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How we are Utilizing VR Technology to Give More Advanced Eye Exams

With the continual advancement of new and exciting technologies, we are excited to announce that new tech has come to theIMG 9818 optometry space. Our latest piece of equipment, the Virtual Field, is our new way of testing peripheral vision. For years, we used the Humphreys Visual Field machine to test peripheral vision.

If you have been a long time patient of our practice you probably remember the peripheral vision testing sequence: 1) place a patch on an eye, 2) stick your head into a large, heavy half dome shaped machine, then 3) click a button whenever you see a flash of flight. While that Humphreys visual Field Machine served us great for many years, it had a few drawbacks including a large footprint and accessibility issues for certain patients.

The Virtual Field brings all that the Humphrey’s Visual Field test has to offer into a virtual reality headset. Due to Virtual Field’s sleek software – patients no longer have to worry about putting a patch on (the machine covers one eye for the patient), the test runs much quicker, the button is wireless and the patient can sit in whatever position is most comfortable due to the portability of the headset. From an environmental standpoint, the unit uses much less energy, has much less plastic in its construction and also takes up much less space. Additionally, the instrument gives patients instructions through an automatic robotic voice!

At Los Altos Optometric Group, we seek to always have the most innovative and technologically advanced equipment in our office to ensure the best exam possible. Make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!

-Dr. Aaron Neufeld

 

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Dr. Aaron Neufeld is the Chief Optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and primary author and editor of The EYE Digest.

To contact him with questions or make an appointment call: (650) 948-3700 or send him an email: aneufeldod@gmail.com

What is Vuity™, and How Can It Help my Vision?

Over the last few weeks, I have had many patients call me and make appointments to ask questions regarding a new eyedrop that was recently announced – Vuity™. Questions ranged from:

  • “Am I a good candidate?”
  • “What exactly does this drop do?”
  • “Are there side effects?”
  • “How often do I have to use it?”
  • In the next couple minutes I hope to answer all these questions and more!

So let’s start with the basics. Vuity™ is a medication used to treat age-related farsightedness, a condition known as presbyopia. Presbyopia universally starts occurring around the age of 40. The natural lens inside the eye that focuses lightdownload (2) on the retina doesn’t change shape as easily as it once did. Traditionally, glasses such as readers, bifocals or progressives, and/or contact lenses are used to correct presbyopia in order to enable presbyopia individuals to see clearly again.

Vuity™’s active ingredient is a drug called Pilocarpine. Pilocarpine’s primary mechanism of action is to shrink the size of the pupil, inducing a process called miosis. With the pupil shrunken substantially, it becomes pinpoint and a pinhole effect is induced.

downloadThe “pinhole effect” is an optical concept suggesting that the smaller the pupil size, the less defocus from spherical aberrations is present. When light passes through a small pinhole or pupil, all unfocused rays are blocked, leaving only focused light to land on the retina to form a clear image. This in theory allows the individual to see clearer.

Pilocarpine has actually been around for decades, and was once a mainstay treatment for glaucoma. However, side effects such as troubling vision in dim light and frontal headaches allowed for different medications to be favored for glaucoma. Despite the new iteration of pilocarpine in the form of Vuity™, both poor vision in dim light and headaches remain potential listed side effects for the medication.

Vuity™ is instilled once daily in each eye and claims to provide benefit for the whole day. Ideal candidates for Vuity™ aredownload (3) those suffering from mild to moderate presbyopia, which translates to the age range of 40-55 years old. Additionally, due to the side effect of reduced vision in dim light, Vuity™ is most effective during the day time hours.

At the time of publishing this article, I have prescribed Vuity™ to over 10 patients. In an effort to approach Vuity™’s clinical effectiveness through the scientific method, I made sure that all candidates had similar prescriptions with no eye health conditions. So far, the response has been mixed. Certain patients have definitely noticed a difference and improvement in near vision, while others did not see any difference whatsoever and also noted prominent side effects.

Ultimately, time will tell how effective Vuity™ is as we continue to prescribe the medication to more and more curious patients in their 40s and 50s. If you are interested in trying Vuity™, do not hesitate to make an appointment with our office for a consultation and eye examination!

