Keratoconus is a terrifying diagnosis to those that have experienced it. To compound issues, many patients complain that they had poor initial treatment due to a lack of understanding about the disease. If proper treatment is not achieved, individuals may experience a rapid deterioration in their ability to see. This leads to a reduced quality of life. You can reduce the stress related to a keratoconus diagnosis and increase the benefits of treatment by understanding your treatment options.
Keratoconus is an eye disease that causes the cornea to thin and bulge. This bulge generally takes on the appearance of a cone. As light enters the eye, it becomes distorted by the cone causing vision abnormalities.
Modern research is connecting keratoconus with an enzyme imbalance in the cornea. This imbalance leaves the eye susceptible to oxidative free radicals. Keratoconus has also been linked to UV damage, excessive eye rubbing, poorly fitting contacts, and chronic eye irritation.
While your eye professional will have the best understanding of what treatment option is right for you, we have compiled ten of the most common treatments here.
Corneal Cross-linking (CXL) – There are two different types of this procedure, but they both introduce riboflavin to the cornea in order to strengthen the corneal tissue and stop the bulging from progressing.
Custom Soft Contact Lenses – Soft contacts are generally more comfortable to wear than gas permeable lenses. Recently, some contact companies have been able to create a contact specifically to correct the issues related to mild and moderate cases of keratoconus.
Gas Permeable Contact Lenses – Gas permeable lenses are a hard contact lens that physically forces the eye to adhere to the lens shape. This allows for the correction of keratoconus. The fit is often time-consuming and may take several different lenses to achieve the proper fit.
Piggybacking Contact Lenses – This method is used for individuals who require a gas permeable lens but cannot tolerate wearing rigid contacts. Piggybacking utilizes a soft lens placed on the eye first, and then a gas permeable lens is placed over the top. This offers the comfort of soft contacts with the rigidity and clarity of the gas permeable lenses.
Hybrid Contact Lenses – Hybrid contact lenses were designed specifically for keratoconus. This technology blends a rigid contact lens center with a softer edge, or skirt, of the contact
Scleral and Semi-Scleral lenses – These lenses are gas permeable lenses but cover a larger area of the eye than a standard rigid lens. These lenses don’t put pressure onto the cone shape of the eye. The reduced pressure results in a more comfortable fit for patients.
Prosthetic Lenses – This lens is used specifically for patients that have very advanced keratoconus and have ruled out other options. The advanced scleral lens also doubles as a protective prosthetic shell. There are special requirements to qualify for this lens though, so check with your eye care professional if this is an option for you.
Sports vision is a growing niche in the eyecare industry, helping athletes improve their performance skills through the enhancement of visual skills. While regular eye exams are important for checking the health of your eyes and your visual acuity (how clearly you can see a still object at different distances), sports vision testing is recommended for anyone who takes their athletic performance seriously.
There are several key visual skills that are enhanced through sports vision programs for athletes that aim to achieve their optimal sports performance, these include:
Dynamic visual acuity: this refers to the patient’s ability to see objects clearly while in motion. This is exceptionally important as hand-eye coordination and reflex reactions are essential for success in most sporting activities.
Contrast sensitivity: good contrast sensitivity is needed to determine the difference between an object and its surroundings. Contrast sensitivity is particularly important in situations where there may be low light, fog or glare that could diminish the natural contrast between objects and backgrounds.
Eye tracking: this refers to the ability to follow a fast-moving object, such as a ball or puck.
Switching eye focus: athletes need to be able to change their focus quickly and accurately from one distance to another.
Binocular vision skills: also known as eye teaming skills, these skills determine how well your eyes work with one another to produce a single, clear image.
Processing speed: visual processing speed is defined as the amount of time it takes to make a correct judgement about a visual stimulus – for example, how fast a ball is travelling towards them.
Peripheral awareness: athletes also need to be able to be aware of what is happening at the edges of their vision while also concentrating on a fixed object in front of them.
Sports vision testing can enable your eye doctor to spot any weaknesses that you may have in any of these key visual skills. By identifying them, it is possible for you to undergo treatment to overcome theses issues and meet your specific goals that will ultimately enhance your overall athletic performance. This is known as sports vision training.
Sports vision training refers to a personalized treatment plan that is designed to train the brain to achieve maximum efficiency in the way that it receives, processes, and responds to visual input. Exactly what is involved in your sports vision training will depend on your athletic activity and the visual skills that your eye doctor identifies for improvement after comprehensive sports vision testing. Your treatment program will use a variety of tools, techniques, and exercises. You may also be asked to complete some exercises at home to further enhance your progress. With sports vision training, the ultimiate goal is for athletes to continue to see faster and clearer, giving them a distinct competitive edge.
For more information about sports vision and how it can benefit amateur and professional athletes, please contact our team.
Regular eye exams are important for children since their eyes can change significantly in as little as a year as the muscles and tissue develop. Good eyesight is critical for a child’s life and achievements since success in school is closely tied to eye health. School demands intense visual involvement, including reading, writing, using computers, and blackboard/smartboard work. Even physical activities and sports require strong vision. If their eyes aren’t up to the task, a child may feel tired, have trouble concentrating, have problems in school or have difficulty playing their favorite games which may affect their overall quality of life.
According to research, a child should have an initial screening between 6 and 12 months of age. After that, routine eye health and vision screenings throughout childhood should be performed in order to help detect any abnormalities as their eyes develop. Then, unless otherwise recommended, every two years thereafter until the age of 18.
For a newborn, an optometrist should examine the baby’s eyes and perform a test called “red reflex test” which is a basic indicator that the eyes are normal. In a case that the baby is premature or at high risk for medical problems for other reasons, has signs of abnormalities, or has a family history of serious vision disorders in childhood, the optometrist should perform a comprehensive exam.
A second eye health examination should be done to infants between six months and the first birthday. This examination includes tests of pupil responses to evaluate whether the pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light, a fixate and follow test to determine whether the baby can fixate on an object such as a light and follow it as it moves, and a preferential looking test which uses cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other side to attract the gaze of an infant to the stripes and thus vision capabilities can be assessed. Infants should be able to perform this task well by the time they are 3 months old.
For a Preschooler, between the ages of 3 and 3½, a child’s visual acuity and eye alignment should be assessed. If the child is diagnosed with misaligned eyes (strabismus), "lazy eye” (amblyopia), refractive errors (astigmatism, myopia, hyperopia) or any other focusing problems, it’s important to begin treatment as soon as possible to ensure successful vision correction and life-long benefits.
At School age or upon entering school, the child’s eyes should be screened for visual acuity and alignment. In this age group, nearsightedness (myopia) is the most common refractive error and can be corrected with eyeglasses.
You have almost certainly heard of diabetes, which is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States with an estimated 100 million adults currently living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. This metabolic disorder occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate its own blood sugar levels and requires intervention to keep them stable. Most people are aware that diabetes can have serious consequences for our health. However, you may be surprised to learn that it can also influence our vision. This is because patients who are diabetic can go on to develop a complication that is known as diabetic retinopathy. Without prompt treatment, diabetic retinopathy can cause permanent vision loss. It is for this reason that patients who suffer from diabetes are asked to attend regular diabetic-related eye exams.
For us to be able to see clearly, our eyes need to be healthy and functioning perfectly. The most important component of our eyes are the retina. Found at the very back of the eye, the retina is a patch of light-sensitive cells that have the job of converting the light that passes into the eye into messages that are passed up the optic nerve and into our brain. Our brain then receives them and tells us what we can see and how clearly we can see it.
The retina relies on a continuous supply of blood, which is delivered using a network of tiny blood vessels. Over time, having continuously high blood vessels can damage these blood vessels causing a leak of blood and other fluids onto the retina. If this happens, scarring may occur which could compromise the quality of your vision.
Technically, anyone who suffers from diabetes, whether it be Type 1 or Type 2, could be at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. However, the condition is more likely in certain situations. These include if:
your blood sugar levels are uncontrolled or poorly controlled
you have a long history of diabetes
you have high blood pressure (hypertension)
you suffer from high cholesterol
you are pregnant
Regular diabetic-related eye exams will enable your eye doctor to monitor your condition and ensure that any signs of diabetic retinopathy are detected and acted upon immediately.
The process of a diabetic eye exam is very simple and straightforward. In fact, in most instances, it is included within the other elements of comprehensive eye exam and you may not even realize that you have had a specific test to check for diabetes-related complications.
Diabetic eye screening is non-invasive. You will be given eyedrops which will blur your vision. These may sting a little when they are administered, but this will pass within just a few moments. Once your vision is blurred, you will be asked to rest your head onto a device and stare down a lens. This leads to a camera which will take images of the backs of your eyes so that your eye doctor can assess the structures, which include the retina, for any abnormalities. You will see a flash when each image is taken, but at no point should you be in any pain.
In addition to the images of the back of your eye being taken, you will also be given a visual acuity test. This is where you will be asked to read letters off a chart a short distance away, as well as reading from a card held in front of you.
The information that your eye doctor will obtain from your examination will be able to tell them if you are experiencing any of the signs of diabetic retinopathy. If so, they will discuss the best way to get your condition under control. This could involve a combination of elements, including controlling your diabetes more effectively, taking medications or more invasive treatment to preserve your vision. Your eye doctor will give you more specific information based on your individual circumstances.
If you have further questions about diabetic-related eye exams, please contact our knowledgeable eye care team.
Many people don’t realize that eyelashes are both functional and attractive. The purpose of eyelashes is to act as a first line of defense for our eyes, preventing airborne dirt, dust and other debris from reaching the delicate tissues of our eyes. You probably don’t know that when your eyes are closed, your eyelashes form a nearly impenetrable barrier against foreign irritants entering the eyes.
Unfortunately, we aren’t all blessed with naturally thick, luscious lashes. In fact, many people choose to get artificial eyelashes or eyelash extensions to make them appear longer or thicker than they really are. Unfortunately, the challenge of achieving voluminous eyelashes is even greater if you suffer from a condition called hypotrichosis.
If you’ve had a vision screening recently, you might say, “My vision is fine! I don’t need a comprehensive eye exam.”
But a vision screening provides a limited perspective on the overall health of your eyes. It’s a bit like getting your blood pressure checked and not getting the rest of your annual physical. You’ll have useful information, but it’s not the whole picture.
Vision screenings only test your ability to see clearly in the distance. This is called visual acuity and is just one factor in your overall vision. Others include color vision, peripheral vision, and depth perception. The screening also doesn’t evaluate how well the eyes focus up close or work together. Most importantly, it doesn’t give any information about the health of the eyes.
Vision screenings are conducted by individuals untrained in eye health.
Vision screenings are offered in many places – schools, health fairs, as part of a work physical or for a driver’s license. Even if your physician conducts the screening, he/she is a generalist and only has access to a certain amount of eye health training. Most individuals don’t have the tools or knowledge to give you a complete assessment of your vision or eye health.
Vision screenings use inadequate testing equipment.
In some cases, a vision screening is limited to an eye chart across the room. Even when conducted in a physician's office, they won’t have the extensive testing equipment of an eye doctor. They also won’t be aware of nuances such as room lighting and testing distances all of which are factors that can affect test results.
Comprehensive eye exams evaluate all aspects of your vision and eye health.
The comprehensive eye exam looks at your eye externally and internally for any signs of eye disease, then tests your vision in a variety of ways.
Generally, despite knowing how important the role of our eyes is in our day to day functioning, we tend to neglect the day to day care necessary to maintain optimal eye health. Just close your eyes for a minute or you put a non-transparent cloth across your eyes and try to walk around your home or workspace. It is quite difficult, right? That is how indispensable the eyes are.
While it is common knowledge that eye issues are a result of eyestrain or aging, most people are ignorant of the fact that an unbalanced diet, as well as deficiency in certain nutrients, can also facilitate eye issues. This implies that eating healthy means that there are certain nutrients that can help reduce the risk of eye issues. Some of these nutrients include omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, copper, zeaxanthin, zinc, vitamin E, A, C, and beta-carotene. For healthy eyes, there are foods that should be part of your diet daily. They include:
1. Fish- Fish is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially oily fish which have oil inside their body tissue and guts. They are regarded as the major source of omega-3 fatty acids which help in improving the immune system and brain function. More so, it helps in the development of the eye and retina and in keeping the eyes from dryness. It is therefore important to incorporate fish into your diet about 3 times a week. Incorporating fish rich with this needed nutrient such as salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, herring, mackerel, and anchovies about 3 times a week is important in helping to maintain optimal eye health.
2. Eggs- The yolk of an egg contains a combination of the nutrients vitamin A, zeaxanthin, and lutein which help to safeguard the cornea, reducing the chances of suffering from cataracts and macular degeneration and zinc which keeps the retina healthy and aids night vision. Eggs are very complimentary food as it can go with other foods and can also take various forms based on your taste.
3. Carrots- This is the most common food for eye health. It contains beta-carotene and vitamin A which protect the surface of the eyes and help to prevent infections. Vitamin A is a form of protein known as rhodopsin and it is tasked with the responsibility of aiding the eyes in absorbing light. A lack of vitamin A is the reason why there are about 500 thousand blind children every year. Carrots are easy to get and very affordable. They can serve as snacks or be sliced or diced into salads.
4. Nuts and Legumes- Legumes and nuts provide a lot of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids which guard the eyes against age-related disorders. Brazilian nuts, peanuts, walnuts, lentils, and cashews are perfect examples of legumes and nuts and can be eaten as a form of dessert or taken as snacks based on your choice.
5. Citrus Fruits- Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, an essential nutrient for healthy eyes. Vitamin C helps in keeping the blood vessels in the eyes healthy. It also stands against cataracts, and with other nutrients, it helps against macular degeneration. Citrus fruits include oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. The good thing about this food is that they can be consumed on their own or turned into a juice.
Just a few decades ago, computer vision syndrome (CVS) was not known or understood. However, with an increase in the role of computers in our lives, it has become an increasingly common issue. Researchers believe that 50-90% of people who use computers in their daily lives have experienced CVS to some degree. The amount of time that many people stare into a computer screen is increasing, which puts significant strain on our eyes.
CVS is not considered a single specific problem, but a suite of issues. And with the increased use of school computers, tablets and smartphones, children are also becoming more susceptible to CVS.
This syndrome is similar to many other repetitive motion type conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Problems can start because as we are reading text on a screen, our eyes move in a repetitive motion throughout the day. Once the issue has started, continuing the same behavior can worsen any symptoms. While reading alone uses the same motion, digital screens add flicker, contrast, glare, and light that all put additional strain on our eyes.
Issues may also be accelerated if you should be wearing some type of corrective lens, but don't, and are therefore putting additional strain on your eyes.
Aging can also speed up the progress of these issues. Around the time that people turn 40, the lenses of the eyes begin to harden due to a disease called presbyopia, which affects your ability to see closer objects.
There is currently no proof that CVS causes long-term vision impairment or blindness. Continuing to use a computer or any other type of screen can continue to be an annoyance or reduce your ability to see properly. Some of the warning signs of CVS are:
Red or dry eyes
If you don’t properly treat CVS when these symptoms occur, you may begin to notice that you suffer from a decrease in overall quality of life or job performance.
Vision therapy is a treatment plan that is intended to develop and improve a patient’s visual skills and abilities, with the goal of making their day-to-day life easier. You may also hear Vision Therapy referred to as VT. Although most commonly associated with children, whose visual skills are still naturally developing, adults can also benefit from vision therapy.
Any patient who does not have the necessary visual skills could find themselves suffering from a range of unpleasant symptoms, including headaches, eye fatigue, stiff neck, and double vision. Fortunately, vision therapy is a simple, painless technique to help patients to enhance their visual skills and overcome any issues that they may have been experiencing.
Vision therapy has been shown to be an effective way of developing and improving the following visual skills, all of which are important for day-to-day life.
Tracking: this refers to the ability to follow a moving object smoothly and accurately with both eyes – such as moving traffic or a ball coming towards you.
Depth perception: this is the ability to judge relative distances of objects and move accurately in a 3D space – for example, being able to walk down a flight of stairs.
Peripheral vision: this refers to the edges of your vision and your ability to assess what’s happening in your peripheral vision while paying attention to something directly in front of you.
Acuity at different distances: this is the ability to see clearly enough to identify and understand objects at both near and far distances.
Fixation: enabling patients to quickly and accurately look at, identify and understand stationery objects one after the other, for example, reading word to word.
Binocular vision: the ability for both eyes to work together in perfect synchronization.
Shifting focus: patients with this skill can look quickly at different distances without momentary blur.
Visualization: a valuable visual skill that enables patients to form and retain images in their head.
Vision therapy is generally conducted as an in-office treatment, under the close supervision of your eye doctor. Each vision therapy treatment plan is personalized; tailored to the specific individual needs of each patient. Most patients can expect to schedule hour appointments once or twice a week. You may also be given specific exercises to complete at home, which will support the progress that you are making during your in-office appointments. The components of Vision Therapy Treatment are non-invasive and drug-free, making VT suitable for the vast majority of patients, regardless of their age, health and history. For many people, vision therapy is a safe alternative to conventional eye surgeries.
There are various techniques that can be involved in vision therapy. These include, but aren’t limited to:
The use of tools designed specifically for use in vision therapy exercises
By attending regular vision therapy appointments, patients can see an improvement in their vision, visual comfort and experience an overall improvement with the ease in which they use their eyes for daily activites.