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Exercise and Your Eye Health

Advanced Eyecare Specialists - Local Sunglasses Shop and Sports Safety glasses center in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania

Regular exercise is an essential component of overall health and wellness. It is proven that exercise reduces sickness and disease; it increases strength, immunity, and mental health; and it also helps regulate bodily functions and maintain a healthy weight. Research shows that exercise can lower our risk of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, as well as other eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Whereas, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of these diseases and of vision loss, studies show that even moderate exercise at least three times a week can improve the prognosis of the above-mentioned chronic illnesses and reduce the risks of developing vision threatening eye diseases.

Inactivity is an even higher risk factor if you have other co-factors for developing eye diseases, including: a family history, previous eye injury or surgery, diabetes, high blood pressure or very high myopia. A combination of healthy lifestyle habits which include regular exercise and a nutritious diet and tending to your mental and emotional well-being can reduce these risks significantly.

Tips for Incorporating Physical Activity Into Your Day

  • Make it a priority. Schedule your exercise time into your day as if it is a non-negotiable appointment. Find the time of day that works best – for some that is early morning and for others late at night. Work your way up to a half hour at least three times a week.
  • Be realistic. You don’t need to become a fitness expert to experience the benefits of exercise. Walking, yoga, swimming, even dancing around the house are all options for staying fit. Find a type of exercise that you love so you will enjoy working this habit into your life.
  • Just move. Find ways to move your body throughout your day. Park your car a little further away from the mall entrance, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk or bike to work. Remember, every little bit of movement helps.
  • Find something you enjoy. Often finding the right exercise is a good stress reliever, and reducing stress will also reduce risk of many chronic diseases.
  • It’s never too late. Exercise for the elderly can be a challenge especially during the cold winter months, when many seniors can’t get out of the house due to the weather. Even walking up and down the stairs in the house or following an exercise video can be helpful to keep from being sedentary.

Where can you find Eye Saftey Protection & Prevention services in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania?
Call Advanced Eyecare Specialists on 570-832-4122 in Swiftwater, PA to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist.

If you are exercising outdoors or playing contact sports, make sure to protect your eyes with sunglasses or sports safety glasses to ensure your eye health and safety.

Regular exercise can significantly decrease your risks of certain eye conditions but you still have to ensure that you visit your eye doctor for regular exams. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to ensure your vision and your eyes are healthy and to catch any possible problems as early as possible.

Eye health and disease prevention are just two of the many health and wellness benefits you gift yourself when you make exercise a regular part of your lifestyle. Speak to your doctor if you have any health issues that need to be considered. At any age or level of physical fitness, you can find some form of exercise that works for you.

Call Advanced Eyecare Specialists on 570-832-4122 in Swiftwater, PA to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist.

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2017 Solar Eclipse – Safe Viewing Tips

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ARE YOU READY FOR THE SOLAR ECLIPSE ACROSS AMERICA?

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of the United States will have a solar eclipse. The moon will cover at least part of the sun for 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through, anyone within a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse. The moon will completely block the sun’s bright face for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds. Day will turn into night, and (weather permitting) one of nature’s most awesome sights will become visible: the sun’s shimmering outer atmosphere, or corona. The American Optometric Association, in partnership with the American Astronomical Society, is providing detailed information so that you can safely view the eclipse.Here are four ways to safely view a solar eclipse:

  1. Use approved solar eclipse viewers. The only safe way to view a partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or viewers that meet international standard ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing. Sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and polarizing filters are unsafe. If you can’t find eclipse viewers, build a pinhole projector to watch the eclipse.
  2. Technique of the pros. Before looking at the sun, cover your eyes with the eclipse viewers while standing still. Glance at the sun, turn away and then remove your filter. Do not remove the filter while looking at the sun.
  3. Totality awesome. Only within the path of totality-and once the moon completely blocks the sun-can eclipse viewers safely be removed to view totality. Once the sun begins reappearing, however, viewers must be replaced.
  4. Visit your doctor of optometry. If you should experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse, visit your local doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye examination.

