Shingles is the term we use to describe a condition that is caused by a re-activation of the Herpes Varicella-Zoster virus. The origin of this infection usually goes way back to childhood with a disease we know as chickenpox.

When you have a chickenpox infection your immune system manages to eventually suppress that virus from causing an active infection, but the virus does not get completely eliminated from your body--it is able to go and hide in your nerve roots.

Your immune system manages to keep the virus in check for most of your life but there may come a time in adulthood when your immune system is not working as well as it used to, and the virus can reappear. It usually does this along the distribution of a single sensory nerve called a dermatome.

The most common area for this to occur is along your trunk (chest or abdomen) but it is also commonly found on the face.

There are three branches of nerves that supply sensation to your face. They are all branches of the fifth cranial nerve. Those three branches supply the upper face (V1), the mid face (V2), and the lower face (V3).  Most of the time, shingles breaks out along only one of the branches at a time. The one that most frequently involves the eye is a rash breakout in the V1 distribution. This can involve the forehead and both the upper and lower eyelid.  It is also much more likely that the inside of the eye will be involved if the tip of the nose has a lesion on it.  The reason for that is that there is a specific subbranch of the V1 nerve called the nasocilliary nerve. This nerve is responsible for sensation on the tip of the nose and the inside of the eye.

The hallmark of shingles is that once the rash erupts it stays on one side of the body, including when it happens on the face. The rash will go up to the centerline of your face but will not go to the other side. You may get lesions on your scalp, but they will not show up on the back of your head. That is because the V1 does not go past half way back on your scalp. The back of your head has its sensation handled by nerves that come out of your spinal cord not cranial nerves that come out of the front of your skull.

Many people have a hard-to-describe sensation of pain, irritation, or itching along the distribution of the nerve for a day or two before the rash shows up. It is important to recognize the rash as quickly as possible because the drugs that treat shingles--usually Acyclovir, Famvir (famciclovir), or Valtrex (valacyclovir)--are much more effective if they are started within three days of the beginning of the rash.

Eye problems may occur along with the rash, especially if there is a lesion on the tip of the nose.

The two biggest problems are swelling or inflammation of the cornea and inflammation inside the eye, which we call iritis or uveitis.  

The inflammation in the eye can cause pain and it can also increase eye pressure and cause glaucoma. Most often the treatment for the eye problem is to use the same oral medication mentioned above and sometimes it also can require eye drops to decrease the inflammation the virus is causing (steroid drops) or drops to try and lower the elevated pressure (glaucoma drops).

The eye inflammation can cause blurred vision, pain, and significant light sensitivity. It can be hard to treat and control and can continue to be a problem long after the skin lesions are gone. In fact, many times problems don’t even start until the skin lesions are starting to go away.

It is recommended that if you have shingles affecting the distribution of V1 that you have an eye exam within a few days of the diagnosis being made and then again a week later because, as mentioned above, the eye problems can present a week later than the skin eruptions.

There can be some serious long-term effects of shingles on your eye, including glaucoma and corneal scarring that can be bad enough to require a corneal transplant. The symptoms are often obvious with the vision being blurry and the eye being very red and painful, but sometimes the symptoms may be much more mild even when significant trouble is brewing inside the eye. So even if you think the eye feels fine, you need an exam to ensure there is not subtle inflammation or significant elevation of the pressure in the eye.

The other long-term problem with shingles around the eye is the possibility of there being ongoing pain in the area that can last for many years. This is called Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN). This pain can occur all along the dermatome where shingles had occurred. The eye itself may look perfectly normal but the pain persists. This is often treated with drugs that were originally developed as seizure medication but have since been shown to help alleviate neurological pain. The two most commonly used drugs for this are Neurontin (Gabapentin) and Lyrica (Pregabalin).

The most important thing you can do to try and make sure this doesn’t happen to you is to be vaccinated for shingles. The original vaccination called Zostavax has been available since 2006 in the U.S.  It is a single-injection vaccine and was recommend for everyone over 60.  The main issue with this vaccine is that it only reduced the risk of getting shingles by 51% and PHN by 67%.  In 2017 a new vaccine was approved in the U.S. called Shingrix. This vaccine is a two-injection vaccine with the second shot given 2 to 6 months after the first. This vaccine is recommended for everyone 50 years or older.  The big advantage of this vaccine is that is 85-97% effective in preventing both shingles and PHN.  For more information about this vaccine you can go to the CDC website by clicking here.

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

Getting your eyes dilated can be inconvenient – dilation makes the eyes light sensitive which can make it difficult to read books or use phones and computers for a couple of hours.

So wouldn’t it be great to have another drop to reverse the effects of dilation?

On Dec. 31, 1990, dapiprazole, under the trade name Rev-Eyes, was approved by the FDA and thought to be the answer to all the post-dilation problems. It was marketed for treatment of medically-induced dilation by stimulating pupillary constriction and restoration of accommodative function for reading.

In clinical practice, dapiprazole took between one to two hours to return pupils to pre-dilation size.

Side effects such as stinging upon instillation, conjunctival hyperemia (redness of eye), headache, and a few instances of ptosis (lid drooping), with a possible additional dollar cost to patients, seemed to lessen dapiprazole’s overall clinical benefit.

Reading ability returned in approximately 43 minutes with dapiprazole vs 66 minutes without the drop (Optom Vis Sci 1994 May; 71(5):319-22). The main complaint that people had after using dapiprazole was the conjunctival hyperemia, which lasted more than three hours. The other issue was that dapiprazole was costly, so some practitioners included an additional charge for the reversal of dilation to offset the cost.

