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Sand in the Eye? Here’s What to Do

child playing in sandEven a few small grains of sand in the eye can be incredibly uncomfortable. The good news? Our eyes are amazing and have a built in system for flushing out foreign objects.

In this article, we will cover how to remove sand from your eye, tips on how to remove sand from a child’s eye and when to see an eye doctor.

How to Get Sand from Eye

1. Blink several times and allow your tears to flush out the sand

Don’t panic, sand in the eye is not typically an emergency. First try to let your eyes take care of the sand naturally, by blinking several times and allowing your tears to wash the sand out.

2. Do NOT rub your eye

Rubbing your eyes when sand is in them can create a scratch on the surface of your eye (corneal abrasion) and can also cause an infection. Resist the urge to rub your eyes.

3. Remove contacts

Sand can get trapped behind your contacts, causing further irritation. Wash your hands and gently remove your contacts.

4. Flush Eyes with Water/Saline Solution

If there is a substantial amount of sand in your eyes, your tears might need a little boost. Flush your eyes out with clean water or saline solution while continuing to blink.

5. Lift your top eyelid over the lashes of your lower eyelid.

If you still feel particles in your eye, lift your top eyelid over the lashes of your lower eyelid. Your lower lashes will act as a broom, helping to sweep out any excess sand.

How to Get Sand from Child’s Eye

1. Clean around your child’s eye

Take a damp rag and clean around your child’s eye. This will prevent additional particles from coming in.

2. Flush out eye via water pan

Take a pan of lukewarm water and have your child place the side of their face in the pan while opening and closing their eyes several times.

3. Flush out eye with glass of water

For younger children, fill a glass with water. Tip your child’s face up and pour the water into the eye to flush out the sand. It is important for the eyelid to be open during this process. Another adult can help to gently hold your child’s eye open to ensure that water is able to get in.

Sand Stuck Behind Your Eyeball?

Many patients come to us worried that the sand has gotten lost behind their (or their child’s) eye. Luckily, this is physically impossible! The space behind the eyelid only goes back approximately 6 mm, so there is no way for anything to get stuck behind your eye.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Sand in the eye is not typically an emergency, but you should contact your doctor if the following occurs:

  • Your vision is not normal, even after your eyes have been flushed out
  • It still feels like there is sand in your eye 2+ hours after removal
  • You can’t close your eye
  • Your eye bleeds
  • Yellow or green pus comes out of your eye hours/days after you had sand in your eye

At Mill Creek Family Eye Center, our eye doctors are trained in eye emergencies and can assist you if the sand in your eye becomes a problem. Our doctors are on call and ready to assist if you have any eye emergency, no matter the time or day. Call 425-481-4440 to schedule to speak with one of our eye doctors.

Why Does My Eye Keep Twitching?

eye twitchYou get up to speak in a meeting, then it kicks in. That annoying eyelid twitch. It always manages to resurface during the most inopportune moments.

What causes the eyelid to twitch?

Eyelid twitching (also called myokymia) is incredibly common. This muscle spasm only affects the eyelid and typically only involves either the upper or lower lid. It is rare for both eyes to have an eyelid twitch at the same time (this is called benign essential blepharospasm).

Eyelid twitching is often caused or aggravated by the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Caffeine intake
  • Eye strain
  • Dry or irritated eyes
  • Alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Air pollution

Researchers have found that having certain genes may also contribute eye twitching.

Other less common causes include:

  • Reactions to certain mental health medications
  • Hemifacial spasm
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Brain damage from stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease

These causes usually have many associated symptoms.

How to treat an eyelid twitch? relaxation

Eyelid twitching will typically go away within a few days or weeks. There are no immediate cures for an eyelid twitch but rest, relaxation, stress relief and reducing your caffeine intake will help.

Symptoms of eye twitching will typically go away during sleep or if the individual is concentrating on a difficult task.

The majority of individuals with an eyelid twitch will not need to see a doctor. If the eyelid twitch persists for several weeks, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any underlying causes. Doctors may recommend botox injections or certain medications to help treat a chronic eyelid twitch.

Is Crossing Your Eyes Harmful?

man crossing his eyes“Watch out, if you cross your eyes they might get stuck that way!” Many parents tell this to their children, but is it true?

While crossing your eyes for long periods of time might cause eye strain, they will not become permanently crossed or damaged. You can chalk this phrase up as a wives tale.

