How is Lazy Eye Treated in Adults

Amblyopia, which is also colloquially referred to as lazy eye, is a condition that can impact people of all ages. While it’s more common in children, adults can develop it later in life for various reasons. Additionally, some people may have had lazy eye for most of their lives but weren’t in a position to receive treatment until they reached adulthood.  

Fortunately, there are effective amblyopia treatment options that work well in adults. Here’s a quick overview of what lazy eye involves, as well as an overview of how amblyopia in adults is typically treated.  

What Is Amblyopia?  

Amblyopia is an eye condition primarily characterized by poor eye teaming, meaning a person’s eyes aren’t working well together and won’t always point in the same direction. When the eyes are misaligned with one another, one or both eyes may struggle to see clearly.  

However, lazy eye isn’t solely characterized by a physical misalignment. Instead, the condition can cause vision loss due to the brain not fully acknowledging visual stimuli from both eyes. Essentially, it favors visual information from one eye over the other, causing it to functionally ignore stimuli that are primarily received through the weaker eye.   

Since how the brain processes visual information may be limited in individuals with amblyopia, glasses or other corrective lenses aren’t always sufficient to ensure good vision. Instead, other treatment approaches may be necessary.  

How Lazy Eye Is Treated in Adults  

Since amblyopia involves the brain not properly processing visual stimuli, treatment beyond corrective lenses is often necessary. Even in adults, it’s possible to functionally retrain the brain to interpret the visual signals correctly, leading to improved visual acuity. Additionally, physical alignment issues are often correctable, including in adults. Again, that allows treatment to improve a patient’s vision.  

In many cases, vision therapy is beneficial for treating amblyopia. Typically, it involves a series of activities or exercises designed to develop a person’s eye teaming or binocular vision.  

For some, eye patching is a potential course of action. By fogging or blocking the favored eye, it’s possible to force the weaker eye to carry more visual load, effectively teaching the brain to rely on it more for vision.  

Getting the Amblyopia Treatment You Need  

While there is plenty of information online that discusses patching techniques or exercises to correct lazy eye, relying on them is risky. Every patient’s condition is unique, and an approach that works well for some may cause harm to others.  

As a result, the best strategy is to work with your eye care provider to determine which treatment options are best for your amblyopia. Your eye care provider can select exercises or patching approaches that specifically address your unique situation, leading to better results while reducing risk dramatically.  

Find an Ophthalmologist in WNY 

At ECVA, safeguarding the well-being of your eyes is our unwavering commitment. If you’re navigating the challenges of amblyopia or if it’s been a while since your last eye checkup, our dedicated team is ready to guide you on the path to optimal eye health. Don’t let uncertainty linger – take charge and schedule an appointment at your nearest ECVA clinic today. Your vision deserves the best care, right here in Buffalo. 

Family looking at eyeglasses

Macular Degeneration Treatment Options in Western New York

Macular degeneration is an eye condition that leads to visual distortions and potentially permanent central vision loss. Often, it’s a devastating diagnosis initially, but there are treatments available that can help preserve vision and slow further degeneration.  

The exact treatment options available depend on the kind of AMD present. Here’s a brief overview of macular degeneration, including a look at the two primary types and some treatment options.  

What Is Macular Degeneration?  

Age-related macular degeneration – which some simply refer to as macular degeneration – is an eye condition impacting the retina that leads to central vision loss. The loss of visual acuity in AMD patients classically worsens over time, and it can be severe. Overall, AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in individuals aged 50 and older. There are two primary forms of AMD: wet and dry.  

Dry macular degeneration occurs when drusen collects in the macula, leading to visual distortions and damage to the macula. Wet AMD involves abnormal blood vessel activity under the macular, causing visual distortions and scarring that can lead to central vision loss.  

Treatment Options for Wet AMD  

There are several treatment options for wet AMD. Anti-VEGF medications can reduce abnormal vessels in the retina, as well as slow leakage. These treatments are delivered via an injection and administered by a suitably credentialed eye care provider. Generally, the medication is administered on a regular schedule, typically every one to three months. For many people, this approach may dramatically slow or halt vision loss, and some patients may even experience vision improvements.  

