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Our Eye Doctor’s Top 4 Favorite Eye Drops

Artificial tears are a lifesaver if you are struggling with dry or scratchy eyes. But when you go to the pharmacy, the different options can be overwhelming.

So which over-the-counter eye drops should you choose?

The short answer…

If you are using them several times throughout the day, you want to choose artificial tears that are preservative free. Artificial tears with preservatives have been shown to irritate the eyes if used several times a day and are not meant for long term use.

The only con to preservative free drops? They typically come in single dose packets, which can be annoying for some. If you struggle with the occasional dry eye episode and only need drops here and there, multi-dose artificial tears are a great option (and cheaper).

Our optometrists tell our patients that it is more important to be consistent when using your artificial tears than to worry about buying a specific brand. That being said, there are several brands that we deem to be high quality and recommend to our patients.

Top Artificial Tear Products

Ocusoft Retaine MGD (Preservative Free)retaine eye drops

You can’t go wrong with Ocusoft Retaine. Many of our patients who struggle with chronic dry eye use these drops. These drops are Dr. Davis’s personal favorite preservative-free artificial tears.

Refresh Optive Mega 3 (Preservative Free)

If you want the most bang for your buck the Refresh Optive Mega 3 artificial tears are a great choice. They are great quality, and a little bit cheaper than the Retaine drops. Interesting fact- they include flaxseed oil in the formula!

Refresh Optive Advanced (Multi-Dose)

We are big fans of both the preservative free and multi-dose drops from Refresh. You will notice that multi-dose artificial tears tend to be less expensive than preservative free.

Systane Complete (Multi-Dose)systane eye drops

Dr. Davis’s personal favorite multi-dose drops. The Systane Complete multi-dose drops are one of the most popular artificial tear products for a reason.

If artificial tears are not helping to adequately relieve your dry eye symptoms, don’t worry, you have additional options. Our licensed optometrists can help to create a personalized treatment plan to further treat your condition.

Dry Eyes? You Might Be Sleeping With Your Eyes Open

sleeping with eyes openYou might have heard the threat, “you better sleep with your eyes open” before and thought it was just a turn of phrase. It is estimated that 20% of individuals, however, sleep with their eyes open periodically throughout the night! The condition is called nocturnal lagophthalmos, and up to 20% of individuals are affected by it.

Those with nocturnal lagophthalmos rarely sleep with their eyes wide open. In most cases, the lids will close most of the way, but not completely. Even a small opening in the eyelids is problematic however, and can cause the eyes to become chronically dry. This chronic dryness can lead to scratches on the eye, corneal ulcers, corneal abrasions, and exposure to keratopathy.

Symptoms

If your eyes are not closing all the way at night, you can experience the following symptoms:

  • redness
  • blurred vision
  • irritation or a burning sensation
  • scratchiness
  • sensitivity to light
  • feeling as if something is in the eye or rubbing against it
  • poor sleep quality

Most of the individuals with nocturnal lagophthalmos are unaware that they sleep with their eyes open! If you are suffering from any of the symptoms below, have a partner, family member, or friend check on your eyes while you are sleeping. Your eye doctor will also be able to help diagnose your condition based on an in person evaluation.

Cause of Sleeping With Your Eyes Open

There isn’t always a reason for nocturnal lagophthalmos, for many, it is genetic. There can be underlying conditions that can cause you to sleep with your eyes open though, which is why you should consult a doctor if you suffer from any of the symptoms above.

Causes include:

  • Damage to the eyelid muscles via infection, injury, or inflammation
  • Born with eyelids that don’t close all the way
  • Bell’s palsy, stroke, or tumor that has paralzyed a portion of the facial nerves
  • Graves disease (which causes the eyes to bulge forward)
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as Guillain_Barre syndrome
  • Surgery was done to the eyelids (in most cases blepharoplasty)

Treatment Options

There are a multitude of ways to treat nocturnal lagophthalmos, ranging from easy to more invasive. Your eye doctor will be able to help you determine which treatment options will best fit your unique case.

