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Year: 2020

Protect Your Children’s Vision By Getting Them To Play Outside This Winter!

child playing snow 640As temperatures drop, some parents may be wondering how to get their kids outside for some healthy outdoor play.

Below, we share tips on fun outdoor activities you can do and explain why playing outside can help your child’s vision.

How Outdoor Play Impacts Myopia

Studies have shown that children who spend at least 11 hours per week outside during daylight hours have a slower rate of myopia progression than children who don’t. Although researchers aren’t exactly sure why, it appears that sunlight and the child’s use of distance vision outdoors may play a role.

So why would parents want to slow down their child’s myopia? The answer may surprise you.

Having myopia in childhood places the child at heightened risk for developing sight-threatening eye diseases later in life. These include cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and glaucoma.

3 Outdoor Activities to Do With Your Kids This Winter

Play With Snow

Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, playing with snow is something that everyone can enjoy. Bundle up your child so they stay safe and warm, and send them out to build a snowman, have a snowball fight, build an igloo, or make a snow angel. Older children and teens may enjoy building a snow maze.

If your kids like a bit of competition, you can conduct a snow castle building contest. This activity can be fun for the entire family!

If you don’t have enough snow to build a snowman or castle, you can play tic-tac-snow on the snow-covered ground.

Go Sledding

Sledding and tobogganing are classic winter activities that your child will love. All you need is a sled and a snowy hill — easy, right?

But before you soar down those snowy slopes, here are some guidelines that will ensure a safer sledding experience:

  • Use a sled that can be steered and has a brake
  • Protect your head with a helmet
  • Dress warmly, but leave your scarf at home, as it can get caught under the sled
  • Children under the age of 6 should always sled accompanied by an adult

Create Outdoor Art

This activity is perfect for kids who like to get a little messy. To make a colorful masterpiece on a canvas of snow, give your child a few squirt bottles filled with water and a few drops of food coloring gel. They’ll have heaps of fun squirting the colored liquid on snow or ice.

They can also paint on snow using watercolors and a paintbrush.

If it doesn’t snow where you live, you can always give your child some sidewalk chalk and let them get creative on the pavement. The important thing is to have your child play outdoors.

At The Myopia Management Center At Washington Eye Doctors, our goal is to help slow down your child’s myopia progression and keep their eyes healthy for a lifetime.

To learn more about our myopia management program or to schedule your child’s eye exam, call us today!

The Myopia Management Center At Washington Eye Doctors serves patients from Washington, D.C., Bethesda, Arlington, Chevy Chase, and throughout District of Columbia.

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Call Us 202-335-5032

15 Things You Do That Can Harm Your Eyes

Eye health isn’t just about going for that yearly eye exam. Certain actions you take (or don’t take) in your daily routine can also have drastic effects on the health of your eyes and vision. Here’s our list of 15 things you may be doing that could pose damaging risks to your eyes.

It’s important to note that before changing any of your habits, consult with a medical professional to make sure they are right for you and your overall health.

1. Smoking

We all know that smoking can cause heart disease and cancer, but its effects on the eyes are far less known to many. The truth is that smoking can actually lead to irreversible vision loss by significantly increasing the risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. It can also cause dry eye syndrome. If you are a smoker, do your eyes (and body) a favor and try to kick or reduce the habit.

2. Not Wearing Sunglasses

Exposing your eyes to the sun’s harmful UV radiation can damage the eye’s cornea and lens. Overexposure to UV rays can also lead to cataracts and even eye cancer. That’s why it’s important to always wear 100% UV-blocking sunglasses while outdoors, all four seasons of the year. Always check the sunglasses have FDA approval.

3. Sleeping with Makeup On

When you sleep with eyeliner or mascara, you run the risk of the makeup entering the eye and irritating the cornea. Sleeping with mascara on can introduce harmful bacteria to the eye and cause an infection. Abrasive glitters and shimmery eyeshadow can scratch the cornea as well. Be careful to remove all makeup with an eye-safe makeup remover before going to bed.

4. Buying Decorative Contact Lenses Without a Prescription

Although ordering decorative lenses without first visiting your optometrist may sound more convenient, purchasing them without a prescription isn’t worth the long term risks. Decorative contact lenses are sometimes made by unlicensed manufacturers who tend to use poor-quality or toxic materials that can get absorbed through the eyes into the bloodstream. They also may contain high levels of microorganisms from unsanitary packaging and storage conditions.

