Blog

Hand reaching out to an eye care machine in an integrated eye care practice

Why You Should go to an Integrated Eye Care Practice

Integrated eye care

With so many eye conditions left untreated or undiagnosed and a decreasing number of board-certified ophthalmologists, eye care practitioners need to turn to integrated eye care now more than ever. Integrating Ophthalmology (MD), Optometry (OD), and Opticianry under one roof is the catalyst that is changing the future of eye care.

Doctor-Patient relationship

Relationships with patients are the key to an integrated eye care practice. Optometrists have an ongoing relationship with patients; oftentimes built over years of trust. Optometrists know the medical history, vision needs, and expectations. If optometrists are able to have a working relationship with ophthalmologists, then patient care and experience are undoubtedly enhanced. Take for example a long-time patient that has seen the optometrist minimally annually and has to have cataract surgery. Only his optometrist has an extensive history of spectacle prescriptions and understands what the patient desires. This valuable relationship and knowledge will guarantee that the patient’s expectations are set and met for cataract surgery. If both fields integrate under one roof, it makes it easy for patients to quickly get the care they need. Also to be able to have an open discussion with both practitioners.

System efficiency

With both ODs and MDs integrated into open practice, the electronic medical record system becomes more efficient. Immediately after a patient’s referral to an ophthalmologist, all doctors can see the diagnosis and ocular history of the patient; there is no waiting time between referral letters.

Environment fertile for excellence

Having an integrated eye care practice also creates a fertile environment for excellence. Optometrists become primary care providers for patients, which puts them in a leadership role to manage patients. For ophthalmologists, they can now rely on optometrists to continue management allowing them to focus on the next surgical case. The more surgery they do, the better they become at surgery, and the safer it is for patients.

Another pro of having an integrated practice is the well-being it provides to patients. They already know the practice and have no need of going somewhere new. They save time by not traveling further to get specialty care that may be reinventing the wheel in the sense of re-doing some of the auxiliary tests/examinations.

The bonus point for an integrated eye care practice is to add in-office opticians. Opticians are trained technicians who administer optometrists’ spectacle prescriptions. They cut optical lenses, and make sure patients receive the optical corrections they need. Having an optical lab on-premises allows record time services. Patients can come in to see their optometrist, get their prescriptions, and receive optical eyeglasses in record time.

Integrated eye care takeaway

With constant reforms in the healthcare industry, practices with multiple practitioners integrated can adapt quickly to changes. Anyone who knows how to operate integrated eye care will succeed. They will have the ability to react faster to healthcare trends, facilitate patients’ lives, give better eye care, and have the ideal environment to hone their skills or subspecialty skills.

Tips for strong eyes

The Best Eye Health Tips

It is commonly known that one of the most important things you can do for your eye health is to get an exam. Be sure to see an eye care professional at least once a year, or more often if you have a family history of eye problems, but more on that later. While an exam is extremely important, we’ve compiled a list of lesser-known eye health tips that anyone can follow.

Get regular eye exams

Most eye conditions have no symptoms in the early stages. Getting a regular eye exam is important to diagnose ocular conditions early and treat them accordingly. Regular eye exams are also important because refractive errors are progressive. This means that prescriptions always change over time. Eye exams are important to keep prescriptions up-to-date and vision as sharp as possible.

Wear sunglasses

Sunlight (UV) exposure raises your risk to develop cataracts and macular degeneration. Wearing sunglasses is a great way to filter up to 100% of the UV light and protect your eyes.

Eat a healthy diet for optimal eye health

Eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and fish keeps your eyes healthy! Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin E can help prevent vision problems. A lot of ocular conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts are linked to aging. Eating healthy can have a big impact on your eyes in the long run. These ingredients will help your eyes stay young:

  • Oily fishes like salmon and tuna.
  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collards.
  • Non-meat protein sources such as eggs, beans, and nuts.
  • Oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits or juices
  • Oysters and pork

Eating healthy also keeps diabetes away. Diabetes leads to diabetic retinopathy, which is one of the leading causes of blindness.

Partake in regular exercise

Regular exercise helps you keep diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol away. These health issues can lead to dangerous eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy.

Take breaks from the screen and use blue light glasses when using screens

Staring at screens can cause eyestrains, blurry vision, difficulty focusing, dry eyes, headaches, and more. When staring at screens it is essential to take breaks to protect your health. The ideal is to look away every 20minutes. Wearing blue light glasses also help protect your eyes by filtering harmful light rays.

If eyestrains, blurry vision, or dry eyes do not go away by themselves contact your eye doctor to get your eyes checked.

