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Eye Health

Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

Nation-wide awareness about the vast dangers of obesity is at an all-time high, with TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” and health initiatives such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign shining a spotlight on the importance of fitness and good nutrition. However, despite the public’s knowledge of obesity’s effects on hypertension, stroke, and diabetes, many are not aware of how it damages eye health and vision.

Increasing evidence shows that people who are clinically obese have an elevated risk of developing serious eye diseases. It is widely known that expanding waistlines place people at a higher risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, and cancer — but researchers say the link between obesity and deteriorating vision is the “risk factor that no one talks about”. Professor Michael Belkin and Dr. Zohar Habot-Wilner, from the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Center, found a consistently strong correlation between obesity and the development of four major eye diseases that may cause blindness: 

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy

The researchers said that although the evidence was out there suggesting a link between obesity and these conditions, their study emphasizes the optometric risks of obesity which can help motivate people to shed those extra pounds.

How Obesity Contributes to Eye Disease

A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is regarded as obese. A high BMI is tied to several chronic systemic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, among others. Recent research indicates that a handful of ocular diseases can now be added to that list. 

Serious eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration are more common in individuals with obesity, as well as floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, thyroid-related eye diseases, and stroke-related vision loss. 

The connection between obesity and these eye diseases is likely due to the increased risk of peripheral artery disease. This occurs when the tiny blood vessels bringing oxygen to parts of your body like the feet, kidneys, and eyes become compromised.

Your eyes are particularly prone to damage from obesity because the blood vessels in the eyes (called arterioles) are easily blocked, since they’re extremely thin and small — as thin as ½ the width of a human hair! 

Most people are not aware that obesity may increase the rate of developing cataracts, too. Cataracts result when the focusing lens in the eye becomes cloudy and requires surgery to be replaced. In addition to age, cataract development is associated with obesity, poor nutrition, gout, diabetes and high blood sugar levels, though the exact cause isn’t clear.

A Healthy Lifestyle Can Reduce Your Risk of Ocular Disease

Knowing about the risk of vision loss may give those with a high BMI the extra motivational boost they need to lose weight. The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can reduce the associated risks.

An active lifestyle and a balanced, nutritious diet lower obesity and improve overall physical and eye health. Give your body a boost by incorporating important nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega 3, zinc, and lutein, many of which are found in green leafy and dark orange vegetables, as they have been shown to reduce the onset, progression, and severity of certain eye diseases. 

We Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy in Fort Worth

While a healthy diet and regular exercise greatly increase your chances of living a disease-free long life, they alone are not enough to ensure long term healthy eyesight. Regular eye exams with Dr. Miller can help prevent or detect the onset of ocular disease, and maintain vision that is clear and comfortable.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health, don’t hesitate to call Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care — we’re here for you. 

How Smoking Impacts Vision

Smoking harms nearly every system in your body — including your eyes. 

Though we are all aware of the health effects associated with smoking, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and bad teeth, few know about the negative impact it can have on our vision. 

Smoking and Eye Disease 

Smoking, especially 20 cigarettes or more daily over a long period of time, can adversely impact your vision. Cigarette smoke is made up of compounds that can damage health and have been shown to cause cerebral lesions which affect the area of the brain that processes vision.

More specifically, tobacco addiction increases the risk of developing vision-robbing diseases such as macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy. Moreover, smoke is an irritant that can cause or exacerbate dry eye syndrome. Below we’ll delve a little further into each of these conditions. 

Age-Related Macular Degeneration 

Smokers run a high risk of developing AMD, a condition that severely impairs central vision, making it difficult or impossible to read, drive, recognize faces and colors, and leads to permanent vision loss in those aged 65 or older. Fortunately, the risk can be dramatically diminished by putting an end to tobacco smoking — even if later in life. 

Cataracts

Heavy smokers double their risk of developing cataracts, the leading cause of blindness. Cataracts are characterized by clouded, blurred or double vision, photophobia, and reduced night vision. However, cataract surgery is common and replaces the clouded lens with an artificial intraocular lens. 

Uveitis

Uveitis, the inflammation of the eye’s central layer, is an ocular disease that can lead to blindness. This condition damages important structures of the eye, notably the iris and retina, and can lead to cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment. Smokers have a 2.2 times higher risk of developing uveitis than non-smokers. 

Diabetic Retinopathy

Smoking raises one’s risk of developing diabetes by up to 40 percent thereby increasing the risk of retinopathy as well. Diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to leak blood into the eye, which — in severe cases — can deprive the retina of oxygen and result in blindness.

Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition characterized by insufficient tears to keep your eye lubricated, or the tears are not composed of the correct balance of water, lipids, and mucous to maintain proper lubrication. Common symptoms include red, itchy, and gritty eyes.

Heavy smokers, and those exposed to secondhand smoke, not only double their risk of developing dry eye but also exacerbate an existing condition, especially among the contact lens wearers.

Secondhand Smoke and Eye Disease 

Secondhand smoke— which includes the smoke that emanates from the end of a cigarette as well as the smoke exhaled— is nearly as harmful to health and vision. Second-hand smoke places others’ eyesight in danger, particularly in young children and infants. Furthermore, studies indicate that women who smoke during pregnancy put the newborn baby at risk of being born with eye disease or visual impairment that could affect his or her ability to learn.

Stop Smoking to Save Your Vision

The good news is that giving up smoking can have an immediate effect on your health — and it’s never too late to quit! Once the habit is broken, your body will begin to repair itself to prevent vision loss. It can be challenging to quit, as it requires dedication, support, and advanced planning. Dr. Miller and the rest of the staff at Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care in Fort Worth care about your health and will be happy to provide any assistance or resources to help you quit smoking and improve your eye health. Keep in mind that if you smoke, quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to protect your health and vision.

12 Tips for Optimal Eye Health

Good Eye Care Habits & Hygiene

By practicing good eye care habits and hygiene, you can prevent many vision problems from occurring. Eye problems and the risks associated with vision loss only grow as you age. By neglecting eye care, you place yourself at a higher risk of suffering from cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and low vision.

So make sure you maintain great eye health by following these 12 tips for optimal eye health.  

1. Avoid rubbing your eyes

Itchy eyes can be a hallmark symptom of allergies, and though rubbing may bring temporary relief, it ultimately increases swelling and worsens the itch. If you wear contact lenses, rubbing your eyes can also dislodge or even break a lens, causing the lens to get lost or scratch the cornea. Plus, eye rubbing can lead to eye infections, since our hands are typically covered with a host of germs.

2. Regularly wash your hands

Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is often caused by germs and bacteria carried to your eyes by unclean hands. Frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water helps keep bacteria away and prevents eye contamination. Prior to inserting or removing contact lenses, make sure to wash your hands with mild soap and dry them using a lint-free towel. 

3. Beware of UV rays

By exposing yourself to sunlight and UV rays, you increase the risk of developing macular degeneration and corneal sunburn. Beyond just adding some style and zest to your look, sunglasses should protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays. Speak to your optometrist about the different options available for people who wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses too, to keep your eyes safe in the sun.

4. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial for your body’s overall health and wellbeing — and that includes your eyes. Among other complications, if you don’t have enough fluid in your body, it impacts tear production and can cause dry eyes and irritation. Drink up!  

5. Don’t smoke cigarettes

Need some extra motivation to quit smoking? 

Smokers are more prone to developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye conditions. Cigarette smoking can also destroy optic nerves, which can adversely affect your vision over time. So think twice before you light up, and speak to your doctor about getting help to quit. 

6. Eat a healthy diet

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure that your diet is rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamins A and C. These can be found in leafy greens (your mom was right about spinach!), orange vegetables (think, carrots and sweet potato) and citrus fruit. Furthermore, fatty fish like salmon contain essential omega-3 fatty acids which also promote excellent eye health. 

7. Keep a healthy distance from screens

Nip digital eye strain in the bud by positioning your computer monitor about an arm’s length away from the eyes and 20 degrees below eye level. Ideally, work in a room with enough diffused lighting to reduce stress on your eyes from the computer light.

8. Remember the 20-20-20 rule 

Speaking of computers, have you heard of the 20-20-20 rule? When using digital devices, rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 continuous seconds. 

Once you’re at it, blink 20 times in succession to prevent dry eyes, and make it a habit to rise from your seat and take 20 steps to promote good posture and blood circulation, which helps your vision too.  

9. Be careful with eye make-up 

Make sure that your eye shadow, mascara, and eyeliner don’t cause your eyes an allergic reaction. Get in the habit of removing your make-up before going to sleep in order to avoid bacterial build-up from residual make-up left in the eye area. And, from time to time, clean your make-up brushes, especially those used to apply cosmetics around the eye area.

10. Sleep is golden

Just as with the rest of your body, your eyes need a break. So make sure that you get sufficient shut-eye (8 hours) each night to keep your eyes revitalized and healthy.

11. Wear protective eyewear 

Whatever you do, make sure your eyes are well-protected. If you’re swimming, wear goggles to prevent chlorine from entering your eyes. If you’re gardening or engaged in a DIY project at home, wear safety glasses to keep dust particles and bacteria at bay and prevent eye injuries. Ask your local eye doctor about protective eyewear for sports and other activities.

12. Regularly visit your eye doctor

Don’t underestimate the importance of getting a routine eye exam, whether you need an updated prescription or not. Even if you can see well today, a comprehensive eye exam can pick up early signs of eye diseases and conditions before symptoms become noticeable, such as glaucoma, diabetes, retinal holes which could lead to retinal detachment, and cancers like melanoma. Early detection and management can prevent further complications and serious vision loss down the line.

Only an eye doctor has the required knowledge, experience, tools and techniques to determine whether you have these or other eye conditions.

It is recommended that everyone gets a comprehensive eye exam once a year (or at least every two years). Children, whose eyes are rapidly developing, and people at higher risk for developing eye problems such as diabetics and older people, need to undergo eye exams even more frequently: at the minimum, yearly. 

During the evaluation, the eye doctor will check for things like: 

  • Farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism and/or presbyopia
  • Eye coordination 
  • Optic nerve and eye pressure tests to spot glaucoma

It’s also important to be on the look-out for any changes in your vision. If you experience hazy or double vision, worsening eyesight, red eyes, eye pain, swelling or floaters, contact Dr. Miller.  

Incorporate these tips and habits into your lifestyle to maintain healthy eyes and a high quality of life. Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care offers comprehensive eye exams in Fort Worth, Texas, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about ways to maintain healthy vision.

Eye damage caused by sleeping in contacts?

 

Don’t Risk Eye Infection and Other Scary Complications!

Your Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care eye doctor has been telling you for years about the dangers of sleeping in your contact lenses. Yet, sometimes you are so exhausted that it is very tempting to fall asleep without bothering to remove them. In fact, sleeping in lenses was the most common offense reported by contact lens wearers, according to a report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Five common misunderstandings that frequently come through our office that we would like to clear up.

  1. Don’t nap in your contact lenses.

    Unless you are wearing contact lenses that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sleeping AND your eye care professional has approved your eyes for such use, it is not safe to sleep in your contact lenses for any length of time.

  2. It is best to avoid showering in your contact lenses.

    Soft contact lenses arrive in a blister pack, soaked in a buffer solution to keep them moist. Once the lenses have been removed from this well lubricated sterile environment, they will begin to dry out, especially if worn while in the shower. You also run the risk of contaminating your lenses with soap, shampoo and tap water when showering with your contacts in.

  3. Use contact lens approved lubricant eye drops while wearing your contact lenses.

    There are many safe lubricant drops that can be purchased at the pharmacy or at your local Optometrist office. We recommend I-Drop Pur by I-Med Pharma because it is a preservative-free solution with a sophisticated one-way valve which helps with dispensing the perfect sized eye drop. Using lubricant drops throughout the day while wearing contact lenses will keep you comfortable for longer periods and will reduce dryness especially when working on digital devices such as computers and tablets.

  4. Never store your contact lenses in tap water.

    When you run out of your contact lens cleaning solution you have two options; go to the store and buy more of the same cleaning solution OR dispose of your contact lens. Storing soft contact lenses in tap water exposes them to the danger of bacteria and harmful pathogens which can lead to blinding and painful eye infections. Also, when rinsing the case after use, do not rinse the case with tap water, instead use the multi-purpose solution.

  5. There is no such thing as a “NO RUB” multi-purpose cleaning solution.

    Friction is what removes the microbes and cleans the lenses with a multi-purpose solution. Therefore, if you are not rubbing your lenses for at least 20 seconds prior to storing the lenses in fresh solution, you are simply storing dirty lenses and then putting dirty and potentially harmful lenses back into your eyes. If you are using a hydrogen peroxide solution to clean your contact lenses, no rubbing is needed. When using a hydrogen peroxide solution the contraption you store the contact lenses it looks like something out of the star wars spaceship. When you pour the hydrogen peroxide solution into the cleaning device the chemical reactions cause bubbling to occur, which effectively cleans and thoroughly disinfects your contact lenses. If this is not what you do for cleaning your contact lenses then you MUST rub your contact lenses with a multi-purpose solution.

 

Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care Eye Clinic and Contact lens clinic in Fort Worth, Texas

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Our Fort Worth eye doctor has prepared the following answers to your questions about eye disease.

So, how bad is it really to sleep in your contacts?

Very bad, warns your Fort Worth eye doctor. All kinds of contacts, including the best daily contact lenses, extended wear lenses, and colored contacts, block enough healthy oxygen from reaching your cornea. In effect, you are suffocating your eyes.

Read on to see the frightening risks of sleeping in your contacts – and you’ll find it much less tempting to hit the pillow for the night without taking them out!

Eye Infection.

The most common problem that we treat in our Fort Worth patients who sleep in their lenses is an eye infection. That’s because sleeping in your contacts can lead to tiny tears on your cornea, which raises the chances of bacteria (and sometimes fungi) entering your eye. Bacterial conjunctivitis, or pink eye, requires antibiotic eye drops for treatment. While you have this infection, you cannot wear contacts until your eyes heal.

What should I do if I have a Serious Red Eye

CLARE, which stands for “contact lens acute red eye”, is a relatively common problem caused by sleeping in contacts. The symptoms include pain, a reddish cast, and light sensitivity.

Corneal Inflammation

When oxygen can’t reach your cornea to nourish it, corneal neovascularization can occur. This is an overgrowth of new blood vessels into the cornea, which leads to swelling. It can cause enough damage that you will never be able to wear contacts again.

Corneal Ulcers

The classic symptoms of a corneal ulcer are red eyes, a lot of discharge or tearing, vision changes, and pain. If you experience these problems, call your Fort Worth eye doctor for an immediate eye exam. When left untreated, a corneal ulcer can lead to permanent vision loss. Sleeping in your lenses (even just here and there) makes corneal inflammation almost seven times more likely to occur.

Bumpy Eyelids

Wearing contacts overnight, even the best daily contact lenses, can be irritating and lead to the development of bumps beneath the upper eyelids. Called GPC (giant papillary conjunctivitis), these bumps pull on your lenses when you blink. This creates poorly fitting contacts that generally become too uncomfortable to wear.

Local Contact lens clinic in Fort Worth, Texas

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Can I wear contact lenses with dry eyes?

Yes, you generally can – as long as you wear the right type of contact lenses! Due to the development of new, modern materials, there is a variety of contact lens types for dry eyes.

Dry eyes are a common, contemporary problem that can affect comfortable contact lens wear. If your lenses are not kept moist enough by your natural tear film, they can lead to eye irritation, dryness, and itchy eyes. During your comprehensive eye exam for contact lenses, your eye doctor will administer a tear film evaluation. If you do not have enough tears or their composition is poor, we will recommend certain contacts for dry eyes, which maintain moisture more efficiently.

Contact lenses are popular for a number of reasons, ranging from comfort and convenience to crisper vision. When it comes to appearance, many people feel more attractive and confident facing the world without eyeglasses in the way. Additionally, there’s no need to turn your head for sharp peripheral vision with contacts. Sports players find this to be a distinct advantage! Another benefit is contact lenses never slip down your nose on a hot day. So, now that you’re convinced and want to wear prescription contact lenses, you may be wondering where can I get quality contact lenses near me?

In addition to our user-friendly site to order contacts online, we stock a full inventory of premium contact lenses in our optometry offices in Fort Worth, Texas. If you have a current vision prescription, we invite you to replenish your supply of contacts from Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care! However, if you’ve never worn contacts or you haven’t had a comprehensive eye exam in over a year – we encourage you to visit your eye doctor for a thorough evaluation before purchasing new lenses.

Contact Lenses from Your Fort Worth Optometrist

To learn more tips about healthy contact lens wearing and how to reduce your risks of complications, visit our Fort Worth eye care center. We perform thorough, precise contact lens eye exams and fittings, and our Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care eye doctors will advise you about the best daily contact lenses for your eyes. We also sell premium colored contacts to help keep your eyes healthy while you change your look!

Call Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care on 817-769-6601 to schedule an eye exam with our Fort Worth optometrist. Alternatively book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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Just in case you missed them, here are some of our previous blog posts :

Can Parents Spot Signs of Lazy Eye?

All About Management & Treatment of Eye Disease in Fort Worth, Texas.

AMD Awareness Could Save Your Vision

Workplace Eye Wellness: The Dangers of Blue Light

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