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The Link Between Myopia Progression and COVID Confinement

The Link Between Myopia Progression and COVID Confinement 640×350Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic eye doctors began to notice that children’s myopia was worsening. Researchers set out to learn whether there was, in fact, a link between the pandemic and increased myopia progression, and if so, why.

How The Pandemic Affected Children’s Vision

A recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology (2021) found that children aged 6 to 13 experienced an increased rate of myopia progression since the beginning of the pandemic, and the lockdowns and restrictions that accompanied it.

The researchers examined the rate of myopia progression from 2015 to 2020 in more than 120,000 children from 10 elementary schools, based on school vision screenings. By the end of the study, children were shown to have significantly higher rates of myopia progression in 2020 than in previous years.

The higher rate of progression was especially severe in children between the ages of 6 and 8. Researchers theorized that the children’s earlier stage of visual development might have been the crucial factor.

Other studies have already determined that children who spend at least 2 hours a day outdoors experience less myopia progression than their peers who stay mostly indoors.

Researchers from the National Eye Institute found that children who spent significant time outdoors — about 14 hours a week — significantly reduced their chances of needing glasses for myopia. Among children with two myopic parents, the chances of needing glasses are roughly 60% if they don’t spend significant time outdoors. However, this study found that, after spending the prescribed 14 hours per week outside, the same children’s risk of myopia dropped to around 20%.

Similar results appear in a study published by the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (February 2019), that shows a significant link between the amount of time children spend engaged in near-work tasks and increased myopia progression.

Taken together, these studies give us a clearer picture of the challenges children have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and why myopia rates in children have soared.

What Can Parents Learn From All Of This?

Parents should make an effort to encourage their children to go outside as often as possible and to spend more time away from screens and other near-work tasks. Moreover, progressive myopia in childhood has been linked to heightened risks of developing sight-robbing eye diseases later in life, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts.

If you’re concerned about your child’s myopia, make an appointment with their eye doctor as soon as possible, as delays in seeking professional advice can make myopia management more challenging in the future.

Our practice offers myopia management to patients from Austin, Cedar Park, West Lake Hills, and Hudson Bend, Texas and surrounding communities.

 

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33443542/

https://www.aaojournal.org/article/S0161-6420(17)33464-4/fulltext

 

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Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 512-343-2020

Can Restricting Online Gaming Time Reduce Myopia Progression?

Two kids playing online gamesThe Chinese government recently implemented a new policy that’s sparked conversations about childhood myopia and online gaming.

Under the policy, Chinese children and teens under the age of 18 are only permitted to play online video games for one hour on weekend evenings and public holidays — a significant reduction compared to their previous online gaming allotment. This restriction includes all forms of video games, from handheld devices to computer and smartphone gaming.

The government hopes to combat a common condition called online gaming disorder, or video game addiction, which affects more than 30% of children in China. Another potential benefit of limiting online gaming may be a reduction in childhood myopia progression, something we explore below.

The Link Between Online Gaming and Myopia Progression

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition that causes blurred distance vision. Several factors contribute to the onset and progression of myopia, including genetic and environmental.

Several studies have found that screen time, along with other forms of near work, is associated with higher levels of myopia and myopia progression in children.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology (2019), children who engage in screen time for more than 3 hours per day have almost 4 times the risk of becoming myopic. Younger children, around ages 6-7, are even more susceptible to experiencing screen-related nearsightedness, with 5 times the risk compared to children who don’t use digital screens.

Limiting screen time may also encourage children to spend more time outdoors in the sun, a protective factor against developing myopia and slowing its progression.

In The Sydney Adolescent Vascular and Eye Study (2013), researchers found that spending at least 21 hours outdoors per week was more important for delaying the onset of myopia than limiting near work in both younger and older children, although both were effective.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Although online gaming can give children a sense of community and togetherness, excessive online gaming can increase a child’s risk of developing myopia and contribute to its progression.

The good news is that parents can make eye-healthy choices for their children that can have lifelong benefits. Limiting near work activities like online gaming and other screen time, and encouraging your children to play outdoors can significantly reduce their chances of developing high (severe) myopia.

How Myopia Management Can Help

The best thing that parents can offer their children to prevent myopia and halt its progression is a custom-made myopia management treatment plan with an eye doctor.

