Tag Archives: annual eye exams

Preventing, detecting eye problems key to vision health

It’s one of our most important senses, but people often take it for granted.

For some reason, people tend to put eyesight on the back burner instead of being proactive. Especially for people who don’t wear glasses or contacts, it can be years between visits to the eye doctor.  It’s important to take care of our eyes because they are so valuable to virtually every aspect of life.

Preventative eye care is the solution. Vitamins are an easy way to help maintain good eyesight.

To better protect the eyes between exams, lutein is one of the best things you can take. It helps to protect the macula, which controls central vision.

Lutein is found in many vitamin supplements as well as in green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.

In addition to lutein, beta-carotene, found in carrots, and omega-3, found in fish oil, are also important for healthy eyes.

Fish oil is extremely valuable, not only for eye health, but for overall health, as well. The omega-3 is found in several different types of fish, but for those who don’t care for fish or want a more concentrated dose, fish oil supplements are the way to go.

Vitamins A, C and E have also been found to promote better eye health.

Vitamins require minimal effort, but they can provide numerous benefits. Taking supplements can prevent dry eyes, macular degeneration and even cataracts.

Vitamin supplements can really be amazing and the benefits can go beyond eye health, but it’s important to consult your own physician or optometrist before starting a vitamin regimen.

Children’s eye care is especially important. Taking care of kids’ eyes is crucial.

It’s so important to address eye care from Day 1. A child’s eyes should be checked at every health exam throughout the toddler years, and then they should be visiting an optometrist in addition to having regular eye screenings at school.

She said catching problems early will lead to a better quality of life and better vision.

A lot of times, a teacher will be the one to notice a child with vision problems, but ideally, we would like to catch any problems even before they get to school. The earlier a problem is detected, the less likely it will become permanent.

Eye rubbing, squinting and poor focusing can be red flags. Vitamins can also benefit kids’ eyes but should be cleared by a doctor or optometrist first.

Just staying on top of regular eye exams can make a world of difference for both children and adults. Most people don’t hesitate to visit a doctor if their back is hurting or even if they are having hearing problems. If we pay the same attention to our eyes, we will all be able to see the world a little better.

Americans Not Taking Proper Care of Their Eyes According to New Study

Research carried out by independent researchers funded by Transitions Optical shows that most Americans are not taking steps to protect their eyes, and few fully understand the effects of UV exposure on their eyes. Many ethnic groups, such as Asian Americans and Hispanics, showed lower awareness of eye health risks and the steps to take to prevent them. These groups are also at higher risk for other serious health problems that can affect long-term vision.

Of the surveyed adults, less than 40% reported seeing an eye doctor and receiving an eye exam in the past year. Eye exams catch the warning signs of serious problems like glaucoma and cataracts early when treatment is possible. Children also need yearly eye exams to ensure their eyes are developing properly and that their vision doesn’t need correction. Children often struggle in school when they need glasses but are unaware that they have eyesight problems.

Hispanics and Asian Americans showed the lowest rates of scheduling eye exams for children. Hispanics and African Americans are also at higher risk for eye-affecting diseases like hypertension and diabetes. These diseases often display early warning signs through the eyes and an annual eye check-up can catch chronic conditions early as well. Hispanics show a higher rate of glaucoma, macular degeneration and pterygia. These increased risks indicate that they need annual eye exams even more than other ethnic groups.

2 of 3 survey respondents weren’t aware that their ethnic background affected their chances for developing a serious vision problem. Hispanics and African Americans were less likely to purchase eyewear with UV protection, and had lower rates of understanding about the damage UV rays do to the eyes. UV damage occurs year round and lowers contrast and light sensitivity.

Even if you think you see perfectly, get your eyes checked

One day last year, a 43-year-old man came into my office. He had always seen perfectly and had never had an eye exam. “Never needed one,” he said.

Though his vision was still clear, something seemed a little “off” so he came in to have it checked.

His vision was, indeed, perfect without glasses. But doing the eye health examination and looking inside his eyes, I discovered a huge tumor that took up about a third of the inside of one eye.

