“Surfer’s eye” is a slang term for an eye growth called pterygium. Pterygium grows on the conjunctiva, which is the clear mucous membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids. Pterygium is noncancerous, but may cause eye irritation, discoloration and excessive tearing. The growth may remain small or enlarge until it interferes with vision. Depending on the case, pterygium may be red, swollen, thick or large enough to affect the shape of the cornea (leading to astigmatism).
It is believed that pterygium is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun, as well as excessive exposure to wind and dirt. Since surfers are frequently exposed to these elements, pterygium developed the nickname “surfer’s eye.”
Before we consider the available treatment options, let’s review the symptoms of pterygium:
- Red/pink color on the inner corner of the eye
- Dry or gritty sensation
- Tired eyes
- Blurred vision
- Feeling of something in your eye
The team at Laser Eye Center can diagnose pterygium during a simple eye exam and review the available treatment options.
The simplest and least invasive pterygium treatment is lubricating eye drops, ointments or mild steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation.
Unfortunately, some cases of pterygium advance and start to interfere with vision. It then becomes necessary to remove the pterygium surgically. The surgery takes approximately half an hour, and requires a couple days of recovery.
During surgery, the doctor anesthetizes the eye and extracts the pterygium and eye tissue covering the conjunctiva. The doctor will place and adhere a graft over the removed tissue. After surgery, the doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops to use for several weeks to reduce swelling and decrease the risk of regrowth.
Preventing the Recurrence of Surfer’s Eye
It is possible for pterygium to grow back. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the pterygium recurrence rate is between 30 and 40 percent, and more likely to occur in people under the age of 40. However, you can take steps to prevent recurrence by protecting your eyes from the sun, wind and dirt. Wear wraparound sunglasses with UV protection while outdoors and use artificial tears to keep your eyes moist in dry conditions. If you notice any irregularities or regrowth, contact your doctor immediately.
For more information about detecting or treating surfer’s eye, please contact Laser Eye Center by calling 800-80-LASER or sending us an email.
1. Not Wearing Sunglasses
Sunglasses are essential to protecting your eyes against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Excessive sun exposure may lead to a host of unpleasant conditions, including sunburn on the surface of the eye, cataracts, pterygium (growths on the eye), macular degeneration and more. What’s more — sun exposure may also cause premature signs of aging to crop up around your eyes.
Solution: Select a pair of wraparound sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays and HEV (high-energy visible) rays. Wear them consistently when outdoors.
2. Using Outdated Eye Makeup
Old makeup is a breeding ground for infection-causing bacteria, and the FDA warns that eye makeup has a shorter shelf life than other cosmetic products. Old eye makeup products can cause blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelid, bacterial conjunctivitis or styes.
Solution: Experts suggest tossing eye makeup products — including liner, shadow, mascara and any creams that you put around your eye — every three months to avoid an infection.
3. Avoiding Eye Exams
Eye exams are a prime opportunity to detect problems in their earliest stages. Because certain eye diseases (e.g., glaucoma) may progress without any signs or symptoms, a doctor needs to examine your eyes regularly.
Solution: Schedule regular eye exams with your eye doctor so he can test your eyesight; look at the structures of your eye and adjust your prescriptions if necessary.
4. Swimming without Goggles
Chlorine and other pool chemicals can irritate your eyes, cause cloudy vision and even temporary blindness (in extreme cases).
Solution: Wear a pair of tight-fitting goggles, or keep your eyes closed while swimming.
This is probably a no-brainer — smoking is extremely harmful to every organ in your body. Smoking puts you at higher risk of developing cataracts, dry eyes, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and more. Research suggests that smokers are up to four times more likely to go blind than non-smokers.
Solution: If you smoke, talk to your primary care physician about a smoking cessation program or aid. Also, avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible.
If you have any questions about these habits, or want to learn more about how to keep your vision in spectacular health, please contact Laser Eye Center by calling 800-80-LASER or sending us an email.
Why are regular eye examinations important? Firstly, they help our Laser Eye Center doctors catch eye problems in their earliest stage, when they are easily treatable. Also, eye exams give our doctors the opportunity to adjust your prescription (if you already wear glasses or contacts) and are a good time to discuss helpful tips for eye care.
How Often Should I Have My Eyes Checked?
This depends on several factors, including your age, health status and risk of developing an eye disease/disorder.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease have a baseline eye disease screening at the age of 40 — this is the age at which signs of disease and visual changes start to crop up. If you have an eye disease or a risk factor for eye disease (e.g., diabetes, family history of eye disease) at any age, the AAO recommends you see an ophthalmologist regularly.
