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How to Deal with Contact Lens Discomfort

Do your eyes itch or burn when wearing contact lenses? There are several reasons why you may be experiencing contact lens discomfort. Discover the possible causes behind the problem and see what you can do to relieve your discomfort.

What Causes Contact Lens Discomfort?

Some of the top causes of uncomfortable contacts are:

Dry eyes

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that arises when your tears can’t keep your eyes sufficiently lubricated due to an imbalance in the tear film. Certain diseases, medications and environmental factors, like high levels of dryness and wind, can cause or contribute to red, itchy or irritated eyes, especially when wearing contacts.

Allergies

Allergens are typically harmless substances that induce an allergic response in certain people. Pollen, mold, dust and pet dander are some of the most common airborne allergens that trigger eye allergies. Cosmetics and certain eye drops, such as artificial tears with preservatives, can also induce eye allergies, which can make contact lens wear uncomfortable.

Corneal irregularities

The cornea at the front of the eye may be irregularly shaped due to astigmatism, keratoconus, eye surgeries (i.e. LASIK or cataract surgery), eye injuries or burns, scarring, corneal ulcers and/or severe dry eye. Irregular corneas often prevent traditional contact lenses from fitting correctly and comfortably.

Symptoms of Contact Lens Discomfort 

  • Burning, itchy, stinging eyes
  • Sensation of something being stuck is in the eye
  • Excessive watering or tearing of the eyes
  • Unusual eye secretions
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Reduced sharpness of vision
  • Blurred vision, rainbows, or halos around objects
  • Sensitivity to light

How to Relieve Contact Lens Discomfort

Try Different Contact Lenses

Nowadays, there are many types of contact lenses on the market, including specialty contacts for dry eyes and astigmatism. Meet with our optometrist for a personalized eye exam for contacts.

With the variety of contact lens brands available, switching to a different contact lens may be the simplest answer if you’re experiencing discomfort that isn’t connected to improper fitting or issues with tear production. If your existing lenses fit well but still irritate and dry out your eyes, speak to us about trying a different design or brand of contact lenses, or changing your lens-wearing schedule. 

Artificial Tears or Eye Drops

Over-the-counter artificial tears or eye drops are a common way to temporarily relieve contact lens discomfort. However, it’s important to keep in mind that unless prescribed by an eye doctor, they may not be treating the root of the problem. 

Moreover, certain eye drops are incompatible with contact lenses, and may damage your contacts or harm your eyes. We also recommend staying away from products that claim to remove redness from your eyes, which temporarily reduce the size of blood vessels to lessen redness, but do not address the underlying cause of the condition, and can actually worsen it over time.

At Overland Optical Family Eye Care, we carry a preferable brand of drops that you can purchase on site or order online.  These are recommended for dry eyes and are safe with contact lenses.  You will notice a significant difference.

  

Take Good Care of Your Lenses

Inadequate contact lens care leaves residue on your lenses, which can discomfort, harmful eye infections and inflammation. Below are a few important contact lens hygiene guidelines to follow:

  • Before handling your contact lenses, thoroughly wash and dry your hands.
  • Remove your lenses before showering, bathing or swimming to prevent infection. 
  • Do not sleep in your contact lenses (unless they are approved for sleeping). 
  • Replace your contact lenses according to the manufacturer’s instructions (e.g., don’t reuse daily wear lenses).
  • Regularly clean your contact lens case and ask your eye doctor when to replace it.
  • Only use a contact lens solution that is appropriate for your lenses. 
  • Never reuse or mix contact lens solutions.
  • Schedule regular appointments with your eye doctor.

If you are experiencing discomfort with your contact lenses, get in touch with Overland Optical Family Eye Care in either Overland (314.423.3874) or St. Charles (636.949.2900) today. We’ll get to the bottom of the problem and provide effective solutions for all-day comfort.

Q&A

What kinds of contacts are available?

Contact lenses are available in a wide range of materials and replacement schedules. Disposable contact lenses and extended wear contacts are the most convenient for many users.

I’ve already been fitted for contact lenses, so why did my optometrist ask me to come back?

If you’re asked to return a week later, it’s because your optometrist wants to rule out any issues, such as contact lens-related dry eye or irritation.

