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Women and Eye Health Risks

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Most women understand how important it is to visit the doctor regularly so they can stay healthy and feel their best. However, many don’t realize this means having their eyes checked as well. This is especially important for women since they are more likely than men to suffer from eye-related diseases and conditions such as:

  • Cataract
  • Glaucoma
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Two out of every three people living with blindness or vision problems are women, according to the National Eye Institute. And unfortunately, many women don’t know about this heightened risk and are not doing enough to care for their healthy sight. This can lead to staggering healthcare costs down the road. In an effort to educate the public on the increased risk for women and vision health issues, as well as steps that can be taken to prevent vision loss, April has been declared Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Did you know that other health conditions can also impact vision? Not only are women at greater risk for many eye diseases, they are also at risk for several overall health conditions that impact their vision. These include:

  • Diabetes – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 American women over the age of 20 has diabetes. Diabetes increases risk for several eye diseases, diabetic retinopathy, most commonly, as well as damage from ultraviolet (UV) light. People with diabetes often experience light sensitivity, difficulty distinguishing colors in low lighting, and trouble driving at night.
  • Autoimmune diseases – According to the National Institute of Health, women are more likely to develop several autoimmune diseases that can affect the eyes. These include:
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Breast and other cancers – Some cancer treatments can cause:
  • Bleeding in the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Cataracts
  • Dry, itchy eyes

While these eye problems may sound scary, your eye doctor can help educate you on the changes and find ways to ease the symptoms, so you have the best chance at maintaining optimal eye health.

Are Your Eyes Putting in Overtime?

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As we continue to work and learn from home, the amount of time we spend in front of a screen is probably more time than we spend doing anything else. Today’s world runs on digital. From the living room to the board room, we rely on our devices to stay informed, connect with others, attend classes and in many cases, earn a living. Mobile devices and computers deliver countless benefits.
However, they can also have an unpleasant side effect – more exposure to blue light.

What is blue light? And how does it impact our eyes?

Blue light is the range of light with the highest amount of energy in the visible light spectrum (the light we can see). Modern devices like smartphones, tablets, and computer monitors all emit blue light. While historically we’ve gotten our daily dose of blue light from the sun, our increased exposure to blue light from these modern devices has been linked to the onset of digital eye strain.

Why does blue light exposure matter?

Your eyes weren’t built to process blue light well; so, they work extra hard trying to bring this light into focus. Think of it like running a marathon where someone keeps moving the finish line back. With 63% of U.S. employees now working from home and parents reporting a recent 500% increase in children’s online screen time, exposure to blue light from digital devices is at an all-time high. Your eyes are putting in overtime daily which can contribute to digital eye strain and symptoms like tired eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and dry eyes.

Is there something that can help?

There are two types of products that can help reduce blue light exposure:

  • A premium anti-reflective coating that targets blue light wavelengths associated with digital eye strain. Because this coating both absorbs and reflects blue light, it has an attractive, near-clear appearance that provides better cosmetic appeal than other blue-light lens products.
  • Light-reactive lenses offer comparable blue light filtration indoors in their clear state. Outdoors, the lenses darken and increase the amount of blue light filtration from sunlight to match the increased intensity of the source.

Interested to learn more? Give us a call! Our doctors can talk to you about blue light lens options and other recommendations to reduce or prevent digital eye strain. Golden Vision Optometry 949-552-4271

Healthy Heart, Healthy Eyes

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They say the eyes are the window to your soul, but did you know they can also show how healthy your heart is? If you weren’t aware, you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by VSP Vision Care and YouGov, only 1% of people know that signs of diseases and conditions that affect the heart and eyes, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can be detected through an eye exam. This is incredibly concerning because if conditions like these are left untreated, they can cause eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, and macular degeneration. All of which can cause serious vision issues or complete loss of sight if left untreated.

The arrangement of blood vessels at the back of the eye is closely connected to the health of your heart. So, you may not realize that cardiovascular and eye diseases share the same underlying causes, as well as the same treatment. A root symptom of many of these diseases is inflammation, which your eye doctor can identify through an annual comprehensive eye exam.

Your eye doctor sees a range of heart-related eye diseases. A patient may come in with only a complaint of blurry vision and may be unaware of the state of their overall health and how their blurry vision may be caused by an underlying condition.

