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When To Schedule An Eye Exam

How long has it been since your last eye exam? A year? Two? Longer?

How often should we be scheduling our eye exams, and what are some good reasons to come in between regular appointments? If you aren’t sure, then you’ve come to the right place, because we’re here to discuss the reasons to schedule an eye appointment and how often everyone should have them!

What Does A “Regular” Eye Exam Mean?

Depending on your age and risk factors, how often you should have an eye exam will vary widely. Children should have their first eye exam around six months old, come back around their third birthday, and again before they start first grade. For patients age six to sixty whose vision health isn’t considered “at-risk,” an eye exam every other year is generally enough. After age sixty, frequency should increase to yearly eye exams. Optometrists will determine the best schedule for at-risk patients.

What Is “At-Risk” Vision?

A few things can increase a person’s chances of developing an eye disease, including diabetes and hypertension (both diseases that can negatively impact vision), as well as a family history of eye diseases like glaucoma or macular degeneration. There are also prescription medications with vision-related side effects such as dry eye, and it’s important to monitor that so it doesn’t lead to other complications like an eye infection. Wearing contact lenses also increases the risk of infections.

5 Signs It’s Time For An Eye Exam

Now you know how often to schedule regular appointments and some of the risk factors that could increase your appointment frequency, but what if something happens between appointments? Here are a few reasons not to wait until the next one to come see us:

  • Blurred vision. If your vision is starting to blur, you probably need a new glasses prescription, so come on in!
  • Frequent headaches. Many things can cause headaches, including digital eye strain.
  • Floaters or bright flashes. A few floaters are normal, but if you’ve noticed a bunch of new ones, schedule an appointment right away, particularly if you’re also seeing bright flashes or losing peripheral vision. These are symptoms of retinal detachment, which must be treated as quickly as possible to preserve vision.
  • Light sensitivity. A little light sensitivity usually isn’t a problem, but if it suddenly gets bad, it could indicate an eye infection.
  • Difficulty driving at night. If the road lines and street signs become difficult to see at night, it could be a sign of vision loss or nearsightedness. It could be as simple as needing a stronger prescription, but it could also be a symptom of an eye disease.

Don’t Put Off Your Next Visit!

It’s easy to let something that only happens once every other year slip through the cracks, but don’t let that happen with your eye exams! If you can’t remember how long it’s been since your last exam, schedule your next one now. We can’t wait to see you!

We value each and every one of our patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Best Foods For Eye Health

Have you heard that eating carrots will give you great night vision?

That’s actually a leftover idea from World War II propaganda. The British didn’t want enemy soldiers to learn about their new radar technology, so they claimed their airmen got their night vision by eating carrots! Whether or not the Germans fell for it, the idea stuck around.

So is there any truth to it? Maybe not to the part about superior night vision, but carrots and other foods do contain nutrients that help our eyes stay healthy!

Sweet Potatoes And Oranges

Two important antioxidants that help us stay healthy are vitamins C and E. Vitamin C can lower our risk of developing cataracts and may even slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration. The easiest way to get vitamin C is by eating plenty of citrus fruit, such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. Vitamin E protects our eyes from “free radicals,” molecules that disrupt healthy tissue, and you can get it by eating sweet potatoes and nuts!


Fish are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain function and a healthy immune system. Research has shown that they also play a critical role in our visual development and retinal function.

Eggs And Leafy Greens

Studies have shown that the nutrients lutein and xeazanthin are linked to a lowered risk of chronic eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and the foods that have the most of these are eggs and leafy greens!


Carrots, along with other yellow, orange, or leafy green fruits and veggies, is an excellent source of vitamin A. These types of produce get their color from beta-carotene. Our intestines use beta-carotene to make vitamin A, which helps our eyes convert light into brainwaves and is an important component of our corneas (the clear part of the front of our eyes). Vitamin A deficiency leaves up to half a million children blind each year!


Oysters are a great source of zinc. Why do we need zinc? It’s essential to many processes in our bodies, including helping vitamin A get from our livers to our retinas. It doesn’t matter how much vitamin A we eat if it can’t get to where it needs to go! If you’re not a fan of oysters, you can get your zinc in smaller doses from meats, beans, and nuts.