Whether or not myopia has set in already, we can help preserve your child’s eye health and lower their risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and retinal detachment in the future.

To learn more about our services or schedule your child’s myopia consultation, contact River Place Vision Center in Austin today!

River Place Vision Center offers myopia management to patients from Austin, Cedar Park, West Lake Hills, and Hudson Bend, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dennis Smith

Q: Who is an ideal candidate for myopia management?

  • A: Children, teens, and young adults who are nearsighted or are at risk of becoming nearsighted are ideal candidates for myopia management. If you think myopia management is right for you or your child, speak with us about how we can help. Remember, the sooner your child starts myopia management, the better their outcome will be.

Q: Is myopia management based on scientific evidence?

  • A: Yes! The treatments used in myopia management are all safe and clinically proven to slow the onset and progression of myopia in children and teens. There have been several scientific studies that support its effectiveness.

Myopia Management Appointment
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What’s a Multifocal Intraocular Lens?

Multifocal Intraocular Lenses 640×350A cataract clouds the eye’s natural lens, leading to significant visual distortions that can affect your ability to see clearly. Eventually, the natural lens will need to be removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) that provides clear vision.

While most patients pick monofocal IOLs, many patients choose multifocal IOL lenses. Discuss with your [eye_ doctor] which type of IOL is right for you.

What Is a Multifocal Intraocular Lens?

A multifocal IOL allows patients to see all distances clearly. These IOLs allocate different optical powers on the IOL. The varying optical powers are created by the IOL design, which incorporates concentric rings on the surface of the lens. These allow images at a variety of distances to be in sharp focus.

It can take some time for people to adapt to multifocal IOL lenses because the focusing power the lenses provide is different from what people are accustomed to. Since the IOL relies on a different design than the bifocal or multifocal optical lenses used in eyeglasses, the brain might need time to adjust.

To ease the adjustment, most cataract surgeons recommend having multifocal IOLs implanted in both eyes, rather than just one.

Are Multifocal IOLs Right for You?

If you are looking for an IOL that can provide you with clear vision for reading, driving and watching TV, a multifocal IOL may be just right for you.

After cataract surgery, multifocal IOLs can reduce the need for reading glasses or computer glasses. These implanted lenses widen your field of vision, allowing you to see well both up close and far, often without the use of glasses. Many patients who choose multifocal IOLs find that they can go glasses-free or only occasionally need reading glasses for small print after surgery.

Despite the obvious benefits of these lenses, they may not be suitable for everyone. Some patients find that it takes longer to adapt to multifocal lenses than to monofocal lenses. Contact River Place Vision Center to discover whether IOL multifocal lenses are right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dennis Smith

Q: How does a multifocal IOL work?

  • A: When wearing bifocal or multifocal glasses, you look through the bottom part of the lens for near vision and through the top part of the lens for distance vision. A multifocal IOL is specially designed to provide clear vision at all distances at all times. Your brain adjusts, allowing you to see clearly for the task at hand.

Q: Will a multifocal IOL eliminate the need for glasses?

  • A: Most people find they do not need glasses with multifocal IOLs, but some do, depending on the situation. There may be times when the print or graphics are simply too small or too far away to be seen without glasses.
  • River Place Vision Center serves patients from Austin, Cedar Park, West Lake Hills, and Hudson Bend, Texas and surrounding communities.

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Blinking Exercises for Dry Eye

Blinking Exercises 640×350Did you know that the average person spends around 7 hours a day looking at a screen? The glare and reflections from computer, smartphone, and tablet screens can reduce blink rates by as much as 60%. When we concentrate intensely we tend to blink less, which can, in turn, lead to dry eye syndrome.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include red and dry eyes, irritated eyes, blurred vision, painful or stinging eyes, light sensitivity and mucus around the eyes.

Blinking helps keep our eyes healthy and comfortable. With every blink, the ocular surface is cleaned of debris and lubricated, so less blinking means more irritation and dryness.

Below are a few blinking exercises to help you ensure that your eyes remain lubricated and refreshed throughout the day.

Blinking Exercises

Blinking exercises are simple to do and can be seamlessly integrated into your daily routine. These exercises should be done a few times an hour. Try alternating between the 2 exercises below.

