Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Astigmatism 101: Causes, Risk Factors, and Treatment

Image of a young girl wearing glasses
Astigmatism is a common vision problem that can cause eyesight to become blurry, fuzzy, or distorted. This happens when either the cornea or the lens of the eye is misshapen, preventing light rays from being properly refracted. This causes many people to experience squinting, eyestrain, headaches, and eye irritation, in addition to blurry vision at any distance. Fortunately, the prognosis for many patients diagnosed with astigmatism is good.

Causes and Risk Factors for Astigmatism


While scientists know that an irregularly shaped cornea or lens causes the symptoms of astigmatism, what actually causes that irregularity is unknown. Often, people who develop it are born with it, and according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the risk for developing it is inherited. Astigmatism can also occur as a result of an eye injury, surgery, or disease. But contrary to popular belief, squinting, reading in poor light, sitting too close to the TV, and similar activities do not cause astigmatism.

While many people are born with astigmatism, it can develop at any time during childhood or adulthood. Those at highest risk have a family history of astigmatism or other conditions of the eye. Additional risk factors include thinning or scarring of the cornea, a history of cataract surgery or other eye surgeries in the family, and excessive nearsightedness or farsightedness, which lead to blurred vision.

Astigmatism Treatment


Although the cause of the misshapen cornea or lens isn’t known, ophthalmologists can offer patients a great outlook when it comes to treating the condition. In mild cases, no treatment is needed at all, but astigmatism does need to be addressed when it begins affecting vision. Treatment usually includes corrective lenses like glasses or contact lenses , although some patients may benefit from Ortho-K, specially designed lenses that temporarily correct the problem when worn. In severe cases, patients may need to undergo surgery to reshape the cornea for a permanent correction.

See Your Doctor


The optometrists and ophthalmologists at Excellent Vision have helped countless patients treat their blurry vision and eyestrain caused by astigmatism. If you have been experiencing fuzzy eyesight, eye irritation, or difficulty seeing at night, call us at 603-430-5225 to schedule an appointment at a location near you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

How Vitamins and Supplements Can Promote Eye Health

Image of various pills
For most people, vitamin deficiency isn’t enough to cause a severe vision problem, and a supplement can’t necessarily stop an eye problem from developing. Still, deficiency of certain vitamins can affect eye health, and for patients with a family history of cataracts and other eye problems, loading up on the vitamins might not hurt.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin


Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants located in the eye, and they may help reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, according to the American Optometric Association. They filter out harmful light rays to protect and maintain healthy cells. They also help prevent oxidation of the lens, which can lead to cataracts. Plus, researchers with the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (part of the National Eye Institute) determined that high concentrations of these vitamins may help slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However, there was no evidence that these supplements could completely prevent macular degeneration. Since the body does not naturally produce lutein or zeaxanthin, they can be taken through supplements or leafy greens like spinach or kale, egg yolks, and other fruits and vegetables.

Other Vitamins for Eye Health


Vitamin A is probably the most famous vitamin for eye health; it’s the reason why so many parents encourage children to eat their carrots. Vitamin A can contribute to eye health and help people with AMD and cataracts, and rhodopsin—also found in carrots—promotes better vision in low-light situations. Vitamin C provides crucial antioxidants, can help slow the progression of cataracts, and can provide vitamins for AMD patients, while Vitamin E adds an additional layer of protection against these eye conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids also promote eye health; while there’s no evidence that they can prevent or slow most conditions, researchers have found evidence that they may provide relief from symptoms of dry eye.

Eating healthy fruits and vegetables packed with lutein, zeaxanthin, and other vitamins won’t give you superpowers, but they certainly promote better vision and may help slow the progression of certain eye conditions. If you have a family history of eye problems, the physicians at Excellent Vision can help you create a diet or supplement plan that incorporates vitamins to promote eye health. Call us today at 603-430-5225 to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Eye Vision Signals to Expect After Age 40

Starting in their early to mid-40s, adults may start to experience unfamiliar eye problems. These issues may develop organically, but there are also certain physical conditions that can increase your risk for vision problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration. The same is true of high cholesterol, thyroid, anxiety, depression, and arthritis. Learn more about the eyesight difficulties that tend to develop in adults as our eyes continue to age.

Presbyopia 
An older man smiling


Thought to be caused by a gradual thickening of the natural lens inside the eye, presbyopia reduces eye elasticity. This means your eyes may encounter difficulty when reading, writing, or focusing on anything up close.

Presbyopia is fairly prevalent: a little over a decade ago, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that about 112 million Americans were presbyopic—a number expected to reach about 123 million in 2020. Although this widespread condition cannot be prevented or cured, eyeglasses with line-free multiple lenses usually provide clear vision at all distances.

Driver's Glare


When driving, the glare from oncoming headlines at night and sunlight reflecting from pavement or windshields during the day can become increasingly troublesome—and dangerous—as a person ages. Changes in the lens of an aging eye also can cause the light entering it to scatter instead of focusing precisely on the retina.