The full adverse reaction profile according to Drugs.com is as follows:

"Adverse Reactions: In controlled studies, the most frequent reaction to dapiprazole was conjunctival injection lasting 20 minutes in over 80% of patients. Burning on instillation of dapiprazole hydrochloride ophthalmic solution was reported in approximately half of all patients. Reactions occurring in 10% to 40% of patients included ptosis, lid erythema, lid edema, chemosis, itching, punctate keratitis, corneal edema, browache, photophobia and headaches. Other reactions reported less frequently included dryness of eyes, tearing and blurring of vision."

Currently, Rev-Eyes is off the market. The FDA has stated that Rev-Eyes was not withdrawn from the market for reasons of safety or effectiveness.

At this time, there is nothing available for reversal of dilation. People who get dilated will still need to wear their sunglasses and to put off reading for a couple of hours until the effects of the dilation drops wear off.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Jane Pan

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided on this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

The tears that coat the surface of your eyes have both a liquid and a mucous layer to them. It is normal to have a small amount of mucus in your tear film. But that mucus can significantly increase when the eye gets irritated.

Some of the most common causes of irritation that can make the eye overproduce mucus are:

  • Conjunctivitis, which could be caused by an allergy, bacteria, or virus
  • Blepharitis, which is an inflammation of the eyelids
  • Dry Eye Syndrome

When any of these conditions occur, the eye will begin to make more mucus.  

Sometimes the mucous production really is excessive and there is a temptation to keep pulling it out with either your fingers or a cotton swab. DON'T DO THIS--it will just lead to recurring irritation and problems.

Any mucus that gets deposited OUTSIDE the eye on the outer eyelid or on the lashes is fair game for removal. In fact, anything on the exterior of the eyelid or stuck to the eyelashes should be cleaned off.  Just don’t reach INSIDE the eyelids.

Every time you go inside the eye to remove mucus, your finger or a cotton swab further irritates the eye and causes it to make even more mucus and you end up with the viscious cycle that we call mucus fishing syndrome.

If you have an acute problem that is causing excessive mucus, you need to try and get the underlying problems treated and under control. That means treating the allergy, blepharitis, infectious conjunctivitis, or dry eye syndrome.

In addition, you need to STOP putting your fingers in your eye and pulling the mucus out. Sit on your hands if you have to--but you have to stop or it is never going to get better.

If you have gone through treatment for the original problem but still find yourself pulling mucus out of your eye, you may need your doctor to try a steroid drop in order to decrease the production and try to help you get out of the habit of putting your fingers in your eyes.

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Fall brings a lot of fun, with Halloween bringing loads of it.

But did you know that some Halloween practices could harm your vision? Take Halloween contacts, for instance. They vary widely, with everything from monster eyes to goblin eyes to cat eyes to sci-fi or a glamour look. They can be just the added touch you need for that perfect costume. However, some people do not realize that the FDA classifies contact lenses as a medical device that can alter cells of the eye and that damage can occur if they are not fit properly.

Infection, redness, corneal ulcers, hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the eye) and permanent blindness can occur if the proper fit is not ensured. The ICE, FTC, and FDA are concerned about costume contacts from the illegal black market because they are often unsafe and unsanitary. Proper safety regulations are strictly adhered to by conventional contact lens companies to ensure that the contact lenses are sterile and packaged properly and accurately.

Health concerns arise whenever unregulated black-market contacts come into the US market and are sold at flea markets, thrift shops, beauty shops, malls, and convenience stores. These contacts are sold without a prescriber's prescription, and are illegal in the US. There have also been reports of damage to eyes because Halloween spook houses sometimes ask employees to share the same pair of Halloween contact lenses as they dress up for their roles.

So the take home message is, have a great time at Halloween, and enjoy the flare that decorative contacts can bring to your costume, but get them from a reputable venue and be fit by an eye care professional with a proper legal prescription. Don't gamble with your eyes for a night of Halloween fun!

 

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ

For over 40 years the standard surgical treatment for glaucoma was a procedure called a trabeculectomy.

In a trabeculectomy, the ophthalmic surgeon would make a hole in the wall of eye to allow fluid from the inside of the eye to flow out of the eye and then get resorbed by the blood vessels in the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that covers the white part of the eye).

This surgery often resulted in a large decrease in the Intraocular Pressure (IOP). Reducing the IOP is the goal of glaucoma surgery because multiple studies show that if you can reduce the pressure the progression of glaucoma slows.

The problem with trabeculectomy is that although it frequently lowers the pressure, it also has a fairly high complication and/or failure rate. This led to some reluctance to perform the procedure unless the glaucoma was severe, or the pressure was very high. As a result of those issues there has been a search during the last 40 years for something that had a lower complication rate and could be more easily deployed earlier in the disease process.

Enter Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery, or MIGS.  There are now several types of surgeries that fit in the MIGS category and many of them are used in conjunction with cataract surgery. They are utilized much earlier in the disease process and when combined with cataract surgery they can be used to not only help control the pressure over the long term but can often even reduce the burden of eye drops afterward.

The biggest advantage to MIGS over the trabeculectomy is that when used in conjunction with cataract surgery, MIGS can lower the eye pressure (although not as much as the trabeculectomy) but often with no higher rate of complications as there is with cataract surgery alone.

The lower complication rate is mainly because the MIGS procedures do not create a full-thickness hole in the wall of the eye.  Most of them involve putting in some form of stent inside the eye. The stent lets the intraocular fluid get out of the eye more efficiently through its normal internal drain called the trabecular meshwork, rather than having to flow to the outside of the eye as with a trabeculectomy. There are currently several FDA-approved drainage stents with more on the horizon.

