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What Eye Drops Are Best For My Eyes?

Are you suffering from red, irritated and scratchy eyes? Do you feel like you have something stuck in your eyes? These are hallmark symptoms of dry eye syndrome, a condition that occurs when your eyes are not properly lubricated due to insufficient tear production, blocked glands, or unbalanced tear composition.

The symptoms can be so unpleasant that many rush to the nearest pharmacy to find the perfect eye drops that will offer them the relief they need so that they can get back to focusing on other things.

However, seeking the ideal artificial tears to relieve dry eyes can be a daunting process. The eye drops shelf at the drug store offers so many options that it’s hard to know which ones are right for you. What’s more, some can actually make your symptoms worse.

Not all eye drops are created equal—currently, there are 6 main categories of artificial tears available over the counter. Choosing the artificial tears based on your specific needs can help narrow your options.

The 6 Types of Eye Drops / Artificial Tears

Preserved Artificial Tears

Preserved artificial tears contain added preservatives to maintain a very long shelf and keep bacteria at bay once the bottle is opened. Unfortunately, the preservatives can also cause inflammatory dry eye disease, irritation, and an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive. Preserved artificial tears are limited to 4 times a day for this reason. The preservatives may also leave residue on contact lenses, so they are not recommended for use with contact lenses.

Preservative-Free Artificial Tears

Preservative-free artificial tears are great for contact lens wearers as they don’t cause any preservative build-up on the lenses. They are also suitable for those with sensitive eyes since they contain fewer ingredients that can cause irritation.

Preservative-free eye drops typically come in a box of 28 to 30 small vials that fit in a pocket or purse.

To use these drops, just pop the top off and insert the drops into your eyes. Some of these vials can be re-capped to allow you to continue to use the vial for up to 24 hours, but not longer. Refrigerate opened vials between uses to prevent any bacterial growth.

Oil-Based Artificial Tears

Oil-based tears come in preserved and preservative-free versions. These are thicker than traditional eye drops, as they contain an oil-based formulation. The oil helps prevent the watery portion of the tears from evaporating too quickly.

If you suffer from moderate or severe dry eye, oil-based artificial tears may be a great option. However, they’re not recommended for contact lens wearers, as the oils may stick to the surface of the lenses, making it difficult to keep them clean.

Eye Drop Spray or Mist

These sprays are preservative-free and are used to relieve dryness and irritation in both the eyes and eyelids. They’re easy to use, especially for those who struggle to insert drops into their eyes.

To use the spray, just close your eyes and spray onto your closed eyelids. Once you blink, the tears will slide into your eyes.

Don’t use the spray if you’re wearing makeup, lotions, or creams on your eyelids, as it can cause the makeup or lotion to enter your eye.

Artificial Tear Gel

Artificial tear gel adds a thick coating of tears and can be used at any time of the day or night. However, the thicker consistency of the gel drop may blur your vision for several minutes.

The gel is applied in the same way as eye drops. It effectively soothes the eyes and provides extended relief for both moderate to severe dry eye.

Most artificial tear gels contain preservatives, so they can only be used up to 4 times a day, and usually they are not safe for contact lens wearers.

Artificial Tear Ointment

Dry eye ointments are thick and coat the front of your eye for extended coverage. They’re usually used 1 to 2 times daily as needed. It may be best to use them at bedtime, as it will blur your vision.

Get Dry Eye Relief Today!

Artificial tears may be a good way to temporarily relieve eye dryness. However, using the wrong type of eye drops can be worse than not using any drops at all. So be sure to consult your eye doctor before you get eye drops.

Keep in mind that eye drops don’t address the root cause of dry eyes; they just provide temporary relief from the uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. Only an eye doctor can examine your eyes to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend the best treatment for your unique case of dry eye.

Schedule an appointment with Overland Optical in St. Charles or Overland to learn more about dry eye syndrome and to find out which treatment is best for you.

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Sara Schmitz, O.D.

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

    • A: Dry eye syndrome is a condition where your eyes either produce low-quality tears or don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated. This may be due to certain diseases (like diabetes or other autoimmune diseases), aging, allergies, hormonal changes, smoking, poor air quality, medications, and the environment.

