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All About Vision

Photophobia

All types of light, ranging from interior lighting fixtures to streetlights and to the bright rays of the sun, have the potential to cause eye discomfort or pain. Photophobia refers to this ocular sensitivity to light.

An eye irritation or infection may cause photophobia. Other culprits include albinism, migraines, recent eye surgery or a variety of vision problems. In rare incidences, a congenital disease or certain medications may increase your sensitivity to light. The retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye, is responsible for processing images. Treatment for photophobia involves treating the underlying cause that is disturbing the retina.

With light-sensitivity, the retina sends signals to the brain that are interpreted as discomfort or pain. The level of discomfort is in direct proportion with the strength of the light source, and it doesn’t matter if the light is man-made or natural.

Signs of Photophobia

When exposed to bright light, symptoms of itching, burning, wincing and squinting may all be experienced. Excessive tear production is another sign of photophobia.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suffer from light-sensitivity, you should schedule a consultation with your eye care professional.

People with lighter-colored eyes generally have more of a tendency towards photophobia, and intense light is likely to bother them. If you have light eyes, the lower quantity of pigment is less efficient at diffusing the light beams.

Photophobia may be temporary, or it can appear as a permanent side-effect of an underlying eye condition. The only way to treat photophobia is therefore to get to the root of the problem with a comprehensive eye exam. It’s important to mention any current medications to your eye doctor, as they may be associated with photophobia.

Treatment of Macular Degeneration

While there is no cure for macular degeneration, treatments do exist that can delay the progression of the disease, preserve existing vision and sometimes even improve vision loss.

Currently, there are no approved treatments to prevent or cure dry AMD, although there is evidence that indicates that certain nutritional supplements, including omega 3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin, can prevent the progression of the disease to the more advanced wet form, which can cause more severe vision loss.

There are a couple of options for treating wet AMD to slow the progression of vision loss which include medicated injections and laser therapy. These therapies are designed to stop the development of new blood vessels, to destroy existing ones and to prevent leakage into the macula – the main dangers with wet AMD.

Unfortunately, while much research continues to be conducted, currently there is no treatment and no way to fully regain vision lost by AMD. Those who have suffered significant vision loss can benefit from the many low vision devices on the market which utilize your existing vision to assist in maintaining your independence. Such devices include standing and hand-held magnifiers and telescopes and other aides that can help to improve your vision.

If you have been diagnosed with AMD, regular vision tests are essential. Close monitoring and adherence to treatment can not only prevent further vision deterioration but can sometimes even improve vision.

Polycarbonate Lenses

Polycarbonate progressive lenses are high index lenses that are known primarily for their exceptional impact resistance and anti-scratch coating. If you or your children are always bumping, scratching or dropping your eyeglasses, this is the material for you. Up to 10 times more impact resistant than standard plastic eyeglass lenses, polycarbonate is a first-rate option for people with an active lifestyle. Developed in the 1970s, polycarbonate has been protecting eyes for quite a while.

Superb Eye Safety

If you regularly engage in sports or physical activity, these tough, durable lenses provide an extra degree of safety for your eyes. In fact, most protective eye gear and sports goggles are made from polycarbonate lenses, even when no vision prescription is needed. In addition, polycarbonate boasts built-in protection from the sun’s UV rays, making this an ideal lens material for time spent outdoors.

Lightweight

The refractive index of polycarbonate lenses is 1.59, which results in a lens that’s 20% to 25% thinner than common plastic lenses. Weighing in at 30% lighter than regular lenses, polycarbonate takes a load off the bridge of your nose!

Trivex Lenses

Developed in 2001, Trivex lenses are constructed from a newer plastic that shares many properties with polycarbonate. While also thin, scratch-resistant, highly impact-resistant and lightweight, Trivex lenses may be slightly thicker than polycarbonate lenses. For some vision prescriptions, they may provide a better visual clarity and more scratch resistance than polycarbonate lenses.

Astigmatism

Many people have never heard of astigmatism, although it is an extremely common eye condition.

Astigmatism is one type of refractive error. Nearsightedness and farsightedness are other types of refractive error. Refractive errors are not eye diseases. Refractive error is a result of and imperfection of the size and shape of the eye, which results in blurry or double vision.

