5 Tips to Healthy Eyes this Summer

Contact Lens Safety in water 

Wear sunglasses with UV protection

Did you know that it is actually possible for your eyes to get sunburned?! Just like your skin, your eyes need protection from the sun. Wearing sunglasses outdoors is very important in protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays. Excessive exposure to UV light can also increase your risk for developing early cataracts and macular degeneration. When looking for a new pair of sunglasses, make sure that they have a minimum UV 400 protection and that they block both UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, sunglasses will provide a shield of protection from dust and debris that can get blown into your eyes, which is a great added bonus, especially on those windy beach days!

Maintain safe wear and care of contact lenses

Keep your eyes healthy this summer by practicing safe contact lens wear. Long days, hot weather, travel, and lots of time outdoors can put you at a higher risk of developing a contact lens-related eye problem. In order to minimize this risk don’t forget to maintain proper contact lens hygiene! Remember to make sure that your hands are washed before handling your contact lenses, always use fresh contact lens solution, and minimize contact with water; this includes removing your contacts before going swimming or in a hot tub. And if you notice any redness, irritation, light sensitivity, decreased vision, or discharge, do not wear your contacts and call the office immediately.

Wear protective eyewear

Summertime often means working on projects around the house. This can include gardening, painting, remodeling, etc. that can potentially result in small objects flying around. Make sure you wear proper eye protection during these activities. And by eye protection, this does not mean regular glasses or sunglasses, this means professional quality goggles with impact resistant lenses and full coverage frame. You’ll also want to be sure to protect your peepers while playing sports, especially those that utilize small sized balls, such as golf balls, squash balls, and badminton shuttlecocks. Wearing proper eyewear can prevent up to 90 percent of serious eye injuries. If you do experience an eye injury, make sure to call us so that a proper eye health examination can be performed.

Avoid chemicals and natural irritants

Chemicals found in pools and bacteria often found in lakes and rivers can be harmful or bothersome to your eyes. Be sure to always wear goggles if you will be opening your eyes while playing or swimming in water. Other natural irritants that you may be exposed to while outdoors or hiking can include poison ivy, oak, and insect bites. If you find yourself outside near these irritants, be mindful of keeping your hands clean after touching plants, as rubbing allergens into your eyes can be very uncomfortable. If you notice any eye irritation, swelling, or redness, after any of these activities, contact the office so we can aid in determining the cause and help relieve your symptoms.

Schedule your yearly eye examination

Since you and the kids often have a little extra free time over the summer, it is the perfect time to schedule your annual eye examination?! A comprehensive eye exam is one of the most important preventative ways to preserve vision, and is the only way to accurately assess the health of your eyes, diagnose an eye disorder or disease, and determine if you require corrective lenses. Catching potential eye problems early could save your vision in the future, and that makes for an extremely bright and happy summer! Schedule online.


Laser Vision Correction

Clear View

Laser vision correction has been performed for more than twenty years. Procedures and lasers have improved to allow better results and correction for higher refractive errors. Wavefront technology was introduced fifteen years ago. The result was less glare and distortion after the procedure.
Laser vision correction works by removing corneal tissue to correct refractive error. For example, someone who is nearsighted or myopic typically has a longer eye and/or steeper cornea. The laser removes tissue to flatten the cornea and focus light accurately on the retina. In someone with astigmatism the tissue is removed to create corneal symmetry that will eliminate blur.
LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) is the most common refractive laser procedure. It combines the accuracy of the Excimer laser with the quick-healing characteristics of Lamellar Keratoplasty. Lamellar keratoplasty is a procedure where a hinged flap of the cornea is created. The excimer laser is used to treat the underlying cornea. The hinged flap is set back in place where it securely bonds without stitches.
Who is a candidate for LASIK?
A good candidate for LASIK has a stable prescription, realistic expectations and thick enough corneas. The decision to have laser vision correction is important. Outcomes are very good, but complications do occur and 20/20 vision isn’t a guarantee. Ask about laser vision correction at your next visit with us.


