Cataract Surgery and Modern IOLs

If you have cataracts and need surgery to restore your vision, fear not — cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed surgeries, and modern cataract surgery is safer and produces better visual outcomes than ever before.

Still, you should be well informed about what to expect before, during and after your cataract surgery, and which of the many types of intraocular lenses available these days is the best choice for your needs.

Cataract Surgery Basics

In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens inside your eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens — called an intraocular lens, or IOL — to restore clear vision.

Cataract surgery typically is performed on an outpatient basis and you are awake throughout the procedure, which takes only about 15 minutes.

Modern cataract surgery requires only a small incision in the eye, because the cloudy lens is broken up into small pieces with an ultrasonic probe before it is removed from the eye. This small-incision technique reduces the risk of complications and promotes faster healing and vision improvement.

After all remnants of the cloudy lens have been removed from your eye, the cataract surgeon inserts a clear IOL behind the iris and pupil, in the same location your natural lens occupied. (In special cases, an IOL might be secured to the front of the iris, but this is less common.)

The surgeon then completes the procedure by closing the incision (a stitch may or may not be needed), and a protective shield is placed over your eye to keep it safe in the early stages of recovery.

Recently, lasers (similar to those used in LASIK vision correction surgery) have been approved for certain steps in cataract surgery. These “femtosecond” lasers provide even greater precision for these tasks and may make cataract surgery outcomes even more accurate and predictable.

Laser-assisted cataract surgery, however, usually is significantly more costly than a conventional cataract procedure. Ask your eye doctor or cataract surgeon for more information about this new technology.

Choosing the Best IOL

During your pre-operative exam, your eye doctor or cataract surgeon will discuss the latest IOLs that are available for cataract surgery and help you choose the right lens for your needs and budget.

With many premium IOLs to choose from these days, it’s important to consider your priorities and visual expectations after your procedure.

Generally, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I want good distance vision but also the most economical solution, so I have the lowest possible out-of-pocket expenses after insurance or Medicare coverage for my cataract surgery?
  2. Am I willing to pay an out-of-pocket premium to get the latest IOL technology that might provide slightly sharper vision than a conventional IOL or decrease my need for glasses after surgery?

If you want to keep costs down, ask your surgeon which IOLs will result in the least amount of out-of-pocket expenses for your cataract procedure. Standard IOLs of this type provide excellent vision for most patients, and your surgeon can advise you about your expected visual outcome with this choice.

For some patients, a premium IOL may provide noticeably better vision after cataract surgery than a standard IOL.

Examples of premium intraocular lenses include aspheric IOLs that correct visual aberrations that can cause halos around lights and other vision problems, and toric IOLs that correct astigmatism as well as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Also, consider which of the following is your highest priority after surgery:

  1. The sharpest distance vision possible (knowing this means you will likely need reading glasses).
  2. The greatest freedom from glasses after surgery (knowing this means your distance vision without glasses will likely be less clear than with option 1).

If the sharpest possible distance vision is your top priority — so you can see clearly without glasses for driving, sports and other activities — your best option may be a premium IOL designed for distance vision only. Though this option means you will likely need reading glasses, most people who choose these IOLs are very pleased with their distance vision after cataract surgery and find that wearing reading glasses when needed is worth the trade-off.

If you want the greatest freedom from glasses after cataract surgery (and are willing to put up with a slight decrease in the sharpness of your distance vision to get it), your best choice may be apresbyopia-correcting IOL.

There are two types of presbyopia-correcting IOLs, which are designed to provide good vision at all distances:

  • Multifocal IOLs. These IOLs, like multifocal or progressive eyeglass lenses, have several lens powers to help you see quite clearly at multiple distances — far away (for driving), at arm’s length (for computer use), and close up (for reading).
  • Accommodating IOLs. These presbyopia-correcting IOLs have only one lens power, but have the ability to move slightly within the eye in response to focusing effort, thereby mimicking the eye’s natural focusing ability prior to the onset of presbyopia.

Most people who choose presbyopia-correcting IOLs are very pleased with their vision without glasses. However, many still require glasses occasionally for better driving vision (especially at night) and for reading small print.

It’s also important to know that whether you choose a distance-only or a presbyopia-correcting IOL, it’s not unusual for you to still have some minor blurred vision without glasses.

If you want the best possible vision without glasses after cataract surgery, ask your eye surgeon if you are a good candidate for LASIK or other vision correction procedures to enhance or “fine-tune” your eyesight a few months after surgery.

Be sure to ask plenty of questions during your pre-operative exam so you are completely comfortable with your choice of IOL and your decision to proceed with cataract surgery before signing surgical consent forms.

Cataract Surgery Recovery

An uncomplicated cataract surgery typically lasts only about 15 minutes. But expect to be at the surgical center for 90 minutes or longer, because extra time is needed for final measurements and a brief exam and consultation with your surgeon before and after the procedure.

You must have someone drive you home after cataract surgery; do not attempt to drive until you have visited your eye doctor the day after surgery and he or she tests your vision and confirms that your visual acuity is adequate for you to drive safely without glasses.

You will have several follow-up visits after surgery to monitor the health of your eye and the quality of your vision. Be sure to use all medications as directed to promote healing and reduce the risk of complications, and follow all other instructions your eye surgeon and eye doctor give you.

Finally, be patient — it can take several weeks or even months for your vision to peak after surgery. Your eye doctor will keep you informed of your progress and prescribe glasses or recommend an additional vision correction procedure if needed.

Article ©2014, Access Media Group LLC. Source: Cataract Surgery and Intraocular Lenses by AllAboutVision.com.

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Choosing Eyeglasses That Suit Your Style

Eyeglasses play two important (and very different) roles — they correct your vision to influence how you see the world; and they contribute to your appearance and style, influencing how the world sees you.

So it’s wise to keep these two functions in mind when shopping for glasses: you want glasses that give you the best vision possible — and that complement your style, too!

When it comes to style, it’s all about the frames.

Would You Wear Flip-Flops with a Business Suit?

First things first: Unless your budget simply won’t allow it, you should be thinking about purchasing more than one pair of glasses to complement your wardrobe and lifestyle.

Even if your style is just-off-the-beach casual, you wouldn’t wear flip-flops to an important business meeting, would you? (Okay, maybe if you’re in the surfboard business you might, but you get the picture, right?) Or wear running shoes with an evening dress. So dispel yourself of the notion that one pair of glasses will give you the look you want or need for every situation.

That said, here are some general tips for a few common styles:

Eyeglasses for Serious Business

To put your best face forward and exude confidence with a wide variety of business clients and colleagues, it’s usually best to stay with conservative frame shapes and colors. Also:

Minimalist metal or rimless frames are always good.
Classic oval and rectangular shapes usually look best with business attire.
Silver, gunmetal, brown and black are good choices for men.
Silver, gold, espresso brown, burgundy and black are good choices for women.
Classic tortoise patterns also work well for women and men.
Avoid bright colors or unusual shapes.
Avoid very large and very small lens sizes; stay in the middle.
Glasses That Show Your Creativity

For a more creative or fashion-forward appearance and for fun times outside the office, consider frames that are more attention-grabbing in shape and color:

Consider geometric shapes in thicker and larger plastic frames.
For metal frames look for styles with more temple detailing.
Consider frames with more dramatic colors or patterns.
Multi-colored laminates are often a good choice.
Retro or vintage styles with modern detailing and/or colors also are good.
Glasses for the Modern Baby Boomer or Senior

Just because you’re eligible for an AARP card doesn’t mean you have to wear stodgy, old-fashioned glasses.

For a more youthful appearance, consider frame styles that are uplifting for the face, such as upswept rectangles for men and soft cat-eye shapes for women.

Pay attention to scale. Avoid those huge metal frames that older men often wear. Also, make sure your eyes are well-centered within the lens opening and purchase anti-reflective lenses to draw more attention to your eyes.

Also, frames with lighter colors and a high-gloss finish often look more youthful on women.

The Young Intellectual

Whether you’re studying art, French literature, finance or engineering, college is a time to develop your own identity — and show off your style.

Seize the day and don’t be afraid to express yourself. Experiment with eyewear styling, including eye-catching colors, shapes and sizes.

Want to go in a different direction? Try a retro frame in basic black.

Glasses for the Weekend Warrior

Most working adults live dual lives — their normal 9-to-5 weekday life and their (usually) more active life on the weekends.

Just as dress shoes are the wrong attire for the gym, the glasses you wear in the office are nearly always the wrong choice for sports and active wear.

For the best comfort, performance and safety during “weekend warrior” hours, choose at least one pair of sports-appropriate eyeglasses or sunglasses.

Styling can range from wraparounds to more conventionally shaped eyeglasses and sunglasses. Sporty looks can include bright colors and modern combinations of metal and plastic materials.

Some important words about lenses here: Make sure you choose lightweight polycarbonate or Trivex lenses for your sports glasses and sunglasses. Lenses made of these materials are far more impact-resistant than other eyeglass lenses, and they are significantly lighter, too, to stay comfortably in place on your face. Also, consider getting sun-sensitive (photochromic) treatment applied to these lenses for optimal sight in changing light conditions.

For sunglasses for sports and active wear, consider polarized lenses to more effectively reduce glare caused by light bouncing back from water, concrete and other reflective surfaces.

The Complete Package

A common misstep people make when putting together a wardrobe is forgetting about their glasses and sunglasses.

At a minimum, the well-dressed woman or man should have an eyewear wardrobe that includes:

A pair of glasses for the office, computer and/or formal wear
A pair of glasses for a casual wear
A pair of glasses with photochromic polycarbonate (or Trivex) lenses for sports and active/safety wear
A pair of “dress” sunglasses for fashion use
(If you spend significant amounts of time fishing, on the beach or boating, consider a pair of sports glasses with polarized polycarbonate lenses for superior protection from glare.)

Article ©2014, Access Media Group LLC. Source: Choosing Eyeglasses That Suit Your Personality and Lifestyle by AllAboutVision.com.

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Kate Spade

Kate Spade sunglasses are the perfect accessory to personalize any look. Choose from an eclectic mix of styles in the latest trends of the season to effortlessly complement any outfit. Kate Spade eyewear is made from only high-quality materials with designer detail for superior comfort and chic. Whether you crave bold or subtle colors, you are sure to find the Kate Spade eyewear you crave. Grab your favorite Kate Spade sunglasses from Music City Oprical today and step out in style.

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Polarizing Lenses — The ABCs

Polarized lenses are used in sunglasses to reduce glare from reflective surfaces such as the surface of a lake or the hood of a car. They accomplish this feat through a process called polarization, much like a Venetian blind controls the amount of light entering a room through a window.

“Polarization” refers to the fact that reflected light rays (glare) are oriented in a plane that is parallel to the surface off which they are reflected. Sunlight itself is not polarized but glare created when sunlight bounces off a highly reflective surface is polarized.

Since there are many more horizontal glare-producing surfaces in the world around us, most glare we encounter will be horizontally polarized. A polarized lens has a laminated surface containing invisible vertical “stripes”. These invisible stripes act like a vertical grating and block horizontally-polarized light from passing through the lens. The illustration below explains how lens orientation affects the transmission of polarized light.

The bulb produces light that is not polarized. The polarizer lens here transmits only vertically-polarized light. The analyzer lens lets the light pass when the “stripes” are vertical but blocks the light when the stripes are horizontal.

If a wearer of polarized sunglasses tilts their head left or right while looking at a source of polarized light (glare off a lake or chrome car bumper), the same effect is seen.

For outdoor use, polarized lenses are an excellent choice. Fishermen and boaters in particular benefit from polarized lenses because they deal almost exclusively with horizontal-surface glare. Fishermen or boaters wearing polarized sunglasses can more easily see below the surface of the water to spot fish or submerged obstacles. Some experts feel that polarized sunglasses are also a good choice for snow skiers but other experts disagree. Polarized sunglasses do cut the polarized glare coming off the surface of snow but they also tend to reduce contrast and make icy patches or bumps (moguls) harder to see. Yellow or amber lenses actually increase contrast and are generally regarded as a better option for snow skiers.

There are some limitations to the use of polarized lenses. In laptop computers, the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) uses polarized light to control both brightness and color. Since they block transmission of some polarized light, polarized lenses can cause distortions when viewing the laptop screen. LCDs are also used in automobiles so clocks and other instrument displays may become temporarily unreadable.

VISION & HEALTH NEWSLETTER COURTESY OF:

Connie James, O.D.

25 Music Square East
Nashville, TN 37203

615-750-5943

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Progressive lens “Zones”

Progressive lenses, sometimes referred to as “no-line” bifocals, provide vision correction for the three basic vision zones – distance vision, intermediate vision, and near vision. Because they provide vision in these three zones, they are often thought of as a type of trifocal.

In reality, progressive lenses are neither a type of bifocal or trifocal – they are “aspheric” in design, which means the curvature (and focusing power) gradually changes from the top of the lens to the bottom. It is this gradual change or “progression” in power from top to bottom that gives rise to the name “progressive.”

Progressive lenses provide a great solution for many people who find their present lens design limits their vision for a particular distance or activity. Progressives offer a range of vision as close to natural as can be obtained from prescription eyeglasses. They provide clearer vision not just for distance, intermediate and near but also for all distances in between. Because there is no abrupt change of power in the lens, there are no visible dividing lines.

The distance zone of the lens allows you to see objects from a few feet away to as far as your eye can see. The mid-range portion of the lens (“progression corridor”) allows you to clearly see anything at an arm’s length, such as your computer screen, objects on your desk, or items on a shelf at the supermarket. The lowest part of the lens, the near zone, allows you to see up close. The design of progressive lenses also allows a more natural and relaxed head posture when viewing objects at slightly longer reading distances, such as a newspaper or computer screen.

More Options – A variety of progressive lens designs are available today. Some progressives are designed with a wider intermediate zone to work especially well for computer use. Others have a larger reading zone. In the past, a larger frame was often required when selecting progressive lenses. If a frame was too small, a large portion of the near zone was removed when cutting the lens to fit the frame. Many lens manufacturers now offer “compact” progressive designs that work very well with smaller frames. Progressives are available in glass, plastic, polycarbonate, and photochromic (light-sensitive) lenses.

Modern progressive lenses offer outstanding clarity and comfort for seeing at all distances. Modern designs also make the adaptation process much easier than in the past. if you’ve tried progressives before, realize that much has changed in both lens design and materials. The next time you update your glasses, be sure to ask if progressive lenses might be right for you.

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Nonprescription Sunglasses

Nonprescription sunglasses are sunglasses with lenses that contain no power for the correction of refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism) or presbyopia (age-related loss of focusing for reading and other close-up tasks.)

Another term sometimes used to describe this type of nonprescription eyewear is plano sunglasses.

Because they don’t require a prescription from an eye doctor, nonprescription sunglasses can be purchased from a wide variety of retailers–including eye care offices, optical shops, department stores, drugstores, discount stores (Walmart, Target, etc.), sporting goods stores and many, many websites.

And because they are available from so many sources and at such a wide range of prices, it’s good to learn as much as possible about nonprescription sunglasses to make sure you know exactly what you are getting and how well the lenses protect your eyes from the sun.

Why Nonprescription Sunglasses Are Important

Nonprescription sunglasses may be even more important than prescription sunglasses.

Why? Because most prescription eyeglass lenses–even if they are perfectly clear–provide some protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. In fact, the lens materials used for most high-index eyeglass lenses automatically block 100 percent UV without the need for lens tints or coatings.

Many soft contact lenses also absorb a significant amount of the sun’s UV rays, preventing harmful radiation from penetrating the eye.

UV protection is important because too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation during childhood and early adulthood has been associated with increased risk of serious eye problems such as macular degeneration later in life.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified UV radiation as a potent carcinogen that can cause skin cancer by altering a person’s DNA. The organization also says the sun’s UV rays are directly or indirectly responsible for a significant percentage of cataracts.

People who have vision problems and require corrective lenses are automatically reducing their eyes’ UV exposure by wearing prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. It’s people who don’t need prescription eyewear who are more at risk of UV damage to their eyes–unless they wear nonprescription sunglasses.

Contact Lenses–Some UV Protection, But Not Enough

While it’s true that some contact lenses block UV rays, contacts cannot provide complete UV protection for your eyes because they cover only a portion of the front surface of the eyeball.

In addition to increasing one’s risk for cataracts and macular degeneration, ultraviolet radiation also can cause damage to the exterior of the eye and to the delicate skin of the eyelids and facial tissue near the eyes.

Therefore, large, close-fitting nonprescription sunglasses should be considered essential gear for anyone wearing contact lenses–to supplement the UV protection the contacts may provide; to protect the eyelids and delicate skin around the eyes from cancer risk; and to shield the eyes from dust and drying winds that can cause contact lens discomfort.

Choosing The Right Lenses

In most cases, polycarbonate lenses are the best choice for nonprescription sunglasses. These lenses block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays and are significantly lighter than regular glass or plastic lenses.

Also, polycarbonate lenses are 10 times more impact resistant than sunglass lenses made of other materials, making them an excellent choice if you plan to wear sunglasses for sports, carpentry, landscape work and other activities that pose an increased risk of eye injury.

Keep in mind that the color and density of the tint you choose for the lenses is a matter of personal preference– it has nothing to do with the amount of UV protection the lenses provide. (That’s controlled by the lens material or, in some cases, by an added UV-absorbing lens treatment.)

For superior protection from glare caused by light reflecting off water, vehicle windshields, roadways and other reflective surfaces, choose polarized lenses for your nonprescription sunglasses. You’ll pay extra for this feature, but the benefits of polarized lenses almost always are worth the extra cost.

Choosing The Right Frames

When you shop for nonprescription sunglasses, you have many, many styles to choose from. Whatever style you choose, make sure the frames fit properly:

  • The edge of the frames should protrude slightly beyond your face so the temples of the frame don’t put pressure on the side of your head.
  • Make sure the temples are long enough to be adjusted behind your ears for a secure fit. (Some styles have straight temples that don’t curve around the ear and instead rely on gentle pressure of the end of the temple against the back of your head for a secure fit.)
  • Check the nosepiece for size and comfort. The frame should fit securely without pinching the bridge of your nose.
  • While wearing the sunglasses, move your head up and down, and bend over (as if to pick up something up from the floor). If they’re fitting properly, the sunglasses should stay comfortably in place.

The color and style of the frame you choose is a matter of personal preference. But if you plan to wear nonprescription sunglasses for basketball or other active sports, choose an unbreakable, wraparound style frame designed for sports wear. These frames sometimes also have other safety features, like special cushioning on the bridge of the frame.

For the best UV protection possible, choose a close-fitting frame with wide temples to increase the shielding effect of the eyewear and decrease the amount of sunlight reaching your eyes from outside the diameter of the lenses.

How To Make Sure Lenses Block 100 Percent UV

It’s impossible to tell how well nonprescription sunglasses block the sun’s harmful UV rays by looking at them. UV protection is not determined by the color or darkness of the lenses.

Most nonprescription sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV protection will have a label or sticker on the lenses that says so.

To be certain about the level of UV protection your sunglasses provide, take them to a professional optician. Many optical shops have an automated instrument that can measure this for you.

Better still, to be sure you get the best optics, durability, fit and UV protection with nonprescription sunglasses (and resolution of any problems after the sale), purchase them from an eye care professional.

Article ©2013, Access Media Group LLC. Source: Nonprescription Sunglasses by AllAboutVision.com.

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Eye Exams for Children

Eye exams for children are extremely important. Experts say up to 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems that can affect learning.

Also, early identification of vision problems in children is crucial because, if left untreated, some eye problems can cause permanent vision loss.

When Should Kids Have Their Eyes Examined?

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), a child’s first eye exam should take place at 6 months of age. Thereafter, exams should be performed at age 3, and just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade (age 5 or 6).

For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined more frequently – either annually or according to their eye doctor’s recommendations.

Early eye exams are important because children need the following visual skills for learning:

  • Near vision
  • Distance vision
  • Eye teaming (binocularity) skills
  • Eye movement skills
  • Focusing skills
  • Peripheral awareness
  • Eye/hand coordination

Because of the importance of good vision for learning, some states require an eye exam for all children prior to their first year of school.

Scheduling Your Child’s Eye Exam

Your family doctor or pediatrician might be the first medical professional to examine your child’s eyes. If eye problems are suspected during routine physical examinations, a referral should be made to an eye doctor — an optometrist (OD) or ophthalmologist (MD)– for a comprehensive eye exam.

Tests performed during an eye exam may depend on your child’s age, but a comprehensive exam generally will include a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health examination and a consultation regarding the findings of the exam.

After you’ve made the appointment, you may be sent a case history form by mail, or you may be given one when you check in at the doctor’s office. The case history form may ask about your child’s birth history, including birth weight and whether or not the pregnancy was full-term. Your eye doctor also may ask whether complications occurred during the pregnancy or delivery. The form may also inquire about your child’s medical history, including current medications and any allergies.

Be sure to tell your eye doctor if your child has a history of premature birth, has delayed motor development, engages in frequent eye rubbing, blinks excessively, fails to maintain eye contact, has trouble maintaining focus, has poor eye tracking skills or has failed a vision screening.

Also, be sure to tell your child’s eye doctor if there is a family history of eye problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, misaligned eyes (strabismus) or amblyopia (“lazy eye”).

Eye Testing for Infants

It takes some time for a baby’s vision skills to develop. To assess whether your infant’s eyes are developing normally, your eye doctor may use one or more of the following tests:

  • Pupil testing to evaluate if your child’s eyes react normally to light.
  • “Fixate and follow” testing to see if your child can focus on an object and follow it as it moves. Infants should be able to perform this task quite well by the time they are 3 months old.
  • Preferential looking involves using sets of cards where one card is blank and the other contains a pattern of lines of varying degrees of width and contrast. Vision is assessed by whether or not the card with the stripes attracts your infant or young child’s attention more than the blank card when both are displayed side-by-side.

Eye Testing for Pre-School Children

Pre-school children can have their eyes thoroughly tested even if they don’t yet know the alphabet or are too young or too shy to answer questions.

Some common eye tests used when examining young children include:

  • A special eye chart that displays familiar objects such as an apple, house, square and circle instead of letters of the alphabet. The young child can identify the objects verbally or point to a matching symbol on a card in their hands.
  • Retinoscopy is a test that involves shining a light into the eye to observe how it reflects from the retina (the light-sensitive inner lining of the back of the eye). This test helps eye doctors determine the child’s eyeglass prescription.
  • Random Dot Stereopsis uses special 3D glasses to determine how well the two eyes work as a team.

Children’s Vision Problems

Besides looking for common refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism) that affect visual acuity, your eye doctor will be examining your child’s eyes for signs of other vision problems, including:

Amblyopia. Also commonly called “lazy eye,” this is decreased vision in one or both eyes despite the absence of any eye health problem or damage. Common causes of amblyopia include strabismus (see below) and a significant difference in the refractive errors of the two eyes. Treatment of amblyopia may include patching the dominant eye to strengthen the weaker eye.

Strabismus. This is misalignment of the eyes caused by a defect in the positioning or strength of muscles that control the position and movement of the eyes or defective neurological control of these muscles. Left untreated, strabismus can cause amblyopia in the misaligned eye. Depending on the severity of strabismus, eye surgery often is required to align the eyes.

Convergence insufficiency. This is the inability to keep the eyes comfortably aligned for reading and other near vision tasks, despite the eyes being straight when looking at distant objects. Convergence insufficiency often can be successfully treated with vision therapy – a prescribed program of visual activities that may or may not require optical aids.

Focusing problems. Children who have problems with focusing (also called accommodation) may have trouble maintaining adequate focus for reading or cannot easily change their focus to see objects at different distances clearly. These problems often can be successfully treated with vision therapy.

Eye teaming problems. Many eye teaming (binocularity) problems are less obvious than strabismus. Deficiencies in eye teaming skills can cause headaches, poor attention span, and problems with depth perception and coordination. Again, vision therapy can be effective for treating these problems.

Making Sure Your Child Is Ready To Learn

Experts say up to 80 percent of information children are expected to learn in the classroom is presented visually.

Scheduling a complete eye exam prior to the start of each school year will ensure your child has the visual skills needed to perform at his or her best.

Article ©2013, Access Media Group LLC. Source: Eye Exams for Children by AllAboutVision.com.

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Red Eyes

An eye that suddenly becomes red is one of the main reasons people seek the services of an eye doctor. And for good reason.

Significant discomfort, blurred vision or both often accompany a red eye. And, well, a red eye just looks bad, too.

The front surface of the eye is composed of two structures: the clear cornea in the center of the eye (overlying the colored iris and the pupil), and the tough, opaque sclera–the “white” of the eye that surrounds the cornea and forms the outer coating of most of the eyeball.

An eye becomes red when the tiny blood vessels that lie on top of the sclera (and under a thin, clear membrane called the conjunctiva) become inflamed. It is the blood in these engorged vessels that obscure the underlying white sclera and make the eye appear red.

Without an examination, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to determine the underlying cause of a red eye and whether the condition is an emergency or not.

Causes of Red Eye

There are many conditions that can cause an eye to become red. Here are a few of the most common:

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, commonly called “pink eye,” can occur at any age and can affect one eye or both eyes. There are three main categories of pink eye, depending on the underlying cause:

  • Viral conjunctivitis. This is the type of conjunctivitis most people are referring to when they say they have pink eye. Caused by a common virus, viral pink eye (like a common cold) typically resolves over several days without treatment and is not associated with serious vision problems.Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis include redness, itching and a watery discharge. Though viral pink eye usually is not serious, it produces significant discomfort and is highly contagious.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis. This is a less common but more serious type of pink eye, caused by bacteria. Symptoms include redness and a sticky, mucous-like discharge.Bacterial conjunctivitis should be treated promptly with medicated eye drops or ointments, to prevent a serious infection of the eye, which could lead to a corneal ulcer and scarring that could cause permanent vision loss.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis. As its name suggests, this type of pink eye is associated with common allergies. Symptoms are very similar to viral conjunctivitis, but both eyes are affected and the condition is accompanied by other allergy symptoms such as nasal congestion, a runny nose and sneezing.Since allergic conjunctivitis can be a chronic or seasonal problem, ask your eye doctor about medications that can prevent or lessen the severity of future episodes.

Dry eyes

Another common cause of eye redness is dry eyes. Other symptoms of dry eyes include a feeling that something is “in” your eyes (called a foreign body sensation), a scratchy feeling, sensitivity to light and intermittent blurred vision.

Oddly enough, another symptom is watery eyes. Dry eyes cause irritation of the surface of the eye, and this irritation causes the lacrimal glands located above and slightly behind the eyes to over-produce the watery component of normal tears as a reflex mechanism to protect the eyes from dryness-related damage.

Unfortunately, because other components of the normal tear layer (oil and mucous) are not present in these watery “reflex tears,” the dry eye condition persists despite the apparent surplus of tears.

Redness caused by dry eyes usually can be successfully treated with routine use of non-prescription artificial tears or by other treatments your eye doctor can prescribe.

Contact lenses

Contact lens wear is another cause of red eyes in some individuals. In particular, a condition called contact lens acute red eye (CLARE) is associated with contact lens wear and causes a fast onset of redness, eye pain, sensitivity to light and watery eyes.

CLARE appears to be an inflammatory condition caused by endotoxins produced by certain types of bacteria that can accumulate on contact lenses and in contact lens storage cases. The condition usually resolves within a few days after contact lens wear is discontinued. Your eye doctor might also prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops to help clear the redness.

Corneal infections

Infections of the cornea (also called infectious keratitis) are a serious cause of red eyes that usually require prompt treatment to avoid corneal ulcers, scarring and vision loss. Most corneal infections are accompanied by eye pain, sensitivity to light and watery eyes. Blurred vision also can occur.

The cause of the infection–bacteria, fungus or other microorganisms–determines the proper treatment for infections keratitis. Treatment usually consists of frequent use of medicated eye drops and/or ointments.

Episcleritis

Episcleritis is inflammation located between the sclera and overlying conjunctiva. It usually causes a pink or purple color to the sclera and sensitivity to light and watery eyes.

The cause of episcleritis usually is unknown, but it sometimes is associated with an underlying systemic condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The condition usually disappears without treatment within a week or two, but your eye doctor might prescribe corticosteroid eye drops to relieve symptoms faster.

Scleritis

Scleritis is inflammation of the sclera itself. Symptoms are similar to those of episcleritis, but typically are more severe.

Inflammation of the sclera usually is associated with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, but sometimes the cause is unknown.

Corticosteroid eye drops commonly are prescribed to treat scleritis. Oral medicines sometimes are used as well. If your eye doctor suspects an underlying disease is involved, he or she might refer you to a physician for a physical exam and blood tests to rule out systemic diseases.

Acute glaucoma

A condition called acute angle closure glaucoma can cause an abrupt red eye accompanied by pain, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. This type of glaucoma is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment to prevent or limit permanent vision loss.

Don’t Take Chances

The only way to determine the cause and proper treatment of a red eye is to see your eye doctor for an evaluation.

Don’t take chances with your eyes by waiting to see if a red eye will get better on its own. Call your eye doctor immediately to see if urgent care is required.

Article ©2013, Access Media Group LLC. Source: AllAboutVision.com.

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Glasses Cleaning

Never wipe your lenses dry on your shirt, always rinse them under warm water first then dry them with a soft, clean 100% cotton cloth. An old t-shirt works well for this just cut it up into several small squares and you can keep one at work, home, school, etc. You may use a mild liquid detergent like Joy or Dawn if you like.
Avoid using paper towel and tissue. Prolonged use can put fine scratches on your lenses; however, if a tissue is all you have at the time using it once or twice will not hurt. Also, breathing on your lenses is not good enough. You still must rinse them in order wash all the dirt off. If you do not then you are just grinding the dirt into the lens and scratching it. Just like you should not wipe a dusty car because you scratch the paint the same applies to your lenses.
If you like you can get a spray bottle and fill it with 50% Rubbing alcohol and 50% water and spray the glasses until it drips off then wipe it with your cloth. This works best on non-glare coatings (AR) because it removes the fingerprints and other oils.

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Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. Dry macular degeneration is marked by deterioration of the macula (MAK-u-luh), which is in the center of the retina. The layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eyeball.

Dry macular degeneration is one of two types of age-related macular degeneration. The other type — wet macular degeneration — is characterized by blood vessels that grow under the retina in the back of the eye, leaking blood and fluid. Dry macular degeneration is the more common form of the disease.
Dry macular degeneration may worsen your quality of life by causing blurred central vision or a blind spot in your central vision. You need clear central vision for many tasks, such as reading, driving and recognizing faces

Symtoms
Dry macular degeneration symptoms usually develop gradually. You may notice these vision changes:
• The need for brighter light when reading or doing close work
• Increasing difficulty adapting to low light levels, such as when entering a dimly lit restaurant
• Increasing blurriness of printed words
• A decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors
• Difficulty recognizing faces
• A gradual increase in the haziness of your central or overall vision
• Crooked central vision
• A blurred or blind spot in the center of your field of vision
• Hallucinations of geometric shapes or people, in case of advanced macular degeneration.   Dry macular degeneration may affect one or both eyes. If only one eye is affected, you may not notice any changes in your vision because your good eye may compensate for the weak eye.

See your eye doctor if:
• You notice changes in your central vision
• Your ability to see colors and fine detail becomes impaired
These changes may be the first indication of macular degeneration, particularly if you’re older than age 50.

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