Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes impacts almost all the functions of the human body in some form or another. All organ systems that require blood sugar can be affected including the liver, kidneys, pancreas, heart, nerves, and of course, vision. Diabetic retinopathy is just one of the diabetes-related complications that can harm the eye and thus vision. 

Diabetes inhibits the body from properly using and storing sugar, leaving excessive amounts of sugar in the bloodstream. This can cause damage to blood vessels and various parts of the body mentioned above including eye structures and functions. 

What is Diabetic Retinopathy? 

Diabetic retinopathy can occur in someone who has either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The longer a patient has diabetes and the less controlled the blood sugar is, the more likely one is to develop this eye complication.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when long term diabetes or uncontrolled blood sugar results in progressive damage to the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is a light-sensitive tissue that is essential for vision. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy will eventually cause blindness. 

Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy

While many diabetics may not experience any symptoms at the outset of this condition, some do notice spots or dark strings floating in the line of vision. These are called floaters and are common in many people with and without diabetes so it is not an accurate way to diagnose the disorder. 

However, if a patient is experiencing floaters and other symptoms, it may be time to take action. Other symptoms may include: blurred vision, fluctuating vision, impaired color vision, poor night vision, dark or empty areas in the line of vision, and/or difficulty reading or seeing close objects. 

Ignoring these symptoms can be a mistake. Untreated diabetic retinopathy can lead to a detached retina, further blood vessel damage, and/or blindness. 

When to See a Doctor

If you have diabetes, you should be consulting your primary care physician on a regular basis to monitor your blood sugar and to keep a watchful eye on potential complications including eye conditions. 

Your physician will most likely recommend an annual eye exam where the eyes will be dilated in order to take a look at the blood vessels on the retina. If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms, you should alert your eye doctor and schedule an exam. 

The good news is that many of the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, particularly if they are caught in the early stages of vision loss, can be reversed with proper treatment and control of blood sugar levels. Talking to your eye doctor about the state of your vision will help halt the progression of this condition, especially if you notice the early symptoms listed above. 

Cataracts 101

Are you having trouble with your vision? Do images seem cloudy or not as sharp as they once were? Is driving at night difficult due to halos or glare around headlights? You may be one of the millions of people over the age of 40 in the U.S. who have developed cataracts.

Cataracts are actually a fairly common eye disorder that can be treated. This condition is characterized by the clouding of the eye’s lens – the transparent film that focuses the images as seen by the eye on the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye. The symptoms usually increase as one ages and as proteins collect on the lens and form abnormal “clumps.” 

What is the Cause of Cataracts? 

The lens is naturally made up of proteins and water. As you age, the rate of protein breakdown in your body accelerates, causing these protein clumps that we see during an eye exam. The clumps are then seen as cloudy patches by the patient. Some of the contributing factors to the development of cataracts include smoking, eye trauma, chronic diabetes, radiation treatments, and corticosteroid medications. 

What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts? 

Many people who have cataracts don’t even know that they have developed them in one or both eyes. Since cataracts are painless and tend to worsen over time, it is common for someone to have a cataract for months (even years) before an eye exam identifies the problem. Most patients complain that their vision has seemed clouded or that night driving has become increasingly more difficult due to halos or glare. For others, colors may seem faded or they may experience double vision as the cataract increases in size. 

How Are Cataracts Treated? 

The good news is that cataracts can be treated through outpatient surgery. In the beginning stages of the disorder, your eye doctor may at first merely suggest stronger prescription glasses, magnifying lenses, or anti-glare glasses to improve your sight, especially at night. As cataracts grow in size, however, you may want to consider surgery to improve your vision dramatically. 

While the severity of your vision impairment will be a determining factor as to whether you should consider the surgery, many find that the actual laser procedure is fairly simple and is done daily in surgical centers around the country. 

This type of surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. The cataract surgeons at Boston Eye Physicians & Surgeons are highly skilled, experienced ophthalmologists who have been trained in advanced techniques using modern technology. Using some of the finest intraocular lenses (IOLs) available, these Boston cataract surgery specialists extract clouded lenses and replace them with state-of-the-art IOLs, such as Crystalens, that can also correct problems with near and distance vision. In return, many patients experience better vision than before they developed cataracts. The procedure often takes no longer than 10 minutes once the patient is sedated. Then, you will recover for 30 minutes or so and be taken home with a pair of dark sunglasses to protect your eyes from bright light. 

