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Macular Degeneration – What Is It?

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Artisan Optics

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Artisan Optics

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 60. An estimated 11 million people in the United States and 1.4 million Canadians have some form of macular degeneration.

The risk of suffering from AMD increases from 2% for ages 50-59, to nearly 30% for those over the age of 75.

Currently, there is no cure for macular degeneration. However, with lasers and injections, Artisan Optics can help you manage the condition and occasionally even restore some lost vision.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the central part of the retina, called the macula. It’s responsible for central vision, making it an extremely important part of our eyes. A large part of our ability to see fine detail and color comes from our central vision. Clear central vision is vital to our quality of life as it allows us to drive a car, recognize faces, read, watch TV and so much more.

The retina is the back layer of the eye that consists of nerves to record images and send them back to the brain. When functioning properly, the macula collects extremely detailed images at the center of our vision. It then sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain. When the macula deteriorates, the retina sends distorted and blurred images to the brain.

One way to understand the impact of AMD: When you look at a loved one, the image of their face is focused onto your macula. The deterioration of the macula makes it difficult, sometimes impossible to see clearly, impacting our enjoyment of life.

Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two main types of macular degeneration: “wet” and “dry.” Between 85% to 90% of people with macular degeneration have dry form. The dry form can eventually lead to the wet form.

Stargardt disease is another form of macular degeneration, which occurs in young people. Caused by a defective gene, it affects 1 in 10,000 people.

Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration

  • Wet (exudative) macular degeneration – this occurs when very fragile new blood vessels form in the retina. These abnormal blood vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina, causing vision to become distorted, resulting in lines that appear wavy instead of straight, or black spots in your vision. As the blood vessels continue to bleed, they form a scar, potentially leading to full or partial loss of central vision.
  • Dry (atrophic) macular degeneration – this occurs when yellow deposits of proteins called drusen build up under the retina and cause retinal distortion. While a few small drusen may not change your vision, when they grow bigger they may start to distort or dim your vision, particularly while reading. As the condition worsens, light-sensitive cells in your macula can deteriorate and eventually die. In your central vision, you may also notice large blind spots.

Stages of Dry Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration happens in three stages.

  • Early AMD – At this point most people have no loss of vision. This is when medium-sized drusen deposits accumulate under the retina and there are no pigment changes or deterioration of vision.
  • Intermediate AMD – Most people don’t experience any problems with daily tasks; however, there may be mild vision loss. This is when large drusen deposits accumulate and/or pigment changes occur, indicating that macula cells are starting to die.
  • Late AMD – Noticeable vision loss has occurred due to extensive damage to the macula.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

You might not have any noticeable symptoms in the early stages of AMD. Irreversible damage may occur by the time significant symptoms reveal themselves. Wet AMD may cause the sudden appearance of these symptoms.

The first symptoms that you may experience of macular degeneration can include:

  • Blind or dark spots in the center of your vision
  • Decreased or blurry vision
  • Different color perception, in rare cases
  • Lines appearing wavy

What Eye Exams Can Help Detect AMD?

Your eye doctor will perform an eye exam to check for macular degeneration. This will include:

  • Dilated Eye Exam – Your eye doctor will need to dilate your pupils using eye drops. This will allow the doctor to see a magnified view of the drusen and macula, and detect any abnormal blood vessels.
  • Fluorescein Angiography – A dye is injected into the bloodstream to detect any leakage in the blood vessels in the retina.
  • Digital Retinal Image – This non-invasive, diagnostic tool produces high-resolution digital colored images of your retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels in the back of your eye, allowing your eye doctor to see more details of your eye.
  • Ophthalmoscopy – Your doctor will use a hand-held light to detect any changes or damage in the macula and retina.
  • Amsler Grid – This is used by a patient at home and allows for self-examination of your vision. It will help you notice any sudden appearance of blank or blurry spots in your field of vision. Immediately report any changes of vision to your eye doctor. This should not replace your yearly comprehensive eye exam.
  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) – This test allows eye doctors to see a cross-section of the retina and examine the blood vessels and layers beneath the surface of the retina. This includes the retina, optic nerve, macula, and choroid. The OCT provides 3D and full-color images.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma Related?

