Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Do’s and Don’ts of Contact Lens Care

contactSeven a.m. You hit snooze, wake up, get dressed and brush your teeth. You comb your hair, throw in your contacts, slug some coffee and leave for the day. That quick minute devoted to putting in your contacts may seem as routine and insignificant as choosing a travel mug for your coffee. But think about it: You are placing a custom-fitted, doctor-prescribed plastic device on your fragile mucus membrane, likely allowing you to see your best.

“Give the contact lens respect,” says Christine Sindt, an optometrist in Iowa City, Iowa. Contacts are so commonplace and frequently used that we sometimes don’t see them as a medical device, she says, although that’s exactly what they are. And while she believes contacts are a wonderful invention – if not a luxury – “when things go wrong, they go very, very wrong and can be visually devastating.” Think infections, which can range from redness and oozing to vision problems possibly leading to blindness. No thanks. Contact wearers, avoid these common mistakes to maintain healthy eyes and vision.

You don’t wash your hands before handling your lenses. Hand washing is the most important step in keeping your contact lenses and eyes healthy, says Sindt, who is also an associate professor of clinical ophthalmology and director of the Contact Lens Service at the University of Iowa. Think about all the germy things you touch throughout the day – countertops, door handles, keyboards. Their microbes will transfer from your fingers to your contact lens and then to your eye. This can cause huge problems for your eyes, like nasty infections that may damage your sight.

So get washing. Right before handling your contact lenses, wash your hands thoroughly with a clear soap that’s free of residues, like moisturizers, Sindt says. And a five-second rinse doesn’t cut it. As you’re scrubbing, Sindt suggests singing the entire birthday song (silently, if you prefer). The length of this song is about how long you should be washing your hands.

After washing and before touching your contacts, dry your hands with a lint-free towel. Water and its microbes are no good for our eyes.

You don’t completely replace yesterday’s contact solution. Instead, you leave the old liquid in the little bowls and top it off with a squirt of fresh solution. You’re not alone in this offense. Of the 1,000 contact wearers polled for a recent study conducted by Wakefield Research for Alcon, 96 percent admitted to frequently reusing or topping off old solution. Here’s the problem: When a contact sits and soaks in solution, the mixture becomes depleted of its organism-killing biocide, rendering it ineffective for disinfecting your lenses, Sindt says. Opt for only fresh solution with every use, and don’t fill the wells of the case with just enough solution to submerge the lenses. Fill the entire bowls with solution to fully disinfect the contacts.

You skip the rub. After you take out your contacts, before plopping in that super fresh, filled-to-the brim solution, give them each a little five-second rub between your fingers, Sindt says. This rub will help remove deposits that have become stuck to the lens.

You wear a pair of contacts for a longer amount of time than you should. Although contacts are prescribed medical devices, 84 percent of the participants in the Alcon poll said they wear their contacts longer than the recommended time. Whether it’s every day or after 10 wears, replace your contacts as frequently as your doctor tells you to avoid irritated, possibly infected, eyes.

You rinse your lens case with water (or not at all). Each day, dump out the used solution, rinse the case with contact solution and wipe it out with a clean towel after every use. Then store the case with its caps removed. “Anything that can live in your eye will not live in a dry contact lens case,” Sindt says. “When you just have your old solution in there with the caps on, it’s just like a little petri dish.”

You pop your contact lens in your mouth when if falls out. Just about every contact wearer has been there: Your lens falls out while you’re away from home. It’s a tricky problem if you don’t have solution, a spare lens or a pair of glasses nearby. Besides being prepared with these items stored at your office, car or purse, there are no great solutions to this problem. But there is one terrible idea. In perhaps a quick attempt to lubricate the lens, many folks will put it in their mouth before sticking it back into their eye. Given that our spit has about 60,000 bacteria per drop, Sindt identifies this solution as “the worst possible thing you can do.”

Source: US News

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Steps You Can Take to Help Combat Digital Eyestrain

Our lives have increasingly become more digital today. While some may see this as a benefit, others are finding that it can literally be a pain in the eye.

Digital eyestrain is now a common problem. Eye and vision problems are reported in 70 to 75% of computer workers, according to the American Optometric Association.

Headaches, eye pain, redness, watering, double vision and loss of focus are all associated with digital eyestrain.

The good news is there are numerous things you can do to help avoid the condition, including:

Take a break. Take frequent 15 minute breaks and focus your eyes on a distant object across the room. This will give the focusing muscle a chance to relax.

Try palming. This is essentially meditation for the eyes. To do this, you will close your eyes and place the centers of your palms over your eyes. Take deep slow breaths and relax your eye muscles.

This is a wonderful way to rejuvenate your eyes during those long computer projects. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. Tension in this area will cause a tension in your eyes. An occasional neck and shoulder massage will also work wonders.