1. Close-Pause-Pause-Open-Relax

  1. Without squeezing, gently close your eyes.
  2. Pause and keep your eyes closed for 2 seconds.
  3. Gently open your eyes and relax them.
  4. Repeat 5 times

2. Close-Pause-Pause-Squeeze-Open-Relax

  1. Without squeezing, gently close your eyes.
  2. Pause and keep your eyes closed for 2 seconds.
  3. While keeping your eyes closed, squeeze your eyelids together slowly and gently.
  4. Gently open your eyes and relax them.
  5. Repeat 5 times

The Importance of Fully Blinking

It’s important to fully blink to completely lubricate your eyes. If you’re only partially blinking, it can render your dry eye symptoms worse.

To find out whether you are fully blinking, just look at your eyes in the mirror. If they feel dry or appear red, or if you see a horizontal stripe of red blood vessels across your eyes, then you have been partially blinking.

If you’ve incorporated blinking exercises into your routine but are still experiencing eye irritation, you may have dry eye syndrome. We can diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms, and offer a variety of dry eye treatments to alleviate any discomfort. Schedule an eye exam with River Place Vision Center today to receive effective, long-lasting relief.

River Place Vision Center serves dry eye patients from Austin, Cedar Park, West Lake Hills, and Hudson Bend, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dennis Smith

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome is caused either by insufficient tears or poor tear quality. Every time you blink, you leave a thin film of tears over the surface of your eyes. This helps keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy. If your tears don’t keep the surface of your eye moist enough, you will experience dry eye symptoms. Some medical conditions, certain medications, dysfunctional glands, allergies and environmental irritants can all cause dry eye symptoms.

Q: What are the symptoms of dry eyes?

  • A: Symptoms of dry eye include irritation; a gritty, scratchy or burning sensation; blurred vision; excessive tearing; and/or a feeling of having something stuck in the eye.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-343-2020

What Causes Retinal Tears?

What Causes Retinal Tears 640×350The retina is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the inner back portion of the eye. It is responsible for gathering incoming light and sending images to the brain so they can be processed.

Retinal tears occur when the delicate tissue gets pulled, creating a hole or tear in the retina. They need to be taken seriously because they can lead to a more severe condition called retinal detachment, which is considered a sight-threatening medical emergency.

What are the Symptoms of Retinal Tears?

Patients with retinal tears will often experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Flashes of light
  • Sudden onset or increase of floaters
  • Seeing a shadow in your side vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing a gray curtain moving across your visual field

However, in some cases, retinal tears may not produce any noticeable symptoms.

What Conditions Can Cause Retinal Tears?

The eye is filled with a substance called vitreous. At birth, the vitreous is attached to the retina and has a gel consistency. As we age, the vitreous becomes more like a liquid and slowly detaches from the retina in a process called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).

Usually, this process occurs without any complications. If the vitreous detaches too suddenly or abnormally, it tugs on the retina and can tear it. Additionally, some people have a more “sticky” vitreous, which makes it easier for the retina to rip.

Another main cause of retinal tears is eye trauma. Blunt force eye trauma can cause the retina to become bruised or scarred, making it more vulnerable to tearing.

Other associated causes or risk factors of retinal tears include:

  • Diabetes
  • Personal or family history of retinal tears/detachment
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Inflammatory disorders
  • Certain cancers
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • High myopia
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Retinopathy of prematurity
  • Prior surgery within the eye

Be sure to disclose any relevant medical information to your eye doctor for optimal preventative eye care.

How are Retinal Tears Treated?

Retinal tears are typically treated surgically with a laser (photocoagulation) or cryotherapy. Both methods are considered very safe and effective.

These treatments reseal the retina to the back wall of the eye and prevent fluid leakage underneath the retina.

The prognosis of a retinal tear is very positive when caught early, making regular eye exams that include examination of the retina crucial for all adults.

In some cases of minor retinal tearing, no treatment is required. If the retinal tear causes no symptoms, close monitoring may be all that’s needed.

After Your Retinal Tear Has Been Treated

After treatment, your optometrist will schedule various eye exams in order to monitor any changes in your retinas or eye health. Inform your eye doctor immediately if you notice any changes in your vision or if you experience new symptoms that may signal a problem.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a retinal tear or is at risk of developing one, call River Place Vision Center to schedule a consultation.

River Place Vision Center serves patients from Austin, Cedar Park, West Lake Hills, and Hudson Bend, Texas and surrounding communities.

