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Podcast Episode #5: Eclipse Safety

Welcome to The Bright Eyes Podcast: Advice for Healthy Vision for All Ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford & Dr. Beth Knighton, residency-trained optometrist that provide eye exams for glasses and contacts, and specialty services including vision therapy, myopia control, orthokeratology, and sports vision training. Their mission to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional, and individualized eye care.

In this episode, Dr. Nate talks about importance of eye protection during the total eclipse.

Full Transcript: (Dr. Nate)

  • From partial-eclipse territory in Tampa, Florida it’s the Bright Eyes Podcast. My name is Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford and I’m excited to talk about this important topic. There’s lots of people that are talking about the upcoming eclipse and I think that that’s great because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for lots of people. I don’t know if you remember the eclipse that occurred in 1979. I do remember getting together with people and watching it. This is the first total collapse to cut across continental path over the United States since 1918 and lots of people are going to be watching the eclipse. There’s only a small band from Oregon to South Carolina where about 12,000,000 people live that they’re gonna be able to see the total eclipse. I have friends that are traveling to that narrow area so that they can see it in person. But the reason why I’m doing this episode of the podcast is not so much for the astronomical interest but because of the potential for harm that can happen if you are not prepared.
  • Now, last episode Dr. Beth and I talked about types of damage that can occur both short term and long term from ultraviolet light. Well when we’re talking about the eclipse, when we’re talking about actually looking at the sun, this is ultraviolet light damage on steroids! Now you’ve been told (probably your entire life) “do not look directly at the sun” and that’s true at all times, but it’s especially true during an eclipse when the most interesting thing going on is the sun and its relationship to the moon and the earth. Why that’s such a big deal is because there is something called “solar retinopathy” or sometimes called “eclipse blindness”. What happens is, if you look directly at the sun, the focused light of the sun can cause permanent damage to the back of the eye. However, the back of the eye does not have any pain sensors so you won’t feel any pain or see any symptoms right away. What will happen is later on, later that day or the next day you might notice that you’re having trouble seeing. Just as a quick example if you ever look at a strobe light briefly or if you look at a light bulb that doesn’t have a lamp shade on it, you see what’s called an after-image. And it’s just a little image that you see for a little while and it’s different colors and it slowly fades away. That is the where these photoreceptors of the back of the eye are over-stimulated. It takes awhile for them to get down to regular levels. This is it completely different phenomenon. This (solar retinopathy) is where there’s actual damage to the back of the eye. And so while it’s very exciting, and I do encourage everybody to check it out, I do want everybody to do that safely. So I have 4 items that were published by the American Optometric Association and I’m going to read them and then comment on them just a little bit.
  • Number 1: use approved solar eclipse viewers. The only safe way to view a partial solar eclipse is through special purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses or viewers that meet international standards ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing. Sunglasses, smoked glasses, unfiltered telescope or magnifiers, polarized filters are unsafe. If you can’t find eclipse viewers, build a pinhole projector to watch the eclipse.
  • So a couple different things here. First of all, pinhole projectors are pin hole viewers are pretty cool and you can do that anytime you don’t necessarily have to do that during eclipse time. And so I would encourage anybody to check that out and I’ll put a link in the show notes. But mostly people are going to use a solar eclipse viewers and and what I really want to point out about that is 1) do get them. They’re very inexpensive. We’ve got some the for the staff, because it’s happening during our business hours, and you can get the many different places I will put a link (below). But the most important thing is: I’ve read news articles about how there are fake solar viewers and so you should test yours out to make sure that they’re safe. And the easiest way to test them out is put them on and make sure the only thing that you can see through them is essentially the sun. Anything that’s less bright than the sun, like a computer monitor or a flashlight or a light in the house, you should NOT be able to see through it. If you can, then that’s not safe. The other thing is they do sell filters for telescopes and it’s very important that you not use the viewing glasses or the eclipse glasses to look through the telescope because the telescope has concentrated that light so brightly that that’s not anywhere near a sufficient protection.
  • eclipse picNumber 2: Technique of the pros: Before looking at the sun, cover your eyes with the eclipse viewers.. While standing still, glance at the sun and then turn away and remove your filters. Do not remove your filters while looking at the sun.
  • So this accomplishes 2 purposes. First, of all you can’t wear the solar viewing protection full time because you can’t see anything. (And if anybody remembers the peril sensitive sunglasses from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it’s kinda like that – in scary situations). So you can’t just wear these all the time. But what you want to do is you want to position yourself so you’re not walking around, put them on look at the eclipse look away, and then take them off. That ensures that you’re protecting your eyes from the sun and you’re protecting your body from walking around.
  • Number 3: Totally awesome. Only within the path of totality can eclipse viewers safely be removed to view the eclipse. Once the sun begins reappearing, however, viewers must be replaced.
  • And so this is true. But I still want to provide a note of caution. The eclipse is only going to be in totality for 2 minutes and 40 seconds (at longest) so during that time if you’re in the path of the total eclipse. You can take off your viewers you can look at the eclipse, however I don’t encourage you to do that for very long because very quickly the sun’s going to reappear in you’re going to be at risk again. So I would only encourage you to do that for a short amount of time and then replace your viewers as the sun becomes exposed.
  • And finally: Visit your doctor of optometry if you should experience any discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse visit your doctor of optometry for a comprehensive exam.
  • Now, of course we recommend that people get exams regularly anyways but this is one of those special situations. I have a few other links that I’m going to put in about the eclipse that I think are interesting: the map and some information about the solar viewers. I hope everybody enjoys it has a great time. I’m very much looking forward to it. I know my kids are. But I’ve mostly want everybody to stay safe. If you have any questions let us know at office@BrightEyesTampa.com. We’ll see you next time!

