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Do I Really Need to Check My Eyes?

Everyone, regardless of age or physical condition, is recommended to go for regular eye exams.

Thorough evaluations of your eye health and vision by Dr. Richard Sills are the best way to check for signs of vision conditions and ocular disease.

At Dr. Sills and Associates, our optometrists will inspect your eyes thoroughly, using first-rate skill and advanced diagnostic technology. Your vision matters to us, and we will consider the individual needs and health of each patient. We are located conveniently in Fort Myers, Florida , and we are pleased to serve patients from the greater area.

The importance of routine eye exams

Early detection of many typical adult eye diseases can have a powerful effect on the success of treatment. When we examine your eyes in our office in Fort Myers, Florida , we will take a very close look for signs of disease that may still be symptom less. To prevent future vision loss or complications, we’ll begin treatment as soon as possible.

With children, an undetected vision condition could harm their ability to learn properly.

Common eye problems that are diagnosed in children include astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness and weak eye teaming. If your child is diagnosed with any of these problems during our comprehensive pediatric eye exam, we will determine the most effective treatments. Eye exams can thereby prevent or lead to resolution of many learning problems in school.

When should you schedule your comprehensive eye exam?

The American Optometric Association (AOA) issued the following guidelines:

Children

  1. First eye exam at 6 months old, to check that the visual system is developing normally
  2. Second eye exam at 3 years old
  3. Complete eye and vision evaluation prior to entering school, around age 5-6. If no vision problems are diagnosed, then follow-up examinations should be done at least every 2 years. If your child needs vision correction, then exams must be scheduled at least once a year.

Children who have any of these risk factors should come in for eye exams more frequently:

  1. Premature birth
  2. Crossed or turned eyes
  3. Family history of eye disease
  4. Other physical disease
  5. History of eye injury
  • Delayed development Adults Until age 40, if no vision correction (such as eyeglasses or contact lenses) is needed, then complete eye assessments should be performed every two or three years.
  • After 40 years old, annual eye exams are encouraged. The incidence of many common eye diseases and vision problems rises as you age, and we will check for conditions such as presbyopia, cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma.
  • Everyone over age 60 is strongly recommended to schedule frequent eye exams.
  • Any adult who has a health issue, such as hypertension or diabetes, may require additional eye exams, as advised by an eye doctor.

What will happen at your comprehensive eye exam?

Our team of experienced optometrists will use many different testing procedures to check your eyes. Our Fort Myers, office is fully equipped with the latest equipment. To determine visual acuity, you will be asked to read a standard eye chart and we will check refractive error. To diagnose or rule out any eye diseases, we will inspect your inner eye tissues with a high-powered lens. This exam also provides significant information about your overall health.

For more information about comprehensive eye examinations Call Dr. Sills and Associates on 239-330-4993 in Fort Myers, Florida to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist, Dr. Richard Sills.

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What’s In a Contact Lens?

Learn How Contact Lenses are Made

Contact lenses are immensely popular, with a wide variety of types to fit almost every individual and their vision condition. New materials and modern technology have led to increased comfort, higher convenience, and sharper vision with contacts. In response, many people are now making the switch away from wearing eyeglasses for vision correction. At Dr. Sills and Associates, our expert optometrist, Dr. Richard Sills, performs eye exams and fittings for contact lenses regularly.

How & What Are contact lenses made of?

There are two main types of lenses: Soft Contacts, and Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP).

Soft contact lenses are usually manufactured by a process called injection molding. The lens material is heated until melting point and then injected into a mold. Once the material dries, it takes on the contact lens shape of the mold. Sometimes, extra material must be removed before polishing this lens.

Most of the time, hydrogel is used as the material for soft lenses. This polymer is very water-absorbent, and high water content allows more oxygen to reach the eye. Some soft contact lenses contain as much as 70% water! One drawback is that a high quantity of water also increases the size of the lens, which some people find irritating. Less water leads to a thinner, more comfortable lens.

Soft lenses made from silicone hydrogel are newer on the scene. This advanced material enables increased oxygen permeability without the added size of larger lenses. Many of our patients in Fort Myers optometrist will help you choose the most appropriate colored contacts for your eyes!

Where Can I Find Quality Contact Lenses Near Me?

