Save Your Vision Month: Understanding the Top Eye Diseases That Cause Blindness

March is Save Your Vision Month. Organized by the American Optometric Association, this annual campaign focuses on public education regarding vision loss and the importance of regular eye examinations. The AOA started Save Your Vision Month back in 1927, and over the past century millions of people — and their eyesight — have benefited. Our eye doctors at Boston Eye Physicians & Surgeons discuss the symptoms of top eye diseases causing blindness and why early detection is so crucial.  

Top Eye Diseases Causing Vision Loss

As per the CDC, the top eye diseases causing vision loss in the United States are primarily age-related. These include:

1. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) – This disease affects the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central detailed vision processing. There are two forms of ARMD: dry and wet. The first is far more common, accounting for as many as 90 percent of ARMD cases. Dry ARMD progresses slowly, gradually causing the loss of central vision. Wet ARMD occurs when irregular blood vessels behind the retina grow beneath the macula, leading to bleeding and leaking fluid. With wet ARMD, the loss of central vision happens quickly.

2. Cataracts – Worldwide, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness. While older people are more affected, cataracts, a clouding of the lens, can develop at any age. The good news is that cataract surgery to remove the lens and replace it with an artificial lens is one of the most common surgeries performed, with an extremely high success rate. While untreated cataract can gradually cause blindness, cataract surgery is the most successful surgery in the US to treat cataracts.

3. Diabetic retinopathy – Diabetes harms blood vessels in all parts of the body, and the eyes are among the most vulnerable areas. In the U.S., diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes, is the leading cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 and 74. Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eyeball. Diabetic patients who do not receive regular eye exams are most at risk, as early diagnosis can reduce vision loss. Regular eye exam can detect diabetes before the symptoms occur.

4. Glaucoma – This group of diseases causes damage to the optic nerve from elevated pressure within the eye. There are two major types of glaucoma. The most common, open-angle, progresses slowly. The patient may not notice their loss of vision until glaucoma has progressed significantly. Closed-angle glaucoma comes on suddenly, accompanied by pain and vision loss requiring immediate laser surgery.

Eye Disease Symptoms

Serious eye diseases have specific symptoms. Contact your eye doctor immediately if experiencing any of the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spot in the visual center field
  • Double vision
  • Eye pain
  • Floaters or flashes of light
  • Halos or glare
  • Light sensitivity
  • Peripheral vision loss
  • Straight lines appear wavy

Schedule Your Consultation in Boston

If you are experiencing any eye disease symptoms, or if you are due for an eye examination, schedule a consultation at Boston Eye Physicians & Surgeons today by calling (617) 232-9600 or filling out our online form.

What Glaucoma Patients Want Others To Understand About the Disease

Worldwide, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, as per the CDC. A glaucoma diagnosis is often devastating, changing the way patients live their daily lives. Our eye doctors at Boston Eye Physicians & Surgeons offer insight into what glaucoma patients want others to understand about their disease.

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve. Open-angle glaucoma, the most common type, occurs when eye fluid does not drain properly from the eye through a structure called the drainage angle. This fluid build-up results in higher intraocular pressure pressing on the optic nerve over time causing damage.

Closed-angle glaucoma generally happens in those whose iris is close to their eye’s drainage angle. When a blockage occurs, eye pressure ratchets up fast. Closed-angle glaucoma comes on quickly and constitutes a true eyen emergency. Without prompt treatment, the patient might go blind.

Keep in mind that 50 percent of people with glaucoma are unaware they have it. Glaucoma usually has no early symptoms. Pay attention to what friends and family with glaucoma are going through, as you could join their ranks someday. If you are African American, have a family history of glaucoma or are diabetic, your glaucoma risk is elevated.

Dealing With Fears

Glaucoma patients deal with fears that those with good vision do not think about. While going blind is the greatest fear, that is not the only challenge facing those with glaucoma. They may also worry about whether vision loss means they can no longer continue working in their current field. Some patients may worry that they cannot pay for the drugs prescribed to treat glaucoma.

Every person with glaucoma has individual fears regarding how their diagnosis will affect their life. Other people must understand that these are legitimate concerns. Fortunately, prompt treatment and regular follow-up help patients keep their condition under control and preserves vision as much as possible.  

Glaucoma Treatment 

Once they’ve gotten over the initial shock of their diagnosis, glaucoma patients learn from their eye doctor that glaucoma is controllable. The key is lowering intraocular pressure, and treatments include:

  • Prescription eye drops
  • Oral medications
  • Laser therapy
  • Surgery

Schedule Your Consultation in Boston

If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, or are experiencing symptoms of the disease, schedule a consultation at Boston Eye Physicians & Surgeons today by calling (617) 232-9600 or filling out our online form.

Why Choose an Ophthalmologist for Blepharoplasty To Improve Eyelid Appearance and Function?

Blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery, is among the most popular cosmetic surgery options. The procedure takes years off the appearance of the face, making the patient look more youthful and rejuvenated. However, it makes more sense to choose an ophthalmic plastic surgeon — rather than a general plastic surgeon — to perform blepharoplasty, as nothing is more precious than your vision. You don’t want to take any risks, however slight, when it comes to eye surgery. In this post, our eye doctors at Boston Eye Physicians & Surgeons explain why ophthalmic plastic surgeons are the best choice for eyelid surgery.


With aging comes drooping and sagging all over the body. The eyes are just as vulnerable as any other area. Loose skin and excess fat make people look older. Saggy eyelids can also make people look angry or sad, even though they aren’t feeling those emotions. Because the eyelid skin is thinner than skin elsewhere on the body, it tends to stretch significantly over time. Saggy lids also decrease our peripheral visual fields and limit our visual functions.

Some adult patients may suffer from ptosis, a condition in which the upper eyelid’s levator muscle, responsible for eyelid elevation and retraction, separates itself from the eyelid. Blepharoplasty also corrects ptosis. 

By removing excess skin and fat on the upper eyelids, as well as eliminating bags under the lower lids, the patient’s appearance is greatly enhanced. They no longer look angry or sad. Instead, they look the way they did before the sagging set in.

Blepharoplasty is performed on an outpatient basis, with local anesthesia without intravenous sedation. Some patients may opt oral sedation.

Blepharoplasty and Visual Impairment

Blepharoplasty is usually thought of as a cosmetic procedure, but it can also correct visual impairment resulting from excess skin and fat. For patients whose peripheral vision is affected by sagging eyelids, upper eyelid surgery can improve their field of vision.

When performed as a purely cosmetic procedure, blepharoplasty is not covered by insurance. However, when it is medically necessary to improve the field of vision, , health insurance may cover part or all of the procedure.  

Oculoplastic Surgery

Many eye surgeons undergo additional oculoplastic surgery training to be an ophthalmic plastic surgeon. They specialize in medical and cosmetic procedures for the eyes and the facial areas surrounding the eyes.

Unlike a general plastic surgeon, who may perform procedures on body parts ranging from the forehead to the feet, ophthalmic plastic surgeons deal only with the eyes and surrounding anatomy. They are highly specialty trained on eye cosmetic surgeries.

Schedule Your Consultation in Boston

If you would like more information about blepharoplasty performed by a skilled ophthalmic plastic surgeon, schedule a consultation at Boston Eye Physicians & Surgeons today by calling (617) 232-9600 or filling out our online form.

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. 

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 is Digital Eye Strain and Its Symptoms?

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. 

Preventing Digital Eye Strain

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. 

Solutions for Dry Eye

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. 

Dry Eye Treatment in Boston

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?

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?


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:

Keep Your Eyes Safe 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.

Eye Care in Boston

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.