Monday, August 29, 2016

Misusing contact lenses? 5 mistakes you’re making that hurt your eye health

Contact lenses can drastically improve your ability to see, and they can also create a number of problems. Consequences include infections and in extreme cases blindness. Global's Julia Wong sat down with one man whose over wear of contact lenses led to major issues with his eyes.

Sleeping with them on, not changing the solution at night, or forgetting to replace them on time. Your contact lenses sit on your eyes all day but are you putting your eye health at risk by making common mistakes?

Cases of serious eye damage stem from misusing contact lenses, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study. The U.S. report warns that between 2005 and 2015, the Food and Drug Administration dealt with 1,075 contact lens-related eye infections, from ulcers to keratitis, which is when the cornea becomes inflamed.

Twenty-five per cent of the time, the cases could have been avoided altogether with proper contact lens use.

READ MORE: Eyeball-eating amoeba? 5 things contact lens users need to know

“I don’t think people understand that contact lenses are a medical device. They don’t understand the potential for complications down the road. When you start wearing them, you can see well and they’re comfortable but unless you’re getting your eyes looked at routinely, there could be things brewing in the background you’re not aware of,” Dr. Jeff Goodhew, president of the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO), told Global News.

Dr. Joe Chan, who runs a private practice and is a member of the OAO, told Global News that contact lens technology has come a long way. Users could forget that the onus is still on them to clean and take care of their lenses.

“The entire industry has moved to more disposable lenses where you throw them out after a day or a few weeks. The relative amount of problems has gone down but this has made some patients complacent while the risks for problems still exist,” he said.

Chan and Goodhew list five common mistakes Canadians make with their contacts.

Mistake 1: Not changing your contact solution


At the end of a long day, you take your contacts off and store them in their case. Tell the truth: do you replace the solution or do you simply recycle the solution that’s already there?

READ MORE: What doctors found when they studied eye surfaces of contact lens users

Using solution is key to disinfecting your contacts to remove bacteria and other environmental germs that get into the eye.

“In an effort to save money, you’ll reuse contact lens solution night after night not realizing you’re putting your eyes at risk,” Chan said.

He uses the analogy of washing your dishes in dirty water expecting them to be clean.

“Essentially, the contact lens solution becomes infected so you’re not cleaning or disinfecting at all. This leaves you with a much higher risk of infection. Your eyes are generally not too happy if their lenses have not been cleaned properly,” he explained.

Wash your contact lens case as least once a week, too. Some of Goodhew’s clients simply throw the case in the dishwasher to get the job done.

And don’t think of rinsing your contacts in water either. Tap water could have chlorine and other micro-organisms. Ultimately, it can actually cause the shape of the contact lens to change.

Mistake 2: Wearing your contacts for too long


Your eyes need oxygen and it’s your job to give them a break. When you’re wearing contacts, the amount of oxygen that gets to your cornea is limited. While some lenses are designed for overnight wear, some experts still recommend against wearing them to sleep.

“The eye is the only tissue on the body that gets oxygen from the air and not through blood supply. You don’t want to wear [lenses] from when you get up to when you go to bed because the eye is not getting enough natural oxygen,” Goodhew said.

READ MORE: Prolonged contact lens use leads to corneal issues for Bedford man

In response, excess blood vessels can form in an attempt to supply oxygen and nutrients, and in the long run, they can obscure vision.

Stick to wearing your contacts for about 12 to 16 hours at most, and take them off at night to give your eyes a break. If you wear them throughout the week, give your eyes a rest day on the weekend, too.

Your eyes get rundown with overwear and their immunity takes a hit, making you more susceptible to eye infections, bacteria on the skin and tears, Goodhew said.

Mistake 3: You wear your disposable contacts longer than the recommended time


Your cleansing regimen is critical, especially if you’re wearing lenses meant for month-long use. Hang on to your lenses for longer than you should and you increase your risk of exposing your eyes to dirt and protein deposits that build up. With wear and tear, your contacts could also hang on to chemicals and preservatives from your contact solution. These issues can lead to irritation.