Flashes and Floaters

Floaters are spots which can move about in the vision and which are sometimes accompanied by flashes of light. To understand these symptoms it is necessary to understand the basic anatomy of the eye.

Anatomy of the Eye:
The structure of the eye resembles that of a hollow ball. The Parts of the Eyecentral hollow is filled with a clear jelly called the vitreous. In the front part of this ball there is an opening called the pupil leading to the outside. Looking the inside of the hollow is a thin layer called the retina which is the part of the eye with which a person sees. When we are children the vitreous is solid like cold jello.

Floater Formation:

As part of normal changes, the vitreous gel becomes liquefied. This does not occur all at one time so there are pockets of liquefied vitreous next to solid vitreous gel with a filament-like membrane between. When the eye moves the liquid moves easily and sloshes around, causing the filament-like membranes to move and the movement of the membrane casts a moving shadow on the retina which we see as a floater. Where the membranes are attached to the retinal surface, the movement causes a tugging, pulling or traction on the retina. When the retina is pulled or bumped we see the response as a flash of light. Therefore, when the eye moves we see floaters and sometimes we also see light flashes.

If the membrane attached to the retina pulls strongly enough, it can produce a tear or hole in the retina. When a tear forms, there may be a small amount of bleeding, and blood particles moving around in the liquid create floaters which are like a shower of tiny black spots.

Significance of Floaters:

Floaters are not by themselves dangerous, but are a warning that a hole in the retina might exist or that other changes might have taken place. Because of this, it is important for anyone who has recently developed floaters to have a dilated eye examination, including examination of the far edges of the retina where tears are most likely to occur. In the majority of cases this examination will not reveal any holes. If, however, a hole is found in the retina, it usually can be treated with either laser before a more serious problem, such as a retinal detachment, develops.

Light Flashes:

These also can be associated with shrinkage of the gel-like substance (vitreous) as it moves and bumps the retina. Flashes can be caused by rubbing the eyes too hard. Retinal hole formation can also cause light flashes, and so the presence of this symptom requires a careful retinal examination. Flashes can occur from other causes as well.

Follow-up of Floaters and Flashes:

Repeat dilated eye examinations are indicated if suspicious signs are found during an eye examination or if later the patient notices either a sudden increase in floaters and flashes or a veil falling into the vision.

If you are experiencing either new floaters and/or flashes of light, call to have a dilated eye examination sooner than later. Early treatment of holes and retinal tears is less risky and more successful than treatment of a retinal detachment.



Close up right upper eye lid abscess "stye or hordeolum"

There are 2 types of red and painful eyelid lumps:
STYES are at the base of the eyelashes in the tiny opening of the oil-producing glands. The oily secretions from these glands are an essential component of the tears and help keep the eyes lubricated. If the openings become clogged, bacteria grows and a localized infection called a STYE results.
CHALAZIA look similar to a stye but affect the meibomian glands which are located deeper in the eyelids. A chalazion usually does not contain an active bacterial infection. It may initially be red and swollen but within a few days it changes to a painless, slow growing lump within the eyelid.


Styes are usually treated with hot, moist compresses. Since the stye is caused by bacteria, usually from our hands or make-up, I recommend replacing your makeup and of course not rubbing your eyes.

Chalazia are also treated with hot moist compresses but more aggressively, 10 minutes four times a day. This may soften the debris trapped in the duct and promote drainage. Chalazia are often associated with blepharitis or eyelid inflammation and preventative steps are recommended.


Keep Your Vision Healthy

Clear View

Did you know your eyes are windows to your general health? Many systemic conditions can be detected with a dilated eye examination. Looking into a dilated eye, I can see a view of the blood vessels and assess vascular health. Your eyes can tell a lot about your visual health and overall wellness.
Besides helping you see better, annual eye exams can aid in detection of serious eye conditions, like glaucoma and cataracts and health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. This is important since you won’t always notice the symptoms yourself – and some of these diseases cause irreversible damage.