Another Component Of Eye Health Is Eye Exams!

Your eyes are sure to benefit when you add more of these nutritious foods to your diet, but even the healthiest food isn’t a substitute for regular eye exams! Poor nutrition isn’t the only thing that can cause eye problems, which is why it’s crucial to schedule appointments with us, especially if you’ve noticed any changes in your vision.

We’re here to help your eyes stay healthy for life!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

UT chemists discover how blue light speeds blindness

Blue light from digital devices and the sun transforms vital molecules in the eye’s retina into cell killers, according to optical chemistry research at The University of Toledo.

The process outlined in the study, which was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, leads to age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the United States.

Dr. Ajith Karunarathne examined toxic oxygen generation by retinal during blue light exposure.

“We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye’s cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it,” Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said. “It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina. Our experiments explain how this happens, and we hope this leads to therapies that slow macular degeneration, such as a new kind of eye drop.”

Macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that results in significant vision loss starting on average in a person’s 50s or 60s, is the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina. Those cells need molecules called retinal to sense light and trigger a cascade of signaling to the brain.

“You need a continuous supply of retinal molecules if you want to see,” Karunarathne said. “Photoreceptors are useless without retinal, which is produced in the eye.”

Karunarathne’s lab found that blue light exposure causes retinal to trigger reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells.

“It’s toxic. If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves,” Kasun Ratnayake, a PhD student researcher working in Karunarathne’s cellular photo chemistry group, said. “Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they’re dead, they’re dead for good.”

Karunarathne introduced retinal molecules to other cell types in the body, such as cancer cells, heart cells and neurons. When exposed to blue light, these cell types died as a result of the combination with retinal. Blue light alone or retinal without blue light had no effect on cells.

“No activity is sparked with green, yellow or red light,” Karunarathne said. “The retinal-generated toxicity by blue light is universal. It can kill any cell type.”

The researcher found that a molecule called alpha tocopherol, a vitamin E derivative and a natural antioxidant in the eye and body, stops the cells from dying. However, as a person ages or the immune system is suppressed, people lose the ability to fight against the attack by retinal and blue light.

“That is when the real damage occurs,” Karunarathne said.

The lab currently is measuring light coming from television, cell phone and tablet screens to get a better understanding of how the cells in the eyes respond to everyday blue light exposure.

“If you look at the amount of light coming out of your cell phone, it’s not great but it seems tolerable,” Dr. John Payton, visiting assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said. “Some cell phone companies are adding blue-light filters to the screens, and I think that is a good idea.”

To protect your eyes from blue light, Karunarathne advises to wear sunglasses that can filter both UV and blue light outside and avoid looking at cell phones or tablets in the dark.

“Every year more than two million new cases of age-related macular degeneration are reported in the United States,” Karunarathne said. “By learning more about the mechanisms of blindness in search of a method to intercept toxic reactions caused by the combination of retinal and blue light, we hope to find a way to protect the vision of children growing up in a high-tech world.”

The Best Eyesight In The Animal Kingdom

Human eyes are complex and powerful organs, but there are a few animals who have us beat when it comes to eyesight.

Let’s take a look at some of the best peepers in the animal kingdom and find out what makes them so different from ours!

Difference Between Human And Animal Vision

All eyes work by the same principle of focusing light onto the retina and translating the resultant image into neurological signals in the brain, but depending on what an animal has to do to survive, there will be different adaptations. The adaptations that are important for humans include detailed color vision, the ability to detect motion, and depth perception.

One of the easiest differences to spot between all the kinds of animal eyes is predator versus prey animals. We have our eyes on the front of our faces, like predator animals, while prey animals tend to have their eyes on the sides of their heads so predators can’t sneak up on them.

But the differences go much farther than that. Eagles, for instance, have a much deeper fovea than humans, which essentially gives them built-in telephoto lenses! They can see detail at much greater distances than we can as a result. They also have a wider field of vision and color vision that enables them to see in the UV spectrum!

Which Eyes Are The Best?

