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Eye Allergies, Or…?

Hey, allergy season. Welcome back to the time of year when everyone blames almost every distress on allergies! Let us help set the record straight though, since certain symptoms are easily assumed as a seasonal allergic reaction when they can actually be a result of something worth looking into further.

Eye Allergies

But okay, we’ll give eye allergies a little bit of attention since they can be the reason for red, itchy, swollen, sensitive, burning, and overall irritated eyes. First and foremost, don’t forget, it’s not just the pollen. There are several things you can be allergic to from trees to animals to new perfumes, even new contact lenses, believe it or not.

The reason behind the reactions you experience is the release of histamines. Histamines are a chemical that causes all the swelling, tears, et cetera, in an attempt to release allergens and help defend your eyes.

While antihistamine pills and eye drops help calm allergic reactions, it’s suggested that over-the-counters aren’t used for more than a couple of days. Ask us about prescribed eye drops that can be used on a more fluid schedule and can healthily harmonize with any existing eye issues such as glaucoma.

Now that we’ve covered eye allergies, let’s talk about other possible culprits.

Eye Allergies or Eye Infections?

girl with irritated dry red eye or allergy female

The reactions might seem as similar as identical twins in the beginning. But the causes are completely unrelated. Eye allergies are caused by allergens and eye infections are caused by substances like bacteria, parasites, and viruses. If they are not appropriately addressed, symptoms can mutate from a mild itch to more intense pain, light sensitivity and thick, slimy discharge.

Another important thing to know about infections vs allergies: infections can spread to others and allergies cannot. Proper hygiene and following ODs guidance are crucial to healing your own eyes and protecting the eyes of others.

Eye Allergies or Dry Eye?

One oddity of dry eye syndrome is that it can lead to watery eyes. This reflex tearing helps to confuse dry eye syndrome and eye allergies. There are so many varied factors that can lead to dry eye. Factors that can develop at any time. One way to help differentiate the two is maintaining awareness of other symptoms that are more prone to dry eye, such as:

  • Heavy eyelids
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye pain that feels different from allergic irritation

Eye Allergies or Adverse Medicinal Reactions?

Some medications can cause severe eye problems, but the puzzling part is they often don’t kick in until after years of use. This is one of the several reasons why it is important to discuss all side effects with your doctors and to share your use of all medications with your trusted optometrist.

Medications that can lead to eye issues fall in every arena. The most common negative results are dry eye, light sensitivity, and in more serious cases, optic nerve damage and loss of visual acuity. If these reactions begin to take place during the months that are often considered “allergy season”, it may be easy to relate them with allergy responses.

Eye allergies usually don’t come on their own. They’re often accompanied by sneezing, a scratchy throat, and a stuffy nose. The best way to confirm the cause? A checkup! Request an appointment on our website with details of what eye irritations you’re looking to calm. Our team at Vision Dynamics Optometric Center is here to help!

When the Whites of Your Eyes Just… Aren’t Quite White

White eyes have just about the same cosmetic priority as white teeth or unblemished skin. In fact, several surveys reveal that about 30% of people initially notice eyes when they first meet someone. While you can be a generally healthy human with stained teeth and imperfect skin, your eyes can reveal a lot about you… including your health.

First, allow us to introduce you to the sclera. The sclera is simply the medical term for “the white of the eye”. And it comes with high importance.

The sclera is four coats of protection that wrap around most of the eyeball, from the front of the beautiful colored part of the eye- the iris, to the back with sensitive optic nerves. This eye armor is no more than one millimeter thick, which amounts to the thickness of about 10 sheets of paper, layered on top of one another!

The layers of protective armor that give your eye its white color and the sclera its overall strength include randomly patterned collagen fibers and tissues called the episclera, the stroma, the lamina fusca, and the endothelium.

Typically, the entire sclera, not just one layer, changes color or accumulates spots.

