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Month: February 2017

Understanding Eye Color

eyes green close up woman

Eye color is a hereditary trait that depends on the genes of both parents, as well as a little bit of mystery. The color of the eye is based on the pigments in the iris, which is a colored ring of muscle located at the center of the eye (around the pupil) that helps to control the amount of light that comes into your eye. Eye color falls on a spectrum of color that can range from dark brown, to gray, to green, to blue, with a whole lot of variation in between. 

Genetics

The genetics of eye color are anything but straightforward. In fact children are often born with a different eye color than either of their parents. For some time the belief was that two blue-eyed parents could not have a brown-eyed child, however, while it’s not common, this combination can and does occur. Genetic research in regards to eye color is an ongoing pursuit and while they have identified certain genes that play a role, researchers still do not know exactly how many genes are involved and to what extent each gene affects the final eye color.

The Iris

Looking at it simply, the color of the eye is based on the amount of the pigment melanin located in the iris. Large amounts of melanin result in brown eyes, while blue eyes result from smaller amounts of the pigment. This is why babies that are born with blue eyes (who often have smaller amounts of melanin until they are about a year old) often experience a darkening of their eye color as they grow and develop more melanin in the iris. In adults across the globe, the most common eye color worldwide is brown, while lighter colors such as blue, green and hazel are found predominantly in the Caucasian population. 

Abnormal Eye Color

Sometimes the color of a person’s eyes are not normal. Here are some interesting causes of this phenomenon.

Heterochromia, for example, is a condition in which the two eyes are different colors, or part of one eye is a different color. This can be caused by genetic inconsistencies, issues that occur during the development of the eye, or acquired later in life due to an injury or disease. 

Ocular albinism is a condition in which the eye is a very light color due to low levels of pigmentation in the iris, which is the result of a genetic mutation. It is usually accompanied by serious vision problems. Oculocutaneous albinism is a similar mutation in the body’s ability to produce and store melanin that affects skin and hair color in addition to the eyes.

Eye color can also be affected by certain medications. For example, a certain glaucoma eye drop is known to darken light irises to brown, as well as lengthen and darken eyelashes.

Eye Color – It’s More Than Meets the Eye

It is known that light eyes are more sensitive to light, which is why it might be hard for someone with blue or green eyes to go out into the sun without sunglasses. Light eyes have also shown to be a risk factor for certain conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  

Color Contact Lenses

While we can’t pick our eye color, we can always play around with different looks using colored contact lenses. Just be sure that you get a proper prescription for any contact lenses, including cosmetic colored lenses, from an eye doctor! Wearing contact lenses that were obtained without a prescription could be dangerous to your eyes and your vision.  

 

 

 

How Can I Reduce my Risk of Developing Macular Degeneration?

by Jamie Peters

This is the 4th and final article in the series dedicated to the 2017 National Macular Degeneration month. Read on to learn how you can reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration.

Actions that will Reduce your Risk of Developing AMD

As we mentioned in our previous article, there are risk factors for macular degeneration (AMD) that you cannot control (aging, race and genetics) as well as “eye-risky” behaviors that you can control. The following are eye-risky behaviors that your eye doctors in La Mesa recommend for you:

  • Quit Smoking: Get some help, most people can’t do this on their own. If you have tried to quit in the past and it didn’t work, try again, there is a method out there with your name on it. You should also talk to your doctor because there are some really great medications that reduce your desire to smoke. If you have tried one and it made you feel weird, try a different one. There is also hypnosis, behavioral therapy, the patch or gum, and recognizing your triggers. The American Cancer and American Heart Associations have staff ready to help you.
  • Don’t start smoking: There are other ways to control your anxiety or urge to eat than developing this bad habit.
  • Regular eye exams: There are small deposits that can occur in your macula called “drusen”. They can only be discovered during an eye exam and are seen best with retinal photos. They signal that AMD is most likely in your future. If you only have an exam every 3 years, you have allowed the drusen to advance while you procrastinated. It is much easier to slow drusen and early AMD when it is detected early on.
  • Change your diet: Cut your red meat and fats down by half. Eat cooked greens (spinach, kale, chard), dark berries, tomatos, red and orange peppers, mangos, avocados, fish, red and black grapes, cherries, pumpkin, cantaloupe, dark cabbage, oranges, and broccoli.
  • Lose some weight if you’re overweight: Try joining Weight Watchers, they have a great program that really works.
  • Exercise: Make an appointment with yourself to exercise at-least 3 times a week. Start slowly so you don’t injure yourself but increase your time and speed day by day.
  • Eye protection: Wear a visor or hat and high-quality sunglasses when outdoors, even on cloudy days. Our ozone layer around the earth has thinned, so we are getting far more UV exposure than in the past. Inexpensive sunglasses have no quality control. Some of them are simply dark lenses but don’t have a UV absorber. How can you tell the difference? If the absorber got left out, you are actually increasing your risk because the dark lens causes your pupil to enlarge and let in even more UV.
  • Control your high blood pressure: Put your pills by your toothbrush to help you remember. If you take a lot of pills, buy a pill organizer and load them up once a week. That will make it easier to remember. Losing weight and exercise will also help lower blood pressure.
  • Supplements: If you have been diagnosed with drusen (an early sign) or have early AMD, strongly consider an ocular nutraceutical. Not the ones you see advertised on TV; ask your doctor because there are better ones. I’ve heard people say, “they are too expensive”. Skip going out to dinner one time each month, the money you save will cover the cost of a supplement!

We hope you learned something from our 4 blog series in honor of National Macular Degeneration month. If you haven’t read the previous AMD articles, we covered what is the macula, what is macular degeneration, are you at risk and how to prevent or slow the disease.

It is time to take control of your vision; make an appointment for an eye exam today! Call us at (619) 461-4913 or submit an appointment request form while you are here on our website.

Am I At Risk of Developing Macular Degeneration?

by Caroline Cauchi, OD

The optometrists at Vision Solutions discuss the symptoms of Macular Degeneration so patients can learn if they are at risk of developing this disease. This is the 3rd article in the series dedicated to the 2017 National Macular Degeneration month.

What increases your risk of developing macular degeneration (AMD)?

There are things that we can control and things we cannot. The risk increases with age and that is something we cannot control. If you have a family member with AMD, this increases your risk too. Again, you can’t control this. However, often times that family member engaged in “eye-risky” behavior (see below) and their disease may have had nothing to do with genetics. Caucasians (especially very lightly pigmented or blue-eyed people) have a higher chance of developing this disease and unfortunately you can’t change that either.

But there are “eye-risky” behaviors that you CAN control, such as:

  • Smoking: This is the leading risk for developing AMD. It happens earlier and much worse.
  • Unprotected sun exposure: The harmful UV rays penetrate your eye and slowly but surely begin destroying your macula.
  • What you eat: A diet high in fat and carbs promotes macular destruction.
  • Obesity: Those folks carrying significant excess pounds are 3X as likely to develop AMD.
  • High blood pressure: This restricts good blood flow to the macula.
  • Lack of exercise: Again, inactivity leads to poor blood exchange to the macula.
  • Infrequent eye exams: There are early signs of AMD that your eye doctor can see but won’t be visible to you for a few years.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your eyes? Read the next post in this Macular Degeneration blog series, which is coming out in a few days. If you can’t wait for the next blog post, call us today at (619) 461-4913.

What Is Macular Degeneration?

by Caroline Cauchi, OD

Your local eye doctors in La Mesa CA discuss what is Macular Degeneration in part two of this blog series dedicated to 2017 National Macular Degeneration month.

What is Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

Macular Degeneration is a disease that progressives destroys the cells of your retina that control your central vision. It is slow and progressive but rarely leads to total blindness. This eye disease comes in two forms; dry and wet. Dry AMD is the most common form of the two. In this case, the cells slowly die. In wet AMD, the oxygen supply to the retina is disrupted and the body tries to help by sending new blood vessels to the macula. The problem is these vessels are thin and break easily, causing hemorrhages.

What Effect Does AMD Have on Vision?

At first, dry AMD causes a lack of sharpness but as it progresses, the central vision because very dim. If it progresses to wet AMD, the vision becomes wavy and distorted. The ability to drive and read becomes limited.

