Preventing Eye Disease Before it Affects Your Vision!

Macular pigment testing is part of our annual comprehensive eye and vision examination for patients 30 years of age and older. This testing allows us to determine your risk factor for development of macular degeneration.

Preventative eye care is at the cornerstone of Vista Eye Care’s Mission.  Preventative eye care centers around identifying and stopping eye disease before it affects eye health and vision.  The key to understanding how eye disease can affect the eyes is to learn about the symptoms of disease, understand how these diseases affect eye health, and then appreciate the preventative steps you can take to stop eye disease from affecting your own eyes and vision.  The eye is unique in that even very small amounts of disease can result in a dramatic decrease of vision.  Many diseases first present with these symptoms.

Eye and Vision Symptoms Reported by Patients:

  • Blurred Vision– This may be caused by cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eye, corneal disease, and diabetic retinopathy among others.  Refractive error (i.e. your glasses prescription), can also fluctuate over time.  Therefore, nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia (needing reading glasses) can change with age and result in visual blur.
  • Dry Eye– This sometimes presents as a gritty, sandy feeling in the eyes. Some patients even remark that they feel like they have something in their eyes.  Often times the eye will be blurred between blinks.
  • Watery Eye – The eyes often water because the surface of the cornea is dry.  This can result from meibomitis, in-turned lids or lashes, or growths on the eye known as a pinguecula or a pterygium. If the eye produces tears, but those tears don’t adequately cover the cornea as they are supposed to, the body will over-produce these poor-quality tears resulting in watery eyes.
  • Central Vision Blur– This often presents as the inability to recognize faces, or difficulty reading.  This is commonly associated with macular degeneration or other macular disease.
  • Glare– With symptoms of glare, headlights lose their sharp focus and patients complain of starbursts in their night vision.  The common culprits here are cataracts and dry eye.
  • Visual Floaters – These can be caused by serious retinal disease, or a relatively benign change to the fluid at the back of the eye known as a posterior vitreous detachment.  Symptoms range from mild annoyance to serious vision defects.  To be sure this condition doesn’t require immediate treatment to preserve your eye health, you should be seen immediately by an eye care professional.
  • Flashes of Light – If you experience flashes of light in your vision, this is considered an ocular emergency and a dilated eye exam is needed to rule out a retinal detachment or a retinal tear.
  • Eye Pain – Eye pain can be the sign of many different issues ranging from dry eye, to optic neuritis brought on by multiple sclerosis.  Any patient with eye pain should be immediately seen by an eye care professional.

Our state-of-the-art eye care facility in Thornton, Colorado is ready to help you achieve your goal of healthy eyes and great vision!