How Do We See?

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Have you ever thought about how vision works? Seeing is an incredible gift made possible by a system in which the eye and the brain process visual information from the outside world. If any step of that process does not function properly, vision will be impaired.

Similar to a camera, the eye transmits light from the world around us into an image that we can perceive. Certain parts of the eye even function like the different parts of a camera such as the shutter, the lens and film (if we can hearken back to the days when we used film in cameras). Here is a quick breakdown of the fascinating way our eyes and brain enable us to see and experience the world around us:

The Vision Process

Light reflected from an object in our field of view is gathered by the cornea which is essentially the clear “window” to our eye. The cornea then refracts the light rays through the pupil (the center of the iris where light enters the eye). The iris, which like the shutter of a camera will enlarge and shrink based on how much light is coming in, then passes the image onto the crystalline lens. Just like a camera lens, the lens in the eye focuses the light rays, projecting them to a point at the back of the eye called the retina, where the image will appear upside down. The retina contains a thin layer of color-sensitive cells called rods and cones that perceive color.

From the retina, the visual signals travel to the brain via the optic nerve. The brain receives information from both eyes and must then converge the images (and flip them right side up) to get a complete picture.

Vision Problems

A breakdown in vision can happen at any point in this process. From the muscles that control the eyes, to the parts within the eye, to the pathway to the brain. Sometimes vision impairment is due to technical problems with the eye receiving the information and passing the signal on, such as convergence insufficiency (inability to coordinate the eyes to converge on one point), myopia (nearsightedness) or cataracts (clouding of the lens).

Other times, the eyes might work perfectly, but there is a problem with the brain interpreting the signals it receives. In these cases we can’t “see” in the traditional sense, because our brains aren’t able to properly “read’ the signals or we don’t know what we are looking at. This is the case for some learning disorders that are caused by the visual processes in the brain such as dyslexia.

As you can see, vision is quite a complicated process. A simple vision exam isn’t always able to determine vision problems, especially in children which is why it is so important to have regular comprehensive eye exams, to measure the health of the eye and all of its parts.

Decorative Lenses Could Cost You Your Vision

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Beware this Halloween and think before you blink (in decorative contact lenses that is)! Sure, decorative contact lenses can enhance any Halloween costume, but if not taken seriously, they can also cost you your vision. Whether they are sold as cosmetic lenses, colored lenses or fashion lenses, they are anything but cosmetics – they are medical devices that must be approved by the FDA and properly fit and handled. Stores selling decorative lenses without requiring a prescription are breaking the law.

All contact lenses must be properly fitted by an eye doctor that has measured your eye and given you proper handling and care instructions.  A poor fit can result in serious eye damage, corneal scratches, infections, vision loss and even blindness. 

When purchased and handled properly, decorative lenses can be a fun (or spooky) addition to your costume, so go ahead and purchase them, but do it safely. 

Here is the right way to buy decorative lenses:

  • Get a contact lens eye exam and fitting from a licensed eye doctor and a valid prescription for contact lenses that includes the lens measurements, brand, base curve, diameter, power and color as well as an examination date and an expiration date. When the lens is coming from a legitimate source, the lens supplier ensures it has not expired and that manufacturer takes care of the material and tracking bar codes. 
  • Optimally, have your optometrist order the lenses or if that is not possible, purchase lenses from a registered store or online shop that requires you to provide this prescription to ensure that it is properly fit.
  • Follow the directions for cleaning, storing and wearing lenses.
  • See your eye doctor immediately if you experience persistent redness, pain or vision disturbances.
  • Important note: Many patients believe that a routine eye exam and eye glasses prescription is the same as a contact lens prescription but this is not the case! Many online companies do not advise people of the difference or do not adhere to the one year prescription expiry. This is a big concern for eye doctors because eye health changes can detrimentally affect contact lens wear. All contact lenses should be checked yearly by an eye doctor or registered contact lens fitter. 

Contact us today to book a contact lens exam.

