Bright Winter Eyes

Protecting our eyes in the winter is essential for preventing short and long term problems.
Eye dryness is very common, especially on cold brisk days. Finding comfort near a warm toasty heater or fireplace can dry the eye surface too. Maintain good eyelid hygiene, stay hydrated and use artificial tears to control mild dry eye symptoms.

iStock_000023582367SmallSunglasses are important for preventing keratitis (a burn on the cornea surface) and aging effects such as cataracts, pinguecula and macular degeneration. Snow-blindness or keratitis is a painful corneal condition that can occur when the outermost layers of the cornea are damaged (like a sunburn). Damage can occur in as little as an hour of exposure to ultraviolet radiation, the risk is intensified at higher altitude.

Damage to the eye doesn’t stop on the surface. Cumulative ultraviolet exposure damages the lens of the eye causing cataract formation. Research has also found that UV radiation contributes to macular degeneration.

Wearing good UV blocking sunglasses protects all layers of the eye. The UV radiation reflected off of water and snowUV and sunglasses is dangerous too.

Don’t hang-up your sunglasses because it is winter, year-round UV protection is a proactive way to promote good eye health and clear vision for adults and children.


Contact Lens Prescriptions

A contact lens is a medical device, like a breast implant or a hearing aid. Contacts can be worn to correct vision as well as for cosmetic or therapeutic reasons. In the United States, all contact lenses require a current prescription. A contact lens prescription generally expires on a yearly basis. This is to ensure that the eyes are healthy enough to support contact lens wear and that the current contact lenses are still the most appropriate. Dr. Griffith

An eye examination is necessary to determine the suitability of contact lenses and also to determine the size, parameters and limitations of the eye. This typically includes a refraction to determine the proper power to see clearly, keratometry to measure the shape and size of the cornea and a thorough health assessment of the eye.

Conditions that may complicate contact lens wear include dry eye, irregular and high astigmatism and eyelid irregularities.


I See Smoke

A google search looking for “what’s in a cigarette?” produced the list below. Most of the products containing these ingredients earn a special danger or poison label. The substances are not listed on a pack of cigarettes.

Here are a few of the chemicals in tobacco smoke and the other places you can find them (list from the American Lung Association):

Acetone – found in nail polish remover
Acetic Acid – an ingredient in hair dye
Ammonia – a common household cleaner
Arsenic – used in rat poison
Benzene – found in rubber cement
Butane – used in lighter fluid
Cadmium – active component in battery acid
Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
Lead – used in batteries
Naphthalene – an ingredient in mothballs
Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
Nicotine – used as insecticide
Tar – material for paving roads
Toluene – used to manufacture paint

How naive am I? I thought all the danger in cigarettes came from the nicotine in the tobacco leaves. I couldn’t understand where all the poisons and toxins on the above list came from. Further googling introduced me to the “additives” in cigarettes. Chemicals are added to the tobacco to flavor and fragrance the cigarette “brand”. There are additives for improving texture and holding the leaves together. I can only assume that burning the tobacco and additives creates more toxins.



Crying man with cigarette So what does this have to do with eyeballs? Unfortunately smoking contributes to many ocular conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eye disease, diabetic retinopathy and retinal vascular occlusions. Fortunately if you quit inhaling the toxic chemicals, the risk of related ocular diseases is nearly extinguished to the non-smoker level.


What is Prediabetes?

Diabetes illness concepts word cloud illustration. Word collage concept.

I ask each patient about his general health. I often hear prediabetes as a health issue. Prediabetes means the blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This is the stage where lifestyle changes can significantly improve health and prevent the development of diabetes.

Research shows that you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by losing 7% of your body weight (that’s 15 pound if you weigh 200 pounds) and exercising 30 minutes a day.

Symptoms are not always present with prediabetes. To accurately diagnose prediabetes your doctor will do some blood tests.

  • A1C measures your average blood glucose for the past 3 months.

Normal           less than 5.7%

Prediabetes    5.7% to 6.4%

Diabetes          6.5% or higher

  • Fasting Plasma Glucose tests your blood glucose after you have not eaten or drank anything for at least 8 hours.

Normal            Less than 100 mg/dl

Prediabetes     100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl

Diabetes           126 mg/dl or higher

People with prediabetes are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you are prediabetic you may have no symptoms or you may have the same symptoms as someone with diabetes. The best way to find out if you’re prediabetic is to see your doctor and have your blood tested.


New Safety Eyewear

90% of all eye injuries are preventable with proper use of protective eyewear. (Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality)


Westside Optometry has a new line of safety eyewear. The new Wiley X frames meet ANSI Z87.1 high velocity and high mass impact standards. All the WorkSight glasses come with permanent or detachable side shields, a fold over case that folds flat for easy storage, 100 percent UVA/UVB protection and distortion-free clarity. And the best part is the frames are stylish enough to wear for those unplanned trips to the hardware or grocery store.



Vision Screening Vs. Vision Exam

The department of motor vehicles, the school nurse and the pediatrician use vision screening to identify vision problems. Screening usually involves standing a given distance from a lettered chart, covering one eye and reading down the chart to the smallest letter possible.


A vision screening is intended to help identify children with eye or vision problems that threaten sight or impair their ability to develop and learn normally. However, vision screenings are a limited process and cannot be used to diagnose an eye or vision problem, but rather to indicate a potential need for further evaluation.