Even eagles don’t have the best eyesight out there, though. They might be kings of the daytime skies, but their eyes can’t do everything. Here are some other incredible eyes in the wild:

  • The critter with the world’s best color vision (as far as we know) is the bluebottle butterfly. Where we have three different types of cones to detect color, they have a whopping fifteen, some of which see in the UV spectrum.
  • When it comes to night vision, owls are at the top. Their eyes are shaped more like tubes than spheres, and they don’t move in their sockets, so they swivel their heads instead. Their eyes are very large and their retinas have five times the rod density that ours do in order to see in the dark. They also have a layer behind the retina called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects the light back to the retinas one more time, sharpening the night vision even more.
  • Land animals, no matter how well they can see, lose that advantage underwater. But sharks’ eyes are well adapted to seeing in their ocean habitat. Many shark species have a protective layer over their eyes, and they have the tapetum lucidum like owls to see in dark or murky water.
  • The animal with perhaps the most complicated eyes is the mantis shrimp, which has eye-stalks that move independently, each of which has three separate compound eyes (meaning there are numerous separate low-resolution “screens” instead of a single image) that do different things and send the information to different parts of the brain. They also have twelve types of photoreceptors.

Have You Noticed A Change In Your Vision?

While our eyes will never be able to see the way animals do, if you notice a change in your own vision, schedule an appointment so we can check it out! We want to make sure you always have the most current prescription, and we especially want to make sure no eye conditions are developing.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Top image by Flickr user jon hanson used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

5 Tips For Making Glasses Cool For Your Kids

Have you been struggling to convince your child to wear their glasses?

Many children struggle with getting used to glasses, whether it’s because they fear being teased or because the glasses feel strange on their faces, so how can we as parents make our children more excited to wear their glasses? Here are a few tips to help you do just that!

1. Make Sure The Glasses Fit

No child wants to wear something uncomfortable, and that holds just as true with glasses as with an article of clothing. Children are always growing, so glasses that fit perfectly a few months ago might be starting to pinch now. At our practice, we can adjust the fit of glasses to make sure they stay in place without being uncomfortably tight.

2. Let Them Choose Their Frames

Jeers of “nice glasses, four-eyes!” might be less common today than they once were, but children can still feel self-conscious about how their new glasses will impact their peers’ behavior towards them. A great way to counter this self-consciousness is to let them choose their own frames! Don’t let your own sense of fashion get in the way of your child’s delight at wearing brightly colored frames. If they get to wear frames they think are cool, they’ll feel much better about leaving them on.

3. Make Sure The Glasses Are Age-Appropriate

Even if a pair of glasses is your child’s favorite color, they will lose a lot of points in the coolness department if they are glasses that look like they’re for a younger child. Likewise, glasses for an older child won’t be very comfortable for toddlers. Let your child show off what a big kid they are by wearing glasses in the right style for their age group.

4. Set Goals And Take Your Time

If your child doesn’t like wearing glasses or they often forget to wear them, it’s okay to take it slow. Gradually work your way up from expecting them to wear their glasses for half an hour a day to wearing them for the whole day, or start out with having them wear glasses while reading or watching TV only, then expand to wearing them all day. If they need more motivation, you could incorporate treats and prizes.

5. Don’t Let Them Slack Off!

If you’re setting glasses goals, then make sure to stick to them. You can recruit the help of your child’s teacher, but you need to be a stickler about it too! Be supportive, but hold them to those goals. If they need more encouragement, you can remind them of all the cool characters in their favorite stories who have glasses, like Harry Potter, Superman, and Supergirl!

We’re Here To Help!

Your child might not believe glasses can be cool if you’re the only one saying it, but along with fitting their glasses and helping them find the coolest frames, we can give them our professional opinion that glasses are awesome! We’re proud to be your partners in ensuring your child’s lifelong vision health.

We can’t wait to help your child see clearly!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Cataracts And Our Vision

Over 20 million adults age 40 and older and half of seniors 80 and older have cataracts, and that’s just in the US.

Because cataracts are so common, it’s important to know what they are, their symptoms, and how they can be treated.