If it’s been at least a year since your last eye examination, call the office and schedule an appointment. (707)762-8643. Schedule online.


How to Clean Your Glasses


The following tips are intended to provide you clean eyeglass lenses and frames without the risk of scratching the lenses or damaging the frame.

  1. Wash and dry your hands. Before cleaning your eyeglasses, make sure your hands are free from dirt, grime and lotion. Use lotion-free soap or dishwashing liquid and a clean, lint-free towel to clean your hands clean eyeglasses
  2. Rinse your glasses under a gentle stream of lukewarm tap water. This will remove dust and other debris, which can help avoid scratching your lenses when you are cleaning them. Avoid hot water, which can damage some lens coatings.
  3. Apply a small drop of lotion-free dishwashing liquid to each lens. Most dishwashing liquids are very concentrated, so use a tiny amount. Or apply a drop to your fingertip instead.
  4. Gently rub both sides of the lenses and all parts of the frame for a few seconds. Make sure you clean every part, including the nose pads and ends of the temples that rest behind your ears. And be sure to clean the area where the edge of the lenses meet the frame where dust, debris and skin oils can accumulate.
  5. Rinse both sides of the lenses and the frame thoroughly. Failing to remove all traces of the soap will cause the lenses to be smeared when you dry them.
  6. Use a clean lint-free towel to dry the lenses and frame. Avoid rough fabrics and paper products which can scratch the lenses and the finish on the frame.

Are Rigid Gas Permeable Contacts Old-Fashioned?

There are many contact lens choices. At Westside Optometry we will prescribe the best lens for you, your eyes and your lifestyle.

RGP, Soft, Hybrid, Scleral

RGP, Soft, Hybrid, Scleral

The majority of contact lenses prescribed are soft lenses. Within this large category of lens are daily disposables, weekly and monthly replacement. Functional options include multifocals for presbyopia, torics for astigmatism and spherical lenses for hyperopia and myopia.
What happens if there is “a lot” of astigmatism, or astigmatism AND presbyopia or high myopia or high hyperopia? And what if the cornea has been altered by disease or refractive surgery?
Soft contact lenses can’t correct many of these conditions. That’s why there are other contact lens options. Gas Permeable (GP) contact lenses correct astigmatism, have stable crisp optics and are individually designed and manufactured. GP lenses provide more oxygen to the cornea than soft lenses. They last longer and are more durable providing a cost effective solution. Gas Permeables are available in high powers, multi-focals and special designs for irregular corneas.
Hybrids are a blend of soft and gas permeable lens designs. The center of the hybrid lens is gas permeable material and the perimeter is a silicone hydrogel material. This provides crisp optics of the GP and the comfort of a soft lens. The hybrid lenses are available in multifocals and special designs for post-LASIK and irregular corneas.

The majority of contact lens wearers use a soft contact lens, but gas permeable contacts  have many benefits and applications. Gas permeable contact lenses are not old-fashioned,  they have stood the test of time.


What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a retinal disease which can lead to legal blindness. More specifically, it affects the macula, the portion of the retina important for detailed vision like reading.

There are two forms of macular degeneration: wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration is usually slower in destruction of the macula, causing gradual to little loss of central vision. The wet form is more aggressive and destroys the central vision faster. The wet form is associated with the presence of abnormal blood vessels growing somewhere within the layers of the retina. These abnormal blood vessels can leak and bleed.

ARMD wet before treatment

Dry macular degeneration causes a slower loss of tissue. While there is treatment for the wet form, there is no approved treatment for the dry form.

Drusen (800x533)

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration include blurry central vision and/or distortion. In some cases, there may be blind spots within the central vision. The vision loss in both types is progressive. It is the rate at which vision loss develops which differentiates the wet form from the dry. Remember, wet macular degeneration causes faster and more devastating loss of vision compared to the dry form.

