How a Vegetable-Rich Diet Can Help Prevent Cataracts

A new study suggests that incorporating more carotenoids and vitamins into your diet can go a long way toward preventing age-related cataracts. (more…)

Important Questions to Consider Before You Undergo LASIK

Considering LASIK, but don’t know whether it’s right for you? Ask yourself — and your eye doctor — these six questions. (more…)

The Dos and Don’ts of Cataract Surgery Recovery

Recovering from cataract surgery is usually a painless, stress-free process. However, you need to be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations to achieve the best results.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans affected by cataracts, cataract surgery is a quick and easy procedure that can reverse vision loss and protect your eyesight going forward. In fact, 90% of people who have cataract surgery report excellent results after receiving the treatment, which can take less than ten minutes to complete.

While these results are encouraging, they depend on patients following their doctors’ recommendations during the recovery period. Just because the procedure is short and you can go home in a matter of hours doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in the clear once your eye care specialist says you can leave.

Instead, it’s important for patients who have just undergone cataract surgery to follow a set of do’s and don’ts that can affect the long-term outcome of their procedure. If you’re preparing for cataract surgery or you’re just curious what the recovery period looks like, take a look at the following recommendations.

Cataract Recovery Tips

Do: Take It Easy

Unsurprisingly, your eyes are going to be very sensitive following your cataract procedure. It’s important to relax during your recovery period. This means you should avoid heavy lifting that could put pressure on the eye, refrain from intensive physical activity like going to the gym, and rest in a comfortable position if you’re feeling tired or your eyes feel strained.

Don’t: Drive a Vehicle

Your eyes will take some time to adjust to the removal of a cataract, so it’s normal for your vision to be blurry after your procedure. After you wait for medication to wear off, you’ll need someone else to drive you home. You should also wait to operate a vehicle until your vision stabilizes. For most patients, this takes a few days, but it can take up to one or two weeks in some cases.

Do: Take Your Medication

Eye care specialists will likely recommend a series of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops for you to take as your recovery. Be sure to take these at the appropriate intervals so you don’t experience any complications. If you need help applying them, ask family, friends, or the staff at your doctor’s office for assistance.

Don’t: Disturb Your Eyes

Your eyes are going to be especially sensitive after cataract surgery, so you’ll need to be careful as you recover. This means that you should avoid rubbing your eyes, as it could disturb the natural recovery process. You should also steer clear of makeup until you get the all-clear from your doctor to begin using it again.

Do: Use an Eye Guard

Many eye care specialists give patients eye guards to wear after their procedure. Also known as protective shields, these devices safeguard your eye during the critical hours after your procedure. You can usually take these off later on during the day of the procedure, but your doctor will likely ask that you still wear them when you sleep or nap for several days afterward.

Don’t: Go Swimming

It’s critical that your eyes don’t become infected after cataract surgery. To that end, don’t go swimming or use hot tubs for several weeks as you recover. This includes public and private facilities. Your doctor will probably have specific guidance when it comes to bathing, so be sure to follow those recommendations.

Do: Check In with Your Doctor Regularly

Typically, patients meet with their doctor the day after their procedure so that he or she can ensure that everything is healing properly. After this, you should check in with your eye care specialist if you have any questions or if certain side effects such as blurry vision aren’t going away with time.

If you need cataract surgery or you’re just curious about the procedure, reach out to an eye care specialist today. By scheduling a consultation with ICON Eyecare, you can get the conversation with our team. We’d be happy to discuss cataract surgery with you, go over your eye care needs, and recommend a treatment plan as you assess your visual health.

Don’t Panic: Some Blurred Vision After LASIK Is Normal

Worried about what happens after LASIK vision correction surgery? Here’s what you need to know to take the uncertainty out of the recovery process.

As safe and effective as LASIK surgery has become, making a full recovery from any surgical procedure takes time. Many patients’ vision starts to return to normal within 48 hours, though others’ can take up to a week to seem right. While you may be alarmed by some of the symptoms you experience in the immediate aftermath of LASIK surgery, many of these side-effects are quite normal and eventually recede.

Your ophthalmologist will explain what to expect in the hours and days following your procedure, and you should always heed their advice regarding post-operative treatments and precautionary steps for accelerating the healing process.

LASIK’s Most Common After-Effects

In the two to three hours immediately after surgery, your vision will be blurry. Although your eyesight will greatly improve within 24 hours, you may still experience intermittent blurriness and fluctuations in your vision for some time as your eyes adjust to the reshaped cornea. Generally speaking, it will take between three and six months for your eyes to fully heal, and it’s not unusual to encounter minor lingering side-effects during this period.