Links:

 

Thank you for listening. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, you can email us at office@brighteyestampa.com.

The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor experienced in the area you require. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.

Intro/outro music: Lucas Warford of Three For Silver.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/107937702@N04/

Podcast Episode #4: UV Protection for the Eyes

Welcome to The Bright Eyes Podcast: Advice for Healthy Vision for All Ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford & Dr. Beth Knighton, residency-trained optometrist that provide eye exams for glasses and contacts, and specialty services including vision therapy, myopia control, orthokeratology, and sports vision training. Their mission to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional, and individualized eye care.

In this episode, Dr. Beth and Dr. Nate go outside to discuss ultraviolet light and the importance of UV protection for the eyes.


Transcript:

Dr. Beth: From Bay Bridge Park in Tampa Bay Florida and this is The Bright Eyes podcast. This is episode number 4. I am Dr. Beth Knighton.

Dr. Nate: And I am Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford.

Dr. Beth: And today’s episode is all about sunlight and UV protection.

Dr. Nate: That is right in so we are at one of our favorite parks near the Bright Eyes Family office as you might be able to tell by the children in the background. DO you come here with your family, Beth?

Dr. Beth: Yeah, all the time. My 2 year old loves this place.

Dr. Nate: The only thing I know about this part is that there’s lots of PokeStops here.

Dr. Beth: It’s great to get out to the park with our family is so there’s lots of benefits of being outside – most of all being active. But it’s also great being with our families, whether it’s biking or camping or whatnot. But the thing that we want to stress today is the importance of UV protection while we are outside. When we’re outside were getting bombarded with all this UV light from the sun and for the same reasons we wear sunscreen on our skin to protect our skin we should be also protecting our eyes

Dr. Nate: So we have a lot of patients that moved here from different parts of the country or even different parts of the world and not everybody knows this. But Florida is the Sunshine State. There’s a lot of sunshine in Florida and while that’s lovely and most people do move here specifically for that reason we also do you have to protect ourselves. One of the first things that you can choose to do is trying not to go outside during the absolute highest amount of UV times that that’s usually from about 10 A. M. to maybe 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

Dr. Beth: It always amuses me when the meteorologists talks about the UV index rather weak because here in Florida it’s basically a 9 everyday the whole summer and our summer is really March to September so it’s always a 9 here … so we are constantly thinking about the UV protection that we need … but not so much unnecessarily. From other parts of the U. S. When we talk about sunglasses it’s important that we’re not only looking at how dark the changes as far as the comfort of how our eyes feel outside but that it actually has UV protection in the lens. You want to look for sunglasses that have UV A and UV B protection and the lenses that helps protect you from the most harmful parts of the sunlight.

