Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Education Level Linked to Nearsightedness

Nothing says “overeducated egghead” like a pair of coke-bottle glasses. But even clichés sometimes hit the nerd on the head. Because a new study finds that nearsightedness is linked to the number of years spent in school. The findings can be viewed in the journal Ophthalmology. [Alireza Mirshahi et al, Myopia and Level of Education]

In the past century, the prevalence of myopia—science-speak for being able to see only what’s right in front of you—has been on the rise. So much so that it can’t all be blamed on geeky genes.

To nail down the potential environmental influences, researchers focused on the classroom. They gave eye exams to nearly 5000 German subjects in a project called the Gutenberg Health Study.

The researchers found that individuals with 13 years of education were more myopic than those who didn’t get past primary school. And more than half of those with a university degree could use a set of specs, compared to less than a quarter of the folks who quit after high school or secondary school.

All that learning takes a lot of reading. Which itself is associated with nearsightedness. Or the nearsighted may gravitate toward pursuits easier to see—like hitting the books. Either way, seems that being a good student may not require great pupils.

Source: ScientificAmerican.com

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Be Smart With Your Eyes Under The Sun

Do Americans have all the facts when it comes to protecting their eyes from the sun?  A recent poll says no.

Along with our skin, we have to protect our eyes from the sun’s rays. Not protecting your eyes properly now raises the risk for eye diseases or cancer, years down the road.

A majority of Americans don’t have all the facts when it comes to protecting their eyes from ultraviolet rays, according to a recent poll from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

It shows many people are unaware that certain things can cause people to be more susceptible to UV damage, including:

– Some medications

– Having a light eye color — blue, green or hazel.

– Knowing the facts is important to prevent the cumulative effects, say doctors.

Tumors can also develop on the surface of the eye, which can be cancerous.

“You can get skin cancers and skin growths on your eyelids just like other areas of skin and internally, you can get issues that are related to excess amounts of sun and UV light,” said ophthalmologist Dr. Alan Kozarsky.

Issues like macular degeneration- central vision loss- or cataracts. The Academy says there are steps you can take right now for protection.

Wear your sunglasses – a big pair of them.

– Look for ones labeled, “100 percent UV protection,” meaning they protect against UVA and UVB rays. they may also say “UV 400.”

– Wear them even if it’s cloudy.

– Also put on a wide-brimmed hat.

– Don’t use contact lenses as a substitute for protecting the entire eye.

– And finally, remember, kids need protection, too.

Source: MySunCoast.com

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

What Your Optometrist Can Tell About Your Health Just By Examining Your Eyes

When you look into your eyes, you may be trying to steel yourself for an interview. Or maybe you’re just checking to see if they are red and bloodshot, irritated by allergies or perhaps a long night out.

But when doctors look into your eyes, they can see a lot more. The eyes might be the proverbial window to the soul, but they are also a clear window to your health, and the amount of information they can reveal is astounding.

Many conditions cause symptoms throughout the body — some show up in the skin, others in the mouth, and some even in fingernails — but the eye is one spot that reveals a particularly large percentage of health issues.

“Looking in an eye really is a fabulous experience,” says Dr. Charles P. Wilkinson, a retina specialist and clinical spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “It’s the only place you can see blood vessels bouncing along their merry way, you can see the optic nerve, which is part of the brain.”

With so much visible, more than 30 conditions show symptoms in the eyes. That’s why eye doctors — ophthalmologists — and optometrists are frequently among the first to spot certain problems.

An internal study of 120,000 patients by the insurance company VSP Vision Care found that an eye exam was the first indicator of 34% of diabetes cases, 39% of cases of high blood pressure, and a shocking 62% of cases of high cholesterol.

VSP president Jim McGrann says that these findings showed that for many of these patients, “if people hadn’t gone to see their eye doctor, they’d be walking around with time bomb diseases.”

Here are irregularities that show up in your eyes — and sometimes mean that something more serious is at stake.

Red spots, caused by dots of blood in the eye, can be a sign of diabetes — a terrible disease that the CDC predicts 40% of Americans will develop in their lives. If blood sugar builds up too high, blood vessels begin to get blocked and to swell up. This can burst the tiny blood vessels in the retina, causing bleeding. If it’s not treated, this can potentially lead to impaired vision or even blindness.

But bloodshot eyes can be caused by many other conditions, too — ranging from an intense cough to pinkeye to a fungal infection.

