You have almost certainly heard of diabetes, which is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States with an estimated 100 million adults currently living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. This metabolic disorder occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate its own blood sugar levels and requires intervention to keep them stable. Most people are aware that diabetes can have serious consequences for our health. However, you may be surprised to learn that it can also influence our vision. This is because patients who are diabetic can go on to develop a complication that is known as diabetic retinopathy. Without prompt treatment, diabetic retinopathy can cause permanent vision loss. It is for this reason that patients who suffer from diabetes are asked to attend regular diabetic-related eye exams.
For us to be able to see clearly, our eyes need to be healthy and functioning perfectly. The most important component of our eyes are the retina. Found at the very back of the eye, the retina is a patch of light-sensitive cells that have the job of converting the light that passes into the eye into messages that are passed up the optic nerve and into our brain. Our brain then receives them and tells us what we can see and how clearly we can see it.
The retina relies on a continuous supply of blood, which is delivered using a network of tiny blood vessels. Over time, having continuously high blood vessels can damage these blood vessels causing a leak of blood and other fluids onto the retina. If this happens, scarring may occur which could compromise the quality of your vision.
Technically, anyone who suffers from diabetes, whether it be Type 1 or Type 2, could be at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. However, the condition is more likely in certain situations. These include if:
Regular diabetic-related eye exams will enable your eye doctor to monitor your condition and ensure that any signs of diabetic retinopathy are detected and acted upon immediately.
The process of a diabetic eye exam is very simple and straightforward. In fact, in most instances, it is included within the other elements of comprehensive eye exam and you may not even realize that you have had a specific test to check for diabetes-related complications.
Diabetic eye screening is non-invasive. You will be given eyedrops which will blur your vision. These may sting a little when they are administered, but this will pass within just a few moments. Once your vision is blurred, you will be asked to rest your head onto a device and stare down a lens. This leads to a camera which will take images of the backs of your eyes so that your eye doctor can assess the structures, which include the retina, for any abnormalities. You will see a flash when each image is taken, but at no point should you be in any pain.
In addition to the images of the back of your eye being taken, you will also be given a visual acuity test. This is where you will be asked to read letters off a chart a short distance away, as well as reading from a card held in front of you.
The information that your eye doctor will obtain from your examination will be able to tell them if you are experiencing any of the signs of diabetic retinopathy. If so, they will discuss the best way to get your condition under control. This could involve a combination of elements, including controlling your diabetes more effectively, taking medications or more invasive treatment to preserve your vision. Your eye doctor will give you more specific information based on your individual circumstances.
If you have further questions about diabetic-related eye exams, please contact our knowledgeable eye care team.
If you’ve had a vision screening recently, you might say, “My vision is fine! I don’t need a comprehensive eye exam.”
But a vision screening provides a limited perspective on the overall health of your eyes. It’s a bit like getting your blood pressure checked and not getting the rest of your annual physical. You’ll have useful information, but it’s not the whole picture.
Vision screenings only test your ability to see clearly in the distance. This is called visual acuity and is just one factor in your overall vision. Others include color vision, peripheral vision, and depth perception. The screening also doesn’t evaluate how well the eyes focus up close or work together. Most importantly, it doesn’t give any information about the health of the eyes.
Vision screenings are conducted by individuals untrained in eye health.
Vision screenings are offered in many places – schools, health fairs, as part of a work physical or for a driver’s license. Even if your physician conducts the screening, he/she is a generalist and only has access to a certain amount of eye health training. Most individuals don’t have the tools or knowledge to give you a complete assessment of your vision or eye health.
Vision screenings use inadequate testing equipment.
In some cases, a vision screening is limited to an eye chart across the room. Even when conducted in a physician's office, they won’t have the extensive testing equipment of an eye doctor. They also won’t be aware of nuances such as room lighting and testing distances all of which are factors that can affect test results.
Comprehensive eye exams evaluate all aspects of your vision and eye health.
The comprehensive eye exam looks at your eye externally and internally for any signs of eye disease, then tests your vision in a variety of ways.
Generally, despite knowing how important the role of our eyes is in our day to day functioning, we tend to neglect the day to day care necessary to maintain optimal eye health. Just close your eyes for a minute or you put a non-transparent cloth across your eyes and try to walk around your home or workspace. It is quite difficult, right? That is how indispensable the eyes are.