Many patients notice halos around lights (particularly when driving at night), though these halos typically disappear within six months. Other after-effects from the surgery might include dark red spots in the whites of your eyes and/or dryness or scratchiness in your eyes. These conditions tend to dissipate within weeks.

Of course, the magnitude of your post-LASIK improvement will depend on your pre-op visual acuity. For example, people undergoing LASIK correction for farsightedness might initially see proximate items clearer than distant ones, but will find that their long-range vision sharpens in about a month.

Further, if you required a strong eyeglass prescription prior to the operation, your vision may take longer to completely correct. As your vision begins to improve, you might still want to wear glasses while driving at night to help you see greater distances.

What You Should Do After LASIK Surgery

After the procedure, your doctor will recommend a set of best recovery practices to which you should adhere in order to promote healing. The most common dos and don’ts for LASIK patients include:

  • Do wear eye guards at night for a week after the surgery so you don’t inadvertently rub the delicate eye area while you sleep.
  • Do use the eye drops your doctor prescribes to counteract dryness and prevent infection and inflammation.
  • Don’t go into areas where you may encounter a lot of dust or smoke, as these substances can irritate the eyes.
  • Don’t immerse your head in a swimming pool or hot tub since chlorinated water may inflame the eyes.
  • Don’t apply makeup or lotion to the eye area for at least a week, as you don’t want to put undue pressure on the eyes as they heal.

Finally — and arguably most importantly — be sure to schedule follow-up visits with your doctor at regular intervals to ensure your eyes are mending properly. If at any point during the recovery period you feel your eyesight hasn’t returned to normal, or if you experience unusual symptoms, contact your ophthalmologist immediately.

At ICON Eyecare, our staff has years of experience performing LASIK surgeries, and always makes a concerted effort to walk every patient through the details of the procedure itself and the recovery process. Book an appointment today to begin your journey to better vision.

6 Tips to Protect Your Eyesight

March is Save Your Vision Month. To celebrate, check out these six tips for reducing your risk of eye disease and keeping your vision sharp for years to come.

Over 20 million Americans suffer from functional vision problems or eye conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Not all of these issues can be prevented, but there are important steps one can take to protect one’s eyes and preserve one’s vision.

In honor of March being Save Your Vision Month, here are six simple guidelines one can follow to stay healthy now and prevent vision loss down the road:

1. Eat Lots of Fish, Fruit, and Vegetables

Diet can have a major impact on one’s health — including one’s eye health. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower the risk of eye disease and macular degeneration. In fact, a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology revealed that women who ate canned tuna and dark-fish meat once a week reduced their risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 42%.

Like the omega-3 fatty acids in fish, nutrients found in naturally colorful foods are also linked to eye health. The antioxidants in red foods like strawberries, cherries, red peppers, and raspberries can reduce the risk of cataracts, while lutein and zeaxanthin in leafy green vegetables can help prevent macular degeneration. A diet rich in zinc and vitamins C and E is beneficial as well, and can be achieved by eating lots of fruits and vegetables or taking nutritional supplements.

2. Reduce Screen Time

The brightness and glare from computer and phone screens can lead to eye strain and blurry vision. The UV rays from these devices may also damage one’s eyes, causing headaches, dryness, and difficulty focusing. To reduce the impact of screen glare, be sure to keep devices at least 16 inches away from the eyes. It’s also advisable to adhere to the 20-20-20 rule, which entails looking away from one’s screen every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

3. Get a Yearly Eye Exam

It’s important to have one’s eyes checked by a professional at least once a year to monitor one’s overall eye health and make sure one’s prescription is up-to-date. Patients who have a family history of conditions like glaucoma or AMD may need to visit the eye doctor more frequently, and all patients should seek out a specialist immediately if they experience symptoms like pain behind the eyes or vision loss.

4. Take Proper Care of Glasses and Contacts

Many people experience eye strain and blurry vision simply because their glasses or contacts are out-of-date. This can be rectified by a trip to the eye doctor, who will be able to verify the accuracy of a prescription. Contact lens wearers should also remember to maintain proper hygiene when handling lenses. Avoid sleeping in contacts that are not intended for overnight wear, and be sure to use contact solution to lubricate lenses instead of water or saliva. These simple measures can go a long way toward preventing eye pain, corneal ulcers, and vision loss.