If it’s been around a year since your last eye checkup, you’ve likely been contacted to check whether your prescription has changed and to evaluate your eye health. The sooner problems are detected and treated, the better the outcome. 

Risk Of Overusing Eye Drops

If you find yourself constantly reaching for eye drops, it’s time to start looking into the bigger issue: Why do you need them so often? While they may provide a quick and satisfying fix for irritated or itchy eyes, they don’t focus on what might be causing the irritation to begin with.

Two signs that you’re overusing eye drops: you often exceed the daily recommended dose and/or you view eye drops as a cure rather than a temporary treatment.

Risks of Overusing Eye Drops

When overusing eye drops you can run the risk of:

  • Washing away your natural tears. Artificial tears feel great as they lubricate your eyes and help with insufficient tear production. But overuse can literally wash away the natural moisturizers and your natural tears that protect your eyes.
  • Rebounding. As the effects of the eye drops subside or upon discontinuation of the drops, the original eye symptoms may return stronger than before. This is known as eye rebounding. Eye drops clamp down on the blood vessels in the eye to stop itchiness, which means your sclera isn’t getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. When you stop using eye drops, or their effects wear off, your eyes may work in overdrive to deliver oxygen to those vessels.
  • Masking a more serious problem. Addressing the symptoms of red, itchy eyes rather than the cause could be more serious than you think.

Conditions That Eye Drops Could Be Masking

Red, itchy eyes are a symptom of several conditions, including:

  • Blepharitis – Red and inflamed eyelids, caused by a fungal or bacterial infection, gland dysfunction, parasites, or dry eye, all of which require treatment beyond over-the-counter eye drops.
  • Eye trauma – Scratching or rubbing your eye can cause blood vessels to break, making the eye itchy and red. Some more serious traumas will require prescription eye drops or surgery.
  • Eye strain – Focusing on work all day and night can cause irritated, tired, and strained eyes.
  • Foreign objects – An eyelash, dust, or something worse could be in your eye. If you have long-term issues with itchy or dry eyes, make sure a foreign body isn’t the culprit.
  • Allergies – Allergies to the environment or pets can cause dry, itchy eyes.
  • Pink eye – A bacterial or viral eye infection, also called conjunctivitis, can cause burning, swelling, and itchiness.
  • Dry eye syndrome – Irritation, redness and itchiness are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. In severe cases, DES can damage the cornea.

Regardless of why you often use eye drops, the only way to get to the root cause of your symptoms is a thorough eye exam. Don’t cover up the symptoms with eye drops.

If you’re suffering from irritated, dry eyes that haven’t resolved on their own, contact Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland. We can help you find the long-lasting relief you’ve been looking for.

At Overland Optical Family Eye Care, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 314-254-2211 or book an appointment online to see one of our Overland eye doctors.

Want to Learn More? Read on!

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Frequently Asked Questions with Sara Schmitz, O.D.

Q: What are symptoms of dry eye syndrome ?

  • A: Irritation, redness and itchiness are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. In severe cases, DES can damage the cornea.

Q: Are OTC eye drops safe ?

  • A: Eye drops may provide relief. But don’t overuse them. Overuse can cause more harm than good. Find out what happens when you overuse those relieving eye drops.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In St. Louis, Missouri. Visit Overland Optical Family Eye Care for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

3 Reasons Women Are More Likely Than Men To Develop Dry Eye

3 Reasons Women Are More Likely Than Men To Develop Dry Eye 640Did you know that women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of dry eye syndrome (DES)? In fact, women represent about 6 out of 10 diagnosed cases of DES worldwide. This is due to several factors, 3 of which we’ll outline below.

If you aren’t familiar with DES, this eye condition refers to a chronic lack of ocular moisture that causes uncomfortable symptoms like red, burning, itchy, watery eyes. Left untreated, DES can damage the cornea.

Usually, DES is caused by insufficient tears or poor quality tears, but can also be precipitated by allergies, environmental factors, hormones and even certain medications. If you or anyone in your family suffers from DES, speak with Dr. Schmitz at Overland Optical Family Eye Care Dry Eye Center, who can help ease your dry eye symptoms

3 Reasons Why Women Are Prone to Dry Eye Syndrome

1. Cosmetic Use

Makeup, skincare items, and hair styling products can all drastically effect onyour eyes. Women who wear makeup—especially eye makeup like mascara and eyeliner—are more likely to develop dry eye symptoms due to their sometimes irritating contents. Makeup and other cosmetics may include chemicals that, when in contact with the eye, can reduce the eye’s tear film and cause tears to evaporate too quickly.

