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Eye Safety for Halloween: Beware of Special Effect Contacts!

 

With the autumn comes Halloween and with that, dressing up. As a consumer, you want to know of some hazards to your eyes that could accompany with the Halloween spirit.

A popular costume prop in recent years has been decorative contact lenses and the trend is alarming eye doctors. Contact lenses are a medical device regulated by the government. It is illegal for unlicensed distributors to sell contact lenses which applies to costume and party stores, however clearly the regulations are not adhered to. Unlicensed production may use subpar materials or even toxic dyes to dye the lenses. Further, wearing contacts without adequate fitting and treatment, can cause critical eye damage or even blindness.

For those who do decide to use cosmetic lenses, it is important to make an exam appointment with your optometrist beforehand. After a contact lens evaluation and eye exam, the optometrist will determine the correct size, curvature and if necessary prescription required for the lens. The practitioner will also give vital instructions on proper handling and cleaning of the lenses.

While many individuals mistakenly view non-prescription contact lenses as just another beauty item, unhygienic use of lenses can cause serious danger to your eyes and vision. Nothing should ever be placed in the eye without proper professional involvement.

Only buy contact lenses from an authorized seller that you can guarantee sells products approved by the FDA. Even when purchasing lenses without corrective power, they must conform to health regulations and need a prescription. Steer clear of e-commerce sites, open markets or beauty supply stores that may carry unregulated contacts colored with unapproved materials. To determine whether the retailer has a license to sell contacts request their state license number and follow up with the Department of Professional Regulations (DPR) of the home state.

If your Halloween costume just won't be complete without special effect contact lenses, consult with your local eye care professional to discuss your options. Don't let Halloween be a "Hallowed" night for your eyes. Be aware of the dangers unsupervised use of lenses can be to your eyes.

A Different Perspective: Understanding Color Blindness

Color blindness is a disorder impacting the ability to view colors under typical light or to discern colors as they are seen by typical people. Generally, the condition is inherited, but it can also be caused by old age or a number of eye diseases.

The perception of color depends on the cones found in the eye’s macula. Humans are typically born with three types of pigmented cones, each of which perceive different wavelengths of color tone. When it comes to shades of color, the size of the wave is directly connected to the resulting color. Short waves produce blue tones, medium-length waves produce green tones and long waves produce red tones. Which pigmented cone is missing has an impact on the nature and severity of the color deficiency.

Being a gender-linked genetically recessive trait, red-green color blindness is more frequent in males than in women. Nevertheless, there are a number of females who do experience some degree of color blindness, particularly yellow-blue color blindness.

Some individuals develop color vision problems later in life resulting from another condition including medicinal side effects, aging and especially macular degeneration. Fortunately, if one of these situations were to result in color blindness, it may be possible to reverse the color deficiency when the condition is treated.

Eye doctors use a few exams for color blindness. The most widely used is the Ishihara color exam, named after its designer. In this test a patient views a plate with a group of dots in a circle in different colors and sizes. Within the circle appears a number in a particular color. The patient’s capability to make out the digit inside the dots of contrasting colors indicates the level of red-green color vision.

Although inherited color blindness can’t be treated, there are a few measures that can help to improve the situation. For some wearing colored lenses or anti-glare glasses can help people to perceive the distinction between colors. Increasingly, new computer applications are being developed for regular PCs and for smaller devices that can help users enhance color distinction depending upon their specific diagnosis. There are also exciting experiments underway in gene therapy to improve the ability to distinguish colors.

The extent to which color blindness limits a person depends on the kind and degree of the condition. Some patients can accommodate to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with substitute cues for colored objects or signs. For instance, familiarizing oneself with the shapes of stop signs rather than recognizing red, or comparing items with color paradigms like the blue sky or green grass, can help.

If you suspect that you or a loved one might have a color vision deficiency it’s recommended to see an eye doctor. The earlier you are aware of a problem, the easier it will be to live with. Contact our Long Beach, CA optometry practice for information about scheduling an exam.

Cataracts Awareness Month: Have You Booked Your next Eye Examination in Long Beach, CA?


A surprising number of people aren't aware that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In truth, over half of individuals above age 65 have some amount of cataracts.


What are cataracts?


A cataract is a clouding of the eye's clear lens. This prevents the transmission of light necessary for proper vision.


Signs of cataracts


Many people over 40 attribute loss of sight with age however cataracts do have some symptoms that are distinct from normal age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience blurred vision, sensitivity to sun light or artificial light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even show signs of what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.


Cataract derives from cataracta which means ''waterfall'' in Latin. This may be because the appearance of white opacities in the eye resembles the cloudy rush of water which also appears white. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging typically are characterized by an initial opacity in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens resulting in a total loss of transparency and loss of sight.