There is an eye disorder however, called strabismus, where the eyes do not look in the exact same direction as each other (often appearing crossed). Read below to learn all about this condition.

Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)

Strabismus is a condition in which both eyes do not look at the same place at the same time. It typically occurs in people who have weak eye muscle control or are very farsighted, but it can be caused by underlying medical conditions.

According to the American Optometric Association, “Strabismus usually develops in infants and young children, most often by age 3. But older children and adults can also develop the condition. People often believe that a child with strabismus will outgrow the condition. However, this is not true. In fact, strabismus may get worse without treatment. A doctor of optometry should examine any child older than 4 months whose eyes do not appear to be straight all the time.”


Each eye has six different muscles surrounding it that work together to help them both focus on the same object.

When an individual has strabismus, these muscles have a hard time working together. Consequently, one eye will focus on the object while the other will turn in a different direction.

This causes the brain to see two images. In children, the brain will often ignore the image from the weak eye, leading them to also develop a “lazy eye”.

Strabismus can develop due to weak eye muscles, family history, refractive errors, or other underlying medical conditions.

In many children with strabismus, the cause is unknown.


baby wearing eye patch

A child wearing an eye patch as part of his treatment for strabismus and “lazy eye”

When detected and treated early, treatment for strabismus is extremely effective. Your optometrist will help to determine which treatment plan best fits with you or your child’s unique case.

Treatment options for children and adults can include the following:

  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses: With corrective lenses, the eyes will not have to work as hard and may remain straight.
  • Prism lenses: Special lenses that are thicker on one side than the other. The prisms bend the light entering the eye and help reduce the amount of turning the eye has to do.
  • Vision therapy: There are many exercises that can help to improve eye coordination and focus.
  • Patching: Patching is done if a child develops ”lazy eye” on top of strabismus.
  • Medication: Eye drops and ointments are sometimes used with or in place of surgery.
  • Eye muscle surgery (rare)

At Mill Creek Family Eye Center, our eye doctors specialize in the treatment of strabismus. They will help you to tailor a treatment plan right for your case.

The Causes & Treatment of Lazy Eye

girl wearing eye patch and laughing

Credit: Huffington Post

Lazy eye (amblyopia) affects around 3 out of 100 children, and occurs when one eye does not develop properly during childhood.This results in poor vision and depth perception. If untreated, it can lead to functional blindness in adulthood.

Causes of Amblyopia

A child can be born with amblyopia, or it can develop in childhood. When a child has amblyopia, their brain will start to “turn off” the bad eye and start to primarily use the good eye.

Amblyopia can develop as a side effect of other vision conditions. These conditions include:


Strabismus occurs when each eye is pointed in a different direction. One eye may be turned in, out, up or down while the other points straight ahead. In order to avoid seeing double, a child’s brain may ignore the image from the eye that is not pointed straight ahead, causing lazy eye.

Refractive Errors

When a child is nearsighted, farsighted, or has an astigmatism, they have a refractive error. If a child has a refractive error that is significantly worse in one eye, the brain sometimes turns that eye “off” and starts to primarily use the good eye, causing lazy eye.


While this is rare, some children are born with a cataract (cloudy eyes). This can cause lazy eye in some children.

Droopy Eyelid

A droopy eyelid can block a child’s vision, which can sometimes cause them to develop a lazy eye.


When caught early, amblyopia is very treatable. Children best respond to treatment before the age of 7, although research has shown that children from 7-17 still have good results. The following treatment strategies are used to treat lazy eye:

Corrective Eyewear

Glasses can help to correct refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness & astigmatism), which can cause lazy eye.

Patching one eye

In order to stimulate the weaker eye, a child wears an eye patch over the strong eye for several hours each day.

Atropine eye drops

Atropine drops relax the muscles in the eyes, causing blurred vision. When used to treat lazy eye, the atropine drops are only used on one eye (the stronger eye). Like an eye patch, this causes the weak eye to work harder.


If a child has cataracts or droopy eyelids, surgery may be necessary in order to treat the cause of the lazy eye. Your eye doctor will help to determine if surgical intervention is necessary.

If your child is being treated for amblyopia, it is important for them to be monitored closely by their eye doctor. 25% of children treated for lazy eye will have a recurrence of lazy eye. When this happens, treatment must start again.