Eyeliner and mascara may also block the tiny oil-secreting glands on the margins of the eyelids. Oil is an essential component of tears, as it reduces eye-eyelid friction and lessens tear evaporation.

We aren’t telling you to ditch your glam kit and go au naturel, but when you do wear makeup, make sure to give your eyes some extra TLC. Try to avoid applying makeup to the inner portion of the lash line, where it can clog your oil glands or irritate your eyes. And make sure to thoroughly remove your eye makeup before going to sleep, as sleeping with eye makeup can also lead to eye irritation and even infection.

2. Hormonal Changes

From puberty to pregnancy and menopause, women’s hormones are constantly changing. All those surges and dips in estrogen can affect your eyes, especially when it comes to dry eye syndrome. Some women even experience dry eyes at certain times of the month, when estrogen levels rise.

Women also produce androgens, also known as “male hormones,” which affect the quality of the tear film. In fact, both men and women who have low androgens may suffer from DES.

Women over the age of 50 who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are at a heightened risk of developing dry eye symptoms. About 4 out of 10 post-menopausal women in North America use HRT to manage symptoms of menopause. Women increase their chances of developing DES by 70% when using estrogen alone for HRT, and by 29% when estrogen and progesterone are used together, compared to women who don’t use HRT.

3. Certain Medications

Because women are more likely than men to take both prescription and over-the-counter medications, they are also more prone to experience adverse effects from those medications. The common medications that often cause or exacerbate symptoms of DES include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Acne medications
  • Sleeping pills
  • Birth control pills
  • Blood pressure medications

DES can be uncomfortable at the very least, and debilitating at its worst. The good news is that you can get the relief you seek! At Overland Optical Family Eye Care Dry Eye Center, we provide long-lasting relief to patients suffering from dry eye syndrome by targeting the root of the problem.

If you or a loved one is suffering from dry eyes, call Overland Optical Family Eye Care Dry Eye Center today.

Overland Optical Family Eye Care Dry Eye Center provides dry eye relief to patients from St. Louis and St. Charles, Maryland Heights, St. Peter, Florissant, and throughout Missouri.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Our Dry Eye Doctor in St. Louis and St. Charles

Q: Can I treat my dry eye symptoms at home?

  • A: While there are over-the-counter options available at your local drugstore, you should seek treatment from a dry eye optometrist for the most effective and long-lasting results. Generic dry eye remedies may not target the underlying source of your specific problem.

Q: Can women with dry eye syndrome still wear eye makeup?

  • A: Women with moderate-to-severe DES may find conventional makeup irritating. Try choosing makeup that is hypoallergenic, cream-based (instead of powder), and has a low water content. Thorough makeup removal is crucial for everyone— all the more so for those suffering from DES. So make sure you remove every bit of eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara before bed.


 

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Call Us 314-423-3874

How Sleep Apnea Affects The Eyes

Did you know that some eye conditions are associated with sleep apnea? According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and Health Canada reports similar prevalence. It’s a sleep disorder where people stop breathing — often multiple times per night — while sleeping.

If you have sleep apnea: it tends to take longer for your tears to be replenished, you’re more likely to have ocular irritation, you have a higher chance of developing floppy eyelids, and you’re at increased risk for glaucoma.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During OSA, your airway becomes partially blocked due to relaxed muscles in your nose and throat. This causes apnea (the absence of breathing) or hypopnea (abnormally shallow, slow breathing). It’s twice as common in men, and is more likely to affect people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, which can lead to potentially serious health consequences.

While snoring is a common symptom, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Interrupted sleep can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability or depression, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating and thinking, and a sore throat.

Which Eye Conditions Are Associated With Sleep Apnea?

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, leading to vision loss and sometimes blindness. In some cases, it might be due to a drop in blood oxygen levels, which happens when you stop breathing. However, CPAP machines, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, can also cause glaucoma.

So, people with sleep apnea — even if it’s being treated — need to get their eyes checked on a regular basis for glaucoma.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is an eye condition where a person has an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid. It can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, or blurry vision — and over 90% of people with FES also have sleep apnea.

Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is an eye condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve. Patients typically complain of significant vision loss in one eye without any major pain. Approximately 70-80% of patients with NAION have been found to have OSA.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also referred to as an ‘eye stroke,’ retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. A recent study of 114 RVO patients found that sleep apnea was suspected in 74% of the patients that had previously been diagnosed with RVO.

Other Eye Health Issues Associated With Sleep Apnea

Some other ocular conditions that are more common in patients with sleep apnea include: papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, in addition to glaucoma mentioned above, CPAP machines are associated with dry eye syndrome and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Talk To Your Doc

Get eye exams regularly to rule out eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. At Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland we encourage you to share your medical history with us so we can better diagnose and treat any eye conditions or ocular diseases you may have, and help you keep your eyes nice and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D.

Q: What Causes Sleep Apnea?

  • A: Sleep apnea occurs when in-part or completely stop breathing when sleeping. This causes your lungs to strain harder for oxygen, and makes the brain send signals that jerk your body awake to resume proper breathing.

Q: What are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

  • A: A common sign of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Snoring that is loud enough to disturb the sleep of the patient as well as others around, even across the walls. That said, not everyone who snores suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In St. Louis, Missouri. Visit Overland Optical Family Eye Care for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Is Your Face Mask Causing Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry Eye Syndrome Treatments At Overland Optical Family Eye Care

Dry Eye Syndrome Treatments At Overland Optical Family Eye Care

Social distancing and face masks have become the first line of defense in preventing COVID-19. These protective measures are essential to fighting the virus’ spread.

While masks help protect you and others from COVID-19, eye doctors have seen an increase in dry eye cases among those who wear them.

If you’re seeking effective relief, contact Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland as soon as possible. We’ll offer the best solutions for your mask-associated dry eye (also known as “MADE”).

What is Mask-Associated Dry Eye?

Eye doctors have been seeing an increase in dry eye cases at their practice. Patients with existing dry eye syndrome complained that their symptoms worsened when wearing a mask, while other patients complained of first-time symptoms.

Dry eye symptoms result when fast movement of air caused by exhalation leads eye tears to evaporate. A face mask that doesn’t fit securely can push air from the mouth and nose upward onto the eyes.

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye syndrome causes the eyes to feel gritty, sore, irritated, and dry, and can potentially damage the cornea, if left untreated.

Dry eye syndrome is typically caused by a number of reasons, including health and eye conditions, gender, age, and taking certain medications. Dry weather conditions, indoor heating, air conditioning, and not blinking sufficiently — which is common when staring at a computer screen — can also contribute.

How to Prevent Dry Eye

Here are some easy measures you can take to reduce dry eye:

Mask sure your mask fits correctly

If your mask doesn’t fit properly, your breath will escape from the top of your mask, potentially causing dry eye symptoms. To prevent this, choose masks that fit snugly under your eyes and around the bridge of your nose.

Limit your time in dry environments

If your mask is causing your eyes to feel dry, try to limit your time in windy or dry-air environments, such as windy outdoor weather and air-conditioned rooms.

Keep in mind that people tend to blink less frequently when staring at a screen or reading a book. Blinking provides your eyes with much-needed lubrication, so remember to blink!

Use a warm compress

If your eyes are irritated and sore, dampening a washcloth with warm water and placing it on your closed eyelids for a few minutes can help. The warmth of the water can help stimulate your tear glands to produce more liquid and oil to help keep your eyes lubricated throughout the day.

Use eye drops

Using eye drops can provide the extra lubrication your eyes need to prevent them from drying out. Your eye doctor can advise you on the best drops for your eyes.

Speak to your eye doctor

The best way to minimize your dry eye symptoms—whether caused by a face mask or something else—is to consult your eye doctor, who will examine your eyes and prescribe treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dry Eye Syndrome

Q: Why do my eyes sting when I wear a mask?

  • A: When wearing a loose mask the exhaled air goes into your eyes, which can cause your eyes to sting. So make sure it fits snugly around the bridge of your nose.

Q: What kind of face mask is best to prevent dry eye?

  • A: Ideally, you should wear a face mask with a pliable nose-wire so that it can curve to your cheeks and nose, which reduces air directed toward the eyes.For more information about keeping your eyes healthy while wearing a face mask, contact Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland. We can help determine the underlying cause of your dry eye and offer you the best solution.


