By: Brian Oulman, OD
Have you ever been driving in the desert, look out at the horizon and a large billowing brown dust storm is moving across the land. Unfortunately, with a certain number of birthday parties this browning will happen to the lens of your eye. The changing of color or simply a clouding in the lens of your eye is known as cataracts. The lens is located directly behind the Iris (the color portion in your eyeball). An advanced cataract can be noticed by looking at a person and instead of their pupil (the black circle in the eyeball) being black it looks cloudy. Most patients would never get to this stage, especially if they are having their yearly annual eye health exams.
Cataracts can be extremely frustrating and luckily there is a surgical procedure that removes the cloudy lens and is replaced by a clear artificial lens. This is known as cataract surgery and is performed by a surgeon. Removing a cloudy lens creates brighter and more colorful vision. Patients will always ask if they will need glasses, which is a valid question. The answer is most likely. Every patient is unique and responds differently to the surgery. To help reduce the chances of having to wear glasses the implant lenses have become so advanced that patients can “upgrade” the implant to provide clearer eyesight after surgery. Some patients even select the multifocal implant to ensure they can do everyday tasks without glasses.
So the lens gets cloudy with age and you can have it surgically removed, but what might you notice if you have cataracts. For a majority of patients their night time vision gets worse. Glare tends to be the number one side effect at night with headlights or other light sources. This makes driving uncomfortable and for some scary, to the point where people stop going out at night. One reason for this is at night the pupil gets bigger to let more light in the eye, however, this light has to go through a cloud which scatters the light in the back of the eye, creating increased glare.
Another noticeable issue that patients experience would be needing more light when trying to read or do activities up close. Our pupils will get smaller when we read or do activities up close which will decrease the amount of light into our eye, then what ever light gets in has to go through a cloud further decreasing the amount of light. Thus more light is needed.
There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs in diabetic patients with uncontrolled blood sugars. There’s fluid being produced and filtered in the front part of the eye that will contain a certain sugar level. If a patient is experiencing uncontrolled blood sugars, the sugar level in this fluid can rise, the lens will absorb some of the sugar causing the lens to swell. This swelling can cause a change in a patients’ prescription making glasses difficult to use. As the sugar level subsides the lens will begin to return to normal size. Not only can this swelling change the prescription it can cause an early onset of cataracts.
There are many forms of cataracts and most progress slowly taking decades to form. For a majority of patients, cataracts begin in the decade of the 60’s. If you or someone you know has had lifestyle changes due to their vision or if you have heard of the complaints listed above, you may want to have them examined to determine if it is cataracts. Please ensure you and your loved ones have their yearly eye health examine to keep everyone seeing their brightest.
By: Nicholas Blight, OD
Healthy vision is more than just 20/20. Our eyes are designed to constantly and instantly provide visual feedback about our physical surroundings, it’s a big job and they need as much help as we can give them. In honor of healthy vision month, I would like to share some vision tips, to keep your eye healthy happy and seeing great.
The first vision tip is to have regular comprehensive eye examinations. The American Optometric Association recommends a child’s first eye check at 12 months old, the next at three years old, again right before starting school and then annually thereafter. During an exam an update prescription for glasses is given, the eye health is evaluated and several recommendations are offered to improve visual performance and wellbeing.
Along with annual exams, tip number two is to keep glasses and contact lens prescriptions updated. Using the most up to date prescription is important to reduce eye strain and headaches, and to provide the clearest and most comfortable vision. Replacing contact lenses on the approved and recommended schedule is also key for healthy eyes and to avoid infections and discomfort.
My next tip is about workplace wellness. Eye protection, such as safety glasses and face shields are critical to protect against eye injury and avoid preventable damage and vision loss. If your work environment doesn’t include flying bits of metal, wood or other small projectiles you likely spend a significant amount of time on a computer or other device screen. You may be at higher risk for visual issues related to fatigue and stain. High energy blue light emitted from digital screens tend to make our eyes work hard while focusing. Blue light also interrupts the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Over the course of a day, that additional work causes tired eyes that feel strained, and may cause difficulty falling asleep or getting a restful night. Wearing glasses that filter blue light can reduce strain, help your eyes feel less tired at the end of the day and even improve your sleep habits.
Let’s talk about nutrition, my last healthy eye tip is about how you can provide high quality building blocks for the best structure and function of the eyes. If you’re like me, you have childhood memories of you mother, grandmother or another caring adult in your life, telling you to eat your vegetables. And to overcome your hesitation, they may have said something like “carrots are good for your eyes.” While they were correct, there are a lot of great things we can eat that are good for your eyes. Following is a list of vitamins and minerals that are essential for good eye health, and some examples of foods where we can get them.
Beta-carotene – is converted into Vitamin A, which is needed for the mucin layer of tears, and is crucial for good night vision
Foods rich in Beta-carotene: carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, and cantaloupe.
