Vancouver Optometrists & Eye Doctors

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Archive for August, 2014

Easy steps to maintaining eye health

Thursday, August 14, 2014 @ 11:08 PM
Author: admin

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Eye health isn’t something to be taken for granted. Like the rest of your body, you need to take care of your eyes and practice healthy lifestyle choices. There are numerous ailments out there, and as we grow older we’re at more risk of serious problems, like macular degeneration, retinal disorders and other issues that can compromise your vision.

Eye health is often about just taking simple steps. Read on to find easy tips for keeping your eyes as healthy as they can be.

See Your Eye Doctor

Your eye care professional is the only person that can help you with finding and treating eye problems. You need to get a comprehensive eye exam, which includes having your pupils dilated. When doctors dilate your pupils, they use drops to open up the pupil wider than it usually is. They use this technique to look in your eye and observe if there is any damage or diseases. While it’s recommended you get your eyes checked at least once a year, some people may need to see their eye care professional more often. If you have diabetes, a concerning family history of eye problems, or have been diagnosed already with an eye problem, you need to see your eye care professional more often.

If you wear eyeglasses, you need to keep getting examinations because your prescription might be out of date. This could be hard to notice because you’re used to using the eyeglasses you have, so you might not realize your vision is growing more blurry, and this can be dangerous. Also, never feel hesitant to talk with your practitioner if you have questions or concerns about your eye health. That’s why they’re there: to make sure your eyes are as healthy as they can be.

Focus On Your Diet

This might sound redundant, but diet does mean a lot to your health, and your eyes aren’t exempt. Vitamins like A, C and E are essential to keeping your eyes healthy and free of ailments. Luckily, you can find these vitamins in lots of fruits and vegetables, like oranges, kiwis and carrots. But eat leafy greens, too, like spinach, collard greens and kale – these foods have been shown to make a real difference in promoting eye health. Fish that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids are also very important, so try adding more salmon, halibut and tuna into your meals.

Control Your Weight

Like having a good diet, maintaining a healthy body weight prevents serious eye problems. When people gain weight or become obese, they are at great risk of developing disease and other dangerous systemic conditions. This is linked to lots of eye problems that can greatly endanger your sight, like diabetic eye disease and glaucoma.

Quit Smoking

This shouldn’t be surprising. Smoking is awful for your body, and now there are plenty of studies that have shown smoking links to age-related macular degeneration, a serious eye problem that can lead to complete loss of central vision when you get older. That’s not all, though. We now know smoking causes cataracts and even optic nerve damage. So ditch the smokes, no bad habit is worth seriously damaging your eyes.

Know your family history

Many eye problems can be genetically passed on, such as retinal detachment. This is a serious condition that can happen quite suddenly and lead to blindness if not treated in time. There are other problems that could be in your family history, as well, like macular degeneration. If you do find something concerning in your family history, don’t hesitate to speak with your eye care practitioner. Knowing what you may be at risk of is a crucial step to prevention and especially treatment, should you ever run into that eye problem.

Use those sunglasses

Ultraviolet rays from the sun wreak havoc on the eyes. They can cause serious damage both in the short term and the long term. Sunglasses are affordable, comfortable, effective and stylish, so why not use them? Plus, you can even get eyeglasses that have photochromic lenses that automatically shift from an indoor transparency to a shaded tint, protecting your eyes whenever you enter sunlight. This way you don’t need sunglasses, you can just have your eyeglasses play both roles.

Wear Protective Eyewear

Never neglect the mantra of protecting your eyes. Whether you’re playing racquetball, operating a weld or working with copious chemicals or fumes, you need to make sure you have your eyes protected. That’s why so many workplaces enforce requirements for wearing eyewear on the job, but only you can control your decisions. Make the right choice: protect your eyes.

Take care of your contact lenses

Infections can happen if you don’t keep your contact lenses clean. Always wash your hands and thoroughly disinfect your lenses before you use them.

Don’t strain too much

There’s nothing dangerous about reading in the dark, staring at a computer or sitting close to the television – but these things can lead to eye strain. When you focus on something, you’re less likely to blink, so your eyes can get dry and irritated, too. The best way to deal with this is to follow “the 20 rule”: Every 20 minutes, take a little 20 second break, looking at other objects in the room. This reduces eye strain, letting your eyes relax and refocus.