Similarly, not being able to see out of one eye or other visual disturbances may be an indication of a deeper heart-related issue. Being aware that the lens you’re seeing the world through can determine the status of your overall health is the first step to healthier living. When early signs of diseases such as stroke, bacterial endocarditis, and diabetes can be identified through an eye exam, there is no reason to forego it.

The next time you’re due for an annual eye exam with us, remember how crucial it is in taking care of your overall health. Your body will thank you later!

Don’t Let Glaucoma Steal Your Sight

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Vision problems are often one of the first indications that we are not as young as we feel.

Even people who have never needed glasses or contacts may start to experience blurry vision or other noticeable imperfections. Many of these developments, such as difficulty seeing nearby objects, are a normal part of aging and can be easily treated.

However, serious eye conditions become more likely in middle-age and beyond. That is why it’s important to take vision health seriously as we age, as catching eye diseases like glaucoma in the early stages can lead to more effective treatment.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually steals sight without warning. When the internal pressure in the eyes increases enough it can damage the nerve fibers in the optic nerve and cause vision loss.

There are several types of glaucoma, and most people will not experience any symptoms until the condition has become extremely dangerous. It’s important to see your eye doctor each year so they can spot any warning signs.

Optometrists have a variety of ways to screen for glaucoma, by measuring the pressure in the eyes, examining the inside of the eyes, and dilating your pupils to get a better look at the optic nerve and drainage angle.

Is there treatment?

There are several treatment options your eye doctor will consider if you are found to be suffering from glaucoma. These include eye drops, medication, laser surgery, or conventional surgery. The best course of action depends upon the particulars of your case and how you respond to treatment.

A comprehensive vision exam is essential to catch serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma, before irreversible damage is done.

Has it been a while since your last comprehensive vision exam? Give us a call to schedule one today!

5 Ways to Protect and Improve Your Child’s Eyesight

Your child’s vision is their primary window into the world around them. Keeping their eyesight healthy is an important part of allowing them to experience life to the fullest.

Here are 5 tips on how to protect and improve your child’s eye health:

1. Take them to the eye doctor for routine eye exams

One of the most important take-aways from any article you read on the subject of keeping your child’s vision and eyes healthy, is the need to keep up with routine comprehensive eye exams.

Although your kid’s school may perform vision screenings, these tests can only detect the most basic issues, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or severe amblyopia. They are not equipped to check for eye diseases that can affect your child’s long-term ocular health, or binocular vision disorders that can hinder their ability to learn.

Our Irvine eye doctor will be able to perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for the presence of these and other conditions. If ocular diseases or vision disorders are detected, your eye doctor will have the equipment and expertise to properly treat them.

2. Limit their screen time

Digital screens are an ever-present part of our lives. Children can spend hours every day texting, playing video games, watching television, doing schoolwork, and more. It’s all too easy to spend way too much time in front of digital devices that emit blue light, which may contribute to digital eye strain. Symptoms of digital eye strain may include:

  • Tired eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Sore eyes

To combat digital eye strain and reduce your child’s exposure to blue light, limit their screen time, when possible, and turn off devices a few hours before bedtime to allow your child to wind down.

3. Encourage them to eat healthy foods and get exercise

As with every part of the body, a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring the long-term health of your child’s eyes.

Eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to promote eye health. Good sources include fish such as salmon and herring. For vegans and others who don’t eat fish, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also a great option.

Leafy greens and fruits are also important, as they’re high in vitamins A, C and E, which are all important for the development and maintenance of healthy vision.

Along with a healthy diet, you should encourage your child to get up and exercise. Physical activity is good for the whole body, and that includes the eyes.

Bonus points if you can get your child outside, as sunlight and outdoor play have been shown to slow or even prevent the development of myopia. Just make sure your child wears sunglasses and a sun hat — UV rays have a cumulative effect that could lead to eye diseases like macular degeneration later in life.

4. Help them avoid eye injuries

Eye injuries are an all-too-common occurrence, especially among children.

If you have little ones at home, make sure that paints, cleaners and other dangerous chemicals and irritants are put away somewhere safe. If these ever get into their eyes, they can cause severe damage to your child’s visual system, including permanent loss of vision.

For contact and ball/puck sports, ensure your child wears the right eyewear to protect their eyes from accidental impacts or pokes. Helmets should also be worn where the sport warrants it, to prevent concussions and other head injuries that can have an effect on vision.