A stent is not the only way to lower the pressure along with cataract surgery. There is also a laser treatment you can do from the inside of the eye that slows the amount of fluid the eye makes, which also results in a lower pressure. It is called Endocyclophotocoagulation (ECP). Think of a partially clogged drain in a sink with constantly running water. If you don’t want the sink to overflow (or the pressure in the eye to get too high) you either try to unclog the drain (stent) or you turn down the faucet (ECP).

MIGS has been a great development over the last several years, enabling the ophthalmic surgeon to intervene surgically at a much earlier stage of glaucoma and with a significantly lower complication rate than the more invasive trabeculectomy.

At this point I utilize one of the MIGS procedures in almost all patients who need their cataracts removed and are on one or more glaucoma medications. Even if the glaucoma is fairly well controlled at the time, the MIGS procedure gives us the opportunity to try and get a glaucoma patient off their eye drops, which is both a decreased burden of treatment and lets us keep the eye drops in reserve should the pressure start to increase again later in life.

If you have glaucoma and a cataract you should definitely discuss this with your doctor to see if a MIGS procedure along with your cataract surgery could be the right choice for you.

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

Itching, burning, watering, red, irritated, tired eyes... what is a person to do? The symptoms aforementioned are classic sign of Dry Eye Syndrome (DES), which affects millions of adults and children. With increased screen time in all age groups, the symptoms are rising.

What causes this? One reason is that when we stare at a computer screen or phone, our blink reflex slows way down. A normal eye blinks 17,000 times per day. When our eye functions normally, the body usually produces enough tears to be symptom free, however, if you live in a geographical area that is dry, or has a high allergy rate, your symptoms could be worse.

Dry eye syndrome can be brought on by many factors: aging, geographical location, lid hygiene, contact lens wear, medications, and dehydration. The lacrimal gland in the eye that produces tears, in a person over forty years old, starts slowly losing function. Females with hormonal changes have a higher incidence of DES (dry eye syndrome). Dry, arid climates or areas with high allergy causes lend to higher incidences of DES as well.

Blepharities, a condition of the eyelids, can cause a dandruff-like situation for the eye, exacerbating a dry eye condition. Contact lenses can add to DES, so make sure you are in high oxygen contact lens material if you suffer from DES. Certain medications such as antihistamines, cholesterol and blood pressure meds, hormonal and birth control medications, can also cause symptoms of a dry eye. Check with your pharmacist if you are not sure.

And finally, overall dehydration can cause DES. Some studies show we need 1/2 our body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you need approximately 75 ounces of water per day to be fully hydrated. If you are not at that level, it could affect your eyes.

Treatment for DES is varied, but the main treatment is a tear supplement to replace the evaporated tears. These come in the form of topical ophthalmic artificial tears. Oral agents that can help are Omega 3 supplements such as fish oil or flax seed oil pills. They supplement the function of meibomian glands located at the lid margin. Ophthalmic gels used at night, as well as humidifiers, can help keep your eyes moisturized. Simply blinking hard more often can cause the lacrimal gland to produce more tears automatically.

For stubborn dry eyes, retaining tears on the eye can be aided by punctal plugs. They act like a stopper for a sink, and they are painless and can be inserted by your eye care practitioner in the office. Moisture chamber goggles can also be used in severe cases to hydrate the eyes with their body’s own natural humidity. This may sound far out but it gets the job done.

Being aware of the symptoms and treatments for dry eye syndrome can prevent frustration and allow your eyes to work more smoothly and efficiently in your daily routine. If your eyes feel dry as the Sahara or they water too much, know that help is on the way through proven techniques and products. You do not need to suffer needlessly in the case of Dry Eye Syndrome anymore. Make an appointment to talk with your eye doctor about the best treatments for you!

 

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

A wrinkle on the retina -- which is also known as an epiretinal membrane (ERM) or a macular pucker -- is a thin, translucent tissue that develops on the surface of the retina.

The retina is the inner layer that lines the inside of the back of the eye and is responsible for converting the light image into an electrical impulse that is then transmitted to the brain. An epiretinal membrane that forms on the retina goes unnoticed by the patient many times, and is only noticed during a dilated eye exam by an eye doctor.

Epiretinal membranes can become problematic if they are overlying the macula, which is the part of the retina that is used for sharp central vision. When they become problematic they can cause distortion of your vision, causing objects that are normally straight to look wavy or crooked.

Causes of a wrinkle on the retina

The most common cause is age-related due to a posterior vitreous detachment, which is the separation of the vitreous gel from the retina. The vitreous gel is what gives the eye its shape, and it occupies the space between the lens and the retina. When the vitreous gel separates from the retina, this can release cells onto the retina's surface, which can grow and form a membrane on the macula, leading to an epiretinal membrane.

ERMs can also be associated with prior retinal tears or detachments, prior eye trauma, or eye inflammation. These processes can also release cells onto the retina, causing a membrane to form.

Risk factors

Risk for ERMs increases with age, and males and females are equally affected.

Both eyes have ERMs in 10-20% of cases.

Diagnostic testing

Most ERMs can be detected on a routine dilated eye exam.

An optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a noninvasive test that takes a picture of the back of the eye. It can detect and monitor the progression of the ERM over time.

Treatment and prognosis

Since most ERMs are asymptomatic, no treatment is necessary. However, if there is significant visual distortion from the ERM or significant progression of the membrane over time, then surgical intervention is recommended. There are no eye drops, medications, or nutritional supplements to treat or reverse an ERM.

