Can You Get Sunburned Eyes?

You know to slather on lots of sunblock before going out in the sun, and to keep applying it throughout the day. What about your eyes? Do you always wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses? Even on cloudy days? Can your eyes get sunburned?

The short answer is yes, you can get sunburned eyes, and just like you skin, it could come back and haunt you in the future.
 

eyes get sunburned
photo courtesy of Sarah DeRemer

Severely sunburned eyes, known as photokeratitis, is a result of prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays and can cause a burning sensation and blurred vision. Realize that these damaging UV rays do not just come directly from the sun, but also from the reflection of these rays from water and sand.

Symptoms of sunburned eyes include:

  • Eye pain
  • A  gritty feeling
  • Burning sensation
  • Red eyes
  • Swollen eyes and/or lids
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Glare and halos around lights
  • Headaches

These symptoms are temporary and should resolve on their own within 24 to 48 hours. If the symptoms last longer, see your eye doctor immediately.

While waiting for your eyes to recover you might want to:

  • Stay indoors and wear sunglasses to help with your increased light sensitivity.
  • Keep your eyes moist with preservative-free artificial tears.
  • Use OTC pain relievers to help with the pain and follow the recommended dosage.
  • DO NOT rub your eyes.
  • If you wear contact lenses, remove them immediately and stop wearing them until your eyes have returned to normal.
  • You may find that placing a cool, damp cloth over your closed eyes is soothing.

Just like with your skin, the UV rays do have a long-term effect on your eyes.  Sunlight can cause a slow deterioration of the cells in your eyes that could lead to eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Therefore it is best to limit you exposure to both direct and reflected UV rays.

The best ways to protect your eyes include wearing sunglasses that block 100% of the UV rays and a hat.  Not all sunglasses have UV protection, so make sure the ones you select do, and wear them whenever outdoors. Even on a cloudy day as UV rays penetrate clouds. For maximum protection consider wrap-around glasses to protect you from direct and indirect sunlight.  If you are participating in sports, goggles or glasses designed for your specific sport might be the best option. And don’t forget to wear a brimmed hat. It will not only protect you from indirect sunlight, it will also protect your face from sunburn.

Susan DeRemer

Susan DeRemer, CFRE
Discovery Eye Foundation

Cataracts, Cradles & Canines: Is My Child or Dog At Risk?

Many of us associate cataracts as a condition that affects mostly the aging human population, but animals can also be at risk for developing this vision robbing affliction. Cataracts is a disease which causes the lens to become opaque. It can result in partially or severely decreased vision, but it can usually be corrected with surgery.

While we know that most cases of cataracts affect the older generation of people, what about  younger children and dogs? Are they at risk of developing this dangerous disease?

A Dog’s Genes Genetics

The most common form of cataracts found in dogs is purely genetic, it can be present at birth or present itself at any time later in life, and the same is true for humans, which is called congenital cataracts. Be sure to check your dog’s eyes regularly and look for signs of irregularities, especially a cloudiness in their pupils.

A Dog With Diabetes

The second form of cataracts common in canines is associated with diabetes. Statistics share 80% of dogs who have diabetes will develop cataracts within one year of being diagnosed with the disease. Diabetes has also been linked with obesity, which is just one more reason we should be feeding our dogs a healthy diet and exercising with them regularly.

Rare With Human Children

Thankfully, when it comes to congenital cataracts, which can be present at birth or during childhood, statistics are in the favor of the child, since only about 0.4% of infants are born with this condition or could develop it later on in life.

While it’s recommended that infants have their first comprehensive eye examination at six months of age, parents should still be on the lookout for signs of this disease. The next recommended time for an eye exam performed by a professional is before a child enters school, usually at five or six years old. During these formative years, parents should be extra vigilant in watching for signs of vision problems in their children.

