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Dry Eye Syndrome: When Dry Eyes are Chronic

Dry eyes are a common problem for many individuals particularly during the winter months when exposure to dry air and whipping wind is increased. However, if you are suffering from dry eyes that just won’t go away, you may have what is known as Dry Eye Syndrome – a condition in which the tears that lubricate and nourish the eye are not being produced sufficiently.

Tears serve to keep the surface of the eye moist, smooth and clear, to reduce the risk of infection and to remove foreign substances. Tear ducts in the corner of the eyelid drain the excess tears. Dry eyes syndrome is a chronic condition characterized by inadequate tear production or poor quality of the tears produced. A number of factors contribute to the condition including advanced age, female gender, environmental conditions, medication or particular medical conditions. Extended periods reading or working on a computer without blinking, prolonged use of contacts or refractive eye surgeries can also contribute to decreased moisture and tear production.

An optometrist will be able to determine whether you have chronic dry eye syndrome by examining your eye and your blinking pattern, measuring the amount and quality of your tears and assessing your medical and environmental history.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome include:

  • Persistent dry eyes
  • Scratchiness or gritty sensation
  • Burning sensation
  • Feeling like there is something is in your eye
  • Excessively watery eyes
  • Blurred vision

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is worthwhile to schedule an appointment with your optometrist. If you have dry eye syndrome, there are treatments available to relieve your discomfort.

How Diabetes Impacts Your Eyesight

Even many people with the disease are unaware of the fact that diabetes can lead to vision loss. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition is a particularly serious complication of the disease and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.

Diabetic retinopathy can be asymptomatic until it is too late. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels increases they begin to leak causing irreparable damage to the retina. This damage will result in eventual blindness if it is not treated.

If you have diabetes and you notice any sort of vision problems, such as fluctuations in eyesight, floaters, double vision, shadows or spots or any pain in your eye make sure to see your optometrist. Diabetics are also at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma due to the strain it causes on the eyes.

With early diagnosis and treatment, we can stop loss of vision. In addition to making sure to schedule a diabetic eye exam once a year if you are diabetic, keeping your blood sugar levels under control is vital to your eye health.

If you or a loved one has diabetes, be sure you are informed about the risks of diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and speak to your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. In this case, ignorance could cost you your precious eyesight

Astigmatism Doesn’t Rule Out Contact Lenses

Are you aware that there are contact lenses especially made to fix your astigmatism? Normally, the cornea is spherical, but in the case of someone with astigmatism, it’s more oval-shaped, sort of like a football. This ostensibly small feature actually alters the way light hits the retina, and as a result, vision is out of focus.

The lenses prescribed to correct astigmatism are known as toric contact lenses. What separates these from regular contact lenses is the design. As opposed to typical lenses, which have the same power throughout the lens, toric lenses have two different powers; one for astigmatism, and one which addresses myopia or hyperopia. Unlike regular lenses, which can easily shift and have no effect on your vision, toric lenses must stay in place. A great feature of toric lenses is the fact that they’re heavier at the bottom, which helps them stay put when you blink or rub your eyes.

There are multiple scheduling options for toric contact lens users, including soft disposable contact lenses, daily disposable lenses, and frequent replacement lenses. Toric lenses are also available as color contact lenses, and as multifocal lenses. Hard contact lenses, also called rigid gas permeable lenses, provide a stronger shape which allows them to stay put when you blink, but usually, they’re a little less comfortable than soft lenses. .

Toric lens fittings are usually longer than normal lens fittings. This is because it’s a more complex product, and we want to make sure you’re fitted just right. This all might sound a little daunting, but it’s well worth the end result; effective, glasses-free treatment. Being fitted with the right product will only improve your vision, and consequently, your everyday life.

Taking a Closer Look at Presbyopia

Having challenges with reading is a frequently occurring problem if you’re close to middle age. Why? Because as you age, your eye’s lens becomes increasingly inflexible, making it less able to focus on close objects. We call this presbyopia. And it’s universal.

People with untreated presbyopia may hold reading material at arm’s length to be able to focus properly. Performing other close-range activities, such as embroidery or writing, could also result in headaches, eyestrain or fatigue in those who have developed presbyopia. For sufferers who want to do something about presbyopia, you have several solutions available, whether you currently wear glasses, contacts or nothing at all.

An oft-used solution is reading glasses, though these are only useful for those who wear contacts or for people who don’t already wear glasses for issues with distance vision. You can buy these almost anywhere, but it’s better not to buy them until you have been examined by an eye care professional. Unfortunately, these kinds of reading glasses may be helpful for quick periods of reading but they can eventually cause fatigue when worn for long stretches of time. Actually, custom-made reading glasses are a far better solution. They can address additional eye issues such as rectify astigmatism, accommodate prescriptions that are different between the two eyes, and on top of that, the optic centers of the lenses can be specially made to meet the needs of whoever is wearing them. The reading distance is another detail that can be designed to meet your specific needs.