In addition to answering your questions about how contact lenses are made, our Fort Myers team is pleased to answer this question too!

If you’re looking for an alternative to eyeglasses, our optometrist will perform a thorough eye examination for contact lenses.

We’ll fit you with the ideal lenses – either soft contacts, rigid gas permeable, and specialty types, such as progressive lenses and colored contacts – in our hi-tech office.

Call Dr. Sills and Associates on 239-330-4993 in Fort Myers, Florida to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist, Dr. Richard Sills.

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Help! My Child Doesn’t Want to Wear Glasses!

Do your kids need glasses in order to see clearly? Maybe they have a strong case of nearsightedness, perhaps they have astigmatism, or another type of refractive error. Whatever the cause, getting your kids to wear eyeglasses can be a parenting challenge.

Dr. Richard Sills treats patients from all over Fort Myers, Florida with their vision correction needs. The knowledgeable, caring staff at Dr. Sills and Associates can help you and your kids if they’re struggling with their glasses or don’t want to wear them.

Why Won’t My Child Wear His or Her Glasses?

To help your children get the best vision possible, you first need to understand why they’re fighting with you over their glasses. It usually stems from something physical, emotional, or social, such as:

  • Wrong fit
  • Wrong prescription
  • Personal style
  • Reactions from friends

How do you know which it is? Pay close attention to the signs, from what your kids say, to how they behave, to how they interact with others.

Physical

Improper fit is a big reason why glasses could feel uncomfortable. If they slip down, itch behind the ears, or put pressure on the bridge of the nose, it can explain why a child wouldn’t like to wear them.

If there’s been a big change to their prescription, they may need time to get used to it. If they were given the wrong prescription, they may be straining their eyes, getting headaches, or having eye fatigue. An incorrect prescription can make wearing glasses painful or awkward. It doesn’t correct their vision, either, so they’ll still see blurry images. When this happens, your eye doctor can check the prescription and make an adjustment.

Emotional

Your kids at home aren’t the same as your kids in school, on the sports field, or with their friends. They may be afraid of being made fun of in school, or they may not want the sudden attention on their appearance. These feelings can be even stronger among the tween and teen set.

Social

Even young kids can feel different when they put on a pair of glasses, especially if it’s for the first time. Feeling different or weird, in their eyes, translates to a negative experience. When wearing glasses makes them feel like the odd man out, they may not want to wear them. The last thing your child wants is to feel like a social outcast. After all, everyone wants to belong.

How We Can Help

First, bring your child in to the eye doctor for an eye exam. Our optometrist, Dr. Richard Sills, will check to make sure that your child has the right prescription and that any vision problems are being corrected. Next, we’ll take a look at the glasses and place them on your child’s face to determine if they’ve got the proper fit. Our optician will take care of any adjustments that need to be made.

The Vision They Need, The Style They Want

Fashion isn’t only for adults. Your budding fashionista or trendy young stud wants to look awesome, so don’t forget about style. When your kids look great, they’ll feel great! Give them the top-quality eyewear they need without compromising on style. Your kids are a lot more likely to wear glasses when they like the way they look.

What You Can Do to Help

Encourage, stay positive, and don’t give up. Avoid telling them what you want them to wear. Let them choose for themselves. In the end, they’re the ones wearing the glasses. Making decisions is an important life skill, something they’ll need as they grow up and become more independent.

For younger children, use positive words to encourage them. Talk about how glasses are like magic, letting them see beautiful things around them. Show them how a pretty flower or a bright red truck looks with the glasses on, and how different it looks with the glasses off. For older kids, throw in a little pop culture. Tell them how trendy they’ll look by showing them pictures of celebrities who also wear glasses. You’ll also rack up some cool parent points.

At Dr. Sills and Associates, we have the experience and unique approach to children’s eyewear that will make your kids want to wear their glasses. Schedule an eye exam today – you can book an appointment online right here. If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call and we’ll be glad to help.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month and Your Vision

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April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month in the USA and Canada, a time when those living with the disorder, their family members, friends, and community come together to raise awareness and share helpful information. People with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and their loved ones are encouraged to share their stories, struggles, and successes in order to educate and support others.