For more information on eyes for the rest of your two-legged brood, check out this infographic:

cataracts

6/2/16

cataracts

Tara Heath
Health Professional
Freelance Writer

Double Vision and Cataracts

Double Vision and Cataracts

Double vision, like all sudden vision irregularities is definitely something to take seriously, especially if you’ve had no history of it in the past. Even if it’s a temporary thing, it’s still something you should talk to your eye doctor about, just in case. double vision and cataracts

Known to the medical community as diplopia, double vision is when a person sees two images of an object where there should only be one, either some of the time or all of the time. The second image can be horizontally, vertically, or diagonally placed to the original, depending upon the cause of the doubled images.

Normal vision, called single binocular vision, works by having each eye produce its own image. Your brain allows your eyes to work together, so you can focus on a single area, then reconciles the two slightly images together, giving you clear sight.

Eye muscles that don’t work as well as they should, or nerves connected to the eye not functioning properly can very well result in double vision.

There are three basic types: physiological, binocular, and monocular.

+ Physiological double vision affects images in the background – things you are not currently focusing upon. This type of double vision can even be something the patient doesn’t notice, because the brain can compensate for it. Children are the most likely to complain about this kind of double vision.

+ Binocular double vision are cases where double vision occurs in both eyes, because they are not working together as they should. If you can cover one eye to get rid of the double vision, it’s binocular double vision.

+ Monocular double vision, in which only the images from one eye is doubled sometimes produces an effect known as ghosting, where the doubled-images appear to be very close together. If you cover the unaffected eye, you’ll still experience double vision. This is often an early sign of a cataract – a cloudy part in the lens of the eye. The light coming into your eyes can be scattered by the cataract, causing double vision in that eye. According to Prevent Blindness America (PBA), cataracts are the biggest cause of blindness in the world, and the most common reason people over 40 lose their vision. In the United States alone, more than 22 million people over the age of 40 are affected by cataracts. The number is expected to grow to more than 30 million by 2020 as the population ages.

Signs of a Cataract

Cataracts begin small, and unless you just happen to get a comprehensive eye exam just as it develops, it will be unnoticeable. As it grows, your vision may blur just a little, or become somewhat cloudy. In some cases, a cataract will cause lights to flare and seem too bright to your eyes. Colors may look faded. Sometimes, they can even briefly improve your vision. Eventually, however, you’ll notice a loss of vision quality that will necessitate a visit to your eye doctor – like double vision.

No one is sure why cataracts develop, which is one reason it’s so important to get a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year, especially if you happen to be over 40 years old. Age is one of the most common risk factors for cataracts, but other risks include family history, previous eye injuries or surgeries, use of corticosteroid medication, smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and ultraviolet radiation, just to name some.

Cataract Treatment

Medical science has been rapidly advancing over the past few decades, including the fields involving the eye. Where a cataract was once sure to cause blindness in one or both eyes, if caught early enough, they can be removed by surgery in a fairly simple procedure. At first, the effects of cataracts can even be temporarily corrected with new glasses or the right lighting, but eventually it will grow to the point where surgery should be seriously considered.

Today’s methods of cataract surgery are highly successful. Statistics from PBA state more than 3 million Americans go through cataract surgery every year, with 9 out of 10 having their vision fully restored afterwards.

The standard procedure is for the surgeon to remove the clouded lens in your eye and replace it with a clear plastic device called an intraocular lens (IOL). These IOLs are constantly being improved, so surgeons can insert them more easily, and they are more useful to the patient receiving them. In fact, even specialized IOLs are being developed. Some might block ultraviolet light to prevent retinal damage, while others may very well correct your vision so you no longer need glasses if you needed them before.

If you find the sight in one of your eyes is showing double images, it may be a cataract, but fortunately, the state of optical surgery is so well-developed today, you can have a cataract removed in the course of an afternoon, and have clearer vision for decades to come.

5/26/16

Laura O'Donnell thumbLaura O’Donnell
EyeCare 20/20

Women’s Eye Health

With this being Women’s History Month, we thought it appropriate to discuss women’s eye heath. Your vision is one of the most important things in your life. Vision loss can make everyday tasks more difficult, impede your work and lead to depression.
women's eye health
According to Prevent Blindness America (PBA), 66% of people who are blind or visually impaired are women. This is primarily due to the fact that women have more risk factors for vision loss than men. Sadly the same study also revealed that only 9% of women realize this. Early intervention can help prevent blindness in many cases. Many blinding eye diseases can be treated to prevent blindness and almost all eye injuries can be prevented.