Important eye health tip: avoid smoking

Smoking is well known for its negative health effects. It causes many forms of cancers and health conditions. Smoking can also damage optic nerves and increase the risk of developing eye conditions such as cataracts.

Graphic of eye care tips

Woman experiencing discomfort from dry eyes

Making Dry Eyes Manageable

Since COVID-19 hit the U.S, many of us had to adapt to working from home, causing a surge in dry eyes. Even though businesses start to re-open the majority of office workers and professors are still working remotely. Being home and having to manage eye strain and dry eyes can be unbearable as it causes discomfort and/or pain. Many patients with dry eyes experienced blurry vision which made them unable to work for long hours on a computer screen.

Patients’ routine changed drastically with COVID-19, job insecurity increased, home-schooling became the norm, and as a result, patients forgot to take their dry eye medications regularly. Being home all day also increased screen time significantly, which made dry eye symptoms even worse.

To help patients with dry eyes remotely, it is important to check their routine, and prescriptions, and to explain to them why taking fish oil (omega 3) just a few times a month will not solve their dry eye problems. We then help in creating a routine to help treat their dry eyes, prescribe new medicines for long-term treatments, and plan for in-office visits to go beyond our patients’ needs. In-office visits help understand the cause of dry eyes. Our doctors can test for allergies and check eyes’ health in detail to choose the right treatment.

At Eyepic, we understand that the right treatment depends on which tear layer is causing dry eyes. There are three different layers in tears; the oil layer, the water layer, and the mucin layer.

OIL LAYER

If the oil layer is not working properly, most of the time patients suffer dry eyes from Meibomian Glands Dysfunction (MGD). To treat MGD, we are able to prescribe TearCare. TearCare has “an intelligent design that provides a universal fit across various patients’ lid anatomy”. It delivers constant thermal energy to help express clogged meibomian glands. Once TearCare is active, your Doctor will manually express the Meibomian glands to optimize their function.

WATER LAYER

When the water layer is causing symptoms, we offer punctal collagen plugs to address aqueous deficient dry eye syndrome. They are temporary plugs that dissolve after a few months. These plugs help prevent tear draining to keep your eyes moist and jump-start the lacrimal gland in the production of the water layer of the tears.

Allergies testing is another great way to treat a water layer dysfunction as it addresses reflex tearing. Reflex tearing occurs when your eyes need to wash harmful chemicals, dust, or allergens from your eyes.

MUCIN LAYER

To treat dry eyes when the mucin layer is impacted, we can use amniotic stem cells. Amniotic stem cells are a mixture of cells obtained from the amniotic fluid and amniotic membrane. They are mostly composed of collagen types IV and VII.  Amniotic stem cells reverse inflammation and aids in the mucin layer of the tear film.

Eye care professionals started using them a decade ago. It has shown incredible results to heal the cornea in some patients. The amniotic stem cells’ composition is very close to the cornea and conjunctiva compositions. They promote cellular growth, are anti-inflammatory, and promote a healthy environment for the eye’s wounds to heal.

LIVE A BETTER LIFE WITHOUT DRY EYES

All these procedures are available to facilitate patients’ lives. Dry eyes can cause discomfort and alter your daily life. If you currently experience discomfort please contact us.

Eye strain

Dr. Lee ophthalmologist at eyepic eye care. Dr Lee is examining a patient's eyes

Ophthalmology 101

History of ophthalmology

Over the past centuries, medical fields have had incredible innovations thanks to technological advancements. Cardiology, dentistry, radiology, psychiatry, ophthalmology, and a lot more fields have benefited from human evolution to develop safer and better care. Resulting in better life quality and higher life expectancy.

The first ophthalmology program was taught at the medical school of the University of Göttingen in 1803. Two years later, the first specialized eye clinic opened in London. Following the invention of the ophthalmoscope (which allows looking into the eye) in 1851, Dutch physician Frans Cornelis started to prescribe eyeglasses for specific vision problems. His first prescriptions have been given in 1864. This was the start of modern ophthalmology.

In the 20th century, regular eye examination and the early treatment of eye defects have helped to advance the field. In 1944, a major change was the development of the eye-bank in New York, which made corneal tissues available more easily for transplantation. Since then, technology and ophthalmology techniques have not stopped improving, which gives ophthalmologists the ability to do advanced surgical procedures with limited risks.

According to the Vision Council of America, almost 75% of adults use some sort of vision correction. Which underlines the importance of knowing what eye care practitioner to choose and when to go to see an ophthalmologist.

What is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are the only practitioners trained to do eye exams, diagnose and treat disease, prescribe medication, and perform eye surgery. They can also give prescriptions to clients for eyeglasses and contact lenses.