5. Wear Sunglasses

Prolonged exposure to UV rays can damage one’s eyes, leading to conditions like cataracts and AMD. That’s why it’s essential to wear protective sunglasses that can reduce the risk of eye disease and vision loss. The American Optometric Association recommends investing in sunglasses that block at least 99% of UVA and UVB radiation and screen out 75-90% of visible light. Hats and glasses can also protect the skin on the eyelids and around the eyes, preventing both wrinkles and skin cancer.

6. If Necessary, Invest in LASIK Surgery

Laser eye surgery can help one see clearly without the burden of glasses or contacts. It’s an effective option for treating nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The procedure is performed by an ophthalmologist or ophthalmologic surgeon, who uses precise lasers to reshape the cornea and improve the patient’s vision. The recovery time is minimal, and the results generally last a lifetime.

If you’re interested in learning more about improving your vision with LASIK, or want to find out if the procedure is right for you, set up a free consultation with ICON Eyecare today.

Why Cataracts Can’t Come Back after Removal

Cataracts cannot grow back, but you’re experiencing cloudy vision after your cataract surgery, your eye care specialist can help.

Cataracts affect approximately 24 million Americans over the age of 40 and about half of all Americans over the age of 80. This means that a large portion of us will experience cataracts at some point in our lives and, most likely, undergo cataract surgery to restore our vision and enjoy active lifestyles unhindered by impaired eyesight.

While millions of patients have cataract surgery and report successful results, some patients note deteriorating vision despite undergoing the procedure. Naturally, this leads many Americans to wonder whether their surgeries were unsuccessful and if their cataracts have grown back.

Patients in this position should know that it is not possible for cataracts to grow back. However, it’s not uncommon for eyesight to eventually worsen after cataract surgery because of the nature of the procedure — even if it was a successful one. While this may cause you concern, it’s important to note that this aftereffect is relatively common and that a simple, painless procedure exists to reverse its effects.

Cataract Surgery

To understand why your vision may seem to deteriorate after cataract surgery, it helps to understand what causes cataracts in the first place and what cataract surgery accomplishes.

For starters, the lenses of the eye are enclosed in a clear membrane known as the lens capsule. As we age, that lens goes on producing new cells — cells that can cause your vision to become cloudy, leading to the formation of cataracts. If cataracts become threatening enough, you and your eye care specialist may decide that you should undergo cataract surgery.

During the procedure, a surgeon removes the area of the lens capsule that sits in front of the lens, allowing them to reach the cataract, remove it, and insert an intraocular lens (IOL). However, part of the lens capsule behind the eye lens is not removed, and the IOL is inserted in front of it.

Possible After-Effects

While most patients enjoy clear vision after their procedure, it’s not uncommon for some to experience additional cloudiness. This can occur if the portion of the lens capsule left intact during the surgery becomes cloudy, something that’s known as posterior capsular opacification (PCO). Some patients may know these as after-cataracts or secondary cataracts.

In fact, about 30% of patients experience PCO. While some patients report deteriorating vision soon after they undergo cataract surgery, it’s possible not to experience cloudy vision until years later.

Related Treatment Options

Thankfully, a simple, painless procedure exists that can reverse vision deterioration. This procedure, called a YAG laser capsulotomy, can be performed in your eye care specialist’s office.

The eyes are dilated and the doctor will focus a laser on the remaining portion of the lens capsule. This laser thus creates an opening so that light can enter the eye without having to pass through cloudy cells. YAG laser capsulotomies only take a few minutes and the results are permanent, meaning that you won’t experience vision deterioration after undergoing the procedure.

Available Resources

If you’ve undergone cataract surgery and you’re still having problems with your vision, you may be dealing with PCO. Consider reaching out to an eye care specialist to speak about what you’re experiencing so that you can determine whether a YAG capsulotomy is right for you.

Ready to make an appointment? Reach out to ICON Eyecare to schedule a consultation today. Our team of trained staff and experienced eye care specialists are ready to diagnose issues with your eyesight and prepared to recommend treatment plans for any eye care needs.

How to Know if You Have Wet or Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

While age-related macular degeneration is a common cause of vision loss, it’s important to understand which type you have and what treatment options are available.

According to the National Eye Institute, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among Americans 50 years and older. While the condition is a relatively common one — especially as we age — that doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. Instead, it’s important to learn more about the condition and to speak with an eye care specialist about treatment options.

What’s more, there are different types of the condition — wet age-related macular degeneration and dry age-related macular degeneration — that have different effects on your eyes and that have varying degrees of severity. If you’re unclear which is which or which type you might have, take the time to learn more so you can be on the same page as your doctor when the time comes.

