Wednesday, June 21, 2017

UV damage you can’t see, but impacts your vision

Summer is officially upon us and Canadians across the country are excited to get outside and enjoy the sun. While most Canucks recognize the importance of sunscreen to prevent sunburns and skin cancer, many are unaware that UV light can cause serious eye damage. In fact, overexposure to UV rays has been linked to a variety of eye problems, one of which is cataracts, a condition where the normally clear lens of the eye become cloudy and opaque.

June is Cataract Awareness Month, and with an estimated 3.2 million Canadians living with the eye condition[1], Doctors of Optometry are urging residents to book an annual eye exam with an optometrist and take the necessary precautions to protect your vision from the sun’s harmful rays.
 
What can you do?
  • Avoid sources for UV radiation. Don’t stare directly at the sun and be aware of reflections from snow, water, sand and pavement. If you’re a welder, hairdresser, lighting technician, paint and resin worker, or work outdoors, be sure you’re in the know about potential risks and how to avoid UV exposure.
  • Protect your peepers. Wear sunglasses that are 100% UV blocking against both UVA and UVB rays, and are close-fitting with a wrap-around style frame to help keep light out. If you wear corrective contact lenses, consider wearing UV-blocking contact lenses for an added layer of UV protection. In addition to cataracts, these steps help protect against:
  • Stay informed. Get regular eye exams to monitor eye health, maintain good vision and keep up-to-date on the latest in UV protection (Check out the UV Canada smartphone app for up-to-date info on UV radiation in your location).
  • 10-4. Keep out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Children are at high risk. It’s estimated that 50% of lifetime exposure to UV happens before the age of 18. Keep children younger than six months out of direct sunlight, ensure children of all ages wear sunglasses and sun hats when outside and consider using a canopy or umbrella as a sun-shield when at the beach or in the back yard.
  • Recognize the symptoms. If you’re experiencing immediate pain, an inflamed cornea, or an aversion to light, see your Doctor of Optometry right away.
Your Doctor of Optometry can make specific recommendations to ensure your eyes are well-protected and to fit you with your perfect pair of sunglasses. Booking a comprehensive eye exam can identify early onset of eye-health conditions related to UV that may not have apparent symptoms.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Detecting Underlying Health Conditions

During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor of optometry does much more than just determine your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses. He or she will also check your eyes for common and rare eye diseases, assess how well your eyes work together as a team and look for indicators of many potentially serious health conditions that affect other areas of the body.


Health Conditions Visible in the Eyes
The connection between vision and other systems of the body make routine eye exams an important part of preventative healthcare— regardless of your age or your physical health. Comprehensive eye exams provide optometrists with a close-up look at your blood vessels, the optic nerves, and other complex eye structures, all of which may contain clues to conditions that could pose a serious risk to your health. A number of underlying health conditions can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam, ranging from high blood pressure and diabetes to certain forms of cancer. Other health conditions that may show signs in the eyes include tumours, aneurysms, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, sickle cell disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological or brain disorders.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. High blood pressure usually does not cause symptoms, but if left untreated is a major risk factor for life threatening conditions like heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. Because the eye is the only part of the body in which blood vessels can be viewed without invasive techniques, it can be the first place that high blood pressure is detected.
The retina is a tissue layer lining the inside of your eye. This layer transforms light into nerve signals that are then sent to the brain for interpretation into images. When your blood pressure is too high, for a prolonged period, changes to the retina’s blood vessels occur. During an eye exam, your optometrist will look out for damage to the blood vessels in the retina, helping to detect signs of high blood pressure and identify risks for stroke or heart attack.
Diabetes
Like high blood pressure, diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your retina. If undetected or not controlled effectively, diabetes can impact your vision and put you at risk of other life threatening complications such as heart disease and kidney failure. With as many as one million Canadians living with undiagnosed diabetes, an eye exam can play an important role in early detection of diabetes and assist in effective management of the disease.
Cancer
A comprehensive eye exam can identify unusual structures and growths inside or around the eye, including a rare form of cancer called choroidal melanoma which develops within the cells that make pigmentation in the eye and can be life threatening if it spreads to other parts of the body.
Brain tumours, depending on their location in the brain, can cause loss of peripheral vision, optic nerve changes, abnormal eye movements, double vision, or other changes in vision. A comprehensive eye exam includes tests of peripheral vision and eye muscle function and can often be the first line of detection of a brain tumour.
Skin cancer can also be detected through an eye exam, as lesions called basal cell carcinomas can show up on the eyelid and, in rare occasions, can spread to the brain through the eye. The eye and its surrounding tissues are one of the most common areas of the body where skin cancer is first diagnosed.
Neurological Conditions and Brain Injuries
The optic nerve in the eye is essentially an extension of the brain and carries signals from the retina’s nerve cells to the brain for processing. Neurological conditions that affect nerve cells, such as multiple sclerosis, may affect vision and be detected through an eye exam.
The muscles attached to the eye that are responsible for coordinated eye movements are controlled through nerves that arise directly from the brain. Several neurological conditions, which affect the brain, including Parkinson’s disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, can affect eye movements and even cause double vision.

Mental health conditions and brain injuries, including strokes, may affect the parts of the brain that control eye coordination and tracking. Strokes can also cause peripheral vision loss. Diabetes can cause nerve damage that can result in double vision. A comprehensive eye exam can detect problems with eye movement, and vision training or spectacle (eyeglass) therapy can improve the ability of the eyes to track and work together.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cataracts

What is a cataract?
When the normally clear lens within your eye becomes cloudy and opaque, it is called a cataract. Cataracts vary from extremely small areas of cloudiness to large opaque areas that cause a noticeable blurring of vision.
Who gets cataracts?
Cataracts are a function of aging and are most often found in people over the age of 60, although they are also occasionally found in younger people, including newborns. If a child is born with a cataract, it is referred to as a congenital cataract.
What causes cataracts?
Cataracts are the result of aging changes that occur within your eyes that cause the lenses to become cloudy. This may be due to advancing age or it may be the result of heredity, an injury or a disease. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation (present in sunlight), cigarette smoke, certain systemic conditions, or the use of certain medications are also risk factors for the development of cataracts. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, but often at different rates.
Can cataracts be prevented?
Currently, there is no proven method to prevent cataracts from forming. Wearing sunglasses is a tremendous benefit as they protect your lens from harmful UV rays, which can speed up cataract formation. A diet rich in antioxidants (such as Vitamins A, C, E, Zinc Selenium & Magnesium) can also be beneficial.
What are the signs/symptoms of cataracts?
Some indications that a cataract may be forming include blurred or hazy vision that cannot be corrected by changing the glasses prescription, or the feeling of having a film over the eyes that does not go away with blinking. A temporary change in distance and/or near vision may also occur. An increased sensitivity to glare, especially at night may be experienced. Cataracts develop without pain or redness.
How are cataracts diagnosed?
A comprehensive eye examination by a doctor of optometry can determine if you have a cataract forming.
How are cataracts treated?
In the early stages of a cataract, where vision is only minimally affected, your doctor of optometry can sometimes prescribe new lenses for your glasses to give you the sharpest vision possible. When the cataracts start to interfere with your daily activities and glasses cannot improve this vision, your doctor of optometry will refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) who may recommend the surgical removal of the cataracts.
When will I need to have cataracts removed?
Cataracts may develop slowly over many years or they may form rapidly in a matter of months. Some cataracts never progress to the point that they need to be removed. When a change in glasses can no longer provide functional vision, and the cataract is starting to interfere with your daily activities, your doctor of optometry will arrange a consultation with a cataract surgeon.
What happens after cataract surgery?
The old cloudy lens is removed and an intraocular lens implant, inserted in your eye at the time of surgery, serves as a new lens. Sometimes the lens implant can give you good enough distance vision that you may not require glasses. Your near vision will still be blurred, so you may need glasses to read. Your doctor of optometry will prescribe new lenses for your glasses about four to six weeks after surgery to maximize your distance and near vision. Before surgery, your doctor of optometry may recommend lens implant options with new “specialized” intraocular lenses designed to minimize your need for glasses following the surgery.
For more information, call us at 604.920.2020 or visit us online at www.hollyburneyeclinic.com.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Risks Associated With Sun Exposure

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is an invisible component of sunlight that is most commonly known to cause sunburns and skin cancers. While some UV is filtered by the ozone layer, increasing amounts are reaching the earth as the ozone layer steadily diminishes. Because exposure to UV is cumulative, direct contact with sunlight for even short periods of time can cause several long-term eye health problems, many of which begin symptom-free.
To help reduce UV radiation damage to your eyes, consider the following tips:
  • Beware of high sources of UV exposure in the workplace. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety indicates examples of workers at potential risk from exposure to UV radiation including outdoor workers, construction workers, paint and resin curers, plasma torch operators, welders, farmers, food and drink irradiators, hairdressers, laboratory workers, lighting technicians, lithographic and printing workers and police.
  • Recognize sources of man-made ultraviolet radiation. Examples include various types of UV lamps, arc welding torches and mercury vapour lamps. In dental and medical practices, UV radiation can be used for killing bacteria, creating fluorescent effects, curing resins and phototherapy. Sun tanning booths also use UV radiation.
  • Wear sunglasses, prescription or safety glasses with anti-UV coatings. Sunlight is by far the greatest source of UV radiation.
Exposure to its UVA and UVB rays, as well as man-made sources of UVC rays, can lead to long-term eye damage including:
  • If you wear corrective contact lenses, consider wearing UV-blocking contact lenses for an added layer of UV protection. Sunglasses are important, but aren’t always enough. Depending on the frame size, shape and position, as much as 45 per cent of UV rays can still reach the eyes of people wearing some sunglasses. Contact lenses with UV protection are an effective way to block light that gets in the sides and protects from harmful UV radiation reaching the cornea and into the eye. Not all contact lenses offer UV protection so check with your doctor of optometry to find out which ones are right for you.
  • Recognize symptoms of UV eye damage, including immediate pain, inflammation of the cornea and an aversion to light. UV burns are commonly known as welder’s flash, snow blindness, ground-glass eyeball, or flash burn, depending on the UV source. Should you experience these symptoms, see your doctor of optometry right away.
While the symptoms listed above indicate eye damage caused by UV exposure, many long-term problems caused by UV exposure are symptom-free. To learn about the UV damage your eyes may already have, visit one of our Doctors of Optometry for a thorough eye examination.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Do Your Child’s Eyes Cross Frequently?

Do you ever notice your child’s eyes crossing or moving in different directions?

Just as babies slowly learn to walk and talk, they must also learn how to see and correctly use their eyes to experience the world around them. Learning to focus their eyes, move them and use them together accurately is a process that takes place over time during infancy and childhood.

Crossing Eyes Are Normal In A Newborn

A common question we hear from parents is, “My baby’s eyes keep crossing. What does it mean?” Since a baby’s visual system isn’t fully developed until later in childhood, it is normal for their eyes to cross or wander occasionally during the first few months of life. This should stop, however, after four months of age.

Past Four Months, It May Be Strabismus

If you notice that your child’s eyes are crossed or turning in different directions most of the time or beyond the age of four months, they may have strabismus. Strabismus is an eye condition in which both eyes don’t look at the same place at the same time. It can occur in one or both eyes, be constant or occur intermittently, and can be present from birth or develop later, most often by the age of three.
Strabismus can be caused by a number of things. The problem may occur in the muscles around the eye, the part of the brain that directs eye movements, or the nerves that transmit information to the eye muscles. Certain health conditions such as down syndrome and cerebral palsy may make a child more likely to develop strabismus.

Early Treatment Is Important

Strabismus can cause double vision and interferes with a person’s ability to perceive depth. Some people may think that their child will outgrow strabismus, but this is untrue. In fact, if strabismus is left untreated, it can progress to amblyopia, or lazy eye.
When the eyes are misaligned, the brain receives two different images. If left untreated, the brain will eventually ignore the image from the turned or crossed eye, permanently reducing vision in that eye. This is when amblyopia occurs.
The good news is that strabismus, if treated early, can be corrected with much success. Treatment options include:
  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Prism lenses
  • Vision therapy
  • Eye muscle surgery

Eye Exams Are Crucial To Your Child’s Vision Health

Infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at six months. During their exam, your optometrist ensures that your child’s eyes are developing and working together properly. If you notice your child’s eyes frequently turning or wandering before they are six months old, call your Doctor of Optometry and set up an appointment. It’s never too early to make sure that your child’s vision is healthy!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Allergies (Children)

How common are allergies among children?
Many children are affected by chronic allergies, which may become severe enough to affect their daily activities. However, children cannot always recognize what is wrong or explain their discomfort to family members or caregivers. The observation of specific behaviours and/or eye signs are useful in identifying eye allergies in children.
What are the signs/symptoms among children?
Children with ocular allergies often rub their eyes, blink forcefully and repeatedly or make rolling eye movements in response to the itchy sensation caused by allergies. They may complain that their eyes hurt, or they can’t see well. Their eyes may appear red and watery, similar to, but less severe than, pink eye. Mild swelling of the eyelids and a darkened discolouration of the skin under the eye may also occur. It is important to differentiate eye allergies from other forms of pink eye and eye inflammation by seeing a doctor of optometry. Severe eyelid swelling (causing the eye to remain closed) and/or a yellow or green discharge may signal a potentially serious eye infection and warrants more urgent attention.
What causes allergies among children?
It may be difficult to identify the cause of the allergies. As allergies tend to run in families, children are more likely to suffer allergy symptoms if they have a parent with allergies or asthma. Exposure to certain allergens can trigger a reaction in susceptible individuals. Common allergens include tree, grass and weed pollen; mold spores; dust mites; and cat, dog and rodent dander. Contact with plants (poison ivy, oak, sumac), certain foods (peanuts, milk) and insects may also trigger an allergic reaction of the skin, including the eyelids. Allergies may appear at the first encounter with a specific trigger or may develop after several exposures.
What are the treatments for allergies among children?
Minimizing or eliminating contact with the offending trigger, if it is known, is the most effective way to treat allergies. Make sure your children wash their hands and face frequently and resist touching or rubbing their eyes. Holding a clean face cloth soaked in ice-cold water over closed eyes for 5-10 minutes will reduce itchiness and bring some relief. Non-prescription artificial tear eye drops also will provide relief, especially if they are stored in the refrigerator to keep them cold. Repeating these simple procedures two to three times per day is recommended. Symptoms that persist despite these simple approaches warrant further evaluation by a doctor of optometry. A professional examination of the eye with a bio-microscope provides a magnified view of eye tissues and structures, allowing a doctor of optometry to identify the signs of an allergy and rule out other causes of eye irritation such as bacterial or viral infections. Once the eye allergy is confirmed, your doctor of optometry can recommend and prescribe specific allergy medications depending on the child’s age and the severity of the eye irritation. Non-prescription decongestant and antihistamine eye drops can provide temporary relief from redness and itching in older children, but they often cause a rebound reaction and worsening of symptoms if used longer than a few days. The use of these non-prescription allergy eye drops in children is not recommended unless professionally advised. Prescription allergy eye drops are more effective at reducing inflammation of ocular tissues and may be prescribed by your doctor of optometry for more severe eye allergies, even in young children. A doctor of optometry can advise you when it is useful to see an allergist for formal allergy tests.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Detecting Underlying Health Conditions

During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor of optometry does much more than just determine your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses. He or she will also check your eyes for common and rare eye diseases, assess how well your eyes work together as a team and look for indicators of many potentially serious health conditions that affect other areas of the body.
Health Conditions Visible in the Eyes
The connection between vision and other systems of the body make routine eye exams an important part of preventative healthcare— regardless of your age or your physical health. Comprehensive eye exams provide optometrists with a close-up look at your blood vessels, the optic nerves, and other complex eye structures, all of which may contain clues to conditions that could pose a serious risk to your health. A number of underlying health conditions can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam, ranging from high blood pressure and diabetes to certain forms of cancer. Other health conditions that may show signs in the eyes include tumours, aneurysms, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, sickle cell disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological or brain disorders.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. High blood pressure usually does not cause symptoms, but if left untreated is a major risk factor for life threatening conditions like heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. Because the eye is the only part of the body in which blood vessels can be viewed without invasive techniques, it can be the first place that high blood pressure is detected.
The retina is a tissue layer lining the inside of your eye. This layer transforms light into nerve signals that are then sent to the brain for interpretation into images. When your blood pressure is too high, for a prolonged period, changes to the retina’s blood vessels occur. During an eye exam, your optometrist will look out for damage to the blood vessels in the retina, helping to detect signs of high blood pressure and identify risks for stroke or heart attack.
Diabetes
Like high blood pressure, diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your retina. If undetected or not controlled effectively, diabetes can impact your vision and put you at risk of other life threatening complications such as heart disease and kidney failure. With as many as one million Canadians living with undiagnosed diabetes, an eye exam can play an important role in early detection of diabetes and assist in effective management of the disease.
Cancer
A comprehensive eye exam can identify unusual structures and growths inside or around the eye, including a rare form of cancer called choroidal melanoma which develops within the cells that make pigmentation in the eye and can be life threatening if it spreads to other parts of the body.
Brain tumours, depending on their location in the brain, can cause loss of peripheral vision, optic nerve changes, abnormal eye movements, double vision, or other changes in vision. A comprehensive eye exam includes tests of peripheral vision and eye muscle function and can often be the first line of detection of a brain tumour.
Skin cancer can also be detected through an eye exam, as lesions called basal cell carcinomas can show up on the eyelid and, in rare occasions, can spread to the brain through the eye. The eye and its surrounding tissues are one of the most common areas of the body where skin cancer is first diagnosed.
Neurological Conditions and Brain Injuries
The optic nerve in the eye is essentially an extension of the brain and carries signals from the retina’s nerve cells to the brain for processing. Neurological conditions that affect nerve cells, such as multiple sclerosis, may affect vision and be detected through an eye exam.
The muscles attached to the eye that are responsible for coordinated eye movements are controlled through nerves that arise directly from the brain. Several neurological conditions, which affect the brain, including Parkinson’s disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, can affect eye movements and even cause double vision.
Mental health conditions and brain injuries, including strokes, may affect the parts of the brain that control eye coordination and tracking. Strokes can also cause peripheral vision loss. Diabetes can cause nerve damage that can result in double vision. A comprehensive eye exam can detect problems with eye movement, and vision training or spectacle (eyeglass) therapy can improve the ability of the eyes to track and work together.