Here is a closer look at why women are affected more than men, and what condition they need to be aware of for early diagnosis and sight-saving treatments.

Why Women Lose Vision

  • They live longer than men and many eye diseases are age-related. Examples are cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The rates of these diseases are increasing as the baby boomer population ages.
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  • Some eye diseases are intrinsically more prevalent among women, like dry eye syndrome which is believed to be linked to hormones. It is 2-3 times more likely in women than men. Hormonal changes can influence vision changes across the life span of a woman, from pregnancy to post-menopause.
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  • Women have higher rates of autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The serious side effects of these conditions can affect your eyes, causing vision loss.
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  • Social and economic factors can access to health care for women restricting early detection and treatment which could prevent or limit vision loss.
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  • While behavioral and environmental factors are not restricted to women, poor nutrition and obesity can cause diabetes and subsequent diabetic retinopathy; while smoking is also a proven risk factor for eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Women under 23 are the fastest growing segment of new smokers.

women's eye health
Eye Conditions More Prevalent in Women

  • Cataracts are the world’s leading cause of blindness. They are the result of a clouding of your eye’s normally clear lens. They can be treated with cataract surgery, where the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear synthetic lens.
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  • Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the Us. It is called the silent thief of sight because there is no warning. It happens when pressure in the eye — intraocular pressure or IOP — is too high, damaging the optic nerve which sends vision signals to the brain. Open-angle glaucoma, the most common type, affects men and women equally. But women are 2-4 times more likely than men to get closed-angle glaucoma. One of the possible reasons for this is that the front chamber between the iris and cornea is shallower in women than men and can block fluids from draining out of the eye, thus increasing pressure. Glaucoma is also genetic, meaning you are at higher risk if someone in your family has had glaucoma. When caught early, there are treatments that can help control your IOP. If it is not controlled early, blindness can result and it is irreversible.
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  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of vision loss in people over 40 in the US. One of the reasons women are at higher risk is because they tend to live 5-7 years longer than men. AMD gradually destroys the central part of your sight that helps you read or drive. There are two types of AMD. Dry AMD, which occurs when drusen accumulate under the retina. There is no treatment for dry, yet accounts for 90% of the cases. Wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow and leak between the retina and eye’s outer layer. There is a treatment of anti-VEGF injections for this version of AMD. The earlier the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better the results. Like glaucoma, it is an inherited eye disease.
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  • Diabetic retinopathy is a result of diabetes. When blood sugar levels are too high, the vessels that feed the retina weaken and eventually leak, which cause the macula to swell. In its most dangerous form the retina may detach from the back of the eye leading to blindness. Diabetes is also hereditary, but controllable with early diagnosis and treatment.
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  • Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes produce too few tears. Your eyes may burn, sting or feel gritty, making your vision blurry or you may blink more. Contrary to the name, you may appear weepy as the dryness may stimulates more tear production. Thanks to hormones, women are more susceptible. In postmenopausal women, the shift in balance between estrogen and progesterone can be responsible.
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  • Pregnancy-related eye changes, like menopause, are caused by hormone shifts and can cause several temporary eye conditions, such as dry eye and corneal swelling.

3/10/16

Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

4 Super Greens for Better Sight

A healthy diet not only helps your heart, but also your eyes. Your diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables to provide you with a natural source of nutrients to help protect your sight. As wonderful as supplements are, eating the actual foods is always better. Some of the best vegetables for you are the dark, leafy greens that are rich in valuable vitamins and nutrients. These are the super greens for better sight.

With the US experiencing bitter, freezing temperatures on the East Coast, while the West Coast is having summer in February, with record-breaking hot temperatures, I thought it would be interesting to see how you could enjoy those super greens, no matter what the temperature is outside. Below is a quick look at four dark leafy greens that are a great addition to a healthy diet, watercress, arugula, spinach and kale. For each vegetable I have included a recipe that is served hot, along with one that is served cold.