The surgery is called a vitrectomy with membrane peeling. The vitrectomy removes the vitreous gel and replaces it with a saline solution. The epiretinal membrane is then peeled off the surface of the retina with forceps.

Surgery has a good success rate and patients in general have less distortion after surgery.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Jane Pan

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Do you have floaters in your vision?

Floaters are caused by thick areas in the gel-like fluid that fills the back cavity of your eye, called the vitreous.

Many people, especially highly near-sighted people, often see some degree of floaters for a good portion of their lives. Often, these floaters are in the periphery of your vision and may only be visible in certain lighting conditions. The most frequent conditions are when you are in bright sunlight and are looking toward the clear blue sky. This I know from personal experience as I have a floater in my left eye that I most often see when swimming outdoors. Every time I turn my head to the left to breathe I see this floater moving in my peripheral vision.

This is totally harmless other than when I’m swimming in the ocean and swear that sudden object in my peripheral vision is a shark bearing down on me. Some people who have floaters are not as lucky and the floater can be very central and almost constantly annoying, especially when trying to read.

The second scenario in which floaters occur is during the normal aging process.  The vitreous gel in the back of the eye starts to shrink as we age and at some point it collapses in on itself and pulls away from the retina. This sometimes results in a sudden set of new floaters.

When that happens you need to be checked for signs of a retinal tear or detachment.  As long as your retina survives that episode without any problems, the floaters themselves may stick around for a while and can be rather annoying.  

Most people eventually adapt to the floaters; the brain learns to filter them out so you are no longer aware of them. The vitreous can also collapse more as time goes on and the dense floater you are seeing initially may move further forward and drop lower in the eye so the shadow it is casting is less intense and more in the periphery of your vision where it is much easier to ignore.

The first line of treatment for floaters has been, and still is, to live with them. Once you have your retina checked and there is nothing wrong there, the floaters themselves are harmless and will not lead to any further deterioration of your vision, which is why, if at all possible, you should just live with them. This is especially true if the floaters are new because the overwhelming majority of people with new floaters will eventually get to the point where they are no longer seeing them or at least where they are not interfering with normal daily activities.

If you have tried to wait them out and live with them but they are still interfering with your normal daily activities, you may want to consider having them treated with a laser.

This treatment is relatively new and involves using a special laser to try to break down large floaters into much smaller pieces that may no longer be visible. In a recent study of the laser treatment involving 52 patients, 36 were treated with the laser (a single laser treatment session) and 16 people had a sham treatment (meaning they went through everything the treated group did but did not actually have the real treatment done).  In the people who were actually treated, 54% reported a significant improvement in the floater symptoms while 0% in the sham group reported any improvement (no placebo effect). There were no significant side effects in either group.

Some points to note in the above study:

Fifty-four percent of people treated noted a significant improvement in their floater symptoms with a single treatment. That’s clearly not anywhere near a guaranteed improvement.

Other people have noted an improvement after more than one session, bringing the total expected improvement into the 70% range, with one or more treatments.

Another point to note is that there were no significant side effects to the treatment.

Although true in this small study, it does not mean that there are no risks to the laser treatment. Although rare, there have been reports of damage to the retina, optic nerve, or the lens of the eye. 

Another treatment that can be used to treat floaters is a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. This involves surgically going inside the back of the eye and removing the vitreous. This surgical procedure carries a higher risk than the laser treatment and is not 100% effective.

In summary, this new laser treatment is a good addition to the tools to deal with significant floater problems. If you have floaters for at least six months and they are central and interfering with your normal daily activities such as reading or driving and you want to see if this laser treatment could be right for you, check with your eye doctor.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

 

Have you ever wondered what happens to the visual system as we age? What does the term "second sight" mean? What is presbyopia? What are the eyes more susceptible to as the aging process occurs? What can be done to prevent certain aging factors of the eye? The answer lies in a theory known as apoptosis (no that's not the name of the latest pop artist).

Apoptosis is the pre-programmed life of every cell in our body. Most studies show that it's a function of our programmed DNA. It's the ability for cells to survive and thrive in the anatomical environment. The body's ability to withstand and thrive during the aging process depends on proper nutrition, good mental health, exercise, and adequate oxygen supply. That's why studies have shown smoking can shorten your life by a decade or more.

In regards to aging and the eye, there is a phenomina during the 6th to 7th decade of life called "second sight". This is simply progressive nearsightedness in older adults secondary to cataracts. Close to 50% of the population over 60 years old has cataracts. Cataracts are a clouding of the natural lens of the eye that can impair vision causing glare and loss of detail. When patients experience second  sight, it is sometimes quite convenient for them: they see up close without the reading glasses they have been depended on since their 40s.

Another aspect of the aging process is losing your reading vision you had all your life. This is called Presbyopia. Presbyopia is a Latin term which means "old eyes."

What happens in Presbyopia?

Before our mid-forties, the natural lens of the eye is very pliable and can easily focus on items up close. But in our mid-forties, the lens tends to lose its elasticity. Whenexperiencing presbyopia, people generally hold reading material farther away to see it more clearly. Presbyopia can be managed through bifocal or multifocal glasses or contact lenses, and some surgeries.

As aging occurs, the eyes are more susceptible to cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and vascular disorders of the eye as well as dry eye syndrome.

To help prevent and manage these conditions, there are a variety of options.

  1. Maintaining yearly dilated eye exams for preventative care.
  2. Protect your eyes against the sun with UV sunglasses.
  3. Take antioxidant vitamins to help bolster the protection of the macula.
  4. Use artificial tears to hydrate the eye and keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  5. Keep emotional, physical, and mental stress to a minimum.