  • Treat the underlying condition (if applicable)
  • Use eye drops or eye ointment at night
  • Tape the eyelids shut with medical tape
    • Your eye doctor will help you know the best way to go about this
  • Undergo surgery to change how the eyelid moves
  • Undergo surgery to add weights to the eyelids to help them close

If you suffer from nocturnal lagophthalmos, our experienced eye doctors at Mill Creek Family Eye Center will be able to help you diagnose and treat your condition.

The #1 Dietary Change That Will Produce The Most Results

spoon full of sugar with raspberry on topWritten By: Stephen Davis O.D.

When I decided that I wanted to eat healthier this year, I knew I needed to pick a small area to focus on. I wanted to work on something that would give me the most bang for my buck.

So what did I pick?

Sugar.

Sugar happens to be my favorite song (Sugar, by Maroon 5) and also my favorite snack. But Donald Hensrud, the medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Eating program said, “If you look at all the things in our diet we can change, pulling away from refined or added sugar will do more good than anything else.”

sugar eye health quote

Why Should We Avoid Sugar?

“Sugar is the universal inflammatory”, says Heidi Turner, M.S., R.D.N., a medical nutrition therapist at The Seattle Arthritis Clinic. “Everyone is sugar intolerant.”

Sugar can negatively affect your body in many ways. It has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, type two diabetes, depression, and cellular aging. Sugar has also been linked to things like acne, and has been proven to drain your energy. Even the healthiest people aren’t exempt from sugar’s negative side effects.

Sugar & Eye Health

Sugar can even negatively impact your vision.

Eating too much sugar can leave your eyes more at risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, maculopathy, proliferative retinopathy, and blurry vision. A diet high in sugar also increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults in the US.

When your blood glucose levels (sugar) become too high for your body to break down, your lenses can swell. If left untreated, this can lead to diabetic retinopathy and blindness.This is why it is vital for type 1 and type 2 diabetics to manage their diabetes with the help of health care professionals and see their eye doctor on a regular basis.

Increase Good Sugar, Decrease Bad

Not all sugar is created equal. The sugar found in fruits is packed with phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Processed foods high in sugar often have little to no fiber, allowing the sugar to pass quickly through the bloodstream (hence the sugar crash).

Eliminating processed sugar completely from my diet wasn’t realistic for me long term. But switching out the semi-regular bowl of ice cream at night for a smoothie full of fresh fruits was feasible. And instead of snacking from the candy bowl at work all day, I’m trying to pack high protein snacks to fill me up and get me through the day.

You don’t need to change your entire diet or run a marathon to take care of your health. Small, simple, and sustainable changes are often the ones that have the most lasting impact.

Top 5 Reasons to Wear Sunglasses

woman wearing sunglasses mill creek wa

It is officially spring in Washington, which means bluer skies and more sunshine! Before you head out and enjoy the beautiful outdoors, it is important to remember to grab your sunglasses.

Why Wear Sunglasses?

Sunglasses may serve as a style accent, but they also have many protective benefits to your eye health.

1.) Sunglasses Protect from Harmful UV Radiation

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can not only damage your skin, but also your eyes. Make sure to select a pair of sunglasses that block UVA & UVB radiation. Many Washingtonians assume that the regular Seattle cloud coverage means that they are immune from UV radiation, but the majority of the sun’s harmful UV rays actually penetrate through the clouds. You sunglasses will protect your eyes from these harmful rays.

2.) Sunglasses Keep You Looking Younger

The skin around your eyes is some of the most delicate skin on your body. Wearing sunglasses helps to slow down and prevent the onset of wrinkles and crow’s feet, ultimately helping you to keep a more youthful appearance.

3.) Sunglasses Prevent Cataracts & Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration and cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. Excessive exposure to UV radiation increases your chance of developing both of these conditions.