  • A: While macular degeneration does not affect glaucoma, it can contribute to decreased vision along with glaucoma. The vision loss that may occur in macular degeneration tends to affect central vision, whereas glaucoma usually affects side vision. If both conditions arise, they do not actively affect one another. However, the visual impairment that may result will affect a larger area of vision than glaucoma alone.

Q: Can my vision improve if I am treated for AMD?

  • A: While there is no cure, certain treatment options can help improve your vision. For those with advanced dry macular degeneration in both eyes, one option to improve vision may be surgery to implant a telescopic lens in one eye. A telescopic lens looks like a tiny plastic tube that has lenses that magnify your field of vision.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit Artisan Optics for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


How Can My Child’s Myopia Be Corrected?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is one of the most common eye conditions affecting millions of people around the world.

Myopia is a refractive error in which the eyes are unable to focus clearly on images or objects. This results in blurry vision when looking at something at a distance, such as people walking down a street, a school board, or even the TV. However, images that are closer can be seen more clearly. Children with uncorrected myopia tend to experience eye strain, eye fatigue, or headaches in an effort to see images in the distance clearly.

Fortunately, eyeglasses or contact lenses work wonders to correct vision. In this text, we’ll discuss both glasses and contacts as options for myopia correction.

 

Methods of Myopia Correction

Contact Lenses

Contacts can be a great choice, especially for physically active children or teens who don’t want to worry about breaking or misplacing their eyeglasses.

Corrective contact lenses are usually placed in the eyes upon waking and removed at night before bedtime. We offer a range of brands of soft contact lenses, such as daily disposables and extended-wear disposables. Speak with Dr. Timothy S. Gibbons to determine whether your child is ready for contact lenses.

Prescription Glasses

Glasses are a popular choice among our younger patients. Choosing from an array of styles makes the process not just fun and exciting, but allows the child to be an active participant in selecting eyewear, which, in turn, increases the likelihood that they’ll actually wear them. We offer strong, flexible and resilient frames which both look great and are feel comfortable.

The optician can customize the lenses with additions, like impact-resistant or shatter-proof materials, scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coatings, UV filters, and transition lenses that darken in the sun.

We Can Help Correct Your Child’s Myopia

If you’re located near Boise, Idaho, visit us for an eye exam to determine your child’s exact prescription and ask us any questions you may have about your child’s eye health and vision.

At Artisan Optics, our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to recommend the most suitable method of correcting your child’s myopia to meet his or her individual needs. Thanks to the wide range options available, your child will walk away with eyewear that will both look and feel great.

Let us help your child see the world in a whole new light. To schedule your child’s annual eye exam or to learn more, contact Artisan Optics at 208-377-8899 today.

Eyewear with Conviction

Anne et Valentin’s independence allows them to create glasses for a niche group of people who are looking for quirky, colorful, artsy, post-modern, retro, chic eyewear. Anne et Valentin does not create eyewear for the masses. As Valentin explains “We will never take a broad approach to address more people – because then you need to go to simple designs. So we will continue to develop great frames for a narrow distribution”. At Artisan Optics we have a wonderful selection of Anne et Valentin eyewear. We invite you to stop by.

This particular style is the Recover from the SUPERPOSE collection by Anne et Valentin – designed with two superimposed thin threads that intertwine, curl, play on thicknesses, meet and part, unite and face up to each other. This approach enables distinct crossings and combinations of lines and colors to reveal fulfilling relief and relieving hollows, to emphasize thicknesses and the always subtle details of the frames, in an eye-opening manner.

Eminently modern, very inspired by contemporary design, like a nod to a Mathieu Mategot rendered in an ultimately minimalist form, the SUPERPOSE concept gives for frames deliberately conceived as timeless objects. Made in Japanese titanium, used for its lightness and flexibility, executed by one of the best manufactures in the country.

The double bars serve as double-bridges, uniting the inner circles. The lower bridge projects slightly to breathe dynamism into the profile. Both technical and aesthetic, the models of this concept represent a serious challenge, for reasons held fiercely secret by our designers.

The line is fluid, refined, giving way to an expression specific to the concept, which wearers come to enrich with their own and individual personality.

When choosing eyewear there are many considerations: prescription, type of lens that will be used, frame fit, skin tone, and personal style. Taking advantage of complimentary eyewear make-overs is a great way to explore shapes, colors and styles that you’ve perhaps not previously considered. This is also an opportunity to gain an outside perspective on updating your eyewear wardrobe.