Cataract surgery is a relatively safe, painless procedure that produces crystal-clear vision. Contact our office today to begin your journey toward restored eyesight.

Digital Eye Strain

How long do you spend looking at your computer screen every day? Or your smartphone? Or your tablet? Add in television and gaming system time and you or your family members may end up suffering from symptoms of Digital Eye Strain. 

According to research published on PC Magazine online, the average adult spends 5.9 hours per day with digital media, up from 3 hours a day since 2009. That means hour after hour of time that your eyes and the related muscles are becoming strained. Let’s take a closer look at this phenomenon and how you can reduce the impact on your and your family’s health. 

What is Digital Eye Strain and Its Symptoms? 

Digital eye strain is the temporary discomfort that follows after two or more hours spent using a digital device. The strain can occur from switching back and forth from one digital device to another. For example, many adults and children spend copious amounts of time working on projects on their laptops or desktops only to switch to recreational activities on their gaming system, smartphone, or television. The symptoms can include red, dry, or irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, back, neck, and shoulder pain, and headaches. 

What Causes the Eye Strain? 

These symptoms are not really caused by one thing but rather many issues that are related to digital use. Digital devices often feature small print and pixelated images that can be difficult to read and cause our eyes to strain in order to focus. We may also be using the devices improperly by holding them at the wrong angle or too far away from our eyes.  Blue light, also referred to as high-energy visible (HEV) light, is another cause of computer eye strain.

Preventing Digital Eye Strain 

For many of us, avoiding too many hours of digital tech use is not in the cards, whether it is due to school or work or just a desire to maintain a certain lifestyle. In order to reduce or prevent eye strain, there are a few things you can do on your own. 

One of the best things you can do to prevent eye strain is to take frequent breaks, meaning get up and take a quick walk away from whatever device you are using. Pay attention to your body. Many people tend to lose track of time and suddenly realize their neck, back, or head is achy. Also, try to keep your devices at least an arm’s length away from you, although this may be difficult with small print or graphics that are hard to see. 

Another prevention technique that many people find helpful is to reduce screen glare by dimming the overhead lighting in the room. This may mean shutting off other lights in the surrounding area. Some users find that increasing the text size helps as well. 

As eye doctors, we would be remiss if we did not mention computer glasses as another option to alleviate digital eye strain. Talk to our doctors at Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons if you are suffering from the symptoms of Digital Eye Strain. 

Solutions for Dry Eye

Are your eyes chronically dry? Do irritants in the wind, sun, or air cause your eyes to feel dry and sometimes painful? Then you may be on the hunt for ways, both medical and home remedies to help alleviate your dry eye problem. Keep reading to find out some of the best options for relieving your dry eye issues. 

Dry Eye Syndrome can sometimes be a chronic and progressive issue. While a cure is not always possible, and everyone’s eyes are different, there are some solutions that you may want to discuss with your eye doctor to see if they will work for you. 

Depending upon the cause and severity of your condition your eye doctor may recommend several options to help alleviate dry eye symptoms. 

Medical Eye Drops 

There are several prescription eye drops that your doctor may recommend depending upon your medical history and the root cause of your dry eye. ‘Scripts such as Restasis include an agent that reduces inflammation associated with dry eye syndrome and helps your body produce more natural tears to keep your eyes moist, comfortable, and healthy. Other prescription drugs include Xiidra (also aimed at reducing inflammation) and Lacrisert (Bausch + Lomb), which is a solid insert composed of a preservative-free lubricating agent (hydroxypropyl cellulose) that slowly liquefies over time, providing an all-day moistening effect. Steroid eye drops and artificial tears are also an option and are generally for short-term use to quickly manage symptoms.

UnBlocking Glands 

Again, depending upon your doctor’s diagnosis and the cause of your dry eye symptoms, you may find relief from a warm compress or a thermal pulsation device that can help unclog the oil glands. A warm compress can be done at home when symptoms are flaring up, but the pulse needs the care of a doctor. 

Light Therapy 

Some patients with a severe case of dry eye find that a treatment technique called intense-pulsed light therapy followed by a massage of the eyelids can prove helpful. 

Closing Tear Ducts 

While it may seem counterintuitive, closing tear ducts is one technique that doctors have used to help with dry eyes. According to the Mayo Clinic, tear ducts can be plugged with tiny silicone plugs ( plugs), which are removable. Or tear ducts can be plugged with a procedure that uses heat, which is a more permanent solution called thermal cautery.