Here is what you need to know about super greens for better sight.
super greens
WATERCRESS

Watercress is a cruciferous plant and part of the brassica family, like arugula and kale. It contains vitamins A, B6, B12, C, K, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, lutein and zeaxanthin. In fact, weight for weight, watercress contains more vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas. Watercress has the highest amount of nutrients for the smallest amount of calories.

The health benefits of watercress include boosting immunity, cancer & diabetes prevention, reducing cognitive decline, thyroid support, better cardiovascular health and stronger bones. As for your eyesight, it can help prevent or slow the onset of age-related macular degeneration and possibly cataracts.

Watercress is most commonly enjoyed fresh in salads, but can also be use in pastas, casseroles, soups and sauces. Choose watercress with deep green, crisp leaves, with no signs of wilting. Trim the stems, rinse the greens in cold water and dry. It is best if used immediately, but can be store for up to four days in the refrigerator.

Watercress Soup by William Anatooskin

Watercress and Grapefruit Salad by Martha Stewart
super greens
ARUGULA

Arugula is also known as a salad or garden rocket. It is a small low growing herb that is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is rich in folates, vitamin A, B-complex, C and K and has copper, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus.

The health benefits of arugula include a lowered risk of cancer, healthy bones, strengthened brain function, improved mineral absorption and it boosts the immune system. Because of being a source of carotenoids, it also helps to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

Arugula is popular in salads, used with milder greens to add a peppery flavor. But it can also be used in pastas, casseroles, pizzas, soups and sauces. Choose arugula that is crisp with green young leaves. Avoid the flowered harvest as those leaves are tough and have a bitter taste. Wash leaves in a bowl of water, swishing thoroughly to get rid of all sand and soil. Drain and pat dry before storing in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for no more than a few days.

Grilled Stuffed Swordfish by Stormy Scarlett

Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula by Martha Stewart
super greens
SPINACH

Spinach is a very popular leafy green vegetable, with two common varieties cultivated for food; the savory-type with dark green crinkled leaves and the flat-leaf type with smooth surfaced leaves. Spinach contains vitamin A, B-complex, C and K, along with lutein, zeaxanthin beta-carotene, potassium manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc.

The nutrients in spinach help improve blood glucose control in diabetes, lower the risk of certain cancers, reduce blood pressure, increase bone health and help iron deficiency. The lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene help to potentially prevent and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Lutein also works to protect the eye from free radical damage by helping filter out damaging blue and ultraviolet light.

Spinach is a universally popular vegetable, used around the world in a variety of ways, including salads, soups, noodles, pies, casseroles, dips, sauces, etc. Look for leaves that are dark green in color, crisp and not dull or yellow and spotted. Wash thoroughly to remove sand and soil, dry, trim away tough stems and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Turkey-Spinach Meatballs from Bon Appètit

Spinach Salad with Dates from Bon Appètit
super greens
KALE

Kale is a member of the mustard and cabbage families and has more nutrients than spinach. Less than ½ cup has 333% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A, 587% RDA of vitamin K and 200% RDA of vitamin C. This frilly-leafed vegetable also has vitamin B-complex, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

The health benefits of kale include healthy muscles and skin, improved blood glucose control, lower colon and prostate cancer risk, better cardiovascular health, stronger bone health, reduced neuronal brain damage and support for red blood cell formation. The advantage for your eyes comes from the lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and vitamin A, all which work to support a healthy retina. They help protect against blue and ultraviolet light as well as the early onset and progression of age-related macular degeneration. Because of the positive impact on diabetes it also reduces the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Kale is very versatile and can be served in a variety of ways including salads, soups and casseroles. It can also be braised, broiled, sautéed and even made into kale chips by tossing them in extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with your choice of cumin, curry powder, chili powder, red pepper flakes or garlic powder and baking at 275 degrees for 15-30 minutes depending on how crisp you want them to be. When shopping for kale look for leaves that are crispy and crunchy with a brilliant dark blue-green color. Wash thoroughly to remove soil and sand, dry well, and remove all tough stems. It is extremely perishable, so use it as quickly as possible.

