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3 Reasons To Wear Prescription Sunglasses

Designer Frames & Sunglasses at Lowy & Sewell Eye Care

Designer Frames & Sunglasses at Lowy & Sewell Eye Care

Sunglasses offer clear, comfortable vision while also protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet light — which is a known risk factor for developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and other sight-threatening eye conditions. That’s why it’s important to always wear sunglasses whenever outdoors.

If you don’t already own a pair of prescription sunglasses, below we’ll explore 3 compelling reasons to pick up a pair from your local optometrist in Concord.

They’re Convenient

When you have a pair of prescription sunglasses, protecting your eyes while outdoors becomes a no-brainer.

Even those who wear contact lenses can benefit from owning a pair of prescription sunglasses for days when you just want to give your eyes a break from lenses.

They’re Customizable

Ask your eye doctor about how to personalize your prescription sunglasses to suit your needs.

Whether you prefer anti-reflective coatings, polarization, or other optical upgrades — your pair of prescription sunnies can be tailor-made for your eyes.

You can even order a pair of bifocal or multifocal sunglasses if you require more than one prescription.

They Offer Better Protection

When you order a pair of prescription sunglasses from your local optometrist, you can be sure you’re getting superior quality.

Sunglasses should always offer 100% UVA and UVB protection, but the fact is that many sunglasses available from other vendors don’t always provide that level of protection. And don’t be fooled by “UV blocking” stickers on the lenses — “UV blocking” is not the same as “100% UV protection”.

At Lowy & Sewell Eye Care in Concord, we carry a wide range of fashionable, high-quality, protective sunglasses that will keep your eyes feeling and looking their best.

For all of your optical needs, we’re here for you. Call us today to learn more or schedule your appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is it important to wear sunglasses?

  • A: It’s important to wear sunglasses all year round. Prolonged exposure to harmful UV light has been known to cause a handful of sight-threatening diseases like cataracts, macular degeneration, and photokeratitis. Sunglasses also shield your eyes from harsh winds that carry debris and irritating allergens.

Q: Why should I buy eyewear from a local optometrist rather than online?

  • A: Whether you’re buying glasses, contact lenses, or sunglasses, it’s best to order them directly from your eye doctor rather than an online source. Online eyewear is more prone to manufacturing errors that can cause visual discomfort and even damage your eyes. When you buy from a local optometrist you get personal care and attention and can bring in your eyewear for adjustments and repairs.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit Lowy & Sewell Eye Care for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Refs & Inspo
https://www.allaboutvision.com/sunglasses/reasons-you-need-prescription-shades/

What Are The Main Causes Of Blindness?

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Lowy & Sewell Eye Care

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Lowy & Sewell Eye Care

About 39 million people around the world currently live without sight.

Why so many? What causes it?

There are several reasons people become blind, which we will delve into below. Hopefully, by spreading awareness about the causes of blindness and ways to prevent it, Lowy & Sewell Eye Care in Concord will help people like you preserve their vision for a lifetime. Call today to schedule your eye exam.

Top Causes of Blindness

1. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

This eye disease is the leading cause of near-vision impairment in people over the age of 50. Patients living with AMD often lose part or all of their central vision, making it hard to perform daily tasks like driving, recognizing faces, and watching television.

2. Cataracts

A cataract occurs when the eye’s natural lens begins to cloud. While most people associate cataracts with advanced age, they can actually occur at any point in a person’s life, and for a variety of reasons. Risk factors for cataracts include genetics, age, radiation, trauma, and certain medications.

An estimated 17% of North Americans above the age of 40 have cataracts. Fortunately, they are easily removed through surgery. Left untreated, cataracts can eventually lead to blindness.

3. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases caused by increased ocular pressure. The two most common forms are open-angle glaucoma and closed- angle glaucoma. Open-angle is more common and typically progresses silently over a long period of time. Closed-angle glaucoma is a more painful and acute form of the disease. All forms of glaucoma can eventually lead to blindness.

Early detection and treatment are key in preventing vision loss from glaucoma.

4. Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)

DR is a complication of diabetes that occurs when excess sugar in the blood damages the retina’s blood vessels. There are 4 stages of DR, with the first stages rarely presenting noticeable symptoms. In many cases the condition can be managed and treated by your eye doctor, especially if caught early on.

