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Why Vision Gets Worse With Age

Why Vision Gets Worse With Age

It is an inevitable fact that as we get older, the body ages. And unfortunately, this ageing does not exclude the eye and the entire vision system. The eye is a complicated organ with many structures within it. And when one of these structures is threatened by age, our vision becomes compromised.

But is it inevitable that our vision will worsen with age? And what can we expect?

In order to break this all down, let’s start with some basic eye anatomy.

human eye anatomy

The Lens – The Eye’s Focus Mechanism

One of the eye’s most important parts is a structure called the lens. Much like an artificial lens in a pair of eyeglasses, the lens allows our eyes to focus and unfocus, enabling us to view objects at different distances quickly.

Viewing distance objects requires the eye to relax the lens, decreasing lens convexity, or outward curvature. Viewing near objects requires an increase in convexity of the lens, creating more focus power. This provides us with magnification for close object viewing.

In most cases, usually before the age of 10, the lens works as it should: the lens changes convexity quickly and our eyes can switch from near to far objects with no complications. However, around the time of middle school, the ability of the lens to change convexity when viewing distance objects to near objects slowly decreases. And as the lens ages, the ability of the lens to change convexity only gets worse.

Presbyopia: Aging of the Lens

When we reach the age of around 40, the lens has hardened due to age and can simply no longer focus on near objects as well. Until soon, most people who still can see clearly when viewing distant objects are not able to read print within arms reach. They must hold the newspaper or book further and further away to see clearly.

This phenomenon is known as presbyopia, a universal condition affecting every person cross-culturally who lives past the age of 45. While there is no surgical treatment for the condition, there are options to help with presbyopia, such as bifocal eyeglasses, contact lenses, or laser vision correction modified for monovision.

Cataracts: Clouding of the Lens

A normal part of eye ageing, cataracts form when the proteins contained in the lens start to break down and clump together, causing cloudy spots throughout the line of vision. Although the amount and pattern of cloudiness in the lens, as well as the rate at which it develops, can vary, the result is blurry vision that cannot be corrected with contact lenses or eyeglasses. Cataracts are not painful and can be treated with non-invasive surgery.

The Retina – The Light Communicator

The retina is made up of nerve cells that receive focused light from the lens, then signals the brain to create images.

With age, the retina wears down and degenerates, severely affecting vision. There are a number of serious eye diseases that are directly caused by the degeneration of the retina.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a serious eye disease that occurs when the macula, the small central area of the retina, ages and breaks down. Responsible for fine vision and color detail, when the macula is compromised, the result is blind spots, distorted vision, and possible blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a retinal disease that affects aged people who suffer from diabetes. In this case, the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye deteriorate and leak fluid into and under the retina. New, replacement blood vessels start to grow, but they are misshapen and distorted and can lead to scarring and swelling of the retina. The result is blurry, distorted vision leading to blindness in some cases.

The Optic Nerve – The Eye/Brain Connector

Located at the back of the eye, the optic nerve carries impulses formed by the retina directly to the brain. A part of the central nervous system, the optic nerve is a major component of the visual system and damage will result in vision loss and blindness.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a serious, progressive disease that directly affects the optic nerve. There are 3 different types: open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, and normal-tension glaucoma.

In the case of open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma, the fluid that normally drains from the eye through a series of eye canals is blocked, causing a build-up of pressure, called intraocular pressure, or IOP. This pressure is placed directly on the optic nerve, leading to damage which results in irreversible vision loss. In normal-tension glaucoma, the eye’s drainage system is functioning as it should and the IOP is within the normal range. Inexplicably, the optic nerve continues to sustain damage.

Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis is an inflammation of the optic nerve that causes damage and can result in vision loss, blurring, and pain. Usually manifesting in one eye, optic neuritis is often a precursor of multiple sclerosis, a disease that attacks the nerves of the body.

woman eye exam

Conclusion

It is inevitable that like the body, the eyes will age. And with age, the structures within the eye change and break down. With this comes a range of conditions and diseases to be aware of. Some, like glaucoma, come on suddenly and can result in irreparable vision loss. Others, like cataracts, are completely curable with simple surgery.