References

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7 Ways to Wish Dry Eye ‘Goodbye’

7 Ways to Wish Dry Eye Goodbye 640×350There’s no reason to suffer through the uncomfortable, sometimes debilitating symptoms that can accompany dry eye syndrome. Living with chronically dry, red and irritated eyes can affect your productivity and overall enjoyment of life.

That’s why we’ve put together 7 of our top tips for relieving dry eye syndrome.

1. Stay Hydrated

The tears are mostly made up of water, supplied by the tear glands. People need to drink enough liquid to maintain a stable tear film, so if your body isn’t sufficiently hydrated, your eyes won’t be able to produce sufficient tears and will suffer the consequences.

Keep your water bottle at arm’s reach throughout the day. You can even sip on juices, broths and dairy or plant-based milk to keep your body and eyes properly hydrated. Many health authorities recommend drinking between 2-3 liters of hydrating fluids per day.

If your eyes have been feeling dry or irritated, try limiting your alcohol intake because it is a diuretic.

2. Use Artificial Tears

Artificial tears aren’t just great for making your eyes feel more comfortable; they also have protective properties that can prevent ocular surface damage from occurring or worsening.

The tricky part is choosing the correct drops for your specific condition.

By assessing your eyes, your eye doctor can determine what’s causing your eyes to be dry and recommend the most appropriate drops. There are numerous types of artificial tears on the market, and what may work for a friend or relative may not be the best option for you.

3. Up Your Omega-3 Intake

A healthy tear film consists of three layers: water, oil and mucus. An imbalance in any of these components can result in tears that evaporate prematurely. To ensure that your eyes can produce enough of the oils that stabilize your tears, include the recommended daily intake of Omega-3’s in your diet. You can take a supplement and/or eat foods like fatty fish, seeds and nuts.

*It’s best practice to speak with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or introducing a new supplement to your routine.

4. Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses not only reduce your glare symptoms and provide important UV protection but also effectively offer relief from dry eyes. Dry eyes are vulnerable to irritation from light winds that can dry out the eye’s tear film.

Whenever outdoors, wear a pair of protective wraparound sunglasses to minimize the effects of wind and seal out dirt and debris that can be carried in the breeze. For severe cases of dry eye syndrome, ask your optometrist about specific lenses or eye drops to provide even more relief from dry eyes.

5. Use a Humidifier

When the air around you is too dry, it pulls the remaining moisture from your tears, leaving your eyes feeling parched.

Humidifiers combat the dryness in any indoor environment by replenishing moisture in the air. Whether at work or home, use a humidifier to offset dryness, especially if you are using a fan, heater or air conditioner in the room.

6. Try Warm Compresses

Warm eye compresses are a great way to relieve symptoms of mild to moderate dry eye syndrome.

The gentle heat from a compress helps to soften any hardened oils that may be clogged in the little oil glands that line the eyelashes. Your oil glands will work more efficiently to deliver tear-stabilizing oils to your eyes’ surface once the glands aren’t blocked. Your eye doctor will instruct you on how to easily prepare a warm eye compress at home.

7. Visit Your Dry Eye Optometrist

Your [eye doctor] offers a range of successful options to treat your dry eyes to ensure you always have clear vision and comfortable eyes. Call your dry eye optometrist to have your eyes thoroughly evaluated and treated for long-lasting relief. There is a wide range of in-office treatments that can alleviate symptoms of dry eye syndrome and help your eyes feel refreshed.

To learn more about our dry eye services and schedule a consultation, call River Place Vision Center in Austin today!

River Place Vision Center serves dry eye patients from Austin, Cedar Park, West Lake Hills, and Hudson Bend, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dennis Smith

Q: What are other symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Aside from redness and dryness, dry eye syndrome can also cause watery eyes, stinging or burning, stringy mucus, blurred vision, grittiness, light sensitivity and difficulty wearing contact lenses. Symptoms can range from mild to debilitating, and from occasional to chronic.

Q: Does dry eye syndrome need to be treated?

  • A: If left untreated, dry eye syndrome can cause eye inflammation, corneal ulcers or abrasions and even vision loss in severe cases. Dry eye syndrome also puts a person more at risk of developing eye infections. If you have any symptoms of dry eye syndrome, contact us for a tailor-made treatment plan.

