts than non-smokers
  • If you have diabetes, treat it properly
  • Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Anti-oxidant rich foods can keep your eyes healthy
  • Take a multivitamin designed to promote eye health
  • Visit your eye doctor regularly, especially if  you are over 40 years old or have a family history of cataracts

 

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.