Based on the results of your exam, the doctor will advise how often to have your eyes checked. If you are 65 or older, you should have your eyes checked every year, or every other year, for signs of age-related eye diseases (e.g., cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration).
What an Eye Exam Includes
Expect your eye exam to last between 45 and 90 minutes. During your exam, the doctor will do the following:
Review Your Medical History
You will be asked questions about your vision, overall physical health and any medications that you take or corrective lenses that you wear. The doctor may also inquire about your family’s medical history.
Test Your Visual Acuity
You will be asked to read a standard eye chart that tests how well you see at different distances (near and far). Your eyes will be tested one at a time, and you will be asked to cover the eye not being tested.
Examine Your Pupils
The doctor will shine a bright light through your pupils to evaluate how they respond to light. It’s common for your pupils to respond by constricting; if they dilate or do not respond, this could indicate a problem.
Watch Your Eye Movement
The doctor wants to ensure proper eye alignment and ocular muscle function. He will test your eye’s ability to move quickly in all directions and slowly track objects.
Test Your Side Vision
The doctor will move an object at the edge of your field of vision and ask whether you can see it. Loss of peripheral vision could be an indicator of glaucoma.
Screen for Glaucoma
The doctor will measure your intraocular pressure (i.e., the fluid pressure inside your eyes) to detect possible glaucoma. Depending on the preferred method, this may involve a quick puff of air onto the eye or the gentle application of a pressure-sensitive instrument near or against your eye (while it is numbed). This is not painful; in fact, you won’t feel anything.
Check Your Prescription for Corrective Lenses
The doctor will ask you to look at an eye chart through a device called a phoroptor, which has different lenses. You will be asked to identify the lenses through which you see most clearly. This will help the doctor determine the best prescription for your eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct any refractive errors causing nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.
Look at the Front of Your Eye
A microscope-like instrument called a slit lamp will be used to illuminate the front part of your eye, including your eyelids, cornea, iris and lens, and check for potential problems (e.g., cataracts). A fluorescein dye may be used to color the film of tears over your eyes and check for any damaged cells.
Look at the Back of Your Eye
Special drops will be placed in your eye to dilate your pupils; then, the doctor will examine your retina and optic nerve for any signs of damage. Please note that dilating your eyes may cause temporary sensitivity to light.
After performing these tests, the doctor will discuss the results of the eye exam with you, and give you the opportunity to ask questions about the findings and anything else you’re curious about.
To schedule your next eye exam, please contact Laser Eye Center by calling 800-80-LASER or sending us an email.
The future of wearable gadgets is here, and it has caught the eye of doctors all over the country. Before we explore the medical implications of Google Glass, a miniature computer-smartphone hybrid, let’s take a closer look at the device.
Google Glass looks like a pair of eyeglasses that has a smartphone-like interface (including a built-in computer, camera and mini projector) above the field of vision and beams a translucent image into your eye. With the Glass, you can take a photo, record a video, search the Internet and communicate via audio, text or video — all wirelessly and hands-free. You control the device with voice commands or head gestures. The Glass can be fitted with prescription frames.
This technology is certainly remarkable, but it has people wondering about the effects of the device on eyesight. A select group of eye doctors around the country had the opportunity to sample the Glass during its beta testing, and have happily shared their experiences.
One Eye Doctor’s Account
In an article written for the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeNet Magazine, Dr. Omar Ozgur described his experience testing the Glass, noting that he videoed both eye exams and surgery for an unobtrusive, hands-free experience. He said the Glass could be very helpful in the future when training budding ophthalmologists and performing clinical evaluation exercises.
As for the patient response to his use of the Glass, Dr. Ozgur reported that his patients appreciated that “new technologies are being used to help improve patient care.”
Other Applications in Medicine
In June, the New York Times reported that a growing number of doctors (called “Explorers”) were selected to test out the Glass, specifically during surgery. Hand-held devices are not useful in the sterile world of surgery, NYT noted. However, “Because Glass is voice-activated and hands-free,” they pointed out, “it may be particularly well suited for the surgical suite, where camera-guided instruments, robotics and 3D navigation systems have been commonplace for years.”
Doctors who use the Glass during surgery can record their procedures and even stream them live to fellow doctors. Software developers have also created apps that turn the Glass projector into a virtual electronic record of patients’ vitals and lab results, all of which can be pulled up with a virtual blink of an eye.
Will the Glass Affect My Eyesight?