Increasing Eye Particles


As we age, we tend to see more spots or "floaters" in our eyes. These shadowy images are simply particles drifting in the fluid of the eye, and seeing these occasionally is normal. However, when a person suddenly begins to see an increasing number of floating particles along with bright flashing lights, an optometrist should be contacted immediately. This disturbance may signal a tear in the retina, which eventually could become detached if left untreated.

Declining Peripheral Vision


Losing vision on the side of one or both eyes may be an indication of glaucoma, during which a damaged optic nerve can no longer transmit visual images to the brain.

When any of these eye problems arises, the professionals at Excellent Vision excel at working with our patients ages 40 and up who have concerns about these or other eye issues. We provide the utmost in eye care for residents of Maine and New Hampshire, and we welcome you to see us for eye examinations, prescriptions, and contact lenses, among other services. Please call us at 603-430-5225 or fill out our contact form so we can help.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Our Eyes: Windows Into Overall Physical Health

Surprisingly, eye health is a focal indicator of one’s overall physical health and quality of life. From cancer to high blood pressure, diabetes to thyroid problems and more, a comprehensive examination of a patient's eyes can alert an ophthalmologist or optometrist to diseases previously undetected. Learn more about medical conditions linked to the eyes.

Skin Cancer 
A close up of a blue eye


A temporary eyelid sore may be harmless, but one that does not heal may indicate basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. The tumor is most commonly found on the lower eyelid, and loss of eyelashes can suggest malignancy. Although basal cell skin cancer is not usually fatal, it may reoccur after treatment or lead to other types of skin cancer. Look out for changes in the skin around the eyelid as an early indicator of basal cell carcinoma, such as a reddish nodule forming on the eyelid or changes in pigmentation.

Breast Cancer


Occasionally, the first sign of breast cancer arrives through a routine eye examination or changes in the quality of vision. Malignant, harmful tumors from the lung, breast, and elsewhere in the body can reach into and around the eyes. The tumors might never be detected until they affect vision, are noticed by the patient, or force the eye forward in its socket.

Thyroid Problems


Bulging eyes could indicate exophthalmos—an over-active thyroid gland issue known as Graves' disease. The Mayo Clinic estimates about 30 percent of individuals with Graves' disease show some signs of Graves' ophthalmopathy, an inflammation of the tissues and muscles around the eyes. Symptoms often are the loss of weight, an irregular or rapid pulse, and nervousness. Graves' disease, which is common among women and the elderly, is treatable.

Diabetes


When an ophthalmologist discovers miniature hemorrhages in the retina and yellowish sediments of blood fats, it could be a sign of diabetes. Consult with an ophthalmologist for a thorough examination—those with diabetes often develop diabetic retinopathy, a complication that can cause mild vision problems and even blindness. For a patient already diagnosed with the disease, he or she can be reassured by the National Eye Institute's statement that early detection and treatment of diabetes reduces the risk of blindness by 95 percent.

Autoimmune Disease


Drooping eyelids and pupils varying in size may indicate a life-threatening condition known as Horner syndrome. This autoimmune disease is sometimes associated with aneurysms and tumors in the neck. If you detect drooping eyelids or pupils, then immediate medical attention is necessary.

A regular comprehensive eye exam can help avoid eye damage and provide insight of overall physical health. Excellent Vision Eye offers unrivaled eye care to residents of Maine and New Hampshire, where our skilled doctors specialize in cataract surgeries using the latest in technology. Please call us at 603-430-5225 for an appointment or fill out our contact form to get started today!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Preventing the Spread of Pink Eye

Pink eye—the condition that causes itchy, infected, bloodshot eyes—is not only unpleasant to deal with but is also extremely contagious. Whether brought home from school by a child or passed around the office by a co-worker, anyone who catches pink eye should take extra care to avoid spreading it further.

What Is Pink Eye? 
A person with pink eye putting in eye drops


Pink eye, formally known as conjunctivitis, is inflammation and redness of the membranes that cover the whites of the eye and the inner eyelids. There are a number of causes of pink eye, with bacteria, viruses, and allergens, being the most common. But air pollution, chemical exposure, foreign materials in the eye, and improper wearing of contact lenses can all contribute to pink eye as well. That’s why it’s so important to follow the doctor’s instructions for taking out contact lenses every night! Pink eye caused by viruses and bacteria is highly contagious (which is why so many school-age children get it), but pink eye caused by environmental factors and eye irritants is not.

Preventing the Spread of Pink Eye


Pink eye is so contagious that it’s one of the most common reasons children miss school. According to the American Journal of Infection Control, more than 3 million school days are missed due to conjunctivitis annually. Anyone who goes to school or shows up to work with the condition risks quickly spreading it to the people around them, but some steps can be taken to prevent passing it on to others. After coming into contact with someone who is infected (or even with objects they’ve touched), hands should always be washed thoroughly with soap and warm water. People should be especially mindful of touching or rubbing their eyes, and parents or anyone else caring for someone with pink eye should wash their hands after helping apply eye drops, changing bedding, or coming into any physical contact with the affected person or their belongings.