4.) Sunglasses Help You To Drive Safely

Your eyes are the most important safety feature in your vehicle. Sunglasses prevent your eyes from strain and fatigue (caused by squinting for hours while driving) and also help you to see farther and more clearly while driving. If you spend a lot of time on the road, consider getting a pair of polarized sunglasses. These types of glasses mute harsh reflections and unwanted glare.

5.) Sunglasses Improve Your Vision

Whether you are watching your son’s baseball game, driving to work, or hiking outdoors, sunglasses will help you to see your surroundings more clearly and allow your eyes to focus with less effort.

Our optical staff is ready to assist you in finding the perfect pair of sunglasses that will not only keep your eyes healthy but also complement your unique style. Mill Creek Family Eyewear, our in house optical center, is open for walk-ins during business hours.

Can Pregnancy Cause Blurry Vision?

pregnant woman blurry vision

Pregnancy can be an exciting time in a woman’s life, but it also can bring on a slew of not so awesome side-effects. For some women, this includes morning sickness, nausea, and exhaustion. For others, it includes blurry vision.

The Cause of Blurry Vision During Pregnancy

There are multiple reasons why a woman’s vision blurs during pregnancy. The main culprit though, are those ever changing hormones. Shifts in hormones during pregnancy can cause the following:

Tear Reduction: Pregnancy hormones decrease tear production which can lead to eye irritation and dry eyes.

Eye Pressure: In some women, pregnancy hormones cause the fluid in their eyes to build up, increasing the pressure and causing blurry vision.

Pregnancy hormones can also cause the cornea to increase in thickness. The cornea functions like a window that controls and focuses the entry of light into the eye, so the increase in thickness can alter and blur vision.

Gestational Diabetes & Preeclampsia: Changes in vision can also occur due to an underlying condition during pregnancy, including gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes can cause temporary vision loss, light sensitivity, and even flashes of light. Preeclampsia can not only cause modification to the cornea, but also damage the retina due to high blood pressure. It is important to regularly visit your OBGYN during your pregnancy to rule out these underlying health conditions.

What Can You Do About Blurry Vision During Pregnancy?

Artificial Tears: If your eyes are dry, artificial tears will help to lubricate the eye and relieve the irritation. Artificial tears can be found at the drugstore, but it is important that you check with your doctor to ensure that you pick ones that are pregnancy safe.

Rest Your Eyes: Consider giving your eyes a break and switching from contacts to glasses for the duration of your pregnancy (or just use them more often). Make sure to read with plenty of light and do your best not to strain your eyes.

Avoid Changing Your Prescription/Overcorrection: After pregnancy, your eyesight should return to what is once was, which is why it is advised that you avoid getting a new prescription (unless you truly can’t see) or vision correction surgery (Lasik).

When Will the Blurry Vision End?

Don’t panic, blurry vision and irritated eyes are fairly common for pregnant women. Your eyes should return back to normal after delivery.

If you are struggling with blurry vision and dry eyes due to pregnancy, our eye doctors can help you to manage the symptoms, select pregnancy safe eye drops, and even write you a temporary new prescription (if your symptoms merit such). Pregnancy is a beautiful but sometimes difficult journey, and Mill Creek Family Eye Center is here to help.



Boost Your Eye Health with Exercise

woman running outside

You’ve heard it time and time again, exercise benefits you in a plethora of ways: your heart, mood and energy levels all are boosted for starters. But did you know that it has also been shown to benefit your eye health?

Several studies over the years have shown that your risk of developing eye disease decreases if you exercise regularly.

Why Does Exercise Benefit Your Eyes?

When our bodies are exercising, our endocrine system is stimulated. When stimulated, it releases hormones and chemicals that are important in helping to control various cellular functions in the body. The endocrine glands also produce antioxidants, which help to fight off the effect of free radicals in your body and eyes.

Free radicals are known to cause many eye diseases and issues, including glaucoma, cataracts, dry eye, diabetic retinopathy, low vision, and age related macular degeneration.

But What if You Already Have An Eye Disease?