If you’re considering the Glass, the American Optometric Association has a few suggestions:
- Users with poor vision in one eye should wear the screen over the dominant eye (which could be a problem for some, as the Glass currently only offers a right-eye version).
- Excessive use of the Glass screen may exacerbate dry eye symptoms. It’s better to glance the screen instead of staring at it for prolonged period of time.
Also, the Glass is set up to project an image approximately nine feet away. Thus, to use the Glass successfully, you should have clear distance vision.
For more information about the vision-enhancing technology that we currently use at Laser Eye Center, or to schedule a consultation with our team, give us a call at 800-80-LASER or contact us via email.
According to the research, one of coffee’s main ingredients, an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, may protect against retinal degeneration from glaucoma, aging or diabetes that can cause blindness.
The study compared two groups of mice eyes treated with nitric oxide (which causes the retina to degenerate). One group of mice eyes were pretreated with chlorogenic acid, and the other was not. The group pretreated with chlorogenic acid did not develop retinal damage.
It helps to understand a little bit about how the eye works. The retina is a thin layer of tissue on the back wall of the eye with millions of cells that receive and organize visual information. This tissue demands higher levels of oxygen than any other tissues, including the brain, and is prone to diseases (like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma) caused by oxidative stress. Past studies have suggested that chlorogenic acid may prevent the deprivation of oxygen and overall degeneration in certain parts of the body.
Dr. Robert Bittel, a spokesperson from the American Optometric Association and a regular coffee-drinker, believes the Cornell study deserves follow-up research.
“As with any study that cites commonly used food items as therapeutic in some way, caution has to be taken so that the public understands the negative as well as the positive potential implications of drinking coffee,” Bittel said.
If future studies find that chlorogenic acid does, in fact, prevent retinal damage, companies could produce a synthetic compound and deliver it with eye drops.
Applications in Dry Eye Treatment
Several years ago, researchers at the University of Tokyo’s School of Medicine found that caffeine can increase tear production and may be helpful for people who suffer from dry eye syndrome. Participants in the Tokyo study produced more tears after consuming caffeine than after taking a placebo.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 5 percent of Americans have dry eye syndrome, meaning they are not able to produce enough tears to keep their eyes moist and maintain clear vision.
If research continues to support this trend, caffeinated products, including coffee, could be used in dry eye treatment.
For more information on eye health-friendly foods, please contact the Laser Eye Center at 800-80-LASER or via email.
Contrary to what the name may suggest, color blindness is not a form of blindness. Actually, a more accurate name for color blindness is “color vision deficiency.” People who are color blind have trouble with their color vision. Depending on the specific person, this could mean that they cannot tell certain colors apart, or they cannot identify any color.
What Causes Color Blindness?
Color blindness is caused by problems in light-sensitive cells in the retina called “cones.” There are three types of cone pigments crucial to normal vision; they are sensitive to either blue, green or red-colored objects, and work together to enable you to see a wide range of colors. If a cone pigment is abnormal or missing, the result is a type of color vision deficiency. Someone who is born without any cone pigments is literally “color blind.”
Color blindness is typically a hereditary condition — in other words, passed down from your parents. If you are color blind, you have received a faulty color vision gene from one of your parents. The gene that is responsible for color blindness is carried on the X chromosome; since men have just one X chromosome, they are more likely to inherit color blindness, whereas women have two X chromosomes, and may overcome the faulty gene with a second, normal X chromosome.
According to the organization Prevent Blindness America, approximately 8 percent of men and less than 1 percent of women have color vision problems.
Other causes of color vision deficiency include Parkinson’s disease, cataracts and an injury/trauma to the area of the brain responsible for vision processing.
Signs You Might Be Color Blind
You may be color blind if: a) you have difficulty telling whether colors are blue, yellow, red or green; b) certain colors are washed out; c) people tell you that the color you think you see is wrong.
If you suspect that you have color vision deficiency, your eye doctor can perform testing to confirm it.
How Color Blindness Can Affect You
Here are a few examples of how color blindness can affect your everyday life:
- You cannot tell the difference between a ripe/unripe banana (to your eyes, the yellow and green colors look the same).
- You cannot tell whether a piece of meat is cooked or rare.
- You do not notice that your child is becoming sunburned.
- You cannot detect a change in someone’s mood as their face changes color.
- You have trouble selecting clothing that matches.
- You have trouble gardening.
- Certain foods (e.g., green vegetables) look unappetizing.
- You cannot detect whether a battery is charging (as evidenced by a red or green LED display light).
- You cannot detect the different colors on a traffic light.
