Know the Score: Wearing Eye Protection Prevents Players from Getting Benched Due to Injury

Sports-related eye injuries cause an estimated 100,000 doctor visits each year. Yet, most of these injuries can be prevented by wearing eye protection. In fact, a recent study of high school field hockey players shows that traumatic eye injuries fell 67 percent after eye protection became mandatory. In support of Sports Eye Safety Month in April, the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are offering athletes of all ages guidance on how to best protect their eyes.

Common sports eye injuries include corneal abrasions, lacerations and bleeding in the eye. Basketball players tend to get poked in the eye with fingers. Tennis and softball players more often get hit with fast moving balls. In contact sports like football and martial arts, more severe ocular injuries such as retinal detachment and orbital fracture occur. One-third of sports-related eye injuries happens to kids.

The good news is that 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented with the use of protective eyewear. Save your vision while playing sports by following these tips:

  • Wear the right eye protection: For basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey, wear protection with shatterproof polycarbonate lenses.
  • Put your helmet on: For baseball, ice hockey and lacrosse, wear a helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield.
  • Know the standards: Choose eye protection that meets American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. See the Academy’s protective eyewear web page for more details.
  • Throw out old gear: Eye protection should be replaced when damaged or yellowed with age. Wear and tear may cause them to become weak and lose effectiveness.
  • Glasses won’t cut it: Regular prescription glasses may shatter when hit by flying objects. If you wear glasses, try sports goggles on top to protect your eyes and your frames.

“Virtually all sports eye injuries could be prevented by wearing proper eye protection,” said ophthalmologist Philip R. Rizzuto, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the Academy.

That’s why I always strongly encourage athletes to protect their eyes when participating in competitive sports.

Anyone who experiences a sports eye injury should immediately visit an ophthalmologist, a physician specializing in medical and surgical eye care.

For more information on sports eye safety, see the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website at

Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 12, 2010

Contact: Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons

New Consumer Information Now Available on American Academy of Ophthalmology’s

EyeSmartTM Web Site

New and expanded content provides the public with a comprehensive source for all eye health information in both English and Spanish

Is pink eye really contagious?  Am I sitting too close to my computer screen? When should my child get their first vision screening? The answers to these and many other common questions are now available on the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s (Academy) EyeSmartTM Web site, the Web source for credible, evidence based information that patients can trust. An extended range of patient information is also now available in Spanish.

“The EyeSmart Web site is an all-inclusive source for timely and relevant eye health information that helps consumers take charge of their eye health,” said David W. Parke II, MD, CEO of the Academy. “Our goal is to provide the most useful and accurate information on the Web, developed by ophthalmologists and providing the best resources available to the public.”

In recognition of Healthy Vision Month, the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons reminds consumers that learning to care for your eyes is the key to enjoying a lifetime of good vision. The new EyeSmartTM Web site includes over 100 pages of new content, making it the essential guide for anyone who needs eye health information. Whether it’s age-related eye diseases, eye injury prevention or eye infections, you can find it in one reliable place.

Take a peek at some of the new EyeSmart Web site features:

  • Your Eyes at Every Age, an in-depth look at eye health from birth through the senior years including visual changes that can occur during pregnancy.

Your Eyes in a High-Tech World, providing valuable information for those who find
themselves spending the majority of their time on computers, PDA’s and other electronic devices.

  • Ongoing research shows that a diet high in certain nutrients may be linked to better eye health. A Feast for the Eyes provides essential and up to date information on choosing foods rich in eye-healthy nutrients and on supplements that may help with age-related eye diseases.
  • Ask an Eye M.D., The Academy’s free public service, responds to people’s selected questions, with replies posted EyeSmart. In addition to recently answered questions posted, answers on all topics are available in a searchable archive.

To view all the new content and for more information about eye health, visit

Medical Myth Exposed

Medical Myth Exposed

Does glaucoma cause headaches?

