January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

       Dr. Norris

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S.  It most often occurs in people over the age of 40, although there are rare congenital forms.  People with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans over the age of 40, and Hispanics over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma.

There are many types of glaucoma, and many theories about the causes of glaucoma.  The fact remains that the exact cause is unknown.  High eye pressure inside the eye is one of the main causes of glaucoma, but even those with normal eye pressure may develop the disease.

The most common form of glaucoma, primary open angle glaucoma, develops slowly and usually without any symptoms in the early stages.  Many people are not aware they have glaucoma until significant vision loss has occurred.  It typically starts out affecting peripheral or side vision, but can advance to central vision loss.  If left untreated glaucoma will most likely lead to significant vision loss and may even lead to blindness.

There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but if diagnosed and treated early it can usually be controlled.  Eye drops and/or surgery can slow or even prevent further vision loss.  However, vision already lost as a result of glaucoma cannot be restored.  That is why the American Optometric Association recommends an annual dilated comprehensive eye health evaluation for anyone at risk for glaucoma as a preventive eye care measure.  Depending on your specific risk factors your eye doctor may recommend more frequent evaluations.

The take home message is simple.  Comply with your eye doctor’s recommendations regarding follow up as it relates to your risk for glaucoma and, just as importantly, your follow up if you are currently being treated for glaucoma.  Early diagnosis is the key and is crucial to maintaining a lifetime of good vision.

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Eye Injury Prevention & Children’s Eye Safety

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According to the National Eye Institute, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the US, and most of these injuries are sports-related.  The majority of these injuries are preventable with protective eyewear.

By now most of our kids are back to school and hitting the books.  Many of them are also back in the swing of hitting the practice field as well if they are involved in sports.  Each year, thousands of sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States.  The American Optometric Association (AOA) urges even casual athletes to protect their sight-and that of teammates-by keeping street eyewear off the playing field and wearing proper protective eyewear instead. Conventional frames and lenses do not meet the minimum requirements for impact resistance in most sports, which can turn a small collision into a sight-threatening injury.  Sports-protective eyewear is tested to meet rigid standards and some have been independently verified and received the AOA Seal of Acceptance.

Eye protection should be of major concern to all athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports.  Thousands of children and adults unnecessarily suffer sports-related eye injuries each year. Every thirteen minutes an emergency room in the United States treats a sports related eye injury and nearly all could be prevented by using the proper protective eyewear.  And, if you participate in sports, get an eye exam.  It can detect whether you have vision problems, like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, which could diminish your performance and lead to physical injuries during sports.

Some cautionary sports vision statistics include:

       Approximately 600,000 documented sports-related injuries are reported each year in the United States.

       More than 42,000 sports-related eye injuries require emergency room attention.

       An estimated 13,500 cases result in permanent loss of sight.

       Approximately 72 percent of sports-related eye injuries occur in people younger than 25 years and approximately 43 percent occur in children younger than 15 years.

Sports vision goes beyond choosing the correct protective eyewear that protects and provides clear vision.  Just like speed and strength, vision is an important component of how well you play your sport.  And there is much more to vision than just seeing clearly.  Your vision is composed of many interrelated skills.  And, just as exercise and practice can increase your speed and strength, they also can improve your visual fitness and accuracy.

Because all sports have different visual demands, an optometrist with expertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper eyeglasses or contact lenses, or design a vision-therapy program to maximize your visual skills for a specific sport.

Sports with a moderate to high risk of eye injury include basketball, baseball, softball, cricket, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, squash, racquetball, fencing, boxing, full-contact martial arts, air rifle, tennis, badminton, soccer, volleyball, water polo, football, fishing, golf and wrestling.

The most common sports vision concerns include:

  1. Protection: Athletes’ eyes need certified sports protective eyewear that will protect against injury and ultra-violet light.
  2. Correction: Spectacle wearers require sports protective eyewear that also will correct their vision, while contact-lens wearers may need a different lens than their everyday one.  For example, skiers spend their time in cold, dry conditions and need a contact lens that will provide more moisture.
  3. Vision enhancement: Athletes often need help enhancing their binocularity or depth perception.

Doctors of optometry work with their patients to provide unique, advantaged eyewear solutions in order to protect vision and improve performance in athletics.  I encourage you to visit The Family EyeCare Center to discuss options for vision protection, correction, and enhancement.

KEEPING AN ‘EYE’ ON SEASONAL ALLERGIES

Keeping an ‘Eye’ on Seasonal Allergies

For most Americans, the start of spring is welcomed by thoughts of warmer weather, beautiful flowers and picnics in the park. But, for the 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies, the early signs of spring more closely resemble sneezing, coughing and itchy, watery eyes.

Eye allergies, also called “allergic conjunctivitis,” are a reaction to indoor and outdoor allergens – pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander – that get in the eyes and cause inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner eyelid.

While eye allergies can affect anyone, the spring can be particularly hard on contact lens wearers. Overnight wear and infrequent lens replacement are two of the main reasons contact lens wearers face more severe symptoms. Optometrists recommend contact lens wearers consider the following to make the spring season more comfortable:

       -Reduce contact lens wearing time when possible.

       -Talk to your optometrist about changing your cleaning method or using daily disposable contact lenses.

       -Use eye drops as prescribed by a doctor of optometry.