Being educated on how we age is the first steph towards good ocular health and diminished chances of early apoptosis.

 

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 2.8 million people in the United States suffer a concussion -- or traumatic brain injury (TBI) -- every year, and vision can be affected.

The rate of childhood TBI visits to the emergency department more than doubled between 2001 and 2009, making children more likely than any other group to go to the ER with concussion symptoms.

It was once assumed that the hallmark of a concussion was a loss of consciousness. More recent evidence, however, does not support that. In fact, the majority of people diagnosed with a concussion do not experience any loss of consciousness. The most common immediate symptoms are amnesia and confusion.

There also are multiple visual symptoms that can occur with a concussion, either initially or during the recovery phase.

Visual symptoms after a concussion include:

  • Blurred vision.

  • Difficulty reading.

  • Double vision.

  • Light sensitivity.

  • Headaches accompanying visual tasks.

  • Loss of peripheral vision.

Most people with visual complaints after a concussion have 20/20 distance visual acuity so more specific testing of near acuity, convergence amplitudes, ocular motility, and peripheral vision must be done.

In a study done at the Minds Matter Concussion Program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, patients with a concussion diagnosis underwent extensive vision testing, which assessed symptoms, visual acuity, eye alignment, near point of convergence, vergence amplitude and facility, accommodative amplitude and facility, and saccadic eye movement speed and accuracy.

A total of 72 children (mean age 14.6 years) were examined, and 49 (68%) of those were found to have one or more vision symptoms after concussion. The most common problems were convergence insufficiency (47.2%); accommodative insufficiency (33.3%); saccadic dysfunction (30.5%); and accommodative infacility (11.1%). The investigators also found that 64% of the children with convergence insufficiency also had an accommodative disorder.

Difficulties with accommodation and convergence make it very hard to read for any length of time, with blurring and fatigue and then loss of concentration occurring after a fairly short period of reading time.

For the majority of people suffering a mild to moderate TBI, most of these symptoms resolve in one to three weeks but in some they can persist much longer.

If your visual symptoms after a concussion persist past three weeks, a visit with an eye care specialist is recommended. There may be several options to help improve the symptoms with either prescription eyeglasses or prisms to assist the two eyes to focus together.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Did you know that having one's eyes tested can reveal symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)? ADHD is a set of symptoms that include trouble with focus, overactivity, and behavioral control. It is estimated that one in five people has some sort of ADHD.

ADHD is a condition that has multiple symptoms and it can affect any age, though commonly it affects children. There is difficulty with visual processing, which includes doubling letters, reversing letters, and jumping words and lines of print.

Eye examinations are a crucial part of the diagnosis of ADHD. Proper visual function can be assessed through a thorough eye exam. During the exam, visual complaints, focusing, and processing can be assessed to rule out ADHD.

When glasses are prescribed for an patient with ADHD, prescribing the correct type of lens is vital. Many patients benefit from an anti-glare/anti-reflective or AR treatment on their lenses. This cuts unnecessary light from entering the eye, making visual processing easier.

In some cases, it is discovered that the person has a non-ocular visual processing problem. This simply means that their eyes have little or nothing to do with the symptoms of ADHD. This gives valuable information to the health care provider that is managing the patient and suggests more non-ocular testing for a compete diagnosis.

ADHD is very common, and the great news is there are many treatment options. Many resources for help are available on the Internet and through health care channels.

Having an eye exam should be one of the first items on the checklist if you are suspicious about ADHD because valuable information on visual processing can be gained.

For more resources see these websites:

National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/

ADHD.com

American Optometric AssociationAOA.org

 

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

There are many options available to adults and children when it comes to wearing corrective lenses (glasses and contacts) when engaged in physical activities.

Here is a look at the different modalities and the pros and cons of each:

Prescription Sports Goggles (i.e. Rec Specs)

The main benefits of goggles when playing sports are stability of vision and eye protection. When playing fast-moving sports, like basketball, soccer, rugby, etc., elbows, wrists, and heads are flying around at high speed, increasing the risk of eye injury. The eyes and eye sockets can be protected when covered by shatter-proof lenses. Additionally, there is no worry of having a contact lens pop out of your eye, which can be a debilitating experience for some people. The main drawback to goggles is that they can be cumbersome, decrease peripheral vision, and fog up. Additionally, very high prescriptions might not be available due to frame limitations. On the whole, this is a very good option for many people. One additional advantage to sports goggles is that in many cases you can have the lens made out Transition glasses, so the lens darkens in sunlight and lightens as it gets darker.

Contact Lenses

Far and away the best option for actually seeing when playing sports is contact lenses, particularly soft contact lenses. The main benefits include full field of vision, no fogging of lenses, and obviously no unsightly, heavy glasses on your face. But where sports goggles shine, contact lenses fall short: higher risk of injury, possibly less stable vision (especially when wearing multifocal or astigmatic lenses), and the potential of a lens falling out during activities. With modern contact lenses, this rarely happens, however. Gas permeable (hard) lenses are not recommended for sports.

Wearing Nothing!

For those whose prescriptions are not so high as to prevent proper functioning without correction, wearing no correction whatsoever is a fine choice. I’m often asked by parents whether their child absolutely needs to wear correction when they are playing sports. The answer is, it depends on how high the prescription is and the activity in which the child is engaged. If someone can see well enough to perform tasks without being hindered, not wearing any correction is perfectly fine.

