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6 Common Myths About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which increased pressure causes progressive, permanent vision loss and even blindness. Unfortunately, many misconceptions about the disease can leave you misinformed. Below we sort fact from fiction by debunking 6 of the most common glaucoma myths.

Glaucoma Facts vs. Myths

MYTH 1: Glaucoma is a single disease

FACT

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases; the most common ones are open-angle glaucoma (OAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG).

In open-angle glaucoma, the drainage structure in your eye (called the trabecular meshwork) doesn’t allow the fluid inside the eye to flow out as it should, causing an increase in internal ocular pressure that damages the optic nerve. OAG develops slowly, and usually by the time people perceive symptoms, such as peripheral vision loss, they already have optic nerve damage.

In angle-closure glaucoma, the eye doesn’t drain fluid as it should because the drainage channel between your iris and cornea becomes too narrow, causing increased eye pressure. This pressure damages the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. ACG can occur suddenly or gradually.

MYTH 2: Only the elderly suffer from glaucoma

FACT

Although it’s true that people over 60 are at a greater risk of developing open-angle glaucoma compared to people in their 40s, there are other types of glaucoma that can affect people aged 20 to 50 and even young infants (due to abnormal ocular development).

In addition to age, those with a higher risk of developing glaucoma include:

  • African Americans and Hispanics
  • Individuals with a family history of glaucoma
  • Patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia
  • Those who have previously sustained an eye injury
  • People taking steroid medications over the long term

MYTH 3: Glaucoma shows symptoms early on

FACT

The most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, shows virtually no signs or symptoms until its later stages when vision loss sets in. Despite what people may think, the increased eye pressure causes no pain. And since peripheral vision is the first to go, you may not recognize vision loss until your vision has become significantly impaired. The only way to detect glaucoma is to undergo a comprehensive eye exam.

MYTH 4: Nothing can be done once you have glaucoma

FACT

While there’s currently no cure for glaucoma, many effective treatment options exist: eye drops, oral medications, as well as laser and surgical procedures that can help slow glaucoma progression. Each treatment option is used to get the fluid to flow properly out of the eye, reducing pressure inside the eye and decreasing damage to the optic nerve.

MYTH 5: Testing for glaucoma is painful

FACT

Actually, testing for glaucoma is practically painless. One of the tests includes a non-contact device that blows a gentle puff of air into each eye to test the intraocular pressure. The sound of the puff may be startling, but it’s over in a second and is painless. With the Goldmann applanation tonometry test, an anesthetic eye drop is inserted into each eye, which may cause a stinging sensation for a few seconds. Your eye doctor will then use a blue light to quickly and gently touch the cornea to precisely measure intraocular pressure. The most accurate of all, however, are visual field testing and OCT (optical coherence tomography), non-invasive imaging, both of which are also painless.

MYTH 6: You can’t prevent glaucoma

FACT

Regular eye exams are the only way to prevent glaucoma, as blindness or significant vision loss can be prevented if the disease is diagnosed and treated in the early stages. That’s why routine comprehensive eye exams which include glaucoma testing are so important.

Getting your eyes checked regularly can ensure that any existing eye problems are detected early enough to prevent or slow ocular damage. Contact Washington Eye Doctors in Washington, D.C. to book your comprehensive eye exam today!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Michael P. Rosenblatt OD

Q: If one of my parents has glaucoma, does that mean I will develop it as well at some point?

  • A: Having a parent with glaucoma does not mean that the child will automatically develop the condition too. However, those people with an immediate family history (parents, siblings) of glaucoma are at more risk to develop this disease. Patients should have a comprehensive eye examination each year to evaluate the health of the eyes and to look for signs of glaucoma. Some of these signs can be an increase in the pressure of the eyes as well as changes to the appearance of the optic nerve. Many times there are no symptoms noticed by the patient. If there is suspicion of glaucoma, more frequent visits to the eye doctor along with additional nerve testing are often required.

Q: Why do I need to scan my retinas/back of the eye?

