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What Causes Halos Around Lights?

Aurora Family Eyecare Local Cataract, Astigmatism, Fuch’s Dystrophy and Glaucoma Eye exams and treatment near you in Aurora, Ontario

Have you ever seen bright rings or “halos” around sources of light? Read on to learn what can cause halos and when they’re a reason to visit an eye doctor near you.

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Seeing bright rings or “halos” around sources of light can either be normal or a cause for concern. Below, we’ll explain the most common reasons that people see halos and when you should visit your eye doctor.

We see halos around light fixtures and headlights when light entering the eye from a bright object is bent in an unusual way. This causes the bright light to appear as if it is surrounded by a ring of light, known as a halo. Several conditions can cause light to bend in this way.

  • CataractsA cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Cataracts usually develop slowly and are most often seen in older people.

    When the lens becomes cloudy, light is dispersed abnormally as it enters the eye and causes a person to see halos around lights. In fact, seeing halos around lights is one of the most common symptoms of cataracts. Other symptoms that may accompany cataracts are blurred vision, light sensitivity, and difficulty seeing at night.

  • AstigmatismThis eye condition occurs when the cornea (the front surface of the eye) is irregularly curved. People with astigmatism may see halos around lights because of the way the cornea refracts incoming light.
  • Fuch’s Dystrophy This progressive genetic disease causes the cornea to swell. As the cornea swells and becomes misshapen, it causes light to enter at an incorrect angle. As a result, people with this condition see halos around lights.
  • GlaucomaGlaucoma occurs when the optic nerve becomes damaged due to high inner eye pressure, and is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Seeing halos around lights can be an early sign of acute glaucoma, which is considered a medical emergency.

    If you suddenly start seeing halos around lights in addition to other symptoms like headache, vomiting, blurred vision, eye pain, and weakness, seek medical care without delay.

  • Dry Eye SyndromeDry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes are chronically dry. In moderate to severe cases, the eye’s surface can become irregularly shaped, which can cause light to enter at an odd angle.

When To Visit Your Eye Doctor

If you see halos around lights, it’s best to schedule a timely eye exam at an eye clinic near you, even if you suspect you know why it’s happening.

A comprehensive eye exam by a qualified eye care professional is the only way to rule out a serious problem.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Aurora eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Aurora Family Eyecare eye clinic near you in Aurora, Ontario to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 855-945-1551

Aurora Family Eyecare, your Aurora eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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  • What is a cataract? How will I know when I have one? What can be done to fix it?

    A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens. The crystalline lens sits behind the iris or the colored part of the eye. Its function is to fine-tune our focusing system by changing shape as we view objects at different distances. Our lens eventually loses its ability to change shape; this is when we require reading glasses or bifocals. In addition, the crystalline lens can become cloudy or yellow as a part of normal aging. This is also known as an age-related cataract. Normal, age-related cataracts are unavoidable and everyone will develop them at some point if they live long enough. The discoloration of the lens leads to an overall blur, a decrease in contrast sensitivity, and a worsening of glare, especially at nighttime. Because they tend to develop gradually, the symptoms are often unnoticed by the patient. A yearly eye exam will allow your optometrist the opportunity to identify cataracts and advise on how to proceed. When your optometrist decides your cataracts are affecting your vision and are advanced enough to remove, you will meet with an ophthalmologist. Cataract surgery is a safe and effective outpatient procedure that will reverse any vision loss caused by cataracts, and it is usually covered by your medical insurance.

  • My previous eye doctor told me I have “stigma!” Am I going to go blind?

    Stigma is actually referring to a type of refractive error known properly as astigmatism, and no, you will not go blind from having astigmatism; it is not a disease, in fact, it is relatively common. There are three types of refractive error, myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The former two are more regularly referred to as nearsighted (cannot see far away) and farsighted (cannot see up close). Astigmatism is simply the third category; it affects both the near and far vision at the same time. Much like nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism is corrected using glasses or contacts. Technically speaking an eye with astigmatism requires two different prescriptions to correct vision in one eye due to the more oval shape of the cornea. This will require a more specialized contact lens and a more in-depth fitting procedure. Nonetheless, your eye care provider can, and will, correct your astigmatism with glasses and/or contacts.

  • What exactly is glaucoma?

    Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye’s intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high. This means that your eye has too much aqueous humor in it, either because it produced too much, or because it’s not draining properly. Other symptoms are optic nerve damage and vision loss. Glaucoma is a silent disease that robs the patient of their peripheral vision. Early detection is very important.

