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All About Dry Eyes

Sometimes a person is unable to produce enough tears or their tears do not possess the right qualities to keep eyes healthy and comfortable. This can cause a consistent lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye, known as dry eyes.

Normally, the eye constantly lubricates itself with tears by producing them at a slow and steady rate, keeping itself moist and comfortable. Usually these tears consist of three layers, an oily, a watery, and a mucus layer. Each layer has a specific role in lubricating your eyes. The oily layer is outermost. It’s main purpose is to slow evaporation of the tear. The watery layer is in the middle. This makes up the majority of what a person normally thinks of as tears. This layer cleans the eye and helps to wash away small foreign objects and particles. The inner layer consists of mucus. This mucus allows the watery layer to stick to the eye and spread evenly over the eye in order to keep it lubricated. In a person with dry eyes, either hormonal changes, side effects from medication or some other factor causes the eye to either not produce enough tears, or leave out parts of the tear that make proper lubrication possible.

Dr. Loomis explains, “Symptoms of dry eyes include stinging or burning in the eyes, scratchiness, and excessive irritation from smoke or wind. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, the eyes’ response to the consistent irritation caused by dry eyes may also cause a person to experience excessive tearing. In this case, the eye is attempting to flush and lubricate itself by producing more tears, but is unable to do so successfully due to the rate of evaporation or inability to spread the tears properly.”

Although dry eyes are not always curable, your optometrist may prescribe artificial tears to help with some of the symptoms. Artificial tears are lubricating eye drops that may help with dry, scratchy feeling eyes. Different artificial tears work in different ways. Some help replenish parts of the tear that your eyes are not producing on its own, others help to produce more tears overall. Your eye doctor will assist you to choose which will help you most. Dr NAME cautions, however, “These artificial tears should not be confused with eye drops that are advertised to ‘get the red out.’ These eye drops may indeed reduce the appearance of redness in your eyes, but this is accomplished by making the blood vessels in your eyes smaller rather than actually lubricating your eyes. As such, these drops can sometimes actually make your symptoms worse. One should also be aware that if you wear contacts, some eye drops require you to take them out before using the drops and wait 15 minutes or more before reinserting your contact lenses.”

Some cases of dry eyes are seasonal, such as those which occur as a result of cold, dry winter air. In this case, your eye doctor may recommend wearing sunglasses or goggles when outdoors to reduce your eyes’ exposure to the sun, wind and dust. For indoors, your optometrist may recommend an air cleaner and humidifier to take dust out of the air and add moisture to air which is too dry.

Studies have also shown that nutrition may have a part in helping to relieve some symptoms of dry eyes. Your eye doctor may recommend nutritional supplements such as omega-3. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish, cod, herring and salmon, as well as flaxseed oil. Mild dehydration can make symptoms worse too, so be sure to drink plenty of water, 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices and milk.

For more information, and to have Dr. Loomis help you with your dry eyes, be sure to make an appointment with your eye doctor today.

Low Vision Can Make Even Simple Tasks Difficult

Low vision is a condition caused by a number of eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and retinopathy, in which your eyesight is 20/70 or lower in your stronger eye. It is a broad term that can mean a significant or total loss of your central or peripheral vision, hazy or blurry vision, poor low-light vision, loss of light sensitivity and/or loss of contrast. Reading, writing, watching TV, driving, or even recognizing the faces of loved ones may be difficult or even impossible for a person with this common condition. Dr. Yount specializes in helping those affected by this difficult situation. Dr. Yount comments, “Although this condition usually impacts the elderly, it can really affect anyone of any age. Combine this with the fact that it cannot be fully remedied by eyeglasses, contacts, medicines or eye surgery, and you have a situation that can seriously affect a person in a very negative and debilitating way.”

Children who have low vision, often because of injury or a birth defect, can have significant challenges in learning and require special instruction in order to learn properly and become a productive member of society as he/she grows. Vision loss in adults can be quite traumatic. Losing the ability to drive safely, read efficiently, or recognize their loved ones can cause adults and elders with low vision to feel cut off from their world. They often feel that they are a burden on others because they may require help for simple things like shopping for groceries or finding their way around town.

Since low vision cannot be fully corrected, a person with low vision must learn ways to continue to function independently with the sight still available to them. Dr. Yount comments, “Many people with low vision become very dependent on friends and family, and become ashamed of their increased inability to do things for themselves. It is important for you to know that even if you suffer from low vision, there are options for you to regain and maintain your independence.”

