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Essential vs. Non-Essential Eye Care

As we navigate new processes and protocols as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, you may be wondering, what’s the difference between Essential and Non-Essential Eye Care.

Essential Eye Care services include treatment for medical conditions, including urgent care needs that keep patients from carrying out their regular daily routines. These include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Broken or lost eyewear
  • Eye trauma
  • Vision loss
  • Contact lens-related pain
  • Flashes or floating objects in the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Double vision
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Severe or recurring headaches

We are equipped to handle your Essential Eye Care needs so you do not have visit the ER – which may put you at risk of exposure to infection while also potentially taking from patients with critical conditions having no other alternatives.

Non-Essential Eye Care services might also be called “routine,” and not impeding a patient from his/her day-to-day activities, such as:

  • Routine eye exam with no problems
  • First time routine contact lens fittings

As always, our top priority is always your well-being. If you have questions or concerns about any eye health or eye care services – reach out! We are here to help you in any way we can!

Conjunctivitis: Types and Treatments

Conjunctivitis, colloquially called pink eye, is a frequently seen eye infection, particularly when it comes to children. This condition can be caused by bacteria, viruses or even hypersensitivity to chlorine in swimming pools, pollen, and ingredients in cosmetics, or other irritants, which touch the eyes. Certain kinds of conjunctivitis can be fairly communicable and quickly spread in school and in the home or office.

This infection develops when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue covering the white part of your eye, gets inflamed. A sign that you have the infection is if you notice itching, discharge, redness or swollen eyelids and eyes that are crusty early in the day. Conjunctivitis infections can be divided into three main sub-types: bacterial, allergic and viral conjunctivitis.

The viral manifestation is often a result of the same type of viruses that are the source of the recognizable red and watery eyes, runny nose and sore throat of the common cold. The uncomfortable symptoms of the viral form of conjunctivitis will usually last from seven to fourteen days and then will clear up on their own. Applying compresses to your eyes in a dark room may provide some relief. The viral form of conjunctivitis is transmittable until it is completely cleared up, so in the meanwhile practice excellent hygiene, wipe away eye discharge and try to avoid sharing pillowcases or towels. Children who have viral conjunctivitis will need to stay home from school for three days to a week until symptoms disappear.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a common bacterial infection that enters the eye typically from an external object touching the eye that carries the bacteria, such as a dirty finger. This form of infection is most often treated with antibiotic cream or drops. Most often you should see an improvement within three or four days of treatment, but be sure to adhere to the complete prescription dosage to stop the infection from coming back.

Conjunctivitis due to allergies is not infectious or contagious. It usually occurs among those who already have seasonal allergies or allergies to substances such as pets or dust. The allergic symptoms in the eyes may be just a small part of their overall allergic reaction. The first step in relieving allergic conjunctivitis is to remove or avoid the irritant, when applicable. To ease discomfort, try artificial tears or compresses. In more severe cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. When the pink eye persists for a long time, steroid eye drops could be used.

With any form conjunctivitis, making sure to maintain sanitary habits is the best way to keep it from getting worse. Clean your hands thoroughly and often and don’t touch your eyes with your hands.

Conjunctivitis should always be examined by a qualified optometrist in order to identify the type and proper course of treatment. Don’t ever self prescribe! Remember the earlier you start treatment, the less chance you have of spreading pink eye to others or prolonging your discomfort.

Protect Your Vision!

Blue light and UV radiation exposure are directly linked to Macular Degeneration.

In Macular Degeneration a small area in the retina breaks down causing your central vision to become blurred and distorted. In advanced cases it can lead to blindness. More than 1.2 million Americans are diagnosed with Macular Degeneration annually.

There is a direct link between nutrition and this disease. If clinical signs of the disease are discovered during an examination or if you are over 50 years old and have a parent with macular degeneration, nutritional supplements should be considered. These supplements help increase the pigment in the macula which protects against the damaging effects of blue light and UV radiation.

MacuHealth is one of the supplements that may help slow the progression as it contains the specific nutrients in the most clinically appropriate concentrations. MacuHealth is available in our office.


Ready for the Sun?

With warmer weather approaching and outdoor activities picking up, it's time think about protecting your eyes from UV exposure. Just like sunscreen, sunglasses are imperative to protecting your eyes from the damaging rays.

As the public learned from Anderson Cooper last year, photokeratitis or "sunburns" on the eye can be extremely painful and serious. Symptoms can include red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing.

The effects to the cornea are typically temporary, but long-term is directly related to the development of cataracts.  

Drs. Factor and Lang recommend wearing UV protection sunglasses whenever you're in the sun. We offer a wide selection of both non-prescription and prescription sunglasses to fit any need.

How Do I Know When I Need a Comprehensive Eye Exam?

This month is Healthy Vision Month. When was the last time you had a comprehensive eye exam? Checking your eyes annually is one of the most effective steps you can take to guarantee your eyesight remains strong and healthy. During this procedure, your eye care professional checks your eyes, making sure you're clear of frequently occurring eye diseases and vision issues, some of which lack early warning signs.

