Skip to main content
Home »

Uncategorized

Spring Eye Allergies

Spring is right around the corner, as the winter begins to wind down and the fresh, warmer air begins to rear its head. Unfortunately for many, it’s often hard to enjoy nature’s blooming beauty as the warmer weather also brings about the onset of itchy, watery eyes that come with spring eye allergies.

Seasonal eye allergies are the eyes’ reaction to allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander that enter your eyes and cause inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner eyelid. In addition to causing significant discomfort, eye allergies can have an effect on many areas of daily life, from work to driving, to watching television.

Although the majority of individuals suffering from seasonal eye allergies use anti histamines to treat and alleviate itchy, watery eyes, it’s best to speak to your optometrist about the most effective allergy relief. In most cases, allergies can be treated with prescription medications or over the counter eye drops. Cool compresses can alleviate itchiness and swelling – a towel and some cold water may be all you need to inhibit the allergic cascade reaction and curb the urge to rub your eyes.

In addition, here are a few tips to help you minimize the effect of spring allergens on your eyes.

  • Don’t rub your eyes as this actually makes the allergic reaction you are experiencing worse.
  • Be sure to wash your hands often with soap and water and wash bed linens and pillowcases in hot water to minimize allergens.
  • Avoid walking, exercise and outdoor activities in the early morning when pollen counts are high.
  • Check your weather forecast for the daily pollen count and wait till midday if possible to go out.
  • When maintaining your garden, it’s preferable to have someone else mow your grass and limit your exposure to wooded areas.
  • Keep windows closed and run your air conditioner, ensuring that it is properly filtered and clean. Alternatively, use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. These filter systems are very effective at removing allergens from the air in your room or house.
  • If you wear contact lenses, try to reduce your wearing time or talk to your optometrist about changing your cleaning method or using single-use contact lenses during allergy season.

Eye allergies can affect anyone, but don’t let them prevent you from enjoying the gorgeous spring outdoors! Taking the proper preventative measures and finding the right treatment can make a huge difference in your comfort level and your ability to enjoy the nicer weather.

Preventing Age-related Macular Degeneration

dad riding bike with daughter

February is AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month in the United States, and it’s White Cane Week in Canada. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in adults aged 50 and older. Awareness about the disease, the risk factors and prevention are critical, even for younger generations because taking care of your eyes while you are young will help to reduce the risks later on in life.

Understanding AMD

AMD is a disease that damages the macula, which is the center of the retina responsible for sharp visual acuity in the central field of vision.  The breakdown of the macula eventually results in the loss of central vision and can occur in one eye or both eyes simultaneously. While AMD doesn’t result in complete blindness, the quality of vision is severely compromised leading to what we refer to as “low vision”.

The loss of central vision can interfere with the performance of everyday tasks such as driving, reading, writing, cooking, or even recognizing faces of friends and family.  The good news is, there are many low vision aides on the market now that can assist in helping you to perform these tasks. 

There are two types of AMD, wet and dry.

Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease. It is characterized by blurred central vision or blind spots, as the macula begins to deteriorate. Dry AMD is less severe than the wet form, but can progress to wet AMD rapidly.

Wet AMD is when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the retina and leak fluid and blood into the macula, causing distortions in vision. Wet AMD can cause permanent scarring if not treated quickly, so any sudden blur in vision should be assessed immediately, especially if one is aware that they have AMD.

Are You at Risk?

The biggest risk factor for AMD is age. Individuals over 60 are most likely to develop the disease however it can occur earlier.  Additional risk factors include:

  • Smoking: According to research smoking can double the risk of AMD.
  • Genetics and Family History: If AMD runs in your family you are at a higher risk. Scientists have also identified a number of particular genes that are associated with the disease.
  • Race: Caucasians are more likely to have AMD than those from Hispanic or African-American descent.
  • Lifestyle: Obesity, high cholesterol or blood pressure, poor nutrition and inactivity all contribute to the likelihood of getting AMD. 

Prevention of AMD:

If you have risk factors, here is what you can do to prevent or slow the progression of AMD:

  • Regular eye exams; once a year especially if you are 50 or over.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Know your family history and inform your eye doctor.
  • Proper nutrition and regular exercise: Research indicates that a healthy diet rich in “Eyefoods” with key nutrients for the eyes such as orange peppers, kale and spinach as well as regular exercise may reduce your risks or slow the progression of AMD.
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure. 
  • Dietary supplements: Studies by the National Eye Institute called AREDs and ARED2 indicated that a high dosage of supplements of zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and lutein may slow the progression of advanced dry AMD (it is not recommended for those without AMD or early AMD).  Speak to a doctor before taking these supplements because there may be associated risks involved. 
  • Wear 99% -100% UV-blocking sunglasses.

