Summer’s Here, Protect Your Eyes in the Pool!

Having fun at the pool or exercising and doing water aerobics this summer can be a great way to cool off from the heat. Chlorine and Saline do a great job keeping the water clean, but it can also be hard on your eyes.

Pools Are Tough On The Tear Film

Chemicals in pool water wash away the tear film, a thin layer that coats the surface of our eyes. This tear film keeps our eyes moist, smooth, and clear. Chlorine and other chemicals used to keep pool water clean can wash away the moist layer of the tear film, leaving eyes uncomfortable and red. Without fully functioning tear film protection, eyes are exposed to harmful pool chemicals and lingering bacteria. Chlorine itself can cause a reaction, leaving the surface and edges of your eyes red, itchy, watery, and uncomfortable. The bacteria that survive the chlorine can lead to an eye infection, such as pink eye (conjunctivitis).

How to Protect Your Eyes While Having Fun At The Pool  

  • The best way to keep eye infections away while swimming is to wear goggles whenever possible. Choose a pair that is the right size for you and forms a protective seal over your eyes.
  • Chlorine and Saline play a role in disinfecting swimming pools. Failure to achieve the right balance can lead to eye irritation with burning, stinging, dryness, and redness. Another reason why protecting your eyes with goggles is so essential. The optimal pH balance for a swimming pool is approximately 7.4, which matches that of the eyes.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes when you are outside but most importantly around a pool from overexposure to UV rays and discomfort from intense light.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water for your overall health and to keep your eye film healthy.
  • If you are a contact wearer, ditch the lenses. Wearing contact lenses in any type of water, including a pool, hot tub, ocean, or lake—puts you at high risk for corneal infection. Bacteria can grow on the lenses even after just one swim!

If, after a long day at the pool, your once clear view of a fun summer day becomes blurry or foggy. Flush your eyes with a cool eye rinse, or try saline eye drops for quick relief. Don’t forget to add the eye drops to your list of must-haves for your beach bag this season! 

 

References:

American Academy of Ophthalmology

Summer is Here, Protect your Eyes!

Summer has finally arrived, and the sun is brightly shining with warm temperatures. It is a perfect time to bring awareness and get sun-smart about UV Safety Awareness Month. 

Here are some Sun Smart UV Safety Tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology to prepare and protect your eyes: 

  • 47% of sunglasses wearers do not check UV ratings before making a purchase. Always buy sunglasses labeled “UV400” or “100% UV Protection.” 
  • Some medications and medical conditions can make people more photosensitive or vulnerable to UV damage, such as antibiotics, antifungals, antihistamines, cholesterol-lowering drugs, diuretics, or retinoids. If you have questions about your medications and the possibility of photosensitivity, talk with your doctor. 
  • Listed are results from an online survey conducted on behalf of the American Academy of Ophthalmology where a percentage of people do not believe the cause of photosensitivity: 

– 82% – Retin-A skin creams 

– 72% – Antibiotics 

– 71% – Cataracts 

– 71% – Light-colored eyes (e.g.,blue or green) 

  • Protect the kids! 74% of parents make their children wear sunscreen, and only 32% make their children wear UV-protected sunglasses. 
  • Interestingly, 83% agree that you should wear sunglasses when overcast, but only 17% do! Make sure to wear your sunglasses on cloudy days.  
  • Protect yourself with UV-blocking glasses and a hat! Some studies show UV rays may be related to the following: 

– Pterygium (a growth on the eye, often called surfer’s eye) 

– Photokeratitis (temporary sun blindness – sunburned eye) 

– Eye Cancer (uveal melanoma)

– Cataract (clouding of the lens that causes blindness) 

 

Sunny Days Are Good For Your Health

Healthy exposure to sunlight can have positive effects, as long as you protect your eyes from UV rays. A little exposure to natural light every day helps you sleep well. The light-sensitive cells in our eyes play an essential role in our body’s natural sleep-wake cycles. Spending time outdoors in the daylight is also a great benefit to your kids can help prevent nearsightedness in kids. Have fun and enjoy the warm summer weather safely; don’t forget the sunglasses and hats for everyone! 

 

References: American Academy of Ophthalmology

 

What Is A Detached Retina?

 

What is A Detached Retina?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a detached retina is when the retina lifts away from the back of the eye, like wallpaper peeling off the wall.