What is AMD?

AMD is a condition that causes damage to the macula, which is a part of the eye located near the center of the retina that helps us see with clarity and differentiate objects that are directly ahead of us in our field of vision. As AMD develops — and it can develop slowly or with alarming speed — the central part of the visual field can become blurry, blank spots can develop, and objects may not be as bright as they once were.

Dry AMD is the most common type of the condition, affecting approximately 80% to 90% of those with AMD. This variety progresses less rapidly than wet AMD and involves the formation of deposits on the retina known as drusen. Drusen appear beneath the macula and cause it to deteriorate over time.

Wet AMD is the less common fo the two, affecting about 10% to 15% of those with AMD. However, it’s the most serious variety of AMD, accounting for nearly 90% of severe vision loss connected with the condition. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow around the macula. When these blood vessels break, they leak fluid into the eye that damages the macula.

What Causes Wet and Dry AMD?

Aside from the immediate issues that lead to these conditions — drusen in dry AMD and abnormal blood vessel growth in wet AMD — the real causes are unknown. Considerable research is being done to learn more about AMD, but as of yet all we know with confidence is that several risk factors can contribute to the condition.

For example, those with a family history of AMD are more likely to develop the condition than those without it, as are Caucasians in compared with African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Similarly, those with a history of smoking have a greater chance of developing AMD, especially as they age.

How Are Wet and Dry AMD Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no outright cure for either wet or dry AMD. Because the condition can advance rapidly, it’s especially important to have regular eye exams as you get older in order to spot AMD before it causes significant damage. Also, wet AMD only develops after dry AMD, so you should be particularly vigilant if you already have the latter.

Aside from a complete cure, there are vitamin supplements, injections, and laser surgery that can help repair vision loss to a limited degree. Until that point, it’s helpful to make lifestyle changes that can prevent AMD from forming, such as sticking to a healthy diet, abstaining from smoking, and exercising regularly.  

Although relatively common, AMD is a serious condition that can affect your quality of life as you age. This means that it’s important to get regular eye exams and tell your doctor if you experience any symptoms that may be linked to AMD.

If you’re curious about AMD or you’d like to schedule a regular exam, reach out to ICON Eyecare to set up a consultation. Our team can help you understand your eye health, pinpoint any possible issues, and prepare treatment plans as needed.

Is LASIK a Permanent Vision Correction Solution?

LASIK helps millions of people enjoy life without the need for glasses or contact lenses. So if you opt for the procedure, how soon can you expect to see results — and for how long?

With more than 660,000 surgeries completed in 2018, LASIK is one of the most popular procedures undertaken in the United States. Thanks to LASIK — a procedure that involves a specialist shaping the cornea with precise laser technology — millions of Americans can go through their daily routine without having to deal with the hassle of glasses or contact lenses.

If you’re considering LASIK to improve your vision, you probably have a number of questions you’re thinking about as you weigh whether or not to go through with the procedure. For example, how soon will you be able to see results? And, once you do, how long will these results last?

Just as everyone’s vision needs are unique, so too will your recovery from LASIK vary from that of other patients. However, the general post-op experience can give you an idea of what that recovery time may look like, and whether or not your results will be completely permanent.

When You’ll See Full Results from LASIK Surgery

Recovery from LASIK goes through stages. Immediately after the procedure, your eyes will likely be cloudy, making it difficult to see. However, that cloudiness usually clears up within several hours. Over the following 24 to 48 hours, you’ll be checking in regularly with your doctor so that they can monitor your progress as your eyes heal and as you begin to see regularly again.

Your vision will begin to stabilize more completely over the next several months. However, this process can take three to six months to normalize as your eyes continue to acclimate. During that time, it’s not uncommon to experience glares, haloes, or difficulty seeing at night.

How Long LASIK Results Will Last

For most patients who opt for the procedure, LASIK provides permanent vision improvement. However, a minority of patients will see changes in their eyesight after LASIK that may require additional surgery.

Such developments may pop up several months after the procedure — or several decades. The exact circumstances behind these changes differ from patient to patient, but typical causes include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The onset of cataracts may also trigger changes in eyesight that affect the results of a LASIK procedure.  

Why You Might Need LASIK Enhancement

If your eyesight changes even after LASIK, you may need to go back in for something called LASIK enhancement. This may be required if changes both related and unrelated to the surgery alter the anatomy of the eye in such a way that specialists need to make adjustments. In addition to the causes outlined above, over- or under-healing of the eyes and general cornea health may call for additional attention.