    Q: What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

          • A: Dry eye syndrome can cause a wide range of symptoms including:Itchy eyes
            A feeling that there is grit or debris in the eye
            Blurred vision
            Burning sensation
            Watery eyes
            Dryness
            Irritation
            Sensitivity to light and glare

      Q: Artificial Tears

                • A: Artificial tears are drops used to lubricate dry eyes. These drops help maintain moisture on the surface of your eyes. Artificial tears are available without a prescription from your optometrist. There is no one brand works best for every form of dry eyes. Aside lubricating the surface of your eyes, artificial tears can also promote healing of the eyes. Additionally, some types of drops work to decrease the evaporation of tears from the surface of your eyes. Artificial tears may also contain thickening agents, which keep the solution on the surface of your eyes longer.

      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.

      How’s Your Hand-Eye Coordination?

      People with poor hand-eye coordination are sometimes perceived as clumsy or inattentive. The truth is that poor hand-eye coordination stems from a deficit in visual-motor coordination. Fortunately, your eye doctor will assess your coordination during a comprehensive eye exam.

      What Is Hand-Eye Coordination?

      Hand-eye coordination is a person’s ability to smoothly control their hand movements based on the visual cues they receive from the brain. When the eyes and brain are communicating effectively, a person’s hand-eye coordination can be drastically improved. Many activities, from driving a car to catching a ball, depend on our visual system working at its best.

      Here’s how it works: Our eyes capture what they see around them, and send this visual information to the brain. The brain processes and interprets these images, and then communicates with our hands and arms, informing them of the object’s position, speed, size and many other parameters.

      This process is very complex and must work seamlessly for our hands to react quickly to visual stimuli. Having good hand-eye coordination can be the difference between turning the steering wheel away from an encroaching car to avoid an accident, or being hit by that car.

      We all utilize hand-eye coordination multiple times throughout the day when doing things like:

      • Writing
      • Driving
      • Typing
      • Playing a video game
      • Exercising or playing sports
      • Inserting a credit card into a chip reader

      When the visual and motor systems don’t communicate efficiently, a person may experience symptoms like clumsiness at the very least, and professional, academic or developmental challenges at the worst. For example, poor hand-eye coordination can interfere with typing skills, attention and handwriting.

      Even a person with perfect visual acuity (eyesight) and great motor skills can experience poor hand-eye coordination. That’s because the problem usually isn’t with the individual systems, but rather how the brain, eyes and the body interact with each other.

      Eye Exams Can Detect Problems With Visual Skills

      Assessing hand-eye coordination is crucial for both adults and children, as this skill greatly impacts most parts of life.

      At your comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will check several visual skills, including hand-eye coordination. If a problem with hand-eye coordination or any other visual skill is found, Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D. will discuss the next steps in treating and correcting the problem.

      To schedule an eye exam for you or your child, call Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland today!

      Q&A

      #1: What other visual skills are evaluated during an eye exam?

      During an eye exam, your optometrist will test for visual acuity, convergence, eye tracking, eye teaming, color vision, and focusing. Testing these skills is especially important for school-aged children, since learning and academic performance heavily depend on healthy vision.

      #2: How often do you need a comprehensive eye exam?

      Adults should have their eyes examined by an optometrist every year, or as frequently as their optometrist recommends. Children should have their eyes first checked at 6-12 months of age and then as frequently as advised by the optometrist. As a rule, most children should be seen when they are 2 or 3 years old, before first grade and then every year thereafter.

      If you have any concerns about your child’s vision or are yourself due for an eye exam, contact us today. We want what’s best for your vision and life!

      Why Are Dilated Eye Exams So Important?

      Having your eyes dilated during an eye exam may seem like a nuisance. But when you consider the benefits of a dilated eye exam, the temporary blurred vision and sensitivity to light that typically follow are definitely worth it.  

      What Are Dilated Eye Exams? 

      At some point during a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will shine a bright light into your eyes to examine the back of your eye, called the retina. The problem is that bright light causes the size of the pupil’s opening to shrink, which makes it hard for the optometrist to see a large portion of the retina. 

      That’s why eye doctors apply special eye drops in each eye to keep the pupils open. A dilated pupil allows for a much more accurate assessment of your eye’s structures, including the focusing lens, blood vessels and tissues at the back of the eye called the retina, as well as the optic nerve and macula. 

