Looking After Your Eyes for the New Year

As we start off the New Year, many of us are making New Year’s resolutions. One of the most popular New Year resolutions is to improve our health — a promise to better ourselves for a new year to come. Some may take up running or new a new nutritional diet. Others are simpler: taking measures to improve eye health. Here are our top recommendations for improving your eye health in 2017:

Eat Healthy and Clean

Protecting your eyes starts with what you eat. It’s not just carrots that help your eye sight — dark green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts and dark-colored berries all contain essential nutrients and antioxidants that will do wonders for your eyes. Vitamin A, for example, is commonly found in bright yellow and orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.

Fruits like strawberries, oranges and mangoes provide vitamin C and other antioxidants, which also help fight eye disease. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, or anchovies are also high in omega 3s — good for tear production, which relieves dry eyes.

Stop Smoking

If you’re a smoker, make a resolution to quit in 2017 (this will help your overall health, as well as eye health). Smoking or people highly exposed to second hand smoke are more susceptible to developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage.

Wear Sunglasses

The UV rays aren’t just harmful to your skin, but your eyes, as well. Too much UV exposure increases your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye disorders. Choose sunglasses that shield your eyes from 100 percent of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. Wear them whenever you’re outdoors during the daytime. For added protection, shield with a wide brim hat for full coverage and shade.

Give Your Eyes Breaks from Electronics

With computers and mobile devices in hands’ reach of every household, many of us develop Computer Eye Syndrome. Computer Eye Syndrome can cause eye strain, blurry vision, trouble focusing, dry eyes, headaches, and even neck and shoulder pain. To protect your eyes from Computer Eye Syndrome, use the 20/20/20 rule:

Rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This exercise encourages the eyes to relax the muscles inside the eye to reduce fatigue. Another exercise is to look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds then gaze at something up close for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This exercise will help reduce the risk of your eyes locking up after prolonged electronic use.

Get Regular Eye Exams

It’s important to get regular checkups to catch any eye problems such as glaucoma or diabetic eye disease. It is recommended for patients to follow the below eye exam schedule:

  • At 40: a baseline eye exam
  • From 40 to 55: an eye exam every 2 to 4 years
  • Ages 55 to 64: an eye exam every 1 to 3 years
  • At 65 and up: an eye exam every year

Routine eye exams for kids’ vision vary by age:

  • Newborns should be checked for general eye health by a pediatrician or family physician in the hospital nursery.
  • High-risk newborns (including premature infants), those with a family history of eye problems, and those with obvious eye irregularities should be examined by an eye doctor.
  • In the first year of life, all infants should be routinely screened for eye health during checkups with their pediatrician or family doctor.
  • Around age 3, kids should have eye health screenings and visual acuity tests with their pediatrician or family doctor.
  • Around age 5, kids should have their vision and eye alignment checked by their pediatrician or family doctor. Those who fail either test should be examined by an eye doctor.
  • After age 5, routine screenings should be done at school and the primary doctor’s office, and if symptoms such as squinting or frequent headaches occur.

Schedule a Consultation

Keep it simple in 2017 and better your health with the gift of protecting your eyes. Join us at Advanced Eye Medical for an expert consultation on our services. Schedule a consultation with us today and join our many satisfied patients.


References and further reading

Dealing with Foreign Objects in Your Eyes

The definition of a foreign object in the eye is objects outside the body that penetrate the eye and can cause swelling, pain, and vision problems. Foreign objects can range from dust to glass shards and can really bother or hurt a person on impact. Foreign objects usually affect and irritate the cornea of the eye, which is the eye’s initial protective covering. Light travels to the eye through the cornea.

A foreign object stuck in your eye can be very serious if not removed quickly and as non-invasively as possible. Pressure or discomfort can turn into pain and bleeding if a medical professional does not remove the object. For less serious cases, like dust or dirt entering the eye with no actual cut or puncturing, you may notice a great deal of blinking as well as sneezing, itching or a slight ache in the eyes when looking at light.

The most common foreign objects in the eyes are eyelashes, dried mucus, sawdust, dirt, sand, cosmetics, contact lenses, metal particles, and glass shards.

What to Do

Should you experience a foreign object in your eye, be sure to stop moving your eye and irritating it further. Using a clean cloth or gauze, bandage your eye and soothe the pain with warm water. Cover your other eye, as this will actually prevent you being tempted to move your injured one. Try not to rub your eyes too hard and if you have contact lenses in that have also been pierced, leave them there and do not touch your eye with your fingers. Wash your hands immediately in case you do end up touching your eyes.

