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Macular Degeneration

Why You Regularly Need to Replace Your Sunglasses

Did you know that sunglasses, or at least sunglass lenses, regularly need to be replaced? 

According to a study conducted at the University of São Paulo, the UV protection that sunglasses provide deteriorates over time. You may adore your current ones, but if you’ve been rocking those shades for two or more years, it might be time to get a new pair. 

In addition to the UV-blocking properties, anti-reflective and anti-scratch coatings wear down, and the frame material may become brittle over the years, too. Even if you have the most durable sunglasses available, regular lens-replacement is the best way to ensure that your vision is maximally protected from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. 

UV Light and Sunglasses

The protective efficacy of your sunglasses comes in large part from the lens coating of dyes and pigments that reflect and absorb ultraviolet radiation. They create a barrier that prevents UV radiation from penetrating your eyes.

However, this protective coating can, and often does, break down over time. Wear and tear can cause an invisible web of tiny abrasions, compromising its UV-blocking power. Furthermore, the protective dyes and pigments aren’t able to absorb UV rays indefinitely; the more sunlight they’re exposed to, the more rapidly they’ll become ineffective. 

A pair of shades worn on occasion and in mild conditions is likely to remain effective longer than a pair that is heavily used in a more intensely sunny environment. For example, if you spend long days on the water paddling, kayaking, or canoeing, the protective coating on your lenses will deteriorate more quickly than it would if you only wear your shades to go grocery shopping or sit in a cafe. 

Why It’s Important to Protect Your Eyes From UV

Protecting your eyes from the sun is critical no matter where in the world you are, as UV exposure places you at risk for developing eye diseases like eye cancer, pterygium, and pinguecula — which can result in disfigurement and discomfort — as well as cataracts and macular degeneration — which cause vision loss and, in severe cases, blindness.

Even short-term overexposure can result in photokeratitis, a corneal sunburn. Symptoms include eye pain, swelling, light sensitivity, and temporary vision loss. Some people experience it when spending too much time boating or skiing without wearing eye protection. Snow and water can increase solar exposure because they reflect sunlight toward your face.  

What to Look for When Getting New Sunglasses

When choosing new sunglasses, make sure they’re labeled 100% UV protection or UV400. Although most pairs sold in the United States and Canada offer this degree of protection, it’s still worth confirming before making the purchase. Keep in mind that factors like cost, polarization, lens color, or darkness don’t have much to do with the level of UV protection. Even clear prescription lenses can be UV protective. 

It’s important to note that there is a lot of counterfeit sunwear in the marketplace. This is dangerous since counterfeit eyewear may not provide much-needed ultraviolet protection. So if the price of a renowned brand is too good to be true, it’s probably a fake. 

The size and fit of the sunglasses is important. Bigger is definitely better if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Larger wrap-around eyewear is best if you regularly ski or spend many hours in the water, as this style blocks light from all directions. 

To find out whether it’s still safe to wear your favorite shades, visit a Washington, D.C. eye doctor to determine whether your lenses still offer the right level of UV protection. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss prescription sunwear. 

For more information about UV safety, or to get the perfect sunglasses tailored to your vision needs and lifestyle, contact Washington Eye Doctors in Washington, D.C. today!  

 

References 

https://biomedical-engineering-online.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12938-016-0209-7

 

Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

Nation-wide awareness about the vast dangers of obesity is at an all-time high, with TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” and health initiatives such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign shining a spotlight on the importance of fitness and good nutrition. However, despite the public’s knowledge of obesity’s effects on hypertension, stroke, and diabetes, many are not aware of how it damages eye health and vision.

Increasing evidence shows that people who are clinically obese have an elevated risk of developing serious eye diseases. It is widely known that expanding waistlines place people at a higher risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, and cancer — but researchers say the link between obesity and deteriorating vision is the “risk factor that no one talks about”. Professor Michael Belkin and Dr. Zohar Habot-Wilner, from the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Center, found a consistently strong correlation between obesity and the development of four major eye diseases that may cause blindness:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy

The researchers said that although the evidence was out there suggesting a link between obesity and these conditions, their study emphasizes the optometric risks of obesity which can help motivate people to shed those extra pounds.

How Obesity Contributes to Eye Disease

A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is regarded as obese. A high BMI is tied to several chronic systemic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, among others. Recent research indicates that a handful of ocular diseases can now be added to that list.

Serious eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration are more common in individuals with obesity, as well as floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, thyroid-related eye diseases, and stroke-related vision loss.

The connection between obesity and these eye diseases is likely due to the increased risk of peripheral artery disease. This occurs when the tiny blood vessels bringing oxygen to parts of your body like the feet, kidneys, and eyes become compromised.