SYMPTOMS IN DETAIL

When the retina is detached from the back wall of the eye, it is separated from its blood supply and no longer functions properly. The typical symptoms of a retinal detachment include:

  • Floaters – These can look like specs, lines, or cobwebs in your field of vision.
  • Flashing lights – Some people say this is like seeing stars after being hit in the eye.
  • A shadow in the peripheral (side) vision that can be stationary (non-moving) or progress toward, and involve, the center of vision.
  • A gray curtain is covering part of your field of vision.

In other cases of retinal detachment, some may not be aware of any changes in their vision. The severity of the symptoms is often related to the extent of the detachment.

 

What Causes A Detached Retina?

Many things can cause a detached retina, and your eye doctor can inform you if you are more at risk than others for the condition. The most common risk factor for retinal detachment is age. Most people who experience retinal detachment are over the age of 40. However, retinal detachment can occur at any age if you sustain blunt force trauma or people who have diabetes are prone to developing retinal detachment. Also, individuals with severe nearsightedness or close family members who have experienced a retinal detachment are at risk of developing a detached retina. 

Retinal Detachment Vision Simulator

Your Eye Health Is Our Top Priority!

If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, the most critical step you can take is to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to ensure proper diagnosis and management.

 

References: American Academy of Ophthalmology and American Society of Retina Specialists

Cataract Awareness Month

Prevent Blindness has declared the month of June as Cataract Awareness Month. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, nearly 25.7 million Americans over 40 have cataracts, and the number will likely increase to 45.6 million by 2050. In support of Cataract Awareness Month, we offer a few tips for those diagnosed with cataracts as they consider having surgery to remove cataracts. 

 

Thinking of cataract surgery can be intimidating. The procedure itself is the most common elective surgery among Medicare beneficiaries in the United States. Multiple studies have shown its association with improved quality of life, reduced risk of falling, and fewer car crashes. 

 

For patients who feel interference in their daily lives by their blurry or dulled vision, the procedure can significantly benefit their quality of life. Here are three questions from the American Academy of Ophthalmology to help determine if they are ready for cataract surgery? 

 

Are your cataracts impacting your daily activities? 

Symptoms of cataracts include blurry, dim, double vision in a single eye or yellowed vision. The lack of contrast and clarity can be difficult for driving, reading, cooking, or work. 

 

Are your cataracts affecting your ability to drive safely at night?

Cataracts can cause halos around lights and difficulty seeing in low-light settings, impacting driving at night safely. Advanced cataracts can even generate enough vision loss to fail the vision test required for a driver’s license.

 

 

Are your cataracts interfering with the outdoor activities you enjoy?

Cataracts can also increase sensitivity to glare, which can be especially troublesome for those who enjoy skiing, surfing, and other outdoor activities. They can also cause visual differences from one eye to the other, affecting the distance vision golfers need.

Cataract surgery is only recommended when the outcome is expected to improve vision unless cataracts obscure treatments for other eye diseases. Those considering cataract surgery should discuss how cataracts are affecting their daily lives with your eye doctor. 

 

We Are Available To Help You With The Decision-Making Process 

You are not alone! Our practice is available to help you make these decisions before you proceed with cataract surgery. We want our patients to be fully informed and comfortable with the timing and details of this procedure. Call today to schedule a comprehensive assessment of your eyes and a detailed discussion about your cataract surgery options. 

References: Prevent Blindness and American Academy of Ophthalmology

How to Handle an Eye Emergency

 

Whether we are playing a sport, cleaning the house using chemical agents, or just opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate a special moment in life – every day, our eyes are exposed to many dangers. The curved shape of the eye protects the eye, and it can also be the target of trauma. All it takes is just a quick accident for the eye to be injured.

What Is An Eye Emergency?

An eye emergency can happen due to a shock, a foreign object, or a chemical product; the emergency of the eye is always to be taken seriously. A consultation with your eye doctor is always necessary, being that pain alone is not always enough to assess the urgency.

What Are Some Causes Of An Eye Emergency?

  1. Cuts and Scratches: Rubbing the eye with a foreign object or getting poked in the eye with a sharp object results in scratches or cuts.
  2. Chemical Injury To The Eye: Liquids, chemical powders, aerosol, or gases can enter the eye during daily activities and, if not treated, can affect vision.
  3. A Foreign Object In The Eye: The eye is exposed to foreign objects at work and play. Sharp particles that include metal, wood, or fragments of a tool can enter the eye and cause an eye emergency.
  4. Trauma: A sports injury to the eye or around the eye can cause bleeding under the skin (a black eye), damage to the bony eye socket, or damage to the eye itself.

First Aid For Eye Injuries

Keep yourself and the person with the injury calm and don’t panic! Here are a few steps before you reach out to your eye doctor or seek emergency care:

Chemical Burns and Splashes In The Eye:

  1. Tilt the person’s face down and sideways. Flush the eye with fresh water.
  2. If both eyes are affected, hold the person’s face under a sink or shower to flush both eyes.
  3. Allow the running water to rinse the eye(s) for 15-20 minutes.
  4. If the person is wearing contact lenses, try removing the contact lens after rinsing the chemical out from the eye(s).
  5. Look for information on the chemical that got into the eye as some chemicals cause more eye damage than others.
  6. Seek emergency medical treatment right away!

If Your Eye Has Been Cut or Punctured

  • Gently place a shield (protective cover) over the eye. The bottom of a paper cup taped to the bones surrounding the eye can serve as a shield until you get medical attention.
  • DO NOT press the shield against the eye.
  • DO NOT rinse with water.
  • DO NOT remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
  • DO NOT rub or apply pressure to the eye.
  • DO NOT take aspirin, ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs thin the blood and may increase bleeding.
  • After you have finished protecting the eye, get emergency medical help.

For All Other Eye Injuries

Injuries other than grit in the eye or small scratches to the eye should be considered potentially serious.

  • DO NOT touch, rub, or apply pressure to the eye.
  • DO NOT try to remove any objects stuck in the eye.
  • Do not apply ointment or medication to the eye.
  • Over-the-counter eye drops can be more painful or make the injury worse.
  • Prescription medications should only be used for precisely the prescribed condition, not for emergency treatment.
  • See a doctor as soon as possible.
  • If you can’t get to an eye doctor right away, go to the emergency room.

Prevention

Always wear protective eye gear when playing sports, cleaning with toxic chemicals, or using power tools.

Be cautious and keep your eyes healthy!  If you are experiencing any changes in your eyesight, contact us TODAY!

Reference: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Prevent Eye Injuries with these Fireworks Safety Tips

Did you know that fireworks cause 2,000 eye injuries every year? According to a  new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, during the 19-year study period, fireworks caused more than 34,000 ocular injuries, and the most common injury was ocular burn.

We are on the heels of the official summer celebrations approaching, with Memorial Day as the first holiday to start the summer celebrations. Summer is the perfect time for family barbecues, and during a summer holiday, there might be fireworks involved. Eye injuries from fireworks can be especially severe because of the combination of force, heat, and chemicals. Following a few simple safety tips can help make for a safe, fun celebration this summer.

Fireworks Safety Tips

  • Know your local laws.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Don’t buy fireworks packaged in brown paper – these are to be handled by professionals.
  • Light fireworks in an open, clear area away from cars and buildings.
  • Never let children handle sparklers.
  • Keep pets inside.
  • When you are done, douse all fireworks or sparklers with water.

 

Typical Eye Injuries From Fireworks

  • Burns
  • Scratches on Cornea
  • Ruptured Eyeball
  • Detached Retina

Types of Fireworks Most Linked To Injuries

  • Sparklers
  • Bottle Rockets
  • Firecrackers

**Sparklers seem like harmless fun, but they are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year.

What to Do for a Fireworks Eye Injury?

Fireworks-related eye injuries can combine blunt force trauma, heat burns, and chemical exposure. If an eye injury from fireworks occurs, it should be considered a medical emergency.

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Do not rub your eyes.
  • Do not rinse your eyes.
  • Do not apply pressure.
  • Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
  • Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen unless directed by a doctor.

At The Eye Center of North Florida, we honor our troops and their families this Memorial Day!

Please stay safe this holiday and enjoy the festivities.

Reference: American Academy of Ophthalmology and JAMA Ophthalmology

May is Ultraviolet Awareness Month!

Summer is almost here, and while the sun will be shining bright, it is a golden time to highlight Ultraviolet Awareness month. Prevent Blindness America sponsors Ultraviolet Awareness month in May to increase awareness of how UV rays can damage your eyes and hurt your vision.

We all love to take in those warm summer rays at the beach or enjoying any outdoor activity. However, everyone must remember to protect their skin and their eyes from the damaging effects of the sun. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the sun emits radiation known as UV-A and UV-B rays, in which both types of UV rays can damage your eyes.

Who Is At Risk?

Every human being of any age and any skin pigmentation is susceptible to UV damage. It is best practice for everyone to wear the proper UV blocking sunglasses and wide brim hat to protect themselves from the damaging UV rays.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology targeted three types of patients who have to take extra precautions to protect themselves from the UV rays. Here are those patient types:

Do you have blue, green, or hazel eyes?

Patients with light-colored eyes need to make sure that they prioritize covering up with a hat and UV-blocking glasses to protect their vision.  Some studies show that UV exposure and light irises may increase the risk of rare eye cancers, such as melanoma of the iris or uveal melanoma. In a survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 54 percent of people in the United States reported having light-colored eyes (blue, green, or hazel), but less than a third of them that light eyes are associated with greater risk of certain eye diseases.

Prescription Medicines

 Some medicines that may increase your risk of UV sensitivity include:

  • Antibiotics containing fluoroquinolones and tetracycline (including doxycycline and Cipro)
  • Specific birth control and estrogen pills (including Lovral and Premarin)
  • Phenothiazine (an anti-malarial)
  • Psoralens (used in treating psoriasis)
  • Photosensitizing drugs –
  • Anti-inflammatory pain relievers – ibuprofen and naproxen sodium have also been shown to cause photosensitivity, though the reaction is rare.

Always discuss and tell your eye doctor which medications you are taking.

Patients Who Have Had Cataract Surgery

More than 2 million Americans have had cataract surgery. During this procedure, the eye’s lens is removed, leaving the eye more vulnerable to UV light. The natural lens is usually replaced by an intraocular lens (IOL). Older intraocular lenses absorb much less UV light than ordinary glass or plastic eyeglass lenses. Manufacturers of IOLs now make most of their product’s UV-absorbent. If you have had cataract surgery, be sure to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and a hat for added protection.

It is important to consult with your eye doctor and be aware of UV exposure hazards. Wearing your sunglasses can be the answer to saving your precious vision.

850-784-3937

References: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Tips for Healthy Vision Month

Diet and lifestyle choices can directly affect your eyes. The best way to take care of your eyes during May’s Healthy Vision Month and year-round is to look after your overall health and schedule your eye exams as a priority. Exercising, eating healthy, and drop the habit of smoking are three of the best investments you can make in your vision.

Making healthy choices and getting regular eye exams can help reduce the risk of getting some eye diseases. Also, healthy options can minimize vision loss or slow down the disease if you have age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma.

Celebrating Healthy Vision Month, encourages you to find ways to be healthier, so your vision will last a lifetime. One aspect of a healthy lifestyle is eating the right foods.  A diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can pay benefits not only to your overall health but for your eyes as well.

Here are four fantastic foods recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology to include in your diet and keep your eyes healthy.

Kale. Leafy green vegetables, like kale, are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients found in the healthy eye that are believed to lower your risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. One large study showed that women who had diets high in lutein were 23 percent less likely to develop cataracts than women whose diets were low in this nutrient. Not a big fan of kale? Not to worry. Other dark leafy green vegetables, like spinach, romaine lettuce, collards, and turnip greens, also contain significant amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin. Eggs are also a good source of these nutrients, as are broccoli, peas, and corn.

Salmon. Some studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and halibut reduce the risk of developing eye disease later in life. A 2010 study from Johns Hopkins found that people who had a diet high in omega-3 fatty acid were much less likely to develop AMD.

Oranges. Oranges and all of their citrus families, such as grapefruit, tangerines, and lemons, are high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that is critical to eye health. Scientists have found that your eyes need relatively high levels of vitamin C to function properly, and antioxidants can prevent or at least delay cataracts and AMD. Many other foods offer benefits similar to oranges, including peaches, red peppers, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Black-eyed peas. Legumes of all kinds, including black-eyed peas, kidney beans, lima beans, and peanuts, contain zinc, an essential trace mineral that is found in high concentration in the eyes. Zinc may help protect your eyes from the damaging effects of light. Other foods high in zinc include oysters, lean red meat, poultry, and fortified cereals.

Most people think of the one vegetable as a great food choice to keep your eyes healthy are carrots.  Carrots are high in beta-carotene, a nutrient that helps with night vision. There are other orange-colored fruits and vegetables to add to your plate, like sweet potatoes, apricots, and cantaloupe.

Keep your diet colorful, which will help keep your eyes healthy.

Is it time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam? Call TODAY to schedule your appointment!

850-784-3937

References: American Academy Ophthalmology

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy? 

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that affects people with diabetes. Diabetic Retinopathy is when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak. Or they can close, stopping blood from passing through. Sometimes abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina. Unfortunately, all these changes can steal your vision.