  • My eyes are always burning and tired, what is causing this and what can I do about it?

    A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens. The crystalline lens sits behind the iris or the colored part of the eye. Its function is to fine-tune our focusing system by changing shape as we view objects at different distances. Our lens eventually loses its ability to change shape; this is when we require reading glasses or bifocals. In addition, the crystalline lens can become cloudy or yellow as a part of normal aging. This is also known as an age-related cataract. Normal, age-related cataracts are unavoidable and everyone will develop them at some point if they live long enough. The discoloration of the lens leads to an overall blur, a decrease in contrast sensitivity, and a worsening of glare, especially at nighttime. Because they tend to develop gradually, the symptoms are often unnoticed by the patient. A yearly eye exam will allow your optometrist the opportunity to identify cataracts and advise on how to proceed. When your optometrist decides your cataracts are affecting your vision and are advanced enough to remove, you will meet with an ophthalmologist. Cataract surgery is a safe and effective outpatient procedure that will reverse any vision loss caused by cataracts, and it is usually covered by your medical insurance.

Who is the Ideal LASIK Candidate?

Aurora Family Eyecare LASIK Guidelines from your Aurora, Ontario Eye Doctor. near you in Aurora, Ontario

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What criteria determine if you are eligible for LASIK?

  • Good eye health, with no ocular disease. Conditions such as chronic eye infections, severe dry eye syndrome, cataracts, corneal disorders, macular degeneration, uncontrolled glaucoma, and eye injuries may make LASIK a poor choice for you.
  • Corneal thickness must be adequate for reshaping your cornea. Performing LASIK on a cornea that is too thin or extremely irregular can reduce the success of the procedure. However, this rule isn’t as steadfast as it once was, because new types of LASIK are now available that enable surgeons to perform the laser vision correction. Our Aurora, Ontario, will measure your cornea during your LASIK consultation eye exam to recommend the most suitable method of laser eye surgery.
  • The best visual success with LASIK is with people who have prescriptions in the following parameters: up to +6 diopters for farsightedness, up to 6 diopters of astigmatism (cylinder), and up to -12 diopters of nearsightedness.
  • Ocular maturity is important. The best LASIK results are achieved in people who have had a stable vision prescription for about a year before undergoing refractive surgery.
  • A good overall health condition, with no pre-existing conditions that can slow healing, such as hypertension, Sjogren’s syndrome, and poorly controlled diabetes.
  • LASIK is FDA-approved for patients above age 18. Generally, there is no maximum age for laser eye surgery. But, be aware that once you are in your 40s, you may still require reading glasses to correct near vision after undergoing LASIK.
  • LASIK is not suitable for women who are pregnant or nursing, due to the fact that hormonal changes can affect the corneal shape. Typically, it’s advised to wait a few months after pregnancy.

Set realistic visual expectations

If you are seriously considering LASIK, it’s important to face reality. While most people are thrilled with their LASIK results, there are still risks and possible side effects and complications. You need an experienced eye doctor to perform a personalized eye exam and consider whether or not you are an ideal candidate for laser eye surgery – as well as advise you about which specific type of vision correction is most appropriate.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Aurora eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Aurora Family Eyecare eye clinic near you in Aurora, Ontario to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 855-945-1551

Aurora Family Eyecare, your Aurora eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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  • What is LASIK surgery?

    LASIK surgery is a procedure that corrects a wide range of nearsightedness or myopia, farsightedness or hyperopia, and astigmatism.

  • Who benefits from LASIK?

    LASIK eye surgery can benefit a significant number of people with myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.

  • Is the LASIK procedure safe?

    Studies show that the LASIK procedure carries only minimal risks of complications. Even if complications do occur, most of the complications are resolved within three months and do not result in long-term interference with vision.

3 Eye Exercises To Relieve Eye Strain

Aurora Family Eyecare To reduce eye strain, try these 3 exercises near you in Aurora, Ontario

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Aurora eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Aurora Family Eyecare eye clinic near you in Aurora, Ontario to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 855-945-1551

Take a break from digital devices to allow our eyes to rest and prevent eye strain near you in Aurora, Ontario

The more time we spend on digital devices for work, school, and entertainment, the greater the risk of developing eye strain. Staring at a screen for an extended period of time tires out our eye muscles and can also cause dry eye, headaches, blurred or double vision, sensitivity to light, and soreness in the neck and shoulders.

Fortunately, there are exercises to relax and refresh your eyes and prevent eye strain discomfort.