If left untreated, astigmatism may cause eyestrain, headaches, and blurry vision. If you have astigmatism you may not see objects in the distance or near without some form of distortion.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Small amounts of astigmatism can go unnoticed, however, you may be suffering from eye fatigue, eyestrain, and headaches.

Astigmatism is a condition that usually can develops early in childhood. According to a study from The Ohio State University School of Optometry, 28% of school age children suffer from astigmatism. Parents should be aware that their children might not notice that their vision is blurry, not understanding that this is not normal. Nevertheless, astigmatism should be treated because vision problems can lead to learning problems and in extracurricular activities. Make sure to have your child’s eyes examined at an eye doctor’s office at least once a year.

Causes of Astigmatism

Astigmatism is generally caused by a cornea with an irregular shape. The cornea is the front, clear layer of the eye. With astigmatism, the cornea is not round and spherical and is instead irregular having two curves instead of one curve. Astigmatism in some cases could also be caused by the lens located inside the eye that is irregular in shape.

Eyes with astigmatism distort the light that comes into the eyes because the cornea is irregularly shaped. This causes the light rays entering the eye to create two images in the back of the eye (because of the two curves), instead of one image. This is what causes the distortion in sight.

Treatments for Astigmatism

For most people, their astigmatism is fully corrected using prescription glasses or contact lenses. If you select contact lenses to correct your vision, soft contact lenses are the most common option. If for whatever reason soft contact lenses are not an option, rigid gas permeable (RGP or GP) are also a great choice. Rigid gas permeable lenses usually give the clearest vision but the adaptation process will be significantly longer. Another option are hybrid contact lenses. These contacts have a center made from a rigid gas permeable (RGP) lens and an outer ring made of soft contact lens material. This type of lens provides both excellent clarity and comfort. LASIK could be another option to correct astigmatism. LASIK usually only corrects low levels of astigmatism and some patients with higher levels of astigmatism might not be candidates.

Computer Eyestrain

Digital eye strain is an increasingly common condition as digital devices become more ingrained into our daily lives. Digital eye strain, eye fatigue and computer vision syndrome (CVS) are conditions that result from extended exposure to digital screens such as computers, smartphones, tablets and televisions from a combination of factors including the blue light radiation emitted from the devices and the pixelated content that is difficult for our eyes to focus on.

Symptoms of computer or digital eyestrain tend to be noticed after someone has used a digital device for as little as 2 hours a day. Studies show that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device and 70% of adults report some symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) which include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sensitivity to light or
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain (caused by compromised posture to adjust to vision difficulty).

Digital eye strain also impacts your ability to focus and lessens productivity. Most people do nothing to ease their discomfort from these symptoms because they are not aware of the cause.

Protecting Your Eyes from Digital Eye Strain and Blue Light

There are a number of options for reducing digital eye strain and your exposure to blue light which include workspace ergonomics, computer glasses, specialized lenses and protective coatings. The first step is to get a comprehensive eye exam, making sure you speak to your eye doctor about how often you use a computer and digital device. This will help your doctor to get the full picture of your eye and vision needs in order to determine which option is best for you. It was also help the doctor to identify any underlying issues that could be worsening your symptoms.

Alleviating Digital EyeStrain

Workspace Alterations

Proper Lighting and Screen Brightness: You want the screen to be as bright as the surrounding environment or the brightest object in the room (depending on what is most comfortable for you). Therefore interior lighting or sunlight from the outdoors should be dimmed or blocked. Use fewer light fixtures or lower voltage light bulbs and close curtains or blinds when possible. Adjust the brightness and contrast of your monitor to the levels that are most comfortable.

Reduce Glare: Glare is a significant cause of computer eyestrain so it is important to minimize it as much as possible. Set up your computer where glare from windows won’t affect your screen or cover windows when this is not possible. Glare can also reflect from walls and shiny finishes on desks and other surfaces. An anti-glare screen on your monitor or an anti-reflective (AR) or anti-glare coating applied to your eyewear can also help to minimize glare and the strain it causes to your vision.

Screen size and distance: You want to make sure you are using a high quality (such as a flat LCD) screen that has a relatively large display (look for a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches) and is located directly in front of your line of vision. Your viewing distance should be about an arm’s length away with the top of the monitor at about eye level or slightly below.

