Imagine this – you go outside on a beautiful sunny day and realize that you left your sunglasses at home – ordinarily you would be squinting and uncomfortable but not anymore – now your contact lenses turn dark when you go outside! Acuvue Oasys, the wildly popular two week contact lens from Johnson and Johnson has joined technological forces with Transitions Optical to create Acuvue Oasys with Transitions. This new product got so much positive buzz that it was selected by Time Magazine as one of 2018’s BEST INVENTIONS OF 2018. Like the regular Oasys lens, the Oasys with Transitions is a two week lens that can be cleaned with either standard multipurpose solution or a hydrogen peroxide based system. It takes 30 seconds to activate when you go outside and ninety seconds to turn back to clear when you go back inside. When the lens is fully activated outside it filters 70% of outdoor light, and even inside it filters about 15% of indoor light. One important thing to realize is that although you are indeed blocking UV light on the eyeball itself when you wear these contacts, you still need sunglasses to protect the skin around your eyes as well as the other parts of your eye, and the contacts never get as dark as real sunglasses. Acuvue is recommending this lens for any patient who is bothered by light sensitivity, whether indoors our outdoors. They are also recommending it for patients who experience halos and starbursts when they drive at night, as well as to those who are bothered by computer lighting. The lens does change your eye color slightly when it is activated outdoors and in studies that were conducted on patients who tried this lens only 2% were bothered by the color shift. Check out the hashtag #SquintLessSeeMore for more cool information about this innovative product which is available through our office now.
Okay guys, here’s the scoop – there is no such thing as pink eye. Oh sure, your eye can be pink, but “pink eye” is not a diagnosis, it’s a description of the way your eye looks. So now that we’ve cleared that misconception up, what causes eyes to become pink?
One of the most common causes of pink (or red) eyes is some form of conjunctivitis. The term conjunctivitis is also very nonspecific and vague – so let’s break it down into more understandable terms. The conjunctiva is the clear thin covering of the white part of the eye and the insides of the lids and the term “itis” derives from the Greek and means “inflammation of”. So quite simply, conjunctivitis means that the white part of the eye is inflamed, and when body parts become inflamed, they get red or pinkish. There are three main forms of conjunctivitis:
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis – like it sounds, it’s caused by bacteria – not only is the eye red but there is usually green discharge as well that can cause the eyes to be glued shut upon awakening in the morning. This is pretty contagious and is treated with topical antibiotic drops or ointment.
- Viral Conjunctivitis – caused by viruses, the eyes are watery, red and sometimes itchy. This is also very contagious and since it is a virus, antibiotic drops don’t work. This usually runs its course over a week or so – cool compresses and artificial tears can be helpful.
- Allergic Conjunctivitis – the hallmark symptom of this type of conjunctivitis is unbearable itching. Usually this is a reaction to pollen or ragweed during peak allergy season (spring or fall) or to pets, dust, or other known allergens. It is not contagious and can be treated conservatively with cool compresses or high quality artificial tears. Oral antihistamines are helpful if there is also nasal congestion and sneezing, prescription eye drops work best if it only affects the eyes.
Other causes of pink or red eyes are dry eye and blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) as well as contact lens complications which can range from infections to corneal ulcers. Environmental causes of pink eye are irritants such as dust, smoke, air pollution and chemical exposure. It is important not to self diagnose or use somebody else’s eye drops. If your eyes get red or pink and your symptoms are getting worse or not going away it is important to have your eyes checked by an eye doctor to ensure proper and prompt treatment.
As a mom and an eye doctor I always tried to buy toys for my kids that were not just fun but that also helped develop their visual skills. One of the most important things to remember when buying gifts for kids is to keep it age appropriate. Nothing is worse than a kid who receives a toy or game that is frustrating to play because it is above the child’s skill set. Most toys have age levels printed on the front so it’s easy to stick to the age guidelines. Although iPad games and electronic devices may seem like super hot gifts, they actually can overstimulate young minds and experts recommend sticking to “classic” toys as gifts.
Dr. Mary Gregory (Omni Vision and Learning in Minnesota) and Dr. Kellye Knueppel (Vision Therapy Center in Wisconsin) are optometrists who specialize in developmental optometry and each has created her own list of toys that helps nurture specific visual skills. Here is an abridged list of my favorites.