For some patients with wet AMD, laser surgery is potentially beneficial, particularly if the medication-based approach isn’t yielding positive results. The laser procedures allow an eye care provider to reduce the number of vessels present or stem any leaking, which can slow the progression of AMD.  

Treatment Options for Dry AMD  

Currently, treatments are available for patients with dry AMD with geographic atrophy. There are prescription medications available that an eye care specialist can administer by injection.  

Specific nutritional supplements are also potentially beneficial. Taking copper, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc daily may make a difference, though it’s wise to consult with your eye care provider before incorporating any supplements into your diet.  

Finally, some patients with advanced dry AMD in both eyes may benefit from telescopic lens implantation. Once in place, the lenses magnify a person’s field of vision, though they offer a relatively narrow field of view.  

Finding the Right Macular Degeneration Treatment Option for You  

Determining which macular degeneration treatment options are best for you requires expertise. By scheduling an appointment with your eye care provider, you can find out more information about your condition and receive details about treatments that may benefit you.  

Get The Best Macular Degeneration Treatment in Buffalo, NY 

Take the proactive step towards preserving your vision – schedule a consultation with ECVA today at one of our 4 WNY locations. Don’t let macular degeneration define your vision, act now to see a clearer tomorrow. 

The Evolution of LASIK: From PRK to Bladeless Femtosecond LASIK

Vision correction surgery began making headlines in the 1980s and 1990s. It generated excitement as people learned they may have a path to see clearly without needing corrective lenses, including prescription glasses or contacts.  

LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) quickly became one of the most popular options available. It offered less discomfort and faster recovery times, as well as the possibility to achieve 20/20 vision within one day.  

However, there are several types of vision correction surgery on the market and each works best in different situations. Here’s an overview of the options, including LASIK, PRK, bladeless femtosecond LASIK, and more.  

PRK  

PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is a laser eye surgery that predates LASIK. While it’s not as widely used as LASIK, it remains relevant since it’s a bladeless procedure. As a result, it’s an option for people with thin corneas. However, it’s generally limited to individuals with myopia and astigmatism, and it’s appropriate for significant hyperopia.  

With PRK, vision correction is achieved by working through the outer layer and reshaping the cornea to address refractive errors. Most patients see vision improvements within one month, though some may take closer to three months to achieve proper results, depending on how quickly the outer layer repairs.  

LASIK  

LASIK is a procedure that uses lasers to reshape the cornea, allowing it to treat myopia, presbyopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. A microkeratome (a type of blade) creates a flap to make the cornea accessible. Then, a laser removes specific tissue to correct refractive errors. Once the tissues are removed, the flap is put back into place to heal.  

While LASIK is effective, there’s a higher chance of dry eye as a side effect, which may make it a less-than-ideal choice for patients who already experience dry eyes. However, the bladed approach can more easily navigate certain cornea or pupil abnormalities when compared to a laser-based alternative.  

ASA  

ASA (advanced surface ablation) is similar to PRK, but it relies on a different type of laser. The laser loosens the outer layer of the cornea to allow the laser to penetrate more deeply to correct refractive issues, and it’s a bladeless procedure. Generally, ASA complication rates are lower than PRK, and outcomes are typically better due to the high degree of precision.  

LASEK  

LASEK (laser-assisted sub-epithelial keratomileusis) is also similar to PRK, but it creates an ultra-thin flap using the laser that remains attached. That layer is moved to the side to allow the laser to reshape the cornea and is then repositioned. The results are usually akin to what’s seen with PRK, and it’s a potential option for patients with thin corneas that make them ineligible for traditional LASIK. Additionally, it may work for patients who already struggle with dry eyes, a condition that can be exacerbated by LASIK.  

Bladeless Femtosecond LASIK  

Bladeless femtosecond LASIK, also known as femtoLASIK, uses a femtosecond laser instead of a blade to create the flap. Since it relies on all-laser technology, it may offer a greater degree of precision when creating the flap and may reduce the risk of complications. Once that’s done, lasers reshape the cornea to address the refractive errors before the flap is put back into place.  