The requirements to become an ophthalmologist are four years of college, four years of medical school, and four to five years of additional hands-on training. Once the training is completed, future ophthalmologists need certification with the American Board of Ophthalmology. This certification involves written and oral exams.

When should I see an ophthalmologist?

The function of the human eye works like a digital camera, it receives images. Whatever affects the quality of the vision is the concern of an ophthalmologist. Determining if you should see an ophthalmologist depends on your needs and symptoms. Patients often go to see an ophthalmologist after having seen an optometrist because they can perform a wider range of services and operations. An optometrist is only appropriate if you have healthy eyes and you need a medical checkup or upgrade on your lenses and eyeglasses.

If you are like the 25 million Americans who have a cataract, the 6 million who have conjunctivitis, or the 2.7 million who live with glaucoma you need to consult an ophthalmologist.

Here are some signs you need to see an ophthalmologist:

Having a temporary loss of vision

Seeing wavy, distorted lines, light streaks, and/or jagged lines

Loss of vision or decreased vision in one or both eyes

Having watery or wavy vision, seeing blurry, black spots, shadows, halos around lights, double vision

Seeing sudden spots, flashes, or lights

Changes in color vision

Sensitivity to light

It is imperative to go to see an ophthalmologist if you experience changes to your eyes such as redness, swelling, or discharge. If you notice physical changes such as eyes that turn inwards, downwards, outwards, upwards, or if you have eye pain. It can underline serious eye conditions.

Common surgical procedures and treatments performed by ophthalmologists

Cataracts

cataract eyeball1

A cataract is a very common condition. 90% of people over age 65 have a cataract and 50% of people between age 75 and 85 have a loss of vision due to cataracts. If untreated it can cause blindness.

When a patient is diagnosed with a cataract it signifies that the lens of the eye is becoming cloudy. Cataracts often develop slowly over the years. The main symptoms are blurry vision, fuzzy vision, and/or sensitivity to bright light. As a result, the vision is negatively affected which causes patients to feel like they are looking through a foggy filter or a dirty window. If a cataract has evolved and been diagnosed, the only way to get rid of it is through a surgical procedure. The procedure is generally very safe.

To perform cataract surgery, the ophthalmologist uses drops to numb the eye, and performs a small eye incision beside the cornea using a laser or a very sharp blade. The clouded lens is removed with precise ultrasound and replaced with an implant called an intraocular lens (IOL). As the incision is so small, the pressure of the eye keeps it closed and heals it naturally. Patients will spend approximately 30 minutes recovering from the operation.

Cataract risk factors according to Stanford Health Care:

  • Diabetes
  • Aging
  • Family history
  • Years of excessive exposure to sunlight and UV rays
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Past eye injury or inflammation
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Steroid medication use

Glaucoma

Eyepic Eyecare glaucoma eyeball

Glaucoma is also a very common group of eye conditions that damages the eye’s optic nerve. It affects millions of Americans each year. As cataracts, it gets worse over the years. It is a leading cause of blindness that can be prevented with early treatments. Hence, the need to consult an ophthalmologist if you experience symptoms.

Glaucoma is caused by higher than normal pressure levels of the eyes. Patients diagnosed with glaucoma will need to have the pressure relieved to avoid irreversible vision loss. There are two major types of glaucoma:

1 – Open-angle glaucoma

With open-angle glaucoma, the intraocular pressure (IOP) of the eye rises because the normal amount of eye fluid cannot be drained out of the eye. At first, this type of glaucoma is painless and does not entail vision changes. If it is not diagnosed and treated it can gradually lead to vision loss.

2 – Closed-angle glaucoma

 Closed-angle glaucoma is the result of the iris bulging forward to diminish or block the drainage angle of the eye formed by the cornea and iris. When it happens, fluid cannot circulate correctly, and pressure increases. If the drainage angle gets completely blocked, eye pressure increases very quickly. This is known as an acute attack. A patient who gets an acute attack needs to seek his/her ophthalmologist to help as fast as possible or he/she can go blind.

Signs of an acute attack:

  • Sudden severe eye pain
  • Sudden blurry vision
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seeing rainbow-colored rings or halos around lights

Closed-angle glaucoma often develops slowly with no symptoms. Patients will not know if they have this pathology until symptoms appear or until they have an acute attack.

Medication such as beta-blocker and carbonic anhydrase inhibitor can normally help reduce pressure from glaucoma by improving the drainage or slowing the creation of fluid in the eye. If the medication does not work, an ophthalmologist can perform surgery to stop the progression of the disease. It is necessary to know that vision loss cannot be reversed if glaucoma has already done damages to the eye. That is why it is important to work closely with your eye doctor to watch the progression of the disease and administrate necessary treatments.

