Alamo Optometry Blog

November 4, 2012

Giving Thanks

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 11:55 am

(As appeared in Alamo Today,  November 2012)

Now that we are getting close to Thanksgiving and the holiday season, it is the time of year when we show our appreciation for our family, friends, and any other people or things that are important to us.  These can range anywhere from a nice neighbor that helps out watching our children from time to time, our favorite sports team, our job or business, and our health. 

            Speaking from a personal standpoint, there are many things that I am thankful and happy for.  First and foremost, my wife and children are at the top of the list.  These 3 ladies in my life definitely are the most important things to me.  As I am sure most people would also put this as their top of their list, but for me it is worth all of the daily triumphs and difficulties to have a wonderful, caring family.  They make the daily grind worth it; as much as I love my job, I look forward to going home every evening even more.

            Our health is absolutely the second thing on my list.  We are extremely lucky and fortunate that we have our health.  There are many people that do not have this luxury and I know that at times we take this for granted.  We are human and because of that it is difficult to comprehend having our mobility, sight, mental capacity, and our health taken away from us.  Without our health, the other things in life that we cherish are extremely difficult to appreciate.

            Speaking from a professional standpoint, vision and eye health are of paramount importance in my daily life.  Most people are extremely scared of losing their vision, as several polls have showed that losing your vision is second on the list behind cancer as the most feared health-related condition.  Depending on the ocular condition, vision loss can be permanent.  Diseases such as diabetes, macular degeneration, and glaucoma can cause vision changes that can alter your ability to accomplish daily activities such as driving, reading a book, and cooking.  A loss of independence is emotionally devastating to anyone.  Some of these conditions can be prevented or be medically treated where the visual compromise is minimal.  Therefore, we always recommend annual examinations and to optimize your personal health as a healthy body generally leads to healthy eyes.

            The other thing that I am extremely proud of and appreciate is my office staff that I work with everyday.  Since the economy is still struggling, I am happy everyday when I am able to open the doors to the office.  As most people can attest, these are difficult times for everyone, but thankfully the state of the economy seems to be slowly improving.  It is a pleasure working in the community providing quality service and eye care.  We also must thank all of our patients and family members that continue to support our product and office.  We pride ourselves on doing everything in our power to ensure a positive and enjoyable time while at our office.

            During the next few months during the holiday season, it is a good idea to take stock of how things stand and what is really important.  I know all too well to not sweat the small stuff, but at times it can feel like everything is the small stuff.  In reality, life is really too short and we all need to appreciate what we have and who we know.

 

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear.  He can be reached at820-6622or visit his office at3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165inAlamo.  Visit our newly updated website at: www.alamooptometry.com and like us on our Alamo Optometry Facebook page.

Macular Degeneration

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 11:52 am

(As appeared in Alamo Today, October, 2012)

Of all the possible eye issues and conditions that affect vision, this one seems to be the one that generates the most questions and concerns on the part of my patients.  Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of functional vision loss as we age.  Your likelihood does increase as you age as 1 in 5 over age 70 and 1 in 3 over age 85 are affected.  At this time the exact cause is not well understood and therefore there is no cure.  However, our detection methods and treatment options are improving to help maintain vision.

            The macula is the center part of the retina in which light that enters the eye is focused.  This area only measures about 5 millimeters in diameter, contains only cones (no rods), and is therefore the only place on the retina where color vision and your 20/20 vision is processed.  Light focused outside of this area will see a sharp drop-off in acuity and the images will be best viewed in dim light.

First, let’s discuss the positive; you will never go blind fromAMDalone, your peripheral vision will remain intact.  However, your peripheral vision is not great.  Because of this, you might have noticed some people looking off to the side when they are trying to look at you, they are using their peripheral vision to focus on an object instead of using their macula.

There are 2 types ofAMD, dry and wet.  Depending on the severity and type of the disease, vision loss will vary.  Dry macular degeneration causes less vision loss but there are few treatment options.  At this stage vitamin supplements, home monitoring, and regular eye exams is the standard of care.  WetAMDdevelops when blood vessels around the macula start to leak which deposits in and around the macular tissue and causes a drop in vision.  Most treatment options are aimed at this stage of the disease.         

Recent advancements in wetAMDtreatment include direct injections into the eye of drugs that attempt to halt the process that leads to leaky blood vessels.  These new drugs have shown great results with minor side effects compared to past treatments.  Even though a large percentage of patients have regained some lost vision, the goal of treatment remains to keep the status quo and prevent further vision loss.

            Since there is no cure forAMD, the question arises what can we do to decrease our chances of gettingAMD?  As of right now, there is a large genetic component to the disease, so there is little we can do there.  The number one thing that can be done is to not smoke.  There is a4 to 6fold increase risk for smokers than non-smokers.  Vitamin supplements specifically for the eyes have been conclusively shown to slow down the process in early stages of this disease.  What has not been shown is if you take these vitamins now, what will happen in 20 to 30 years.  It appears that if there is no reason why you can’t take them, there is no reason why you shouldn’t.  The last thing I would recommend is to maintain your personal health.  If you are diabetic or have high blood pressure, it is paramount to keep those diseases under good medical control.  As always, regular eye examinations will help diagnose any early changes and appropriate treatments and referrals can be made.

 

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear.  He can be reached at820-6622or visit his office at3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165inAlamo.  Visit our newly updated website at: www.alamooptometry.com and like us on our Alamo Optometry Facebook page.

Corneal Infections and Abrasions

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 11:50 am

(As appeared in Alamo Today,  September, 2012)

We have had a larger than normal amount of patients with corneal infections and abrasions in the past few weeks.  Some of the cases had a known reason (sleeping with contacts), but others were confusing as to how they occurred.  Since these conditions cause pain, extreme light sensitivity, and decreased vision, the exact reason is not as paramount as getting the proper diagnosis and treatment.            

            First of all, the cornea is the clear front part of the eye.  It does about 2/3 of the focusing of the eye, contains no blood vessels, and is one of the most highly innervated tissues in the body with nerves.   Therefore, just the slightest insult will cause the eye to be red, painful, and light sensitive.  The good thing about the cornea is that is does heal pretty quickly, and usually with proper and aggressive treatment, the patient will start to feel some relief in 24 to 48 hours.  The cornea has many ways to keep infections away, so thankfully infections do not occur that often.  However, your susceptibility increases with contact lens wear, and even more so with non-compliant contact lens wear and care. 

            The most common cause for infections is due to sleeping in your lenses.  The patient will go to bed feeling fine, and then the infection will form overnight as the cornea becomes compromised and more susceptible to bacterial infections from normal bacteria on and around the eyes.  Patients will then wake up with a red, painful, eye and will usually call the office first thing in the morning.  Corneal infections need to be treated quickly and aggressively.  By the time the patient comes to the office, the infection is already proceeding rapidly and needs to be managed quickly.  Treatment consists of high dose antibiotic drops and follow-up within 1 to 2 days.  Without proper treatment, the cornea can deteriorate very quickly and can lead to permanent decreased vision depending on the exact location and area infected.  The patient cannot wear their contacts for about a week, so this is a great example of why a reliable pair of back-up glasses is mandatory for all contact lens wearers.  We will see the patient back until the infection resolves and then they can start wearing their lenses again.  Our office policy is that once a corneal infection is directly related to sleeping in your lenses, you are not allowed to do so going forward.  Wearing your lenses daily is not a problem, but sleeping in them is not allowed.  Most patients are absolutely fine with this considering the pain and associated issues with the infection.

            Corneal abrasions are just as painful as infections, and cause very similar symptoms for the patient.  The “advantage” of an abrasion vs. an infection is that the contact lenses did not cause the problem; therefore they are an extremely useful tool in the treatment.  I often use a contact lens as a bandage on the cornea, which allows for some protection for the scratch so every time you blink, the lids touch the lens, not the abrasion.  This leads to immediate relief for the patient and it allows for treatment with the contact lens on, as the lens will be disposed in a day or so.  Depending on the size of the abrasion, these patients generally heal quicker than infections because you are just waiting for the scratch to close instead of additionally waiting for a bacteria infection to resolve.

