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September 12, 2019
Dry eye is a very common problem that affects women more than men and becomes more prevalent as people get older. It can present in many ways, with symptoms that can include a foreign body sensation,...

Why do I need glasses if I wear contact lenses?

 

There is an old adage in the eye care industry: Glasses are a necessity, contact lenses are a luxury. Ninety-nine percent of the time this is absolutely true. In the absence of unusual eye disorders or very high prescriptions that don’t allow a person to wear their glasses comfortably, contact lenses should only ever be worn if there is a good, sturdy, updated set of prescription glasses. This is due to the fact that there are often emergencies where people can not wear their contact lenses.

In the 21stcentury, contact lens technology has gotten to the point where we have drastically cut down on the number of adverse events related to contact lens wear. However, human beings were not meant to wear little pieces of plastic in their eyes. Contact lenses are still considered a foreign body in the eye, and sometimes with foreign bodies, our eyes might feel the need to fight back against the “invader.” As such, things like red eyes, corneal ulcers, eyelid inflammation, dry eyes, and abnormal blood vessel growth can result from wearing contact lenses.

More often than I would like, I have patients who are longtime contact lens wearers come in, and when I inquire as to the condition of their glasses, they say they don’t own any. My next question is inevitably: “What happens if you get an eye infection and you can’t wear your contacts?” I then see the proverbial light bulb go off in their heads followed by a blank stare. Why? “Because I’ve never had a problem before.” Well, just because you maybe have never been in a car accident before, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear your seat belt!

I will therefore repeat the most important takeaway here: Glasses are a necessity, contacts are a luxury. Even if you don’t want to go “all out” and get the most expensive frames or lenses in your glasses, having a reliable pair of glasses is an absolute must for any contact lens wearer.

Article contributed by Dr. Jonathan Gerard

Open and Close Angle Glaucoma

90% of Glaucoma Cases are Open Angle

Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve. The disease causes the nerve cells at the front of the optic nerve to die, which leads to partial or total vision loss. The first two types of glaucoma occur with in an eye that has no structural deformities.  These two types of glaucoma both stem from a problem in the angle between the cornea and iris of the eye. They are called Narrow Angle and Closed Angle Glaucoma.

Open Angle glaucoma, also referred to as chronic glaucoma, normally develops after the age of 35 and is the most common form of glaucoma. It occurs when aqueous fluid builds up and causes the pressure inside your eye to increase. The fluid is not drained properly because of a clog in the trabecular meshwork, a sponge-like, porous tissue which drains fluid from the eye. This happens gradually, with no symptoms. It can lead to partial or total vision loss and can only be detected through routine eye examinations.

The second type of glaucoma affects a small percentage of people and is called Normal Tension glaucoma. It occurs with normal eye pressure and can be attributed to an unusually fragile optic nerve or reduced blood flow to the optic nerve. This trait may be inherited and can only be monitored through routine eye exams.

Narrow Angle glaucoma can develop either quickly or slowly and usually occurs in people with farsightedness. It occurs when the angle narrows causing the aqueous fluid to build up. This narrowing is caused by a bowing of the iris. Narrow Angle glaucoma can only be detected through routine eye examinations. It can cause vision loss and can also lead to an emergency condition called closed angle glaucoma.

Closed angle glaucoma, also called angle closure glaucoma, develops quickly and is a medical emergency. It occurs when the iris bows forward so much that the angle is completely closed. That means that no aqueous fluid can escape, which causes the pressure to build up rapidly. There are many symptoms associated with closed angle glaucoma such as headaches, severe pain, vision loss, redness and nausea. As stated earlier, this is a medical emergency and if not treated immediately can cause severe damage to the optic nerve.

Routine eye examinations are important to detect and monitor glaucoma early. Speak with your eye care provider if you are at risk for glaucoma.

Top 4 Reasons You Need Your Eyes Checked More Frequently as You Get Older

 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has recommendations for how often adults need to get their eyes examined and those recommendations vary according to the level of risk you have for eye disease.

For people who are not at elevated risk the recommendations are:

  • Baseline eye exam at age 40.
  • Ages 40-54 every 2-4 years.
  • Ages 55-64 every 1-3 years.
  • Ages 65 and older every 1-2 years.

Those recommendations are just for people who have NO added risk factors. If you are diabetic or have a family history of certain eye diseases then you need exams more frequently.  

As you can see, the guidelines recommend more frequent exams as you get older. Here are the Top 4 reasons why you need your eyes examined more frequently as you get older:

1. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. It has no symptoms when it begins and the only way to detect glaucoma is through a thorough eye exam. Glaucoma gets more and more common as you get older. Your risk of glaucoma is less then 1% if you are under 50 and over 10% if you are 80 or over. The rates are higher for African Americans. Glaucoma can be treated but not cured.  The earlier it is detected and treated, the better your chances are of keeping your vision.

2. Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Like glaucoma, it gets more common as you age. It affects less than 2% of people under 70, rises to 10% in your 80s and can get as high as 50% in people in their 90s. The rates are highest in Caucasians. Macular degeneration can also be treated but not cured. Early intervention leads to better outcomes.

3. Cataracts

As in the cases above, cataracts get more common as you get older.  If you live long enough, almost everyone will develop some degree of cataracts. In most people cataracts develop slowly over many years and people may not recognize that their vision has changed. If your vision is slowly declining from cataracts and you are not aware of that change it can lead to you having more difficulty in performing life’s tasks. We get especially concerned about driving since statistics show that you are much more likely to get in a serious car accident if your vision is reduced. There is also evidence that people with reduced vision from cataracts have a higher rate of hip fractures from falls.

4. Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can affect anyone at any age but the incidence tends to be at its highest in post-menopausal women. Dry eyes can present with some fairly annoying symptoms (foreign body sensation in the eye, burning, intermittent blurriness). Sometimes there aren’t any symptoms but on exam we can see the surface of the cornea drying out.  Dry eye can lead to significant corneal problems and visual loss if it gets severe and is left untreated.

One of the most heart-breaking things we see in the office is the 75-year-old new patient who hasn’t had an eye exam in 10 years and comes in because his vision “just isn’t right” and his family has noticed he sometimes bumps into things. On exam his eye pressures are through the roof and he is nearly blind from undetected glaucoma. And at that point there is no getting back the vision he has lost. If he had only come in several years earlier and just followed the guidelines, all this could have been prevented. Now he is going to have to live out the rest of his years struggling with severe vision loss.

DON’T LET THAT BE YOU!!!!!!

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

Love is in the Air, Love is in the Eyes

 

We have all heard the term ”Love is in the Air,” but can love really be in the eyes? Actually, Science has proven it so. Certain chemicals (or endorphins) that produce the emotion of love can be emitted through emotions expressed in the eyes. Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra all can prove that love is in the eyes of the beholder. There are physiological changes in the eyes that occur when love is expressed between two individuals. Two people in love, love shown towards a family member, child, or pet all cause the same response: the pupil (black part in the center of the eye) dilates.

The size of the pupil can be an indication of emotional responses and messages.According to Scientific American, the autonomic nervous system (our fight or flight response), causes the pupil to have a quick dilating response. The ANS is also in charge of heart rate and perspiration, and when a person is extremely interested in another person, the pupil has a dilating effect that is slightly less than the pupillary light reflex. This bounce in size is an automated response that gives scientists indication of mood or interest (or love) shown to a person or pet.

Mounting scientific evidence also shows the benefit of looking into the eyes of your pet, especially dogs. Stroking them causes you to become more healthy on all fronts, and a few minutes a day of lovingly looking at the dog and stroking the pet releases serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin which are "feel good" hormones.

There are also studies inspired by psychologist Arthur Aron, from over 20 years ago, that show if you stare into someone's eyes for 4 minutes you can fall in love... for looking eye to eye allows you to connect and reminds you why you fell in love in the first place.

Overall health is improved and years can be added to your life when looking at something or someone with love. Your eyes and autonomic nervous system play an intricate role in the expression of love. In conclusion, science and Shakespeare have it right when it comes to the response of the pupils. Remember what Shakespeare said in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ”Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.”

Source:

12/07/2012 article of Scientific American entitled:

Why Do Pupils Dilate in Response to Emotional States?

By Joss Fong

The Impact of Screen Time on Your Eye Sight

 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. These famous words of Charles Dickens are playing out today more than ever in the area of technology.

We are living in the best of times to obtain knowledge at the push of a button. But smartphones, laptops, iPads, video games, smart boards, tablets can all add up daily total screen time. Research shows the impact can adversely affect your eyes, your focusing, your moods, and even your ability to sleep and relax. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended only two hours of screentime per day as a standard for children.

What are the symptoms of too much screen time on the eye, and how can you combat these symtoms?

Doctors are seeing an increase in dry eye syndrome because patients do not blink as often when they are staring at the screen for a prolonged period of time. This causes burning or watery eyes, rubbing of the eyes, and frequent headaches.

The key to combatting these symptoms is to consciously blink more, use rewetting eye drops, and take frequent breaks. Perform a visual exercise where every 5-10 minutes, you focus on a distant target for 10 seconds, then return to your screen. Your eye care practitioner can also recommend specialized computer lenses with anti-glare properties to mininmize fatigue.

It is important to reiterated that screentime is not bad if used with moderation and freqeunt breaks. In fact, many computer programs are used to help patients strengthen their eye muscles and promote hand eye coordination. So the key is to enjoy the use of your technology, and remember that balance is the key to life.

So take frequent breaks, and use preventative measures such as re-wetting eye drops, anti-glare computer lenses, and eye exercises to minimize negative impact of screen time on your precious eye sight.

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