A surgeon can perform different surgical procedures depending on how advanced the disease is and how it progresses. For the less advanced cases, a laser can be used to annihilate the symptoms. A surgeon can also do an incision to install small drainage. Those two procedures will reduce the pressure on the eye to avoid optic nerve damage. For very severe cases, an ophthalmologist specializing in glaucoma can perform a more advanced incision. Glaucoma has no cure, but by seeing an eye doctor in the early stages of the disease, patients can be treated adequately and live a normal life.

3 – Secondary glaucoma

Secondary glaucoma is when another medical condition such as cataracts or diabetes causes glaucoma.

4 – Normal-tension glaucoma

Normal-tension glaucoma happens when a patient has blind spots in his/her vision or when the optic nerve is damaged even though the eye pressure is within the average range. Opinions among experts vary and some say this is a form of open-angle glaucoma.

5 – Pigmentary glaucoma

Pigmentary glaucoma is when small pigments of the iris (colored part of the eye) move into the eye fluid and clog the drainage canals.

Glaucoma Risk Factors:

  • Age over 40
  • Family history
  • Poor vision
  • Diabetes
  • Steroid medication use
  • Past eye injuries
  • Corneas thinner than usual
  • High blood pressure and heart disease
  • Being nearsighted or farsighted

Diabetic Retinopathy

Eyepic Eyecare diabetic rethino eyeball

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition caused by damages to the blood vessels in the tissue at the back of the eye called the retina. It causes bleeding inside the eye. As its name indicates, diabetic retinopathy can be caused as a side effect of diabetes. It is a common disease that causes vision loss amongst diabetic adults in the United States.

Pterygium

Eyepic Eyecare pterygium eyeball
Pterygium is a visible growth that starts on the conjunctiva membrane that covers the white part of the eye over the cornea. It can occur in one or both eyes. It is a very common eye condition with more than 3 million cases in the US per year. The growth is slow and painless, but it might cause irritations and affect vision in the long run.

If a pterygium becomes red and irritated, an ophthalmologist can prescribe eye drops or ointments to be placed onto the eye. When the disease starts to affect sight, it can be removed surgically. Pterygium might return even after a surgical operation. It is really important for patients with this eye condition to wear UV protective sunglasses, use artificial tears, and avoid dry and dusty environments.

The main risk factors for pterygium are long exposure to sunlight, dry environments, outdoor lifestyles.

Conjunctivitis

Eyepic Eyecare conjunctivitis eyeball
Conjunctivitis or pink eyes occurs when the conjunctiva (white part of the eye) is irritated. There are three primary types of conjunctivitis:

  • Viral conjunctivitis. A virus such as the common cold originates from conjunctivitis. This type of pink eye is very contagious but will usually disappear on its own without treatment after several days.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis. This kind of pink eye is caused by bacteria. It can cause serious damage to the eye if it is left untreated.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis. Eyes irritants such as pollen, dust, and animal dander cause this type of pink eye. It can be seasonal due to pollen or all year round due to dust or animal dander.

Recommendations from the CDC

As conjunctivitis are very contagious, limiting its spread is essential. To greatly reduce the risk of spreading conjunctivitis you can follow those simple steps from the CDC:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Wash them especially well before and after cleaning, or apply eye drops or ointment to, your infected eye. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands. (See CDC’s Clean Hands Save Lives! website for tips on proper handwashing.)
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. This can worsen the condition or spread it to your other eye.
  • With clean hands, wash any discharge from around your eye(s) several times a day using a clean, wet washcloth or fresh cotton ball. Throw away cotton balls after use, and wash used washcloths with hot water and detergent, then wash your hands again with soap and warm water.
  • Do not use the same eye drop dispenser/bottle for your infected and non-infected eyes.
  • Wash pillowcases, sheets, washcloths, and towels often in hot water and detergent; wash your hands after handling such items.
  • Stop wearing contact lenses until your eye doctor says it’s okay to start wearing them again.
  • Clean eyeglasses, being careful not to contaminate items (like hand towels) that might be shared by other people.
  • Clean, store, and replace your contact lenses as instructed by your eye doctor.
  • Do not share personal items, such as pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, eye or face makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses, contact lens storage cases, or eyeglasses.
  • Do not use swimming pools.

Conjunctivitis often resolves on its own, but treatments can accelerate the recovery. Allergic conjunctivitis is treated with antihistamines. Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotic eye drops.

What to remember?