“You increase your risk of problems exponentially,” Chan warned.

Lenses are made with plastic and water, Goodhew explained. If your lenses are meant for temporary wear, they’re thin, and can lose their shape and comfort.

“They’re like sponges and a biofilm builds on the surface of the lens no matter how clean you keep them. This is a breeding ground for germs,” Goodhew said.

READ MORE: Student whose corneas eaten by amoeba a cautionary tale for contact lens wearers

If you’re bad with replacing lenses, switch to dailies. He said people have 50 per cent fewer infections from using daily disposable lenses because they’re placing a pristine, new lens in their eye each day.

Mistake 4: Wearing contacts in pools, in hot tubs or while showering

Bacteria, parasites and other organisms tend to lurk in hot tubs or swimming pools. Chan says he’s seen infections in patients after wearing their contacts after water-related activities.

“It’s not particularly common, but in this situation, what ends up happening is the contact lens – in addition to being on the eye – is like a big sponge, and it allows organisms to sit on the eye and flourish,” Chan warned.

“For another person not wearing contacts, there would be nothing for [the germs] to grab hold of,” Chan said.

He suggests that if you’re wearing contacts while in the water, to keep your eyes closed, pat dry your eyes and clean your lenses thoroughly to make sure any bacteria is killed.

Mistake 5: Keeping contacts on when eyes are visibly irritated

If you place the lens onto your eye, and you feel pain or discomfort, take them off right away. Sometimes, small cracks can be seen along the contact’s edge. In other cases, a tear can form in the middle of the lens that’s less obvious. If it’s dirt or sediment, your contact can be rinsed, but if you leave your contacts on with this tear or dirt, you could be scratching your eye.

During allergy season, those with severe allergies might even consider taking a break from contacts. The pollen, dander and other allergens can stick to your lenses.

READ MORE: Contact lens abuse – why we do it and the potential dangers

“Your eye might be red and uncomfortable but you push through those symptoms and ignore the signals your eye is giving you,” Goodhew warned.

“That’s when things get dangerous. You have to stop wearing [contacts] for 24 hours and keep a pair of backup glasses with you at all times,” he said.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Look At Cataracts And Vision Health

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the United States. In fact, more than half of all Americans have cataracts by the time they are 80 years old.

We understand you may have questions about cataracts, so we'd like to take this opportunity to help you understand how they affect your vision, what steps you can take to prevent them, and what treatment is available.

What is a cataract?

Put simply, a cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. This clouding changes or obstructs the passage of light into the eye and through to the retina, making vision blurry or dim.
Our eye’s lens behaves much like the lens in a camera. When a camera’s lens is dirty from obstructions like dust or oil from stray fingerprints, light can’t easily pass through the lens and images will appear dull and cloudy. Once a camera’s lens is cleaned, more light is able to pass through to the camera’s sensors, helping images become more bright, crisp, and vibrant—much like a cataract-free lens in our eye.

Cataracts Offer Many Signs And Symptoms

Cataracts often begin small and go largely unnoticed. Over time, they grow larger and your vision may become dull or blurry, much like images from the smudged camera lens we discussed earlier. Here are some common symptoms of cataracts:
  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Seeing “halos” around lights
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Double vision in a single eye

Cataracts Aren’t Just Caused By Advanced Age

There are several potential causes for cataracts, but most are due to age-related changes in the lens. That being said, some risk factors include:
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • UV radiation
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Significant alcohol consumption

Prevention And Treatment Can Lead To Clear Vision

Cataracts can’t always be prevented, but simple practices can be put in place to maintain and promote healthy vision. Always remember to eat a nutrient-rich diet filled with fruits and vegetables, and be sure to protect yourself from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses and hats during outdoor activity.
Fortunately, when cataracts cannot be prevented, they can be treated with full restoration of vision. Early symptoms may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, or anti-glare sunglasses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment.
Surgical cataract removal is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States. It is a simple and highly successful procedure that consists of removing the clouded lens from the eye and replacing it with a clear, artificial lens. While each person heals differently, many patients report clear vision within hours of the surgery.

