When Do I Need To Get Glasses?

glassesIf you’re finding it hard to see clearly, it may be time for a pair of eyeglasses. We use our eyes all the time, from the time we wake up until we go to sleep at night, we watch, read and perceive objects. This is why it is essential to choose the perfect pair of glasses for yourself, as whatever you do, they will be helping you see.

Hampton Roads Eye Associates recommends that as soon as you notice blurred or distorted vision, make an appointment for an exam.  Eyeglasses can help you avoid eyestrain and headaches and can help you improve your performance at work or school.

VISION PROBLEMS CORRECTED BY GLASSES

  • Myopia (nearsightedness) is a vision condition in which close objects are seen clearly, but objects farther away appear blurred. Nearsightedness occurs if the eyeball is too long or the cornea, the clear front cover of the eye, has too much curvature. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused correctly and distant objects look blurred.
  • Astigmatism (uneven focusing of light) a vision condition that causes blurred vision due either to the irregular shape of the cornea, the clear front cover of the eye, or sometimes the curvature of the lens inside the eye. An irregular shaped cornea or lens prevents light from focusing properly on the retina, the light sensitive surface at the back of the eye. As a result, vision becomes blurred at any distance.
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness) is a vision condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but close ones do not come into proper focus. Farsightedness occurs if your eyeball is too short or the cornea has too little curvature, so light entering your eye is not focused correctly.

EFFECTS ON SCHOOL, WORK AND PLAY

Poor vision can have an effect on your ability to perform well at school and work. Some children, who are labeled as having ADHD, may actually have an untreated vision problem. Bad eyesight can result in a reduced attention span or in difficult understanding printed material. In addition it can be difficult to clearly see a ball or the positions of your teammates if you have vision problems. Correcting the problem with glasses and help to improve sport performance.

Eye examinations are an important part of health maintenance for everyone. Adults and children should have their eyes tested to keep their prescriptions current and to check for early signs of eye disease.  If you’ve noticed any change in your vision, make an appointment with us for an eye exam by calling 757-643-8800. 

 

Cataracts: The Basic Information

cataracts treatmentClouded vision can be a metaphor for questionable wisdom, or it can be a reality for people with cataracts. Cataracts are like a cloud over the eye’s lens, beginning small but often growing until they negatively affect vision.

Symptoms of cataracts

  • clouded, dimmed, or blurred vision
  • light sensitivity
  • a need for brighter light to read by
  • seeing rings around lights
  • frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions
  • double vision when only one eye is open
  • colors appear faded or yellowed

What causes cataracts?

The lens of the eye does the camera-like work of focusing on objects and sending bright, clear pictures to your brain. As you age, proteins on the surface of the lens can clump up. These clumps of protein are the cataracts. They often begin small and unnoticeable, but when they grow to cover more of the lens, the cataracts obscure vision and cause some or all of the above symptoms. Most cataracts develop in the eyes of older people, but they can also be caused by genetics or certain medical conditions. Some habits and/or conditions (such as smoking, alcoholism, obesity, and excessive exposure to sunlight) put people at a higher risk for the growth of cataracts.

Treatments

In the beginning stages of cataracts, the mild symptoms can be relieved with non-invasive treatments such as

  • new eyeglasses
  • brighter lighting
  • anti-glare glasses

However, when the cataracts begin to interfere with your daily activities, such as driving, reading, and using the computer, you and your doctor need to have a talk about cataract surgery. Patients should take their time and learn as much as they can beforehand because delaying the surgery will not make the surgery less effective or harder to perform. Cataract surgery is a very common surgery with a high success rate. The operation to remove a cataract typically lasts less than an hour, and it is nearly painless. Most patients return home the same day.

If you are experiencing vision problems, and you’re not sure if a cataract is causing it or not, schedule an appointment with Hampton Roads Eye Associates.   Hampton Roads Eye Associates in Oyster Point treats patients with beginning and advanced cataracts in their office, providing every treatment option from lenses to laser assisted surgery.  Contact us today at (757) 643-8800.

 

Protect Your Sight with These Eye Health Tips

eye healthYour eyes are the windows to the world. Look into your world with healthy eyes! Hampton Roads Eye Associates knows that following these simple tips will prolong your eyesight for years to come.