Review of Eye Diseases

  • Cataracts– When the natural internal lens of the eye (known as the “crystalline lens”) gets clouded, you are essentially looking out of a dirty windshield.  No amount of glasses correction or eye drops can change your vision when you have a dense enough cataract.  The procedure to remove cataracts is generally safe and effective, though it is a good idea to wait until your cataracts affect your daily life significantly before electing to undergo the surgery.  Cataracts require surgery to remove them, though this surgery is generally considered very safe and effective.
  • Macular Degeneration– Oxidative damage builds up at the most visually-sensitive part of the retina, the macula.  This results in problems reading, recognizing faces, and driving. Side vision is generally unaffected.  Treatment may include monitoring, high-dose antioxidant dietary supplementation, laser surgeries, and eye injections.
  • Glaucoma– This disease results in side vision loss related to the internal pressure of the eye.  Most forms of glaucoma have a gradual onset and early diagnosis is the key to preventing functional vision loss.  Glaucoma treatment is usually possible with topical medications, though other forms of surgery are available to prevent vision loss from this common eye disease.  Because most patients with glaucoma don’t know they have it, it is important to identify this disease early before it robs the patient of vision. Vision that is lost to glaucoma is permanently lost and cannot be recovered.
  • Diabetes– The leading cause of adult blindness in the United States. Diabetes can cause bleeding and swelling of the retina, early cataracts, and is thought to complicate glaucoma.  Treatment of this disease centers around systemic health management, and getting blood sugar under control is a must.  To address diabetic retinopathy specifically, there are a host of laser and scalpel surgeries that are aimed at stabilizing the vision loss from this disease.  Surgery is typically only initiated for severe forms of this disease, and careful, regular monitoring of the retinal health is important to maintain good vision.
  • Other Retinal Disease– Retinal holes, tears, and detachments should ideally be diagnosed and treated early.  Warning signs include flashes of light, and floaters in the patient’s vision. Because of the severity of these diseases, time is of the essence and these patients must be seen by an eye care professional as soon as possible.
  • Dry Eye – An estimated 26 million Americans suffer from dry eye.  Given that the cornea is the most sensitive part of the body, dry eye needs to be recognized as a serious disease that warrants prompt, effective treatment. Eye drops, or artificial tears, can provide relief in some patients, while more severe cases may need prescribed anti-inflammatory medications, ointments, or tear duct plugs.  For those types of dryness that result from lower tear quality, expression of the Meibomian glands (the oil glands in the lids) can providing lasting relief of dry eye symptoms.  The most effective, and long-lasting treatment for this “meibomitis” is an in-office lid procedure known as Lipiflow. It is always beneficial to identify meibomitis early in order to prevent permanent scarring of the lids.
  • Pink Eye – This is a large set of diseases that could refer to dry eye, an infection (caused by viruses, bacteria, amoebas, or fungi), eye allergies, or a foreign object in the eye.  Identifying the cause of the pink eye early allows our eye doctors to start effective treatment.
  • Keratoconus – A corneal disease that can result in blurred vision, even with glasses correction.  Keratoconic eyes, if identified early, can benefit from a surgical procedure called corneal cross-linking which can slow the progression of the disease.

Preventative Eye Care

  • Regular Eye Care– While many eye diseases have symptoms that are easily noticed, some cause symptoms that change slowly over time, or symptoms that don’t occur until late in the disease process.  Cataracts blur vision slowly and patients often don’t realize how bad their vision is because their vision didn’t just get bad over night.  Glaucoma isn’t generally noticed by the patient until late in the disease –when it is more challenging to treat. Retinal disease is much easier to treat in its early stages.  Part of your annual comprehensive eye and vision examination at Vista Eye Care is dilating the pupils, checking the health at the front and back of the eye, checking the lens for cataracts, measuring your eye pressures, and checking your vision.  This thorough eye care regimen allows our eye doctors to identify disease as early as possible so we can take steps to keep your eyes healthy and your vision great.
  • Eye Care for All Ages – It is important to appreciate that eye care is needed for all ages. Many of the diseases discussed here are preventable, and having guidance on how to prevent those diseases when you are younger can prevent or reduce the severity of disease when you are older.  The American Optometric Association recommends children be seen at 6-12 months of age at what is known as an “InfantSEE” eye exam.  The doctors at Vista Eye Care generally recommend yearly eye exams for all adults, and certainly annual eye exams for those patients over the age of 60.
  • Nutrition– Cataracts and macular degeneration both respond well to high-antioxidant diets.  The AREDS study demonstrated that high antioxidant supplement intake positively affected the outcomes of those patients with mid to late stage macular degeneration.  This is generally translated to our recommending that patients take vitamin supplementation if a patient has high risk factors, or early signs of macular disease.  We test the macular pigmentation of our patients over the age of 30 to determine their risk factors for developing macular degeneration later in life.  For those patients with specific risk, a dietary supplementation is prescribed.
  • Sun Protection– Cataracts and macular degeneration both are related to tissue oxidation, so preventing exposure to oxidizing wavelengths of light (specifically ultraviolet, or UV) can likely prevent those diseases from progressing.  Given that we live at altitude here in Thornton and have a higher UV Index than those patients living on the coast, sun protection outdoors is a must.

Our team of optometrists are here to help you keep your eyes healthy!