Local Contact lens supplier near you in Fort Myers, Florida

The Parkinson’s Foundation has announced this year’s theme: #KeyToPD and Parkinson Canada advocates the same involvement. What is the key to living a high quality of life while living with Parkinson’s? Patients, doctors, caregivers, and families are encouraged to use this hashtag on social media to give of their knowledge and experience.

In order to successfully manage the disorder, it’s essential to understand the disease, symptoms, and treatments. After all, knowledge is power.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to control physical movement. It typically affects middle aged people and the elderly. Parkinson’s causes a decrease in the brain’s natural levels of dopamine, which normally aids nerve cells in passing messages within the brain. According to The Parkinson’s Foundation and Statistics Canada, the disorder affects an estimated 1 million people in the United States, 55 000 Canadians, and 10 million globally.

Dr. Sills and Associates Eye Clinic and parkinsons and vision problems in Fort Myers, Florida

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Our Fort Myers eye doctor has prepared the following answers to your questions about eye disease.

How Does Parkinson’s Affect Vision?

Parkinson’s can have a significant impact on vision and ocular health. Patients with PD often find themselves unable to control blinking. Blinking is good for the eyes as it moisturizes the surface and clears it from foreign substances. Less blinking can cause Dry Eye Syndrome, resulting in itchy, red, or gritty-feeling eyes. Other people blink too much or can’;t keep their eyes open.

In more serious cases, Parkinson’s affects the nerves that help us see. Someone with PD may experience blurry vision, double vision, difficulty seeing color and contrast, problems with focus, and other visual symptoms.

In addition to the inherent impact of the disease, some of the medications used to treat Parkinson’s symptoms have known side effects including dry eyes, blurred eyesight and even hallucinations in advanced PD.

What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?

Although much research has been done on the subject, the exact cause of the disease isn’t really known. What doctors and scientists do know is that certain nerve cells located in the brain somehow break down. This damage interferes with both motor and non-motor functions.

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Common Non-Visual Symptoms of Parkinson’s

PD affects other areas of the body that may or may not – depending on each patient – be related to their eye health and visual needs.

Some of the most common non-visual symptoms are:

  • Depression
  • Excessive saliva
  • Loss of smell
  • Moodiness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Slow movement (bradykinesia)
  • Stiff limbs
  • Tremors

Coping With Vision Problems From Parkinson’s

There is currently no cure for the disease itself, but there are options to treat the symptoms of PD. A combination of medications, physical and/or occupational therapy, support groups, and of course, top-quality vision care can give a PD patient relief for some of their symptoms and tools to help cope with the condition.

Research and clinical trials are continuing as doctors and others in the medical community work towards the goal of finding a cure for PD.

No two patients are alike, and each can experience PD differently from the other, so finding what works for you or your loved one is key. During this Parkinson’s Awareness Month, share your #KeyToPD and give your loved ones hope for a healthy and high quality of life.

Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

There is currently no cure for the disease itself, but there are options to treat the symptoms of PD. A combination of medications, physical and/or occupational therapy, support groups, and of course, top-quality vision care can give a PD patient relief for some of their symptoms and tools to help cope with the condition.

Research and clinical trials are continuing as doctors and others in the medical community work towards the goal of finding a cure for PD.

No two patients are alike, and each can experience PD differently from the other, so finding what works for you or your loved one is key. During this Parkinson’s Awareness Month, share your #KeyToPD and give your loved ones hope for a healthy and high quality of life.

A Caring Optometrist Near You

We’re here for you, and we want to help. Contact your eye doctor for any specific questions or concerns about your vision.

Call Dr. Sills and Associates on 239-330-4993 to schedule an eye exam with our Fort Myers optometrist. Alternatively book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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Just in case you missed them, here are some of our previous blog posts :

Are Nerf Guns a Dangerous Holiday Present?

Fort Myers Eye Doctor – Good Vision Health

Astigmatism Doesn’t Rule Out Contact Lenses

Eye Exam Special – Advanced Technology

Top 5 Tips for Managing Eye Allergies This Spring

Spring is a season of new beginnings, when the cold harsh winter months are behind us, flowers bloom, and people begin spending more time outdoors.

For people with allergies, spring means one more thing: suffering. Spring may be in the air, but for allergy sufferers, so is pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust. These airborne allergens can trigger uncomfortable reactions such as watery eyes, coughing, sneezing, congestion, and sinus pain.

There are some things you can do to minimize the discomfort throughout the spring season.

Check out Our Top 5 Tips for Getting Through Eye Allergy Season:

  1. Pollen tends to have a higher count in the mornings and early evenings. During these times, stay inside and keep windows closed. If you enjoy an early morning exercise run, consider an alternative indoor workout during peak allergy season.
  2. Take a shower before going to sleep. Doing this at night can rinse away any lingering allergens and leave you with a clearer eye and nasal area, as well as a more restful night’s sleep.
  3. Keep artificial tears close by. They can temporarily alleviate ocular allergy symptoms by lubricating your eyes when they feel dry and itchy, and they’re usually small enough to fit inside a purse or pocket. If you don’t have any good eye drops, use a cool compress as an alternative method of relief.
  4. If your allergies are caused by dust or pet dander, vacuum. A lot. Dust collects quickly and can be difficult to spot until there’s a high amount of it. Pets can shed fast and often, and just when you think you’ve removed all the fur from your sofa, carpet, or bed, you suddenly find more, so vacuum a few times each week.
  5. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and change your linens more often during the spring season. Remnants of airborne allergens can stay on your hands, towels, and bed sheets. Washing them more frequently can minimize some of your allergic reactions.

Though it may be tempting, don’t rub your eyes. This can actually aggravate the allergy response. If you find yourself using artificial tears more than 4 times a day, or other short-term solutions aren’t enough, speak with your eye doctor. You may be able to receive antihistamine eye drops or other prescription medications to ease your discomfort.

When It’s More Than Allergies

Certain eye allergy symptoms can also be signs of eye conditions or diseases, so pay close attention to any reactions that don’t dissipate after allergy season ends.

These Eye Symptoms can include:

  • Dryness
  • Excessive tearing
  • Itchiness
  • Persistent eye pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

These Symptoms Can Indicate Eye conditions, Such As:

  • Blepharitis (inflamed eyelids)
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Corneal Abrasions
  • Dry Eye Disease
  • Styes (an oil gland infection that causes a bump or pimple-like shape in the eyelid)

Eye Allergies and Contact Lenses

If you wear contact lenses, speak to your doctor about daily disposable contacts. These can be a great option for allergy sufferers. Since dailies are thrown away at the end of the day, there’s no heavy allergen buildup on the lenses to worry about.

Consider switching to eyeglasses for a while. Even the most comfortable soft lenses can feel irritable during allergy season. Use the springtime to get yourself a new look. With a wide range of incredible styles to choose from, including exclusive eyewear collections from today’s hottest designers, there’s something for everyone. Not sure what the choose? Talk to your optician to help you find a style that’s right for you.

An Ocular Allergy Optometrist Near You

We’re here for you, and we want to help. Contact your eye doctor for any specific questions or concerns about your eye allergies.

Contact Lens Overuse

Eye care, boy smiling with contact lens in Fort Myers, FL

Contact lens overuse is an increasingly common eye condition that has significant potential to do serious damage to your eyes, and lead to major eye and vision issues in the future. Dr. Richard Sills of Dr. Sills and Associates in Fort Myers, FL comments “Contact lenses represent a great way to enhance how you look and feel while allowing you to maintain your best vision. But, they pose a very real risk of damaging your vision if you don't know how to care for and use them properly. It is important to know what to do to allow safe wear of your contacts and avoid this increasingly prevalent and dangerous eye condition.”

The 18 Hour/Week Rule

Your eyes require oxygen just like a person and denying them the opportunity to breathe properly by overwearing your contact lenses can cause severe damage to your eyes. But, how much is too much when it comes to contact lens wear? To answer this question, eye care professionals have come up with a standard benchmark: If you come in anywhere less than 18 hours a week with your contact lenses out, you are overwearing your contact lenses. When denied oxygen in this way, the eye may attempt to supply oxygen through neovascularization. This process involves the growth of new blood vessels into parts of the eye that should remain clear and unblocked for your best vision. This can seriously hinder your ability to see, and do serious long-term damage as well.

