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Congratulations Ryan Yeung!

We are very proud to announce Ryan Yeung’s graduation from the University of Houston College of Optometry!

2018 UHCO Commencement Ryan Yeung

6 Things You Should Know about UV Radiation and Your Eyes

baby 20in 20shades

The heat of long summer days is nearly upon us. As the sun's rays intensify and people spend more time outdoors in the sunshine it is very important to be aware of the potential damage exposure to the sun can have on your eyes. May is UV Awareness month. Here are 6 things you should know about ultraviolet rays and how important it is to protect your eyes from the sun year round.

  1. Exposing your eyes to UV rays can harm your vision and cause a number of eye issues such as cataracts, corneal sunburn, macular degeneration, pterygium and skin cancer around the eyelids.
  2. Everyone, including children, is at risk for eye damage from UV radiation. Those who work or play in the sun, or are exposed to the sun for extended amounts of time are at the highest risk for damage to their eyes or vision from UV rays. At 20 years of age, the average person has received 80% of their life’s UV exposure. Children have more transparent lenses in their eyes and more sensitive skin on their bodies. As a result, they are at great risk of experiencing adverse effects of over-exposure to UV light. The effects of overexposure to UV light at a younger age may not show up until later in life with higher risk of cataracts and age related macular degeneration. This is why it is critical to effectively protect our eyes from the sun.
  3. UV rays come from the sun but also reflect off other surfaces such as water, snow, sand and the ground. They are generally at their highest and most dangerous levels during peak sun hours, usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  4. There are 2 types of UV rays that can harm your sight:
    • UV-A rays can cause damage to your central vision.
    • UV-B rays can damage the cornea and lens on the front of your eye.
  5. The best way to protect your eyes from the sun is by wearing sunglasses or eyewear that absorbs UV rays, together with a wide brimmed hat.
  6. UV protection is the most important factor when purchasing sunglasses. Here's what you should look for: 
    • Eyewear that filters 100% UV-A and UV-B rays, providing you with maximum protection.
    • Eyewear that reduces glare and does not distort color.
    • Important to know: UV protection is available in some clear lenses as well as sunglasses. The choice can be confusing if you do not have some background information. Not all lenses are equal in terms of UV protection. For example, cheaply made UV400 sunglasses have a spray-on coating that will wear off with cleaning and give you a false sense of security. 

 

Don't take any shortcuts when it comes to protecting your eyes from the sun. Stay indoors during peak sun hours and if you have to go out, be sure that your eyewear blocks UV rays so that you can protect your eyes and your vision.  

Should You Be Worried About Eye Floaters?

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Eye floaters are actually more common that you may think. Many people notice specks or cobweb-like images moving around in their line of vision, at some point. Some even report experiencing a "snow globe effect" as if they are swatting at many imaginary bugs. Floaters may be an annoyance, but in most cases, they are harmless and merely a part of aging.  Here are some answers to questions you may have about eye floaters including warning signs that something may be seriously wrong and requires immediate treatment by an eye care professional.

What are eye floaters?

Eye floaters are collagen deposits inside the vitreous humor that fills the space between the lens and retina of your eye. As you age, the vitreous, which is made up of this gel-like protein substance, begins to dissolve and liquefy, creating a more watery consistency. Floaters appear when the collagen fibrils and vitreous membrane become disturbed and go into your line of sight.  A posterior vitreous detachment is a common age related change that causes a sudden large floater to occur.   Floaters can range in size, shape and consistency and are often more visible when looking at a white screen or clear blue sky.

What is the vitreous?

The vitreous functions to maintain the round shape of your eyeball. It assists with light refraction and acts as a shock absorber for the retina.

How do floaters develop?

As mentioned above, aging of the vitreous can cause it to liquefy, shrink and become stringy or strand-like. As the vitreous is normally transparent, when strands develop they cast a shadow on your retina, which in turn causes floaters to appear in your vision.

What will I see if I have floaters?

Eye floaters can appear in your vision as threads, fragments of cobwebs or spots which float slowly in front of your eyes. You'll also notice that these specks never seem to stay still when you try to focus on them. Floaters and spots create the impression that they are drifting and they seem to move when your eye moves.

