Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Understanding the Human Eye: How It Works

Most people go throughout their day being constantly bombarded with visual input, yet never stop to think about the amazing transformation this information must go through in order to be processed by the brain. None of it would be possible without one of the most complex organs in the body: the human eye. Through research in the field of optometry, people today have a much more accurate understanding of how this process works.

Understanding How the Eye Works 
A close up of a green eye in Portsmouth, NH


First, light travels through the cornea, which is the clear covering over the eye that acts as a window. The cornea bends the light, allowing it to pass through the narrow pupil. A lens behind the iris helps to either shorten or lengthen the light rays to ensure that the image is focused. The retina lies at the back of the eye. The light rays come to a point at the retina, which receives the crystal-clear image in its network of nerve cells, then transmits it to the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries the image to the brain. The most amazing part of this process is that it happens at lightning speed, over and over again throughout the day.

How to Care for the Eyes


With these incredible organs working overtime, it's important to take good care of them. The most important step in taking care of the eyes is scheduling regular checkups with an optometrist. This will help determine if there are any ongoing issues, and can hopefully help to detect issues early before they become more serious.

The eyes require certain nutrients to keep them healthy between checkups, so eating a well-balanced diet will help keep them healthy. Protecting the eyes from damage is also important. Sunglasses can help protect the eyes from the harmful UV rays found in sunlight, and safety glasses should be worn in hazardous conditions. Thanks to the wonders of optometry, the eyes can continue to process countless messages per day, all without people ever noticing. To keep your eyes healthy longer, contact Excellent Vision in Portsmouth today.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tips for Reducing Damage From Computer & Phone Screens

In the modern world, it's nearly impossible to escape the glow of computer and phone screens. Whether for work, entertainment, communication, or all of the above, screens have become a ubiquitous feature of life in the 21st Century. All that time spent staring at a device or computer can place considerable strain on the eyes. Today's eye care requires consideration of the effect screens have on vision. Try these tips for reducing eyestrain. For more information, seek expert advice from the doctors at Excellent Vision.
Smart phone with news on it

Use Proper Lighting


While it's generally good to have abundant natural light in an office space, it can cause unnecessary strain on the eyes. Overhead fluorescent lights also cause glare which forces the cornea to take in more light than is healthy just to maintain focus. Try reducing outdoor light by drawing shades or blinds when working at the computer. If possible, place a workstation so that the windows are to the side, rather than directly in front of or behind the screen. Swap overhead lights out for floor lamps with shades that provide indirect lighting.

Take Breaks


Sometimes people get in the zone when they're working, and there's nothing wrong with that. Studies have shown, however, that eye care is greatly helped by taking frequent short breaks. Rather than one or two long breaks, workers who take five or more mini-breaks experience less eyestrain and maintain productivity.

Get a Regular Eye Exam


The surest way to avoid long-term damage to the eyes is to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Individuals who spend more than six hours per day working at a screen should have their eyes checked at least once annually. During the eye exam, inform the doctor how much time is spent staring at a screen and ask for further tips on avoiding screen-based eyestrain.

The professionals at Excellent Vision have earned a reputation as leaders in Ophthalmology and Optometry in the Seacoast Region. For expert eye care and professionalism, visit Excellent Vision at any of our three locations.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What Is Glaucoma and How Is It Treated?

Glaucoma patient and nurse visiting at Excellent Vision in Portsmouth, NH
Glaucoma begins with fluid building up in the front of the eye. As the extra fluid increases pressure within the eye, the optic nerve is damaged. Although blindness from glaucoma often can be prevented by early treatment, the disease continues to be a leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old. Glaucoma treatment includes eye drops, pills, laser treatment, and traditional surgery, or a combination of these methods.

Eye Drops


As stated by the Glaucoma Research Foundation, the pressure within the eye can be reduced by eye drops. Some types of drops achieve this by increasing drainage of fluid from the eye. Others help decrease the amount of fluid created in the eye. It is vital that all medications be taken precisely as prescribed.