Blink frequently. When doing demanding digital work, your blink rate decreases. A conscious effort should be made to blink lightly every 10 to 15 seconds. This will coat the cornea, or front part of the eye, to nourish your eye with oxygen and nutrients — and the coating of tears will also sharpen your vision.

Wear computer glasses. Use a pair of computer glasses and work at the proper distance — 20 to 28 inches, depending on the focal point of the eye. Computer glasses have a different focal point than reading glasses. This will reduce the effort of focusing and putting a strain on your eyes. The extra effort to focus will cause tension in the eye muscles, which in addition to causing eye discomfort can lead to an increase in eye pressure.

Keep your monitor bright. This will reduce the flicker rate of the computer and reduce fatigue. Flickering can lead to eyestrain and headaches. A bright monitor causes the pupil to constrict and a greater range of focus will result. This will reduce the need for your eye to accommodate and enable you to work longer with more comfort.

Reduce blue light at night. A Harvard study revealed that blue light at night negatively reduces melatonin levels, which have a serious adverse health effect. It is associated with an increased incidence of diabetes, obesity and cancer. Reduce computer time at night or wear blue blocking glasses. These will block out the harmful blue spectrum light at night.

Take vitamins and minerals. Considering that the eyes have one of the highest energy requirements in the body, it is important that they get proper amounts of vitamins and minerals. It is important to opt for a vitamin that offers key antioxidants and ingredients that will help improve the health of the eye and reduce eyestrain. Those can include vitamins A, C, and E with a B complex and zinc.

Homeopathy. Speak with a practitioner to find a level of therapy that will work for your individual circumstances. One of the most common homeopathic remedies to treat eyestrain is Ruta Graveolens, a common ornamental plant found in gardens that is used to treat strains of tendons. This remedy can greatly reduce the symptoms of eyestrain during prolonged computer use.

Increase the light. Not having a light on when you are using the computer (or television) can put more of a strain on your eyes. Be sure to have a light on to help reduce the strain.

Check your computer’s position. The position of your computer can add to your eyestrain. It is important that it is positioned a good distance away, around 20-28 inches from the eye, and that there are no glares on it. Re-position your computer to provide maximum eye comfort.

Following the tips above can help reduce your chances of getting digital eyestrain. You will feel better and be able to work longer.


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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Glaucoma Can Cause Loss of Vision and Eventually Blindness if Not Adequately Treated

The specialist:

As professor of ophthalmology and director of the glaucoma research and clinical fellowships at Mount Sinai, Janet Serle is an ophthalmologist who has been practicing since 1985. Her patients have glaucoma.

Who’s at risk:

“Glaucoma is a disease that causes loss of vision and eventually blindness if not adequately treated,” says Serle. “This is a disease that we can manage with medication, laser treatments and surgery — but far too many patients are only diagnosed when they’ve lost much of their vision.”

January is glaucoma awareness month, a nationwide initiative to bring treatment to the estimated 1 million Americans who have glaucoma without knowing it.

Over 2 million Americans have glaucoma, and 120,000 of them are blind from it.

Glaucoma is the result of damage that occurs in the optic nerve, the pathway that carries images from the eye to the brain.

“We don’t know exactly what causes glaucoma, but we think it’s a combination of genetics and environmental factors,” says Serle. “In the United States, glaucoma accounts for 12% of all cases of blindness, and is the second-leading cause of blindness around the world.”

Doctors have identified certain population groups as being at increased risk.


“While Caucasians have about 1%-2% risk of getting glaucoma, blacks and Hispanics have a 5% risk,” says Serle. “And this risk goes up with age. Studies have found that by age 80, 10% of blacks and 20% of Hispanics have glaucoma.”

You’re also considered at high risk if you have a family history of the disease, thin corneas, eye pressure above the normal range, optic-nerve cupping, eye injuries, diabetes or nearsightedness.

Signs and symptoms:

One difficulty in treating glaucoma is that it often sneaks up on people.

“We call the most common type of glaucoma — open-angle glaucoma — the silent thief of vision,” says Serle. “It has no symptoms until the late stages and is only discovered through careful examination by an ophthalmologist.”

Angle closure glaucoma, which is most common in Asian patients, causes symptoms like pain in the eyes, blurry vision, a halo around lights, and even abdominal and chest pain.

Routine eye exams are the key to fighting glaucoma.

“For a typical patient under age 40, we recommend a thorough eye exam every two to four years,” says Serle. “That drops to one exam every three years for the next 10 years, and then exams every one to two years until age 65. After that, we recommend one to two exams a year.

“People with risk factors like family history should consult their doctor about an exam schedule, and expect to start getting exams every one to two years after age 35.”

Visiting the optical shop to get a new prescription for glasses doesn’t count — they don’t do a complete exam for glaucoma.

