Why is my Eye Twitching?

November 8th, 2017

At some time or other all of us have had an eye twitch, whether it lasted for a few minutes, a few days, or unfortunately even longer.  It can be annoying, cause minor pain, and mostly it can be a distraction from what you are really trying to focus on. Almost always this sudden onset condition is not serious nor a sign of an underlying medical condition. It is mostly just an irritation for the person experiencing the twitch. What is causing this condition and are there things you can do to avoid a twitch? Let’s take a closer look.

 

Main Causes of an Eye Twitch

 

  • Eye Strain – For too many of us we spend many hours a day staring at a computer screen or mobile device. Making your eyes work too hard can cause an eye twitch. It is always best to take planned breaks from studying, reading or computer work every 20 minutes or so to avoid eye strain. For those with undiagnosed or even diagnosed vision problems, eye strain can happen if you are in need of glasses or a change in a prescription as well. A lack of sleep can also cause eye strain leading to an eye twitch, so try to get some extra sleep to avoid or remedy eye twitches that occur often.

 

  • Coffee and Alcohol – Both caffeinated coffee and alcohol can trigger an eye twitch, usually due to dehydration or too much caffeine in one’s system. Try abstaining from alcohol if a twitch continues or cutting back on coffee (or better yet switch to decaf for a few days.)

 

  • Dry Eyes – As we age our eyes are not able to lubricate as well as they did in our younger years. As a result, many adults experience dry eye that can trigger a twitching condition. If your eyes feel dry or gritty, you may want to see your eye doctor as the spasms of your eyelid may be caused by the dry eye condition and exacerbated by eye strain and/or coffee or alcohol.

 

  • Allergies – For those of us with seasonal or indoor allergies, we know how miserable our eyes, nose, and throat can feel when irritated by the allergen. People with eye allergies can have itching, swelling and watery eyes. When eyes are rubbed, this releases histamine into the lid tissues and the tears. Some research evidence indicates that histamine can cause eyelid twitching.

 

If you have questions about your vision or eyelid twitching, call Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons at 617.232.9600 to find out more.

What You Need to Know about Macular Degeneration

October 4th, 2017

Macular Degeneration or Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition that affects over 10 million Americans. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss among seniors, especially people over the age of 50. The disease causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead. What warning signs should you be looking for, and what if you notice a change in your vision? Let’s take a closer look.

 

Important Facts about AMD – Signs Symptoms and Risk Factors

 

Regular eye exams are critical to catch AMD since most people do not experience vision loss in the early stages of the disease. If you have more than one risk factor, you should have regular eye exams. Some of the risk factors include:

  • Genetics – People with a family history of AMD are at a higher risk.
  • Race – Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
  • Smoking – Smoking doubles the risk of AMD.

As the disease progresses into the intermediate and late stages there may be vision loss as well as yellow deposits beneath the retina called drusen. A comprehensive eye exam with specific tests will look for larger drusen and/or pigment changes in the retina.While there is currently no known cure for Macular Degeneration, there are things you can do to reduce your risk and possibly slow the progression once you’ve been diagnosed. For example, one can pursue lifestyle changes like dieting, exercise, avoiding smoking, and protecting your eyes from ultraviolet light.

Contact Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons if you have questions about your vision or would like to set up an appointment. 617-232-9600.

Are you a Candidate for Refractive Surgery?

September 6th, 2017

Refractive surgery is the term used to describe surgical procedures that correct common vision problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia, with the goal of reducing dependence on prescription eyeglasses and/or contact lenses. LASIK is the most common and well known of the refractive surgeries. Let’s look at the basics of refractive surgeries and see if you are a candidate for improving your vision through any of them.

For several centuries, glasses were the only way to correct vision problems. That is, until contact lenses came into use in the 1950s. Today, there are surgical options that can improve vision and allow for people who typically wear eyeglasses and/or contact lenses to be free of them. Modern options range from laser reshaping of the eye’s surface in procedures such as LASIK and PRK, to surgical insertion of artificial lenses to correct eyesight.