In the next part of this blog series, learn who is at risk and what you can do to prevent AMD. Your eye doctors suggest that you schedule an eye exam to determine if you may have macular degeneration.

The 4 Major Glaucoma Classifications

by Jamie Peters

Glaucoma results from a build-up of fluid in your eyes, which leads to increased intraocular pressure (IOP) that can cause optic nerve compression. Your optic nerve is responsible for carrying visual signals to the brain for interpretation, so any damage to it can impair your vision.

If left untreated, glaucoma can eventually lead to vision loss. In today’s post, your eye doctors at Vision Solutions discuss the four major types of glaucoma and our recommended eye care in La Mesa, CA.

1. Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma (Wide-Angle)

Your eye fluid drains through a spongy mesh channel, which can be found at an angle between the iris and cornea. When this opening becomes blocked, fluid will accumulate, leading to high IOP levels that can eventually cause optic nerve compression and damage.

This is the most common form of glaucoma. Although asymptomatic in its early stages, you may notice blank spots in your vision as the condition advances. We may prescribe eye drops to reduce ocular pressure, or surgery to prevent the condition from progressing.

2. Angle-Closure Glaucoma (Narrow-Angle)

This happens when the angle between the cornea and iris becomes restricted, leading to inefficient eye fluid drainage. This may cause pupil dilation, headaches, and vision blurring. You may also experience nausea and eye pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, we suggest seeing our eye experts immediately.

3. Normal-Tension Glaucoma (Low-Pressure Glaucoma)

With this form of glaucoma, the IOP remains within the normal range (12-22 mmHg), yet signs of optic nerve compression still manifest. Although the root cause remains unknown, glaucoma treatment in La Mesa, CA, helps keep the IOP at low levels to prevent vision loss.

4. Congenital Glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma occurs when an incomplete or incorrect development of certain components of your eyes causes an angular defect. This may lead to fluid overload and increased IOP. We may recommend microsurgery to manage this problem.For premier eye care services, you can turn to Vision Solutions. From performing eye exams to fitting contact lenses in La Mesa, CA, we can help you with a wide array of ocular concerns. Call us today at (619) 461-4913 for more information about glaucoma and their types. You may also complete our form to request an appointment.

6 Ways to Prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration is a serious condition that can threaten your vision and general well-being. Characterized by the deterioration of the central area of the retina called the macula which is responsible for focused vision, the disease gradually reduces your central vision. This affects the ability to see fine details, recognize faces, read, drive, watch television and even use a computer. The disease often leaves some vision resulting in a condition called low vision, which is considered a form of legal blindness. 

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in the older population and the numbers are expected to increase as Americans and Canadians continue to live longer. 

What causes AMD and how can it be prevented?

As you can see by the name, the primary risk factor of AMD is age, particularly over age 50. Caucasian women are the most common demographic to be hit with this ocular disease; family medical history and having lighter colored hair, skin and eyes play a large role as well. However, several lifestyle factors have been shown to cause an increase in AMD development; so there may be ways to reduce your risk, even if you have a genetic predisposition.  

In fact, most of the controllable risk factors pose general health risks that cause a plethora of health issues, so addressing them will boost your overall health and wellness, in addition to protecting your eyes and vision from AMD. Here are 6 ways to prevent AMD and the vision loss that accompanies it:

1. Stop Smoking

Smoking, and even living with a smoker, have been shown to significantly increase your risks of developing AMD to between 2-5 times the risk of non-smokers! If you also have a hereditary risk, smoking compounds that risk tremendously.   

2. Get Active 

Studies show that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of advanced macular degeneration that leads to significant vision loss. Maintaining a healthy weight and being active  can reduce your risk. That could be as easy as regular walking, at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes.

3. Control Blood Pressure

Since the eye contains many tiny blood vessels, high blood pressure can have a serious impact on the health of your eyes. Have your blood pressure checked by your doctor and follow any medical advice you are given to reduce high blood pressure, whether that includes diet, exercise or medication. 

4. Choose a Healthy Diet

A diet rich in antioxidants has been shown to protect against AMD.  Antioxidants can be found in abundance in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale and collard greens, as well as orange fruits and vegetables such as peppers, oranges, mango and cantaloupe.  Eating a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, 5-9 servings a day, as well as fish, which contain Omega-3, and avoiding sugar and processed foods will help to keep your body healthy in many ways, including reducing your risk of AMD.  