Who is at risk for developing floaters?

Floaters are quite common particularly in individuals that are elderly, diabetic, near-sighted or anyone who has had cataract surgery.

Are floaters dangerous and do they need treatment?

In many cases, floaters are simply an annoyance and can be left alone. Sometimes they will improve over time. In some cases though, floaters can be so distracting that they can block vision and consequently interfere with daily activities and functioning. If you experience a sudden onset of floaters, if they are accompanied by flashes of light or vision loss, if you have pain or you have just experienced eye surgery or trauma, floaters could indicate a serious eye problem that requires immediate medical attention.  There are a number of eye disorders associated with eye floaters including retinal detachment, retinal tear, vitreous bleeding, vitreous and retinal inflammation or eye tumors, all of which require medical treatment to avoid vision loss.  If you have sudden onset of new floaters, do not wait to book an appointment with your eye doctor to confirm if the floaters are benign or need immediate surgical treatment.

Be on the Lookout for Vision Problems this Summer Break

rocks in a heart shape

Summer vacation is well under way, but did you know that even when your child is out of the classroom, vision problems can have an impact on his/her daily activities? Look out for these 4 warning signs during the summer months – they could be a sign of vision difficulties that require follow up with an eye care professional.

  1. Headaches / eyestrain. Is your child complaining about headaches? Perhaps accompanied with watery eyes, particularly during periods of concentration such as reading, computer use or during a movie? This can indicate eyestrain, which can develop as your child tries to keep up with the words or images on the screen, causing visual overload.  Keep an eye out also when your child is watching 3D since an inability to see 3D pictures can point to a lack of depth perception. A child may not know that he or she does not see the 3D effects the same way other people do, but might say after the movie that his or her eyes are tired or sore.
  2. Clumsiness on the playground. Does your child seem clumsy and uncoordinated when playing on the playground? This could be due to a lazy eye, otherwise known as amblyopia. Amblyopia is when one eye is favored over the other, resulting in impaired binocular vision. This in turn impacts depth perception, which makes it difficult for a child to assess objects in space and can cause difficulties with coordination.
  3. Lack of interest in reading: Does your child show a lack of interest in reading books? It is possible that he or she is having difficulty seeing the text as a result of a vision problem. It's worth asking the child if the text seems blurry, if he/she has a headache or simply has difficulty distinguishing the words or letters on the page to determine if there may be an underlying vision problem. Also watch for unusual signs such as eye rubbing, excessive blinking, head tilt and unusual reading distance.
  4. Difficulty hitting or catching a ball. Hand eye coordination, which helps track an object as it moves through space, is one of the key components to playing ball. If your child is consistently missing catches, fumbling kicks or missing hits while playing sports, it is worth following up with an eye exam.

Although all of the above issues can present themselves in school, the summer vacation is an ideal time to check out any possible vision issues ahead of the new school year. Dealing with vision problems during the summer will help your child start off the year right. 

Comfortable Vision for Back-to-school Reading

reading by the ocean

School is starting: Do you know how to set up your child’s homework and reading spot? Reading and writing are some of the most fundamental skills that your child to facilitate learning in school, so it is important to make sure that your child's eyes are comfortable when they are working at near distances.  How they sit, the length at which they hold a book or even a digital device, and their posture all play an integral part in ensuring that the visual system is at ease, enabling the mind to absorb and integrate what they are reading.  Here are some tips to help your child feel comfortable while reading.

  1. Make sure your child is working at the appropriate distance for near work – the Harmon Distance

When you read or do near work, there is a specific distance that enables your visual system to work most efficiently without experiencing any stress. This distance is known as the Harmon distance and it can be determined by holding your fist to your cheek. The location of your elbow from your fist is now at the Harmon distance, the most comfortable distance for your visual system to read and absorb information.

