A New You

Three Things You Need to Know about Macular Degeneration

When it comes to vision, you are probably well aware of common eye conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts. But did you know that macular degeneration causes more vision loss than cataracts and glaucoma combined and that it affects more than 10 million Americans? Here are three more things you should know about this incurable disease of the eye. Types of Macular Degeneration There are two types of this eye condition, which is sometimes referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD): Dry (atrophic) Wet (exudative) The dry type of macular degeneration is much more common and makes up between 85 and 90 percent of all macular degeneration cases. It is caused when tiny yellow deposits called drusen form in the macula. This results in a thinning or deterioration of the macula, which is the middle part of the retina. Those who have this dry type of macular degeneration can eventually experience severe loss of vision. The wet type of macular degeneration is caused when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. Fluid gets leaked into the retina by these blood vessels and vision becomes distorted. Scarring from the bleeding blood vessels can cause permanent loss of central vision. Causes of Macular Degeneration While the most well-known cause of macular degeneration is age, there are also some other known causes, including the following:  Race—it is more prevalent in Caucasians Genetics and family history Cigarette smoke—smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke increases the risk Obesity—those who are obese increase their chances of getting a more severe form of AMD Some health professionals also suggest that a lack of certain vitamins found in fruits and vegetables can increase the chances of developing macular degeneration. Treatment for Macular Degeneration While there is no cure for macular degeneration, these types of treatment that can help alleviate its symptoms: Being proactive in caring for the eyes, including regular eye exams Eating certain foods such as fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, fish, and nuts Being aware of symptoms such as blurred central vision and straight lines looking distorted Wearing sunglasses outdoors can also help protect the eyes from macular degeneration. If you already have the disease, ask your optometrist about prescription sunglasses that can completely eliminate UV rays, reduce the intensity of light, get rid of horizontal glare, and protect the eyes from all directions. Do you have risk factors associated with macular degeneration? When is the […]

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Are Eye Floaters Anything To Worry About?

If you’ve ever noticed the presence of floating spots in front of your eyes? If you have floaters and have been alarmed by them, your anxiety is understandable. In some instances, floaters are a completely normal part of life, but in others, they can be a sign that something’s seriously wrong. This guide will explain what causes floaters and whether you should be worried or not. “Normal” Floaters and their Causes Many people experience floaters in front of their eyes, and it’s actually a common part of aging. Floaters aren’t a hallucination or optical illusion, but actually a substance inside your eyes. The fluid inside your eyes, called vitreous humor, sometimes casts shadows onto your retina, creating the image of a floater. As people grow older, floaters become more common, but they’re not dangerous in any way.  Abnormal Floaters Floaters aren’t always a normal part of life, however. If you have a high quantity of floaters that are visible all the time, there may be a different cause. Uveitis is an inflammatory disease that can cause high quantities of floaters that are more noticeable than regular floaters. While normal floaters can usually only be seen when staring at a non-moving surface or at a bright sky, uveitis floaters may drift over your eyes at any time.  Other Symptoms of Uveitis While floaters are one common symptom caused by uveitis, they aren’t the main symptom, and they still aren’t in and of themselves harmful. If you’re having any of these other symptoms, you should see an ophthalmologist right away: Blurred Vision – Uveitis causes inflammation and tissue damage in the eye, which may cause vision to become blurred as a result. Pain – Like inflammation in any other part of the body, eyes afflicted with uveitis may be itchy and painful, or sensitive to pressure. Redness – Redness is another potential sign of inflammation. Redness may appear anywhere on the eye, including the white of the eye or the pupil. In addition, if you already have an auto-immune disease, you have a higher likelihood of developing uveitis, which is also an auto-immune disease. Essentially, an auto-immune disease means that the immune system in your body is attacking healthy cells, which can include the eyes. Treatment If you think there’s any chance that you may have uveitis, you should see an ophthalmologist right away. Immediate treatment is needed to control the inflammation. […]

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Pink Eye: Do You Need Eyedrops?