Eye Exercises

Since the use of digital screens has become a large part of our daily lives, more people are suffering from eye strain. To prevent or reduce eye strain, try these 3 simple eye exercises:

The 20-20-20 rule

  • Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer for 20 seconds
  • Gaze at an object that is at least 20 feet away
  • Repeat throughout the day

This quick and easy exercise reduces eye strain by resting the eyes and upper body.

Palming

  • Sit in a darkened room with your elbows leaning on a table
  • Relax your back and shoulders
  • Rub your hands together to warm them
  • Place your palms over your eyes — do not press the eye sockets so that your eyes can blink freely
  • Visualize total darkness and breathe deeply for 2 minutes

This exercise relieves stress on the eyes.

Blinking

When we look at a computer screen, we tend to forget to blink. This exercise reduces eye strain and dry eye symptoms.

  • Slowly close your eyes for a few seconds
  • Open your eyes slowly and relax your facial muscles
  • Keep your eyes open for 3-5 seconds
  • Repeat 10-20 times, until your eyes and the muscles around your eyes feel relaxed

While eye strain isn’t a medical emergency, it can negatively affect your quality of life and ability to work and learn. For a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor near you. At Aurora Family Eyecare, we care about your eyes and health. Contact us today!

Aurora Family Eyecare, your Aurora eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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  • I can see well. Why do I need to visit an Eye Care Professional?

    Comprehensive eye exams are the best way to prevent “silent” eye diseases like diabetes, glaucoma, and other manageable conditions in their early stages when they are more easily treated. Many conditions can be avoided through planned eye exams.

  • Should my child’s eyes be examined regularly?

    Most Pediatricians test a child’s vision as part of a routine medical examination. They can refer a child to an ophthalmologist if there are signs of an eye condition. Examinations should be done at three years and then regular pediatric eye exams annually.

  • Can my child wear contact lenses and play sports?

    Yes, contact lenses provide excellent vision correction for most sports. However, they can not protect the eyes from injury. Therefore, contact lens wearers should use prescribed sports safety goggles.

  • What is Dry eye?

    Comprehensive eye exams are the best way to prevent “silent” eye diseases like diabetes, glaucoma, and other manageable conditions in their early stages when they are more easily treated. Many conditions can be avoided through planned eye exams.

Vision Loss and What to Do

Aurora Family Eyecare Local Eye clinic near you in Aurora, Ontario

According to recent NIH-funded studies, some of the statistics on vision loss may appear unbelievable, but they’re true:

  • The number of Americans who are legally blind (20/200 vision or worse) is estimated to be more than 1 million.
  • The number of Americans who have visual impairment, defined as 20/40 or worse with the best possible correction, is more than 3.2 million people – and rising.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis, Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Aurora eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Local Eye Doctor near you in Aurora, Ontario

Most sight-threatening eye conditions do not present with anything more than very subtle symptoms during the early stage if any. That’s why a large percentage of people simply miss the early signs of vision loss.

However, early detection and timely treatment are critical for preventing complications, damage, and vision loss. Routine eye exams are the best way to catch a developing eye disease and treat it before symptoms occur, which is ideal. But, even between appointments, learning to recognize the subtle earliest signs of vision loss and booking an eye exam immediately with an eye doctor near you can play a part in keeping your eyesight sharp and healthy for as long as possible.

Let’s review 5 of the earliest signs and the best ways for you to respond:

Blurred Central Vision

When your central field of vision becomes fuzzy, it could indicate an eye condition. Blurry vision might be the result of something as innocuous as needing a higher prescription or might be a sign of a developing age-related eye disease like cataracts or even macular degeneration which can lead to severe vision loss. The easiest way for you to test your central vision for macular degeneration at home is by looking at an Amsler grid. If the straight lines appear wavy, call an optometrist near you to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. When detected at the beginning, some forms of macular degeneration are treatable.

Yellowing or Fading Color Vision

You may be amazed to learn that the healthy eye can discern more than 10 million different colors! However, this only holds true if your eyes are functioning normally and optimally. If you start to notice colors appear dimmer or faded or have a yellow tint, you could be experiencing early signs of vision loss from cataracts.

Vision with cataracts has been described as viewing the world through a fogged-up window. By the age of 80, more than 50% of all Americans will develop cataracts. Fortunately, cataract removal surgery is highly successful at restoring the ability to differentiate colors without compromising sharp vision. If you notice that colors appear less vibrant, visit an eye clinic near you.