Glaucoma usually does not cause headaches. Most often patients with glaucoma do not have any symptoms at all in the early stages. This is why comprehensive eye examinations are so important, especially for someone who has risk factors for glaucoma. Sometimes, eye pain or a headache around the eye can be the first sign of angle closure glaucoma. This can occur when the eye pressure is dangerously high.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (

Ask An Eye M.D. Question of the Month

Featured Ask an Eye M.D. question

My child has Down syndrome and autism. I was surprised to find out he has cataracts in both eyes; one may not be operable. They are suggesting possible ocular implant, what is the success rate and percentage of possibly getting an infection? Would he lose his eye if he did get an infection?

Lens implants (known as intraocular lenses or IOLs) have been routinely used to replace the natural lens after cataract surgery in adults for decades.  Increasingly, IOLs have been used in children to aid in visual recovery after cataract surgery.  In fact, most children older than 2 years of age receive an IOL during cataract surgery today.  Both cataract surgery and IOL placement in children are highly successful, though vision is often limited in young children by amblyopia (commonly referred to as lazy eye) that can develop as a result of the cataract.  Infection can occur after any surgery, including cataract surgery.  Fortunately, this complication occurs at a rate of less than one in 3,000 such surgeries, and vision can be saved in most cases if the infection is detected early.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (

How Often Should You Get an Eye Exam?

Did You Know?

How often you should get an eye exam? How about your kids?

If you are in your 30’s, otherwise healthy, have no ocular symptoms, do not require glasses or contact lenses, have not had a serious eye injury or eye surgery, and do not have a family history of serious eye disease, you should have a comprehensive eye exam at age 40.  If you have any of the issues just mentioned, you may have a higher risk of eye disease and should be evaluated more regularly depending on the specifics of that problem.  Consult your Eye M.D. to determine the most appropriate interval for eye exams.

All children should have their visual acuity tested by age five. Your children should be receiving vision screening exams at the time of their well-child visits with their pediatrician or family doctor.  They may also be getting vision screenings at school. Routine comprehensive professional eye examination of children with no signs of eye problems has no proven medical benefit. If there are known risk factors for eye disease in your family, or if there is any indication that your children might not have normal vision, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your local Eye M.D.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (

Blue Light Blocking Lens Implants

Patients Won’t Lose Sleep Over Blue-light-blocking Lens Implants

A new Australian study looked at whether blue-light-blocking intraocular lenses (IOLs) would disrupt sleep patterns in patients who had this type of lens implanted after cataract removal.  Blue-light-blocking IOLs are often prescribed as part of risk-reduction for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for susceptible patients.  However, blocking blue-spectrum light had the potential to affect the production of melatonin, which is important for sleep regulation. The researchers followed 49 patients, 18 with blue-light-blocking IOLs, comparing them to the 31 patients who received conventional IOLs, at six months after surgery.  The final results showed no affect on people’s sleep patterns or sleep quality in the patients with blue-light-blocking lenses.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmartTM campaign (

Taking Flomax May Cause Cataract Complications

Taking Flomax May Cause Cataract Complications

A new study confirms the link between patients taking Flomax and complications when undergoing cataract surgery. Men taking Flomax to treat an enlarged prostate face more than double the risk for serious complications should they need cataract surgery. In this new study, 7.5 percent of the men who had taken Flomax in the two weeks before cataract surgery had a serious complication, compared with 2.7 percent of those who had not taken the drug. That makes it a 2.3 times greater risk. This study strengthens an existing study from 2005 about risks associated with taking Flomax before cataract surgery. The 2005 study found that men taking Flomax or other alpha-blockers before cataract surgery had complications during and immediately after the procedure.