It is important to be seen regularly for your eye care, and right away if you feel you have any of the symptoms discussed above.  You don’t need to wait for your yearly exam to check your eye health.  Examples of when our doctors could help with a medical eye exam include the following:

  • Dry eyes
  • Glaucoma pressure checks
  • Eye infections
  • Retinal concerns
  • Cataract management and surgery
  • Macular degeneration management
  • Diabetic care
  • Eyelid issues 

Eyes are too precious not to be cared for properly. Most treatments are easily accomplished when disease is identified early.  Annual eye exams are the base level of care for all of our patients. Our role as optometrists is to diagnose these diseases early, and either treat or coordinate treatment of disease. Sometimes we need to just monitor a disease to be sure it doesn’t progress.  Sometimes we will initiate treatment with topical or systemic medication. If you require surgery, we will refer you to one of the many specialists that we work with in the area to be sure that your eyes will continue to provide you with great vision.

Please note that the above information is not meant as a substitute for having your eyes checked in-office by an optometrist. Call our office today at (303) 450-2020 to schedule an eye exam for yourself and your family, or use the button below to schedule your examination online:

Posted in Amblyopia, Astigmatism, Cataracts, Comprehensive Exam, Diabetes, Dry Eyes, Eye Care, Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, Medication, News, Nutrition, Ocular Disease, Pediatric Eye Care, Preventative Eye Care, Sunglasses | Comments Off on Preventing Eye Disease Before it Affects Your Vision!

Vista Eye Care Attends the Denver AOA Meeting!

Vista Eye Care’s doctors and staff attended the national American Optometric Association Meeting at the Denver Convention Center in June.  This meeting was a great chance to learn about the latest in patient care, and we took classes on a wide variety of topics including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, marijuana and eye care (sorry folks, marijuana does not lower intraocular pressure or treat glaucoma!), patient care, practice management, ophthalmic optics, eye anatomy, kids and contact lenses, patient history, emergency eye care, visual acuity, and pupil testing.  We had a great time, so we hope you enjoy these pictures from the event!

Here are the badges we wore at the AOA meeting – snazzy!  We had a great time at the AOA meeting and look forward to our next meeting in San Antonio in the Fall!

Dr. Deanna Pedroza poses with the AOA logo at the AOA meeting.

Dr. Abert stands fearless before a charging bear.

Jeff, Kathy, and Tara pose with a giant, disembodied eyeball at the AOA meeting in Denver.

Kathy, Tara, and Dr. Pedroza had fun attending the exhibit hall!

Dana and Dr. Jami Swenson pose outside the exhibit hall at the Denver meeting.

Jeanette, Mayra, Sam, and Dr. Pedroza hurry to their next class at the AOA meeting.

Dana tries on virtual reality gear at the Alcon booth in the exhibit hall.

Jeanette, Mayra, Dr. Pedroza, and Dr. Abert pose with the giant bear at the Denver Convention Center.

Dana, Dr. Abert, and Dr. Swenson all conquered an escape room in the exhibit hall!

Dr. Swenson experiences a virtual reality tour of a surgical glaucoma procedure.

If you need to schedule your annual comprehensive eye and vision examination, call us today at (303) 450-2020, or use the button below to schedule online:

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Therapeutic Medication Monitoring

Hydroxychloroquine (brand name: Plaquenil®) is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other autoimmune disease.  This medication is known to cause visual changes, or even vision loss, in some patients after long periods of use.  For this reason, it is important for hydroxychloroquine users to have their eyes examined each year to look for changes with their eyes and vision. Hydroxychloroquine binds to melanin which is found in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) layer of the retina. The RPE can collect hydroxychloroquine over time and result in the vision changes sometimes seen with chronic use of hydroxychloroquine.  Retinal toxicity is more likely to occur in individuals taking high doses for many years, persons 60 years of older, or in those patients with significant kidney disease. As many as 7.5% of patients taking hydroxychloroquine are found to have had visual changes.