Kale and Chicken Casserole by Martha Stewart

Kale with Pomegranate Dressing and Ricotta Salata from Bon Appètit

All of these dark green leafy vegetables are not only healthy for you, but can be used in many ways to make it easy to incorporate them into your diet. Here are a few ideas:

  • Throw a small handful into your blender when making your favorite smoothie
  • Add them to your next omelet or egg scramble
  • Use them for making pesto or adding to pasta sauce
  • Sauté with a small amount of extra-virgin olive and season with freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve at a topping for your baked potato
  • Add it to your wrap, sandwich or flatbread

2/17/16

Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

5 Elements of Accessible Web Design

A common misconception is that all you need to have a successful blog or website is good content. While content people want to read is important, if you can’t see it, or it is difficult to read, very few people are going to take the time to try. There is lots of good content to choose from.

Making your content easy to scan and read and using great graphics that can tell a story are just as important. Especially if you want to reach the millions of potential readers that are blind or visually impaired.

While a person with low vision (due to age-related macular degeneration, cataracts,glaucoma or other eye diseases that are related to aging) can increase font size or graphics by enlarging them with a pinch of the fingers or scroll of the mouse, the result is often blurry and still difficult to see.

If a person is blind and using a screen reader, what they hear may not match what is written or displayed. A picture without underlying descriptive text is worthless. And when a blind person is using a screen reader to read a web site, they will often tab from link to link to scan your article, skipping over your text, to get a sense of what the options are. “Click here” says doesn’t tell the reader anything.

Here are 5 essential elements of accessible web design.

5 elements of accessible web design

12/15/15

Susan DeRemerSusan DeRenmer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

Low Vision Aging Adults at Higher Risk for Falls

Low vision in aging adults varies as do the occupational therapy techniques that might help older adults in becoming more independent. Mr. P has glaucoma resulting in a narrowed field of view. He is light sensitive, and keeps his blinds closed, darkening the house. He is responsible for doing his laundry, yet his washer and dryer are in the basement, causing a safety concern. Mrs. K has macular degeneration with 20/400 visual acuity. She has severely reduced contrast sensitivity, and can no longer drive or recognize faces easily. She no longer gets to the senior center for regular exercise sessions, which is concerning to her and her OT. Ms. T was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. She has struggled for years to accurately see her glucometer and insulin. She has recently developed peripheral neuropathy, leading to wheelchair dependency. Each of these patients is likely to leave their home less often because of their low vision, eventually leading to a decline in lower extremity weakness, balance, endurance and confidence. The fear of falling leads to more isolation, which can cause even more lower extremity weakness, problems with balance, decreased endurance, and even depression. The irony is that this cycle, which began with caution and a fear of falling, lends itself to exactly that. . .a fall.

Why are low-vision aging adults at higher risk for falls?

According to the CDC, “Each year, millions of older people-those 65 and older-fall. In fact, one out of three older people fall each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.” The typical aging adult with low vision faces challenges that others do not. Difficulty seeing details combined with reduced contrast sensitivity leads to a decline in mobility and socialization.
risk for falls
risk for falls
So how do we help older adults with low vision lower their risk for falling? When considering safety within the home, persons with low vision must make it a priority to add lighting & contrast whenever possible. Consider all rooms of the house, including entrances, hallways and stairways.

  • Placement of night lights in hallways, stairway, etc.
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  • Keep flashlights in accessible places throughout the home where night lights are not possible.
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  • Instead of closing blinds, keep them open & wear appropriate colored filters to manage glare/light sensitivity.
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  • Small battery operated stick-on lights or rope lighting is inexpensive, and easy to place on steps to light up a stairwell.
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  • Line edge of steps, or stairway railing with brightly colored duct tape to increase visibility.
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  • Make sure grab bars, tub benches, shower chair are high contrast, to be most visible.
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  • Remove throw rugs, with the exception of those providing function, such as the one at the entrance and bathtub. Their purpose is for providing dry shoes and feet, but they should have a non-skid back and a high contrast color to “stand out.”
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  • Reduce clutter in rooms to increase safety by removing items from floors, walkways and stairwells.
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  • Consider investing in a Medical Alert System to provide added piece of mind, confidence, especially when living alone.