With Bladeless femtosecond LASIK, it’s possible to correct the same refractive errors as you would with traditional LASIK. It may also work particularly well for patients who already experience dry eye, as that side effect is typically less pronounced and may not last as long.  

Connect With Top LASIK Doctors in Buffalo

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re considering laser vision correction surgery or simply haven’t visited your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

Diabetic Eye Disease and Vitreoretinal Surgery: Navigating Treatment Options

Diabetic eye disease like diabetic retinopathy can permanently alter a person’s vision, leading to vision loss or, in severe cases, blindness. With diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels in the eye weaken. At times, that can lead vessels to bulge and leak, and the latter can cause fluids to enter various parts of the eye, causing retinal tissue swelling. As those tissues are impacted, visual acuity changes, and any damage caused is potentially irreversible.  

However, treating diabetic eye disease can slow or prevent future eye changes, allowing a person to limit their vision loss. One such option is vitreoretinal surgery, also known as vitrectomy, but different paths are also available.  

Here’s a look at vitreoretinal surgery and a few other treatments for diabetic eye disease, as well as what you can do to navigate your treatment options.  

Vitreoretinal Surgery for Diabetic Retinopathy 

Vitreoretinal surgery is a procedure that’s often used in the treatment of advanced diabetic retinopathy. While it isn’t a cure for diabetic retinopathy, it can slow its progression and may reverse some of its impact, causing your vision to possibly improve, stabilize, or avoid significant ongoing losses.  

With a vitrectomy, your eye care provider addresses vitreous gel clouding that can occur when blood vessels leak by removing impacted tissue and replacing it with a clear artificial substitute. In many cases, replacing the cloudy vitreous gel with a clear artificial solution leads to significant vision improvement.  

During the procedure, your eye care provider will also remove built-up scar tissue that’s developed in the eye. Scar tissue can pull on the retina, leading to visual distortions and increasing the chances of a retinal detachment. As a result, scar tissue removal can lead to vision improvements and reduce the risk of retinal detachment.  

Other Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy

Generally, vitreoretinal surgery is reserved for advanced diabetic retinopathy cases. Other treatment options may provide positive results if your case isn’t that severe. For example, blood sugar management could prevent further damage, which may make additional treatment unnecessary.  

For more severe cases, medication injections involving vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors can help prevent abnormal blood vessel development that can occur with diabetic retinopathy and reduce fluid buildup. Focal laser or scatter laser treatment – also known as photocoagulation – can also slow or stop blood vessel leakage or shrink abnormal vessels, making them a viable option in some cases.  

How to Navigate Your Treatment Options

Selecting a treatment option after being diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy is often intimidating. Fortunately, by working with your eye care provider, you can receive critical guidance and support that makes selecting an appropriate approach easier. 

Your eye care provider can look at the details of your situation, identifying treatment options that are both viable and have the highest chances of making a positive impact. They can also answer questions to help you understand the recommendations, ensuring you can find the best treatment option for you.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, are concerned you may develop diabetic eye disease, or simply haven’t visited your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

The Role of Genetics in Eye Health: Understanding Inherited Eye Conditions

Some eye conditions are related to specific genetic markers. As a result, these eye conditions can be inherited. By understanding what conditions have genetic factors, it’s easier to anticipate your risk of developing them. In turn, it can help you take a more proactive approach to your eye health, which can make a significant difference in overall outcomes.

Here is a look at some common eye conditions that can be linked to genetics.

Myopia and Hyperopia

Both myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) can have a genetic component. Anyone with a first-degree relative with either condition is significantly more likely to develop it than individuals without family members with the condition.

Research involving myopia in children also demonstrates that specific demographics are more likely to develop the condition. For example, one study showed the prevalence is far higher in South Asian children, coming in at nine times greater than among white Europeans.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the most common cause of blindness worldwide, as the condition can permanently damage the optic nerve due to increased pressure in the eye. Having a family history of glaucoma puts you at far greater risk, making you four to nine times more likely to develop the condition.

