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All About Vision

Eyeglass Basics

Modern eyewear serves a dual purpose. In addition to being a vision-correcting medical device used to enhance your safety and quality of life, eyeglasses have become a major fashion accessory. Therefore, when it comes to selecting eyeglasses there are many important factors to consider.

The Frame

Frames are made from a large variety of materials ranging from acetates and hard plastics to metals and metal alloys. The quality of frame materials is very high nowadays with many cutting-edge manufacturers investing heavily in developing new innovations and materials to make stronger, more flexible, lighter and more beautiful frames.

In considering the optimal material for your eyeglass frame, your lifestyle plays a big role. Children and those with active lifestyles require durable and flexible frames that are resistant to breaks from hits and falls. Those who have skin allergies need to seek out frames made from hypoallergenic materials such as acetate, titanium or stainless steel. Other characteristics of frame materials to consider are the weight or flexibility of the material as well as the price. Many designers also use wood, bone or precious metals to adorn frames and add an extra .

Hinges and nosepads also play an important role in durability and comfort of your frames. Children in particular can benefit from spring hinges and nosepads which can keep the frames from slipping off. Rimless or semi-rimless glasses are also an option for those that durability is not a primary concern.

Frame size is a very important factor in frame selection. Frames should fit well and not slip off the nose or be too tight and press against the temples or the sides of the nose.

More and more top fashion design brands are coming out with designer eyewear collections to suit every taste and style. Frames come in all colors, sizes and shapes so the choices are endless in finding a frame that suits your personal style and looks good with your face shape and coloring.

Lenses

Even though people spend much more time focusing on frame selection, as a medical device, the lenses of your eyeglasses are the most important part. It is therefore very important that you obtain your lenses (and therefore your glasses) from a reputable source. It is always best to buy eyeglasses through an eye doctor who is able to check that the lenses are made and fitted properly to ensure your best possible vision.

There are a number of variables to consider in selecting lenses.

If you have a high prescription which may require thicker lenses, you may want to ask for aspheric lenses which are thinner than normal lenses.

There are lenses that are made from materials that are more durable and shatter-resistant such as polycarbonate or trivex, which can be useful for children or sports eyewear.

Photochromic lenses can serve as eyeglasses and sunglasses as the lenses darken when exposed to the sunlight to block out the sunlight and UV rays.

Polarized lenses create greater eye comfort by reducing glare specifically from the water or snow and are great for sunglasses for those that spend time outdoors.

There are also a number of coating options that you can add onto lenses to enhance certain characteristics such as anti-reflective coatings, anti-scratch coatings or UV coatings to reduce exposure from the sun. Adding a coating may require special cleaning or treatment so ask your eye doctor or optician about special instructions.

Eyeglasses Over 40

Once you approach age 40 you are likely to begin to experience presbyopia which is the loss of the ability to focus on close objects. This happens as the eye begins to age and can easily be corrected with reading glasses. However, if you already have an eyeglass prescription for distance vision, you will need a solution that enables you to see your best both near and far.

There are a number of options available for presbyopes including bifocals, multifocals and progressive lenses with new technology improving the options all the time. You should speak to your eye doctor about the best solution for your individual needs.

Whether they are for a child’s first pair, a second pair of designer frames or a senior with a complicated prescription, you should always consult with your eye doctor for a new pair of glasses. Ultimately, your eyeglasses have a job and that it to help you to see your best to get the most out of every day.

Reading Glasses After 40

Once we reach the age of 40, its common to start noticing the natural effects of our aging eyes, such as having to hold your phone at arm’s length to read text messages. Medically, this normal change in our vision is called presbyopia and refers to the weakening of the lens inside the eye which is responsible for sharp focus and clear near vision.

You may begin to notice presbyopia setting in when reading starts to become difficult and the words begin to lose focus. You might also experience eye strain or headaches when trying to read fine print. This is where reading glasses come in. Reading glasses are non-prescription eyeglasses that magnify text (or any object you are viewing) to allow your eye to focus better at a close distance.

Styles of Reading Glasses

Single vision (as opposed to bifocal or trifocal) reading glasses come in two lens styles – full and half. Full readers offer a uniform magnification (the entire lens is the same focus) and you need to remove them to see clearly at a distance. These are ideal for individuals that spend a lot of time reading and don’t often have to look up during that time. Half readers are also uniform magnification but offer smaller frames that allow you to look over the lens when you want to see further away rather than removing the frame from your face.