Floaters and Flashes

The sudden appearance of flashes of light or many floaters – seen as transparent squiggly lines or dots gliding across your field of vision can indicate the need for an urgent eye exam. This “debris” in your eye, which doesn’t usually cause any pain, could be a sign of retinal detachment. Visit your eye care provider immediately if you notice recurring flashes of light or a bunch of new floaters. If you require a retinal detachment surgery, it can help restore your vision to full functionality.

Eye Pain

Recurrence of pain around the eye is the most common telltale indication of ocular damage after an eye injury or trauma. The pain may affect one or both eyes, be moderate or extreme, and it is typically felt on or behind the eye. A wide variety of reasons could be to blame, ranging from a corneal scratch to diabetic eye disease. Don’t just take OTC pain-relievers; consult an eye doctor near you for a professional diagnosis.

The normal, healthy pupil — that round circle in the middle of your eye, surrounded by the colored iris — is jet black. When white areas appear in the pupil, it’s not a good sign. It could be due to an eye infection or the development of an eye disease. Either way, it’s a reason to visit your eye care provider for an evaluation.

Your eyes may be a small organ of your body, but they play a huge role in your quality of life. Eyes are also extremely delicate and sensitive, which is why it’s advised to do your utmost to prevent vision loss by contacting an eye clinic near you at the first sign of a problem, even if it’s not yet time for your yearly comprehensive eye exam.

Book an eye exam at an eye clinic near you to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you.

Aurora Family Eyecare, your Aurora eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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What happens after diagnosis of macular degeneration?

If our eye doctors detect your eye disease when it first begins, many preventive measures can be taken to treat AMD so that your vision remains as healthy as possible. That’s why routine eye exams are so critical! During your eye exam at Aurora Family Eyecare, we’ll evaluate your ocular health thoroughly to look for any signs of macular degeneration. If we detect any problems, we’ll recommend appropriate treatment immediately.

When is cataract surgery recommended?

During the early stages of a cataract, the visual symptoms may be so mild that you aren’t bothered. Your doctor will just perform regular eye exams to monitor your condition. However, as the cataract progresses, the effects on your vision usually become more disruptive – to the point that many regular daily tasks become difficult. That’s when your eye doctor may recommend cataract surgery. If a cataract gets in the way of treating another eye problem, such as diabetic retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration, cataract surgery may also be advised.

What is pink eye?

Officially called conjunctivitis, pink eye is caused by swelling in your eye. The conjunctiva – which is the thin and transparent tissue that lines your inner eyelids and coats the whites of your eyes – becomes inflamed. This eye infection is highly contagious, especially in kids, and it spreads quickly through schools. The good news is that pink eye is rarely serious and doesn’t usually cause any lasting damage to your vision.

Who is the Ideal LASIK Candidate?

If our eye doctors detect your eye disease when it first begins, many preventive measures can be taken to treat AMD so that your vision remains as healthy as possible. That’s why routine eye exams are so critical! During your eye exam at Aurora Family Eyecare, we’ll evaluate your ocular health thoroughly to look for any signs of macular degeneration. If we detect any problems, we’ll recommend appropriate treatment immediately.

Signs of Eye and Vision Problems in Infants

Infant Eyesight

Despite nine months of growth in utero, babies are not born with fully developed eyes and vision – just like they can’t walk or talk yet. Over the first few months of life, their visual systems continue to progress, stimulated by their surroundings.

Babies will develop the ability to track objects, focus their eyes, and move them like a team. Their visual acuity will improve and they will gradually be able to see more colors. They will also form the neural connections that will allow them to process what they see, to understand and interact with the world around them.

Healthy eyes and good vision are necessary for proper and timely progress; ocular or visual problems can lead to developmental delays.

So how do you know if your infant is developing normally? What can you do to ensure your baby’s eye health and vision are on track? While infant eye problems are not common here are some steps you can take to ensure your child’s eyes are healthy.

#1 Schedule a six month check-up.

It is recommended to get the first professional comprehensive eye and vision exam for your child between six and 12 months of age.

Your optometrist should check for the following skills at the 6-month checkup:

  • Visual acuity (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism)
  • Eye muscle and movement capabilities
  • Eye health

If you have any concerns prior to six months, don’t hesitate to take your baby for an exam earlier.

#2 Engage in visually stimulating play.

Incorporating visually stimulating play for your child will help develop visual processes like eye tracking and eye teaming.

A baby’s initial focusing distance is 20-30 cm, so to nurture healthy vision skills, keep high contrast “reach and touch” toys within this distance. Alternate right and left sides with each feeding, and provide toys that encourage tracking of moving objects to foster eye-hand coordination and depth perception.

