‘Tis the Season for Eye Allergies

Ah! Here it is. Cooler weather, friends around a fire pit, leaves changing, the sounds of geese migrating, and eye allergies. Anybody else have this problem? Instead of enjoying the beautiful weather, you are cooped up inside trying to avoid all the things that trigger those allergies.

Irritation, excessive tearing, redness, and swollen eyelids are common signs of eye allergies and pink eye. How can you tell the difference? That is the tough part. Both eye allergies and pink eye are a form of conjunctivitis, or inflammation of the eye. Eye allergies are caused by an adverse immune reaction to certain substances, such as dust or pollen. A majority of the time, pink eye is caused by a bacterial infection or a virus. With pink eye you will also experience thick mucus discharge that builds up overnight. Contacting your eye doctor at Mabee Eye Clinic is the best option to help treat either option.

Your doctor may have you try a few home remedies before seeing them in the office. First, try keeping your windows closed and avoid any sort of allergens that you know would trigger a reaction. I know that is a struggle when you have a beautiful day outside. However, avoiding certain irritants or keeping the car and house windows shut is the easiest form of prevention. If you can’t avoid the outdoors, a good pair of wraparound sunglasses can also help prevent pollens from irritating your eyes.

The second home remedy is using eye drops. Keep in mind that not all eye drops are created equal. Some drops’ main purpose is to get rid of red eyes or irritation. We typically recommend that patients use an artificial tear or lubricating drop to help flush out any irritants. Most eye allergies are caused by irritants, and simply washing your eyes out can help with relief. If you have questions regarding eye drops, it would be best to discuss that with your eye doctor.

The third option would be using a cold compress. A cold towel or ice pack can help relieve that hot and burning sensation you can get around your eyes. Simply take a clean cloth, soak it in cold water, and apply to closed irritated eyes. Repeat this process as often as you need.

If these home remedies don’t help, then you may need to try over-the-counter allergy eye drops.  At the beginning of 2020 Pataday, a highly recommended prescription allergy drop by optometrists was made available for over-the-counter purchase. Pataday works in two different ways. First, it works on the mast cells in the eye. Mast cells release the histamines that make your eyes itch. “Pataday stabilizes the mast cells, preventing them from releasing histamines” (Pataday). Second, it works on blocking histamines that have already been released from attaching to the histamine receptors in the eye, breaking the chain of allergic reactions. 

Don’t be controlled by your eye allergies. Try out some home remedies listed above. If your symptoms worsen or you see no relief, talk to one of our eye doctors at Mabee Eye Clinic. We can tailor a custom plan for you and your eye allergies. This will give you the freedom to enjoy the beautiful weather, change in season, and quality time with friends and family.

References

Heiting, G. (N.D.). Eye allergies: how to get relief from itchy, watery eyes.  All About Vision. Retrieved July 21st, 2020, from https://www.allaboutvision.com/en-ca/conditions/eye-allergies/

Kozarsky, A. (2018). How to get relief from eye allergies.  WebMD. Retrieved July 21st, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/allergies/eye-allergies#1

(2016). Eye allergies.  Healthline. Retrieved July 21st, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/eye-allergies#outlook

(2017). Eye allergies: itchy, red, and watery eyes.  All About Vision. Retrieved July 21st, 2020, from https://www.allaboutvision.com/en-in/conditions/allergies/

Treski, A. (N.D.). Relieve your teary, allergy eyes.  VSP: Ask an Eye Doctor. Retrieved July 21st, 2020, from https://www.vsp.com/eyewear-wellness/eye-health/watery-eyes

Griff, A. (2019). Home treatments for itchy eyes. Healthline. Retrieved July 21st, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/home-remedies-for-itchy-eyes

(2020). About Pataday. Retrieved July 28th, 2020, from https://pataday.myalcon.com/eye-care/pataday/allergy-eye-drops/

Risks of Glaucoma

People over the age of 60, diabetic, patients of African American descent, thin corneas, and/or patients with a family history are at a higher risk of glaucoma than others.

Currently, there is no way to prevent glaucoma through supplements or to reverse vision loss due to glaucoma.

You may be able to reduce your risk of glaucoma by not smoking, avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a varied and healthy diet, regular exercise, and an active lifestyle. In addition to your regular eye exams.