Looking out for whether your child is working at the Harmon distance when he/she reads will allow you as a parent to understand a number of things about how their eyes are functioning:

  • When your child holds reading material too close to their eyes, their eyes will converge or turn inwards. This can cause unnecessary eye strain which will impact their reading ability.
  • Holding reading material too close also means your eyes need to focus more than usual as the print is too close. This also causes you to strain your eyes which in turn can lead to tiredness, headaches and even myopia (nearsightedness).

Note: A child with healthy eyesight will naturally hold reading material at the correct distance. If a child is holding books too close or too far away, it may be an indication of a vision problem, or it may be because the child is sitting in a way that is not optimal. Read on to find out how to arrange your child’s reading space.

  1. Your child's body and posture is involved in the whole process of vision.
    Ensure that your child sits at a desk with a proper desk and chair height, so that his feet are flat on the floor and the table is the correct distance from his face. This will enable your child to sit upright. If you notice your child slouching or standing to get a glimpse of the words on the page, it might be an indication that he is experiencing difficulty seeing the text.
  2. Make sure there is good lighting.
     Too much glare or not enough light in a room will force your child's eyes to work harder to see.  Make sure that lighting in the room is sufficient for the task whether it is reading or writing.
  3. Concerned? You can call us.
    If you have questions about your child’s reading habits, are concerned about your child’s vision, or if it has been over a year or two since his or her last eye exam, speak to the eye doctor.

Follow the tips above and set your child up for success. Wishing everyone happy reading and writing during the school year ahead!

Cutting Edge Glaucoma Technology

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Some 2.5 million North Americans struggle with glaucoma, a progressive eye disease that robs its sufferers of their vision, if unmanaged. Associated with high eye pressure and damage to the optic nerve, the main method of preventing blindness and low vision from glaucoma is by maintaining low levels of IOP (intraocular pressure). Unstable glaucoma may require frequent visits to an eye doctor for glaucoma monitoring to keep it under control.

In recent years a parallel disorder, high blood pressure, has become widely known for producing results that vary significantly, even from hour to hour. Both blood pressure and eye pressure can be affected by such a wide range of environmental and other factors – from the way you stand to the weather – that taking a single reading on a given day may not provide a good indication of patient health.

The need for more accurate diagnostic tools has prompted researchers at Stanford University and Bar Ilan University to collaborate in the development of a 24-hour a day IOP monitor for glaucoma patients. The device, which eye doctors hope will be available within a few years, is actually an eye implant!

It is so tiny, it’s designed to fit inside a standard intraocular lens – the kind used in cataract surgery – and, according to tests conducted by the U.S. Air Force, it will not distort vision.

The implanted glaucoma monitor is based on simple physics, using fluid levels in a tiny tube to precisely measure IOP. When available to the public, it may be paired with a custom smartphone app or wearable technology like Google glass to record eye pressure all the time, and the data can be shared with the patient’s ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Recent studies indicated that round-the-clock IOP monitoring would result in modified treatment for up to 80% of patients. Prevention of intraocular pressure spikes by measuring IOP throughout a 24 hour cycle would enable eye doctors to optimize a treatment plan. Since peripheral vision loss from optic nerve damage is not reversible, treatment is aimed at preventing vision loss from glaucoma. 

Protect Children’s Eyes During Sports

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The new school year has kicked off and you can tick off purchasing all that back to school equipment. Now, it's time to think about what your child will need for after school sports and hobby activities.

Making sure they have the right protective eyewear for their sporting or athletic activities should be one of the top priorities on your list. Here's why: according to new data from Prevent Blindness America, approximately 25,000 people sought treatment for sports-related eye injuries in 2013, and around 10,000 were children under the age of 14.

Wearing protective eyewear when playing sports can help prevent serious eye injuries. Here are some tips on how to go about choosing the most apt protective eyewear for your child:

  1. Consult with your eye doctor and the child’s coach to find out what type of protective eyewear is best for the athletic activity your child is involved in. The kind of eyewear your child will need depends on the sport they are playing.
  2. Know the sports and its dangers: Across all age groups, sports-related eye injuries occur most frequently in water sports, basketball, and baseball or softball. Safety standards are met using shatter-resistant polycarbonate or trivex lenses.
  3. Protect and correct: If your child already wears glasses, find out what options are available for adding their prescription to protective eyewear they will need. Or consider contact lenses.
  4. Ensure sufficient UV protection: If your child’s activity takes place outside, make sure that the protective eyewear you choose includes sufficient protection from harmful UV rays.
  5. Set an example: Wear protective eyewear yourself. This will help to show your child it is possible to protect your vision and enjoy a sporting activity at the same time.