Medications and Ocular Side Effects

OUR EYE DOCTORS EVALUATE, DIAGNOSE AND MANAGE OCULAR SIDE EFFECTS.

Nearly every medication (either prescribed or over-the-counter), herbal supplement, homeopathic remedy, etc. has the potential to cause ocular side effects.

Ocular side effects are more prevalent than you may think. It is important to keep abreast of common side effects associated with your medications (including herbal supplements and homeopathic remedies), and discuss any vision changes with both your prescribing physician as well as your eye doctor. This will aid in the correct and timely diagnosis of ocular side effects.

Long-term use of medications at recommended doses may lead to ocular toxicity, as can drug to drug interactions. The eye is the second most common site to manifest drug toxicity, second only to the liver. It is no wonder that ocular side effects are so common. Ocular side effects are best managed by an eye doctor. With specialized equipment and instruments, an eye doctor can thoroughly evaluate your vision and eye health as well as ocular side effects.

Depending upon the medication, follow-up care will vary. Some medications require a baseline eye exam, and eye exams every six months thereafter. Other medications require imaging of the inside of the eye at regular intervals, visual fields testing, or color vision testing. That’s why it is important to remember, anytime you begin a new medication it is prudent to ask your prescribing physician for a recommended schedule of follow-up care.

HEALTH TIP: At each yearly eye health exam be sure to provide an updated health history and medication list (include herbal supplements, homeopathic remedies, etc) as well any over the counter medications being used.

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.

How-to Guide for Buying Sunglasses

Sure, sunglasses might add the final touches to your chic ensemble, but the real reason to purchase your shades is to protect your eyes from the sun. Not only does glare from the sun make it difficult to see, but the UV rays it reflects can cause permanent damage to your eyes and vision. You want to make sure your sunglasses offer optimal protection, fit, comfort and of course, the best possible vision. Here are some things to consider when purchasing your next pair.

UV Protection

There are two types of UV radiation, UVA and UVB. UVA rays are less intense yet more prevalent than UVB rays, making up 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the surface of the Earth. They have been linked to skin cancer, aging and the development of cataracts. UVB rays are very dangerous to the eyes and are the primary cause of sunburns and cancer. While they are dangerous year round, these rays are more intense during the summer months, especially mid-day between around ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. UVB rays also reflect off of snow, water, sand and concrete.

The damage caused by UV rays is irreversible and cumulative, building up over a long period of time. This is why it is important to start wearing sunglasses when you are young (also because your eyes are more sensitive at a younger age). You want to make sure your sunglasses block out 100% of UV rays. This is the most important factor to consider when purchasing your sunglasses.

Additionally, in certain circumstances of intense UV exposure, a condition called keratitis can occur, which is essentially a sunburn on the eye. Symptoms often occur hours after sun exposure and can include temporary vision loss and severe pain.

Sunglass Lens Options

Once you are certain your sunglass lenses have the requisite UV protection, you can begin to consider other lens possibilities. Here are some other lens options to consider:

Polarized Lenses:

Reduce glare from light reflecting off glass, water, snow, sand or pavement. You should consider polarized lenses if you participate in water or snow sports such as fishing, boating or skiing as the water and snow can create a strong glare. They are also great for comfort while driving by reducing glare and to enhance vision when on the road.

Tinted Lenses:

Certain lens tints enable you to see better or more comfortably under certain circumstances but you have to be careful. Lens tints can distort or reduce vision and some can even harm your vision by increasing your pupil size which leads to an increase of UV radiation penetrating the eye. Look for lenses with a medium tint that keep your eyes comfortable and do not have a negative impact on your vision. Your optometrists’ office can often make specific tint recommendations depending on your lifestyle or particularly activities (ex. golfing vs fishing) and the health of your eyes (for example, cataracts tend to cause more glare).

Photochromic Lenses:

Automatically darken when exposed to UV light. Photochromic lenses are a great option for individuals that wear prescription eyeglasses: one pair can serve you both indoors and outdoors. As soon as you step outside, the lenses will darken, and they’ll reverse when you go back indoors.

Lens Materials

There are also a few options when it comes to lens materials, such as plastics – including polycarbonate or acetate; trivex – which is a polymer material; or glass. The type of lens will determine the durability, clarity of vision and price of your lenses, so you should consider the factors that are most important for you and try out a few options to see how they feel.