Bifocal reading glasses offer two zones of vision within one less. The upper part of the lens allows for distance vision, while the lower part is for reading. Bifocals have a visible line across the midline which divides the two zones. You simply look into the part of the lens that offers the vision you desire.

Custom Made Vs. Over the Counter Reading Glasses

Over the counter or ready made reading glasses may be cheaper and more convenient than custom made glasses but they don’t take into account your individual needs. If you have no previous prescription and a light presbyopia, they may sufficiently suit your needs however in many cases, they can cause eye strain, dizziness and headaches when they are not the right fit for your vision.

Having an eye exam and ordering custom made lenses can meet your exact visual needs in each eye to create a comfortable and optimal correction for your eyes. You can also select the style and shape of the glasses that look and feel the best for you.

Even though presbyopia is a common condition that eventually affects most people at some point after 40, any time you experience vision changes you should see an eye doctor for an exam. Even if you decide that you want to start with ready made reading glasses, you should get an eye exam to ensure that your eyes and vision are healthy. Many serious and vision-threatening eye diseases can be stopped and prevented with early detection, so routine check-ups, especially when there is a change in vision, are critical for optimal eye and vision health.

Farsighted (Hyperopia)

Farsightedness or hyperopia is a refractive error in which distant objects are clear, while close objects appear blurry. A refractive error occurs when the eye is not able to refract (or bend) the light that comes in into a single point of focus, therefore not allowing images to be seen clearly. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are the most common types of refractive error.

What Causes Hyperopia?

Hyperopia is usually caused when the shape of the eye is shortened or the cornea (which is the clear front surface of the eye) is flatter than normal. This prevents light that enters the eye from focusing properly on the retina, and rather focuses behind it. This condition causes close objects to appear blurry, while typically objects at a distance remain clear.

Farsightedness, which is less common than nearsightedness, is often an inherited condition. It is common in children who experience some amount of hyperopia during development which they will eventually grow out of as the eye continues to grow and lengthen. Sometimes these children don’t even have symptoms as their eyes are able to accommodate to make up for the error.

Symptoms of Hyperopia

Symptoms of hyperopia vary. As mentioned, sometimes people with hyperopia don’t experience any symptoms while others will experience severe vision difficulties. In addition to blurred near vision, often squinting, eye strain and headaches will occur when focusing on near objects.

Treatment for Farsightedness

Farsightedness is easily treated with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. These lenses, will correct for the refractive error by changing the way the light bends upon entering the eyes. Refractive eye surgeries such as LASIK or PRK that reshape the cornea may also be options for vision correction. Treatment for farsightedness depends on a number of factors including your age, lifestyle, eye health and overall health.

Farsightedness vs. Presbyopia

Farsightedness is not the same as presbyopia, an age-related condition that also affects one’s ability to see near objects clearly. Presbyopia is caused when the natural lens of the eye begins to age and stiffens, causing difficulty focusing.

Farsightedness or hyperopia is a common refractive error that is easily treated. If you are experiencing difficulty seeing close objects it’s worth having an eye exam to determine the cause, ensure your eyes are healthy and to find a solution to improve your vision and quality of life.

LASIK

LASIK or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis is a refractive surgery that is used to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism as an alternative to eyeglasses or contact lenses. LASIK is currently the most common of the refractive eye surgeries, largely because of the relatively low risk and the quick recovery and improvement in eyesight.

Also known as laser eye surgery or laser vision correction, LASIK uses a laser to reshape the cornea which is responsible for clear vision. The procedure is quick and relatively painless and eyesight is usually improved to 20/20 vision within one day of the surgery.

How Does LASIK Work?

LASIK is an outpatient procedure, which takes about 15 minutes for the actual surgery on both eyes and an hour total with recovery. A topical anesthetic drop is used and there is no need for bandaging or stitches following the procedure. The doctor will start by stabilizing the eye and then making a small flap in the outer layer of the cornea. Then with access to the underlying tissue, he uses a laser to reshape the corneal tissue and re-closes the flap, which will heal on its own. The nature of the corneal reshaping depends on the type of refractive error.