Whatever the condition, it is of the utmost importance that you engage in annual eye exams. Our optometrists will carefully examine and track your eye health so these eye diseases do not sneak up and steal your sight.Page Break

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Why Vision Gets Worse With Age | Shady Grove Eye Care

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Is it true that our vision will inevitably worsen with age? We break down if this is true and what eye diseases and conditions one can expect in your senior years.

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Common Eye Problems/Eye Health/Eye Care

 

 

Everything You Need to Know About Corneal Arcus

Older gentleman undergoing eye exam at eye clinic

Everything You Need to Know About Corneal Arcus

Eyes are often considered the “window into the soul,” but in eye care they are more commonly used as a window into the patient’s overall health. Eyes can change in many ways as you get older, but some of these changes can indicate other health issues you otherwise might not notice.

Systemic diseases like diabetes and conditions like high blood pressure can all be detected during a comprehensive eye exam, but what can corneal arcus tell you about your health?

Today, we’re going to unpack this little white outline of your cornea and look at what this condition is, how common it is, and what it could mean to your overall health.

What is Corneal Arcus?

Corneal arcus, otherwise known as arcus senilis for seniors or arcus juvenilis for those under 40, is typically an age-related condition that creates a deposit of cholesterol, phospholipids, and triglycerides in an “arc” on either the top or bottom side of the iris, inside the cornea. Over time, the arc can grow to encircle the entire iris, creating a white, gray, blue, or yellowish “outline.”

Corneal arcus can indicate a variety of different health concerns, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis. This connection was discovered as early as 1852, when pathologist Rudolf Virchow suggested that there was a connection between corneal arcus and atherosclerosis. This was a controversial topic of discussion for many years, but recent studies have shown that his hypothesis may be correct.

However, despite the physical appearance it may have on the eye, corneal arcus should not affect vision.

How Does it Develop?

This condition usually develops with age and can be found in nearly 60% of individuals between 50 and 60 years of age, but that percentage climbs to nearly 100% in patients 80 years old and older.

Corneal arcus is generally caused by lipid deposits developing on the cornea’s edge, typically related to a slowdown in lipid metabolism as the patient grows older. However, if it develops in a patient younger than 40, it could implicate a more serious situation.

How Does it Affect Your Vision and Health?

If corneal arcus develops as a result of aging, it is usually not a cause for concern. However, in individuals younger than 40, corneal arcus could indicate higher than normal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Higher cholesterol and triglyceride levels could indicate an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

What Should You Do?

There is no cure for corneal arcus, as the condition itself isn’t actually harmful to your eyes or eye health. However, if you notice a white, yellow, gray, or blue ring or outline forming around your iris, you should visit your optometrist for an eye exam. Your optometrist can help you determine if your symptoms are benign or if they indicate a larger issue developing.

You may also be recommended to have your blood checked for abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglyceride. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Some patients have decided to look into corneal tattooing to cover up the arc, but this is not recommended or encouraged by the medical community.

If you’ve noticed a symptom similar to corneal arcus in your eyes, please book an eye eye exam with us today and we can help you determine what’s best for you and your health!

Digital Eye Strain: Causes and Solutions

Young woman frustrated due to digital eye strain caused by her working on computer for too long

Digital Eye Strain: Causes and Solutions

Many people experience tired and dry eyes after using the computer for long periods. This condition is known as digital eye strain; it can affect your ability to focus, cause headaches and other irritating symptoms. With changes to your computer habits, you can prevent further irritation.

If you experience the effects of digital eye strain, your optometrist can recommend several solutions for your tired eyes. Continue reading to learn more about digital eye strain, including its causes and some potential solutions.

What is Digital Eye Strain?

According to research from The Vision Council, nearly 60% of Americans experience the symptoms of digital eye strain, including headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and sore neck and shoulders.

The average American worker spends 7 hours a day on their computer. With people relying on technology more and more, it’s no surprise that many Americans experience these annoying symptoms. Digital eye strain, or computer vision syndrome, is a common condition where your eyes become irritated from extended screen usage. It’s essentially tired eyes, also known as eye fatigue.