Exercise not only helps to prevent eye disease, but it also helps to manage the disease after onset.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Moderate physical exercise, like going for a walk three times a week, can lower your intraocular pressure (IOP) and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve.” It is important to note however, that consistency is key when managing your glaucoma through exercise. If your exercise regime is halted, your IOP will return to previous levels.

Exercise will also help diabetics manage their disease better and prevent diabetic retinopathy (the leading cause of blindness in working adults). Being physically active makes your body more sensitive to insulin and also helps to control blood sugar levels.

What Type of Exercise Should You Do?

You don’t need to sign up and train for an Iron Man to reap the benefits of exercise. Brisk walking, zumba, riding your bike, dancing, hiking, all count as exercise and will help you to maintain your eye and full body health. Essentially, anything that gets your heart rate up and your body moving counts.

The best type of exercise is the exercise that you will actually do. Maybe you enjoy using your elliptical for 30 minutes while watching a show a couple times a week, or taking a local dance class, or walking your dog. Consistency is key, so choose an activity that you will enjoy and will get you moving!

Start Small

Exercise will benefit you in a multitude of ways. In regards to your eye health, exercise has been shown to stave off eye disease and also to help manage eye disease. If you don’t regularly exercise, start small. A couple of brisk walks a week will pay off dividends down the road if done consistently.

Mill Creek Family Eye Center is here to support you in your journey to optimum eye health and function. Click here to schedule an appointment with one our trusted optometrists.

Does Eating Carrots Actually Help Your Vision?

carrots eye health

Carrots. They have long been promoted as a super food for eye health. But does eating carrots really help your vision?

Why Carrots?

Carrots contain a very important vitamin, Vitamin A. Your retina needs vitamin A to help turn light rays into images. Additionally, if you don’t have enough vitamin A your eyes can’t stay moist enough to prevent dry eyes.

In short, eating carrots will promote eye health and help your vision. But carrots aren’t the only food to contain vitamin A. In fact, there is one orange vegetable that beats the carrot out when looking at Vitamin A per serving.

The Sweet Potatosweet potato eye health

Sweet potatoes are CHOCK full of vitamin A, as well as vitamin C, manganese, antioxidants, and a whole other slew of vitamins.

In fact, one serving of sweet potatoes contains 120% of your daily value of vitamin A, while one serving of carrots (about half of a cup) contains 50% of your dv.

Eat Those Veggies

If sweet potatoes and carrots aren’t your thing, there are a plethora of vegetables that are high in vitamin A. Red peppers contain 29% of your dv per serving, Kale contains 98%, and winter squash contains 127% of your recommended daily intake.

vegetables eye health

Here's the Scoop

While eating vegetables every day will not probably give you 20/20 vision, a healthy diet will reduce the risk of many diseases (including eye disease) and promote overall health and well-being.

Whatever vitamin A rich vegetable you fancy, eat up and know that your eyes (and the rest of your body) will thank you.

Seeing The World In a Different Color: 5 “Color Blind” Brothers

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Gordon, Gavin, Garret, Grant, & Garrison Davis

We all see the world through our own perspective, but for the Davis boys, their world is a completely different color.

The Davis boys are all red/green color deficient (the most common type of “color blindness”). Many people quickly assume that this means they are completely “color blind” and only see the world in black and white. However, most individuals with red-green color deficiency can see color, they just struggle to distinguish between different shades of similar colors.

Those with red/green color deficiency do not confuse the color red with the color green or vice versa (although in low lighting the colors can be difficult to differentiate). Rather, they struggle to differentiate maroon from red, or even a dark green from a dirty brown. Being color blind is not a serious condition, but it can have large implications if left undetected in children.

Causes of Color Deficiency

Color vision deficiency is usually a genetic condition, inherited by an X-linked recessive gene, which explains why boys are much more susceptible than girls. The Davis boys inherited their color deficient X chromosome from their mother, who is also red/green color deficient.

In some very rare cases, disease or medication can cause color deficiency as well.

Symptoms

Symptoms aren’t typically noticed until a child starts to learn the names of colors.  Even then, “quite often, people with red-green deficiency aren't aware of their problem because they've learned to see the "right" color,” the American Optometric Association says. “For example, tree leaves are green, so they call the color they see green.”

