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spring-allergies-eyecareThe days are growing longer and spring is just around the corner! And with a new season just ahead of us will come a new set of eye care guidelines. To help you prepare for the change, we’ve put together a quick list of things everyone can do to care for their vision this spring:

  1. Beware of the sun. In a cloudy city like Pittsburgh, it's easy to skip out on using a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Who needs them, right? We all do - because UV rays can penetrate both clouds and glass. While sunscreen will help protect your skin, a hat and sunglasses will help to protect your eyes - and by reducing your UV exposure, you will reduce your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems.
  2. Report redness. Redness. Itching. Teary eyes. These are all symptoms associated with allergies - but they can also be symptoms of infections, dry eye disease, or other inflammatory problems. Rather than assume the symptoms are nothing, it’s best to report them to your doctor and schedule time for a quick exam. When it comes to our vision, it’s always better safe than sorry.
  3. Don't forget protective eyewear. As the weather warms up we're all likely to spend more time outside. Some of us will play recreational sports; and some of us will work in our garages or yards. Either way, these activities and more all have the potential to cause serious eye injuries. That’s why you should always make sure that you wear appropriate protective eyewear, that fits properly, before engaging in them. This will reduce your risk of being in an accidental eye injury that requires hospitalization - and which may compromise your vision.
  4. Wash those hands. Allergens and germs alike can reach your eyes via your hands, which many of us use to rub our faces throughout the day. Regular hand washing can help remove infection-causing germs as well as irritating pollen throughout the day - although, it’s best not to rub red and itchy eyes at all!

These four simple tips can go a long way make your spring season much more comfortable. Remember: if you are experiencing any odd symptoms, or have any follow-up questions about this advice, contact us today to ask about available appointments with our team. Our staff are here to make sure your spring season is as healthy and comfortable as possible!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com 

 

Talk to your doctor about your medicine and how it will affect your eye health.One of the best things you can do before any medical appointment is gather information about the medications you're taking. That’s because any medication can cause a range of side effects. And sometimes the side effects of medications include changes to our eyes and vision. In the more minor cases, the effects are limited to discomfort such as dryness. In the extreme, though, those effects can contribute to vision loss.

All of this means that failing to tell an eye doctor about your medications can leave your care provider half-blind - preventing them from caring for your vision effectively. So today, we want to make sure our patients know exactly how to work with their eye doctor in managing their medications, and watching for potential side effects between appointments.

Always Keep Your Doctor In The Loop

To reduce your risk of feeling the worst effects of a medication, always tell your doctors - including your eye doctors - which medicines you take. If you take multiple medications, write them down. That means all your prescriptions, all your over-the-counter purchases, and even all of your herbal supplements. That way, you won’t forget to tell your eye doctor about any of them in the appointment.

Once your doctors know what you’re using - and why - they can help you either adjust your dosages or effectively treat the symptoms of a medication, depending on your individual medical needs.

Remember, it becomes even more important to bring this list to your doctor if you are living with a chronic condition. Diabetes, for example, is known to affect your eyes and can leave you more susceptible to the side effects of certain medications.

Watch Out For & Report Your Symptoms

Don’t just talk to your doctor during your annual visit - if a new symptom develops between appointments, it’s worth reporting it. This is especially important since the side effects of medications can feel just like the symptoms of aging, looking at a screen too long, or just being tired. Additionally, sometimes medications can trigger chronic eye issues - so reporting a new symptom ASAP will be the key to your care.