Like any other surgical field, ophthalmology is complex and solves complex problems. Advancement in technology enables ophthalmologists to have a complete understanding of eye diseases and treatments. Getting diagnosed with eye conditions is never pleasant news and can be scary. That is why ophthalmologists spend years learning and practicing to make sure patients receive the care they need as safely as possible. The most important for patients is to go get diagnosed and take regular eye exams to be able to receive treatments as needed. The sooner an eye condition is diagnosed, the better chance it has to be contained and treated.

Dr Minh Vu at Eyepic Eye Care

Optometry – What is it?

History of optometry

Optometry dates back to the first studies on optics imaging of the eye. The history of optometry links to the work of opticians because the correction of refractive errors depended on experiments with lenses. The first known lens is a plano-convex piece of polished rock crystal. The lens measured 3.8 cm in diameter with a focal length of 11.5 cm. It was found in the ruins of Nineveh. We can deduce creation around 750-710 BC. Historians are still unsure if old lenses of this kind were used for vision correction. They believe the lenses were more likely used as burning glasses.

While the Greeks were working on laws of reflection in mirrors, they did not fully understand the concept of refraction. They had knowledge about the crystalline lens in the eye but did not know about the retina. They thought that rays of light came from the eyes. This myth existed until Leonardo Da Vinci established the role of the retina with his studies on light rays. This was a big discovery in the optic field.

Another major step forward in optometry was from an English monk named Roger Bacon. In 1268, he said that “by placing a sphere on a book with its plane side down, the letters appear large”. This was the really first time someone suggested that plano-convex lenses could improve vision. While this discovery was important, he did not pursue his theory.

Who invented optometry?

To this day, historians do not know the name of the inventor of the first spectacle. However, Fra Giordano Di Rivalto confirms the creation of spectacles at the end of the 13th century as he wrote in 1305 “It is not yet twenty years since the art of making spectacles, one of the most useful arts on earth, was discovered”.  Around this time Italian lawmakers started controlling the quality of the lenses. From the 14th century up to the 16th century, spectacles were primitive and the problem was to find out how to keep them on the nose. It was in the early 18th that spectacles with sides appeared. At the end of the 18th century what would be later known as bifocals were created, and at the beginning of the 19th century, astigmatism was understood. In 1827, an English optician made the first glasses to correct astigmatism.

The development of spectacles and optical glasses is just one part of optometry; significant discoveries in the 19th century led to the creation of optometry as a profession. For example, in 1864, a Dutch medical scientist published “Anomalies of Refraction and Accommodation of the Eye” which was the first paper explaining hypermetropia and presbyopia.

After centuries of discoveries, the first college of optometry in the United States came to be in Illinois in 1872. The American Optometric Association officially formed in 1922. Since then, advancements in science and technology have pushed the field forward.

What is an optometrist?

An optometrist is a doctor who earned a Doctor of Optometry degree (OD). Optometrists are primary health care specialists trained to examine defects in vision, ocular injuries, ocular diseases, and problems with general health that may affect the eyes like diabetes and hypertension. Optometrists offer clinical advice and can prescribe glasses and contacts.

Optometrists must complete a four-year degree in sciences and four years of post-graduate professional training in optometry school.

When should I see an optometrist?

Visiting an optometrist for regular eye exams is always a good idea. The eye’s health is changing with age and refractive errors, as well as many eye conditions, can have no symptoms in the early stages. However, when experiencing symptoms such as;

  • Frequent headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Struggling to see things up close
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Constantly squinting
  • Seeing halos of lights, floaters, or being very sensitive to light
  • Feeling tired with no reason

It is a good idea to go in for an optometry visit to see an optometrist. They can be signs of refractive errors or other eye conditions. For symptoms such as pain in the eye or complete loss of vision, it is best to contact an ophthalmologist as it can be a medical emergency.

Examples of eye diseases treated through optometry

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a progressive ocular disease in which the normally spherical cornea begins to thin creating a dome shape that bulges outward like a cone. The cone deflects light as it enters the eye causing sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and large changes to the patient’s refractive error. This is a disease treated through optometry. Keratoconus is an autosomal dominant condition that can run in families.

Keratoconus risk factors:

  • Family History. Patients who have had parents or family members with keratoconus or systemic disorders such as Down syndrome have a higher risk to develop keratoconus in their lifetime.
  • Chronic eye inflammation. Having chronic inflammation from allergies and irritants may increase the risk of developing keratoconus.
  • Eye rubbing. People who always rub their eyes rubbing have more chances to develop keratoconus.
  • Age. Keratoconus is generally diagnosed at an early age, during teenagehood.

Symptoms

In the early stages, keratoconus often causes a minor blurring of the vision. The symptoms look like the symptoms of refractive errors. When the disease progresses, vision problems appear. Far and near vision becomes impaired, and night vision usually becomes poor. Patients may have an impoverished vision in only one eye as keratoconus usually develops on one eye or the other. Symptoms also include sensitivity to bright light and eye strain. Keratoconus is normally painless.