Flomax is often prescribed to treat an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, which affects almost three of four men 70 and older. Women are also prescribed Flomax, for urinary problems. Anyone who is taking or has ever taken Flomax or a similar alpha-blocker should tell his or her ophthalmologist prior to cataract surgery. If you have cataracts and know you will need cataract surgery, you should consult with your prescribing physician before starting to take any alpha-blocker. Do not discontinue taking an alpha-blocker without talking to your doctor.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmartTM campaign (

Keep an Eye on UV Safety

Keep an Eye on UV Safety
NAEPS offers tips for safe fun in the sun

As you rub sunscreen on to protect your skin this summer, don’t forget to protect your eyes as well. Summertime means more time spent outdoors, and studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and growths on the eye, including cancer.

June is UV (ultraviolet light) Safety Awareness Month, and the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons wants to remind Nebraskans of the importance of protecting their eyes from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing proper protection. They also wants to remind the public of the importance of protecting eyes from indoor UV light when using tanning beds.

“UV radiation, whether from natural sunlight or indoor artificial rays, can damage the eye’s surface tissues as well as the cornea and lens,” said Thomas Graul, MD. “Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the dangers UV light can pose. By wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, you can enjoy the summer safely while lowering your risk for potentially blinding eye diseases and tumors.” It is important to start wearing proper eye protection at an early age to protect the eyes from years of ultraviolet exposure.

“Your eyes are at risk from the sun year-round,” says Dr. Graul  However, the longer the exposure to bright light as happens frequently during the summer, the greater the risk is. Excessive exposure to UV light reflected off sand, water or pavement can damage the eyes’ front surface. In addition to cataracts and AMD, sun exposure can lead to lesions and tumors that may be cosmetically unappealing and require surgical removal. Pinguecula, tiny yellow bumps on the eye, are common from too much UV exposure. They begin on the white part of the eye and may eventually disrupt your vision.

Damage to the eyes from UV light is not limited to the outdoors; it is also a concern with indoor tanning beds. “Tanning beds can produce UV levels up to 100 times what you would get from the sun, which can cause very serious damage to the external and internal structures of the eye and eyelids,” according to Dr. Graul. “Corneal burns, cataracts, and, in rare instances, retinal damage can occur.” It is critical that you wear the properly designed goggles for use in tanning booths to protect the eyes.

The Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons offers these tips to protect your eyes from the sun:

  • Don’t focus on color or darkness of sunglass lenses: Select sunglasses that block UV rays. Don’t be deceived by color or cost. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the price tag or how dark the sunglass lenses are.
  • Check for 100 percent UV protection: Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays.
  • Choose wrap-around styles: Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around to your temples, so the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.
  • Wear a hat: In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes.
  • Don’t rely on contact lenses: Even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection, remember your sunglasses.
  • Don’t be fooled by clouds: The sun’s rays can pass through haze and thin clouds. Sun damage to eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summertime.
  • Protect your eyes during peak sun times: Sunglasses should be worn whenever outside, and it’s especially important to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes, where UV light is more intense.
  • Never look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, damage to the eye’s retina from solar radiation.
  • Don’t forget the kids: Everyone is at risk, including children. Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses. In addition, try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.

Find Eye M.D.s in your area or ask an Eye M.D. a question by visiting Consumers can submit questions about eye health to an ophthalmologist at

Eating Healthy Prevents Age-related Macular Degeneration

Eating Healthy Prevents Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

A new study confirms the importance of eating healthy to help protect our eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD.)  Researchers found that people whose diets had higher levels of certain nutrients- vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA-and had high levels of low-glycemic index (low GI) foods,  were less likely to develop early and advanced AMD.  Although the researchers say clinical studies are needed before physicians can begin recommending specific nutrient doses or dietary patterns to AMD patients, there’s no need for people to delay adding healthy food to their shopping carts. Sources of AMD-protective nutrients include citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and cold water fish.  The GI value is based on how fast a food’s carbohydrates raise the body’s blood sugar levels; low GI foods have less impact on blood sugar fluctuations.

