Diagnosing Dry Eye Syndrome

Our eyes are the most sensitive and easily disturbed part of your body. Even with slight irritation, they may start watering. Therefore, we have to take extra care in order to maintain eye health and prevent inflammation, especially with aging. It is therefore important to understand the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, and how it should be treated.

Tears & Why They’re Important

The eyes produce tears to remove irritants and to keep our eyes lubricated. Tears are made up of:

  • Mucus
  • Oil
  • Antibodies
  • Water

The above-quoted ingredients come from special glands around your eyes. An excess tear-flow from your eyes can occur due to poor tear drainage or overproduction of tears. Watery eyes are often not harmful but can be the cause of irritation. Alternatively, dry eye condition means that glands around the eyes aren’t working properly, and cannot adequately moisturise the eye.

What Happens If Tears Don’t Work Properly?

The production of tears is a natural cleaning mechanism, flushing away foreign objects that may come into contact with the eye easily. With the dry eye syndrome, the eye can not remove irritants effectively, and one of the two things can happen; insufficient or excessive production of tears. Inadequate production of tears may cause:

  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Continuous discharge of mucus
  • Swelling
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity

If your eyes drops out water continuously, the result is often Reflex Tearing. This is because your eyes will send a distress signal to your nervous system to have the eyes lubricated to overcome the irritation and dryness. And as a result, excessive tear production will start.

Causes Of Dry Eye Syndrome?

There are many reasons described by science for this syndrome. However, the main ones are:

  • An unbalanced tear flow system
  • Dried tear film
  • Drug-induced side effects
  • Natural aging process
  • Menopause
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Collagen vascular diseases
  • Lagophthalmos
  • Blepharitis
  • Uneven eyelids
  • Long-term use of contact lenses

How Is The Syndrome Diagnosed?

You need to go through a comprehensive eye examination to determine the exact quality and quantity of your tears that are produced. Furthermore, your doctor will go through some more procedures to determine the exact cause of the syndrome, and those tests will include:

  • General medical history to note the symptoms and health problems
  • Environmental causes and age factor that may add more to dry eye condition
  • External assessment of the eye like the eyelid structure and blink dynamics
  • Eyelid and cornea evaluation with bright light and magnifying glasses
  • Tear abnormality along with quality and quantity difference
  • Insertion of special dyes will be performed to observe the tear flow along with changes in the outer surface

Once your optometrist/doctor performs all of the above tests, then he/she will be suggesting the best treatment based on the current situation to smoothen out your dry eye condition.

Various Types Of Treatments For Dry Eyes

There are a lot of treatments available for treating dry eye syndrome. However, here are a few that your healthcare provider will prescribe depending on the severity of your condition. These are:

  • Artificial ointments and teardrops
  • Conserving tears
  • Non-dissolving punctal plugs
  • Punctal occlusion by cautery
  • Lipiflow
  • Temporary Punctal occlusion
  • Cequa
  • Testosterone cream
  • Lifitegrast
  • Xiidra
  • Fish oil

These solutions are not to be administered without an expert optometrist’s prescription and advice. Visit us today to book your eye test consultation with our expert doctors and optometrist.


Macular Focus in May

May is Macula month, a campaign centred around the education and awareness of macular disease.

The macula is responsible for detailed central vision, meaning we use it for activities such as reading, driving and recognising faces. It’s also responsible for most of your colour vision, so its quite shocking to learn that an estimated 1.7 million Australians have some evidence of macular disease.

Macular disease covers a range of painless conditions affecting the central retina which can be found at the back of the eye.

Conditions only affecting the macula don't lead to total blindness, instead, they impact central vision, leaving peripheral vision intact.

SYMPTOMS OF MACULAR DISEASE

You can have early signs of macular disease without knowing it. However, when symptoms do appear, they can include:

  • Difficulty with reading or any other activity which requires detailed central vision (despite wearing appropriate glasses)
  • Distortion, where straight lines may appear wavy or bent
  • Problems distinguishing faces
  • Dark patches in the central vision
  • Macular disease can affect anyone, at any age, so knowing your risks, and having regular macula checks, is the only way to protect your vision.

But how do you know if you are at risk ?

Take the 'Check My Macula' quiz and in one minute, you’ll have a better idea of your risk factors.