Itchy, swollen, red eyes are common giveaways that a patient is suffering from allergies, frequently triggered by pollen, dust, or pet dander. Eyedrops can help, especially if they include an antihistamine, though be careful of oral antihistamines, as some can cause eyes to dry out, worsening the problem.

Dry eyes are a side effect of both computer usage and many medications, like sleeping pills, pain relievers, or anti-anxiety medications. Autoimmune diseases can cause dry eyes as well, especially one called Sjögren’s syndrome, which destroys moisture-producing glands and mostly affects older women.

Most people lose the ability to focus on close-up things like the print on restaurant menus as they age, but certain medications — antidepressants, antihistamines, and diuretics — can cause this condition, called presbyopia, to happen prematurely.

Blurry vision can be caused by a long list of eye conditions, but for those already at risk of high blood pressure, it can be a sign that someone needs to get to the doctor immediately. Once a person’s sight is obscured by side effects of hypertension, that person needs treatment quickly, as vision and more is at stake.

Suddenly seeing specks or flashes of light can be a sign of a torn retina. Some people experience these symptoms with migraines or simply as they grow older. But a sudden increase in the size and number of specks or flashes of light you see can be caused by a torn retina, which needs to be treated. That’s especially the case if the flashes or spots are accompanied by a shadow or loss of peripheral vision, which very likely indicates a detached retina.

Eye doctors can be the first ones to detect some cancers. An eye doctor can check for ocular melanoma, a rare form of melanoma but one that usually can’t be detected by looking in the mirror. If other causes of pressure or pain in the eye are ruled out, Wilkinson says, an eye doctor may check to see if a brain tumor is a possibility.

High cholesterol can frequently cause white rings to develop around the eyes, and can also cause yellowish bumps to appear in the eyelids. Older patients are likely to also develop similar white rings, but in any case, it can be a sign that cholesterol needs to be checked by a doctor.

McGrann says the large number of diseases that cause symptoms in the eye should convince people that an annual eye exam is worthwhile. An annual exam is especially necessary for anyone over 40, Wilkinson says — though he notes that many of these health conditions are frequently detected first during routine medical screening.

At that point, changes in the eye and body mean that eye doctors have important conditions to monitor, even if vision is stable. And new problems can surface at any time. Many can be treated before they cause a problem — but only if a doctor has a chance to examine the eye in the first place.

Source: Business Insider

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Friday, May 1, 2015

What Causes Contact Lens Discomfort?

Have you ever met someone with contacts who didn’t complain about them? Yep, we haven’t, either. A new report in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science found contact lens discomfort affects up to half of contact lens wearers—and there’s reason to believe that number could be even higher.

The report is the culmination of 18 research-packed months conducted by 79 eye experts all talking about those little plastic circles. But beyond the common sense of contact care—like, ehem, not taking them out when you’re supposed to—contact comfort is way more multifaceted than we ever thought. “We still really don’t understand the underlying biological mechanisms associated with contact lens discomfort,” says study author Jason J. Nichols, OD, MPH, PhD, who looked at everything from contact lens materials, to patient behavior, to wearing schedules, to how the contact lens actually interacts with your tear glands. Here’s what the team learned:

No amount of actual pain is normal. “Generally speaking, contact lens wearers do not experience the symptom of ‘pain’ unless something is very wrong with the eye,” such as an infection, says Dr. Nichols. Life threatening infections are rare, and are easy to prevent by using the best contact lens materials and caring for yours as recommended by your doctor.

That annoying dryness and discomfort, especially at the end of the day, is. And they often result in you wearing your contacts a lot less than you’d like to. Unfortunately, the experts on board weren’t able to identify any actual causes. The research hints at a possible lead regarding the eyelids, but “the symptoms associated with contact lens discomfort are frequent and real; there is indeed much to be understood about this problem,” says Nichols.

Patients are more apt to stop wearing their contacts all together than actually consult their eye doc. Contact lenses are FDA-regulated medical devices and the second most common vision-correctors in the world. And yet, patients end up taking matters into their own hands. The consequences? Inability to wear them as long as you’d like, inflammation, and even infection (depending on the symptoms).

The bottom line: If your contacts aren’t as comfortable as you’d like them to be, head back to the eye doctor. Even though scientists still don’t know the cause of many nagging symptoms, eye doctors are the most equipped to find the right lens material, rinse, and fit for you.

Source: Prevention.com

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