Do you have dry eye issues? Talk to your eye doctor about what options are available for your situation. 

What is Low Vision?

As we age, our eyes begin to change and age as well. Some of us may have fairly straightforward eye issues, such as needing reading glasses for close reading or needing help seeing things at a distance. Most of us can get vision clarity with the aid of glasses or contact lenses. However, people who are experiencing low vision cannot find help in a typical prescription lens. Let’s take a closer look at low vision. 

What is Low Vision? 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, low vision is the loss of sight that is not correctable with prescription eyeglassescontact lenses, or surgery. This type of vision loss does not include complete blindness because there is still some sight and it can sometimes be improved with the use of visual aids. The American Optometric Association defines low vision as two categories:

Partially Sighted

This generally means that the person has visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200 with conventional prescription lenses.

Legally Blind

This generally means that the person has visual acuity no better than 20/200 with conventional correction and/or a restricted field of vision less than 20 degrees wide.

What are the Symptoms of Low Vision? 

If you have a loved one who has been commenting on their vision or is having symptoms, you will want to have their eye doctor make an evaluation and potentially recommend a low vision specialist who can work with the patient to improve their quality of life. 

Some symptoms include difficulty recognizing faces that are directly in the field of vision, trouble reading signs, claims of tunnel vision, claims of fuzzy peripheral vision, or claims that the lights seem dimmer. These are just a few of the red flags of which to be aware. 

What are the Causes of Low Vision? 

There could be one or several different causes of low vision. For instance, some of the most common causes are the result of disorders or injuries affecting the eye, or a disorder such as diabetes that affects the entire body. In seniors, low vision can result from specific eye conditions such as macular degenerationglaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, from a stroke, or from a range of other eye conditions.

Help for Low Vision

It is important to remember that people with low vision are not considered blind because they can still see. There are several aids that can help improve vision and make seeing a little easier. 

These aids that can help include glare shields, magnifiers, illuminated magnifiers, adaptive technology that can make reading clocks, the computer, and the remote control easier, and include telescopic glasses or monoculars. 

If you think you are suffering from low vision, there is hope. Talk to your eye doctor for a thorough exam and a discussion of ways to help you see better. 

Healthy Food Choices for Your Eyesight

People often mistakenly believe that vision loss is a natural part of aging. In reality, a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of eye health problems. The right foods, regular check-ups, and a healthy lifestyle can help your eyesight dramatically as you age. Let’s take a look at some of the best food choices for your vision.

Nutrient-rich foods are supported by organizations such as the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). How many of these are you having on a regular basis? This summer when BBQs and outdoor entertaining is the norm, why not include some of these in your menus?

Fish

Cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help protect against dry eyes, macular degeneration, and even cataracts. Some studies have found that fish oil can reverse dry eye. Try grilling one of these fish as a main meal at your next BBQ! Delicious and great for your eyes.

Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables are rich in both lutein and zeaxanthin and are also a good source of eye-friendly vitamin C. Well-known leafy greens include: spinach, kale, and collards. Plant pigments in these green leafy veggies can help stem the development of macular degeneration and cataracts. Broccoli, peas, and avocados are also good sources of this powerful antioxidant duo.

Seeds, Nuts, and Legumes

All three of these food items contain omega-3 fatty acids and are a good source of Vitamin E that promotes good eye health. Next time you are making a trail mix, try chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds. For nuts, try walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, and lentils.

According to a study by Tufts University, blueberries may help to reduce your risk of cataracts, glaucoma, heart disease, cancer, and other conditions. Blueberries are also good for the brain. Add them to a fruit salad or to nibble on all day long.

Are you looking to go beyond carrots in your goal of eating healthy for your vision? Check out Medical News Today and their list of the Top 10 Foods for your Eye Health. Need an appointment to have your vision checked? Call Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons at 617-232-9600 to schedule your consultation today.

Keep Your Eyes Safe This Summer

Summer is finally upon us! This means that our time outdoors will increase. Most of us know to apply sunscreen to avoid burns, apply repellent to avoid bugs bites, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. But do you often think about your eye health for the summer?