Persons with low vision can decrease their frequency of falls by staying social and walking in the community. Unfortunately, many low vision adults become more house bound when they can no longer drive. Locating sources of alternative transportation may be helpful. Seeing faces is difficult, making socializing a challenge, which can lead to depression. The following recommendations take into consideration the challenges of not seeing details or across the visual field normally, while improving lower body strength, endurance, coordination, confidence, and hopefully reducing the risk of a fall.

  • Encourage regular trips to the grocery stores and the mall to keep physically fit. Malls are safe environments to walk around because of wide, straight hallways. Use magnifiers to see price tag/label details, or take advantage of personal shoppers who assist with locating items.
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  • Participate in regularly scheduled exercise sessions (videos, groups, etc). Sit/stand in the front row, ask instructor to provide clear verbal instruction, instead of only demonstration. Consider hiring a personal trainer in order to get 1:1 instructions for how to use exercise equipment. If watching a video, move closer to your largest TV screen. Home exercise equipment can be labeled with high contrast markings to increase visibility of its details.
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  • Consider joining a senior center in the community. Some have low vision support groups.
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  • Access driving alternatives, such as the Smart Bus, Senior Centers, Local Volunteer or Church groups. Consider using money previously spent for a car and its expenses to hire a private driver.
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  • Use appropriate colored filters in bright outside conditions or darker inside environments (i.e. Amber outside in the sun; Yellow inside a dark restaurant or outside with overcast weather).
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  • Consider using a walker or support cane when walking longer distances in the community or neighborhood. Many individuals decline using an assistive device, not realizing how active and fit it can make them. Rolling walkers are even available with seats, allowing for rest breaks wherever necessary.

While the fear of falling is great amongst all seniors, those with low vision need to consider adding strategies that specifically benefit them. Making changes within the home may be as simple as improving lighting and contrast. Remaining physically fit outside of the home may be done with shopping or exercise equipment, but either way staying active will improve confidence, the fear of falling, and hopefully decrease the chance of a fall. If you are unsure of what approach is best for you, consult with your ophthalmologist about scheduling a low vision eye exam and occupational therapy.

Reference:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control-CDC 24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People

12/3/15

Annette Babinski's headshot thumbnailAnnette M. Babinski, OTR/L CLVT
Henry Ford Health System
Vision Rehabilitation Center
 
 
 
 
 

Michelle Buck's headshot thumbnailMichelle Buck, MS, OTR/L CLVT
Henry Ford Health System
Vision Rehabilitation Center

#GivingTuesday – Giving For Eye Research

Medical research funding from the US government, the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, biotech and foundations has dropped 0.8% per year, every year from 2007 to 2012. Even with the economic recovery, the funding of eye research from the NIH in 2014 decreased by 17% from 2012.
giving for eye research
What makes this particularly disturbing is that the need for eye research is more important now than ever, as demonstrated by the infographic below.

Giving to eye research
This infographic by the National Institute of Health (NIH) is used with their permission.

Giving For Eye Research

The eye diseases in the above graphic are related to aging. The number of people being affected is more than doubling for each eye diseases, except for diabetic retinopathy which will increase by 47%, by 2050.

While we are more health conscious than in previous years, knowing the importance of exercise, healthy eating and not smoking, the US population is aging.

Aging baby boomers, the largest population group in US history, are creating a dramatic shift in the age composition of the U.S. population. It is projected that the entire senior population, including the pre-boomer silent generation, will reach 71.4 million people by 2029. This means that those people 65 and older will make up about 20%of the US population by 2029, up from almost 14% in 2012.

We need your help to find treatments and cures for these sight-threatening eye diseases.

December 1st will be the fourth year of #GivingTuesday. It is a global day of giving using combined power of social media and collaboration. Always the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, it has become as widely recognized as Black Friday and Cyber Monday and kicks off the philanthropic season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

We are asking that you support eye research through the Discovery Eye Foundation this philanthropic season with a gift on #GivingTuesday. It is easy to do; you can do it from the comfort of your home – just click here.

