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Month: March 2015

How Can an Eye Exam Detect High Cholesterol?

“Why is my eye changing color?” is a question we are asked from some patients. While there are conditions that can change the actual color of the eyes, typically the “color change” they are noticing is an accumulation of cholesterol deposits in the cornea. Yes, cholesterol!

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 27.9% of Americans have high cholesterol. Most of the time high cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people may not even know they are affected. More importantly, if people are aware of cholesterol, they seldom think about how it affects their eyes. Neither are they aware that a complete, dilated eye exam can detect signs of high cholesterol.

When Dr. Nate and I evaluate the eyes during an exam, we look for signs of high cholesterol in several places:

  • EYELIDS

Yellow fatty deposits of cholesterol can show up on the eyelids or on the skin around the eyelids, called xanthelasma (zan-the-laz-muh).

  • CORNEA

With the microscope, we look for cholesterol deposits in the cornea, called arcus. Normally the cornea is a clear tissue on the front of the eye, but when cholesterol deposits develop, it causes a white or gray ring to develop along the outer edge. The cornea is a natural place for cholesterol to accumulate over time, so this is a common finding in patients over 60 years old.

  • RETINA

A piece of cholesterol, or plaque, may be seen in the arteries of the retina after dilating your eyes. If there is a small plaque in the retinal vessels of the back of the eye, it is likely that there are larger plaques in other places of the body. Large plaques increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. This is one more reason why we encourage patients to have their eyes dilated at their annual eye exams. With both eyes dilated, Dr. Nate and I can look closely at those vessels to rule-out these kinds of concerns.

If Dr. Nate or I find any of these signs, especially if you are under 60 years of age, we may ask you more questions about your lipid levels or even recommend that you get blood tests done with your primary care doctor.

Don’t delay your annual eye exam! Getting your eyes checked should be included in your routine “appointment days.”

-Dr. Beth

Welcome to our New Website

We invite you to take a look around our new site to get to know our practice and learn about eye and vision health. You will find a wealth of information about our optometrists, our staff and our services, as well as facts and advice about how to take care of your eyes and protect your vision.

Learn about our Practice specialties including comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings and the treatment of eye diseases. Our website also offers you a convenient way to find our hours, address and map, schedule an appointment online, order contact lenses or contact us to ask us any questions you have about eye care and our Practice.

Have a look around our online office and schedule a visit to meet us in person. We are here to partner with you and your family for a lifetime of healthy eyes and vision. We look forward to seeing you!

Pink, Stinging Eyes?

Conjunctivitis, also called pink eye, is one of the most frequently seen eye diseases, especially in kids. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria or even allergies to pollen, chlorine in swimming pools, and ingredients in cosmetics, or other irritants, which touch the eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis might be quite transmittable and quickly spread in school and at the office.

Conjunctivitis is seen when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue covering the white part of the eye, becomes inflamed. You can identify conjunctivitis if you notice eye redness, discharge, itching or swollen eyelids and a crusty discharge surrounding the eyes early in the day. Pink eye infections can be divided into three main types: viral, allergic and bacterial conjunctivitis.

The viral type is usually a result of a similar virus to that which produces the recognizable red, watery eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. The red, itchy, watery eyes caused by viral pink eye are likely to last from a week to two and then will clear up on their own. You may however, be able to reduce some of the discomfort by using soothing drops or compresses. Viral pink eye is transmittable until it is completely cleared up, so in the meantime maintain excellent hygiene, remove eye discharge and try to avoid using communal pillowcases or towels. If your son or daughter has viral conjunctivitis, he or she will have to be kept home from school for three days to a week until symptoms disappear.

A bacterial infection such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. One should notice an improvement within just a few days of antibiotic drops, but be sure to adhere to the full prescription dosage to prevent pink eye from recurring.

Allergic pink eye is not contagious. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as hay fever or pet allergies that sets off an allergic reaction in their eyes. First of all, to treat allergic pink eye, you should eliminate the irritant. Use cool compresses and artificial tears to relieve discomfort in mild cases. When the infection is more severe, your eye doctor might prescribe a medication such as an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine. In cases of chronic allergic pink eye, topical steroid eye drops could be used.

Pink eye should always be diagnosed by a qualified eye doctor in order to identify the type and best course of treatment. Never treat yourself! Keep in mind the sooner you begin treatment, the lower chance you have of giving pink eye to loved ones or prolonging your discomfort.

 

Amblyopia Video Game Treatments on the Horizon

In a recent blog post on new treatments for amblyopia (sometimes called “lazy laze”), I mentioned the Tetris study from a few years ago.* When this study was done, it was exciting because it was just a hint of the possibility of treatments that lay ahead.

Well, this morning I see in the Wall Street Journal “Digits” blog a story called “To Play Ubisoft’s ‘Dig Rush,’ You’ll Need a Prescription”. It reports about a new game from a major game company where thepoint of the game is to train the eyes to work together. This approach differs from the traditional treatment for amblyopia in which the stronger eye is patched in an effort to force the weaker eye to do more work. The blog also points out that figures from the National Eye Institute reveal that approximately two or three of every 100 kids may have amblyopia.

Here are some very compelling images from the game. As you can see this is the type of red/blue therapy where one eye sees the red images, one eye sees the blue images, and both eyes see the gray images. Optometists have used this for decades, but not with such fancy graphics.

amblyopia video game

amblyopia video game

I am also very interested in a therapy game for amblyopia and strabismus call “Vivid Vision“. It is based on the head-mounted virtual reality display Oculus Rift. I do not know a great deal about, other than it is being studied for use in clinics and looks AWESOME! You can see it in action in this video here. We will have it at Bright Eyes Kids soon.

amblyopia video game

It will be quite some time before these types of amblyopia video games are available for home treatment of patients, but I think you will agree that they are pretty exciting!

-Dr. Nate

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* Just for fun you can play a Magic Eye version of Tetris here. It is not the Tetris used in the study, but it is interesting.