  • A: The retina shows us a lot about the overall ocular health as well as systemic conditions that can affect the eyes. Often diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol can be observed from a retinal scan. Also, retinal scans allow us to diagnose and treat macular degeneration and glaucoma. Scans are often very important for a complete eye check up.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Washington, District of Columbia. Visit Washington Eye Doctors for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Let’s Talk About neurolenses®

What Are neurolenses® ?

neurolenses® are the first and only prescription lenses that include a contoured prism in their design. The purpose of this prism is to bring the eyes into alignment in order to make vision more comfortable and to relieve the eye strain, headaches, shoulder pain and neck pain associated with eye misalignment.

Eye misalignment occurs when the eyes don’t work together in perfect synchronization, and instead, your brain and eyes are forced to work harder in order for you to see clearly and remain focused. This places pressure on the trigeminal nerve, which is the largest nerve in the brain and the one responsible for the majority of the sensations felt in the head and neck.

The alignment of your eyes is essential to your ability to see the world around you clearly. The misalignment can also cause symptoms such as headaches, dry eye, and even neck strain.

What Symptoms Do neurolenses Help Treat?

neurolenses help relieve the following symptoms associated with misalignment.

  • Tired, aching eyes
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Dizziness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eype pain when trying to use a computer or digital device
  • Dry, itchy or irritated eyes

You will undergo a neurolens measurement test – a short assessment to determine the extent of your misalignment and what contoured prism prescription is needed to relieve your symptoms.

neurolens lenses can be placed into virtually any frame, enabling you to continue to enjoy clear vision while maintaining your own style.

You don’t have to settle for daily headaches, frequent neck pain, and irritating eye strain.

At Washington Eye Doctors we offer our patients unparalleled, comprehensive eye care. If you’re experiencing chronic headaches or any of the other symptoms listed above, call us or schedule an appointment to see if neurolens is right for 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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Why Are My Eyes Burning?

The brief burning sensation you may feel in your eyes is commonly due to a minor irritation that disappears once your tears wash it out. However, if the burning sensation persists after you have washed out your eyes, it may indicate a more serious problem. Find out what could be causing the burning sensation in your eyes, and how to get relief.

What Eye Conditions Cause Burning Eyes?

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is the leading cause of burning in the eyes. Healthy tears consist of a balance of oil, mucus, and water. When these three components aren’t properly balanced, the eyes become dry and irritated— which can result in a burning sensation.

Pink Eye

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the membrane that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eye), usually caused by a highly contagious viral or bacterial infection that can affect either one or both eyes. The symptoms include watery, burning or itchy eyes.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that causes sore, red eyelids, and crusty debris at the base of the eyelashes. Symptoms include a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes, grittiness, and itchy eyelids.

What Environmental Factors Cause Burning Eyes?

Environmental irritants that can cause a burning sensation in the eyes include perfumes, smoke, and tiny particles that get stuck in your eyes.

Allergens – Allergens in the air or in your home, such as pollen, pet dander and mold, can cause your eyes to itch, tear up, and burn.

Fragrances – People who are sensitive to fragrances emanating from perfume, cologne, shampoo, or skin cream can experience eye irritation, resulting in a burning sensation.

How Can I Treat or Alleviate Burning Eyes?

If you feel a burning sensation in your eyes, talk to your eye doctor as soon as possible, as it could be an emergency. If left untreated it could lead to permanent eye damage and loss of vision.

If you have foreign particles in your eyes, the eye doctor will be able to carefully remove and provide the appropriate treatment.

If you are diagnosed with dry eye, your eye doctor may recommend medicated eye drops or artificial tears to alleviate the burning sensation and ensure that your eyes remain moisturized all day long. In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe steroid drops for quick, short-term relief.

Many eye doctors can provide specific in-office treatments to successfully treat the underlying cause of dry eye.

If your eye doctor determines that you have pink eye or blepharitis, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops may be prescribed. These drops can provide major relief as they target the source of the problem quickly and effectively.

If allergies are the culprit, we can help with that, too. Antihistamines and decongestants can alleviate your symptoms and minimize or even eliminate the burning sensation.