My Eyes Feel Gritty. Is It Dry Eye?

something in my eyeWhen your eyes feel gritty it’s often due to an eyelash, a speck of dust, or a grain of sand getting caught in your eye. When this discomfort persists without an apparent reason, you could be experiencing dry eye.

Left untreated, dry eye isn’t just uncomfortable, but it can permanently damage your cornea. If you have dry eye, your eye doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear.

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a common problem caused either by insufficient tears or poor tear quality. Every time you blink, you leave a thin film of tears over the surface of your eyes. This helps keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear. If your tears don’t keep the surface of your eye moist enough, you will experience dry eye.

Symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Irritation- a gritty, scratchy or burning sensation
  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive tearing
  • A feeling of something being stuck in the eye

Causes of Dry Eye

There are many things that can cause dry eye:

  • Allergies
  • Medical conditions – Dry eye is more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems, Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes and several other conditions.
  • Environmental factors – Wind, smoke, and dry air can all cause your tears to evaporate.
  • Insufficient blinking – staring at a computer screen or a book for long periods of time can cause the eyes to blink less frequently.
  • Medications – Antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, and decongestants can cause a reduction in tear production.
  • Ageing – As people get older they are more prone to dry eye. Women tend to be more affected than men.
  • Eyelid Conditions – Insufficient oil production from the glands in the eyelids or misshapen eyelids can lead to poor tear quality.
  • Hormonal changes

Relief from Dry Eye

As with any other form of eye discomfort, your first stop should be your eye doctor, who will thoroughly examine your eyes and eyelids to identify the underlying problem. If dry eye is suspected, your doctor may decide to assess the quality and quantity of your tears.

Depending on the exact cause of your dry eye, your doctor may prescribe artificial tears or prescription eye drops, or discuss a range of in-office procedures to address moderate to severe dry eye caused by your eyelids. Your eye doctor may also recommend wrap-around glasses to protect your eyes against irritants. Blinking more regularly, staying hydrated, and placing a humidifier in your home or office might also help.

After your initial appointment, you will want to schedule a follow-up appointment to make sure the methods you have tried are working and to prevent the progression to advanced dry eye. Advanced dry eye can cause damage to your cornea and, potentially, vision loss.


If you are experiencing eye discomfort, visit Overland Optical Family Eye Care to have your eyes examined and receive effective, lasting treatment.

Overland Optical Family Eye Care Dry Eye Center serves patients from St. Louis and St. Charles, Maryland Heights, St. Peter, and Florissant, all throughout Missouri.

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Call Us 314-423-3874
Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D.

Q: Can you request lenses made from glass? Is glass still used for lenses?

  • A: Yes. Opticians still sometimes use glass for lenses. However, glass is not used very often because they aren’t as safe. If these glass lenses breaks, they can shatters into many pieces and can injure the eye. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, so they can make your eyeglasses less comfortable to wear.

Q: Can a coating be added to eyeglasses to protect them from further scratches?

  • A: A protective coating can’t be added to a lens after it’s scratched. The coating is applied when the lens is manufactured and can’t be put on later.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In St. Louis, Missouri. Visit Overland Optical Family Eye Care for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

The Best Foods for Your Eyes

We all know that eating nutrient-rich foods, drinking plenty of water, and exercising can boost our health. So it’s no surprise that these same activities also support eye health. Research has shown that regularly consuming certain vitamins and nutrients can actually prevent or delay sight-threatening eye conditions and diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. 

Here’s a list of the best vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can help keep your eyes healthy for a lifetime. 

We invite you to consult with our eye doctor, Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D., to discuss which nutrients are most suited to your specific eye health and needs. 

Vitamins and Nutrients That Support Eye Health

*Always best to speak with your primary care doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements, and to ensure you consume the correct dosage for your body.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency can cause a host of eye health issues, including dry eyes and night blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Vitamins A and A1, which are essential for supporting the eye’s photoreceptors (the light-sensing cells) in the retina, can be found in foods like carrots, leafy greens, egg yolks, liver, and fish. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating Omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish can support eye health in a few ways. DHA and EPA, 2 different types of Omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to improve retinal function and visual development.  