Additionally, people of Hispanic descent are at greater risk than those of European descent. Individuals of Asian descent have a heightened risk of angle-closure glaucoma than other demographics. Glaucoma is also up to eight times more prevalent in the African-American community than in the Caucasian community.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – an eye condition that leads to a damaged macula, which causes a reduction in central vision – also seemingly has a genetic component. According to research, an estimated 20 percent of patients with AMD have a family member with the condition, and having a family history makes you four times more likely to develop AMD.

Studies also suggest that Caucasians are more likely to develop AMD than African Americans. Data on whether individuals of Hispanic descent are more or less likely to develop AMD than Caucasians is conflicting, with some reports showing a higher occurrence while others a lower one.

Cataracts

While cataracts are common as people age, specific occurrences of the condition have genetic components. Congenital or childhood bilateral cataracts autosomal dominant inheritance was present among 44 percent of cases examined in one particular study.

Specific ethnic heritages are also at greater risk of developing cataracts in general. For example, African Americans and Latinx Americans are at greater risk than Caucasian Americans.

While a genetic predisposition to specific eye conditions is often concerning, being proactive makes a difference. Proper care and monitoring can lead to an earlier diagnosis, allowing for treatment plans that can slow disease progression and preserve eye health and vision.

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re concerned about whether you’re developing an eye condition with a genetic component or simply haven’t visited your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.

SLT Laser Surgery for Glaucoma: Redefining Care for Lasting Visual Health

Glaucoma, often called the “silent thief of sight,” is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, leading to progressive vision loss and even blindness if left untreated. It is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. Traditional treatment methods for glaucoma primarily involve medication, eye drops, and, in more severe cases, surgical intervention.

In recent years, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) has emerged as a revolutionary approach to treating glaucoma. This advanced laser surgery offers a promising alternative to traditional methods, redefining the landscape of glaucoma care and aiming for lasting visual health.

What is SLT?

Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) for glaucoma is an innovative and advanced medical procedure to treat the chronic eye condition that leads to optic nerve damage and vision loss. SLT targets the drainage system of the eye, known as the trabecular meshwork, to lower intraocular pressure (IOP), a critical factor in the progression of glaucoma.

Unlike traditional laser procedures that aim to create permanent tissue damage to increase drainage, SLT laser treatment for glaucoma takes a more precise and selective approach. This type of glaucoma laser surgery utilizes short pulses of low-energy laser light to target specific cells within the trabecular meshwork. These cells contain melanin, a natural pigment that readily absorbs the laser energy. When exposed to the laser, these melanin-containing cells undergo subtle changes that improve the drainage of aqueous humor, the clear fluid that fills the front of the eye.

The term “selective” in SLT refers to the laser’s ability to target only specific cells while leaving surrounding tissues unaffected. This targeted treatment approach distinguishes SLT from earlier forms of glaucoma laser surgery, which were associated with higher levels of tissue damage and potential complications.

SLT’s non-destructive nature is a key factor in its success. The body’s natural healing response triggers after SLT, leading to sustained improvements in aqueous humor drainage and, subsequently, a reduction in intraocular pressure. This reduction in pressure is crucial in managing glaucoma, as elevated IOP is a major risk factor for optic nerve damage and visual field loss.

An important advantage of SLT is its potential for repeatability. Unlike some surgical procedures that create permanent changes, SLT can be repeated in the future if necessary, making it a valuable tool for long-term glaucoma management.

SLT laser surgery for glaucoma has gained popularity for its effectiveness in lowering intraocular pressure, its minimal invasiveness, and relatively quick recovery period. Patients who undergo SLT typically experience minimal discomfort during and after the procedure. The absence of surgical incisions reduces the risk of infection and complications, contributing to a smoother recovery process. Many individuals can return to normal activities shortly after the procedure, enhancing the overall patient experience.

How Does SLT Laser Surgery Work?

SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is a cutting-edge medical procedure transforming management of this debilitating disease. There are six specific processes at work within this type of glaucoma laser surgery:

1. Targeting the Trabecular Meshwork

The key to SLT’s success is its ability to target the trabecular meshwork, a specialized tissue structure located at the junction between the iris and the cornea. The trabecular meshwork plays a crucial role in regulating the drainage of aqueous humor, the clear fluid filling the front part of the eye. In glaucoma, this drainage system becomes compromised, leading to a buildup of intraocular pressure that can damage the optic nerve and result in vision loss.

2. Low-Energy Laser Pulses

During SLT laser treatment for glaucoma, a specially calibrated laser emits short pulses of low-energy light. Unlike traditional laser treatments that aim to create permanent tissue damage, SLT is non-destructive. The laser’s energy is selectively absorbed by melanin-containing cells within the trabecular meshwork. Melanin is a natural pigment found in the body, including the eye.

3. Stimulating Cellular Changes

When the melanin-containing cells absorb the laser energy, they undergo subtle but important changes. These cellular changes trigger a series of biological responses within the trabecular meshwork, leading to improved drainage of aqueous humor. As a result, the pressure within the eye gradually reduces, alleviating the strain on the optic nerve.

4. Natural Healing Process

One of the remarkable aspects of SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is its reliance on the body’s natural healing mechanisms. The laser-induced changes within the trabecular meshwork prompt the body to initiate a healing response. Over time, the treated area undergoes healing and remodeling, further enhancing the drainage pathways. This healing process contributes to the sustained reduction in intraocular pressure achieved through SLT.

Pros of SLT Laser Treatment for Glaucoma

SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is highly effective. One study showed a 70% effectiveness rate at reducing IOP with no medications needed six months after treatment. Some of the benefits of SLT laser treatment include the following.

Targeted Precision

SLT laser treatment for glaucoma offers a remarkable level of precision. Unlike traditional surgical methods, SLT’s laser energy targets melanin-containing cells within the trabecular meshwork. A targeted approach promotes enhanced drainage of aqueous humor, reducing IOP and preventing further optic nerve damage. The precision of SLT ensures that surrounding tissues remain unaffected, minimizing the risk of complications and preserving overall eye health.

Lasting Effects

SLT’s impact endures over time, contributing to its effectiveness in glaucoma management. By triggering the body’s natural healing response, SLT laser surgery for glaucoma creates sustained improvements in aqueous humor drainage and lasting reductions in IOP. The procedure’s effects are especially valuable for patients seeking a long-term solution for their glaucoma. The option for repeat procedures allows eye care professionals to tailor treatment plans based on individual needs and disease progression.

Minimally Invasive

SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is an outpatient procedure, meaning patients do not need to stay in the hospital overnight. The procedure is relatively quick, completed within a matter of minutes. Because it involves a laser, no surgical incisions or stitches are required. As a result, the risk of infection and complications is minimal. Patients typically experience minimal discomfort during the procedure and can return to normal activities shortly afterward.

Decreased Reliance on Drops

Another significant advantage of SLT laser treatment for glaucoma is its potential for repeatability. Because the procedure does not cause permanent tissue damage, it can be repeated if necessary. Some patients may require multiple SLT sessions over time to maintain the desired reduction in intraocular pressure. This adaptability is valuable for long-term glaucoma management, reducing or eliminating the need for daily drops.

Who is a Good Candidate for SLT Laser Surgery?

SLT laser treatment for glaucoma has revolutionized glaucoma management by providing a minimally invasive and effective treatment option for lowering intraocular pressure (IOP). Only some people with glaucoma are suitable candidates for SLT, but the procedure can benefit specific individuals. Below are key considerations that make someone a good candidate for SLT laser surgery.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, occurring when the eye’s drainage angle remains open but becomes less efficient. This condition increases IOP and damage to the optic nerve. SLT laser treatment for glaucoma is particularly effective for individuals with open-angle glaucoma, as it targets the trabecular meshwork, the main site of drainage resistance in this form of glaucoma. The selective laser pulses stimulate cellular changes that improve drainage, effectively reducing IOP and slowing down the progression of the disease.

Primary or Secondary Glaucoma

Primary (occurring independently) and secondary (resulting from other medical conditions or eye issues) glaucoma patients can benefit from SLT. The procedure’s ability to enhance drainage pathways makes it a viable treatment option for various forms of glaucoma.