Get a friend or loved one or someone around you to use a bright light to examine the eye so you’ll have a visual concept of the severity.

When to See a Doctor

It’s best to be pragmatic and go to the doctor to have them remove the object if it is something sharp like metal or glass. They will use anesthetic to numb the eye, so it will be less painful with a professional doing it instead of you at home without anesthetic.

At-Home Treatment: Upper and Lower Eye Lid

If you ultimately decide to treat the issue at home, observe the following:

For foreign objects affecting the upper eyelid, stick the side of your face with the penetrated eye in a shallow basin of water. Under water, open and close your eye. If the pain is manageable, carefully lift your eyelid and stretch the lid to loosen the object.

For foreign objects affecting the lower eyelid, pull the eyelid down to try to examine and see underneath it. Do this with freshly washed, sterile hands. Use a small cotton swab to try to remove the object; if this is unsuccessful, consider rinsing the eye in a basin of cold water.

At-Home Treatment: Smaller Particles in the Eye

For small particles such as sand or dirt, you do not need to go to the doctor, and you should only experience mild discomfort at worst. Your eyes will be swollen and irritated. Try different techniques such as dabbing a wet cloth gently on the eyes and then flushing the eye in a basin of water and blinking rapidly.

Avoid Foreign Objects Getting Stuck in Your Eyes

Getting foreign objects stuck in your eye can really hurt and, if left untreated, can really affect your vision and eye’s irritability. Wearing sunglasses, glasses, and goggles in appropriate scenarios with any flying or loose objects, excessive dust, or ice will help prevent foreign objects from entering the eye.

If you work with equipment such as saws and lawn mowers, be sure to also protect your eyes and wash them out thoroughly during breaks or after your work day is finished to ensure your eyes are clean, comfortable and free of any irritating particles.

Additional Eye Questions

If you have more questions about what to do when it comes to foreign objects in your eyes, contact an eye professional such as the professionals at Advanced Eye Medical. They’re experts who are passionate about eyes and are ready to help you. Learn more about Advanced Eye Medical, which has been around for over 30 years, by following Dr. Faris Ghosheh on Twitter today.

Eye Cancer: A Rare, Important Eye Health Issue

Cancer is a very broad term, naming a group of more than 100 diseases. In their lifetime, 39% of men and women will be diagnosed with some type, making it extremely likely that you know someone who is battling the disease.

Cancer is the uncontrollable division of abnormal cells in the body which produce tumors. These tumors can either be malignant, causing harm; or benign, not damaging.

Eye cancer, also known as eye neoplasms, defines a variety of diseases that can affect any part of the eye. These diseases can start from within the eye, or can spread to the eye from another form of cancer. These cancers include:

  • Breast
  • Lung
  • Prostate
  • Kidney
  • Thyroid
  • Skin
  • Colon
  • Blood
  • Bone marrow

The Most Common Eye Cancers

Eye cancer won’t just affect the eyeball, as there are some diseases that will affect your eyelids and potentially spread. Basal cell carcinoma is a malignant eyelid tumor; it spreads around the eye, but fortunately not any further than that.

Other types of eyelid cancers include:

  • Squamous carcinoma
  • Sebaceous carcinoma
  • Malignant melanoma

The most common cancer affecting your eyeball is orbital lymphoma. This disease is usually diagnosed through very specific analysis during a biopsy. If the disease is found, patients will usually be offered chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Uveal melanoma is the most damaging tumor that occurs in the eye. It occurs in the choroid, iris, and ciliary parts of the eye, which is why it’s sometimes known as iris or ciliary body melanoma.

A rarer, but extremely dangerous disease is primary intraocular lymphoma (PIOL). This cancer is easily misdiagnosed as a non-infectious or infectious uveitis, white dot syndromes, or sometimes as other neoplasms such as metastatic cancers.

These are all malignant diseases. One that’s considered benign is orbital dermoid cysts. They’re choristomas, which are collections of normal cells in an unusual location, usually appearing at the junction of the frontozygomatic suture of the eye. It places pressure on your eye muscles, causing double vision, as well as loss of vision.

Retinoblastoma

Retinoblastoma is the most common malignant tumor in children, affecting 325 kids in North America per year. If detected and treated early, there is a 95% of a successful recovery. The symptoms can include:

  • Crossed eyes
  • A red or painful appearance
  • Decreasing or complete loss of vision
  • A white-yellow glow in the pupil

If you’ve taken photographs of your children, take a closer look at them. Healthy eyes will have the red eye reflex, but if there’s a white-yellow dot in one or both eyes instead, it could mean that there’s a tumor or some other type of eye disease.