References
Dubow, B, G. (2017). Glaucoma – FAQs. All About Vision. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from http://allaboutvision.com/conditions/glaucoma.htm

Ocular Hypertension

Ocular hypertension is when the pressure in your eyes, your intraocular pressure (IOP), is higher than normal. An IOP reading of 21 mmHg, millimeters of mercury, or higher generally signifies ocular hypertension.

Let’s take a quick look at the anatomy of the eye before we go further.
The space between the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, and the lens inside the eye is filled with a clear fluid called the aqueous humor. This fluid provides nutrients to the anterior part of the eye and helps maintain the shape of the eye by keeping it pressurized.

The aqueous humor is produced 24/7 by a structure called the ciliary body, and it drains from the eye through a mesh-like tube called the trabecular meshwork. This structure is located in the angle formed where the cornea and iris meet.

IOP can become high if the ciliary body produces too much aqueous or if the aqueous drains too slowly through the trabecular meshwork. Some steroids and other medications can increase the risk of ocular hypertension. An injury to the eye or trauma to the eye can throw off the balance between aqueous production and drainage causing a build-up in pressure.

Your eye doctor may prescribe drops to help increase outflow drainage of aqueous or slow down the production of aqueous to treat ocular hypertension.

References
Heiting, G. (2018). Ocular hypertension: five causes of high eye pressure. All About Vision. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from http://allaboutvision.com/conditions/hypertension.htm
Berdhal, J. (2019). Glaucoma: symptoms, treatment and prevention. All About Vision. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from http://allaboutvision.com/conditions/glaucoma.htm

Glaucoma Treatment

The most common treatment for glaucoma is the use of topical medication or prescription eye drops. The purpose of the drops is to reduce intraocular pressure, or IOP, to prevent further vision loss.

Some drops prescribed by your eye doctor will relax the eye muscles in the interior structure to allow better outflow of fluids, reducing the buildup of eye pressure. Other drops may decrease the amount of production of aqueous humor, the clear fluid filling the space in the front of the eyeball between the lens and the cornea.

In some emergency situations, oral medication may be prescribed to help reduce your risk of vision loss.
For your own safety and well-being, it’s important to be consistent with your daily glaucoma medication. Forgetting to take the drops or failure to comply with treatment can cause your glaucoma to progress and eventually lead to blindness.

If you are struggling with the treatment schedule or find the drops uncomfortable, do not stop. Consult with your doctor about possible alternatives.

References
Berdhal, J. (2019). Glaucoma: symptoms, treatment and prevention. All About Vision. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from http://allaboutvision.com/conditions/glaucoma.htm
Haddrill, M. & Slonim, C. (2019). Glaucoma treatment: eye drops and other medications. All About Vision. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from http://allaboutvision.com/glaucoma-3-treatment.htm

Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma

Glaucoma doesn’t typically produce any symptoms or pain until noticeable vision loss occurs. Therefore, yearly eye exams are important to allow your eye doctor to detect these silent symptoms.

Besides measuring the inner eye pressure, your eye doctor may recommend tests if he suspects any signs of glaucoma. These tests allow the doctor to objectively quantify the health of the optic nerve as well as the function of the visual pathway all the way back to the vision centers of the brain.

1. Optical Coherence Tomography, or OCT, enables the doctor to take measurements and images to better visualize your optic nerve. This instrument is a lot like an ultrasound machine, but instead of using sound waves, light waves are used to get a high definition picture of the eye and measurement of the thickness, size, and shape of your optic nerve. Some OCTs can do pachymetry or measurements of the thickness of the cornea. A thick cornea can influence intraocular pressure readings.

2. A visual field analyzer is an instrument that maps your complete field of vision. The visual field is commonly represented as a hill, or island of vision. The height or sensitivity of the normal hill of vision is affected by age, the amount of ambient light, stimulus size, and stimulus duration. If a visual field defect is present, the doctor will observe a statistically significant depression of sensitivity compared to the normal hill of vision. Interestingly, field defects that are quite evident on visual field results usually are not perceived by the patient. This is due to the ‘filling-in’ effect. This is why patients seldom tell us about symptomatic visual field loss and why we must rely upon visual field testing to detect such damage.