Protect your eyes with sunglasses. For maximum protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays, check to make sure your sunglasses keep out 100 percent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays. Eyes are sensitive instruments, and direct sunlight can be harsh. Good sunglasses protect the retina, help prevent cataract growth, and protect the delicate skin around your eyes.

Don’t smoke. Smoking is bad for your eyes. It has been linked to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD, an eye disease which involves a damaged retina). Quit smoking and improve your chances of retaining normal eyesight!

Eat right for healthy eyes. It’s fairly common knowledge that carrots are good for eye health. But there are other good foods to eat for maintaining good sight. Try some green, leafy veggies, some salmon or tuna, eggs, nuts, citrus fruits, and oysters. These foods will provide your body with important nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins C and E, lutein, and zinc. These nutrients are known to fight off AMD and other eye diseases.

Practice Good Computer Habits. When you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen, your eyes get strained, vision becomes blurry, you have problems focusing on distant objects, and you may get headaches. Prevent these eye problems by acquiring a few simple habits:

  • Use the 20-20-20 rule. This means you need to look up from the screen every 20 minutes and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Try to prevent glare on your screen.
  • Look down on your screen by aligning the top of the screen with your line of vision.
  • Talk to your doctor about computer glasses.
  • Be conscientious about blinking; more blinking helps prevent dry eyes.

Get Regular Eye Check-ups. The best way to keep your eyes healthy is to have an eye doctor examine them regularly. Eye examinations check for various problems, and your doctor can provide tips and treatment for any eye-related health issue. Making sure your eyeglass or contact lens prescription is up-to-date can also save your eyes from unnecessary strain.

If it’s been a while since your last eye exam, please contact us, Hampton Roads Eye Associates Oyster Point,  at (757) 643-8800 for an appointment.  Keeping your eyes healthy with regular eye exams will give you lifelong results.

Macular Degeneration: What Is It?

macular degenerationMacular Degeneration is a disease of the eye that causes progressive vision loss over the course of time. It’s a very common eye problem that is diagnosed more than 200,000 times a year in the US alone. This condition does require a medical diagnosis by a healthcare professional.
Macular degeneration is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, although it can be treated and symptoms are generally very successfully managed. This is usually a lifelong condition.

How Does Macular Degeneration Occur?
Macular degeneration is a condition which causes the field of vision to slowly be lost over the course of time. There are generally two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry.
Dry macular degeneration causes the center of the retina (the part of the eye which allows you to see) to degenerate and the person’s ability to see eventually deteriorates.
Wet macular degeneration is a condition in which the blood vessels under the retina (the part of the eye which allows you to see) become leaky and damage the retina when the vessels burst.

What Are Some Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
If you consistently experience these symptoms talk to your eye doctor immediately. The most common symptoms of macular degeneration include the following:

  • partial loss of a person’s vision
  • abnormalities in vision where straight lines are appearing in wavy patterns
  • distorted vision
  • the inability to see in dimmer lighting
  • seeing spots

Who Gets Macular Degeneration?
People of all ages can get macular degeneration, however it is much more common with people aged 40 and up. It gets even more common in a person’s senior years, at age 65 or older.

How Is Macular Degeneration Treated?
There is a new study going on with a mix of vitamins and minerals that are mixed together in a solution that are put into the eye via eye drops. This mix of drops is called an AERDS formula and is believed to slow the progression of the macular degeneration.
In other cases surgeries to fix the condition may be a viable option.

Hampton Roads Eye Associates providers are skilled eye care professionals who are well versed in the diagnosis, management and treatment of macular degeneration. If you are having symptoms of or are merely curious about macular degeneration, contact us for an appointment at (757) 643-8800.

5 Tips for Vision Health

vision healthYour eyes are a very important part of your health. Regular visits to your eye doctor provide sneak peeks into what your overall health is like. Doctors can tell if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes just by looking at the back of your eyes. There are many things you can do that will keep your eyes healthy so they will serve you well throughout your life.

Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Many of us do not recognize vision problems because changes occur subtly and our brains adjust quickly to compensate for these changes. Visiting your eyecare professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to ensure you are maintaining healthy vision.
Often people do not realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. Many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.

