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Good eye care is a must when wearing contact lenses. Those with eyesight issues, whether they’re major or minor, have a few correcting options for helping them see clearly. While glasses are an option for many, contact lenses have stepped up to be one of the other more popular choices. It’s estimated that that roughly 40 million Americans wear contact lenses. Contacts can free up one’s face and can be easy to insert and remove from the eye, but they can also cause quite a few problems when not properly taken care of. Fortunately, knowing how to care for your contacts - and how to watch for potential problems - can help you see clearly for a while to come.

 

Be Aware of Risk Behaviors

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016 six out of every 7 contact lense wearers reported at least one behavior that could put them at risk for lense-related eye infections. This includes both adult and adolescent contact lense wearers, but adolescents were more likely to indulge in a bad habit. When done frequently, many of these behaviors can lead to long-term issues, such as eye infections that potentially lead to blindness. These are some risk behaviors that could be problematic:

  • Wearing contact lenses while sleeping or napping
  • Replacing lenses at longer intervals than prescribed
  • Not making annual visits to the eye doctor
  • Swimming in contact lenses
  • Storing or rinsing lenses in tap water
  • Mixing old contact lense solutions with new ones

 

Ending Bad Habits

In order to correct some of the bad habits many contact lens wearers may have developed, here are some recommended safe practices.

  • Many of the risk behaviors listed above involve exposing contact lenses to bacteria and microorganisms, such as pool water or tap water. Contact lenses must be stored and handled in approved contact solution, which will destroy any bacteria that could cause real damage to your eyes.
  • As for mixing solutions, this may not seem harmful, but it’s more trouble than it’s worth. When you top off an old contact solution with a new one, the solution that has been sitting in the case could chemically react and lead to an eye infection if done frequently. Always clean out your case before filling it with a new solution.
  • When it comes to sleeping or napping, always remove your contact lenses unless your doctor tells you otherwise. This bad habit can put stress on the cornea, which reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the eyes. Less oxygen to the eye increases the risk of painful or vision-threatening infections.
  • Making yearly visits to the eye doctor, especially if you’ve been having issues with contact lenses, is one of the best ways to catch an infection or developing vision problems early. Your doctor may ask you if you have been guilty of any of these habits, and it’s best to be honest with them so they can provide the best solution for you.

 

If you’re guilty of any of these risk behaviors, it’s time to put a stop to them as soon as possible. Habits can be hard to break, but with serious eye infections and even healthy vision on the line, it’s time to make your eye health a priority over convenience. At Everett and Hurite, our staff can assist you with questions and any other eye concerns you may have about contact lense health or best practices for taking care of your eyes. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Image courtesy of pexels.com

Nutrition can help prevent glaucoma.It’s the 2nd leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world - “it” being glaucoma. Glaucoma develops when the optic nerve in your eyes is progressively damaged, often due to excessive pressure caused by excess amounts of fluid buildup. This damage can lead to vision loss, starting with peripherals, and eventually affecting the rest of our eyes.

In the United States, it’s estimated that roughly three million people have glaucoma - but about half of them don’t realize they have the disease because of the lack of early symptoms. So how can one be proactive and reduce their risk of glaucoma?

While there is no surefire way to avoid glaucoma, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing it. Specifically:

  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables. Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens is not only good for overall health and well-being, but these foods are also beneficial to our eyes. Fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, which benefit our vision health. Foods rich in vitamins A and C - such as cabbage, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, celery, carrots, peaches, radishes, green beans, and beets - have also been shown to boost our eye health and aid in reducing the risk of glaucoma. (Click here to take a look at some other fruits and vegetables that keep our eyes healthy.)
  • Eating a balanced diet with vision-supportive vitamins and minerals. Many nutrients that help prevent glaucoma can be found in other parts of a balanced diet. As previously mentioned, vitamin A and vitamin C are beneficial to our eyes, but vitamin E has also been shown to boost vision. Vitamin E can be found in wheat and cereal, seafood, avocados, nuts, egg yolks, and more. Zinc, Lutein and Zeaxanthin are also great for your eyes and can reduce your risk of glaucoma. However, it’s important to remember that too much of a good thing can actually have a negative impact on your body. We’ve written about whether or not supplements can be beneficial in the past, and our advice then stands here as well!
  • Knowing your family's eye health history. If a relative has glaucoma, you’re more likely to develop it yourself. Always mention your family history to an eye doctor to ensure that you’re getting the eye screenings you need to catch glaucoma early on. Doctors may also prescribe eye drops to help protect your eyes from pressure-related damage to help keep glaucoma symptoms at bay.
  • Exercising (safely). Regular, moderate exercise may not just help keep your body in healthy shape - it may also help prevent glaucoma by reducing eye pressure. Depending on your age and health, however, you may need to take precautions before exercising - there’s no reason to put an unhealthy strain on your heart, joints, or another problem area. That’s why working with a doctor to develop an exercise routine specifically tailored to your limitations is recommended to help reduce the risk of glaucoma.

