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Women and Eye Health Risks

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Most women understand how important it is to visit the doctor regularly so they can stay healthy and feel their best. However, many don’t realize this means having their eyes checked as well. This is especially important for women since they are more likely than men to suffer from eye-related diseases and conditions such as:

  • Cataract
  • Glaucoma
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Two out of every three people living with blindness or vision problems are women, according to the National Eye Institute. And unfortunately, many women don’t know about this heightened risk and are not doing enough to care for their healthy sight. This can lead to staggering healthcare costs down the road. In an effort to educate the public on the increased risk for women and vision health issues, as well as steps that can be taken to prevent vision loss, April has been declared Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Did you know that other health conditions can also impact vision? Not only are women at greater risk for many eye diseases, they are also at risk for several overall health conditions that impact their vision. These include:

  • Diabetes – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 American women over the age of 20 has diabetes. Diabetes increases risk for several eye diseases, diabetic retinopathy, most commonly, as well as damage from ultraviolet (UV) light. People with diabetes often experience light sensitivity, difficulty distinguishing colors in low lighting, and trouble driving at night.
  • Autoimmune diseases – According to the National Institute of Health, women are more likely to develop several autoimmune diseases that can affect the eyes. These include:
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Breast and other cancers – Some cancer treatments can cause:
  • Bleeding in the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Cataracts
  • Dry, itchy eyes

While these eye problems may sound scary, your eye doctor can help educate you on the changes and find ways to ease the symptoms, so you have the best chance at maintaining optimal eye health.

Are Your Eyes Putting in Overtime?

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As we continue to work and learn from home, the amount of time we spend in front of a screen is probably more time than we spend doing anything else. Today’s world runs on digital. From the living room to the board room, we rely on our devices to stay informed, connect with others, attend classes and in many cases, earn a living. Mobile devices and computers deliver countless benefits.
However, they can also have an unpleasant side effect – more exposure to blue light.

What is blue light? And how does it impact our eyes?

Blue light is the range of light with the highest amount of energy in the visible light spectrum (the light we can see). Modern devices like smartphones, tablets, and computer monitors all emit blue light. While historically we’ve gotten our daily dose of blue light from the sun, our increased exposure to blue light from these modern devices has been linked to the onset of digital eye strain.

Why does blue light exposure matter?

Your eyes weren’t built to process blue light well; so, they work extra hard trying to bring this light into focus. Think of it like running a marathon where someone keeps moving the finish line back. With 63% of U.S. employees now working from home and parents reporting a recent 500% increase in children’s online screen time, exposure to blue light from digital devices is at an all-time high. Your eyes are putting in overtime daily which can contribute to digital eye strain and symptoms like tired eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and dry eyes.

Is there something that can help?

There are two types of products that can help reduce blue light exposure:

  • A premium anti-reflective coating that targets blue light wavelengths associated with digital eye strain. Because this coating both absorbs and reflects blue light, it has an attractive, near-clear appearance that provides better cosmetic appeal than other blue-light lens products.
  • Light-reactive lenses offer comparable blue light filtration indoors in their clear state. Outdoors, the lenses darken and increase the amount of blue light filtration from sunlight to match the increased intensity of the source.

Interested to learn more? Give us a call! Our doctors can talk to you about blue light lens options and other recommendations to reduce or prevent digital eye strain. Swan Family Optometry 916-966-6080

Healthy Heart, Healthy Eyes

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They say the eyes are the window to your soul, but did you know they can also show how healthy your heart is? If you weren’t aware, you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by VSP Vision Care and YouGov, only 1% of people know that signs of diseases and conditions that affect the heart and eyes, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can be detected through an eye exam. This is incredibly concerning because if conditions like these are left untreated, they can cause eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, and macular degeneration. All of which can cause serious vision issues or complete loss of sight if left untreated.

The arrangement of blood vessels at the back of the eye is closely connected to the health of your heart. So, you may not realize that cardiovascular and eye diseases share the same underlying causes, as well as the same treatment. A root symptom of many of these diseases is inflammation, which your eye doctor can identify through an annual comprehensive eye exam.

