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Did You Ever See the Parts of Your Eyeball?

When you look in the mirror, you see your eyes staring back at you. Ever wonder what’s behind your eyeballs? What are the different parts of your eye, and what’s the unique function of each part?

Whether you visit our Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye care center because you need new glasses or a check-up of your ocular health, you’ll need an eye exam near you. Our eye doctor will inspect all the parts of your eye closely. Here’s a rundown of what we’re looking at.

The Parts of Your Eye & Their Functions

Your eye is shaped like an asymmetrical sphere, with a diameter of approximately one inch. The parts you see in the mirror are:

  • Pupil – This black dot (actually, it’s a hole) in the middle of your eye is an opening in the iris that allows light to enter.
  • Iris – This is the area of your eye that surrounds the pupil and has the pigment that gives color to your eye. The muscles of the iris make the pupil wider or narrower depending on how bright it is. When it’s darker, your pupils dilate (get big) to allow more light into the eye; when it’s bright, the pupils constrict (get small) to help you see efficiently.
  • Cornea – This is the outer covering of the front of your eye, like a clear dome over the iris and pupil; it’s relatively strong and consists of several layers. The cornea protects your eye from elements that could damage the inner eye and also allows your eye to effectively focus light.
  • Sclera – Better known as the “white” of your eye, the sclera presents as a smooth, white layer on the outside, but it has a brown textured inside that helps the eyes’ tendons to attach properly. The sclera is responsible for the structure and protection of the inner eye structures, but it is also flexible so the eye can move.
  • Conjunctiva – The inside of the eyelids and the white of the eye are covered by the conjunctiva, which is made up of thin layers of tissue that help to keep the eye moist and clean. If the conjunctiva gets infected or irritated, you’ll develop “pink eye.”
  • Lacrimal glands – These tear-producing glands are situated on the outer corner of each eye. They lubricate your eye when it is dry, and flush out particles or substances that irritate the eye.
  • Lens – The lens is a clear structure that rests just behind the iris and the pupil. It focuses the light that enters through the pupil. Held in place by the ciliary muscles, the lens changes shape depending on what you’re looking at. That’s how you are able to focus on objects at different distances.
  • Vitreous humor – This clear gel fills most of the eye, from behind the lens to the retina at the back of the eye, helping the eyeball to hold its shape. When debris or clumps of cells get stuck in the vitreous humor, you will see “floaters.”
  • Aqueous humor – This transparent watery substance fills the front part of the eyeball, supporting the eye’s round, taut shape, and maintaining intraocular pressure: that’s kind of like blood pressure, but it’s in your eye. And, like high blood pressure, high intraocular pressure is also dangerous, resulting in glaucoma and vision loss.
  • Retina – Light enters through your pupil and lens to the back of your eye, to the retina. The retina is made of layers of light-sensing cells, rods and cones, that convert light into electrical impulses. Behind the eye, your optic nerve then transmits these impulses to the brain for interpretation into images. In the middle of the retina is the macula, a small, extra-sensitive area that provides your central vision.

If you’re having trouble seeing clearly or it’s time for your regular eye exam, book an appointment with our Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye doctor. We’ll evaluate your eye health and vision; if you need new eyeglasses, check out our quality optical collection!

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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Pink Eye? It Could Be Coronavirus

How to prevent conjunctivitis and protect your eyes

When you have a virus, especially one that causes a hacking cough, runny nose, and other symptoms of a common cold or flu, it’s typical for your eyes to also get puffy and red. You may be suffering from viral conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye.

How do viruses get into your eyes?

It’s rather simple. When you’re sick, you can easily transfer viruses to your eyes by sneezing, coughing into your hands, or blowing your nose – and then touching the area around your eye.

The coronavirus – pink eye connection

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), doctors have discovered that COVID-19 can cause conjunctivitis. If you’re standing within six feet of an infected person, and they cough or sneeze, the virus can enter your eye. Alternatively, if someone sneezes and virus particles land on the shopping cart that you take and push around a store, and then you touch your eyes without washing your hands first – you’re giving the virus direct access.