He had to have his eye removed about three weeks later. The surgeons were worried that his aggressive tumor would kill him if the eye was not removed.

Unfortunately, I see patients all the time who do not get their eyes examined yearly. Just because you can see clearly does not mean your eyes are healthy. There are many eye diseases such as cancer, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease that can be blinding or deadly, and they do not affect your vision until the end stages.

Many eye disorders will not show any vision changes until significant damage has been done.

Many people see the eye doctor only when their vision is blurry, but eye doctors have the technology to detect serious eye diseases before they cause vision damage. Yearly eye exams might have easily saved my patient’s eyes.

Yearly eye exams can also help detect overall health problems that you may be unaware of, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and strokes, which can all show their earliest signs in the eyes.

Eye cancer is more prevalent among people who are exposed to a lot of UV radiation, such as those who work outside and on the water. Eye cancer can be found on the eyelid, on the eye itself or inside the eye. Six percent of all skin cancers begin on the eyelid.

The best protection from UV radiation is a pair of high quality, polarized sunglasses. They will block your eyes and eyelids from UV radiation. Polarized sunglasses also reduce glare from the sun, which is important when out on the water.

But beware that all sunglasses that are labeled “polarized” are not the same. There are weak federal regulations in the United States on the amount of UV radiation that sunglasses must block.

Thus, some of the cheaper drugstore sunglasses may do more harm than good. Any dark lens will cause your eyes to dilate and allow more light and UV radiation in. If your sunglasses are not of high quality, this simply allows more damaging UV radiation into your eyes and may actually increase the risk of eye cancer.

Another way UV radiation can enter your eyes is from reflecting from the backside surface of your sunglasses. I recommend an anti-reflective coating on the back of high quality polarized sunglasses to minimize radiation bouncing into your eye.

Always check with your eye doctor to see if the sunglasses you wear have high quality polarized lenses in them and anti-reflective coating on the backside to minimize exposure to UV radiation.

Glaucoma is another silent eye disease that can be devastating because it can cause blindness if not detected early. It, too, has no symptoms or vision changes until the latest stages when the damage is permanent and irreversible.

People who are at more risk for glaucoma usually have the following risk factors: over the age of 40, any family history of glaucoma, any blunt trauma to the eye (even when you were a child) and any previous or current steroid use. The only way to detect glaucoma is to see your eye doctor.

, a 43-year-old man came into my office. He had always seen perfectly and had never had an eye exam. “Never needed one,” he said.

Though his vision was still clear, something seemed a little “off” so he came in to have it checked.

His vision was, indeed, perfect without glasses. But doing the eye health examination and looking inside his eyes, I discovered a huge tumor that took up about a third of the inside of one eye.

He had to have his eye removed about three weeks later. The surgeons were worried that his aggressive tumor would kill him if the eye was not removed.

Unfortunately, I see patients all the time who do not get their eyes examined yearly. Just because you can see clearly does not mean your eyes are healthy. There are many eye diseases such as cancer, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease that can be blinding or deadly, and they do not affect your vision until the end stages.

Many eye disorders will not show any vision changes until significant damage has been done.

Many people see the eye doctor only when their vision is blurry, but eye doctors have the technology to detect serious eye diseases before they cause vision damage. Yearly eye exams might have easily saved my patient’s eyes.

Yearly eye exams can also help detect overall health problems that you may be unaware of, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and strokes, which can all show their earliest signs in the eyes.

Eye cancer is more prevalent among people who are exposed to a lot of UV radiation, such as those who work outside and on the water. Eye cancer can be found on the eyelid, on the eye itself or inside the eye. Six percent of all skin cancers begin on the eyelid.

The best protection from UV radiation is a pair of high quality, polarized sunglasses. They will block your eyes and eyelids from UV radiation. Polarized sunglasses also reduce glare from the sun, which is important when out on the water.

But beware that all sunglasses that are labeled “polarized” are not the same. There are weak federal regulations in the United States on the amount of UV radiation that sunglasses must block.

