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Archive for March, 2014

The Evolution and Development of Laser Eye Surgery

Thursday, March 27, 2014 @ 07:03 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

These days, if you experience issues with your vision, especially common ones such as refractive errors, you can quickly and easily get these corrected. These vision maladies include nearsightedness, astigmatism, and farsightedness. Once you visit with your ophthalmologist, you can receive a pair of eyeglasses or contacts to reverse the issue. Those who want to completely stop wearing any form of eyewear often turn towards laser eye surgery. While this treatment has remedied many an eye issue over the years, it only became a viable option in the 1990s.

Radial Keratotomy – The Early Days

The first steps made towards the laser eye surgery that you know today began back in 1898. That year, doctors developed the first form of the procedure called radial keratotomy, more commonly abbreviated as RK. Specifically, surgeons would use RK for patients suffering from nearsightedness. The procedure involved a surgeon cutting a few tiny openings around the patient’s cornea. The way that the surgeon would make these openings would allow the cornea, which had been raised, to smooth itself back out. Thus, the way that the retina sees light would also correct itself.

While this procedure sounded foolproof, it actually had several disadvantages. Doctors thought that it was a rather unstable procedure since the results weren’t always the same. Even when surgeons returned to RK in the 1960s, they still weren’t able to improve it to a point where it became the go-to option for patients with eye issues.

Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty Changes the Game

It wasn’t until the 1990s that a truly viable form of eye surgery came to light. Called automated lamellar keratoplasty or ALK, doctors had spent quite some time figuring out a better procedure in which to perform laser eye surgery. Patients considered ALK less invasive since it no longer involved as many incisions directly to the cornea. What it did entail involved a surgeon using a microkeratome, a type of cutting device, to slice the cornea once. Once again, the surgeon would then smooth the cornea. However, they would also take away some tissue in the area before resealing the incision.

The procedure completely changed the laser eye surgery game, as by the middle of the 1990s, ALK surgeons received permission to perform the procedure on a larger scale. ALK still lacked completely stable results. However, it had a much better track record than RK.

Photorefractive Keratectomy Continues the Advance in Methods

By 1995, surgeons developed photorefractive keractectomy, also known as PRK. This method truly defined itself as a laser eye surgery procedure given that it required no incisions at all. Up until this time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not allowed for surgeons to use excimer lasers in surgical procedures. It was only in 1995 that the FDA finally changed their minds and thus true laser eye surgery was born.

At that point, PRK could treat nearsightedness only by targeting the cornea. The laser would smooth this area out and improve vision. As the technology continued to evolve, PRK could also treat astigmatism and farsightedness. The only downside for the patients involved the very long recovery times after the procedure.

LASIK Goes Mainstream

By 1999, doctors found an even better laser eye surgery method than even PRK. Commonly called LASIK, laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis had actually existed as early as 1989 when Ioannis Pallikaris created it in Greece. It took a while for the procedure to migrate to the United States though, and even longer to receive the green light from the FDA.

Unlike PRK, LASIK does require a small incision in the cornea that thus allows the laser to work the most efficiently. These lasers would then smooth out the cornea. While this procedure seems like more of a hassle than even PRK, it has far more advantages. First of all, doctors had found the most predictable form of laser eye surgery yet. Also, due to the means in which surgeons performed LASIK, patients didn’t have to take nearly as long to recover. The process also was far less painful than getting over PRK surgery.

Visian ICL Presents another Viable Option for Vision Issues

In 2005, patients had yet another option at their disposal. Visian ICL or the phakic intraocular lenses have existed since 1992 where the Fyodorov Institute in Russia developed them. These lenses actually move alongside your eye’s natural lenses to improve vision. They only became available in the United States in 2005 since extensive testing was necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the product. However, Visian ICL did pass these clinical trials and now anyone can use this vision option.
With this procedure, a surgeon makes a small cut to insert the lenses near your eye lens and cornea. However, the procedure doesn’t take long and patients tend to see better vision practically right after the surgery. You can keep the lenses in your eyes for as long as you like, and you can get them removed if you ever decide to. Of all the options, patients enjoy the speed and high rates of effectiveness of Visian ICL.