-Dr. Aaron Neufeld

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Dr. Aaron Neufeld is the Chief Optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and primary author and editor of The EYE Digest.

To contact him with questions or make an appointment call: (650) 948-3700 or send him an email: aneufeldod@gmail.com

The Benefits of Daily Contact Lenses

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Leonardo da Vinci’s original sketch outlining his radical idea for a contact lens

The history of contact lenses spans over five hundred years. Contact lenses initially started as an idea Leonardo da Vinci had in the early 1500s, when he drew sketches of an object that could be placed on the eye to alter its optics. However, it was not until the late 1800s that the first contact lenses were created – out of glass!

These early contact lenses covered the entire eye, were rather uncomfortable, and could only be worn for a couple hours. In 1948, a California optician named Kevin Tuohy created the first PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) hard contact lens, which allowed contact lenses to be worn comfortably for multiple hours and officially put the idea of a mass marketing contact lenses “on-the-map.”

download (1)However the most notable revolution in the history of contact lenses was the invention of the first hydrogel soft contact lens material by Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim in 1959. If you wear a soft contact lens today, you have these two to thank! Ultimately, the first marketed soft contact lens came in 1971 – the time of the launch of the first FDA-approved soft contact lenses in the United States — Bausch + Lomb’s “SofLens.”

Currently, daily soft contact lenses have been all the rage, in fact, in our practice they account for nearly 80% of our contact lens wearing patients. So why is this case and why should you consider daily contact lenses?

Eye Health

By far, the best aspect of wearing daily contact lenses from an optometrist’s point of view are the health benefits bestowed. download (2) Unlike monthly/bi-weekly contact lenses, daily contact lenses possess a far less likely chance of developing a serious eye infection (such as a corneal ulcer) since a fresh pair is used every day. Monthly/bi-weekly contacts hold a higher chance of this happening since they are saved over a period of time and could possibly be slept in.

Comfort

Patients have almost universally stated that daily contact lenses feel more comfortable on the eye and can be worn longer throughout the day than their monthly/bi-weekly counterparts. Once again, part of this is using a fresh lens every day, download (3)however another aspect of this is the advanced lens wetting technology and oxygen permeability.

Convenience

Being able to take a contact lens out and simply throw it away is much more convenient than going through a step-by-step lens care and cleaning cycle at the end of the day. Wearing daily contact lenses simply reduces the time spent on contacts whether it be putting them or taking them off – it’s as simple as that.

 

But what about excessive waste from using new lenses every day?

This is a common question I get from patients, and a very valid one. There is quite a bit of waste that goes into daily contactdownload (5) lenses. However, here are a couple things to consider. 1) If you are using monthly/bi-weekly contacts, you must use bottles of solution and contact lens cases, which equate to quite a bit of waste as well, 2) Contact lens waste can be recycled. Simply bring old contact lens blister packs to our office and we will recycle them to help our environment.

 

Surely the cost for dailies must be astronomical compared to monthly/bi-weekly contacts?

Not necessarily! While having a fresh pair of contacts every day does have a higher sticker price on paper, the cost of daily contact lenses are offset by a few things. First, with daily contact lenses, there is no longer a need to buy costly bottles of contact lens solution. Additionally, daily contact lenses, if purchased in a practice like ours, come with great mail-in rebates and prices that are competitive with online retailers.

 

If you are interested in daily contact lenses, give our office a call. We are happy to book you for an appointment and see if you are a candidate for the latest and greatest in contact lenses!

 

-Dr. Aaron Neufeld

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Dr. Aaron Neufeld is the Chief Optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and primary author and editor of The EYE Digest.

To contact him with questions or make an appointment call: (650) 948-3700 or send him an email: aneufeldod@gmail.com

How Los Altos Optometric Group Fosters Future Doctors

There are many aspects of optometry that help fulfill my spirit and drive my passion forward. At the forefront of this is patient care and running our practice here in Los Altos. Every patient exam serves as a constant reminder of why I get out of bed every morning.