Focusing on daily tasks can be difficult with irritated and tired eyes. While the symptoms of digital eye strain may be frustrating and uncomfortable, this condition doesn’t have any long-term side effects.

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

There are several symptoms related to digital eye strain, including:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Sore neck, shoulders, or back
  • Light sensitivity
  • Watery eyes
  • Difficulty concentrating

    You may feel one or a combination of these symptoms if you experience digital eye strain. This condition’s symptoms mainly happen because of computer usage, but many factors may contribute to digital eye strain.

    What Causes Digital Eye Strain?

    Some common causes of digital eye strain include:

    • Blinking less when using computers
    • Viewing digital screens from poor distances & angles
    • Using devices with glare or reflection
    • Using devices with poor contrast between text and background

      Several external causes can potentially lead to digital eye strain. These causes include poor posture, circulating air from fans or air conditioning, and the setup of your computer workstation.

      Computer use is usually the culprit for digital eye strain, but this condition’s cause is more complex. Symptoms develop because of the way you use your computer; rather than the computer itself.

      Computers make your eyes work harder. When working at a computer, your eyes must focus and refocus constantly.

      Your eyes complete different actions when using a digital device. They move back and forth to read, shift gaze to look at papers on your desk, and react to changing images on your screen.

      When combining these actions with the contrast, flicker, and glare of a screen, consistent computer work can lead to dry and irritated eyes.

      In some cases, someone may have an undiagnosed vision problem that can cause or worsen the symptoms of digital eye strain. Regardless of the cause of your eye strain, your optometrist can recommend several possible solutions to prevent future irritation.

      Man touching eye due to him suffering from digital eye strain caused by his computer

      Digital Eye Strain Solutions

      Resting your eyes when they’re tired or irritated can help, but the best solution for digital eye strain is prevention. This can mean making some changes to your computer habits.

      If you’re looking to prevent digital eye strain, try out some of the following preventative measures:

      Take Frequent Breaks

      It can be easy to continue reading or working on your computer for hours, but looking away can give your eyes a break. Try following the 20/20/20 rule; take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something at least 20 feet away.

      Blink More

      It sounds like a simple solution, but remembering to blink can keep your eyes moisturized. People can blink up to 50% less when using digital devices.

      You can keep a visual reminder on your computer, like a sticky note reminding you to blink or use artificial tears to prevent your eyes from becoming dry.

      Sit Appropriately

      The way you sit can make a difference when using your devices. Ensure your chair’s height is correct, letting your feet rest on the floor comfortably. Adjust your computer screen slightly downward to reduce potential strain.

      When using your computer, try to sit at least an arm’s length (25 inches) away from the screen to prevent yourself from sitting too close.

      Account for Glare & Brightness

      Glare and brightness can make your eyes have to focus more to read off of your screens. You can reduce incoming glare by positioning your computer screen away from windows and overhead lighting.

      Anti-glare screen filters can help decrease the amount of light reflected from your devices.

      Adjust Your Devices

      Adjusting your devices can help protect your eyes from digital eye strain. You can do this by:

      • Raising the contrast on your screen
      • Making your text larger
      • Changing the brightness of your screen to match your surroundings
      • Raising your device’s refresh rate to cause less screen flickering

        These solutions can help prevent dry and irritated eyes. If you’re still experiencing discomfort despite changing your computer habits, contact your optometrist. They can diagnose any potential underlying problems after completing a comprehensive eye exam.

        Criteria Every LASIK Candidate Should Meet

        picture of laser eye surgery with saturation of red light in background

        Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care is proud to offer LASIK consultation as an effective vision correction option. This procedure is a lasting solution to refractive errors, reducing your reliance on prescription eyewear. To determine whether you are a candidate for LASIK, we will perform a comprehensive eye exam. But there are a handful of requirements for the best chances of a full recovery.

        Able to Manage Temporary Side Effects

        Although LASIK is considered a safe way to correct refractive errors, it does involve risks, just like any other surgery. While it’s a highly regulated procedure, with a great track record of successes (up to 95% successful on average in 300 peer-reviewed studies), your vision might seem a little strange afterward.