Diagnosis

To diagnose keratoconus, your eye doctor will start by looking at your family history and conduct eye tests to get more details on the shape of your cornea. Diagnosis includes:

  • Eye refraction –  Your eye doctor will use optical tools to determine your vision’s health and check for any vision problems.
  • Slit-lamp examination – In this test, a vertical beam of light and a low-powered microscope helps to view the eye. Your eye doctor evaluates the shape of your cornea and potential problems in your eye.
  • Keratometry – Your eye doctor makes a circle of light on your cornea to measure the reflection and see the basic shape of your cornea.
  • Computerized corneal mapping – This is a photographic test that creates a detailed map of the cornea. It can detect early signs of keratoconus.

Treatment

Keratoconus treatment depends on the severity of the disease. The goal of treating keratoconus is to slow the progression of the disease and improve vision. It is common to treat mild to moderate keratoconus with prescription glasses and contact lenses. This can work very well if the cornea becomes stable.

If it becomes too difficult to wear glasses or contact lenses, a surgery called cornea transplant might be necessary.

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors mean that the shape of an eye does not bend light correctly upon entering the eye resulting in blurred images. This can be easily addressed with either glasses or contacts. The main refractive errors are myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia.

Myopia

Myopia or nearsightedness makes far objects look blurry. This happens either when there are problems with the shape of the cornea or the lens. It also happens when the eyeball grows too long from front to back. All these conditions make the light focus in front of the retina while the normal eye has light focusing on the retina.

Myopia usually starts at an early age between 6 and 14 years old. In case of severe myopia, the risk of other eye conditions increases.

Hyperopia

Hyperopia or farsightedness makes nearby objects look blurry. As opposite to myopia, hypertropia happens when the eyeball grows too short from front to back. It can also happen if there are problems with the shape of the cornea or lens. With all these issues, the light focuses on the retina instead of on the retina.

Hyperopia appears most of the time at birth.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism can make nearby or far away objects look blurry or distorted. Like myopia and hyperopia, this condition happens when the cornea or lens has a different shape than normal. It makes the light go to a different position when it enters the eye.
Astigmatism is usually accompanied by another refractive error such as myopia or hyperopia. People are either born with it or develop it in their youth.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia touches middle-aged and older adults. It makes it harder to see things nearby. Aging changes the lens in the eyes, it becomes less flexible, and light is not focusing properly on the retina.

Presbyopia touches everyone. It usually happens after 45 years old.

Symptoms

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Hazy vision
  • Seeing a glare or halo around bright lights
  • Squinting
  • Headaches
  • Sore or tired eyes
  • Trouble focusing when reading or looking at a computer

Sometimes patients do not notice the symptoms of a refractive error. That is why it is important to a get regular eye exam. It allows patients to have the best vision possible and fix symptoms such as not being able to focus. These kinds of symptoms can feel natural.

When a patient receives a refractive error diagnosis, he or she should keep having regular eye exams. Refractive errors evolve and prescriptions oftentimes need updating.

Diagnosis

Your eye doctor checks for refractive errors during a comprehensive eye exam. Your doctor simply asks you to read letter charts and measures the results to determine if you need corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Treatment

Treatment includes eyeglasses and contact lenses. Sometimes laser surgery (LASIK) can help to change the shape of the cornea and to fix the refractive error.

MGD

MGD or Meibomian gland dysfunction is a blockage of the meibomian glands, located at the base of your eyelashes. MGD is a common eye condition but many people do not notice they have it.

The tiny meibomian glands inside the eyelid create an oil named meibum. This oil, water, and mucus all together create tears, which keep your eyes moist. Meibum keeps the water layer on the eye surface from drying quickly.

Changes in oil quality or glands can lead to Meibomian gland dysfunction.

Risk factors

There are several risk factors identified with MGD. Age plays a part as the number of meibomian glands goes down over time. Ethnicity may also impact your chance to get MGD; Asian people are about three times more likely to get MGD than people of European ancestry.

Wearing contact lenses, the use of glaucoma medications, having high cholesterol, allergic conjunctivitis, lower androgen levels, rosacea, and Sjogren’s syndrome have all been associated with MGD.

Symptoms

In the early stages, MGD might not give any symptoms. As the disease progresses your eyes have less oil or poor quality oil which can make the eyes burn, itch, irritate, or dry. The inflamed eyelid is typically red and it can feel like you have sand in the eye. Having the eyelid’s inner rim uneven or rough is also a common sign of MGD.