Your eyes are particularly prone to damage from obesity because the blood vessels in the eyes (called arterioles) are easily blocked, since they’re extremely thin and small — as thin as ½ the width of a human hair!

Most people are not aware that obesity may increase the rate of developing cataracts, too. Cataracts result when the focusing lens in the eye becomes cloudy and requires surgery to be replaced. In addition to age, cataract development is associated with obesity, poor nutrition, gout, diabetes and high blood sugar levels, though the exact cause isn’t clear.

A Healthy Lifestyle Can Reduce Your Risk of Ocular Disease

Knowing about the risk of vision loss may give those with a high BMI the extra motivational boost they need to lose weight. The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can reduce the associated risks.

An active lifestyle and a balanced, nutritious diet lower obesity and improve overall physical and eye health. Give your body a boost by incorporating important nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega 3, zinc, and lutein, many of which are found in green leafy and dark orange vegetables, as they have been shown to reduce the onset, progression, and severity of certain eye diseases.

We Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy in Washington, D.C.

While a healthy diet and regular exercise greatly increase your chances of living a disease-free long life, they alone are not enough to ensure long term healthy eyesight. Regular eye exams with Dr. Michael Rosenblatt can help prevent or detect the onset of ocular disease, and maintain vision that is clear and comfortable.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health, don’t hesitate to call Washington Eye Doctors — we’re here for you.

What’s Worse For Your Vision: High Myopia (Nearsightedness) or Smoking?

cigarette 110849 640While the detrimental effects of smoking on the lungs and heart are widely known, many aren’t aware that its impact on vision is just as profound. Myopia, on the other hand, is commonly viewed as a benign refractive error that simply requires correction with prescription lenses. The truth is, however, that both myopia progression and smoking increase the chances of developing serious eye diseases that can lead to vision loss.

Here’s the good news — the risks to vision associated with smoking and myopia progression in children are potentially preventable. Just as a chain-smoker can kick the habit to improve eye health, myopia management programs offered at The Myopia Management Center At Washington Eye Doctors can dramatically lower their child’s risk of developing serious ocular diseases later in life.

Let’s Compare Smoking to Myopia Progression

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the eye’s natural lens begins to cloud, causing hazy or blurred vision. Certain factors can contribute to the onset and severity of the condition, such as advanced age, obesity, eye injury, high myopia, and smoking. In fact, according to a recent study, smokers are 2 times more likely to develop cataracts than non-smokers.

However, children with medium to high myopia are 5 times more likely to develop cataracts later in life than non-myopic children.

Macular Degeneration

Smoking is the largest controllable factor that contributes to macular degeneration. Studies show that those who smoke are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop macular degeneration than non-smokers.

Myopic macular degeneration (MMD) is caused by a severe eye elongation and retinal stretching — such as in high myopia — which leads to a damaged macula (the small portion of the retina responsible for detailed central and color vision). The higher the myopia, the greater the risk of developing MMD.

Retinal Detachment

The harmful properties in cigarettes can cause uveitis — an inflammation of the uvea (the eye’s middle layer). Uveitis can lead to retinal detachment, which separates the retina from the layers beneath it. This causes field vision loss, floaters, light flashes, and in severe cases — complete vision loss. Smoking more than doubles the chances of developing this condition.

There also is a causal relationship between myopia and retinal detachment. A child with mild myopia is 21 times more likely to develop retinal detachment, whereas a child with high myopia is 44 times more likely to suffer from this serious condition.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the United States and Canada, occurs when ocular fluid places pressure on the eye, damaging the optic nerve. A few risk factors for glaucoma include high blood pressure, cataracts, and diabetes — all of which are linked to smoking. By kicking the smoking habit, one significantly reduces the risks of developing this vision-robbing condition.

Similarly, children with medium to high myopia are 5 times more likely to develop glaucoma than non-myopes.

What’s worse for your vision? High myopia (nearsightedness) or smoking? from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

How Can Myopia Management Help?

As adults, many of us take actions to maintain good health and preserve our vision, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and not smoking. Let’s do the same for our children. As depicted above, smoking is as dangerous for the eyes as rapidly progressing myopia.

If your child’s prescription rapidly deteriorates, contact The Myopia Management Center At Washington Eye Doctors for a consultation. Let us help your child diminish the risk of developing ocular disease and vision loss with our effective myopia management program.

Dr. Michael Rosenblatt serves patients from Washington, D.C., Bethesda, Arlington, Chevy Chase, and throughout District of Columbia.

References

https://www.allaboutvision.com/smoking/

https://www.everydayhealth.com/vision-center/the-aging-eye/tips/smoking-ups-risk-for-age-related-vision-loss.aspx

https://www.allaboutvision.com/parents/myopia-progression.htm

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