Optometry, just like any other industry, is an ever-evolving field. In order to achieve growth and better serve our patients we need to look to the future. While new technology and techniques are always being sought out in the exam room, influencing future practitioners also carries an immense amount of weight for the profession.

Mentorship

As a seasoned optometrist, I am happy to be a mentor to both optometry students at UC Berkeleyberkeley optometry through the BAOC-Berkeley Mentorship Program as well as to newly graduated optometrists through the SCCOS Mentorship Program.

Currently, I have two optometry student mentees at UC Berkeley and two optometrist mentees that are two years out of school. We meet quarterly, and I also have one-on-ones with the mentees if they have specific questions or discussions they wish to have.

Making a Difference

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, valuable time spent in the clinic gaining experience through doing was cut short for UC Berkeley students. Yet, despite the pandemic, school

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must still go on, and these students must still complete their program in four years. That’s where the beauty of our practice comes in.

Since we only work a half day on Fridays, I invited my two mentees Vivian (1st year UCB) and Graham (2nd year UCB) to have a clinic day after we closed. We brought in four volunteer patients for the students to conduct full examinations on. I was able to bounce between our two exam rooms to help instruct and give constructive criticism while maintaining a stress free environment. Between examinations, we went over interesting case studies, so that the students could exercise their theoretical muscles as well as their practical muscles.

 

Mentee Feedback

Overall, our clinic day went well. Our students had positive feedback about the experience. Second year mentee Graham had this to say:

I thought it was an amazing opportunity and I haven’t stopped boasting about it to myimage4 friends in my class. The diverse patients we saw (ranging from easy myope to strabismic ambylope) was such a great experience. Honestly, I was telling Vivian that I was sad that I wasn’t able to do this last year. I definitely would recommend it for any of your mentees to do.

It was low stress, but high reward. I was kind of sad that it was only one day and only a couple hours but I genuinely couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The patients themselves were so understanding as well and any advice that you gave me was appreciated.

Like I said, I genuinely can’t say anything bad about the experience! Thank you for letting us do this once again

First year mentee Vivian had these remarks:

I personally really liked it, and I think the pacing and set up was perfect! It was really stress-free, I got my first taste of refracting non-optometry patients, and I got good pointers from you!

I especially appreciated being able to do BIO on somebody with a larger forehead arch and learning how to navigate around that. 80% of my class are females, and I’ve only been assigned to clinic lab teams with females, so I haven’t had any experience navigating around forehead arch anatomy like that.

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Conclusion

I cannot wait to see the talent and empathy that these two students will bring as doctors in the next couple years. I look forward to continuing this program and watching it grow.

Not only do we foster better doctors, but we foster better care for you as the patient; and when it comes down to it, that is ultimately what matters the most.

 

-Dr. Aaron Neufeld

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Dr. Aaron Neufeld is the Chief Optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and primary author and editor of The EYE Digest.

To contact him with questions or make an appointment call: (650) 948-3700 or send him an email: aneufeldod@gmail.com

COVID-19 and The Eye

A lot of on-going research is still being done about the new onset of coronavirus and whether it can still be truly transmitted through the eyes. We will cover some facts and questions about how COVID-19 can affect your eyes and your relationship with your eye doctor.

(1) Can tears transmit coronavirus?

The most recent study done by the National University Hospital in Singapore concludes that it is download (1)unlikely that COVID-19 can be transmitted through the tears. However, there are anecdotal reports around the community that possible tear transmission can occur – so caution should be taken.

(2) Can COVID be transmitted to the eyes through other mechanisms?

While tears are low risk for transmission for COVID, the latest report from the CDC states that it is possible for COVID to be spread from person to person through airborne “respiratory droplets” which are produced when someone coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu is spread. These droplets can land in the mouth or noses of nearby people and can possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Lastly, these droplets can also be spread when you touch your face and eyes with unwashed hands.

(3) What can I do to protect my eyes?