There are plenty of options available for athletes. Visit your eye doctor to see what the best option is for your particular needs.

Article contributed by Dr. Jonathan Gerard

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Is making an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam for your children on your back-to-school checklist? It needs to be.

No amount of new clothes, backpacks, or supplies will allow your child to reach their potential in school if they have an undetected vision problem. 

The difference between eye exams and vision screenings

An annual exam done by an eye doctor is more focused than a visual screening done at school. School screenings are simply "pass-fail tests" that are often limited to measuring a child’s sight clarity and visual acuity up to a distance of 20 feet. But this can provide a false sense of security.

There are important differences between a screening and a comprehensive eye exam.

Where a screening tests only for visual acuity, comprehensive exams will test for acuity, chronic diseases, color vision and eye tracking. This means a child may pass a vision screening at school because they are able to see the board, but they may not be able to see the words in the textbook in front of them.

Why back-to-school eye exams matter

Did you know that 1 out of 4 children has an undiagnosed vision problem because changes in their eyesight go unrecognized? 

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common condition in children and often develops around the ages of 6 or 7. And nearsightedness can change very quickly, especially between the ages of 11 and 13, which means that an eye prescription can change rapidly over a short period of time. That’s why annual checkups are important.

Comprehensive eye exams can detect other eye conditions. Some children may have good distance vision but may struggle when reading up close. This is known as hyperopia or farsightedness. Other eye issues such as strabismus (misaligned eyes), astigmatism, or amblyopia (lazy eye) are also detectable. 

Kids may not tell you they're having visions issues because they might not even realize it. They may simply think everyone sees the same way they do. Kids often give indirect clues, such as holding books or device screens close to their face, having problems recalling what they've read, or avoiding reading altogether. Other signs could include a short attention span, frequent headaches, seeing double, rubbing their eyes or tilting their head to the side.

What to expect at your child's eye exam

Before the exam, explain that eye exams aren’t scary, and can be fun. A kid-friendly eye exam is quick for your child. After we test how he or she sees colors and letters using charts with pictures, shapes, and patterns, we will give you our assessment of your child’s eyes. 

If your child needs to wear glasses, we can even recommend frames and lenses that would be best for their needs.

Set your child up for success

Staying consistent with eye exams is important because it can help your kids see their best in the classroom and when playing sports. Better vision can also mean better confidence because they are able to see well. 

Because learning is so visual, making an eye examination a priority every year is an important investment you can make in your child's education. You should also be aware that your health insurance might cover pediatric eye exams.

Set your child up for success and schedule an exam today!

A refraction is a test done by your eye doctor to determine if glasses will make you see better.

The charges for a refraction are covered by some insurances but not by all.

For example, Medicare does not cover refractions because they consider it part of a “routine” exam and Medicare doesn’t cover most “routine” procedures--only health-related procedures.

So if you have a medical eye problem like cataracts, dry eyes, or glaucoma then Medicare and most other health insurances will cover the medical portion of the eye exam but not the refraction.

Some people have both health insurance--which covers medical eye problems--and vision insurance--which covers “routine” eye care (no medical problems) such as refractions and eyeglasses.

If you come in for a routine exam with no medical eye problems or complaints and you have a vision plan, then the refraction is usually covered by your vision insurance.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Ready or not...here are 13 more jokes to make you groan!

1. Patient: "What’s that floater doing in my eye, doctor?"  Doctor: “The sidestroke.”

2. Doctor: “Have your eyes ever been checked before?”  Patient: “No, they’ve always been hazel.”

3. Why did the cyclops have to close his school?  He had only one pupil!

4. Why wouldn’t the optometrist learn any jokes?  He had heard that a joke can help break the eyes.

5. What is it called when you poke your eye with safety glasses?  Eye-rony!

6. Did you here about the new website for people with chronic eye pain?  It’s a site for sore eyes.

7. When are your eyes not eyes?  When an onion makes them water!

8. Why do beekeepers have such beautiful eyes?  Because beauty is in the eye of the bee holder!

9. Why were the teacher’s eyes crossed?  Because she couldn’t control her pupils.

10. What's your eye doctor's favorite treat?  Candy cornea!

11. What has four eyes and a mouth?  The Mississippi.

12. Did you know that your left eye isn't real?  It's just in your head.

13. What did the optometrist say when the patient complained he made too many jokes?  “Bad puns are how eye roll.”

 

It's the summer and one of the most common questions eye doctors are asked is, “Is it safe to swim in my contact lenses?”

The answer we give is “NO!"

Do millions of people swim with their contact lenses? The answer is “Yes, they do, but it is NOT a recommended activity.’’ There are several reasons why, ranging from comfort issues to others that are far more sinister and potentially blinding.

The first reason not to swim with contacts in is that the pH and buffering of your tears is not the same as plain water, and certainly not that of ocean or pool water.

Contact lenses, especially soft ones, are designed to do best in pH and buffers of solutions that mimic your natural tear film. This pH difference is often why after you swim in a chlorinated pool your eyes tend to redden, burn or blur.

When pool water or another water source mixes with your tears, the pH rapidly changes and there is a mini-chemical reaction occurring on the surface of your eye. Now if you add a contact lens to this mix, it prolongs the chemical mixing that occurs. The actual contact lens will often swell due to the pH and buffer changes that are occurring and this swelling results in blurred vision.

When a contact lens swells it often tightens its fit onto your eye, causing discomfort or even pain. This is usually temporary until the volume of tears surpasses the volume of foreign water and the tears take over and the contact lens returns to its normal thickness, but the discomfort and blurring can last several minutes.