      Dilating the eyes makes it easier for your optometrist to detect the following conditions and diseases: 

      • Cataracts
      • Glaucoma 
      • Diabetic retinopathy
      • Macular degeneration
      • Retinal tumor 
      • Retinal detachment or retinal tears
      • Eye floaters

      It’s important to note that many of these conditions can develop without noticeable symptoms, until they cause vision loss at which point treatment may be more challenging, making dilated eye exams all the more crucial. 

      The Dilation Process

      First, your eye doctor will apply eye drops to each eye to trigger dilation of the pupil. Your eyes should be fully dilated about 10-20 minutes later. 

      Your eyes will remain dilated for 4-6 hours, and during this time you may be sensitive to light. That’s because the larger pupil allows more light than usual to enter the eye. Many patients find it more comfortable to wear sunglasses until their eyes return to normal. 

      Reading and using a computer may be difficult with dilated eyes, and your vision may be blurred. Some patients report feeling a tightening sensation in their eyelids, or headaches. 

      Dilated eye exams are a crucial part of keeping your eyes healthy. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland today!

      Q&A

      #1: At what age should one have a dilated eye exam? 

      You should have your dilated eye exam no matter your age. Most eye doctors will dilate a new patient at their first exam regardless of age to get a baseline of their retinal health.

      #2: Will I be able to return to work after a dilated eye exam? 

      Everyone reacts differently, so it’s hard to tell. If your job requires you to focus on small print or detail, it may be challenging. Typing and writing may also be difficult with dilated pupils. To be on the safe side, book your appointment at the end of your work day, clear your schedule after your eye exam and only plan to do activities which aren’t visually demanding. 

      Contact Lenses Wear & Care Do’s and Don’ts

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      Contact Lenses & Eye Care

      Here’s a shocking statistic: According to the CDC, more than 99% of the people who wear contact lenses in the U.S. engage in at least one risky or unsanitary behavior with their lenses!

      Contact lenses are a safe and convenient way to correct your vision — as long as they are worn and cared for properly. Engaging in risky behavior when it comes to your lenses can put you at risk of developing eye infections or cause eye damage.

      So, if you wear contact lenses, continue reading to learn the correct contact lens protocol. To ask any questions about your contact lenses or schedule a contact lens consultation, call Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland today.

      The Do’s of Contact Lens Wear and Care

      • We can’t stress this enough: Do wash your hands! Before touching your eyes or handling your lenses, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. After rinsing, dry your hands on a paper towel or clean lint-free cloth.
      • Do disinfect your lenses when you remove them from your eyes, using only solutions recommended by your eye doctor.
      • Do remove your contact lenses before sleeping, swimming, and showering. Contact lenses and water do not mix due to the risk of infection.
      • Do clean your contact lens case weekly with warm soapy water and replace it every 3 months.
      • Do carry a pair of glasses with you in case you need to remove your contact lenses.

      The Don’ts of Contact Lens Wear and Care

      • Don’t overwear your lenses. Replace them as often as your doctor recommends. So, replace your monthlies every month, your weeklies every week, and discard daily lenses before bedtime.
      • Don’t rub your eyes while wearing contact lenses.
      • Don’t use tap water or saliva (ever!) to rinse or rewet your contact lenses.
      • Don’t allow makeup to get into your eyes when wearing contact lenses.
      • Don’t share your contact lenses with anyone — seriously, don’t.
      • Don’t wear your contact lenses if your eyes feel irritated or appear red. Give them a chance to de-stress before inserting them back into your eyes.
      • Don’t skip your annual eye exam. Your eyes will thank you.

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

      Q: What are the latest trends in contact lenses?

      • A: Many contact lens manufacturers are now producing “daily” disposable contact lenses. These are lenses that are inserted in the morning and thrown away at night. This style of contact lens wear is both convenient and healthy. With these lenses, patients buy fewer solutions and don’t have to keep up with how old their lenses are and when to change them. Daily disposables are also beneficial in causing less allergy and dryness while reducing the risks of infection. Daily lenses are now offered in all types of prescriptions from distance vision to astigmatism and multifocal/bifocal prescriptions.

      Q: Is wearing contacts better for sports activity?

      • A: Yes, wearing contacts provide a wider field of view thus preventing avoidable injuries. Prescription sports goggles work well but when your actively sweating you goggles will fog up and start to move around a lot. I recommend contacts a lot for my active patients.

      Contact Lenses – Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Overland, Missouri. Visit Overland Optical Family Eye Care for contact lenses and trendy eyeglasses that match your style.