Diagnosis

MGD does not have a single defined aspect. For this reason, your eye doctor looks at your eyelids in detail to inspect the tiny glands. Your doctor can also use Schirmer’s test to check if you make enough tears. Other techniques allow eye specialists to measure the quality of the meibum and how fast the tears evaporate.

Treatment

To treat advanced MGD your doctor can prescribe eye drops, spray, creams, or pill medications such as:

  • Lubricants
  • Antibiotics for infections
  • Cyclosporine for the immune system
  • Steroid for inflammation

Your eye doctor can also help improve the symptoms in office with special equipment. If your eye doctor prescribes medications for MGD, it is important to stick to the treatment to reverse MGD or improve symptoms.

Examples of optometry services offered by optometrists

Myopic Control

Myopic control aims to slow the progression of nearsightedness in children. Our optometrists can help curb your kids’ myopia starting as early as age 7 and up.

Myopic control is important as it can reduce the risk of other eye conditions. Patients with high myopia (a severe form of myopia) are prone to develop glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and even blindness.

There are four types of myopic control treatments: Atropine eye drops, multifocal contact lenses, multifocal eyeglasses, and orthokeratology (ortho-k).

Atropine Eye Drops

It is common to use Atropine eye drops to fight eye inflammation and reduce pain. They help with fatigue associated with focusing by limiting the eye’s ability to automatically change focus.

Atropine reduces the progression of myopia for children. It is the best way to control myopia. It can reduce myopia progression by up to 77 percent.

Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses or eyeglasses provide clear vision at all distances for people who live with refractive errors. Those contact lenses and eyeglasses are also used to slow the progression of myopia in children. Children who wear multifocal lenses every day have around 50% reduction in the progression of myopia.

Orthokeratology

Orthokeratology is corneal reshaping lenses. These specific contact lenses are to wear exclusively at night while sleeping. It creates a temporary correction strong enough that you do not have to wear corrective glasses during the day.

Children aged 6 to 10 who wear ortho-k contact lenses have an eyeball length reduced by 43 percent. Which is a key point to fight myopia.

Amniotic Stem Cells

Amniotic stem cells are a mixture of cells obtained from the amniotic fluid and amniotic membrane. They are mostly composed of collagen types IV and VII. The cells can develop into many tissues such as skin, cartilage, cardiac tissue, nerves, muscle, and bone.

These cells contribute to the healing process in medicine. Eye care professionals started using them a decade ago. It has shown incredible results to heal the cornea in some patients. The amniotic stem cells’ composition is very close to the cornea and conjunctiva compositions. They promote cellular growth, are anti-inflammatory, and promote a healthy environment for the eye’s wounds to heal.

Amniotic stem cells have shown great results to heal various types of ocular surface diseases. It can heal severe dry eyes with superficial punctate keratitis, neurotrophic ulcers such as those associated with diabetes, or viruses like herpes and chemical burns to the eyes.

The cells have successfully healed eye corneal conditions when no other medicine worked. As a result, we could think that the use of these cells is widespread but only 1% of optometrists in the USA reported using them.

Application

The procedure is pretty simple. The patient sits in the exam chair and looks down. The optometrist inserts the amniotic cells into the cornea. After application, the patients should come in for follow-ups until the cornea heals. The amniotic stem cell ring holder is typically removed once the cells dissolve.

Diabetic Eye Exam

For this exam, doctors place drops in the patients’ eyes to dilate the pupils allowing them to examine the overall health inside of the eye, especially the retinal vessels in the periphery.

In this eye exam, our doctors look through a magnifying glass with a bright light to be able to see the back of the eye and check for its health. The doctors will be able to see parts that can be damaged by diabetes such as:

  • Blood vessels in the eyes
  • The back of the eye
  • The optic nerve area

Why should I get a diabetic eye exam?

Anyone who lives with diabetes produces less insulin hormone which elevates levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Having increased blood sugar levels increase the risk of eye conditions. It can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

A diabetic eye exam is the only way to diagnose diabetic retinopathy, which is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes. Chronic diabetes usually damages the small blood vessels in the retina and the back of the eye, which causes diabetic retinopathy.

Because the longer someone lives with diabetes the greater the chance of developing diabetic retinopathy, it is important to do regular diabetic eye exams. Diagnosing diabetic retinopathy early is the best way to control early symptoms and take appropriate measures to treat them.

If you have diabetes, we encourage you to contact your eye care provider and get a diabetic eye exam.

After a diabetic eye exam

As you had eye drops to dilate your eye during the diabetic eye exam, your vision will be blurry for about six hours. It will be harder to focus on activities requiring near vision such as reading.