Medulloepithelioma, also called diktyoma, is the second most occurring eye cancer in children. This disease affects the ciliary body and the uvea of the eye.

What to Look Out For

Uveal, choroidal, and ciliary body melanoma will normally have no initial symptoms, although sometimes the tumor is visible through the pupil. As the tumor grows, symptoms can include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Decreased vision
  • Double vision
  • Eventual vision loss

As the tumor increases in size, it can break past the retina causing retinal detachment. This is extremely dangerous as the retina is the cord that sends the images from your eye to the brain. Detachment could cause permanent vision loss if not promptly treated.

Irises and conjunctival melanomas can be identified as dark spots in those areas. As well, a nevus is a benign freckle in the eye that could eventually become a melanoma. Any spot in your eyes that continues to grow should be checked by a doctor.

Treatments Available

People may be well aware of chemotherapy, which is synonymous with cancer treatment, however the eye is a much more delicate organ and there are many more ways to treat it.

Laser therapy is a very precise treatment, using rays of light to focus in on one specific area without damaging the healthy tissue around it. Plaque therapy is a widely used treatment for choroidal melanoma that delivers a highly concentrated radiation dose to the tumor, described as “rice sized” radioactive seeds, with relatively less radiation to the surrounding area.

Similar to plaque therapy is radiotherapy: this is where your ophthalmologist decides with the radiation oncologist what type of radiation would be best based on size and location of the tumor. Typically proton therapy is most likely to be chosen as it has superior accuracy, helping to spare healthy tissue and optic nerves.

Most treatments for eye cancer involve removing some part of the eye. To dispose of all parts of the eye, including the eyelids, is a process called exenteration. A prosthesis is made to cover the new cavities. In a less extreme example, evisceration removes all of the eye contents except for the whites, also known as the sclera.

Enucleation is a process where the eye is removed, leaving the muscles and the eyelid. An implant is inserted and the patient wears a confirmed shield. Then a prosthetic is made and fitted by an ocularist to look like their real eye.

Iridectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the affected part of the iris. To also dispose of the ciliary body muscle in that procedure would be an iridocyclectomy. You may choose to remove the choroid layer in a choroidectomy.

Lastly, there’s eyewall resection, which is an extremely difficult procedure to perform. It means cutting into the eye to remove the tumor.

You should always discuss eye health concerns with your local ophthalmologists to see what the cause is and the treatments that are available to you.

7 Practical Tips to Protect Your Eyes

Your eyes are the windows to the world around you and taking care of them should be of the utmost importance. Whether you have perfect vision or not, there are plenty of ways you could be hurting your eyes without knowing. Protect your eyes to help maintain your quality of life, and reduce the risk of vision loss that comes with age.

Small preventative measures, like wearing sunglasses and eating greens, can help protect your eyesight and prevent vision problems later in life. Here is a list of seven eye care tips that will help you protect your eyes and your vision for years to come.

7 Ways to Protect Your Eyes

Blink. Sounds simple, but you might be surprised how often we forget to blink throughout the day. With the rise of technology, many of us are exposed to digital screens for up to eight hours a day. Whether it is watching television, browsing the internet or interacting with friends on social media, all have a negative effect on your eyes. You blink less when you are looking at a screen so remember to blink more. Blinking lubricates the eyes and prevents dryness and irritation. If blinking is hard, try to look away from the screen at intervals and blink 10 times in a row.

Eat for Your Eyes. Eye health starts with a good diet. It’s not just carrots that help your eye sight — dark green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts and dark-colored berries all contain essential nutrients and antioxidants that will do wonders for your eyes. Vitamin A, for example, is commonly found in bright yellow and orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. Fruits like strawberries, oranges and mangoes provide vitamin C and other antioxidants, which also help fight eye disease. Salmon and other cold-water fish are also high in omega 3s — good for tear production, which relieves dry eyes.

Get Regular Eye Exams. It’s important to get regular checkups to catch any eye problems such as glaucoma or diabetic eye disease. It is recommended for patients to follow the below eye exam schedule:

  • At 40: a baseline eye exam
  • From 40 to 55: an eye exam every 2 to 4 years
  • Ages 55 to 64: an eye exam every 1 to 3 years
  • At 65 and up: an eye exam every year

Replace Your Contact Lens Every Two or Three Months. It is important to maintain the highest of hygiene standards when caring for your contact lenses. This includes the case you carry them in and how you sterilize them. As a basic rule of thumb, you should replace the case every 2-3 months.

