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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

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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.

The Health Benefit of Tears

Did you know that your body makes approximately 15-30 gallons of tears each year? That’s almost 250 pounds of tears!

Many people don’t realize that their body produces three different types of tears: basal tears, reflex tears, and emotional tears. Each type has a specific role and special healing properties.tears

Basal tears (continuous tears) are in your eyes all the time. They are there to not only lubricate your eye, but protect your cornea from infection. Think of them as your eyes’ invisible shield, protecting you against the rest of the world.

Reflex tears help your eye to clear out harmful irritants, like smoke, exhaust, onion fumes, etc. You can’t control the onset of these tears, they are a reflex (hence their name). The cool thing about reflex tears? They can contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes.

Emotional tears are produced in response to various emotional states. Some individuals cry when they feel sad, afraid, or even joyful. Scientists have recently discovered that emotional tears have several health benefits. They contain stress hormones that get excreted through the body when crying, and several studies show that crying stimulates natural endorphins (nature’s painkiller). So the next time you’re feeling blue, don’t be afraid to have a good cry.

If a person’s body does not produce enough tears, or if there is an imbalance in the makeup of the actual tear itself, they often suffer from dry eyes. There are a multitude of treatment options to manage dry eyes, but many people find artificial tears to help alleviate some of their symptoms. If you suffer from dry eyes, talk with one of our eye doctors to set up a treatment plan.

Tears are vital to the health and well being of our eyes. So the next time you chop an onion and tear up, thank your tears for protecting you.

Blue Light Glasses: Helpful or All Hype?

Ready for a mind blowing statistic? Over 60% of individuals spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a screen. That means that a lot of people are spending almost 2 FULL DAYS of their week in front of a screen.

Are there health repercussions to that much screen time? two friends gaming on playstation and television

The short answer? Yes – in a multitude of ways.

Digital eye strain can cause headaches, blurred or double vision, physical or mental fatigue, dry eye, neck pain, shoulder pain, and sensitivity to light.

Screens can cause digital eye strain, but what about all the hype around the negative effects of blue light? Is blue light as terrible for you as you hear?

The short answer? The research is still ongoing.

Here is what we know

We know that light regulates our circadian rhythm, and blue light exposure (especially at night) suppresses the secretion of melatonin. Excessive blue light exposure is thought to result in disrupted sleep, which can take a toll on your health.

New research also suggests that overexposure to blue light may contribute to vision problems such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

So should you purchase a pair of blue light blocking glasses?49115881052 60ef03bc60

It depends. At Mill Creek Family Eye Center, we generally don’t recommend individuals to get a pair of glasses that are exclusively “blue light blocking”. Instead, we encourage our patients to consider purchasing computer glasses with blue light blocking
lenses.

Computer glasses reduce eye strain by adjusting the focus slightly so that your eyes feel like they are focusing on something further away. These glasses are proven to reduce the symptoms of digital eye strain. Computer glasses, coupled with a blue light blocking feature, are a great option for those who spend a good chunk of their work or school day at a computer.

But what if you don’t spend a lot of time at the computer, but still want the blue blocking feature? At Mill Creek Family Eye, we can customize your normal glasses to include a blue blocking lens.

It’s important to note however, that all blue blocking lenses are NOT created equal.

Sadly, the majority of the blue light blocking glasses on the market block out little to no blue light. Dr. Davis uses a blue light in the video below to test different blue light glasses and see which of them actually work.

The results? The only blue light blocking lens that we found to significantly block out blue light was the Shamir Blue Zero lenses.

Mill Creek Family Eyewear now carries Shamir Blue Zero lenses. Our in house eyewear lab is able to handcraft and customize your glasses to fit your needs and lifestyle.

In conclusion, the negative effects of blue light and the efficacy of blue light blocking glasses are still being researched. What is known? Excessive screen time is dangerous to your eyes and your overall health. Computer glasses (with a blue light blocking lens) is a great option to help combat the negative effects of digital eye strain. You can also customize your personal glasses to include blue light blocking lenses if interested.

If you are like the average American, you spend a good chunk of your day in front of a screen. At your next eye exam, consult with our eye doctors to see if computer glasses or blue light blocking lenses would be a good fit for you.

Mill Creek Family Eye Summer Bucket List!

Summer in Washington is what us Washingtonians live for, and Snohomish county is full of family friendly things to see and do. We’ve asked our patient’s and the community to help us put together the ultimate family summer bucket list so that your family can enjoy all that our community has to offer!

1.) Picnic and play at Martha Lake (Lynwood): Martha Lake has a little something for everyone. Whether you’d like to picnic in the park, play on the jungle gym, take a quick dip in the lake, or take a romantic stroll on the boardwalk, Martha Lake is a must do for the summer.