When pupils are dilated, sunlight can be more damaging. You should wear sunglasses with UV protection until the effects of the eye drops dissipate.

Prescriptions from an optometrist

Prescriptions refer to written authorizations for a patient by an optometrist to purchase medications to treat specific conditions. For a prescription to be legally accepted, it needs to be written by an authorized physician, dentist, psychiatrist, ophthalmologist, optometrist, and any other doctors officially recognized by law.

Every medical profession has its own rules and limits with what kind of prescriptions they can provide.

Optometrists are state-licensed medical professionals who specialize in eye health. Optometrists examine, diagnose, and treat various eye conditions such as diseases, injuries, and disorders. They can prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses when necessary. For example, they are the ones who diagnose refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia, astigmatism, etc.) and prescribe corrective contact lenses and eyeglasses.

They are also authorized to prescribe ophthalmic drops to treat conditions such as glaucoma.

Once your optometrist has written your prescription, the opticians manage what happens next. Opticians work in a lab and use manufacturing machines to cut lenses based on optometrists’ prescriptions.

What to remember?

Optometrists are eye specialists who can diagnose and treat refractive errors and many eye conditions through their specialization in optometry. Regular eye exams with an optometrist are important as many eye conditions do not have symptoms in their early stage.

blue eyeglasses on visual test chart isolated on white. Eyesight concept

5 Reasons to get a Regular Eye Exam

Comprehensive eye exams are an important part of your health care. Your vision is one of the most prized possession you have. Everyone ranging from children to seniors should get a regular eye exam or checkup.

A lot of people don’t do regular eye exams because it isn’t considered a necessity. People tend to ignore a lot of minor symptoms which may lead to serious eye diseases. Contrary to the belief, eye exams are very important to keep your eyes and your health intact. Your body and your health are more intertwined than you think! Here are some more reasons why you should get regular eye exams:

1/ Allergy treatments

A lot of the time we do not realize that we have an allergy that can affect the eyes or something because the symptoms are almost nonexistent. Having a regular exam can detect any of these allergies at any time. The best part is that your eye doctor will prescribe medicines for your allergies.

2/ Prescriptions can change

Your prescription often changes over time without you even noticing it. During an exam, your eye doctor will detect any of these changes and help you change your prescription because a wrong prescription can cause severe side effects to your eyes

3/ An eye exam can detect Diabetes

Believe it or not, Diabetes can be detected through an exam. Diabetes affects the small capillaries in the retina of the eyes. These blood vessels may leak blood or a yellowish fluid, and this may be discovered.

4/ Prevention is better than cure

An eye exam doesn’t only detect eye-related issues; it also detects many other health issues during a comprehensive eye exam. In fact, you might even leave your eye doctor with a referral to another doctor because of specific tests that your Ophthalmologist performed during an exam. Thus, you’ll be able to prevent that detected disease from getting any worse.

5/ Sun damage

Yes, the sun doesn’t only damage your skin. It can also be a significant threat to your eyes. Your annual exam can screen for potential risks from sun exposure including macular degeneration and cataracts.

Eye strain

Eye Strain and Fatigue: What you can do to Prevent it

If you find yourself suffering from eye strain or fatigue, there are a few things you can do to help prevent it.

One of the most important things you can do is to make sure you’re taking regular breaks from screens. Whether you’re working on a computer, phone, or tablet, it’s important to give your eyes a break every 20 minutes or so. Looking at a screen for too long can cause eye strain and fatigue.

Another thing you can do to prevent eye strain is to adjust the lighting in your environment. If you’re working in a dimly lit room, try turning on a lamp to brighten things up. Conversely, if you’re in a room that’s too bright, try reducing the amount of light coming in by closing the blinds or curtains.

Finally, if you wear contact lenses, make sure you’re taking care of them properly. Contact lenses can cause eye strain if they’re not cleaned and cared for properly. Be sure to follow the instructions from your doctor or optometrist to avoid any eye problems.

Additional tips to help with eye strain

A lunch break is just once a day, but your eyes need a break much more often. Just follow the 20-20-20 rule when working in front of a computer screen: every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. It will help your eyes relax, easing strain and fatigue.

Another useful tip: add an anti-reflective coating to your lenses to help against eye strain and fatigue even more – plus your eyeglasses would look better too! The benefit of it is two-way. For you, more light is allowed to pass through the lens, minimizing reflections for clearer vision; at the same time, people looking at you actually see your eyes, and not the white reflections, so it makes your lenses cosmetically more appealing.

By following these simple tips, you can help prevent strain and fatigue.

Book an appointment with EYEPIC and our eye care professionals will be happy to help you achieve clear and comfortable vision!