5. Not Washing Your Hands Thoroughly

Frequently washing your hands helps to reduce the possibility of bacteria and viruses entering the eye. Pink eye (conjunctivitis) and corneal ulcers are common eye conditions that can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. When washing your hands, be sure to use warm water, soap, and thoroughly wash in between each finger and over the entire palm area. If you plan to insert or remove your contact lenses, wash and then dry your hands completely with a lint-free cloth or paper towel.

6. Overwearing Contact Lenses

Wearing contact lenses for longer periods of time than intended can lead to inflammation of the cornea (keratitis), conjunctivitis, eyelid swelling, and contact lens intolerance. Always follow the recommended wear time as instructed by your optometrist.

7. Being Nutrient Deficient

Poor nutrition can cause permanent damage to the visual system. Try to include lots of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet, along with adequate amounts of Omega-3. Some of the best vitamins and nutrients for eye health include Vitamins A, C, E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc.

8. Using Non-FDA Approved Products

Whether it’s eyebrow enhancers, eye makeup, or eyelash growth serums, always choose products that have been FDA approved and/or meet government safety regulations. Non-approved products have been known to cause infections or allergic reactions in or around the eye area.

9. Not Cleaning Your Contacts Properly

If you are wearing contact lenses that need to be replaced once every two weeks or once a month, maintaining the highest level of contact lens hygiene is essential. Optometrists will tell you that a common reason patients come in to see them is due to an eye infection from contact lenses that haven’t been properly cleaned or stored. Some patients use their contact lens cases for too long, which can also cause eye irritation. To avoid eye infections, carefully follow your eye doctor’s instructions on how to clean, store, and handle your contact lenses.

10. Showering or Swimming with Contact Lenses

There is a significant amount of bacteria that can be carried in tap water and swimming pools. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that water and contact lenses don’t mix. If you need vision correction while swimming, it may be worth investing in a pair of prescription swimming goggles.

11. Not Following Medication Instructions

When it comes to eye disease, following the medication instructions is crucial. Forgetting to insert eye drops, or administering the incorrect dosage could dramatically reduce the effectiveness of treatment, or even do harm. Speak with your eye doctor if you’re not sure about when or how to take your medication.

12. Not Taking a Holistic Approach

Your eyes are just one part of the whole system — your body. Ignoring health conditions you may have, like high blood pressure or elevated blood sugar, can pose serious risks to your eyes.

13. Not Wearing Protective Eyewear

Shielding your eyes with protective glasses or goggles while working with potentially sharp or fast-moving objects, fragments or particles (wood working, cutting glass, welding, doing repairs with nails, certain sports) is the best defense against eye injury. In fact, 90% of all eye injuries could have been prevented by wearing protective eyewear.

14. Using Unsafe Home Remedies

Some might think that because something is “natural” that it is safe for use around the delicate eye area. Home remedies, like using breastmilk to cure pink eye, could introduce harmful bacteria to the eye and cause infection. If your eyes are giving you trouble, make an appointment to see your local optometrist.

15. Skipping Your Recommended Eye Exam

Your eye doctor will advise you how often you need to come for an eye examination. Adults should visit their eye doctor at least every year for a comprehensive eye exam to determine whether their optical prescription is up-to-date, and to check for the beginning stages of eye disease. Catching eye diseases in their early stages offers the best chance of successful treatment and preserving healthy vision for life.

At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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The Importance of Eye Exams for Contact Lenses

Are you planning on wearing contact lenses for the first time? Do you need a new contact lens prescription? Are your current contacts not as comfortable as you wish they were? Your eye doctor will perform a contact lens eye exam to ensure that your vision with contacts is clear, comfortable, and safe, providing you with the right lenses for you.

What is a contact lens exam?

If you wear or want to wear contact lenses, you’ll need an eye exam for contact lenses, in addition to your regular comprehensive eye exam. Special tests are performed during a contact lens exam to evaluate your eyes and vision with contacts.

Are eyeglass prescriptions the same as contact lens prescriptions?