Spare Glasses: Your First, Best Tool To Protect Your Vision

In working on reducing your contact lens wear, a spare pair of glasses can be your best friend. Studies have shown that wearing your glasses instead of your contacts as little as once or twice every week can significantly reduce your chances of developing symptoms of contact lens overuse by allowing your eyes to rest from the strain put on them by consistent contact lens wear.

Even on days when you choose to wear your contacts, it is possible to take steps to reduce your chances of over wearing your contacts. One easy way to do this is to wait to put your contacts in when you wake up in the morning. Wear your glasses during your morning prep, and put your contacts in as the very last step before leaving for the day. Taking your contacts out as the first part of your bedtime prep is another great way to help yourself. These two methods combined can significantly reduce your chances of contact lens overuse without having to make much conscious effort to do so.

Never Sleep With Your Contacts

Sleeping with your contact lenses in is among the leading causes of contact lens overuse. This practice is among the most dangerous and damaging of the many poor lenses wearing choices a person can make. Overnight contact lens wear, or even wearing them for a short nap during the day, may deny the eyes essential oxygen and hydration, possibly leading to vision-threatening infections and a painful scratch on the surface of the eye called a corneal abrasion, which can cause eye pain, light sensitivity a, d excessive tearing. Removing your contact lenses, even for a short nap, is an essential step toward guarding your long term eye health.

Follow Instructions, Save Your Eyes

Possibly the most important part of preventing contact lens overuse is paying close attention to the replacement schedule prescribed by your doctor. Timelines for contact lens replacement are established to protect your eyes from the potentially harmful consequences of contact lens deterioration and calcium deposits that build up on your contact lenses over time. Many people believe that as long as their contacts are comfortable to wear, there is nothing wrong and no need to replace them. Optometrists have fought against this harmful myth for years. By the time contact lenses are uncomfortable, they may have already begun to damage your eyes in ways that may affect your sight long term. Whether in an attempt to save money or through simple inattentiveness, wearing your contact lenses beyond their prescribed replacement date is an incredibly harmful practice that could have serious long term consequences.

For any questions and further tips, contact Dr. Richard Sills today.

Computer Vision Protection

Computer Vision: Ways To Protect Your Eyes

Optometrist, Man looking at computer in Fort Myers, FL

In this day and age, computers, smart phones and similar technologies are everywhere. Many hours are spent by most of us, either during our leisure time or for work, looking at the lighted screen of a computer or smart phone. Recently, the incidence of Computer Eye Strain has gone up significantly. As much as 90 percent of all people who consistently work with computers suffer from eye strain and other symptoms. These symptoms often lead to physical fatigue, decreased productivity and increased work errors. Minor annoyances, such as eye twitching and red eyes, have also been reported.

Fortunately, one can take several steps to reduce his/her risk of computer eye strain and other common symptoms of computer vision syndrome:

Move your work space around a bit. With a bit of rearrangement, a new work space configuration can help your eyes more easily deal with strain associated with working all day on the computer. First, attempt to minimize the impact of light coming in from outside by simply closing the shades. Also, if possible, place your computer screen with windows to the outside off to the side, rather than behind or in front of it. This reduces strain on your eyes from bright sunlight that streams in through the window and may cause your eyes discomfort.

Set your monitor settings to maximize comfort. Monitor settings, when set incorrectly, can also do a great deal to detract from your visual comfort while on the computer. Dr. Richard Sills, of Dr. Sills and Associates in Fort Myers, FL, advises, “If you have an old tube-style monitor, get rid of it as soon as possible. This style of monitor has a noticeable, uncomfortable ‘flicker,’ and likely gives off glare that contributes to computer eye strain. LCD screens, by contrast, lack this flicker and very often include an anti-reflective surface. These are extremely important factors when trying to make computer use more comfortable on your eyes. As an added note, desktop computer displays must be at least 19″ diagonal to facilitate strain-free use. Adjust your computer’s display settings correctly as well. Brightness, text size, contrast and color temperature all add to or diminish your experience.”

Finally, regular eye exams are an absolutely essential. This is true no matter what eye condition is being treated or prevented. Those who work most of their days on the computer should have an eye exam before they start working, and every year after that, so that their eye doctor can keep track of changes, and treat symptoms as they are diagnosed. “Also, speak to your eye doctor about custom ‘computer glasses’ to help deal with computer eye strain.” notes Dr. Richard Sills.