However, despite the apparent ease with which coronavirus can infect eyes, the AAO reports that only about 1 – 3% of all patients with the virus contract pink eye.

Preventing pink eye

Like always, prevention is the most effective medicine! Eye care professionals recommend following these tips to help prevent getting viral conjunctivitis:

  • Wash your hands correctly

The CDC instructs people to wash their hands in accordance with these steps: wet your hands, turn off the tap, apply soap, lather and scrub for 20 seconds, turn on tap and rinse. Air dry your hands, use a disposable paper towel and discard it immediately, or use a clean (not shared) towel.

  • Keep your fingers away from your face

No rubbing or wiping your eyes! Even if you don’t feel any symptoms of coronavirus, it’s essential not to touch any part of your face. To wipe away tears or remove makeup, use a clean tissue.

  • Don’t share your personal things

As generous as you may feel about letting others use your personal items, now’s the time to keep things to yourself. For example, the CDC recommends not sharing eye drops, makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses cases, pillowcases, or towels. Pink eye is highly contagious.

  • Consider wearing glasses instead of contacts

While there’s currently no evidence to prove that wearing contacts raises your risks of contracting the novel coronavirus, there’s some evidence that shows you can get Covid-19 by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes. In general, contact lenses wearers touch their eyes more often than people who wear eyeglasses, so it may be smart to make a temporary switch from contact lenses to glasses. However, this is only a friendly recommendation and not a hard-and-fast rule. If you prefer to stick with wearing contacts, washing your hands thoroughly can help keep you and your eyes safe.

Treatment for conjunctivitis

Regardless of whether your pink eye is caused by coronavirus or a different virus, there is no treatment for viral conjunctivitis. Usually, it goes away on its own within one to two weeks.

To alleviate your painful symptoms, eye doctors recommend:

  • Taking an over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or any anti-inflammatory drug
  • Applying a warm compress on your eye for a few minutes; take care to use a clean wash cloth each time and for each eye
  • Use artificial tears (lubricating eye drops) to soothe your eye irritation; don’t touch the bottle tip to your eye

Are you sick and have pink eye symptoms?

Now is not the time to make a DIY diagnosis. Eye redness, even if you have a virus, doesn’t necessarily indicate that you have conjunctivitis. A wide range of other conditions can lead to the same symptoms. Contact an eye doctor near you for help to figure out what’s causing your eye pain. Don’t visit your eye care practice without calling for guidance first, because extra precautions must be taken with patients who may have COVID-19

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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What Causes Eye Flashes and Floaters?

Are eye flashes or floaters a sign to get emergency eye care?

Many people have floaters, which appear like squiggly lines or specks gliding past their visual field. Eye flashes are also common, which look like flickering sparks of light. Usually these drifting images become so familiar that you stop noticing them. Although, you may still think about them – and check to see if they’re still around. But whenever you try to focus directly on your floaters, they seem to zoom away in response. It’s only after your eyeball stops moving that you’ll see them drifting slowly and aimlessly again. Sound familiar?

You may also wonder, are floaters ever a cause for concern? Our eye doctor at Washington Eye Doctors explains the possible causes of eye flashes and floaters, and explains when they’re a reason to visit our eye care centre in Washington, D.C., , and , District of Columbia.

What are eye flashes and floaters?

The back of your eyeball is filled with vitreous humor, a transparent, stable gel similar to egg white. The vitreous gel provides a pathway for light to enter your eye and travel through the lens to the retina. Once light reaches the retinal cells, images are captured and transmitted to your brain via the optic nerve.

As you age, the vitreous humor starts to slowly shrink, and the texture can become stringier. Strands of the vitreous gel, which are actually tiny cell clusters or a bit of protein, develop. These are floaters. However, when you see them – you are really seeing the shadows these cell clusters cast onto your retina.