Dr. Nate: And not only do you want sunglasses that have both right section but ideally you want sunglasses like the ones that we have on right now that have a little curvature to them so they limit light coming in from the sides that it not only protects your eyes eyeball itself but also the eyelids and so that they should look good they should feel good but most importantly they should provide lots of coverage. And you can supplement that with a hat or a visor to protect from the directs sun overhead as much as possible. So Beth is the sunlight a short term, a long term issue, or can it be both?

podcast

Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth protecting their eyes from UV light

Dr. Beth: Absolutely both so there are short term effects on the eyes so say you’re going out on the boat with their family and you’re gonna go water skiing so you’re not wearing your sunglasses you can actually get the equivalent of a sunburn on the front surface of your eye from all the exposure to the light … throughout the day so that’s a short term kind of consequence of the sunlight but then also we have the long term buildup of all this UV damage over time which is exactly why all of our dermatologists in primary care doctors tell us to wear sunscreen and make up with sunscreen and lotions with sunscreen on a daily basis to protect our skin and certainly sunglasses help to prevent those same kind of skin cancers from the eyelids and the surface are round eyes. But also we want to protect the inside parts of our eyes from that long term build up of UV damage the things that that long term UV damage can cause include cataracts or macular degeneration which both can have a impact on how well you can see we want you to be able to see along into your nineties and perhaps beyond and so wearing sunglasses even as a child or young adult really is setting the groundwork for keeping that vision healthy throughout your life.

Dr. Nate: And if you wanted one more reason to protect your eyes from ultraviolet light, it might not cause pain or it might not because I disease but Dr. Knighton and I every day when we look under the microscope people’s eyes we can see the sun damage that occurs on the white parts of people’s eyes called the sclera. People often ask us where can I do to get rid of that and the best answer is to prevent that change from happening in the first place and the way you do that is to protect your eyes with sunglasses, with hats, with using caution when you’re outside when it’s very, very bright.

Dr. Beth: Another really cool advancement and I care is that a lot of the contact lenses also include some UV protection being built right into the contact lens and so that’s been really fantastic that companies have been integrating into the contacts in order to promote healthy vision.

Dr. Beth: One thing that I get asked a lot is what’s the difference between UV protection on my sunglasses and polarization and my sunglasses. The UV protection is that healthy part. That’s the part that blocks out the harms full rays of light to keep your eyes healthy. The polarization is a filter in the sunglasses that helps. to sharpen the vision to kind of give you that HD vision but polarization on its own does not protect you from the harmful light rays so ideally you have sunglasses that have both. But certainly the UV protection is the important part.

Dr. Nate: That is right and that is what we tell patients all day everyday.

Dr. Beth: Well, thank you for listening if you have any questions comments or suggestions you can email us at office@brighteyestampa.com. Until next time…..

Links:

Thank you for listening. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, you can email us at office@brighteyestampa.com.

The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor experienced in the area you require. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.

Intro/outro music: Lucas Warford of Three For Silver.

Are You Ignoring Your Dry Eyes?

You Don’t Have to Live With Dry Eyes

Have you noticed that your eyes feel chronically dry, itchy, scratchy or even sometimes watery? Many people that have these symptoms just go on with their lives until the symptoms become unbearable. What they don’t realize is that these are signs that they might be suffering from dry eye syndrome, a condition in which the eyes are not able to produce enough tears to effectively lubricate the eyes. This is a problem that won’t just go away on its own.

What causes Dry Eye?

Dry Eye Syndrome, also known as Tear Film Dysfunction is characterized by a reduction in the amount or quality of tears that are produced. Tears are essential for optimal eye health, vision and comfort. Ideally, tear film covers the eyes at all times to prevent the eyes from drying out and to ensure clear vision. If the glands that produce tears start to produce fewer tears or tears that don’t have the proper balance of water, oils, proteins and electrolytes, the tear film with become unstable, allowing dry spots to form on the surface of the eye, and cause disruptions in outer barrier of the eye’s epithelial surface. This disruption in the outer barrier allows microbes to invade the eye, leading to irritation and infection. The condition can be caused by many factors, including tear gland dysfunction, eyelid problems, medications or environmental factors.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

As mentioned above, many of the symptoms of dry eye involve varying sensations of dryness including, burning, stinging, itching, grittiness, soreness or a feeling that there is something in the eye. The eyes may also be red and sensitive to light, wind or smoke. Vision may be blurred or doubled and the eyes may fatigue easily. Another common symptom is that vision seems blurry but clears when you blink (especially common when reading or using a computer). This is because the tear film does not form a smooth coat over the eye surface or it evaporates too quickly causing a blur.