Zinc – Is required to transport Vitamin A from the liver to the eyes and is made into melanin
Foods rich in Zinc: legumes, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, lima beans, and peanuts. Other foods high in zinc are oysters, lean beef, pork, and chicken – dark and breast meat
Vitamin C – supports blood vessel health and is an anti-oxidant that protects against macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy
Foods rich in Vitamin C: citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines. Other foods with high-levels of Vitamin C are peaches, red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, bok choy, cauliflower, and papaya
Omega 3s – stimulates vision development for infants, protects against dry eye, macular degeneration and glaucoma
Foods rich in Omega 3s: salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, and halibut
Lutein and zeaxanthin – these are macular pigments that block high energy blue light, which causes macular degeneration, and protects against cataracts
Foods rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin: kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, collards, turnip greens, eggs, broccoli, peas, and corn
Vitamin E – Antioxidant that protects against free radical damage and reduces risks of macular degeneration
Foods rich in Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, sweet potatoes, and fortified cereals
I hope you find these healthy eye tips helpful, and that this month can be the start to a lifetime of happy healthy great seeing eyes.
By: Brian Oulman, OD
Well, it’s April, which means the weather will get warmer, baseball season begins, biking, and of course time at the lake. As you are gathering your special gear or gassing up the boat, don’t forget eye protection! There are a lot of eye injuries that occur during spring/summer sports, which can result in permanent damage or even be sight threatening. The biggest culprit of eye injuries in outdoor sports is the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation burning the eyeball. Sun damage can be painful or painless, regardless it can decrease your eyesight or worse. Let’s go through a few ways Central Oregon Eyecare can educate you on your sports eye safety.
We have a large community of road bicyclists and with our region growing there are more cars on the road, which increases dangerous road conditions. Bicyclist go through many different lighting conditions, sunny, shady, then a mix of back-and–forth sun/shade. These can be extremely difficult and irritating for the avid biker. Imagine improving your biking experience by being more comfortable and relaxed. If you are able to see the terrain of the road, view your mirror without glare and eliminating the glare from oncoming cars, wouldn’t that make your ride more enjoyable and more importantly, safer? We have specific sunglasses made just for bicyclists to keep them safe; eyes and body.
Talking about specific sunglasses, baseball is played in all weather conditions and players need to focus on a small 5 ounce ball, so it is imperative their eyesight is the clearest it can be. Baseball is played outside during the peak of the summer months when the suns UV rays are the most intense. Typical games last for 2 or more hours, which means a lot of ultraviolet exposure. Children are more susceptible to UV damage due to their eyeballs being more “pure”, so please protect their eyeballs with appropriate sunglasses.
Lakes are wonderful places to spend time as a family either on the water or on the bank having a picnic. Wearing just a hat is not sufficient protection for your eyes, while on or near the water, because, 80% of reflected light off water surfaces is UV. It is especially important to wear the proper sunglasses while boating or picnicking near water. Polarized sunglasses not only protect your eyeballs from the ultraviolet light but they will also eliminate the glare from the water, snow and cars while driving. They allow your eyes to relax, while providing clear and crisp vision, we can also make them into your prescription if you have one.
Golfing is another popular outdoor sport where sunglasses are needed. The avid golfer who enjoys reading the green and is highly competitive will not want polarization in their sunglasses, because the polarization will eliminate glare on each blade of grass so reading the green is difficult. Luckily, we have special sunglasses made especially for golfing, keeping your eyeballs protected and your score low.
We have experienced opticians who can educate you on the different sunglasses for your particular outdoor activity. Most of our sunglasses can have prescription lenses inserted, so you can be see while protecting the health of your eye. Let’s make this spring an enjoyable one, please make sure you and your loved ones have their yearly eye health examination and protect everyone’s eyeballs with the appropriate sunglasses!
By: Nick Blight, OD
Commonly called “Lazy Eye”, amblyopia, is a condition that starts in early childhood, and if left untreated, persists through adult life. Amblyopia is defined as reduced vision (20/30 or worse) of an otherwise healthy eye. The decreased vision is due to poor development of the visual pathway between the eye and the brain. There are three main causes for a poor eye-to- brain connection. The first is a large difference in prescription between the eyes. The second is blocked vision in one eye from a congenital cataract or other visual obstruction. Finally the third reason is due to an eye that turns, either in towards the nose or out towards the ear. In each of these three situations, our energy efficient brains will actively select to ignore or “suppress” the eye with significantly poorer vision, which hinders development of the visual pathway.
Evaluation of the structure and visual ability is critical to identify and treat lazy eye. Amblyopia starts early in life, and can cause lifelong visual impairment, making eye examinations at an early age crucial. The American Optometric Association recommends childhood evaluation at 12 months, 3 years old and again right before starting school.
The treatment of amblyopia depends on the severity of reduced vision. The first step is to determine the correct prescription for glasses that provide the clearest vision to both eyes. Improved
image clarity prompts the brain to stop suppressing and use the impaired eye, leading to a stronger connection to the brain. This first step is critical and often improves eyesight within the first 4-6 months of wearing glasses full time. The next steps may include wearing an eyepatch over the dominate or “stronger” eye to encourage the brain to become more reliant on the weaker eye.
In combination with occlusion therapy, your doctor may also prescribe a structured set of visual activities, or vision therapy to make improvements faster.
The Optometric Physicians at Central Oregon Eyecare, and the American Optometric Association, recommend children have their first eye examination at 6-12 months of age. Additionally, subsequent exams are recommended at 3 years, right before school begins and annually from that point forward. Please make sure your loved ones are evaluated early to ensure the best visual development and sight for life.