Eye Care

Keep Eyes Moist: When viewing a digital screen or monitor for an extended period of time, we tend to blink less frequently (about ⅓ as often as we should). Blinking however, is critical for keeping the eyes moist, which allows them to remain clear and comfortable and to avoid dry eyes, irritation, blurry vision or eye fatigue.

Focus on blinking by setting a timer for every 20 minutes and slowly closing and opening your eyes 10 times. Keep a bottle of artificial tears handy to use when your eyes are feeling dry.

Give Your Eyes a Break: Schedule and take frequent breaks from your screen. Follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Take this time to stand up and stretch your back, neck and legs as well.

Computer Eyewear

Computer glasses reduce eye strain by adjusting the focus slightly so your eyes feel like they are focusing on something further away. They also have a tint to remove the glare and block blue light from entering into your eyes. There are a number of options for computer eyewear, both if you need prescription eyewear and not. Speak to your eye doctor about what the best options are for you.
Learn more about computer glasses here.

It is important to know that both adults and children alike are susceptible to computer eye strain from computers and digital devices. With the growing use of such devices in our everyday lives it is important to start educating ourselves and our children on how to combat the negative effects of these habits.

Occupational Bifocal and Trifocals

Occupational bifocals and trifocals are specialized multifocal lenses created for specific jobs, hobbies or tasks. They are designed for people – generally over 40 – who have developed presbyopia, a condition in which the lens of the eye weakens and it becomes difficult to see objects that are close up. They differ from regular multifocal lenses in that the magnified power areas to see close and intermediate objects are typically larger and positioned in a different area on the lens, according to needs of the designated task.

Occupational bifocal and trifocal lenses are intended for specific tasks and not for everyday use. Here are a few examples:

Double-D Lenses

The most popular type of occupational lens is the Double-D lens. The lens is divided into three segments, with the top designed for intermediate vision, the bottom segment for near vision and the rest for distance. This design is ideal for people who need to see close both when looking down (to read something) and when looking overhead. Professionals that frequently use Double-D lenses are auto mechanics (who have to look overhead when under a car), librarians, clerks or office workers, (who have to look at shelves overhead) or electricians (that are often involved in close work on a ceiling). They are called Double-D lenses because the intermediate and near segments of the lens are shaped like the letter “D”.

E-D Trifocal Lenses

As opposed to Double-D lenses which have the majority of the lens for distance vision, E-D lenses focus on intermediate vision with an area for distance on the top and for near vision on the bottom. These are ideal for individuals who are working at about an arm’s-length away the majority of the time, such as on a multiple computer or television screens, but frequently need to look up into the distance or close to read something. The “E” in the name stands for “Executive Style” which represents the division between the top distance vision lens and the bottom intermediate vision lens which goes all the way across the lens. “D” in the name of the lens is due to the fact that the near section in the bottom of the lens is shaped like a “D”.

Office or Computer Glasses

Multifocal lenses designed for office work provides the largest section with an intermediate lens designated for viewing the computer screen and a smaller area for limited distance vision. You can have progressive or trifocal lenses that incorporate near vision as well.

Golf Bifocals

That’s right, there are even specialized lenses made for golfers! Golfers need to see a wide range of distances during their game from their scorecard, to their ball on the tee, to hole far away to line up their drive. In these lenses, the close segment is small and placed on an outer corner of one lens, to allow for brief close vision but not interfere with the distance game. Usually, right handed golfers will have the lens on the right side and vice versa.

Personalized Lenses

Standard multifocals can be redesigned to adapt to specific tasks or hobbies simply by changing the size, shape or location of the different segments. Many adults over 40 would benefit from having multiple pairs of multifocals to give optimal vision for different tasks or hobbies they enjoy. Note that occupational lenses are made specifically for the task they are designed for and should not be worn full-time, especially while driving.

Controlling Nearsightedness in Children

Childhood myopia or nearsightedness is a common condition that causes blurred distance vision and can usually be easily corrected with either glasses or contact lenses. Unfortunately, simply getting a pair of glasses doesn’t always solve the problem, because often myopia is progressive which means that every year the vision gets worse. This usually continues until sometime around the child’s 20th birthday when his eyes stop growing and eyesight levels off.