Anyone who does get pink eye should frequently wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, especially immediately after touching their eyes. Glasses should be worn instead of contact lenses until cleared by a doctor, and no personal items, especially sunglasses, makeup, and pillows, should be shared. Swimming pools should also be avoided. Any discharge from the eye must be cleaned with washcloths or cotton balls that should then be washed or discarded. The affected person should avoid school or work for three to five days, if possible, to avoid spreading it to others while under treatment with antibiotics, eye drops, or ointments. Any items used while infected, like makeup, contact lens solution, and glasses, should be thrown away or thoroughly cleaned to avoid becoming re-infected. 

At Excellent Vision, our main concern is the health of your eyes. We offer ophthalmology and optometry services at three convenient locations around Portsmouth, New Hampshire to help our patients see more clearly. If you are experiencing symptoms of pink eye, call 603-430-5225 to schedule an appointment with our doctors! We can help you review the steps you need to take to make sure your eye care products aren't delaying your recovery from this frustrating condition.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Six Essential Eye Care Tips for People With Diabetes

Image of a doctor & patient
Type 2 diabetes affects many of the body's systems and organs, including the eyes. High blood sugar caused by diabetes can damage the eye's blood vessels, leading to diabetic retinopathy as well as a higher risk for glaucoma and cataracts. Those who have this chronic condition can take these six preventive steps to maintain good vision and protect the eyesight from the degenerative effects of diabetes.

Have Regular Eye Exams


An annual eye exam can assist with early diagnosis and treatment of issues caused by diabetes. This visit should include a dilated eye exam, in which drops are used to dilate the pupils and evaluate the condition of the tiny blood vessels in the eyes. Eye doctors may recommend more frequent appointments for those at high risk for eye problems.

Control Blood Sugar


High blood sugar is responsible for many problems associated with diabetes, including retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels of the eyes). Take steps to keep your blood sugar under 7 percent or at a number the doctor recommends. A quarterly A1C blood test can evaluate average blood sugar over a few months.

Manage Hypertension


Many people with diabetes struggle with high blood pressure, which can also cause eye damage. Have blood pressure checked regularly; it should ideally be under 140/90. Those with higher levels may need to control hypertension with medication and lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, limiting dietary salt and fat, and developing an exercise routine.

Eat a Nutritious Diet


Consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains leads to lower blood sugar and lower cholesterol, which can prevent damage to the blood vessels in the eyes. Limiting fatty and sugary foods can help lower cholesterol levels as well.

Quit Smoking


Smoking exacerbates the risk for eye problems since it also causes blood vessel damage. If you smoke, talk with a medical professional who can recommend strategies to help you quit.

Exercise Regularly


Keeping the body healthy limits the complications of diabetes. Most people should get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, such as brisk walking or other activities that raise the heart rate.

Those who need regular eye exams to control diabetes-related problems can visit one of the three convenient Portsmouth-area locations of Excellent Vision. Our doctors provide diagnosis and treatment for a range of conditions, including low vision, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Are Cataracts Hereditary? Understanding Risk Factors

Cataracts are a gradual clouding of the eye's clear lens, causing blurred vision and difficulty seeing at night. Over time, the symptoms of this condition worsen and cause more serious vision problems, including light sensitivity, worsening eyesight, the appearance of halos around lights, faded colors, and even double vision. Cataracts tend to develop in response to age-related changes in the eye, but are cataracts hereditary?

Risk Factors for Cataracts 
Two woman, one younger and one older, posing for a photo


Although those who have a family history of cataracts are more likely to develop this condition, other risk factors also contribute. Cataracts are more common among people who are older than 60, are obese, smoke, have diabetes or high blood pressure, have been exposed to UV rays without eye protection, had a previous eye injury or surgery, drink alcohol excessively, or use corticosteroid medications. Keep in mind that cataracts are a very common condition, and they are even more common among those with a family history. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than half of Americans develop a cataract in at least one eye by age 80.

Preventing Cataracts


While it's impossible to influence a family history of cataracts, controlling other risk factors can help keep the eyes healthy. The following are some preventive measures to take:
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol to no more than one drink a day
  • Having regular eye exams
  • Managing chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes
  • Eating a nutritious diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, particularly those rich in antioxidants such as berries and leafy greens
  • Wearing sunglasses with UV protection when outdoors


Treatment Options for Patients With Cataracts


Those that are experiencing blurred vision and light sensitivity due to cataracts can dramatically improve their quality of vision through cataract surgery. The eye surgeon will remove the affected lens and replace it with a clear intraocular lens (IOL) implant to restore sight and reduce symptoms like blurriness. Cataract surgery is typically an outpatient procedure done under local anesthetic. Patients can return to normal activities within a day or two.

In the Portsmouth, NH area, trust the expertise of our doctors at Excellent Vision. In particular, our own Dr. Richard J. Lasonde specializes in cataract surgery and has helped thousands of patients achieve better vision through IOL implants. Those having problems with their eyesight can call us at 603-430-5225 for an appointment at one of our convenient locations in Maine and New Hampshire.