Again, while tears are unlikely to transmit COVID, remember that there are still two main ways that COVID (as well as other viruses) can get into the eyes via mucus membranes and cause conjunctivitis such as:

(1) Coughing/Sneezing: COVID can still get into the eyes via aerosol transfer, so if you are standing within six feet of any affected person, they can sneeze and release droplets toward your face and eyes. If you are not wearing any protective eyewear, then risk of transmission is high.
Solution: For any personnel required to be in close contact with any possibly infected individual, protective eyewear like face shield or eye goggles is definitely a must. For the typical population, 6 feet of social distance is more than adequate

(2) Touching the eyes: COVID-19 can also be transmitted from hand to eyes. So if you touch a contaminated grocery cart, and then proceed to touch your eyes, you are at higher risk.
Solution: Avoid touching your eyes and face while constantly washing hands

(4) Can the coronavirus give you conjunctivitis (“Pink eye”)?

UV Keratitis.jpgWhile infected droplets (or mucus) can end up in another person’s mouth, nose & lungs, the latest study by American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) indicates that coronavirus might enter through the conjunctiva (clear part covering the white part) of the eyes and spread throughout the body via blood vessels within the eyeball. This can result in conjunctivitis (“pink eye”) – but more specifically viral conjunctivitis.

It is recognized that any upper respiratory tract infection may result in viral conjunctivitis as a secondary complication, and this is also the case with COVID-19. However, it is unlikely that a person would present with viral conjunctivitis secondary to COVID-19 without any other symptoms such as fever or a continuous cough.

Recent studies show that only 1-3% of affected COVID-19 people displayed symptoms of conjunctivitis. So fairly low risk.

(5) What are symptoms of viral conjunctivitis?

As mentioned above, any possible, low-risk COVID-19 related viral conjunctivitis will be treated as a typical viral conjunctivitis prior to the pandemic.
Viruses are actually the most common cause of conjunctivitis and usually affect both eyes. Symptoms normally last 5 to 12 days and include:

-Redness in the conjunctiva (white part of the eyes)
-Eyelid Swelling
-Sandy/gritty feelings in the eyeball
-Tearing (clear)
-Watery or slightly thick whitish draining

(6) How do you treat viral conjunctivitis?

If you suspect that you have any kind of conjunctivitis, contact your eye doctor for an in-person or virtual consult in order to confirm the viral diagnosis. This is because conjunctivitis can be caused from an array of sources such as dry eyes, bacteria, allergies and more seriously, iritis (severe inflammation of the eye).

While there is still on-going research on how to treat possible COVID-related conjunctivitis, the standard medicine 415397 960 720.jpgof care is to treat it similarly to how we would treat any typical viral conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis are usually self-limiting and will resolve on itself within 5-12 days. Your doctor might recommend some treatment to reduce your symptoms:

-It is highly contagious so practice good hygiene by washing your hands often and avoid cross contamination
-Over-The-Counter Artificial tears and cold compresses help to relieve symptoms
-Discontinue all contact lens wear during the acute phase
-Topical antihistamines or steroid eye drops may be used to relieve redness or discomfort
-Antiviral eye drops might be prescribed depending on the severity of the viral infection
-Antibacterial eye drops are not effective for viral conditions

(7) Are there other ocular or retina symptoms associated with COVID-19 exposure?

A recent but small study of 12 adults with COVID-19 show that there might be mild changes in the blood vessels of the retina also known as “hypertensive retinopathy” related to COVID-19, but without any loss in vision.

This is still on-going research. In addition, there have been anecdotal reports of optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve, which can lead to permanent vision loss) from around other eye care providers but no confirmed studies.

(8) What if I wear contact lenses?

Proper hygiene care of your contact lens is especially important during this viral pandemic, in order to maintain optimal ocular health and prevent transmission:
Wash your hands with soap/water for at least 20 seconds and then dry them with a lint-free towel prior to handling your contact lenses. If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) is acceptable

16247 tears shutterstock news.jpgDisinfect your contacts properly with the recommended cleaning solution as recommended by your optometrist. Do not use saline solution or OTC rewetting drops to disinfect your contact lenses.
Dispose of your daily disposable contacts each evening, or dispose of your 2-weeks or monthly lenses as instructed. Over-extending your contact lenses will increase risk of infection.
Discontinue lens wear if you are feeling sick with cold or flu-like symptoms and wear your back-up glasses as needed.

(9) Can my glasses get infected?