        Most of these symptoms are temporary, but you’ll have to set your expectations for the following:

        • Small pink or red patches on the white of the eye
        • Hazy or blurry vision
        • Difficulty with night vision or driving at night
        • Scratchiness, dryness, and other symptoms of dry eye
        • Discomfort
        • Glare, halos, or starbursts around lights
        • Light sensitivity

          LASIK surgery has been streamlined over the years. And updated technology has improved patient recovery significantly.

          Stable Eyesight

          A key sign we look for in a laser eye surgery consultation is the level of your refractive error. LASIK seeks to remedy imperfections in your cornea, so you can focus light properly and overcome your refractive error permanently. But what if your refractive error changes for the worse? In that case, myopia control might be a much better fit.

          If your prescription changes significantly every year or even less, it lacks the stable condition needed for successful LASIK surgery. We need to confirm that your visual acuity has remained the same for at least a year.

          At Least 18 Years of Age

          To be approved for LASIK, you must be at least 18 years old on the day of the surgery. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved LASIK for minors.

          Good Overall Health

          Having good overall health plays a major role in ensuring the success and effectiveness of laser eye surgery. It’s also a determining factor in your ability to recover quickly and heal completely.

          Health Issues That Hurt Your Chances of Succeeding With LASIK

          Due to the nature of LASIK, your eye will need a recovery period, and part of that process lies with your immune system. If you have diseases that affect your immune system, healing rate, or makes you more susceptible to infection, LASIK might not be worth the trouble. Prominent diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, HIV, and other autoimmune disorders.

          Depression or chronic pain issues like migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia can also hurt your chances. With these issues, dry eye syndrome and postoperative seem to worsen.

          What Can Disqualify You From LASIK?

          If you have any active eye infections, corneal irregularities, or other uncontrolled eye conditions, we can treat them before re-evaluating you for LASIK. But some factors diminish the returns you can get from LASIK. Eye injuries, keratitis uveitis, herpes simplex affecting the eye area, and other eye infections can all disrupt the health of your eye and interfere with normal healing.

          Even some genetic quirks out there can hurt your chances of full LASIK recovery. If you have large pupils that widen under low light, LASIK might lead to permanent complications. You might see lots of glare, halos, starbursts, and ghost images.

          To succeed with LASIK you need to be free of several more conditions:

          • Extreme myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism
          • Severe dry eye
          • Thin corneas
          • Corneal abrasions or disease
          • Keratoconus (cone-shaped cornea)
          • Advanced glaucoma
          • A cataract affecting vision
          • A history of certain eye infections
          • Diabetes that is not controlled well
          • Pregnancy or nursing

          high tech targeting system focusing on young womans eye

              What Attitudes Do You Need Most When Trying to Get LASIK?

              Optimistic

              As with life, there aren’t that many guarantees. One thing our optometrists and ophthalmologists do with patients at a laser eye surgery consultation is to inform you of the risks. These risks remain low if you meet the above eligibility criteria. But they’re still there; LASIK is never without its risks.

              You can trust us to give it to you straight about what risks of which complications exist—for you and only you. Possible complications include:

              • Dry eye
              • Glare
              • Under Corrections
              • Overcorrections
              • Astigmatism
              • Improper healing
              • Vision changes
              • Vision loss

                  Diligent

                  Finding a good surgeon might take more than a quick search-engine query. But as optometrists with integrity and due diligence at our core, we refer our patients to laser eye surgeons close to home in Rockville, MD—those we trust and work with often. If you place your trust in us, we can share the burden on this part.

                  Tolerant of the Downsides

                  Decades after successful surgery you might need glasses again. We sometimes call these “cheaters” because they help you with close-up vision when presbyopia sets in.

                  Presbyopia is a common condition where your cornea thins as a part of natural aging. If you got LASIK to fix your nearsightedness and enjoyed 20/20 vision for decades, your prescription can still change. Everyone gets it eventually.