We Care About Your Lifelong Health

As your lifelong care provider, we are committed to helping you through every stage of life. As you age, watch for changes in your vision, as well as for signs of cataracts. If you have any questions, feel free to let us know or make an appointment with one of our Doctors of Optometry today. We want to make sure you get the most accurate information and excellent care for your individual needs!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Take This Step to Keep Your Eyes From Drying Out

Good hydration and eye health – they’re connected! Our bodies are more than 50% water, so it should come as no surprise that dehydration can lead to vision problems and have other serious impacts on our health. If you want to maintain healthy eyes, grab a cup of water and drink it as you read this article!

Water plays an essential role in keeping our organs functioning. If you do not have enough fluid in your system, your body will become dehydrated. Dehydration affects your kidneys and other vital organs. It limits our ability to get rid of waste and slows our ability to heal wounds and recover from injuries.

In terms of eye health, without proper hydration, your body can no longer produce tears, or keep your eyes moisturized, which may lead to eye strain or dry eye.

Blurry vision, eye fatigue, and headaches are all signs that you need to drink more water. But how much liquid should you drink? Experts recommend that healthy adults consume between six to eight, 8-ounce servings of water each day!

Avoiding dehydration is a simple, but forgetful, task. To ensure you drink enough, keep a water bottle with you at all times and set reminders for yourself to take in more fluids, especially after physical activity!

In addition to ensuring you are hydrated, make sure you stay on top of getting your eyes examined on a regular basis. To learn more about the effects of dry eye, book an appointment with one of our Doctors of Optometry today.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Squinting at Your iPhone in Bed 'COULD' Make You Kind of Blind for a While

Here is a list of latent worries I constantly, constantly have, humming away like an old fridge, the worries, a panicked sound that is there so long you almost ignore it—almost—until in the dead hours of the night it wakes you and won't let you rest with its clanging:

— That one day a small dog will use its incredible leg strength and vertical leap to jump, gracefully, perfect spiral, and bite me directly on the dick and/or balls;

— That my wisdom teeth, which never truly have emerged, are doing something incredibly uncool down there in the depths, that maybe my wisdom teeth are growing sideways through my jaw, or something, burrowing through the bone, and that eventually I will have to go full "Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 4" about it;

— That one day I will go to a bank and ask for my credit score and the computer will just go red and start beeping and the woman behind the register will put her hands to her head in a way that creases her bank-issue blazer incredibly inelegantly, and long story short: the whole bank has to be evacuated;— That one day my habit for standing a little too close to the curb (I stand close to the curb so I am always in a prime position to dart across the road, Frogger style, should a safe gap in the traffic emerge) will come back to haunt me because I will bend down to tie my shoelace at the exact moment a bus hits me so hard my head flies off and makes it a good hundred yards down the road before my body collapses beneath itself;— That my testicles will turn traitor on me and kill me with an unseen testicle disease;— That what if heaven and hell are real and my parents can see me from above (dad) and below (mom), and they are just so, so disappointed in what I've become, at all the mistakes I make, day after day after day after day, and also that they see all the jerking off; and

— That squinting at Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram again, Twitter, Facebook once more, then Twitter for half an hour before I do anything every morning will eventually make me totally and utterly blind;

Anyway, bad news for me, then, because a recent medical journal report has found that looking at your iPhone in bed can make you temporarily blind. Obviously, some caveats, before we start: the blindness reported in this journal is temporary, i.e. up to but not exceeding 15 minutes; it was only reported by two women, aged 22 and 40, so hardly a startling sample size; they were both looking at their phones in a darkened room; they were both looking at their phones through one eye. So, yes: if you sit in a darkened room and look at your phone with one eye, for ages, you can—maybe—go a bit blind, in that eye, for a bit. So open both eyes and maybe the curtains. Done. Eye health.

