What are Dry Eyes?

As its name implies, dry eye is a condition in which the eyes fail to manufacture enough tears to prevent them from drying out. Occurring primarily in older adults, the condition results in a burning or itching feeling in the eyes, and vision may also be impaired. Left untreated, dry eye may cause significant damage to the exterior of the eye.

Causes of Dry Eye

Dry eye has several different causes, including age, exposure to environmental conditions such as smoke, wind, and airborne allergens, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid disease. Women who are experiencing menopause or using oral contraceptives are at an increased risk of developing dry eye as well as those using medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, decongestants, and certain medicines prescribed for high blood pressure. Those who have worn contact lenses and patients who’ve recently undergone LASIK surgery are also at higher risk of experiencing dry eye.

blue eye close up

Dry eye is diagnosed through a thorough examination by qualified ocular care professional. Testing includes an evaluation of the patient’s history and a comprehensive examination of the eyes that includes testing designed to determine the quantity of the tears as well as their quality. Following the examination, the doctor will advise a course of treatment specific to the individual needs of the patient.

Treatments for Dry Eye

Treatments for dry eye include over-the-counter and prescription artificial tear preparations. Prescription eye drops designed to promote increased tear production, and blocking the tear ducts with removable silicone plugs. Some patients find relief by taking supplements fortified with omega-3 fatty acids. In some cases, the doctor may recommend a procedure that permanently closes the tear ducts.

Patients can also reduce the symptoms of dry eye by making sure their home and work environments have adequate humidity. Many of those suffering from dry eye as a result of working on computer screens, so they’re advised to remember to blink often and to consider using screens developed to reduce eyestrain. Wearing wraparound sunglasses helps decrease environmentally caused irritation to the eyes, and staying well-hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water per day is also recommended.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at your convenience for more information on keeping your eyes as healthy as possible.

What are Ocular Migraines

Ocular migraines are migraine headaches that are accompanied by visual disturbances, usually significantly reduced vision or even temporary blindness in one eye. Although many people use the term to describe a benign condition otherwise known as aura migraines in which sufferers may see shimmering or flashing lights, stars, erratic lines, or even psychedelic imagery, the two are not the same. Ocular migraines are sometimes also called ophthalmic, optical, and retinal migraines. However, ocular migraines and visual migraines are sometimes difficult to tell apart because the symptoms have significant similarities. As a general rule, visual abnormalities in ocular migraines occur in just one eye.

Causes of Ocular Migraines

Ocular migraines have the same causes as classic migraines, although there’s still an element of mystery involved because medical science doesn’t yet understand all aspects of how these conditions happen. We know, however, that inflammatory substances released deep within the brain play a significant role in the development of both types of migraines. It’s also widely believed in the medical community that genetics is a part of the picture. Common triggers have also been identified, including red wine, coffee, dark chocolate, aged cheeses, and cured and smoked meats. Some people also report developing ocular migraines as a result of exposure to strong perfumes, cigarette smoke, emotional stress, overly bright or flashing lights, and certain dietary ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate.

How It’s Treated

Fortunately, ocular migraines typically disappear within an hour of arriving on the scene without any special treatment. However, you should nonetheless be evaluated by a professional if you experience them. Preventive treatment might be available for you that will reduce the risks involved in suddenly experience visual disturbances, and your eye care professional will be able to rule out more potentially serious conditions.

Lifestyle Factors

Those suffering from ocular migraines are also advised to keep a journal of activities and dietary intake prior to occurrences for the purpose of identifying possible triggers.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you suspect that you’ve been experiencing ocular migraines.

 

Can Computer Glasses Help at Work?

The development of technology is resulting in significant changes to vision over time. More people are using computers, tablets, smartphones, or other digital devices in their office environment. The problem is that the continued use of digital devices results in eye strain, dry eyes, and other potential complications. Computer glasses are growing in popularity in an attempt to reduce the symptoms of extended computer usage, but some questions arise with new ideas and products.

What Are Computer Glasses?

Computer glasses are a type of glasses designed to help filter out the blue light that comes from computer screens and other digital devices. Depending on the glasses, they may also filter out glares and UV radiation.

The point of the glasses is to reduce the amount of blue light that goes into your eyes. The result of lower levels of blue light from computer devices is that you will experience less eye strain and symptoms associated with eye strain. While it is not yet clear if the glasses help with more complex eye conditions like cataracts, the protection from UV radiation may also help keep your eyes healthy.

