Preventing Eye Disease
Taking Care of your most precious sense
Instead of treating eye diseases, we would much rather prevent them. For this reason, Drs. Kline, Boyd and Chivers encourage patients to protect their eyes with multivitamins.
We now know that many conditions of the eye are prevented by good nutrition and by the addition of vitamins and supplements. It has been shown that a good quality multivitamin can reduce the incidence of cataracts by 25 percent.
A study on macular degeneration called the AREDS study showed that a multivitamin containing beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and copper slowed the progression of this disease by 25%. Lutein is a yellow carotenoid that is heavily concentrated in normal maculae. We know that lutein is absent in retinas with macular degeneration. Lutein is something we recommend for patients with incipient macular degeneration for this reason. There are many over-the-counter multi-vitamins available for daily consumption. Ask one of our doctors for recommendations of specific brands.
Dry eye is perhaps the most common condition optometrists treat. People with dry eyes may experience symptoms of irritated, sandy/gritty, scratchy, or burning eyes. They may have a feeling of something in their eyes, excess watering, and blurred vision. Advanced dry eyes may damage the front surface of the eye and even impair vision.
What causes dry eyes?
The development of dry eyes can have many causes. They include:
- Age – dry eye is a part of the natural aging process. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.
- Gender – women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives, and menopause.
- Medications – certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can reduce the amount of tears produced in the eyes.
- Medical conditions – persons with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes to develop.
- Environmental conditions – exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly, such as when staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, can also contribute to drying of the eyes.
- Other factors – long term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can cause decreased tear production and dry eyes.
How are dry eyes treated?
Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, but your optometrist can prescribe treatment to keep your eyes healthy, more comfortable, and prevent your vision from being affected. The primary approaches used to manage and treat dry eyes include adding tears, conserving tears, increasing tear production, and treating the inflammation of the eyelids or eye surface that contributes to the dry eyes.
- Adding tears – Mild cases of dry eyes can often be managed using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. These can be used as often as needed to supplement natural tear production. Preservative-free artificial tear solutions are recommended because they contain fewer additives that could further irritate the eyes. However, some people may have persistent dry eyes that don’t respond to artificial tears alone. Additional steps need to be taken to treat their dry eyes.
- Conserving tears – An additional approach to reducing the symptoms of dry eyes is to keep natural tears in the eyes longer. This can be done by blocking the tear ducts through which the tears normally drain. The tear ducts can be blocked with tiny silicone or gel-like plugs that can be removed, if needed. A surgical procedure to permanently close tear ducts can also be used. In either case, the goal is to keep the available tears in the eye longer to reduce problems related to dry eyes.
- Increasing tear production – Restasis Prescription eye drops that help to increase your production of tears can be recommended by your optometrist, as well as omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplements.
The supplemental source our doctors recommend is Nordic Naturals Fish Oil for dry eye.
- Treatment of the contributing eyelid or ocular surface inflammation – Prescription eye drops or ointments, warm compresses and lid massage, or eyelid cleaners may be recommended to help decrease inflammation around the surface of the eyes.
Protecting our Eyes with Sunglass Wear
Another basic way we can protect our eyes is by wearing sunglasses. Much research has been done on the effects of ultra-violet (UV) light rays on the eyes. UV-light rays are classified into three categories by letter (UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C). Studies show exposure to UV rays, especially UV-B, can cause cataract development to accelerate. UV-light rays can cause an increase in the progression of AMD. That is why we emphasize the importance of protecting our eyes by wearing sunglasses.
Sunglasses designed to block both UV-A and UV-B light rays at 100% efficiency are the most ideal sunglasses to wear for optimal protection from the sun. At our office, we make sure that our sunglass lenses are designed to give your eyes full protection so that you can take the best care of them. We recommend polarized sunglasses to all of our patients.
Did you know that 80% of damage to our eyes occurs before the age of 18 and the risk for retinal damage is greatest in children under 10? The ocular lens in children is thinner than in adults which allows more of the damaging UV rays to reach the retina and cause permanent damage. Even exposure for a short period of time can cause photokeratitis better known as “Sunburn of the eyes”.
Exposure to the sun causes damage starting as early as childhood. There has been a recent push in Australia to add sunglasses to their Children’s uniforms.
The parents of these children are well educated to these dangers. Now that you are too – Why not start protecting your children’s eyes? We have fun, upbeat sunglasses for all ages. We even offer Julbo Sunglasses for infants and toddlers. These sunglasses are designed with an expandable band in order to make them more comfortable for your infant or toddler to wear and are available with prescription lenses also. They block 100% of UV-A and UV-B light rays.