                  Cooperative

                  To maximize your chances of a successful surgery, we have a lot of instructions in the period before and after your procedure, like avoiding eye makeup and contact lenses. Much of the power of attaining a full recovery lies in your hands! And if you make yourself an asset for LASIK candidate criteria, you’re that much closer to it.

                  Getting a LASIK Referral is a Meaningful Conversation

                  Rest assured that your trusted optometrist will explain everything you need to know about the procedure. We’ll also answer any questions you have, so you can make an informed decision about whether to move forward with LASIK.

                  The most reliable way to find out if you are a good LASIK candidate is to have your eyes checked. Call us today at (301) 859-4060 or complete our form to request an appointment. We serve Washington, DC, Rockville, MD, and Alexandria, VA.

                  Diabetic Eye Exams: Why They’re Important

                  Older gentleman undergoing eye exam at eye clinic

                  Diabetic Eye Exams: Why They’re Important

                  Eye exams are important for your eye health, especially if you have diabetes. Several diabetes-related eye diseases can significantly impact your eye health and vision. If you have diabetes, why are regular eye exams so important?

                  Continue reading to learn more about how diabetes can affect your eye health and why diabetic eye exams are important.

                  How Can Diabetes Affect Your Eye Health & Vision?

                  Diabetes can have a significant impact on your eye health. Blood vessels in the retina support your eyes, but they are sensitive to damage caused by high blood sugar.

                  When your blood glucose levels are too high, your blood vessels can become damaged, leading to swelling and leaking fluid in the eye. Several diabetes-related eye diseases develop from issues with the blood vessels in your eyes.

                  Blurred vision is common when your blood sugar levels become temporarily elevated, but this effect usually resolves itself with time. Besides your glucose levels affecting your vision, diabetes increases your risk of several eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma.

                  Diabetic Retinopathy

                  You’re at risk of diabetic retinopathy if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. This conditions symptoms are difficult to notice because they may not appear until your vision is affected.

                  There are two stages of diabetic retinopathy, nonproliferative and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy occurs when tiny bulges protrude from blood vessel walls within your eye. These bulges may break and leak fluid and blood into the retina.

                  When blood vessels become blocked, the disease has entered an advanced stage. This stage is known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy. These blocked blood vessels stop oxygen flow to the retina, causing new, abnormal vessels to develop as a replacement.

                  Diabetic Macular Edema

                  Diabetic macular edema develops from diabetic retinopathy. This condition occurs when leaking fluid causes the center of the retina (the macula) to swell, causing eventual vision loss. It’s one of the most common causes of vision loss for those with diabetic retinopathy.

                  Cataracts

                  A cataract is the clouding of your eye’s lens. This condition is usually age-related, but someone with diabetes has an increased risk of developing cataracts.

                  Having cataracts affects your ability to see clearly, with your vision feeling as if you’re looking through a foggy window. While the early stages of cataracts may not affect your vision, this condition progresses with time.

                  Many people receive cataract surgery when vision is significantly affected.

                  Glaucoma

                  Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that cause damage to your optic nerve. Many forms of glaucoma raise the pressure inside your eye, damaging the optic nerve and leading to potential vision loss.

                  Your risk of developing glaucoma is 40% higher if you have diabetes. This disease has little to no symptoms until your vision is affected, so early diagnosis is key to protecting your vision.

                  Diabetes increases your risk of several eye conditions, many of which have limited warning signs. If you have diabetes, regular examinations are vital for your eye health.

                  Man undergoing eye exam by his optometrist at eye doctor clinic

                  The Importance of Diabetic Eye Exams

                  While everyone needs eye exams, consistent examinations are crucial for someone with diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of several eye diseases, and many of them may not show symptoms until vision loss occurs.

                  Because these symptoms are hard to identify alone, you need an annual eye examination to determine if any issues are present. Without an annual exam, you may put yourself at risk of vision loss and other complications.

                  The earlier your eye doctor finds a problem, the earlier they can begin to treat it. A diabetic eye exam slightly differs from a standard examination; there is a focus on your eye health.

                  If you have diabetes, what can you expect during a diabetic eye exam?