It’s Time to Be Serious About Home Eye Safety

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The home can be a dangerous place if you aren’t aware of the risks that surround you. This is specifically true for your eyes and vision. Nearly half of all serious eye injuries take place in or around the home and the majority of these can be prevented with proper awareness and precaution. Whether you are cooking, cleaning, tending to yard work or doing home repairs, it is important to be aware of the possible dangers to your eyes and to take preventative measures to protect them.

It is recommended that every household have at least one pair of protective eyewear on hand to use during activities, projects or tasks that could pose a danger to your eyes. While protective eyewear can reduce your risk of an eye injury by 90%, in fact, only 35% of North Americans wear protective eyewear during tasks that could be dangerous to their eyes. Such activities could include the following:

Use of dangerous or hazardous chemicals: Many substances, such as cleaning chemicals, are hazardous and can be the cause of serious eye injuries and burns upon contact. In fact, household cleaning products like bleach cause 125,000 eye injuries a year.

Proximity to flying debris: Particularly when working in the yard mowing, trimming, shoveling and clipping, debris and particles can be thrown into the air that can enter your eye. This goes for those actually doing the gardening as well as bystanders.

Using sharp tools: Whether you are dealing with shovels and clippers, or hammers, nails and screws, it is important to protect your eyes. Many eye injuries are caused by the actual tools which are mishandled, dropped or used carelessly.

Projectiles: Flying objects pose a serious danger to the eyes, particularly with power tools, nails and screws. Never use power tools without protective eyewear. 

When it comes to selecting protective eyewear there are certain requirements that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established to ensure your safety. Our eyewear experts are happy to help you find the best eye protection for you and your family.

Bottom line: use common sense and be EyeSmart, especially if there are children around for whom you’re setting an example.

6 Common Eye Myths Debunked

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Over the centuries there have been a lot of old-wives tales circulating about eyes and vision. You know, like the one that if someone hits you on the back while your eyes are crossed they will stay that way. Unlike this example, some of these myths do have roots in truth, yet filtering out those truths isn’t an easy task.

Here are a few of the most common myths and truths about the eyes and vision.

  1. Myth: Eating a lot of carrots will help you see in the dark.

    Truth: Carrots have a lot of Vitamin A, a vitamin that is essential for good eyesight, but eating a lot of carrots isn’t going to give you 20/20 vision or help you see in the dark. Likely, the basis of this over-exaggeration is that night-blindness and vision loss found in underdeveloped countries can be a sign of malnutrition due to Vitamin A deficiency. However, you only need a relatively small amount of Vitamin A for vision, and it is easily obtainable in a normal balanced diet from a lot of sources, not limited to carrots. 

    Higher-than-normal doses of Vitamin A might be useful in treating certain eye conditions and as part of a combination of vitamins used to slow the progression of early-stage macular degeneration. However, in any of these cases, do not take Vitamin A supplements without instructions from your eye doctor.

  2. Myth: Wearing glasses makes your vision worse.

    Truth
    : People think this is true because often once we start wearing glasses our vision continues to deteriorate and we have to keep going back for a higher prescription. The notion that wearing glasses causes your vision to get worse is simply not true. Distance vision or myopia typically gets worse over time, especially during childhood and adolescence, and does depend on whether the child wears glasses. Additionally, most people begin to experience vision deterioration as they enter their 40’s and 50’s with or without the use of vision correction devices.
  3. Myth: Sitting too close to the TV is bad for your eyes.

    Truth
    : While it may cause your eyes to feel tired, there is no evidence that sitting too close to the TV will harm your eyes or vision. Children in fact have a heightened ability to focus on close objects so often it is natural and relatively comfortable for them to sit close to a screen.
  4. Myth: Reading in dim light can damage your eyes.

    Truth
    : This one also has no good evidence. While yes, your eyes are working harder and may feel tired when reading in dim light, there is no evidence of permanent or long-term damage to your eyes.
  5. Myth: As you get older there is nothing you can do to prevent vision loss.

    Truth
    : While most older adults will eventually develop some degree of presbyopia which is near-vision loss, and eventually cataracts, no sign of vision loss should be ignored. Vision problems like these can be treated, allowing you to see clearly again. Moreover, there are many serious eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration that can threaten your vision and eyes with permanent and severe vision loss if not diagnosed and treated early. If you are 40 or older, you should have your eyes checked with a comprehensive eye exam on a yearly basis. In many cases, early treatment can save your eyesight.
  6. Myth: Squinting causes vision loss.

    Truth
    : Squinting is a natural reaction of your eyes to let less light into the pupil in order to sharpen your focus. Rather than impairing your vision, squinting is usually a sign that someone can’t see clearly which often suggests that their vision is impaired and that they need glasses to see better in the first place.

Got any other eye myths that you are curious about? Just ask at your next visit to our office. We are happy to help weed out the fact from the fiction.

Protective Sports Eyewear is a Serious Matter

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There are thousands of eye injuries a year related to sports. According to the National Eye Institute eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in North America and most injuries occurring in school-aged children are sports-related. Further 99% of sports-related eye injuries can be prevented simply by wearing protective eyewear. 

Sports injuries aren’t just a result of contact sports. Any sport can pose a danger especially those that involve balls, bats rackets or even elbows. It’s up to parents, teachers, coaches and league administrators to make protective eyewear a mandatory part of any sports uniform. This includes safety glasses or goggles, helmets with built in eye shields, or eye guards, depending on the sport.

Prescription Sports Eyewear

For athletes that wear prescription eyewear or contact lenses, sports eyewear plays an additional role. Many athletes choose to forego eyewear during play because of the inconvenience it causes, however this impairs their vision and ultimately affects their performance ability. Wearing prescription sports eyewear or wearing non-prescription goggles over their glasses or contacts not only serves to protect the eyes, but it allows them to see better and increases performance. It’s very important to note that standard prescription glasses or sunglasses do not protect the eyes from an impact and could possibly cause greater harm if the lenses or frames are damaged during play. 

How to Select The Right Protective Sports Eyewear

Protective eyewear is made of special materials that are impact resistant such as polycarbonate or Trivex. Polycarbonate and Trivex lenses for outdoor use also have UV protection to protect the eyes from the sun, and can be made with added tints just like built-in sunglasses. It is a good idea to make sure that your lenses include a scratch resistant coating so that natural wear and tear don’t cause reduced visibility. Athletic eyewear frames are usually made from polycarbonate also, or from strong plastic, and often have padding on the forehead or nose to enhance comfort and fit. 

Especially in children who are growing, it is critical for protective eyewear to fit well, for optimal safety and vision. To check that the glasses fit properly make sure that the internal padding rests comfortably on the face and that the eyes are centered in the lens area. If the child complains that they are too tight or you can visibly see that they are too loose, it may be time for a new pair. Also take into consideration whether the child will be wearing a hat or helmet to make sure that the goggles or glasses fit comfortably inside the gear. 

Depending on the sport, the type and design of the eye protection varies, so be sure to tell your eye care professional what sport you play so he or she can find the best type of eyewear to keep your eyes safe. 

 

How Pregnancy Affects Vision

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The hormonal fluctuations experienced during pregnancy can cause many unexpected changes in your body, including your eyes and vision. Most of these changes are temporary and will return to normal once you give birth.  It’s important to know which vision changes are normal for an expecting mother and which could indicate a problem that requires medical attention.