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Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-343-2020

Why Ortho-K Is A Great Alternative To LASIK

Why Ortho K Is A Great Alternative To LASIK 640×350Most people elect to have refractive surgery like LASIK for the hassle-free, crisp vision it provides. But did you know that you can achieve the same results as LASIK without undergoing surgery?

Orthokeratology, commonly referred to as ortho-k, safely eliminates the need for daytime glasses or contact lens wear by correcting myopia (nearsightedness), and is a popular alternative to LASIK surgery.

What Is Ortho-K?

Ortho-k uses rigid gas-permeable contact lenses to gently and safely reshape the front surface of the eye, the cornea, for clear daytime vision. These specialized lenses are designed to be worn overnight while you sleep, and removed in the morning, leaving you with corrected, stable vision throughout the day.

These custom-designed lenses work by gently applying light pressure to the epithelial layer of the cornea and molding its shape to alter its focusing power.

What are the Advantages of Ortho-K Over LASIK?

Lower Risk of Complications

Any medical device or procedure involves some risk of complications. Both ortho-k and LASIK have associated risks, but those of LASIK are considered more serious.

LASIK complications, while rare, can leave patients with corneal disorders, such as astigmatism or severe dry eye syndrome and — more commonly — visual problems like glare, distortion and seeing halos around lights.

In contrast, the risks associated with ortho-k lenses are no different from those connected to any other rigid contact lenses. Poor hygiene is the biggest risk factor for developing contact-lens irritation and complications.

Orthokeratology is Reversible

LASIK surgery is not reversible, and in the event of complications, further medical procedures may be necessary to correct any resulting problems.

Ortho-k, on the other hand, is non-invasive and completely reversible if you ever decide to cease treatment. After a few nights of not wearing the lenses, your corneas will slowly revert back to their original, natural shape.

Better For Dry Eyes

If you have symptoms of dry eye syndrome like dryness and irritation, you may want to think twice before undergoing LASIK. A common side effect of LASIK is dry eye syndrome, and many people who already have the condition are advised to not have refractive surgery.

Dry eye syndrome can also make it uncomfortable to wear standard contact lenses.

Ortho-k is great for people with mild to moderate dry eyes because there’s no need to wear eyewear, such as standard contacts, during the day.

More Cost-Effective

Both LASIK and ortho-k will most likely save you money in the long term, as eyeglasses, contact lenses and other related expenses are no longer incurred. That said, in most cases, the up-front expenses of ortho-k lenses are about half the cost of LASIK surgery.

The exact cost of ortho-k lenses will vary depending on many factors and the degree of your refractive error.

Reduce Myopia Progression

Myopia, or nearsightedness, significantly increases the risk of developing sight-threatening diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment and macular degeneration later in life. The higher (worse) the myopia, the greater the risk. As myopia progresses and worsens, the risks further increase.

Slowing myopia can effectively reduce this risk. Myopia can continue to worsen into a person’s 20’s, and at least 10% of nearsighted adults from ages 20 and older will still experience some degree of myopia progression.

Ortho-k has been clinically proven to slow the progression of myopia in children and young adults, making it an excellent treatment for nearsightedness.

LASIK, on the other hand, offers no such benefits. Refractive surgeries simply alter the focusing power of the cornea to produce clear vision, while ignoring the underlying problem that causes the eyeball elongation associated with myopia.

LASIK is only offered to those whose eyes have stopped growing, usually people 21 and older. So, unlike ortho-k, it generally cannot slow the myopia progression in teens and young adults.

In fact, many teenagers and young adults who are interested in eventually choosing LASIK use ortho-k lenses to stabilize their myopia and increase their chance of successful LASIK outcomes in their 20s, once their eyes stop growing.

Interested in Ortho-K? We Can Help!

If you are interested in correcting your vision without surgery or the need to wear daytime contact lenses or glasses, contact us to learn if ortho-k lenses are right for your eyes and lifestyle.

At River Place Vision Center, our friendly and knowledgeable optometric team will guide you through all of your options and help you achieve optimal vision.

To learn more about ortho-k or to schedule a consultation, call River Place Vision Center today!

River Place Vision Center offers myopia management to patients from Austin, Cedar Park, West Lake Hills, and Hudson Bend, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dennis Smith

Q: Who is a candidate for Ortho-K?

  • A: Children (ages 8 and above) and adults with mild to moderate nearsightedness/astigmatism who want clear vision without daytime eyewear are great candidates for orthokeratology. Ortho-k is also a great option for athletes who require stable vision without worrying about eyewear that can be damaged.