                  What to Expect During Your Exam

                  A diabetic eye exam begins similarly to a standard eye exam. You’ll go through several preliminary tests, such as chart readings, cover tests, and a slit lamp exam to check your overall eyesight.

                  After preliminary tests, your optometrist will complete a dilated eye examination. After dilating your eyes, your eye doctor will look at the structure of your eye, including the retina, optic nerve, and surrounding blood vessels.

                  These tests can help your optometrist determine if you’re at risk of any diabetes-related eye diseases. If you have any relevant symptoms, you’ll receive a customized treatment plan to effectively manage or prevent an eye condition from worsening.

                  Diabetes can seem tricky to manage, but your optometrist is here to help. An annual diabetic eye exam allows your eye doctor to diagnose any potential problems and offer recommendations to manage your diabetes effectively.

                  Visit Your Optometrist Annually

                  Visiting your eye doctor every year may feel tedious, but it’s the best way to help protect your vision. Diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma can all lead to vision loss, and you may not notice any symptoms.

                  With an annual diabetic eye exam, you can help protect your eye health and vision from potential complications. If you need an eye exam, contact your optometrist today.

                  Common Reasons for Dry Eye

                  Woman taking off her glasses to rub her temples because of her dry eye symptoms

                  Common Reasons for Dry Eye

                  Dry eyes are more common than you think, and you can experience them for several reasons. Your optometrist can help you find long-term relief, but how do you know what is causing your dry eyes?

                  An optometrist can diagnose the possible cause, but before you meet for your appointment, understand some of the common reasons for dry eye so you can identify possible reasons for your symptoms.

                  What is Dry Eye?

                  Dry eye disease is a common condition where there is an issue with your tear film, causing your eyes to be improperly lubricated.

                  The tear film is made of three layers: oil, aqueous fluid, and mucin, and an issue can arise when one doesn’t function as it should. Tears are dragged across your eyes to help keep them moisturized and smooth, but when the tear film is affected, you experience several aggravating or painful symptoms. Decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation are the most common causes of dry eye.

                  Dry eye causes

                  Decreased tear production

                  Tear production begins to decline as you age, and many adults 65 and older experience some symptoms of dry eye disease. This is not the only possible cause for inadequate tear production, as medications, medical conditions, and desensitized corneal nerves can contribute to dry eye as well.

                  This cause of dry eye is not as common as tear evaporation, but it can result in similar discomfort and disruption of your quality of life.

                  Increased tear evaporation

                  Your dry eye symptoms may be caused by increased evaporation of tears, usually caused by poor tear quality. When your tears are dragged across your eye, the oily layer of the tear film prevents evaporation.

                  This oil (or meibum) can become plugged, clogged, or be of poor quality, which can cause faster evaporation. When the glands releasing meibum become compromised, also known as meibomian gland dysfunction, this can lead to discomfort and inflammation.

                  This meibum can be affected by several other factors such as infrequent blinking, environmental factors, and eye allergies. Common causes of excessive tear evaporation include:

                    Knowing the main sources of dry eye disease is important, but you must understand the reasons for these causes as well. Understanding the reasons dry eye happens can help you have an idea of the cause of your symptoms before your appointment with your eye doctor.

                    A young woman suffering from dry eyes after working on her laptop

                    Common Reasons for Dry Eye

                    While the symptoms of both causes of dry eye disease are similar, there are different reasons for why they occur. These reasons can include side effects from medications, medical conditions, allergies, and environmental factors.

                    Reasons for decreased tear production

                    Aging

                    Studies have shown an increasing prevalence of dry eye disease every five years after the age of 50, and dry eyes are a part of the aging process. Over time, we begin to develop fewer tears, which can lead to symptoms of dry eye.

                    Medications

                    Certain medications have side effects possibly contributing to your dry eye symptoms. These medications can include antihistamines, decongestants, and antidepressants. Common medications for acne and contraceptives such as birth control pills may cause these symptoms as well.

                    Medical conditions

                    People who are affected by diabetes, thyroid problems, and rheumatoid arthritis may be more prone to developing dry eye. Medical conditions causing inflammation in the eyelids or surface of the eye may cause decreased tear production as well. Additionally, inward or outward-facing eyelids increase the risk of dry eye as well.