If you wake up one morning with one pair of eyelids stuck together and an itchy, red, watery, possibly painful eye, the first thing you should do is call your optometrist or ophthalmologist. Chances are good that you have conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye. Sometimes, your eye doctor will prescribe you eye drops, but other times, you may be sent home without medication; the reason is that there are several different types of pink eye, and different drops work on different types. Bacterial Pink Eye If you have a bacterial infection, you’re very likely to go home with antibiotic eyedrops; if left untreated, bacterial conjunctivitis can cause eye damage. It’s also very contagious, and getting it under control with antibiotics can reduce the chances that you’ll spread it to someone else. The bacterial type of this condition often causes eyelid swelling and a greenish or yellow discharge from the eye. This is the type that is most likely to result in you having a hard time opening your eye in the morning. Viral Pink Eye Sometimes, a virus causes conjunctivitis. Like bacterial pink eye, the viral type is very contagious. Unfortunately, antibiotic drops will not make the viral infection go away, nor will they help prevent you from spreading the virus to others. The good news, however, is that it should clear up on its own in a few days without any treatment. Symptoms of viral pink eye include a clear, water discharge and light sensitivity. It’s important to avoid rubbing your eyes and to wash your hands often to prevent spreading the conjunctivitis to your other eye and to other people. Allergic Pink Eye If you have seasonal or environmental allergies, your eyes can become very irritated and develop allergic conjunctivitis. While antibiotic drops will not help, your optometrist might recommend steroid drops to settle the inflammation and bring you some relief. In addition, you might need allergy medication (pills or liquid oral medication) to get your allergies under control. Allergic pink eye is not contagious, so you won’t have to worry about spreading the condition to others. You should still practice good hygiene to avoid further irritating the affected eye or eyes. Your eye doctor might take a swab of your eye discharge to determine whether the cause is bacterial, viral or allergic. If the pink eye is severe and the eye doctor isn’t sure which […]

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Diabetes And Your Eyes

Diabetes affects your eyes in subtle ways. You may not realize that you have a problem until you suddenly develop severe eyesight issues. Frequent diabetic eye exams by your vision center are needed to stay ahead of this damaging disease. Here is what you need to know about how diabetes affects your eyes and how to keep it from stealing your vision. Damage to Blood Vessels is the Problem Diabetes causes the blood vessels in your eyes to become weak. Normal blood vessels are flexible and expand and contract as the blood pulses through them. Some of these weakened blood vessels become rigid and contract, which causes a rise in the blood pressure in your eye. Other blood vessels expand with the blood in them and allow the blood to pool instead of moving through. Both of these weakened blood vessels contribute to your eyesight issues. Diabetic Retinopathy The damage to your eyes shows up in one of two ways. Called diabetic retinopathy, the damage can quickly cause you to lose all or part of your vision. Nonproliferative retinopathy – In this version of the disease, the weak blood vessels allow fluid to leak out onto the surface of the retina. As the fluid builds up on the retina, it blocks the amount of light that hits this portion of your eye. At first, your vision becomes blurry. As the disease progresses, you’ll develop dark patches in your eyesight.  The disease can progress until most of your visual field is obscured by the leaking fluid. Proliferative retinopathy – New blood vessels begin to grow over the retina that are smaller and weaker than healthy vessels. These blood vessels create scar tissue, which becomes tight on the surface of the retina. When enough scar tissue has developed, it can slowly pull the retina away from the back of your eye. This stops the retina from sending signals to your brain, resulting in blindness. Gradual Symptoms Sneak Up on You You may begin to have subtle problems with your eyesight that get worse unless you see your eye doctor for treatment. Some of the common symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include: inability to focus on objects tiny gray patches in your vision floaters that move across your vision feeling of pressure in your eyes easily tiring eyes Treatment Options This eye condition cannot be cured, but the loss of vision can be slowed […]

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3 Warning Signs Your Child May Be Color-Blind And The Importance Of Early Diagnosis

If you think that being colorblind is a rare phenomena in humans, then you may not catch the warning signs that your child is colorblind. As many as 8-percent of all men and .5-percent of women today suffer from color vision deficiency, which is the clinical name for being colorblind. While most cases are inherited, many hereditary disorders skip generations, and you may not be aware that you had a color-blind great-grandparent or other ancestor. Here is a guide to why it is important to determine if your child is colorblind at an early age and a few of the first signs that your child may have this disorder. Why Early Colorblind Detection is Important While colorblind adults you may know have likely learned to live just as happily with their disorder than without, children who are color blind may first be suspected to have learning difficulties. This can occur when your child is learning the names of colors and doesn’t seem to “get it.” This can lead to unneeded stress and worry that your child may have learning problems when the true source of this problem is color vision deficiency. Also, some forms of colorblindness can be managed with special tinted glasses prescribed by your ophthalmologist. The sooner your child is diagnosed, the sooner he or she can begin wearing the lenses. Early Warning Signs That a Child is Colorblind Red-green color vision deficiency is the most common type of colorblindness, but there are other types to watch out for, including tritanopia, which is blue-yellow colorblindness and monochromacy, which results in gray-scale vision (this type is very rare). There is a great online tool that lets you see objects as if you were color-blind. Here are some signs that your child may be suffering from some form of color vision deficiency: Trouble learning colors. If your child is progressing well in pre-school or with at-home teaching but is having trouble recognizing colors, then you may at first become alarmed that he or she is having trouble learning. This occurrence is often the first sign of a color-blind child. Sensitivity to light. Proper processing of color and light in the eyes relies on two types of cells in the retinas called rods and cones. Rods process light, and cones process colors. In people who can see the full color spectrum clearly, there is a balance of rods and cones. There […]

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Understanding Cataracts

Failing eyesight can be an incredibly scary prospect. Cataracts affect a huge number of people every year, but thankfully, they can be treated with surgery. Whether you suspect that you might have cataracts or your doctor has told you that you have cataracts, you might be confused, worried, or just curious about how cataracts work. To help you out, here is an overview of what cataracts are and how they are treated. What is a cataract? The eye is composed of several parts that work together. When one such part (the lens) becomes cloudy, vision can suffer severely as a result. The clouding of the lens can make colors seem less vivid, create difficulties with the perception of bright lights, and can just weaken your vision in general. How can you tell if you have cataracts? If you have a problem with your vision, then the first thing that you should do is visit your eye doctor. There are many different conditions that affect the eyes, and some are treatable while some are not. Additionally, some conditions should be caught early in order to allow for a time-sensitive treatment regimen. Therefore, the only way to determine whether or not you really have cataracts is to pay a visit to your eye doctor. What are the risk factors? Although anyone can get cataracts, they are mostly common in the elderly and as a genetic factor. Some individuals are born with cataracts, while others might never develop them. In rarer cases, individuals who have been exposed to radiation may develop cataracts. On the other hand, some substances, diseases, and surgeries can also increase the risk for cataracts. Alcohol and tobacco consumption and diabetes may increase risk of cataracts later in life. Unfortunately, some surgical procedures on the eyes can also lead directly to cataracts, especially if there was some error in the procedure. What is the treatment? The most common treatment for cataracts is phacoemulsification. In this process, you are given anesthetic, small cuts are made into the eye, a small instrument is used to deliver ultrasound waves to the lens, and then the problematic matter is sucked out. The whole process is relatively painless and usually takes less than an hour. This means that you can get your cataracts dealt with quickly and easily with minimal downtime. Cataracts can develop very slowly over time and you might not even realize that you […]

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3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Travel Overseas for Cataract Surgery

If you are currently facing the need to have cataract surgery done on one or both of your eyes, you might not be looking forward to the cost of this procedure. If you are uninsured or underinsured, there is a good chance that you will be held responsible for the cost of your surgery. This could leave you thinking about traveling overseas to have the surgery done at a lower rate, but this is a decision that you should seriously reconsider. Even though people from all over the United States travel overseas to have various procedures done at lower prices, this can be a very bad idea, especially if you are having surgery done on your eyes. These are a few reasons why. 1. The Surgery Might Not Be Safe Depending on the country that you are thinking about traveling to for your surgery, you should know that many overseas countries don’t require their physicians to be held to the same standards as they are held to in the United States. This means that you could end up having your procedure done by a physician who would not be considered qualified to do the job in the United States. The surgery could also be an outdated surgery and might not be as successful or as safe as the procedure that you would have done at home. 2. You May Not Be Able to Get the Medication That You Need After cataract surgery, you will need to use various types of eye drops to keep your eyes properly lubricated and to help them heal properly. The prescription that you get from overseas will not be considered valid in the United States, however, which could make it very difficult for you to get the medication that you need to properly treat your eyes after the procedure. 3. It Might Not Be Safe to Travel Home Afterward As you might already know, airplane travel can make your eyes very dry in even the best of conditions. However, after cataract surgery, it is very important to keep your eyes properly lubricated so that they can remain comfortable and heal properly. Along with causing problems with the lubrication of your eyes, you may also find yourself in a medical emergency without access to a doctor while you are on the plane. If you have the procedure done in the United States, however, you do not […]

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Contact Lenses For Aging Eyes

Being a senior doesn’t mean that you have to wear glasses the rest of your life. Your eyes may need a special prescription, but in many cases, contact lenses will fit your needs. If you frequently lose your glasses, or are tired of having a pair of glasses hanging around your neck on a chain, ask your eye doctor about contacts. Here are a few situations where contacts are an option for you. Bifocal Contacts Presbyopia, the loss of ability to refocus from far away objects to near objects, is a common vision problem. Then it becomes hard to focus on far away objects at all. Bifocal contacts, like their eyeglass counterparts, have both the near and distance prescriptions built into them to correct these two vision issues. There are a variety of types of bifocal contacts and your ophthalmologist at a place like Brooks Eyecare can recommend the right ones for you. The Monovision Approach In some cases where bifocal contacts won’t work for you, or you can’t get used to them, an option called monovision might work. This involves wearing a contact to correct distance vision in one eye and one to correct near vision in the other. It will take some time to get used to, but people develop the ability to favor one eye when reading or working on the computer and the other eye when focusing on objects far away. The downside is that this affects your binocular vision, which makes depth perception difficult. This can make driving very hard to do. People have even compensated for the issue of depth perception by wearing a bifocal contact in one eye and a single-vision contact in the other. This is called modified monovision. Contacts to Correct Astigmatism If you have blurry vision due to astigmatism, special contact lenses are available to correct that. Called toric lenses, these compensate for the curvature of your cornea that makes it hard to focus on single objects. There are a variety of types of toric contact lenses available. Each lens includes two prescriptions, one to correct the astigmatism and another for near or distance vision. Contacts and Cataracts During cataract surgery, your eye doctor removes the old, cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). In the rare cases where an IOL won’t work for you, contact lenses are available to allow you to see without needing to […]

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What You Should Know About How Hypothyroidism Affects Your Vision

Hypothyroidism is known to be a condition that affects your body’s ability to produce and regulate thyroid hormone levels. What many people don’t understand until a visit with an optometrist is that hypothyroidism can also affect the condition of your eyes. Understanding your underlying condition and treating your poor thyroid function is essential to treating any side effects that may affect your eyes. Here’s a look at some of the things that your optometrist may notice if you have hypothyroidism.       Swelling When you suffer from hypothyroidism, you may develop some swelling in your face and around your eyes. This is often caused by protein accumulation under your lower layers of skin. When you treat your hypothyroidism, you’ll find that those proteins typically dissipate. This will ease the swelling around your eyes. Eyelid Drooping Another common eye-related problem for people with hypothyroidism is drooping eyelids. It occurs because your thyroid hormones also influence your nervous system function, including that of your eyelid control. When you have hypothyroidism, you may find that your eyelids droop slightly until you get your thyroid hormone levels balanced out. Eye Dryness and Bulging When your body’s antithyroid antibodies, typically produced due to an autoimmune disease that’s caused your hypothyroidism, attack the soft tissue of your eye, it can lead to dryness and bulging. Your eyes may seem to bulge because the tissue in your eyes will become inflamed and swollen due to the antibodies attacking it. Over time, this pushes the eyeballs forward slightly. In severe cases, your eyelids may not be able to close all the way, which leaves your eyes prone to dryness. Nerve Damage When the soft tissue of your eye is attacked by the antithyroid antibodies, sometimes this can even affect the optic nerve. Since this nerve is the primary path of communication between your brain and your eye, this can be serious. In some cases, this damage caused to the optic nerve may even cause permanent damage or complete loss of vision in the affected eye. Sometimes, thyroid conditions are detected when you experience nerve problems and vision loss that lead you to a visit with your optometrist. He or she can identify the inflammation and other problems in your eye, and may recommend that you see your primary care doctor for testing. It’s important to understand that some vision problems may not be directly related to your […]

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9 Tips For Recovering After Advanced Cataract Surgery

Advanced cataract surgery usually restores vision in most people who undergo the procedure. The recovery time can take up to a month. During that time period, it is important that you take every precaution you can to protect your eye health. Here are some tips to help keep your recovery on track.  Use the antibiotic eye drops prescribed for you. It is customary for patients to be given antibiotic eye drops after surgery to reduce the risk of infection. It is important that you use them exactly as your doctor has recommended.  Avoid bending over. The first few days following surgery, it is important that you do not bend over. When you bend over it can increase pressure in your eye and lead to complications.  Do not swim. You also need to avoid swimming in the first week following surgery. The water can contain contaminants that could lead to infection. Never rub your eye. When you rub your eyes, you could inadvertently transfer dirt, bacteria, or other harmful substances into your eyes. To avoid the risk of infection, you should avoid rubbing your eyes the first couple of weeks after surgery. Avoid heavy lifting. Heavy lifting can cause you to strain and put pressure on your eyes. Even lifting small items, such as a full laundry basket, is too much the first few days.  Wear sunglasses. Keep your eyes protected when you have to go outside. This can help avoid unnecessary pressure on your eyes from wind and also protects your eyes in case you accidentally bump into something. Be wary for signs of complications. If your vision is very cloudy after the first week or worsens after a few days, call your doctor. You should also seek help if you have nausea and vomiting because your eyes could possibly be infected. Keep your follow-up appointment. Your doctor should schedule a visit within a few weeks of the procedure to check your progress. It is important that you make the appointment even if your vision has improved or is back to normal. Wear your glasses. At some point, your eye doctor might recommend that you start wearing prescription glasses. The glasses help to improve your vision after the surgery.  Talk to your eye surgeon about other things you should be wary of after your surgery. Remember, once the surgery is complete and you have recovered, you can return to your […]

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