Apply the 20:20:20 Rule. Another tip for computer or any digital-screen users. Rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This exercise encourages the eyes to relax the muscles inside the eye to reduce fatigue. Another exercise is to look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds then gaze at something up; close for 10 to 15 seconds. Do this 10 times. This exercise will help reduce the risk of your eyes locking up after prolonged computer use.

Protect Your Eyes. Remember to always wear sunglasses that shield your eyes from 100 percent of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays when you’re outdoors during the daytime. This may help reduce your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye disorders.

The skin around your eyes is the thinnest on the body and is susceptible to ultraviolet radiation. For added protection, shield with a wide brim hat for full coverage and shade.

Don’t smoke. The many dangers of smoking have been well-documented, especially when it comes to eye health. Smokers or people highly exposed to secondhand smoke are at greater risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, uveitis, and other eye problems.

Schedule a Consultation

Our eyes are important for performing everyday activities. Reduce the risks associated with eye disorders with these essential eye care tips. If you have an eye health issue or think it’s time for a checkup, get in contact with the team at Advanced Eye Medical.

Google Plans to Diagnose Eye Diseases with Artificial Intelligence

The healthcare industry continues to grow and advance with the development of technology and innovation. As the demand increases on healthcare systems, health and medical businesses face a growing number of challenges. In efforts to address some of these issues, Google acquired artificial intelligence startup DeepMind Health. In partnership with clinicians and hospitals, DeepMind is using their resources to help frontline nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals build and scale technologies that can help them provide the best possible care to their patients.

Using their machine learning technology, DeepMind Health can bring huge benefits to medical research. By using this technology, medical professionals can analyze medical data and find ways to improve how illnesses are diagnosed and treated, including eye diseases. At its core, their goal is to help clinicians give faster, better treatment to their patients.

How Will Google Utilize DeepMind Health?

As they continue to explore what nurses and doctors need, Google and DeepMind Health will help to design and scale new and better tools, guided by these principles:

  • Valuing clinician and patient expertise. They will build tools that support nurses, doctors, and patients. By identifying challenges, to co-designing solutions, to oversight and governance, clinicians and patients will lead every step of the way.
  • Stand behind the National Health Service (NHS). They will support NHS and strengthen the delivery of exemplary care.
  • Build technologies that work together. They will develop effective healthcare technologies that work well with existing systems while supporting new innovations.

How Does Google Plan to Use DeepMind Health in Eye Care?

One way doctors diagnose signs of eye diseases is by examining the interior of the eye. They can do this either directly, with an ophthalmoscopy or by taking a digital optical scan. Another technique is to take a non-invasive three-dimensional scan of the retina using a process called coherence tomography. These methods are labor intensive. In efforts to help with the time-consuming process of analyzing the scans, DeepMind Health is utilizing their technology to speed up diagnosis and treat more patients.

DeepMind Health is starting a new research project to help doctors spot the early signs of eye diseases. This new project, which is based out of U.K.’s Moorfields Eye Hospital in East London, is the second partnership with U.K.’s NHS team. The company plans to use their machine learning device to analyze more than one million anonymous eye scans, creating algorithms that can detect early warning signs that current technologies and humans might overlook.

More importantly, DeepMind Health is hoping to spot two eye conditions in particular: wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

While the project is in its infancy, artificial neural networks like the products of DeepMind’s research have already shown great promise in the field of healthcare.

What Controversies Has Google Stirred Up with DeepMind Research?

Back in February, DeepMind Health worked with NHS to develop patient care software, which stirred up controversy. One app was Streams, which gave doctors information about their acute kidney failure patients, and the other was Hark, which helps doctors and nurses organize information that is currently managed with hand-written notes.

The project was scrutinized, in which DeepMind Health was granted access to full medical history of 1.6 million NHS patients who were not made aware of that fact. This data included records from London’s Royal Free Hospital, Chase Farm and Barnet hospitals over the past five years and until 2017. As a result of this, some privacy advocates protested. The Information Commissioner’s Office, the U.K.’s data protection department, arranged investigations in May.

The new project seems unlikely to provoke similar concerns and outrage, since the data is completely anonymous.

Conclusions

Two million people suffer from vision loss in the U.K., of whom around 360,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted. With the right treatment in a timely response, many cases are preventable.

With the number of people with vision loss in the U.K. predicted to double by 2050, Moorfields Eye Hospital and NHS Foundation will partner with DeepMind Health to explore how artificial intelligence can help medical research in diagnosing eye diseases. Here in the US, 3.4 million Americans are legally blind; so this research could have much farther-reaching benefits if it is applied globally.

Both Moorfields Eye Hospital and DeepMind Health, along with healthcare industry,  hope that this work will eventually help eye health professionals to make faster and more accurate diagnoses, leading to more efficient treatment timelines.

How Dehydration Affects Eye Health

When you don’t drink enough fluids, dehydration occurs. This simple problem can lead to long-lasting health problems and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Drinking enough water every day should be a primary goal for all health-minded individuals. Dehydration doesn’t just affect your kidneys and cause other commonly associated problems; it can also harm your eyes. Drinking water is a key part to eye health.

Dry Eye

When you aren’t getting enough water or are losing too much water due to heat or overexertion, your body starts preserving the fluid. Your eyes and tears are one of the first things to go. This causes dry eye. Dry eyes aren’t a problem just because they are irritating. Your tears and lubrication are essential to maintaining good eye health.

Tears and eye moisture clean your eyes and prevent infection. Prolonged dry eyes can cause permanent damage if they become infected or physical damage occurs from debris. If your eyes are dry, drink plenty of water to rehydrate and use eye drops to relieve your problems in the short term.

Vision Problems

By not drinking enough water and having dehydrated eyes, the strain on your eyes will be greatly increased. Eye strain can cause headaches, pain, and vision issues. These vision issues include: double vision, blurring, and sensitivity to light. In the long term, eye strain can cause long lasting damage to your vision, which is something everyone wants to avoid. Drinking more water to ensure your eyes are working in the best possible conditions is essential to maintaining your eye health.

Eye Pressure

Your eyes are filled with fluid, so it’s no surprise that dehydration affects these fluids. Being dehydrated can increase the fluid pressure in your eyes, which is a potential blindness-inducing problem called glaucoma. If you are prone to glaucoma, which usually happens to older individuals, make sure to drink enough water throughout the day. Five cups of water a day is the average minimum recommended by professionals, but you should ideally aim for eight.

Swelling of the Eyes

The skin around your eyes and the eyes themselves may become inflamed when you aren’t getting enough water throughout the day. This may seem only like an aesthetic problem, but prolonged inflammation can be damaging. Redness and soreness are common indications, other than just visual cues. Dry eyes will become irritated and if foreign bodies aren’t being cleansed by water, then an allergic reaction, which is a kind of inflammation, can easily occur.

Corneal Edema

While dehydration alone most likely won’t cause corneal edema, it is a contributing factor. This condition is when the cornea, which is a dry and clear membrane which regulates the light entering your pupil, begins retaining water. When your cornea becomes damage and is no longer able to clean itself this condition can occur. Dehydration makes it difficult for your eyes to clean themselves, which in this case can lead to long term damage and necessitate surgery.

If you have long term eye pain, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and distorted vision, consulting a physician is a must. Corneal edema can be one cause for these problems, while other serious conditions such as glaucoma can also be the root cause. Both of these issues are affected by hydration, so to stave them off drink enough water every single day.

Vision

All of these issues can have long lasting effects on your vision. While prevention is the best when it comes to hydration and eye health, corrective procedures can remedy your vision problems if it comes to that. LASIK is an excellent way to restore your vision to its highest potential. Contact Advanced Eye Medical today for a consultation.

Pain Behind the Eyes: What are the Causes?

Whenever a new pain starts, it causes anxiety and we immediately look for answers. This is especially true with pain behind the eyes; the thought of losing vision is a horrifying one for most of us. Luckily, most causes for pain behind the eyes can be simple and benign, but there are a few cases where it can be a medical emergency.

If you believe you could be having a medical emergency, contact a medical professional and seek treatment immediately. Here are some possible causes for pain behind the eyes:

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is simply an inflammation of a sinus cavity, which can be caused by myriad issues, most of them benign. Since our sinus cavities are so near the eyes and can cause headaches, they can cause pain that feels like it is coming from behind the eye. Sinusitis can be caused by allergies, bacterial or viral infections, and other less common issues like cancer of the sinuses. If you have a cold, allergy symptoms, or a sinus infection and are experiencing pain behind your eyes, it should be transient. Medications that relieve inflammation may help, as well as treating the underlying condition.

Headache

Most pain behind your eyes is caused by headaches, which can be caused by countless conditions. For patients with vision issues, this can be a common occurrence. Correcting your vision with LASIK can remedy this problem in the long term, providing relief and often perfect vision.

Some other causes for headaches include: stress, dehydration, and a lack of sleep. Straining your eyes to read small text or see far away objects can also cause shooting pains behind your eyes as your nerves and muscles work harder.

Glaucoma

The inside of your eye is filled with fluid, and when that fluid’s pressure becomes too high, this causes a condition known as glaucoma. Most cases of glaucoma are in fact painless, so this usually isn’t the case. Glaucoma can cause vision blurring, distortion, and even blindness. Glaucoma can be considered a medical emergency. If you notice changes in your vision with your eye pain, it is necessary to seek treatment to ensure your vision is undamaged.

Dry Eyes

One of the most common and easily treated reasons for eye pain is dry eyes. Light sensitivity and headaches are common. Try over-the-counter remedies to lubricate your eyes and see if they improve. If this works, but you find yourself using the drops daily, you may have a larger condition causing the dry eyes and should see an eye doctor ASAP.

Optic Neuritus

Optic neuritis is when the optic nerve becomes inflamed. This condition can be a sign of multiple sclerosis, which is a degenerative neurological disease. Prolonged eye pain should always be evaluated by a doctor to ensure nothing serious is causing your discomfort. Most of these conditions can be managed or mitigated to preserve your vision. This kind of inflammation can also be caused by infection, so do not jump to worst-case scenarios.

Irisitis

The Iris is the colored muscle surrounding the pupil of your eye. When this muscle becomes inflamed by irritation or infection, it can easily cause deep eye pain. Blurred vision and light sensitivity are signs of Irisitis.

When to Consult an Eye Doctor

If the pain is unbearable, you should seek emergency medical attention, as certain deadly conditions or blindness inducing conditions can occur acutely. For prolonged eye pain, seeing your doctor is a good idea to eliminate the possibility of any infection or underlying condition.

If it is simply a case of poor vision putting too much strain on your eyes, correcting your vision is the best option. LASIK is a procedure that can permanently improve your vision to perfect levels. Contact Advanced Eye Medical today for an appointment or consultation!

Cosmetic Contact Lenses: Are They Safe?

Cosmetic contact lenses, also known as decorative or costume contact lenses, are contact lenses that change the appearance of your eyes. They include colored contacts, fashion lenses and lenses that make your eyes look like vampires, animals, or other characters.

Online and in-store advertising market decorative contact lenses as cosmetics, fashion accessories or toys. With whimsical packaging and names, their target market is often teens and young adults. But the question remains: are they safe?

With Halloween just days away, decorative contact lenses may look cool but can lead to serious health issues and potentially (and permanently) damage your eyesight. Here is a guide to what to know and how to safely wear and choose cosmetic contact lenses.

What are Cosmetic Contact Lenses?

Much like regular contact lenses, cosmetic contact lenses are classified as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and require a valid prescription, whether they correct your vision or are worn for special occasions like Halloween or costume parties.

Many people buy cosmetic contact lenses to enhance their costume, and shops, as well as many online retailers, actively market and advertise these lenses to consumers unaware of the risks. These risks include dangerous infections that can lead to permanent vision loss.

Non-prescription cosmetic contact lenses can also cause injuries such as cuts and open sores in the protective layer of the iris and pupil, and potentially invite bacterial infections. These injuries can lead to serious eye surgeries such as corneal transplants.

Novelty products, like circle lenses, are not FDA-approved. Circle lenses are particularly harmful because the lens covers more of the eye than regular corrective lenses, which inhibits oxygen to get through to the eye.

If you want to complete your Halloween costume or change your look to include cat, glow-in-the-dark or colored eyes, get your cosmetic contact lenses prescribed by an eye care professional. It’s crucial that your lenses fit properly, and your individual prescription is updated by an eye exam. Skipping this step and buying lenses online or over the counter can set you up for risks of eye infection and vision loss.

What are the Risks?

Wearing cosmetic contact lenses can cause serious damage to your eyes if the lenses are obtained without a prescription or not used correctly. These risks include:

  • Allergic reactions like itchy, watery red eyes
  • Decreased vision
  • Infection
  • Blindness or vision loss

If you develop an eye infection, accompanying side effects may include:

  • Redness
  • Pain in the eye(s) that doesn’t go away after a short period of time
  • Decreased vision

If you have any of these symptoms, consult a licensed eye care professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist) immediately. An eye infection could become serious and cause vision loss if it’s not treated.

