Just two weeks ago, a patient walked in the office for her yearly eye exam. Nothing strange going on- just wanted to see if she needed to update her glasses. She didn’t expect to be going into emergency surgery for a retinal detachment later that afternoon.
Despite a lack of symptoms, this patient was fortunate enough to be caught before the eye damage was irreversible. This was a good reminder for us to bring to light a few visual phenomenons that should alert you to contact us immediately.
Spots – small cloudy specks that become noticeable when they fall in the line of sight
Floaters – a dark or grey or spot or speck that passes across your field of vision and moves as you move your eye.
Flashes of light- appears as lightning bolts, flickering lights or random sparks in the field of vision.
These three signs can be normal visual occurrences and some- especially floaters- increase gradually with the more birthdays we have. However- if one of these symptoms suddenly expresses itself, a patient must seen immediately. Because retinal detachment causes no pain – it’s important to know about these signs.
When a retina detaches the tissue on the back of your eye becomes separated from the supporting tissue. When separated it cannot function and process the information that creates visual images in your brain. If a retina does not get reattached surgically, the vision loss can be permanent.
Please get spots, floaters, and flashes checked out if they suddenly appear in great frequency.Also – remember to stay up to date with yearly visits to the optometrist!
“Do you guys ‘do contacts’ here, because you’re all wearing glasses…”
Yes… we do contacts. I hadn’t considered a patient might think differently because we all wear our glasses to work. So, I’m glad he asked! Contact lenses are a fantastic vision correction method and provide wearers with a host of benefits including sports, increased periphery vision and the ability to wear non-prescription sunglasses!
I get to work with new contact lens wearers and teach them how to put on and take off their contacts, talk to them about how to take care of them, how often to replace their prescribed contacts and also pass on a list of precautions to take while wearing contacts. Contacts are a big responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. Therefore, contact lens health is very important! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees and has named this week- August 22-26, 2016 the third annual Contact Lens Health Week.
Six Healthy Habits for Contact Lens Wearers
Wash your hands with soap and water before inserting and removing contacts
Only clean your contacts with doctor recommended contact lens disinfecting solution- never water or saliva.
Don’t sleep in your contact lenses
Always store your contacts in fresh solution every night, don’t top-off old solution
Stick to the prescribed wearing schedule for your contact lenses
If you experience eye pain, discomfort, redness or blurry vision, remove your contacts and call us to schedule an appointment right away!
These are just a few contact lens health habits that can help your contact lens experience be comfortable and healthy. For more information, talk to Dr. McEathron at your next yearly eye exam and visit the CDC website Healthy Contact Lens Wear and Care.
Have you considered what it would be like to lose your sight?
A recent article in US News and World Report discusses a nationwide survey showing vision loss to be equal to or worse than losing hearing, memory, speech or a limb. How about you? Is age-related vision changes and loss a concern? Have you considered what it would be like to lose your sight? Are you taking steps today that could reduce risks of vision loss or blindness tomorrow?
See clearly – check yearly!
How often do you take your car to be serviced or head to the dentist? How often do you update the anti-virus software on your PC to protect your hard drive?
A routine eye check-up can monitor your eye health – catch problems before they start and keep your eyes in top working condition. There is a lot more to a comprehensive eye exam than “which is better one or two”?
“I don’t need my eyes checked – I can see just fine!”
A patient came to see us for his first routine eye exam at the age of 55. He had just started to wear over the counter readers but never had any vision problems. During the visual fields test, Dr. McEathron discovered a field loss in his vision. The glaucoma pressure test and assessment of the optic nerve confirmed a likely diagnosis of glaucoma. The patient immediately began treatment for moderately severe glaucoma. The 10 degrees of near vision field loss seen will never be recovered – the daily prescriptions drops the patient takes will slow progress of the disease, but as of now there is no cure. Another important note to mention- the patient had no family history of glaucoma.
Fit an eye exam into your schedule
Eye exams are recommended every year. The affordable health care act has deemed pediatric vision one of ten essential health benefits. Many insurance plans include coverage for a routine eye exam yearly. For more information on what your insurance plan covers, call our office and we can provide you with details.