Take Quiz

So, if you've just taken the quiz and have any vision concerns that you think might need attention, please contact us to make an appointment or visit us online.


Blonde woman in city wearing glasses, coat and beanie

How can the cold affect your eyes?

One of the most common patient complaints during the winter months is dry eyes. Cold and windy weather conditions can reduce the natural moisture in your eyes resulting in a burning or itching sensation.

Blonde woman in city wearing glasses, coat and beanieDry eye is a common visual condition which affects one in four people worldwide and is more likely to occur in women and the elderly. The medical name for dry eye syndrome is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Symptoms can include burning, scratchiness or irritation, redness, watering and even blurred vision. Although dry eye is generally not a sight-threatening condition, for those who suffer from it, it is often more than just a minor aggravation. Dry eye can be caused by insufficient tear production from the lacrimal gland or an unstable lipid layer, which is the thin oily layer on the outer most part of the tear film.

Some tips to get you through the winter months:

  • Talk to your optometrist about the best eye drops for your eyes
  • Stay hydrated, drink lots of water
  • When heating indoors try using a humidifier
  • Keep distance from blowing heat sources
  • No matter how irritated your eyes are, don’t rub your eyes

For more information on dry eye or any other eye disorder, contact your Optometrist.

 


dark chocolate in a teal bowl

Can dark chocolate improve our eyesight?

Chocolate lovers rejoice!
Recent research by the University of the Incarnate Word, Rosenberg School of Optometry, in San Antonio, Texas USA, suggests that eating dark chocolate could improve visual clarity.

dark chocolate in a teal bowlBars with more than 72% cacao increase ocular blood flow which enhances macular function and sharpens the ability to read words and numbers.

The new research tested people 2 hours after eating 47g of 72% Cacao dark chocolate, and again after 40g milk chocolate in separate sessions more than 3 days apart. The testing looked at various aspects of visual performance.

More than 70% of people scored significantly higher after eating the dark chocolate. The biggest improvement was in contrast sensitivity, which helps us see in low light, or when text is poorly printed. Another area that improved was visual acuity – a measure of the sharpness of vision.

Cacao beans are rich in flavanol, an organic compound which improves blood flow in the brain and cardiovascular system and aids in reducing inflammation.

Researchers proposed increases in blood flow could explain the improvements, but suggested more work needs to be done to understand the exact mechanism. In the meantime we think it sounds like a good excuse to load up on dark chocolate and do some private testing. Sounds like a delicious experiment.


10 Foods to Assist Your Vision

Eating the right foods can protect your vision and keep you healthy. Adding vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to your diet can improve your overall eye health. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.1 You can find these antioxidants in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and a lot of other foods.

Here are the top 10 foods that will boost your eye health.1, 2

Carrots

The hype is true, carrots are good for your eyes. These crunchy root vegetables are a great source of vitamin A, which is important for keeping your cornea clear. Carrots get their bright orange colour from beta carotene, which is essential for vitamin A production in the body.  Other foods rich in beta carotene include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, capsicum, mangoes, apricots and rockmelon (and any other bright yellow or orange fruits and veggies you can get your hands on).

Fish

Fish is a very good source of omega-3, which is an important nutrient for eye health. Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid which are essential for your body to produce new cells, muscles, nerves and organs, as well as having potent anti-inflammatory properties. They benefit our eye by nourishing the retina and aid tear production to keep the eyes moist and healthy, reducing dry eye syndrome.

Leafy green vegetables

Easy to digest, easy to include into every meal, and readily available, leafy greens are great not just for your eyes, but for your overall health. The darker the green, the better they are for you.  Leafy greens such as kale, spinach and green veggies are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for keeping your retina healthy. Broccoli, avocados and peas are also good sources of this powerful combination of antioxidants.

Berries and Citrus fruits

Oranges, lemons, red capsicum and berries are high in Vitamin C – a water soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant that helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including collagen found in the cornea of the eye. Vitamin C also promotes healthy bones, skin and blood vessels, including the delicate capillaries in the retina.

Legumes and Pulses

Legumes are plants, pods and seeds that belong to the Fabaceae family. They refer to foods like peas and beans, such as green beans and broad beans. Pulses are dried legumes. They include chickpeas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, mung beans, and lentils. Not only are legumes and pulses a protein powerhouse and an excellent source of fibre, they are also full of omega-3.

Nuts

Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, whichever take your fancy, are excellent sources of Vitamin E and minerals such as zinc that help keep your eyes healthy and may decrease your risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Seeds

Like nuts and legumes, seeds are high in omega-3s and are a rich source of vitamin E to help fight age-related eye health issues. Seeds such as chia seeds, pepitas, flaxseed, hemp seeds and sunflower seeds will help protect your retina.

Extra-virgin olive oil

The queen of oils, extra virgin olive oil can help your body absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, those all-important carotenoids that are vital for good eye health.

Eggs

Two of the most powerful antioxidants for eye protection, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found generously in egg yolks, just like in leafy green vegetables. When you have them in your omelette, you’re increasing your chances of antioxidant absorption because of the high-fat content of eggs. You also get ample vitamin C and E in the egg yolk, which are believed to be helpful against macular degeneration.

Lean Meat

Protein from lean meats such as beef, poultry (chicken, duck, turkey etc) or pork can be beneficial to your eyesight.  Beef is rich in vitamin A and zinc, both of which are beneficial to your cornea and your retina. Poultry and pork are also good sources of zinc.

 

As well as adding these 10 superfoods to your diet, you should also consider piling your plate with plenty of other fresh fruits and vegetables. Aim to get your two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. The more colourful your cuisine gets, the better it will be for your eye health. As an added bonus, your overall health will benefit too.

 

References

1. American Optometric Association , “Diet and Nutrition,” 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y.

2. L. Arundel, “Top foods that can improve your eye health,” Good Vision For Life, 2016. [Online]. Available: https://goodvisionforlife.com.au/2016/08/04/top-ten-foods-can-improve-eye-health/


Importance of polarised lenses

It’s summer 2022, the sun is out and there is no doubt that we are all spending more time outdoors after two years in doors. With increased levels of sun exposure, it is critical that we continue to protect our eyes.

Polarised sunglasses are a great option for anyone who spends time outdoors. They are great for high-glare activities such as being on the water. Polarised lenses help reduce glare and provide additional clarity whilst protecting your eyes.

Polarised sunglasses have changed and improved immensely over the years, with newer technology now offering lower distortion to eliminate the swim effect. High-definition polarised lenses also reduce vibration, enhance clarity, allow for faster adaptation and minimise eye fatigue. When considering polarised lenses, it’s important to also consider UV protection.

There is also now a variety of colours in polarised lenses and a large range of fashionable frames on offer. So why not update your look this summer whilst still giving your eyes the best form of eye protection by wearing polarised sunglasses.

Visit our practice and chat to us about polarised lenses and what options might suit your lifestyle.

Until Feb 28, 2022 - get $100 off a pair of sunglasses when you buy specs.*

*Redeemable with the purchase of a complete set of frames and lenses until Monday February 28, 2022. Sunglasses can be prescription or non-prescription. Not to be used in conjunction with any other discounts, packages or offers. Not redeemable on contact lenses. Valid once per patient only.


Holiday Trading Hours

Holiday Trading Hours

Our practice will be closed from Thursday, December 23 and will re-open Tuesday, January 4.

On behalf of everyone at Visual Eyes, we would like to wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.


Are your devices causing you digital eye strain?

Have you been noticing that your eyes are more irritated and tired than usual? You’re not alone. For most of us, digital devices have a strong and growing presence in our lives. Computers, tablets, smartphones and other electronic devices with visual displays can all cause tired eyes and digital eye strain, referred to as ‘computer vision syndrome’.

What is computer vision syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome is the name for a group of eye and vision symptoms that might be experienced as a result of viewing digital devices for an extended period of time.
These symptoms can include eye strain, red or tired eyes, irritation, blurred vision, double vision and headaches.

Why does screen time irritate the eyes?

For most of us, our eyes prefer to focus further than six metres away, so viewing a computer screen forces our eyes to work harder. While it’s normal for us to blink about 15 times a minute, studies have shown that we blink far less often while using digital devices resulting in dry, scratchy and red eyes.

Generally speaking, the type or font that we are viewing on a digital device can be small or unclear, and glare is emitted off the screen from the blue light. The frequency of blue light emitted from LED devices is also being researched for its long-term effects on the eye and potential impact on altering sleep cycles.