While it is common knowledge that eye issues are a result of eyestrain or aging, most people are ignorant of the fact that an unbalanced diet, as well as deficiency in certain nutrients, can also facilitate eye issues. This implies that eating healthy means that there are certain nutrients that can help reduce the risk of eye issues. Some of these nutrients include omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, copper, zeaxanthin, zinc, vitamin E, A, C, and beta-carotene. For healthy eyes, there are foods that should be part of your diet daily. They include:
1. Fish- Fish is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially oily fish which have oil inside their body tissue and guts. They are regarded as the major source of omega-3 fatty acids which help in improving the immune system and brain function. More so, it helps in the development of the eye and retina and in keeping the eyes from dryness. It is therefore important to incorporate fish into your diet about 3 times a week. Incorporating fish rich with this needed nutrient such as salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, herring, mackerel, and anchovies about 3 times a week is important in helping to maintain optimal eye health.
2. Eggs- The yolk of an egg contains a combination of the nutrients vitamin A, zeaxanthin, and lutein which help to safeguard the cornea, reducing the chances of suffering from cataracts and macular degeneration and zinc which keeps the retina healthy and aids night vision. Eggs are very complimentary food as it can go with other foods and can also take various forms based on your taste.
3. Carrots- This is the most common food for eye health. It contains beta-carotene and vitamin A which protect the surface of the eyes and help to prevent infections. Vitamin A is a form of protein known as rhodopsin and it is tasked with the responsibility of aiding the eyes in absorbing light. A lack of vitamin A is the reason why there are about 500 thousand blind children every year. Carrots are easy to get and very affordable. They can serve as snacks or be sliced or diced into salads.
4. Nuts and Legumes- Legumes and nuts provide a lot of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids which guard the eyes against age-related disorders. Brazilian nuts, peanuts, walnuts, lentils, and cashews are perfect examples of legumes and nuts and can be eaten as a form of dessert or taken as snacks based on your choice.
5. Citrus Fruits- Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, an essential nutrient for healthy eyes. Vitamin C helps in keeping the blood vessels in the eyes healthy. It also stands against cataracts, and with other nutrients, it helps against macular degeneration. Citrus fruits include oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. The good thing about this food is that they can be consumed on their own or turned into a juice.
Vision therapy is a treatment plan that is intended to develop and improve a patient’s visual skills and abilities, with the goal of making their day to day life easier. You may also hear Vision Therapy referred to as VT. Although most commonly associated with children, whose visual skills are still naturally developing, adults can also benefit from vision therapy.
Any patient who does not have the necessary visual skills could find themselves suffering from a range of unpleasant symptoms, including headaches, eye fatigue, stiff neck and double vision. Fortunately, vision therapy is a simple, painless technique to help patients to enhance their visual skills and overcome any issues that they may have been experiencing.
Vision therapy has been shown to be an effective way of developing and improving the following visual skills, all of which are important for day to day life.
Tracking: this refers to the ability to follow a moving object smoothly and accurately with both eyes – such as moving traffic or a ball coming towards you.
Depth perception: this is the ability to judge relative distances of objects and and move accurately in a 3D space – for example, being able to walk down a flight of stairs.
Peripheral vision: this refers to the edges of your vision and your ability to be assess what’s happening in your peripheral vision while paying attention to something directly in front of you.
Acuity at different distances: this is the ability to see clearly enough to identify and understand objects at both near and far distances.
Fixation: enabling patients to quickly and accurately look at, identify and understand stationery objects one after the other, for example, reading word to word.
Binocular vision: the ability for both eyes to work together in perfect synchronization.
Shifting focus: patients with this skill can look quickly at different distances without momentary blur.
Visualization: a valuable visual skill that enables patients to form and retain images in their head.
Vision therapy is generally conducted as an in-office treatment, under the close supervision of your eye doctor. Each vision therapy treatment plan is personalized; tailored to the specific individual needs of each patient. Most patients can expect to schedule hour appointments once or twice a week. You may also be given specific exercises to complete at home, which will support the progress that you are making during your in-office appointments. The components of Vision Therapy Treatment are non-invasive and drug-free, making VT suitable for the vast majority of patients, regardless of their age, health and history. For many people, vision therapy is a safe alternative to conventional eye surgeries.
There are various techniques that can be involved in vision therapy. These include, but aren’t limited to:
By attending regular vision therapy appointments, patients can see an improvement in their vision, visual comfort and experience an overall improvement with the ease in which they use their eyes for daily activites.
Many people don’t realize that eyelashes are both functional and attractive. The purpose of eyelashes is to act as a first line of defense for our eyes, preventing airborne dirt, dust and other debris from reaching the delicate tissues of our eyes. You probably don’t know that when your eyes are closed, your eyelashes form a nearly impenetrable barrier against foreign irritants entering the eyes.
Unfortunately, we aren’t all blessed with naturally thick, luscious lashes. In fact, many people choose to get artificial eyelashes or eyelash extensions to make them appear longer or thicker than they really are. Unfortunately, the challenge of achieving voluminous eyelashes is even greater if you suffer from a condition called hypotrichosis.