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The Bat-mobile at Funko HQ

2.) Tour Funko Headquarters (Downtown Everett): Escape into a wonderland of pop culture, action figures, and bobble heads. At Funko headquarters, you can sit in a life-size Bat-mobile with Batman, take a photo with a giant Hagrid bobble head, walk across the drawbridge of the Disney castle, and even create your own custom Funko! After you are done at Funko, you might consider checking out the comic store right across the street in downtown Everett.

3.) Heather Lake Hike (An hour outside of Everett): According to the Washington Trails Association, Heather Lake is “the perfect place to take children on their first ‘real’ hike”. The trail is short, but is steep enough to give your child a challenge and a feeling of accomplishment when they reach the pristine lake. If you have older children, Mount Pilchuck (a neighboring trial) is a little more arduous and boasts stunning panoramic views of the valley.

4.) Bike the Bothell Landing Trail (Bothell): This 4 mile trail follows the beautiful Sammamish river and is the perfect place for a bike ride. Bring some bread along and you might get a chance to feed some of the local ducks as well!

Path 2

Meadowdale Beach Hike

5.) Flip Out at Elevated Sportz Trampoline Park (Mill Creek): From trampolines, to a ninja course, a dodgeball court, and a laser maze, you can bet that you and your family will have a great time at Elevated Sportz (plus jumping on trampolines totally counts as exercise).

6.) Meadowdale Beach Hike (Lynwood): We know we already posted a hike, but you can’t truly enjoy Washington in the summer without exploring the outdoors. This hike is a quick, family friendly, only a 2.1 mile roundtrip, and boasts beautiful beach views. Consider going in the morning with a thermos of hot cocoa to watch the sunrise- it’s breathtaking we promise!

7.) Visit Flower World (Maltby): Peruse through 15 acres of flowers and plants at one of the largest plant nurseries on the west coast. After you are done, you might consider stopping at the Matlby Cafe and getting one of their iconic giant cinnamon rolls!

8.) Go Antiquing in Snohomish: Snohomish isn’t called the “Antique Capitol of the Northwest” for nothing. Grab some ice cream at the iconic Snoqualmie Ice Cream (family owned shop that serves all-natural organic ice cream) and see what treasures you can find!

9.) Hit Up The Petting Zoo at Forest Park (Everett): Get a taste of life on the farm at the animal farm in Forest Park. The farm has a wide variety of animals including rabbits, ducks, pigs, goats and ponies and a multitude of educational programs. Oh, and entrance is completely FREE!

777 Assembly Line 2

Future of Flight Boeing Tour

10.) Take the Boeing Future of Flight Tour (Mukilteo): The Boeing Future of Flight tour is a one of a kind opportunity to watch 747s, 777s, or 787 Dreamliners be assembled right before your very eyes! It is the only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant in North America and is an absolute MUST DO for Snohomish County locals. You can explore the interactive exhibits and displays in the Aviation Center; then take a 90-minute tour of the Boeing plant (where you witness the planes being assembled). If you have tiny tots, make sure that they are 4ft or taller (there is a minimum height requirement of 4 feet (122 cm) for children participating).

 

So what are you waiting for? Go out and enjoy the incredible attractions our local community has to offer this summer with your family. And when you take a break from your exploring, let us help you and your family see the beauty around you more clearly! Call today to schedule your annual eye exam or to schedule an appointment with one of our optometrists to take care of your eye care needs.

 

About Us: Since we opened our doors in 1992, Mill Creek Family Eye Center has taken pride in providing personalized, state of the art eye care to the families in Mill Creek, Everett, Bothell, Lynwood and Snohomish surrounding areas.

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Progressive Myopia: When Your Child’s Vision Keeps Getting Worse

What Is Progressive Myopia?

Nearsightedness or myopia is one of the most prevalent eye disorders worldwide and its incidence is increasing. In fact by 2050, myopia is projected to affect half of the world’s population!

Many children diagnosed with nearsightedness (myopia) experience a consistent worsening of their vision as they grow into adolescence. This condition can be so aggressive that for some, each time they take their child to the eye doctor for a vision checkup, their prescription gets higher. 

This is called progressive myopia and can be a serious condition for many children now and in the future. Not only is there a financial burden and inconvenience associated with having to replace eyeglasses on a regular basis, but high myopia is a risk factor for many eye diseases later in life such as retinal detachment, early onset cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. 

What Causes Progressive Myopia?

Myopia is a refractive error that happens when the eye focuses incoming light in front of the retina, rather than directly on it, resulting in blurred distance vision. While an exact cause of progressive myopia is not known, most research indicates that a combination of environmental and genetic factors trigger the condition. 