Q: Are there any disadvantages of Ortho-K?

  • A: Ortho-k lenses must be cleaned after each use to maintain hygiene and reduce the risk of contact lens-related problems. Occasionally, ortho-k lenses aren’t suitable for patients with very high prescriptions.

References

Myopia Management Appointment
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 512-343-2020

What Is Excess Eye Fluid?

What Is Excess Eye Fluid 640×350Collagen, water and protein make up the majority of the human eye, and tears are always present to help keep the eye moist. However, surplus fluid can occasionally accumulate inside the eye and signal a serious eye problem.

Several factors may contribute to this problem.

There are two primary sources of fluid inside the eye. The first is needed to flush out waste products from behind the cornea, leading it to flow out from the eye through the anterior angle. The second type of fluid is found in blood vessels that nourish the retina and macula at the back of the eye.

Conditions that Cause Excess Eye Fluid

Several conditions can result in excess eye fluid, and each is managed and treated in its own way to prevent eye damage and vision loss. These conditions include:

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the central part of the retina, called the macula. Fluid build-up on the macula causes the wet form of macular degeneration, which affects central vision and the ability to see fine details. This usually occurs when very fragile new blood vessels form in the retina. These abnormal blood vessels leak fluid, made up of plasma and blood into the retina.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma develops when the eye’s drainage system becomes clogged, inhibiting the flow of fluid through the anterior angle and causing fluid to accumulate in the eye. Glaucoma can also develop when the eye produces more fluid than usual and is unable to drain it quickly enough. In both cases, as the fluid builds up inside the eye, the pressure inside the eye rises, potentially damaging the nerve fibers that send all our visual signals from the eye to the brain. The optic disc becomes hollow and cupped as a result of the injured nerves.

Glaucoma will progress if extra fluid continues to collect in the eye, and can lead to serious vision loss or blindness if left untreated.

Macular Edema

Macular edema occurs when there is a build-up of fluid in the macula. The macula is positioned in the middle of the retina, which is the neural tissue at the back of the eye that sends the light signals to the brain and allows you to see.

Damaged blood vessels in the retina cause fluid to accumulate in the macula. This leads to compromised vision, with common symptoms including blurred or wavy vision in the center of your field of vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic macular edema is a result of diabetic retinopathy. There are two types of diabetic retinopathy, based on the stage of the disease: nonproliferative retinopathy (when blood vessels in the retina enlarge and leak) and proliferative retinopathy (when abnormal new blood vessels form on the retina).

Blurred or double vision, as well as floating, dark patches in your vision, are all common symptoms of diabetic macular edema.

Central Serous Retinopathy

Central serous retinopathy occurs when fluid accumulates behind the retina. The fluid buildup is caused by leaking from the layer of blood vessels beneath the retina (choroid).

When the retinal pigment epithelium, the layer between the retina and the choroid, fails to function properly, fluid builds up behind the retina, causing the retina to detach and vision to be impaired. Symptoms include dimmed, distorted or blurred vision, as well as straight lines seeming crooked or bent.

Treatment for Excess Eye Fluid

Treatments often include reducing pressure produced by fluid buildup and treating the underlying cause of the buildup.

In diabetic macular edema, for example, your eye doctor will recommend treatment for your diabetes along with treatment for the retinal impairment that is causing fluid buildup.

In some circumstances, surgery may be required. For instance, glaucoma patients may require surgery to create a new opening from the eye through which fluid can drain. Certain medications can also assist in fluid drainage from the eye, which works to lower the pressure inside the eye or causes the eye to produce less fluid.

Intravitreal injection is a treatment used when there is a buildup of fluid in or under the retina. Anti-VEGF medications absorb fluid and stop fluid/blood from leaking out of blood vessels, which is a common occurrence in both macular edema and wet macular degeneration.

If you have signs of fluid buildup, it’s essential to promptly speak with your eye doctor. Treatment will be more successful once the underlying disease is identified.

Contact River Place Vision Center today. We’ll be happy to assist you in identifying the source of the problem and direct you to the appropriate treatment.

River Place Vision Center serves patients from Austin, Cedar Park, West Lake Hills, and Hudson Bend, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dennis Smith

Q: What is wet macular degeneration?