Lastly, the doctor may perform a gonioscopy. This part of the exam a patient is given drops to numb the eye. A hand-held contact lens with mirrors is placed on the eye. This special lens allows the doctors to see the angle between the iris and the cornea. This angle helps drain fluid and keep healthy eye pressure. If the angle is closed, blocked, or narrow, it can be a reason the pressure is high and therefore, causing damage to the optic nerve.

References
Berdhal, J. (2019). Glaucoma: symptoms, treatment and prevention. All About Vision. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from http://allaboutvision.com/conditions/glaucoma.htm
Five common glaucoma tests. Glaucoma Research Foundation. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from http://glaucoma.org/glaucoma/diagnostic-teset.php

Prevent Glaucoma: Regular Eye Exams

Did you know, half of Americans with glaucoma don’t know they have it? Glaucoma is often called a silent thief of sight because the early stages often have no symptoms. In the US glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease damaging the optic nerve in the eye; the optic nerve connects the retina to the brain to produce sight. The most common type of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, over 3 million Americans have glaucoma.

Eye pressure is a significant risk factor for optic nerve damage. We recommend annual eye exams to measure eye pressure and detect glaucoma before you lose vision.

Populations at a Higher Risk Include:

  • African Americans over age 40
  • Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
  • People with a family history of glaucoma

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Typically glaucoma has no signs or symptoms, by the time you notice your loss of vision the disease has progressed to irreversible vision loss. Regular eye exams are the best way to detect and prevent glaucoma because several tests are performed to look for signs of glaucoma.

Potential Signs/Symptoms Include:

  • High Intraocular Pressure
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Vision Loss
  • Blurry Vision
  • Distorted Vision
  • Eye Pain

Can you reduce your risk for glaucoma?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential to reduce your risk of developing glaucoma. A few ways to reduce your risk include not smoking and eating a varied healthy diet. Healthy weight and blood pressure are also essential to lowering your chance of getting glaucoma.

Recent studies have also found that physical exercise may also lower your intraocular pressure. Glaucoma development may be due to high intraocular pressure. Therefore, physical exercise and an active lifestyle are great ways to prevent glaucoma along with other serious health problems.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a complicated eye disease where damage to the optic nerve, leads to permanent vision loss. The optic nerve is responsible for carrying information from your eyes to the visual center in your brain.

Damage to the optic nerve can be caused by higher-than-normal inner eye pressure (also called intraocular pressure, or IOP). The pressure in one’s eye is a balance between the production of fluid within the eye and the drainage of the fluid out of the eye. Sometimes, however, glaucoma can happen when intraocular pressures are in a normal range. This is referred to as normal-tension glaucoma.

The most common type of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). POAG causes gradual loss in peripheral vision. If not controlled or properly treated, it can progress to tunnel vision and ultimately lead to blindness.

Another type of glaucoma, though less common, is called angle-closure glaucoma. This type is also referred to as narrow-angle glaucoma as the structure responsible for drainage in the front part of the eye is too small, damaged, or partially closed. In some cases, this change in pressure can cause sudden symptoms such as eye pain, headache, halos, dilated pupils, vision loss, nausea, and vomiting.

References
Berdhal, J. (2019). Glaucoma: symptoms, treatment and prevention. All About Vision. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from http://allaboutvision.com/conditions/glaucoma.htm
Glaucoma: the silent thief of sight. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from http://mabeeeyeclinic.com/eye-heath-and-disease/glaucoma-the-thief-of-sight

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye syndrome is caused by a chronic lack of moisture and lubrication of the eyes. Your eye’s tears keep the surface of the eye moist and lubricated, as well as washing away dust, debris, and other microorganisms.

What causes dry eye?

Typically dry eye occurs when there is a problem with your tears. Tears are made up of an oily, watery, and mucin component. Any issue with those components could cause dry eye. It could be tear instability, tear film evaporation, or insufficient tear production. The only way to detect the cause of your dry eye is an eye exam.

Symptoms

  • Burning sensation
  • Itchy eyes
  • Aching sensations
  • Heavy eyes
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Dryness sensation
  • Red eyes
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Blurred vision

Who gets dry eye?