As you plan how to stay healthy and safe this summer, don’t forget to include your eye care! Keeping your eyes healthy and happy throughout the summer can lead to years of positive eye health and fewer eye problems as you age. Here are a few ways to take care of your peepers this summer:

Wear Sunglasses with Complete UV Protection

When you take the time every morning to rub on or spray on the needed sun protection for your skin, remember to pack your sunglasses to protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays as well. The best way to protect your eyes from UVR exposure is to purchase and consistently wear sunglasses with 100-percent protection against both UVA and UVB rays, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Think about all those days on the beach or on the golf course where the sun is reflecting into your eyes. Don’t forget that ultraviolet rays can harm your eyes, even on cloudy days!

Use Goggles When Swimming

Pools and the chlorine that is used to keep them clean can be really tough on eyes. The red, itchy feeling you get after swimming with your eyes open in a pool is your eyes’ way of telling you that they are hurting. Chemicals used to keep the water clean, such as chlorine, can affect the natural tear film that keeps our eyes moist and healthy. Be sure to use goggles when swimming to protect your eyes.

Protect Your Eyes During Outdoor Activities

Summer means mowing the grass and playing baseball, softball, and all sorts of activities. Be sure to wear glasses that can protect your eyes during all of these moments. For example, if you have ever mowed the lawn, you know how easily the grass and other debris can ricochet into your line of vision. Avoid hospital trips by keeping your eyes protected.

Quit Smoking and Avoid Secondhand Smoke

Cigarette smoke, including secondhand smoke, not only worsens dry eye but is a risk factor for many eye diseases, including cataractsmacular degeneration and more. Try quitting or at least cutting back. If you have a loved one who smokes, insist that it is done away from family members who would otherwise be exposed to the secondhand smoke.

Treat Your Allergies

Red, runny, watery eyes are a hallmark of allergy season. If you have allergies and tend to want to rub your eyes, consider treating the allergies with medication. Rubbing your eyes can injure the exterior of your eye and make matters worse.

Do you have questions about your eye health this summer? Call Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons at 617-232-9600 to schedule your consultation today.

Seasonal Allergies and Your Eyes

Do you love and hate the spring simultaneously? Love it for the warm, beautiful weather, but hate it due to the outdoor or indoor allergens that can cause itchy, watery eyes? You are not alone. More than 50 million Americans experience various types of allergies each year. Believe it or not, allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.

Nothing is more irritating than feeling like you have something in your eye regardless if it is a rogue eyelash, a speck of debris, or an allergen that just won’t go away. If you find that you have red, watery, burning, or itchy eyes, you may be suffering from seasonal allergies. Combine these eye symptoms with a sniffly nose, sneezing, and/or coughing and you are likely a seasonal allergy sufferer.

What Causes Seasonal Eye Allergies?

Since allergies occur so frequently, most of us understand that there is usually something in the environment that causes our eyes to begin to react. For example, many people are allergic to tree pollen or ragweed. The cells respond to exposure to the allergen by releasing histamine and other substances or chemicals that cause tiny blood vessels to leak and the eyes to become itchy, red, and watery.

What Else Could Be Causing these Symptoms?

Unfortunately, other eye issues, such as conjunctivitis or pink eye can have similar symptoms to seasonal allergies. Since eye allergies share symptoms with some diseases of the eye, it is important to have your eye specialist make a definitive diagnosis.

What Can You Do Manage Your Eye Allergy Symptoms?

For people who suffer from allergies and the annoying eye irritants that come with them, managing and treating the symptoms becomes very important. One of the first things that allergy sufferers can do is to avoid triggers by making changes to your home and your routine. This may mean keeping windows closed during high pollen or allergen times, wearing sunglasses to keep the allergen out of the eyes, washing hands often, and using allergy-proof bedding and furnishings.

Another method to manage the symptoms of seasonal allergies is to see your eye doctor who may be able to recommend over-the-counter or prescription options that can relieve the symptoms that are irritating your eyes and respiratory tract. This may include eye drops, artificial tears, antihistamines, or immunotherapy such as allergy shots.

Do you suffer from seasonal allergies that make your eyes watery, itchy, red, swollen, or bloodshot? Call Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons at 617-232-9600 to schedule your consultation today.

Caring For Dry Eye During The Spring

If you experience dry eye, then we know the changing seasons can be especially difficult for you. When the weather is changing and allergies are abundant, it can be difficult to go about our routines when our eyes are itchy, red, or irritated.

