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Archive for July, 2012

Focus on Astigmatism

AstigmatismAstigmatism is a type of refractive error of the eye. It is not a disease of the eye. Rather, it is simply a problem with how the eye focuses light. Other types of common refractive errors include nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia). Frequently, astigmatism and nearsightedness or farsightedness affect one or both eyes simultaneously.

Clear and crisp vision is created by how different parts of the eye bend or refract light that passes through them. The process of refracting light to achieve perfect vision starts at the front part of the eye with the cornea. The process continues as light travels through the lens of the eye and ends with light properly focusing at a single point on the retina located at the back of the eye.

In an eye with astigmatism, there is an irregular shape of either the cornea or the lens of the eye. This irregularity makes it difficult to focus light precisely on the retina.  Instead, light comes to a focus either in front of the retina or behind the retina, resulting in distorted vision. Astigmatism usually will cause blurred vision in objects being viewed at both far distances in close proximity.

Corneal Astigmatism

The cornea is the clear, rounded-dome part of the eye covering the iris and the pupil. In a normal eye, the cornea is smooth and equally curved in all directions. As described above, this is essential for properly refracting light that enters the eye and creating clear vision. If the cornea has an irregular shape, it will not refract light properly. This type of astigmatism is called corneal astigmatism.

Lenticular Astigmatism

Just like with the cornea, the shape of the lens of the eye must be equally curved in all directions to correctly refract light and achieve perfect vision. If the lens has an abnormal shape, it will not bend light accurately. This type of astigmatism is referred to as lenticular astigmatism.

Correcting Astigmatism

Similar to nearsightedness and farsightedness, astigmatism can usually be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

In the past, rigid contact lenses could only be utilized for astigmatism. Now, special types of soft contact lenses called toric contact lenses are available for astigmatism.

The appropriate type of corrective lens used for the correction of astigmatism, whether eyeglasses, soft contact lenses or rigid contact lenses is typically determined by the severity of the astigmatism.

Surgery is also an option for some people to correct astigmatism, including laser eye surgery (LASIK).

Importance of Starting Regular Eye Exams Early in Life

Astigmatism usually causes vision to be distorted regardless of whether the object being viewed is close or far away.  The blurred vision from astigmatism may lead to squinting, eye strain and chronic headaches. For adults, these symptoms are easily identified. However, they may difficult for a child to recognize.

Astigmatism often occurs early in life. In fact, many people are born with it. Detecting astigmatism early is important for a child not only to identify and correct vision problems but also to help prevent other developmental issues.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends infants have their first eye exam conducted when they reach 6 months of age. Testing for astigmatism is one of the reasons why an eye exam is important so early in a child’s life.

Learn more about quality eye care and eye wear from a company and a team of eye care professionals who have been providing a superior level of service for more than 35 years. Please visit www.shawneeoptical.com.

Pink Eye vs. Red Eye

pink eye conjunctivitisPink eye is the common name for an eye condition called conjunctivitis. Pink eye is inflammation and irritation of the conjunctiva part of the eye. The conjunctiva is a thin membrane that covers the white part of the eyes and the eyelids.  The purpose of the conjunctiva is to keep the surface of your eyes moist and protected.

Usually, the tiny blood vessels contained within the conjunctiva are very difficult to see. However, conjunctivitis causes these blood vessels to expand and turn the white parts of the eyes red. Pink eye can develop in one or both eyes.

There are three primary types of conjunctivitis:

Viral Conjunctivitis

This is the most common type of pink eye and is contagious. The virus associated with viral conjunctivitis is the same virus which causes symptoms of a runny nose, sore throat and watery eyes that are prevalent with colds and flu.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

This type of pink eye is caused by bacterial infectionssuch as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus and is contagious. Bacterial conjunctivitis causes one or both eye to become red and may discharge mucus. Antibiotic eye drops are typically used to treat bacterial conjunctivitis.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

This type of conjunctivitis is caused by something that triggers an allergic reaction such as pollen or an irritant like smoke or fumes. Unlike other types of pink eye, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. This form of pink eye is characterized by redness, burning, itching, tearing and swollen eyelids. Antihistamines are often used to treat this type of conjunctivitis.