The second reason for not wearing your contacts swimming is that you can lose your lenses under water.

Contact lenses adhere to your eyes via a principle called capillary attraction, which happens when two surfaces are held together by a thin layer of liquid.

When a contact lens is placed on your eye it is the tears that hold it there more than anything else. Now if you go into a large body of water--like a pool, ocean, etc.--there is more water outside of your eye than the little layer between the contact and your eye and your contact lens floats out.

This can result in either a dislocated contact lens under an eyelid or a lost contact lens. Since most people wear disposable lenses it may not be a big deal, but if they were the only pair of lenses you wore to the beach and your sunglasses are not prescription, you could have a difficult ride back home.

The final and most important reason not to wear contacts while swimming is infection.

There are many different types of waterborne bacteria, viruses, fungi, and microorganisms. Some may result in the typical types of conjunctivitis that are easily treated with antibiotics. But as with any infection, you will have to stop wearing your contact lenses while you are being treated.

The two most difficult types of infections to treat are fungal infections and microorganisms/protozoans, and treatment options are limited.

Fungal infections are notoriously difficult to treat and tend to require very long treatment times; these infections can lead to corneal scarring and sometimes permanently decreased vision.

The most dangerous type of infection is called Acanthamoeba. This is a protozoa commonly found in soil and fresh water. If you happen to contract Acanthamoeba the infection commonly results in a painful eye, can ultimately cause blindness, and the only course of treatment if that happens is to consider a corneal transplant.

The incidents of this infection are quite low – but you don’t want to be the person who contracts it because you swam in your contacts.

To avoid infection risks, organizations like the American Optometric Association (AOA), American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), and even the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend against swimming in any type of pool, lake, ocean or other body of water while wearing contacts.

So with all those authorities advising against swimming with contact lenses, what are you options?

First, if your vision is not too bad, you should swim without your contact lenses and wear prescription sunglasses while on the beach. Second, if your prescription is significant, they do make prescription swim goggles that can be worn while swimming. Then once you have stopped swimming, switch over to prescription sunglasses for relaxing afterwards or consider putting your contact lenses in after you have done your laps.

One bright spot on the horizon for those who absolutely MUST swim in their contact lenses is that with the ever-growing use of daily disposable contact lenses, swimming in contacts is safer than for those who wear extended wear two-week or monthly lenses.

While there is still risk for potentially sight-threatening infections, those who dispose of their contacts after swimming see this risk decrease dramatically.

Please use extreme caution if you need to swim in contact lenses. For avid swimmers who have high prescriptions and cannot use prescription goggles, daily disposables are a must. However, most people do just fine with not wearing contacts at all while in the water.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Jonathan Gerard

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Lyme disease is an infection that is caused by a spirochete (a type of microorganism) called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans by the bite of a deer tick.

The disease has a strong geographical incidence, being highly concentrated in the Northeast United States and now also has a high incidence in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Lyme disease was first discovered in Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1975. It can start with a characteristic “bull’s eye” rash, in which there is a central spot that is surrounded by clear skin that is then ringed by an expanding rash. It can also appear just as an expanding rash.

This rash usually starts within days of the tick bite. Eye problems can occur along with this rash in the first phase of the disease. This includes red eyes that can look like full-blown pink eye, along with eyelid swelling. It also can produce iritis or uveitis, which include sensitivity to light and inflammation inside the eye.

The second phase of the disease usually starts within a few weeks of the tick bite and this occurs because the spirochete gets into the blood stream. This stage often has rashes starting away from the original bite site. It can also produce joint pain, weakness, and inflammation in several organs including the heart, spleen, liver and kidneys.  

There are also several ways it can affect your eyes. It can cause inflammation in your cornea (keratitis), retina (retinitis), optic nerve (optic neuritis), uveitis, inflammation in the jelly-like substance that fills the back of the eye called vitreous (vitritis) and the muscles that move your eye around (orbital myositis). It can also affect the eye if it causes problems with the nerve that controls your eyelid muscles so that your eye will not close properly (Bell’s palsy).

There is a third phase of the disease that is caused by long-term persistent infection.  This phase can create multiple neurologic problems and can appear very similar to the presentation of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The eyes can show any of the same signs as phase two, but the most common presentation is persistent keratitis. Keratitis symptoms are an inflamed cornea, often accompanied by significant pain, light sensitivity, a gritty feeling, and sight impairment.

The diagnosis is made through observation of the presenting symptoms, being in an area where there are significant numbers of the disease-carrying ticks, and a blood test that can confirm the diagnosis.  

The symptoms and signs of Lyme disease can mimic many other problems, so it is important to keep Lyme disease in mind if you are having multiple problems involving different organs and you know or have any suspicion that you may have had a tick bite while you were in areas where the disease is prevalent.

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

No this is not a late-night personal injury lawyer infomercial.

This is a recommendation that you have your LASIK records available, for your own good, later in life.

There are 2 million cataract surgeries done yearly in the U.S. and the odds are, if you live long enough, you will eventually need cataract surgery, too.

What does this have to do with LASIK surgery? 

When doctors perform cataract surgery they remove the cataract, which is the lens of your eye that has become cloudy.  And they replace that lens with an artificial lens called an Intraocular Lens implant (IOL).

The IOL needs to have a strength to it to match your eye so that things are in focus without the need for strong prescription eyeglasses.

Currently, we determine what the strength the IOL needs to be by using formulas that mostly depend on the measurements of the curvature of the cornea and the length of the eye.

Those formulas work best when the cornea is its natural shape -- i.e., not previously altered in shape from LASIK.