The first step to eye health is awareness. Help us to spread the word about this debilitating disease and the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle.

Why Do We Need Glasses

The most well-known part of a comprehensive eye exam is the basic vision test. When you have a general vision test, one of the main conditions the eye care practitioner is checking for is a refractive error. A refractive error means there is an abnormality in the shape of the eye, changing the eye’s ability to focus light directly onto the retina.This causes blurred vision and can usually be corrected by wearing prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses and possibly, alternate treatments such as vision therapy, ortho-k, LASIK or refractive surgery such as LASIK.

 

The term, “refractive error” refers to a problem with the process of refraction that is responsible for sight. Normally, light rays that enter your eye are refracted or bent through the cornea and the lens, and ultimately converge or are focused onto a single point on the retina. From the retina, messages are sent through the optic nerve to the brain which then interprets these signals into the image that we are seeing.

 

In order for this process to work effectively, the anatomy of the eye including the length of the eye and the curvature of the cornea and the lens must be just right to be able to focus the light onto the retina. When this is not the case, a refractive error will occur.

 

There are several different types of refractive errors, depending on which part of the eye is affected, and it is possible to have multiple refractive errors at the same time:

Myopia or nearsightedness:

In myopia the length of the eyeball is too long which results in light coming to a focus in front of the retina, rather than on the retina. This allows the individual to see well when objects are close but not clearly when looking at objects at a distance.

 

Hyperopia or farsightedness:

Hyperopia is when the eyeball is shorter than normal and can result in near objects being blurry. However, people experience hyperopia differently. Sometimes distant objects are clear while other times people may experience overall blurred vision near and far or no problems at all. In children particularly, the lens may accommodate for the error allowing for clear vision but may cause fatigue and sometimes crossed eyes or strabismus. Hyperopia causes eyestrain or fatigue especially when looking at near objects for a period of time. Often people with 20/20 vision may still need glasses at their desk to relax their eyes and improve concentration.

 

Astigmatism:

Astigmatism is usually the result of an irregularly shaped cornea (although it can sometimes also be due to a misshapen lens). The cornea, which is normally round, is more football-shaped in an eye with astigmatism, resulting in multiple focus points either in front of the retina or behind it (or both). People with astigmatism usually have blurred or distorted vision to some degree at all distances, near and far.

Presbyopia:

Presbyopia is an age-related condition which usually begins to appear sometime after 40. As the eye begins to age, the lens stiffens and can no longer focus clearly on objects that are close.

 

It’s important to note that presbyopia is often confused with hyperopia, as both cause problems focusing at near distances. However, high hyperopia can also cause blur at far distances as well, especially in dim lighting, and depth perception problems can result in motor vehicle accidents. In these instances people with hyperopia could use glasses at any distance.

If you are having trouble seeing, it is important to have an eye exam to determine the cause of the problem and to effectively correct your vision. Even if your vision is fine, you should schedule a routine eye exam on a regular basis to ensure that your eyes are healthy and that any potential problems are caught early.

A Recipe For Eye Health

Did you know that your dietary choices have an impact on your eye health and vision? Opting for appetizing food that at the same time provides you with all the nutrients that are essential for preserving your vision, is taking a major step towards minimizing the risk of eye disease and age-related vision changes.

To consume an eye healthy diet, choose foods rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C and E, zinc and copper, Lutein, zeaxanthin and Omega 3 fatty acids. This includes leafy green vegetables, orange peppers, eggs and fish.

Vitamin A is found in colorful fruits and vegetables such as apricots, papaya, carrots, and tomatoes as well as in fortified milk, beef, chicken, cod liver oil and eggs. This vitamin is vital for night vision and helps prevent dry eye syndrome, eye infections, cataracts and macular degeneration.

Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as grapefruits, oranges and strawberries as well as in red and green bell peppers, broccoli and kale. This vitamin helps support blood vessels in the eye and reduces the risk of cataracts.

Vitamin E is found in nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and peanut butter as well as spinach avocados, olive oil and whole grains and is thought to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. It is also a powerful anti-oxidant and protects your eyes from free- radical damage.

