Eye Injury- It’s more common than you think

Courtesy of Geoffrey Fairchild on Flickr

Courtesy of Geoffrey Fairchild on Flickr

Injuries can happen to anyone at any time. You can scratch your cornea with your fingernail or have a fractured eye socket from being hit by a baseball. Some are more drastic, but they are all more common than you think.

The most common eye injuries include:

1.  Scratches to the cornea (Corneal Abrasion). This can result from something like a fingernail in the eye or even from a foreign object such as dirt or sand.  Abrasions can also happen if something falls into the eye during home improvement projects or working out in the garage. Symptoms of a corneal abrasion include tearing, pain, the sensation that something is in the eye and often extreme light sensitivity. If you suspect you have scratched your cornea, call your optometrist immediately.  Scratched corneas are more prone to infection and depending on where the scratch is located, can cause scarring and loss of vision if not treated urgently.

2. Chemical Burns from household items. Many household cleaners can burn the eyes if the product splashes in the eye. These burns can range from mild to severe depending on the product used. Alkali burns from cleaners can be less painful but more damaging than acid burns. Symptoms  of both burns include redness, pain and swelling. If something splashes in your eye, rinse it under copious amounts of water for 15 minutes and call your eye doctor or visit urgent care. You will want to let the doctor know what the substance was that got in the eye. This will help your eye doctor with the appropriate treatment.

3.  Penetrating eye injury. Metallic objects and things such as fishhooks can certainly cause severe damage to the eye structures.  This is a potentially very dangerous situation. A metallic object can lodge itself in the cornea and cause a great amount of scarring if not removed.  Do not attempt to remove the item yourself. Call your eye doctor and go to urgent care.

4.  Orbital Fractures. This can happen if a moving object hits the eye at a high speed. For example, a baseball, a bat, a fist, or similar trauma.  This type of injury can be very serious and involve the eye as well as the surrounding bones and tissues.  This is an emergency and should be treated urgently.

Eye injuries can happen anytime and anywhere.  We can use some common sense precautions to help limit damage to the eye and surrounding structures.  As much as possible, use safety glasses or goggles when working with chemicals or any items that may cause a scratch or penetration to the eye. Sports safety goggles are a good choice for both children and adults to help prevent injuries while participating in sports.

A little protection will go along way in preventing eye injuries.

Stay safe!

~Lisa Weiss, OD, MEd, FCOVD
California Optometric Association
http://eyehelp.org
http://www.coavision.org

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Can eye color affect your vision?

 

Courtesy of Felix Leupold on Flickr

Courtesy of Felix Leupold on Flickr

During my 20+ years of providing clinical care, my patients have asked me a variety of questions regarding their eyes. One of the inquiries that has come up recently is, “I heard that having different eye colors can affect your vision…is that true?”

Well, there certainly has been much written about, debated over, and researched on this very topic. We know that the iris is what gives a person their eye color. There are numerous eye colors and variations thereof. They span from the lightest of blue, to green, to a mixture of hazel, to the darkest of brown, and even violet like that of the late Elizabeth Taylor. Most of us would agree that some of us are more attracted to one eye color over another, so maybe having a particular eye color confers some advantages.

From a vision clarity standpoint, people with varying shades of blue eyes to brown eyes can see equally well. With that said, there are some plusses and minuses in possessing a particular eye color. What is known from an “evidence based” perspective is that individuals with light eyes (blue) tend to be more light sensitive. I often impart this analogy to my patients. If we think of the colored iris as a window covering, more light will be allowed to come through a window to light up a room with a light blue curtain as compared to an opaque brown one. So much the same occurs with a light colored iris. They just have less pigment to block out or reflect back the light. In fact, this may be one of the reasons why an individual with light eyes may be more at risk for developing macular degeneration. Recommendation have been made for patients with light eyes to wear UV protective eyewear, UV coated contact lenses, or even opaque colored contact lenses.

It is also a little known fact that dark eye colors (brown) can withstand high glare situations better than light eyes. Dark eyes have the ability to absorb more light and allow less light to get reflect. My patients with dark eyes are not as bothered by driving at night in the midst of annoying glare from headlights of other cars.

So to circle back to the question, “I heard that having different eye colors can affect your vision…is that true?”

It can be answered with a “YES,” but honestly, the difference is so ever subtle.

~ Judy Tong OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association
http://eyehelp.org
http://www.coavision.org

Driving at night – What should I know?

Courtesy of Johnathon, Flickr Creative Commons

Courtesy of Johnathon, Flickr Creative Commons

One of the most common questions patients ask is how to improve their night vision. In fact, many elderly patients have given up night driving all together.

So, what is it about night driving that makes it so hard? Well certainly, our visual abilities are dependent on light. With reduced lighting comes a variety of limiting factors like reduced visual acuity, poor color vision, decreased depth perception, and impaired peripheral vision. All of these factors combine to make accidents 3x more likely at night.

So, how do we reduce our chances of an accident?

1) It is imperative that your vision is corrected to its maximum potential. A complete eye examination will not only check the best prescription for you – it can also detect potential problems that affect night vision like dry eye, cataracts and macular degeneration, all of which occur with greater frequency with age. Additionally, if you are prescribed glasses at your visit, make sure to obtain lenses with an anti-reflective coating. This coating will reduce glare dramatically and has been shown to improve reaction time.

2) Make sure your windows and headlights are perfectly clean. Every time I clean my windows at a gas station I wonder why I didn’t do it earlier. This advice goes for your glasses too. Even a perfect prescription can be worthless if your glasses are dirty or scratched.

3) Finally, it is important to know your limits. If you have real concerns about night driving there is nothing wrong with asking for a ride, catching a cab or public transportation or just ordering in. Until next time, be safe on the road!

 ~Dr. David Ardaya, OD
California Optometric Association
http://eyehelp.org
http://www.coavision.org

Can you diagnose eye diseases by looking at a photograph?

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 9.13.27 AMFox News recently covered a story about how a rare and serious eye condition was discovered on Facebook because friends noticed something strange when a mom posted a picture of her child. One of the child’s pupils was white.

A white pupil, otherwise known as leukocoria, may indicate a serious eye condition.

How is leukocoria observed?

Leukocoria occurs when the pupil is white instead of black. Leukocoria may be detected in a photograph when one pupil has an abnormal reflex or “white reflex” compared to the other eye having a normal “red reflex.” The red reflex is either absent or white with leukocoria due to an abnormal light reflection from the eye. If leukocoria is pronounced, the pupil may appear white while observing the other person. This is easier to inspect in a darkened room.

What is a red reflex?

A red reflex is the normal reaction when light enters the eye through the pupil. The retina absorbs most, but not all, of the light and what is reflected back is reddish-orange in color – the “red eye” you see in pictures.

How is leukocoria diagnosed?

Doctors of optometry use an instrument called a retinoscope to examine the eye to determine if that normal red reflex is present. An ophthalmoscope is used to view the inside of the eye. The doctor also dilates the eyes a in order to evaluate them more thoroughly.

What causes leukocoria?

Many conditions cause leukocoria including cataracts, retinal detachment, retinopathy of prematurity, retinal malformation, an infection such as endophthalmitis, retinal vascular abnormalities, and intraocular tumors such as retinoblastoma.

These are all serious eye conditions which may be a vision and/or life threatening emergency.

If a white reflex or leukocoria is detected, schedule an eye examination immediately.

What is the treatment for leukocoria?

The treatment is to manage the underlying condition.  Early treatment is crucial. Treating the underlying condition promptly can save both vision and a person’s life.

~Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association
http://eyehelp.org
http://www.coavision.org

April Fools’ Day – 6 silly eye care myths you should know about

Photo Courtesy of jenschapter3 on Flickr

Photo Courtesy of jenschapter3 on Flickr

It is April Fools’ Day and to help ensure you don’t look foolish, I wanted to share a little eye information with you. There are a number of myths out there about your eyes and I wanted to quickly clear up some of the confusion. I hear a few of these myths every week with my patients, so here are a few of the most common:

  1. “Eye exercises can strengthen your eyes so you won’t need glasses.” While it is true you can make your eyes function better by doing eye exercises, for the majority of patients, glasses or contacts are needed to keep their vision consistently clear. The exception to this rule is that some children can benefit from eye exercises under the direction of an optometrist trained in vision therapy, which can help reduce a child’s need for glasses.
  2. “High pressure in your eyes means you have glaucoma.” Glaucoma is a very serious eye disease that can result in permanent vision loss. We know that having pressure beyond  a certain range significantly increases your risk of developing glaucoma, it does not mean you actually have glaucoma.
  3. “Contacts can slip behind the back of your eye and get struck in your brain.” Our body’s natural defense system ensures that this cannot happen. The conjunctiva is a tissue that covers the inner portions of your eyelids and the white of your eye. It is a continuous tissue that prevents anything from getting behind your eye, that includes contacts, eyelashes, or any other things that may get into your eye.
  4. “Wearing glasses makes your eyes weaker.” This common myth does not take into account that as your eyes age, your ability to see clearly without correction is reduced. Small prescriptions that did not require correction as child or young adult can present later in life as blur or visual discomfort requiring glasses.
  5. “If you can see clearly, you have healthy eyes.” Sadly, this is a common myth that keeps many people from getting their eyes checked on a regular basis. Comprehensive annual eye examinations with your doctor of optometry can help ensure that you have healthy eyes and detect serious vision-threatening or even life-threatening diseases well before they become a problem. Tumors, uncontrolled diabetes, strokes and other serious health problems can be caught during an eye exam with your optometrist. Regular exams with a doctor of optometry can help ensure clear vision and healthy eyes.
  6. “Eyes can actually pop out of your head.” This myth gets perpetuated by the many horror movies that show eyes being knocked out of a person’s head and rolling along the ground. Fortunately for us all, this does not happen. Your eyes are held in place by muscles that move your eye up, down, left and right. Additionally, you have a nerve that plugs into the back of your eye that can also hold it in place. Systemic health disease, such as thyroid eye disease, or compressive trauma can cause your eyes to protrude beyond your eyelids but they will never fall out of head like they do in the movies.

I hope shedding some light on the eye myths helped increase your knowledge and keep you from looking foolish.

 ~Ranjeet S. Bajwa, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association
http://eyehelp.org
http://www.coavision.org