Cataract Awareness Month

June is Cataract Awareness Month!

Prevent Blindness America has declared June to be Cataract Awareness Month, an initiative aimed at raising awareness of and advocating for education on cataract risk factors, symptoms, and treatments. preventblindness.org/cataract-awareness-month-2020

The number of Americans with cataracts are expected to be 38.5 million by 2032 and 45.6 million by 2050, according to Prevent Blindness America.

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, and it is the leading cause of blindness in the world. There are 24 million Americans over the age of 40 who are affected by cataracts.

How Do Cataracts Form?

In a healthy eye, our lenses are filled with proteins that line up to be perfectly transparent. However, over time, they can clump together and become opaque, creating a cataract. The rest of the eye can be completely healthy, but a cataract can block some or all of the light from reaching the retina.

What Are the Symptoms Of Cataracts?

Cataracts can start small and subtle, so it’s not always evident that a cataract is developing. Over time, you may begin to notice the following symptoms:

  • Faded or yellowed colors
  • Reduced night vision
  • Light sensitivity and increased glare
  • Halo effect around lights
  • Dim, cloudy, or blurry vision
  • More frequent glasses prescription changes
  • Double vision in a single eye

Cataract Risk Factors

The main risk factor for cataracts is advancing age, but other factors can make them more likely to develop earlier. These include diabetes, smoking, a family history of cataracts, exposure to UV radiation over time, high blood pressure, previous inflammation or injury in an eye, previous eye surgery, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and prolonged use of corticosteroid medication.

The Good News: Cataracts Are Treatable

In the early stages, cataract symptoms can be combated with a stronger glasses prescription, but eventually, glasses or contacts won’t be enough. Luckily, cataract surgery is performed more often than any other surgery in the US. It’s low-risk, simple, and routine, involving one short procedure on each eye. Even better, if you have other vision problems like astigmatism, cataract surgery might fix that too!

How Is Your Eye Health? We ask because WE CARE.

If you’ve noticed changes in your vision, schedule an appointment at 770-532-4444 so we can check for cataracts and make sure your eyes are healthy.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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UV Rays Versus Healthy Vision

We are on the heels of summer! Post COVID-19 this summer will be different than what we have experienced in previous summers. While you follow safety guidelines from the CDC and local health departments including proper social distancing. There will still be fun times spent outdoors, but it also means more exposure to harmful UV rays. Are you prepared with the proper sun protection?

UV Rays Versus Healthy Vision

Even being careful not to look directly at the sun, just being outside for extended periods can be enough to get sunburns on our eyes. These are called photokeratitis, and symptoms include redness, a grainy feeling when blinking, light sensitivity, tearing, and blurred vision. In snowy areas, photokeratitis is often called “snow blindness,” but it is also a problem spending extended amounts of time outside in the summer.

Long term, UV exposure can have cumulative effects on our vision, including increasing the risk of developing sight-threatening conditions like macular degeneration and cataracts. We also become more vulnerable to pterygium or “surfer’s eye” (an overgrowth of the clear tissue of the whites of the eyes towards the iris) and pinguecula (white or yellow bumps that form in the whites of the eyes).

Wear Sunglasses to Protect Your Eyesight from UV Rays

The first priority should be to have a pair of sunglasses and make sure they offer full UV protection. Check the label to see if your sunglasses block at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays. Large lenses are also a good idea because they offer more coverage. Polarized lenses provide even better protection because they eliminate the glare from sunlight bouncing off surfaces around us, including other cars and the surface of the water.

Other Tips for UV Protection

In addition to always wearing sunglasses when outside during the day, there are other things you can do to keep your eyes (and skin) safe from the sun:

  • Minimize the time you spend in the sun during the brightest hours of the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats for additional shade.
  • Use sunscreen!

Please contact Gainesville Eye Associates at (770) 532-4444 to discuss your eye health.

Professional man rubbing his eyes.

Practice Safe Hygiene

While practicing social distancing as our state has begun reopening in phases, we have to be mindful of practicing safe hygiene. According to the CDC one of the general guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19, avoid touching your face — particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth. Visit the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more about other general guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Most of us rub our eyes many times in the day without really thinking about it.

Whether we’re tired, our eyes feel dry or itchy, or there’s something stuck in one of them, it seems like the easiest way to make it feel better is to rub them a little. Unfortunately, doing that is a great way to spread germs from our fingers to our eyes.