The combination of these unique characteristics, and our eyes having to work harder, can often lead to difficulty. The extent to which people experience visual symptoms often depends on the level of their visual abilities and the amount of time looking at a digital screen.

Extended periods of focusing on screens up close results in the muscles having to exert significant focusing effort to make these objects clear. As with any of the muscles in the body, they can fatigue and tire out if not given the opportunity to occasionally rest and relax. The muscles which control eye movements and focusing are typically relaxed when we look at objects in the distance.

What to do to combat computer vision syndrome

It can be hard to remember to rest our eyes, but we should all apply the 20-20-20 rule when spending time on devices. The 20-20-20 rule is shifting your focus to something other than your device every 20 minutes. Then what you focus on should be 20 feet (6 meters) away and you should look at it, for at least 20 seconds.

Let’s all remember to apply the 20-20-20 rule daily so our eyes can stay at their best for longer.

If you are still experiencing eye strain or irritation, it is best to consult your optometrist to discuss the best treatment options for you. Book an appointment easily online today.


The Impact of COVID-19 on Eye Health

COVID-19 infected persons may develop conjunctivitis, which is characterised by sore, red, watery eyes. The eye can be a transmission route forCOVID-19 if a contaminated hand touches or rubs the eye, so it’s of vital  importance to wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The COVID-19 virus is primarily spread via person-to-person contact, through the release of respiratory droplets when an infected person breaths, coughs, or sneezes. It can also be spread via indirect contact, for example if a person touches the same object as an infected person, and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes. COVID-19 is highly infectious and spreads easily from person to person.

People who are infected but do not show symptoms can also spread the virus to others. On average it takes 5–6 days from the time of infection for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.2 How easily a virus spreads from person to person can vary.1 The virus that causes COVID-19 appears to spread more efficiently than influenza but not as efficiently as measles, which is among the most contagious viruses known to affect people.

Can COVID 19 affect your eyes?

Yes. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified conjunctivitis as a less common symptom of COVID 19 infection.1 Conjunctivitis is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear tissue which covers the white part of the eyeball.

Cases of conjunctivitis vary from 4% to 31% among those with a confirmed case of COVID.4 Signs of conjunctivitis are typically red, sore, watery eyes. This can be accompanied by itchiness and light sensitivity.

Conjunctivitis is a common condition overall with many causes including bacteria, allergens and viruses, so your Optometrist is well trained to lookout for the signs of COVID related conjunctivitis.

 

Can COVID-19 be transmitted via the eyes?

Yes, although attaining COVID 19 infection through the eyes is much less common than through the nose or mouth. The eye is more likely to be infected secondary to the primary infection, i.,e a contaminated hand touches or rubs the eye.3 This is why good hand hygiene is so important.

 

Prevention

 To prevent infection and slow the transmission of COVID-19, the following is recommended:

  • Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel, and staying away from large groups of people, especially those with cold like symptoms i.e. coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub
  • Wear a mask when possible
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Stay home if you feel unwell

 

Take home messages

COVID-19 infected persons may develop conjunctivitis, which is characterised by sore, red, watery eyes.  Your eye care professional will be on the lookout for any such presentation and take necessary steps to prevent the spread of the disease. The eye can be a transmission route for COVID-19 if a contaminated hand touches or rubs the eye, so it’s of vital importance to wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

 

References

1 World Health Organisation, “COVID-19 Clinical management: living guidance,” 2021.

2 Australian Government - Department of Health, "What you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19)," 2021.

3 Pradhan S, Vaughan M, Zhang J, et al Sore eyes as the most significant ocular symptom experienced by people with COVID-19: a comparison between pre-COVID-19 and during COVID-19 states. BMJ Open Ophthalmology 2020;5:e000632. doi: 10.1136/bmjophth-2020-000632

4 Dawood AA. Transmission of SARS CoV-2 virus through the ocular mucosa worth taking precautions. 2021;22(1):56-57. doi:10.1016/j.vacune.2021.01.007


Why do my eyes hurt in the cold?

One very common and frustrating eye issue that increases in its prevalence over winter is dry eye. The colder temperature can cause your eyes to lose natural moisture, becoming dry and sore. Although this isn’t usually a serious condition, it can cause discomfort. Here are out top tips to ease the symptoms of dry eye and keep your eyes healthy this winter.