"I simply asked them, 'What exactly were you doing when this happened?'" Dr. Gordon Plant, of Moorfields Eye Hospital, recounted in the New England Journal of Medicine this week, before hypothesizing how the whole dark + one eye thing was contributing to the temporary blindness phenomenon. "You have one eye adapted to the light because it's looking at the phone, and the other eye is adapted to the dark," he said. When the women then opened both eyes, the phone eye occasionally went blind. "It's taking many minutes [for the other eye] to catch up to the other eye that's adapted to the dark," explained Plant.

To remedy their temporary blindness, Plant told the women to just open both eyes when they looked at their phones in the morning. One of the women did, saying she was relieved the temporary blindness wasn't indicative of a more serious long-term health concern; another kept a month-long blindness diary before admitting Plant might have a point, because fuck qualified doctors, huh.

There are rumblings of ophthalmic beef about this report, though. The American Academy of Ophthalmology's Dr. Rahul Khurana reckons the "dark + one eye = blind for a bit" theory is a neat hypothesis, but doubts two test cases are really enough to make it stick, especially as he and his wife both tried it recently, looking at their phones with one eye in a dark room, and neither one of them went temporarily blind.

"It was very odd," he told the Guardian. So, ultimately: we don't really know whether using your phone in bed can lead to blindness, temporary or otherwise, but if your eyes do hurt a lot while you're checking Instagram pictures of brunch or reading VICE articles, on your phone, about looking at your phone too much and going blind from it: maybe just try opening both eyes a bit .

Friday, August 5, 2016

UV Myths & Facts

Consider the following and see if you can pick out the myths from the facts:
1) Young people are significantly more vulnerable to UV exposure.
  • FACT: 50% of lifetime sun exposure may occur before the age of 18. This is because they have larger pupils, clearer lenses, spend more time outdoors, few wear sunglasses or hats. 
2) UV damage to the eyes can be reversed.
  • MYTH: UV damage is cumulative and mostly irreversible in the eye. 
3) Our eyes are the most exposed to UV radiation between the hours to 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • MYTH: Unlike our skin, our eyes are most exposed to UV radiation in the early morning and late afternoon. In fact, in spring, summer and fall exposure is ~2x as high. 
4) UV exposure is higher in the summer than during the other three seasons in Canada.
  • MYTH: Regardless of the season, total ocular UV exposure is nearly the same. 
5) We don’t need to worry about UV rays when is it cloudy outside.
  • MYTH: More than 90% if UV rays penetrate through the clouds. Even during overcast weather, eyes are still heavily exposed to UV rays. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces including: sand, snow and water. 
6) On sunny days the majority of adults and children wear their sunglasses.
  • MYTH: Even on sunny days in Hawaii only 42% of adults and 12% of children were seen wearing sunglasses. 
7) Most sunglasses block 100% of UV radiation from reaching the eye.
  • MYTH: 45% of UV rays can still reach the eyes of people wearing sunglasses. Large, wrap-around, UV-blocking sunglasses provide the most protection and should be worn consistently. 
8) Contact lenses can be an effective way to help protect harmful UV radiation from reaching the cornea and into the eye.
  • TRUTH: Contact lenses can be an effective way to help protect harmful UV radiation from reaching the cornea of the eye. For comprehensive protection, UV-blocking contact lenses can be paired with UV-blocking wrap around style sunglasses and a wide-brim hat. 
9) All contact lenses offer some level of UV protection.
  • MYTH: Not all contact lenses offer UV protection. Contact lenses that help protect against transmission of harmful UV rays are classified into two categories: Class 1 and Class 2. Class 1 UV-blockers provide the greatest measure of UV protection.
Doctors of Optometry can make specific recommendations to ensure an individual’s eyes are well protected from the harmful effects of UV radiation. As well, a comprehensive eye exam can identify early onset of eye-health conditions that may not have apparent symptoms. Please call us at 604.984.2020 or visit us online at www.hollyburneyeclinic.com to make an appointment.

Monday, July 25, 2016

4 Eye-Healthy Smoothie Recipes

The right nutrients help protect our eyes from the effects of aging and eye disease.
Many patients, after becoming aware of the connection between their nutrition and eye health, incorporate more fish and greens into their diets. That’s fantastic! Here’s another way to give your eyes the nutrition they need... Delicious smoothies! Fruits are full of vitamins that our eyes need to stay healthy. When you supplement those fruits with certain powerful greens and seeds, you can make delicious, eye-healthy breakfasts.

Blueberry, Peach & Flaxseed Smoothie

Blueberries and peaches are delicious sources of Vitamins C and E—antioxidants that help prevent the damage to our eyes that leads to AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration). This smoothie recipe also contains flaxseeds which is one of the very best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help regulate the fluid retention and flow in our bodies, preventing dry eye and normalizing eye pressure to reduce the risk of glaucoma.

Mango-Avocado Smoothie


Avocados are a good source of lutein, and mangoes are full of Vitamin A, an antioxidant that helps to protect your cornea. Between the mango and avocado, this smoothie recipe is amazingly creamy. Include those chia seeds as well for some Omega 3 fatty acids!

Orange, Basil & Spinach Smoothie

You’ll love this recipe! Orange, basil, and spinach are ALL great resources to get lutein and zeaxanthin which are essential for the development and protection of our healthy eyesight. Spinach also provides us with zinc, which enables our bodies to utilize Vitamin A to protect the cornea and fight infections.

(Kid-Friendly) Banana, Cacao, Almond Milk Smoothie


Cacao in this recipe is a great source of zinc and a serving of almonds provides 25% of our daily Vitamin E. The bananas are full of beta-carotene which our bodies convert into Vitamin A for great eye health also!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Headaches? Get Your Eyes Checked!

Are you suffering from headaches? You may want to ask yourself when your last eye exam was!

If you have undetected or uncorrected vision problems, you may be suffering from headaches needlessly.

Headaches Can Be Caused By Eyestrain

A routine eye exam can uncover a variety of issues that may be causing headaches. While most headaches aren’t necessarily caused by vision problems, it is important to get your eyes checked on a regular basis to make sure.
Eyestrain is caused when the small muscles of the eye are forced to work harder than normal. This can result in tired, aching eyes, blurred vision and frequent headaches. Eyestrain associated with headaches can be caused by a number of things such as:
  • Astigmatism: the cornea is not a normal shape. This causes people to squint in order to focus their vision which can lead to headaches.
  • Hyperopia: also known as farsightedness, the eye focuses images behind the retina instead of directly on it, causing blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches.
  • Presbyopia: this occurs as the lens becomes hard and inflexible with age. Lens hardening makes it more difficult to focus, causing sore eyes and, you guessed it, headaches.
It’s important to remember that most eye conditions can be corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses. In addition, those who already wear prescription glasses or lenses and get headaches may not be aware that their eyes have changed over time. Many people simply need their prescription updated.
Whatever the case, if your headaches are a result of vision problems such as the above mentioned, relief is in sight. All it takes is a visit to your eye care professional!

More Serious Issues Can Be At The Root Of The Problem

Glaucoma has also been known to cause headaches. Glaucoma is an eye disease characterized by a buildup of fluid in the eye, causing increased internal eye pressure. This pressure may lead to severe headaches in some cases.
People with cataracts may also suffer from headaches. As cataracts develop, usually due to age, the lens of the eye becomes clouded and the person’s ability to see is slowly diminished. As vision becomes limited, the eye works harder to see and focus, often causing eyestrain and head pain.

Get Your Eyes Checked

If you’re in doubt about the cause of your headaches, a good place to start is at your optometrist’s office! Because our eyes naturally compensate for vision problems to a certain degree, some issues may affect us without us realizing it. For this reason, many people often fail to link headaches to problems with the eyes.
Your health, comfort and well-being are important to us. If visual impairment is causing your headaches, one of our Doctors of Optometry can identify the problem and help you improve your quality of life. Feel free to call or make an appointment to answer any questions you may have! Contact us at www.hollyburneyeclinic.com or call us at 604.984.2020.