The retina is the sensory tissue located behind the eye that translates nerve signals into a “language” the brain can understand. High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause blood vessels within the retina to condense and narrow. When this occurs, blood flow is restricted, resulting in retinal swelling.
Left untreated, hypertension can damage the blood vessels inside the retina, impeding its functionality and placing undue strain on the optic nerve. Vision problems related to this condition are what we refer to as hypertensive retinopathy (HR).
Symptoms of advanced hypertensive retinopathy include:
- Impaired vision
- Ocular inflammation and swelling
- Broken blood vessels
- Chronic Headaches
- Blurred vision and/or diplopia (double vision)
What you can do:
Lifestyle changes conducive to normalizing blood pressure, in conjunction with physician-prescribed diuretics or angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors have proven to be an effective treatment for HR.
In addition to prescription medication, the following steps can aid in managing your hypertension:
- Maintain a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables
- Consult with your healthcare practitioner about an exercise regimen
- Put the salt shaker down
- Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol
- If you smoke, stop
As always, visit your eye doctor regularly, and report any sudden changes in vision or elevation in blood pressure.
Remember how meticulous and disciplined you were when you got your first pair of contact lenses? Making sure you washed your hands before putting them in and taking them out; always using the proper solutions and never daring to take a shortcut. Everything was sterile, and by the book.
However, as time went by—and like countless contact lens wearers—the cleaning regimen gradually regressed from meticulous to hit & miss.
Not to worry!
Vision and eye care experts Andrea Thau, O.D., of SUNY College of Optometry and ophthalmologist Rebecca Taylor, M.D., of Nashville, TN have catalogued the most common misconceptions and “bad habits” of contact lens wearers in a recent Huffington Post article.
Accept No Substitutes!
Never use tap water to clean or store your contact lenses. While it may be safe to drink, the water from the faucet contains bacteria that can cause eye infections. This is also why showering and swimming while wearing your lenses is not a good idea. Similarly, never ever, put your lenses in your mouth or use saliva to clean them. This is just asking for trouble. Instead, always carry saline solution with you, or, simply throw your contacts away and wear your glasses until you get home.
Although the generic store brands are tempting due to the lower prices, don’t trust them. You have no way of knowing what you are getting. A better idea is to consult your ophthalmologist as to the best solution for your eyes—and stick with it. Also, be sure to check the expiration dates before you buy.
Time for a Change
Another myth that is widespread throughout the contact lens-wearing population is that it is okay to recycle saline solution. Au contraire! Reusing solution is akin to taking a bath in the same bathwater time after time. Instead, use it once to soak your lenses and pour it down the drain. Another option is to get a prescription for disposable daily-wear lenses.
Along those same lines, when was the last time you replaced your contact lens case? If it’s been longer than three months, it is time to purchase a new one. Moreover, when you wash your lens case, use saline solution rather than water, and let the case air dry or dry it completely with a lint-free cloth. Never put the lids back on while the case is still wet.
To discover more of what you may have forgotten about caring for your contact lenses, read the Huffington Post article that addresses this topic.
Astigmatism is a refractive error—meaning the manner in which light waves curve as they traverse the lens and cornea.—caused by a malformation the translucent layer that protects the iris, pupil, and lens. For example, a normal cornea is perfectly round, like a baseball, while an astigmatic cornea has a spherical or oval shape. Due to this malformation, the eye cannot properly focus which is why people who suffer from astigmatism experience distorted, blurred vision.
Oftentimes, astigmatism is a hereditary condition and comorbid with additional refractive disorders such as near or farsightedness. Injury to the eye as well as surgical procedures can also result in astigmatism. Either way, as we age, the symptoms of this disorder tend to intensify.
If you’ve been diagnosed with astigmatism, there are a number of options available to correct the problem and restore clear vision.
- Eyeglasses (the most common solution)
- Contact lenses
- Orthokeratology (gas permeable contact lenses worn overnight)
- Laser surgery
Today, there is a wide array of styles, sizes, colors and designs from which to choose, for patients of any age. Now, you can enhance your vision, and look good while you are doing it!
Do you stay up late, eat a lot of fast food, or bake yourself in the sun? If so, you may be inadvertently rushing the ageing process—and the delicate skin around your eyes is the telltale sign! Below are some tips on how to keep your eyes healthy and young-looking inside and out:
Rubbing your eyes can cause the blood vessels beneath the skin to rupture. The result is puffy or droopy eyelids, dark circles and crow’s feet. While Botox injections and cosmetic surgery can correct the damage, it’s less expensive and easier to simply prevent premature wrinkles and puffiness.
Wear Your Shades
Exposing your eyes to the sun’s harmful UV and high-energy visible (HEV) rays is a surefire way to prematurely age and damage your eyes and eyelids. Extended sun exposure leads to: sunburn of the front surface of the eye (photo keratitis); cataracts; macular degeneration; pinguecula and pterygium (unsightly growths on the eye); and even cancer of the eyelid. Wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays and the most damaging HEV rays whenever you’re outdoors — even on overcast days!