It can be worrisome and quite disconcerting for both the parent and the child when each visit to the eye doctor results in a higher prescription. There could be a number of factors involved in progressive myopia, involving hereditary factors as well as possible environmental or behavioral factor such as frequent close-up tasks such as reading or using an electronic device. In fact, studies show that children that spend more time outdoors playing have a lower incidence of myopia. Much research is currently being done into treatments for slowing or stopping myopia progression in children. Here are some of the treatment options currently being offered:

Orthokeratology (Ortho-k)

Ortho-k is a process that uses specially designed rigid gas permeable contact lenses worn at night to gently reshape the cornea, eventually allowing clear vision during the day. The lenses are worn every night or every couple of nights depending on the results of the individual. Ideal for mild to moderate myopia, ortho-k usually takes a few weeks to show results, during which time the patient may need to temporarily continue wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Studies show that the use of ortho-k can permanently reduce the progressive lengthening of the cornea which is responsible for nearsightedness and can therefore slow or stop the childhood progression of the condition. Therefore, in addition to being used for myopia correction, it is now also being offered as a therapeutic treatment to halt myopia progression in children.

Multifocal Eyeglasses or Contact Lenses

Bifocal or multifocal soft contact lenses or glasses have been shown in some studies to slow myopia progression. This therapy is based on the idea that the eye is strained from accommodating to see close up and that by providing multiple focusing powers, this allows the eye to relax when doing near work, which reduces the progression of the refractive error. This treatment has been shown to delay or slow the advancement of myopia in some children.

Atropine Drops

Treatment with atropine drops is another therapy that is used to relax the eye from “focusing fatigue” which may be a culprit in myopia progression. Research is still being done but some studies show that daily use of low doses of atropine drops do slow the progression of myopia. Atropine drops dilate the pupil which temporarily prevents the eye from being able to focus, thereby allowing this mechanism to relax. Research is still being done to determine dosages, but the results are promising.

If your child has progressive myopia, seek out a pediatric optometrist who is knowledgeable about the options available. Finding the right treatment could give your child the gift of better eyesight for life.

Ocular Hypertension

The term Ocular Hypertension refers to higher than normal pressure in one or both eyes. When the intraocular pressure (IOP) in your eye is higher than normal it can cause nerve damage and vision loss if an eye disease like glaucoma goes untreated.

Ocular Hypertension on its own does not mean you will definitely develop glaucoma, but it does make you a “glaucoma suspect” Having a diagnosis of Ocular Hypertension does mean that more eye health evaluations will be required to monitor and regulate your intraocular pressure.

Studies estimate that about 2% to 3% of the general population may have ocular hypertension.

Signs and Symptoms of Ocular Hypertension

There are no apparent signs such as eye redness or pain associated with ocular hypertension. That is why it’s so important to see your eye doctor for regular eye health evaluations.

Eye care professionals determine the intraocular pressure (IOP), the fluid pressure inside your eye, with a device called a tonometer. They may numb your eye first with eye drops before using a small probe that gently rests against your eye’s surface. Another type of tonometer utilizes a puff of air directed onto your eye’s surface. This method does not require numbing drops.

There are two primary mechanisms that can cause ocular hypertension. Either inadequate drainage or excessive production of aqueous fluid may cause the intraocular pressure (IOP) to become elevated.

Ocular Hypertension Treatment

People with elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) are thought to be at risk for the development of glaucoma. If there are additional risk factors including family history, diabetes or hypertension, or being of African or Hispanic heritage, doctors will often consider prescribing medications to lower the pressure to prevent any vision loss.

The price of eye drops can be costly in some cases, and they may occasionally cause some adverse side effects. Your eye care professional will consider many factors before deciding to either monitor your IOP more often, or to prescribe ocular hypotensive medications if s/he detects that you may be developing glaucoma.

Since ocular hypertension and glaucoma have no obvious symptoms until vision has been lost, regular eye health examinations with IOP measurements are recommended, especially if you have a family history of glaucoma or any of the other risk factors for developing the disease

Symptoms & Risk Factors of Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration can cause low vision and debilitating vision loss, even blindness if not diagnosed and treated in the early stages. Because the disease often has no obvious symptoms early on, it is critical to have regular comprehensive eye exams, particularly if you are at risk.