What Is Dry Eye?

For those reading who don’t experience dry eye, but may think they experience symptoms, chronic dry eye is a condition in which someone does not have enough tears or hydration in their eyes.

Dry eye can be particularly bothersome during the changing seasons because of the exposure to sunlight, dust, wind, and changing temperatures. Read through this blog for some tips for dry eye this spring.

What Affects Dry Eye?

Many things can worsen dry eye during the spring. When the sunshine gets brighter during the first few months of spring, our eyes need to adjust to the exposure. Time spent outdoors means wind in your face, and this can be extremely uncomfortable. Blinking greatly affects dry eye, and the rate at which you blink can control your level of comfort and hydration in your eyes. For example, if you’re often reading, writing, looking at a screen, or focusing heavily, these all may affect chronic dry eye.

Caring for Dry Eye

Sunglasses can be a great first step to caring for dry eye when you’re outdoors. Not only do sunglasses filter sunshine, but they also protect your eyes from getting even drier from the strong winds, air movement, and open windows.

Allergies Can Worsen Dry Eye

Many people who experience symptoms of allergies may experience the same symptoms with dry eye. Allergies make dry eye more difficult to deal with, and sometimes allergy medicines help with dry eye. During the spring, pollen is the number one cause of irritation, allergies, and heightened symptoms of dry eye.

Talk to your doctor about medications you can take when your allergies flare up and worsen your dry eye. Look into adding moisture to the air in your bedroom, living room, and throughout the home. This can be done easily with a humidifier. When your eyes get really inflamed and irritated, try a warm compress, artificial tears, and lubricants recommended by your doctor.

If you have questions about your eye care and eye safety this spring, contact 617-232-9600, or visit our website.  

Treating Itchy & Irritated Eyes For Changing Seasons

For those who suffer from eye allergies, the changing seasons can be the worst. When the winter comes to an end and we experience a spring awakening, airborne allergens are back and stronger than ever. Read this blog for tips when it comes to treating dry, itchy, and irritated eyes when the season changes.

Airborne allergens most commonly include pollen, mold, dust, and pet dander. The changing of the seasons causes temperatures to change, and our bodies must adapt to our surroundings – sometimes this can be a process. Some people experience irritation and find much relief in artificial tears or eye drops. This is temporary relief, though, only helping in the moment. To prevent irritation when you’re most sensitive, check out these few tips we put together.

Glasses For Protection To Help Fight Your Allergies

Though you may wear contacts, a physical lens against your face is helpful and protective during allergy season. When you wear your glasses, your lenses act as shields to block particles and allergens that could potentially irritate your eyes.

Proper Contact Use To Reduce Irritation

When wearing your contacts, be sure you’re taking proper care of each pair. When you take them out every night and put them in for the day, do a thorough inspection of your lenses before putting them in. During the transition from winter to spring, particles, dust, and dander can easily cause irritation if it gets in contact with you your contact lenses. When you put them in, always be sure your hands are clean. Do not touch your contacts throughout the day, and don’t remove or reinsert unless you’re in a clean environment. Contacts can collect airborne allergens, so consider wearing your glasses for a month or so to give your eyes a break. For more information on contact lenses during the changing seasons, check out this previous blog we wrote.

Watch The Weather For Pollen Count, Know What To Expect

If the weather really gets to you, you can watch the news and see what is predicted. On the days when the pollen count is predicted to be high, you can try to stay indoors or wear something like a hat with a brim and a scarf around your neck. Take preventative action against the winds of spring and do all you can to avoid pollen on the really intense days. If the pollen really bothers you, ask your doctor about an over-the-counter medication you can take when you just cant shake them.

Washing Your Hands Constantly To Reduce Germs

We can’t stress enough how important it is to wash your hands. Hot soapy water for 5 minutes can do wonders. Keep your hands clean and sanitized throughout the day, because even if you don’t notice, we’re always subconsciously touching our faces or getting our hands near our eyes and mouths. The more often you wash up after every meal and after time spent outdoors, the stronger your immune system will be when fighting back against irritation during the changing seasons.

As we all know, there’s no stopping mother nature. We can take preventative action to ensure we’re comfortable and our eye health is not compromised during the changing seasons. Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons is here to help. Whether you have eye safety questions, inquiries about your personal eye health, or are looking to schedule an appointment with a doctor, reach out to us at (617) 232-9600.