If you plug the “new” post-LASIK corneal shape into the formulas, the IOL strength that comes out is often significantly off the strength you really need to see well.

This is where having your records becomes important.

Knowing what your eyeglass prescription and corneal shape was BEFORE you had LASIK greatly improves our formula’s ability to predict the correct implant strength.

In most states there is a limit to how long a doctor needs to keep your records after your last visit, so everyone who has had LASIK surgery should get a copy of your pre- and post-LASIK records NOW before they no longer exist.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Have you ever felt a twitching sensation in your eye? Were you sure everyone was looking at you because of it? Worried that it was the beginning of a big problem?

Relax, it’s not likely to be a big deal. Most of the time it is not even visible to other people.

First, it’s almost never your actual eyeball that is twitching; it’s your eyelid muscle. Actual eye twitching is fairly rare and your vision would be pretty blurry if that's what was really happening.

The eyelid has a muscle in it that closes the eyelid and that muscle has a very high concentration of nerve innervation. Because of that dense nerve tissue in the eyelid, anything that makes your nervous system a little hyped up or off kilter can result in the eyelid twitching.

What are some of the risk factors for eyelid twitching?

Fatigue

Not getting enough sleep can result in your nervous system not performing at its best and one of the results of that may include twitching of your eyelid. If you are getting frequent eyelid twitching, try to make sure you are getting the proper amount of sleep.

Caffeine

Too much caffeine can certainly overexcite your nervous system and result in frequent eyelid twitching. If eyelid twitching is becoming something you experience frequently, it might be time to cut down your caffeine intake. While coffee tends to be the biggest offender, caffeine does come in other flavors. Tea, cola soda, and chocolate are the easy ones that come immediately to mind. Other items that you don’t think of as much: ice cream (especially chocolate or coffee flavors), de-caffeinated coffee (still has some caffeine), power or energy bars, non-cola soft drinks (Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, some root beers) and some OTC pain relievers (Excedrin Migraine, Midol Complete, and Anacin).

Stress

This is a hard one to quantify but if I ask most people who come to me with a complaint of eyelid twitching if they are under more stress than usual the answer is almost always, YES. This is not an easy thing to mitigate. You may need to seek some help from your internist or psychiatrist or you could try some home remedies like long baths or whatever helps you relax.

Dry Eyes

One of the first things I tell people suffering from eyelid twitching is to use a lubrication drop in their eye. Anything that irritates your eye may result in eyelid twitching and an OTC lubricating drop in the eye might decrease the eyelid twitching. It is certainly worth a try.

What if the twitching won’t go away? Could it be anything more serious?

There is a condition called essential blepharospasm that could cause frequent twitching of the eyelid. In this condition you don’t just feel the lid twitching, but the entire eye starts closing involuntarily like you are trying to wink at someone. This can start to interfere with your normal daily life and can make things like driving and reading difficult to do. If the lid closing gets that significant, the main treatment for it is Botox injection to weaken the muscle that closes the eyelids. This stops the lid twitching very effectively, but it often needs to be repeated every 3 or 4 months.

Most of the time, eyelid twitching just goes away on its own as mysteriously as it came. If you experience twitching that doesn’t go away, try making some of the modifications I mention above and if that doesn’t work you should schedule an exam.

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

Need a  chuckle or a groan?  Here you go...

1. Did you hear about the guy who just found out he was color blind?  It hit him right out of the purple!

2. What happened to the lab tech when he fell into the grinder?  He made a spectacle of himself.

3. Why is our staff so amazing?  They were all bright pupils!

4. Why did the smartphone have to wear glasses?  It lost all of its contacts.

5. What did one pupil say to the other?  I’m dilated to meet you.

6. What do you call a potato wearing glasses?  A Spec-Tater!

7. What do you call an optician living on an Alaskan island?  An optical Aleutian.

8. What was the innocent lens’s excuse to the policeman?  "I’ve been framed, officer!"

9. Where is the eye located?  Between the H and the J.

10. Where does bad light end up?  In Prism!

 

The sun does some amazing things.  It plays a role in big helping our bodies to naturally produce Vitamin D. In fact, many people who work indoors are directed to take Vitamin D supplements because of lack of exposure to the sunshine. 

But being in the sun has risks, as well...

If sunglasses are not worn, there is a greater risk for cataracts or skin cancers of the eyelids. It is important to know that not all sunglasses are made alike. UVA,UVB, and UVC rays are the harmful rays that sunglasses need to protect us from.

However, many over the counter sunglasses do not have UV protection built into the lenses, which can actually cause more damage than not wearing sunglasses, especially in children. 80% of sun exposure in our lives comes in childhood. Without UV protection in sunglasses, when the pupil automatically dilates more behind a darker lens, more of the sun's harmful rays are let in.

The whole point is that consumers should be aware that it is vital to buy sunwear that has UV protection built into the lenses.

Polarization is another option to add to sunglasses to protect the eyes from glare from the road and water. Fisherman love polarized lenses because you can see the fish right through the water. People who boat also claim their vision is better because glare off the water is reduced.

There are so many reasons to wear good sunglasses!  Plus, they just look fabulous!

The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

Our Mission

It is the mission of Lifetime Vision & Contact Lens Center to contribute to a lifetime of healthy vision by providing each patient with the best possible care to enhance quality of life. We will seek continuing education to remain at the forefront of our profession and will offer the latest in eye care technology, professional services, and products. The visual needs and wellness of each patient will always be our first priority. We will accomplish this in an atmosphere of uncompromised service, value, and friendliness.