Eye flashes have a different cause. They occur when your vitreous gel tugs or bumps against your retina.

Do all people get floaters?

Not everyone sees floaters, but most do – especially the older you get. At our eye care offices in Washington, D.C., , and , District of Columbia, we regularly diagnose patients with these visual specks.

Floaters are also more common in people who suffered an eye injury in the past, underwent cataract removal surgery, or have nearsightedness or diabetes.

Are eye flashes and floaters a sign of a medical problem?

Typically, floaters and flashes are harmless and don’t require treatment. But sometimes they’re a warning sign of a sight-threatening eye condition, especially when a group of new floaters appears suddenly.

As the vitreous shrinks, it can pull on the retina and detach from it. When this happens, it’s called a posterior vitreous detachment, which leads to a retinal tear, which requires emergency eye care. If you have a retinal tear, inner eye fluid can leak through it and separate the rest of the retina from the tissues around it.

If you suddenly see a bunch of new floaters appear, call our eye doctor immediately to book an urgent eye exam at one of our offices in Washington, D.C., , and , District of Columbia.

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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My eye is tender and painful – is it an eye emergency?

How to know when you need emergency eye care

An eye emergency includes: chemicals or a foreign object getting into and irritating your eye, or suffering an injury or burn to your eye and/or the surrounding area. Typically, these occurrences will cause your eye to feel painful and tender. Sometimes the symptoms are temporary and heal on their own, but other times these problems can lead to some vision loss and permanent damage. Don’t take risks – your problem may be an eye emergency that requires treatment. Contact our eye doctor in Washington, D.C., , or , District of Columbia, for an urgent eye exam!

What are the common symptoms of an eye emergency?

The way you feel is individual, and eye emergencies span a wide array of incidents and symptoms, but the some signs include:

  • Vision loss, decreased vision
  • Stinging or burning
  • Severe itching
  • Redness and irritation
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Bleeding from the eye, blood in the white of your eye
  • Painful vision
  • Tender eye, bruising around the eye
  • Pupils that are not equal size
  • One eye is bulging
  • One eye isn’t moving like the other one
  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • New or severe headaches

These symptoms may be a warning sign that you need to visit an eye care center near you! Contact one of our Washington Eye Doctors optometry offices for assistance.

What should I do if I have an eye emergency?

The way you respond depends on the type of eye injury you’re dealing with. Here’s a review of the best first responses to an eye emergency, all of which should be followed by a visit to your eye doctor.

Eye cuts and puncture wounds

The most important guideline to follow is to NOT rub your eye or surrounding skin. Cover your eye with a hard, circular object, such as the bottom of a paper cup. Don’t put pressure on your eye while supporting this protective shield, and attach it over your eye gently with a piece of tape. Head to your eye doctor or nearby emergency eye care center immediately.

Blunt force trauma to your eye

If you get smacked in the eye with a ball or any forceful object, gently place an ice pack or cold compress against your eye as soon as possible. It’s important to keep your head elevated while doing this, in order to minimize inflammation. If you experience any changes to your vision or your eye is very painful and tender, visit your eye doctor.

Objects stuck in your eye

Don’t rub your eye, doing this can scratch your cornea by moving the foreign body around under your eyelid. If the object has penetrated your eye, don’t attempt to remove it on your own – go to an eye doctor for emergency eye care. If the object is not embedded in your eye, flush your eyes with water or an eye wash to rinse out the item, or use a damp swab of cotton to try to gently remove it. If you’re not successful, visit your eye care center.

When chemicals splash into your eye

Chemicals, including basic household cleaners, can damage your eye. The first thing to do is flush out your eye with water – immediately! Don’t cover your eye; instead, hold your eye wide open beneath a stream of water for about 15 minutes, allowing the water to run over it. Then contact your eye doctor for assistance, or visit an eye clinic near you for an eye exam.