Also share this post with family and friends so they can also give the gift of sight this holiday season.

Thank you for reading our blog and for your support.

11/24/15

Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

Smoking and Your Eyes

Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of eye disease.
smoking and your eyes
On the third Thursday of November each year, smokers across the nation take part in the Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. This might be the ideal time for you to stop smoking and ACS has information and resources you may find helpful.

Here are some things you should know about smoking and your eyes.

  • Smoking at any age, even in your teens or twenties, increases your future risk for vision loss.
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  • The more you smoke, the higher your risk for eye disease.
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  • If you quit smoking, your risk for these eye diseases decreases considerably.
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  • Smoking increases your risk for cardiovascular diseases that indirectly influence your eyes’ health.
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  • Women who smoke during pregnancy increase their chance for a premature birth and a potentially blinding eye disease called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).
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  • A smoker is two times more likely to develop macular degeneration compared with a nonsmoker.
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  • Smoking double your chance of forming cataracts and the risk continues to increase the more you smoke.
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  • Smoking doubles your diabetes risk which can lead to the blinding eye disease, diabetic retinopathy.
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  • Smokers are more than twice as likely to be affected by dry eye syndrome as a non-smoker.
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  • Second-hand smoke also makes dry eye worse, especially for contact lens wearers and post-menopausal women.
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  • If you smoke you can have a three-fold increase in the risk of developing AMD compared with people who have never smoked.
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  • Smoking appears linked to the development of uveitis with smokers having more than twice the risk of non-smokers.

If you are looking to stop smoking you may also want to check out Smokefree.gov which provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking.

11/19/15

Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

The Importance of An Eye Exam

Why You Need An Eye Exam

The end of the year is fast approaching – when was the last time you had an eye exam? Was it a comprehensive eye exam?
eye exam
To keep your eyes healthy and maintain your vision, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends a comprehensive eye exam every two years for adults ages 18 to 60, and annual exams for people age 61 and older. However, if you have a family history of eye disease (glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc.), diabetes or high blood pressure, or have had an eye injury or surgery, you should have a comprehensive exam every year, unless otherwise indicated by your doctor.
Also, adults who wear contact lenses should have annual eye exams.

An important part of the comprehensive eye exam is the dilated eye exam to look inside your eye. Drops are placed in each eye to widen the pupil and allow more light to enter the eye. This gives your doctor a clear view of important tissues at the back of the eye, including the retina, the macula, and the optic nerve. This allows for early diagnosis of sight-threatening eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, etc.

To better understand the importance of the dilated eye exam, here is a video from the National Eye Institute (NE) that explains what to expect.

At the end of your comprehensive eye exam your doctor should raise any concerns he has with you. But it is up to you to be prepared to react and ask questions for peace of mind and to help save your vision.

Questions To Ask After Your Eye Exam

It is always important to know if anything about your eyes have changed since your last visit. If the doctor says no, then the only thing you need to know is when they want to see you again.

If the doctor says the have been some minor changes, you need to know what questions to ask, such as:

  • Is my condition stable, or can I lose more sight?
  • What new symptoms should I watch out for?
  • Is there anything I can do to improve or help my vision?
  • When is the next time you want to see me?

If the doctor sees a marked change in your vision or give you a diagnosis of eye disease, you would want to ask:

  • Are there treatments for my eye disease?
  • When should I start treatment and how long will it last?
  • What are the benefits of this treatment and how successful is it?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects associated with this treatment?
  • Are there any foods, medications, or activities I should avoid while I am undergoing this treatment?
  • If I need to take medication, what should I do if I miss a dose or have a reaction?
  • Are there any other treatments available?
  • Will I need more tests necessary later?
  • How often should I schedule follow-up visits? Should I be monitored on a regular basis?
  • Am I still safe to drive?

Your vision is a terrible thing to lose, but with proper diet, exercise and no smoking, along with regularly scheduled eye exams, you improve your chances of maintaining your sight.

11/5/15

Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation