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Month: July 2017

Eye Care Tips for the Upcoming Solar Eclipse

by Caroline Cauchi, OD

On August 21, 2017 a total solar eclipse will occur over parts of North America. Dr. Peters, one of the experienced optometrists here at Vision Solutions, discusses when is the best time to see the eclipse and the proper safety procedures you should take to protect your vision.

A 70-mile-wide path of total solar eclipse (where the sun will be fully blocked by the moon) will occur from Oregon to South Carolina. The rest of the country will experience a partial solar eclipse where the sun is only partially blocking the moon. The total eclipse will last for approximately 2 minutes and 40 seconds. In these regions of total eclipse the day will turn into night and other parts of the solar system and surrounding stars will be visible. The rest of our continent will be able to see a partial eclipse for 2 to 3 hours. Our maximum viewing here in San Diego should be around 10:23am. This will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the Continental United States in 38 years. The next total solar eclipse will be April 8, 2024 tracking northeast from Texas to Maine.

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Viewing this solar eclipse will be a moment of wonder but safety precautions need to be followed to protect the eyes from harmful radiation. For those people lucky enough to be in the path of total eclipse or “totality”, they will be able to remove their special filtered glasses and view the eclipse without the need of eye protection for those 2 minutes and 40 seconds. But for us in San Diego, special filtered glasses will need to be worn at all times since the magnitude of the radiation emitted from the sun is so great that it will damage the retina inside the eye permanently with extended viewing. This damage initially causes a yellow spot and blurry vision and eventually a permanent “blind spot” in the vision centrally which will last a lifetime. The term for this is solar retinopathy. Unfortunately there are no pain receptors in the retina to let you know when it is being damaged. The pain comes later after the exposure.

The safest way to view the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is by wearing special-purpose solar filters which are worn like sunglasses. Don’t be fooled, they are filters even more powerful than those safety lenses worn by welders to prevent welders burn. These lenses need to meet the international safety standards ISO 12312-2 to qualify. Ordinary sunglasses, no matter how dark they are, are not safe to look at the sun. Similarly, viewing the eclipse through a camera lens, telescope, or binoculars is also not safe unless the above filter is also applied to the viewing device. If you wear eyeglasses for better vision, just put these filtered glasses over top of your original eyewear. There are five manufacturers are making eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

Another method to view this eclipse is to create a pinhole projection on the ground below you where you see the shadow of the event. With the sun behind your back, create an opening in your outstretched hands by placing one hand over the fingers of the other hand making a small pinhole. The little spaces between your fingers will project small images on the ground showing the sun as a crescent.

We have a limited supply of the Rainbow Symphony ISO solar filter glasses at the office. Stop by or call before August 21st to get your safety wear! However you safely view the eclipse, make sure you get outside on August 21 to catch a glimpse of this amazing natural phenomenon!

How to Safely View the Great American Eclipse of 2017

On August 21st, for the first time since 1979, a solar eclipse will be visible across North America. What’s even more historic is that it will also be the first time an eclipse will be visible across the continent, from coast to coast, since 1918. If you want to bear witness to this historic event, it is important to do so safely which means being knowledgeable about the event and prepared to protect your eyes from potential serious damage and vision loss.

First of all, here are the facts about the upcoming eclipse. A total solar eclipse is when the moon completely blocks the face of the sun (called the photosphere) leaving only the sun’s outer ring, called the corona, in view. This event happens briefly, and will only be visible for certain parts of the United States for up to two minutes and forty seconds during the upcoming celestial event. All of North America, including mainland US and Canada, however, will be able to view a partial eclipse for the duration of about two to three hours. You can search online to see which part of the eclipse will be visible from your location and what time you will be able to see it.

With 500 million people in the viewing range of the eclipse, thousands are excitedly preparing for what could be for many a once-in-a-lifetime experience, however, it’s crucial to make sure that this is done safely to protect your eyes and vision from serious damage that can occur from viewing an eclipse without proper eye protection.

Looking at a Solar Eclipse

Viewing a solar eclipse without proper eye protection is extremely dangerous and can cause permanent vision loss. Looking directly at the sun can cause a condition called Solar Retinopathy or retinal burns which can cause damage to and destroy cells in the retina, which communicates visual cues with the brain. It can also burn the macula which is responsible for central vision. While we usually have a hard time looking directly at the sun which helps to protect us from this condition, during an eclipse because the sun is partially covered by the moon, looking directly at the sun becomes less difficult. Nevertheless, the exposure to the damaging rays of the sun is just as strong and therefore the risk just as great.

It’s important to note that solar burns to the retina do not cause symptoms during that time that you are looking at the eclipse. There is no pain or discomfort. However, the longer you look at it, the deeper the hole that burns through the retina and you would not notice the vision loss until hours later. There is no treatment for solar retinopathy. Many will notice recovery in vision, but depending on the severity of damage there may be only partial recovery which may take up to 6 months after viewing the eclipse.

Eclipse Glasses: Solar Eclipse Eye Protection

Do not view the eclipse without proper eye protection. Protecting your eyes during an eclipse with specially designed eyewear or solar viewers is a must. The American Optometric Association and NASA have released the following statement regarding eye protection: “There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not: through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.”

It’s important to note that regular sunglasses are not sufficient in protecting your eyes. Here are some additional safety tips issued by NASA for viewing the eclipse:

  • Stand still and cover the eyes with eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove the filter—do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the un-eclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer—the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
  • If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it gets quite dark.

If you plan to view the eclipse, make sure that you plan ahead and obtain eclipse glasses or solar viewers for every person that plans to enjoy the experience. Keep this once in a lifetime experience a safe and enjoyable one.

To obtain eclipse glasses, contact your local optometrist, or visit the American Optometry Association website for more information.

Common Eye Conditions in Your Adult Years

by Jamie Peters

As you age, your bodily structures and functions may undergo some changes. Your visual capacity, in particular, may decline over time. Increasing age is also a major risk factor for many vision conditions. Let your trusted eye care clinic, Vision Solutions, discuss some common ones.

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Cataracts

The natural lenses of your eyes are a combination of water and protein. Over time, your body experiences faster protein breakdown, leading to accumulated protein fragments on your lenses’ surface. Often referred to as cataracts, they limit the amount of light that enters your eyes, causing cloudy or blurry vision. They may be removed surgically for better visual clarity.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma happens when structural changes cause your eye fluids to drain ineffectively, resulting in increased pressure in your eyes. This may compress your optic nerve, interfering with the image interpretation cycle. Studies show that individuals aged 60 years old and above are at a higher risk of having this disease. We may prescribe ocular pressure-lowering eye drops as part of your early glaucoma treatment.

Macular Degeneration

Your macula, a small area in your retina, plays an important role in maintaining your central vision. This structure, however, may deteriorate over time, resulting in its loss of function, a condition known as macular degeneration. While there’s no single cure for this disease yet, observing a healthy lifestyle and visiting your eye specialist regularly can help halt its progression.

Presbyopia

Your eyes’ natural lenses may become rigid over time, leading to light-bending and focusing problems. This may interfere with the image translation process, causing eyesight problems. You may find it hard to see objects clearly, particularly those near you. This is why older individuals usually hold their reading materials at arm’s length. Wearing multi-powered contact lenses or eyeglasses is an effective way to improve your visual acuity.

If you have any further questions about age-related eye conditions, call us at (619) 461-4913, or complete our form. We serve La Mesa and nearby CA areas.

4 Reasons Kids Should Have an Eye Exam Before Fall Starts

by Caroline Cauchi, OD

Your children’s eyesight plays a central role in their learning and development. This is why Vision Solutions emphasizes the importance of having them undergo a comprehensive eye exam before they go back to school. Here are four good reasons for your kids should have their eyes checked before fall begins:

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1. Early Detection of Underlying Vision Problems

Children may not easily realize they have eyesight problems, which may interfere with their learning. Through an eye exam, your eye care specialist uses his knowledge, experience and skills to check for signs of underlying eye conditions. Being familiar with telltale signs of eyesight errors is also a good idea. Sitting near the TV, squinting and frequent rubbing of your kids’ eyes are some common symptoms.

2. Immediate Management of Various Eye Conditions

Allergies and dry eyes are common problems during autumn. Having your kids undergo an eye exam before the season starts gives your reliable eye doctor a great opportunity to provide preventive eye care. We may suggest wearing face masks before your children head outdoors to reduce hypersensitivity reactions. We may also advise them to blink and rest their eyes regularly, especially when they are using digital devices, to prevent dry eyes.

3. Improved Social Skills

Mingling with other kids, playing sports and participating in outdoor activities are all part of growing up. That said, having impaired vision may prevent your kids from fully enjoying their childhood, reducing their quality of life. Visiting their trusted optometrist routinely can help ensure proper development of their eyes’ various functions, like focusing, accommodation and perception.

4. Better Academic Performance

Refractive errors, like nearsightedness, commonly develop during childhood. Your kids may find it difficult to see things written on the board, which may lead to their poor performance in school. We may prescribe wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses to improve their visual acuity at varying distances.

Call us today at (619) 461-4913, or complete our form to schedule an eye exam for you and your kids. We serve La Mesa and surrounding CA areas.

The Different Classifications of Glaucoma

by Jamie Peters

Glaucoma is a sight-threatening eye disease that generally develops due to an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP), which can lead to compression of your optic nerve. The condition requires prompt treatment to prevent vision problems. Read on as Vision Solutions, your go-to eye care clinic, discusses the different types of glaucoma:

Wide-Angle (Open-Angle)

Your eyes contain fluids that are drained into the trabecular meshwork located in the angle formed between your iris and cornea. In wide-angle glaucoma, IOP increases even though the angle is unobstructed. This is the most common form of glaucoma. While you may not notice any visual changes at first, you may see dark spots across your visual field as the disease progresses.

Narrow-Angle (Angle-Closure)

Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when your eye fluids fail to drain correctly due to obstructions or structural irregularities blocking the angle between your iris and cornea. You may experience severe headaches, blurry vision, and nausea. The narrow-angle form requires prompt glaucoma treatment to prevent sudden vision loss.

Low Pressure (Normal-Tension)

Normal-tension glaucoma is a unique form of the disease in which your optic nerve becomes compressed even though your IOP level remains within the normal range of 12-22 mm Hg. It is usually caused by blood flow problems in your eyes.

Congenital

Congenital or childhood glaucoma is a rare form of glaucoma that is usually diagnosed within the first year of life. It is typically an inherited condition that inhibits your eyes’ ability to drain fluids, resulting in high IOP.

We typically prescribe IOP-lowering eye drops to manage early-stage glaucoma. For more severe cases, we may suggest conventional or laser surgery to increase the flow of your eye fluids, remove obstructions, or correct structural infirmities.

For trusted eye care services, you can turn to Vision Solutions. From performing eye exams to prescribing contact lenses, we can help you with all your visual health needs. Call us today at (619) 461-4913 or complete our form to request an appointment. We serve La Mesa, CA, and nearby areas.

Are Your Eyes Sensitive to Light?

Light sensitivity, also known as photophobia, is a condition in which bright light – either natural sunlight or artificial light –  can cause significant discomfort, pain and intolerance. People that experience light sensitivity will find themselves needing to close their eyes or squint when exposed to light and often experience headaches and nausea as well.  In mild cases, the discomfort accompanies exposure to bright lights or harsh sunlight, but in severe cases even a small amount of light can cause pain and discomfort.  

Photophobia is more common in individuals with light eyes. This is because the greater amounts of pigment in darker eyes help to protect the eye from the harsh rays of light. The darker pigment of the iris and choroid absorbs the light, rather than reflecting the light and causing internal reflection or glare experienced by those with lighter eyes. People with albinism, which is a total lack of eye pigment, also experience significant light sensitivity for this reason. 

Acute photophobia is usually a symptom that accompanies a condition such as an eye infection or irritation (such as conjunctivitis or dry eyes), a virus, or a migraine (light sensitivity is one of the most common symptoms of migraines). It could also be caused by something more serious such as an eye condition like a corneal abrasion, a detached retina, uveitis or iritis or a systemic disease like meningitis or encephalitis. Light sensitivity is also a side effect of refractive surgery (such as LASIK) and some medications (such as tetracycline and doxycycline).  

How to Deal with Photophobia

The most effective way to reduce the discomfort caused by photophobia is to stay out of sunlight and dim indoor lights as much as possible while you are experiencing symptoms. Wearing dark sunglasses and keeping your eyes closed may also provide some relief. 

In the summer it is more common for UV to trigger corneal inflammation (keratitis) and cause photosensitivity as well. Wind and eye dryness can also set off photosensitivity, which are more good reasons to wear sunglasses. 

If the sensitivity is new and the cause is unknown, you should seek medical attention immediately, especially if you experience any of the following symptoms:  

  • Blurry vision
  • Burning or pain in the eye
  • Fever and chills
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Severe headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Foreign body sensation

In cases where the photophobia is a symptom of an underlying issue, treating the issue will likely cause relief in your sensitivity. This will vary depending on the ailment but could include pain medications, eye drops or antibiotics, or anti-inflammatory medications. If the sensitivity is mild due to your genetic predisposition or a result of surgery, make sure you take your sunglasses every time you leave the house. People who wear prescription eyeglasses may consider photochromic lenses which automatically darken when exposed to light. 

If you are uncomfortable, speak to your eye doctor about the best options for your condition.  

4 Good Questions to Ask During Your Eye Exam

by Caroline Cauchi, OD

Undergoing a comprehensive eye exam on a regular basis is one of the most effective ways to safeguard your visual health. In today’s post, Vision Solutions shares four key questions you should ask your eye doctor at your appointment:

1. Am I at Risk of Developing Eye Conditions?

Heredity is a major risk factor for most eye vision disorders. If any of your family members have had glaucoma, for example, this may put you at a higher risk of developing it too. Your diet, lifestyle, and environment are also important things to consider.

2. What Tests Will Be Included Today?

A comprehensive eye exam generally includes a visual acuity test, which assesses your eyesight. During this part of the exam, you’ll read numbers and letters off the Snellen chart. If we detect vision errors, we may also have you undergo a refraction exam to establish the level of your refractive error and determine the correct lens power for your eyeglasses or contact lenses. We may perform more definitive diagnostic assessments as well to check for signs of underlying eye diseases.

3. How Should I Take Care of My Eyes?

Eating healthy foods is a great way to bolster your visual health. We suggest incorporating leafy greens, citrus fruits, and deep-ocean fish into your diet. Exercising regularly can also help maintain proper blood circulation in your eyes. Most importantly, make sure to visit your reliable eye care specialists for routine eye exams.

4. How Often Should I Have an Eye Exam?

Your trusted eye doctor generally recommends having your children’s eyes examined as early as six months of age. They should undergo additional exams when they turn three years old, before they enter first grade, and every two years thereafter. After you turn 61, it’s best to have your eyes assessed annually.

If you have any further questions about eye exams, call us today at (619) 461-4913 or complete our form. We serve La Mesa, CA, and nearby areas.