And for those who already use glasses, but would rather just use one pair of glasses at a time, consider bifocal or multi-focal corrective lenses, or PALs (progressive addition lenses), which are very popular. Essentially, these are eyeglasses that have more than one point of focus, and the lower part of the lens is where there is a prescription that helps you focus on things right in front of you. If you already wear contacts, it’s recommended to speak to your eye care professional about multifocal contact lenses. There’s also a treatment approach which is called monovision. Monovision is when one eye wears a lens for distance vision and one eye wears a lens for close vision.

Since your eyesight continues to change as you grow older, it’s fair to expect your prescription to increase periodically. But it’s also crucial to examine your options before deciding what’s best for your vision; you can be susceptible to presbyopia, even if you’ve had refractive surgery.

It’s best to speak to your eye care professional for an unbiased perspective. Presbyopia is an inevitability of middle age, but the decisions you make about how to handle it is in your hands.

Let’s Play Safe: Eye Safety and Children

It can be challenging to choose toys that are not harmful for our children’s eyes.

Babies don’t have a fully developed visual system at birth, but it becomes more refined over time. There aren’t many things that help a child’s visual development more easily than toys that encourage hand-eye coordination and learning about spatial relationships. In the first three months of life, babies can’t entirely see color, so high contrast black and white images of things like shapes and simple patterns are really helpful for encouraging visual development.

Since kids spend a great deal of time playing with their toys, parents need to be sure that their toys are safe for both their overall health, and their eyesight. Firstly, to be safe, a toy should be age-appropriate. And it is just as important to make sure that toys are suited to their developmental stage. Although toy manufacturers specify age and developmental appropriateness on toy packaging, it is up to you to be discerning, and prevent your son or daughter from playing with toys that might lead to eye injury or loss of vision.

Blocks are considered appropriate for almost all ages, but for younger children, check that the corners and edges are blunted, to lessen the chance of harm. You should also take note of toy size. With toddlers, a toy that is mouth size is not recommended. Put that small toy away until your son or daughter is older.

Any plush toys are best if machine washable, and, for younger children, free of very small parts that can be pulled off, like buttons, sequins or bows. Avoid toys with edges or sharp components for a young child, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, make sure the end is rounded. Closely supervise toddlers when they play with those kinds of toys.

For children below 6, stay clear of toys with flying parts, like dart guns. Always pay close attention with those kinds of toys. Whereas, for teens who play with chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they wear safety goggles.

So when shopping for a special occasion, keep a close eye out for the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Make sure that there’s no danger posed to your child.

Focusing on Convergence Insufficiency

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Too often, kids are incorrectly diagnosed with all sorts of behavioral issues, when the issue actually is something else completely. It's important to be aware that the child might be suffering from a hard-to-detect vision problem that impacts learning, that eye doctors call Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

Here's the breakdown: CI is a near vision problem that gets in the way of your capacity to see things at close distances. This means, a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even if it's something sitting just in front of them. Someone with CI struggles to, or is simply not able to coordinate his/her eyes at close distances, and that greatly impacts on basic activities like reading or writing. To prevent double vision, CI sufferers try harder to make their eyes converge, or turn back in. This additional work often leads to a whole range of difficult side effects like headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and reduced comprehension even after relatively short periods of reading. Further side effects include difficulty working on a computer, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing art work. In bad instances of CI, the eyes can often turn outwards. This is what we call strabismus.

Other things that may indicate CI include if your son or daughter often loses his or her place when reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, struggles when trying to repeat what they just read, or tells you that words they look at appear to move, jump, swim or float. Also, some children have problems with motion sickness. And if your child is sleepy or overworked, it's common for their symptoms to worsen.

CI is often diagnosed incorrectly as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. Additionally, this problem slips under the radar during school eye screenings or regular eye exams using only an eye chart. Your son or daughter might have 20/20 vision, but also have CI, and the resulting difficulties when it comes to basic skills like reading.

The good news is that CI typically responds well to proper treatment. Treatments are usually comprised of supervised vision therapy with practice sessions at home, or the use of devices known as prism glasses, which will reduce a number of symptoms. Sadly, most people aren't examined adequately, and as a result, aren't receiving the help they require early enough. So if you've seen that your child is having a tough time dealing with any of the symptoms mentioned above, speak to us and make a point to have your child screened for CI.

Understanding 20/20 Vision

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We've all stumbled upon the expressions 20/20 vision and visual acuity. As common as these terms are, do people really know what they mean?

20/20 refers to the sharpness of eyesight measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, that basically means that from a distance of 20 feet you are able to accurately see that which should be seen from that distance. And did you know that 20/20 is just a standard measurement? The truth is, a lot of people have vision that's better than 20/20; for example, some people have 20/15 vision, so what they could see at 20 feet, a person with normal vision might only be able to discriminate at 15 feet.

Your eyes are examined separately. When your optometrist asks you to read the letters on the eye chart, the smallest row that you can read properly determines the visual acuity in the eye being examined.