The majority of eye injuries can be prevented. Newer safety eyewear models often have wraparound styles to improve peripheral vision and style appeal. Kids can have fashion and function in today’s safety eyewear. Make sure that your child's eyes are protected while they strive to reach the top of their game!

7 Things You Should Know About Eyelid Twitches

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You may have experienced this before. Out of nowhere, your eyelid starts twitching uncontrollably. While this can be a cause of aggravation, eyelid twitches, spasms or tics are actually quite common.

Here are 7 things you should know about this eye condition:

  1. Eye twitches are generally caused by a repetitive, involuntary spasm in your eyelid muscles and are known in medical terms as a blepharospasm.
  2. Almost all sudden-onset eye twitching is not considered to be a serious medical condition, though it can be hard to treat without knowing the underlying cause.
  3. Eyelid twitches can occur sporadically, though some people have been known to feel them for a few consecutive days or weeks
  4. Stress, tiredness, eyestrain, caffeine alcohol or tobacco usage, dry eyes, allergies or nutritional imbalances are factors that can trigger or exacerbate eye twitches. The body produces endogenous cortisol (a steroid) when stressed, which may cause biological warning signs to the body to de-stress.
  5. If reducing stress does not alleviate the twitches, your eye doctor can perform a refraction (vision test) and comprehensive eye health exam to see if eye treatment can resolve the problem. Sometimes the solution is relieving eyestrain by updating your glasses.
  6. Rarely, a twitch will continue despite these efforts to alleviate triggers. In that case, they can be treated with Botox injections to help stop the muscles in your eyelid from contracting.
  7. Eyelid spasms are only considered a medical emergency when the twitch is accompanied by red or swollen eyes, unusual discharge, a drooping eyelid or twitching in other parts of the face. These may be symptoms of a more serious neurological disorder

If the twitching persists, talk to your eye doctor to help you treat it.

Eyeglasses – Plenty of Great Choices

Eyeglasses Are Back!

Picking out new eyeglasses can be a daunting task, whether you're getting your very first pair or you've worn them nearly all your life. The sheer volume of eyeglass choices can be torture to work your way through if you don't have any idea what you're looking for.

Not only are there many different shapes and colors in eyeglass frames, but advances in technology have also brought us a variety of new materials, for both the frames and the lenses, which makes eyeglasses more durable, lightweight and user-friendly. Eyeglass frames are now created from high-tech materials such as titanium and "memory metal" for the ultimate in strength and style, while the lenses are now thinner and lighter than ever before, even in high prescriptions.

Lens options, such as anti-reflective coating, light-changing tints, progressive lenses and new high-tech, light weight materials such as Trivex(TM) and polycarbonate, let you choose a pair of eyeglasses that enhances your vision, no matter what you like to do.

The Diabetic Eye

Too many people are not aware that diabetes increases the chances vision loss. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) diabetes is the number one cause of complete vision loss among individuals aged 20 to 74 years old. One of the risks of diabetes is retinal damage caused by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye, which is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy causes severe vision impairment and even blindness. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it has affected over 3.7 million people in the U.S. in the past ten years.

Diabetic retinopathy can be undetected until considerable damage is done. When the pressure in the blood vessels in the retina increases they start to leak causing retinal damage. This leads to vision loss and when not treated, blindness.

If you have diabetes and you notice any sort of vision problems, such as fluctuations in eyesight, floaters, double vision, shadows or spots or any pain in your eye make an appointment with your eye doctor. In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetics are at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.

With early detection and treatment, we can stop blindness. In addition to making sure that you have a regular eye exam once a year if you are diabetic, controlling your glucose levels is crucial to keeping your eyes healthy.

This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy and speak to your eye doctor if you have any questions. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.