The only way to diagnose and treat burning eyes is by visiting your eye doctor. If you feel a persistent burning sensation in your eyes, talk to 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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Why Do Onions Make Us Cry?

Onions are one of the most common staple foods around the globe. Ironically, for a vegetable so delicious, they can often be tear-jerkers.

Read on to learn why onions cause your eyes to tear and sting, and what you can do to minimize discomfort.

Why Does Cutting Onions Cause Tearing?

Onions produce a sulfur compound called propyl sulfoxide that is stored in the cells of the onion bulb (the part of the onion we eat). Onions grow underground, where they can be eaten by all types of creatures. This odorous sulfuric compound acts as a deterrent to small animals with big appetites.

When one slices into an onion and breaks open its cells, the sulfur compound is released and mixes with the moisture in the air — turning it into smelly and irritating sulfuric acid. When this chemical rises up and comes in contact with your eyes, it stings!

To keep your eyes from potentially being damaged from this chemical exposure, your brain triggers your eyes to tear and flush out the irritating gas particles. Once enough tears have flushed out the sulfuric acids particles from the eye, clear vision and comfort is usually restored. Although your eyes may sting and feel unpleasant, symptoms are temporary and the sulfuric acid won’t damage your eyes.

How Can I Reduce Eye Discomfort When Chopping Onions?

Most experienced chefs will tell you that chilling your onions in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before slicing them will reduce the amount of tearing they cause. Propyl sulfoxide escapes slower in cooler temperatures, reducing the amount of sulfuric acid in the air.

You can also try cutting the onions at arm’s length, or direct the odorous air away with a small fan. Some say that chopping onions immersed in water also helps. Another option is to wear kitchen goggles to protect your eyes.

Furthermore, try to use fresh onions whenever possible. The longer an onion has been stored, the more likely it will induce tearing and discomfort. Try to avoid slicing near the root end of the bulb, as that area has the highest concentration of sulfuric compounds.

Still Having Eye Problems Out of the Kitchen?

If you frequently suffer from eye irritation — and not just while cutting onions — we can help. At Washington Eye Doctors, we treat a wide range of eye conditions and can provide you with the treatment and relief you seek.

For further questions or to schedule an eye exam, call us 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.

Want to Learn More? Read on!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Michael Rosenblatt

Q: What exactly is glaucoma?

  • A: Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye’s intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high. This means that your eye has too much aqueous humor in it, either because it produced too much, or because it’s not draining properly. Other symptoms are optic nerve damage and vision loss. Glaucoma is a silent disease that robs the patient of their peripheral vision. Early detection is very important.

Q: What’s the difference between vision insurance and eye insurance?

  • A: Vision insurance” really isn’t insurance, but rather a benefit that covers some of your costs for eyewear and eye care. It is meant to be used for “routine” care when you aren’t having a problem but want to be sure everything is OK, like having an annual screening exam with your Primary Care Physician. It often, but not always, includes a discount or allowance toward glasses or contact lenses. It is usually a supplemental policy to your medical health insurance. Medical health insurance covers, and must be used when an eye health issue exists. This includes pink eye, eye allergies, glaucoma, floaters, cataracts, diabetes, headaches, and many other conditions. Blurry vision is covered medically if it relates to a medical condition, for example the development of a cataract. For some reason, however, it is considered non-medical if the only finding is the need for glasses or a change of prescription. Of course you can’t know this until you have the exam. In this case, with vision coverage, you would only be responsible for your co-pay, but with medical coverage without vision coverage, you’d be responsible for the usual charge.

Q: How does high blood pressure affect vision?

  • A: If the blood pressure is very high it can be called malignant hypertension and cause swelling of the macula and acute loss of vision. Otherwise hypertension can cause progressive constriction of the arterioles in the eye and other findings. Usually high blood pressure alone will not affect vision much, however hypertension is a known risk factor in the onset and/or progression of other eye disease such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration as well as blocked veins and arteries in the retina or nerve of the eye that can severely affect vision.

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REFERENCES

https://www.britannica.com/story/why-do-onions-make-you-cry

https://theconversation.com/why-do-onions-make-you-cry-129519

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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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.

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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