The Basics Of Cataracts

Normally, the proteins inside the lenses of our eyes line up in a way that makes them completely transparent, but over time they can begin to clump together in a way that blocks light. This clump of proteins is a cataract. It doesn’t affect the rest of the eye’s anatomy, but it can dim or fully obscure vision. Cataracts are so common that they are the leading cause of blindness across the world.

Cataract Symptoms

Cataracts may only take up a small area of the eyes’ lenses when they first begin to form, and the effect isn’t that noticeable. However, over time, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Dim, blurry, or cloudy vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Light sensitivity and increased glare
  • Halo effect around lights
  • Frequent changes in corrective lense prescriptions
  • Fading or yellowing colors
  • Double vision in one eye

Causes Aside From Old Age

While advancing age is the most common risk factor for cataracts, plenty of people get them starting at age 40, and several things increase our chances of getting them, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Family history of cataracts
  • UV radiation
  • High blood pressure
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Prolonged corticosteroid medication use

Now For The Good News

Eventually, glasses or contacts won’t be able to do enough to counter the effects of cataracts. Fortunately, an eye surgeon can easily remove the cataracts and restore the patient’s clear vision, and it only takes one short surgery per eye. Cataract surgery is such a low-risk, routine, and simple surgery that it is performed more frequently than any other surgery in the US — at a rate of three million surgeries per year!

Sometimes cataract surgery can even correct other vision problems, like astigmatism:

Are You Experiencing Symptoms?

If you or someone you love has been dealing with cataract symptoms, there’s no need to suffer in silence! Schedule an appointment with us so that we can start making a plan to get you or your loved one back to a life free of cloudy vision!

Thank you for being a part of our practice family!

Top image by Flickr user Adam McGuffie used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Preventing Fireworks Eye Injuries

There’s something about a fireworks display that brings out feelings of childlike wonder in all of us.

The last thing we want is for that enjoyment to be marred by eye injuries, but unfortunately, this happens far too often.

Handle All Explosives With Care

Fireworks might just seem like harmless lights and sounds to anyone who hasn’t been injured by them, but what we need to remember is that everything from Roman candles to mortars is actually an explosive. They fling tiny pieces of shrapnel in every direction at high speeds when they go off, so it’s critical to remain a safe distance away.

What about firecrackers and sparklers? Even these are far from safe to have near children’s eyes. Sparklers burn hotter than 1200°F. To minimize risk of injury, make sure any children under the age of 12 are under close supervision while using them, don’t run while holding them, always hold them at arm’s length from your body, and never use more than one at a time. And protective eyewear wouldn’t hurt!

Fireworks Eye Injury Statistics

Thousands of Americans are injured by fireworks every year. 1,300 people went to emergency rooms specifically for eye injuries in 2014 alone. The worst part is that the majority of these injuries were sustained by innocent bystanders, not careless firework operators. Just one spark or piece of shrapnel is capable of causing permanent blindness, so make sure this doesn’t happen to you or your loved ones!

Safety First!

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to skip doing them at home and only go to professional shows. However, there are several safety rules you can follow if you do purchase fireworks to set off at home:

  • Read all the labels on your fireworks and carefully follow any safety instructions.
  • Wear protective goggles at all times. Once shrapnel starts flying, goggles can be the difference between permanent blindness and walking away with no injury.
  • Closely supervise all young children around fireworks. Ideally, you should keep children under age 12 away from all fireworks, including sparklers and firecrackers.

In Case Of Injury

Even when we follow all the rules, accidents can still happen. If you or someone you know does sustain an eye injury this 4th of July, don’t rub, rinse out, or apply pressure or any ointment to the injured eye, because this could cause more damage. Instead, go straight to the emergency room. The sooner the eye gets treatment, the better the chances are for recovery.

Stay Safe And Have A Blast!

We want everyone to have a great time celebrating Independence Day with your family, friends, food, and fireworks. Just make sure you stay safe while you’re having fun!

We wish all our patients a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Eye Color Trivia

One of the first things we notice about someone when we meet them is their eyes.