Thus, some of the cheaper drugstore sunglasses may do more harm than good. Any dark lens will cause your eyes to dilate and allow more light and UV radiation in. If your sunglasses are not of high quality, this simply allows more damaging UV radiation into your eyes and may actually increase the risk of eye cancer.

Another way UV radiation can enter your eyes is from reflecting from the backside surface of your sunglasses. I recommend an anti-reflective coating on the back of high quality polarized sunglasses to minimize radiation bouncing into your eye.

Always check with your eye doctor to see if the sunglasses you wear have high quality polarized lenses in them and anti-reflective coating on the backside to minimize exposure to UV radiation.

Glaucoma is another silent eye disease that can be devastating because it can cause blindness if not detected early. It, too, has no symptoms or vision changes until the latest stages when the damage is permanent and irreversible.

People who are at more risk for glaucoma usually have the following risk factors: over the age of 40, any family history of glaucoma, any blunt trauma to the eye (even when you were a child) and any previous or current steroid use. The only way to detect glaucoma is to see your eye doctor.

~Dr. Dawn Bearden

Taking Care of Your Eye Health is Important

Taking care of your eyes is perhaps one of the most important things that you can do for your health. However, sometimes no matter what steps you take to ensure you stay healthy, you can still get sick. Glaucoma is a disease of the eyes, yet it is actually the name for a group of diseases that affect the optic nerves. it is caused by a few different things but the end result is the same.

Anyone who is serious about eye health issues and about keeping their eyes healthy will make sure that they get regular eye exams. as we get older, parts of our body breakdown and the eyes are especially vulnerable. a glaucoma test is done once a year and is basically a puff of air blown into each eye. while this is not the most comfortable test, it is a very important test because it works slowly and can sometimes do a lot of damage before it is detected.

If detected early, then there is a better chance of successful treatment. once the damage has occurred, it is irreversible and that is why it is important to take your doctor visits seriously. This is also why it is important to have regular screenings for this disease and it usually starts with the peripheral vision. without regular screenings for glaucoma it is possible for a large part of the nerves to be destroyed before anyone realizes what has happened.

Glaucoma can destroy through increased pressure inside the eye or by causing poor blood supply to the optic nerve fibers. there are a few ways that glaucoma can attack and destroy and each person is different and will have different experiences. Glaucoma usually happens as a person ages; however, it can happen at any time or at any age.

There does seem to be some correlation with glaucoma and family health history. therefore, if anyone in your family has ever had glaucoma, then it is extremely important that you have your eyes checked regularly. once glaucoma takes hold, the damage is done and it is irreversible. your eyes will never recover. The best the doctors would be able to do is to salvage as much of your vision as is left after the ravages of this disease.

Regular eye examinations are especially important to have as we age. Aging causes the body to break down; an unfortunate fact of life. Eyesight is one of the highest rated of the five senses and you want to make sure that yours stays as functional as possible, for as long as possible. Make sure you take the health of your eyes seriously. see your doctor if you have any concerns, as this is the central key to making sure that your optical system stays in top shape.

 

Get Your Eyes Checked Regularly for Healthy Vision

When was the last time you had an eye exam? For the majority of us, it’s not often enough. Among those who have had an eye exam recently, less than half (44%) have them annually.* The health of our eyes so often takes a back seat to finding the perfect mascara or covering up dark circles. 85% of Americans know that UV rays can damage our eyes, yet only 65% of us wear sunglasses for protection instead of just a fashion statement, and only 39% of us make our kids wear sunglasses.**

Just seeing well doesn’t always translate to good eye health. Supported by ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses, a new radio program called Healthy Vision with Dr. Val Jones shares healthy eye tips just in time for the beach, picnics, summer sports and barbecues on the deck. Hosted by leading national health expert Val Jones, M.D., CEO of Better Health, LLC, a network of popular health bloggers, she is joined by leading experts from around the country to take a closer look at three vital areas to maintaining eye healthy: importance of eye exams, contact lens compliance, and protecting eyes from UV rays. “More than one in three parents has never taken their children for a vision assessment,” says Dr. Jones. “Many of us share the misguided belief that if we are seeing well, our eyes are healthy. No matter what age you are, it’s so important to see an eye doctor on an annual basis.”

Children should be checked to ensure that their vision is developing properly. Optometrist Robert Rosenthal, O.D., chimes in noting that “a child should be seen [by an eye care professional] between the age of six months to a year. If there is an [eye health] issue with a child, we want to catch it very early.” An eye exam should be treated as an extension of your annual physical to monitor your overall health and wellbeing. For contact lens wearers, it is also important to comply with the proper wear and care. Optometrist Susan Resnick, O.D., warns that misusing contact lenses can put you at risk for a variety of issues, some of which are potentially serious. “New contact lens wearers are very keen on following directions, and are motivated to do everything right,” says Resnick. She recommends that long-time contact lens users should follow their lead and maintain the correct replacement schedule. ACUMINDER.com is a free online reminder service to remind you when you are due for an eye exam and when to replace your contact lenses.

Much of the ultraviolet radiation that we are exposed to in our lifetime occurs before we reach adulthood. Children’s pupils are larger than adult pupils so more light can get into their eyes. Stephen Cohen, O.D. stresses the importance of eye protection particularly in the summer months; “UVB rays are a contributing factor to the development of cataracts,” says Dr. Cohen who recommends wearing UV blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat when in the sun, and UV blocking contact lenses. “I am an advocate of contact lenses that block ultraviolet radiation,” he explains. The average pair of contact lenses blocks only 10-20 percent of ultraviolet radiation. ACUVUE® OASYS® lenses have the highest level of UV-blocking of any contact lens on the market, blocking 90 percent of UVA rays and 99 percent of UVB. UV radiation can sneak in through the tops and sides of your sunglasses and even the widest-brimmed hat cannot protect against UV rays that are reflected up off of surfaces like water, sand, grass and pavement.

Skipping Eye Exam Shows a Lack of Vision

If you ask physicians about the most serious health problems faced by older patients, they will usually list significant medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes or cancer. But ask the patients, and they will complain more about sensory deprivation — the loss of vision and hearing.

This information makes a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention particularly alarming. A survey of 11,503 adults over the age of 40, who were known to have mild to moderate visual impairment, found that 39.8 percent did not have an eye examination in the previous year due to no insurance or the cost.

Thirty-five percent did not seek eye care because they felt that they did not need it, and 4.5 percent said they could not get an appointment.

Those over the age of 65 and on Medicare obviously used lack of insurance as a reason much less frequently (23.3 percent). Remarkably, 43.8 percent of Medicare recipients felt they did not need to see an eye doctor, compared to 32.9 percent for those under age 65. Men were less interested in eye exams (41.7 percent) compared to women (28.7 percent).

People seeking eye care varied by state. In Massachusetts, 21.6 percent of those under the age of 65 did not feel the need for eye care; in Tennessee, it was 60.4 percent. For Medicare recipients, 61 percent did not seek care in Massachusetts, compared to 25.4 percent in Florida.

This information should be an urgent wake-up call for public health officials, health care providers and the population at large. Vision is perhaps the most precious of all our sensory functions. Often occurring insidiously over time, loss of eyesight is a cause of functional dependency and poor quality of life. Most importantly, for many conditions, appropriate medical management can prevent blindness. For younger people, a visit to the ophthalmologist or optometrist primarily evaluates visual acuity and the need for glasses, but it always includes screening to identify the common causes of eye disease — cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal disease. Although some primary care physicians can evaluate eyesight and measure eye pressure, the level of skill required for an accurate evaluation is exclusively the domain of the ophthalmologist or the optometrist, who is trained in all aspects of assessing vision and screening for eye diseases.

The most common cause of significant visual loss is a cataract, a painless clouding of the lens of the eye that interferes with the transmission of light to the back of the eye or retina. Common symptoms include blurred vision, seeing rings around lamps and trouble driving at night. Surgery is needed if vision is impaired sufficiently and interferes with daily functions. Testing for glaucoma is critically important, as vision loss progresses so slowly that a serious problem may not be identified until virtual blindness is present. Glaucoma is caused by increased eye pressure that damages the optic nerve, impairing the ability to transmit visual images to the brain. Untreated, there is a gradual loss of peripheral vision, which eventually leads to total blindness. The disease is easily diagnosed by measuring eye pressure and treated with drops to lower pressure.

Sometimes surgery is needed. Macular degeneration results in damage to the retina. In direct contrast to glaucoma, central vision is lost, but peripheral vision remains intact. Learning to look at objects out of the side of the eye can be achieved by low vision rehabilitation.

While the cause is unclear and there’s no cure for macular degeneration, treatment with vitamins, laser therapy and visual aids can be helpful. Most patients have a benign, gradually progressive disease, but some kinds can progress very rapidly (wet macular degeneration).

Many patients with diabetes develop blindness due to blockages of tiny vessels in the retina (at the back of the eye). This leads to scarring and overgrowth of fragile new vessels that are prone to bleeding and retinal detachment. Regular eye examinations are critical.

No matter your age, remember that eye examinations are essential. Not only will serious medical conditions be identified early, but just as importantly, you will also learn what you need to do to assure optimal eye health.

Written by DR. DAVID LIPSCHITZ, Creative Syndicate

Elderly told to have regular eye tests to stop falls

Elderly people are being encouraged to have regular eye tests as a way of preventing falls. Falls are the leading cause of accidental death in the over-75s

Age UK and the College of Optometrists say too few request the free check-ups offered to those aged above 60.

An Age UK poll of 1,700 suggests one in seven over-60s, nearly two million, has not been tested for at least two years.

Nearly four million are estimated to have fallen in the past two years, and the poll indicated one in 14 of these falls was linked to vision problems.

Falls are the leading cause of death through injury in the elderly.

Helena Herlots, of Age UK, said: “It’s worrying that such a high number of older people have not had a sight test recently.

“Going for regular sight tests and wearing the right glasses will not only improve balance, co-ordination and mobility, but will help to maintain general eye health.”

Dr Anna Kwartz, of the College of Optometrists, said: “Many of the visual problems that affect older people and lead to falls can be treated.

“Regular sight tests can help aid early detection and treatment.”

 

Regular eye tests important for whole family

The need for a regular eye test does not only apply to people who require glasses, it is also an important family health check. It is important to educate families on the general health benefits of having their eyes tested on an annual basis.

The main aim of proper patient education is to increase the number of households who incorporate eye check-ups into their family health routine.

An eye test can pick up a number of general health and eye conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and even more serious conditions like brain tumors.

New research suggests that 61 percent of people surveyed did not know that a brain tumour could be detected by an optometrist during an eye examination.

Having an eye test could potentially save your sight or even your life.

What doctors look for in an eye exam

Q. How often should you get an eye exam?

A. For most people, we recommend once a year. The main reason to do this every year is to check the health of the eyes. We look for signs of problems like glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration in older adults. In younger people under the age of 20, the most common problem is the need for constant prescription changes.

Q. Who do you go to for an eye exam?

A. Most people go to an optometrist for an eye exam. Optometrists provide primary eye care, which includes checking eye health and treating vision disorders with eyeglasses and contact lenses. Optometrists are also highly trained in the detection and treatment of eye diseases and ocular emergencies.

Ophthalmologists may also provide primary eye care, but most focus on surgery of the eye and treatment of advanced eye diseases. Many ophthalmologists specialize in areas like cataracts, glaucoma, retina or cornea.

Q. What are some common diseases and problems of the eye?

A. Myopia, or nearsightedness, which is when light entering the eye is focused in front of the retina and distant objects appear blurred.

Hyperopia, or farsightedness, which is when light entering the eye is focused behind the retina and objects close-up are blurred.

Astigmatism is when the cornea has an irregular curvature, causing blurred vision.

* Eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery can correct all three of these.

