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The Dangers of An Online Eye Test

What are the dangers of an Online Eye Test

Texas State Optical – Stone Oak – What are the dangers of an Online Eye Test, San Antonio, Texas

An online eye test may seem like a convenient way to check your vision or get an eyeglass prescription but beware, these tests aren’t all they are chocked up to be. In fact, they may even be dangerous.Texas State Optical - Stone Oak - Local Eye Care Clinic in San Antonio, Texas

    Texas State Optical – Stone Oak, your local Local Eye Care Clinic in San Antonio, Texas.

    What is an online eye test really testing?

    An online eye test is actually not an eye test at all but just a vision or sight test – and a partial test at that. It is designed to measure your visual acuity and refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism) and to determine an eyeglass prescription – which is the lens power needed to correct the refractive error in your vision.

    Given that there is no one with medical training actually performing or checking the accuracy of the test, it is questionable how well the exam does even this. In fact, when an eye doctor does a refraction for glasses or contact lenses it also involves some judgement on the doctor’s part. The eye doctor will often adjust the prescription slightly based on the patient’s age, occupation or hobbies. The doctor may prescribe a prism in the lenses to help with binocularity and to prevent double vision in those who have deviations of the eye. There is no way an online exam can do any of this.

    Further, a refraction is only one very small part of an eye exam and if it takes the place of a regular comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor, you put your eyes and vision at serious risk.

    The American Optometric Association is warning consumers about possible risks associated with online refractive eye exams. Such online sites tout convenience. But any alleged advantages come with risks, the AOA cautions.

    Comprehensive Eye Exams

    Even if the eyes see clearly and you have 20/20 vision, there may still be vision problems or eye disease present even without pain, blurred vision or other symptoms. What the online eye test fails to measure is your complete visual health and capacity (beyond just visual acuity), the curvature of the eye (which is needed for accurate lens prescriptions- especially for contact lenses) and an assessment of the health of the eye itself.

    Just as we need regular medical and dental checkups as a part of preventative health care to prevent disease and maintain our health, we also need regular eye exams. A vision test does not suffice. A comprehensive eye exam will examine much more than just how well you see. It will also check for visual processing, color vision, depth perception and proper eye movement. It will measure your eye pressure, examine the back of your eye and look for early signs of eye disease or conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes, tumors and high blood pressure – many of which threaten your eyes and vision if not caught early.

    If you do have some vision loss, the doctor will be able to determine if there is any serious underlying problem that is causing the disturbance in your vision. If you don’t have symptoms that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Many serious eye conditions develop gradually without any symptoms. Some eye diseases do not affect the macula, and therefore you may still have good vision even though there is a problem (such as glaucoma, early dry macular degeneration, early cataract, diabetes, blood pressure and even tumors). Many of these conditions threaten the eyes and even general health if not caught early and when undetected they can cause permanent and irreversible damage to your vision

    Eye exams are the best way to detect these early and treat them before they develop into serious eye problems.

    Whether online vision tests are inaccurate, misleading or simply insufficient, they can fail to provide essential information and can delay or prevent vision saving treatments. Additionally, you could be walking around with the wrong vision prescription which can cause unnecessary eye strain, headaches and difficulty.

    Local Eye Care Clinic in San Antonio, Texas

    Online Eye Test

    No. Besides the fact that most eye exams are covered by insurance, the eye exam you are getting from an eye doctor is much more thorough and comprehensive than an online eye test, so you are not comparing apples to apples. The eye doctor’s exam uses real equipment and performs a complete and professional evaluation of your vision and eye health. There is simply no comparing this to a self administered test on a computer screen.
    An online eye test may be touted as a time and money saving convenience however, that is hardly the case. An eye exam is a medical procedure that requires training, precision, and proper equipment. Anything less can put your eyes and vision at serious risk.

    In addition to visual acuity testing to check your vision prescription, we will perform various procedures during your eye exam to inspect ocular health. Using advanced optics and high-powered magnification, our eye doctors will check for any abnormalities in your eye tissues. Comprehensive eye exams are the only way to discover the beginning stages of eye disease.