You may also notice pain, some discharge from the eye (especially upon waking in the morning) and experience discomfort when wearing contact lenses. One of the most confusing symptoms of dry eye is actually excessive tearing, which occurs because the eyes are trying to compensate for the lack of moisture – however the tears produced are low quality and don’t properly hydrate the surface of the eye.

Reducing Symptoms

The first thing to look at when you have dry eyes is whether you are taking any medications, engaging in certain behaviors or being exposed to environmental factors that may be causing the condition. Medications that may cause dry eye as a side effect include:

  • Antihistamines and Decongestants
  • Diuretics
  • Sleeping pills
  • Birth Control pills
  • Antidepressants
  • Acne medications
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Opiate-based painkillers such as morphine

Important! Never stop medication without the approval of your doctor! If you are taking a medication that may be causing dry eye, don’t stop taking the medication without speaking to your healthcare provider first. Treating dry eye symptoms may be a simpler solution than stopping or switching medications.

You may be able to alter your environment to reduce symptoms of dry eye as well. Environmental factors that can exacerbate dry eye include:

  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Extended use of computers or other electronic devices
  • Exposure to dry, windy climates or blowing air (such as an air conditioner or heater).
  • Exposure to smoke
  • High altitudes

Treatment for Dry Eye

If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, make an appointment with your optometrist. The diagnosis and treatment will be based on a complete examination of your eyes, your medical history and your personal circumstances around the condition. The doctor may decide to perform a tear film test that can determine the quantity and quality of the tears and whether your tear glands and tear film are functioning properly.

The type of treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the problem. Treatment may include behavioral or environmental changes such as using a humidifier, wearing sunglasses in windy weather, reducing computer time or changing to a different type of contact lens, as well as medical treatments that may include:

  • Artificial tears, eye drops or ointments to lubricate eyes
  • Steroid or antibiotic drops or pills may be used for certain conditions such as blepharitis
  • Reducing the drainage of tears by blocking tear ducts with silicone plugs
  • Medications such as Restasis which reduce inflammation and trigger tear production
  • In some situations a surgical procedure might be recommended
  • Scleral lenses that hold moisture on the surface of the eyeball

The most important thing you should know about dry eyes is that you do not have to suffer. Treatments are available to increase moisture on your eye and reduce the uncomfortable and sometime debilitating symptoms. If you are suffering, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor and get the relief you deserve.

Does Smoking Affect Vision?

Eye Doctors Weigh In: How Smoking Can Harm Your Vision & Eye Health

We all know that smoking is bad for you, especially the risks that it poses to your heart and lungs. What many people do not know is that cigarette smoke negatively affects your eyes and vision too. Smoking has been directly linked to an increase in the risks of both cataracts and macular degeneration, two leading causes of vision loss, and it is believed to be a factor in a number of other eye and vision issues.

Smoking and Cataracts

Studies show that smoking doubles the risk of cataracts and with heavy smoking, the risk triples. In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of smoking and the likelihood of cataracts. Cataracts are characterised by the clouding of the lens of the eye and it is believed that smoking affects the cells of the lens, accelerating this process.

Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, however they can be treated surgically by removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Symptoms include:

    • Blurred, cloudy or dim vision
    • Sensitivity to light and glare
    • Presence of halos around lights
    • Increasingly poor night vision
    • Fading color vision
    • Double vision
    • and frequent prescription changes with minimal improvement in vision

Smoking and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

According to medical research, smoking increases the likelihood of developing age-related macular degeneration between two and four times the normal risk – the more you smoke, the greater the risk. Unfortunately, there is also an increased risk for those exposed to cigarette smoke for extended periods of time.

Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is a condition in which the macula, which is the center of the retina, begins to to deteriorate, reducing central vision and the eye’s ability to see fine details. The disease is characterized by blurred and distorted eyesight and blind spots in the central vision. With time, the disease can progress to leave the person with low vision, which is significant vision loss that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.

Other Eye and Vision Risks of Smoking

Smoking has also been linked to dry eyes, optic nerve damage and diabetic retinopathy (for those with diabetes).

“Eye Vitamins” are often used without doctor’s recommendations. Smokers are cautioned not to take beta-carotene supplements, specifically, (or multi-vitamins containing this ingredient) as studies indicate there is increased risk of cancer even in people who quit smoking.

What to Do?

Even if you have been smoking for years, quitting will reduce the risks of developing these conditions, for yourself and those around you. If you do smoke, make sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to catch any developing disease early. Early diagnosis and treatment can be the key to saving your vision and preventing permanent vision loss.

6 Ways to Prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a serious condition that can threaten your vision and is a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. The central area of the retina, called the macula, is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that provide sharp, central vision. Macular degeneration is a deterioration of this sensitive part of the eye, which can lead to central vision loss. This affects the ability to see fine details, recognize faces, read, drive, watch television and even use a computer.

Who is at risk for AMD?

Age is a major risk factor, as the name of the condition implies. The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. AMD is most common among Caucasians. People with a family history and smokers are at higher risk.

How can macular degeneration be prevented?

There are ways to reduce your risk, even if you have a genetic predisposition. Here are 6 ways to prevent AMD and the vision loss that accompanies it:

1. Stop Smoking

Smoking, and even living with a smoker, have been shown to significantly increase your risks of developing AMD to between 2-5 times the risk of non-smokers! If you also have a hereditary risk, smoking multiplies that risk tremendously.

2. Get Active

Studies show that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of advanced macular degeneration that leads to significant vision loss. Maintaining a healthy weight and being active can reduce your risk. That could be as easy as regular walking, at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes.

3. Control Blood Pressure

Since the eye contains many tiny blood vessels, high blood pressure can have a serious impact on the health of your eyes. Have your blood pressure checked by your doctor and follow any medical advice you are given to reduce high blood pressure, whether that includes diet, exercise or medication.

4. Choose a Healthy Diet

A diet rich in antioxidants has been shown to protect against AMD. Antioxidants can be found in abundance in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale and collard greens, as well as orange fruits and vegetables such as peppers, oranges, mango and cantaloupe. Eating a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, 5-9 servings a day, as well as fish, which contain Omega-3, and avoiding sugar and processed foods will help to keep your body healthy in many ways, including reducing your risk of AMD.

5. Use UV and Blue Light Protection

Long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun and blue light (from digital devices among other things) have been linked to AMD. Make sure you wear sunglasses every time you are exposed to sunlight and wear blue light blocking glasses when you are viewing a digital device or computer for extended periods of time.

6. Take Supplements*

Certain nutritional supplements have been shown to slow the progression of AMD and the vision loss that accompanies it. This formula of supplements was developed from a 10 year study of 3,500 people with AMD called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and its successor AREDS2. It is not recommended to take supplementation as a preventative measure but rather only if you are diagnosed with intermediate or advanced AMD.

*Speak to Dr. Nate or Dr. Beth before you make a decision about this option.

During your yearly comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will screen for early signs of AMD and recommend treatment if it’s detected. If you’re at greater risk – because of your age or a family history of AMD – additional testing may be necessary.

AMD can be a devastating disease. If you are aware that you are at risk, it is worthwhile to do everything you can to prevent it from worsening. Take the time to understand AMD and do what it takes to lower your chances of knowing its effects first-hand.

Recommendations for Playing Pokemon Go

pkIf you are under 30 or have kids, chances are good that you’ve heard of Pokemon, a card game/cultural phenomenon featuring “pocket monsters”, combining card collecting, game play, and battling. Pokemon is celebrating its 20th year and has spawned books, TV shows, movies, video games, and more.

The new app called Pokemon Go is one of the hottest phone-based games in a long time. It’s an augmented-reality game where you catch and battle pretend Pokemon in the real world. And it’s fun.

I am too old to have played Pokemon as a kid, but my kids play. I am interested in real-world electronic gaming and used to be very involved in Foursquare. 4 years ago I did play Ingress, a phone-based global game of Capture the Flag built by Niantic (then a Google company). Niantic is the company behind Pokemon Go. So when a librarian mentioned to my daughter (checking out a Pokemon book), that the public library was a Pokespot, I decided to download the game and play it with my kids.

If you play Pokemon Go, there are lots of helpful guides to get you started. Here is one my wife found on Forbes. I encourage you to read them, because there is no game play guide. What follows are the recommendations from a pediatric optometrist to parents with kids about how to make Pokemon Go the best it can be for your family.

PLAY. OUTSIDE. SAFELY.

  1. Play Pokemon Go WITH your kids!

    Pokemon Go TeamBW

    Our avatar walking around.

This is a rare chance to play on a digital device as a family! Take advantage of it.

  1. Create a rule that the app can only be opened OUTSIDE.

Spending time outdoors is important for children’s visual development. Pokemon Go is one of those few apps that encourage this. In fact, users are posting complaints about how much exercise they are getting by using it! Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen.

Get out of your car and play! Let’s face it. Driving around just to catch Pokemon without getting outside and exploring is just lazy. And defeats the goal of getting exercise and playing in the real world. Lots of parks and areas with public art have Pokestops and Pokemon Gyms. Get out of the car, catch some Pokemon, but enjoy real world, too.

  1. Insist that you play in a group.

Walking around distracted, eyes affixed to your phone, is risky. Streets, curbs, bicycles, lampposts, and other people could be ignored. People have been injured playing Pokemon Go. Play in a group, so that someone is paying attention to the surroundings. In our house, the group must include both kids and one grown-up. Grown-ups can keep the group from going where it shouldn’t. Plus, it is more fun with other people!

  1. Use caution with strangers.

Pokemon Go Zubat

Catching a Zubat.

One cool thing is that players tend to congregate at Pokemon Gyms and Pokestops. You can see them looking at their phones and hear them talking to each other in Pokemon language. These players can provide helpful suggestions, but make sure your children understand to use common sense with strangers. Again, having a parent in the group is helpful here.

  1. Only allow play during daylight and in safe areas.

Maybe this is common sense for younger kids, but I have read stories about teens walking around in the early hours of the morning, going to unfamiliar areas to catch a Meowth or an Oddish. Combine this with attention being paid to the screen and, well, you get the idea. There have already been people arrested for using Pokemon Go to lure people to a secluded area and robbing them.

  1. Consider an external charger for your phone.

Even with the battery-saving setting, if you take long walks, your battery will not hold up if you are playing Pokemon Go the whole time. Just saying.

Update: A good reminder from my Neighborhood Homeowners Association: Many PokeStops are fountains and fountains are often in ponds. Know what else are in ponds in Florida? Alligators. So don’t get too close to ponds without looking around. Especially at night. The local police have a few other recommendations here.

One more thing. I know for a fact that there are Pokespots and Pokemon near the Bright Eyes Family Vision Care office. (Unfortunately, none near Bright Eyes Kids.) So don’t forget to Catch ‘Em All when you come to your appointment. 🙂

-Dr. Nate

7 Tips to Survive Allergy Season

The tree pollen counts are sky-high this week in Tampa. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, more than 60 million Americans suffer from allergies. The same yellow dust that is coating all of our cars is also getting into our eyes. Are you suffering this week from itchy, red watery eyes? It may be due to ocular allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis. Some people can even have ocular allergies without allergies affecting the nose and throat.

Allergy forecast(from www.pollen.com)

So, what can we do to survive the spring??

  1. Wear sunglasses to help prevent pollen falling into your eyes.
  2. Look up the pollen counts so you can plan your outdoor activities for lower pollen count days. The pollen levels are typically highest on windy, dry, sunny days.
  3. Keep your windows closed to avoid airborne pollens.
  4. Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
  5. Shower after outdoor activities to rinse the pollen off your skin and hair. This pollen will continue to irritate your eyes, nose and throat even after coming inside.
  6. Contact lenses can sometimes magnify the itchiness you experience. Some people get relief with daily disposable contact lenses or changing contact lens cleaning during allergy season. Come in for an exam with Drs. Nate or Beth to see what would be best for you.
  7. Consult with your primary care doctor or allergist to see if an allergy medication is right for you.

Call our office to schedule an appointment if you suspect ocular allergies are affecting you.

-Dr. Beth.

What happens if you don’t take care of your contact lenses???

My friend and occasional collaborator, Jessica Barnett asked me a question on Twitter the other day: “Random thought.. Do you have any blogs about the dangers of wearing contacts for too long/way too long?”

My first thought was, “Oh, man. She must be in big trouble.” Most people don’t think about the possible harm contacts can do until they have red, angry, painful eyes. It turns out that, no, she just has a lot of friends who push their contacts WAY past their limits. And she wanted some info to share with them.

Of course, a great place for medical information is the FDA Medical Devices page on Contact lenses, but the site can be a little less than engaging. And there is a lot of information that is put out by contact lens manufacturers, distributors, and vendors, but they don’t really get at what Jessica was asking.

First, let’s clarify a bit of terminology. When patients do not follow the recommendations regarding their contact lenses, they usually refer to it as “wearing contacts for too long.” Sometimes they say they just “over-wear” contacts. What doctors call it is “contact lens abuse.” Because, like almost anything, contacts can be used properly to provide safe, clear, and comfortable vision, or they can be used in a way that causes unnecessary risk.

When people abuse their contacts proteins, oils, bacteria, and allergens build up on the surface of the lenses. These are then in constant contact (get it? 8)) with the sensitive lining of your eyeball and eyelids. If you do not take your contacts out, or you wear them longer than you are supposed to, you limit the ability of your eyes to clean and recover. This increases the likelihood of a problem that can range from something mildly annoying to something permanently blinding – like acanthamoeba.

So what is the worst that can happen? Check out this video to illustrate “the worst week of my life.”

Or this quieter patient saying that it felt like ” my eye was going to burst out of my face”

Most contact lens complications are certainly not this bad. Most commonly, people first develop dry, red eyes as a result of the eyes not getting enough oxygen, the lenses not fitting correctly, or as a reaction to components of the contact lens cleaning solution. You do not want to let these initial problems develop into an infection or a corneal ulcer as described in the videos above. As a general rule, if you experience any pain, redness, watery eyes, sensitivity to light, or the feeling that something is in your eye or stuck on the contact take out the contacts and schedule a visit with the eye doctor that prescribed your lenses.

Here are some things you can do to reduce the chances of problems with contacts:

  1. Throw away your contacts as recommended.
  2. Do not sleep in your contacts unless specifically allowed by your doctor.
  3. NEVER use tap water when cleaning lenses.
  4. Wash your hands before handling contacts.
  5. Ignore the “no rub” label. Clean your contacts as instructed.
  6. Never reuse contact lens solution.
  7. Keep your contact lens case clean and replace it regularly.
  8. Own an up-to-date pair of back-up glasses to give your eyes a break.
Here is an FDA video to illustrate the proper care of contacts:

One last thought: People usually abuse their contacts to save money. They think they are being clever by using contact lenses extra times or reusing solution. But keep in mind that if you develop any of the problems above, you might not only risk never being able to wear contacts again, but it can be very expensive to treat. It is smarter (and cheaper) to prevent problems in the first place. If you do experience problems with your contacts, again, discontinue wearing them and call or contact us online to schedule an appointment to make sure you are not having any problems.

So from now on… if I even think you are abusing your contacts, I’m going to send Jessica over to have a nice long chat with you to set you straight! (And you don’t want that!)

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

Get Your Shades On With Our Sunglass Sale!

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You may not have realized it but July is UV Safety Month. And Bright Eyes is celebrating by offering a discount on all of our sunglasses! This includes brands like Costa Del Mar, Coach, Tiffany & Co. and more! Just stop in to find a pair right for you!

And remember, sunglasses aren’t just for July. They should be worn all year to protect your eyes!

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AOA School Readiness Summit: Focus on Vision

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The American Optometric Association recently held a School Readiness Summit: Focus on Vision in which doctors, nurses, educators and advocates for children’s health gathered to examine learning-related vision issues that are keeping children from achieving in the classroom. This summit was created to address the concerns that our current system is flawed and a policy shift is needed. The problem is that currently, the U.S. educational system and some health care providers rely heavily on vision screenings to discover the kids that need comprehensive exams. These screenings do catch some types of vision problems but they can miss about 75% of those children that have learning-related vision problems. Detecting these vision problems is very important as “studies show that much of what children learn comes though vision, and undetected and untreated eye and vision disorders in children, such as amblyopia and strabismus, can result in vision loss, additional costly treatments, delayed reading and poorer outcomes in school.”

The take-home statement that the summit produced is that comprehensive eye exams must serve as the foundation to determine school readiness in school-aged children. Another important point established at this meeting is the establishment of the link between healthy vision and classroom learning.

This historic summit is an important step in ensuring that children receive the proper detection and treatment of vision problems before they become detrimental to their learning. Here at Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, we are excited to see these changes being made, since it has been our goal from the beginning to not only catch vision problems at an early stage, evidenced by the InfantSEE program that we offer that provides free eye exams to infants between the age of 6 months and 1 year of age, but to also treat certain types of problems through our extensive one-on-one vision therapy program.

If you have any questions regarding the InfantSEE program, vision therapy program, or would like to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your child before they start school, give our office a call or come in to schedule.

All the best,

Justin Schoonover, CPO

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
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