Can the Glasses Help at Work?

The primary benefit of computer glasses is the impact on eye strain. While it is not yet clear if the glasses help with other eye conditions, it does have a positive impact on eye strain when sitting in front of a computer for an extended period. It helps reduce the amount of eye strain you experience and may offer some protection against problems associated with UV radiation.

Computer glasses are a useful way to limit the damage to your eyes when you work in an office environment. While you still want to take measures to keep your eyes healthy by looking away from your screen and getting up for regular breaks, the glasses may help with eye strain when you are not able to take breaks from a computer or digital device.

What to Expect During an Optomap Retinal Exam

Eye doctors can assess the health and condition of your retinas better than ever before with Optomap retinal imaging. Using high tech imaging equipment, eye doctors can view the entire inside of the eye without the need for dilation of your retinas. The accurate images allow for the prompt diagnosis of health conditions affecting the retina and continued monitoring of your eye health. Although the process is quick and easy, you can prepare for your Optomap retinal exam with this guide on what to expect.

Adjustment of the Scanning Equipment

Your eye doctor must adjust the scanning equipment to make sure it will properly read and record your retinal images. The adjustment process only takes a few seconds to complete in most cases. You will just need to follow your eye doctor’s instructions to assist in the completion of your scanning equipment adjustment process.

Quick Scan of Your Eye Structure

Once you are finished with the adjustment procedures, the scan will begin. Your eye doctor will likely instruct you to lean forward on the faceplate and keep your eyes open for the duration of the test. Once you are positioned in front of the imaging equipment, your eye doctor will press the button and start the scan. The scanning process usually only takes a few seconds per eye to complete.

Consultation with the Eye Doctor

After you complete the Optomap retinal exam process, you will have an opportunity to consult with your eye doctor. You will receive information on any findings from the retinal image scans and support in choosing the best treatment for your needs. Your eye doctor will provide you with the information and support you need to move forward in protecting the health of your eyes.

Talk with Your Doctor to Learn More About Optomap Retinal Exams

Optomap retinal exams allow your eye doctor to view your entire retina and record the images in your medical record. With this exam, you may not need to have your retinas dilated to receive a diagnosis and begin treatment as required. To learn more about keeping your eyes in great health, schedule your eye care appointment today with a call to 719-598-5068.

Senior Eye Care

If you’re like most people over the age of 50, you’ve probably noticed a decline in the quality of your eyesight in recent years. Although this is a natural part of aging, modern advances in medical science have made it possible to continue to enjoy good vision as you age. As with other health conditions, successfully dealing with eyesight issues is easier when problems are found as soon as possible. Following are just three conditions that are much easier to treat when early detection is a part of the picture.

Macular Degeneration

At one point in the not-so-very-distant past, a diagnosis of macular degeneration meant eventual blindness. Fortunately, there are new treatments available for this progressive disease as well as ways to detect it’s onset so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. Risk factor for macular degeneration includes genetics, smoking, excessive sun exposure, and age. Women are more likely to develop this condition than men, and it affects Caucasians more than any other race. Ask your eye care professional about including testing for this condition as a part of your regular eye exams if you have reason to believe you may be at risk.

Cataracts

Cataracts affect almost everyone who lives long enough if you’re over the age of 65, you have a 50 percent chance of being afflicted, and that number continues to rise as you grow older. Innovations in cataract surgery have made it so that no one has to suffer from this condition anymore, so be sure to tell your eye doctor if you experience gradually cloudy vision, which is one of the primary symptoms. Some people who have cataract surgery even find that they need a less strong glasses prescription afterward.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma usually sneaks up on people with a slow and steady pace, which can make it difficult to diagnose. If you have a family history of this disease, be sure to communicate that to your eye doctor. Advanced technology has resulted in a variety of treatment options for glaucoma.

Don’t hesitate to give our office a call for more information on protecting the health of your eyes as you age.

Types of Contact Lenses

If you prefer not to wear eyeglasses at all times but require vision correction, contact lenses are a great option. Below, we’ll go over the main types of contact lenses you may encounter, including the pros, cons, and intended users for each one.

Main Types of Contact Lenses

Hard Lenses

Hard contact lenses are not prescribed or used very often today, but they were the first type of contact lens to hit to the market and be widely used by those with impaired vision throughout the 50s and 60s, and into the 70s and 80s. Hard lenses initially became available in 1945 and were first made of hard glass. Later, they were made of plexiglass.

Soft Lenses

Soft lenses are the most common type of contact lens. These are made of thin, flexible materials and have a high water content (usually between 40 and 80 percent water) for proper hydration. Within this category, there are several different subtypes of lenses:

Daily Wear Lenses: Maximum wear-time for most daily wear lenses is 18 hours. Disposable soft lenses are usually meant for several-day wear or several-week wear (with each day of wear being 18 or fewer hours).
Dailies: Daily soft lenses are generally worn for 18 or fewer hours and then disposed of.
Extended Wear Lenses: These lenses can be worn during the night. While some patients prefer them because of their convenience, keep in mind there are some health concerns to worry about with these contacts, including chronic dry eye and a heightened risk of ulcerative keratitis.

Other Lenses

There are several other sub-categories of lenses as well. For example, toric lenses are used for those with astigmatism. They are cylindrical and use gravity to rotate the lens and correct a warped cornea. There are also bifocal and multifocal lenses for those with presbyopia who need two or more separate vision corrections. And finally, there are spherical contacts, which help those with presbyopia, hyperopia, and myopia.

Interested in Contact Lenses?

At Powers Eye Center, we would be happy to evaluate your vision to determine whether contact lenses are right for you. To book your appointment today, give us a call or use our online form to schedule your evaluation and fitting.

The Importance of Regular Optometrist Checkups

It’s easy to take your eyes for granted, but you need regular optometrist checkups to keep them in good condition. No matter what age you are, these checkups are an important part of maintaining good vision and lowering your risk of having serious problems that could affect your ability to see. Learn more about why you should have your eyes checked every other year or as often as your optometrist recommends.

Early Detection of Eye and Vision Problems

Some eye and vision problems can slowly develop over time without causing any noticeable signs and symptoms. When these problems become serious enough, they can impact your vision and make it harder for you to see. For example, glaucoma and macular degeneration can take many years to impair your vision. Having your eyes tested for these conditions can lead to an early diagnosis and prompt care and treatment, which can prevent more severe vision problems. Some of these conditions, such as cataracts, typically develop later in life, so you might need more frequent checkups as you get older.

Up-to-Date Corrective Lens Prescriptions

When you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct your vision for farsightedness, nearsightedness or astigmatism, it’s important to make sure that they are updated on a regular basis. Your prescription for these lenses can change over time. Without up-to-date lenses, you might end up straining your eyes when you try to read or do other activities. Having routine optometrist checkups helps ensure that you have an updated prescription for corrective lenses so that you can see clearly.

Detection of Other Health Problems

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, can affect your vision. When you come in for routine optometrist checkups, your eye doctor can check for signs of these conditions. If you do have symptoms of these medical conditions, you can see your regular doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan to help protect your vision.

If you are due for your next optometrist checkup in Colorado Springs, please contact Powers Eye Center to schedule an appointment.

FSA or HSA – Use It or Lose It: Use your Flex Spending Accounts

FSA or HSA – Use It or Lose It: Use your Flex Spending Accounts in Colorado Springs, CO

As the US health care system continues to change you want to have stable health insurance coverage for your vision care needs. For many Americans, this is readily available through a flexible savings account or health savings account. If you have an FSA or HSA and questions regarding using this for your eye doctor in Colorado Springs, CO, we are here to help. Powers Eye Center accepts flex spending and health savings accounts for patients in need of eye exams, vision correction, and other optometry services.

What is a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account?
A flexible spending account allows you to set aside money, pre-taxed, in a savings account to be used for health care expenses. Also known as a health savings account, a flexible spending account does not require you to sign up for health care coverage with a health insurance company. Instead, you spend the money you have saved for your healthcare needs. However, if you choose a health savings account, you are required to also have long-term care insurance prior to getting an HSA.

How Does an HSA or FSA work?
You sign up for an HSA or FSA through your employer or a reputable health savings account agency. For an HSA you can contribute up to $6,750 for your family in 2017, while an FSA allows you to contribute up to $2,600 per each employer. Once you have contributed to an HSA or FSA you can use this money to pay for qualifying health expenses.

What Can I Buy With a Flexible Spending Account and Health Savings Account?
A flexible spending account and health savings account allows you to use this money for most vision care expenses. This includes eye exams, vision correction treatments, prescription eyeglasses, prescription sunglasses, and contact lenses. If you also have vision insurance with an FSA, you can typically use your FSA to cover the co-payment and deductible for the vision coverage. Additionally, while you must have long-term care insurance to get an HSA, you do not have to have vision insurance to have an HSA.