So there’s lots of ways to take care of your eyes. These are all easy and effective, so make an effort. Your eyes are your windows to the world – don’t neglect them.

Spotting Retinal Detachment Before It’s Too Late

Thursday, August 14, 2014 @ 11:08 PM
Author: admin

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Retinal detachment is a very serious retinal disorder that can cause blindness if it’s not treated. Your retina is one of the most essential parts of your eye. It’s made of neurons that catch light and translate into nerve impulses that travel to your brain. So, what makes retinal detachment so alarming is that the retina actually loosens and separates from the tissue around it. If this problem isn’t treated in time, it easily can lead to blindness.

There are ways to spot this condition, though. If you are someone who is very nearsighted, you should be aware of your risk of developing retinal detachment. Also, retinal detachment can be hereditary, so if this has occurred to someone in your family you could be at risk. Retinal detachments have also been associated with eye injuries and cataracts. If you’re suffering from one of these things, you may benefit from having a discussion with your eye care professional about the possible risk of retinal detachment.

The worrisome aspect about retinal detachments is that they don’t cause any pain despite the fact they can be so devastating to your eye health. There are symptoms you can spot, though, one of them being flashes of light. If you start to notice bright sensations of light in your vision, speak to your doctor immediately. Another sign could be “floaters,” a colloquial term for specks or threads that enter your vision. You should also be aware of a dimming in your peripheral vision, as this is another indicator of a possible retinal detachment forming.

Always keep these symptoms in mind because early detection is the key to successfully treating a retinal detachment. Retinal detachment can even be prevented, in some cases. The most important thing is to see your eye doctor at least once a year. When you get an eye exam, the doctor is more likely to detect concerning changes in your eye that you haven’t even noticed yet.

Some people may have to go to their doctor more often, especially if they suffer from other health problems like diabetes or hypertension, which have been known to associate with various eye disorders, including retinal detachments. If you are nearsighted, you should visit your eye doctor annually to make sure your eyes are healthy and not developing a retinal detachment, as nearsighted people have a much higher risk of getting it, oftentimes quite suddenly.

It’s also important to understand the difference between a retinal tear and retinal detachment, as they are not one in the same. A retinal tear is usually preliminary to a retinal detachment, and it can cause retinal detachment when it allows fluid in the eye to enter it. The fluid then seeps in and floods behind the retina, loosening and removing it from the connective tissue, causing a retinal detachment.

If you think you have a retinal tear or detachment, your doctor will give you an exam, including dilating the pupils, so as to find out if this is indeed the case. If you actually do have a retinal detachment, there are numerous ways to treat it, fortunately.

Treating Retinal Detachment

It’s incredibly important to catch a retinal tear before it develops into far worse retinal damage because then it can be treated with a simple procedure, such as laser intervention or cryopexy freezing, right in your doctor’s office.

If the tear isn’t too large and can be closed easily, your eye care provider might opt for a procedure called pneumatic retinopexy, where a small gaseous bubble is injected into the eye, in the fluid-like area between the cornea and the retina. This bubble actually rises up naturally and presses against the retina, closing up the tear. And then a simple laser or cryopexy method is used to seal up the tear, finally.

Some instances call for a scleral buckle to be attached to the eye’s sclera, which is the white part of your eye that surrounds the cornea. It’s a silicon band, transparent so it can’t be seen and it’s attached and left on the eye to push the sclera back up against the retina in order to heal the tear. Practitioners may follow up with a laser procedure to seal the tear, then.

For larger, more dangerous tears, doctors use a method called vitrectomy. The doctor will actually extract the fluid in between the cornea and the retina and replace it with a saline solution to treat the tear.

So there are many ways to treat retinal tears and detachments, but it’s essential to remember that detecting this problem before it worsens is integral to successfully treating it. Whether or not you’re nearsighted, have cataracts, diabetes, hypertension, hereditary association or any other factor that may put you at risk of developing a retinal detachment, you should always see your eye care professional regularly. The symptoms of retinal detachments aren’t necessarily noticeable, so don’t be hesitant to seek consultation and examination from your eye care professional.