Smoking is bad idea for virtually every part of your body. Studies have linked smoking to ocular diseases including cataracts, Macular Degeneration, Dry Eye Syndrome, inflammation, and Diabetic Retinopathy. Moreover, cigarette smokers are nearly five times as likely to experience permanent blindness, than non-smokers are. If you haven’t already, quit smoking now.
Eat Your Vegetables
Too much fast food and not enough leafy greens can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which affect the overall health of your eyes. Including kale, spinach, colorful fruit and fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon in your diet can do your eyes and the rest of your body a lot of good. Coupled with reasonable exercise and a healthy diet as described above, you and your eyes can stay both healthy and young looking!
Catch Some Z’s
They don’t call it beauty rest for nothing. Getting plenty of sleep is crucial in helping to slow the ageing process. Staying up too late can result in puffiness and dark circles below the eyes, annoying eyelid twitching, blurred vision and Dry Eye Syndrome. Nobody likes to see bloodshot eyes staring back at him or her in the mirror, so hit the sack early bright eyes!
You’ve heard it before, but drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day can make all the difference where your eyes are concerned. Without a sufficient water intake, your eyes may be unable to produce adequate tears, leaving you with dry, puffy, red eyes.
To learn more about how proper nutrition can help maintain eye health, click here!
For people who are prescribed extended-wear contact lenses, it is of the utmost importance that they replace their lenses on a regular basis. In today’s busy world, time passes quickly; days turn into weeks before we know it! It is oftentimes difficult to keep track of how long we’ve been wearing same lenses. Unfortunately, some of us are reminded too late–when conjunctivitis, the ocular infection commonly known as Pink Eye, has already set in. While this is not a serious malady, it is nonetheless an affliction to avoid.
According to a recent article on the Optometry Times® website, it is crucial that patients not only replace their contact lenses regularly, but also the lens case and solution. Dr. Bowling, the chief optometric editor of Optometry Times, provides his patients with comprehensive reproductions of the Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators Healthy Soft Contact Lens Habits which includes a handy lens replacement schedule and the recommended of contact lens cleaning and saline solutions. Now, there is additional assistance for those of us who still have difficulty in remembering not to forget.
With the advent of the SmartPhone comes an app that alerts us when it is time to change our lenses, and also to make and keep appointments with eyecare professionals. Along with online calendars that encourage patients to embrace a contact lens care routine, there is also the Acuminder® application. This innovative system affords the option of receiving text messages or email reminders—free of charge—when it is time to replace contact lenses and/or schedule an office visit.
The key to maintaining optimal eye health is guidance, vigilance and regular visits to the office of your eye care professional. The Acuminder® application is a fabulous tool that can help you do just that!
Robust Vitamin D Levels may Help Prevent Glaucoma
Recent studies indicate that people who do not incorporate enough Vitamin D in their diets are at a higher risk for developing glaucoma.
The research team at Public Health Nutrition was able to draw parallels between low levels of Vitamin D and the pervasiveness of open-angle glaucoma among some 6,000 South Koreans. The chances of developing glaucoma for the participants in this study were considerably higher when low serum levels of Vitamin D were reported.
By far, the best way to raise Vitamin D levels in adults is the natural way—from the sun. Depending on your age, location and other factors, as little as 15 minutes per day during the peak hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm can help increase the levels of Vitamin D. Of course, it is best to check with your healthcare professional before beginning a sunlight or vitamin supplement regimen.
Researchers also discovered that low levels of Vitamin D are also linked to optic nerve degeneration and intraocular pressure—which can cause glaucoma.
After getting the OK from your doctor, grab your sunscreen, don your shades and reap the health benefits of the sun’s rays!
What You Should Know
Zombies, vampires, snake eyes, smiley faces—even completely black or white contact lenses are growing in popularity. Whether you are nearsighted or farsighted, have been diagnosed with astigmatism or just want to stand out from the crowd, theatrical (FX) lenses are not just for movie stars anymore.
Keep in mind, however, that even though these “eye-catching” lenses are designed in the spirit of fun, an eye exam and fitting from your eye care professional is required. They are not a one-size-fits-all commodity. Further, it is illegal to purchase such lenses without a prescription, even if you have 20/20 vision and do not require corrective eyewear.
According to Dr. Randall Fuerst, the chairperson of the American Optometric Association, “Consumers, who purchase lenses illegally, without a prescription or without consultation from an eye doctor, put themselves at risk for serious bacterial infections, allergic reactions, or even significant damage to the eye’s ability to function, with the potential for irreversible sight loss.”
Moreover, Acta Ophthalmology recently published an article with findings that those who wear theatrical contact lenses suffer a marked increase in the risk of microbial keratitis, a severe and sight threatening ocular disease.
Having said that, don’t purchase your FX contact lenses from a flea market, anonymous online distributors or anyone aside from your eye care professional. Who knows whether they are sterile, expired, or previously worn?
As with all contact lenses, it is crucial that you keep them clean and sterile, and always wash your hands before handling them.