The Two Main Stages of Diabetic Eye Disease

NPDR (non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy)

This is the early stage of diabetic eye disease. Patients who have had diabetes for five years stand a 25% chance of developing non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR).

With NPDR, tiny blood vessels leak, making the retina swell. When the macula swells, it is called macular edema. This is the most common reason why people with diabetes lose their vision.

PDR (proliferative diabetic retinopathy)

PDR is the more advanced stage of diabetic eye disease. It happens when the retina starts growing new blood vessels. This is called neovascularization. These fragile new vessels often bleed into the vitreous. If they only bleed a little, you might see a few dark floaters. If they bleed a lot, it might block all vision.

These new blood vessels can form scar tissue. Scar tissue can cause problems with the macula or lead to a detached retina.

PDR is very serious and can steal both your central and peripheral (side) vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

You can have diabetic retinopathy and not know it. This is because it often has no symptoms in its early stages. As diabetic retinopathy gets worse, you will notice symptoms such as:

  • seeing an increasing number of floaters
  • blurry vision
  • vision that sometimes changes from blurry to clear,
  • seeing blank or dark area in your field of vision
  • poor night vision
  • noticing colors appear faded or washed out
  • losing vision.

Diabetic retinopathy symptoms usually affect both eyes.

Risk Factors

Risk factors relating to diabetic retinopathy are identical to factors that aggravate diabetes, which include:

  • Obesity: Excess fat within the blood and body tissue makes it harder for insulin to regulate blood sugar levels effectively.
  • Inactivity: Inactivity results in slow body metabolism, subsequently favoring high blood sugar levels
  • Family History: Genetic factors affecting the pancreas cause inadequate production of insulin resulting in abnormally high blood sugar levels
  • Age: The pancreas ability to produce adequate insulin decreases as a person get older
  • High Blood Pressure: The super-thin blood vessels within the retina rapture easily as a result of the abnormally high blood pressure

Check out this video to learn more about diabetic retinopathy

https://youtu.be/FyJByXyEQbg

If you are 1 in 10 who have diabetes, you can effectively delay the condition’s onset by making healthy lifestyle choices. However, it is prudent to have a yearly eye checkup to allow your eye doctor to determine diabetic retinopathy onset when you have diabetes.

Your healthy eyesight is our HIGHEST priority, and we love being your partner in vision health!

850-784-3937

References:

American Academy of Ophthalmology

American Optometric Association

Centers of Disease Control (CDC)

What is an Ocular Migraine?

What Is An Ocular Migraine?

An ocular migraine is a rare condition characterized by temporary vision loss or even temporary blindness in one eye. Ocular migraines are caused by reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina or behind the eye. In an ocular migraine, vision in the affected eye generally returns to normal within an hour. 

Symptoms

Shimmering or flashing lights, zigzagging lines, stars, black spots are all visual cue symptoms; you’re most likely having an ocular migraine. Making it very difficult to read, write or drive. It can occur with or without the pain of a migraine headache. A blind spot in the central area of vision can start small and get larger and usually lasts less than 60 minutes.

Causes & Risk Factors

Ocular migraines are typically caused by reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina or behind the eye. Risk factors include:

  • Ocular migraines are believed to have the same causes as migraine headaches.
  • More common in women than men.
  • Most common age group 30-39.
  • Family history of migraine.

Treatment and Prevention

  • Same as prevention for migraines.
  • Avoid migraine triggers.
  • Common triggers include stress, hormonal changes, bright/flashing lights, drinking alcohol (red wine), changes in the weather, skipping meals/not eating enough, or too much or too little sleep.
  • Keep a headache journal including information about what you were doing, eating, or medications are taken before or after a headache occurs.
  • If you perform tasks that require clear vision, when an ocular migraine or visual migraine occurs, stop what you are doing and relax until your vision returns to normal.
  • If you’re driving, park on the side of the road and wait for the visual disturbances to pass completely.
  • Your doctor can advise you on the latest medicines for treating migraines, including medications designed to prevent future attacks.

If your ocular migraines or migraine auras (visual migraines) appear to be stress-related, you might be able to reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks without medicine by simply:

  • Eating healthful meals regularly
  • Avoiding common migraine triggers
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Trying stress-busters such as yoga and massage

Talk to Our Doctors Today

Any visual loss is serious. Call us at (850)784-3937 if you experience any problems affecting your eyesight.

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References: According Migraine Foundation and American Academy of Ophthalmology