Wavefront LASIK

Wavefront LASIK uses computer mapping technology to guide the laser treatment based on the precise shape of the cornea. This can correct very precise issues, provide much sharper vision than non-wavefront LASIK and can reduce complications such as halos, glare and problems seeing at night.

What to Expect During and After LASIK?

During the procedure you may feel some pressure on your eye while the laser is working. Immediately following you will likely experience some blurriness and may feel burning or itching (be sure not to rub your eyes!). For your journey home you will be given protective shields to guard your eyes and will need someone to drive you. You will also be prescribed medicated eye drops for a week or so to aid in healing and prevent infection. Your doctor may also recommend artificial tears to moisten the eyes and keep them comfortable in the days following the procedure.

The day after the surgery you will be asked to visit your eye doctor (or the surgeon) for a checkup and to evaluate whether you are able to drive. Most people experience an improvement in vision by then, although for some it can take a few days or even a week. Your eyes may be sensitive to light for a day or two as well. You will likely be advised to rest for a day or two and to refrain from strenuous physical activity for about a week until further healing has taken place.

Most people achieve at least 20/20 vision following the surgery, although this can vary and there are cases where 20/40 vision is obtained or where people continue to wear glasses or contacts with a much lesser prescription. Some patients have light sensitivity, particularly when driving at night, also suffering from seeing halos around lights or glare. There are glasses and lenses available to reduce this glare and assist with night driving.

For some, it can take weeks or even months until the vision completely stabilizes. Occasionally, after a few months, patients who do not experience perfect results will schedule an enhancement or touch up surgery to correct the vision even further.

Am I a Candidate for LASIK?

The ideal LASIK candidate is a patient over 18 with generally healthy eyes. Since the procedure involves shaping the cornea by removing some of the tissue, it is not ideal for individuals with a thin cornea or any sort of corneal condition or disease. Patients with chronic dry eyes might also be disqualified as LASIK can often exacerbate these symptoms.

During a comprehensive eye exam your eye doctor will assess your eligibility by looking at the general health of your eye including your cornea, your pupil, the moisture in your eye, the type of refractive error you have and whether you have any other eye conditions of concern.

For the right candidate, LASIK can offer a lifestyle improvement in giving clear vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses, however, the results are not guaranteed. You and your eye doctor need to weigh the benefits and the potential risks based on your personal needs.

Forms of Macular Degeneration

There are two forms of macular degeneration, dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). The term neovascular refers to the growth of new blood vessels.

Dry AMD (non-neovascular)

Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease, making up about 85%-90% of all cases of AMD. It is characterized by blurred central vision or blind spots, as the macula begins to deteriorate. Dry AMD is an early stage of the disease and is less severe than the wet form,.

Dry AMD occurs when the aging tissues of the macula begin to thin out and break down. Tiny pieces of white or yellowish protein called drusen begin to appear, which are thought to be deposits from the macular tissue as it deteriorates. The appearance of these drusen are often what leads to a diagnosis of AMD during an eye exam.

With dry AMD vision loss happens gradually, however, the dry form can progress to wet AMD rapidly. There is currently no cure for dry AMD, however there is research that shows that some people can benefit from supplemental vitamin therapy including antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Wet AMD (neovascular)

Wet AMD is less common occurring in only about 10 percent of those with AMD. AMD is classified as Wet AMD when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the retina and leak fluid and blood into the macula, resulting in blind spots and a loss of central vision. Wet AMD can cause more damage to vision and permanent scarring if not treated quickly, so any sudden blur in vision should be assessed immediately, especially if one is aware that they have AMD. Usually vision loss happens faster and is more noticeable than in dry AMD so the quicker it is treated, the more vision you can preserve.

Contacts & Glasses that Enhance Performance

Every sports activity requires a different skill set for success, yet all sports share a critical need for good vision. Geraint Griffiths, a British optometrist, devised a study to determine the effects of visual acuity on sports performance. This study distributed special vision-blurring goggles to Wimbledon tennis players and UK national clay pigeon shooters. Their performance was studied while the goggles were worn. Even though the goggles only blurred their vision a bit, the marksmen and tennis players showed a 25% decrease in accomplishment. This study demonstrated clearly that vision and sports achievement are inextricably linked.

Visual clarity isn’t the only benefit provided by sports eyewear. There are a number of additional eyewear features that boost athletic performance and enhance eye safety.