It’s important to remember that while good food, exercise, and even prescription eye drops can reduce the risk of glaucoma, they aren’t the cure or a guaranteed way to prevent glaucoma. Working with an eye doctor is the only way you can detect possible problems and keep them at bay, as early problems or risk factors can only be detected through regular eye exams. This is why checking up on your eye health is crucial, particularly if you have concerns about glaucoma or other serious eye conditions.

Addressing and diagnosing any issues with glaucoma, or starting treatment options early, will save many patients a lot of stress before symptoms become worse. Everett and Hurite’s staff can assist you with questions and any other eye concerns you may have. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Back_To_School_Eye_Exams_Children_Eye_Health.jpg With summer vacation coming to an end, many students and parents are beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year. But between purchasing school supplies, signing up for fall activities and sports, orientations, and finishing up last-minute summer trips, many forget to schedule an eye exam prior to the start of the school year. In fact only 50 percent of parents take their children under 12 years old to visit their eye doctor, even though skipping annual visits can lead to vision problems being missed in their early stages.

Making sure your child’s eyes are in good health and are ready for the school year ahead is important, and scheduling a comprehensive eye exam is the only way to diagnose any vision problems or concerns early on. Still not convinced? We’ve compiled a few reasons why you should add a back to school vision exam to your list of things to do before the first day of school.

Vision Dependence in School: Children tend to be visual learners, so schools rely on visuals to keep students engaged. If a child is having problems seeing the chalkboard, reading books, or participating in sports or activities, they tend become frustrated, which leads to learning being negatively impacted. School infirmaries do offer vision checks, but they are often limited in scope and rarely pinpoint issues in a child’s vision. That’s why the best way to keep your child’s vision in check is to take them in for annual eye exams. This way, they’ll be ready to hit the books without worrying about their vision.

Changes in Eyesight: As children get older and use their eyes for more computer work or reading, they can start to experience vision problems. Nearsightedness can develop or worsen between ages 11 and 13, so it’s important to check up on this if your child is having issues seeing what’s on the chalkboard or across the room. Other issues, like farsightedness, strabismus, and astigmatism can also be diagnosed during a comprehensive vision exam.

Set your child up for success in the upcoming school year by checking up on their eye health. Addressing and diagnosing any issues prior to the first day of school will not only keep your child’s vision in check, but also save them from frustration and headaches as the year progresses. Everett and Hurite’s staff can assist you with questions and any other eye concerns you may have. Schedule your back to school appointment by contacting us today!

 

Ever notice strange shapes moving around in your eye? Are these shapes more prominent when you’re looking at a bright blue sky or a white sheet of paper? These could be eye floaters - small pieces of collagen that are part of a gel in the back of your eye called the vitreous. So what makes these pieces of collagen move from the back to the front of the eye, and what can be done to remove or prevent this from happening? Here are answers to some common questions regarding causes, symptoms, and treatments for eye vitreous floaters.

You will want to get an eye exam if you develop floaters.

 

What Causes Floaters?

It’s no secret that the older we get, the more problems we experience with our eyes. One of these problems could be the breaking down and clumping of the protein fibers that make up the vitreous, which contributes to shadows being cast on the eye. When the vitreous becomes less jelly-like and becomes more of a liquid, the fibers clump and cause the shadows to appear.