Dr. Yount teaches his patients to utilize devices and techniques that allow those with low vision to use their remaining sight to remain as independent as possible. Dr. Yount explains one of the most common and useful of these devices, “Magnifiers are among the most useful and helpful devices in a person’s arsenal to help fight the consequences of their low vision. These can include low vision reading glasses, magnifiers mounted on your regular eyeglasses, video camera magnifiers, and telescopes. To know which magnifiers are best for your particular circumstances, visit your eye doctor and he’ll discuss with you the details of your situation.”

The Dangers of Blue Light and What You Can Do

We are privileged to live in an advanced age at the turn of the 21st century. Electronic devices are everywhere in our world today and make our everyday interactions with the world around us ever easier, safer and more convenient. Although many positive effects have resulted from these devices in our everyday lives, a darker, more dangerous side exists to all of this progress and convenience. Blue light, also known as high energy visible light, is emitted by many of these electronics, and is a serious threat to eye health which was previously unknown and irrelevant in generations past.

Living in such an advanced age, each of us, on average, spends roughly 25 hours every week staring at the screen of one of our electronic devices. To put this in perspective, that means that each of us spend more than one entire day, without sleeping, in front of devices that emit blue light that is proven to do serious damage to our visual system. Eyestrain, headaches and fatigue are common side effects. Even more alarming, recent studies indicate that blue light exposure has the potential to increase risk of macular degeneration significantly over time. Those with a history of macular degeneration are at special risk, as well as children, due to large pupils and shorter arms, which cause them to hold electronic devices closer to their faces, both of which allow more blue light to penetrate the eye.

Fortunately, cutting edge technological solutions to this growing epidemic exist. BluTech Lenses are special lenses specifically designed to selectively filter out blue light, enhancing visual comfort and minimizing eyestrain. These lenses boast a special state-of-the-art filtering agent within the lens material itself that duplicates elements in the eye, called ocular lens pigment and melanin, which the body naturally produces on its own, and which help filter out just the right amount of blue light entering the eye to protect against unfettered blue light penetration, while allowing proper visual contrast.

Recharge is another cutting edge option to help cut down on the harmful effects of blue light. HOYA is the advanced eye care company that produces these lenses, which reflect up to 30% of harmful blue light away from the eye.

Between the filtering effect of BluTech and the reflective properties of the Recharge coating, a large percentage of otherwise very harmful blue light never reaches the eye. This is an extremely important element in the long term health of your eyes.

Patients who spend hours on electronic devices are at increased risk of eyestrain and glare, macular degeneration or problems falling asleep at night. For more information about blue light and how to protect yourself, contact your eye doctor today.

A Vision of Back-To-School

The new school year is coming up fast, and parents and students are getting ready to embark on new adventures and experiences. But this is also a reminder to parents that good eyesight is possibly the most important school supply your child may not have. A good education for children doesn’t just mean good schools, good teachers and good friends. Good vision is just as important. Dr. Loomis explains, “Your child’s eyes are his/her gateway into the world of learning. When your child’s vision is not functioning properly, learning and participation in recreational activities will suffer. Children are not likely to recognize vision problems or report them, and it is therefore the responsibility of parents and teachers to recognize signs of visual problems in their children.”

There is a basic set of vision skills that are needed for school. The first is near vision. This is the ability to see clearly at a distance of about 10-13 inches. This is obviously important for reading, writing and close work at your child’s desk. Distance vision, the ability to see clearly and comfortably beyond arm’s reach, is also important in order to see the board in the classroom, and Binocular coordination, or the ability to use both eyes together, is important for extra-curricular activities. Both are vision skills needed to be successful in school. Additionally, focusing skills, peripheral awareness and eye-hand coordination are also important. As a parent, it is your job to be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision or visual processing problem. A few examples of common conditions that may effect your child’s ability to learn are below:

If your child gets headaches while trying to read or do other close work, exhibits a short attention span during visual tasks, and/or has to use a finger to guide reading, it is possible your child may have a condition called convergence insufficiency. This is a condition in which the eyes have a hard time converging on a certain point close up. This may also cause the words to “jump” or “blur” when your child attempts to read.

You may also find that your child’s eyes do not seem to move together, that the eyes do not face the same direction, and/or that your child tilts his/her head or squints in order to see better. This could indicate a condition called Strabismus. This results from muscles in one or both eyes being misaligned or underdeveloped. This can cause severe difficulty for your child, and may cause more significant problems, including loss of depth perception, if not treated promptly.Dr. NAME adds, “Other symptoms to look out for that may signal vision related problems are difficulty remembering or identifying shapes, difficulty remembering what was read, excessive blinking or rubbing of his/her eyes, or placing his/her head very close to the book or desk when reading or writing”.

Because changes in your child’s vision can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the eye doctor every year or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist. Remember, school vision or pediatrician’s screenings are good, but they are not a substitute for a thorough eye exam.