Pediatricians in North America recommend that NO screen time be allowed under the age of 2, as many forms of development may be delayed from premature use of digital devices.

#3 Be alert to eye and vision problems.

Keep an eye out for indications of an eye health problem, and contact an eye doctor to discuss any concerns you may have. Some symptoms to pay attention to include:

  • Red eyes or eyelids, which may or may not be accompanied by discharge and crusty lids. This may indicate an eye infection that can be very contagious and may require medication.
  • Excessive eye watering or tearing. This may be caused by a problem with the tear ducts, such as a blockage.
  • Extreme light sensitivity. While some light sensitivity is normal, significant sensitivity to light can be a sign of disease or elevated eye pressure.
  • Eye “jiggling” or bouncing. This suggests a problem with the muscle control of the eyes.
  • Eye turn. Whether it is an eye that seems to cross in or a “lazy eye” that turns out, this is often associated with a refractive error or eye muscle issues that could require treatment such as eyeglasses, vision therapy, patching or surgery.
  • White pupil. This can be a sign of a number of diseases, including cancer. If you see this have it checked out immediately.

Since your infant’s eyes are still maturing, any issues that are found can likely be corrected with proper care and treatment. The important thing is to find a pediatric eye care provider that you trust because you will want to regularly check the health of your child’s eyes to ensure proper learning and development throughout infancy and beyond.

AMD Awareness Could Save Your Vision

It’s that time of the year again. Each February, the optometric community bands together to create awareness about age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a leading cause of vision loss for people 50 years and older; early detection plays a key role in the outcome of the disease. That’s why bringing awareness to the disease and its risk factors is so important.

Macular degeneration is a disease that damages the macula, which is a small area in the center of the retina responsible for sharp, clear central vision. The disease comes in two forms, wet AMD and dry AMD. The most common form, dry AMD, which affects around 80% of AMD patients, is when the macula gradually thins, and small clusters of protein called drusen begin to grow. Drusen result from cells in the macula that cannot rid themselves of metabolic waste called lipofuscin. The lipofuscin accumulates as drusen which causes a gradual vision decline.

Dry AMD can turn into wet AMD when abnormal new blood vessels grow through breaks in a membrane layer of the thinning macula. The fragile blood vessels leak fluid into the macula, causing rapid decrease in central vision.The wet form is less common, yet it can cause a faster and more drastic vision loss. If a person has dry AMD which turns into wet AMD, this should be treated as soon as possible, as within days this can cause permanent scarring. Fortunately, there is effective treatment for wet AMD if detected before scarring arises.

Both forms of AMD result in a loss of central vision, while peripheral vision stays intact. Symptoms can present as difficulty focusing on objects in front of you, or a blurred or dulled area in the central visual field which leads to having trouble reading, doing close work, driving or even recognizing faces. With time, the size of the blurred area can grow and eventually develop into black spots in central vision. Oftentimes patients don’t even notice symptoms until a significant amount of damage has been done. This is why regular eye exams are critical, especially if you are at risk.

While AMD alone won’t cause complete blindness, it can cause a permanent, total loss of central vision if not treated. Vision loss can lead to a condition called low vision which can have a very serious impact on daily living and require a lot of assistance both by vision devices and the help of others.

Are You at Risk?

As it is an age-related disease, age is a significant risk factor for AMD, specifically once you reach 60. However, age is not the only risk factor. While some risk factors for AMD cannot be controlled there are lifestyle factors that you can change to prevent AMD.

Other than age, risk factors include:

  • Family history: If you have a family history of AMD, you are more at risk. Research has identified at least 20 genes that are associated with AMD, showing there is a genetic factor.
  • Race: Caucasian descent is a higher risk factor for AMD, and in fact, Caucasians with light irises have an increased risk from age 50.
  • Smoking: Smoking doubles your risk of developing AMD.
  • Overweight/Obesity: Research shows that being overweight is a risk factor for AMD.
  • Having heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your risks.
  • Diet: An unhealthy diet rich in saturated fats is a significant risk factor.
  • Early exposure to UV light and blue hazard light (especially with the younger generation having increased exposure to digital devices) can cause early onset AMD.

Here are some lifestyle steps you can take to reduce your risk of AMD:

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, (from fatty fish or flax seeds), leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Know your family history.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Protect your eyes using UV protection and blue blocker coatings on eyeglasses.
  • Get regular eye exams.

In addition to a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor may be able to test for certain risk factors. For example, there is now technology available that can test for lutein levels via technology such as QuantifEye and Macuscope, (low lutein can indicate increased risk). In addition, genetic testing is also now available through a simple cheek swab to determine an individual’s risk for developing AMD.