Sunwear Frames

Frame Size

The size of your sunglass frame is important for both comfort and protection. Your frames should fit according to your face size and provide ample coverage for your eyes. When you try on your frames, make sure they cover your eyes and feel comfortable around the bridge and temples. Also check that they don’t slip off when you move your head down toward the floor.

Frame Materials

Frames can be manufactured from a number of materials and, these days, frame companies are constantly innovating to come up with new and improved options. These materials vary in strength, flexibility, weight, comfort and price. You need to choose a frame material that is comfortable, safe, and functional and that suits your lifestyle and your fashion style.

Making the Purchase

When purchasing sunglasses, keep in mind that your vision insurance may help to cover the costs when purchased at an optometry office rather than at a sports or recreation store. Check with your insurance and your local optical to find out about any discounts or coverage. Another advantage of purchasing from an optometrist’s optical is that the optician can help you to find the perfect pair to suit your eye and vision needs, as well as your lifestyle and fashion preferences.

The good news about choosing the right pair of sunglasses is that there are ample brands, colors, styles and materials to choose from. So when it comes to your shades, don’t settle for less than optimal protection, fit and comfort for your eyes.

Book Lens

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Computers, love them or hate them they are part of our lives. We work on them, play on them, communicate with them and even read on them. In this day in age, computers or digital devices are a large part of most people’s daily routine. Whether it be a smart phone, laptop, desktop or tablet, most find themselves using some kind of digital device at some point throughout the day or in many cases all day. Many find themselves in need of a pair of glasses to help with computer work. Some may run to the dollar store and buy an over-the-counter reading glass for this, but is this the best option?

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Over the counter reading glasses may be an easy go to, but there are many draw backs to these glasses as computer glasses. First and foremost, over the counter readers are a single prescription designed for one focal distance…reading distance, which is a standard distance of 16” to 18” for adults. Most people sit farther away from their computer screens than the reading distance of 16” to 18” which makes over the counter readers a poor choice. In addition, many people now work using multiple monitors which are positioned at different distances within the work area. This means a different pair of readers would be required for each monitor – which is impractical. These issues don’t take into account those people who have prescriptions that include astigmatism (over the counter readers do not include correction for astigmatism) or prescriptions for people who have different prescriptions in each eye (over the counter readers are limited to the same prescription in both lenses). In addition, over the counter readers are made of lower quality materials to kept costs low, and few include anti-glare coatings which are used to reduce glare from digital devices.

There is a solution to this conundrum, the Zeiss Book lens, this is part of the Zeiss’ office suite of lenses. The Book lens is a specific type of progressive lens that puts and emphasis on near vision. Unlike a traditional progressive lens, where you would feel the need to tilt your head back to use the intermediate range on the lens (computer distance), the Book lens uses a specific type of progressive technology that positions the intermediate range directly in front of the eye. When using the Zeiss Book lens, you are able to look straight ahead like a single vision lens to see the computer and then use your natural reading progression toward the bottom of the lens for reading.

Computer technology has made tremendous advances over recent years, and so has Zeiss digital technology. The Zeiss Book lens allows for quick and seamless changes in focal distance – replicating natural vision. This is especially important if you are someone who uses a computer or digital device regularly throughout the day. When the eyes can’t keep up with the demand – eye strain, headaches, and eye fatigue are common occurrences. Why be uncomfortable and suffer through the day when there is a solution? There are specific lenses designed by Zeiss to address the unique needs of computer and digital device users. Each type of lens has been developed to address the varying visual requirements of different work environments.

Why Wait? Come in and see us…

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Eye Infections

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Not all eye infections are created equal. When people think of eye infections the first thing that comes to mind is pink eye. Picture a pink/red eye, swollen lid, and probably some discharge from around the eyeball. While a lot of eye irritation presents in a similar fashion they can have totally different etiologies and require different treatment options. With variation in causes of eye infections it is important to seek care with an eye care professional to start with the most appropriate treatment.