Medication Challenges

Patients experiencing challenges with glaucoma medications, such as non-compliance, side effects, or difficulty administering eye drops, may be excellent candidates for SLT. The procedure can reduce or eliminate the need for multiple medications, simplifying the treatment regimen and improving patient compliance. By lowering IOP through SLT laser surgery for glaucoma, individuals may experience improved comfort and quality of life without the burden of managing complex medication regimens.

Mild to Moderate Glaucoma

SLT is most effective for individuals with mild to moderate glaucoma. While the procedure can provide significant benefits in reducing intraocular pressure, it may not be suitable for advanced cases of glaucoma where more aggressive treatment approaches are necessary. Eye care professionals carefully assess each patient’s condition and stage of glaucoma to determine the most appropriate treatment strategy. However, for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma, SLT can offer a powerful tool for managing the disease and preventing further vision loss.

What is the Cost of SLT Laser Treatment for Glaucoma?

SLT laser treatment for glaucoma ranges from a few hundred to more than $1,000 per eye. This cost generally covers the procedure itself, pre-operative evaluations, equipment use, eye care professional’s expertise, and any post-operative care. However, this is a general estimate, and actual costs vary widely.

Costs vary based on the geographic location of the medical facility, the experience of the eye care professional, or the specific clinic or hospital chosen. A patient’s insurance coverage or healthcare also plays a role in determining the out-of-pocket cost for the procedure.

SLT laser surgery is a medical procedure rather than a cosmetic one, meaning health insurance plans that include glaucoma treatments might cover it. However, insurance coverage policies differ significantly, so patients should contact their insurance providers to determine whether the surgery is covered.

Is SLT Laser Surgery Right for You? Consult the Glaucoma Specialists at ECVA

SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is a transformative treatment option. By enhancing the eye’s drainage system and reducing intraocular pressure, SLT can slow down the progression of glaucoma and help preserve lasting visual health. As always, consulting with an experienced ophthalmologist is crucial to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on individual patient needs and the specific characteristics of their glaucoma. ECVA offers glaucoma patients several options for treatment, including laser surgery. Talk with our glaucoma specialists in Williamsville, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, or Orchard Park today about how we can protect your vision health at every stage of your life.

The Importance of Regular Eye Exams for the Whole Family

The start of the school year is on the horizon, so many households are taking the time to get ready for the upcoming academic year. One critical part of that equation is a back-to-school eye exam, ensuring children are able to see clearly when they’re in class. 

However, regular eye exams aren’t just critical for students; they’re essential for the whole family. Here’s why. 

Early Detection of Vision Problems 

Regular eye exams allow for the early detection of vision problems, ensuring prompt intervention and treatment. In children, undetected vision issues can lead to difficulties in school, delayed development, and social challenges. By scheduling regular eye exams for children, parents can identify and address vision problems early on, preventing any potential negative impacts on their education and overall well-being. 

For parents, regular eye exams can detect age-related eye conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Many of these conditions don’t produce noticeable symptoms in their early stages, making comprehensive eye exams critical for early diagnosis and timely treatment. 

Prevention and Management of Eye Conditions 

Eye exams are not just about identifying existing vision problems; they also play a crucial role in preventing eye issues and managing existing conditions. Eye care providers can assess your eye health, evaluate risk factors, and provide guidance on preventive measures that’s customized based on your unique needs. 

Regular eye exams are also crucial for individuals with existing eye problems. These exams help monitor for changes caused by the conditions. In turn, it’s easier to identify treatments that can resolve issues or prevent further deterioration and begin them as quickly as possible. 

Prescription Updates 

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, regular eye exams ensure that your prescriptions are current. Vision changes typically occur gradually, and you might not even realize that your visual acuity is shifting. Regular eye exams help identify changes in your vision and allow your eye care provider to update prescriptions as needed to maintain proper visual acuity. 

Overall Health Assessment 

Conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and certain autoimmune diseases can lead to specific eye-related changes. During an eye exam, your eye care provider can identify abnormalities – such as changes in blood vessels, optic nerve damage, or deposits in the eyes – that may indicate underlying health issues. By catching these signs early, individuals can seek appropriate medical care and manage these conditions effectively. 

Setting a Good Example 

Regular eye exams for the whole family set a positive example for children and emphasize the importance of proactive healthcare. When children see their parents prioritizing proper eye care, they’re more likely to value and prioritize their own vision as they grow older. By making regular eye exams a family practice, you instill lifelong habits of self-care and promote overall well-being. 

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re preparing for back-to-school season or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

Family looking at eyeglasses

Common Age-Related Eye Problems

Vision plays a crucial role in everyone’s daily lives. But over time, age-related eye problems may arise, affecting a person’s ability to see clearly and perform common tasks. If you’d like to know about some common age-related eye problems, their causes, symptoms, and potential management strategies, here’s what you need to know. 

Presbyopia 

Presbyopia is one of the most common age-related eye problems. This condition is the result of the loss of elasticity in the lens, making it difficult to focus on nearby objects. People with presbyopia may experience eyestrain, headaches, and might start holding reading materials away from them to improve clarity. Fortunately, presbyopia can be easily managed with reading glasses, bifocals, or multifocal contact lenses. 

Cataracts 

Cataracts are another prevalent eye problem among older adults. They occur when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurry vision, faded colors, and increased sensitivity to glare. 

Although cataracts are a natural part of aging, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood that they’ll occur. For example, smoking, excessive sunlight exposure, and diabetes can accelerate the development of cataracts. 

In many cases, cataracts can be treated with surgery. The procedure involves replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial one, and the artificial lens restores clear vision. However, if symptoms are mild, using brighter lighting, wearing anti-glare glasses or sunglasses, or other less invasive options may work well. 

Age-Related Macular Degeneration 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye condition that impacts the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision. When a person has AMD, it typically causes a gradual loss of vision in the middle of the visual field. That makes it challenging to read, recognize faces, or perform tasks that require fine visual acuity. 

While the exact cause of AMD isn’t known, specific factors can play a role. For example, genetics, smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure can increase the risk. 

Although there is no cure for AMD, early detection and lifestyle modifications, such as a healthy diet and protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays, can help slow its progression. 

Glaucoma 

Glaucoma is a set of eye conditions that harm the optic nerve, typically due to increased pressure in the eye, which leads to damage. The most widely experienced type of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma. In most cases, it develops slowly and painlessly, gradually affecting peripheral vision. 

If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss. Regular eye examinations, along with medications, eye drops, or surgical interventions, can help manage glaucoma and prevent further damage. 

Dry Eye Syndrome 

Dry eye syndrome is when the eyes don’t produce enough tears or when a person’s tears evaporate too quickly. Tear production usually decreases as a person ages, leading to dryness, irritation, and a gritty sensation in the eyes. 

Environmental factors, medications, and specific underlying health conditions can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. Artificial tears, lifestyle adjustments – such as blinking more frequently and using a humidifier – and prescription medications can help manage dry eye syndrome effectively. 

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re concerned about age-related eye problems or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

Summer Eye Care Tips 

It’s officially summer, a time of year when people spend more time outdoors enjoying the excellent weather. However, it’s also a season that comes with specific eye health risks. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your eyes in fantastic shape by taking some simple steps. Here are some summer eye care tips to get you started. 

Protect Against UV Light 

Ultraviolet (UV) light can harm your eyes. UV exposure is connected to a variety of eye conditions, including macular degeneration, photokeratitis, uveal melanoma, and many others. 

UV rays are present even when it’s cloudy outside. As a result, it’s critical to protect your eyes against UV light at all times. Often, the simplest way is to wear wraparound sunglasses with complete or full-spectrum UV protection. You can even purchase wraparound sunglasses that have your prescription, ensuring you can see clearly while shielding your eyes from harm. 

Wear Goggles When Swimming 

When you go swimming, wearing goggles is a must if you want to keep your eyes safe and healthy. In lakes, rivers, and the ocean, visibility can be low, so the goggles can protect your eyes against unexpected debris. 