Here are 4 hues to keep a lookout for along with a few reasons why:

  1. Yellow: A yellow tone brings along with it a couple of main suspicions, jaundice and “surfer’s eye”.A buildup of red blood cells that are normally filtered out by the liver can have several different causes but can trigger jaundice which often includes a yellowing of the eyes and skin. Surfer’s eye should really be given the nickname of “Outdoor A Lot Eye” as it is a sign of untreated UV damage from the sun combined with high winds or areas filled with dust.
  2. Blue: A tint of blue/gray might not be easy to detect by looking in a mirror, and often these tints are unavoidable because of long-term use of important medications.Tints of blue are still important to observe with help from your OD to consider or dismiss certain health conditions like genetic bone disease or iron deficiency.
  3. Red: Chances are we’ve all experienced eyes with a shade of red, whether it was thanks to allergies or exhaustion or any other typical culprit.
    However, it is still important to schedule an appointment as soon as possible since a red eye can also signal an infection or a broken blood vessel, especially if accompanied by discharge, pain, or blurred vision.
  4. Closeup of an eye of a black manBrown: Brown spots are on both ends of the spectrum. They range from completely harmless to life-threatening. High levels of melanin, the natural skin pigment which makes skin, hair, and the iris of your eyes a darker color can curate spots outside of the iris and within the sclera which are nothing to worry about.
    However, if a dark spot that resembles a freckle that changes over time develops during or after your 30’s, we suggest you make an appointment. These more serious brown spots are not at all melanin-related and can become cancerous if left untreated.

So, when the whites of your eyes just… aren’t quite white, give us a call at 925-838-3021! Keep note of what is accompanying your sclera color change and alert us about anything such as…

    • Blurred vision
    • Discharge
    • Pain
    • Light sensitivity
    • Swelling or bulging

…and our team at Vision Dynamics Optometric Center will handle the process to lead your eyes—and your entire self—back to health.

May is Healthy Vision Month

What does that mean for you? It means that now is the time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

While these are one of the exams we may often let fall by the wayside, they are extremely important to maintain our eye health. Comprehensive eye exams serve several purposes. During these exams, pupils, the circular black area in the center of the eye where light enters, are widened with eye drops or viewed without dilation through a special camera. This allows your Eye Doctor to check for vision problems and eye diseases, verify what stage of diseases your eyes may be in, and helps determine if you need glasses, contacts or other treatments.

Comprehensive eye exams are crucial for all ages, here’s why:

Pediatric exams test for visual acuity, lazy eye, color vision, ocular health, and more. These are extremely important to test for the school years ahead.

For older children and teenagers, myopia (nearsightedness) is one of the biggest concerns that comprehensive eye exams detect. Myopia affects the eye’s ability to see distant images clearly. It is important to identify and treat early with glasses or contacts as children and teens begin to learn in larger spaces, play sports, and drive.

Adult exams are recommended at least every two years, or as recommended by your eye care specialist. Exams for adults are necessary to catch eye conditions that can cause vision loss and even lead to blindness. Some of these conditions are cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

There are several other conditions that comprehensive eye exams can expose that may not be found without a visit to your optometrist.

Outside of eye exams, here are 5 ways you can help protect your vision:

  1. Healthy eating. You know this! Healthy eating helps every part of your body. For your eyes, make sure to add dark, leafy greens and seafood that is high in omega-3 fatty acids to your plate. A great excuse to treat yourself to sushi! We’re adding a spicy sake maki roll to our cart… for delivery.
  2. Protective eyewear. Whether you’re chopping wood for the bonfire pit, mowing the lawn, painting your bedroom walls, or riding your motorcycle around town, protective eyewear is key. Blue-light protection glasses should also be considered to protect your eyes from all the time spent in front of computer screens.
  3. Sunglasses. Much like protective eyewear, sunglasses help protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation delivered by sun. Not all sunglasses provide the same level of protection. Let us help you pick the best pair!
  4. Clean hands. Wash your hands before putting your contacts in and before taking your contacts out, simply to avoid infection.
  5. Stop smoking. Smoking is known to cause several diseases, but it can also lead to vision loss. It can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and more. Mark your calendar for your comprehensive eye exam and mark it as the day to stop smoking.

May is Healthy Vision Month Image.jpeg

Happy healthy vision month! Get your appointment in the books with us today.

Meet Susi Elwishahi

Meet our Optometry Student, Susi Elwishahi

Before applying to Optometry school, I wanted to learn more about the profession, and experience first-hand what the daily life of an optometrist was like.

When I came across Vision Dynamics Optometric Center, I was given the opportunity to shadow Dr. Lin and VDOC staff. Before shadowing, I admit that I had some hesitation about entering the Optometry field, but after meeting Dr. Lin and hearing her speak with so much passion, optimism, positivity, and love for the optometry field, it immediately shifted my perspective and got me EXCITED to pursuit a career in optometry!

I remember Dr. Lin telling me that her job was to help her patients be the best versions of themselves by taking care of their vision and eyes. The direct impact an optometrist and caring optometric team have on people’s daily lives became evident to me with each day that I was at Vision Dynamics. I witnessed how much the doctors and staff cared about their patients, and went above and beyond in providing the best care possible. During my gap year, I was hired at VDOC, and gained invaluable hands-on experience, which helped prepare me for optometry school.