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Eye infections can also impact different ocular tissue. The ocular tissues that can be affected are:

  • Conjunctiva: The conjunctiva is a membrane that covers the inside of the eye lid and covers the sclera (white part of the eye). The term conjunctivitis refers to a inflammation of this tissue.
  • Cornea: The cornea is the clear dome tissue that covers the iris and helps refract light rays into the eye. When the cornea is inflamed or irritated it is called a keratitis.
  • Anterior Chamber: The anterior chamber refers to the inside of the eye in front of the iris. Depending on the etiology of the eye irritant it can cause inflammation within the anterior chamber called an iritis or a uveitis.
  • Eye lids: The eyelids themselves contain different glands and tissues that are susceptible to infection. They even contain a septal barrier that contains infections to the eyelid and attempts to prevent spread to the area that contains the optic nerve and leads to the brain (pretty important stuff).

As mentioned before, there are a variety of etiologies that cause eye infections. A short list of these causes are as follows:

  • Bacterial: Bacterial eye infections are caused by interaction with a contaminated source. The type of bacteria may vary and respond to different delivery methods for the antibiotics (drops versus oral medication). Certain bacteria can be more detrimental to longstanding ocular health, especially if associated with contact lens over-wear and abuse. Pseudomonas is a bacteria that is capable of perforating the cornea. Other bacteria can cause corneal ulcers, which are quite painful.
  • Viral: Viral infections are commonly referred to as pink eye in the optometric community. Not all viral infections are pink eye though. Other types of viral eye infections are herpes infections. This is the same virus that is responsible for cold sores around the mouth. The herpes virus generally lies dormant within nerves and can come out of dormancy to cause a herpes keratitis, conjunctivis, or blepharoconjunctivitis (eyelid involvement). The virus responsible for “pink eye” is generally an enterovirus and is highly contagious.
  • Fungus: A fungal infection is less common and can occur with contact with an organic material such as plant life. Fungal infections can impact a lot of ocular structures and cause a lot of damage.
  • Allergies: While allergies are not an infection they can still present as red, watering, and irritated eyes.

It is important to remember, that the causes of infection vary which means the approach to treatment vary. That’s why it is so important to make an appointment with an eye care provider when the eye is irritated. This means an appointment with either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Keep in mind time is of the essence especially if light sensitivity, the sensation that something is in the eye, discharge, or pain are associated with the irritation. As with all infections, it is important that the specific type of infection is identified and an appropriate treatment is prescribed as quickly as possible.

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April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month

Hey women! Did you know that women are more likely to suffer from vision problems and are at higher risk of permanent vision loss than men? Well 91% of the women surveyed recently didn’t know that, which means that many of them aren’t taking the necessary precautions to prevent eye damage and vision loss.  

According to a recent study, the statistics for many of the major vision problems show that women have a higher percentage of incidence than men. These include:

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration 65%
  • Cataracts 61%
  • Glaucoma 61%
  • Refractive Error 56%
  • Vision Impairment 63%

Women are also more susceptible to develop chronic dry eye, partially because it is often associated with other health issues that are more common in women such as ocular rosacea which is three times more prevalent in women.  Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can also contribute to dry eye.  

It’s important for women to know the risks for eye-related diseases and vision impairment and the steps they can take to prevent eventual vision loss.  Here are some ways that you can help to protect your eyes and save your eyesight:

  • Find out about family history of eye diseases and conditions.
  • Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses when outdoors.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Consume a healthy diet with proper nutrition and special eye health supplements as prescribed by an eye doctor.
  • Adhere to contact lens hygiene and safety.  
  • Adhere to cosmetic hygiene and safety precautions. 
  • Protect your eyes against extended exposure to blue light from computers, smartphones and LED lamps. 
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and have diabetes, see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. In women who have diabetes, diabetic retinopathy can accelerate quickly during pregnancy and can present a risk for the baby as well. 

Mothers are often charged with caring for the eye health of the entire family, but too often their own eye health needs fall to the wayside. It is critical that mothers take care of their eyes and overall health so that they can be in the best condition to care for their families. 

Speak to your eye care professional about your personal eye health and vision risks and the precautions and measures you should take to protect your eyes.  Encourage the other women in your life to do so as well.  Once vision is lost, it often can’t be regained and there are many steps you can take to prevent it with proper knowledge and awareness.  

The most important way to prevent vision loss is to ensure you schedule regular eye exams. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear as many eye issues are painless and symptomless, and sometimes by the time you notice symptoms, vision loss is untreatable.