Know your family’s eye health history.
Discuss eye health history with your family members. Knowing a family member has been diagnosed with a disease or a condition is a vital piece of health information. Often, diseases or conditions of the eye are hereditary and this will help determine if you are at a higher risk of developing the same condition.

Eat right to protect your sight.
You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. Eating fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens are excellent sources of the antioxidants that help protect your vision. Research shows omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are beneficial to your eyes as well.
Trying to maintain a healthy weight as you age will also decrease your risk for developing diseases that may impact your vision such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Wear your sunglasses.
Sunglasses really aren’t just for looks. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When you purchase sunglasses, make sure they filter out 100% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Oversized sunglasses protect the soft tissue around your eyes and polarized lenses make it easier to see in bright sunlight.

Give your eyes a rest.
When you spend large amounts of time focusing on your computer, your eyes can get fatigued resulting in eye strain. To maximize your eye health and avoid eye strain, try the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet in front of you for about 20 seconds. This trick will give your eyes the rest period that it is needed to continue your computer work with minimal detriment to your eye health.

Taking care of your eyes is very important as you age and getting a yearly eye exam is an excellent way to make sure you are staying healthy and problems are caught early. If you have not had a comprehensive dilated eye exam and would like to schedule one online contact Hampton Roads Eye Associates or call (757) 643-8800.

Common eye emergencies and how to treat them

eye emergenciesHave you ever gotten a sliver of metal stuck in your eye? Or maybe you’ve experienced flashes of light in your vision? Many people take their vision for granted until something bad happens to their eyes. Here are some common eye emergencies that bring people to Hampton Roads Eye Associates for emergency care.

Foreign objects in the eye
This could be a metal sliver, an eyelash, or a grain of sand. Whatever it is, it doesn’t belong, and it could be scratching up the cornea. Usually, this is a minor emergency, and it can often be taken care of at home by having someone wash her hands, and then examine the eye carefully by pulling the lower eyelid down and then flipping up the upper lid. Once the foreign object is located, try flushing it out with water.
However, seek professional help if the foreign object

  • has sharp edges,
  • is embedded in the eye,
  • contains chemicals,
  • or was propelled into the eye at high speed.

In a serious case, restrict eye movement by covering the good eye. Also, if the eye is bleeding, use a clean cloth to bandage it. If the bandage presses too tightly against the foreign object, then cover the eye with a paper cup.

Chemical Eye Burns
When the eye or eyelid becomes exposed to chemicals, please take it seriously. Depending on which chemical burned the eye, and how long the exposure lasted, a chemical eye burn could produce lasting damage. There are three types of burns.

  1. Alkali burns from substances such as ammonia and lime can damage both the cornea and the inner eye structure.
  2. Acid burns come from substances like sulfuric acid in an automobile battery or acetic acid in nail polish remover.
  3. Irritants, like pepper spray, cause discomfort but usually not much actual damage to the eye. 

Begin washing the eye out as soon as possible after the chemical burn occurs. Keep washing for at least 10 minutes. Then, seek immediate professional care.

Acute Glaucoma
Acute glaucoma is a sudden increase in pressure in the eye caused by fluids that can’t drain. The pressure could quickly damage the optic nerve, and it could lead to loss of vision. An attack of acute glaucoma is often caused by your eyes dilating too much or too quickly. The symptoms are sudden and can’t be ignored. They include

  • eye pain
  • severe headache
  • nausea
  • blurry vision
  • seeing halos around lights
  • different sized pupils
  • loss of vision

The doctor may use eye drops and/or medication to treat this condition. He also may use a laser to get the fluid flowing again. Only a professional can confirm the onset of acute glaucoma. Contact us immediately if these symptoms occur.

Retinal Detachment
It is an emergency when the retina pulls away from its normal place at the back of the eye. Symptoms of retinal detachment are painless. They include

  • the sudden appearance of many dots and small objects in your vision
  • flashes of light in your eyes
  • a shadow falling over your field of vision
  • your peripheral vision gradually falling away

Seek medical help right away if you believe you are experiencing these symptoms. Treatment for a detachment is usually surgery.