It's important to recognize that 20/20 vision actually doesn't mean you have perfect vision, because it can only judge your distance vision. There are lots of equally important components to seeing properly; being able to focus on close objects, contrast sensitivity, peripheral vision, eye coordination, depth perception and color vision – these are all extremely important to your overall vision. Furthermore, a person who has 20/20 vision can have plenty of other eye-related health problems. Even those who have suffered damage to the retina due to glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure, or numerous other conditions might still have 20/20 vision without glasses. For this reason, an eye care professional will always carry out a comprehensive eye exam, and not just a plain visual acuity test.

During your next eye exam, you'll know what we're looking for when we ask you to read from an eye chart!

Get The Fresh Look

How would you like an updated look for your eyes? Then let's talk about FreshLook®, a line offering a vast range of colored contact lenses, which slightly enhance or totally change your natural eye color.

This cutting edge range of lenses includes so many choices, that you'll be sure to find just what you're looking for. Whether your eyes are blue, brown, green or hazel, FreshLook® contacts can alter your eye color, to provide a fresh, beautiful and most importantly, natural look. All these contacts come in bi-monthly or daily disposable alternatives.

When selecting a color contact lens, start by thinking about your natural eye color, hair color, skin tone, and the type of look you want. And if you want to explore different colors and see how the contacts transform your appearance, you can virtually ''try on'' a whole assortment of color contact lenses by visiting the FreshLook® website and just uploading a picture of yourself, before your appointment with your optometrist.

It doesn't matter whether color contacts are worn to help you see or only cosmetically to boost your eye color, they still need to be fitted and prescribed by an eye care professional, so make sure to see us to hear all about your FreshLook® options.

Clean Lids, Healthy Eyes

Inflamed eyelids, also referred to as blepharitis, is something that a lot of people suffer from at some point during their lives. It's a common eyelid inflammation, sometimes linked to a bacterial eye infection, certain kinds of skin conditions, like acne, or dry eye symptoms.

Usually, symptoms include redness, itching, burning, the sensation of a foreign body in the eye, tearing and some crustiness in or around the eye. It can be difficult to deal with, because it's chronic.

But it's reassuring to know that there are several steps you can take to take control of blepharitis and ensure good eyelid hygiene Firstly, apply a warm washcloth to your closed eyelid to help the crust begin to loosen before you clean them. The heat from the compress will also help get rid of any remaining residue in the oil-secreting glands in your eyelids. Initially you when you begin treatment, you may find you need to use the compress several times every day for approximately five minutes each time. After that, you may only need to use the compress one time per day, just for a few minutes.

Properly cleaning your eyelids is central to blepharitis treatment, so it's best to use a commercial lid cleanser or whatever product your optometrist recommends. You want to gently massage the outside of your eyelids and wash any residue away at the end.

Although it may be uncomfortable, blepharitis isn't catching and largely, doesn't lead to any long-term damage to your eyesight, so make an appointment with your optometrist about the most effective way to keep your lids clean and healthy.

The Importance of Changing Your Contact Lenses

Have there been times when you've left your disposable contact lenses in for longer than you're supposed to? We don't need to tell you that so many things are a whole lot better when they are fresh. It's no surprise that the same can also help you understand how often you should change your contacts. There is no shortage of reasons not to keep your lenses in longer than necessary. Despite that fact that you might be tempted, if you want your eyes to look healthy, don't overlook the lens timetable given to you by your optometrist. So, if your optometrist tells you to change them every two weeks, then change them every two weeks, because they can't withstand extended wear.

You might ask, is it so bad to get just two or three more wears out of them? To understand this idea, let's talk about protein – not the type you stir into your shakes, but the natural protein contained in your eye fluids that slowly accumulates on the surface of your lenses and creates a mild haze. Unclear vision is just the beginning.

After some time, these proteins evolve and confuse your immune system, which begins to think that the buildup is a foreign particle, which in turn can be expressed as inflammation in the eye. And this means that your vision won't be working at its best. Other factors can also attribute to this, like the build up of dust or pollen on the lens Even when you do all you can to take great care of your contact lenses, sooner or later they become less clear and smooth, just due to regular wear and tear.

So basically, it's best to keep to the plan your optometrist decides on for you. If you replace your lenses when you're told to, you will never even recognize the difference that is so apparent when you wear them for longer than you're supposed to.

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***WE’VE MOVED!*** OUR PRACTICES HAVE NOT BEEN SOLD. PLEASE NOTE WE HAVE NO AFFILIATION WITH PROFESSIONAL EYECARE SOUTH (AT FOUNTAINS SHOPPING CENTER) OR PROFESSIONAL EYECARE OAK PARK (AT OAK PARK MALL).

On July 1st we moved to more spacious, newly built and modernly equipped offices just a short distance from our current locations. Zona Rosa moved to Twin Creeks Shopping Center, 8403 N Mercier Road KC, MO and Fountains moved to Regency Shopping Center, 9216A Metcalf Avenue OP, KS. We look forward to seeing you at the new locations!

In KC you can call us at 816-468-1220, text/call us at 816-868-9844, email us at KC@professionaleyecare.net or schedule your appointment online by clicking on the appropriate office link below.

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