Treatment

There is no known cure for AMD, however there are treatments available that may slow the progression of the disease. For dry AMD, studies (AREDS and AREDS2) have concluded that a particular high-dose combination of nutritional supplements taken daily can slow the disease. The combo includes vitamins C and E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc and Copper. For wet AMD, the goal is to reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels and the leakage that takes place and this is done through certain medications called anti-VEGFs which are injected into the eye or with laser surgery.

Untreated macular degeneration can have devastating effects on your independence and quality of life. If you are 50 or over, speak to your eye doctor about your risk factors and what you can do to prevent AMD.

Trouble Seeing at Night? All About Night Blindness

At this time of year when the sun sets early, many people are affected by night blindness. Night blindness or nyctalopia refers to difficulty seeing at night or in poor or dim lighting situations. It can be caused by a number of underlying conditions, sometimes completely benign and sometimes as a symptom of a more serious eye disease. So, if you are experiencing trouble seeing in low light, especially if it is a sudden onset of the condition, it is worth having it checked out by your eye doctor.

Signs of Night Blindness

The main indication of night blindness is difficulty seeing well in dark or dim lighting, especially when transitioning from a brighter to a lower light environment, like walking from outside into a dimly lit room. Many experience difficulty driving at night, particularly with the glare of the streetlights or the headlights from oncoming traffic.

Causes of Night Blindness

Night blindness is a condition that can be present from birth, or caused by a disease, injury or even a vitamin deficiency. In order to treat the condition, your eye doctor will need to determine the cause. Here are some of the common causes:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia) – many people with nearsightedness (or difficulty seeing objects in the distance) experience some degree of night blindness, especially when driving.
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa – a genetic condition in which the pigmented cells in the retina break down causing a loss of peripheral vision and night blindness.
  • Cataracts – a clouding of the natural lens of the eye causing vision loss.
  • Glaucoma – a group of diseases that involve damage to the optic nerve and subsequent vision loss.
  • Vitamin A Deficiency – vitamin A or retinol is found in greens (kale, spinach, collards, broccoli etc.), eggs, liver, orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, mango etc.), eggs and butter. Your doctor may also prescribe Vitamin A supplements if you have a serious deficiency.
  • Eye Surgery – refractive surgery such as LASIK sometimes results in reduced night vision as either a temporary or sometimes a permanent side effect.
  • Injury – an injury to the eye or the part of the brain that processes vision can result in reduced night vision.
  • Uncorrected Visual Error – many people experience better daytime vision as the pupils are smaller and provide greater depth of field to compensate for any vision problems. At night, the pupils dilate, so blur is increased from uncorrected nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or distortions/aberrations on the cornea from refractive surgery. Even a slight prescription for someone who may not need glasses during the day can make a significant improvement in night vision.
  • Eyewear Problems – even if your vision correction is accurate, badly scratched glasses or poor/defective lens coatings can also cause trouble seeing at night. Special lens coatings are now available on glasses for night time and foggy conditions.

Treatment for Night Blindness

Some causes for night blindness are treatable, while others are not, so the first step is a comprehensive eye exam to determine what the root of the problem is. Treatments range from simply purchasing a special pair of glasses, lens coatings or contact lenses to wear at night (for optical issues such as myopia) to surgery (to correct the underlying problem such as cataracts), to medication (for diseases like glaucoma). In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you avoid driving at night. During the day, it may help to wear sunglasses or a brimmed hat to ease the transition indoors.

As with any change in vision, it is critical to get your eyes checked as soon as you begin to experience symptoms, and on a routine basis even if you’re symptom-free. Not only will this improve your chances of detecting and treating a vision-threatening disease if you have one brewing, but treatment will also keep you more comfortable seeing in low-light, and keep you and your loved ones safe at night or in poor light conditions.

Don’t Let Snow Blindness Ruin Your Winter Vacation

While most people have sunglasses high on their packing list for a tropical vacation, many people don’t consider it as much of a priority for colder climate getaways. But they should, and here’s why:

Wintertime vacations often include activities that involve snow and ice and in general, conditions that can lead to overexposure to UV rays from the sun. Without proper eye protection, this can lead to photokeratitis or snow blindness, a condition that results in pain and temporary vision loss.

Photokeratitis is essentially a sunburn on the eye which occurs when the eye is exposed to invisible ultraviolet or UV rays, from the sun or other sources such as sun lamps or tanning beds. It mainly affects the cornea, the curved outermost surface of the eye that plays a role in your ability to focus, and the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. It causes inflammation, pain and sometimes a temporary loss of vision.