When it comes to treating symptoms of allergies, a recent nationwide survey conducted by the American Optometric Association (AOA), found more than one-third (36 percent) of allergy suffers use antihistamines or other medications to treat their symptoms. While antihistamines can help with typical symptoms like runny noses and sneezing, the medication can make ocular symptoms worse by reducing tear quality and quantity.

To effectively treat and relieve the symptoms caused by eye allergies, patients should see their optometrist.  In most cases, symptoms related to allergy-related conjunctivitis can be relieved with prescription or over-the-counter eye drops depending on the patient and his or her medical history.

While eye allergies can be a nuisance and affect job performance, leisure and sporting activities, symptoms of allergies can be curtailed and prevented by following these recommendations from the AOA:

       -Don’t touch or rub your eyes.

       -Wash hands often with soap and water.

       -Wash your hair before you go to bed at night.

       -Wash bed linens and pillowcases in hot water and detergent to reduce allergens.

       -Avoid sharing, and in some cases, wearing eye makeup.

       -Never share contact lenses or contact lens cases with someone else.

Note:  Special thanks to the AOA for their contribution to this article.

National Glaucoma Awareness Month

JANUARY IS NATIONAL GLAUCOMA AWARENESS MONTH

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S.  It most often occurs in people over the age of 40, although there are rare congenital forms.  People with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans over the age of 40, and Hispanics over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma.

 There are many types of glaucoma, and many theories about the causes of glaucoma.  The fact remains that the exact cause is unknown.

 The most common form of glaucoma, primary open angle glaucoma, develops slowly and usually without any symptoms in the early stages.  Many people are not aware they have glaucoma until significant vision loss has occurred.  It typically starts out affecting peripheral or side vision, but can advance to central vision loss.  If left untreated glaucoma will most likely lead to significant vision loss and may even lead to blindness.

 There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but if diagnosed and treated early it can usually be controlled.  Eye drops and/or surgery can slow or even prevent of further vision loss.  However, vision already lost as a result of glaucoma cannot be restored.  That is why the American Optometric Association recommends an annual dilated comprehensive eye health evaluation for anyone at risk for glaucoma as a preventive eye care measure.  Depending on your specific risk factors your eye doctor may recommend more frequent evaluations.

 The take home message is simple.  Comply with your eye doctor’s recommendations regarding follow up as it relates to your risk for glaucoma and, just as importantly, your follow up if you are currently being treated for glaucoma.  Early diagnosis is the key and is crucial to maintaining a lifetime of good vision.

Sports-Related Eye Injuries: Keeping Leavenworth Safe

THE MAJORITY OF SPORTS-RELATED EYE INJURIES ARE PREVENTABLE WITH PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR.

By now most of our kids are back to school and hitting the books.  Many of them are also back in the swing of hitting the practice field as well if they are involved in sports.  Each year, thousands of sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States.  The American Optometric Association (AOA) urges even casual athletes to protect their sight, and that of teammates, by keeping street eyewear off the playing field and wearing proper protective eyewear instead. Conventional frames and lenses do not meet the minimum requirements for impact resistance in most sports, which can turn a small collision into a sight-threatening injury.  Sports-protective eyewear is tested to meet rigid standards and some have been independently verified and received the AOA Seal of Acceptance.

Eye protection should be of major concern to all athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports.  Thousands of children and adults unnecessarily suffer sports-related eye injuries each year. Every thirteen minutes an emergency room in theUnited Statestreats a sports related eye injury and nearly all could be prevented by using the proper protective eyewear.  And, if you participate in sports, get an eye exam.  It can detect whether you have vision problems, like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, which could diminish your performance and lead to physical injuries during sports.

Some cautionary sports vision statistics include:

  •        Approximately 600,000 documented sports-related injuries are  reported each year in theUnited States.
  •        More than 42,000 sports-related eye injuries require emergency room attention.
  •        An estimated 13,500 cases result in permanent loss of sight.
  •        Approximately 72 percent of sports-related eye injuries occur in people younger than 25 years and approximately 43 percent occur in children younger than 15 years.

Sports vision goes beyond choosing the correct protective eyewear that protects and provides clear vision.  Just like speed and strength, vision is an important component of how well you play your sport.  And there is much more to vision than just seeing clearly.  Your vision is composed of many interrelated skills.  And, just as exercise and practice can increase your speed and strength, they also can improve your visual fitness and accuracy.

Because all sports have different visual demands, an optometrist with expertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper eyeglasses or contact lenses, or design a vision therapy program to maximize your visual skills for a specific sport.

Sports with a moderate to high risk of eye injury include basketball, baseball, softball, cricket, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, squash, racquetball, fencing, boxing, full-contact martial arts, air rifle, tennis, badminton, soccer, volleyball, water polo, football, fishing, golf and wrestling.

The most common sports vision concerns include:

  1. Protection: Athletes’ eyes need certified sports protective eyewear that will protect against injury and ultra-violet light.
  2. Correction: Spectacle wearers require sports protective eyewear that also will correct their vision, while contact-lens wearers may need a different lens than their everyday one.  For example, skiers spend their time in cold, dry conditions and need a contact lens that will provide more moisture.
  3. Vision enhancement: Athletes often need help enhancing their binocularity or depth perception.

Doctors of optometry work with their patients to provide unique, advantaged eyewear solutions in order to protect vision and improve performance in athletics.  I encourage you to visit The Family EyeCare Center to discuss options for vision protection, correction, and enhancement.