How You Can Get Pink Eye

As outlined above, viral conjunctivitis and bacterial conjunctivitis can be highly contagious. Pink eye can be contracted in a variety of ways including:

–         Failure to wash hands frequently. Then touching or rubbing eyes.

–         Use of a hand towel that has been used by somebody who has pink eye.

–         Use of cosmetics after they have been used by someone with pink eye.

–         Failure to clean contact lenses properly.

Children are particularly susceptible to pink eye given their close contact with other children in school, sports and other activities.

Red Eye

Red eye is a very general term that not only includes pink eye, but a wide variety of other eye conditions that cause redness in and around the eyes as well. While pink eye is a leading cause of red eye, other common causes of red eye include such things as:

–         Foreign objects in the eye.

–         Injuries to the eye.

–         Dry eyes or lack of tears.

–         Infections in or around the eyes.

Visit Your Eye Doctor

Regardless of whether the eye condition is pink eye or red eye, a visit to your eye doctor for proper diagnosis, treatment and guidance is important.

Learn more about quality eye care and eye wear from a company and a team of eye care professionals who have been providing a superior level of service for more than 35 years. Please visit www.shawneeoptical.com.

Do You Suffer From Dry Eye Syndrome?

When the eyes do not make enough tears, or tears begin to evaporate too quickly, dry eye syndrome occurs. This is usually a result of the oil glands becoming blocked or functioning abnormally. When this happens, your eyes can become dry, swollen, inflamed, and irritated. This is a condition that can soon become problematic, and it can prevent you from enjoying every day life as you should. If you feel that you are displaying the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, you should seek advice from an eye doctor.

Dry Eye Syndrome – The Symptoms

Depending on the nature of your condition, the symptoms of dry eye syndrome can range from mild to severe:

* Consistent feelings of dryness or grittiness that progressively worsen throughout the day.

* Bloodshot eyes.

* Eyelids that stick together when you wake up.

* Photophobia (sensitivity to light).

* Extremely red eyes.

* Extremely painful or irritated eyes.

* Blurred or deteriorating vision.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, they should not be ignored. Catching dry eye syndrome as the milder symptoms start to show will prevent you from developing severe ones. If you are displaying severe symptoms, this could be a sign that you have sustained damage to your cornea, which could permanently affect your vision.

Dry Eye Syndrome – Causes

The causes of dry eye syndrome can vary. While some people may develop it due to living in a very hot or windy climate, others may experience it as a result of aging. In addition to this, medications like antihistamines, antidepressants, beta-blockers, and diuretics can also cause dry eye syndrome. Certain medical conditions can cause dry eye syndrome; these include dermatitis, allergic conjunctivitis, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, shingles, Bell’s palsy, and HIV.

When dry eye syndrome does occur, it can come as a result of one or all parts of the eye’s tear production centers not functioning. This can include your lacrimal gland, your goblet cells, your eyelid, cornea, conjunctiva, and tear ducts. If one part of your lacrimal functioning unit does not function as it should, the others may fail to do so too.

Dry Eye Syndrome – Treatment

The treatment you will undergo for dry eye syndrome will depend on the severity of the problem. The most common way to treat this condition is through the use of lubricants, which can come in the form of eye drops, ointments, and gels. Although many of these are available without a prescription, the most effective ones can only be prescribed by an eye doctor.

If your eye doctor believes that your condition may be due to inflammation, you will be prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication. These can come in the form of steroid eye drop treatments, oral tetracyclines, or ciclosporing eye drops.

Sometimes it is the case that dry eye syndrome arises as a result of a complex underlying medical case. If this is the case, your eye doctor will assess and address the underlying cause of the disease. In extreme cases, surgery is needed to correct the parts of the eye that are not functioning as they should.

Regardless of the cause or severity of your condition, the sooner you seek treatment the better. Dry eye syndrome that is left untreated can rapidly worsen, and will become problematic. If you suspect you have the condition, contact an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Special thanks to Brighton Optical in Buffalo, NY for contributing this article.  Please visit the Brighton Optical website at www.brightonoptical.com and the Brighton Optical blog at www.blog.brightonoptical.com

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