The color, the shape, the expression, the eyelashes and eyebrows. In this post, we’re just going to focus on the color, because it’s a lot more complicated than you might expect!

How Common Is Your Eye Color?

The exact statistics of human eye color are hard to pin down, but in general, brown eyes (whether light or dark) are by far the most common across the world. In northern Europe, nearly everyone has blue eyes, but that number drops dramatically everywhere else, to the point where blue eyes are practically nonexistent in South America, Asia, and Africa.

The least common eye color is green. There are many slight variations in each of these colors, and sometimes more unusual colors will appear, such as amber, gray, and, in people with albinism, pale pinkish-blue. Another rare possibility is heterochromia, or having two different eye colors. Babies are often born with blue eyes, but the color changes as the melanin develops in their irises over time.

Behind Blue Eyes: Eye Color Genetics

The color of our eyes is determined by multiple different genes, most notably OCA2 and HERC2. Because multiple genes are involved, you can’t always predict a baby’s eye color. In general, brown eyes are more dominant and blue more recessive, but blue-eyed parents will sometimes still have a brown-eyed child.

One of the most interesting things researchers have uncovered about eye color is that blue eyes are the result of a single mutation to the OCA2 gene that turns off its ability to produce brown eyes. This means that everyone with blue eyes shares a common ancestor from between six and ten thousand years ago.

The Function Of Eye Color

As interesting as it is that blue eyes all come from one person with a genetic mutation, they do come with a slight disadvantage. The absence of melanin in the irises leaves blue-eyed people more vulnerable to damage from UV rays (which means it’s extra important to wear sunglasses if you have blue eyes).

Interested In Trying Out Another Color?

Every pair of eyes is unique and beautiful, but if you’ve been wondering what a different eye color would look like on you, we can help you find the perfect pair of color contact lenses, so come see us soon!

Our patients are a sight for sore eyes!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Don’t Forget Your Sunglasses!

With summer almost here, many of us are looking forward to spending a lot of time outdoors.

Before we head out, though, we need to make sure we’re protecting ourselves from the sun’s UV rays, both with sunscreen for our skin and with sunglasses for our eyes.

Why We Need UV Protection

We all know that we can get nasty sunburns if we stay outside too long without sunscreen, but did you know that our eyes can be damaged in similar ways by too much sunlight? UV-A rays reach all the way to our retinas and can lead to macular degeneration (loss of central vision), while UV-B rays affect the cornea and lens, causing corneal sunburns and increasing the risk of developing cataracts.

Sunglasses Have Come A Long Way

The earliest form of sunglasses were flattened walrus ivory with slits across the front, made by the Inuit people to protect against glare from the snow. They worked pretty well, and the same principle is used in modern polarized lenses. Non-polarized sunglasses became popular thanks to early film stars, but polarized lenses weren’t developed until the mid-1930s.

Over the decades, sunglasses have gone through numerous different styles. The cat-eye frame was made popular in the 1950s by Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, the ’60s saw the big bug-eyed frames take off because of Jackie Kennedy, and so on. These days, everyone has a unique style, taking inspiration from many of the past decades. And while we always like to look cool in our shades, the most important factor should always be that they do an effective job of protecting our eyes from the sun.

Finding The Right Pair

The first thing to look for when choosing new sunglasses is UV protection. When you buy sunglasses, make sure the label says they block at least 99 percent of UV rays. The next thing to look for is the size. Although most sunglasses are chosen for their style, opting for a style that has wider frames will allow more coverage and protection. Choosing frames that sit closer to the eyes will help to make sure you get more coverage too!

Another variable to consider apart from style is the color of the lenses, because different colors provide different benefits. Yellow and amber lenses filter out blue light, which makes them great for sports, while rose and purple lenses increase contrast against blue and green backgrounds, which makes them great for hunting and water skiing. Whatever color you choose, though, polarized lenses will give you the best glare reduction.

Come Try On Our Shades

If you’re still not sure which sunglasses are right for you, don’t stress. Come see us and we can help you pick out the perfect ones to suit your style and protect your eyes. We can fit them to you as well and make sure you’ll get the most UV protection possible!

We can’t wait to see you in your shades!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.