Cataract Prevention and Treatment


Researchers have not yet determined fail-safe ways to avoid the development of cataracts but some say that reducing ultraviolet exposure your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research suggests that antioxidants and reducing consumption of salt may also prevent development.


Although early vision loss can be treated using corrective devices such as eyeglasses or magnifying lenses, eventually vision may be impaired enough to necessitate surgery. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in America and is generally a success. Generally, the surgeon removes the opaque lens and implants a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For 9 out of 10 patients, vision is restored to between 20/20 and 20/40.


Don't let vision diseases go undiagnosed. A yearly eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Contact our Long Beach, CA optometry practice today to book your exam.

How Age Affects Your Eyesight – Presbyopia


Contact your Long Beach, CA Eye Doctor to Find Out About Treatment Options


Many adults eventually begin to see signs of presbyopia or an impaired ability to see objects at a close range, as they age. As people around the world are reaching older ages, a significant number of people develop the condition, which currently cannot be escaped.


The lenses of your eye bend when focusing on objects at differing distances. Some theories are that with age, that elasticity is reduced because the lenses lose their give. This phenomenon is known as presbyopia and is often noticed by blurred vision when reading or seeing things right in front of you. This usually starts to take place around someone turns 40. Sufferers often deal with the reduced vision by holding the paper far away or standing at a distance from the object they are looking at. Shifting from focusing on distant objects to nearer ones can often be tiring for people with presbyopia. This tension can add to one's discomfort by causing headaches, eye strain or fatigue.


Most commonly bifocal lenses or progressive addition lenses (PALs) are worn to deal with this issue. Bifocal lenses have two prescriptions for vision, the upper portion is for distance vision and the lower portion of the lens is for looking at objects that are close by. PALs use the same principal as bifocal lenses, but the transitions between the two prescriptions are more gradual and have no clear line between them. Users will more easily adjust focus, as they might, if they had normal sight. An alternative would be reading glasses which are usually worn just when needed as opposed to all day.


Presbyopes can also consider multifocal contact lenses or monovision lens correction (when one eye is prescribed a correction for distance vision and the other near vision) to correct their condition. It may take a few tries to come up with the best method and type of contacts since different lenses can have an effect on your comfort or distance vision.


There are also surgical options available that may be worth discussing with your eye doctor. A lot of people find the most success by combining treatments for presbyopia. Furthermore, since presbyopia will likely worsen with age, you will probably need to keep adapting your prescription. The positive news is, there continues to be a significant amount of experimental treatment on the market currently to discover additional effective treatments for presbyopia.


Seeing symptoms of presbyopia? Schedule an appointment with your Long Beach, CA optometrist. Improved eyesight is worth it!

This Month is Holiday Toys and Eye Safety Month


Holiday season is almost here and we all know what that means, Erector Sets for some, and Barbie dolls for others. Adoring mothers and fathers delight in surprising the little ones with the latest toys to start off the New Year.
It is crucial that parents instruct relatives about some restrictions about toys and eye safety. Accidents with unsafe toys may occur, sometimes causing damage to eyes, or even blindness.


Here are some guidelines to protect children from toy related eye injuries:


  1. Remember, age appropriate toys only! Do not allow younger siblings to play with toys meant for older siblings.

  2. Show children how to use new toys and games. If possible, before allowing children to play, inspect new toys and games for sturdy, safe construction.

  3. Be careful not to let small children play without supervision.

  4. Protect little eyes by tossing out toy or games that have sharp edges or catapult launchers.


Before you buy that new toy or game that your kids have been itching for, spend a moment to look over toy safety guidelines. Anyone who has ever watched ''A Christmas Story'' should have learned that already. Wishing you a happy and safe holiday season.

Don’t Lose Your Flex Spending Account Credit!


Need new eye glasses? Guessing your prescription has changed? Contemplating laser vision correction? The time has arrived to save big on all of your eye and vision needs. The end of the year is quickly approaching which means that your annual flex plan will soon run out for the year. If you haven't heard of the term you may not have an FSA (or flex spending account) but you should check your health plan to make sure.


If you participate in a Flex Plan through your employee benefits check how much credit you have left. Many FSA's obligate you to spend any money you've contributed by December 31st or risk losing it for good!


Taking advantage of your flex spending account you can get big savings on your eye care necessities. Eye and contact lens exams, eyeglasses, contact lenses, even laser vision correction may all meet the requirements for reimbursement. Be aware that some procedures, such as laser vision correction have advanced screening which takes time so call for an optometry visit as soon as possible.


If you have any questions, call us to discuss your vision care benefits with you. Our Long Beach, CA Eye Care Professionals are here to help you with all of your eye care needs!