Why Should I Spend My FSA Funds Before These Expire?
The money you set aside in an FSA or HSA will expire on the last day of December for each calendar year. That means you must use this money before the end of the year, or you forfeit it. There are very limited exceptions to this rule, in which some employers allow you to carry over a max of $500 from the previous year. However, you will want to check with your employer first to see if this is a possibility for you.

Your best bet is to go ahead and schedule an appointment with our eye doctor in Colorado Springs, CO now. Get your annual eye exam and receive any vision correction services, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses, before the end of the year. This will help you use up your health care savings without losing your hard earned money.

Choosing an Eye Doctor in Colorado Springs, CO
To take advantage of your FSA or HSA funds choose our eye doctor in Colorado Springs. Here at Powers Eye Center we regularly treat individuals and families who use health savings and flex spending accounts to pay for services. We understand how these accounts work and can answer any questions you have about this process. Our eye doctor also accepts most major health insurance plans for vision care.

For More Information Contact Our Optometrist Today!
Contact our optometrist at 719-301-1711 to schedule an appointment for the end of the year eye exams and vision care for your family. We are currently offering several discounts for prescription contact lenses, as well as VSP Premier Practice benefits.

Planning on Wearing Colored Contacts this Halloween? Check Out These Safety Tips!

Planning on Wearing Colored Contacts this Halloween? Check Out These Safety Tips!

Colored contacts are a great way to highlight the eyes year round, but costume or theatrical contacts are extremely popular during the Halloween season. There is a wide range of options when it comes to spooky contact lenses. Some cover a small part of the eye and others can cover the entire eye, providing an especially powerful optical effect. It is no secret that you can buy regular and colored contacts online, but in recent years a number of online providers offer colored contacts and theatrical lenses without a prescription. However, our eye doctor at Powers Eye Center recommends that you never use these providers for a number of reasons.

The Risks of Buying Contacts Online Without a Prescription
Contact lenses are medical devices that require a valid prescription to legally obtain them, even if they are not being used for any type of vision correction. That’s right—you need a prescription for non-prescription contacts! This is because contacts sit directly upon the eye and must be properly fitted for your specific eye shape. Improperly fitted contacts can lead to a number of problems including:

  • Falling out of the eye
  • Bacterial infections
  • Scratching that leads to scarring or vision loss
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Allergic reactions

Furthermore, those online retailers offering colored contacts without a prescription are operating outside of the law. This means that if you order those lenses, you are likely to receive contacts that are not FDA approved. Often people receive lenses that are out of date, and they may not be properly sterilized. So, beyond a poorly fitting pair of contacts, you’re taking risks with your eye health by side-stepping the prescription process. The best way to avoid all of these issues is to come in and let our Colorado Springs eye doctor give you a comprehensive contact lens eye exam, so you can rock your colored contacts safely every day or just to celebrate Halloween.

Halloween Colored Contacts Safety Checklist
Once you have your prescription, follow these tips for a safe, spook-tacular lens experience.

  • Obtain colored contacts from only licensed retailers that provide FDA approved lenses to ensure that you minimize any risks of infection and know that you’re getting quality products.
  • Always follow the instructions for wear, care, and maintenance that come with your contacts. Failure to do so can lead to premature wear, vision problems, and infections.
  • Never, ever share or swap your contact lenses with others, as this is a surefire way to have cross contamination issues that can lead to vision loss and bacterial infections.
  • Do not sleep in your contact lenses, as most special effects lenses are not designed for overnight wear.
  • If your costume requires makeup of false eyelashes, use only non-toxic products to prevent contaminating your lenses. False eyelashes can be particularly cumbersome with lenses, so think twice before wearing them simultaneously.
  • If you experience any type of irritation with your lenses, remove them immediately and see an eye doctor in Colorado Springs right away. They can help determine the cause and rule out or confirm whether any type of infection is present.

With these quick and easy tips, you will surely have a fun and happy Halloween showing of your theatrical colored lenses.

Need an Eye Exam for Colored Contacts in Colorado Springs?
Play it safe this Halloween, and come and get your eyes examined for a legitimate prescription for colored contacts. Contact our Colorado Springs eye doctor at Powers Eye Center at 719-598-5068 today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Neil McAllister. With over 30 years of experience providing top quality eye care, you will be assured that your eyes will be cared for with the finest service.