Oral Medication


Pills, which may be prescribed in support of eye drops, also reduce the production of fluid within the eye. Since pills and eye drops are taken up to four times a day, all of the patient's doctors must be informed of these prescriptions to avoid potentially harmful interactions.

Laser Eye Surgery


Laser eye surgery has grown in popularity as a step in between medication and traditional surgery. The most frequent procedure for glaucoma treatment is a trabeculoplasty, which is painless and requires mere minutes in an outpatient facility or doctor's office. During the procedure, a beam of high-energy light is used to alter the eye's drainage system so that fluid is eliminated more efficiently. Usually, any complications from the laser are minimal.

Traditional Eye Surgery


If eye drops, pills, and laser surgery fail to decrease pressure within an eye, conventional eye surgery may be the only alternative. The most common of these surgeries is a trabeculectomy. During this procedure, the surgeon opens a passage in the white part of the eye to drain excess fluid, then creates a flap that allows fluid to escape without deflating the eyeball.

Additional types of laser and conventional surgeries are available, each one depending on the condition of the eye.

The specialists at Excellent Vision are here to help with your eye care and glaucoma treatment. Please call us at 603-430-5225 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Three Foods to Eat for Healthy Vision

Many people believe that maintaining good eye health is simply a matter of genetics. While there are hereditary traits that can give certain individuals an advantage over others, a healthy diet is also a significant component in preserving vision throughout a person's life. Here are three foods doctors recommend for healthy vision.

Carrots


An optometrist is checking eyes of a patientThis list begins with the food most commonly associated with excellent eyesight. Folk wisdom tells us that a steady diet of carrots is what gives rabbits such great vision. While this isn't entirely true (rabbits have good vision over distance, but the position of their eyes makes it hard to see things up close), it is scientifically accurate that carrots contain nutrients beneficial to the eyes. Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that gives them their orange color. Beta-carotene helps pack pigment into the retina, improving overall eyesight and especially night vision.

Spinach, Kale, and Other Leafy Greens


Spinach and kale are healthy foods that provide a wealth of benefits for the body as a whole. They're also rich in specific types of antioxidants that are especially beneficial for vision health. Spinach, kale, and other greens like broccoli are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that studies indicate may help prevent the development of cataracts, avoiding the need for cataract surgery later in life.

Salmon


It's not just vegetables that are necessary for preserving good vision. Salmon and other fish high in fat are an important source of omega-3 fatty acids. These same fatty acids are found in the retina, and a lack of them can cause dry eyes. An abundance of omega-3 fatty acids has also been shown to prevent inflammation, macular degeneration, and even cataracts. While salmon is a good option, look for other fish, like tuna, trout, sardines, and halibut, which are richer in omega-3s than a typical cod or haddock found just off Portsmouth's shores.

Maintaining healthy vision isn't just about the luck of the genomic draw. This list provides just a few of the foods people can eat to take care of their eyesight. Combining a healthy diet with regular optometry care will go a long way to preserving eye health and vision throughout a person's life. To schedule an eye exam, call Excellent Vision at 603-430-5225 today.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Effects of Sunlight on Eyes (and How to Protect Them)

Most people are aware that the sun can damage their eyes—or at least hurt them. The culprit is ultraviolet radiation, and its effects can damage eyes in the short-term and long-term, sometimes in unexpected ways.

UV Radiation in the Long-Term


Ultraviolet (UV) radiation exists in 3 forms: UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. The most damaging of the three is UVC, which is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere. UVA rays cause damage to the retina (the light-sensitive membrane covering the back of the eye), although other parts of the eye absorb them as well. UVB rays are responsible for photokeratitis (a sort of sunburn of the cornea), cataracts, pterygium (a growth on the eye's surface), and a form of eye cancer called squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva.
A girl is wearing black sunglasses

Damage in the Short-Term


While the aforementioned UV radiation can take years to show its effects, some damage can take effect almost immediately, such as photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis (an inflammation similar to pink eye). The feeling of eye fatigue, soreness, and 'grittiness' after spending time on sand, snow, or water without eye protection is a result of UV radiation exposure.