Patients that come into the office for a corneal infection or abrasion all present the same.  They are all wearing dark sunglasses, have a tissue handy for the constant tearing, usually wearing a hat, and covering their face because of the light sensitivity.  Regardless of the exact cause or diagnosis, these need to be treated.  Again, the “good” thing about these patients is that they are in a decent amount of pain so they will seek care very soon after the onset of their symptoms.  We are more than happy to see you in the office on the same day to start the healing process.

 

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear.  He can be reached at820-6622or visit his office at3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165inAlamo.  Visit our newly updated website at: www.alamooptometry.com and like us on our Alamo Optometry Facebook page.

School and Vision

Filed under: Uncategorized — gkblog @ 11:48 am

(As appeared in Alamo Today, August 2012)

It is hard to believe that July is over and the crazy month of August is upon us.  As parents, this is the month of end of summer vacations, start of practices for fall sports, and back to school.  As we all know, this means visits for our kids to the pediatrician, dentist, and hopefully, the optometrist. 

Good and comfortable vision gives your child the first tool in learning and doing well in school.  Since a large amount of learning is done through the eyes, if your child has difficulty seeing the board or their up-close work, they will not start off the school year right.  In a pediatric exam, I determine the child’s prescription, eye health, peripheral vision, and eye teaming and movement skills; at a first visit, I also test depth perception and color vision.  Here are some common refractive and binocular vision disorders that can hinder vision, and therefore the ability to learn.

            Myopia is commonly referred to as near-sightedness.  That means that without any correction, a person has difficulty seeing in the distance.  This is very common among students, and tends to progress as the child gets older.  Blurry distance vision will hinder things such as taking notes in class, sports, and driving.  This can easily be addressed with contacts or glasses.

            Hyperopia, or far-sightedness, is the opposite of myopia.  If you are far-sighted, it is easier for you to see distance than up close.  Since you need to focus more up close than you do far away, a far-sighted person usually has near vision problems.  Being in a constant state of “focusing” can lead to headaches, eyestrain, and early fatigue.  Sometimes the problem is more complicated, but most of the time reading glasses for homework can make a huge improvement. 

            Astigmatism, unlike the prior conditions, typically affects distance and near vision equally.  Astigmatism means that the cornea, the clear front part of your eye, is shaped more oblong or like an egg.  Because it is steeper in one direction, when light comes into the eye, it doesn’t come to one single point of focus.  It can cause distorted and uncomfortable vision; however, astigmatism is not a disease and when it is corrected with glasses or contacts, good vision is not a problem. 

            Binocular vision disorders are those that involve the muscles and movements of the eyes, and how well they work together.  In addition to having a prescription, all patients including children should have their binocular vision status evaluated.  It is quite possible to not have any of the above-mentioned prescription issues, but have poor eye teaming skills.  If the eyes are not aligned properly and do not work well as a team, there will be learning and reading issues.  These tend to present themselves more for reading than distance, but can definitely affect both.  When the eyes do not work as a unit, a child might experience double vision, “stretching” or “ghost images” of letters, skipping of letters or lines of text, eyestrain, headaches, near avoidance, or any combination of these.  Depending on the exact diagnosis, the condition can be treated with glasses or vision therapy.

I recommend having your child’s vision checked by an eye care professional instead of just relying on a school or pediatrician screening.  Most children that need to be evaluated are generally picked up by these screenings, but the comprehensive evaluation I give at the office not only encompasses vision and binocular vision, but also includes neurological testing, color vision, peripheral vision, and an ocular health examination of both the front and back portions of the eye.  We look forward to seeing your students in the office soon.

 

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear.  He can be reached at820-6622or visit his office at3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165inAlamo.  Visit our newly updated website at: www.alamooptometry.com and like us on our Alamo Optometry Facebook page.

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