A comprehensive dilated eye exam is something a lot of people are not familiar with. It differs from a typical eye exam one might get for glasses or contact lenses in that it is performed to detect eye diseases which have not yet fully developed, before vision loss can occur.

The session will start with what's referred to as a visual acuity test, which uses an eye chart to assess how well you see at various distances. The outside of your eye also gets tested.

Once your tests are finished, your optometrist will place drops on the surfaces of your eyes, which dilates your pupils, which helps to carry out the comprehensive internal evaluation of your eyes. You'll then wait 20 – 30 minutes until the drops take effect. Your optometrist will then implement the use of a specialized magnifying tool to check your eye's interior, which includes your retina. This part of the exam really matters, because it provides vital information about the health of your eyes, as well as information about your overall health. To give an example, it can show warning signs of diseases such as diabetes and also point to unhealthy blood pressure.

When your exam is over, your pupils will still be dilated until the eye drops wear off, and this can make your eyes quite light-sensitive, so we recommend bringing a pair of sunglasses along to reduce light and glare sensitivity on the way home. You will also be screened for signs of glaucoma. Your optometrist will do this by measuring the pressure in your eye, with a rapid puff of air pointed straight onto your eye.

It's time to take the extra measure for your vision. Commit to making your eye health a priority, and schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.

Be Knowledgeable About Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

February has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to increasing consciousness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in those over 65. AMD is a condition that affects the macula of the retina which is the part of the eye that is responsible for clear vision in the center of your field of view.

What are the Indications of AMD?

The first signs of age related macular degeneration include blurriness or dark spots in the central vision. Because the symptoms typically come on at a slow pace and painlessly, symptoms are often not noticed until the disease has progressed. This is another reason that it is very important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, especially after the age of 65.

What are the Risk Factors for AMD?

There are some risk factors of developing AMD including being Caucasian, aged over 65, being a cigarette smoker, eating an unhealthy diet and genetics. Any individual that is at increased risk should be certain to schedule an eye exam on a yearly basis. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor can also help reduce your risk of vision loss.

Wet and Dry AMD

While the causes are not known for certain, macular degeneration is usually diagnosed as either wet or dry. Dry AMD is more common and is theorized to be a result of aging and thinning of the macular tissues or deposits of pigment in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, results when new blood vessels grow under the retina which seep blood and fluid, which destroys the retinal cells and results in vision loss in the central vision. Often wet macular degeneration leads to more serious vision loss.

Is There Treatment for AMD?

Although there is no cure for AMD, certain treatments exist that can delay the progression. Depending on whether one has wet or dry macular degeneration the course of treatment may involve vitamin supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. In all cases, early detection greatly improves the likelihood of successful treatment. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you cope with any vision loss that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that can't be corrected by standard measures such as eyeglasses, contacts or surgery is called low vision. There are a growing number of low vision devices on the market today to make everyday activities easier.

Learn about the risks and signs of macular degeneration before it's too late. Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to learn more about AMD and low vision.

The Best Solution for Your Contact Lenses

Users of contact lenses must practice proper eye care. Research performed by Bausch & Lomb in August showed that an alarming number of adults regularly use potentially harmful substances in place of lens solution to moisten their lenses. Everything from baby oil, to lemonade to butter was reportedly used as an alternative to actual contact lens solution by twenty percent of the two thousand adults that responded in the United Kingdom.

Even more of those surveyed reported that they have used saliva when inserting their contacts. Considering that the mouth of the average adult is known to contain 500 to 650 different types of bacteria, this can pose a serious health risk to your eyes. Additionally, an alarming number of people think that water from a tap or bottle is a safe alternative for lens solution, however even those can contain parasites that can damage the eye and have been linked to Acanthamoeba keratitis, a sight-threatening corneal infection. Even moreso, if water enters your eyes when swimming or bathing while your contacts are in, it's recommended to remove your lenses as quickly as you can and disinfect them to rinse off any parasites that may have adhered to them.

Sterilizing your contact lenses is a must and only properly labeled lens solution should be used. Don't ever store your lenses in water! Storing contacts in water isn't effective in sterilizing them and dangerous fungi can grow on your contacts almost instantly and enter your eyes with the contacts. Additionally, contact lens solution is balanced to compliment the acidity of your tears and conversely water can cause a reaction which makes your contacts change shape or stick causing discomfort and blurred vision.

If you know that you do not have the means to properly disinfect your contact lenses, use daily disposable lenses as opposed to lenses that you reuse. You should always take age, way of life and level of maturity into consideration when deciding which contacts are most suitable for the members of your family.

Before you or anyone in your family begins to wear contacts be sure to learn proper care guidelines with your optometrist.

Only those who can understand how to properly care for contact lenses and how important this is should wear contact lenses, particularly long-term wear contacts. Failure to do so can cause irreversible eye damage or even complete blindness.

Dry, Burning Eyes? Could Be Dry Eye Syndrome

Tears are necessary to keep your eyes healthy. They rinse the eye of any dust or particles and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. They also contain enzymes that eliminate bacteria that can be present in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes do not produce adequate amounts of tears, symptoms can result such as constant feelings of dryness, stinging, itching or a foreign body sensation. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes cause eyes to water excessively to try to compensate for dryness.

