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Your Benefits Can Be Used For Dry Eye Treatments

Dry Eye Africam American Man 640×350Are your eyes red, watery, itchy and burning? There’s a chance you may have Dry Eye Disease (DES).

Check whether you have unused eyecare benefits left in your HSA (health savings account) or FSA (flexible spending account), as these may expire on December 31st. If so, skip the trip to the drugstore and visit Dr. Angela Rose at The Dry Eye Center at Rose Eye Clinic to receive unparalleled dry eye relief. Depending on your insurance plan, your benefits may also be applied to a family member.

The first step in making use of your soon-to-expire vision benefits is to call The Dry Eye Center at Rose Eye Clinic and schedule an eye exam.

During your comprehensive eye exam, Dr. Angela Rose will assess your condition and offer a variety of dry eye treatments ranging from supplements to soothing eye masks and prescription eye drops. Each dry eye treatment is tailor-made to your specific needs.

Your flex benefits can cover

  • Comprehensive eye exams
  • Contact lenses
  • Glasses
  • Prescription sunglasses

Even Dry Eye Treatments

  • Prescription ointments or eye drops
  • Soothing eye masks
  • Tear duct plugs (Punctal plugs)
  • Steroid eye drops

— among other options.

Hurry before time runs out! Call us at to make the most of your vision benefits or to ask any questions you may have about your HSA or FSA.

The Dry Eye Center at Rose Eye Clinic serves dry eye patients in Hot Springs, Little Rock, Malvern, and Bismarck, and throughout Arkansas.

How To Prevent Dry, Itchy Eyes This Winter

sport protective eyewear 640x350Winter’s cold air and rainfall are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem. However, this weather can have unfavorable effects on the eyes. The decrease in temperature and humidity levels and the rise of winter’s cool and arid winds may trigger various dry eye symptoms, such as redness, grittiness, stinging, itching, watery eyes, and blurred vision. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent dry eye this winter season, listed below.

Tips To Prevent Winter Dry Eyes

The following tips on preventing dry eye do not replace the advice and care of an optometrist but are meant to shed light on the topic and hopefully render your winter season a more comfortable one.

  • Combat the outdoor dryness by using a humidifier indoors. Your eyes will thank you.
  • Always wear sunglasses or other protective eyewear outside to shield your eyes from winds, debris, and harmful UV rays.
  • Being stuck inside on a snowy day can mean more screen time. Remember to blink often while enjoying that movie or writing that email.
  • Try using lubricating eye drops. Dr. Angela Rose can guide you on which eye drops will best suit your needs.
  • Stay hydrated! The eyes are part of a whole system; if one part is dehydrated, chances are the rest of the system could use some hydration as well.
  • Eat foods rich in Omega-3s to promote healthy tears, such as salmon or nuts, as they stimulate quality tears and reduce dryness.

Dry eye symptoms can range from being mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. Don’t let this condition stop you from enjoying this winter season. If you are concerned that you may have dry eye or are experiencing any of its symptoms, speak to us at The Dry Eye Center at Rose Eye Clinic and we’ll be happy to provide you with the relief you need.

The Dry Eye Center at Rose Eye Clinic provides dry eye relief and treatment to patients from Hot Springs, Little Rock, Malvern, Bismarck, and throughout Arkansas.

Why Do My Eyes Burn?

Dry Eye Girl 640×350The brief burning sensation you may feel in your eyes is commonly due to a minor irritation that disappears once your tears wash it out. However, if the burning sensation persists for more than a few hours, it may indicate a severe problem such as Pink Eye (conjunctivitis), Dry Eyes, Blepharitis or an allergic reaction.

The only way to diagnose and treat burning eyes is by visiting your eye doctor. If you feel a persistent burning sensation in your eyes, talk to Dr. Angela Rose at The Dry Eye Center at Rose Eye Clinic, who will provide you with the relief you need.

What Eye Conditions Cause Burning Eyes

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry Eye Syndrome is the leading cause of a burning sensation in the eyes. Healthy tears consist of a balance of oil, mucus and water, and when the components are not all there, whether in the right quantities and ratios (as in the case of dry eyes), the eyes become dry and irritated— which can result in a burning sensation.

Pink Eye (Viral or BacterialConjunctivitis)

Pink Eye, also known as viral conjunctivitis, is a highly contagious viral or bacterial infection that can affect either one or both eyes and is spread by coughing or sneezing. The symptoms include watery, burning or itchy eyes.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that causes sore, red eyelids, and crusty debris at the base of the eyelashes. Symptoms include a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes, grittiness, and itchy eyelids.

What Environmental Factors Cause Burning Eyes?

Certain elements can also cause a burning sensation in the eyes, such as allergens, chemicals, perfumes, or getting tiny particles stuck in one’s peepers.

Allergies

Allergens in the air or in your home, such as pet dander or mold, can cause your eyes to itch, tear up, and burn.

Chemicals

Certain chemicals found in household cleaning supplies can cause you to experience a burning sensation. The volatile compounds found in aerosol sprays and disinfectants are not only polluting but also irritating to the eyes.

Fragrances

Certain people that are sensitive to fragrances emanating from perfume, cologne, shampoo, or skin cream, can experience eye irritation, resulting in a burning sensation.

Foreign Particles in Your Eye

When particles get stuck in the eyes, it not only hurts but can also lead to a burning feeling in the eyes.

The Connection Between Burning Eyes and Dry Eyes

woman with close eyes

Tears are necessary for maintaining eye health and for providing clear and comfortable vision. Whenever tiny foreign particles enter the eye, tears form and clean out the eye while keeping the eye moist. However, when tears evaporate too quickly and the eyes become dry, as in the case of Dry Eyes, it can lead to an itchy and burning sensation in the eyes.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Dry Eye Syndrome can be caused by many factors, such as age, genetics, environment, lifestyle, medications, and overall eye health. No matter the factor, the result is the same: your eyes are either not producing enough tears to keep your eyes lubricated, or the tears are not formulated with the correct balance of water, lipids, and mucous to maintain proper lubrication.

What Factors Cause Dry Eyes?

Age. Dry Eyes tend to occur more frequently in older adults. The majority of those over 65 years of age tend to experience some form of Dry Eyes.

Gender. Women are more likely to develop Dry Eyes due to hormonal changes, whether due to pregnancy, oral contraceptives or menopause.

Medicines. Certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, and SSRIs, can affect tear production.

Medical conditions. Those with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems can develop symptoms of Dry Eyes. Furthermore, Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), inflammation of the surface of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can lead to Dry Eyes.

Environment. Dry Eyes can result from exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates, which can cause tears to evaporate.

Additional factors. Long-term contact lens use and refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can reduce tear production and lead to Dry Eyes. Dry Eyes can also occur in those who fail to blink regularly, which typically occurs when staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time.

How Can I Treat or Alleviate Burning Eyes?

If you feel a burning sensation in your eyes, talk to your eye doctor as soon as possible. Dr. Angela Rose will carefully diagnose and detect the cause of your discomfort, and if you are diagnosed with Dry Eyes, Dr. Angela Rose might recommend medicated eye drops or artificial tears to alleviate the burning sensation and ensure that your eyes remain moisturized all day long. In more severe cases, steroid drops may be prescribed for quick, short-term relief.

If the eye doctor determines that you have Pink Eye or Blepharitis, anti-inflammatory drops will be prescribed. These drops can provide major relief as they target the source of the issue quickly and effectively.

If allergies are the culprit, we can help with that, too. Antihistamines and decongestants can alleviate your symptoms and minimize or even eliminate the burning sensation.

Want your healthy eyes back? Contact The Dry Eye Center at Rose Eye Clinic and say goodbye to burning eyes for good.

We help patients from in and around Hot Springs, Little Rock, Malvern, and Bismarck, throughout Arkansas, enjoy great vision and comfort again.

Smart Hygiene Habits to Care for Your Contact Lenses

Swimming in a pool with your contacts on or topping off your solution may seem harmless, but they could compromise your contact lenses and your vision.

Below are daily habits to adopt for optimal contact lens care:

Wash Your Hands Regularly

Whether you use daily or monthly contact lenses, make sure to first wash your hands. Placing your finger on some clear tape and seeing the mark you leave will give you some indication of what you’re putting on your contact lenses if you don’t wash and dry your hands beforehand. Avoid using scented or oily soaps, as their residue might stick to the lens surface. Similarly, avoid creams and lotions prior to inserting contacts into your eyes.

This one simple and easy habit can make a massive difference in your eye health and can potentially prevent eye irritation and infections.

Clean Your Contacts Daily

You must clean and disinfect your contact lenses on a daily basis, unless you use daily disposables, of course. There are several cleansing systems and solutions available — the choice depends on the type of lens you use. Speak with Dr. Angela Rose to determine the best cleaning solution for your lenses and eyes.

Avoid Contact with Water

It might seem harmless, but we advise against using tap water, as it contains impurities and microorganisms that can cause infections. Furthermore, tap water can lead your contacts to swell and change their shape. If you must swim with your contact lenses on, make sure to wear protective goggles and clean them with solution when you come out of the pool.

Never Ever Use Saliva

Your mouth is filled with germs, which are fine for your teeth but not for your eyes. Avoid using saliva to “clean” or moisten your contact lenses.

Do Not Top off Solution

Just as you shouldn’t mix spoiled food with fresh foods, you should not top off yesterday’s solution in your contact lens case with fresh solution. The concoction might not contain enough disinfectant to kill off organisms and clean your lenses.

Routinely Change the Contact Lens Case

Many people don’t know about this one, but it’s recommended to change your contact lens case every 2-3 months, as microscopic dirt may linger in the case, leading to contamination and eye infections.

Don’t Sleep with Your Lenses On

It’s important to give your cornea a chance to breathe; sleeping with your contacts may cause redness, soreness and infections. So make sure to remove your contact lenses before you get some shut-eye, unless they’re specialty lenses which are intended to be worn overnight.

If you’re using orthokeratology (ortho-k) lenses to reshape your cornea, do wear them at night or as instructed by your eye doctor.

Get That Annual Eye Exam

Don’t forget to book your yearly eye exam at Rose Eye Clinic in Hot Springs, as your vision can change. You can’t purchase new contact lenses with an expired prescription anyway, so you’ll need an updated one when your contact lens supply is running low. Furthermore, getting an exam is also an excellent opportunity to ask Dr. Angela Rose any questions you may have.

How to Keep Glasses from Getting Foggy

Whether you live in a cold climate or have visited one in the winter, you have probably seen someone who just walked in from the cold outdoors sporting glasses that are no longer transparent, or perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself.

Why Do Glasses Fog Up?

There are several factors that cause your glasses to fog up — one of which is ambient heat, in other words, the actual temperature in your surrounding environment. Eyelashes that touch the lens can cause fogging, as well as tight-fitting frames that touch the cheeks (many plastic frames cause this problem), which impede proper airflow. Lastly, high humidity and the sweat and moisture that accompany overexertion/ exercise can also trigger foggy lenses.

Ultimately, glasses cloud over due to moisture in the air condensing on the cold surface of your lenses.

Now that you know the most common reasons why your glasses fog up, it’s time to read about some possible solutions. Below are a few tips to help keep your lenses clear year-round.

6 Tips to Steer Clear of Cloudy Specs

1. Move Your Glasses Further Away from Your Face

Eyeglasses tend to trap moisture and heat, particularly if they are positioned close to your eyes or face, which increases the buildup of fog on your lenses. Consider adjusting the position of your eyewear by pushing your glasses slightly further down your nose. It will stimulate proper air circulation, thereby reducing fog accumulation.

2. Wear Your Seasonal Accessories Wisely

If the weather cools down, try not to wear too many layers, to prevent overheating and producing sweat, which can make your glasses to fog up more. Wear only the necessary amount of clothing to stay warm. If you’re wearing a scarf, consider one with an open weave or a more breathable material to let the air pass through.

3. Avoid Abrupt Temperature Changes

Allow your eyewear to acclimate to changes in temperature. If you are moving from an environment that is cold into one which is warm and humid, try to let your glasses adjust accordingly.

For instance:

  • As you enter a building, stand in the doorway for a minute or two as the temperature slowly transitions from cool to warm.
  • When in the car, gradually adjust the heat, particularly when your hands aren’t free to simply remove your glasses and wipe off the fog.

Fogged up glasses are not only irritating but can also be dangerous, especially for those who drive, ski, or operate machinery. So make sure to take the necessary precautions, especially as the weather changes.

4. Swap Glasses for Contact Lenses

If contacts are an option for you, you might want to wear them on those cold days, to avoid foggy glasses syndrome (yeah, that’s a made-up term).

Is My Child Too Young for Vision Therapy?

Preschool Children Vision TherapyThe first years of a child’s life are crucial in ensuring the healthy and normal development of various body parts, especially the visual system. As a child’s body grows, so do the eyes. This can cause changes in vision. Keeping a close eye on, well, your child’s eyes, can help ensure that they are developing in a healthy way.

It’s important for parents and teachers to be on the lookout for problems with visual processing, as they can interfere with a child’s academics, social life, and extracurricular endeavors. This is especially evident during the school years when reading, writing, homework, and after-school activities become a part of their normal daily routine.

Even if a child has no refractive errors (such as nearsightedness or farsightedness) and has 20/20 vision, he or she may still have difficulties with visual processing or focus. These types of visual complications are often more difficult to detect, but may still impact various aspects of a child’s development.

When a child’s visual difficulties hinder their learning or social interactions, it may be time to try vision therapy.

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is a personalized regimen of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions. Each patient has unique needs and different degrees of visual health, which is why Dr. Angela Rose and the team at The Vision Therapy Center at Rose Eye Clinic create a customized vision therapy program to get the best results for your child.

Vision therapy is compared to physical therapy, only for the eyes instead of the entire body. The techniques and exercises can teach the eyes to improve specific areas of vision, such as focus, eye teaming, hand-eye coordination, and visual tracking, among other skills. The doctor may include prisms or special eyeglasses to boost the therapy program.

Most children’s vision therapy takes place in our office and usually once a week. You’ll be instructed to continue some of the exercises at home for 15-20 minutes daily, which will support the in-office treatment.

At What Age Can Children Begin Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is offered to children as young as 6 years of age. Kids can develop problems with visual perception and clarity that aren’t always detected with a standard vision exam or school screening. Of course, every child is different, and the best way to know if they’re ready for vision therapy is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Angela Rose.

Does Vision Therapy Really Work?

Vision therapy has been proven to improve visual skills and functions in both children and adults. It is an approved treatment by recognized organizations in the medical community, such as the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

Keep in mind that it can take several months to notice significant improvement. Consistency is key. Young children, especially in the toddler years, need a steady routine to achieve the best possible results.

It’s important to note that vision therapy does not fix your child’s learning abilities or correct any refractive errors. The goal is to improve their visual function so that their skills in reading, writing, schoolwork, and social activities are strengthened for a better quality of life.

Contact Dr. Angela Rose and the knowledgeable staff at The Vision Therapy Center at Rose Eye Clinic to schedule a consultation and see whether vision therapy is right for your child.

Dr. Angela Rose serves patients in Hot Springs, Little Rock, Malvern, and Bismarck, and throughout Arkansas.

 

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.

AMD Awareness Could Save Your Vision

It’s that time of the year again. Each February, the optometric community bands together to create awareness about age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a leading cause of vision loss for people 50 years and older; early detection plays a key role in the outcome of the disease. That’s why bringing awareness to the disease and its risk factors is so important.

Macular degeneration is a disease that damages the macula, which is a small area in the center of the retina responsible for sharp, clear central vision. The disease comes in two forms, wet AMD and dry AMD. The most common form, dry AMD, which affects around 80% of AMD patients, is when the macula gradually thins, and small clusters of protein called drusen begin to grow. Drusen result from cells in the macula that cannot rid themselves of metabolic waste called lipofuscin. The lipofuscin accumulates as drusen which causes a gradual vision decline.

Dry AMD can turn into wet AMD when abnormal new blood vessels grow through breaks in a membrane layer of the thinning macula. The fragile blood vessels leak fluid into the macula, causing rapid decrease in central vision.The wet form is less common, yet it can cause a faster and more drastic vision loss. If a person has dry AMD which turns into wet AMD, this should be treated as soon as possible, as within days this can cause permanent scarring. Fortunately, there is effective treatment for wet AMD if detected before scarring arises.

Both forms of AMD result in a loss of central vision, while peripheral vision stays intact. Symptoms can present as difficulty focusing on objects in front of you, or a blurred or dulled area in the central visual field which leads to having trouble reading, doing close work, driving or even recognizing faces. With time, the size of the blurred area can grow and eventually develop into black spots in central vision. Oftentimes patients don’t even notice symptoms until a significant amount of damage has been done. This is why regular eye exams are critical, especially if you are at risk.

While AMD alone won’t cause complete blindness, it can cause a permanent, total loss of central vision if not treated. Vision loss can lead to a condition called low vision which can have a very serious impact on daily living and require a lot of assistance both by vision devices and the help of others.

Are You at Risk?

As it is an age-related disease, age is a significant risk factor for AMD, specifically once you reach 60. However, age is not the only risk factor. While some risk factors for AMD cannot be controlled there are lifestyle factors that you can change to prevent AMD.

Other than age, risk factors include:

  • Family history: If you have a family history of AMD, you are more at risk. Research has identified at least 20 genes that are associated with AMD, showing there is a genetic factor.
  • Race: Caucasian descent is a higher risk factor for AMD, and in fact, Caucasians with light irises have an increased risk from age 50.
  • Smoking: Smoking doubles your risk of developing AMD.
  • Overweight/Obesity: Research shows that being overweight is a risk factor for AMD.
  • Having heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your risks.
  • Diet: An unhealthy diet rich in saturated fats is a significant risk factor.
  • Early exposure to UV light and blue hazard light (especially with the younger generation having increased exposure to digital devices) can cause early onset AMD.

Here are some lifestyle steps you can take to reduce your risk of AMD:

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, (from fatty fish or flax seeds), leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Know your family history.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Protect your eyes using UV protection and blue blocker coatings on eyeglasses.
  • Get regular eye exams.

In addition to a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor may be able to test for certain risk factors. For example, there is now technology available that can test for lutein levels via technology such as QuantifEye and Macuscope, (low lutein can indicate increased risk). In addition, genetic testing is also now available through a simple cheek swab to determine an individual’s risk for developing AMD.

Treatment

There is no known cure for AMD, however there are treatments available that may slow the progression of the disease. For dry AMD, studies (AREDS and AREDS2) have concluded that a particular high-dose combination of nutritional supplements taken daily can slow the disease. The combo includes vitamins C and E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc and Copper. For wet AMD, the goal is to reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels and the leakage that takes place and this is done through certain medications called anti-VEGFs which are injected into the eye or with laser surgery.

Untreated macular degeneration can have devastating effects on your independence and quality of life. If you are 50 or over, speak to your eye doctor about your risk factors and what you can do to prevent AMD.

April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month

Hey women! Did you know that women are more likely to suffer from vision problems and are at higher risk of permanent vision loss than men? Well 91% of the women surveyed recently didn’t know that, which means that many of them aren’t taking the necessary precautions to prevent eye damage and vision loss.  

According to a recent study, the statistics for many of the major vision problems show that women have a higher percentage of incidence than men. These include:

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration 65%
  • Cataracts 61%
  • Glaucoma 61%
  • Refractive Error 56%
  • Vision Impairment 63%

Women are also more susceptible to develop chronic dry eye, partially because it is often associated with other health issues that are more common in women such as ocular rosacea which is three times more prevalent in women.  Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can also contribute to dry eye.  

It’s important for women to know the risks for eye-related diseases and vision impairment and the steps they can take to prevent eventual vision loss.  Here are some ways that you can help to protect your eyes and save your eyesight:

  • Find out about family history of eye diseases and conditions.
  • Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses when outdoors.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Consume a healthy diet with proper nutrition and special eye health supplements as prescribed by an eye doctor.
  • Adhere to contact lens hygiene and safety.  
  • Adhere to cosmetic hygiene and safety precautions. 
  • Protect your eyes against extended exposure to blue light from computers, smartphones and LED lamps. 
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and have diabetes, see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. In women who have diabetes, diabetic retinopathy can accelerate quickly during pregnancy and can present a risk for the baby as well. 

Mothers are often charged with caring for the eye health of the entire family, but too often their own eye health needs fall to the wayside. It is critical that mothers take care of their eyes and overall health so that they can be in the best condition to care for their families. 

Speak to your eye care professional about your personal eye health and vision risks and the precautions and measures you should take to protect your eyes.  Encourage the other women in your life to do so as well.  Once vision is lost, it often can’t be regained and there are many steps you can take to prevent it with proper knowledge and awareness.  

The most important way to prevent vision loss is to ensure you schedule regular eye exams. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear as many eye issues are painless and symptomless, and sometimes by the time you notice symptoms, vision loss is untreatable.