Consider the following health issues and symptoms, which are all examples of how medications can affect your eyes:

  • Dry eye. Some medications suppress your eyes' ability to produce tears - and without tears, your eyes begin to dry out. A lack of moisture can also make your eyes hurt, burn, or become sensitive to light. Antidepressants, birth control, cholesterol medications, and more can all lead to dry eye. And heads up: before you use eye drops to treat this symptom, it's best to visit with an eye doctor and to discuss how your medications can be causing the problem. Otherwise, it's possible for the ingredients in the over-the-counter drops to make your dry eye worse!
  • Light sensitivity. Light sensitivity by itself can also be brought on by certain medications. Acne medicine, antibiotics, and some anti-inflammatory drugs can all contribute to light sensitivity. So if you’re always reaching for your sunglasses or shielding your eyes from the light, an appointment with your doctor is a must.
  • Cataracts. If you take corticosteroids - whether for asthma, allergies, arthritis, or skin conditions - then your prescription can raise your risk of developing cataracts. Corticosteroids can be prescribed as a cream or a pill, both of which can cause swelling in the back of the eye or retina and potentially lead to cataracts. While cataracts themselves can be treated, it’s best to discuss your medications with a doctor as soon as possible after starting them, to ensure that steps are taken to protect your vision.
  • Glaucoma. Some medications - including those used for depression, Parkinson’s disease, seizures, ulcers, asthma, arrhythmia, hemorrhoids, and allergies - can actually raise your risk of glaucoma. This eye disease develops when the optic nerve in your eye is damaged, often due to rising eye pressure. Doctors aren't sure exactly why medications may cause glaucoma; one theory is that these medications change the eye’s structure and allow fluid and other materials to build up, putting pressure on the nerve. Fortunately, providing a full list of your medications will allow your doctor to focus on potentially risky medicines, and to schedule additional eye exams and treatments as needed to help protect your vision.

These are just a few examples of the potential side effects caused by medication. Any medicine comes with risks of side effects, and even affects different people in different ways. Fortunately, you don’t have to decipher the confusing and complicated world of medical side effects alone.

If you have not told your eye doctor about your most recent prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, contact us today to ask about available appointments with our team. Our staff are ready to update your files and ensure that the medicine you’re taking is helping your entire body - including your vision - reach its healthiest potential.

cataract_mature_needs_surgery.jpg What sorts of vision problems do you associate with aging? Chances are that you thought of cataracts. Cataracts are very common in the elderly. And by the age of 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

Having cataracts treated and removed is often very liberating for patients. But new research has added a new benefit to the surgical process. Not only does it help restore clear eyesight to a cataract sufferer - it may extend their life.

These exciting findings are the result of a 20-year long study, according to a recent New York Times article. Incredibly, the study found a 60 percent lower risk of death among patients who underwent cataract surgery, compared to those who did not. The findings were published last fall in JAMA Ophthalmology by Dr. Anne L. Coleman and her colleagues at the Stein Eye Institute of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, with Dr. Victoria L. Tseng as lead author.

 

Understanding Cataracts

Understanding the nature of cataracts can help shed light on the study’s spectacular findings. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in our eyes; and the term “lens” refers to a transparent structure that sits behind the iris, or the colored part of the eye. Normally, this lens is clear, and helps process light. This processed light is then refracted onto retina of the eye, where the information is turned into a clear picture. Because the lens helps to process light and therefore the world around us, it’s vital part of healthy vision.

Cataracts, however, get in the way of seeing normally. By clouding over a lens, they interfere with its ability to process light. This creates a “foggy” frame of vision in the place of a clear picture, as cataract creates a filter overtop the lens. This makes it difficult - and eventually, even impossible - for patients to read, drive, or navigate through their daily routine.

 

Understanding The Research

It’s important to note that simply undergoing surgery wasn’t what extended the lives of patients in this 20-year long study about cataracts. Rather, the surgery was the catalyst for a number of major changes.

Because cataracts interfere with a patient’s ability to see, it also makes it hard for a patient to take care of themselves. In fact, the subjects of this study reportedly suffered from heart attacks, chronic pulmonary disease, peptic ulcers and glaucoma.

However, according to the study's team of researchers, patients who underwent surgery could move more; get more exercise; see and take their medicine without assistance; and experienced a decreased risk of an accidental fall. While they came into the study in poor health, many of them completed the study in an improved state of health!

 

What This Means For You

As you plan for your future, preparing to possibly address a cataract will likely be on your to do list. This study helps to highlight the importance of treating a cataract when it interferes with your daily life. At this point, it won’t just be an inconvenience - it will be a detriment to your physical health.