Diabetes: A Leading Cause of Blindness


Did you know that diabetes is the main precursor to vision loss among adults of all ages? If not, you are not alone. As of 2008, over four million people in North America suffering from diabetes were subsequently diagnosed with diabetes related blindness. Of this group, seventy thousand were afflicted with acute diabetic retinopathy, which may result in a complete blindness.


While not everyone is at risk of diabetic retinopathy, it is good to know the link between the disease and vision loss.


To start, adults diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk. One way to find out if you have vision loss caused by diabetes is to have your eye care professional test your vision once a year. The longer the affliction remains unchecked, the stronger the risk of diabetes related vision loss. Timely treatment will go a long way in halting further loss.


Pregnant women that have been afflicted with gestational diabetes have a better likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy. It is advisable to have a comprehensive dilated eye test after diagnosis as well.


You may wonder why all the worry? Wouldn't there be obvious symptoms of sight deterioration?


Well the answer surprisingly is, not always. There are different kinds of diabetic retinopathy, and only those which are in the severe phases are noticeable. Progressive diabetes and macular edema are diabetes-related diseases which result in extreme vision deterioration. Both afflictions can develop with no noticeable symptoms. This is a reason that early diagnosis is central to preventing lasting damage.


An extensive test will search for precursors of diabetic retinopathy. There are various parts to this exam which will expose the standard clues, such as leaky blood vessels, swelling of the retina, the presence of fatty deposits on the retina, and damaged nerve tissue. What is entailed in a complete eye exam?


Firstly, you will get a visual acuity exam by means of an eye chart which is used to assess how well you are able to see at various distances. This is identical to the visual acuity checks given by your eye doctor to see if you require corrective lenses.


To give a dilated eye exam, the optometrist places drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. Though not a favorite of most patients, it can stop a lot of heartache in subsequent years. This practice makes it feasible to see a larger section of the interior portion of your eyes to check for specific symptoms that reveal the likelihood of diabetic retinopathy. The fleeting discomfort will probably save your vision.


Take care of your health. Even a little complacency can cause irreparable loss. If you are living with diabetes, it is important to book a vision examination with an eye doctor without further delay.

What is Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)? Treatment in Long Beach, CA


In order to have proper sight, the eyes and the brain must operate in unison. When this does not happen, the result can be amblyopia or lazy eye. In most instances of ambylopia the eyes themselves are typically in good health yet visual acuity cannot be achieved by just lenses. Left not treated appropriately amblyopia can cause serious visual disability, including loss of sight in the affected eye.


Amblyopia is the most frequently diagnosed cause of sight impairment in children. Usually beginning as an early childhood developmental issue, the condition can be challenging to discern. Unless it is successfully treated at an early age, the likelihood of complete recovery is reduced. Treatment is usually faster and more effective for patients who begin prior to adolescence.


Therefore it is important to have your child’s vision checked early on in development. According to the AOA (American Optometric Association) children should have a complete eye exam by the age of six months and again when the child turns three.


Causes of Amblyopia


Amblyopia can be the result of any condition that affects normal development of the visual system or use of the eyes. One common cause is strabismus, an imbalance in the positioning of the eyes. Such misalignment can cause the eyes to cross in (esotropia) or turn out (exotropia) and therefore aren’t able to work together. Amblyopia can also be caused by a condition where one eye is more nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic than the other eye. This is the result of a condition called anisometropia. On occasion, lazy eye is the result of other eye diseases such as cataracts or some other pathological cause.


Treating Amblyopia


Amblyopia is treated by efforts to attain proper vision to both eyes. Along with the use of prescription lenses, one of the most common approaches involves forcing the child to use the eye with the reduced vision. A few treatment options exist to do this and the treatment is selected based on the patient’s situation and the decision of the eye care professional.


Frequently doctors will prescribe patching, where a patch is used to occlude the stronger eye. A patch forces the patient to use the weaker eye, which stimulates proper sight in the weaker eye and helps the visual processing system to develop properly. However this treatment is dependent upon compliance of the patient to use the patch, which can be a factor with many children.


An alternative to patching is the use of a drug called atropine. When a drop of atropine is placed in the better eye, this will impair the vision to force the patient to use the weaker eye.


Some vision can be improved by vision aides alone, such as prescription glasses or contact lenses that improve vision in each eye, yet this is rare. Further, vision therapy to teach the eyes to function in unison or in some cases surgery might also be tried.


