Patient care at Vista Eye Care is focused on preventative eye care –it’s our founding principle and is prominent in our Mission Statement! Our thorough annual check-ups are centered around the concept that eye disease can often be prevented, and that knowing how to prevent disease is better than waiting for disease to start affecting eye health and vision. We present here our top seven patient questions asked about prevenative eye care. Let’s explore them here:
How can I prevent macular degeneration?
According to the National Eye Institute, macular degeneration affects more than 1.75 million individuals in the United States. Due to the aging population in the United States, this number will increase to almost 3 million by 2020. This terrible disease affects the central visual field (the part of vision used to recognize faces and to read). Studies have shown that a patient’s susceptibility to acquiring macular degeneration is related their macular pigment density. Macular pigmentation is clinically known as Macular Pigment Optical Density, or “MPOD.” Patients with lots of macular pigment are thought to get macular degeneration later in life, if at all, while patients with less macular pigment are thought to get the disease earlier. At Vista Eye Care, we test patients age 30 and up to determine their MPOD. Patients with high MPOD’s generally have a lower risk for acquiring macular degeneration, though patients with low MPOD’s (below 0.50 on a 0.00 to 1.00 scale) are encouraged to raise their score with dietary supplementation. Those patients with lower scores can also take preventative action to block harmful short wavelength lights (ultraviolet and blue light) from causing damage to macula.
What causes dry eye?
According to the National Health and Wellness Survey, 16.4 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with dry eye, and it is believed that many millions more have the disease but have not yet been diagnosed. While many environmental factors affect dry eye, it is believed that as many as 90% of dry eye cases are due to the chronic, progressive inflammation and obstruction of oil glands in the eyelids. These oil glands, called Meibomian glands, are responsible for contributing a thin oil layer to the tearfilm which acts to protect the tears against evaporation and prevent desiccation of the ocular surface. Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) results when oil becomes trapped in the glands. We screen patients that complain of dryness, patients over 30 years of age, and contact lens wearers for MGD. For those patients with mild to moderate MGD, we perform a purpose-driven exam called an Ocular Surface Disease Examination to determine if there is something that can be done to save the glands. Often times, in-office treatment (such as LipiFlow) can help treat MGD, and prevent extreme eye dryness and discomfort.
What is the air-puff test for?
Everyone knows about the “air-puff” test that we all get each eye. That test measures intraocular pressure which is one of the most important eye health attributes that our eye doctors monitor. When an eye’s pressure increases, that raises a red flag for glaucoma concerns. Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects the peripheral retina first, but over time can cause complete blindness. While glaucoma can happen at any age, the risk for glaucoma increases as a person ages. According to the National Institute of Health, 1.9% of patients 40 years of age and older in the United States are affected by glaucoma. There are many different ways to measure intraocular pressure including the air-puff test (also known as non-contact tonometry, or NCT). If you are freaked out by the airpuff test, feel free to ask our staff for an alternate testing method. We can also test your eyes using a method called “i-Care.” This technique can accurately measure your intraocular pressures without the need for eye drops or puffs of air.
What is OPTOS retinal imaging?
We have all of our patients who are old enough to sit for the test (typically about 4 years of age and up) sit for retinal imaging called optomap®. Optomap® is a painless image acquisition process that utilizes visible light to collect data about the health of your retina. What makes this image valuable is the wide field of view that we are obtain to obtain in a single image. Optomap® images are nearly 200 degrees in size meaning that the images capture a tremendous amount of information about your eye health. Images capture data on your blood vessel health, macular health, optic nerve appearance, and peripheral retina appearance. For those patients at risk for retinal disease, such as patients with glaucoma, glaucoma suspects, patients with diabetes, or patients with high amounts of nearsightedness, the optomap® image helps our doctors rule out retinal disease. For patients with healthy eyes, a yearly optomap® image provides a high resolution assessment of a healthy retina which can be extremely valuable should any future eye disease manifest.
How often should I get an eye exam?
It almost goes without saying, but we will mention it here! One of the top ways to prevent eye disease is to have regular eye care! There are so many diseases that can sneak up on a patient without symptoms. These include diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, glaucoma, corneal disease, MGD, and keratoconus. It is advantageous to identify each of these diseases early, though all of these diseases can present without initial symptoms. Our eye doctors recommend that all patients receive eye exams each year to rule out any changes with their eye health. Appointments with your optometrist here at Vista Eye Care also provide an important opportunity to make sure your vision is as clear as it can be for your work and hobbies.
When do kids need to visit the eye doctor?
Just as regular eye care can be a crucial component of preventative eye care, early eye exams are equally as important. Amazingly, only 15% of preschool children have received an eye exam even though vision conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism are prevalent. Many eye conditions, such as amblyopia, can largely be prevented entirely if a child receives early-life eye care. Vista Eye Care is a proud participant in the American Optometric Association’s InfantSEE program which promotes eye exams in children age 6-12 months. This eye is exam is generally easy on the child, and gives the parent and doctor the peace of mind that the child’s eyes and vision are in a great position to develop normally.
What information do I need to know to keep my eyes healthy?
We pride ourselves in taking the time to educate our patients about what we have learned about their eyes and how they can prevent eye disease and vision loss in the future. Sometimes this is our doctors taking the time to explain what a low macular pigment score indicates, or how a family history of eye disease might be expected to affect them in the future. Sometimes it is just explaining why we would have concern with a recently identified trend of increasing intraocular pressure. We believe the greatest component of preventative eye care is education – knowing what you can do to prevent eye disease in the future to help assure a lifetime of healthy eyes and great vision.
Please call our office today at (303) 450-2020 to schedule an annual comprehensive eye and vision examination for yourself or a family member, or use the button below to conveniently schedule your exam online!