Take eye injuries seriously. Many eye emergencies, when left untreated, can lead to permanent eye damage.
Contact Hampton Roads Eye Associates in Oyster Point for an appointment at (757) 643-8800 if you suffer from any of the listed symptoms. Our board certified providers are available to treat your eye emergency efficiently and quickly.

Caring For Your Contact Lenses

contact lensesContact lenses are an excellent alternative from eyeglasses for millions of people in need of vision correction. Contact lenses can correct:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Astigmatism (uneven focusing of light)
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness)

Are Contact Lenses Right for Me?

Your eye care professional can help you determine if contact lenses are the right choice for you. They will examine your eyes to make sure there are no underlying eye conditions or other circumstances that might interfere with successful use of contacts. Once you’ve decided on contact lenses, the fitting process will involve working with your eye care professional to find a lens prescription, size and type that maximizes sight, eye health and comfort. Over 75 percent of contact wearers choose soft contacts, which are made of soft, flexible plastic and allow oxygen to reach the cornea.

Here are some tips for the most healthy way to wear contact lenses:

  • Insert and remove your contact lenses with clean, dry hands.
  • If you experience discomfort, excessive tearing, discharge, vision changes or redness that lasts more than 2 days, contact your eye care professional.
  • Use contacts for the time period recommended for your lenses.
  • Contacts and water do not mix. Store your contacts in the recommended saline solution.
  • Avoid wearing contacts while showering, using a hot tub, swimming or engaging in other water sports.
  • Before inserting your lens, examine it to make sure it is moist, clean and intact.
  • Don’t use a lens if the sterile package it comes in has been damaged or opened, or if the lens has a nick or tear.
  • Never wear someone else’s contact lenses.

It is important to properly care for your contact lenses. Taking care of your lenses will maximize their life and keep your eyes their healthiest.

  • Before handling your lenses, wash and rinse your hands thoroughly with a mild soap and dry them with a lint-free towel.
  • Use a disinfectant approved by your eye care professional to thoroughly clean your lenses.
  • To remove dirt and kill germs on your contacts, rub them with your fingers and rinse them well with an approved solution. Then soak lenses overnight in enough solution to completely cover them.
  • Use your fingertips to touch your lenses as your fingernails may scratch or tear lens.
  • Store contacts in approved solutions, and never reuse solution.
  • Clean your lens case properly.
  • Replace your lens case every three months.

The doctors at Hampton Roads Eye Associates – Oyster Point have extensive training and experience in fitting all types of contact lenses. In fact, we specialize in difficult to fit patients and have had success with many patients who were unsuccessful elsewhere. If you are ready for contact lenses please call us today at (757) 643-8800.

The Truth About “Lazy Eye”

lazy eyeContrary to popular belief, the condition that people coined as “lazy eye” is a visual impairment rather than an oddity in the eye’s shape or position. A person can have lazy eye without it being recognizable by someone else’s naked eyes. Severe cases, however, sometimes show apparent visual signs that the two eyes are not performing the same functions with the same precision.
The scientific name for lazy eye is amblyopia, and it occurs in up to three children out of every hundred, according to the National Eye Institute. It is a condition that causes a reduction in vision abilities. The problem does not seem to respond to treatment with glasses or contacts, and it does not appear to be the product of an eye disease.

What Causes Lazy Eye?
Many factors can cause lazy eye. Strabismus, which is a disorder that crosses the eyes, could contribute to lazy eye. Many people confuse lazy eye with strabismus, but the conditions are separate and completely different. The condition could also come from nearsighted and farsighted variations between the two eyes where one is worse than the other. Specialists do not have an exact ironclad cause for lazy eye. Their summation is that the brain loses its controlling connection with one of the eyes for some reason.

What Are the Symptoms of Lazy Eye?
Lazy eye symptoms vary from subtle symptoms like squinting with one eye, to apparent symptoms such as eyes that wander and don’t seem to be acting as a team. A person who is suffering from lazy eye will have poor vision test results. The person will have a decline in capabilities that may gradually worsen, as well.

How to Treat Lazy Eye
Untreated lazy eye can result in permanent loss of eyesight in one eye. Therefore, it’s imperative that a person gets evaluated if he or she suspects the problem. Solutions such as patches and medications are available in addition to some training exercises. If you or your loved one is showing the symptoms of lazy eye, give a provider a call to get evaluated as quickly as possible.

Your eye specialist at Hampton Roads Eye Associates is qualified to diagnose and treat lazy eye.  If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or your child, contact us for an appointment at (757) 643-8800.  

Health Issues That Can be Found During Your Dilated Eye Exam

dilated examYou know that seeing your eye doctor is the best way to be sure that your eyes stay healthy. During your exam, your doctor may dilate your pupils so he can examine your optic nerves, retinas and blood vessels. Your eye care practitioner can tell a lot about the health of your body by looking at the health of your eyes.

Your Blood Pressure
If during your exam, your doctor notices kinks or tears in the blood vessels of your eyes, you may be asked about your blood pressure. The condition of those blood vessels could suggest undiagnosed or unmanaged high blood pressure (hypertension).

Your Blood Sugar
Bleeding or yellowish fluid leaking in the blood vessels of the eye can signify diabetic neuropathy. Your eye care professional may encourage you to see your family physician for blood sugar screening. Properly managed blood sugar levels could save your vision.

Your Autoimmune System
Characterized by inflammation throughout the body, a dysfunctional autoimmune system can affect your joints, your internal organs, and your eyes. The immune system can attack the blood vessels in the back of the eye and on the retina, which can affect your vision. Anyone who has an autoimmune disorder should have regular eye exams.

Your Thyroid
Graves eye disease, also called thyroid eye disease, is another autoimmune disorder. In this case, the autoimmune issue causes an overactive thyroid. Symptoms could also include swelling around the eyes and protruding eyeballs. If you have a thyroid disorder, you may also notice fatigue, weight loss, and heat intolerance.

Your Nervous System
The optic nerve is the only area of the brain that can be seen from outside of the body. Vision problems could be one of the first signs you might notice if you were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Researchers suggest that optic nerve scans could also provide useful information for other neurological conditions.

Your eye doctor would be able to detect many other health conditions before you were aware of a problem. He can warn you of suspected tumors, aneurysms, or even cancer. Your comprehensive eye exam could be your first indication that you have a more serious health concern that should be investigated by your family physician.  Hampton Roads Eye Associates are experts at providing and interpreting dilated eye exams.  Contact us at (757) 643-8800 to schedule your eye exam today!

Eye Exams for Children and Adults – What’s the Difference?

eye examsDid you know that regardless of age, it is important to have regular and comprehensive eye exams with an eye doctor? The frequency of exams recommended is based on age and any issues with vision or medical conditions. Here’s the minimum frequency that it’s recommended to visit the eye doctor, as based on the American Optometric Association (AOA) for adults and children.

Adults:
All adults should have a comprehensive eye exam to check for vision, as well as other issues with the eyes every two years. Keep in mind that eye problems become more likely with age. For this reason, it’s often strongly recommended by many eye doctors that after age 40, the minimum with no risk factors is every one to two years and yearly at age 60. It’s recommended that those wearing eyeglasses or contacts have yearly eye exams. Those experiencing other vision problems, eye injury, or have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, connective tissue disorders, etc should have yearly eye exams unless told by their eye doctor that more frequent examination is necessary. For instance, it is often recommended that those with uncontrolled diabetes visit the eye doctor 2-3 times per year.

Children:
Children should have an initial eye exam with an eye doctor at 6 months, at age 3, and again around ages 5 or 6. After these initial eye exams, children should have an eye exam at least every two years until adulthood. Children that wear glasses or contacts should have a yearly eye exam. Yearly or even more frequent eye exams may be needed in some children, such as those with:

     -Premature birth or developmental delays
     -Fetal distress at birth or low Apgar scores
     -Infection during pregnancy (AIDS, herpes, rubella, etc)
     -Other vision problems, such as crossed eyes
     -Eye injury
     -Medical conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure, and many others)

At Hampton Roads Eye Associates, both children and adults receive the highest quality eye care possible. We are uniquely situated to provide general eye exams, specialty eye care such as retinal testing, laser surgery and more, and our optical shop allows us to fit and order you and your child for glasses after your exam if the need arises. Please contact us at (757) 643-8800 to schedule your appointment or use our convenient online scheduling tool.