Did you know your eyes are an important part of your overall health? And you can do to a lot of things to help keep them healthy and to ensure you are seeing your best.
Have routine comprehensive eye exams
Eye exams will help to detect common eye problems as well as determining if you could benefit from glasses or contacts. Additionally, many serious eye diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, or complications from diabetes don't have any warning signs and can only be detected during an exam. You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, some people don’t realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.
During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. This enables your eye care professional to get a good look at the back of the eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease. Your eye care professional is the only one who can determine if your eyes are healthy and if you’re seeing your best.
Keep an eye on family history of eye health
Genetics play an important role in determining if you are at rist for eye diseases or conditions. Knowing your family's eye health history will let you know if you should bring up these concerns when meeting with your eye doctor.
You are what you eat
You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too.i Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.
Watch you weight and what you eat
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables, especially foods like kale, spinach, and other dark leafy greens can have a beneficial impact on your eye health. Additionally, eating these types of foods regularly and removing foods that are known to be unhealthy can lead to better overall health. Other foods that show benefits to both body and vision are foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These foods include salmon, tuna, flax, walnuts and many more!
Wear protective eyewear
Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores.
Stop smoking or better yet, never start
Research shows that smoking leads to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and even optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness. Plus it's not good for the rest of your body, or those around you.
Shade your eyes
Sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation will help shield your eyes from these damaging forms of ultraviolet radiation..
Take time out
Don't underestimate the power of a good break! When you are constantly using your eyes - straining at a computer, reading, etc., it's important to take frequent pauses to allow your eyes to relax and have some time to recover.
Common Eye Health Questions
Allergies and Your Eyes
What are Allergy Eyes? It is a medical condition known as allergic conjunctivitus that occurs when allergens such as pollen, pet hair or dust mites irritate the clear layer of mucous membrane that surrounds the eye. Those who suffer from allergy eyes can experience any or all of the following symptoms: itching, redness, tearing, burning, swelling of the inner eyelids, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, a scratchy feeling or a sensation of something in the eye.
What causes Allergy Eyes? Pollen is the most common cause, and it is released into the air by trees, flowers, grasses and weeds primarily during the spring and fall. But allergens that cause itchy, watery eyes are found year-round. These include pet hair, especially dander from cats, mold spores found in bathrooms and basements, dust mites and pollution.
Is there a treatment for Allergy Eyes? There's no need to put up with allergy eyes any longer. Your doctor can prescribe a safe, rapid and effective treatment specifically designed for the relief of allergy eyes.
Questions About Glaucoma
What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the internal fluid pressure of your eyes rises to a point that the optic nerve is damaged. The pressure that builds is usually due to inadequate drainage of fluid normally produced in your eyes. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S.
What causes Glaucoma? The exact cause of glaucoma is not known. For some reason, the passages that normally allow fluid within your eye to drain out become clogged or blocked. This results in fluid building up within your eye and increasing pressure on the optic nerve. The nerve fibers and blood vessels in the optic nerve can easily be damaged by this pressure, resulting in loss of vision. An injury, infection or tumor in or around the eye can also cause the pressure to rise.
How is Glaucoma detected? A comprehensive optometric examination will include tests for glaucoma. A simple, painless procedure called tonometry measures the internal pressure of your eye. Your optometrist will also look into your eye to observe the health of the optic nerve and measure your field of vision.
How is Glaucoma treated? Glaucoma is usually effectively treated with prescription eye drops and medicines that must be taken regularly. In some cases, laser therapy or surgery may be required. The goal of the treatment is to prevent loss of vision by lowering the fluid pressure in the eye.
Questions About Cataracts
What is a Cataract? When the normally clear lens within your eye becomes cloudy or opaque, it is called a cataract. Cataracts vary from extremely small areas of cloudiness to large opaque areas that cause a noticeable loss of vision.
Who gets Cataracts? Cataracts most often develop in persons over the age of 55, but are also occasionally found in younger people, including newborns.
What causes Cataracts? Many factors can contribute to the development of cataracts. Chemical changes occur within the lens in your eye that cause it to become cloudy. This may be due to advancing age or it may be the result of heredity, an injury or a disease. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight, cigarette smoking or the use of certain medications are also risk factors for the development of cataracts.
What are signs/symptoms of Cataracts? Cataracts usually develop slowly and without pain. Some indications that a cataract may be forming include blurred or hazy vision, decreased color perception, or the feeling of having a film over the eyes. A temporary improvement in near vision may occur, and increased sensitivity to glare, especially at night, may be experienced. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, but often at different rates.