How to Reduce the Risks

You can reduce the risks associated to cosmetic contact lenses by consulting your doctor for an accurate prescription and directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Get an Eye Exam. A licensed eye care professional will examine your eyes to make sure the contact lenses fit properly. The fit of your contact lenses is crucial to eye health. The wrong fit can cause damage to your vision.

Get a Prescription. Your eye doctor will write you a prescription for all contact lenses, including cosmetic contact lenses. The prescription should include the brand name, correct lens measurements and expiration date.

Follow the Contact Lens Care Instructions. Your eye care professional will provide specific instructions for wearing, cleaning and disinfecting your contact lenses. If you do not receive instructions, ask your eye doctor for them.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately and Remove Your Contact Lenses if Your Eyes are Red. Eye pain, discharge or redness from the eyes are signs of an eye infection. If you think you have an eye infection from your contact lenses, remove them and see an eye doctor immediately.

Don’t Share Your Contact Lenses with Anyone. All eyes are not the same size and shape and your contact lenses are fitted just for you. Think toothbrush for example — you wouldn’t share your toothbrush, would you? If you, you shouldn’t be doing that, either.

Don’t Buy Any Contact Lenses Without a Prescription. See your eye care professional to get a prescription. This will ensure proper fit and minimize risk of damage to your eyes. Sometimes wearing contact lenses can damage the top layer of your cornea. By having checkups and buying contact lenses with a prescription, you will reduce the chances of any undetected damage to your eyes.

Schedule a Consultation

Cosmetic contact lenses are not excluded from the standard eye care instructions and follow ups. Reduce the risks associated to wearing cosmetic contact lenses by consulting your eye care professional. Join our many satisfied patients, and schedule an appointment at Advanced Eye Medical today.

What Causes Blood Vessels in the Eyes to Burst?

The worst part of a burst blood vessel in the eye is that it leaves you with a dramatic, unattractive redness that may make you feel insecure or embarrassed. Should your vision change in any way, it is key to report this information to an eye specialist as, sometimes, burst blood vessels can be problematic based on what caused them and how severe the burst was.

Eye Injury

This condition is not painful, and typically develops after blunt trauma to the eye. In most cases, treatment is not needed for what is identified as a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Blood vessels are fragile and their walls can easily break. Causes of blood vessel bursts in the eyes include sneezing, coughing, vomiting, crying, rubbing your eyes, or snagging your eyes on an object or fabric.

If you have noticed the appearance of blood in your eye a week or so after the initial injury or blood vessel burst, it may be advisable for you to seek medical attention from an eye specialist to ensure you do not have a condition known as hyphema, which can be very severe and could affect your vision long-term. Broken blood vessels can be somewhat prevented if you wear proper eye protection during certain sports or goggles during any work that has flying objects or dust or very bright sunlight involved.

High Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, this can cause problems to the retina’s blood vessels, and hinder the retina’s function. This hindering places lots of strain on the optic nerve, which then leads to sight problems and vision loss. This condition is called hypertensive retinopathy (HR).

Prolonged high blood pressure, or hypertension, is the main cause and it’s because the force of the blood against your arteries is way too high and the blood pumps out of the heart, into the arteries in between heartbeats and the blood moves through the entire body, even affecting the eyes.

To prevent high blood pressure, stick to a diet high in fruits and vegetables to lower blood pressure. This will prevent burst blood vessels and other eye problems. Regular exercise and a limited salt and caffeine intake will also help lower your blood pressure.

Blood Thinners

There are two main types of blood thinners. Anticoagulants work on chemical reactions in your body to lengthen the time it takes to form a blood clot. Antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin, prevent blood cells called platelets from clumping together to form a clot.

Blood thinners are known to sometimes cause redness to the eye and burst blood vessels in the skin and eyes. But if you are taking aspirin or blood thinners and notice these symptoms, do not stop taking them unless you have been told to do so by your doctor.

Cataract Surgery

For those who have just undergone cataract surgery, don’t be anxious if your vision seems cloudy after you remove the eye shield or if you start to see distortions or waves. It should only last an hour. Along with these surprising vision side effects, the patient may also experience red and blood shot eyes because blood vessels may have burst on the surface of your eye during surgery. The redness will disappear as soon as your eyes are finished healing in a matter of days.