Protect Your Eyes from Impact-Related Injuries

As reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, over 42,000 sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States each year. Approximately 43% of those injuries happen to children under the age of 15. The majority of these injuries can be prevented with protective eyewear, such as safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses.

Regular eyeglasses are designed for daily wear, and they aren’t resilient enough to handle the rough and tumble wear needed for sports. They also provide inadequate protection for your eyes. Contact lenses offer zero protection from sports-related eye injuries. In contrast, sports eyewear is constructed to be highly impact-resistant, thereby granting superior protection for your eyes and removing anxiety about potential eye injuries. Able to withstand the hit of a ball traveling at up to 90 miles per hour, polycarbonate lenses are about 10 times more impact-resistant than regular lenses.

Safety eyeglasses are advised for every activity that has the potential for injuries to the eye. Be aware that the following land sports run a higher risk to eyes: softball, baseball, hockey, football, basketball, handball, squash, racquetball, tennis, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse. In water, all swimming and pool sports require specialized eye gear. Paintball players should also make safety eyewear an essential part of their game.

A Barrier against UV Rays

Harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be just as damaging to your eyes as other injuries. A number of eye diseases, such as ocular tumors, macular degeneration, and cataracts, have been associated with exposure to UV rays. Photokeratitis, which refers to sunburn on your eye, is another hazard. This painful condition can cause long-term corneal damage.

Dangerous UV rays are more potent at higher altitudes and also bounce off snow or outdoor water, which increases exposure. It is imperative for skiers and anyone who enjoys outdoor water sports to wear sports sunglasses or tinted goggles that block 100% of the sun’s UV rays.

Some types of contact lenses provide UV protection, yet they only cover the central part of your eye. For this reason, sunglasses that block UV rays should still be worn, preferably in a wraparound style that also covers the delicate tissues surrounding your eyes. Hats with a wide brim will upgrade your protection by further reducing facial exposure to UV rays.

Enhance Your Game with Colored Lenses

Special tinted eyewear may add a winning edge to your game. Depending upon the lighting conditions, it’s not always simple to “keep your eye on the ball”. Hunters favor shooting glasses with amber tinted lenses, which highlight the contrast of birds flying against an overcast, dim sky. Golfers tend to gain the largest benefit from green tinted lenses.

A wide range of specialized tints for specific indoor and outdoor sports are available. These lenses can improve visibility and contrast in a diversity of environments. Ask your eye doctor or optician for more information about which lenses can help raise your scores.

Don’t Let Light Get in the Way

Reflective surfaces, such as a flat body of water, a sandy beach or even light-colored pavement, can disturb your vision with glare. Polarized sunglasses are one effective way to resolve this problem.

Another glare reducer is to add and anti-glare (AG) component to your lenses. At night, sports eyewear with anti-glare will diminish lens reflections when playing under bright lights or spotlights. It’s a good idea to apply anti-glare to the back surface of sport sunglasses in order to decrease the glare that bounces into your eyesight when sunlight hits the back of your lenses.

You can control the light that enters your eye by wearing photochromic lenses. These clear lenses transition automatically into dark lenses upon exposure to UV rays. They also offer 100% UV protection, and return quickly to their former clear state when you go indoors.

Contacts Provide Comfortable and Convenient Vision

Many advantages come along with wearing contact lenses for sports, even if you normally wear eyeglasses on a daily basis:

  • Unobstructed peripheral vision
  • Natural-appearing vision, with no changes in image sizes
  • No fogging lenses
  • Non-slip when perspiring

The best contact lens choice for sports is soft one-day disposables. There’s no need to clean them and you can toss them in the garbage at the end of the day. The flexible, oxygen-permeable material of one-day soft lenses also requires very little adaptation. They can be inserted easily and worn comfortably for a full day of physical activity.

Although contact lenses offer high convenience and comfort, there are still a number of disadvantages with wearing contacts for sports. No protection against eye injury is provided and they don’t offer sufficient UV protection. For ultimate performance and safety, you need to wear quality protective eyewear or sunglasses over your lenses.