Color Blindness Coping Strategies
There is currently no cure for color blindness. However, there are ways to cope with the condition. For example, some people use special lenses (either contact lenses or eyeglasses) to enhance their color perception. Also, learning to remember items by their order (instead of their color) or label is helpful. For example, have a friend or family member help you organize and label your clothing so you can put together matching outfits. Or, remember simple orders, such as the order of the lights on a traffic signal, without having to rely on your color vision.
For more information about color blindness or any other vision disorders, please call Laser Eye Center at 800-80-LASER or contact us via email.
As we age, the chance of experiencing vision impairments greatly increases. In fact, one out of every four people, over the age of 40, deal with a vision problem. Not all vision issues are preventable, but with a healthy diet you can protect your eyes from further degeneration. The best nutrients to promote healthy vision are; beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and omega-3 fats. The American Optometric Association recently posted delicious recipes that are rich in these eye saving vitamins. Here are two of our favorites!
Whole Wheat Penne with Spinach and Gorgonzola
Contains: lutein, zeaxanthin, folate, and zinc, and vitamin C.
- 10 oz. uncooked whole wheat penne pasta
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced (~ 1 medium onion)
- 3 large clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped (~2 cups)
- 1 (6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach
- 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (optional)
- Cook pasta according to package directions, without salting water.
- While pasta is cooking, spray a large, non-stick frying pan with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Add onions, then stir and cook until slightly transparent, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir and cook for another minute. Add broth and let simmer for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, toss, and simmer for 2 minutes. Add spinach and basil, cook and stir for approximately 2 minutes, or until leaves wilt. Remove from heat and salt/pepper to taste.
- Drain pasta and add to spinach mixture. Thoroughly toss. Serve on a platter and top with gorgonzola and pine nuts.
Makes 6 servings. Nutritional Information (per serving): 300 Calories; 25% fat (8.3 g total, 2.8 g saturated), 57% carbohydrate (43 g), 18% protein (13.5 g), 8 mg cholesterol, 8.6 g fiber, 27 mg vitamin C, 1.33 mg vitamin E, 271 mg sodium.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Bacon and Pistachios over Baby Lettuce or Baby Wild Greens
Contains: lutein/zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and omega-3s.
- cooking spray
- 1 1 /2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1 /2″ cubes (~ 4 cups)
- 1 lb beets, peeled and cut into 8 to 12 cubes
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 slices bacon
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 1 /2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 (4.5 ounce each) bags baby greens, such as Tender Ruby Reds and/or Sweet Tender Greens
- 3 tablespoons chopped pistachio nuts
- Coat cookie sheet with cooking spray. Heat oven to 425°F
- Spread squash on half a cookie sheet, one layer thick and beets on other half. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked but firm, tossing once. (Do not let squash and beets touch, since beets will color the squash.) Remove from oven and set aside.
- While vegetables are roasting, cook bacon in a small, non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove, pat dry, and crumble. Retain 2 teaspoons of the drippings. 3) In a small bowl, blend vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, bacon crumbles and bacon drippings. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss onion, lettuce, and dressing until thoroughly coated. Arrange on 6 salad plates, place equal amounts of the roasted squash in the middle and the beets around the edges. Sprinkle with pistachios.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutritional Information (per serving): 171 Calories; 35% fat (6.7 g total, 1.7 g saturated), 124 mg omega-3s, 55 % carbohydrate (23.5 g), 10% protein (4.3 g), 4 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 33 mg vitamin C, 1 mg vitamin E, 0.72 mg zinc, 116 mg sodium.
As children we were all warned the perils of sitting too close to the TV, or the dangers of crossing our eyes. But it turns out there are a number of eye myths we believe to be fact that are actually incorrect. Read on to learn what separates truth from fiction.
- Cross your eyes and they will stay that way: False. Our eyes naturally cross whenever we’re viewing objects up close. When a person purposefully crosses them, they are simply exaggerating what nature already does.
- Reading in the dark can ruin your vision: False. While reading in the dark isn’t a good idea, it will not cause any permanent damage. The worst it will do is cause eye fatigue, which can lead to headaches or strain to the eyes.
- Sitting too close to the television is bad for your eyes: False. Children often sit close to the television simply because it is easier for them to focus on the screen when they’re closer. There is no scientific evidence that actually proves sitting close to a television can ruin a person’s vision. However, this action could possibly be a sign of a nearsightedness issue that already exists.
- A child will outgrow misaligned or crossed eyes: False. Sadly, some parents believe this to be the case. In actuality, crossed eyes will stay misaligned forever unless the affected eye is forced to correct. This can be done with surgery, glasses and sometimes even by wearing an eye patch.