Early symptoms include using the wrong color when coloring in objects (blue leaves on a tree), reading issues when using colored pages or worksheets and struggling to separate items according to color.

colorblind trees

The Davis boys do not see a significant difference between the left and right side of this image.

Children who go through school with an undiagnosed color deficiency can struggle in school or even be misdiagnosed with a learning disability. Color vision issues may make it more difficult for a child to learn and read, which can lead to low self esteem. An early diagnosis is important in order to help set up your child for success in the classroom.

Because many learning materials rely on color coding, we recommend that parents schedule their child’s first eye exam with an optometrist before they start school.

Diagnosis

There are many tests available to screen for color blindness, but the most common is the Ishihara Plate test. Those who are red/green color deficient will not be able to see all of the numbers within the circle.

Our eye doctors will be able to effectively screen for color deficiency during a comprehensive eye exam.

ishihara test

People with deuteranopia can detect the 8, 9 and 16, but only see “random polka dots” on the other three plates

Davis Family Stories

With 6 out of the 9 members of the Davis family being color deficient, they have plenty of stories to share.

Diana tells of her experience in high school French class, when her teacher would quiz her on colors. “She would go around quizzing us on colors by pointing at articles of clothing people were wearing,” she says. “I could never tell what color it was, so I would just tell her that I didn't know! I knew my colors in French, but I wasn't sure what color she was pointing at. I felt it was better not to guess and get it wrong."

Diana looks back and laughs about it now, but at the time, being a girl with a color deficiency caused her some insecurity. "I didn’t know any other girls that were color deficient", she says, "and I was embarrassed to let it be known that I was".

Garret struggles to play certain board games, like Risk, when the game pieces are color coded.

“The biggest way red-green color deficiency affects our lives is in the careers we are permitted to pursue”, Gavin says, “For example, being an electrician, photographer or a pilot is extra challenging or even impossible. If things were different, I may have considered a career in aviation rather than medicine.”

Overall, the boys don’t feel that their vision affects their day to day life. They occasionally need help matching their clothes or reading a color coded chart, but for the most part, being color deficient isn’t something they think about.

The Davis boys might see the world a little differently than the rest of us, but to them, their world is still vibrant and full of color.

Eliminate Mask Fog With These 3 Hacks!

For those of us who are bespectacled, mask wearing can be a bit more challenging (cue the awkward fog that renders you nearly blind every time you exhale). But what if we told you that you can still wear your glasses and your mask at the same time without battling the fog? The solutions below might sound a little strange, but they work.

Tape Your Masktape 297806 1280


Operating room personnel know this trick well. Use athletic or medical tape to secure your mask across the bridge of your nose and the top of your cheeks. Word of caution, do not use duct tape!

Use Your Glasses to Seal the Top of Your Mask

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Pull your mask up just a wee bit higher and use the weight of your glasses to create a seal to block the flow of air. The efficacy of this trick will depend on the shape of your glasses (the large, thick frames tend to work best).

And if the three hacks above don’t appeal to you, contacts might just be the way to go for the next several months. For those who want to make the switch from glasses to contacts, our eye doctors specialize in contact lens fittings and are ready to help you make the transition.

Use Soap & Water to Keep the Fog at Bay

soap 4918272 1920

Grab your dish soap and a microfiber cloth, this trick takes a matter of seconds and is extremely efficient. Rub both sides of the lens with a drop of soap and then buff them with your microfiber cloth. The soap acts as a thin invisible shield, protecting your glasses from the condensation.

For those on the go, you can buy a commercial anti-fog spray to quickly spray on your lenses before masking up. Take note though, these types of spray typically don’t work best on anti-glare, anti-finger print, and anti-smudge coated lenses. Make sure to read the label before purchasing.

Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist: What’s the difference?

If you don’t know the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist, don’t fret. To many Americans, they both sound like a tongue twister!