At Mill Creek Family Eye Center, we specialize in pediatric vision disorders, including lazy eye. Our optometrists will help to create a specialized treatment plan, backed by the latest research, and ensure that your child receives cutting edge treatment.

Are Eyelash Extensions Safe?

eyelash extensions safety

Eyelash extensions are in right now, and for good reason. They look great and cut down on the time you have to spend doing your makeup. But are eyelash extensions safe?

The quick answer?

Yes, but they do pose a couple of risks.

Before getting eyelash extensions, we advise our eye care patients to do the following:

1. Chose a trusted professional

If applied incorrectly, the fibers from the eyelash extensions can point down and scratch the surface of your eye. Find an aesthetician or another professional with extensive experience with lash extensions. Read their reviews, and make sure that they have proper sanitation guidelines in place.

An important side note: if you wear glasses, it is important to ensure that the professional picks the right length so that they don’t hit your lenses.

2. Make sure you know what your lashes and glue are made of

The FDA does not regulate lash glue or extensions. Lashes are often made of synthetic materials which include nylon, silk, or mink fibers. A good number of individuals are allergic to mink fibers materials, which is why it is important to check with the salon to see what type of lashes they carry.

The ingredients in the glue can also cause an allergic reaction. If you are concerned that you might have an allergic reaction to either of these products, you can test it on your forearm. Reactions can occur up to 24 hours after contact with your skin.

3. Clean your lashes well

Ever gone a week without washing your hair? That same oil that coats your hair also coats your eyelashes. Artificial lashes can get dirty and trap dust, pollen and dead skin cells. Without regular washing, you are at risk for infections (including styes). Your salon professional will instruct you how to best care and wash your lashes, but we recommend washing them when you wash your face (ideally at least once per day).

Any beauty enhancement comes with risks, but eyelash extensions are relatively safe if you follow the guidelines above. Talk to your eye doctor if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Back to School: How an Undiagnosed Vision Problem Could Impact Your Child’s Learning

back to school

Back to school season is a busy and exciting time. There are school supplies to buy, orientation to attend, and a new routine to adjust to. Parents shouldn’t forget to add an eye exam with their local optometrist to the top of their back to school checklist.

Undiagnosed Vision problems Can Hinder Learning

According to the Vision Learning Center of America, 80% of learning in the classroom is visual. Undetected vision problems may hinder a child’s ability to learn and develop.

Another staggering statistic?

1 in 4 children have an undetected vision problem in the United States, according to the American Optometric Association.

A child’s vision is still developing, and is prone to change, even throughout the school year. This is why it is important for parents to have their child’s vision checked annually before the start of a new school year.

Symptoms of Vision Issues in Children

When a child has a vision related condition, learning can be difficult and stressful. Many are even misdiagnosed with conditions like ADHD.

Children are typically unaware that they have a vision condition, and try to complete their work (just with lower comprehension & efficiency).

Common Signs that Your Child Has a Vision Problem:

  • Headaches
  • Complaints of discomfort and fatigue
  • Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading and other close activities
  • Covering one eye
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • Holding reading materials close to the face
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Losing place when reading
  • Difficulty remembering what he or she read

Credit: American Optometric Association

Myopia on the Rise in Children

The number of myopia (nearsightedness) cases in children has sharply risen in the past decade, and is one of the largest problems impacting children’s vision in the U.S. In the U.S. 40% of children are already myopic (over 14 million children). This number is estimated to be 50% by 2050.

Why the drastic rise in myopia ? Experts believe that a global decrease in time spent outdoors coupled with an exponential rise in screen time is to blame.

Myopia in children will progress until around the age of 20, when the eye stops growing.

Due to the progressive nature of the condition in children, it is vital that they have regular eye appointments and a treatment plan in place to slow the progression. This is another reason eye doctors encourage annual eye exams for children.

School Vision Screenings vs. Eye Exams

While it’s tempting to rely on vision screenings provided by schools, these superficial visual acuity tests can identify only a limited number of eyesight problems. A child can have 20/20 vision and still have vision issues relating to eye focusing, eye tracking, and eye coordination (issues that a vision screening will not catch).

Only a comprehensive eye exam conducted by an eye doctor can accurately diagnose and address a wide range of problems related to vision and eye health.

Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam

At Mill Creek Family Eye Center, our optometrists specialize in pediatric eye exams and myopia management. Let us help you set your child up for a year of successful learning.

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.


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 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.