No, a prescription for glasses cannot be used for contact lenses. An eyeglass prescription is for lenses that are positioned approximately 12 millimeters from your eyes, whereas a contact lens prescription is measured for lenses that sit directly on the surface of your eye.

The prescription for contact lenses also includes the brand, lens diameter and curvature, which are not part of an eyeglass prescription.

Contact lenses fitting: One size does not fit all

One contact lens size doesn’t fit all eyes. If a contact lens is too flat or too steep for your corneal shape, you may experience discomfort or even eye damage. Your eye doctor will take certain measurements to determine the best contact lens design and fit for your eyes.

Corneal curvature

This measures the curvature of your eye’s clear front surface (cornea) so the eye doctor can select the optimal curve and diameter for your contact lenses. If your eye’s surface is somewhat irregular because of astigmatism or other conditions, you may require a special lens.

Pupil and iris size

The size of your pupil and iris (the colored part of your eye) is also important in determining the best contact lens design.

Tear film evaluation

This test evaluates the quality of your tears, to determine whether they will be able to keep contact lenses and your cornea sufficiently hydrated throughout the day. If you have dry eye disease, standard contact lenses may not be right for you.

Trial lenses

Following the eye exam, you will be provided with trial lenses to verify that the chosen contact lenses offer clear and comfortable vision. This will allow the eye doctor to make any fine adjustments to the prescription.

Contact Lens Eye Exam Near You

Wearing the correct contact lenses for your eyes allows you to enjoy all of the benefits of wearing contacts, while keeping your eyes healthy and comfortable.

If you’re already a contact lens wearer, visit your eye doctor at least once a year to make sure the lenses are still providing you with optimum vision and comfort.

Contact Washington Eye Doctors in Washington, D.C. to book your contact lens eye exam today!

The Surge In Cosmetic Procedures During COVID Raises Eye Health Concerns

COVID-19 has indirectly impacted eye health in ways that few would have anticipated. With many classrooms, business meetings, and hang-outs being relocated to virtual settings like Zoom and FaceTime, people are spending more time scrutinizing other people’s faces — and their own.

For some people, the more time they spend watching themselves in the thumbnail, the more time they focus on real or imagined imperfections and features that make them feel insecure.

In fact, plastic surgeons and cosmetic doctors all over the world are reporting something called the ‘Zoom Boom’ — the recent surge in cosmetic procedures to perfect ‘Lockdown Face.’ Yep, it’s a thing.

What many don’t realize is that cosmetic facial procedures can pose serious risks to eye health and vision, and in some cases result in serious eye damage or vision loss.

While opting to undergo a cosmetic procedure is a personal choice that each individual should make for themselves, a fully informed decision requires a visit to your eye doctor. Also, those interested in having a cosmetic eyelid lift should consult with a reputable oculo-plastic surgeon who has experience in this particular procedure.

How Can Cosmetic Procedures Impact Your Eyes?

Before undergoing a cosmetic facial procedure, it’s important to know which procedures pose potential risks to your eyes and vision.

Eyelash Extensions

The adhesive used for eyelash extensions has been known to cause allergic lid reactions, infections, styes, and dry eye. Eye doctors unanimously agree that eyelash extensions should be the last resort for those who want fuller, thicker lashes.

Additionally, the addictive nature of eyelash extensions make them particularly risky. A side effect of lash extensions can be reduced eyelashes, which often drives the individual to have this procedure done repeatedly.

A safe alternative to getting eyelash extensions is using a medication called Latisse. This eyelash enhancing product can be prescribed by your eye doctor and may reduce the need for false eyelashes or extensions.

Laser Procedures

Lasers are used for various cosmetic procedures due to their high efficiency and accuracy. However, exposing the naked eye to a laser beam can be dangerous.

All laser procedures should be performed while the patient wears specialized goggles or corneal shields for protection. If the procedure is performed by an unlicensed individual, there is a much greater chance that effective eye protection won’t be used.

A study published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that ocular injuries can occur even when protective shields are utilized correctly.

Episcleral Tattoos

This procedure is the tattooing of the whites of the eye. Dye is injected beneath the conjunctiva and into the sclera (the white of the eye) to make it appear the desired color.

Episcleral tattoos can cause headaches and severe light-sensitivity, and increase the risk of eye infections, conjunctival hemorrhaging, and permanent vision loss.