5. Reduce eye infections

Even small, common infections such as pink eye can have an impact on your child’s vision.

Hands are some of the most bacteria-filled parts of our bodies. Your child should learn not to touch their eyes with their unwashed hands, as this is the primary way of introducing germs to the eye that may result in infection.

On a similar note, if you have contact lens wearers, be sure to teach them to wash their hands each and every time they put in or take out their contact lenses. They should also learn to store and clean their lenses strictly according to their eye doctor‘s instructions and should change lenses according to their intended schedule. Daily contacts should be changed daily, monthly contacts, monthly.

For more information on how best to protect and improve your child’s eyesight, contact Golden Vision Optometry in Irvine today.

Q&A

Can I rely on the vision screenings at my child’s school to catch vision and eye health issues?

No. School-based vision screenings check for basic visual acuity. Even if your child has perfect 20/20 vision, there may still be issues with visual skills or undetected eye diseases that these types of screenings are not equipped to catch.

It is important not to rely on school vision screenings as a replacement for an annual comprehensive eye exam with your local optometrist. During these visits, your eye doctor will be able to assess your child for vision skills such as:

  • Eye teaming ability
  • Convergence and divergence skills
  • Tracking and focusing
  • Visual accommodation

They will also be able to diagnose and treat conditions such as:

  • Amblyopia
  • Strabismus
  • (Rarely) pediatric glaucoma or cataracts

These and other conditions can only be diagnosed and treated by a trained optometrist as part of a comprehensive eye exam.

Can vision problems be misdiagnosed as ADHD/ADD?

It is unfortunately common for learning-related vision problems to go undetected. These vision problems can often mimic the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, leading to misdiagnosis and mistaken treatment.

As many as 1 out of every 4 school-age children suffers from some form of visual dysfunction. If not properly treated, a child may struggle throughout their entire school career, harming their learning and possibly their long-term self-confidence.

May is Healthy Vision Month

What does that mean for you? It means that now is the time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

While these are one of the exams we may often let fall by the wayside, they are extremely important to maintain our eye health. Comprehensive eye exams serve several purposes. During these exams, pupils, the circular black area in the center of the eye where light enters, are widened with eye drops or viewed without dilation through a special camera. This allows your Eye Doctor to check for vision problems and eye diseases, verify what stage of diseases your eyes may be in, and helps determine if you need glasses, contacts or other treatments.

Comprehensive eye exams are crucial for all ages, here’s why:

Pediatric exams test for visual acuity, lazy eye, color vision, ocular health, and more. These are extremely important to test for the school years ahead.

For older children and teenagers, myopia (nearsightedness) is one of the biggest concerns that comprehensive eye exams detect. Myopia affects the eye’s ability to see distant images clearly. It is important to identify and treat early with glasses or contacts as children and teens begin to learn in larger spaces, play sports, and drive.

Adult exams are recommended at least every two years, or as recommended by your eye care specialist. Exams for adults are necessary to catch eye conditions that can cause vision loss and even lead to blindness. Some of these conditions are cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

There are several other conditions that comprehensive eye exams can expose that may not be found without a visit to your optometrist.

Outside of eye exams, here are 5 ways you can help protect your vision:

  1. Healthy eating. You know this! Healthy eating helps every part of your body. For your eyes, make sure to add dark, leafy greens and seafood that is high in omega-3 fatty acids to your plate. A great excuse to treat yourself to sushi! We’re adding a spicy sake maki roll to our cart… for delivery. 
  2. Protective eyewear. Whether you’re chopping wood for the bonfire pit, mowing the lawn, painting your bedroom walls, or riding your motorcycle around town, protective eyewear is key. Blue-light protection glasses should also be considered to protect your eyes from all the time spent in front of computer screens.
  3. Sunglasses. Much like protective eyewear, sunglasses help protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation delivered by sun. Not all sunglasses provide the same level of protection. Let us help you pick the best pair!
  4. Clean hands. Wash your hands before putting your contacts in and before taking your contacts out, simply to avoid infection.
  5. Stop smoking. Smoking is known to cause several diseases, but it can also lead to vision loss. It can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and more. Mark your calendar for your comprehensive eye exam and mark it as the day to stop smoking.

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Happy healthy vision month! Get your appointment in the books with us today.

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.

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.