  • A: Wet macular degeneration is an eye disease that causes blurred vision or a blind spot in your visual field. It is caused by abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the macula, the section of the retina responsible for central vision. Symptoms like visual distortions and increased blurred vision tend to appear suddenly and quickly worsen.

Q: What other conditions can cause excess fluid in the eye?

  • A: Other conditions that may cause excess fluid in the eye include:
  • Choroidal effusion – the buildup of fluid between the choroid, the sclera, and a layer of blood vessels on top of the retina.
    A retinal tear – may cause fluid to accumulate and lead the retina to detach.
    Chemosis – a swelling of the eye due to accumulation of fluid often caused by allergies or eye infection.


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What Happens If You Don’t Treat Dry Eye Syndrome?

girl sitting in the pool 640×350Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a condition where your eyes either produce low-quality tears or don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated. Sometimes the meibomian glands inside your eyelids, which produce the oily layer of your tears, don’t function properly or are blocked, causing your tears to dry out. Environmental factors, certain medical conditions and several medications can also cause DES.

Tears are essential for maintaining eye health and comfort. They moisten your eyes and remove debris. In severe cases, untreated dry eye syndrome can actually damage your cornea and cause vision loss.

The amount of dryness varies in severity from person to person. If you have a minor case of dry eye, you may be able to manage it with over-the-counter eye drops. However, if the problem persists or appears to be getting worse, it’s time to visit your eye doctor, who will assess your eyes, find the underlying problem and offer treatment for lasting relief.

Below is a list of complications that may occur if chronic dry eye syndrome isn’t treated:

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis refers to infected or inflamed conjunctiva — the clear layer of cells that covers the white part of your eyeball and the inner surface of your eyelids. Symptoms include grittiness, redness and sensitivity to light.

Keratitis

Keratitis refers to an inflammation of the cornea. It can be caused by different types of infections, abnormalities of the eyelids, injury and dry eye. If the deeper layers of the cornea are involved, scarring or a corneal ulcer may result, particularly if left untreated.

Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is an open sore that develops on the cornea—the clear, protective outer layer of your eyes.

While corneal ulcers typically develop following an injury, they can also be caused by severe dry eye.

On a daily basis, debris, like dirt and sand particles, enter your eyes and scratch the surface of the cornea. When your tear glands don’t produce enough tears to wash away the particles, bacteria can infect the scratch and cause an ulcer.

Luckily, corneal ulcers are easily treated with antibiotic eye drops. Left untreated, however, these ulcers can spread and scar the eyeball, causing partial or even complete blindness.

Inability to wear contact lenses

Unless your eyes produce enough good-quality tears, your contact lenses can become overly dry, leading to a gritty sensation, irritation and redness. Without sufficient moisture, your contacts may stick to your eyeball, making it difficult to remove them.

Though chronic dry eye syndrome may prevent you from wearing standard contact lenses, certain specialized contact lenses can improve ocular hydration and comfort.

Difficulty keeping your eyes open

Depending on the severity of dry eye, it may be difficult to keep your eyes open. This may occur if dry eye syndrome causes extreme light sensitivity or a chronic sensation that something is stuck in your eye.

While artificial tears may provide enough moisture to partially open your eyes, you may still feel the urge to squint, especially when exposed to a computer screen or sunlight.

Difficulty reading or driving

While blurred vision often signals that you need a stronger prescription, it’s also a common symptom of chronic dry eye syndrome.

Left untreated, the blurriness may worsen and even lead to double vision. Naturally, this makes driving and reading a real struggle.

Headaches

While there’s room for more research, studies have shown that there may be a connection between headaches and dry eye. A population-based case study of more than 72,000 patients published by JAMA Ophthalmology (2019) found that people who suffer from migraine headaches are more likely to have dry eyes compared to the general population.

It’s not clear why. According to the paper, being female and of advanced age play an important role in determining the strength of this association.

Depression

A 2015 study, published in the journal Cornea evaluated the connection between dry eye disease and depressive symptoms in more than 6,000 women. Researchers found that women diagnosed with dry eye had a higher likelihood of developing depressive moods, anxiety, and psychological stress.

While the connection isn’t fully understood, researchers noted that some medications for treating depression have a drying effect on the eyes, and that dry eye syndrome may limit a person’s participation in activities, to the point where they may become anxious, withdrawn and even depressed.

