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.

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.


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.


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.