Eye protection comes first

While we hope these tips will be helpful in the event of an eye emergency, the #1 tip we have to offer is to safeguard your eyes as much as possible so you never need to follow these instructions! Protective eyewear can prevent many eye emergencies. You can check out our collection of safety goggles and sports eyewear in Washington, D.C., , and , District of Columbia – we’ll match you with the best protective glasses for the activities you do.

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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Tips on How to Take Care of Your Eyes

Guidelines from your eye care specialist in Washington, D.C.

There are many routine daily actions you can take to preserve your eye health and keep your vision crisp and clear. By following a few simple practices outlined below, you can reduce your risk of developing many common ocular diseases and vision problems.

Book regular eye exams

First and foremost, visit your local eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam near you. This is the most significant way to take care of your eyes. It is typical to have a problem and not know about it, because many eye diseases don’t present with symptoms during the early stages. Once your eye care provider detects the signs of an ocular condition, you can receive treatment – and early treatment goes far towards preventing vision loss.

Be aware of your risk factors for eye diseases

Normal aging raises your risk of certain eye diseases. Additionally, your risk is higher if you:

  • Are obese or overweight
  • Have a family history of ocular disease
  • Are African American, Native American, or Hispanic
  • Have diabetes or high blood pressure

Some ocular conditions run in families, so it’s important to speak with other family members to find out about any eye problems. Then, visit a center for eye care near you to discuss your personal risk factors. The optometry team can inform you about various ways to decrease your chances of developing specific eye diseases & conditions.

Make healthy lifestyle choices

Eyes are a part of your whole body, and protecting your overall well-being can help safeguard your vision too. Healthy habits are essential, such as eating nutritiously and being physically active. These behaviors can reduce your risk for diseases that can lead to vision problems, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Our eye doctor in , shares the following guidelines for taking care of your whole body:

  • Be active: regular exercise and cardiovascular physical activity are effective ways to keep yourself healthy
  • Eat well: include plenty of dark, leafy greens in your daily diet, such as spinach, arugula, collard greens, and kale. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, halibut, and tuna are also recommended for healthy eyes.
  • No smoking: smoking increases your chances of developing eye disease, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, and it can also damage the optic nerve.

Use eye protection

Everyone knows about the need to slather on sunscreen before spending time outdoors, but many people neglect to give their eyes the same attention.

  • Wear sunglasses and sunwear: choose sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB radiation, and wear whenever you’re outdoors, even on cloudy days. Hats with a visor are also helpful at blocking the sun’s rays from reaching your eyes.
  • Let your eyes rest: gazing at a computer screen for hours on end can lead to eye fatigue. Give your eyes a break by looking at something 20 feet away, every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.
  • Put on safety glasses: certain activities, such as playing sports, doing home repairs, and working in construction all expose your eyes to potential hazards. Protect your eyes from injury by wearing safety glasses and goggles.
  • Practice eye hygiene: always wash your hands before you insert or remove your contact lenses, and follow proper cleaning and storage guidelines for your contacts, as recommended by your eye doctor. Even if you don’t wear contacts, avoid rubbing your eyes – because fingers are exposed to a lot of dirt and bacteria, which can be transferred easily to your eyes. Also, don’t forget to remove eye makeup nightly to avoid a build-up of bacteria in your ocular area.
  • Don’t dry out your eyes: make sure to stay adequately hydrated by drinking enough water, and direct air vents in your car and home towards your torso, instead of blowing directly at your eyes.

When in doubt – book an eye exam near you

If you notice any new symptoms and don’t know what they are, such as the sudden appearance of many floaters and/or light flashes in your peripheral vision, call your eye doctor immediately. These could be signs of a retinal tear or detachment, which requires urgent eye care to prevent lasting vision damage. Or if you experience blurry vision, pain, or any oozing discharge, you may have an eye infection that needs medical treatment. Any time you aren’t sure about a symptom, it’s best to practice caution and contact a center for eye care near you.