The Germs on Our Skin and Hands

Many types of microorganisms live on our skin all the time, including on our faces and hands. This microscopic ecosystem is known as “skin flora,” and it can contain around a thousand species of bacteria, as well as viruses and other germs. Some are beneficial, while others could lead to disease or infection, especially if they get into our eyes.

The Eye’s Natural Defenses

Eyes are more vulnerable than skin to disease and infection-causing germs, but they aren’t defenseless. The eyelashes help to keep irritants out, as does the simple action of blinking. Next, the tear film is a three-layer drainage system to protect the cornea from germs and debris that actually reach the eye’s surface. However, when we rub our eyes, we may accidentally cause tiny injuries to the cornea, giving germs an opening to get inside and cause an infection.

Protecting Our Eyes from Germs

Sometimes, touching our eyes is unavoidable. People who wear contact lenses obviously have to touch their eyes every time they insert and remove them. On the whole, it’s best to keep contact to a minimum, but at the very least, we should be thoroughly washing our hands with soap prior to touching our eyes.

It’s especially important to keep fingernails trimmed to prevent the transfer of germs to our eyes. All kinds of germs and debris collect under them from everything else we touch throughout the day, and it is almost impossible to clean them well enough when they’re long. In fact, germs collecting under fingernails is the main reason medical professionals wear gloves when interacting with patients! This goes for fake nails just as much as natural ones.

Worried About an Eye Infection? Let Us Know!

If you’re experiencing any symptoms like redness, itchiness, tenderness, burning, or a lot of eye-watering, they could be signs of an eye infection. Please give us a call 770-532-4444 so we can discuss the next steps to ensure that your eyes are healthy, and try not to touch them as little as possible in the meantime.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Feeling the Effects of Screen Time on Your Eyes? Here Are 6 Ways to Help

As life has shifted all of our lives due to COVID-19, people are using technology more than ever to stay connected. Many people are working from home and participating in video conferences, completing courses through e-learning, reading digital books, and binge-watching TV shows that everyone is talking about. They are also browsing social media or online shopping more than ever before. There is no denying that screens are a significant part of our lives, and they will continue to be.

It’s a feeling familiar to so many: tired, uncomfortable eyes following extended screen time.

Although there are many benefits to these advancements in technology, their use can also cause eye tiredness, dryness, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain—symptoms characteristic of a condition called digital eye fatigue.

Regardless of how you’re using your digital devices, here are six tips to help combat digital eye fatigue:

  1. Take a 20-20-20 break. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  2. Remind yourself to blink often, as it helps with dry eye symptoms.
  3. Reduce overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare and adjust the brightness of your screen or device to a level that is comfortable for you.
  4. Set up your workstation ergonomically by adjusting the screen to be slightly below eye level and sit an arm’s distance away from your screen.
  5. Increase the text size on devices so you can see the content better.
  6. Clean your screen regularly to ensure better visibility and reduce stress on the eyes.

Following these practices will allow you to stay productive while keeping your eyes feeling comfortable. Give yourself the gift of clear vision and schedule your appointment with Gainesville Eye Assocaties today.

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It’s Important to Practice Good Hygiene with Contact Lens

Whether this is your first pair of contact lenses or you have worn them for many years, it’s important to have healthy contact lens hygiene habits. Good hygiene is the best way to reduce your chances of having a contact lens related eye problem.

Here are some healthy contact lens hygiene habits provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before touching your contact lenses.
  • Do not sleep in contact lenses unless prescribed by your doctor.
  • Keep water away from your contact lenses.
  • Contact lenses should be removed before showering, swimming or using a hot tub.
  • Replace your contact lenses as often as recommended by your eye doctor.
  • Contact lens cases should be replaced every three months.
  • You should rinse your contact lens case with contact lens solution, dry with a clean cloth, and store the case upside down with the caps off after each use.
  • Always use fresh contact lens cleaning solution recommended by your eye doctor; do not mix old solution with new solution.

Eye Doctors Near Me - Older man holding his eyeglasses while wiping closed dry eyes.

How To Keep Your Eyes Healthy As You Age

As you grow older, you become more at risk for certain eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, dry eye, and low vision.

In most situations, there are no early signs. These conditions, however, can be detected through a dilated eye exam.

According to the National Eye Institute, more than 40 million Americans are currently age 65 or older, and this number is expected to grow to more than 88 million by 2050. By that same year, the number of Americans with age-related eye diseases is expected to double, and the number of people living with low vision is projected to triple.

Therefore, a dilated eye exam is so important for diagnosing and treating eye conditions.

During this exam, drops are placed in the eyes to dilate or widen them. The eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine the retina which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye and the optic nerve which is the bundle of fibers that send signals from the retina to the brain, for signs of damage and other eye problems.

In addition to an eye exam, there are things in your everyday life that you can do to protect your vision.

  • If you smoke, stop
  • Eat green leafy vegetables and fish
  • Exercise
  • Maintain normal blood pressure
  • Wear sunglasses and a brimmed hat anytime you are outside in bright sunshine
  • Wear safety eyewear when working around your house or playing sports

Contact us today at 770-532-4444 to schedule an exam or request an appointment online.

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Keep Your Eyes Safe from Dangerous UV

Studies show that long-term exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of cataracts and growths on the eye, including cancer.

July is UV Safety Month and we like to remind the public of the importance of shielding eyes from the sun’s harmful rays with 100 percent UV-blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats.

UV damage to the eyes be can short-term symptoms such as eye pain, blurred vision and tears. They can go away in a day or two.

Some UV damage may be cumulative, leading to cataract or macular degeneration later in life. People who work or play in the sun for long periods of time are at the greatest risk.

Always protect your eyes when you are out in the sun.

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Safety Tips for Handling Fireworks

We know some of you will be shooting fireworks during the summer and especially around the Fourth of July. Please be careful and don’t take chances when shooting fireworks.

One in six eye injuries from fireworks results in permanent vision loss.

Here are 10 safety tips.

• Fireworks packaged in brown paper are made for professional displays – avoid buying.
• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities, especially with sparklers.
• Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire and to douse used fireworks before discarding in trash.
• Never allow young children to play or ignite fireworks.
• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
• Never try to re-light or pickup fireworks that have not ignited fully.
• Never place a part of your body directly over a firework device when lighting.
• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

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Make Your Vision Health a Priority

May is Healthy Vision Month, a national eye health observance established by the National Eye Institute in May 2003. NEI is one of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Healthy Vision Month is designed to elevate vision as a health priority.

Did you know that most vision problems are preventable? Vision loss doesn’t have to be a natural part of getting older.

The National Institute for Health offers everyday tips to help set yourself up for a lifetime of seeing well.

Wear sunglasses (even on cloudy days)

When shopping for shades, look for a pair that blocks out at least 99% of both UVA and UVB radiation. Bonus: add a wide-brimmed hat when you’re out and about for extra protection.

Eat eye-healthy foods

It’s true: carrots are good for your eyes! In fact, a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables — especially dark leafy greens, like spinach or kale — is important for keeping your eyes healthy.

Research also shows that fish high in omega-3 fatty acids — like salmon, tuna, and halibut — can help protect your vision.

Get plenty of physical activity

Regular physical activity comes with a lot of great benefits. It can boost your mood, reduce stress, help you stay at a healthy weight — and protect you from serious eye diseases.

Give your eyes a rest

Do your eyes ever feel achy at the end of the day? If you spend a lot of time at the computer or staring at your phone, you may forget to blink — and that can tire out your eyes.

Try using the 20–20–20 rule throughout the day: every 20 minutes, look away from the screens and focus about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This reduces eyestrain and helps your eyes (and you!) feel better at the end of the day.

Protect your eyes — at work and at play

About 2,000 people in the United States get a serious work-related eye injury every day. And get this: people with sports-related eye injuries end up in the ER every 13 minutes.

The good news is that you can help protect your eyes from injury by wearing protective eyewear — like safety glasses, goggles, and safety shields. To make sure you have the right kind of protective eyewear and you’re using it correctly, talk with your eye doctor.

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Spring Means Eye Allergies Season

Eye allergies, especially in the Spring, are very common. When an irritant like pollen and dust gets in the eye, your eye produces histamine as a defense to the irritant.

When this happens the eyelid becomes swollen, itchy and red, and your eyes will tear up. Most eye allergies are temporary with the season.

There are several treatments you can try to get relief from allergies. Artificial tears can offer temporary relief by washing out the irritant. Over-the-counter decongestants can reduce the symptoms. Oral antihistamines can help but a side effect can make your eyes dry.

If the allergies are severe, you can check with your doctor about prescribing steroid eye drops.

Limit your time outside and do your best to avoid irritants.