Omega-3 supplements can also ease dry eye symptoms. A randomized controlled study found that people who consumed Omega-3 supplements experienced improved tear quality, which resulted in reduced tear evaporation and increased eye comfort.  

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that accumulate in the lens and retina and help filter out damaging UV rays and blue light. One study showed that individuals who had the highest levels of these nutrients in their diets had a 43% lower chance of developing macular degeneration than those who had consumed the least amount.  

Spinach, egg yolks, sweet corn, and red grapes are some of the foods that contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. 

Vitamin C 

High amounts of vitamin C can be found in the aqueous humor of the eye, the liquid that fills the eye’s anterior chamber and supports corneal integrity. This has prompted scientists to consider this vitamin’s role in protecting eye health. 

Research suggests that regularly taking vitamin C (along with other essential vitamins and minerals) can lower the risk of developing cataracts, and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.

While vitamin C appears to support eye health in a variety of ways, it’s still unclear whether taking this supplement benefits those who aren’t deficient. Vitamin C can be found in various fruits and vegetables, like bell peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits, broccoli, and kale. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect fatty acids from becoming oxidized. Because the retina has a high concentration of fatty acids, sufficient vitamin E intake is crucial for optimal ocular health. 

Vitamin E can be found in almonds, flaxseed oil, and sunflower seeds. 

Zinc

Healthy eyes naturally contain high levels of zinc. A zinc deficiency can cause night blindness, and thus increasing zinc intake can improve night vision. Zinc also helps absorb Vitamin A, an essential antioxidant. 

Make sure to avoid taking high doses of zinc (beyond 100 mg daily) without first consulting your eye doctor. Higher doses of zinc have been associated with side effects such as reduced immune function. You can increase your zinc intake naturally by consuming more oysters, meat, and peanuts. 

Phytochemical Antioxidants

Phytochemical antioxidants are chemicals produced by plants that contain several health benefits. Some studies show that these plant-based chemicals may enhance vision and eye health as well as prevent age-related eye diseases and complications by alleviating ocular oxidative stress. Oxidative stress within the eyes contributes to several eye conditions, including  dry eye syndrome. Consuming more produce with these antioxidants can help balance the anti-oxidant and pro-oxidant system, resulting in healthier eyes. 

Personalized Eye Nutrition 

If you or someone you know is looking for ways to boost or maintain eye health, speak with an optometrist near you about what supplements and vitamins are best for you. For an eye doctor in Overland, give us a call at 314-254-2211.

 

Your Eyes Are the Windows to Your Health

Your eyes aren’t just the windows to your soul — they can also reveal valuable information about your general health beyond whether you need glasses, including: diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It is not unusual for people to come in for an eye exam just to check their eyesight and then have certain health issues or predispositions picked up by the optometrist. 

Eye Exams and Your Health

Eye examinations can help doctors detect general health conditions early enough to intervene. Advanced screenings enable eye doctors to better predict cardiovascular incidents like stroke, and possibly detect signs of mental changes such as Alzheimer’s. Read below to learn how eye exams can unveil a whole lot more than just eye health.

Brain Cancer & Stroke

Because of the similarities between the blood vessels in the eye and brain, an eye doctor can occasionally detect an issue taking place in the brain by examining the blood vessels in the eyes. If swelling or shadows in the eye is observed, it may indicate a serious condition in the brain, like a tumor, or clots that might result in a stroke.

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). If an optometrist detects leaky blood vessels in the eye, the patient would be advised to see a doctor to help control their blood sugar. Changes are gradual, and they start before visual symptoms are noticed. The earlier diabetic eye disease is managed, the better the chances are of preserving eyesight. 

Hypertension

High blood pressure, characterized by having too much pressure in the blood vessels, can be detected during an eye exam, sometimes even before it’s diagnosed by your regular doctor. The damaged blood vessels lead to swelling, hemorrhages, and leaking — all of which can be observed in the eyes. According to the CDC, hypertension “the silent killer” affects nearly 1 in 3 adults, and up to a whopping 20% of those don’t even know they have it. So early detection at an eye doctor’s evaluation can be truly life-saving.

