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Your Eyes Are the Windows to Your Health

Your eyes aren’t just the windows to your soul — they can also reveal valuable information about your general health beyond whether you need glasses, including: diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It is not unusual for people to come in for an eye exam just to check their eyesight and then have certain health issues or predispositions picked up by the optometrist. 

Eye Exams and Your Health

Eye examinations can help doctors detect general health conditions early enough to intervene. Advanced screenings enable eye doctors to better predict cardiovascular incidents like stroke, and possibly detect signs of mental changes such as Alzheimer’s. Read below to learn how eye exams can unveil a whole lot more than just eye health.

Brain Cancer & Stroke

Because of the similarities between the blood vessels in the eye and brain, an eye doctor can occasionally detect an issue taking place in the brain by examining the blood vessels in the eyes. If swelling or shadows in the eye is observed, it may indicate a serious condition in the brain, like a tumor, or clots that might result in a stroke.

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). If an optometrist detects leaky blood vessels in the eye, the patient would be advised to see a doctor to help control their blood sugar. Changes are gradual, and they start before visual symptoms are noticed. The earlier diabetic eye disease is managed, the better the chances are of preserving eyesight. 

Hypertension

High blood pressure, characterized by having too much pressure in the blood vessels, can be detected during an eye exam, sometimes even before it’s diagnosed by your regular doctor. The damaged blood vessels lead to swelling, hemorrhages, and leaking — all of which can be observed in the eyes. According to the CDC, hypertension “the silent killer” affects nearly 1 in 3 adults, and up to a whopping 20% of those don’t even know they have it. So early detection at an eye doctor’s evaluation can be truly life-saving.

High Cholesterol 

Eye exams can also detect a buildup of cholesterol. High cholesterol is among the easiest conditions to spot during a complete eye exam, as the cholesterol deposits manifest on the front of the eye, appearing as a thin, gray rim around the cornea. It can also be detected in the retina by assessing artery and vein patterns.

These deposits may indicate the current or future development of Retinal Blood Vessel Occlusion, a condition where blockages restrict blood flow to the back of the eye, causing temporary or permanent vision loss. 

Heart Conditions

In some cases, heart conditions associated with a buildup of plaque in the carotid artery in the heart can also lead to deposits that clog the ocular arteries in the eye. If an optometrist detects such changes to the vascular structure at the back of the eye, he or she will typically recommend going to a specialist.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Sudden vision loss may be attributed to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While the optometrist can recognize signs indicating the presence of MS, such as the color and appearance of the optic nerve, such cases will be referred for further testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Thyroid

Thyroid disease can make itself apparent through the eyes in several ways. The thyroid gland controls the hormones that regulate tear production so some thyroid disorders can cause dry eye disease. Additionally, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can make the extraocular muscles enlarge and stiffen, causing bulging eyes — an indicator of Graves’ disease. 

Inflammation

Systemic conditions that are associated with inflammation in the body can have an inflammatory effect on the eyes. Uveitis, for example, causes eye inflammation, redness, and blurred vision, and tends to occur in people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. 

Cancer

Breast cancer, leukemia, and other metastatic cancers are occasionally discovered during an eye evaluation. In addition to brain cancer mentioned above, melanoma and basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) can be detected, and eye doctors can also diagnose lymphoma and other eye tumors. Eye exams save lives.

What the Future Holds 

Alzheimer’s 

Recent studies show that a non-invasive and precise imaging device called Octa (optical coherence tomography angiography) can signal the presence of eye changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Because the retina is in many ways an extension of the brain, the altered blood vessels at the back of the eye offer a glimpse into the changes taking place within the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease can often be misdiagnosed as its early symptoms are characteristic of other conditions. Research has shown that subtle eye tremors, an early Parkinson’s marker, could be detectable using advanced eye exam technology. One day soon, practitioners may send patients to an eye doctor to test for this and other diseases.

