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Archive for the ‘Eye Care’ Category

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

A Lazy Eye Can Be Motivated Again

lazy eye or amblyopiaLazy eye is the name commonly used for the eye condition known as amblyopia. Amblyopia is a development disorder where one of the eyes fails to achieve normal vision focus and acuity. Lazy eye begins during infancy and early childhood (usually before the age of 6).

Causes of Amblyopia

A common cause of amblyopia is a condition called strabismus. Strabismus is the inability of both eyes to maintain proper alignment and work together. When focusing on an object, one eye will look directly at the object while the other eye drifts inward, outward, upward or downward. Due to the misalignment of the eyes and to avoid double vision, the brain eventually ignores the images from the wandering eye. This leads to the development of amblyopia in that eye.  This type of amblyopia is called strabismic amblyopia.

Another cause of amblyopia is dissimilar refractive errors in the eyes. Unlike strabismus, both of the eyes may be perfectly aligned, but one of the eyes may have significant farsightedness, nearsightedness or astigmatism while the other eye does not. Like with strabismus, the brain will eventually ignore the blurred images from the eye with the highest degree of refractive error and rely entirely on the images from the other eye.  This leads to the development of a type of amblyopia called refractive amblyopia.

Treating a Lazy Eye     

The methods for treating amblyopia have a lot to do with the type of amplyopia. In some cases of refractive amblyopia, corrective lenses (eyeglasses or contacts) will restore normal vision. The lenses are specially ground with a prismatic effect, which helps draw the eye into better alignment.

The wearing of a patch over the dominate eye is frequently utilized to force and train the brain to accept input from the amblyopic eye. This develops the visual acuity of that eye.  The duration for wearing an eye patch varies. For some, the patch may be required a few hours each day for a period of weeks while for others, the patch may need to be worn all day long for a period of months. Given that amblyopia is a condition that typically affects young children, there are obviously challenges with getting a child to consistently wear a patch.

Vision therapy is also another important tool used to treat amblyopia. Vision therapy helps improve the alignment of the eyes and teaches the eyes to work together for clear vision.

Early Detection of Lazy Eye is Important

Treating amblyopia early leads to the best outcomes for restoring normal vision. The American Optometric Association recommends infants have an eye exam when they are 6 months old. Testing and detecting amblyopia is one of the reasons why an eye exam is suggested so early in 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.

Learn About Double Vision Double Vision

Double visionDouble vision, or diplopia, is exactly what the name suggests. It’s a condition that causes you to see two images of the same object. The duplicate images may be seen horizontally, vertically or diagonally in relation to one another.

It’s important to understand the basics about diplopia and what double vision may be telling you about your overall health.

Types of Double Vision

There are two types of double vision. Monocular diplopia is double vision that occurs in only one eye. The double vision will not subside when the other eye is covered. Binocular diplopia is double vision that is related to both eyes.  The double vision will stop when one of the eyes is covered.

Causes of Monocular Diplopia

Monocular diplopia can be caused by a variety of eye conditions including:

  1. Astigmatism:  An abnormal curvature of the front surface of the cornea.
  2. Dry Eye:  Insufficient tears are produced to lubricate the eye.
  3. Cataracts: The lens of the eye becomes cloudy and less transparent.
  4. Swelling of the Eyelid:  Swelling in the eyelid may assert pressure on the eye.
  5. Keratoconus: The cornea of the eye becomes thin and cone-shaped.
  6. Pterygium:  The mucous membrane that lines the whites of the eye and under surface of the eyelids (known as conjunctiva) becomes thick.
  7. Dislocated Lens: Ligaments that secure the lens in place are damaged or broken causing the lens to wiggle.

Causes of Binocular Diplopia

Typically, any problem affecting the muscles around the eye that control the direction of your vision (known as extraocular muscles) can lead to double vision. Conditions causing double vision may include:

  1. Diabetes:  This disease can affect the nerves that control movement of the extraocular muscles.
  2. Myasthenia Gravis:  A neuromuscular condition which causes muscles to weaken and tire easily.
  3. Graves’ Disease:  This disease causes the thyroid gland to become overactive and produce too many hormones. As a result, swelling may occur in the muscles that control eye movement.
  4. Strabismus:  This condition is commonly referred to as “cross eye” or “wandering eye”. It’s a condition where the eyes deviate or turn when looking at an object.
  5. Trauma to Eye Muscles:  The muscles that control eye movement can be damaged by some sort of trauma to your face such as being hit in the face with an object or a punch.    

 

Visit Your Eye Doctor

Double vision can be a signal for a variety of conditions outlined above and many other health problems not listed here. If you or a member of your family experience double vision, it’s important to see your eye doctor. Usually, the double vision can be treated by correcting or managing its cause.