    Why is it so important to catch eye disease as early as possible? Because the earlier you receive treatment, the easier it is to prevent vision loss and complications.

    Women and Diabetes – World Diabetes Day

    November 14th is World Diabetes Day. This year, the theme of World Diabetes Day is women and diabetes – our right to a healthy future. The goal of this campaign is to promote awareness of the importance of equal and affordable access for all women, whether they are at risk or already living with diabetes, to the treatments, medications, technology, education and information they need to prevent diabetes and to obtain the best possible outcome of the disease.

    Here are some facts about women and diabetes around the World:

    • 199 million – the number of women living with diabetes to date.
    • 313 million – the projected statistic for the year 2040.
    • 2.1 million – the number of female deaths due to diabetes per year.
    • 9 – diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women on a global scale.
    • 60 million – which is 2 out of 5 diabetic women, are of reproductive age, which increases the risk of early miscarriage, vision loss and having malformed babies.
    • 10 – women with type 2 diabetes are ten times more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

    Much of these incidences of diabetes occur in women lacking access to proper medical care, education, physical activity and information they need to prevent and manage the disease. If more efforts and monies were put toward improving this situation, these numbers could drop significantly.

    Pregnant women with hyperglycemia and gestational diabetes are also a major cause of concern. Limited access to screening tests, pre-pregnancy planning services, education and medical care could also improve the outcome of both the mother and the baby in these cases. The majority of instances of gestational diabetes occur in women from low and middle-income countries or households with limited access to maternal care.

    Here are some additional facts about diabetes and pregnancy:

    • 1 out of 7 – the number of births worldwide affected by gestational diabetes.
    • 1 out of 2 – the number of women with gestational diabetes that develop type 2 diabetes within 5-10 years after giving birth.
    • 1 out of 2 – the number of cases of gestational diabetes that are found in women under 30 years of age.

    Diabetes and Your Eyes

    Diabetes damages many systems in your body including your eyes and vision. Most individuals with diabetes will eventually develop some extent of retinopathy or eye disease due to the consistently high levels of glucose in the blood which damage the blood vessels in the eye. Diabetic retinopathy can be a devastating disease that can leave you with permanent vision loss or blindness. It is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Diabetes also speeds up the formation of cataracts and other ocular diseases which can lead to further vision loss and complications.

    Women who have been diagnosed with diabetes prior to becoming pregnant have to be especially careful during pregnancy. It is much more difficult to regulate blood sugars during pregnancy, and more rapid progression of diabetic retinopathy can occur if one is not careful. Keeping track of diet and exercise, and taking medications as directed, can prevent or delay the impact of diabetes on the eyes.

    In addition to poorly managed blood sugar levels, additional factors that contribute to developing diabetic retinopathy are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Hispanic or Native American descent, smoking, pregnancy, and the length of time you have the disease. The condition can be managed with regular eye exams in combination with steps to control blood sugar levels.

    It’s important to note that diabetes sometimes causes symptoms of vision fluctuation (good days and bad days with vision or focusing) but many times the damage is asymptomatic in its early stages. This is why it is essential to have regular checkups even when you have no pain or vision symptoms.

    If you or someone you know has diabetes, regular eye exams are essential to monitor and prevent vision loss. Stay informed and spread awareness about this challenging condition. You can help be part of the change to improve the lives of women and people all over the world that suffer from diabetes and the serious complications that come with it.

    Is Your Teen Ready for Contacts?

    Many teens who wear glasses are eager to try out contact lenses for convenience, fashion or to just provide another option for vision correction. For teens who feel self-conscious in their glasses, contact lenses can be a way to improve self-esteem. Young athletes and swimmers find that contacts are an excellent option for sports, especially as younger kids are becoming involved in travel sports and club teams outside of school. 

    While contacts might appear to be the perfect solution for teens that need corrective eyewear, they are a convenience that comes with a lot of responsibility so it’s not a decision to take lightly. Improper use of contact lenses can cause severe discomfort, infections, irritation and, in the worst cases, eye damage or even permanent vision loss. 

    “With Privilege Comes Responsibility”

    Contact lenses are a medical device and should always be treated as such. They should never be obtained without a valid contact lens prescription from an eye doctor, and always purchased from an authorized seller. Among other issues, poor fitting contact lenses bought from illegitimate sources have been known to cause micro-abrasions to the eyes that can increase the risk of eye infection and corneal ulcers in worst case scenarios.   

    Particularly when it comes to kids and teens, it is best to purchase contact lenses from an eye doctor as they possess the expertise to properly fit contact lenses based on the shape of the eye, the prescription, the lifestyle of the child and other factors that may influence the comfort, health and convenience of contact lens use. 

    There is some debate over the recommended age for kids to start considering contact lenses. While some experts will say the ideal age is between 11 and 14, there are many responsible children as young as 8 or even younger who have begun to successfully use them. When children are motivated and responsible, and parents are able to ensure follow-up to the daily regimen, earlier contact lens use can be a success. A good measure of whether your child is responsible enough to use contacts is whether they are able to keep their room clean, or maintain basic hygiene like brushing teeth regularly and effectively. 

    When you think your child might be ready, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Hutchins or Dr. Hutchins for a contact lens exam and fitting. The process will take a few visits to perform the exam, complete a training session on how to insert, remove and care for lenses, then to try out the lenses at home and finally reassess the comfort and fit of the contacts. You may try out a few varieties before you find the best fit. 

    What Kind of Contact Lens Is Best for My Teen?

    The good news is that contact lens use has become easier than ever, with safety, health and convenience being more accessible as technology improves. There are a number of options including the material used to make the lenses (soft or rigid gas permeable), the replacement schedule (if disposable, how often you replace the pair – daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly) and the wear schedule (daily or extended overnight wear). 

    Single use, daily disposable lenses have become very popular, particularly with younger users, because they are easy to use, requiring no cleaning or storing, and therefore they reduce the risk of infection and misuse. You simply throw out the lenses at night and open a new one in the morning. Your eye doctor will be able to help you and your teen determine the best option.

    Tips for Contact Lens Wearers

    Following are some basic contact lens safety tips. If your teen is responsible enough to follow these guidelines, he or she may be ready for contact lens use:

    1. Always follow the wearing schedule prescribed by the doctors at TSO- Stone Oak
    2. Always wash your hands with soap before applying or removing contact lenses. 
    3. Never use any substance other than contact lens rinse or solution to clean contacts (even tap water is a no-no). 
    4. Never reuse contact lens solution
    5. Follow the eye doctor’s advice about swimming or showering in your lenses
    6. Always remove your lenses if they are bothering you or causing irritation. 
    7. Never sleep in your lenses unless they are extended wear.
    8. Never use any contact lenses that were not acquired with a prescription at an authorized source. Never purchase cosmetic lenses without a prescription! 

    Contact lens use is an ongoing process. As a child grows, the lens fit may change as well, so it is important to have annual contact lens assessments. Plus, new technology is always being developed to improve comfort and quality of contact lenses. 

    Contact lenses are a wonderful invention but they must be used with proper care. Before you let your teen take the plunge into contact lens use, make sure you review the dangers and safety guidelines. 

    Are You Ignoring Your Dry Eyes?

    You Don’t Have to Live With Dry Eyes

    Have you noticed that your eyes feel chronically dry, itchy, scratchy or even sometimes watery? Many people that have these symptoms just go on with their lives until the symptoms become unbearable. What they don’t realize is that these are signs that they might be suffering from dry eye syndrome, a condition in which the eyes are not able to produce enough tears to effectively lubricate the eyes. This is a problem that won’t just go away on its own.

    What causes Dry Eye?

    Dry Eye Syndrome, also known as Tear Film Dysfunction is characterized by a reduction in the amount or quality of tears that are produced. Tears are essential for optimal eye health, vision and comfort. Ideally, tear film covers the eyes at all times to prevent the eyes from drying out and to ensure clear vision. If the glands that produce tears start to produce fewer tears or tears that don’t have the proper balance of water, oils, proteins and electrolytes, the tear film with become unstable, allowing dry spots to form on the surface of the eye, and cause disruptions in outer barrier of the eye’s epithelial surface. This disruption in the outer barrier allows microbes to invade the eye, leading to irritation and infection. The condition can be caused by many factors, including tear gland dysfunction, eyelid problems, medications or environmental factors.