Plus, natural bodies of water can contain tiny particles, bacteria, and microorganisms, all of which can damage the eye. By wearing goggles, you prevent them from reaching your eyes. 

If you’re swimming in a pool, chemicals like chlorine in the water are an eye irritant, so putting on goggles helps you avoid that irritation. Plus, pools can contain a wide array of contaminants, so it’s best to keep goggles on to avoid exposing your eyes to them. 

Apply Sunscreen and Bug Spray Carefully 

Sunscreen and bug spray both contain ingredients that can irritate the eyes. As a result, you want to exercise caution when applying either. Avoid spraying sunscreen or bug spray over or near your eyes, opting for a hand-based application instead. Additionally, keep both away from the eyelids entirely. 

If you’re sweating, causing your sunscreen or bug spray to drip across your skin, dab (don’t wipe) the sweat away using a clean cloth, napkin, or similar item. That ensures you don’t accidentally move the drips onto your eyelids or into your eyes. 

Wash Hands Regularly (and Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes) 

Pollen, dust, and dirt can all end up on your hands throughout the day, often irritating the eyes. Regular hand washing is a simple way to reduce your odds of exposing your eyes to contaminants or foreign objects if you touch your eye area, keeping your eyes safe. 

Additionally, it’s best to avoid rubbing your eyes at all. If there are particles or other materials in your eye, rubbing can increase irritation and may lead to more damage, such as scratches. Instead, use safe flushing methods to remove anything in your eyes, as that’s the safer approach. 

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’d like to learn more summer eye tips or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. 

Myths About UV Protection and Your Eyes

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are harmful, including to your eyes. Since July is UV safety month, it’s the perfect time to consider how you can protect your eyes from this damaging form of radiation. To help you get started, we’re going to dispel some common misconceptions and myths about UV protection and your eyes. Here’s what you need to know. 

Myth: All Sunglasses Protect Against UV Rays 

Sunglasses don’t inherently protect against UV rays unless they have coatings designed to offer that protection. When selecting sunglasses, look for pairs that list UV-blocking capabilities on the lenses, preferably with a very high percentage, with 100 percent protection being the best option. 

Myth: Polarized Lenses Offer UV Protection 

While sunglasses can be polarized and offer UV protection, the fact that they’re polarized isn’t what blocks UV light. Instead, polarized lenses only cut back on glare. As a result, it’s critical to make sure that the product information lists that the lenses block UV light. 

Myth: You Only Need UV Protection on Sunny Days 

While clouds may reduce the amount of UV rays that reach you, the reduction is very limited. That means you’re eyes are still exposed to a significant amount of UV light when it’s overcast, so wearing UV-blocking sunglasses is still recommended. 

Myth: You Don’t Need UV-Blocking Sunglasses When in a Vehicle 

While it’s true that many vehicle windshields block the vast majority of UV rays, side windows don’t offer the same level of protection. As a result, it’s best to wear UV-blocking sunglasses when in a vehicle to adequately protect your eyes. 

Myth: Full-Spectrum UV Protection Sunglasses Are Expensive 

Full-spectrum UV-blocking sunglasses are available at practically any price point, and there are many highly affordable options on the market. Often, it’s possible to find a suitable pair for less than $20 at big box stores or through online retailers. 

Even prescription sunglasses with UV protection often cost less than most people assume. As a result, it’s possible to cover that need with prescription lenses without spending much more than you would on regular prescription glasses. 

Myth: Darker Lens Tints Offer More UV Protection 

How dark sunglass lenses are tinted doesn’t impact the level of UV protection. Instead, it only alters how much visible light reaches your eyes. As a result, any lens that offers a high percentage of UV-blocking will perform similarly to others when it comes to shielding your eyes from harmful rays, regardless of how dark the tint is on the lens. 

Myth: UV Damage Is Reversible 

In most cases, UV damage to the eye is functionally cumulative, causing it to add up over time. Additionally, most of the harm is irreversible once it occurs. 

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re concerned about possible damage to your eyes caused by UV exposure or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.