Laser Eye Surgery Today

As you can see, many different options exist today for a patient looking to undergo laser eye surgery. As the years have passed, doctors have improved LASIK and other procedures such as Visian ICL even more than when these procedures first existed. Therefore, you can feel assured that these surgeries are safer now than they’ve ever been. They treat eye issues effectively and permanently.

Should I Buy My Glasses Online?

Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 07:03 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

Purchasing glasses online can seem like a more convenient way to buy as opposed to at a brick-and-mortar store, especially with such a large selection at your fingertips. It makes perfect sense, since most items can be quickly and safely delivered to your home without a single issue. However, don’t let the free shipping and discounts sway your choice because there are a few things you need to consider first. Read on to find out more about why buying glasses online isn’t necessarily better than going to the store or optician to choose a pair.

Finding the Perfect Fit

While it might be easy to purchase a video game, toaster, shirt or handbag from an online shop, remember that eye glasses require customization. This involves a complex and detailed process of shaping, polishing and edging the lens to ensure the proper thickness, curve, angle and wrap. If you buy glasses at an optician, the lenses will be customized for your eyes and generally high quality. With an online purchase, there’s no way of knowing how the glasses were handled or finished, and at what quality level. The frames are also customized. If the frames are too big, they can slide down or move around. Small frames might squeeze the sides of your head, or rub the bridge of your nose or behind your ears. Both of these things are a real annoyance and might cause headaches and eye strain. The frames should be a certain distance and the center should align with the center of your pupils. While you can find this measurement yourself, it might be difficult and frustrating to do so.

Matching the Lens Prescription

If you have your current prescription handy, you can choose or enter the information when you purchase the glasses online. While it seems convenient, there are often times that the company gets the prescription wrong or won’t have your specific prescription available. Since the process for finishing lenses is very precise, a small mistake can leave you unable to see properly and returns aren’t that easy to do. It would be extremely annoying to have to make a trip to the post office to ship back glasses that don’t have the proper lenses, since the entire purpose of ordering online was to avoid an extra trip. If you are ordering your glasses online, read the return policies carefully to prevent a headache in the future if you aren’t satisfied with your purchase. Many times, you’ll have to pay return shipping.

Special Considerations

One of the biggest pluses of buying glasses at an optometrist is the experience and knowledge they can offer you. If you are undecided, the optometrist might be able to recommend you certain styles that work well with your face shape and features. If you need a stronger prescription with heavier lenses, they might able to provide you with recommendations that provide more comfort without sacrificing style. An optometrist is there to assist you in the process, so you’re more likely to be satisfied with your selection in the future. If you wear bifocals or require special lenses for astigmatism, the chances of a perfect match with your prescription are not ask likely with an online purchase. You’ll have to answer more questions and provide more information, which can be confusing and result in an inaccurate match.

Styles and Choices

If you purchase your glasses online, you’ll likely have hundreds of thousands of choices at your disposal. Even though this is a big benefit, there is one big drawback to this – you can’t try them on. Some companies offer features that allow you to upload a photo of yourself to “try on” the glasses, but it’s not the same as looking at yourself from different angles. A photo is a flat view of yourself, and you won’t be able to see the subtle nuances and dimension or depth of your features when viewing the glasses in a photo. In addition, you can ask others for their opinion when trying on the glasses, and you might get a few suggestions. You’ll also be able to feel the weight of the frames, as well as compare comfort between pairs. Some sites might not have the best quality photos, so you might be surprised when you receive the package in the mail and the glasses aren’t exactly what you expected.

How Safe Are Eyeglasses that Were Ordered Online?

In many cases, eyeglasses ordered online don’t match with the prescription given. This can be a real problem, causing headaches, eye strain and blurry vision. In some cases, the lenses don’t meet the recommended impact resistance specifications, so that can be a dangerous situation if your lenses were to break. It is possible to have the glasses you ordered online adjusted at an optometrist. While not all glasses that you can buy online are unsafe, you’re more likely to encounter this type of problem that at an optician. If you’re skeptical of the quality of an online purchase, take them to an optician for adjustments. Remember, though, that all optical retailers are created equal. There are many corporate, independent and private practices out there and they all provide varying levels of service, so do some research before choosing one to visit. You can look online for reviews or ask friends and family to suggest an optician.