Regular dilated eye exams are crucial for patients with diabetes, as it helps ensure the earliest possible detection of DR.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vision Care

Q: What does it mean to be ‘legally blind’?

  • A: People often assume those who are blind are unable to see anything. The truth is that to be considered legally blind, a person’s eyesight must be 20/200 — in other words, you’d need to stand 20 feet away from an object that one with healthy vision could see at a distance of 200 feet away. Furthermore, those who are legally blind cannot correct their vision with glasses or contact lenses.

Q: Can blindness be reversed?

  • A: Certain types of blindness are reversible. In cases of cataracts, corneal diseases, wet AMD and some instances of diabetic retinopathy, surgery, injections, and other treatments can return at least some sight to an individual who has experienced vision loss. On the other hand, diseases like glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, and dry age-related macular degeneration can cause irreversible vision loss.

Quality Frames For Prescription Glasses & Computer Glasses


As you may have noticed, the underlying theme in preventing all of these sight-threatening conditions is early detection. By undergoing yearly comprehensive eye exams, you stand a higher chance of keeping your eyes and vision healthy for the long term.

To schedule your annual comprehensive eye exam, call Lowy & Sewell Eye Care in Concord today.

Refs
https://ibvi.org/blog/what-are-the-main-causes-of-blindness/

5 Sunglasses Trends Worth Knowing

Designer Sunglasses at Lowy & Sewell Eye Care

Designer Sunglasses at Lowy & Sewell Eye Care

Sunglasses have been a fashion accessory for decades, so it’s no wonder that favorite styles frequently make a comeback, while others remain popular year after year. So what’s changed? The realization that sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement. They also protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

At Lowy & Sewell Eye Care in Concord we can offer you cool stylish looks while protecting your eyes with our large selection of designer sunglasses.

We’ve listed 5 sunglasses trends to keep in mind when shopping for your new pair of shades.

1. Oversized Lenses

Oversized designer sunglasses are not only a must-have accessory. They’re also highly functional. Larger frames and lenses help block more sunlight from your eyes. Oversized sunglasses also come in polarized and nonpolarized lenses, so you can see better and more clearly while still looking great.

2. Colorful Shades

If you already have a large collection of sunglasses, sunglasses with colorful lenses can be an inspired addition, both fashion-wise and functionally. Each tint provides different benefits to suit your lifestyle. For example, to improve depth perception choose a brown/amber or red tint. Red and yellow tints reduce eye strain. Gray-tinted lenses reduce glare on both sunny and cloudy days.

3. Aviator Sunglasses

There’s a reason that aviator glasses are a staple. They go with everything. Aviator sunglasses protect your eyes while also giving you a sporty, fashionable edge. To add some fun, check out aviator shades in pink, blue, or classic grey.

4. Round Sunglasses

Round sunglasses, which were immortalized by John Lennon, are always trending. They’re especially flattering to people with a round, square or heart-shaped face.

5. Mirrored Lenses

Mirrored lenses are not only stylish but provide a reflective optical coating. From the outside, the coating looks like a mirror and has a reflective surface that reflects a clear image. However, the mirror doesn’t pass on the inside of the lens. Mirrored lenses offer several advantages: they help with glare, making it more comfortable to drive; they keep light from getting into your lenses; they improve how well you see colors, and they protect your eyes from UV rays. They’re a sleek fashion accessory that enhances any outfit.

No matter what style you go for, remember it’s also about protection. The sun gives off strong UV rays, so it’s just as important to protect your eyes while looking cool and stylish. Visit us to see our large variety of designer sunglasses and get the look you’ve always wanted.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sunglasses

Q: Should I wear sunglasses during the winter?

  • A: Absolutely! Ultra-violet (UV) rays are present and harmful whether it’s cloudy out or sunny! While we all know that UV rays can cause damage to the skin, UV exposure can also cause damage to several important parts of the eyes and can lead to problems such as early-onset cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.

Q: How do I know which sunwear lenses absorb UV rays the most?

  • A: Generally, most sunwear lenses will absorb UV lenses to some degree. Lenses that are marked CR-39R plastic, absorb about 88 percent of UV light. If sunglasses contain polycarbonate lenses, UV absorption will be 100 percent.


Tips to Relax Your Eyes

Do your eyes hurt after spending a significant amount of time reading, playing video games, driving, or staring at a screen? These visually intense activities can sometimes be hard on the eyes, causing uncomfortable symptoms like headaches and blurry vision. Other symptoms of eye strain can include light sensitivity, neck and shoulder pain, trouble concentrating, and burning or itchy eyes.

Fortunately, preventing painful computer vision syndrome and eye fatigue symptoms can be as simple as trying a few of these eye exercises. To learn more about digital eye strain and discover the best relief options for you, call Lowy & Sewell Eye Care at 905-738-6680 and schedule an eye exam with Dr. Lowy.

Relax Your Eyes with These Supportive Techniques

Many of these exercises are designed for computer users. Eye strain resulting from long drives, reading, or other activities, can be alleviated by modifying some of these recommendations.

The Clock Exercise

The clock exercise relieves strain on overworked eye muscles and can help you avoid headaches and eye pain, among other symptoms. Begin the exercise by imagining a large analog clock a few feet in front of you. Keep your head still and move your eyes to the imaginary 9, then to the imaginary 3.

Keep moving your eyes to the opposite pairs on the clock — 10/4, 11/5, 12/6, and so on. Hold your gaze for a second or two on each number before moving on to the next one. Continue doing this for 4-5 minutes.

The 20-20-20 Rule

The 20-20-20 rule helps you avoid dry eyes and eye strain by giving your eyes frequent breaks. After about 20 minutes of screen time or doing close-up work, focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives the eyes a much needed rest and helps them relax. There are also free apps available that provide pop-up reminders that notify you when it’s time to shift your gaze.

Screen Ergonomics

The American Optometric Association recommends placing computer monitors 20 to 28 inches, or 50-70 cm, away from your eyes and the top of the computer should be at eye level or right below for optimum eye comfort. Glare filters can reduce the amount of glare produced by digital devices and improve your viewing experience.

Poor sitting posture can also contribute to eye strain. Your chair should be situated so that your feet are flat on the floor, or use an angled footrest for additional comfort.

Optimize your Eyewear

Since regular prescription lenses or glasses may not adequately meet your visual needs for lengthy computer use, you may benefit from wearing computer glasses. These prescription glasses are customized to your needs and also reduce glare and block blue light.

 

You don’t have to live with the discomforts of eye strain. If symptoms persist, it may be time to visit Lowy & Sewell Eye Care and get the relief you seek. Call our office to schedule a convenient eye doctor’s appointment.

 

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Dr. Deborah Lowy & Associates Optometrists - Local Vision Center in Concord, OntarioWhether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

“Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness”

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.”
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.”

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment. ”

Call Dr. Deborah Lowy & Associates Optometrists on 905-738-6680 in Concord, ON to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist.

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

How Can My Child’s Myopia Be Corrected?

It’s Time to Talk About Blue Light

The Sneak Thief of Sight

Top 4 Eyecare Tips for Summer Vacation

Exercise and Your Eye Health

Dr. Deborah Lowy & Associates Optometrists - Local Vision Center in Concord, OntarioRegular exercise is an essential component of overall health and wellness. It is proven that exercise reduces sickness and disease; it increases strength, immunity, and mental health; and it also helps regulate bodily functions and maintain a healthy weight. Research shows that exercise can lower our risk of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, as well as other eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Whereas, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of these diseases and of vision loss, studies show that even moderate exercise at least three times a week can improve the prognosis of the above-mentioned chronic illnesses and reduce the risks of developing vision threatening eye diseases.

Inactivity is an even higher risk factor if you have other co-factors for developing eye diseases, including: a family history, previous eye injury or surgery, diabetes, high blood pressure or very high myopia. A combination of healthy lifestyle habits which include regular exercise and a nutritious diet and tending to your mental and emotional well-being can reduce these risks significantly.”

“Regular exercise is an essential component of overall health and wellness.”

Tips for Incorporating Physical Activity Into Your Day

  1. Make it a priority. Schedule your exercise time into your day as if it is a non-negotiable appointment. Find the time of day that works best – for some that is early morning and for others late at night. Work your way up to a half hour at least three times a week.
  2. Be realistic. You don’t need to become a fitness expert to experience the benefits of exercise. Walking, yoga, swimming, even dancing around the house are all options for staying fit. Find a type of exercise that you love so you will enjoy working this habit into your life.
  3. Just move. Find ways to move your body throughout your day. Park your car a little further away from the mall entrance, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk or bike to work. Remember, every little bit of movement helps.
  4. Find something you enjoy. Often finding the right exercise is a good stress reliever, and reducing stress will also reduce risk of many chronic diseases.
  5. It’s never too late. Exercise for the elderly can be a challenge especially during the cold winter months, when many seniors can’t get out of the house due to the weather. Even walking up and down the stairs in the house or following an exercise video can be helpful to keep from being sedentary.”

Protection & Prevention of Eye Conditions

If you are exercising outdoors or playing contact sports, make sure to protect your eyes with sunglasses or sports safety glasses to ensure your eye health and safety.

Regular exercise can significantly decrease your risks of certain eye conditions but you still have to ensure that you visit your eye doctor for regular exams. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to ensure your vision and your eyes are healthy and to catch any possible problems as early as possible.”

Eye health and disease prevention are just two of the many health and wellness benefits you gift yourself when you make exercise a regular part of your lifestyle. Speak to your doctor if you have any health issues that need to be considered. At any age or level of physical fitness, you can find some form of exercise that works for you.

Call Dr. Deborah Lowy & Associates Optometrists on 905-738-6680 in Concord, ON to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist.

FOLLOW US

Alternatively book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

Local Eye Health in Concord, Ontario

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

EDC for Sunglasses Lovers

“The Sneak Thief of Sight” Is On Our Minds This January

Are Your Eyes Sensitive to Light?

Can Lasik Correct Astigmatism?

Wearing Colored Contact Lenses Safely on Halloween

Halloween Jack-O-Lantern in ThornhillCosmetic, colored contact lenses can take your Halloween costume to a whole new level! As the perfect finishing touch to any outfit, costume contact lenses can fully transform you into that sneaky cat, bloody vampire or any other character you dream up. Unfortunately, colored contacts can also turn your Halloween into a genuine eye nightmare if you don’t have a contact lens prescription and professional contact lens fitting.

“Many people think that it’s safe to purchase colored contact lenses from any novelty store or website, without a prescription from an eye doctor,” says our optometrist, Dr. Deborah Lowy, O.D. of Lowy and Sewell Eye Care, in Concord, Ontario. “Yet colored contacts must be fit properly, just like all contacts, in order to avoid serious eye damage.” An optometrist must perform a thorough eye exam to check and measure both eyes. An improper contact lens fit can cause corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers, decreased vision and pink eye, as well as other severe eye injuries and infections (such as keratitis) that can lead to permanent vision loss or blindness.

“…colored contacts must be fit properly, just like all contacts, in order to avoid serious eye damage.”

If you’re thinking about wearing circle or anime lenses, think again. With larger-than-normal diameters, the wearer has an illustrated, doll-like look. Yet this new type of costume lens is extremely unsafe for eyes and unavailable by prescription. Stay clear of purchasing these lenses, even if your local convenience store has them in stock!

Wearing Colored Contact Lenses Safely on Halloween in Concord, Ontario

Man with blue Halloween costume contact lens in ThornhillEven if costume lenses are the right fit for your eyes, they must be cleaned just like regular lenses, with the correct disinfecting solutions. This is another piece of information that many people don’t realize. Bacterial infections can develop rapidly – in as little as 24 hours of wearing lenses. “If you experience symptoms of redness, decreased vision or eye pain that doesn’t go away quickly, it’s important for the health of your vision to schedule an eye exam,” advises our pediatric optometrist Dr. Jeremy Sewell, O.D.

Costume lenses are often thicker than regular contacts, which makes them less permeable to oxygen. This may make them unsuitable for some people’s eyes, and an expert eye exam and prescription for contact lenses is the only way to safely dress your eyes up eyes. As long as they fit correctly and are worn in accordance with an eye doctor’s instructions, colored contacts are an awesome way to make any mediocre Halloween costume into the ultimate disguise!

Lowy & Sewell Eye Care - Dry Eye Disease in Concord, OntarioIf you are unsure about what to order, or just want to check what contact lens prescription would be best for you, book an appointment and we’ll be happy to direct you to the safest options on the market.

Call Lowy & Sewell Eye Care on 905-738-6680 in Concord, Ontario to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist.

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Alternatively book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

5 Tips For Avoiding Dry Eyes with Contacts

Woman suffering from dry eyes in Concord

Dry eye is one of the most common complaints among our patients who wear contacts. However, a typical misunderstanding is that contact lenses always cause dry eyes. To set the record straight, most of the time contacts are not the cause – but they can make the symptoms of dry eye irritation much worse.

Don’t despair! Dry eye with contacts does not mean you need to return to wearing eyeglasses all of the time. Our Thornhill eye doctor shares the following advice on how to prevent dry eye with contacts, as well as ways to alleviate the painful symptoms.

Intro to Dry Eye

Let’s begin with a basic explanation of the classic causes and symptoms of dry eye. Your eyes have tear-producing glands that keep the ocular surface lubricated, so it doesn’t dry out. Yet sometimes the quantity or quality of tears is not sufficient for maintaining enough moisture on your eyes. How does dry eye feel? The most usual symptoms include redness, itchiness, a feeling of sand in your eyes, watery eyes, and soreness.

Dry eye could result from a number of reasons, such as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), side effects from medication, systemic health conditions, and living in an arid or windy climate. If you suffer from a condition that affects tear quality, contact lenses will contribute to your dry eye problem.

1. Get an Eye Exam

If you suffer from painful dry eye, your first step should be to visit your eye doctor. Our Thornhill optometrist will perform a comprehensive eye exam to uncover the root of your dry eye syndrome and to recommend the most appropriate, helpful solution. We will also check your contact lenses and how they move on your eyes to ensure that an improper fit isn’t causing you discomfort.

2. Look into a New Contacts Solution

Not all disinfectants are the same. Some cleaning solutions can make dry eye worse, while others contain moisturizing ingredients to help reduce symptoms of dry eye. Ask your eye doctor to recommend the most suitable product for cleaning and storing your contacts.

3. Use Eye Drops

Also known as artificial tears, over-the-counter eye drops are usually the frontline treatment for dry eye. In many cases, these lubricating products are all that you need to alleviate eye irritation. With so many types of eye drops on the market, how do you choose? First of all, check with your optometrist to verify which types of eye drops are compatible with your contact lenses. Second, look for healthier preservative-free eye drops, especially if you use them more often than once every two hours.

4. Wear the Right Type of Contacts

Contact lenses are not created equal. In general, lightweight soft contacts are more likely to prevent dry eye, because they allow a higher level of water retention than hard lenses. It is a good idea to investigate the water content of your lenses; look for the maximum! Thin and breathable are important criteria for choosing your contacts. Many of the newer, advanced technologies give contacts a moister and comfortable feel, such as specialized silicone hydrogel lenses.

5. Daily Disposable Contacts

The more frequent the replacement schedule for your contacts, the less time for irritating deposits to build up on the lens surface. Debris and deposits can worsen your dry eye symptoms, as well as lead to clogged tear ducts.

Dry eye used to make it impossible to wear contacts. That is no longer the case. Nowadays, we can offer plenty of tips on how to enhance comfort for our Thornhill patients who wear contacts with dry eye syndrome. Schedule a consultation to learn more!

Does Smoking Affect Vision?

Eye Doctors Weigh In: How Smoking Can Harm Your Vision & Eye Health

We all know that smoking is bad for you, especially the risks that it poses to your heart and lungs. What many people do not know is that cigarette smoke negatively affects your eyes and vision too. As our eye doctor can explain during your next eye exam, smoking has been directly linked to an increase in the risks of both cataracts and macular degeneration, two leading causes of vision loss, and it is believed to be a factor in a number of other eye and vision issues.

Smoking and Cataracts

Studies show that smoking doubles the risk of cataracts and with heavy smoking, the risk triples. In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of smoking and the likelihood of cataracts. Cataracts are characterised by the clouding of the lens of the eye and it is believed that smoking affects the cells of the lens, accelerating this process.

Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, however they can be treated surgically by removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Symptoms include:

    • Blurred, cloudy or dim vision
    • Sensitivity to light and glare
    • Presence of halos around lights
    • Increasingly poor night vision
    • Fading color vision
    • Double vision
    • and frequent prescription changes with minimal improvement in vision

Smoking and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

According to medical research, smoking increases the likelihood of developing age-related macular degeneration between two and four times the normal risk – the more you smoke, the greater the risk. Unfortunately, there is also an increased risk for those exposed to cigarette smoke for extended periods of time.

Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is a condition in which the macula, which is the center of the retina, begins to to deteriorate, reducing central vision and the eye’s ability to see fine details. The disease is characterized by blurred and distorted eyesight and blind spots in the central vision. With time, the disease can progress to leave the person with low vision, which is significant vision loss that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.

Other Eye and Vision Risks of Smoking

Smoking has also been linked to dry eyes, optic nerve damage and diabetic retinopathy (for those with diabetes).

“Eye Vitamins” are often used without doctor’s recommendations. Smokers are cautioned not to take beta-carotene supplements, specifically, (or multi-vitamins containing this ingredient) as studies indicate there is increased risk of cancer even in people who quit smoking.

What to Do?

Even if you have been smoking for years, quitting will reduce the risks of developing these conditions, for yourself and those around you. If you do smoke, make sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to catch any developing disease early. Early diagnosis and treatment can be the key to saving your vision and preventing permanent vision loss.

Sjogren’s Awareness – Understanding The Invisible Disease 

In an effort to spread the word to increase awareness about Sjogren’s Disease, eye care providers are speaking out about this hard-to-diagnose condition.

As our eye doctor can explain during your next eye exam, Sjogren’s is a systemic autoimmune disorder that can affect the whole body. One of the primary symptoms is excessive dryness particularly in the eyes and mouth. Other serious symptoms include chronic fatigue and pain, specifically in the joints, as well as major organ dysfunction. The syndrome also increases chances of neuropathies and lymphomas.

The severity of the disease varies greatly, ranging from mild discomfort to debilitating symptoms that can seriously impair normal functioning in everyday life. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious complications and improve quality of life. There is currently no cure for Sjogren’s, yet there are treatments for many of the individual symptoms. On average patients are prescribed upwards of 8 medications to treat the wide range of symptoms.

Women are nine times more likely to develop Sjogren’s than men and diagnosis usually occurs around the age of 40. Unfortunately, because the symptoms vary from person to person, and the disease often occurs in the presence of or mimics other diseases (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, allergies or multiple sclerosis) the disease is often misdiagnosed or overlooked. Further, because the symptoms can affect different parts of the body system such as the teeth, eyes or musculoskeletal system, various health professionals are sought to diagnose or treat specific symptoms (such as rheumatologists, dentists or eye doctors) while the big picture is often missed. On average it takes almost three years to obtain a Sjogren’s diagnosis once symptoms are noticed.

Since dry eye is one of the most common early symptoms of the disease, there has been an effort to educate eye care providers to recognize and to be aware to look for symptoms of the disease. Patients also need to be aware and proactive about speaking to their health care providers about potential diagnosis and treatment. Knowing the risk factors and symptoms can be imperative to a faster diagnosis.

Your eye doctor may be able to detect and diagnose Sjogren’s syndrome from dry eye symptoms as well as other diagnostic tests and review of symptoms. With this diagnosis the treatment will be different from typical dry eye disease. Since it is an autoimmune disease, lubricating eye drops may provide temporary relief but will not address the source of the problem. Your doctor may prescribe newer cyclosporine drops as well to treat the inflammatory response. If you have dry eyes and typical treatments aren’t working, it may be worthwhile to ask about Sjogren’s.

Sjogren’s patients often feel misunderstood because most of the debilitating symptoms are not visible to others and the disease is often not recognized largely due to a lack of awareness. By increasing both public and professional awareness, the goal is to reduce diagnosis time and to advance research on the cure for this disorder.

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