Screenings are typically designed to detect problems with distance vision, and that is important for children socially and physically, but myopia represents the least risk for reading and learning. A myopic child is more likely to notice that the board is blurry and move to the front of the classroom. Hyperopia on the other hand, makes it more difficult to see things close up and astigmatism effects vision at all distances. Children with uncorrected hyperopia and astigmatism will have more difficulty reading and writing and may not even be aware that the difficulty is due to his or her vision. These are the children that may complain of headaches, avoid reading and school related tasks.
A vision screening test identifies some vision problems, but can miss disorders that have a profound effect on a child’s ability to succeed in school.

During a comprehensive eye examination an optometrist can identify, diagnose and prescribe treatment.


Back to School – Vision Problems Could Equal Behavioral Issues

This article was recently released by the California Optometric Association.
The back-to-school season is the time to make sure your child is fully prepared and ready to take on the challenges of school. Perhaps the most overlooked, yet immensely important part of that preparation is the all-important vision examination. There is a very strong relationship between vision and learning, as well as vision and behavior in the classroom.

Back to school Children who do not have the necessary visual-motor and visual-perceptual skills to compete in the class room with their classmates, may act out, be easily distracted or not be able to pay enough attention to perform to their potential. A 15 year long study at the San Bernardino Juvenile Hall revealed that a much higher percentage of juvenile delinquents have vision problems than in the average population. According to the study by optometrists Stan Kaseno and Kristy Remick, poor visual skills can contribute to poor self-esteem, which can lead to poor attitudes and behavior in school. After a program that addressed the inmates problems, including vision and victim’s awareness classes, the repeat offender rate decreased from 90% to 15%.

All students should have their vision and visual skills checked yearly by an optometrist before going back to school to make sure they have the learning readiness skills that are so important to academic and athletic performance.

Here are some signs to look out for that could indicate that your child has a possible vision problem:

Behavioral Signs:

  • Poor attention in the classroom
  • Not performing to potential
  • Doesn’t like, or refuses to do homework
  • Doesn’t like sports
  • Slow reader
  • Difficulty completing timed exams

Signs of Difficulty with Visually-Related Tasks:

  • Loses place frequently while reading
  • Headaches or eyestrain associated with reading or computer use
  • Words go in and out of focus
  • Words appear to “move” on the page
  • Double vision (constant or intermittent)
  • Having to re-read over and over for comprehension
  • Difficulty recalling what was read
  • Poor handwriting

If your child has any of the above problems, and is not performing to his or her potential in school and sports, schedule an eye examination. It is important to detect and treat any underlying vision problems that may be interfering with school performance.



Children’s Eye Exam


When do children need an eye exam?

  • As infants
  • When they complain
  • Before starting kindergarten
  • All of the above

Yes, All of the above are true

A child’s first eye exam should be between 9 and 12 months to ensure proper visual development.

Parents have a checklist of appointments before a child starts school, because reading is critical for academic success, good vision should be at the top of that list.

If your child is complaining of blur, headaches or eyestrain, he is overdue for an eye examination.

Call now to schedule your child’s eye examination or schedule online.



Vision at Work

According to a 2015 survey of employed US adults who had vision benefits, 92% of the respondents felt that the quality of their work was impacted by visual disturbances at the workplace. Only 13% reported this fact to their employer, even though 99% of them felt that seeing well was important. More than half of those surveyed said they were bothered by light issues at work. The top light issues or visual disturbances were tired eyes, light reflecting off a computer screen, bright glaring light, dry eyes and headaches.

When I first started my optometry career I had a huge book dedicated to occupational eye care. The book was published before the ubiquitous use of computers so the content of the book included various types of bifocals and lens designs to meet the demands of secretaries, carpenters and other occupations. There was a chapter dedicated to the wielding profession and the proper selection of tints and protective eyewear. The proper design of eyewear and safety are still very important, but more complaints involve computers and electronic devices than 25 years ago.

65% of Americans report suffering from digital eyestrain. Symptoms of digital eyestrain include neck pain, eye strain, blurred vision, headache and dry eyes. A combination of factors foster the onset of digital eye strain, including the proximity of the screen, the frequency and duration of use and the degree of exposure to high-energy visible (HEV) or blue light emitted by video screens. You don’t need to suffer. Poor vision and compromised visual working conditions reduce our productivity. Solutions are available to relieve and minimize digital eyestrain.


Sun Protection

Most of us take precautions to protect our skin from the damaging sun radiation by putting on a hat and applying sunscreen.
A significantly smaller percentage of people put on sunglasses to protect the eyes from the same ultraviolet risks. Besides glare and discomfort from the brightness, the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun cause premature aging to the skin around the eye and the structures of the eye. In fact, the sun is the greatest environmental factor contributing to cataract formation.

SUNGLASSES provide a barrier to other eye irritants as well. Wearing sunglasses protects the eyes from wind, dust, pollen and debris. This is particularly beneficial for sports like cycling and running. maui jim 2016
COMFORT from good quality sunglasses is attributed to reducing glare and eliminating squinting. Glare can be direct from the light source or indirected (reflected). Reflected glare is eliminated best with polarized lenses. Polarized lenses are especially helpful for watersports, fishing and on the snow, skiing and snowboarding.
QUALITY SUNGLASSES will protect against all UV wavelengths (A,B and high energy wavelengths). The lenses will be centered and have clearer optics than the sunglasses you find at the grocery store and gas stations. A premium sunglass frame is comfortable, fits well and is durable. It is also resistant to corrosion, tarnish, peeling and chipping.

Long-Term UV damage cannot be repaired. It is cumulative. Protect your eyes today, wear quality sunglasses.
And don’t forget the kids, they are more susceptible to UV damage than adults.