Dry eyes are a result of a number of factors. Dry eyes are often age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, and often women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also be a result of a number of medications such as diuretics, antidepressants, birth control pills among others. Dry or dusty air, and excessive heating or air conditioning can also cause or worsen dry eyes. In addition, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, continual computer use or usage of contact lenses can cause dry eye syndrome.

Dry eye symptoms may be relieved with artificial tears to make up for the lack of natural tears. It’s advisable to consult with your optometrist to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If non-prescription options aren’t working you may need Rx drops that actually stimulate tear production.

If eye drops don’t relieve your discomfort, your eye doctor might recommend Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that periodically releases lubricating ingredients throughout the day. Another option is punctual plugs which help keep moisture on the eye by restricting tears from draining too quickly. Some eye doctors may suggest you try dietary or environmental adjustments to alleviate discomfort.

In most cases, dry eyes will not result in any permanent damage but can be a nuisance. Nevertheless, very serious dry eyes could make you more vulnerable to infection so it is worthwhile to speak to your optometrist.

Particularly in the wintertime, you should to try to safeguard your eyes from dryness, cold winds and particles. Wearing sunglasses when outside, and making use of a humidifier inside when the heat is blasting are steps that could help.

If you are suffering from some of the symptoms listed above visit your optometrist today!

The Winter Sun and Your Eyes

Winter has officially arrived, which means in some places stinging winds and frigid rain, snow and sleet aren't far behind. The majority of us wouldn't ever think of leaving the house without a coat in cooler climates, however surprisingly, many people leave their sunglasses at home. While the sun may not be our first consideration when we are venturing out to the bitter winter climate, the sun's rays are still shining down during the winter months, and in certain circumstances can be even stronger.

For times when you frequent a location with snow, you should be extra cautious. Particularly in the aftermath of a blizzard, the blanket of snow covering the world around you, actually intensifies the reflection of the sun. In fact, it can be painful to open your eyes when you first step outside following a heavy snow. The ultraviolet radiation that most of us are so vigilant to avoid in the heat of the summer can actually be more dangerous in the winter months because it bounces off the snow or ice, giving you double exposure. This is the reason proper sunglasses are a crucial part of your winter wardrobe.

While it's important to pick a style you look good in, the most important consideration when choosing sunglasses is making sure they will properly do their job. Make sure they are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers – UV400. The good news is proper sun protection isn't necessarily expensive. Many of the more reasonably priced options exist that still provide total coverage.

Another important factor in choosing sun wear is lens size. You want to make sure the lenses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The more coverage you have, the less harmful radiation will be able to enter. Wrap around frames will also keep UV waves from entering from the sides.

Although it's much more commonly known these days that sunglasses are critical beach gear since the water reflects sunlight, this is also true for snow and ice. Therefore it is just as essential to wear sunglasses during times when you go out in wintery conditions. Also ultraviolet radiation is more forceful at high altitudes, so if you plan to go skiing or snowboarding, take this into consideration.

Make a point to be informed about adequate eye protection all year round. Make your sunglasses a fixed part of your routine.

Increase Your Glaucoma Awareness this Month

As this month is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, in this article we would like to emphasize the importance of recognizing the indications of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a class of progressive eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve, which may cause a permanent loss of vision. When uncontrolled, the damage often initially shows up as vision loss in the periphery of the field of vision and then moves to total blindness. It is the number one reason for preventable loss of vision and statistics show that over 60 million individuals around the world have the disease.

The primary cause of glaucoma is known to be an increase in pressure in the eye called intraocular pressure. As the pressure increases, this causes damage to the optic nerve which delivers messages from the eye to the vision centers in the brain. When this pathway is damaged vision is affected. At the current time, optic nerve damage can't be corrected.

The most concerning thing about glaucoma is that unlike other forms of vision impairment, there are no symptoms until vision is already lost.
It is for this reason that glaucoma has acquired the nickname the "sneak thief of sight." The problem is: is it possible to protect yourself against a condition which lacks any tell-tale symptoms?

Prompt diagnosis of glaucoma is necessary for successful treatment. Although glaucoma risk is universal, particular populations are at higher risk than others. Risk factors for glaucoma may include adults over 45 years old, anyone with a family history of glaucoma, individuals with a predisposition towards diabetes, or other eye conditions such as myopia, hyperopia, eye injuries or high intraocular pressure.

The best way to detect glaucoma is to contact an eye doctor. There are a series of diagnostic eye tests relied on by doctors to measure damage to the ocular nerves caused by glaucoma. Particularly if you are over 45 or have one of the other risk factors named above, it's important to schedule a routine eye exam on an annual basis.

The fact is most forms of glaucoma cannot be prevented. Nevertheless the loss of sight caused by damage to the optic nerve can be prevented by a reliable diagnosis and treatment. Contact "Ken N. Factor, O.D., P.C." now, for a yearly screening for glaucoma.