The latest studies show that new coronavirus can remain on hard surfaces for hours to days, and therefore can transfer to your face, then to your glasses. Therefore, glasses should be cleaned more regularly (daily if possible) with a mild dishwashing liquid soap (non-lotion) and lukewarm water.

Gently rub each lens and all part of the frame with your fingertips for a few seconds. Then dry off with a clean, cotton lint-free towel (ideally those used to clean fine glassware). Finally, remove any streaks/smudges with a clean lint-free microfiber cloth.
Here are some tips to avoid damaging the anti reflective coating of your lens or paint finish of the frame.

Avoid using your shirt or other cloth type, paper towels, tissues or toilet paper especially when the lens is dry to prevent scratching.
Do not use household glass-cleaner since these products have ingredients that can damage the lens and coating.

Avoid alcohol wipes and other disinfection methods such as Lysol wipes since they can damage the AR coating of the lens and frame paint.

Please note that a solution of warm water and hydrogen peroxide at 0.5% concentration is recommended for optimal disinfection of frame, but we are aware that these disinfection products are not widely available to consumers.

 

In conclusion, there is a lot of new and ongoing eye research in relation to COVID and we expect more evidence to come out as new studies get completed. In the meantime, keep practicing proper eye health hygiene and if there are any concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

 

-Dr. Aaron Neufeld

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Dr. Aaron Neufeld is the Chief Optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and primary author and editor of The EYE Digest.

To contact him with questions or make an appointment call: (650) 948-3700 or send him an email: aneufeldod@gmail.com

Diabetes and The Eye

The retinal image pictured above is from a patient that came to me for her annual eye exam. The patient was a 40 year old female that stated she had no had a regular health exam or eye exam in over 5 years, but was “perfectly health” and on no medications. Her retinal image showed a different story.

 

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The image shows severe diabetic retinopathy. This patient had been suffering with diabetes for years and had no idea. I immediately sent her to our local hospital for treatment. I received correspondence later in which a doctor stated “I can’t believe she was even alive.” Our patient was stabilized after going on a host of medications and lifestyle changes, however she did not have to get a toe amputated in the process.

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November is National Diabetes Month. Diabetes affects over 100 million Americans according to the CDC. The disease costs America nearly $250 billion per year. While diabetes deals with blood sugar and insulin levels, it also has many correlations with eye health.

Diabetic complications can show up on nearly every part of the eye including the cornea, iris, lens and retina.

Retinal complications are of considerable importance for two reasons:

1) These complications are the ones that eyecare providers must be most vigilant of since they can lead to vision loss and blindness if not treated in a proper time frame

2) These complications are often noted upon retinal examinations, sometimes before a formal diagnosis for diabetes is given.

So what’s the moral of the story? It’s simple. Have your eyes checked regularly if you are a diabetic and also if you are not. Individuals living withCanva   Black Contour Ts Displaying at 4.8 diabetes should have annual and sometimes more frequent eye exams that thoroughly evaluate the retina for any diabetic complications. Individuals living without diabetes should also have a yearly eye exam to check for possible health issues such as diabetes as well for an overall vision and health evaluation. Being vigilant about the health of your eyes can benefit your body as a whole. Pass the knowledge on as we get underway with National Diabetes Month.

Schedule an appointment with one of our doctors today.

-Dr. Aaron Neufeld

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Dr. Aaron Neufeld is the Chief Optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and primary author and editor of The EYE Digest.

To contact him with questions or make an appointment call: (650) 948-3700 or send him an email: aneufeldod@gmail.com

 

The Importance of Vision in a Child’s Learning

October is National Learning & Development month, as well as National Dyslexia Awareness Month and National ADD/ADHD Awareness Month. While many educators and parents view learning and development in children as purely a brain activity, the eyes play an important factor in a child’s education.

At every step of learning, the eyes are constantly involved since vision is one of the key components of both comprehending and retaining information on a subject. Specifically, we can break down eyesight as it relates to learning into three broad categories:

1) Visual Acuity – Sharpness of vision both in the distance and up close

2) Eye Teaming – The ability of the eyes to work together

3) Eye Motility – the ability of the eyes to move in certain ways

These three broad categories of eyesight must all be working at an effective and efficient level in order for a child to achieve his/her maximum potential when learning. So how do these three categories work in synergy to allow for learning? Let’s take a look.

Snellen chartVisual acuity refers to an individual’s ability to see clearly at a distance and up close. Obviously, if either of these are hindered, a student’s ability to learn drastically decreases since the visual material is not legible. Often, children do not complain about reduced visual acuity (blurry vision) because they view their vision as normal. Reduced visual acuity can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Eye teaming is the ability of the eyes to work together and is often referred to as binocular vision. Eye teaming also is responsible for “3D vision” or stereopsis. When eye teaming does not work properly; eyestrain, headaches and sometimes double vision can result. In children, these symptoms often manifest as disinterest in reading or learning, since a constant discomfort is felt when trying to read, write or focus on a given object. Eye teaming issues are dealt with through prescription glasses and sometimes through vision therapy.

Eye motility is the ability of the eyes to move in certain ways. In general, we categorize eye motility into two movements: 1) pursuits, which are smooth tracking movements and 2) saccades, which are quick jerking movements from point A to Things Children Learn From Preschool 300×200point B. Efficiency and efficacy of these two movements are vital for reading. Pursuits are used to read across the page and saccades are used to jump from line to line. When one or both of these are lacking, students often find reading and following along with lessons difficult. This in turn leads to frustration and disinterest. Eye motility issues can be fixed through vision therapy programs.

In conclusion, eyesight plays an important role in children’s learning. Often, the underlying problem for a child diagnosed with a learning deficiency is actually related to vision. This is why it is vital to schedule school aged children for an eye exam once a year. Not only is eye health checked, but key components for effective learning and happiness are examined to ensure a positive growth experience while in school.

Schedule an appointment for your child with us today!

-Dr. Aaron Neufeld

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Dr. Aaron Neufeld is the Chief Optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and primary author and editor of The EYE Digest.

To contact him with questions or make an appointment call: (650) 948-3700 or send him an email: aneufeldod@gmail.com

Golf Vision – Improving Your Game through Better Vision

Eyesight on the golf course is vital to your game. golf 1486354 960 720

Whether you are looking at the ball while swinging or spotting the ball after driving down the fairway, your vision is constantly being used while on the course. With the The Masters Tournament finishing up and golf season in full swing, here are 4 ways that proper golf glasses/sunglasses can help you:

1) Distance Correction – Sharpness and max acuity are vital for spotting your ball and looking down the fairway. Make sure you have an updated prescription in your glasses and visit us even if you think you have perfect vision – there may be a slight distance correction or astigmatism correction that can be found that can give you an advantage if utilized in lenses.

IMG 59652) Contrast Enhancing – Colored lenses like the rose tint seen in the pair of Oakley Golf Prizms that I am holding in the picture enable you to have better depth perception and read the green better.

3) Tint – Darker tints will enhance comfort, concentration and vision on sunny days. Polarization is often a controversial topic – while it may help reduce low angle glare, it can affect depth perception – thus it is up to the individual golfer whether or not to have polarized lenses

4) Wind/Dust Protection – Having glasses on will physically protect you from oncoming wind, dust and debris. This in turn will prevent eye irritation and allow better focus.

 

Now that you know all the advantages of wearing a pair of glasses/sunglasses for golf, here are three vital eyesight tools to carry in your golf bag when playing a round of 9 or 18:

1) Artificial Tears – especially on windy, cold and dry days, the eyes tend to dry out when playing golf. This is not only due to the elements, but also due to the lack of blinking that occurs when you are medicine 415397 960 720intently focusing on the golf ball. Playing out of a sand trap (hopefully not too often!) also opens up the possibility of getting sand/debris in the eyes. Artificial tears are great for flushing the eyes out. For specific brands, I recommend Systane Complete, Blink Tears or Refresh Optive.

2) Allergy Drops – Playing golf, especially during seasons with a high pollen count, increases your chance of developing seasonal allergies. These allergies can affect your eyes by causing itchiness and watering. Thus, it is wise to always carry an allergy drop that can provide quick relief. I recommend either Alaway or Zaditor. These are safe, over-the-counter drops, dosed twice a day, that stop allergy symptoms in the eyes.