How Progressive Lenses Work

Progressive lenses or progressive addition lenses (PALs) are the most popular multifocal lenses today, offering an effective and great looking vision solution for individuals with presbyopia (age-related near vision loss). The main advantage of progressive lenses over standard bifocals or trifocals is that they don’t have a visible line bisecting the lens, but rather a seamless and gradual change in power as you move down the lens. Rather than two or three distinct zones (for near, far and intermediate), progressive lenses offer a smooth transition of focal powers that covers the total range of clear vision from close to far and every point in between.

As we age, particularly after the age of 40, our near vision begins to deteriorate. Progressive lenses allow you to see at all distances with one pair of glasses. They start with your distance prescription (if you have one) at the top of the lens and increase as you move toward the bottom of the lens. You simply move your head position to allow you to focus through different areas of the lens. Move your head upwards to see something in the distance, hold it straight for intermediate or arm’s length vision and down for near vision for objects that are close up.
In addition to the aesthetic improvement of the lens without the line segments (which tend to make people look and feel older as well), PALs avoid the visual discontinuity or image-jump when your eyes shift from one zone to the other in non-progressive multifocals.

Adapting to Progressive Lenses

While most people adapt to progressive lenses fairly quickly (many immediately), for some, getting comfortable vision with progressive lenses can take a few days. This is normal as you need to train your eyes to look through the appropriate area of the lens and get used to the slight adjustments when you move from one area to another – especially if you move your head quickly. If you find that you are not adapting to the lenses after a few days, speak to your eye doctor- they may not be the right fit or the right option for you.

Types of Progressive Lenses

There are a number of options for progressive lenses which vary in style, price and function.

Standard PALs
Standard progressive lenses must fit to your vision needs. They can be added to frames of your choice, but you need to ensure that the frames are the right width and height proportions to grant enough space for the gradient changes in the lens. Otherwise only a small area will remain for the distance or near vision zones.

Short Corridor PALS
To overcome the issue mentioned above, there are now progressive lenses called “short corridor” lenses made to fit into smaller frames to suit a wider range of eyewear styles.

Computer PALS
Also known as “near variable focus lenses” or “office lenses”, these specialized PALs are designed specifically for computer users and other occupations that require strong intermediate and distance vision. For computer users that work at a computer for many hours, these lenses will help to reduce eye strain, eye fatigue and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome that come from looking at a computer for extended periods.

PALs for reading
Individuals who enjoy reading can opt for a pair of lenses with a larger close vision zone. Free-form lenses offer a customizable surface with a wider area for near vision.

Progressive lenses are a great option for most individuals who require multifocal or reading glasses and still want to maintain a youthful look and appearance. Speak to your eye doctor about your specific needs and lifestyle to find the best option for you.

Eye Floaters and Spots

Eye floaters are spots, squiggles or flecks that appear to drift into your visual field. Usually they are harmless, a benign, albeit annoying sign of aging. If however, your floaters are accompanied by a sudden loss of vision, pain or flashes, they could be a sign of an underlying serious eye condition and should be checked out by an eye doctor as soon as possible.

What are Eye Floaters and Spots?

Floaters, like their name, are specks or spots that float in and out of your visual field. Usually they move away when you try to focus on them. They can appear as dark dots, threads, squiggles, webs, or even rings.

But what causes them to appear? Floaters are shadows from clumps of fibers within the vitreous, the jelly-like substance in your eye, that are cast on the retina at the back of the eye. Usually, floaters don’t go away, but you tend to get used to them and eventually notice them less. Patients usually see them more when they are looking at a plain background, like the blue sky or a white wall.

In most cases, there is no treatment for floaters, people just get used to them, however if there are more serious symptoms that accompany them, there could be an underlying problem such as inflammation, diabetes or a retinal tear that needs to be addressed and treated. If the floaters are so serious that they are blocking your vision, a surgical procedure to remove the clumps may be performed.

What Causes Floaters?

Age: Although floaters may be present at any age, they are often more apparent as a result of aging. With time, the fibers in the vitreous begin to shrink and clump up as they pull away from the back of the eye. These clumps block some of the light passing through your eye, causing the shadows which appear as floaters. You are also more likely to develop floaters if you are nearsighted.

Eye Surgery or Injury: Individuals who have previously had an injury, trauma or eye surgery are more susceptible to floaters. This includes cataract surgery and laser surgery as well as other types of eye surgery.