First of all, there is evidence that a family history of nearsightedness is a contributing factor. Additionally, spending a lot of time indoors may play a role in myopia development, as studies show that children who spend more time outside have less incidence of myopia. Lastly, near point stress, which can be caused from looking at a near object for an extended period of time, can prompt the eye to grow longer and result in myopia. Several eye doctors recommend following the 20-20-20 rule when using digital devices (stopping every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds) to reduce near point stress caused by computer use. 

What Can Be Done To Prevent or Treat Myopia?

There are several treatments that have been shown to slow the progression of myopia.

Orthokeratology (ortho-k):

Also known as corneal reshaping, this treatment uses rigid gas permeable contact lenses that are worn while the patient sleeps to reshape the cornea, which is the clear, front part of the eye. During the day, the patient is usually able to see clearly, glasses-free. In addition to allowing glasses-free vision during the day, this treatment has been shown to reduce the progression of myopia in many children. 

Distance Center Multifocal Contact Lenses:

This treatment uses distance center (which means the area for seeing at a distance is in the center of the lens) multifocal soft contact lenses to provide clear vision and slow the progression of myopia. The lenses are worn as normal contact lenses during the day.

Atropine Drops:

Atropine drops are a daily-use prescription eye drop that has been shown to reduce myopia progression. It can be used alone or in combination with ortho-k or multifocal contact lenses. 

Additional Myopia Treatments:

While these treatments are available in all of North America, some countries offer additional options that are approved for myopia control. For example, in Canada, ZeissTM MyoVision glasses that have an innovative lens curvature design are available to help reduce the rate of myopia progression. Additionally some doctors in Canada offer Coopervision MiSight® lenses, which are 1-day contact lenses that are worn during the daytime. These contacts have a multifocal lens design with distance centre and near surround that is specifically designed for children. 

Myopia & Your Child

If your child’s vision keeps getting worse, it’s more than an annoyance – it can be a serious risk factor for their eye health and vision in the future. The best strategy for myopia control depends on the child and the severity of the case, and requires consultation with an experienced eye doctor in order to determine the best solution. If your child wears glasses, make his or her vision a priority; schedule an eye exam to ensure stable vision and healthy eyes. 

 

Exercise and Your Eye Health

Regular exercise is an essential component of overall health and wellness. It is proven that exercise reduces sickness and disease; it increases strength, immunity, and mental health; and it also helps regulate bodily functions and maintain a healthy weight. Research shows that exercise can lower our risk of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, as well as other eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Whereas, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of these diseases and of vision loss, studies show that even moderate exercise at least three times a week can improve the prognosis of the above-mentioned chronic illnesses and reduce the risks of developing vision threatening eye diseases. 

Inactivity is an even higher risk factor if you have other co-factors for developing eye diseases, including: a family history, previous eye injury or surgery, diabetes, high blood pressure or very high myopia. A combination of healthy lifestyle habits which include regular exercise and a nutritious diet and tending to your mental and emotional well-being can reduce these risks significantly.

Tips for Incorporating Physical Activity Into Your Day

  1. Make it a priority. Schedule your exercise time into your day as if it is a non-negotiable appointment. Find the time of day that works best – for some that is early morning and for others late at night. Work your way up to a half hour at least three times a week. 
  2. Be realistic. You don’t need to become a fitness expert to experience the benefits of exercise. Walking, yoga, swimming, even dancing around the house are all options for staying fit. Find a type of exercise that you love so you will enjoy working this habit into your life.
  3. Just move. Find ways to move your body throughout your day. Park your car a little further away from the mall entrance, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk or bike to work. Remember, every little bit of movement helps.
  4. Find something you enjoy. Often finding the right exercise is a good stress reliever, and reducing stress will also reduce risk of many chronic diseases.
  5. It’s never too late. Exercise for the elderly can be a challenge especially during the cold winter months, when many seniors can’t get out of the house due to the weather. Even walking up and down the stairs in the house or following an exercise video can be helpful to keep from being sedentary.

Protection & Prevention

If you are exercising outdoors or playing contact sports, make sure to protect your eyes with sunglasses or sports safety glasses to ensure your eye health and safety. 

Regular exercise can significantly decrease your risks of certain eye conditions but you still have to ensure that you visit your eye doctor for regular exams. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to ensure your vision and your eyes are healthy and to catch any possible problems as early as possible.

Eye health and disease prevention are just two of the many health and wellness benefits you gift yourself when you make exercise a regular part of your lifestyle. Speak to your doctor if you have any health issues that need to be considered. At any age or level of physical fitness, you can find some form of exercise that works for you. 

 

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.