Treatment for Macular Degeneration

There is no treatment for dry macular degeneration. While AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) vitamins may be indicated for a small subset of macular degeneration patients, it does not improve the condition or vision. The supplements are primarily preventative. There are different formulations of “eye vitamins,” but the contents of the supplement used for the study were 500 milligrams of vitamin C; 400 International Units of vitamin E; 15 milligrams of beta-carotene (often labeled as equivalent to 25,000 International Units of vitamin A); 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide; and two milligrams of copper as cupric oxide. Copper was added to the AREDS formulations containing zinc to prevent copper deficiency anemia, a condition associated with high levels of zinc intake.

Other preventative measures for both types of macular degeneration include not smoking, regular exercise and a healthy diet.

The mainstay of treatment for wet macular degeneration involves injections into the eye with anti-VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) medications.

These medications (Lucentis, Avastin, Eylea) attach to the abnormal blood vessels, preventing additional leakage and bleeding. Often there can be improvement in vision.

Early treatment is key to maintaining vision. Regular dilated eye examinations are advised.


Leafy Green Vegetables and Glaucoma

New research indicates that leafy greens may be healthier than we thought. Eating vegetables like kale, spinach and collard greens may not cure glaucoma but they may be protective against developing primary open angle glaucoma(POAG). The research revealed that people who ate a lot of leafy greens had a 40 to 50 percent lower risk of acquiring POAG.


The reason these super foods offer such great protection is related to the dietary nitrate they contain. It’s thought that glaucoma impairs blood flow to the optic nerve. Nitric oxide helps regulate this flow. Since leafy greens contain high levels of nitrate, the precursor to nitric oxide, consuming them likely keeps things flowing more smoothly.

chard A significant amount of other new research is currently aimed at developing therapeutics that treat glaucoma by way of nitric oxide. In fact, the FDA is reviewing at least one new medication that donated nitric oxide. But thanks to this latest study, far fewer people will need it if they load up on their leafy green vegetables before any glaucomatous damage is done.

So how much roughage do you need to eat to protect yourself from glaucoma? In this study, those who consumed the most leafy greens, averaged about 1.5 servings per day, which equates to about one and a half cups. Leafy greens include kale, spinach, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, radicchio, leaf lettuce, arugula, Swiss chard, rapini (broccoli rabe) and collard greens.

According to the book, EyeFoods, by Drs. Campagna and Pelletier, the leafy greens are the rockstars of eye nutrients. They include lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc and fiber. If you’re not accustomed to the tastes and textures of leafy green vegetables, start slowly. Begin with some lettuce leaves or spinach. Add a few leaves of kale or arugula to a salad or soup. Work your way toward at least a serving per day.


Bumps on the White of the Eye

There are two types of benign growths that can appear on the white of the eye (conjunctiva).
eye bumpThe first type is called a Pinguecula. A pinguecula is a benign growth caused by the degeneration of the conjunctiva’s collagen fibers. Thicker yellow tissue and in some cases calcified deposits, eventually replace the original fibers. It often appears as a thickened, discolored spot between the colored part of the eye and the nose. It is more common in individuals who spend a lot of time outdoors with continued exposure to the ultraviolet light or those who live in sunny, windy equatorial climates. The affected eye might become red and irritated. No treatment is necessary unless discomfort is severe. Prevention is highly recommended and that means sunglasses when outdoors. Artificial tears can help with irritation.

The second type of benign bump on the eye can actually be more problematic. A Pterygium is an elevated, triangular, non-cancerous Pterygiumgrowth that is also usually on the nasal side of the eyeball. A pterygium contains blood vessels and can be of greater cosmetic concern than the pinguecula. The difference between a pterygium and a pinguecula is the tissue they invade. The pinguecula is limited to the conjunctiva and the pterygium grows onto the cornea (clear part of the eye). A small pterygium is treated with artificial tears for comfort and sunglasses for prevention. Sometimes surgery is needed if the vision is affected.

Genetics can play a role in the possibility of having either of these bumps. Wearing protection from UV is your best chance of preventing or controlling pinguecula and pterygia.