Exciting New Developments in Optometry

Thursday, March 13, 2014 @ 07:03 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

You probably hear about new breakthroughs in medical technology on a regular basis, but relatively little when it comes to optometry. New prescription drugs and other medical options seem to take center stage in public discussion, while many forget about eye and vision care, which is a very important thing we often take for granted. That doesn’t mean advancements in optometry are not happening, though. New developments in optometry are taking place at a fast rate, such as stem cell therapy for retinal, corneal and optic nerve problems and prosthesis. There are also more vast-reaching developments for contact lens wearers that affect millions of consumers around the world. Read further to learn more about some recent advancements and developments.

Antimicrobial Coatings for Contact Lenses

Right now, future developments are being made that involve protecting the lens surface itself from bacteria without the use of disinfectant solutions. The University of New South Wales is developing a coating for contact lenses made of a material called melimine. Melimine is a peptide that remains effective when applied to contact lenses and worn in your eyes. Like most consumers, you may be wary of placing a new material or chemical in your eyes. This coating is safe to use in the eyes and remains stable when exposed to heat or liquid. It doesn’t alter the contact lens dimension in any way, so lenses will remain their usual small dimensions. The coating is proven to be effective for reducing bacteria, fungi and other pathogens on the lenses. In addition, melimine is not toxic to mammals. Although this won’t completely take the place of proper lens care, this new melimine coating can reduce the number of eye infections even further.

Advancement for Diabetes-Related Eye Problems

As you probably know, more and more people are diagnosed with diabetes and pre-diabetes every year. This disease can affect the eyes and cause vision loss over time, especially with uncontrolled blood glucose levels and unhealthy lifestyle habits. Some things researchers are working on in the optometry world include treatments for eye disorders related to diabetes. Scatter laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy is one advancement that has been proven effective. Since diabetes is known to cause vision problems, researchers have found that strict control of blood glucose levels and proper nutrition can greatly reduce the risk of developing diabetes-related eye problems for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients. This is just another reason for people to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, whether they have diabetes or not.

Stem Cell Therapy for Eye Disorders

Researchers are working on stem cell therapy as a treatment for retinal and optic nerve problems. As you’ve likely heard, stem cell treatments enable to body to regenerate healthy cells that have been destroyed by certain conditions and restore proper function. This may eventually lead to a new way to treat patients altogether. Right now, stem cell advances provide a way to regrow retinal and optical nerve tissue. This can help patients with diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. Researchers are currently working on corneal regeneration to treat a whole other segment of eye disorders. Stem cell therapy will definitely be something to look forward to in the field of optometry.

Optiwave Refractive Analysis

Many advances are being made when it comes to eye surgery, especially in the realm of laser technology. If you had to have eye surgery in the past, its success was typically not determined immediately after the surgery. Surgeons were previously unable to assess patients’ focusing capabilities during surgery, and they had to wait for weeks until after the procedure to learn the final results. New technology called Optiwave Refractive Analysis allows surgeons to analyze the eyes during the procedure using a laser. The reflection of the laser off of the back of the eyes gives surgeons real time information about the condition of the patient’s eyes. This makes it easier to adjust the procedure according to the patient’s needs and provide them with the best possible results. You would typically know the results of your surgery immediately after instead of having an agonizing wait during recovery.

Optos Retinal Scanning

If you’ve ever had to receive dilating eye drops at the doctor’s office, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Irritated eyes and sensitivity to sunlight for hours make it a dreaded procedure for many people. This can even make you want to put off a visit to the eye doctor, even when you know it’s for the best. A new advancement in diagnostic tools, the Optos retinal scanning system, eliminates the need for those irritating drops. The doctor scans your eyes in a few seconds and can view a digital image of your retina and other parts of your eyes. The results allow eye doctors to diagnose many different eye diseases and conditions. Some things that can be found through Optos retinal scanning include macular degeneration, retinal tears or detachment, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and even diabetes, eye cancer and high blood pressure, which may show up in your eyes without previous symptoms. Eye doctors can also save the results and compare your eye’s condition over time. This makes future visits to the eye doctor less invasive and more comprehensive than before, hopefully leading to greater compliance of regular visits.

