Alamo Optometry Blog

May 11, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 8:56 pm

(As appeared in Alamo Today, May 2011, pg. 26)

Now that the summer months are coming, it is time to make sure you have a good pair of UV-blocking polarized sunglasses.  To help my patients in this regard, we are having a month-long sunglass sale for May.  Every pair of sunglasses in the office is going to be 15% off in May.  We have many different brands to choose from including Maui Jim, Oakley, Kate Spade, Coach, Gucci, and Juicy Couture.  Most of the frames can also be made with prescription including single vision, bifocals, and progressives.  If you are not currently a patient in the office, we invite you to come and look at your selection and bring your prescription with you.  We look forward to seeing everyone to help ramp up your eye protection for the summer months.

            A question I often get at the office is regarding sun protection and what is the best way to protect the eyes.  My answer is always to have a good pair of UV-blocking sunglasses to be worn year round.  The important fact to remember is that the tint of the lenses makes absolutely no difference for sun protection, and in some cases clear lenses can block as much ultraviolet light as sunglasses.  The UV filter is a clear coating that is applied to the lenses and does not impact the appearance and light transmission to the eye.  For people that do not like the dark lenses of sunglasses, clear lenses will also work if they are made of polycarbonate, which is a lighter, impact-resistant material that comes with a scratch and UV coating.

            For those of you who are outdoor enthusiasts or just enjoy being outside will definitely enjoy the clarity and contrast that polarized lenses offer.  Most prescription and non-prescription polarized lenses come in gray or brown.  However, several companies have come out with several single vision polarized lenses in yellow, pink, green, orange, etc. to help tailor your lenses to a specific outdoor activity or activities that you enjoy.  Some of the activities that can be helped with these lenses include golf, fishing, skiing, and shooting.  In addition, Maui Jim has come out with a new high-definition lens that comes polarized and increases contrast.  A good example for these lenses is for golfers who will be able to pick up the undulations in the greens a little better due to the tint of the lenses.  We have some samples and information guides that can help us aid you in deciding the lens or lenses needed for all of your activities.

            The effects of ultraviolet exposure are generally long-term, but in some circumstances can be quick and painful.  For anyone who has had a UV-flash burn from welding or from receiving a lot of glare from the water or snow will know how painful this can be.  However, most exposure causes premature cataracts, skin melanomas, freckles, and pingueculas (those yellowish bumps on the white part of the area that often get irritated in dry or windy conditions).  Studies have shown that we receive almost 75% of our total UV radiation by the time we are 18 years old; therefore it is important that our kids have sun protection.  Obviously there is no need to spend a lot on these glasses; but keep in mind if your child wears glasses, as long as the lenses are made of polycarbonate and/or have transitions lenses; they have all of the protection they need.  If not, most over-the-counter glasses come with the UV filter in the lenses.  Regardless of age, race, sex, or activity level, we all need proper sun wear to help combat the harmful rays from the sun.  We look forward to helping you look good, see good, and protect yourself this summer and beyond.

Ocular Migraines

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 8:55 pm

(As appeared in Alamo Today, April 2011, pg. 28) 

            Several patients have come into the office lately complaining of ocular migraines.  There are some different terms for this condition including aura, ocular migraine, ocular aura, and retinal migraines.  Even though they have slightly different meanings, I will lump them into one for the purposes of this article.  Initially, these can be very scary as patients are concerned that they are losing their vision and/or possibly having a stroke.  Thankfully, neither will happen just from having an ocular migraine; however, depending on the exact symptoms, some eye and health conditions need to be ruled out.

            An ocular migraine like a typical migraine, involves a blood vessel disturbance.  This can be caused by many things such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and physical exertion.  However, it is very common that these “just happen”.  It usually occurs without any triggers and happens when people are in front of the computer, watching TV, or driving.  The visual aura that people usually see is similar but can be variable and it can affect one or both eyes.  Most patients report seeing bright or shimmering lights, zigzag lines, cloudy vision, and tunnel vision.  Your central vision usually isn’t compromised, but it could be a little blurry.  These visual disturbances last anywhere from a few minutes to about 30 minutes.  If there is continued decreased vision, floaters, flashes of light, red eyes, etc., then an ocular migraine is not the diagnosis.  The symptoms go away as quickly as they came with no prolonged visual changes and have no lasting visual or ocular consequences.  These are commonly followed by an actual migraine about 1 hour after the aura starts.  It is possible to not get the headache, but it is more likely that a migraine follows the aura.  Initially these can be very scary and patients usually call the office to schedule a visit.  This is advisable as there could be other causes and other conditions that need to be addressed depending on the symptoms, age, and medical history of the patient.

            Unfortunately, there is no treatment for ocular migraines.  However, I always recommend to patients to take their normal headache medications at the onset of the visual disturbances, since it is common to get an actual migraine about an hour after the onset of the visual aura.  These headaches are usually severe and could last several hours.  Taking Tylenol, Excedrin, etc. for the headache will not prevent it from coming, but it will blunt the severity.  I would rather tell my patients to take the medication and not get the headache than to wait until the headache starts; at that point it is too late.   

            It is more common for normal migraine sufferers, women, and patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, and auto-immune diseases to get ocular migraines.  There are no strong medical studies explaining the etiology of this condition.  Even though there is no treatment, it is important to make sure that there is no medical reason for the ocular disturbances.  The aura can easily be mistaken for symptoms of a retinal hole or detachment, stroke, or other neurological issues.  Granted these conditions are pretty rare, but they do happen.  An office visit to go over your personal medical history, exact symptoms, and an eye evaluation will help differentiate an ocular migraine from other potentially sight-threatening conditions.

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