Know the Facts About Cataracts
Did you know, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world? Cataracts affect nearly 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older.* If you are over the age of 50, you should have a yearly comprehensive eye exam to detect cataracts as they develop.
A cataract is the clouding of the lens in your eye. Many people describe the feeling as if you are looking through a foggy or frosted window.
What causes cataracts?
Clouding of the natural lens in your eye is caused by proteins clumping together within the lens. It is unknown why the eye changes as the body ages, but these changes may cause cataracts to grow larger over time, resulting in an increased difficulty to see clearly.
Some factors that have been linked to cataract development are diabetes, obesity, smoking, ultraviolet radiation, and family history.
Symptoms associated with cataracts can vary from person to person. However, there are a few key symptoms associated with most cases of cataract development. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, schedule a visit with your eye doctor to discuss your risk or development of cataracts.
- Slight blur in vision
- Vision is cloudy
- Sunlight or lamps feel too bright
- Headlights have more glare and/or a halo around them
- Colors no longer appear as bright as they once did
Types of cataracts
Subcapsular cataracts typically occur in the back of the lens and are most common in individuals with diabetes or those taking a high dose of steroid medication.
Nuclear cataracts are associated with aging and occur in the central zone of the lens.
Cortical cataracts occur in the lens cortex and are associated with streaks which interfere with light passage through the eye.
Congenital cataracts are present at birth and may be due to genetics or intrauterine infection.
Are cataracts preventable?
No studies have shown a way to prevent cataracts, however, there are recommended practices to help maintain eye health and lower your risk of developing cataracts.
- Yearly comprehensive eye exams help maintain eye health and detect the development of cataracts at an early stage.
- Smoking has been linked to the development of cataracts. Quitting smoking provides a variety of health benefits lowering your risk for further cataract development.
- Keeping up with treatment if you have diabetes or other medical conditions will help minimize your risk.
- Maintaining a healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables, provides increased overall eye health.
- Wearing sunglasses to prevent ultraviolet radiation will decrease your risk of UV damage which has been linked to the development of cataracts.
*National Eye Institute (https://nei.nih.gov)
Flashes, Floaters, and Spots: What’s in my Vision?
Have you noticed tiny shadows cast upon objects you are looking at? Do you see small spots in your vision when looking at a clear or overcast sky? You may be seeing floaters and spots in your field of vision.
What is the spot in my vision?
It is completely normal to see spots or floaters in your vision. As you age the gel-like consistency in your eyes begins to dissolve creating floaters in the watery center of your eye. While you cannot see the particle floating in your eye, a shadow of these particles can be seen reflected in the objects you are viewing.
Do I need treatment for my floaters?
No, most of the time treatment is not required for floaters in the eye. The floaters and spots are harmless, and most will fade over time. If your vision is inhibited by large floaters, give our office a call to discuss options available to reduce these symptoms.
Why is there a flash in my vision?
When light enters your eye it sends a message to the retina, the retina then produces an electrical impulse which is sent to the brain. The brain interprets this impulse as an image. If the retina is tugged, torn, or detached from the back of the eye it is common to see a flicker of light. The flashes or flickers of light can be temporary or continue indefinitely depending on the severity of the retinal issue.
Is this ever a medical emergency?
Seeing a few new floaters is not an emergency, however, if you suddenly see a shower of floaters or spots this may be cause for concern. The sudden appearance of flashes of light could mean that damage is occurring to your retina. If any of these symptoms suddenly appear, call our office immediately to discuss with your eye doctor.
Conditions associated with eye floaters and flashes:
- Bleeding inside the eye
- Inflammation of the interior of the eye
- Cataract surgery
- Laser eye surgery
- Eye infections
Preventing Snow Blindness, Sunburn for Your Eyes
We take many precautions to avoid sunburn on our skin, face, and lips, but have you ever thought about your eyes? Many are surprised to learn our eyes can also acquire sunburn. This condition is known as photokeratitis or snow blindness.
What causes Snow Blindness?
Snow Blindness occurs when your eyes are exposed to ultraviolet light for an extended period of time, causing sunburn. It most commonly occurs in snowy areas because snow reflects 80% of UV rays.* Snow blindness can also occur in highly reflective environments with water or white sand.
In addition to natural UV rays, man-made sources of ultraviolet radiation can cause snow blindness. Typically, man-made UV rays only damage your eyes when the proper eyewear is not being worn. This can happen when working with a welder’s torch or using tanning booths or sunlamps.
Can I lose my vision completely?
No, Snow Blindness is temporary and doesn’t cause actual blindness, it typically impairs your vision for 24 to 48 hours.
Symptoms of Snow Blindness
- Eye pain
- Burning, red, or watery eyes
- Gritty sensation
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
- Swollen eyes or eyelids
- A headache
- Glare and halos around lights
Risk factors for snow blindness?
You and your family are at an increased risk for snow blindness when involved in sports with highly reflective surfaces. When skiing, snowboarding, and snow sledding, you should ensure everybody’s eyes are protected with snow goggles that provide 100% UV protection.
Altitude plays a big role in the risk for snow blindness. At higher altitudes, UV rays are stronger. Therefore, when high altitudes, such as mountains, are combined with snow, the risk of Snow Blindness doubles.
Don’t forget, water sports such as water skiing, knee boarding, and surfing require protective eyewear as well. A great option is wraparound sunglasses that block out 100% of UV rays and remain on your head throughout the duration of the activity.
How do I prevent snow blindness?
- Anytime you are outside, you should wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays.
- Remember, UV rays can penetrate clouds, so sunglasses are required even on cloudy days.
- Always wear snow goggles when skiing, snowboarding, and mountain climbing.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses when you plan to be on or near water for extended periods of time.