Floaters can occur in adults at any age, although they’re more common between the ages of 50 and 75. You’re more likely to get them if you’re nearsighted or have experienced cataract surgery. Floaters can also result from various eye diseases and injuries, tumors, or diabetic retinopathy.

 

What Are The Symptoms?

Floaters can appear differently in every person who experiences them, but there are a few common symptoms that most patients experience. These symptoms include transparent spots or strings on the eyes, spots that move quickly when looking in different directions, spots that are noticeable when looking at bright lights or plain colors (like a bright, blue sky), or spots that drift out of the line of vision. If you are experiencing these symptoms you should see a specialist as soon as possible to confirm that nothing major is developing in your eye, especially if more severe symptoms develop as well (i.e.new floaters appearing, an abundance of floaters, sudden flashes of light, or peripheral vision loss).

 

How Can Floaters Be Treated?

While floaters can be annoying, most of the time they are harmless, and will go away over time on their own. However, if floaters are continuously getting worse, you will want to see your doctor about possible treatments. There are no treatments for floaters without risks, however. In the past, a vitrectomy, or a removal of the vitreous, was the best recommendation. However, this procedure has a risk of retinal tearing, retinal detachment and cataract formation. Laser vitreolysis is another treatment and it’s performed in a doctor’s office. A laser is projected into the eye through the pupil to target and break up the large floaters. This procedure also carries the risk of retinal tear and detachment. There is also a medication that can be injected into the eye, but this carries a risk of infection, retinal swelling, and retinal tear or detachment. These are all risks that you and your doctor can discuss if the need for treatment ever arises. Fortunately, the majority of floaters resolve naturally, with little to no hassle!

Experiencing any symptoms of floaters? Concerned about your eye health? We can help! Everett and Hurite’s staff can assist you with questions about floaters, symptoms, treatments, and any other eye concerns you may have. Schedule an appointment by contacting us today!

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Checking for and treating strabismus is one of our Pittsburgh services. Eye turns, crossed eyes, wall-eyes, wandering eyes, deviating eye, and more. These common terms are often associated with strabismus, an eye condition that causes one eye to turn in another direction when the patient is focused on a particular object. The eyes should work together as a team, but when one eye veers off in another direction, it could be a sign of strabismus.

According to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, approximately 4% of Americans have crossed eyes or some other type of strabismus. So what causes strabismus and how can it be corrected? Strabismus surgery is the option many turn to if they have been experiencing deviating eyes. Let’s take a look at strabismus, what may cause it, and how strabismus surgery can correct the problem.

 

Causes and Symptoms of Strabismus

Strabismus can develop for a variety of reasons, but the most common causes are from genetics, problems with the brain’s fusion center, and muscular or nerve injuries. While adults can develop crossed eyes, this condition is often discovered in babies and is much easier to treat early on. Common symptoms for both adults and children could include headaches, eye strain, unstable vision, or fatigue or discomfort while reading.

 

Diagnosing Strabismus

Eye care professionals diagnose strabismus when they ask patients to focus their eyes on an object in the distance (about 20 feet away), something nearby (about 13-16 inches away), and by looking up, down, left, and right. While some patients may experience constant strabismus, others may only become cross-eyed intermittently, such as when they are ill or in a stressful situation. Eye doctors can determine if the problem is caused by the patient’s glasses or if it’s an issue with the brain. Prism glasses are recommended for some, while others, who have more of a brain-related problem, may need to undergo surgery to correct the wandering eye.

 

Strabismus Surgery

Before surgery begins, the surgeon needs to determine which muscles are contributing to the wandering eye and which muscles need to be strengthened or weakened to assist in aligning the eye. In this preoperative test, the surgeon will use prisms to measure the degree of strabismus, which will assist in coming up with the best plan of action during the procedure.

Children undergoing surgery are required to be under general anesthesia, while adults can use either local or general. During surgery, the eyelids are held open and an opening is created on the conjunctiva. Based on the preoperative tests, the muscles are either strengthened, weakened or moved to correct strabismus. While the procedure itself only takes one to two hours, patients will be at the surgery site for a few hours as well for  postoperative recovery. Because this is a common surgery most patients experience quick recovery and improved alignment. 