High Cholesterol 

Eye exams can also detect a buildup of cholesterol. High cholesterol is among the easiest conditions to spot during a complete eye exam, as the cholesterol deposits manifest on the front of the eye, appearing as a thin, gray rim around the cornea. It can also be detected in the retina by assessing artery and vein patterns.

These deposits may indicate the current or future development of Retinal Blood Vessel Occlusion, a condition where blockages restrict blood flow to the back of the eye, causing temporary or permanent vision loss. 

Heart Conditions

In some cases, heart conditions associated with a buildup of plaque in the carotid artery in the heart can also lead to deposits that clog the ocular arteries in the eye. If an optometrist detects such changes to the vascular structure at the back of the eye, he or she will typically recommend going to a specialist.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Sudden vision loss may be attributed to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While the optometrist can recognize signs indicating the presence of MS, such as the color and appearance of the optic nerve, such cases will be referred for further testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Thyroid

Thyroid disease can make itself apparent through the eyes in several ways. The thyroid gland controls the hormones that regulate tear production so some thyroid disorders can cause dry eye disease. Additionally, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can make the extraocular muscles enlarge and stiffen, causing bulging eyes — an indicator of Graves’ disease. 

Inflammation

Systemic conditions that are associated with inflammation in the body can have an inflammatory effect on the eyes. Uveitis, for example, causes eye inflammation, redness, and blurred vision, and tends to occur in people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. 

Cancer

Breast cancer, leukemia, and other metastatic cancers are occasionally discovered during an eye evaluation. In addition to brain cancer mentioned above, melanoma and basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) can be detected, and eye doctors can also diagnose lymphoma and other eye tumors. Eye exams save lives.

What the Future Holds 

Alzheimer’s 

Recent studies show that a non-invasive and precise imaging device called Octa (optical coherence tomography angiography) can signal the presence of eye changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Because the retina is in many ways an extension of the brain, the altered blood vessels at the back of the eye offer a glimpse into the changes taking place within the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease can often be misdiagnosed as its early symptoms are characteristic of other conditions. Research has shown that subtle eye tremors, an early Parkinson’s marker, could be detectable using advanced eye exam technology. One day soon, practitioners may send patients to an eye doctor to test for this and other diseases.

Your Eye Doctor’s Appointment Could Change Your Life

So the next time you visit Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D. at Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland, remember that a comprehensive eye exam can do more than determine your eyeglasses or contacts prescription. Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D. can evaluate your eyes for existing or potential health issues, and communicate them to your primary care physician for the best possible care. By knowing that you’re at risk for a certain disease, you can take precautions early on and manage the condition as needed. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

How To Prevent Dry, Itchy Eyes This Winter

sport protective eyewear 640x350Winter’s cold air and rainfall are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem. However, this weather can have unfavorable effects on the eyes. The decrease in temperature and humidity levels and the rise of winter’s cool and arid winds may trigger various dry eye symptoms, such as redness, grittiness, stinging, itching, watery eyes, and blurred vision. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent dry eye this winter season, listed below.

Tips To Prevent Winter Dry Eyes

The following tips on preventing dry eye do not replace the advice and care of an optometrist but are meant to shed light on the topic and hopefully render your winter season a more comfortable one.

  • Combat the outdoor dryness by using a humidifier indoors. Your eyes will thank you.
  • Always wear sunglasses or other protective eyewear outside to shield your eyes from winds, debris, and harmful UV rays.
  • Being stuck inside on a snowy day can mean more screen time. Remember to blink often while enjoying that movie or writing that email.
  • Try using lubricating eye drops. Dr. Schmitz can guide you on which eye drops will best suit your needs.
  • Stay hydrated! The eyes are part of a whole system; if one part is dehydrated, chances are the rest of the system could use some hydration as well.
  • Eat foods rich in Omega-3s to promote healthy tears, such as salmon or nuts, as they stimulate quality tears and reduce dryness.

Dry eye symptoms can range from being mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. Don’t let this condition stop you from enjoying this winter season. If you are concerned that you may have dry eye or are experiencing any of its symptoms, speak to us at Overland Optical Family Eye Care Dry Eye Center and we’ll be happy to provide you with the relief you need.

Overland Optical Family Eye Care Dry Eye Center provides dry eye relief and treatment to patients from St. Louis and St. Charles, Maryland Heights, St. Peter, Florissant, and throughout Missouri.

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Call Us 314-423-3874

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