Traditional treatment:

Getting glaucoma diagnosed is a vital first step, because the best eye doctor in Reno can prevent it from progressing to blindness. It’s a chronic disease that can be managed, not cured.

“We treat glaucoma by lowering the pressure in the eye, which we can do three ways,” says Serle. “We start with medications, then laser treatments, then surgery.

“For the vast majority of patients, adequate treatment and regular followup exams are enough to prevent vision loss,” says Serle.

Medications can manage glaucoma in one of two ways.

“Fluid is secreted into the eye and also leaves the eye,” says Serle. “So medications can decrease the fluid being secreted into the eye or increase the amount being secreted out.” Most medications are administered as eye drops one to four times a day.

Laser treatments are painless procedures done at the doctor’s office.

“The lasers direct energy into the eye, opening up the channels that fluid uses to exit the eye,” says Serle, “However, we can do a laser at most three times in each eye, and they have a limited duration of effect.”

Surgery makes alternative pathways for fluid to leave the eye.

“Either we make a hole in the eye or insert a tube into the eye,” says Serle. “These surgeries are done under local anesthesia, and most patients go home the same day.”

There’s an 80%-90% success rate for the first year, and 60%-70% success rate five years down the road, says Serle.

Research breakthroughs:

It’s a promising time for glaucoma research.

“On the horizon, we have exciting new medications and lots of new surgical procedures,” says Serle. “Earlier detection is also a big push, so we’re testing devices that would detect glaucoma before permanent damage is done.”

What you can do:

Get regular eye exams.

Depending on your age and risk factors, you should be screened as often as twice a year or as little as once every four years. “Make sure that you don’t miss these exams,” says Serle.

Know your family history.

Know your relatives’ ocular and medical history. If you’re at increased risk, you should get eye exams more frequently.

Get informed.

For reliable info, start with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, at, or the Glaucoma Research Foundation,

Get a comprehensive glaucoma exam.

If you have risk factors, make sure that you get the full workup, which includes checking intra-ocular pressure, an optic nerve exam, computerized visual field testing, measurement of corneal thickness and an exam of the angle of the eye.

Questions for your doctor:

Ask, “What’s my eye pressure?” If the answer is 21 or higher, then ask, “Should I have extra testing?” When you go for an eye exam, ask “What kind of device did you use to measure my eye pressure?” The preferred unit is the Goldmann machine, which uses a blue light, notes Serle.

By the numbers:

Glaucoma affects over 2.2 million Americans and 60 million people worldwide.

120,000 Americans are blind from glaucoma.

Glaucoma accounts for 12% of all cases of blindness in the U.S.

Half of people with glaucoma don’t know they have it.

Source: NY Daily News

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Are Computers the Source of Your Eyestrain?

We’ve all heard the complaint or something like it: “I’ve been staring at the screen all day. My eyes hurt.” But is it really the screen’s fault? (And if so, is there any long- or short-term damage?) Would our eyes be any better off perusing printed pages all day?

Yes, you can blame the screen, but not for everything. Some of the same eye-care advice you’ll hear for computer screens apply to paper-bookworms, too.

Screen-induced eye strain has an official name, if not a surprising one: computer vision syndrome. The term emerged about 20 years ago and describes a host of bothersome symptoms, including eye fatigue, burning and itchy eyes, blurred vision and sensitivity to bright light. People who spend two or more continuous hours at a computer every day are at greatest risk for developing the syndrome, according to the American Optometric Association.

For most people, symptom treatment is enough — managing their reading position, taking rest breaks or using eye drops to relieve dry eyes. That said, dry and irritated eyes are associated with disorders of the cornea, the transparent layer at the front of the eye. See a Reno optometrist if you’re putting drops in your eyes five or six times a day and still feel like they’re dry, says James Salz, a University of Southern California eye doctor and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Still, he adds, “there’s no evidence that there’s any long-term damage from reading on a screen.”

What is it about computers that irritates our eyes? The problem boils down to a couple of key factors:

Blinking. Study after study has found that when reading on screens people tend to stare more than they do when reading on a printed page. More staring means less blinking, which means your eyes get less refreshment from tears. “When you blink, you spread a layer of tears over the eye,” says Mark Rosenfield, a professor at the State University of New York College of Optometry. With less blinking, eyes get dry and sore.

Another difference between the printed page and the computer screen is where the words are positioned relative to the eyes. People generally look down while reading a book or newspaper, but staring at screen usually means staring straight ahead. When you look down, more of your eye is covered by the eyelid, but when you look straight ahead more of your eye is exposed to the drying effect of air. Coupled with reduced blinking, this leads to dry eyes. Reading on mobile devices may be more book-like in terms of positioning, but blink rate is still a concern.


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