Your Eye Doctor’s Appointment Could Change Your Life

So the next time you visit Dr. Richard Sills at Dr. Sills and Associates in Fort Myers, remember that a comprehensive eye exam can do more than determine your eyeglasses or contacts prescription. Dr. Richard Sills can evaluate your eyes for existing or potential health issues, and communicate them to your primary care physician for the best possible care. By knowing that you’re at risk for a certain disease, you can take precautions early on and manage the condition as needed. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Are Nerf Guns a Dangerous Holiday Present?

Nerf Guns: Popular, Projectile… Safe?

With the newest Nerf guns and blasters reigning at the top of lists for the most popular toys this holiday season, many parents are excited to surprise their kids (or their spouses) with these coveted toy weapons. There is, in fact a whole culture behind these guns including a variety of themes, weaponry and ammunition, making finding the right Nerf gun for your loved one an additional part of the fun. Most don’t even bat an eye…(pun intended) about the possible dangers of these guns, specifically to the eyes and vision.

The truth is, Nerf guns have been reported to cause eye injuries including corneal abrasion (or scratch on the eye), internal bleeding in and around the eye, pain, blurred vision, and temporary loss of vision. Blurry vision is sometimes due to swelling in the retina after a traumatic injury. Experts warn that they can cause irreversible damage to the eye such as a torn or detached retina and vision loss. So this, of course, begs the question: Are these a dangerous toy to buy for my loved ones?

Well despite these troublesome facts, Hasbro, the company who manufactures the guns, claims that they go to extensive lengths to ensure the toys are safe. Based on years of research, consumer insights and rigorous testing, Hasbro assures that the toys “meet or exceed global standards and regulations” for safety. That is of course, when the toys are used properly and according to the recommended guidelines.

So if, when used according to the guidelines, Nerf guns are not inherently dangerous, it is up to the parent’s discretion to assess whether they are a good choice for their family. Parents (or users of any age) need to establish proper rules and ensure that those using the guns are responsible enough to follow those rules. They should also do their part to be informed and understand the dangers and precautions necessary for safe use.

Be Informed About Nerf Gun Safety

If you do chose to purchase a Nerf gun, make sure that you do the research to ensure that you are selecting the best and safest model and accessories for your desired use. While most models are designed for children ages 8 and up, there are a few models that are specified for older children, so pay attention to the age recommendations. Do not allow children under the age limitations to play with the guns. Further, it is recommended that all children are supervised by adults during play. 

Nerf brand darts, blasters and foam rounds are made to meet strict safety regulations, while other brands that claim to be Nerf compatible may not be. Only Nerf brand bullets, designed for the specific product purchased should be used. In addition to other safety hazards, it has been seen that some bullets manufactured by other brands have a harder end which pose a greater threat for injury. 

Think about eye safety. Rule number one should always be: Never aim at anyone’s face or eyes. A direct hit to the eye can cause serious damage and pain. Ideally, the guns should be used with eye protection such as sports or protective goggles to prevent accidental eye injury, so think about adding a couple of pairs into the gift package.

Never modify the guns, darts or blasters. There are many videos online that demonstrate how to modify the guns to shoot further, harder and faster. Tampering with the guns and ammunition in this way can undermine the safety measures built into the design of the toys and could result in more serious injury. Make sure to warn children against this as well. 

The Answer

So, what’s the verdict? Whether or not Nerf guns are the right choice for your family depends on how responsible your family members can be with their use. Like many other toys and machinery, they can pose a danger when not used properly so anyone that is gifted or using this toy should be aware of those possible dangers, as well as the rules that are in place for eye safety. If you or a loved one does get injured by such a toy, get a medical evaluation immediately, especially if the injured person is experiencing blurred vision. 