Choosing to have refractive surgery should be a decision that you and your eye specialist can discuss. Here are some of the characteristics that would make you an excellent candidate for refractive surgery.

  • Candidates must be in good general health, and should not have certain health problems, including uncontrolled diabetes, autoimmune or collagen vascular disease, take any medication, or have any condition that compromises the immune response.
  • Candidates should not have active eye infections or injuries. In addition, patients should not continuously suffer from dry eyes.
  • Candidates should be at least 18 years of age.
  • Candidates should have stable vision over at least the past year.
  • Patients considering refractive surgery should not be pregnant or nursing.

The decision to have refractive surgery should be weighed with the knowledge of your surgeon and doctor. As with any procedure, there are risks and potential side effects.

What is Color Blindness and What Causes it?

August 3rd, 2017

Color blindness is a common and well known condition. However, many don’t know where it comes from, how it works, or even if it can be treated.

To start with, color blindness is a genetic condition, meaning you are born with it. The gene responsible for the condition is carried by the X chromosome, which is why it affects men more than women. Specifically, color blindness means you have trouble seeing red, green, blue, or a mix of these colors. The eye normally has three types of cone cells, and each type sense either red, green or blue light. Inherited color blindness occurs when you don’t have one of these types of cone cells or they won’t work correctly. Instead, you either don’t see the basic colors, or you may see a different shade of the color or just a different color altogether.

A color deficiency isn’t always inherited, it can also be caused by:

  • Aging
  • Injury to an eye
  • Side effects of some medicines
  • Eye problems such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma

Being affected by color deficiency can range from mild, moderate to severe, all depending upon the defect. If it is inherited, your condition will stay the same throughout your life, rather than getting better or worse. Being affected can be a big change in your life. It may make it harder to read, learn, as well as limiting career choices.

It is important to detect the problem as soon as possible as it can affect various aspects on someone’s life. Most experts recommend eye exams for children between ages 3 and 5. Tests include:

  • Seeing a set of colored dots and trying to find a pattern in them, such as numbers or letters. With the patterns you see, it helps your doctor determine which colors you have trouble with.
  • The second test involves arranging colored chips in order according to how similar the colors are. Those with color vision problems, cannot arrange the colored chips correctly.

Color blindness cannot be treated or corrected. For the most common type of colorblindness, red-green, treatment is not needed because you are still able to function normally. You simply may not be aware that you do not see colors the way they are seen by others. There are several ways to help such as:

  • Wearing colored contact lens allows you to see differences between colors.
  • Wearing glasses that block glare can help those with more severe to better determine the difference between colors when there is glare and brightness.
  • Looking for cues like brightness or location instead of colors. Learning the order of the three colored lights on a traffic signal can help make up for the lack of color seen.

What Causes Eye Redness?

July 18th, 2017

Ever looked in the mirror and wondered why your eyes look so red? Eye redness can happen to anyone, however, it is important to know what the cause is and how to treat it in order to prevent it from getting worse or even happening again.

Eye redness is also known as bloodshot eyes. Eye redness occurs when the vessels in your eyes are swollen or irritated. It can indicate the presence of different health problems, whether they are light to very serious that may require emergency medical attention.


Common causes of eye redness include:

  • Inflamed vessels on the surface of the eye
  • Dry air
  • Colds
  • Coughing
  • Dust
  • Exposure to the sun
  • Allergic reactions
  • Bacteria or viruses

Many don’t realize that coughing can cause a specific condition of eye redness called Subconjunctival Hemorrhage. With this condition, a blood blotch may appear in one eye. If it is not accompanied by pain, it will then clear up in 7 to 10 days. Aside from your standard conditions such as trauma or injury to the eye, an increase in eye pressure or scratches on the cornea can be caused by overuse of contact lenses. Infections can also be a cause of eye redness which include:

  • Blepharitis – Inflammation of the follicles of the eyelashes
  • Pinkeye – Inflammation of the membrane that coats the eye
  • Corneal Ulcers – Ulcers that cover the eye
  • Uveitis – Inflammation of the uvea

The best way, however, to prevent eye redness is by using proper hygiene and avoiding irritants that can easily cause redness. These include:

  • Avoid activities that can cause eyestrain
  • Remove makeup from your eyes everyday
  • Wash your hands if exposed to someone who has an eye infection
  • Clean your contact lenses regularly

Watery Eyes

June 5th, 2017

Watery eyes are also known as epiphora or tearing, which is a condition that results in an overflow of tears. Usually this occurs without any clear explanation. As a result, there is insufficient tear film drainage from the eye(s) that cause it to overflow on the face rather than through the nasolacrimal system.

Tears serve an important purpose to the eyes such as keeping your eyes lubricated, and keeping away dust and/or foreign particles. It also protects your immune system from any other infection. Without the right balance of water and oils, your eyes can become too dry.

However, it is very common to temporarily produce excess tears when being emotional, coughing, laughing and vomiting. Among these, several other causes can result in watery eyes, too, such as:

  • Eye strain
  • Common cold, allergies and sinus problems
  • Blocked tear ducts
  • Cut or scrape on the eye
  • Cancer treatments including radiation and chemotherapy
  • Weather conditions can also come into play such as wind, sunshine and cold
  • Foreign objects, chemicals, or irritating liquids and gases in the eye

Watery eyes are temporary and can be resolved on their own when the cause is addressed and your eyes have healed without treatment. If not, an eye exam or physical can help answer your questions. Remedies for watery eyes include prescription eye drops, warm, wet towel places on your eyes several times a day to block tear ducts, as well as treating allergies that make your eyes watery.

However, keep in mind conditions may persist. Consult your physician if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Discharge or bleeding from your eye
  • Vision loss or visual disturbances
  • Injured eye
  • Red, irritated or swollen eyes
  • Eye issues accompanied by a severe headache

 

What Causes Blindness

May 10th, 2017

Blindness is a debilitating eye disease. It is the inability to see anything, even in the light or light itself.

There are several different types of blindness that are important to recognize:

  • Partially Blind –  having limited vision. This includes having blurry vision or the inability to distinguish objects.
  • Complete Blindness – this means you can’t see at all and are in complete darkness.
  • Legal Blindness – is vision that is highly compromised. For example, a person with healthy eyes can see up to 200 feet away, but someone who is legally blind can only see 20 feet away.

So what causes blindness? Blindness can be caused by eye diseases–less than 4 percent of blindness are caused by eye injury or trauma. There are four types of conditions that cause blindness:

 

  • Cataracts – Cataracts occur when the crystal clear lens of your eye becomes cloud. This results in blurry vision, faded colors and seeing through glare. Cataracts are the world’s number one cause of blindness, which increases in numbers as a person ages. .
  • Glaucoma – This condition mostly happens when fluid pressure inside one or both eyes slowly begin to increase. The pressure then damages the optic nerve and the retina causes a decrease in peripheral vision. Most vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be reversed, but this disease is manageable through prescription eye drops and/or surgery. It is vitally important to have regular eye exams to catch glaucoma early.
  • Macular Degeneration – This disease involves the gradual deterioration of the macula, or the nerve endings in the retina that are vital for sharp central vision. Although there is no cure for macular degeneration, treatments such as vitamin therapy, laser surgery, and special medications help to slow its progress.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy – When the systemic damage caused by diabetes begins to affect the retina, diabetic retinopathy occurs. It is specifically caused by the blood vessels, which nourish the retina, being negatively affected by diabetes. This causes vision loss through bleeding and direct damage to the retina. The most reliable treatment for this is close control of diabetes. If it is, however, more advanced than those affected can undergo eye surgery to further protect their sight.