In the beginning of the year- your birthday month – as soon as school’s out for summer or before the year is out – pick a time to schedule your yearly eye check up/regular preventative maintenance and stick to it! Your future self will thank you!
Since today is Dr. McEathron’s birthday- it’s appropriate to communicate more of his tips to slow down age-related vision changes in your eyes.
Eat healthy now – see long term benefits!
Choosing to eat healthy can have a long term impact on your eye health and therefore your age-related vision changes. And, the good news is it certainly goes beyond carrots. Antioxidants and other specific vitamins nutrients can reduce your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma. Furthermore, omega-3 essential fatty acids also help alleviate dry eyes and guards against macular damage.
Here are the main vitamins and nutrients that help protect our eyes:
Essential fatty acids
Food sources that have high content of the above nutrients:
For an extra boost – vitamins!
In addition to food sources, there are many supplements on the market that promote eye health and help prevent age-related vision changes. For example, for individuals at higher risk of eye disease, especially with family history of macular degeneration or glaucoma, Dr. McEathron certainly recommends adding an eye health supplement to your daily routine. There are many such supplements on the market. However, the supplement should provide at minimum the following for maximum effectiveness as a result:
vitamin C (250 to 500 mg)
vitamin E (400 IU)
zinc (25 to 40 mg)
copper (2 mg)
vitamin B complex that also contains 400 mcg of folic acid
omega-3 fatty acids (2,000 mg)
Finally, after researching and evaluating several brands of eye health vitamins, we chose to offer Biosyntrx to our patients at our office. Furthermore, they have three formulations:
BioTears – support for dry eyes, is also rich in omega 6 essential fatty acids.
Eye and Body Complete – includes a broad spectrum of 43 ingredients that consequently eliminates the need for an additional general multi-vitamin supplement.
Oculair – rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, specifically targeting eye health but also with whole body benefits.
In conclusion, taking care of your eyes and entire body now through proper nutrition will give substantial benefits as each birthday passes as a result! Stay tuned for more tips on how to beat those age-related vision changes!
Dr. McEathron often talks to patients about how to slow down age-related vision changes to their vision and eyes. It’s his gentle way of bringing up the inevitable- along with the rest of our body- our eyes change as we age. This blog post is part one of a discussion on how to slow down those birthday induced changes to your eye health and vision.
Here comes the sun…
There is much talk about protecting your skin from the sun- wearing sunscreen daily and link between UV exposure and skin cancer- but let’s talk about your eyes. The tissue on and around our eyes is thinner and more sensitive than the rest of our body. Eyes can sunburn with a great amount of sun exposure in a short time. This effect is called photokeratitis and can be very painful. Symptoms can include watery eyes, burning and feeling like grit is in your eyes. Thankfully it is typically short-lived (up to one week) and usually has no long term effects.
Long term UV exposure to our eyes can however have long term effects, including on our age-related vision changes. UV-A and UV-B light rays speed up the process of forming a cataract and increases the risk of macular degeneration. Both of these conditions affect your vision – cataracts make the world seem cloudy and blurry- which cannot be corrected with glasses, only surgery. Macular degeneration is a loss of the central vision- a blind spot that is irreversible. As previously mentioned- the skin around the eyes and tissue on the eyes is very thin. Consequently, excessive sun exposure without proper protection can lead to skin cancer and premature signs of aging, therefore furthering age-related vision changes.
Sunglasses protect your eyes today and tomorrow!
Whenever you spend time outside, there are easy ways to protect your eyes from the sun to help reduce the risks discussed above. Wearing quality sunglasses that provide 100% protection against UV-A and UV-B radiation is the first step. Transition lenses (that darken in sunlight) also provide 100% UV protection. Wrap-around sunglasses provide the most amount of protection. Don’t forget about protecting children and young adults eyes too! They typically spend the most time in the sun. Therefore, implementing the sunglasses habit can make the biggest impact to their long term eye health. It does this by reducing the amount of accumulative hours of UV exposure!
See Cleary – Check Yearly
In addition to sun protection- yearly eye exams to monitor eye health in all of these risk areas are very important. If you have any questions or concerns- please contact us for an appointment today or stop in to talk with one of our opticians about sunwear!
BINYON VISION CENTER
411 E. Magnolia Street, Bellingham WA 98225