Risk Factors of Retinal Toxicity

  • Current excessive daily dose by actual weight (more than 5mg/kg)
  • History of renal or liver disease
  • Patients prescribed Tamoxifen (can result in 5-fold increase in toxicity)
  • History of macular disease
  • Age

Components of an Annual Hydroxychloroquine Exam

  • Threshold visual field (side vision) testing
  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) of the macula
  • Retinal imaging
  • Color vision testing (D-15)

The doctors at Vista Eye Care advocate yearly eye and vision exams for all hydroxychloroquine patients to look for early signs of macular toxicity.  We will communicate all of our findings in a report to your primary care physician and/or rheumatologist.  Please call our office at (303) 450-2020 to schedule your annual hydroxychloroquine examination, or use the button below to schedule your exam online:

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Florida Optometry Conference

Dr. Abert and Dr. Pedroza attended the 2018 Power Practice conference on Amelia Island in Florida.  They learned about macular degeneration treatment and prevention, retinal imaging, and glaucoma management in addition to practice management.  Please enjoy these pictures from their conference:

On the flight out to Florida, the Vista Eye Care docs arrived pretty late. Nathan didn’t sleep at all on the flight, but Sophia was exhausted!

Dr. Pedroza, Nathan, and Sophia play on the beach before the storm rolled in.

Nathan walks down to check out the beach. Even though it rained nearly every day, they still had time to go play at the beach a bit.

The Thornton, Colorado eye doctors ran into a turtle at the meeting that Sophia absolutely loved.

Dr. Abert and Dr. Pedroza pose for a picture between class at the Power Practice meeting on Amelia Island in Florida.

The meeting was held at a scenic and historic island outside of Jacksonville, Florida.

Thank you for checking out pictures of our doctors’ adventures in Florida!  If you need to schedule your annual eye and vision examination for yourself or a member of your family, please call us today at (303) 450-2020, or use the link below to schedule your appointment online:

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Cambodia Glasses Donations Needed!

Dr. Melissa Vanray and her husband, Dr. Wills Vanray are once again trekking to Cambodia this June for a mission trip.  Their mission is to conduct eye and vision exams.  They will be fitting glasses on dozens of patients and they need your help!  Vista Eye Care will donate lenses and use our in-office ophthalmic lens laboratory to cut the lenses for donated frames.  We need the following:

 

 

  • Reading glasses (all powers, all styles)
  • Old prescriptions glasses
  • Old glasses frames
  • Old prescription bifocals
  • Sunglasses
  • Children’s glasses
  • Children’s sunglasses
  • Dry eye drops (artificial tears, seals bottles only)

Please drop you donation off at the front desk and we will make sure they get to Dr. Vanray.  Thank you for your helping the people the of Cambodia!

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Why Are My Eyes So Dry?

There are many types of dry eye, though all types of dry eye result in similar symptoms: irritated, sandy, red eyes.  The causes of dry eye are diverse, as are its treatments.  For Vista Eye Care’s patients, dry eye is an especially prominent issue because of Colorado’s dry climate, and the fact that so many of our patients (including our own doctors and staff!) work a great deal of the day at computer screens.

Dry eye can be caused by a general lack of tear production.  This can be influenced by age, medication use, and occupation.  For patients with this type of dry eye, there are a variety of useful treatment options including artificial tears (to add bulk to the tear layer), punctal occlusion (to prevent tears from draining out of the eye too quickly), and medications designed to increase tear production (including Restasis® and Xiidra®).

If a patient has poor quality tears, then the above solutions may not work well.  Most cases of poor tear quality stem from eyes being deficient in the oil layer of the tears.  Think of the oil layer as floating on top of the tears and preventing the evaporation of those tears.  Tear oil is secreted from oil glands in the lids called “Meibomian glands.”  These Meibomian glands are prone to clogging up which traps the oil uselessly inside the lids, and the leaves the tears without that insulating barrier to the atmosphere.  Now, tears are overproduced by the body, though these low quality, oil-deficient tears are incapable of adhering properly to the front of the eye. They evaporate quickly, or collect at the lower lid where exit the eye still leaving the cornea without good tear coverage.