- Eye/hand coordination – toys like Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and Legos
- Visual Memory – remember the game Simon with the colored flashing lights? Oldie but goodie.
- Visual Perceptual skills – there are a lot of toys out there that fit into this category, including jigsaw puzzles, Battleship, Go Fish, Bingo, Old Maid , dominoes, and Bop It.
- Visual Motor Integration and Fine Motor skills – finger painting, bead stringing, Lite-Brite (love this one) and Spirograph.
- Imagination – any toy that allows you to play “pretend” falls in this category – current toys such as Fingerlings, Polly Pocket (yes, they are back!), and these adorable plushy pets called Pomsies are all on the Good Housekeeping’s list of top toys of 2018.
No matter what toys you buy for the little ones in your life this holiday season it’s the time you spend face to face with your child that is the most rewarding present of all.
November is National Diabetes Month and this gives me the opportunity to get up on my soapbox and shout through my megaphone about the importance of yearly eye exams. For patients who know they have diabetes, dilated eye exams are crucial in order to ensure that there is no diabetic retinopathy in the back part of the eye which if not treated can lead to blindness.
So what is diabetes and how does it affect your eyes? Diabetes is a disease which according to the CDC affects more than 100 million Americans and interferes with the body’s ability to store and utilize sugar. Very often patients who are unaware that they are diabetic will experience scary fluctuations in vision which will bring them into my office to see what’s going on. At this point I will refer them out for blood work and a visit with the primary doctor to check for diabetes. Changes in blood sugar can cause these wild changes in the prescription which will stabilize once the glucose (sugar) levels are under control. Once someone has had diabetes for many years and/or has poor control of their sugar levels, the risk of having diabetic retinopathy skyrockets. Diabetic retinopathy happens when the small blood vessels on the back surface of the eye weaken and leak blood and fluid into the retina. If this progresses further without blood vessels shutting off and the creation of new abnormal blood vessels creating scarring which can cause vision loss and/or blindness.
How do you prevent this? The key is keeping blood sugar levels under tight control. This is accomplished by paying attention to diet, exercising, keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control and not smoking – in other words – maintaining a healthy lifestyle. One important number to be aware of when you come in for your eye exam is your HA1C (or glycosylated hemoglobin) which reflects the overall blood sugar levels over a three month period. Generally this number should be under 7.
All diabetic patients get a letter sent to their primary doctor after their eye exam with the results of the retinal evaluation. If there is retinopathy the primary doc may have to tinker with the meds in order to achieve better glucose control. Above all, be vigilant about any vision changes that are scary or unusual. As I always tell my patients, nothing is stupid or trivial and I’d rather check you and find nothing than have you ignore something serious.
Halloween is around the corner and as you’re putting the final touches on your costume and stocking up on candy, here are some tips about keeping your eyes healthy while not missing out on the fun.
- Most importantly, don’t wear contact lenses you bought at the flea market or in the dollar store. It is illegal to buy these non FDA approved contact lenses and it is also illegal for the vendors to sell them. There is a myth out there that just because the contacts don’t have a prescription, they are safe to use – WRONG. Aside from the prescription aspect of the lenses, there is also the fit of the lenses to worry about, the material it is made from, and the liquid that it is stored in. If the lens is too tight it will suction on to the eye and bacteria and other germs can grow underneath leading to an eye infection at best and a corneal ulcer at worst.
- Don’t share contact lenses – this is good advice all year round but is more of an issue this time of year. Remember the blog post about underwear and contact lenses? Go back and read it again – sharing contacts is like sharing dirty underwear. Yuk.
- Makeup is a great way to complete a costume – make sure you don’t share makeup especially eyeliner and mascara with anyone else. Don’t glue costume elements near your eyes and don’t line the inner aspect of your eyelid – the glue can wreak havoc on your skin and give you a corneal scratch (just treated one of these) and lining the inside of the eye can cause infection and dryness.
- Remove your makeup before going to bed.
- Avoid costumes with eye holes that block your vision.
- Carry a flashlight when trick or treating to increase visibility.
- Be careful with costume props that are pointy and can poke someone in the eye such as swords and wands.
We love to see our patients dressed up in their costumes – come by to show off and for some eyeball related candy.