> Latest Blog Articles by Eye Care Centers

Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Created on: Tuesday, April 04, 2017

It’s a fact, significantly more women than men deal with eye related problems over their lifetime. It may be easy to guess why but I think it is important to fully understand so you can do something about it now.

  • Hormones – you name the time; Birth control, pregnancy, breast feeding, menopause, hormone supplement or replacements, fertility drugs, and certain cancers specific to women all cause hormone shift which in turn negatively affect our eyes.
  • Life Expectancy – women generally live longer than men.  As a result, we have longer exposure to the environmental triggers that contribute to eye diseases.
  • Risk for Autoimmune Diseases – as a whole, the risk is higher in women than in men.  These are diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome that all can cause negative impacts on the eyes.

Tools to help preserve and enhance your vision

·         See your Optometrist for a preventive, comprehensive eye exam.

o   Should be every 1-2 years depending on your specific circumstances.

·         Take an Omega-3 Supplement.

o   Although the use of multivitamins can be controversial, the use of Omega-3 supplements show overwhelming evidence to support the health of the ocular surface and help with dry eye.

§  Ask your doctor for a specific recommendation.  They are not all created equal! It is important to understand the quality of the supplement as factors like taste, freshness, purity, mercury levels and systemic adsorption can all impact results.

·         Wear your sunglasses!!!

o   All the time when the sun is up. When we are outside our eyes are exposed to the harmful effects of UV light. One important little known fact is the risk of sun exposure problems for our eyes is worse when the sun is coming up and when it is going down. This is due to the angle of the sun and the direct hit to our eyes rather than when it is directly overhead and our facial features help control impact.

·         If you smoke….QUIT!

o   Many eye diseases are more severe and progress quicker in smokers.

·         Don’t over wear your contact lenses.

o   Have back up glasses to give your eyes a break

o   Throw them out exactly as your doctor prescribed them – there are many reasons why contact lenses have a replacement schedule and patient comfort alone can’t be trusted. 

·         Eat a healthy diet with many dark green pigmented vegetables.  These foods are good, natural sources of vitamins and minerals that help you maintain healthy vision.

Women do have increased likelihood to see their doctor and communicate openly about signs and symptoms.  In many diseases, early detection and treatment can lessen the impact and create better overall eye health. Looking forward to seeing you in the office!

 

 By: Tina McCarty, OD, FAAO

 

Quality You Can Feel

Created on: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

One of the most tempting reasons to make products in the USA is the level of control you can hold over production. For STATE Optical Co. frames, made in Chicago, that means using only the finest materials and employing only the strictest quality control standards. You can feel the difference as soon as you pick up a STATE frame.

Entering the STATE quality control room just off the factory floor, all the noise and hustle of production fades away. Even though STATE frames are inspected every time they pass hands from one craftsman to another, the last step in the making of a STATE frame is final registration. This doesn’t just mean one last look over, it means every last millimeter of each frame is scrutinized against near-perfect standards. STATE cofounder and craftsman, Marc Franchi, would have it no other way; it’s the only way to produce American luxury eyewear.

Eye Care Center is proud to carry STATE Optical Co. eyewear. We encourage each of you to come in to see and feel the difference. Not only will you be supporting American jobs, for each STATE frame sold, Eye Care Center will donate $10 to the Minnesota chapter of Folds of Honor to support the families of our fallen and disabled service-members.

 

Crafted in Chicago

Crafted in Chicago

Created on: Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Author: Eye Care Care

There’s something about knowing where things come from that increases your appreciation of them. That’s one of the many reasons we’re featuring STATE Optical Co. eyewear this month. All STATE eyewear is manufactured, start to finish, right here in the Midwest. Each Wednesday, we’re introducing you to one of the craftsmen who makes these beautiful frames.

Aaron relocated from California to be a part of STATE’s crazy dream to build a state-of-the-art eyewear factory in Chicago. His experiece handcrafting acetate frames was invaluable in getting the facility up and running and continues to be vital in the training of a new generation of eyewear craftsmen. 

That’s the beautiful part about the STATE story, each and every craftsman plays such an important role. Eye Care Center is proud to carry STATE Optical Co. eyewear. We encourage each of you to come in to see and feel the difference. Not only will you be supporting American jobs, for each STATE frame sold, Eye Care Center will donate $10 to the Minnesota chapter of Folds of Honor to support the families of our fallen and disabled service-members.

Made in America Matters

Made in America Matters

Created on: Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Author: Eye Care Care

Eyewear isn’t spit out of a machine fully formed. In fact, even with automation, over 50% of the work still needs to be done by hand. That means new jobs for men and women willing to learn a new skill. STATE Optical Co. crafts all of their frames in Chicago in a state-of-the-art factory that now employs 50 craftsmen. Each week we’ll be introducing you to one of them.

When you look at the hinge on a STATE frame, there’s a lot to notice. The sturdy yet streamlined construction thanks to a propietary design; the cool pyramidal shape created by Blake Kuwahara; and its precise placement thanks to STATE craftsmen like Marco Martinez.

No machine has the ability to look at a hinge the way Marco does. Precise measurements are taken to ensure the exact placement of each hinge. Careful polishing creates a smooth and comfortable look and feel. The care Marco and his fellow craftsmen take in finishing each hinge ensures you are getting the best pair of eyewear possible.

Please come check out STATE Optical Co. eyewear for yourself at Eye Care Center. Not only will you be supporting American jobs, for each STATE frame sold, Eye Care Center will donate $10 to the Minnesota chapter of Folds of Honor to support the families of our fallen and disabled service-members.

Who Makes STATE Optical Co. Frames?

Who Makes STATE Optical Co. Frames?

Created on: Friday, March 10, 2017
Author: Eye Care Care

We don’t often think about who is actually making our eyewear. Our featured brand, STATE Optical Co. wants to change that. There are 50 men and women in their Chicago factory responsible for making some of the finest eyewear available. We think that’s something to celebrate, so each Wednesday we’ll be introducing you to one of them.

Sheli Ptak, like every other STATE craftsman, didn’t know a thing about making eyewear before stepping into the STATE factory two years ago. How did she learn? STATE co-founder, Marc Franchi, had her and her new coworkers make 100 frames completely by hand. What better way? The rest of the six month training process is equally intense, every craftsman learns each of the 75 production steps before being assigned to the process they’re most talented at.

For Sheli, it’s hand polishing, and she now manages the polishing team. You’ll notice when you look at STATE frames that they have a unique luster. That doesn’t come from a machine. It comes from Sheli and her coworkers. Every frame undergoes three polishing steps to ensure that the materials and design truly stand out. Hours are dedicated to polishing not only because of STATE’s strict quality control standards, but because of the pride Sheli and her fellow craftsmen and women take in what they do.

This is Made in America, done right. Visit Eye Care Centers to appreciate the finished product for yourself!

Introducing STATE Optical Co. - Made in America eyewear NOW available at Eye Care Center

Created on: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

You probably wouldn’t think 75+ steps go into handcrafting a luxury pair of frames. You probably wouldn’t think there are craftsmen in Chicago doing just that, unlike anyone else before them. No short-cuts, no outsourcing, just 50 men and women determined to redefine what ‘Made in the USA’ means. STATE frames are designed with style, fit, and comfort in mind, and we’re proud to be one of the select locations nationwide to carry the collection.

At Eye Care Center, our patients and community are everything to us, and we are always seeking out the products that fit your values. Not only are we supporting American-made products, we’re supporting the men and women who have been trained in eyewear manufacturing – a new generation of craftsmen rediscovering a craft that’s been lost here for 30+ years. Furthermore, for every STATE frame purchased, Eye Care Center will donate $10 to the Minnesota chapter of Folds of Honor, an organization that provides scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service-members.

This line is raising the bar on what ‘Made in USA’ means and we’d love to show you the finished product! Come in to see how American luxury eyewear is making its mark!

Watch the video below to see how STATE frames are made! (Note, there is no sound in the video) 

What is glaucoma?

Created on: Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness both in the US and worldwide.  Over three million Americans have glaucoma, but only about half of them know that they have it according to the American Optometric Association.   Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve (the connection from the eye to the brain).  There are several different types of glaucoma, and although high eye pressure can often lead to the disease, not everyone with high pressure will get glaucoma.  It is also possible to get glaucoma without having high eye pressure, a condition called normal tension glaucoma.  Unfortunately, most people with glaucoma have no symptoms until the later stages.  Once vision is lost from the disease it cannot be restored.

Who is at the highest risk for glaucoma?

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk than others.  Risk factors include:

  • Age: people over 60 (although it can be diagnosed at any age)

  • Race: African Americans are three times as likely to be affected compared to Caucasians

  • Family History: people with a close relative who has glaucoma

  • Medical conditions: people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are at higher risk

  • History of severe eye trauma

  • Steroid use: prolonged use of corticosteroids can increase risk

How is glaucoma detected?

Because early glaucoma usually has no symptoms, the best way to detect it is with a comprehensive eye exam.  Your eye doctor will look at measurements such as your eye pressure and the appearance of your optic nerve and determine if additional testing may be needed.  Visual field testing may be done to measure peripheral vision, and OCT (optical coherence tomography) may be done to measure the thickness of the tissue around the optic nerve.  Gonioscopy can be done to look at how the fluid drains from the eye, and pachymetry can be done to measure the thickness of the cornea.  Photos may also be taken of the retina and optic nerve.  Once this testing is complete, the doctor will analyze all of this information to determine if you have glaucoma.

How is glaucoma treated?

Prescription eye drops are the most common method used to treat glaucoma, however sometimes laser treatment or surgery is also used.  The goal of these treatments is to lower the pressure in the eye to prevent further damage to the optic nerve.  The earlier glaucoma is detected by your eye doctor, the easier it is to limit or prevent further vision loss.  If you haven’t had an eye exam recently, now is a great time to schedule an appointment to check for signs of glaucoma as well other eye diseases.

 

 By: Dr. Ashley Herde, OD

Careful of those Flying Champagne Corks

Created on: Friday, December 16, 2016

For most people ringing in the New Year means celebrating with friends and family, champagne toasts and cheer, but if you get hit in the eye with a champagne cork, it may mean a trip to the emergency room.

“A cork can fly up to 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle,” says Tamara Fountain, MD, a clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Warm bottles of champagne and poor technique in removing the cork can result in serious, blinding eye injuries. Anything that travels with such momentum can have a devastating effect if it strikes your eye.”

A few simple steps can eliminate this common holiday injury. “Knowing the right way to open a bottle of champagne will make your holidays enjoyable and safe,” says Dr. Fountain.

Here are some tips on opening a bottle of champagne properly:

  • Make sure sparkling wine is chilled to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
  • Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking increases your chances of eye injury.
  • To open the bottle safely, hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and from any bystanders.
  • Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork. 
  • Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. Continue to hold the cork while twisting the bottle. Continue until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
  • Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmart Campaign (www.geteyesmart.org).

Top Tips for Choosing Safe Toys this Holiday

Created on: Friday, December 16, 2016

No one chooses gifts with the intent to harm, but some popular children’s toys can cause serious injuries. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 252,000 toy-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms in 2014, and and almost half of these injuries affect the head or face. In fact, about 1 in 10 children's eye injuries treated in the ER trace back to toys. Unfortunately, most of these injuries happen to children under age 15.

‘You’ll shoot your eye out’

Some propelling toys, like airsoft guns, arrows, BB guns, paintball guns and darts can be particularly hazardous, with the potential to cause serious eye injuries such as corneal abrasionocular hyphematraumatic cataract, increased intraocular pressure, and even permanent vision loss.

The good news that most eye injuries can be easily prevented by following EyeSmart toy safety tips.

 

Top Toy Safety Tips:

  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts.
  • Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.
  • Ensure that laser product labels include a statement that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J.
  • Along with sports equipment, give children the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. Check with your Eye M.D. to learn about protective gear recommended for your child's sport.
  • Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child's age and maturity.
  • Keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
  • If your child experiences an eye injury from a toy, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist – an eye medical doctor.

 

Diabetes and Diabetic Eye Disease

Created on: Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The United States has one of the highest rates of diabetes among all developed countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 29 million or 9.3% of the population has diabetes. Approximately 8 million people have diabetes, but don’t know they have it. The CDC further reports that 86 million people in the US have prediabetes and one third of these people will go on to develop diabetes. In fact, one in three Americans will develop diabetes in their lifetime. All of these numbers are growing at alarming rates. Diabetic eye disease is the number one cause of blindness in working-aged Americans. In addition to affecting the eyes, diabetes can cause problems with the kidneys, heart, brain, feet and nerves. Most of these complications, however, can be prevented with proper management and treatment.

What is diabetes?

Much of what we eat and drink is broken down into glucose. This glucose is transported throughout the body via the blood to cells where it is used by muscles for energy or stored as fat. These cells require insulin to allow glucose to enter the cells. In diabetes, there is a problem in getting this glucose into the cells so the glucose remains in the blood. The elevated blood sugar damages blood vessel walls leading to leaky blood vessels and reduced blood flow to your body’s organs. Diabetes is diagnosed by one of several tests measuring blood glucose levels. Fasting blood glucose of over 125 mg/dl or casual blood glucose of over 200 mg/dl or hemoglobin A1c of over 6.5%. Prediabetes is defined as a casual blood glucose level of 140-199 mg/dl.

Types of diabetes

Type I diabetes occurs when the insulin producing cells in the pancreas have been damaged and produce little or no insulin. This type of diabetes is usually discovered in people younger than 20.

Type II diabetes occurs when our body resists the effect of insulin or the body does not produce enough insulin. This type of diabetes is most common in people over 45 years of age.

How does diabetes affect the eye?

The retina is the thin layer of neural tissue that lines the back of the eye and it contains the photoreceptors that send visual signals to the brain. The macula is the small area of the retina responsible for our most acute vison for reading, driving and seeing fine detail. The retina requires a lot of blood flow through retinal and sub-retinal blood vessels to transport nutrients for normal function. When chronically high levels of blood glucose are present, the retinal blood vessel walls are damaged so that they leak blood or result in poor blood flow. This is called diabetic retinopathy. The early stages of diabetic retinopathy are called non-proliferative. This includes aneurysms, hemorrhages or leaking of blood fluid called exudates. There can also be swelling of the retinal tissue called cotton wool spots due to lack of adequate blood flow. The more advanced stage of diabetic eye disease is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This is characterized by growth of abnormal new blood vessels (neovascularization). These new blood vessels break and bleed and they provide the highest risk of vision loss. The number one cause of blindness in diabetics is when these blood vessels cause swelling of the macula (macular edema)

How is diabetic eye disease treated?

The best way to avoid diabetic eye disease and to manage early diabetic retinopathy is to control your blood glucose level, control blood pressure, control cholesterol levels, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking. If vision is threatened by more advanced diabetic eye disease, retinal specialists can treat the disease with lasers and/or eye injections. A very important key to success is timely diagnosis and intervention. Therefore, it is very important for all diabetics to have a dilated retinal exam every year or even more often if you have visual symptoms.

 

 Dr. Greg Kraupa Dr. Greg Kraupa, OD 

Let's Protect Our Eyes!

Created on: Monday, October 17, 2016

Eye injuries can vary from minimal to severe.  Some require prompt attention or you can risk further, and in some cases long term, damage. Common eye injuries include:

1. Corneal abrasion:  Commonly known as a scratched eye, this can affect many of us at some point during our lives.  Causes of an abrasion may include being poked in the eye with a tree branch or fingernail or attempting to rub dust out of your eye to name a few.  If it is a very minor abrasion the corneal tissue will regenerate and heal often times within 24 hours aided by artificial tear supplementation.  However, a deeper scratch requires attention by your eye care provider to provide additional medical therapies to ensure proper healing or long term irritation and possible recurrent abrasions may occur.

2. Penetrating foreign object:  First and foremost, let's prevent these. Make certain to wear safety glasses at all times if you are performing a task that puts you at risk for this injury.  Should an object penetrate the cornea, it usually becomes embedded there but can penetrate deeper into the eye.  Should you suspect a possible foreign body, seek prompt attention as a delay in care can result in greater difficulty of removal and possible scarring that can affect visual acuity. 

3. Chemical burn: An unexpected splash or spray of a toxic material can cause immediate pain and redness or depending on the chemical the pain may be delayed.  Immediate flushing of water under sink if possible should occur for 15 minutes. Next contact your eye care provider or emergency room/urgent care for further assessment and treatment.

4. Subconjunctival hemorrhage:   This is the event that causes your eye to look severely red and bloody.  Most often, the eye looks much worse than the condition really is.  These can commonly occur from simple rubbing of the eye after feeling an irritant in the eye.  Patients on blood thinning medications are at greater risk for these occurring.  Generally, these will heal within 7-14 days depending on your body's natural healing response rate. 

5. Orbital blow out fracture:  A blow to the orbital bone structure surrounding the eye from a blunt force like a baseball bat or punch to the eye can result in a fractured orbital bone.  Immediate swelling typically occurs and possibly bleeding internally in the eye.  Prompt attention is a must for a suspected injury of this nature. 

Please do not take any suspected injury to the eye for granted.  The gift of sight is something you do not want to risk being compromised or taken away. 

 

 

 By: Dr. Mitch Albers, O.D.

Your Eye Pain is Telling You Something

Created on: Friday, September 23, 2016

We all experience pain, and understandably go to great lengths to avoid it.  But pain serves a very real purpose.  Some forms of pain are protective; physical pain helps us avoid damage to ourselves and alerts us a problem is occurring that needs attention.  It forces us to slow down, reminds us that we are not always in control, and helps us understand our bodies have limits.  Pain can be a social experience.  When we experience it, we put other people in the position of having to provide assistance.  Relief from pain is one of the main reasons people seek a doctor.

September is “Pain Awareness Month”.  Here are a few common causes of eye pain that you should be aware of.    

  1. Dry Eye: With every blink, our eye is producing and draining tears.  Tears are a complex mixture of oil, water, and mucous that collectively serve numerous functions including clear vision, protection, and comfort.  When one or more components of our tears are at abnormally low levels, our vision can fluctuate, the eyes can burn and/or feel like something is in them, and they can turn red.  These dry eye sign and symptoms are not normal, but are common with age, middle-aged women, certain medications, contact lens wearers, and those on a computer for hours a day.  There are numerous treatments for this common problem both over the counter and by prescription. 

  2. Hordeolum (also called a stye):  The upper and lower eyes lids contain approximately 20 glands that release the oil layer of our tears with.  Bacteria normally found in and around the eyes can infect these glands causing a red and painful bump.  Most hordeolums resolve within days with warm compresses but an antibiotic and/or steroid can help speed recover and reduce pain. 

  3. Conjunctivitis (also called pink eye):  I don’t like the term “pink eye”.  Here is why.  The white part of our eye is covered by a transparent membrane called the conjunctiva that contains small blood vessels that, in a normal eye, are barely visible.  When inflammation or infection to the eye occurs, these blood vessels get larger causing the eye to look red or “pink”.  If this happens quickly and it is uncomfortable it is called conjunctivitis, and can have numerous causes including viral or bacterial injections, allergies, and other potentially vision threatening conditions.  I have seen “pink eye” treatments over the counter in pharmacies.  How do you treat a condition without knowing the cause?  When a non-eye care provider (such as a primary care physician or a provider in a pharmacy clinic) sees a “pink eye” they commonly prescribe an anti-biotic, which is often unnecessary as most “pink eyes” are not bacterial in nature.  If one or both of your eyes suddenly turn red and there is pain, you should see your eye care provider to determine the cause and best treatment.

  4. Corneal infections (called keratitis): An inflamed or infected cornea hurts!  They are commonly viral (often the same virus that causes cold sores) or bacterial infections.  These infections are often associated with wearing contact lenses overnight, wearing lenses that haven’t been properly cleaned or over wearing lenses past their disposable date.  Newer technology contact lenses are daily disposable (vs. 2 week or monthly disposable) and have vastly diminished the rate of contact lens related infections.  These infections need to be identified and treated quickly; they can lead to blindness!

  5. Corneal abrasions:  This is one of the most painful conditions we see.  A scratch on the cornea is called an abrasion, often caused by fingernails, tree branches, or other traumatic events that poke the eye.  Luckily, the cornea heals fast, but treatment with antibiotics are necessary to prevent an infection and a bandage contact lens can be used to dramatically lower the pain while the eye heals. 

  6. Iritis or uveitis:  The iris is the colored part of the eye that is part of the uvea found inside the eye.  Inflammation of these structures is commonly associated with a red, painful eye that increases in pain when exposed to light.  If you have ever sprained your ankle, you know that it hurts to move it.  The iris moves when exposed to light, causing the pain to increase.  There are two reasons this condition needs to be identified and treated.  The first is iritis can be vision threatening.  Second, if the cause of the iritis is not related to trauma or an infection, a large percentage of them are due to an underlying condition that causes inflammation in the body and testing can identify a disease that may not have been known to exist. 

We should all be self-aware of how our bodies feel.  Pain is vitally important for survival and a warning sign that indicates a problem needs the appropriate attention.

 

 Dr. Jordan Keith, O.D. 

Good Vision….Important for a Successful School Year for Students

Created on: Friday, August 26, 2016

Parents everywhere are racing to get the entire back to school checklist completed; school supplies, new clothes, bigger shoes and physical exams at the Pediatrician.  Eye exams need to be worked in right at the top of that list.  Good vision is the most basic fundamental necessity to be able to learn in school. 

I hear all too often that parents rely on a screening that was done as part of a well-child check or in a school setting.  Fact is this is simply a screening and not a substitute for a full comprehensive eye exam.  While screenings can be very good at detecting nearsightedness or myopia (inability for a child to see clearly in the distance) they can miss farsightedness or hyperopia (inability to sustain focus at near), astigmatism, lazy eye and other eye teaming and ocular health related issues.  Many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms making it critical to have a full evaluation not just relying on the intuition that your child sees as he or she should. 

A full eye exam includes many components to uncover any vision or eye health related issues.  We begin with a through case history and many preliminary tests to include depth perception, color vision, eye muscle movements, peripheral or side vision and pupil testing.  A refraction is done to check for any refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism) as well as eye focusing and eye teaming.  Once the vision is completely evaluated, eye health is evaluated with or without pupil dilating drops. 

If a diagnosis is made our optometrists are well educated in discussing all of the available options to help your child succeed.  There are many self-esteem, self-awareness, academic competence and athletic performance concerns that kids and parents have when deciding what is best for an individual child.  Proper communication and team decision between patient, parent and eye doctor are critical. 

There is no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam.  We start Infant Assessments as part of a nationwide public health initiative called InfantSEE (InfantSEE.org) for infants between 6-12 months of age.  The first full comprehensive eye examination should be done at age 3 years old.  If there are no issues at 3 years old the child receives their second eye exam before Kindergarten and then every year or every other year throughout school depending on personal need and visual demands. 

Call to schedule comprehensive eye exams for your whole family today!   Doing so could be the single best investment in your child’s education, health and well-being.  

 

 By Dr. Tina McCarty

What Did Nearsighted Humans Do Before Glasses?

Created on: Thursday, August 04, 2016

This article was originally published on NPR at this link: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/07/07/484835077/what-did-nearsighted-humans-do-before-glasses 

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is increasing at an eye-popping rate. By 2050, scientists predict more than 4.7 billion people, roughly half of the global population, will be nearsighted.

Fortunately, humans have created a solution — eyeglasses! People can rest assured they will always be able to read the dumb bumper stickers on the cars in front of them. But how did people manage thousands of years ago?

Shots called ophthalmologists and corrective eyewear historians (yes, they exist) to find answers.

First, the prevalence of human eyesight issues has changed over time. "As long as primates have been around, there's probably been myopia," says Dr. Ivan Schwab, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, Davis and author ofEvolution's Witness: How Eyes Evolved. But he says the rates of myopia have skyrocketed over the past three centuries.

The reason likely has to do with a rise in reading, Schwab says. Though genes and nutrition may play a role in nearsightedness, he says education and myopia seem to be linked, suggesting that when people do a lot of close work, their eyes grow longer — the better to focus up close, but the worse for long-distance vision. Some ophthalmologists believe that dim light exacerbates this effect, Schwab says.

Scientists are still working out the exact mix of factors that contribute to myopia, but, on average, humans thousands of years ago probably had to squint less to see at a distance, according to Schwab. What happened to the few who were shortsighted?

"You can imagine that if people with nearsightedness had some special skill, they might even be revered," says Schwab. Fine engravings found on ancient coins, for example, might have benefited from a nearsighted artist's craftsmanship. "Now that's just speculation," he adds. "I can't prove that." Another possible upside of myopia? It couldmitigate the difficulty of seeing up close that comes with aging.

Things started to look up for the visually challenged at the end of the 13th century, when the earliest known eyeglasses were invented in northern Italy. The region was a hub for glass production, says Neil Handley, the museum curator at the College of Optometrists, London. Merchants soon carried spectacles along the Silk Road to Asia, where they served as status symbols. Some judiciary committees in China even mandated spectacles as part of the uniform. Still, they didn't become as common there as they did in Europe, where spectacles were produced.

These glasses had more in common with magnifying glasses than today's eye accessories. "You pick them up, and you feel the difference," says Jenny Benjamin, director of the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Museum of Vision. "You can't wear them on your face; they'd just fall off."

Early glasses were heavy and prone to shattering, Benjamin says. They were intended to help people read, rather than aid nearsightedness. Often, glasses featured quartz instead of glass, since the latter was often turbid.

Glasses for nearsightedness likely arose in the 15th century. "Because they were seen as being unusual and rare, they were seen as having magical powers," says Handley. People who wore glasses "were in league with the devil, immoral."

But after the Reformation, when literacy rates climbed, spectacles became more common. 

In the 1700s, temple pieces — the long extensions of glasses that fit snugly against the head — allowed people to wear glasses throughout the day. Styles diversified rapidly, featuring different colors and expensive materials.

"They're still universally seen as a disability aid. And they're slightly embarrassing," Handley says of glasses in the 18th century. "But nonetheless, if you're at the richer end of the market, you can show off a bit."

Before prescriptions, customers tried on glasses and chose a pair through trial and error, often from a traveling peddler. But in the 1800s, Handley says, people began receiving eye exams for glasses. In 1862, Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen invented the standardized eye chart that taunts so many today.

Of course, glasses still present challenges. Xavier Holland of Boston, 28, has worn glassesfor nearsightedness since he was 10. The glasses fog when Holland opens the dishwasher and make 3-D glasses at the movies a pain.

But Holland appreciates another benefit ancient humans didn't get to enjoy: fashion. "It's an easy way to seem interesting or different," he says. "If you're looking for a way to jazz up your look, you can always just get some new frames." 

 

Protect Your Eyes this 4th of July!

Created on: Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dr. Tina McCarty of the Eye Care Center in Maple Grove shares some safety tips about why people should take precautions before setting off fireworks, especially sparklers and bottle rockets.

 

Dr. Tina McCarty Featured in Maple Grove Magazine

Created on: Monday, June 06, 2016

 

Dr. Tina McCarty is one of 7 optometrists at the Eye Care Centers in Maple Grove.  She is featured in the May edition of Maple Grove Magazine discussing what it was like for her to grow up in Maple Grove, where she now practices.  Plus, she provides tips on how to maintain eye health by limiting exposure to UV rays at an early age and consuming eye-benefiting foods, like dark green veggies. 

 

Dr. McCarty was named Optometrist of the Year by the Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) in 2015 and she is the past president of MOA.  

To read the full story, go here: http://maplegrovemag.com/eye-care-all-ages 

 

 

 

Cataracts - Did you know?

Created on: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in people over 40 and the principal cause of blindness in the world according to Prevent Blindness America.

A cataract is defined by a cloudy of the lens inside our eye that results in the inability of the eye to properly focus what we are trying to see.  Common symptoms that people with cataracts report include glare at night, filmy vision, and colors that are washed out.  The picture shows how a cataract scatters light that the eye is trying to focus.

There are a number of factors attributed to cataract development.  Here are a few of the more significant ones:  ultraviolet radiation (sunlight), diabetes, smoking, obesity, and previous eye injury.

If we maintain a healthy lifestyle and protect our eyes from the sun with diligent wearing of sunglasses, we can significantly reduce our risk of developing cataracts.  Also, clinical studies have shown dietary intakes of vitamin E and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin from food and supplements can significantly reduce the risks of cataracts.

 

 By Dr. Mitch Albers 

 

 

Dry Eye Syndrome: It’s more common than you may think

Created on: Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dry eye is caused by a lack of proper lubrication on the surface of the eye.  Nearly half of all adults have symptoms, and twice as many women are affected compared to men.  Factors that increase risk for dry eye include: computer use, contact lens wear, aging, menopause, smoking, environment, health conditions, medications, and more.

Signs can include: burning, itching, aching, redness, a heavy or tired feeling, and even blurred vision.  Many people also report the feeling that something is in the eye, and sometimes even watery eyes can actually be a sign of dryness.

There are many possible causes of dry eye syndrome, and to fully understand the process we need to know a little more about howdry eye syndrome the tears work.  There are two important components to the tear film: the liquid layer and the oily layer.  The liquid (or aqueous) layer is created by the lacrimal glands located behind the upper eyelids, and the oily (or lipid) layer is created by the meibomian glands which are inside the eyelid.  Both parts of the tear film need to work together to keep the eye properly lubricated.

If either component of the tear film does not work properly, symptoms of dry eye will occur.  For example, if the lacrimal glands do not produce enough of the liquid tears, the eye will not be fully moistened, leading to “aqueous deficient dry eye.”  If the meibomian glands do not produce enough of the oily tears, they will evaporate off the eye too quickly, leading to “evaporative dry eye.” 

An eye doctor will be able to determine if you have aqueous deficient or evaporative dry eye, or a combination of the two. Once the cause has been identified, a treatment plan can be created to properly manage the disease. For most people dry eye is not completely curable, but the symptoms can often be managed very successfully resulting in improved comfort and vision. Frequently, the earlier we catch any condition, the easier it is to treat. If you have not had an eye exam recently, now is a great time to come in for an evaluation.   

 By Dr. Ashley Herde, OD

Work Place Eye Health & Safety Month

Created on: Tuesday, March 08, 2016

 

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. Whether you spend hours in front of a computer or use power tools at your day job, it is always important to keep eye health and safety in mind as the gift of sight is irreplaceable. 

Today, more and more individuals depend on technology throughout the day. The added eye strain, dryness and irritation and its effects become greater. This increased use of digital devices exposes workers to long, uninterrupted amounts of time focusing on computer screens and smartphones. 

All of this screen time can result in computer vision syndrome. Computer vision syndrome is a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer use. Symptoms can range from eye twitching to physical fatigue.  

There are some things that you can do to prevent or reduce computer vision syndrome if you spend a large portion of your day in front of a computer screen. 

Utilize the 20/20/20 Rule

Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and focus your vision on something that is 20 feet away.  

Remember to Blink

When working on a computer or any other electronic device for an extended amount of time, you tend to blink less often. It's important for you to tell yourself to blink, because blinking keeps your eyes moist, preventing dry eye from occurring. 

Regular Eye Exams

The first step in preventing computer vision syndrome is to schedule a regular eye examination with your doctor. Eye exams are a great way for your doctor to assess your eye health and make sure that you communicate with your doctor to your level of daily computer usage.

Computer Eyewear

Your eye doctor may be able to prescribe eyewear specifically designed for computer use. This eye wear can actually help alleviate eye strain when using electronic devices. 

Take Breaks

If you can, take short, frequent breaks from working on your computer. Look up, and away from your screen to give your eyes a rest from focusing on your screen. 

Eye Safety 

If your job requires the use of heavy machinery, be sure to remember safety glasses. All it takes is a tiny sliver of metal, a particle of dust or a splash of chemical to cause significant and even permanent eye damage.  

The human eye is often taken for granted. While people are accustomed to eating healthy foods and receiving the proper amount of exercise, many rarely consider their vision health. When it comes to our eyes, it is most important to protect the eyesight we have been given. During Workplace Eye Wellness Month, the Eye Care Center wants to remind everyone that workplace eye safety is paramount and invaluable to maintain vision health.Almost 1,000 people injure their eyes while working every day. Of these 1000, one third of the injuries are severe enough to be treated in the hospital emergency room. The majority of injuries that happen within the workplace are due to small particles, tools, or chemicals in the eye.  Eye problems are not just attributed to injuries, as computer work alone is resulting in more and more eye problems every day.  Because eyesight can be at risk in numerous ways, it is extremely important to be aware of and practice eye safety in the workplace. The majority of workplace eye injuries are due to not wearing appropriate eye protection. Whether it is goggles, helmets, face shields, or just safety glasses, simply wearing them will protect and in many cases save eyesight.  When there is any type of eye hazard, proper eye protection should be worn at all times.People who work under fluorescent lights have a higher risk of developing eye issues, including cataracts and macular degeneration.  This is because the lights have UV radiation within them.So, continue to practice good eye health in March and remember that your eyes are too valuable to be taken for granted.  See your eye doctor and wear eye protection!   By Dr. Brad Richter

Dr. Tina McCarty of the Eye Care Center Discusses Dry Eye Disease & Treatments

Created on: Thursday, February 25, 2016

 

Dr. Tina McCarty of the Eye Care Center in Maple Grove discusses dry eye disease and the treatments that can help during Minnesota winters. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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