If you have dry eye, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with River Place Vision Center in order to find the best treatment options and thus increase the quality of your tears and life.

River Place Vision Center serves patients from Austin, Cedar Park, West Lake Hills, and Hudson Bend, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dennis Smith

Q: How do I know if I have dry eye syndrome?

  • A: If you experience itchiness, light sensitivity, tearing and tired eyes, it could indicate that you have dry eye syndrome. Get your eyes checked by an eye doctor, who will thoroughly diagnose your symptoms and offer lasting treatment.

Q: What causes dry eye?

  • A: Various things can cause dry, itchy eyes. Some of the most common causes include blocked glands, environmental factors (wind, air pollution), infrequent blinking, certain medications, standard contact lenses and Demodex mites.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-343-2020

5 Important Eye Care Tips For Kids

Your child’s ability to see the world relies on healthy eyes. By teaching them how to care for their eyes, you help protect them from injury and ensure their eyes and vision remain healthy in the long run. Here are our 5 top eye care tips for kids.

Good Eye Care Habits for Children

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet and Drink Plenty of Water

A nutritious diet and healthy eyes go hand in hand. Encourage your child to eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, and prioritize foods rich in vitamin A found in green leafy and yellow vegetables. Eggs are also rich in important nutrients, containing vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc, all vital for eye health.

Another thing to look out for is hydration. Proper hydration plays a key role in maintaining healthy eyes and a healthy body, so make sure your child drinks plenty of water (the appropriate amount will vary according to your child’s age, level of physical activity and weather conditions).

2. Wear Eye Protection

Physical activity is enjoyable and healthy, but make sure your child is wearing the right protective eyewear, like safety goggles, anytime they participate in sports or activities that could cause an eye injury (i.e. playing ball, hockey, carpentry). Wearing a helmet for sports like riding a bicycle protects against concussions, which can result in lingering vision problems, and are usually preventable.

Furthermore, provide your child with good UV-blocking sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s UV radiation. Staring directly at the sun, or the light rays reflecting off water and snow, can potentially cause retinal burns, in addition to long term damage.

3. Give The Eyes a Rest

Staring at the school board and school books all day, followed by playing video games or watching TV in the evening can cause eye strain. Be sure your child gets sufficient sleep to allow their eyes to rest. Replace evening activities with those that don’t require intense eye focusing: going to the park, playing outdoors with friends, or simply lying down with their eyes closed while listening to music or an audiobook.

4. Reduce Time Spent on Digital Devices

Spending time on digital devices and staring at screens is an integral part of our lives. Playing video games, watching videos on their smartphones and playing computer games, all require the eyes to fixate for extended periods of time, which can lead to digital eye strain, headaches and even dry eyes.

Experts believe that the number of hours spent on screens is the driving force behind the myopia pandemic. Try to reduce the amount of time your child spends on the screen by getting your child to participate in other activities, such as sports. If you are worried about the hours your child is spending on a screen myopia management can mitigate their risk of developing future eye problems.

5. Get Their Eyes Checked Regularly

School-aged children’s vision can change often, and unexpectedly, until the late teenage years. Left uncorrected, poor eyesight can interfere with learning, and cause behavioral and attention issues.

Getting a routine eye exam is important as it can uncover vision problems, detect eye conditions early on, and significantly increase the odds of preserving long-term eye health. For those who wear glasses or contacts, it’s important to check for any changes and update the prescription as needed.

Ensure your child’s eyes are being cared for properly by scheduling an eye exam with River Place Vision Center in Austin today. Your child’s eye doctor can further educate them on eye safety and answer any questions you or your child may have.

Q&A

My kid frequently rubs their eyes. Is that bad?

Kids often rub their eyes, especially if they have allergies, irritated eyes, or they feel like something is stuck in their peepers. Rubbing can scratch the cornea, and transfer bacteria from the child’s hands to their eyes, causing an eye infection.

Instead of rubbing, have them wash their eyes with cool water to flush out any foreign body or irritant, and ease inflammation. If the problem persists, contact your child’s optometrist.

Other than reducing screen time, is there anything else I can do to maintain eye health & safety?

When you’re at home, keep an eye on your children’s playtime and make sure that none of their toys — or the toys at their friends’ homes — are sharp. Sharp plastic swords and toys with jagged edges can cause serious eye injuries.