Symptoms of AMD

Macular degeneration is a disease in which the macula slowly breaks down, resulting in a gradual progressive vision loss, at least in its’ early stages. Frequently there are no symptoms and the disease is only diagnosed when a doctor detects signs such as a thinning macula or the presence of drusen in a comprehensive eye examination. Early vision loss can include blurry, cloudy or distorted central vision or dark spots in your central field of view. With advanced stages, vision loss can be severe and sudden with larger blind spots and total loss of central vision.

Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

Age is the most prominent risk factor for AMD, as the disease is most common in individuals over the age of 60 (although it can happen in younger individuals as well). Other risk factors can increase your chances of developing the disease such as:

  • Genetics and Family History: Research shows that there are actually almost 20 genes that have been linked to AMD, and they suspect that there are many more genetic factors to be discovered. Family history greatly increases your chances of developing AMD.
  • Race: Caucasians are more likely to get AMD than Hispanics or African-Americans.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoking can double your likelihood of developing AMD.
  • Lifestyle: Research shows that UV exposure, poor nutrition, high blood pressure, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle can also be contributing factors.
  • Gender: Females have a higher incidence of AMD than males.
  • Medications: Certain medications may increase the chances of developing AMD.

To reduce your risks of developing AMD it is recommended to make healthy choices such as:

    • Regular eye exams; once a year especially if you are 50 or over.
    • Stop smoking.
    • Know your family history and inform your eye doctor.

 

  • Proper nutrition and regular exercise: Research indicates that a healthy diet rich in “Eyefoods” with key nutrients for the eyes such as orange peppers, kale and spinach as well as regular exercise may reduce your risks or slow the progression of AMD.
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
  • Dietary supplements: Studies by the National Eye Institute called AREDs and ARED2 indicated that a high dosage of supplements of zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and lutein may slow the progression of advanced dry AMD (it is not recommended for those without AMD or early AMD). Speak to a doctor before taking these supplements because there may be associated risks involved.
  • Wear 99% -100% UV-blocking sunglasses.

 

The first step to eye health is awareness. By knowing your risk, taking preventative measures and visiting your eye doctor on a regular basis, you can greatly reduce your chances of facing this debilitating disease.

Performance and Sport Sunglasses

Performance and Sport Sunglasses ThumbnailWhether you are out on the field, the golf course, the waves or the mountains, you want your sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and enhance your visual experience. Sports and performance sunglasses are more than sun protection, they need to be designed for optimal, fit, comfort, acuity and strength, based on the demands of the sport or leisure activity you pursue.

Each element of your sports eyewear needs to be designed for active wear and to stand up to the tests of extreme weather conditions, rough play, impact and of course the sun. If you are fishing for example, you need anti-glare protection in your lenses for when the sun’s bright rays reflect off the water, you need a broad frame to keep out the mist and wind and you need strong frames and lenses for impact resistance. Most importantly, depending on your sport of choice, your glasses should assist in creating an enhanced visual experience so you can see and perform at your best.

Performance Sport Lenses

The first consideration when selecting your sports eyewear is the lens. You likely want a lightweight, strong and durable lens that can withstand impact from debris, other athletes, balls or falls. The leading lenses in this arena are polycarbonate or trivex lenses which are made from highly impact resistant plastic that has built-in UV protection.

Glare can be an annoying and uncomfortable distraction in outdoor activities, which can reduce vision and have a negative impact on sports performance. Polarized lenses will help to reduce the glare that is reflected off of wet, icy or shiny surfaces. Lens tints and coatings (such as anti-glare or anti-scratch coatings) can also help to improve visual clarity and can serve to reduce glare and to enhance contrast sensitivity to improve vision and therefore performance in certain outdoor activities. Some sports sunglasses come with interchangeable lenses of different tints to allow you to choose the contrast that most suits the conditions you are playing in.

Sport Frames

When selecting sports sunglass frames, the most important consideration is whether they have a comfortable and secure fit. Look for a pair that is strong and durable, yet lightweight and that doesn’t press into your face and cause discomfort at the temples or the bridge of the nose. For some sports like snowboarding, sports goggles might be the best option for the weather conditions and specific nature of the movement. Some frame options come with grips on the nose pads or temples to avoid slippage, particularly when you perspire.

Sports sunglasses are available in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes and the type that is best for you largely depends on the activities you participate in and what they demand. It is best to consult with your eye doctor or optician to get a full picture of your eye, vision and athletic needs in order to find the best pair of sports sunglasses for you.

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