Your eye doctor sees a range of heart-related eye diseases. A patient may come in with only a complaint of blurry vision and may be unaware of the state of their overall health and how their blurry vision may be caused by an underlying condition.

Similarly, not being able to see out of one eye or other visual disturbances may be an indication of a deeper heart-related issue. Being aware that the lens you’re seeing the world through can determine the status of your overall health is the first step to healthier living. When early signs of diseases such as stroke, bacterial endocarditis, and diabetes can be identified through an eye exam, there is no reason to forego it.

The next time you’re due for an annual eye exam with us, remember how crucial it is in taking care of your overall health. Your body will thank you later!

Don’t Let Glaucoma Steal Your Sight

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Vision problems are often one of the first indications that we are not as young as we feel.

Even people who have never needed glasses or contacts may start to experience blurry vision or other noticeable imperfections. Many of these developments, such as difficulty seeing nearby objects, are a normal part of aging and can be easily treated.

However, serious eye conditions become more likely in middle-age and beyond. That is why it’s important to take vision health seriously as we age, as catching eye diseases like glaucoma in the early stages can lead to more effective treatment.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually steals sight without warning. When the internal pressure in the eyes increases enough it can damage the nerve fibers in the optic nerve and cause vision loss.

There are several types of glaucoma, and most people will not experience any symptoms until the condition has become extremely dangerous. It’s important to see your eye doctor each year so they can spot any warning signs.

Optometrists have a variety of ways to screen for glaucoma, by measuring the pressure in the eyes, examining the inside of the eyes, and dilating your pupils to get a better look at the optic nerve and drainage angle.

Is there treatment?

There are several treatment options your eye doctor will consider if you are found to be suffering from glaucoma. These include eye drops, medication, laser surgery, or conventional surgery. The best course of action depends upon the particulars of your case and how you respond to treatment.

A comprehensive vision exam is essential to catch serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma, before irreversible damage is done.

Has it been a while since your last comprehensive vision exam? Give us a call to schedule one today!

Keep the season (and your family’s eyes) safe and bright with these toy safety tips!

With the holiday season upon us, gift giving is in full swing. So, it’s only appropriate that the American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared December as Safe Toys and Celebrations Month. As parents, seeing the excitement on your child’s face as they open their presents this time of year brings a great deal of joy, especially as they open that one special toy they’ve been hoping to receive.

According to Stanford Children’s Health, toys and home playground equipment cause more than 11,000 injuries to young eyes. However, you don’t have to let toy safety concerns get in the way of your celebration – keep the season (and your family’s eyes!) safe and bright with these toy safety tips:

· Examine toys for sharp or ragged edges. Safety regulations prohibit sharp points in new toys that are designed for use by children under eight years of age.

· Be sure to select toys that are age-appropriate for your child.

· When introducing new toys, be sure to show your child how to use or play with them safely and as intended.

· Store toys away after play to prevent falls.

Visit preventblindness.org for additional tips to gift-givers to make sure gifts are safe, especially those intended for children.

Need gift ideas? Consider sunglasses with UV protection. Give us a call, and we’ll help you find the perfect gift!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Swan Family Optometry!

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What Is the Long-Term Impact of Virtual Learning on Children’s Eyes?

Kids, like adults, are spending more time online. At some point during the COVID-19 pandemic, many children attended school via Zoom and completed assignments online. The trend toward more screen time — whether playing games or being in touch with friends — is likely to continue even after everyone returns to the classroom.

We already know that prolonged screen time can cause digital eye strain as well as dry eye symptoms, among other problems in children and adults. There is some indication that extended exposure to blue light may impact the development of retinal cells. However, studies on actual subjects still need to be done to establish a clear connection.

Dry Eyes

Spending a long time in front of screens can impact how quickly our tears evaporate, because we blink around 66% less when using a computer compared to other daily activities. When tears evaporate too quickly and aren’t replenished with blinking our eyes start to feel dry and gritty. So remember to blink every few seconds to prevent your eyes from drying out!

Blue Light Exposure

Screens, such as those that appear on computers, phones and tablets emit blue light. Recent studies have shown that overexposure to blue light can damage the retinal cells at the back of your eyes. This may increase the risk of vision issues such as age-related macular degeneration which eventually leads to permanent loss of vision.

Excess blue light has also been shown to disrupt the circadian rhythms that regulate our sleep patterns, as it tricks your internal clock into thinking that it is the middle of the day. This may lead to difficulty in falling asleep, insomnia, and daytime fatigue.

Digital Eye Strain

Nearly 60% of people who routinely use computers or digital devices experience symptoms of digital eye strain — also called computer vision syndrome. Symptoms of eye strain include eye fatigue and discomfort, dry eye, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, eye twitching, and red eyes.

Taking frequent breaks from your screen can help reduce eye strain and neck, back and shoulder pain during your workday.

It is recommended to take at least one 10-minute break every hour. During these breaks, stand up, move about and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders to relieve tension and muscle aches.

Also, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This relaxes the focusing lens inside the eye to prevent fatigue.

How to Make Virtual Learning Safer For Your Child

The following tips can lessen the impact of screens on your child’s eyes:

  • Reduce overall screen time
  • Encourage frequent breaks
  • Use accessories that filter blue light (for example, blue light glasses)
  • Schedule regular eye exams

Make Sure Your Child Gets Routine Eye Exams

Children need comprehensive eye exams to assess the health of their eyes, correct their vision and spot potential problems which can affect learning and behavior.

To schedule a pediatric eye exam near you, call our optometrist in Fair Oaks today!

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Q&A With Our Eye Doctor in Fair Oaks, California

What are blue light glasses?

Blue light glasses, also known as computer glasses, effectively block the transmission of blue light emitted from devices and computer screens. They often include a coating to reduce glare to further reduce eye strain. These glasses can be purchased with or without a prescription.

What’s the 20-20-20 rule?

If you find yourself gazing at screens all day, whether your computer, smartphone, iPad or television, you’re at risk of experiencing eye strain. So make sure you schedule frequent breaks from your screen and follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. And while you’re at it, use this time to get up, walk around, and stretch.

New To Contact Lenses? Here Are Our Top 5 Tips!

For an estimated 125 million people worldwide, contact lenses are the preferred form of vision correction. So if you’ve just started wearing contact lenses — you’re in good company.

Advice About Contact Lenses from Fair Oaks Eye Doctor: Dr. Elisabeth Swan

Here are 5 tips to quickly help you adjust to wearing and caring for your new lenses so you can enjoy the many benefits they offer.

  1. Learn How to Tell if Your Contact Lens Is Inside Out

This is a common mistake many beginners make when inserting soft contacts. Place the lens on your index fingertip and look carefully at its shape. The edge of the lens should be pointing upwards, like the rim of a teacup. If the edge is flared outward like a blooming flower, the lens is inside out.

Some contact lenses have tiny laser markings of numbers or letters. If the numbers/letters read correctly when you hold the lens on your fingertip, they are properly oriented and the lens is ready to be inserted.

  1. Never Use a Substitute for Contact Lens Solution

Your eye doctor will recommend the appropriate contact lens solution to suit your eyes and lenses. Some people have sensitivities and not all lens solutions are the same.

Even if you run out of contact lens solution, don’t be tempted to rinse your lenses with water, and never use saliva to moisten or clean them.

Using substances other than the recommended contact lens solution to rinse or rewet your contacts can introduce harmful microbes to the eye and cause a serious infection. That’s why it’s best to remove your contacts before showering, swimming, or any other time they might get wet.

  1. If Your Contact Lenses Feel Uncomfortable, Take Them Out!

Some newcomers mistakenly think that if their contacts feel uncomfortable or gritty, they simply need to “get used to them.” Contact lenses are supposed to be comfortable, so if you are experiencing discomfort there may be something wrong.

With clean fingers, remove your contacts and rinse them, inside and out, with the solution or rewetting drops as recommended by your eye doctor. Dust or dirt could have gotten stuck between the lens and your eye, causing irritation. Flushing the lenses with contact lens solution will help remove the irritant.

If your eyes still feel irritated, don’t place the contact lenses back in your eyes. Instead, wait until they are no longer red or irritated, and try inserting them again. If the problem persists, contact your eye doctor.

  1. Wear Contact Lens-Friendly Makeup

Wearing makeup around the eyes can be a source of irritation and infection whether you wear contact lenses or not. Here’s what we recommend when it comes to eye makeup and contact lenses:

  • Choose hypoallergenic makeup.
  • If using a cream-based product around your eyes, choose a water-based formula instead of an oil-based one.
  • Keep your eye closed during application to avoid makeup particles entering your eye.
  • Don’t apply eyeliner or eyeshadow to the inner rims of your eyelids.
  • Replace eye makeup at least once every 3 months to minimize the growth and spread of bacteria.
  • Never share eye makeup with friends or family.
  • Remove your contact lenses before removing your makeup.
  1. Stick to the Hygiene Guidelines

We can’t emphasize this enough — always thoroughly wash and dry your hands before handling your contact lenses.

Try to avoid washing your hands with oily or heavily scented hand soaps, as they tend to cling to the surface of the lens and could irritate the eye. Additionally, if you touch moisturizers or lotions before handling your contact lenses you run the risk of some residual product adhering to the lens and clouding your vision.

After washing your hands, dry them using a lint-free towel. It’s harder to grasp contact lenses with wet hands, and — as mentioned above — lenses shouldn’t come into contact with tap water.

Bonus Tip: Get an Eye Exam

While all this advice can be very helpful, it doesn’t replace an in-person exam with your eye doctor. Your eye doctor will advise you when to return for your next contact lens consultation. Following this schedule is the best way to ensure you can enjoy the freedom of contact lens wear.

If you are new to contact lenses (or not!) and have any questions or concerns about your eyes or vision, call 916-966-6080. Swan Family Optometry will be happy to schedule you for a contact lens exam and fitting.

With the help of Dr. Elisabeth Swan, you’ll be an expert in contact lens wear and care in no time!

How Can My Child’s Myopia Be Corrected?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is one of the most common eye conditions affecting millions of people around the world.

Myopia is a refractive error in which the eyes are unable to focus clearly on images or objects. This results in blurry vision when looking at something at a distance, such as people walking down a street, a school board, or even the TV. However, images that are closer can be seen more clearly. Children with uncorrected myopia tend to experience eye strain, eye fatigue, or headaches in an effort to see images in the distance clearly.

Fortunately, eyeglasses or contact lenses work wonders to correct vision. In this text, we’ll discuss both glasses and contacts as options for myopia correction.

 

Methods of Myopia Correction

Contact Lenses

Contacts can be a great choice, especially for physically active children or teens who don’t want to worry about breaking or misplacing their eyeglasses.

Corrective contact lenses are usually placed in the eyes upon waking and removed at night before bedtime. We offer a range of brands of soft contact lenses, such as daily disposables and extended-wear disposables. Speak with Dr. Elisabeth Swan to determine whether your child is ready for contact lenses.

Prescription Glasses

Glasses are a popular choice among our younger patients. Choosing from an array of styles makes the process not just fun and exciting, but allows the child to be an active participant in selecting eyewear, which, in turn, increases the likelihood that they’ll actually wear them. We offer strong, flexible and resilient frames which both look great and are feel comfortable.

The optician can customize the lenses with additions, like impact-resistant or shatter-proof materials, scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coatings, UV filters, and transition lenses that darken in the sun.

We Can Help Correct Your Child’s Myopia

If you’re located near Fair Oaks, California, visit us for an eye exam to determine your child’s exact prescription and ask us any questions you may have about your child’s eye health and vision.

At Swan Family Optometry, our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to recommend the most suitable method of correcting your child’s myopia to meet his or her individual needs. Thanks to the wide range options available, your child will walk away with eyewear that will both look and feel great.

Let us help your child see the world in a whole new light. To schedule your child’s annual eye exam or to learn more, contact Swan Family Optometry at 916-966-6080 today.

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.