    Symptoms of Dry Eye

    As mentioned above, many of the symptoms of dry eye involve varying sensations of dryness including, burning, stinging, itching, grittiness, soreness or a feeling that there is something in the eye. The eyes may also be red and sensitive to light, wind or smoke. Vision may be blurred or doubled and the eyes may fatigue easily. Another common symptom is that vision seems blurry but clears when you blink (especially common when reading or using a computer). This is because the tear film does not form a smooth coat over the eye surface or it evaporates too quickly causing a blur.

    You may also notice pain, some discharge from the eye (especially upon waking in the morning) and experience discomfort when wearing contact lenses. One of the most confusing symptoms of dry eye is actually excessive tearing, which occurs because the eyes are trying to compensate for the lack of moisture – however the tears produced are low quality and don’t properly hydrate the surface of the eye.

    Reducing Symptoms

    The first thing to look at when you have dry eyes is whether you are taking any medications, engaging in certain behaviors or being exposed to environmental factors that may be causing the condition. Medications that may cause dry eye as a side effect include:

    • Antihistamines and Decongestants
    • Diuretics
    • Sleeping pills
    • Birth Control pills
    • Antidepressants
    • Acne medications
    • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
    • Opiate-based painkillers such as morphine

    Important! Never stop medication without the approval of your doctor! If you are taking a medication that may be causing dry eye, don’t stop taking the medication without speaking to your healthcare provider first. Treating dry eye symptoms may be a simpler solution than stopping or switching medications.

    You may be able to alter your environment to reduce symptoms of dry eye as well. Environmental factors that can exacerbate dry eye include:

    • Wearing contact lenses
    • Extended use of computers or other electronic devices
    • Exposure to dry, windy climates or blowing air (such as an air conditioner or heater).
    • Exposure to smoke
    • High altitudes

    Treatment for Dry Eye

    If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, make an appointment with Dr. Hutchins.  The diagnosis and treatment will be based on a complete examination of your eyes, your medical history and your personal circumstances around the condition. They may decide to perform a tear film test that can determine the quantity and quality of the tears and whether your tear glands and tear film are functioning properly.

    The type of treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the problem. Treatment may include behavioral or environmental changes such as using a humidifier, wearing sunglasses in windy weather, reducing computer time or changing to a different type of contact lens, as well as medical treatments that may include:

    • Artificial tears, eye drops or ointments to lubricate eyes
    • Steroid or antibiotic drops or pills may be used for certain conditions such as blepharitis
    • Reducing the drainage of tears by blocking tear ducts with silicone plugs
    • Medications such as Restasis or Xiidra which reduce inflammation and trigger tear production
    • In some situations a surgical procedure might be recommended
    • Scleral lenses that hold moisture on the surface of the eyeball

    The most important thing you should know about dry eyes is that you do not have to suffer. Treatments are available to increase moisture on your eye and reduce the uncomfortable and sometime debilitating symptoms. If you are suffering, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor and get the relief you deserve.

    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. 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 characterized 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 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.  If you have Macular Degeneration Dr. Hutchins will prescribe the correct ocular vitamins for you to take. 

    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 Month – Understanding The Invisible Disease 

    In honor of Sjogren’s Awareness month, eye care providers are helping to spread the word to increase awareness about this hard-to-diagnose disease.

    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. Dr. Hutchins may prescribe newer cyclosporine drops as 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.

    6 Ways to Prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

    blond womanpink flowers

    Age-related macular degeneration is a serious condition that can threaten your vision and general well-being. Characterized by the deterioration of the central area of the retina called the macula which is responsible for focused vision, the disease gradually reduces your central vision. This affects the ability to see fine details, recognize faces, read, drive, watch television and even use a computer. The disease often leaves some vision resulting in a condition called low vision, which is considered a form of legal blindness. 

    AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in the older population and the numbers are expected to increase as Americans continue to live longer. 