Botox Injections

Botox injections are one of the most popular cosmetic procedures offered today, but they can harm eye health and vision when injected around the eye area.

Some common complications include allergic reactions, blurred vision, and droopy eyelids. Most of these reactions are temporary, but if symptoms persist and if blurred vision is prolonged, see an eye doctor immediately.

Always choose a qualified and licensed doctor to perform the procedure.

When to Visit Your Optometrist

If you are considering having any facial or eye procedures done, speak with your optometrist about how to keep your eyes safe during the process.

An eye exam with Dr. Michael Rosenblatt will determine the state of your eye health and what risks would be involved with the procedure you want.

If you’ve already undergone a cosmetic procedure or surgery and are experiencing any eye health or visual symptoms, call Washington Eye Doctors in for a prompt eye exam.

We want you to feel confident in the way you look, while keeping your eyes healthy and safe. Call Washington Eye Doctors to schedule your eye exam today.

At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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5 Facts About Scleral Lenses

happy teenagers 640Scleral contact lenses are large-diameter gas permeable contact lenses that vault over the cornea and rest on the “white” of the eye (the sclera). In doing so, the lenses form a dome over the irregular cornea that provides clear and comfortable vision for individuals with keratoconus, dry eye and other ocular surface conditions.

Here are 5 facts about scleral lenses and why they are a great choice for many patients.

1- They work when nothing else will.

Patients with an irregularly shaped cornea, whether due to natural causes, an eye condition or complications following surgery, can at times develop vision problems that cannot be corrected using glasses or soft contact lenses. In such cases, scleral lenses provide a more comfortable, stable, secure fit, and improved vision.

For those with keratoconus, scleral contact lenses provide advanced care that resolves visual distortions and creates clear vision while providing a comfortable wearing experience.

In addition to helping those with keratoconus, scleral lenses are also recommended for those with an astigmatism, particularly for high astigmatism that other contacts cannot comfortably correct.

2- Scleral contacts provide relief for those who suffer from dry eye.

Unlike traditional contact lenses, scleral lenses minimize eye irritation. Since they vault over the dry, irritated cornea and sit on the sclera, they offer comfort and clear vision. Sclerals leave a space between the lens and the cornea containing a liquid reservoir of artificial tears that provides a protective cushion that soothes the eye.

This is crucial, because even blinking can irritate the eye or injure the cornea due to the mechanical friction of the eyelids on the cornea. Scleral lenses can act as a shield between a patient’s eyes and their eyelids, protecting the eyes from further irritation or damage.

3- Sclerals are long lasting lenses.

Constructed from high quality, durable materials, these rigid gas permeable contacts typically last 1-3 years. Therefore, while the initial cost of scleral lenses is higher than standard contacts, you’ll benefit from maximum value for your money.

While scleral lenses are long lasting, it is important to book follow up visits with your eye doctor to determine when it’s time to replace them with a new pair, so as not to harm your cornea.

4- Scleral contacts are worth the cost

People assume that because sclerals must be fitted and customized to fit each individual eye, they are exorbitantly expensive. In fact, the lenses are often covered by insurance and certain vision and health savings plans.

These lenses provide enough of an improvement over regular lenses — in both comfort and vision — to justify the investment.

5- Scleral lenses are very comfortable.

Some people mistakenly assume that rigid contacts aren’t comfortable. In reality, scleral contact lenses are very comfortable because they don’t touch the cornea and lubricate the eyes.

If you have irregular corneas, dry eye or hard-to-fit eyes, scleral lenses may be right for you. Find out more about scleral lenses by scheduling an eye exam at The Scleral Lens Center At Washington Eye Doctors today!

The Scleral Lens Center At Washington Eye Doctors serves patients from Washington, D.C., Bethesda, Arlington and Chevy Chase, throughout District of Columbia.

Book An Appointment
Call Us 202-335-5032

Are Face Masks Causing Dry Eye Symptoms?

woman wearing a mask 640Face masks and social distancing have become the first line of defense in COVID-19 prevention.

While these protective measures are essential to combating the virus’ spread, eye doctors are seeing an increase in dry eye cases among people who wear masks. If you are seeking relief, contact us.

What is Mask-Associated Dry Eye (MADE)?

Mask-associated dry eye (MADE) was first described by an ophthalmologist in May 2020 based on the higher rate of dry eye he was seeing in his practice among patients who wore masks. Patients with existing dry eye reported worsening symptoms when wearing a mask.

When a face mask doesn’t fit securely, it can push air from the nose and mouth upward, onto the eyes, causing the tear film — the liquid layer that coats the eyes’ surface — to evaporate more quickly. This leads to MADE.

Dry eye leaves the eyes feeling sore, gritty, dry and irritated. Left untreated, dry eye can cause damage to the cornea.

There are many causes of dry eye, including eye and health conditions, age, gender and certain medications. Insufficient blinking when looking at a digital device or book, poor indoor air quality and pollution can all play a role. Situations that increase how quickly the tear film evaporates can quickly and significantly dry the eye’s surface, leading to more pronounced symptoms.

What Causes Dry Eye When Wearing a Mask?

Wearing a face mask significantly reduces the spread of air when breathing out from the mouth and nose. Instead of moving out, the air moves upwards towards the eyes’ surface. This forces a stream of air over the surface of the eye, causing the tears to evaporate more quickly.

This is the same reason that eyeglasses fog up when wearing a mask.

When masks are worn for long periods of time, this repeated evaporation may lead to dry spots on the eyes’ surface.

 

How to Prevent or Alleviate MADE?

Here are some simple measures to help reduce dry eye while wearing a mask:

  1. Ensure your mask fits well, and consider taping the top edge to prevent air from rising from your mouth toward your eyes.
  2. Limit your time in air-conditioned or heated environments when possible. Also, take regular breaks from digital devices.
  3. Consult your eye doctor, who will examine your eyes and prescribe the best treatment.

Having to wear a face mask to prevent COVID-19’s spread may cause dry eye, but relief is available. Contact The Dry Eye Center At Washington Eye Doctors if you are experiencing dry eye symptoms. We will determine the underlying cause of your dry eye and offer you the best solution so you can get back to having comfortable eyes and vision.

 

The Dry Eye Center At Washington Eye Doctors serves patients from Washington, D.C., Bethesda, Arlington and Chevy Chase, throughout District of Columbia.

 

Book An Appointment
Call Us 202-335-5032

8 Ways Your Eyes Change With Age

Our eyes and vision change with age. Your eye doctor can monitor these changes — some of which are a natural part of the aging process — and identify any eye conditions or diseases early enough to treat them and prevent vision loss. Read on to learn more about the different types of eye changes one may encounter with age.

Age-Related Eye Conditions and Diseases

Cataracts

If your vision is starting to get blurry, you may be developing cataracts. There are a few types of cataracts, but the one usually caused by aging is known as a “nuclear cataract”. At first, it may lead to increased nearsightedness or even a temporary improvement in your reading vision. But with time, the lens gradually turns more densely yellow and clouds your vision. As the cataract slowly progresses, the lens may even turn brown. Advanced yellowing or browning of the lens can lead to difficulty distinguishing between shades of color, and left untreated, it can eventually lead to blindness. Luckily, cataract surgery, where the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear lens, is an extremely safe and effective treatment option.

Blepharoptosis

Blepharoptosis or ptosis is a drooping of the upper eyelid that may affect one or both eyes. The eyelid may droop only slightly or may droop enough to cover the pupil and block vision. It occurs when there is a weakness of the eye’s levator muscle that lifts the eyelid. This condition is usually caused by aging, eye surgery, or disease affecting the muscle or its nerve. Fortunately, blepharoptosis can be corrected with surgery.

Vitreous detachment

This occurs when the gel-like vitreous fluid inside the eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina, causing “spots and floaters” and, sometimes, flashes of light. This occurrence is usually harmless, but floaters and flashes of light can also signal the beginning of a detached retina — a serious problem that can cause blindness, and requires immediate treatment. If you experience sudden or worsening flashes and increased floaters, see Dr. Michael Rosenblatt immediately to determine the cause.

Other Age-Related Changes

In addition to the above eye conditions and diseases, the structure of our eyes and vision change as we get older.

Presbyopia

Why do people in their 40s and 50s have more difficulty focusing on near objects like books and phone screens? The lens inside the eye begins to lose its ability to change shape and bring near objects into focus, a process is called presbyopia. Over time, presbyopia, also known as age-related farsightedness, will become more pronounced and you will eventually need reading glasses to see clearly. You may need multiple prescriptions – one prescription to enable you to see up close, one for intermediate distance, and one for distance vision. In that case, people often get bifocals, multifocals or PALs, and they can be combined with contact lenses as well.

Reduced pupil size

As we age, our reaction to light and the muscles that control our pupil size lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting. The result? It becomes harder to clearly see objects, such as a menu, in a low-light setting like a restaurant.

Dry eye

Our tear glands produce fewer tears and the tears they produce have less moisturizing oils. Your eye doctor can determine whether your dry eye is age-related or due to another condition, and will recommend the right over-the-counter or prescription eye drops, or other effective and lasting treatments, to alleviate the dryness and restore comfort.

Loss of peripheral vision

Aging causes a 1-3 degree loss of peripheral vision per decade of life. In fact, one may reach a peripheral visual field loss of 20-30 degrees by the time they reach their 70s and 80s. While peripheral vision loss is a normal part of aging, it can also indicate the presence of a serious eye disease, like glaucoma. The best way to ascertain the cause is by getting an eye exam.

Decreased color vision

The cells in the retina responsible for normal color vision tend to decline as we age, causing colors to become less bright and the contrast between different colors to be less noticeable. Though a normal part of aging, faded colors can at times signal a more serious ocular problem.

Beyond the normal changes that come with age, the risk of developing a serious eye disease, such as age related macular degeneration and glaucoma, increases. Routine eye exams are essential to keeping your eyes healthy. Your eye doctor can determine whether your symptoms are caused by an eye problem or are a normal byproduct of aging.

If you or a loved one suffers from impaired vision, we can help. To find out more and to schedule your annual eye doctor’s appointment, contact Washington Eye Doctors in Washington, D.C. today.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Eyes Safe from Blue Light and Computer Vision Syndrome

Blue light bombards your eyes from all directions, and even more so nowadays when the COVID-19 pandemic has kept many people plugged in to a digital device, constantly. So what’s the problem with the blue light?

Eye doctors worldwide warn of the damaging effects to eye health from overexposure to blue light. A variety of uncomfortable visual symptoms can be caused, such as eye strain, irritation, difficulty focusing and headaches. These symptoms are characteristic of computer vision syndrome, which our Washington, D.C. optometrist now diagnoses regularly in patients of all ages.

How Can You Protect Your Peepers from Computer Vision Syndrome?

The #1 way to keep your vision safe is by decreasing your exposure to blue light. Here’s a list from our optometrist of different ways you can accomplish this:

  1. Limit screen time and take frequent breaks to relax your eyes.
  2. Use blue light filters on your computer screen and the screens of all digital devices. These screen filters are available for tablets, smart phones, computers and basically every gadget with a screen. They work by reducing the amount of blue light emitted from your device so less radiation reaches your retina, thereby decreasing the amount of eye damage that can occur. Check with our Washington, D.C. eye care center to find the right blue light filter for your needs.
  3. Wear computer glasses with tinted lenses to block blue light and increase visual contrast, relieving the tiring symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
  4. Fit your glasses with lenses that have an anti-reflective coating to diminish glare
  5. Consult our optometrist in Washington, D.C. to learn about other options to help protect your eyes and your children’s eyes from the hazards of computer vision syndrome.

At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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Protect Your Eyes From Vision Loss: Diabetes Awareness Month

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is one of the most prevalent eye diseases affecting the working age population. It is thought to be caused by high blood sugar levels which, over time, damage the tiny blood vessels of the retina at the back of the eye, making them swell and leak. Left untreated, DR can lead to vision loss and eventually blindness.

Since diabetic eye disease is typically painless and shows no symptoms until its advanced stages, it’s critical to get your annual eye evaluation, as an optometrist can detect the developing signs early enough to prevent vision loss.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy 

Diabetics may not realize they have diabetic retinopathy, because it develops silently. As the condition worsens, it may cause: 

  • Blurred vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Colors to appear faded or washed out
  • An increased presence of floaters
  • Vision loss
  • Blank or dark areas in your field of vision

Diabetic retinopathy symptoms usually affect both eyes.