I am currently a third year optometry student, and what I learned about professionalism, patient-centered care, and the optometry field in general, from the doctors and eye-care team at Vision Dynamics, has stayed with me through my years in school, and will continue through my last year of clinical rotations and future career. I recommend that any pre-optometry student, or student interested in any branch of healthcare, who is eager to learn and work hard, to contact Vision Dynamics!

Myopia Control: What You Need to Know

Did you know?: Today, about 20% of the U.S. population has nearsightedness. In 30 years [By 2050], almost 50% will be nearsighted.

-Myopia is not just a risk for reduced vision without glasses but is also a major public health risk for our eyes!

-There are preventative measures that can be taken to slow the progression of nearsightedness, but it is best to apply these methods during childhood while the eyes and vision are developing most.

Myopia (also known as “nearsightedness”) is an eye condition in which one can naturally see clearly up close but blurry far away. Myopia develops due to an eye that has grown too long or a cornea that is too steep.

Myopia (nearsightedness) is often thought of as a clarity problem that only needs to be solved with a pair of glasses. Patients and doctors alike may forget that with higher amounts of myopia, certain risks to vision and ocular health can develop during the patient’s lifetime. Recently, there have been breakthroughs in research and technology that allows us to control how quickly myopia progresses. These new technologies can prove to be an immediate help in reducing the development of myopia and the resulting health risks in the back of the eye.

There are many health concerns that may come with a highly myopic eye. Eyes that are highly myopic are longer from front to back. This means that the retina is stretched more thinly to cover the back of the eye. With a thinner retina, the eye is more susceptible to holes, breaks, or tears — which can lead to vision-threatening conditions like retinal detachment. Preventing a patient from developing -1.00 diopter of additional myopia can reduce the risk of developing vision-threatening conditions by an astounding 40% over a person’s lifetime. In order to do so, it is important to initiate treatment as early as possible.

Epidemiological studies have analyzed several different risk factors for developing myopia. First, family history plays a strong role. When one parent is myopic, the child’s risk of developing myopia is increased by three times. When both parents are myopic, the child’s risk for developing myopia is increased by six times. A second risk factor is how early myopia develops. The younger a child is when showing signs of myopia, the more risk there is for developing much higher levels of myopia as they get older. A third risk factor is the patient’s visual environment. One study showed that when a child works intensely up close (e.g. reading books, writing, or looking at phones) for longer than 45 minutes per day they had an increased risk for developing myopia. Finally, ethnicity plays a role in the development of myopia with patients of Asian descent developing myopia more often than children of other ethnicities.

Due to an increasing number of children and young adults developing high myopia, different treatments have been developed to help curb the Myopia Epidemic. One option involves wearing specially designed multifocal soft contact lenses during the day and removing them before sleeping. A second option is the use of corneal reshaping contact lenses known as CRT or Ortho-K which are worn every night while the patient is sleeping and removed in the morning. This option leaves the patient with clear vision over the course of the day. The third option is the use of low concentration atropine eye drops. These drops are instilled once at night before bed, providing a good alternative for children who cannot tolerate wearing contact lenses. All three of these options have proven to be effective in clinical trials, though each method may be differently effective in any individual case. Before starting any of these treatments, a full comprehensive eye examination is required. To find out if you or your child could benefit from these treatments, please come to Vision Dynamic Optometric Center for a comprehensive eye exam. We are happy to answer any questions and discuss which option is best for you or your child!

Written by: Dr. Brian Nasser, O.D.

Works Cited:

  1. Gifford, Kate. “The Size of the Myopia Problem.” Contact Lens Spectrum, 2019, pp. 6–8.
  2. Gifford, Kate. “Myopia Management Options: Who, When, What, and How.” Contact Lens Spectrum, 2019, pp. 16–24.
  3. Frogozo, Melanie. “Implementing Myopia Management: A “How-to” Guide.” Contact Lens Spectrum, 2019, pp. 40–46.

Meet Dr. Amy Lin

“My purpose on this earth is to kindly help people however I know how. Period. Everything thing else is logistics,” said Dr. Amy Lin, optometrist and owner of Vision Dynamics Optometric Center. “I tell my patients that every kid who sits in that chair is my kid.” Meet Amy Lin, the good doctor of the Danville Livery since 2001.

Continue reading at https://www.ladiesofthelivery.com/dr-amy-lin

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.