Learn More About Burst Blood Vessels Today

Burst blood vessels usually look worse than they are and can occur for a number of different reasons including light eye injuries, having high blood pressure, taking blood thinners, or recovering from cataract surgery. Eye drops or cold compresses are very useful, simple treatments to alleviate eye redness and speed up the disappearance of your burst blood vessel as lubrication and cold soothe the eye.

If your eyes remain red for an uncomfortable amount of time after a burst blood vessel or if you experience any vision changes or pain of any kind, contact an eye professional such as the professionals at Advanced Eye Medical.

4 Reasons You Should Not Rub Your Eyes

You are tired. Your eyes are itchy. It’s only natural: instant relief, rub your eyes. But when something is in your eyes, you may want to think twice. That’s because while rubbing your eyes may give you temporary relief, in the long term it can also have dangerous and harmful side effects.

Debris and germs can penetrate the eye, which could lead to eye infections. If you have progressive myopia, rubbing your eyes can worsen the condition. If you suffer from glaucoma, rubbing your eyes can lead to increased eye pressure and disturbed blood flow, which leads to nerve damage and permanent harm to your eyesight.

If you have a condition called Keratoconus, rubbing your eyes can be especially dangerous. Keratoconus is a thinning of the central part of the cornea. Although it doesn’t result in complete loss of sight, Keratoconus leads to a progressive loss of vision and can be severe enough for patients to be diagnosed as legally blind.

The negative effects go on… Instead of rubbing your eyes, let us help you with our short guide to the dangers of eye rubbing.

4 Reasons Not to Rub Your Eyes

1. Risk of Infection

Rubbing your eyes with dirty hands can lead to infections, including pink eye or worse. You use your hands for pretty much everything, so it’s no surprise that they pick up all sorts of bacteria throughout the day. While some of the risk can be mitigated by good hygiene, rubbing your eyes puts you at risk of eye infection no matter how thoroughly you wash your hands.

For those with allergies, rubbing your eyes to relieve allergy-induced itching will release more histamines into the sensitive tissues of your eyes, which only cause more severe reactions. Therefore, scratching your eyes is not only dangerous, but ineffective, as well.

2. Potential for Injury

There are many reasons your eyes might be itchy, but if something is in your eye, rubbing is the least effective and most dangerous way to get it out. In most cases, your body’s natural defense mechanisms will take care of the problem. If not, try using eye drops or closing your eyes for rest. If you do rub your eyes, foreign particles could end up scratching your cornea.

3. Long-Term Side Effects

Consistently rubbing your eyes over a long period of time can lead to thinning of the cornea. That in turn can lead to recurring infections, or worse, a condition called keratoconus, which causes a deterioration of vision that cannot be reversed or corrected.

4. Dark Circles

Lack of quality sleep is not the only reason dark circles appear. Habitually rubbing your eyes can promote the development of periorbital circles, which may appear as dark rings around or under your eyes. The dark discoloration is a result of small amounts of blood leaking out of the periorbital vessels. If you’re waking up with dark circles, try wearing a cool compress.

How to Prevent Itchy Eyes

Foreign particles or allergy-induced debris commonly cause itchy, burning eyes. If avoiding the allergen is impossible, it is best to talk with your healthcare provider about preventative options such as eye drops, oral antihistamines and decongestants. If you think you may be allergic to your contact lenses or lens solution, talk with your eye doctor about the problem.

To mitigate itchy eyes, especially allergy-induced itching, here are a few indoor and outdoor tips to keep in mind:

Indoors:

  • Vacuum regularly to reduce dust and pet dander.
  • Keep your windows shut to reduce outdoor allergens.
  • Keep your pets out of bedrooms or areas you spend a lot of time in.
  • Run your air conditioner to reduce indoor allergens and keep your air filters and air ducts clean.
  • Avoid smoking in rooms with little or no ventilation.

Outdoors:

  • Watch the news to check pollen counts. Pollen counts are the highest between 5AM-10AM.
  • Dry your clothes in a dryer, not outside. Outdoor allergens stick to the fabric of your clothes.
  • Take precautions before doing yard work. Wear face masks and gloves.
  • Take a shower after being outside to wash away allergens that have clung to your hair and skin.

Schedule a Consultation

There are numerous reasons to avoid rubbing your eyes. Itchy eyes can worsen, eye infections can develop, and long-term effects can linger with chronic itching. If you or someone you know is suffering allergy-induced itching or chronic itching of the eye, it may be time to discuss the cause and treatment plan with your doctor. Join our many satisfied patients, and schedule an appointment at Advanced Eye Medical today for treatment options.