Despite its name, snow blindness doesn’t occur exclusively in the snow. It can happen in any environment in which UV rays are strongly reflected including water, sand or ice as well. It is also more common in high altitudes where the sun’s ultraviolet rays are stronger and the air is thinner, which is why skiing and mountain climbing can even be more risky than summertime activities on a lower altitude. Snow and ice reflect more UV light than almost any other surface, but you don’t always feel or notice the strong glare, making snow blindness a silent winter hazard that can only be prevented by awareness.

Symptoms of Snow Blindness

Unfortunately, just like any sunburn, you usually don’t notice the symptoms of snow blindness until the damage has already been done. Symptoms usually occur several hours after the activity, so one may not realize that they were caused from snow blindness.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Grittiness
  • Tearing
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Glare or Halos
  • Blurry Vision
  • Watery Eyes
  • Swollen Eyes or Eyelids
  • Headaches
  • Temporary Vision Loss

Any vision loss that does occur will usually return with in a day or two, but the greater the exposure to the UV rays, the worse the damage that is done.

How Is Snow Blindness Treated?

There is little to do to treat photokeratitis. Just like a sunburn elsewhere on the body, it eventually heals on its own. There are however, some steps you can take to find relief from the symptoms which include:

  • Stay indoors, in a dark area until the eyes become less sensitive.
  • Wear sunglasses if it helps.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Remove contact lenses.
  • Apply preservative-free artificial tears to add moisture.
  • Use a cold compress to soothe your eyes.
  • Try over-the-counter pain relief or antibiotic eye drops according to your eye doctor’s advice.

If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve within 24 -48 hours, contact your eye doctor immediately.

Tips to Prevent Snow Blindness

Snow blindness is actually very preventable and all it takes is a good pair of sunglasses or sports goggles. Any time you are outside, rain or shine, you should wear 100% UV blocking sunglasses. That’s right, the sun’s powerful UV rays can even penetrate clouds on an overcast day.

If you are involved in sports such as skiing, snowboarding, mountain climbing or water activities consider a pair of wrap-around sunglasses or sports goggles with shields to prevent the rays from entering from above and through the sides. Wearing a hat or helmet with a brim will also help to increase protection.

Whether you are going North, South or somewhere in between, make sure to pack your shades and protect your eyes so you have an eye-safe, fun and enjoyable vacation.

6 Crazy Holiday Eye Injuries to Avoid

As the season to deck the halls arrives, make sure that you aren’t one of the many people who find themselves celebrating in the urgent care clinic due to an eye injury. The holidays present many opportunities for potential eye injury so it’s important to be aware and proceed with caution. Here are some common eye accidents waiting to happen and tips to avoid them so you can be prepared and enjoy your holidays to the fullest!

  1. An eye-full of pine

    Many accidents occur when proper care is not taken in putting up and decorating the Christmas tree. First of all, if you are cutting down your own tree, make sure you are wearing proper eye protection both when cutting and when loading your tree onto your car. If you are buying a tree, be extra careful when untying it as branches can pop out rather fast – a definite danger to your eyes! It’s best to wear glasses or goggles during the entire process of handling the tree. And don’t forget to be careful when you are decorating! All you need is a wobbly ladder or an unsteady tree stand to cause a tumble into the sharp, prickly pine needles. Not to mention, sharp ornaments can pose a danger to the eyes as well.

  2. The spray snow slip-up

    Spray snow can be a beautiful and festive addition to your tree decorations but be careful that you are always pointing it in the right direction. Make sure the spray you purchase is nontoxic and wear safety goggles when spraying to avoid an accidental spray to the eye. Be wary of those aerosol string cans as well.

  3. Champagne cork projectile

    Watch out for that bubbly! When opening a champagne bottle always point it away from anyone or anything breakable just in case it shoots off. That flying cork can cause a serious bruise or an eye injury if you aren’t careful.

  4. You’ll shoot an eye out!

    Just like the famous movie quote predicted, toy guns and projectiles can be a tremendous danger to the eye, causing almost 20% of eye injuries during the holiday season. Nerf guns, darts (even foam darts), slingshots, water guns and any kind of shooting device, no matter how soft the ammunition, can cause serious eye damage when shot directly into the eye. Be wary of lasers as well and make sure that any laser products comply with the national regulations. Lasers and very bright lights can cause retinal damage if pointed directly at the eye. If you do decide to purchase such a toy for a child that is old enough and mature enough to be responsible, consider buying proper eye protection to go along with the gift.