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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Is School Work Causing Computer Vision Syndrome in Your Child?

Eye health tips for students from our Washington, D.C. eye doctor

The start of fall means back-to-school for kids of all ages – and our team at Washington Eye Doctors wishes everyone a smooth and successful return to the classroom!

When your child enters school after a summer of outdoor fun, many of the summer’s vision hazards are left behind. Yet, that doesn’t mean all eye health risks are eliminated! Nowadays, the majority of learning is computer based – exposing students’ eyes to the pain and dangers of blue light and computer vision syndrome. Fortunately, a variety of helpful devices and smartphone apps are available to block blue light and keep your child’s vision safe and comfortable.

To help you safeguard your child’s vision for the upcoming semesters and the long term of life, our Washington, D.C. optometrist explains all about computer vision syndrome and how to prevent it.

Symptoms of computer vision syndrome

It’s smart to familiarize yourself with the signs of computer vision syndrome. If your child complains about any of these common symptoms, you can help prevent any lasting vision damage by booking an eye exam with our Washington, D.C. eye doctor near you:

  • Eye irritation and redness
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eyes, due to reduced blinking
  • Headaches

Basics of blue light

Students spend endless hours in front of digital screens, be it a computer monitor, tablet, or smartphone. There is homework to be done, research to be conducted, texting with friends, and movies and gaming during downtime. All of this screen time exposes your child’s eyes to blue light.

Many research studies have demonstrated that flickering blue light – the shortest, highest-energy wavelength of visible light – can lead to tired eyes, headaches, and blurry vision. Additionally, blue light can disrupt the sleep/wake cycle, causing sleep deprivation and all the physical and mental health problems associated with it. As for your child’s future eye health, blue light may also be linked to the later development of macular degeneration and retinal damage.

How to avoid computer vision syndrome

Our Washington, D.C. eye doctor shares the following ways to block blue light and protect against computer vision syndrome:

  • Computer glasses, eyeglasses lenses treated with a blue-light blocking coating, and contact lenses with built-in blue light protection are all effective ways to optimize visual comfort when working in front of a screen. These optics reduce eye strain and prevent hazardous blue-light radiation from entering the eyes.
  • Practice the 20-20-20 rule; pause every 20 minutes to gaze at an object that’s 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This simple behavior gives eyes a chance to rest from the intensity of the computer or smartphone screen, preventing eye fatigue.
  • Prescription glasses can be helpful when using a computer for long periods – even for students who don’t generally need prescription eyewear. A weak prescription can take the stress off of your child’s eyes, decreasing fatigue and increasing their ability to concentrate. Our Washington, D.C. optometrist will perform a personalized eye exam to determine the most suitable prescription.
  • Moisturize vision with eye drops. One of the most common symptoms of computer vision syndrome is dry eyes, namely because people forget to blink frequently enough. Equip your child with a bottle of preservative-free artificial tears eye drops (available over the counter) and remind them to blink!
  • Blue light filters can be installed on a computer, smartphone, and all digital screens to minimize exposure to blue. A range of helpful free apps are also available for download.
  • Limit screen time for your child each day, or encourage breaks at least once an hour. Typically, the degree of discomfort from computer vision syndrome is in direct proportion with the amount of time your child spends viewing digital screens.
  • Set the proper screen distance. Younger children (elementary school) should view their computer at a half-arm’s length away from their eyes, just below eye level. Kids in middle school and high school should sit about 20 – 28 inches from the screen, with the top of the screen at eye level.

For additional info, book a consultation and eye exam at Washington Eye Doctors

When you and your child meet with our Washington, D.C. eye doctor, we’ll ask questions about your child’s school and study habits to provide customized recommendations on the most effective ways to stay safe from computer vision syndrome and blue light. Our optometrist stays up-to-date with the latest optic technologies and methods to prevent painful vision and eye health damage from using a computer, so you can depend on us for contemporary, progressive treatment.

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