The short answer?Optometrist Mill Creek

Optometrists are the primary care doctors of the eye, they focus on prescribing eyeglass/contact prescriptions, diagnosing and managing eye disease, and treating dry eye. They go to 4 years of optometry school and graduate with a doctorate in optometry.

Ophthalmologists are eye surgeons, they not only perform surgery on the eye, but also treat the more severe eye disease cases. Ophthalmologists go to medical school.

There are many similarities between the two professions, but also some important differences.

Let’s take a deeper dive by first discussing their educational paths.

Educational Path of Optometrists: 

Optometrists begin their training by completing a 4-year college degree. Most graduate with degrees in biology, chemistry or other scientific fields of study. Near the end of college, an aspiring optometrist will take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) and then apply to several of the 23 optometry schools in the United States.

Optometry school is 4 years dedicated to the study of the human eye. Optometrists are trained to diagnose and treat eye diseases with medication, corrective lenses and vision therapies.

At the end of optometry school, many optometrists decide to pursue further education by completing an optional, one-year, residency program. Examples of some optometric residency programs include vision therapy, sports vision, brain injury vision rehabilitation, etc.

After their training, optometrists may practice in a variety of practice settings including private and group practice.

Educational Path of Ophthalmologists:

Like optometrists, ophthalmologists begin their training by completing a 4-year college degree. Towards the end of their college career, aspiring ophthalmologists will take the Medical College Admission’s Test (MCAT) and apply to several of the 192+ M.D. or D.O. medical schools in the United States.

Mill Creek OpthalmologistMedical school is 4 years dedicated to the study of the entire human body. The first two years are dedicated towards didactic learning of the physiology, pathology and pharmacology of medicine. The third and fourth years are geared towards monthly rotations in various specialties (Family medicine, OBGYN, psychiatry, ophthalmology, etc.) where medical students learn medicine “at the bedside”.

Towards the end of medical school, an aspiring ophthalmologist will apply to an ophthalmology residency program. The first year is called a transition/preliminary year which is generally a year of internal medicine or general surgery. The next 3 years are specific to ophthalmology. During this time, ophthalmologists learn how to diagnose and manage eye disease and also perform surgery such as cataract, pterygium, LASIK, PRK, etc.

At the end of residency, ophthalmologists may decide to pursue further education by completing an optional fellowship in an area of their choice (Retina/vitreous, oculoplastics, cornea, etc.

At the end of training, ophthalmologists may practice in a variety of settings including private practice, group practice, inpatient care and more.

Side by Side Comparison

Optometrist Ophthalmologist
4 Years undergraduate degree (BS or BA) 4 Years undergraduate degree (BS or BA)
Standardized test: Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) Standardized test: Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
4 years optometry school 4 years medical school
*Optional* 1-year residency (Vision therapy, contact lens, ocular disease, etc.) 4 years ophthalmology residency
*Optional* 1-2 year fellowship (Retina/vitreous, Cornea, etc.)

 

What does an Optometrist & Ophthalmologist do?

Once fully trained, both optometrists and ophthalmologists are able to independently diagnose and treat eye disease. Optometrists however, are better trained in prescribing glasses and contact lenses, while ophthalmologists focus more on sight restoring surgeries and managing severe eye disease cases.

Mill Creek Eye DoctorOptometrists frequently work with ophthalmologists to provide comprehensive eye care for their mutual patients. Optometrists will refer their patients to opthalmologists for surgical or medical care of serious eye disease. Conversely, ophthalmologists will refer patients to optometrists for primary eye care, refractions, contact lenses, prescription eyeglass lenses, glasses fittings, and postsurgical care.

In addition to comprehensive eye exams for you and your family, our Mill Creek optometrists at Mill Creek Family Eye Center specialize in eye disease detection and treatment, contact lenses (including specialty fit contact lenses for eye disorders), myopia management, dry eye treatment, and post refractive surgery care. If surgery is needed, our office will refer you out to one of our many trusted ophthalmologist connections in the Mill Creek, Snohomish, Everett, & Lynwood area.