- Ensure you have eye shields to wear in tanning beds and booths. Never tan without eye shields.
- Use the recommended safety eyewear for your job if you are working with harmful light.
*The United States Environmental Protection Agency
Eye Exams 101
Regular comprehensive eye exams are key to early detection of eye-related diseases to keep you seeing your best every day. Adults should have a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years. Children should have an eye exam as early as 6 months, before they start school, and then every 1-2 years. If you or your family need a comprehensive eye exam, contact our office to schedule an appointment.
We often get questions about what an eye exam is like, so we’ve created an overview of a typical eye exam in our office.
Eye Exam Basics
What does an eye exam test for? Eye exams test your visual acuity and the overall health of your eye.
Why is an eye exam important? Eye exams check for early signs of serious eye and health problems; some of which may not present with any symptoms.
Who gives an eye exam? Your eye exam is performed by a licensed eye doctor.
Terms to know:
- Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in eye care. Ophthalmologists can prescribe eyeglasses and contacts but commonly specialize in treating medical conditions of the eye and performing eye surgery
- Optometrist: Optometrists are eye doctors who prescribe glasses, contacts, vision therapy, and medication to treat eye diseases. Optometrists are not trained or licensed to perform eye related surgery.
- Optician: An optician is not an eye doctor, but is an eye care professional who fits, adjusts, and repairs your eyeglasses. They can also help patients learn to apply, remove, and care for contact lenses.
What to prepare for your appointment?
Before your comprehensive eye exam, there are several materials you can prepare. First, create a list of all your prescription and non-prescription medications you take along with the dosage. This will help your eye doctor determine any vision risks you may have. Bring your most recent pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses, if you have them. Don’t forget to have a copy of your vision insurance card and other medical insurance cards with you. To learn more about the insurance providers our office accepts and other payment options, please call our office directly. Finally, bring a list of questions or concerns you may have about your eyesight to discuss with your eye doctor.
What to expect during your appointment?
Prepare for your eye exam to take an hour or more depending on the number of tests your eye doctor needs to evaluate your vision and eye health. A typical comprehensive exam is a series of visual tests to inform your eye doctor about your vision.
These tests help determine:
- Sharpness of near and distance vision
- Color blindness
- Lazy eye
- Ability to follow moving object and/or move between two separate fixed objects
- Depth perception
- Determine your eyeglass prescription
- Structures of the eye
- Glaucoma test
- Eye drop test to look inside your eyes
- Blind spots
What to do after the exam?
Following your exam, you will have the opportunity to explore the various frames and lenses found in our optical space. An optician will be available to assist you in selecting a pair of eyewear that best fits your lifestyle needs. If you choose to wear contact lenses, you will need to schedule a contact lens fitting appointment.
Once your new eyewear is ready to be picked-up, an optician will adjust your frame to fit you best and make it comfortable for everyday wear.
Finally, schedule your follow-up appointment for the next year. Regular comprehensive eye exams are essential in maintaining healthy vision. If you ever experience any sudden vision changes or eye injuries be sure to contact our office.
Eye Color & Genetics
Ever wonder why your eyes are blue, green, brown, or somewhere in between? The colored part of your eye, the Iris, contains pigmentation which determines our eye color. Your parents pass on chromosomes which combine to customize your eye color.
How eye color develops
Eye color is not as simple as other genetic traits. Three different genes contribute to your eye color. Due to dominant gene types, darker colors like brown overpower lighter colors like blue and green. Colors such as gray, hazel, and multiple combinations are not as common and are not yet completely understood.
Most babies are born with blue eyes, but did you know their eyes can darken for three years? Melanin is a pigment not present at birth, which develops with age and causes eyes to darken. The more melanin someone has, the darker their eyes will be.
Facts About Common Eye Colors:
- Brown: Most common eye color worldwide. This varies between dark brown, light brown, and honey brown eyes.
- Blue: People with blue eyes have less melanin in their eyes than any other color. Blue eyes are thought to come from a genetic mutation of one individual.
- Green: Thought to be the most attractive and one of the rarest eye colors.
- Hazel: The hue of hazel eyes changes based on what you are wearing and the type of lighting you are in. Hazel eyes host a variety of colors.
Changes in eye color
When your pupil changes size, the pigments in the iris of your eye compress or spread apart causing the color of your eyes to change. Your pupils change size for a variety of reasons including changes in light and the distance of the object you are focusing on. Emotions can also change the pupil size and iris color.
Heterochromia is a condition in which a person’s eyes are different colors, caused by one eye having more melanin than the other. Typically, present at birth and is not considered an eye disease as it does not commonly cause vision problems.
Enhancing your eye color
- Wear eyeglass frames to compliment your eye color and skin tone.
Example: Determine if you are “warm” or “cool” toned skin and eye color then match your frames with a complementary color.
- Use eye makeup to bring out the color of your eyes.
Example: Pinks, purples, and silvers bring out the warmth in brown eyes.
- Wear clothing which compliments or contrasts your eye color.
Example: Orange, red, and gold highlight the natural hue of blue eyes.
- Choose hairstyles and colors to accentuate your eyes.
Example: Bangs and layers which frame the face draw more attention to your eyes.
- Colored contact lenses give you the opportunity to try out a new look.
Welcome to Trussville Vision Care
Serving the area since 1989, Trussville Vision Care is proud to be Trussville’s home for quality eye care. The doctors and staff at TVC are committed to making your experience at our office the best possible. Started in 1989 by Dr. Sam Pierce, TVC has grown to become one of the largest eye care practices in the Birmingham area. In 2003, Dr. Zack Steele joined the practice which continues to grow today.
Offering a variety of services, Trussville Vision has become the home for eye care to the residents of Trussville and the surrounding areas for the last 20 years.