Dry Eye Treatment

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome

dry eye syndrome banner for ft myers optometristPersistent dryness, scratchiness and a burning sensation on your eyes are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. These symptoms alone may be enough for your eye doctor to diagnose Dry Eye Syndrome. Sometimes, he or she may want to measure the amount of tears in your eyes. A thin strip of filter paper placed at the edge of the eye, called a Schirmer test, is one way of measuring this.

Some people with dry eyes also experience a "foreign body sensation” – the feeling that something is in the eye. And it may seem odd, but sometimes DES can cause watery eyes, because the excessive dryness works to overstimulate production of the watery component of your eye's tears.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

In Dry Eye Syndrome, the tear glands that moisturize the eye don't produce enough tears, or the tears have a chemical composition that causes them to evaporate too quickly.

Dry Eye Syndrome has several causes. It occurs:

  • As a part of the natural aging process, especially among women over age 40.
  • As a side effect of many medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medicines, Parkinson's medications and birth control pills.
  • Because you live in a dry, dusty or windy climate with low humidity.

If your home or office has air conditioning or a dry heating system, that too can dry out your eyes. Another cause is insufficient blinking, such as when you're staring at a computer screen all day.

Dry eyes are also associated with certain systemic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea or Sjogren's Syndrome (a triad of dry eyes, dry mouth, and rheumatoid arthritis or lupus).

Long-term contact lens wear, incomplete closure of the eyelids, eyelid disease and a deficiency of the tear-producing glands are other causes.

Dry Eye Syndrome is more common in women, possibly due to hormone fluctuations. Recent research suggests that smoking, too, can increase your risk of Dry Eye Syndrome. Dry eye has also been associated with incomplete lid closure following blepharoplasty – a popular cosmetic surgery to eliminate droopy eyelids.

Treatment for Dry Eye Eye Syndrome

Dry Eye Syndrome is an ongoing condition that treatments may be unable to cure. But the symptoms of dry eye – including dryness, scratchiness and burning – can usually be successfully managed.

Artificial Tears

Your eye care practitioner may recommend artificial tears, which are lubricating eye drops that may alleviate the dry, scratchy feeling and foreign body sensation of dry eye. Prescription eye drops for dry eye go one step further: they help increase your tear production. In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe a steroid for more immediate short-term relief.

If you wear contact lenses, be aware that many artificial tears cannot be used during contact lens wear. You may need to remove your lenses before using the drops. Wait 15 minutes or longer (check the label) before reinserting them. For mild dry eye, contact lens rewetting drops may be sufficient to make your eyes feel better, but the effect is usually only temporary. Switching to another lens brand could also help.

Check the label, but better yet, check with your doctor before buying any over-the-counter eye drops. Your eye doctor will know which formulas are effective and long-lasting and which are not, as well as which eye drops will work with your contact lenses.

Lubricant Inserts

Another option for dry eye treatment involves a tiny insert filled with a lubricating ingredient. The insert is placed just inside the lower eyelid, where it continuously releases lubrication throughout the day.

Sun Protection

To reduce the effects of sun, wind and dust on dry eyes, wear sunglasses when outdoors. Wrap around styles offer the best protection.

Indoors, an air cleaner can filter out dust and other particles from the air, while a humidifier adds moisture to air that's too dry because of air conditioning or heating.

Punctal Plugs

For more significant cases of dry eye, your eye doctor may recommend punctal plugs. These tiny devices are inserted in ducts in your lids to slow the drainage of tears away from your eyes, thereby keeping your eyes more moist.

Warm Compresses

If your dry eye is caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), your doctor may recommend warm compresses and suggest an in-office procedure to clear the blocked glands and restore normal function.

Nutrition & Hydration

Doctors sometimes also recommend special nutritional supplements containing certain essential fatty acids to decrease dry eye symptoms. Drinking more water may also offer some relief.

Medication

If medications are the cause of dry eyes, discontinuing the drug generally resolves the problem. But in this case, the benefits of the drug must be weighed against the side effect of dry eyes. Sometimes switching to a different type of medication alleviates the dry eye symptoms while keeping the needed treatment. In any case, never switch or discontinue your medications without consulting with your doctor first.