    What causes AMD and how can it be prevented?

    As you can see by the name, the primary risk factor of AMD is age, particularly over age 50. Caucasian women are the most common demographic to be hit with this ocular disease; family medical history and having lighter colored hair, skin and eyes play a large role as well. However, several lifestyle factors have been shown to cause an increase in AMD development; so there may be ways to reduce your risk, even if you have a genetic predisposition.  

    In fact, most of the controllable risk factors pose general health risks that cause a plethora of health issues, so addressing them will boost your overall health and wellness, in addition to protecting your eyes and vision from AMD. Here are 6 ways to prevent AMD and the vision loss that accompanies it:

    1. Stop Smoking

    Smoking, and even living with a smoker, have been shown to significantly increase your risks of developing AMD to between 2-5 times the risk of non-smokers! If you also have a hereditary risk, smoking compounds that risk tremendously.   

    2. Get Active 

    Studies show that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of advanced macular degeneration that leads to significant vision loss. Maintaining a healthy weight and being active  can reduce your risk. That could be as easy as regular walking, at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes.

    3. Control Blood Pressure

    Since the eye contains many tiny blood vessels, high blood pressure can have a serious impact on the health of your eyes. Have your blood pressure checked by your doctor and follow any medical advice you are given to reduce high blood pressure, whether that includes diet, exercise or medication. 

    4. Choose a Healthy Diet

    A diet rich in antioxidants has been shown to protect against AMD.  Antioxidants can be found in abundance in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale and collard greens, as well as orange fruits and vegetables such as peppers, oranges, mango and cantaloupe.  Eating a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, 5-9 servings a day, as well as fish, which contain Omega-3, and avoiding sugar and processed foods will help to keep your body healthy in many ways, including reducing your risk of AMD.  

    5. Use UV and Blue Light Protection

    Long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun and blue light (from digital devices among other things) have been linked to AMD. Make sure you wear sunglasses every time you are exposed to sunlight and wear blue light blocking glasses when you are viewing a digital device or computer for extended periods of time. 

    6. Take Supplements*

    Certain nutritional supplements have been shown to slow the progression of AMD and the vision loss that accompanies it. This formula of supplements was developed from a 10 year study of 3,500 people with AMD called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and its successor AREDS2. It is not recommended to take supplementation as a preventative measure but rather only if you are diagnosed with intermediate or advanced AMD.

    *Speak to your eye doctor before you make a decision about this option.

    During your yearly comprehensive eye exam, Dr. Hutchins will screen for early signs of AMD and recommend treatment if it’s detected. If you’re at greater risk – because of your age or a family history of AMD / blindness of unknown cause, for example – additional testing may be necessary.

    AMD can be a devastating disease. If you are aware that you are at risk, it is worthwhile to do everything you can to prevent it and the vision loss that it can bring. Take the time to understand AMD and do what it takes to lower your chances of knowing its effects first-hand. 

    Holiday Season Shopping: Are Nerf Guns Safe for the Eyes?

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    Nerf guns or blasters come in a remarkable number of shapes and sizes and have become incredibly popular for use in the home and even in large scale “Nerf Wars”.  However publicity surrounding the toy has not been all positive.  Many parents are questioning the safety of the toy foam guns, particularly to the eyes, before making the purchase.

    The question of safety ultimately comes down to the user.  Nerf darts are relatively soft, foamy and not inherently dangerous, but if shot in the wrong way, they could cause pain or even serious injury. This is particularly true of the eyes because they are a vulnerable organ that can be damaged easily upon impact. Injuries from even a soft projectile could include corneal abrasions (surface scratches), bleeding, cataracts and even retinal detachment which can lead to permanent vision loss. 

    Nevertheless, Nerf guns are fun and can even be used to help motor development and other skills, so with the right guidelines, children can learn to use them safely and benefit from the enjoyment they provide. 

    Want surefire eye safety? Wear safety glasses!

    The best defense for your eyes is safety glasses.  This is the one way you can be sure that you or your child’s eyes are truly safe during Nerf shooting.  We strongly recommend safety glasses be worn during any play that involves projectile objects, particularly for small children or during serious games such as Nerf Wars.