Eye Disease: Certain eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, eye tumors or severe inflammation can lead to floaters.

Retinal Tears or Detachment: Retinal tears or detachments can be a cause of floaters. A torn retina can lead to a retinal detachment which is a very serious condition where the retina separates from the back of the eye and if untreated can lead to permanent vision loss.

When to See a Doctor

There are some cases where seeing spots is accompanied by other symptoms that could be a sign that there is a more serious underlying problem. The most common of these is seeing flashes of light. This often happens when the vitreous is pulling on the retina which would be a warning sign of a retinal detachment. Retinal detachment must be treated immediately or you can risk a permanent loss of vision. Flashes of light sometimes also appear as symptoms of migraine headaches.

If you experience a sudden onset or increase in floaters, flashes of light, pain, loss of side vision or other vision disturbances, see a doctor immediately. Further, if you have recently had eye surgery or a trauma and you are experiencing floaters during your recovery, it is advised to tell your doctor.

Generally, floaters are merely a harmless annoyance but keep an eye on your symptoms. As with any sudden or serious change in your health, it is worth having them checked out if they are really bothering you. In some cases, they may be an early warning sign of a serious problem that requires swift treatment to preserve your vision.

Corrective Eye Surgery Basics

In recent years there have been tremendous advances in the field of vision correcting eye surgery which is also known as refractive or laser surgery. Corrective eye surgery offers patients clear vision without the use of glasses and contact lenses. There are a number of types of refractive surgeries that are able to correct different vision problems, so if you are considering surgery here are some of the options you should know about.

LASIK

LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) surgery is perhaps the most well-known refractive surgery today. LASIK can help patients with myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. During the procedure, the doctor makes a flap in the outer layer of the corner to reach the underlying tissue and then uses a laser to reshape the tissue which allows the cornea to then focus light properly. The procedure is usually painless and vision is usually clear within a few hours.

Recent advances in the field have developed subcategories of LASIK surgery such as Bladeless LASIK, which uses a laser rather than a mechanical tool to make the initial flap or Wavefront (custom) LASIK which uses computer mapping to guide the reshaping of the cornea and is able to create a much more precise visual correction for very subtle optical imperfections. There is also a procedure called Epi-LASIK in which following the procedure, the doctor applies a soft contact lens to protect the surgical area, holding the flap in place while it heals.

PRK

PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) also uses a laser to correct mild to moderate myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. PRK was a precursor to LASIK which eliminated many of the complications of prior surgeries such as glare, seeing halos around lights, blurred vision and regression of vision. Unlike LASIK, the procedure only reshapes the surface of the cornea and not the underlying tissue. Consequently, there is often some discomfort for a couple of weeks until the outer layer of the cornea heals. Additionally, the patient may experience blurred vision during this period of healing. PRK does offer an advantage over LASIK in that there is less risk of certain complications. Wavefront technology is also available for PRK surgeries.

Due to the increased comfort of LASIK there was a period that PRK saw a decline. Recent studies show however that LASIK and PRK have similar long-term success for improved visual acuity and with the assistance of newly developed effective pain medications, PRK has become more popular again as an option.

LASEK

In LASEK or laser-assisted sub-epithelial keratomileusis, the doctor creates a flap smaller but similar but to LASIK, and then uses an alcohol solution to loosen the tissue around the cornea which is pushed aside, and then a laser is used to reshape the cornea itself. In an Epi-LASEK procedure, the doctor may apply a soft contact lens to hold the flap in place to assist in reattaching to the cornea as the eye heals. Patients that undergo LASEK generally experience less discomfort and quicker vision recovery than PRK patients. LASEK may be preferred over LASIK as a safer option for patients with a thin cornea.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract Surgery is a very common refractive surgery that removes the clouded natural lens of the eye and replaces it with an artificial lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). Many patients these days will receive a lens that also corrects any refractive error they have such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or presbyopia.

RLE

RLE or refractive lens exchange is a non-laser procedure the replaces the natural lens of the eye. This is the same as the surgery that is used to treat cataracts, ,yet for non-cataract patients, RLE is used to correct severe nearsightedness or farsightedness. The procedure involves the doctor making a small cut in the cornea, removing the natural lens and replacing it with usually a silicon or plastic lens. It is particularly useful for patients with minor corneal problems such as thin corneas or dry eyes.