Dry eye can happen to anyone at any age. Each case of dry eye varies in severity and individual tolerance. However, there are certain factors which can increase your risk for dry eyes. These factors include:

  • Computer use: Humans blink less frequently when working at computers, allowing for increased tear evaporation.
  • Smoking: Causes eyes to dry over time and is the root of various other eye problems.
  • Aging: Dry eye syndrome is more common after the age of 50.
  • Menopause: Women who have completed menopause are at a higher risk for dry eye than men of the same age.
  • Health conditions: Certain diseases have a higher risk of contributing to dry eyes- such as diabetes or thyroid diseases.
  • Medications: Prescription and nonprescription medicines can have dry eye as a side effect.

Visiting The Doctor

Getting an eye exam by an eye doctor is the only way to know for sure you have chronic dry eye syndrome. Symptoms of dry eye can vary significantly from person to person and may even be symptoms of other eye problems. Personal perception of dry eye severity does not indicate whether or not an individual has chronic dry eye syndrome. Some individuals with mild dry eye may feel their eyes are very bothersome, while some individuals with severe dry eye may not consider their symptoms significant.

If you are showing symptoms of dry eye, schedule an appointment with our office as soon as possible. The only way to know the medical severity of your dry eye is through an eye exam.

Presbyopia

Have you found it difficult to read text messages on your phone? Do you find yourself moving a book or newspaper further away from you? At the end of the day, do you feel like your eyes are heavy and you have a
headache right behind your eyes? These all can be signs of a vision condition called Presbyopia.

What is presbyopia?
Presbyopia is a normal vision condition in which the crystalline lens of your eye loses its flexibility. It occurs gradually and naturally to everyone above the age of forty. Normal tasks like reading a menu or using phones become inconvenient and can affect your quality of life.

What causes presbyopia?
Your eye stops growing your early teens. The lens, however, continues to grow and produce more and more
cells. This continued growth eventually causes the lens to harden and lose some of its elasticity and therefore
some focusing ability.

At what age does presbyopia occur?
It varies from person to person. Although presbyopia may seem to develop suddenly, the actual decline takes
place over the course of many years.

Presbyopia usually becomes apparent to people in their early to mid-forties.

What are signs/symptoms of presbyopia?
Some signs/symptoms of presbyopia include the tendency to hold reading material at arm’s length, blurred
vision at normal reading distance and eye fatigue along with headaches when attempting do close work.

Can presbyopia be prevented?
Unfortunately not. Presbyopia is a natural part of the aging process. Just like hair turning grey or the wrinkles on our face.

How is presbyopia diagnosed?
A comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist, or eye doctor, will include testing your near vision. This
will determine the extent, if any, of presbyopia.

Since presbyopia can complicate other common vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness and
astigmatism, your optometrist will perform other tests to determine the specific lenses that will allow you to see clearly and comfortably for your daily visual needs.

Your optometrist will also ask specific questions about your occupational and recreational activities. This
information will aid in determining what type of lenses you need.

More about correcting presbyopia on the blogs to come. Stay tuned!

Types of Diabetic Eye Disease

More than 28% of diabetics age 40 or older have a diabetic eye disease. These numbers are only expected to grow in the upcoming years due to the decrease in physical activity and healthy eating.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1

A chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. About 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes was previously known as juvenile diabetes. However, anyone at any age can get type 1 diabetes.

Type 2

90% of Americans with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This occurs when your body is not using insulin correctly, called insulin resistance. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity.

Complications of Diabetes

Not managing or treating your diabetes can cause serious health complications including hypoglycemia, skin infections, neuropathy, kidney disease, foot complications, and eye complications. Additionally, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for blindness and eye problems. The good news is with the correct treatment and lifestyle changes many people can prevent the onset of these complications. Therefore, we recommend regular eye exams to avoid eye problems and vision loss.

Diabetic Eye Disease

  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Damages the blood vessels in the retina in the back of the eye. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is more likely to result in diabetic retinopathy. Consequently between 12,000 and 24,000 new cases of blindness due to diabetic retinopathy occur each year in the U.S. according to the CDC.
  • Clinically significant macular edema: Swelling of the macula in the back of the eye. Macular edema is most common in those with type 2 diabetes.
  • Cataract: Clouding in the lens of your eyes. Cataracts are two-five times more likely in people with diabetes.
  • Glaucoma: Optic nerve damage to the fibers that connect the eye to the brain. Diabetes doubles the risk of glaucoma.

Those with diabetes should get a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year to ensure their eyes are healthy. Call our office today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam!

Mabee Eye Clinic