Amblyopia, or what is commonly referred to as “lazy eye,” is a disorder in which a person has trouble seeing details through one eye. This problem needs to be caught early in order to correct it properly. If it is not detected before the age of 3, it is possible that the eye will stay this way. Prescription glasses can often fully correct this if caught early on.

Strabismus is a disorder that the two eyes do not line up in same direction. The eyes are then not looking at the same object at the same time. This is sometimes commonly referred to as “cross-eyed” or “lazy eye,” as well. A lot of times, this is corrected through eye surgery and/or eyeglasses.

Eye teaming is when the two eyes don’t work perfectly together or don’t stay working together when reading. This is more common in kids and can often lead to poor grades or school performance. This can be treated through eye exercises or glasses.

Focusing problems are common eye problems found in people after the age of 40, in which people cannot see up close. This is usually treated with multi-focal glasses, or its older term, “bifocals.”

Some common eye diseases:

Glaucoma is when the optic nerve is damaged from too much pressure in the eye.

Macular degeneration affects your central vision and usually occurs in people over the age of 70.

Diabetic retinopathy is when there is damage to the eye’s retinal blood vessels and is due to diabetes.

Hypertensive retinopathy is when there is damage to the eye’s retina due to high blood pressure.

Cataracts is the clouding of the lens inside the eye and is typically a problem for people above the age of 65.

Q. Where to go for more information?

A.Check out the American Optometric Association — http://www.aoa.org/

~ Dr. Darrin Vits, OD, is an optometrist at The Eye Institute at Springfield Clinic in Illinois.

Why a regular eye test is so important

SIGHT is the sense most of us fear losing, but many of us don’t know the best way to look after our eyes.

National eye health week, which starts a week today, aims to raise awareness of eye health and the importance of regular eye checks.

The RNIB recommends an annual sight test for children up to the age of 16 and then at least every two years until the age of 59. Those over 60 should have an annual test.

Many of us will experience temporary eye problems from time to time. These are usually short-lived and will probably go away on their own with no complications.

But sudden eye problems and those that last for more than a couple of days should be checked by an ophthalmologist.

More than 100,000 people in Wales are living with sight loss, which has a huge impact on individuals, their families and society.

More than 1,000 people in Wales lose their sight unnecessarily annually despite new treatments for eye disease – this is three people every day.

Half of all cases of sight loss are avoidable.

It is vitally important to note that if we do not engage in eye testing the end result could be the development of an eye condition with irreparable damage that can lead to blindness.

Waiting times for referrals for treatment in secondary eye care have increased massively in Wales over the past 12 months.

The hospital eye service is now struggling to meet demand.

Although work is continuing to ensure more patients can be monitored in the community, the service faces significant challenges as the prevalence of eye problems and sight loss in older people increases.

Between March 2010 and 2011 the number of people waiting for referrals to treatment in Wales increased from 27,113 to 29,432.

Nurses carry out several roles in sight and eye healthcare for patients, including in accident and emergency settings; in hospital eye services; ophthalmology specialised care; diabetes services and in primary care services.

Ophthalmology specialist nurses have undergone specialist training and may have additional training in ophthalmic nursing. School nurses, practice nurses and health visitors are involved in monitoring eye health at primary care level.

Anyone over the age of 60 or on certain state benefits or with certain medical conditions can have an NHS sight test free of charge.

The Welsh eye care initiative funds eye health examinations for patients who may be at greater risk of eye disease, including if you have sight in one eye only; if you have a hearing impairment and are profoundly deaf – these patients need sight to lip read.

Eye examinations are also funded if you suffer from retinitis pigmentosa; if one of your parents has an eye disease which is known to be inherited; if your family origins are Black African, Black Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi; or if you are at risk of eye disease by other race or family reasons.

If people are unable to leave home unaccompanied, an optometrist will come to their home and provide the NHS sight test there.

All of us have heard the old saying that a stitch in time saves nine.

In the same way, early detection of eye diseases and their timely management can prevent significant vision loss.

~ Tina Donnelly is director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales