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Health and Nutrition

4 Ways to Keep Your Eyes Healthy This Fall

By | Blog, Community Outreach, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Eye Safety, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News

4 Ways to Keep Your Eyes Healthy This Fall

Wrtten By: Kierstan Boyd

For many people, autumn is a time for enjoying the outdoors. Camping under crisp, starry skies; picking apples; sitting around a bonfire—these activities and more are some of the hallmarks of the fall season.

Here are 4 ways to make sure your eyes stay healthy this fall, and throughout the rest of the year.

Protect those peepers when raking leaves.

 

Raking or blowing leaves can send pieces of plant material into your eyes. That could lead to an eye infection called fungal keratitis. As with any yard work, be sure to wear protective glasses or goggles to keep your eyes safe. Also, if you wear contact lenses, disinfect them right afterwards.

Avoid the horrors of non-prescription costume contact lenses this Halloween.

Decorative contact lenses can really enhance a Halloween costume. However, wearing costume lenses not prescribed by an eye doctor who has examined your eyes can lead to frightful consequences. Besides being illegal, non-prescription contact lenses may be ill-fitting and non-sterile, causing painful, sometimes blinding eye infections. Be sure to have an eye exam and get properly fitted for the colored contacts you want.

Keep your eyes moist during autumn’s cooler, dryer weather.

With fall breezes may come burning, stinging and watery eyes. Dry, cold air is the culprit, often causing dry eyes. Keep your eyes moist with artificial tears. And try to avoid overly-warm rooms, wind or hair dryers—things that dry out your eyes even more.

Reap the harvest of fall’s eye-friendly foods.


Autumn’s bounty is a feast for healthy eyes. Full of antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other nutrients, enjoy the season’s fruits and vegetables, such as:

  • apples
  • pears
  • pomegranates
  • squash
  • turnips
  • cauliflower

 

 

Coronavirus Can Land On your Glasses: How To Disinfect Your Specs.

By | Blog, Community Outreach, coronavirus, COVID, COVID-19, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Eye Safety, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News

Glasses can act as a barrier between you and a person who is coughing or sneezing, but that also means the virus can lurk on the surface.

May 20, 2020, 5:10 AM PDT / Source: TODAY

By A. Pawlowski

Amid all the warnings about contaminated surfaces possibly spreading the new coronavirus, many people may not be aware of a “surface” they’re touching all day: their glasses.

When going out in public, prescription specs or sunglasses can serve as a kind of barrier between the wearer and strangers who are coughing or sneezing, with the respiratory droplets landing on the lenses.

The virus can persist on glass for up to four days, one study found. It can also be detected for up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel — materials that may be used in lenses and frames.

People often take glasses on and off all day, potentially transferring more of the virus onto their specs with their hands. Some rub their eyes after handling glasses or put the tips of the frame into their mouths, potentially exposing them to the pathogen.

NBC contributor believes he got coronavirus through his eyes — how does that happen?

Dr. Barbara Horn, president of the American Optometric Association, said she’s become much more conscious of the cleanliness of her eyewear during the pandemic.

“It’s very important,” Horn, an optometrist who lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, told TODAY.

“I’m certainly not saying glasses are the main culprit by any means, but you just always want to be careful — making sure you’re cognizant of the fact that glasses can transfer (the virus) and be aware of how to clean them properly.”

Here are Horn’s tips for disinfecting glasses:

Clean your glasses after being out in the public:

Horn doesn’t need prescription glasses, but wears sunglasses constantly and makes sure to clean them after a trip to the grocery store or other places where she’s around other people.

“Every time I walk in my home, the first thing I do is… wash my hands and then wash my glasses,” Horn said.

Soap and water are the best option

The new coronavirus is very sensitive to all soaps, said Dr. Joseph Vinetz, an infectious disease doctor at Yale Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

Always rinse the lenses first with water to avoid grinding any particles that may be on the surface into the glasses and scratching them, Horn advised.

Put a drop or two of soap, like dish soap, onto the lens and rub it around lightly with a microfiber cloth.

Disposable lens cleaning wipes can work, too.

Make sure to clean the nose pads, which touch the face constantly and can get dirty, and the edge where the lens meets the frame: “Lots of dust and debris can get trapped in that little space,” Horn said.

Don’t forget to clean the frame, including the earpiece that goes behind the ear.

Rinse and dry with a soft cloth. Avoid using paper towels, which have fibers that can easily scratch lenses. If using a non-disposable cloth to clean glasses, wash that cloth as well after cleaning the specs.

It’s the same procedure for sunglasses.

Don’t worry about the little screws in the frame rusting if you wash your glasses. It shouldn’t happen if you let the frame air dry, plus screws can be easily replaced, so that shouldn’t be a concern, Horn said.

Don’t blow on glasses to clean them

Many people use their breath to steam up the lenses to try to clean them. “Especially right now, you don’t want to breathe on your glasses,” Horn said, to avoid putting any germs on them.

Don’t use rubbing alcohol or bleach

These cleaning agents can be harsh on anti-reflective or non-glare coatings on lenses, Horn cautioned. They could also make the frame more brittle. Stick to soap and water.

Household disinfecting wipes should be OK to use occasionally on frames, but again, skip the lenses, she advised.

Don’t put the frames in your mouth

It’s a common habit, but it’s not a good idea since frames may be germy and potentially lead to an infection, “especially during these times,” Horn said.

The same goes for rubbing your eyes, especially since coronavirus can enter the body through them, binding to receptors on the surface of the eyes and spreading throughout the body, NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres told TODAY.

Another reason: People can actually go blind from rubbing their eyes because they can break down the front layer of the cornea, Horn warned.

Bottom line:

Touching glasses can potentially spread germs so cleaning them throughout the day — especially during a pandemic — would be ideal, Horn said.

6 Simple Ways to Take Better Care of Your Eyes

By | Blog, Community Outreach, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Eye Safety, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News
Your eye doc wanted us to pass these along.
Woman rubbing eyes outside

If any of your body parts were to write a mournful ballad about feeling underappreciated, it might be your eyes. Be real: Is eye care really at the top of your priority list? Probably not, but it likely needs to be a little higher than it is right now. Think about how much your eyes do for you all day long, from the moment you snap them open to, you know, begin your day, to when you close them at night so you can finally get some rest. Taking care of them is essential.

Looking after your eyes (lol) when there’s nothing wrong with them might feel pointless. But you’ll appreciate it in the long run, Beeran Meghpara, M.D., an eye surgeon at Wills Eye Hospital, tells SELF. “I see people daily in my office with eye problems that are preventable,” he says.

Since you probably don’t want to join their ranks, we polled eye doctors for their tips on simple, easy things you can do to take better care of your eyes. Try these to preserve your vision and lower the odds you’ll have to deal with eye issues in the future.
1. Take your contacts out before you shower, swim, or otherwise get water on your face.

You probably already know other contact lens must-dos, like never sleeping in them. But a lot of contact lens wearers don’t realize they shouldn’t let their lenses get wet.

Your contact lenses basically act as a sponge, Dr. Meghpara says. Wearing contacts in the shower and while swimming can expose them to things like bacteria and parasites. “[They] get absorbed into your lenses, which are a conduit into your eyes,” Dr. Meghpara says.

Some of those pathogens may cause eye irritation or an eye infection, he says, but others can be more serious. One of those is acanthamoeba, a parasite that can live in lakes and oceans and cause a rare infection called acanthamoeba keratitis. This is an infection of the cornea that can cause eye pain and redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, excessively watery eyes, and a feeling that something is in your eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the worst cases, acanthamoeba keratitis can cause blindness. “It can be devastating,” Dr. Meghpara says

Again, acanthamoeba keratitis is rare. But why increase your risk of even garden-variety eye irritation by wearing your contacts in water?

2. Wear safety glasses when you do any home improvement projects—even with simple stuff.

It makes sense that someone like Chip Gaines would wear safety glasses, since he regularly wields a nail gun. Nails and eyes aren’t quite peanut butter and jelly. Even if you don’t have a home renovation show, you should don protective eyewear when you DIY improvement projects, including ones as simple as hanging a picture frame, Dr. Meghpara says: “We’ve seen people try to hang up a picture, and a piece of the nail or frame broke off and ended up in their eye.” Dr. Meghpara says.

Eye protection is especially important if you work with tools for your job. Every day, about 2,000 workers in the United States have job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment, according to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Wearing safety goggles can prevent about 90 percent of these injuries, according to the American Optometric Association, making this a super important step.

3. See an eye doctor at least every two years, or more frequently if necessary.

You probably do this just about as often as you visit the dentist, which might be…uh…next to never. But instead of rolling your eyes at this advice, do your due diligence and walk them on over to the eye doctor every two years. That’s how often the American Optometric Association recommends that adults aged 18 to 60 get an eye exam.

“It is very important to have a comprehensive eye exam at least every other year,” Tatevik Movsisyan, O.D., M.S., assistant clinical professor of advanced ocular care and primary care clinics at The Ohio State University College of Optometry, tells SELF.

This applies even if you think you have great vision. Regular eye exams can detect eye diseases and conditions that may have no early symptoms, like glaucoma, James Khodabakhsh, M.D., chief of the department of ophthalmology at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and CEO/medical director of the Beverly Hills Institute of Ophthalmology, tells SELF. Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can cause blindness, but catching it early can hinder its progress. Bottom line: See your eye doctor every other year, or more frequently than that if you have risk factors like a family history of eye diseases.

4. Pamper your eyelids with a warm compress every day.

Your eyelids have Meibomian glands that pump oil onto the surface of your eyes and create a healthy tear film, Dr. Meghpara says. But as you get older, these glands don’t pump out oil as much as they used to.

If your eyelids aren’t pumping out enough oil, you can develop dry eye or blepharitis (a condition that causes an inflammation of the eyelid), Dr. Meghpara says. Applying warmth to those glands can soften up any oil that’s clogged in there, making them more likely to work the way they should.

To use a warm compress, simply wet a washcloth with warm water, close your eyes, and press the compress up against your eyelids for a few moments, Muriel Schornack, O.D., an optometrist at the Mayo Clinic, tells SELF. “I tell all my patients: If you do this now every day, it can hopefully prevent a problem with dry eye later on,” Dr. Meghpara says.

5. Eat a balanced diet.

The American Optometric Association specifically recommends that you try to get certain nutrients in your diet on a regular basis for the sake of your eyes.

These include lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in foods like spinach, kale, and eggs, and may reduce your risk of chronic eye diseases. Vitamin C, which is in tons of fruits and vegetables (including ones other than oranges), might slow the progression of age-related vision loss. Then there’s vitamin E, which you can get from vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and green veggies like spinach and broccoli, and which can potentially help protect cells in your eyes from tissue breakdown. Omega-3 fatty acids from sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and fish are important for proper functioning of your retina, which sends visual messages to your brain. There’s also zinc (found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, crab, lobster, and more), which helps your body produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes.

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet also reduces your risk of developing or exacerbating hypertension and type 2 diabetes, all of which can lead to eye complications, Dr. Movsisyan says.

6. Wear your sunglasses—yes, even when it’s cloudy or freezing.

While the sun might not seem as powerful when hiding behind clouds or during winter, it’s still there—and it can still harm your eyes. Sunglasses can protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, which may cause eye issues like pinguecula and pterygia (growths on the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye), or keratitis (inflammation or damage to the cornea itself), Dr. Schornack says.

While some eye protection is better than none, the Mayo Clinic specifically recommends looking for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays, screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light, have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and free of distortions and imperfections, and have lenses that are gray so you can see colors clearly. Wrap-around or close-fitting sunglasses are also ideal to protect your eyes from every angle, the organization says.

If you have any questions at all about your eye health, call your eye doctor or get one if you don’t have one already. A lot of times, eye conditions can be controlled or reversed if they’re caught early, Dr. Meghpara says. Translation: Future you might thank present you for sticking with an eye-care regimen.

Heritage Eye, Skin & Laser Center’s Response to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

By | Blog, coronavirus, COVID, COVID-19, Eye Care, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News

At Heritage Eye, Skin & Laser Center, the health and well-being of our patients, associates, and community is our top priority. We understand the concern and uncertainty you may be experiencing surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and we are committed to being responsive to the needs of our patients as the situation evolves.

As it has always been, the safety and security of our patients and team members remains our highest priority. We take great pride in maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene. In response to the coronavirus, we have taken additional measures developed in consultation with global and local public health authorities (including the WHO and CDC) to make our cleaning  protocols even more rigorous:

  • We have increased the frequency of cleaning our public areas (including chairs, door handles, public bathrooms, etc.) and have continued the use of hospital-grade disinfectant.
  • All frames in our optical department are sanitized after every patient.
  • We have increased the deployment of antibacterial hand sanitizers in all our patient areas.

As always, the health, safety and well-being of our patients, our associates and our communities is of paramount concern. We will continue to monitor this quickly evolving situation.

For additional information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov.

It’s That Time Of Year- Understanding Eye Allergies

By | Blog, Community Outreach, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News

Understanding Eye Allergies

When you say, “I have allergies,” people expect you to sneeze. But your nose isn’t the only part of your body that gets hit during an allergy attack. You can also have red, swollen, and itchy eyes.

The usual suspects — pollen, dust mites, pet dander, feathers, and other indoor or outdoor allergens — can set off eye  allergy symptoms. To treat them, find out what triggers them and stay ahead of the symptoms. Eye drops and other medications can bring relief.

Eye Allergies Triggers

Eye allergies are also known as “allergic conjunctivitis.” Just like any other allergic reaction, they are caused by a misfiring of the immune system, the body’s natural defense mechanism.

When you have allergies, your body reacts to things that aren’t really harmful, like pollen, dust mites, mold, or pet dander. It releases histamine, a chemical that causes swelling and inflammation. The blood vessels in your eyes swell and your eyes get red, teary, and itchy.

You can be allergic to:

Pollen from grasses, weeds, and trees. These are the most common kinds of eye allergies and are called seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.

Dust, pet dander, and other indoor allergens. These eye allergies last year-round and are called chronic (perennial) conjunctivitis.

Makeup, perfume, or other chemicals can trigger eye allergies called contact conjunctivitis.

An allergy to contact lenses, called giant papillary conjunctivitis, can cause bumps on the inside of your eyelid, making your eyes sensitive and red both with and without wearing your contact lenses.

Symptoms to Watch For

You may start to have symptoms as soon as the eyes come in contact with the allergen, or you may not have symptoms for two to four days.

Symptoms of eye allergies include:

Red, irritated eyes

Itchiness

Tearing or runny eyes

Swollen eyelids

Soreness, burning, or pain

Sensitivity to light

Usually you’ll also have other allergy symptoms, such as a stuffy, runny nose and sneezing.

 

Treating Eye Allergies

Some of the same medicines you use for nasal allergies work for eye allergies. For quick relief, over-the-counter eye drops and pills can help.

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

By | Eye Care, Eye Facts, Eye Safety, Health and Nutrition

Diabetes:  What It Is, Prevention, and Its Affect on the Eyes

What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. This causes glucose (sugar) to build up in the blood. Too much glucose in the blood can cause damage throughout the body, including the heart, kidneys, feet, teeth, skin, blood vessels in the body, and the small blood vessels in the eyes. In the United States alone, there are 29.1 million people diagnosed with diabetes and it is the seventh leading cause of death.

Can Diabetes Be Prevented?
Type 1 Diabetes (a total lack of insulin available to control the body’s glucose levels) cannot be prevented but those with the disease can help prevent or delay the development of complications by keeping their blood sugar in a target range and by having regularly scheduled medical exams and dilated eye exams to detect early signs of complications.

Type 2 Diabetes (insufficient insulin in the body or the body unable to use it as it should), on the other hand, can, in most cases, be prevented. Research studies have found that moderate weight loss and exercise can prevent or delay Type 2 Diabetes. According to the Diabetes Research Council, with the correct treatment and lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of complications. For more information on a “wellness approach to diabetes”:  https://www.diabetesresearch.org/document.doc?id=260

Does Diabetes Affect the Eyes?
Diabetes does affect the eyes and can cause cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

What are Cataracts?
Cataracts is a condition where the eye’s naturally clear lens becomes cloudy, or opaque. With diabetes, uncontrolled blood sugar levels speed up the development of cataracts in adults and younger people as well.

 What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that occurs when too much fluid builds up in the front part of the eye. This fluid buildup increases the pressure within the eye, which, in turn, damages the optic nerve. According to the National Eye Institute, glaucoma is sometimes called “silent thief of sight” because it slowly damages the eyes and can cause irreparable harm before there are symptoms.

                 vision-with-and-without-glaucoma

There are treatments to delay vision loss, but no cure, making it a leading cause of blindness all over the world. According to the Glaucoma Foundation, there is considerable evidence that having Type 2 Diabetes along with the duration of the disease, and having uncontrolled blood sugar levels increases the risk of developing primary open angle glaucoma (the most common type of glaucoma).

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition of the eye in which the blood vessels in the retina swell, leak, close off completely, or abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. Between 12,000 and 24,000 new cases of blindness from diabetic retinopathy occur in the United States each year, according to the CDC, and many could be prevented with early intervention. But a significant percentage of Americans with diabetes are not aware of their risk of vision impairment from the disease.

Oftentimes there are no visual symptoms with diabetic retinopathy, but an examination of the retina can reveal the tiny dot and blot hemorrhages in the eye.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Child’s Eye Exam and Vision Problems Why catching vision problems early is important

By | Blog, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News

What Parents Should Know Before They Bring Their Child to an Eye Exam

As children enter kindergarten and elementary school, good vision will become an important part of learning. Here are some key facts parents should know about pediatric eye exams, and the important role they play in a child’s overall health and development.

  1. Vision screening for kids isn’t one and done. Because kids’ vision can change over time, child vision screenings should be done at least once a year. Some vision problems, such as nearsightedness, may not emerge until kids are older, around age 8 or 9, and growth spurts can also contribute to a rapid change in vision.
  2. Many parents may not even be aware that their child is experiencing vision problems until a problem is detected by a vision screening.Vision screenings are important because young children often don’t realize what is or isn’t normal, and are not likely to speak up if they’re not seeing as well as they should.
    1. The signs that your child may be experiencing vision problems can be subtle and can include squinting; tilting or turning the head to see something; eye misalignment (strabismus); complaining of headaches when doing visual tasks; inability to see things that are far away as well as peers/parents; trouble concentrating or fatigue in school; and having a persistent, unusual spot in his eyes in photos taken with a flash (a white spot, for example, instead of the common red eyes), which can indicate nearsightedness or in some cases, a more serious eye disease.
    2. Sitting close to the TV or holding things such as books very close to the face could also indicate a vision problem, but since these are common kid behaviors in all kids, parents should look for these symptoms in combination with the other signs that their child is having trouble seeing well, says Mae Millicent W. Peterseim, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Storm Eye Institute/Medical University of South Carolina.
  1. It is very important to catch vision problems early. Some conditions, such as amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” are most treatable when caught at a young age, and are difficult to fix if it’s diagnosed when a child is older, around age 7 or more. For instance, a child may have poor vision in one eye but see well enough with both so that the problem isn’t detected; only a vision screening that tests a child’s vision one eye at a time would detect such a problem. (Amblyopia is usually treated with glasses and sometimes patching.) “It’s heartbreaking to hear a child say, ‘I thought everyone could see better with one eye,” says Dr. Peterseim.
  2. Once a problem is detected, a child should undergo a comprehensive eye exam. If a screening exam indicates a vision problem, a child will be referred to an ophthalmologist or optometrist for a complete eye exam. “At an eye exam, at the eye doctor’s office, the technician will check vision and should do a test of depth perception,” says Dr. Peterseim. The doctor will check to see how well the eyes track something and how well they move and focus on objects (looking at each eye independently by covering one first and then the other). She will also examine the retina and optic nerve and check the eyes for any signs of infection or disease.
  1. There are exciting new screening tests for children. “Newer instrument-based screening works well and can pick up problems in children earlier,” says Dr. Peterseim. “A child looks at the device with a twinkling light and the machine detects abnormalities in a moment, like a camera, so minimal cooperation is needed.” This method is a bit more expensive, but it’s fast, easy, and effective. New AAP policy is recommending instrument-based screenings for children as young as 12 months old, says Dr. Peterseim.
  2. Eye exams are particularly important for school-age children. Children learn a lot visually in the classroom, and poor vision can have a negative effect on how a child does in school. That’s why it’s particularly important for school-age children to continue to get regular vision screenings, whether at school or at the doctor’s office.
  3. Parents play an important role in protecting kids’ vision. Follow up on screening test results and/or if you spot any signs your child may have a vision problem. Look for a pediatric ophthalmologist or optometrist, or a doctor who is comfortable with children and is experienced in caring for kids’ eyes. For instance, kids tend to peek when asked to cover one eye, so a doctor should know to use a patch or cover an eye well during the exam. Doctors should also dilate pupils during an eye exam. “It is important that the child have drops to dilate the pupils to determine if he really needs glasses,” says Dr. Peterseim. “Some doctors skip this step. If your child’s eye doctor doesn’t do this, a parent should ask, or go somewhere else.”