                    Desensitized corneas

                    Your corneal nerves can become desensitized by contact lens use, nerve damage, or laser eye surgery. Typically, symptoms caused by laser eye surgery are temporary.

                    Reasons for increased tear evaporation

                    Your tears can be affected for a variety of reasons and can vary from medical conditions to environmental factors. If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, consider some of the potential reasons:

                    Posterior blepharitis

                    Posterior blepharitis affects the inner edge of your eyelid. It is an inflammation of the eyelids where scale-like dandruff develops around the eye. This condition commonly occurs when your eyelid glands produce improper amounts of meibum, which can create an environment suited for bacterial growth. It can also be caused by other skin conditions such as rosacea.

                    Environmental & habitual factors

                    Environmental and habitual factors may contribute to dry eye as well. This can include smoke, wind, and dry air which may cause your tears to evaporate. A pair of wraparound sunglasses can protect your eyes during windy weather.

                    When you use the computer, you blink approximately 50% less than normal. When you blink your tears moisturize your eyes, so infrequently blinking while working on close-up tasks such as using the computer can cause dry eyes.

                    Eyelid problems

                    Conditions affecting your eyelids such as entropion and ectropion may contribute to dry eye disease. Entropion causes your eyelid to turn inwards and your eyelashes and skin to rub against your eye’s surface.

                    Ectropion is the opposite of entropion, causing your eyelid to turn outwards. This condition is common in older adults and causes your lower lid to pull away, causing improper tear drainage.

                    Eye allergies

                    Allergens such as dander, dust, and pollen can irritate your eyes. Potential triggers for dry eye from allergies can include:

                    • Pet dander
                    • Pollen
                    • Diesel exhaust
                    • Dust mites
                    • Mold
                    • Perfume

                      No matter the reason for your dry eyes, your optometrist can provide you with long-term relief through a variety of treatment options. If you suffer from dry eyes frequently, book an appointment with your optometrist.

                      Find Long-Term Relief

                      If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye disease, your optometrist can provide you with a treatment plan suited for your unique needs. Contact your optometry office and find long-term relief for your dry eye symptoms.

                      A Comprehensive Eye Exam: What is the Doctor Checking For?

                      Side perspective of an eye doctor using a microscope and slit lamp to view a patients eye

                      A Comprehensive Eye Exam: What is the Doctor Checking For?

                      Most of us have been to an eye exam and spent time with an optometrist studying our vision. There are machines to check your eye pressure, and lights that illuminate your retina, and charts with big letters. But what are all these tests looking for?

                      An eye doctor conducts a comprehensive eye exam with a primary goal in mind- determining and evaluating your visual health. By studying the shape, strength, and acuity of your eyes, an optometrist can recommend prescriptions and provide preventative eye care solutions.

                      Let’s break down the different components of an eye exam and what it tells the doctor about your ocular health.

                      The First Rule of Prevention

                      The vast majority of eye conditions can be prevented or at least slowed down with an early diagnosis and effective eye care strategy. Many diseases result in negative eye changes that are irreversible and incurable if left unattended.

                      That’s why regular eye exams are so important- they give optometrists the ability to diagnose eye diseases early and to act quickly to protect your eyes.

                      How Often Should I Get My Eyes Checked?

                      Everyone should get their eyes examined once per year. This keeps your eye doctor on top of changes in your eyes. Even people with healthy vision are recommended to see the eye doctor annually.

                      If you have a medical history or other visual irregularities, your optometrist can build an exam schedule that best suits your own ocular needs.

                      Checking the Shape of Your Eye

                      In most people’s lifetimes, they will experience some form of shape-changing in their eyes. In fact, only 35% of American adults have 20/20 or “normal” vision. Changes in your eye shape affect how light is refracted through your eye and can lead to vision disorders.

                      Your visual acuity measurement (eye chart) will give your optometrist clues about the potential shape of your eye. They will use a slit lamp to examine the entirety of your eye and view each component individually. By identifying this eye shape, the doctor can confirm some common conditions that affect eyesight.