      Whether you wear contact lenses or not, regular eye exams can help detect eye disease early and give you a chance to discuss all of your eye-related concerns with your eye doctor. To schedule your annual eye exam, call Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland today!

      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.

      Are Contact Lenses Safe For Young Children?

      Here’s a question we often get at our practice: ‘Is my child too young for contact lenses?’ This is an important question, and the answer may surprise you.

      For children with myopia (nearsightedness), contact lenses can be a convenient method of vision correction. It allows kids to go about their day without having to worry about breaking or misplacing their glasses, and enables them to freely participate in sports and other physical activities.

      Some children and young teens may ask their parents for contact lenses because they feel self-conscious wearing glasses. Contact lenses may even provide children with the confidence boost they need to come out of their shell. Moreover, these days, it is very popular for children to wear single-use one-day disposable soft contacts, since there is no cleaning or maintenance involved.

      Some parents may deny their child’s request for contacts due to concerns about eye health and safety. There’s no reason to worry: contact lenses are just as safe for children as they are for anyone else.

      At Overland Optical Family Eye Care, we provide children, teens, and patients of all ages with a wide variety of contact lenses. If you’re concerned about the safety of contacts for your child, we’ll be happy to explain and explore ways to ensure maximum safety, optimal eye health and comfort. To learn more or to schedule a pediatric eye exam for contact lenses, contact us today.

      What Are the Risks of Having My Child Wear Contact Lenses?

      A study published in the January 2021 issue of The Journal of Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics found that kids aren’t at a higher risk of experiencing contact lens complications.

      The study followed nearly 1000 children aged 8-16 over the course of 1.5-3 years to determine how contact lenses affected their eye health.

      The results indicate that age doesn’t have an effect on contact lens safety. In fact, the researchers found that the risk of developing infections or other adverse reactions was less than 1% per year of wear — which is comparable to contact lens wearers of other ages.

      But before you decide that contact lenses are right for your child, you may want to consider whether your child is ready to wear them. During his or her eye doctor’s appointment, the optometrist may ask about your child’s level of maturity, responsibility, and personal hygiene. Since many children are highly motivated to wear contacts, they tend to display real maturity in caring for their lenses. That said, in the initial stages, parents may need to play an active role, as their child gets used to inserting and removing the new contact lenses.

      It’s important to note that just as with any other medical device, contact lenses are not risk-free. Anyone who wears contact lenses has a chance of developing eye infections or other complications with contact lenses. However, when worn and cared for according to your eye doctor’s instructions, contact lenses are low-risk and perfectly safe for children and teenagers.

      So, go ahead and bring your child in for a contact lens consultation! We’ll help determine if your child is ready for contacts and answer any questions you or your child may have. To schedule your child’s contact lens fitting or eye exam, contact Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland today.

      The Importance of Eye Exams for Contact Lenses

      Are you planning on wearing contact lenses for the first time? Do you need a new contact lens prescription? Are your current contacts not as comfortable as you wish they were? Your eye doctor will perform a contact lens eye exam to ensure that your vision with contacts is clear, comfortable, and safe, providing you with the right lenses for you.

      What is a contact lens exam?

      If you wear or want to wear contact lenses, you’ll need an eye exam for contact lenses, in addition to your regular comprehensive eye exam. Special tests are performed during a contact lens exam to evaluate your eyes and vision with contacts.

      Are eyeglass prescriptions the same as contact lens prescriptions?

      No, a prescription for glasses cannot be used for contact lenses. An eyeglass prescription is for lenses that are positioned approximately 12 millimeters from your eyes, whereas a contact lens prescription is measured for lenses that sit directly on the surface of your eye.

      The prescription for contact lenses also includes the brand, lens diameter and curvature, which are not part of an eyeglass prescription.

      Contact lenses fitting: One size does not fit all

      One contact lens size doesn’t fit all eyes. If a contact lens is too flat or too steep for your corneal shape, you may experience discomfort or even eye damage. Your eye doctor will take certain measurements to determine the best contact lens design and fit for your eyes.

      Corneal curvature

      This measures the curvature of your eye’s clear front surface (cornea) so the eye doctor can select the optimal curve and diameter for your contact lenses. If your eye’s surface is somewhat irregular because of astigmatism or other conditions, you may require a special lens.