Risk Factors

If you are diabetic, caring for your eyes by undergoing routine eye exams and taking care of your body by controlling blood sugar levels are critical to preventing vision loss. There are several risk factors associated with diabetic eye complications, including: 

  • Poor blood sugar control
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol 
  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Excess weight/obesity

Are There Any Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy?

Today’s treatment options may improve your vision, even if you feel your eyesight has begun to deteriorate. Medications can be injected to reduce swelling, and laser surgery can be used to shrink and seal off swollen and leaking blood vessels — preserving and, in many cases, even improving vision. 

While certain treatments may work, frequent monitoring of your eyes coupled with managing your blood sugar levels can go a long way toward preventing or reducing diabetic retinopathy complications. 

If You Have Diabetes, Make Sure to: 

  • Control blood sugar and blood pressure to prevent long-term damage to the fine blood vessels within the retina.  
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle routine, especially during stressful times such as the COVID-19 pandemic. (Plus, while diabetics are in the high-risk category, your chances of developing serious COVID-19 related complications is lower if your diabetes is under control.)
  • Maintain a steady diet and exercise regimen to help the body and mind feel better. 
  • Quit smoking, if applicable; you can reach out to a medical professional for guidance.
  • Get yearly diabetic eye exams.

Preventing and managing diabetic retinopathy require a multi-disciplinary approach involving your eye doctor and other medical professionals. Your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine whether you have diabetic retinopathy, assess its severity, and discuss preventative strategies as well as the latest treatment options. 

Contact Washington Eye Doctors at 202-335-5032 to schedule your diabetic eye exam today, and to learn more about what you can do to protect your vision and general health.

Good & Bad Gift Choices For Children With Myopia

mario luigi yoschi figures 640Gift-giving season is just around the corner! If your child has myopia (nearsightedness), you may want to consider giving a gift that supports eye health and slows myopia progression.

Why Does Myopia Progression Matter?

Many parents assume that having myopia is only a matter of blurred distance vision, but that’s not the whole story.

Children who have myopia are significantly more likely to develop sight-threatening eye diseases later in life, like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and macular degeneration. Rapidly progressing myopia further increases the risk of eye disease later in life.

Myopia occurs when the eye elongates, and light focuses in front of the retina instead of on the retina. The exact cause of myopia is unknown, but genetics play an important role. Certain environmental factors may also have an impact.

That’s why it’s important for parents to consider how holiday gifts can affect their children’s eyes and vision.

Gifts That Won’t Help Your Child’s Myopia

The first category of items to consider eliminating from your holiday shopping list includes toys or devices with digital screens. Although the association has not been clinically proven, most optometrists agree that increased screen time has a negative impact on myopia progression.

While spending time on screens is almost inevitable during the pandemic, it’s wise to be realistic about its potential ramifications for children. Even prior to COVID-19, the number of myopic children was steadily increasing, and projected to affect 50% of the world’s population by 2050.

Another gift to rethink: eyeglasses. Tempting though it may be to purchase new glasses for your child this holiday season, it’s important to remember that new specs can only correct blurred vision; they don’t treat the underlying cause of myopia.

Better Gifts For Myopic Children

Try encouraging your myopic child to spend more time outdoors by giving them new outdoor gear. It is well documented that children who spend more time outdoors in the sunshine have a slower rate of myopia progression, so why not add a new bike, basketball, or rollerblades to your gift list?

However, the best gift you can give your child with myopia is a personalized myopia management program.

Why Myopia Management?

Myopia management is the only effective way to slow down the rate of your child’s myopia progression.

The myopia management program at The Myopia Management Center At Washington Eye Doctors offers three effective and safe treatments for myopia, including Ortho-K lenses, atropine eye drops, and multifocal contact lenses.

A comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Michael Rosenblatt will determine the best treatment option for your child’s eyes and lifestyle.

Consider myopia management — a gift that will help preserve your child’s precious gift of sight. Call The Myopia Management Center At Washington Eye Doctors to schedule an eye exam today.

The Myopia Management Center At Washington Eye Doctors serves patients from Washington, D.C., Bethesda, Arlington, Chevy Chase, and throughout District of Columbia.

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