Keeping an Eye on the Health of Your Eyes: Glaucoma

Tucson_Optometry_Why_An_Eye_ExamEye exams are much more than just getting a prescription for glasses. While being able to see with glasses is not a trivial thing, the most important reason for getting an eye exam is to check the health of your eyes. There are a few very common eye diseases that when left untreated can cause a loss of vision or even blindness. One of the more insidious of these diseases is glaucoma because there are no symptoms at all in the early to middle stages of the disease.

The eye is essentially a hollow ball full of fluid maintained at a certain pressure much like the tires on a car. If the pressure gets too high it can cause damage to the optic nerve. This damage to the optic nerve is what is known as glaucoma. If enough damage occurs vision loss will result and if treatment is not initiated soon enough then eventually blindness will occur. Unfortunately you cannot feel the damage or pressure from glaucoma and you cannot see any changes in your vision until the disease reaches the advanced stages. By the time your vision begins to change most of the tissue of the optic nerve has already been lost and it will be much more difficult to treat.

The only way to detect glaucoma in the early stages is with an eye exam. The two primary ways of screening for glaucoma are by checking the pressure of the eyes and inspecting the optic nerves for damage. As a general rule, pressures that are too high and optic nerves that show a lack or loss of tissue are the primary signs of glaucoma both of which usually can detected during a routine eye exam. If these risk factors are detected then further testing can be done to confirm if glaucoma exists and if so then it can be treated.

There are a few different treatment options for glaucoma but the most common and usually the first line of treatment is just eye drops. These drops do not cure glaucoma but they often can stop its progress by lowering the pressure in the eye. If glaucoma is not detected until the late stages surgery is usually required to try to preserve what little of the tissue of the optic nerve remains, but the vision damage that has already occurred is irreparable. Glaucoma is a terrible disease and one of the most common causes of preventable blindness. Glaucoma is just one of many reasons to make sure you get an eye exam every year.

Spring Allergies and Puffy Eyes – What can you do?

Tucson_Optometry_Clinic_Spring_Allergies

Spring is here, the birds are singing, flowers are blooming and, unfortunately, your eyes may be itching. Allergy season is now in full swing in Southern Arizona. Every spring thousands of people suffer from a wide range of symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing and coughing, but the eyes, in particular, can be especially sensitive to allergens.

The skin around the eyelids are particularly sensitive to allergens, which can result in red and puffy eyelids. The whites of the eyes can swell giving a person a glassy-eyed look. The eyes may water excessively and can discharge mucous. Finally, the primary symptom of ocular allergies is itching.

So, if you are suffering from these symptoms what can you do about it?

There some very effective medications that are specifically designed for the eyes, which are much more effective than general over the counter allergy pills. First of all what makes them more effective is that they come in the form of drops which you can apply directly to the eye. Secondly, some of the newer prescription drops not only treat the allergic reaction once it has already happened but can also prevent it from happening in the first place. So if you can start with these drops before the allergy season even starts you may be able to avoid the discomfort associated with allergies in the first place.

In summary, there’s no need to suffer with allergies this spring in silence; allergies can be treated and sometimes even prevented.

Winter Sun Protection for Your Eyes

VDSMedia600_03B68781During the summer months, Arizonans are often painfully aware of the sun, the heat and the importance of ultraviolet eye protection. Most people know that you shouldn’t forget to don your sunglasses before heading out to the pool or the lake to protect your eyes from the harsh summer sun. However, some may not think about the need for UV protection while enjoying the outdoors during the winter. It’s just as important to wear sunglasses when heading up to the mountains to play in the snow. The thinner atmosphere at Arizona’s higher elevations filters significantly less UV Rays and snow on the ground can reflect up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays back towards your eyes.

So what can you do about it?

If you wear clear prescription glasses or non-prescription sunglasses make sure that they actually block UV light. Certain lens materials such as polycarbonate naturally filter out UV light. Also UV coatings can be applied to lenses to accomplish the same goal. Glasses don’t have to be dark to filter out UV light, and just because glasses are dark does not necessarily mean that they block ultraviolet rays. UV light is not visible to the naked human eye, and you can’t tell if glasses are blocking UV light just by looking through them. If you are not sure, many eye care and optical professionals have devices to check glasses for their ability to filter UV.

So if you are going out to hit the slopes or just to build a snowman with the kids, don’t forget to protect your eyes from the sun!

Dr. Jake Hiscox O.D.

Any  eye concerns or issues  from winter sports, please contact Tucson Optometry Clinic at 520-885-2052

Kids and Eye Exams

Tucson Optometry Clinic offers eye exams for children starting at the age of 4. We recommend eye exams when children are young because it helps with their many skills needed for school when learning and growth.  Impaired vision can affecVDSMedia300_03C06409t a child’s eye/hand coordination. We examine their near & distance vision, focusing skills, peripheral, eye movement and teaming. Some states require an eye exam before beginning school. You can visit the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus website for state by state codes.

Our knowledgeable staff has experience with children and their eye exams. Keeping their comfort level is our highest priority. Please call our office with any questions and we would be happy to setup an appointment for you.