      Pupil and iris size

      The size of your pupil and iris (the colored part of your eye) is also important in determining the best contact lens design.

      Tear film evaluation

      This test evaluates the quality of your tears, to determine whether they will be able to keep contact lenses and your cornea sufficiently hydrated throughout the day. If you have dry eye disease, standard contact lenses may not be right for you.

      Trial lenses

      Following the eye exam, you will be provided with trial lenses to verify that the chosen contact lenses offer clear and comfortable vision. This will allow the eye doctor to make any fine adjustments to the prescription.

      Contact Lens Eye Exam Near You

      Wearing the correct contact lenses for your eyes allows you to enjoy all of the benefits of wearing contacts, while keeping your eyes healthy and comfortable.

      If you’re already a contact lens wearer, visit your eye doctor at least once a year to make sure the lenses are still providing you with optimum vision and comfort.

      Contact Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland to book your contact lens eye exam today!

      Why Does Your Eye Doctor Dilate Your Pupils for an Eye Exam?

      If you’ve been following the guideline to have regular eye exams, then you’re probably familiar with having your pupils dilated. Why does your eye doctor do this?

      By dilating your pupils, the eye doctor can get a better view of your inner eye structures – so the eye exam is more comprehensive and more detailed. While the back of your eye can be seen through an undilated pupil, it cannot be examined as fully.

      A full evaluation of your macula, retina and optic nerve is possible through dilated pupils. In many common eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, these are the parts of the eye that exhibit signs of a problem. Also, health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can often be detected on these parts of the eye.

      What happens when the eye doctor dilates your pupils?

      Your eye doctor or a technician will insert eye drops into your eyes; it takes 20 – 30 minutes for them to take full effect. Then, your eye doctor will use a lighted microscope to inspect your eyes.

      Initially, you may feel a slight stinging when the drops are first inserted, but the discomfort is typically minor and short-lived. For a few hours afterwards, your eyes will be extra-sensitive to light and vision may be slightly blurred. Wearing sunglasses can help manage this sensitivity. Dilation usually wears off within four to six hours.

      Even though getting your pupils dilated for an eye exam may feel like a nuisance, it enables your eye doctor to check your ocular health and overall body health with much more accuracy. So the benefits are clear! Contact an expert eye doctor near you to schedule an eye exam.

      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: 314-423-3874 or book an appointment online to see one of our Overland eye doctors.

      Want to Learn More? Read on!

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      What Is 20/20 Vision?

      If your last eye exam revealed that you have 20/20 vision, you probably walked out of the eye care center with a big smile! It’s a great feeling to be able to see without eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, did you know that 20/20 vision is not the same as having perfect vision? So what is it? What is perfect vision?

      At Overland Optical Family Eye Care, when Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D. announces the results of your eye exam, he is reporting on your visual acuity, which is the clarity of your eyesight. These numbers describe how well your eyes can see an object that’s 20 feet away. If you can see it clearly, then your vision is considered “normal” – but not “perfect.” That’s because even if you have 20/20 vision, you could still have problems with peripheral vision, color vision, eye coordination, focusing, or depth perception. To find out your visual acuity and total eye health, book an eye exam with our Overland, Missouri, optometrist near you.

      How does my eye doctor test visual acuity?

      Typically, every eye exam and vision screening includes having you read the Snellen Eye Chart. This diagnostic tool appears as lines of block letters and numbers printed in progressively smaller sizes. The first line will display one huge letter, such as an “E”, and as you move down the chart row by row, the letters get smaller, and there are more of them per line. The lower down on the chart you can read correctly, the closer you are to being diagnosed with 20/20 vision. The bottom row (eight down) is 20/20 vision.

      What if I don’t have 20/20 vision?

      Don’t worry, you’re in good company! Statistics say that almost half of US adults don’t have 20/20 vision.

      Depending on what your visual acuity is, you may need vision correction with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, or LASIK refractive surgery, to help you achieve 20/20 vision, or close to it. But not everyone can get to 20/20 – even with corrective treatment. In other words, some people can only see at 60 feet what others with normal vision can see at 20 feet (=20/60 vision). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t see well enough to function. For example:

      • If our eye care professional detects that you have 20/40 vision, it’s still enough to get a driver’s license.
      • If you have 20/80 vision, you should still be able to read headlines in a newspaper and tell the time on an alarm clock placed 10 feet away.
      • If your visual acuity deteriorates to 20/200 vision, you’ll be classified as legally blind.