How are Cataracts diagnosed? A comprehensive eye examination by a doctor of optometry can determine if you have a cataract forming. You will then be referred to a specialist to have your cataract removed.
How are Cataracts treated? The most common treatment for Cataracts is surgery to remove them. The decision to have surgery should not be approached lightly, and discussions should be had with your primary eye doctor and your suggested surgeon. The surgery is an outpatient procedure with a fast recovery time, and most patients will have little to no need for eyeglasses (except for reading) after surgery.
What are Floaters?
What are Floaters? Floaters are small, semi-transparent or cloudy specks or particles within the fluid inside the eye that become noticeable when they move within the line of sight. They may also appear with flashes of light.
Does everyone have Floaters? Almost everyone sees a few floaters at one time or another. They can occur more frequently and become more noticeable as you grow older. If you notice a sudden change in the number or size of the spots, you should contact your doctor of optometry right away for an examination to be sure they are not the result of a more serious problem.
How are Floaters diagnosed? In a comprehensive eye examination, your doctor of optometry will look into your eyes with special instruments such as a slit lamp (biomicroscope) and an ophthamloscope. Your optometrist uses these instruments to examine the health of the inside of your eyes and may also observe the spots within your eyes. This is often done after the doctor puts special drops in your eyes to make the pupils larger (called dilation) to allow a larger view of the inside of your eyes.
Do I Have Dry Eye?
What are the symptoms of dry eye? If you have dry eyes you might experience symptoms such as dry, red, itchy, burning or watery eyes, irritation and pain. You might also experience discomfort when wearing contact lenses, or the sensation of something in your eye. In extreme cases, blurred vision is also a symptom of dry eye.
What causes dry eye? Dry eye is caused by your eyes not producing enough lubricating tears. There are several causes of developing dry eye, including but not limited to:
Contact Lens Wear
Are there treatments available for Dry Eye? A simple procedure called the Lacrimal Efficiency Test will help determine if you will benefit from a procedure called lacrimal occlusion. If you qualify for this procedure, your doctor will place small dissolvable plugs into your tear drainage ducts. The plugs last 3 to 6 months, during which time you may notice that your eyes feel cool, comfortable and refreshed, as well as a reduction in other symptoms. For patients whose symptoms do not meet standards for the occlusion can benefit from prescription eye drops, and in minimal cases, doctor can recommend some over-the-counter products to help.
Which Lens Options are Best for Me?
Anti-Reflective Lenses: Ordinary lenses don't let all of the necessary light pass through. A significant amount is reflected off the front and back surfaces of the lenses. Some of this light hits your eyes as reflective glare, causing strain and fatigue. And this can be a significant problem in situations like driving at night, when oncoming lights are harsh and bright, or during extended computer use. Anti-Reflective lenses are designed to eliminate nearly all of these reflections, reducing eye fatigue and enhancing your vision at night.
Are you a candidate for Anti-Reflective lenses?
* Extended computer usage
* Trouble with lights at night
* Eyes tired at the end of the day
* Work in heavy flourescent lighting
* Any previous eye surgeries (Cataract or LASIK)
Photochromic Lenses: Photochromic lenses lighten and darken based on ultraviolet lighting conditions. In high UV conditions (i.e. outdoors on a bright sunny day) they will darken to a sun tint. They will also adapt to mid range UV conditions (i.e. an overcast day) to a slight tint. In low to no UV conditions (i.e. night time, indoors, or while driving) they lighten to a clear lens. Photochromic lenses have a 100% UV blockage, and are available in a wide range of prescriptions and materials.
Are you a candidate for Photochromic lenses?
* Sensitive to sunlight
* Go in and out of sunlight a lot
* Require UV blockage at all times
* Exceptional for children
Polarized Lenses: Sunglasses are a must for anyone of any age. While Anti-Reflective and Photochromic Lenses are excellent choices for your primary pair of eyewear, there is no comparison to a pair of prescription polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses are designed to help wearers see better in every sunlit condition. They will aid in blocking blinding glare, improve contrast, color and depth perception and overall visual acuity. Polarized lenses are like sunblock for your eyes!
Are you a candidate for Polarized lenses?
* Need a pair of sunglasses for driving
* Fishing/ Boating
* Sensitivity to bright light
* Outdoors for long periods of time
* Winter or Summer Sports