    General rules of Nerf Gun play:

    1. Never shoot at the face.
    2. Never look into the barrel of the nerf gun, even if you think it isn’t loaded. 
    3. Avoid walking around with your finger on the trigger until you are ready to point and aim at the proper target. 
    4. Only shoot others that are “playing” and are aware that you are aiming at them.
    5. Don’t shoot from a moving vehicle (including a bicycle, skateboard, rollerblades, etc.).
    6. Don’t shoot at a moving vehicle.
    7. Never shoot at a close range.   
    8. Never leave loaded gun in reach of a child or individual that is not able to use the toy properly and safely. 

    Being a mother that has raised 2 boys, I, Dr. Hutchins, can attest that all the talking to them about the points listed above will most likely not change their behavior. The only safe way to play with any type of gun is to wear safety glasses. To be safe, all toy guns that shoot projectiles should be treated as a dangerous toy in order to ensure proper usage and precautions. Yes, Nerf guns can cause serious eye damage and even vision loss, but these type of injuries can be caused by many “harmless” objects as well. Before you purchase a toy like this for your child, ask yourself whether the child is old enough and mature enough to understand the safety issues involved and to be able to use it responsibly.  

    TSO-Stone Oak has a great collection of safety eyewear for children including Nano’s. They are glasses that convert from regular eye wear to safety glasses thus eliminating the need to purchase 2 pair. Come and check them out!

    Dry Eye Syndrome Causes and Cures

    cactus2

    Why Are My Eyes So Dry?

    Do you experience dry, scratchy, burning eyes, redness or pain, a gritty feeling like something is in your eye? Or perhaps, excessive tearing, blurred vision, eye fatigue or discomfort wearing contact lenses? There could be a number of causes for your symptoms including allergies, reactions to an irritant or medication or an infection. You could also have a chronic condition called Dry Eye Syndrome.

    It’s estimated that one out of every eight adults suffers to some extent from dry eye syndrome, which can range from mild to severe. Despite the fact that it is one of the most common eye problems, a surprisingly large percentage of patients are not aware of it.

    What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

    Your eyes need a layer of tears to lubricate the surface and keep the eyes comfortable, clean and clear. These tears also wash away particles, dust and bacteria that can lead to infection and eye damage. Dry eye syndrome occurs when there is a chronic lack of lubrication on the surface of the eye either because not enough tears are being produced, the quality of the tears is weak or they evaporate too quickly. This causes the common uncomfortable symptoms including:

    • Itching
    • Burning
    • Redness
    • Soreness or pain
    • Dryness (and sometimes even excessive tearing because the eyes are trying to compensate)
    • Light sensitivity
    • Eye fatigue
    • Blurred vision
    • Grittiness or a feeling like there is something in your eye
    • Vision seems to change when blinking

    Factors that Contribute to Dry Eye Syndrome

    There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of suffering from Dry Eye Syndrome. While some of them are inherent, there are some environmental factors that can be changed to reduce your risk or symptoms. Risk factors include:

    • Aging: While it can occur at any age, dry eye is more common in individuals over age 50. 
    • Women: Likely related to hormonal fluctuations, women are more likely to develop dry eyes than men, especially during pregnancy, menopause or when using birth control pills. 
    • Digital screen use: Whether it is a computer, a smartphone or a tablet, when our eyes are focused on a digital screen we tend to blink less, increasing tear evaporation and increasing dryness, blurriness and discomfort. Remember to regularly take a break, look away from the screen and blink several times.
    • Medications: A number of medications – both prescription and nonprescription – have been found to cause dry eye symptoms including certain blood pressure regulators, antihistamines, nasal decongestants, tranquilizers and antidepressants. 
    • Contact lenses: Dry eyes is a common problem in contact lens wear. Several manufacturers have started offering lenses that hold more moisture to combat this common issue. 
    • Dry air: Whether it is the air conditioning or forced-air heating inside or the dry, windy climate outside, the environment of the air around you can contribute to dry eyes by causing your tears to evaporate too quickly. 
    • LASIK: One side effect of LASIK and other corneal refractive surgery is dry eyes, which usually lasts about 3-6 months and eventually resolves itself. 
    • Eyelid conditions: Certain conditions which prevent the eyelid from closing completely when sleeping or even blinking can cause the eye to try out.
    • Allergies or infections: Chronic inflammation of the conjunctiva which is often caused by allergies or infections such as Blepharitis can result in dry eyes. 
    • Systemic diseases: People with autoimmune diseases or systemic conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are also more prone to Dry Eye. 

    How do you treat dry eye symptoms?

    If you have dry eyes, you don’t need to suffer. There are a number of treatment options that can help, depending on the severity and cause of your condition, which can reduce symptoms and enhance your comfort.

    Treatments for dry eyes can include non-prescription or prescription eye drops, omega 3 supplements, special lid therapies, punctal plugs, ointments, different contact lenses, goggles or ergonomic changes to your work station. Speak to Dr. Hutchins to discuss the cause of your dry eye and the best remedy for you. Even when it comes to the seemingly straightforward treatments like over-the-counter eye drops, they aren’t all the same. Different ingredients are tailored towards different causes of dry eye.

    Get Help for Dry Eyes Today!

    If you are experiencing the symptoms above, schedule an appointment with Dr. Hutchins at 210-490-3937 today to find out the best solution for you. Your medical insurance will cover an office visit for dry eye evaluation and treatment. 

    November is Diabetes Awareness Month

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    Diabetes is a growing health crisis in North America as an estimated 29 million Americans and 3.4 million Canadians are currently living with the disease. Chances are it affects you or someone you know. November has been dedicated as a time to spread awareness about the disease, its risk factors and the effects it has on your body, your daily life and the lives of your loved ones.

    Diabetes and Your Eyes

    Diabetes is a systemic disease that causes fluctuations in glucose (blood sugar) levels which can affect blood vessels throughout the body including those in your eyes and visual system. People with diabetes are at higher risk for blindness than the general population, however with regular eye exams and proper care, most of the complications are minor and treatable.

    Minor changes in glucose levels could result in complications such as blurred or double vision, floaters or even visual field loss. These conditions are usually quite treatable. Diabetics are also at greater risk for developing eye diseases such as glaucoma (40% increase risk) and cataracts (60% increased risk). With early detection, both of these conditions can be treated and the majority of vision restored.

    Diabetic eye disease often has NO noticeable symptoms or pain, so comprehensive eye exams that include dilating the pupils or digital retinal photography are essential to detect signs of diabetes. At Texas State Optical- Stone Oak we only charge $39 for the digital retinal photo, Optomap.Online vision assessments will not detect diabetic eye disease.

    The condition that is the most concerning risk of diabetes is called diabetic retinopathy which can lead to blindness if not diagnosed and treated.

    What You Need to Know About Diabetic Retinopathy

    Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the tiny blood vessels or capillaries in the back of the eye develop weakened vessel walls. If not treated, the vessels leak fluid and become blocked. This can progress to hemorrhages in the retina, and over time the eye does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients. As a result, new fine blood vessels start to grow. These proliferating vessels leak and can cause further bleeding, scarring and potentially lead to blindness. A special zone in the central retina called the macula is especially susceptible to diabetes. Diabetic macular edema (when fluid seeps into the macula) can cause permanent vision loss if not promptly detected.

    There are treatments for stopping the progression of the disease such as laser therapy or intraocular injections, although once damage to vision has occurred, it is often permanent. This is why the condition must be diagnosed and treated early on.

    All diabetics should have a regular comprehensive eye exam to catch any early signs of diabetic retinopathy or other vision threatening conditions. Because risk factors vary, speak to Dr. Hutchins about how often you should have an exam. Risk factors for diabetic retinopathy include:

    • Length of time living with diabetes
    • Uncontrolled blood sugar levels
    • High blood pressure
    • Smoking
    • Alcohol consumption
    • Pregnancy
    • Genetics

    Although blindness from diabetes is preventable it is still a leading cause of blindness among working-age adults. If you or someone you know has the disease, make sure that proper eye care is a priority.