For more information, contact Dr. Richard Sills today.

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Call Our Ft Myers Dry Eye Specialist

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Dry Eye Diagnosis & Treatment

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Dry eye syndrome, a common and very annoying condition, can be due to a variety of causes. One typical reason for dry eyes is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), which leads to quicker-than-normal evaporation of your tears. Often, the painful symptoms of dry eye then result, such as burning, itching, a gritty sensation, and redness. LipiScan offers precise diagnosis of MGD, and LipiFlow provides effective treatment to bring relief from dry eye irritation. Another valuable diagnostic tool is the TearLab Osmolarity Test, which can determine if a patient truly suffers from dry eye, or if the symptoms are caused by a different eye condition.

What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)?

Your Meibomian glands are located in your eyelids, where they secrete an oily fluid that enhances your tear film and slows the evaporation of your tears. This allows the tears to keep your cornea well lubricated for smooth and clear vision.

When the meibomian glands are either blocked or don’t function optimally, the lipid (fatty) layer of your tear film isn’t rich enough to maintain lasting moisture on your eyes. In addition to the rapid evaporation of tears, there is also greater friction between the cornea and eyelids. This is what’s behind the resulting symptoms of eye irritation.

Eye care professionals estimate that approximately 86% of patients diagnosed with dry eye symptoms have a poor quality tear film due to Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Unfortunately, MGD is chronic and progressive; when left untreated, the symptoms generally worsen.

TearLab Osmolarity System

TearLab measures the osmolarity of human tears in order to help confirm or rule out a diagnosis of dry eye syndrome. With tears, osmolarity refers to the concentration of salt in relation to water. In general, osmolarity is a significant indicator of ocular surface health, and a patient with normal osmolarity may not be suffering from dry eye. Numerous eye conditions share some of the same symptoms, such as allergic conjunctivitis, blepharitis, contact lens intolerance, and computer vision syndrome. TearLab gives your eye doctor an objective, scientific way to identify whether your symptoms are truly caused by dry eye.

To perform the test, your optometrist uses a handheld sampler to collect a tiny amount of your tears. In just a few seconds, the TearLab reader then measures the osmolarity of this sample. The TearLab System is highly regarded for its level of precision. If the osmolarity reading is higher than normal, it points to a diagnosis of dry eye. Your eye doctor will then work with you to pinpoint the exact cause and the most appropriate treatment for your dry eye syndrome.

If you suffer from dry eye, it’s time to find out why – so you can see with clarity and comfort once again! The TearLab Osmolarity System can determine if dry eye is the real source of your irritation. LipiScan is the superior way to diagnose Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, one of the most common causes of Dry Eye Syndrome, and if MGD is the reason for your irritating symptoms, LipiFlow can treat this condition to alleviate your painful vision. Call today to schedule your appointment for a comprehensive eye exam with LipiScan.

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The Effect of Diabetes on Your Eyes

Eye care, senior man with diabetes in Fort Myers, FL

Diabetes is a very serious condition that affects hundreds of thousands of people every year throughout the world. A person with diabetes suffers from higher than healthy blood sugar levels as a result of the body's inability either to produce a sufficient amount of insulin or properly absorb the insulin being produced. Unfortunately, beyond the high blood sugar that is a direct result of diabetes, many complications arise as an indirect result of diabetes, particularly when it comes to a person's eyes.

Dr. Richard Sills of Dr. Sills and Associates, in Fort Myers, FL explains, “Diabetic retinopathy is possibly the most serious eye condition related to diabetes. This occurs as a result of extended periods of high blood sugar. Diabetic retinopathy comes in two types: nonproliferative and proliferative.”

Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy is the earliest stage of retinopathy. This occurs when damaged blood vessels in the retina begin leaking fluids and blood into the eye. In some cases, deposits of cholesterol from the blood may leak into the retina.

Although diabetic retinopathy at this stage is rarely sight-threatening, sometimes swelling or thickening of the macula caused by fluid leaked into the eye causes the macula to function improperly. This is called macular edema and is the leading cause of vision loss caused by diabetes.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is a more advanced stage of retinopathy in which many blood vessels in the eye have closed themselves off, preventing proper blood flow to the eyes. As a result, the retina begins to grow new blood vessels to attempt to make up for blood not being carried to the eyes through the now closed blood vessels.