Regular visits with an eye doctor will help to ensure that cataracts are spotted sooner rather than later, allowing you to plan for treatments when the time comes. And while cataracts are very common, you can still work to reduce your risk of developing them at any age. Exposure to sunlight, regularly smoking, being overweight, having high blood pressure, being diabetic, or having a family history of cataracts are all known risk factors. And since many of these risk factors can be controlled by your healthy living habits, it’s not impossible to begin working now so you can help prevent the need for cataract surgery later!

Do you have additional questions about cataract prevention or treatment? Reach out today to ask about available appointments with our team. At Everett and Hurite, our staff can assist you with any questions and concerns regarding your eyes, vision, and care needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and to begin working on a clearer future! 

new_years_resolution_eye_care.jpegMany people use the new year as a time to set new goals and refocus their priorities. Why not make eye care a top priority in 2018?

More than 23 million Americans suffer from vision loss, and a loss of vision is one of the biggest health-related fears in the United States. While not all eye diseases can be prevented, there are simple steps that everyone can take to help their eyes remain healthy now and reduce their chances of vision loss in the future.

Here are five ways to safeguard your vision in the new year:

  • Schedule Your Annual Comprehensive Eye Exam. A comprehensive eye exam should be your first step when crossing off your eye-related resolutions. A comprehensive eye exam can determine your risk for major eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, which has no early warning signs or symptoms. An eye exam can also ensure that your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses is up to date, helping you see more clearly and potentially reducing eye strain symptoms.
  • Know Your Family History. Be aware of your family's health history. Do you or any of your family suffer from diabetes or have a history of high blood pressure? Are you over the age of 65? Are you an African-American over the age of 40? Any of these traits could increase your risk for some sight-threatening eye diseases. Being able to answer family history questions will help your doctor customize their exams to your vision needs.
  • Be Aware of Eye Fatigue. If you spend a significant amount of time in front of a computer screen or doing close work, you may experience eye fatigue. Consider the 20-20-20 rule: Look up from your work every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If eye fatigue persists, it can be a sign of several different conditions, such as presbyopia, dry eye, or eyeglasses with lenses that are not properly centered. You’ll want to see your doctor to determine why you are having eye fatigue and to receive proper treatment.
  • Wear UV Protective Sunglasses. UV blocking sunglasses can delay the development of cataracts, since direct sunlight hastens their formation. Sunglasses also prevent retinal damage and protect the delicate eyelid skin from both wrinkles and skin cancer around the eye. Check your sunglasses for 100 percent UV protection, and be sure to wear them year round!
  • Eat a Balanced Diet. Eating a healthy diet isn’t just good for your body - it’s good for your eyes, too. Numerous studies have shown that antioxidants can possibly reduce the risk of cataracts. These antioxidants are obtained from eating a diet containing plentiful amounts of fruits and colorful or dark green vegetables. Studies also have shown that eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration.

As you write your New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget to keep your eye care goals in sight. And if you’re unsure how to go about caring for your vision, just ask the experts! At Everett and Hurite, our staff can assist you with questions and other eye concerns you may have or best practices for taking care of your eyes. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

cooking holiday meals If your November traditions include preparing a Thanksgiving meal, this means there will be plenty of time spent in the kitchen, often with family and friends around to add to the chaos and distractions. This is why it’s a great time of year to be reminded of eye safety, particularly when it comes to kitchen safety. With so many holiday traditions involving food, you should be mindful of your eyes and the eyes of those around you while preparing and serving meals and snacks alike. You should especially watch out for the following:

  • Kitchen Liquids. If any liquids splash into your eyes while you are cooking or preparing food, take care to properly clean your eyes. Be sure to flush the affected eye or eyes thoroughly with water. Some burning and tearing isn’t atypical with liquids that have some acidity to them, but be mindful that some liquids can cause infection, such as liquids from raw meats. See an eye doctor if your symptoms continue without improvement after the holiday.
  • Grease and Hot Liquids. While you are cooking, hot oils and grease frequently splatter from pans and have the potential to cause issues for your skin, clothing, and eyes. Preventative measures against this include goggles, but at the very least you should always use a grease shield or use lids on pans with splattering liquids. This is especially important if you have children or pets in your household that might be closer to eye-level exposure.
  • Sharp Objects. Sharp objects commonly found around the house such as knives, forks, and scissors are a major cause of eye injuries, especially among children. If there are children in the household as you cook, take extra care with where you are leaving sharp objects to ensure small hands can’t accidentally grab them. Return items to safe locations after using them. These precautions will help keep your kitchen workspace safe.
  • Cleaning Products. In preparation for the holidays, you may be doing some cleaning, both in and out of the kitchen. Don’t forget that cleaning products are dangerous and should be treated accordingly. Wear eye protection while you’re working with cleaning products such as bleach and other chemical cleaners, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards to avoid accidental contact with eyes. They can cause serious eye damage if they get in your eyes.

Taking action before anything gets into your eyes can go a long way in protecting your vision this season. If you have additional or specific concerns about eye safety, we are here to help! At Everett and Hurite, our staff can assist you with questions or concerns you may have about eye problems. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Image courtesy of Pexels.com 

eye_macular_degeneration.jpgYou’ve probably heard the term “dry macular degeneration” during a visit to the eye doctor, but exactly what does it mean? It turns out, macular degeneration is fairly common among Americans who are 65 and older, with dry macular degeneration affecting 85% - 90% of cases. This condition involves the drying out of the macula, which is a portion of the retina that is responsible for providing clear vision. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation explains that in the “dry” type of macular degeneration, the deterioration of the retina is associated with the formation of small yellow deposits, known as drusen, under the macula. This phenomenon leads to a thinning and drying out of the macula, causing the macula to lose its function. The amount of central vision loss is directly related to the location (typically in your central line of vision) and amount of retinal thinning caused by the drusen. When this occurs, images are not received correctly, which can lead to wavy or blurred vision.

Put simply, as a result of this thinning and drying within your eye, your vision is blurred and becomes spotty in the center of your field of vision. The condition can be quite frightening to experience, and reading about may have you wondering what your options are for prevention and treatment.

Let’s take a look at causes, symptoms, prevention, and signs that tell you it may be time to be looked at by an eye doctor.

 

Common Symptoms

Dry macular degeneration symptoms are generally painless and can develop over extended periods of time. The condition can impact one or both eyes or just one, depending on the patient. Other conditions can show similar symptoms, so it’s important to consult with your eye doctor on the diagnosis. While symptoms vary from patient to patient, some common problems may include the following:

  • Distorted vision
  • Reduced central vision
  • Difficulty recognizing faces
  • Increased blurriness when reading print
  • Difficulty adapting to different low light levels

 

Common Causes

So you’ve discovered these symptoms, but what could have caused this to happen? While a main cause cannot be identified, there are a number of risk factors that can be attributed to dry macular degeneration. Some of these common risk factors could be:

  • Age, typically in adults age 65 or older
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

 

Preventive Measures

It’s important to have your eyes checked regularly, especially if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed earlier. If not corrected promptly, dry macular degeneration can have a negative, lasting impact on your vision. Having routine eye exams will allow your eye doctor to check up on your eyes and point out any abnormalities or signs of dry macular degeneration, even before problematic symptoms appear. It’s also wise for your overall vision to exercise regularly, eat a diet consisting of plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid smoking, and keep your health in check. A healthy body can also have a positive impact on vision.

Dry macular degeneration can negatively affect vision, which can make going through life a bit more difficult. Having regular eye doctor exams and keeping your overall health in check can prevent symptoms from arising, and as well as reduce your risk of developing a number of other vision issues. If you’re having concerns about macular degeneration or you aren’t sure what you can do to correct, it, we can help. At Everett and Hurite, our staff can assist you with questions or concerns you may have about the dry macular degeneration or other eye problems you could be faced with. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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