The condition of clogged Meibomian glands is called meibomitis, and is thought to be the cause of the majority of dry eye cases.  So for those patients suffering from Meibomitis, will adding artificial tears help? Will the treatments for poor tear production aid someone with tears of poor quality?  The two forms of eye dryness are unique enough that their treatments are not interchangeable.  Meibomitis needs to be resolved before dry eye issues can be solved.  One excellent way to clear the Meibomian glands is to apply a heat mask.  The heat in the mask breaks down the oil trapped in the lids making it easier for that oil to exit the Meibomian glands.  A simple lid massage with your fingers after heating can help free-up the clogged glands.  If the glands are sufficiently impacted, it may be necessary to use mechanical removal. Our doctors can express the Meibomian glands using specialized forceps.  Now free of obstruction, the Meibomian glands can produce oil which can enter the tear layer and seal your own tears up against your eye.  For cases of Meibomitis too severe for manual expression, an instrument called LipiFlow® can help restore the Meibomian glands to better functionality.

If you suffer from dry eye, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (303) 450-2020 to schedule a medical appointment for your eyes.  Feel free also to use the button below to schedule your appointment online:

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Eye Care Question and Answer

Dr. Brian Abert, Vista Eye Care's founding optometrist, answers questions from patients about eye careI had LASIK about ten years ago and haven’t had an eye exam since.  Should I still worry about routine eye care?” –Jim via Email

Hi Jim, we have many patients who have great vision after having had LASIK, PRK, or cataract surgery.  After those procedures, many patients are able to gain great uncorrected vision. However, eye disease can occur in any patient.  Just because you had nearsightedness (before LASIK) doesn’t mean you also couldn’t end up getting diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and/or macular degeneration.  At Vista Eye care, our mission is prevention.  We believe strongly in patient education and using the latest tools and technology to prevent disease before it starts.  For example, macular degeneration is caused not only by the ultraviolet light blocked by sunglasses, but also by blue light emitted by computer screens, overhead lights, and the sun.  For those patients with low macular pigment density, we recommend blocking these harmful wavelengths as well as reducing the macula’s susceptibility to disease by increasing dietary zeaxanthin and lutein intake.  Even if you see great, we can still identify risk factors that may ultimately lead to vision loss in the future.  Furthermore, early signs of disease may be present even in the absence of symptoms.  For example, we often identify glaucoma risk factors in patients who didn’t even know they had risk for acquiring that disease.  In short, we recommend regular eye care to prevent vision loss.

 

What makes getting glasses at Vista Eye Care so special?  Can’t I get them from other places?” –Jean via email.

Jean, there are many places for you to get your glasses, though no one will be able to help you achieve better vision than Vista Eye Care.  We offer premium-quality Shamir lenses in our progressive lens designs.  These third-generation digital progressive lenses allow for wide reading corridors and crisp distance vision.  We use top-quality name-brand Crizal™ coatings, and use the latest lens materials to ensure light, comfortable lenses.  Unlike discount retailers, all of our frame collections are current meaning that all frames are fully warrantied.  We make educating our staff a priority and as a result, our staff is always up to date on the latest technologies and techniques to provide our patients with the best vision.

We utilize the latest equipment in position of wear measurements.  After your doctor determines your glasses prescription, our opticians use a special computerized mirror system to measure the distance between your pupils, the forward tilt of your lenses, the frames wrap around your eyes, and the distance from your eye to the back of your lenses.  These numbers are then synthesized together to take into account your own unique glasses prescription, lens design, and frame selection to produce digitally-corrected vision.  The days of using measurements from only a ruler and pen are long over!  Lastly, our frame and lens warranty is top notch, which allows you to trust that your glasses will provide long-lasting vision correction.  While there are certainly glasses out there that are cheaper, we believe that a sense as valuable as vision deserves quality and peace of mind.

Please call us today at (303) 450-2020 to schedule annual comprehensive eye and vision examinations for yourself and your family, or use the button below to schedule your appointment online:

Posted in Cataracts, Diabetes, Eyeglasses, Glaucoma, LASIK, Lens Options, Macular Degeneration, News, Nutrition, Ocular Disease, Preventative Eye Care, Sunglasses | Comments Off on Eye Care Question and Answer