Since amblyopia is the result of a disruption in the vision process, the younger the age of treatment, the higher the chance of success. Still, there are many factors that are involved and therefore anyone who thinks they or their child has amblyopia should consult as soon as possible with their eye doctor If you are looking for lazy eye treatment in Long Beach, CA, be in touch to book an appointment. Amblyopia doesn’t get better on its own so don’t wait to start treatment to restore your vision!

Long Beach, CA Vision Exams: What 20/20 Vision Really Means

 

Ever question what 20/20 vision really represents? 20/20 vision is a phrase to express a normal level of sharpness of eyesight also known as visual acuity determined from a 20 feet distance. That is to say that an individual with 20/20 eyesight can see an object clearly at a distance of 20 feet that the majority of people are expected to be able to see from such a distance.

In cases of individuals that cannot see an object clearly at 20 feet away, the number is designated based on where they begin to see clearly in comparison to the norm. For instance, if your acuity is 20/100 that means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal visual acuity can see at a distance of 100 feet.

One can also have vision that is better than the norm. For instance someone with 20/10 eyesight can see clearly at 20 feet an object that most can see only at 10 feet. Members of the animal kingdom particularly birds of prey have been known to have incredibly acute vision compared to man. For example, hawks have been known to have 20/2 eyesight, enabling them to spot prey from high in the air.

Most eye care professionals use a form of the Snellen eye chart, developed by Dutch eye doctor, Herman Snellen in the mid-1800's, to conduct an eye screening. While today there are many versions, the chart generally shows eleven rows with uppercase letters which get smaller in size as one looks toward the bottom. The top of the chart usually shows the capital letter – ''E'' and subsequently includes more letters on the lines as they get smaller. During the eye exam, the eye doctor will look for the line with the smallest lettering you can make out. Your score is determined since each row is given a distance, with the 20/20 line usually being assigned forth from the bottom. In instances in which the patient can't read, such as young children or handicapped individuals, the ''Tumbling E'' chart is employed. Similar to the regular Snellen chart, this version is composed of only the uppercase letter E in different directions. The optometrist asks the patient to indicate which direction the arms of the E are pointing.. Either chart must be placed at a distance of 20 feet from where the patient is viewing it.

While 20/20 eyesight does show that the person's distance vision is normal, this test alone does not mean that someone has flawless vision. ''Perfect'' vision includes a number of other necessary skills such as side or peripheral vision, perception of depth, focus for near vision, color vision and eye coordination amongst others.

While an eye exam using an eye chart will often conclude if you require a visual aid to see clearly at a distance it doesn't provide the optometrist a full picture of your overall eye health. You should still schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam which can identify any more serious conditions. Call us now to schedule a Long Beach, CA eye test.

Long Beach, CA Treatment for Fall Eye Allergies

 

At the end of the summer, many people begin to suffer from seasonal eye allergies such as hay fever. Above nasal symptoms such as sneezing and congestion, symptoms that affect the eyes can significantly impede one's ability to function as desired.

When suffering from allergies, the eyes can become itchy, puffy, and irritated and often burn or water. Often vision becomes blurry or eyes become sensitive to light. These effects can be so debilitating for those suffering that they prohibit an individual's ability to perform in work, school, sports and leisure activities.

Allergic reactions occur when a person is exposed to a substance he or she is sensitive to which causes the immune system to release histamines to fight the allergen. This hypersensitive immune response results in typical allergic symptoms which include general symptoms as well as eye related symptoms.

For contact lens users eye allergies are frequently worse because lenses can often attract allergens such as ragweed. Further, we tend to rub itchy eyes, which can result in even more discomfort for those wearing contacts. Use of artificial tears can sometimes reduce discomfort but many lens wearers choose to switch to glasses. If you wear contacts and experience ocular allergies, you may want to consider a different brand of contacts, particularly if you aren't using daily disposables which reduce the likelihood of pollen accumulation. You don't have to suffer from your contacts – visit our Long Beach, CA eye care practice to discuss your condition.

Regardless of whether you wear contacts or not, here are some ways to minimize fall ocular allergies:

  • Check the area pollen count and remain indoors when counts are high, particularly at peak times such as midday.
  • Keep windows closed as much as possible, especially when driving.
  • Clean carpets and draperies frequently to get rid of pollen that has entered the house.
  • Rather than sweeping, use a damp mop to clean floors, which is more effective at cleaning away allergens.
  • Try not to rub your eyes. Use a cool compress for soothing irritation or itchiness.
  • Eliminate mold in your home by keeping humidity under 50% and using a dehumidifier if necessary.

While over the counter medications and eye drops can sometimes help relieve symptoms, a prescription medication may be more effective. If this is the case, schedule a visit to your eye doctor as soon as possible to discuss your options and begin effective treatment. Our Long Beach, CA optometry office is here to assist you in regaining your comfort this fall!