      Can I have better than 20/20 vision?

      Sure, especially if you’re a bird of prey! Falcons see about eight times better than humans, with a visual acuity of about 20/2. All jokes aside, even humans can have vision that’s sharper than 20/20, such as 20/15. That means you can back up five feet during your eye exam and still read the Snellen eye chart the same as a person with normal vision standing five feet closer to the chart.

      Why do I need good vision?

      There are lots of reasons why it’s smart to invest in good vision by visiting our Overland eye care center near you for regular eye exams. Don’t underestimate the value of sharp, healthy vision in your life! Here are a few important benefits of 20/20 vision:

      • Reading with ease: reading is essential for day-to-day life, whether you read the newspaper, your smartphone, documents at work, letters and bills, or just want to enjoy a good novel.
      • Comfort: without sharp vision, you’ll need to squint all the time, leading to headaches and muscle strain.
      • Safety: activities such as driving and biking become extremely hazardous if you can’t see. Even if you’re just taking a walk, having sharp visual acuity will help prevent you from tripping and falling.
      • Quality of life: clear eyesight goes far towards your quality of life! Without sharp vision, who knows what scenes and wonderful moments you’ll miss out on?

      At Overland Optical Family Eye Care, we’ll help you to see the best that you can see! Contact our Overland, Missouri, optometrist to schedule an eye exam near you today.

      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: 314-423-3874 or book an appointment online to see one of our Overland eye doctors.

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      3 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision and Eyes

      Did you know that people with diabetes are 20 times more likely to get eye diseases than those without it? There are three major eye conditions that diabetics are at risk for developing: cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. To prevent these sight-threatening diseases, it’s important to control your blood sugar level and have your eyes checked at least once a year by an eye doctor.

      But First, What Is Diabetes?

      Diabetes is a disease that is associated with high blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps our cells get energy from the sugars we eat. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce or respond to insulin effectively, leaving too much sugar in the blood stream instead. Over time, diabetes can lead to potentially irreversible ocular damage and poor eyesight. However, by taking care of your blood sugar levels and your eyes, you can prevent vision loss.

      Annual eye exams are recommended for everyone, but routine screenings are even more important for diabetics. Eye doctors may send diabetic eye health reports to a patient’s primary care physician or internist to adjust medication as needed to prevent complications.

      What’s the Link Between Vision and Diabetes?

      Blurred vision or fluctuating eyesight clarity is often one of the first noticeable signs that diabetes has begun to affect your eyes. Sometimes, fluid leaking into the eye causes the lens to swell and change shape. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, resulting in fuzzy vision. Such symptoms can indicate that an eye disease is developing, or may simply be due to imbalanced blood sugar levels which can be rectified by getting your blood sugar back to healthy levels.

      If you start to notice blurry vision, make an appointment with Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D. as soon as possible.

      The 3 Ways Diabetes Impacts Vision

      Cataracts

      While cataracts are extremely common and a part of the natural aging process, those with diabetes tend to develop cataracts earlier in life. Characterized by a clouding or fogging of the lens within the eye, cataracts impede light from entering the eye, causing blurred vision and glares. The best treatment is cataract surgery, which is very safe and effective.

      Glaucoma

      Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases characterized by optic nerve damage. Since it tends to impact peripheral vision first, glaucoma often goes unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. However, routine glaucoma screenings can detect warning signs; early treatment can prevent disease progression and vision loss.

      Although there is no true cure for glaucoma, most glaucoma patients successfully manage it with special eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or other surgery. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed and managed, the better the outcome.

      Diabetic Retinopathy

      Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels on your retina (capillaries) become weakened and then balloon (microaneurysm) due to poorly controlled blood sugar levels. The resulting poor blood circulation in the back of the eye causes more abnormal blood vessels to grow, which also bleed or leak fluid, and can lead to scar tissue, retinal detachment and even blindness, over time.

      Often there are no symptoms until the advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, where patients may begin to see spots and missing patches in their vision. Retinopathy can be treated through surgery and eye injections, but the best way to prevent this disease from progressing is to regularly have your eyes screened.

      The good news is that diabetic eye disease can often be prevented with early detection, proper management of your diabetes and regular diabetic eye exams. Contact Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland to set up your eye doctor’s appointment today.

      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.

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