5. Use UV and Blue Light Protection

Long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun and blue light (from digital devices among other things) have been linked to AMD. Make sure you wear sunglasses every time you are exposed to sunlight and wear blue light blocking glasses when you are viewing a digital device or computer for extended periods of time. 

6. Take Supplements*

Certain nutritional supplements have been shown to slow the progression of AMD and the vision loss that accompanies it. This formula of supplements was developed from a 10 year study of 3,500 people with AMD called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and its successor AREDS2. It is not recommended to take supplementation as a preventative measure but rather only if you are diagnosed with intermediate or advanced AMD.

*Speak to your eye doctor before you make a decision about this option.

During your yearly comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will screen for early signs of AMD and recommend treatment if it’s detected. If you’re at greater risk – because of your age or a family history of AMD / blindness of unknown cause, for example – additional testing may be necessary.

AMD can be a devastating disease. If you are aware that you are at risk, it is worthwhile to do everything you can to prevent it and the vision loss that it can bring. Take the time to understand AMD and do what it takes to lower your chances of knowing its effects first-hand. 

What is the Macula?

by Jamie Peters

Since February is Macular Degeneration Awareness month, your eye doctors in La Mesa, CA share information about this common eye condition. The first part of this Macular Degeneration blog series discusses what the macula is and how it contributes to your vision.

Let’s Start Out by Answering the Question…What is the Macula?

The macula is a small but mighty portion of the retina. It is located in line with your pupil. The macula has the majority of your “cone” cells (the rod cells are located in the outer portion of your retina). It is responsible for your central high resolution vision, your color vision and your daytime vision. When you look at someone’s face, you use your macula. When you read a book, you use your macula.

If we lose some portion of our peripheral (side) vision, we often don’t notice. We have a “blind spot” in our periphery and never know it is there. But if the macula becomes damaged, we notice it right away because it is right in the middle of our vision.

Check back to our blog for the second part to this Macular Degeneration series. In our next article, we will discuss, what happens when the macular becomes degenerated. If you think you may have macular degeneration, don’t wait to make an appointment for an eye exam in La Mesa CA with Dr. Cauchi, OD or Dr. Peters, OD. Call us today at (619) 461-4913, we look forward to seeing you!

Eyeglass Care Do’s and Don’ts

by Caroline Cauchi, OD

Here at Vision Solutions, we offer a wide selection of high-quality eyeglasses in La Mesa, CA, to improve your vision and quality of life. All of our stylish specs are made with durable materials. With proper use and maintenance, you can expect them to provide many years of vision correction and protection. Read on for some do’s and don’ts when caring for your eyeglasses.

DO: Wash Your Hands Thoroughly Before Handling Your Glasses

Your hands may contain dirt and carry microorganisms that could be transferred to your lenses. Washing your hands before touching your lenses helps prevent eye infections. Avoid using perfumed soaps as they can cause eye irritations, and use a microfiber cloth or lint-free towel to dry your hands.

DO: Clean Your Glasses Thoroughly

Use lukewarm tap water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid to clean your specs. Use a gentle rubbing motion on both sides of your lenses; this produces mild friction that helps remove debris and dirt. Be sure to clean the corners of your glasses too.

DON’T: Use Household Cleaning Solvents

According to our expert eye doctor in La Mesa, CA, household solvents may contain chemicals or other harsh substances that could cause damage to your frame material and lens coating.

DON’T: Dry Your Lenses With Shirt Ends or Paper Towels

Their coarse material may scratch your lenses or leave unhygienic debris on them. We encourage using a lint-free towel or microfiber cloth instead.

DO: Have Regular Eye Exams

Remember to visit your trusted eye doctor for a routine eye exam in La Mesa, CA. This lets us determine whether your lens power needs to be adjusted. We also provide lifetime frames adjustments and repairs at no additional cost to you.

Keep your eyeglasses in top shape with these helpful tips. For more eyeglass care do’s and don’ts, call us at (619) 461-4913. You may also complete our form to schedule an appointment.