Macular Degeneration: Why it happens and how it can be treated

Thursday, August 7, 2014 @ 09:08 PM
Author: admin

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The retina is an amazing part of the eye. This thin film of tissue is made of neurons of all different types, like rods, cones and a third, very special neuron type called the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cell. All of these cells are connected through synapses, and as light enters our eye through the cornea and lens, the retina picks up the light and translates it into triggered nerve impulses that travel from our optic nerve into our brain, giving us the sense of sight.

It’s an astounding process. Unfortunately, the retina becomes prone to various disorders, especially as someone grows older. One of the most common of these disorders is called macular degeneration.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration, sometimes abbreviated as AMD, is the leading cause of severe vision problems in people over the age of 60, and while it can’t completely blind someone, it can still destroy central vision, altogether. People who smoke, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, suffer from obesity, have light skin or light eye color or are female can be at a greater risk of developing macular degeneration.

Furthermore, the condition may be linked to hereditary causes, so if someone in your family has had this condition, you may want to speak with your doctor and find out how at risk you are of getting it. If you do have AMD, you must monitor your vision often, as the condition, in all its forms, can potentially worsen and destroy your central vision, ultimately.

The Causes

When AMD occurs, a specific, small and central part of the retina, called the macular, deteriorates, and this could happen for a few reasons. Around 90 percent of the time it’s because yellow deposits, referred to as drusen, accumulate on the retina. The medical field refers to this as “dry” AMD.

People can have drusen on their retina and not see any difference, but if they accumulate even more, they’ll begin to notice their vision is more distorted or dimmed, especially when they try to read. At its worst, the macula may become thinned, and this leads to atrophy, or tissue death. Blind spots appear in the vision and people can lose their central vision, altogether.

The other 10 percent of AMD is of the “wet” form, and this occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow from underneath the macula. This can be very serious, as the blood vessels can cause blood and fluids to leak all over the retina. People will have serious vision issues, like straight lines becoming wavy and the formation of blind spots, and then the vessels eventually scar, causing loss of central vision.

Treating Macular Degeneration

AMD is a scary disorder because it’s common, dangerous and doctors have yet to find a cure for it. Most people have dry AMD, so their vision deteriorates very slowly and they’ll never go blind from it, but it can still create problems in their daily lives.

Because of this, low-vision clinics can offer great assistance. There are also many tools one can use so they can still read, like bright reading lamps, magnifying glasses and large-print books. There’s even software available that can read emails and browse the internet for you so you don’t have to rely on your eyesight.

According to research, diet and nutrition could be important factors to maintaining eye health. That means getting plenty of Vitamins A, C and E in your meals, and you can find these nutrients in fruits and vegetables, like oranges, kiwis, carrots, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables. There’s also evidence that supplements of these nutrients could help, as well.

For people with wet form AMD, there are treatment options. The aim is stop those blood vessels from growing, which can be done with something called anti-VEGF medication. This treatment tries to block the chemical that facilitates more blood vessels to grow in the retina. Doctors administer the drug by injecting it into the eye once it has been properly anaesthetized, or numbed of any pain. The procedure has very little discomfort, and it’s been show to work effectively. Some people have even reported their vision improving from it. There are various types of anti-VEGF medications, like ranibizumab, aflibercept and pegaptanib, so if you do suffer from dry form macular degeneration, you should speak with your doctor about possibly using an anti-VEGF treatment.

There are also certain laser surgeries that can be done to try and help people with wet form macular degeneration. These procedures are designed to get rid of the blood vessels they have. For instance, one type of surgery, photodynamic therapy (PDT), uses a light-sensitive medicine called verteporfin that’s intravenously injected and then attaches to the abnormal blood vessels. With a laser light, the verteporfin is catalyzed and activates, destroying the abnormal blood vessels and protecting the macula tissue from further harm. While this surgery is effective, it’s only appropriate for certain cases of wet form macular degeneration, around a fifth of them, in fact. Laser photocoagulation is another kind of laser surgery. Only one in seven cases can do this surgery, though, because the abnormal blood vessels can’t be near the fovea or the procedure could cause permanent vision loss.

Macular degeneration is a serious condition and its frequency among older people is very significant. Even today, scientists are still looking for better treatments. If you start having vision problems, speak to your doctor. It’s best to be aware if you have this condition so that you can move forward and take care of your eye health.