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.

A Few Tips for Protecting Your Family’s Eyes This Summer

Eye Protection for SummerSummertime brings with it a number of potential hazards for every member of your family’s eye health. From excessive sun exposure to chemicals in swimming pools to projectiles from lawn mowers, special consideration should be given to each summer activity with regards to eye protection and eye health.

Here are a few tips for safe-guarding the eyes of every member of your family this summer:

Wear a Hat and Sunglasses

Sun bathing in your back yard, boating on Lake Erie, spending the day at your county fair or experiencing the thrills of the roller coasters at Cedar Point all bring with them the potential for over exposure to the sun’s powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays.  Too many UV rays can cause a variety of eye problems from burned corneas to accelerating the development of cataracts.

Putting on a hat with a visor and wearing a good pair of sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays can save you from painful eye problems and distorted vision both now and in the future.  Make sure every member of the family wears a hat and proper sunglasses from the youngest child to mom and dad.

Wear Safety Goggles

Mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, building a bird house or sawing wood for the camp fire all have great potential for generating projectiles that could damage someone’s eye.  Before starting any of these activities, invest in a quality pair of safety goggles that are specifically made to protect your eyes during these types of projects. Sunglasses or your regular eyeglasses probably don’t provide the protection you need in these situations. Anyone who is helping or in the vicinity when these activities are being performed should be wearing safety goggles too.

Avoid Strong Chemicals

Swimming in a pool with too much chlorine or other chemicals can lead to red eyes, burning eyes and dry eyes.  These eye conditions can all be very uncomfortable and irritating. If your eyes start to sting or hurt when swimming, simply get out of the pool and rinse your eyes with clean water. Then, don’t go back in the pool unless the chemicals have been balanced. If burning or irritation of the eyes persists for more than a few hours, you should contact your eye doctor.

Get Eyes Examined and Talk to Your Eye Doctor

Summer is a great time to get caught up on eye exams for every member of the family. While at your eye exam, talk to your eye doctor about your family’s summertime activities and what he or she recommends to protect each family member’s precious vision.

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.

Keratoconus Awareness

Keratoconus Keratoconus is an eye disease in which the normally round cornea becomes thin and starts to bulge into a cone-like shape.  When this happens, light entering the eye is abnormally refracted. When the altered light reaches the retina, the result is distorted vision.

As the cornea becomes irregular in shape, it causes nearsightedness and astigmatism to develop and progress. It may also lead to light sensitivity.

Keratoconus can affect one or both eyes. When keratoconus impacts both eyes, the deterioration in vision can make it difficult to perform daily tasks such as driving and reading normal size print.

Keratoconus typically begins in the teen-age years or early 20s and progresses over time, usually reaching its peak by the age of 40.  On average, this eye condition affects one in every one thousand people. It is more prevalent in males.

What Causes Keratoconus?

While the exact cause of keratoconus has not been specifically identified, research indicates keratoconus may be linked to an imbalance of enzymes within the cornea. This imbalance causes the cornea to weaken and bulge into a cone-like shape.  The occurrence of an enzyme imbalance within the cornea may be genetic; it may be a result of the environment; or it may be a combination of both.

Keratoconus is also associated with overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, excessive eye rubbing and chronic eye irritation.

Treating Keratoconus

With the early stages of keratoconus, eyeglasses or soft contact lenses often provide adequate vision correction.  As the eye condition advances into more advanced stages, rigid, gas-permeable contact lenses (RGP lenses) may be used to restore clear vision.

There are also many types of contact lenses which have been engineered specifically for keratoconus. These types of lenses are typically a blend of both soft and hard contact lenses.

In 10% to 25% of people with this eye condition, keratoconus will advance to the point where corrective lenses (either eyeglasses or contact lenses) are no longer effective.  At this point, surgery becomes necessary.

There are a variety of surgical procedures to treat keratoconus including: placing corneal inserts just under the surface of the eye; procedures for strengthening the cornea; surgical techniques for re-shaping the cornea and; corneal transplants.

Regular Eye Examinations and Advancements with Keratoconus

Eye examinations conducted on a regular basis are a very important part of maintaining optimal eye health and clear vision.  Diagnosing eye conditions like keratoconus early helps you and your eye doctor work together to develop the right treatment plan specifically for you and your needs.

Visiting your eye doctor regularly also provides you with access to the latest advancements in keratoconus research and treatment.  Much work is being done studying this eye condition. Many new tools and techniques are emerging to treat it.  Your eye doctor is a tremendous resource for gaining knowledge about these advancements and how they can help you.

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.

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