It is also worthwhile incorporating foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants that may help protect against retinal damage and the onset of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration to your menu. Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, collard, turnip greens and broccoli.

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for eye health as well as general health. It is an essential fatty acid which means that your body cannot manufacture them without dietary intake. They provide anti-inflammatory protection to the delicate blood vessels of your eyes, and can help with age-related macular degeneration as well as dry eyes.

This is best obtained through 2 servings/week of deep ocean cold water oily fish e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines, char fish.

If you have trouble keeping up with fish intake or are concerned about mercury or PCBs, a good solution is to take an omega 3 supplement with DHA and EPA.

Research also suggests that obtaining a combination of eye health nutrients from a variety of food sources provides the best results for slowing the progression of eye diseases. So do your eyes a favor and ensure that your diet includes a rich assortment of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and healthy oils.

Here is a recipe courtesy of Dr. Laurie Capogna and Dr. Barbara Pelletier, optometrists who specialize in nutrition and eye health. As you can see this recipe is filled with important nutrients that help save your sight.

Chicken Almond Wraps

These tasty wraps can be enjoyed as a nutritious lunch or a light snack. They are filled with nutrients that help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, including lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C and zinc.

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and pulled into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large orange, peeled with a knife, quartered and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Leaf lettuce leaves, Romaine lettuce leaves or kale leaves, washed and dried completely
  • Optional zeaxanthin boost: garnish with goji berries.

Dipping Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons natural almond butter (or natural peanut butter)
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • Dash hot sauce
  • Hot water

Directions

  1. Mix poultry, peas, pepper, green onion, orange, almonds and cilantro in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine almond butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey and hot sauce.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons hot water and stir well. If sauce is too thick, add another tablespoon hot water. Continue until the sauce has the consistency of a thick salad dressing.
  4. Use 2 tablespoons of the sauce as dressing for the poultry mix. Toss gently to combine.
  5. Separate remaining dipping sauce into an individual bowl or ramekin for each person.
  6. Spoon chicken mixture into a lettuce or kale leaf and fold.
  7. Enjoy with the dipping sauce.

Tip: The chicken mixture can be refrigerated for up to two days. Serve cold or warm.

Serves 4

The Right Way to Clean Your Eyeglasses

We all know how frustrating it can be trying to see clearly through a smudged pair of glasses; clean lenses can really make a world of difference. While it may not be something that you pay much attention to, the way you clean your lenses can also make a difference, not only for your vision, but for your eyewear as well.

Unfortunately, most eyeglasses owners are guilty of the number one crime when it comes to caring for their eyewear: breathing onto the lens and then wiping the resulting vapor away using the corner of a shirt or garment. Not only is this an inefficient way to remove dirt, it actually can damage your lenses as clothes carry dust, which when wiped onto the surface of your lenses, can result in scratches. Sometimes hard fabrics can also damage lenses.

The easiest way to get rid of dirt and residue on your glasses is simpler than you’d think. Start by running the front and back of the lens under warm water. Next wash the lenses carefully with a mild soap such as dish soap together with warm water. Once that is done, wipe the soap off in a circular motion as you once again rinse the glasses under warm water. Repeat if necessary and then dry your glasses using a soft cotton towel. There are also cleaning solutions that can be purchased to protect the anti-glare and anti-scratch coatings on glasses.

Although tissue, paper towels and napkins are often convenient to use for a quick cleaning, they are not a wise option as they are made up of rough fibers that more often than not leave debris behind. Another common cleaning substance – saliva – is not only unhygienic but also ineffective in properly removing dirt and smudges. Additionally, it is crucial to avoid using ammonia, bleach, vinegar and window cleaner to clean your specs as these substances contain chemicals which can damage the coating on your lenses.

Of course the next time you visit your eye doctor feel free to ask us for one of the microfiber cloths made especially for cleaning eyeglasses, which are helpful for a dry touch up of your glasses during the course of the day. Try to keep the cloth in a contained place away from dirt such as inside your eyeglasses case.

Another cause of dirty glasses is poor alignment – when the skin or eyelashes touch the lens, smudging is a never-ending problem. You can return to the eye doctor and ask the optician if it is possible to adjust the glasses for optimal alignment of the glasses. Be careful when you first purchase eyewear that the frame fits well so you can avoid this problem.

Get the most out of your eyewear. Keep your lenses clean and clear so you can see your best.

Closed lunch