Color blindness is a relatively common problem, though it is more common in men. About 1 in 12 men suffer from the condition, while about 1 in 200 women have it.

Despite its ubiquity, color blindness is often misunderstood. In contrast to what its name suggests, color blindness does not mean that the person cannot see any color. Most people who suffer from it cannot fully see reds, greens and blues. The experience can be like looking at an overexposed photo or one that has lost its saturation.

Sometimes, color blindness can cause a person to mix up colors. For example, if a person has trouble seeing reds, they might not be able to distinguish between purple and blue. Without the red tint in the purple, it will appear as blue. Other colors that can be affected include reds, greens, oranges, browns, pinks and greys.

It is very rare that a person would not be able to see any colors at all.

Cause of Color Blindness

The majority of cases of color blindness are due to genetics – as many as 99 percent of cases. The condition is passed down through the mother’s genetics, and the deficiency is on the X chromosome. Those who are color blind don’t necessarily have a color blind mother.

The genetic deficiency causes changes in one of the three types of cone cells in the eyes, or it can cause one of these cells to be absent. These cells are located in the macula (which is inside the retina), and they are responsible for sensing red, green and blue light. Depending on whether someone has a deficiency or is missing these cells will determine whether they can see any red, green or blue light at all, or they can only see limited amounts of these colors.

There are other causes of color blindness, though they are not as common. Some diseases and poor health conditions can also lead to color blindness. For example, diabetes and multiple sclerosis have both been linked to the development of color blindness.

Poor eye conditions can also lead to color blindness, such as glaucoma, age related macular degeneration and cataracts. Eye injuries can also result in color blindness.

Some people can also experience color blindness as they age or as a result of the side effects of some medications.

Treatment for Color Blindness

Since most cases of color blindness are genetic, the condition does not improve over time. It also means that there is no cure for color blindness. While some study has been done on the possibility of using gene therapy to repair the damaged chromosome, no advances have been made with that treatment. If gene therapy does become a reality, it will be an expensive and extensive treatment.

Correction of color blindness is possible in some cases. Light filtering lenses can be prescribed to help those with color blindness see more of the deficient color. These lenses may not always be able to restore full color vision, but they may be able to make enough of the color visible to distinguish it from other shades.

Color filtering lenses look a bit like 3D glasses. They are glasses with colored lenses inside, such as red, blue or green. Many people find these glasses to look awkward or to clash with their personal style. If that’s the case, contact lenses with color filtering may also be available. The contact lenses work the same way as the glasses, but they fit over the eye instead, creating less of a distraction from your personal aesthetic.

Surgery to create other eye problems that are contributing to color blindness can offer some relief. For example, if a person has a cataract that is causing the color blindness, then surgery to correct the cataract may restore some color vision.

Most often, people who are color blind simply learn how to adapt their habits to accommodate the deficiency. For example, they would look for a light at the top of the traffic signal instead of looking for a red light, or they would recognize the shape of a stop sign instead of the color. Wearing regular glasses that block glare can also help wearers see some colors more clearly, in some cases.

Diagnosing Color Blindness

People who have always been color blind may not understand that there is a problem – after all, the colors have always appeared the same to them, and they don’t know what they can’t see. Over time, they will understand the problem through interactions with others. However, children may not yet be able to recognize the issue, and having their vision tested regularly can help to diagnose problems early. The earlier the problem is discovered, the earlier parents can work with them to manage the condition and reduce its impact on their daily lives.

Tests for color blindness include asking patients to identify a series of colored dots to find patterns, such as a letter or number inside the dots. Another test asks patients to arrange a series of colored chips by their similarity in colors, such as grouping the shades of red or the shades of blue.

Children can begin having eye exams as young as 3 years old.

Color blindness may be incurable, but it does not have to significantly impact your quality of life. You can get treatment through wearing colored lenses or contact lenses, or you can learn how to manage the condition over time. With scientific advances, you may even one day be able to receive a cure.