                      Nearsightedness

                      Also known as myopia, this condition is quite popular, affecting about 25% of the population. Nearsighted patients can see objects clearly at a close distance but struggle to see things far away.

                      This condition occurs when the eyeball is elongated and the cornea moves further away from the retina. Light is refracted incorrectly, blurring distant focus. Myopia is hereditary and is typically initially discovered in people under the age of 20.

                      Farsightedness

                      Hyperopia is essentially the opposite of nearsightedness. This is another refractive error, but instead due to the distance between the retina and cornea being too short. People with this disorder can see things far away quite clearly, but have trouble reading and focusing on close items.

                      Both myopia and hyperopia are common enough but can lead to more serious eye conditions when they go unnoticed. Your eye doctor checks for these mutations so that they can create a prescription that will correct these refractive errors.

                      Astigmatism

                      Astigmatism is another example of irregular curvature in the cornea or lens. Doctors check for a football-type shape of your eye which, again, refracts light towards the retina at an irregular angle.

                      By checking for these physical deformities in the shape of your eye, an optometrist has a baseline for refining a corrective eyeglass or contact lens prescription. These prescriptions are finetuned with further testing, like using a phoropter, a machine with multiple lens strengths. But microscope exams (slit lamp) let a doctor check for general shape abnormalities.

                      Side angle close up of an amber colored human eye with a front lens that is not perfectly round but shaped like a football

                      Looking for Eye Diseases

                      Many of the processes in an eye examination are designed to test for dangerous eye conditions. There are hundreds of known eye diseases, but a standard comprehensive eye exam can reliably check for some of the most common ocular ailments.

                      Diabetes

                      Diabetes is common enough that many optometrists specifically conduct diabetic eye exams. When diabetes exists, it makes the eye more vulnerable to other diseases.

                      After a standard eye exam, special drops will be applied to dilate your pupils. This allows your eye doctor to get a better view of the eye’s structure and to take digital images of the retina. In this process, they are checking for early stages of diabetic retinopathy, a condition that scars the eye and distorts vision.

                      Glaucoma

                      Glaucoma refers to diseases that stem from damage to the optic nerve, often due to high pressure in the eye. When left unattended, glaucoma can lead to partial or total vision loss.

                      Eye doctors check for this disease with a field vision test. This non-invasive procedure tests peripheral vision strength, which can often indicate the presence of glaucoma. Tonometry is another test used to check for glaucoma, measuring for eye pressure outside the normal range.

                      Age-related Macular Degeneration

                      A common eye disease that develops as we age is known as age-related macular degeneration, (AMD). This disease is characterized by changes to the macula and central vision loss.

                      By checking for this disease annually, optometrists can identify the first signs of AMD and take steps to prevent its progress. This includes changes in diet and a focus on increased nutrition. Checking for this disease is done with an OCT or fluorescein angiography.

                      Cataracts

                      Another common condition that occurs in older patients is the presence of cataracts. Cataracts are the blurring or loss of clarity in our optic lenses. This condition can almost always be treated with corrective eyewear or cataract surgery.

                      The eye exam process highlights the severity of your cataracts and gives optometrists the information for building a game plan. Checking for this condition is the first step in getting your vision back to full health. An eye lens can’t be replaced unless we know there is something wrong.

                      Evaluating Health With An Eye Exam

                      Eye doctors check for these diseases because saving your vision is dependent on diagnosing eye disease early. With an early diagnosis, it is much easier to manage and treat eye diseases. When a disease has progressed to a point that symptoms are obvious to a patient, there are usually already significant vision damages.

                      Along with checking for serious eye diseases, eye exams provide doctors the chance to look for color blindness, dry eye, and other conditions that may not be life-threatening, but deplete your vision. Monitoring your ocular well-being and understanding the shape of your eye are essential pillars of your visual health.

                      Optometrists use eye tests to develop accurate prescriptions which help you see better. Most eye exams take less than 60 minutes. What a small sacrifice for happy vision and the peace of mind in knowing that your eye doctor is keeping your visual health in check.

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