3) Spray Cleaner and Microfiber Cloth – Face it, if you’re golfing with glasses or sunglasses, they’re going to get dirty. Whether it be from sweat, oil, fingerprints, moisture in the air or debris; your eye-wear will get dirty when on the course. I recommend carrying our own branded spray cleaner and microfiber cloth. The best part? We give them away at absolutely no cost. Just stop by our office and pick up what you need!

-Dr. Aaron Neufeld

 

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Dr. Aaron Neufeld is the Chief Optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and primary author and editor of The EYE Digest.

To contact him with questions or make an appointment call: (650) 948-3700 or send him an email: aneufeldod@gmail.com

 

 

Snow Blindness – Can I Really Go Blind from the Snow?

-The EYE Digest-

Snow Blindness – Can I Really Go Blind from the Snow?

In short, no, snow blindness doesn’t actually cause blindness, but read on for more information!

 

What is it?

Snow blindness is also known as photokeratitis. “Keratitis” means inflammation of the cornea (the Snow gogglessensitive, clear part of the eye in front of the colored iris), while “photo” means light. Snow blindness is when the cornea becomes inflamed after being overexposed to light, or more specifically ultraviolet (UV) light. To put it simply, snow blindness in a sunburn on your eye!

 

What causes it?

The most common cause of snow blindness is just as you may have guessed…snow! More specifically, it is the UV light that is reflected off the snow and into your eyes. Approximately 80% of the UV light that hits fresh snow is bounced back into the air and potentially into your eyes. This is significantly greater than sand or water which have UV reflectance of 15% and 25%, respectively. To make matters worse, many snow related activities such as skiing or snowboarding occur at higher altitudes where UV light is stronger – with every 1,000 ft of elevation from sea level, the intensity of UV light increases by 4%.

Snow, sand, and water aren’t the only sources of snow blindness/ultraviolet keratitis. Tanning beds and arc flashes from welding can also cause ultraviolet keratitis. When it is associated with welding, it is called a flash burn.

 

What are the symptoms?

UV KeratitisEye pain, irritation, and a foreign body or burning sensation are a few of the symptoms you can experience. Other symptoms include light sensitivity, watery eyes, red eyes, and blurred vision.

 

What is the treatment?

The treatment goals of snow blindness are first and foremost to prevent worsening by staying indoors or wearing UV eye protection and second, to keep the eye comfortable as it heals itself. Luckily, snow blindness resolves on its own within 24-72 hours. In the meantime it is advised to avoid rubbing your eyes and remove contact lenses.

Non-preserved artificial tears and lubricating ointments are recommended to act as a cushion between the sunburned cornea and the mechanical motion of your eyelid rubbing across the cornea. Artificial tears and ointments on a sunburned eye have a similar affect as putting aloe vera on your sunburned skin.

If the pain is still too much to handle, then over the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil can be used. Topical pain relieving eye drops (NSAIDS) can be prescribed by your eye doctor.

If the degree of ultraviolet keratitis is significant enough, your eye care provider may prescribe a topical antibiotic to prevent a secondary infection.

 

How do I prevent it?

Tanning bed

Just like a sunburn on your skin, once you’ve become symptomatic,

you have already been in the sun for far too long. Fortunately, snow blindness is completely preventable by wearing snow goggles or eye masks with 100% UV protection. If you are at the beach, lake, or any body of water wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection is recommended. The best type of eye protection is the type

Welding

that wraps around the face reducing the amount of UV light

that can reach your eye from the sides, top, or bottom of the frame. And remember, UV light is still present even on an overcast day, so when in doubt, where eye protection!

 

Welders are advised to wear welding goggles or welding helmets.

 

-Dr. Janelle Santa Maria

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Dr. Janelle Santa Maria is an optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and contributing author and editor of The EYE Digest.

To contact her with questions or make an appointment call: (650) 948-3700 or send her an email: jsantamariaod@gmail.com

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether 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.

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.

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