 

Our Care

In April, Everett and Hurite’s Pamela Huston and Dr. Darren Hoover presented their latest research on eye muscle surgery at the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. A majority of eye muscle surgeries involve weakening the eye muscles and strengthening others, but Huston and Hoover presented a different approach. The folding, also known as plication, of a rectus eye muscle is an alternative method of care that is not used frequently. Through research, Huston and Hoover discovered that success rates were similar, but re-operation rates were lower for patients receiving the plication procedure. This method takes less time, is less painful, and lowers risks of further damage to the patient. The presentation is a great example of how Everett and Hurite considers the latest research and seeks out better care as a whole for our patients.

Concerned about your eye health after experiencing some of the symptoms above? Do you think you may need strabismus surgery? Do you have concerns about your upcoming surgery? Everett and Hurite’s staff can assist you with questions about strabismus and any other eye concerns you may have. Schedule an appointment by contacting us today!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com 

pills-347609_960_720.jpg  Eating a well-balanced diet that provides us with a variety of vitamins and nutrients is essential in efforts to keep ourselves healthy. What we eat not only impacts our bodies - but it also affects our eyes.

Just as certain vitamins help our bodies run more smoothly, certain vitamins can also improve our vision health, helping to reduce the risk of vision loss. Naturally, many of our patients want to ensure they’re getting the nutrition they need to see their best in the years to come. But this begs the question: what specific nutrients are going to be the most helpful in keeping up with our vision needs? And how can you ensure you’re getting enough of them?

 

Supplements And Your Vision - Yay Or Nay?

Perhaps, as you’ve evaluated your vision needs, you’ve considered using a multivitamin to support your healthy living needs. It’s certainly not uncommon - as many as 68 percent of Americans take dietary supplements. However, using supplements to obtain your vitamins and nutrients should never be a primary strategy in healthy living.

While supplements can help in some cases, they cannot replace the health benefits that come from eating nutritious foods - particularly fruits and vegetables, which contain much needed fiber. Additionally, in the wrong circumstances, a regular high dosage of specific supplements could potentially do more harm than good. 

Doctors - including our team - recommend that you always try to eat the nutrients that will support good vision and overall health. Working with a doctor to determine if a supplement is necessary after making all possible dietary changes will ultimately ensure you make the healthiest decision for your vision and health.

 

Your Diet And Your Eyes: What To Eat

Now you’re ready to make the dietary changes that will support your eyes - but what do you need to eat? The short and simple answer is “eat the rainbow”. Doctors recommend this approach because eating a variety of colorful foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, is a good way to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients you need. A varied diet will ideally include the following foods:

  • Leafy Greens: Leafy greens contain many antioxidants that will help protect your eyes against the damage that could accumulate over time due to exposure to sunlight, cigarette smoke, and air pollution. Leafy greens may also lower your risk of developing glaucoma.  They are also helpful in reducing your risk of age related macular degeneration.
  • Berries: Fruit tends to be packed in vitamin C, which known to promote healthy capillary growth throughout the body and assists in the absorption of iron - two important parts of healthy, functioning eyes.
  • Almonds: Almonds contain high levels of vitamin E, which may help to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 25 percent.
  • Beans: Beans contain high levels of zinc, which can help protect your retina against some of the aging effects that can lead to vision loss.
  • Fatty Fish: Whether you prefer tuna, salmon, or mackerel, a fish dinner is a great thing to include in any eye-healthy diet. These fish are rich in omega-3s, which help regulate the growth of blood vessels. Since some eye conditions are caused by overgrowth or abnormal growth of these blood vessels, this regulation can go a long way in aiding in the prevention of diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and retinopathy.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts contain high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids which are helpful in treating dry eyes as well.

These foods aren’t the only ones that will support good vision - but they are some of the foods you can begin eating more of as we enter the spring and summer. And remember: before heading to the drug store and picking up supplements that will benefit your eyes, it’s important to consult your doctor, to ensure you take the right supplement for you and you alone!

Have further questions about how nutrition can support your health? Everett and Hurite’s staff can assist you with any eye concerns you may have and recommend the appropriate foods and vitamins for your needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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