    Avoid purchasing any toys or gifts that have sharp, protruding parts and make sure that any potentially hazardous toys are played with under adult supervision. When purchasing gifts, if you are uncertain about the safety of a certain toy, check out W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) or other organizations that give advice about specific toy safety.

  5. Dangerous dress up

    Got a holiday party on the horizon? While you may be tempted to add a pair of cosmetic contact lenses to your ensemble, make sure they are fit properly and purchased by a licensed eye doctor. Improperly fit lenses or lenses made of sub par materials can cause serious complications such as a corneal abrasion or infection.

  6. Sunburned eyes

    If your holiday time includes a chance to play in the snow or ice, make sure you have your sunglasses ready. UV light reflects off snow and ice increasing the risk of sunburned eyes and potential long term damage. Winter sunwear is just as important as it is during summer fun in the sun.

If you approach the holidays with the eyes on your mind, you can stay safe and avoid potential injury that could put a damper on your festivities.

10 Eye Healthy Foods to Eat This Year

The New Year is coming and many people include healthier eating and exercise in their resolutions for the year ahead. Well other than weight loss and overall health and disease-prevention, a healthy diet and regular exercise can protect your eyes and your vision. In particular, there are certain vitamins and minerals that are known to prevent eye disease and act to strengthen and safeguard your eyes. Here are 10 foods that you should make sure to include in your healthy diet regimen this coming year and for the rest of your life.

  1. Dark, leafy green vegetables: Greens like kale, spinach or collards are rich in vitamin C which strengthens the blood vessels in your eyes and may prevent cataracts, and vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin which are known to prevent cataracts and reduce the risk and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  2. Orange vegetables and fruits: Orange foods such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, orange peppers and apricots are rich in beta-carotene which improves night vision and may slow the progression of AMD, specifically when taken in combination with zinc and vitamins C and E.
  3. Oily Fish: Fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna or trout are a complete source of Omega-3 fatty acids which boost the immune system and protect the cells and nervous system. They are essential for retinal function and the development of the eye and vision. Omega-3s can alleviate dry eye symptoms and guard against AMD and glaucoma. They are also rich in vitamin D which may also reduce the risk of AMD.
  4. Beans and legumes: Beans and legumes such as chickpeas, black-eyes peas, kidney beans and lentils are high in zinc. Zinc is a trace mineral that assists in the production of melanin, a pigment that protects the eye. Zinc is found in a high concentration in the eye in general, specifically in the retina and the surrounding tissues. Zinc can reduce night blindness and may help in reducing the risk and progression of AMD.
  5. Eggs: Eggs pack a big punch in terms of valuable vitamins and minerals. They are rich in zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin, and vitamins D and A. In addition to the eye benefits already discussed, vitamin A protects against night blindness and may prevent dry eyes. Some eggs are also a source of Omega 3.
  6. Squash: Squash is also a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin and vitamin C. Winter squash also has vitamin A and Omega 3 fatty acids, while summer squash is a good source of zinc.
  7. Cruciferous vegetables: These vegetables which include broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts have a power combination of nutrients including vitamins, A, C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene. These antioxidant compounds protect the cells in your body and your eyes from free radicals that can break down healthy tissue and cause disease.
  8. Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds, peanuts, hazelnuts and almonds are rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Flax and chia seeds also good sources of omega 3, vitamins and antioxidants. These boost your body’s natural protection against AMD, dry eye, and other diseases.
  9. Lean meat, poultry, oysters and crab meat: These animal products are all good sources of zinc.
  10. Berries: Berries such as strawberries, cherries and blueberries are rich in bioflavonoids which may protect the eyes against AMD and cataracts.

Many patients ask about taking vitamins or supplements for eye health nutrients and the answer depends on the individual. While some of the eye nutrients may be better absorbed in the correct proportions when ingested as food rather than supplements, some patients have sensitivities or conditions (such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease or allergies) that prevent them from eating certain foods such as fish or leafy greens. In these cases there are a number of good lutein and Omega 3 supplements that they might be able to tolerate better than ingesting the actual food. Seek the advice of your eye doctor to determine what is right for you. While studies have indicated that higher levels of certain vitamins are required to slow the progression of certain eye diseases like AMD, these supplements should only be taken under the guidance of your eye doctor.

This list may seem overwhelming but if you focus on filling your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables of all types and colors, eating whole foods and limiting processed foods and sugar, you are on your way to preventing disease and improving your eye health and your overall health for years to come. To health!