EyeSmart, EyeCommitted

EyeSmart, EyeCommitted: Promoting the Importance of an Annual Diabetic Eye Exam

More than 24 million Americans have diabetes and the number is growing, but only half of them get an annual dilated eye exam. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults, but 90 percent of vision loss can be prevented. November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology is reminding the public that an annual dilated eye exam can help prevent vision loss in people with diabetes.

To promote awareness of the need for an annual diabetic eye exam, the Academy has launched EyeSmart EyeCommitted to encourage people to support the importance of an annual diabetic eye exam. The campaign, which is being promoted through social media channels, encourages people to pledge their support for the campaign. In addition, EyeSmart EyeCommitted will:

• Allow users to share the pledge and campaign information with friends and family;
• Feature important diabetic eye disease information and a new video that tells the compelling stories of two patients with diabetic retinopathy;
• Allow users to post the application onto their preferred social media sites; and,
• Allow users to post a digital “badge” to their social media pages telling friends that they are supporting the campaign.

For each pledge, the Academy will commit another $1 to its diabetic eye health education efforts.
Take the EyeSmart EyeCommitted pledge! Visit the campaign Web page and show your support for the importance of an annual diabetic eye exam.
You can also learn more about diabetes and your eyes at the EyeSmart Web site, which has new, in-depth information about diabetic eye disease.
This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

Did you Know? (Dec 2009)

If your child’s pediatrician says that his/her “eyes are out of line” this means the physician sees a misalignment of the child’s eyes. If this is true the eyes will not be working together. This problem is called strabismus. Most often the cause is unknown but sometimes it can be controlled with glasses or treatment of reduced vision in one of the eyes with patching or eye drops. Your child should be seen for a complete eye examination by a pediatric ophthalmologist as soon as it can be performed.
This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

Steroid Use May Raise Cataract Risks

Steroid Use May Raise Cataract Risks

People who use both inhaled and oral steroids (corticosteroids) may be at increased risk for cataracts, according to a recent study. Many people with asthma rely on inhaled, and sometimes oral, steroids, as do people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study assessed the inhaled and/or oral steroid use and cataract status of more than 3,600 people, following them for up to ten years. Increased cataract risks were found only in patients who, at the start of the study had ever used inhaled steroids, had used oral steroids for at least one month, and had no cataracts. Although only a small number of patients met these criteria, nearly all of them—seven of 10—were found to have cataracts in follow-up exams. You should talk with your doctor if you are prescribed both oral and inhaled steroids because of the potential for increased cataract risk. More information on cataracts can be found at www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/cataracts

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

Seasonal Allergies and Your Eyes

Seasonal Allergies Attack the Eye!
Seasonal allergies affect more than 35 million Americans each year and can have a tremendously negative impact on an individual’s quality of life. Tree pollens in April and May, grass pollens in June and July and mold spores and weed pollens in July and August equal a five-month attack of eye-irritating allergens.
The combination of reproducing flowers and fungi with human antibodies makes for some awful allergy attacks each spring. Plant pollen and mold spores initiate the allergic response when they come in contact with the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and lungs. Antibodies called immunoglobulin react by activating mast cell, which release chemicals, including histamine, to attack what it believes is an threat to the body. Thus, allergy symptoms appear. Spring and summer allergy episodes can be a bigger problem than chronic varieties. Drier air and exploding springtime pollen counts wreak havoc on the itchy, inflamed ocular surface. Seasonal allergic sufferers usually endure a combination of ocular itching, inflammation, watering and redness of the eyes. Ocular itching is the most distinguishing feature when seasonal allergic episodes occur. Some symptoms of seasonal allergies are also quite similar to dry eye symptoms. If you have seasonal allergy symptoms it is important to see your Eye M.D. for a visual examination to help rule out dry eye.
This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

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 (www.geteyesmart.org).

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 (www.geteyesmart.org).

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 (www.geteyesmart.org).

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 (www.geteyesmart.org).

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 (www.geteyesmart.org).

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 www.GetEyeSmart.org. Consumers can submit questions about eye health to an ophthalmologist at http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/ask/