- Carrots are the one food that will improve your vision: False. It is the vitamin A that is good for your eyes, and there are several foods besides carrots that are packed full of this vitamin. So simply maintaining a healthy diet will help to promote good vision.
- Eyeglasses can ruin your vision: False. For some reason, people started claiming that corrective lenses would make a person’s eyes become dependent. Corrective lenses simply allow a person to focus on what they’re seeing. When things get fuzzy without the use of these lenses, it’s only because a person has become used to being able to see.
- Those with vision problems should avoid fine print: False. Some believe that a person with bad vision will further wear their eyes out by reading small print. This is untrue. The eye is not a muscle, so straining it will not cause it to wear out prematurely.
- Squinting can damage your vision: False. A person who frequently has to squint is most likely experiencing a vision problem, but it wasn’t caused by squinting. A person can squint all day and not suffer any negative consequences.
- You only need to see the eye doctor if you are experiencing symptoms: FALSE. Getting regular eye check-ups is as important as going to the dentist. Many early warning signs can only be detected by an eye doctor, helping you to prevent diseases.
- There is nothing you can do to help your eyesight as you age: FALSE. There are several things you can do to help your vision, from eating a well-balanced diet to LASIK surgery. Contact the Laser Eye Center to learn about all the different procedures available to help you obtain clear vision.
Over 100,000 people get LASIK eye surgery each year. LASIK is a simple outpatient procedure that can correct several different visual impairments such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (refractive errors that cause blurred vision), and presbyopia (the natural decline in vision that comes with age), ridding a person of glasses and contacts completely. Patients, as young as 18, are eligible for LASIK as long as they have had a stable prescription for 1-2 years. Of course to find out for certain, patients have to schedule a consultation with a surgery center that performs LASIK.
At the initial consultation an eye doctor meets with the patient to ask questions about their general health, current eye prescription and performs a thorough eye exam. There are some conditions that prohibit a patient from getting LASIK surgery, so the doctor will want to make sure none of those are present in order to ensure the best possible outcome. Certain eye conditions such as chronic dry eye, keratoconus or cataracts would need to be treated with a different procedure. It is also imperative that the patient is in good health, if there is any sign of an autoimmune disease or diabetes, the doctor will have to investigate further. Patients can also use this initial consultation to ask any questions they might have and review things like recovery time, and expected results with the doctor.
Right after surgery, patients need to have someone drive them home, and the patient needs to rest their eyes for several hours. However, a noticeable difference in vision should be apparent almost immediately. LASIK has a fast recovery period and most people are even back to work the following day. It is recommended while the cornea continues to heal that patients avoid nighttime driving – this restriction usually only lasts about one week.
There will be a post-operative appointment scheduled, as well as several other follow-up appointments and it is important that the patient make sure to go to all appointments; even though he or she may feel like they don’t need to. This check-up will allow for the doctor to make sure everything is healing properly and check the new vision. In some cases patients are able to get 20/20 vision back. To schedule a no obligation, complimentary consultation, contact Laser Eye Center today 800-80-LASER.
LASIK eye surgery can be life changing for people who have been hindered by corrective eyewear most of their lives. With one simple outpatient procedure, LASIK can completely take away one’s dependency on glasses or contacts. Over the past few years, LASIK has moved into the mainstream and has become more popular, especially with celebrities like Drew Carey and Cindy Crawford undergoing the surgery. For people who are extremely active or have a profession that relies on perfect vision, LASIK can be the perfect solution. With any medical procedure though there are always questions. Patients specifically ask, “When is the right time to get LASIK? How old should I be? Is eighteen too young?”
Younger than 18
It is extremely unlikely for children under 18 to have the LASIK procedure and only in rarest of pediatric cases would it be considered.
Patients, as young as 18, are eligible to have the LASIK procedure done as long as their prescription has remained unchanged for at least a year. The stability of the eye is always a major consideration. Doctors will not perform LASIK if the eye is still developing or the prescription is constantly changing. This is the main reason why most LASIK patients are between the ages of 20 and 40; young adults need time for their vision to stabilize in order to get optimal results
There is no age limit to LASIK, however, as people approach middle age there is a greater possibility of developing a separate condition that will impair the results of the LASIK procedure. For example, as patients age, they often have trouble with their reading vision, otherwise known as presbyopia, or in some cases find themselves with cataracts. Age-related conditions like these often mean that LASIK is no longer the best procedure. The easiest way to tell if LASIK is right for you is to meet with a doctor at the Laser Eye Center for a free consultation.