Eye doctor, senior man suffering from diabetes in Fort Myers, FLThese new blood vessels are abnormal, however, and are not able to supply the retina with proper blood flow. At the same time, the new blood vessels often create scar tissue that may cause the retina to wrinkle or detach. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is generally more serious and sight-threatening than non-proliferative retinopathy because of the possibility of very serious complications such as traction retinal detachment, in which the wrinkling of the retina
causes distortions in vision and may become very severe if large parts of the macula or retina become detached.

People with diabetes are also at significantly increased risk of developing cataracts, a clouding of the vision caused by clumps of protein forming in the lens of the eye. Although cataracts usually affect people in their elderly years, diabetics tend to develop cataracts at a younger age, and their condition progresses much faster. In cataracts that cause significant blockage of the lens, the lens must be removed and replaced by an artificial lens in order to restore vision. This is not without risks, however. Studies have shown that a person's retinopathy can worsen and glaucoma may start to develop as a result of removing and replacing the lens.

In reference to another serious condition resulting from diabetes, Dr. Sills comments, “People with diabetes are at a 40% higher risk for contracting glaucoma, and this risk increases as a person ages. This condition occurs when fluid pressure inside the eye builds up and damages the optical nerve. With glaucoma, the damage is done slowly, and a person may not realize they are losing their vision until
significant damage has been done.”

It is important to have regular eye exams to monitor for warning signs of these and other conditions that result from diabetes. For more information, contact Dr. Sills today.

Eye Allergies: What They Are and How To Treat Them

eye doctor, woman with eye allergies blowing a dandelion in Fort Myers, FL

Having allergies can mean more than the sniffling and sneezing that most people associate with it. It’s Red, swollen, itchy eyes may also be a significant sign of allergies that can come whether you are sneezing uncontrollably or not.

Allergic conjunctivitis is the scientific name for this condition. It is caused, like any allergic reaction, by a mistaken triggering of your body’s immune system. Allergens cause your immune system “panic” causing it to react negatively to things that actually pose no harm to the body at all. Allergens such as pet dander, pollen and dust can trigger this reaction. This allergic reaction releases a chemical called histamine, which makes your eyes dry out and produce more tears. This reaction is meant to flush out foreign objects. The blood vessels in your eyes also become inflamed, which is what gives your eyes their bloodshot look.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can be quite varied. You may find that your eyes are red and irritated or itchy, that your eyes are sensitive to light or that your eyelids are swollen. In more severe cases, you may even notice a painful, sore or burning feeling in your eyes or suffer from excessive tearing or a runny nose. You may also experience sneezing and stuffy nose.

Many things may cause an allergic reaction. Grass, weed and tree pollen, as well as dust and pet dander are among the best known allergens. Less well known is that it is also possible for a person to be allergic to everyday items such as makeup or perfume, and even contact lenses. Also not well know is that, while it is very common for allergic symptoms to come out immediately upon contact with the allergen, it is also possible for an allergic reaction to present itself as much as four days after original contact with an allergen.

Although allergies usually stop once the allergen is removed, and the eyes return to normal, this is not always possible with allergens such as dust and pollen, since they are just about everywhere. For these and other allergies, eye doctors recommend eye drops either over the counter or prescription. These eye drops should help to minimize the effects of the allergens in your environment. Many of these eye drops are formulated as anti-histamines, meaning that they block histamine from the body. There are also a number of other ways that these eye drops will work to relieve or prevent allergic symptoms.

Artificial tears are also an excellent option to relieve dry eye symptoms caused by allergens. These eye drops are specially formulated to imitate the tears that the allergic reaction has dried up. Artificial tears are mostly by prescription and have proven to perform better in some cases than over the counter eye drops.

Several other ways to reduce or relieve symptoms exist as well. Wearing sunglasses when stepping outside helps block pollen, dust and other outdoor allergens from getting in your eyes. Contact lenses may also irritate your eyes, so try taking those out if nothing else works. Finally, never rub your eyes while experiencing an allergic reaction. No matter how much they itch, rubbing will irritate your eyes further and make things worse.

For more information, and for help clearing up your eye allergies, contact your eye doctor today.