Hidden Danger


Looking directly at the sun can damage the retina—hence the natural reaction to avert the eyes. UV damage can occur regardless of cloud cover or season of the year. In fact, fresh snow can reflect up to 80% of UV radiation. There is also no significant difference in time of day, although morning to mid-afternoon rays have been shown to be especially damaging.

How to Protect Eyes Against Damage


Sunglasses are often viewed as a fashion accessory, but their primary function is to protect eyes from harmful UV radiation. Eye protection is most beneficial when the lenses are gray and large enough to cover the eye completely. Wrap-around sunglasses are best. Some contact lenses provide a degree of UV protection, but most do not.

In addition to eye protection like sunglasses, ensuring proper sleep can help generate adequate lubrication to clear out irritants and repair daily damage. Call 603-430-5225 or contact your local eye care provider for further information.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Intraocular Lens Implants: What Are They?

When a cataract develops in an eye, the natural lens becomes cloudy, resulting in blurred vision. Fortunately, cataract surgery is a quick, simple process that can dramatically improve the lives of patients suffering from this condition.

An Effective Artificial Lens


When contact lenses or prescription glasses prove inadequate in correcting cloudy vision, the typical solution involves replacing the affected lens with a new, artificial one called an intraocular lens implant (IOL). These lens replacements focus light entering the eye through the cornea and pupil and onto the retina, where images are relayed to the brain. IOLs can solve multiple problems. They fix the visual impairment caused by cataracts and, in many cases, eliminate the need to wear prescription glasses, as they contain a patient's appropriate prescription. Some patients do, however, still benefit from reading glasses.

Made of Flexible Material 
Image of an eye after intraocular lens implant


IOLs are typically made of a soft and flexible silicone or acrylic. To protect eyes from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, these implants are coated with a special material that blocks these light frequencies. During a procedure, a small insertion is made to remove the affected lens, and then the eye doctor rolls the implant into place. The process is quick, typically lasting less than half an hour.

Several Options Are Available


The monofocal IOL is commonly used with cataract surgery and, as the name indicates, has one focus distance. This focus is set to close, medium-range, or distance vision, with most people opting for distance-vision IOLs. Glasses are no longer needed for seeing objects at a distance, but reading glasses may be recommended for up-close work.

Another option is the multifocal IOL, also called accommodative lenses. These lenses provide different zones for near or far viewing. The brain learns how to automatically select the right zone for the situation at hand, such as driving or reading the newspaper.

Toric lenses are an excellent choice for people with significant astigmatism. This IOL compensates for the curvature of the eye, eliminating the image distortion that can result from astigmatism.

With so many options, it's a good idea to check with an ophthalmologist to determine the best approach. An eye doctor will inform patients of the pros and cons of each lens type so that they know exactly what to expect before and after the lens replacement procedure.

Friday, April 21, 2017

How Blue Light Damages the Eyes

Blue light is visible, high-energy light that increases memory, cognitive function, and alertness. By regulating the natural circadian rhythm of sleep and wakefulness cycles, blue light helps control the mood, memory, and hormonal balance of an individual.


Threats of Increasing Blue Light


About 30 percent of all visible light is high-energy visible (HEV) or "blue" light. While the primary source of blue light is the sun, experts in optometry express concerns about the rapid increase of manufactured blue light. Fluorescent and LED lights transmit significant levels of blue light, as do the screens of TVs, computers, smartphones, electronic notebooks, and other digital devices. In today's modern workforce, approximately 60 percent of people spend more than six hours a day in front of a digital device, which significantly increases exposure to blue light.


Dangers of Blue Light


Staring at screens all day and night creates unfocused visible "noise" that reduces contrast and leads to digital eye strain. Also, excess reading on a tablet computer at bedtime can disrupt the sleep cycle, leading to daytime fatigue. As a result, the cumulative effect of rising exposure to blue light indoors can damage the retina's light-sensitive cells, causing cataracts, and increasing the risks of macular degeneration. In fact, 70 percent of adults who regularly use media devices have reported symptoms of digital eye strain.

Schedule an appointment with an optometrist to discuss the type of filters or glasses best suited for protecting eyes against the threats and dangers of blue light.