RLE is more risky than the other procedures mentioned and can affect the patient’s ability to focus on close objects, possibly requiring reading glasses following the procedure. However, in cases of severe vision correction it is often the preferred method.

PRELEX

PRELEX or presbyopic lens exchange is for patients with presbyopia, the age-related condition in which you lose the flexibility of your lens and can no longer focus on close objects. Patients that prefer not to wear reading glasses or multifocals, can opt for a procedure in which the doctor removes the natural lens of your eye and replaces it with a multifocal artificial lens. This procedure is often done in conjunction with cataract surgery.

Phakic Intraocular Lens Implants

Phakic IOLs are implants that are used for individuals with very high nearsightedness who do not qualify for LASIK or PRK. The implant is attached to your iris or inserted behind your pupil, while the natural lens remains intact. Because this is a procedure that involves the inner eye, it is more risky than LASIK or PRK and is therefore also typically more expensive.

Conductive Keratoplasty (CK)

CK uses a hand-held radio wave device to shrink tissue on the cornea to reshape it. The procedure is typically used to treat mild farsightedness and presbyopia, particularly for patients who have already undergone LASIK.

Any surgical procedure has risks and may have some side effects or complications that you should research before you decide to go ahead with the surgery. Nevertheless, as technology advances these complications are being significantly reduced making refractive surgery a great option for vision correction in many patients.

Overview

Macular Degeneration, which is also known as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), because it is usually associated with aging, is a leading cause of vision loss in adults aged 50 and older. The disease is characterized by a gradual loss of central vision and can occur in one eye or both eyes simultaneously.

Understanding AMD

Macular Degeneration is a disease that damages the macula, which is the center of the retina responsible for sharp visual acuity in the central field of vision. The breakdown of the macula eventually results in the loss of central vision and the ability to see fine details. While AMD doesn’t result in complete blindness, the quality of vision is severely compromised leading to what we refer to as “low vision”.

The loss of central vision can interfere with the performance of everyday tasks such as driving, reading, writing, cooking, or even recognizing faces of friends and family. The good news is, there are many low vision aides on the market now that can assist in helping you to perform these tasks.

Wet and Dry AMD

There are two types of AMD, wet and dry.

Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease. It is characterized by blurred central vision or blind spots, as the macula begins to deteriorate. Dry AMD is less severe than the wet form, but can progress to wet AMD rapidly.

Wet AMD is when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the retina and leak fluid and blood into the macula, causing distortions in vision. Wet AMD can cause permanent scarring if not treated quickly, so any sudden blur in vision should be assessed immediately, especially if one is aware that they have AMD.

Are You at Risk?

Awareness about the disease, the risk factors and prevention are critical, even for younger generations because taking care of your eyes while you are young will help to reduce the risks later on in life.

The biggest risk factor for AMD is age. Individuals over 60 are most likely to develop the disease however it can occur earlier. Additional risk factors include:

  • Smoking: According to research smoking can double the risk of AMD.
  • Genetics and Family History: If AMD runs in your family you are at a higher risk. Scientists have also identified a number of particular genes that are associated with the disease.
  • Race: Caucasians are more likely to have AMD than those from Hispanic or African-American descent.
  • Lifestyle: Obesity, high cholesterol or blood pressure, poor nutrition and inactivity all contribute to the likelihood of getting AMD.

Prevention of AMD:

If you have risk factors, here is what you can do to prevent or slow the progression of AMD:

  • Regular eye exams; once a year especially if you are 50 or over.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Know your family history and inform your eye doctor.
  • Proper nutrition and regular exercise: Research indicates that a healthy diet rich in “Eyefoods” with key nutrients for the eyes such as orange peppers, kale and spinach as well as regular exercise may reduce your risks or slow the progression of AMD.
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
  • Dietary supplements: Studies by the National Eye Institute called AREDs and ARED2 indicated that a high dosage of supplements of zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and lutein may slow the progression of advanced dry AMD (it is not recommended for those without AMD or early AMD). Speak to a doctor before taking these supplements because there may be associated risks involved.
  • Wear 99% -100% UV-blocking sunglasses.

The first step to eye health is awareness. By knowing your risk, taking preventative measures and visiting your eye doctor on a regular basis, you can greatly reduce your chances of facing this debilitating disease.

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