AMD affects the retina, light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.  Advanced AMD can destroy the central, detailed vision that we need to read, drive, and enjoy daily life. Although the “wet” form of advanced AMD is often treatable, there’s no effective treatment for the much more common “dry” form.  Eating well is a practical way to reduce AMD risk while enjoying better health. To learn more about AMD, visit

Top 10 tips to save your vision

Top 10 Tips to Save Your Vision

Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons Recommends Simple Steps to Reduce Your Chance of Vision Loss

More than 20 million Americans suffer from severe vision loss. While not all eye diseases can be prevented, there are simple steps that everyone can take to help their eyes remain healthy now and reduce their chances of vision loss in the future.

May is Healthy Vision Month and through its EyeSmart campaign, the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons wants to remind consumers how important it is to take protect your vision. “Proper care and caution is very important to prevent serious eye diseases and possible blindness,” says Thomas A. Graul, MD, NAEPS President. “Something as simple as remembering to wear you sunglasses can delay the development of cataracts,” Dr. Graul says.

Here are the top 10 tips from the Academy to safeguard your vision:

Wear sunglasses – UV blocking sunglasses delay the development of cataracts, since direct sunlight hastens their formation. Sunglasses prevent retinal damage; they also protect the delicate eyelid skin to prevent both wrinkles and skin cancer around the eye, and both cancerous and non-cancerous growths on the eye. The US standard states that the lenses should have a UVB (280 to 315nm) transmittance of no more than one per cent and a UVA (315 to 380nm) transmittance of no more than 0.5 times of the visual light transmittance.

Don’t smoke – Tobacco smoking is directly linked to many adverse health effects, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Studies show that current smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to develop AMD than people who have never smoked. Smokers are also at increased risk for developing cataracts.

Eat right – Vitamin deficiency can impair retinal function. The belief that eating carrots improves vision has some truth, but a variety of vegetables, especially leafy green ones, should be an important part of your diet. Researchers have found people on diets with higher levels of vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are less likely to develop early and advanced AMD.

Baseline eye exam -Adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease should get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40-the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. Based on the results of the initial screening, an ophthalmologist will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams. Anyone with symptoms or a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure should see an ophthalmologist to determine how frequently your eyes should be examined.

Eye protection – An estimated 2.5 million eye injuries occur in the U.S. each year, so it is critical to wear proper eye protection to avoid eye injuries during sports such as hockey and baseball and home projects such as home repairs, gardening, and cleaning. For most repair projects and activities around the home, standard ANSI-approved protective eyewear will be sufficient. Sports eye protection should meet the specific requirements of that sport; these requirements are usually established and certified by the sport’s governing body and/or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Know your family history – Many eye diseases cluster in families, so you should know your family’s history of eye disease because you may be at increased risk. Age-related eye diseases, including cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are expected to dramatically increase-from 28 million

today to 43 million by the year 2020.

Early intervention – Most serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma and AMD, are more easily and successfully treated if diagnosed and treated early. Left untreated, these diseases can cause serious vision loss and blindness. Early intervention now will prevent vision loss later.

Know your eye care provider – When you go to get your eyes checked, there are a variety of eye care providers you might see. Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians all play an important role in providing eye care services to consumers. However, each has a different level of training and expertise. Make sure you are seeing the right provider for your condition or treatment. Ophthalmologists are specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery.

Contact lens care – Follow your Eye M.D.’s instructions regarding the care and use of contact lenses. Abuse, such as sleeping in contacts that are not approved for overnight wear, using saliva or water as a wetting solution, using expired solutions, and using disposable contact lenses beyond their wear can result in corneal ulcers, severe pain and even vision loss.

Be aware of eye fatigue – If your eyes are tired from working at a computer or doing close work, you can follow the 20-20-20 rule: Look up from your work every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for twenty seconds. If eye fatigue persists, it can be a sign of several different conditions, such as dry eye, presbyopia, or spectacles with lenses that are not properly centered. See an Eye M.D. to determine why you are having eye fatigue and to receive proper treatment.

Find Eye M.D.s in your area or ask an Eye M.D. a question by visiting Consumers can submit questions about eye health to an ophthalmologist at