Treating an Underlying Condition

Treating any underlying eyelid disease, such as blepharitis, helps as well. This may call for antibiotic or steroid drops, plus frequent eyelid scrubs with an antibacterial shampoo.

Dry Eyes and LASIK

If you are considering LASIK, be aware that dry eyes may disqualify you for the surgery, at least until your dry eye condition is successfully treated. Dry eyes increase your risk for poor healing after LASIK, so most surgeons will want to treat the dry eyes first, to ensure a good LASIK outcome. This goes for other types of vision correction surgery, as well.

Call Our Dry Eye Specialist Schedule a Dry Eye Exam

Eye Disease Management

Ocular Eye Diseases Fort Myers, Florida

Dr. Sills and Associates eye care clinic in Fort Myers, FL makes it a policy to ensure that all staff members are up-to-date on the latest technology and techniques to make your visit as comfortable and effective as possible. As optometric technology changes, it is even more important to select a Fort Myers eye doctor who has all the right optometry qualifications and follows the latest developments in eye care.

Utilizing cutting edge technology we are diagnosing and managing, with greater precision, diseases like Glaucoma, Macular degeneration and Cataracts. Earlier and more precise diagnosis means earlier treatment and better outcomes. We are taking an aggressive approach to diseases that previously had few treatment options. Great advances have been made in the treatment of these diseases.

Eye Emergencies

Urgent Eye Care In Fort Myers

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Calling Your Fort Myers Optometrist May Be Helpful In The Following Circumstances

If you are not sure if the exposure is potentially serious, you have washed out your eye, and you have few symptoms, then your eye doctor may be able to help you decide whether or not you should be seen immediately.

If you are not sure that you have this condition, your eye doctor may be able to help with the diagnosis. This condition does not require immediate medical attention.

After an eye injury can be warning signs that require prompt medical attention. If you have an ophthalmologist, he or she may be able to take care of you in the office. Otherwise, go to a hospital's emergency department.

Eye infections are one of the most common eye emergencies that our optometrist sees in Fort Myers. While eye infections heal on their own, it is recommended to visit an Optometrist to get medication that will reduce the chances of spreading and speed up healing time. As with all eye emergencies, it is a good idea to have an Optometrist look at it in order to rule out other potential causes that could be more serious.

A stye in the eye is a small infection that causes a little lump in the eye. Styes usually clear up on their own (a warm compress, wearing glasses instead of contacts and washing your hands helps) , however depending on the kind of stye it may take longer to clear up. 

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The following conditions should be seen promptly by an eyecare professional or in the emergency department

If the substance was known to be caustic, immediate medical evaluation by either an ophthalmologist or in the emergency department is needed, regardless of symptoms. Acids and alkalis are the worst and require immediate attention. If the substance is not dangerous, such as soap or suntan lotion, a visit to the emergency department is not necessary, but a visit to the eyecare professionals office may be helpful to alleviate any remaining symptoms. When in doubt, seek medical attention.

Cuts that affect the eyelid margins (where the eyelashes are) or the eyeball itself need immediate medical attention. Foreign bodies that are not removed with gentle washing should be evaluated by an eyecare professional.

Dr. Sills Presents: Emergency Eye Care

Click below to see the video

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When to Seek Medical Care From An Opthamologist

In most cases, if you have continuing symptoms of pain, visual disturbance, or bleeding, you should go to an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in eye care and surgery).

In general, if you are not sure if you have a serious eye injury, call us and we will be happy to point you in the right direction.

For More Information About Eye Care Call Our Eye Doctor in Fort Myers, FL at 239-330-4993

Solar Retinopathy is similar to Sunburn to the eye, in the case of solar retinopathy our optometrist recommends and evaluation to rule out other possible conditions or long term issues. In most situations there is little that can be done to improve the condition, and the patient will have to wi

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Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!