Normal Vision Changes

Visual Acuity/Blurred vision

During pregnancy, you may notice a change in your vision due to hormone levels. If you find that your vision has gotten blurry or that your current prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses are not helping as much as they usually do, speak to your eye doctor. Often the change in your vision is due to fluid retention which can temporarily change the shape of your cornea. Since your hormones will continue to fluctuate and will return to normal shortly after you give birth or after you finish nursing, your doctor may advise waiting until after you deliver to assess whether you need to change your prescription. However, you may need a temporary pair of glasses with your current prescription if you need lenses for driving or other tasks that are dangerous or difficult without perfect eyesight.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes is a common and usually temporary condition that is experienced during pregnancy. Dry eyes can lead to irritation and discomfort in general and especially when wearing contact lenses. To relieve dry eyes, over-the-counter lubricating or rewetting eye drops are completely safe to use during pregnancy and nursing. It’s a good idea to consult with your optometrist to make sure you’re using a good dry eye solution, and definitely see the eye doctor if symptoms persist or if you wear contact lenses.

Puffy Eyelids

Along with many other areas in the body, eyelids may swell during pregnancy. To reduce water retention, make sure you drink a lot of water and limit your intake of sodium and caffeine.

Vision Changes that Require Medical Attention

Preeclampsia

Some serious vision changes could be signs of preeclampsia, a potentially serious issue that occurs in 5-8% of pregnancies. Vision symptoms associated with the condition include temporary vision loss, light sensitivity, blurry vision, auras and the appearance of flashing lights, along with high blood pressure.  If you experience these symptoms seek medical attention immediately.

Diabetes

Both women that are regularly diabetic and those that have gestational (pregnancy) diabetes need to keep an eye on their vision as blurred vision can indicate elevated blood sugar levels. The risks of vision loss associated with diabetes is heightened during pregnancy so it is critical to monitor blood sugar levels at all times. Women with gestational diabetes should get a diabetic eye exam, which includes dilating the eye and examining the retina for signs of retinopathy.

While minor changes in your eyes and vision are a normal part of pregnancy, if at any time you notice persistent eye pain, vision loss or discomfort, visit your doctor.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Is Your Baby’s EyeSight Developing Normally?

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A baby’s visual system develops gradually over the first few months of life. They have to learn to focus and move their eyes, and use them together as a team.  The brain also needs to learn how to process the visual information from the eyes to understand and interact with the world. With the development of eyesight comes also the foundation for motor development such as crawling, walking and hand-eye coordination. 

You can ensure that your baby is reaching milestones by keeping an eye on what is happening with your infant’s development and by ensuring that you schedule a comprehensive infant eye exam at 6 months.  

The AOA recommends that all babies have an eye exam by 6 months of age in order to be sure that the child is seeing properly, developing on track and to check for conditions that could impair vision (such as strabismus/misalignment of the eyes, farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism) or cause other health problems. 

Here is the general progression of vision development in the first year of life. It is important to know that many babies fall outside of the normal progression and that reaching these milestones does not mean that an infant eye exam should be skipped. 

1 month: Babies are just beginning to be able to focus on objects that are close – between 8-10 inches away. You may notice that your baby’s eyes don’t always work together and that one may drift inward or outward from time to time. If this is happening on occasion, there is no need for concern, however if you notice that the eyes are largely misaligned the majority of the time, consult with an eye care professional. 

2-3 months: Babies will begin to follow objects and to reach for things they see in front of them. They will also learn to shift their gaze from one object to another without having to move their head. 

4-6 months: By six months, babies are starting to be able to see more accurately and follow moving objects better. Their depth and color perception, eye teaming and alignment should be developing at this point.  This is when you should schedule an eye exam to evaluate for visual acuity and eye coordination. The doctor will also check for the health of the eyes and look for anything that could interfere with normal development. 

7-12 months: The last half of the first year is when infants start to really develop depth perception and hand-eye coordination. This is when you also need to be more vigilant about eye injuries as babies are starting to move around and explore their environment. Also keep a lookout for Strabismus or misalignment of the eyes. It is important that this is detected and treated early, otherwise it could lead to amblyopia or lazy eye, in which one eye does not develop properly. Lazy eye can lead to permanent vision problems if not corrected. 

Since the early development of vision is critical for future eyesight, learning and motor skills, if you have any concerns or questions about your baby’s eyes, contact your eye care professional immediately.  Early treatment of vision and eye problems is often able to prevent developmental delays and permanent vision problems for the future. 

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