Always remember to seek medical attention if suddenly you lose the ability to see, and never wait for your vision to return. Depending on the cause of your blindness, immediate treatment can increase your chances of restoring your vision.

Retinal vascular occlusion treatments

April 4th, 2017

Retinal Vascular Occlusion affects the eye, specifically the retina. It’s also a serious condition, especially if hardening of the arteries already exists. The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of your eye which is covered with special cells called rods and cones.These convert light into neural signals that are sent to the brain, giving you vision. The vascular system includes blood vessels such as arteries and veins, which transports blood throughout the body, including your eyes. Blood also removes the waste your retina produces. However, when one of the vessels carrying blood to or from the retina becomes blocked or even cause a blood clot it is called an occlusion.When this occurs, the occlusion can cause blood or other  fluids to build up and prevent the retina from correctly filtering light. As a result, when light is blocked or fluids are present, loss of vision can occur.

 

So how is this treatable? Although many who have this condition will have permanent changes to their vision, your doctor may recommend medication such as injections to the eye to control the swelling called corticosteroid drugs. Other drugs could also include Lucentis or Eylea. Often times, laser therapy can also be used to break down blockage in the blood vessels, keeping more damage from occurring.

What is Myasthenia Gravis?

March 16th, 2017

Although it’s known as a common primary disorder of neuromuscular transmission, Myasthenia Gravis only affects between 14 and 20 people out of every 100,000 in the US.

What exactly is it? Myasthenia Gravis causes weakness in your voluntary muscles, the muscles your body uses for movement. In basic terms, it occurs when communication between nerve cells and muscles become impaired because they can’t respond to nerve impulses. As a result, this impairment prevents crucial muscle contractions from occurring causing muscle weakness.For example, people suffering from Myasthenia Gravis suffer from weakness in the eye muscles, facial expressions and other muscles.

 

Some symptom of MG can include trouble walking, getting double vision, and frequent drooping of eyelids. It can even include difficulties in breathing, swallowing and even chewing. However, It’s important to note that not everyone will have the same symptoms and they can increase over time if it continues untreated.

 

So how can you treat it? Although there is no cure for MG, the ultimate goal for treatments is to control the activity of your immune system which often allows it to get much better. Tests used to make a diagnosis of MG include blood, nerve, muscle and imaging tests, where doctors look inside your body for key indicators.

 

Medications such as immunosuppressants can be used to suppress the immune system and minimize the abnormal responses that occurs in MG.These medicines may have major side effects, so they should be taken cautiously. There are also ways to help alleviate symptoms of MG in your everyday life. This includes getting plenty of rest to help lower muscle weakness, considering eye patches if you are bothered by double vision, even avoid stress and heat exposure can make a huge difference.
Talk to your doctor today about what you can do to minimize the severity of your MG.

Signs You Need an Eye Exam

February 8th, 2017

If there is ever a moment you question whether you should get an eye exam, chance are that you, in fact, should. If you are questioning it, it is probably because you are having eye complications or cannot remember the last time you had an eye exam. To help make your eye exam decision more clear, we have gathered some signs for you to look out for.  Here are some signs you need to have an eye exam:

  1.     You can’t remember the last time you had an eye exam.
  2.     Your eyes are red, itchy and/or dry.
  3.     You experience light flashes, floaters and/or spotty vision.
  4.     You are over 50 years old
  5.     Your family has a history of diabetes and/or glaucoma.
  6.     You have diabetes or other vision risk diseases.
  7.     You experience eye strain, headaches, and blurred vision constantly.
  8.     You experience motion sickness, dizziness, or difficulty following moving objects.
  9.     You have experienced head trauma that has affected your vision.
  10. You have difficulty seeing at night.
  11. You are constantly squinting to see well.

Remember that you should generally aim towards having one eye exam a year, especially if you are over the age of 50. Frequent eye exams can help catch potential vision risks earlier in time. Don’t wait until these signals become apparent. Contact Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons if you are having any of these signals.