While some of these changes are so slight that many patients choose not to undergo LASIK enhancement, others may experience marked-enough changes that a second go is necessary. In this instance, you’ll have to consult with your doctor to understand how your first LASIK procedure would affect a follow-up.

Speaking with a Specialist

If you’re looking into LASIK for the first time or you’re curious about whether or not you need LASIK enhancement, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation today. At ICON Eyecare, our team can help you understand your options, learn more about your particular needs, and work with you every step of the way as you consider permanent vision improvement.

Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Hereditary?

Heredity and genetics are risk factors for age-related macular degeneration, but there’s more to the condition than that.

February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, making this month a great time for patients to learn more about the condition and speak with eye care specialists about any concerns they might have. With age-related macular degeneration (AMD) classified as the most common cause of vision loss for Americans over 50 — about 10 million people in the United States are affected by it — it’s important to get the conversation started with your doctor, especially if you’re nearing or past your 50th birthday.

To that end, there are some AMD questions that eye care specialists answer on a regular basis. For example, many patients are concerned whether a family history of AMD will affect their chances of developing the condition — and if so, to what extent. Although doctors can’t tell you with 100% certainty whether you’ll develop AMD, they can speak with you about preventable and unpreventable risk factors that can contribute to your chances.

What is AMD?

AMD, as the name suggests, damages the macula and most often affects those 50 or older. The macula is located near the center of the retina and is responsible for helping us see objects in fine detail.

For some, AMD develops so gradually that it’s difficult to tell you even have the condition or to notice that your vision is deteriorating. For others, AMD can set in quickly and lead to vision loss on a much shorter timeline.

On its own, AMD does not cause blindness, but it can create complications for those leading an active lifestyle. Because the macula allows us to see things clearly, damage to the macula can make it difficult to read, drive, or discern individual faces. After a time, it’s possible for AMD to leave blank spots in your field of vision.

What are its Risk Factors?

There is no known cure for AMD and it’s not possible to tell with 100% certainty whether someone will develop the condition. However, there are risk factors that may indicate a predisposition toward AMD — some preventable and others not.

For instance, smoking increases your chances of developing AMD two to three times. Unprotected exposure to sunlight — blue wavelengths specifically — can cause damage to the macula that can lead to AMD. Your diet can also play a role, too. Americans who eat a lot of artificial fats and processed foods, who have high cholesterol, and who don’t consume enough vegetables increase their odds of vision loss through AMD.

Do Heredity and Genetics Play a Role?

Unfortunately, heredity and genetics do play a role in AMD. While a family history of the condition doesn’t guarantee that you’ll develop it, too, your chances are higher. Experts say that, if a parent or sibling has AMD, you’re three to four times more likely to develop it yourself.

If you’re concerned about AMD and have a family history of the condition, there are tests you can take to better understand your risk. For instance, there are tests available that combine pharmacogenetic and prognostic DNA methods to determine your genetic risk profile and your chances of progression to advanced AMD.

Who Can I Talk to about AMD?

Because AMD is so common, eye care specialists will be ready to speak with you about the condition whenever you have any questions. If you’d like to get that conversation started sooner rather than later, consider scheduling a consultation with ICON Eyecare today. Together, our team can help you better understand your chances of AMD, accurately diagnose you if you already have the condition, and devise a treatment plan based on your specific needs.

Most Eye Floaters are Harmless, but Here’s When They’re Cause for Concern

While eye floaters are usually not a danger to your vision, there are instances in which you should consult with a doctor or seek immediate medical attention.

As we age, it’s important to know the difference between the harmless effects of getting older and related conditions that require prompt medical attention. While aging affects various parts of the body differently, it can cause optical phenomena known as eye floaters.

If you’ve ever looked up at a blue sky or at a blank wall and noticed specks or cobwebs moving across your field of vision, then you’re probably familiar with floaters. These small spots may be a temporary source of frustration, but people often get used to them. Additionally, while some people may be concerned by the appearance of floaters in their vision, they’re harmless in most instances.

However, there are occasions when floaters should be cause for concern and when it’s appropriate to reach out to an eye care specialist. Knowing the difference between these two situations is a must, especially as you get older and if you have other issues with your vision.

What Causes Floaters?

Typically, floaters are caused by the breakdown of the vitreous. The vitreous, a gel-like fluid that makes up most of the eye’s interior and helps give it its shape, contains millions of fibers that are attached to the surface of the retina.

As we get older, the vitreous changes and gradually shrinks. When this happens, the fibers within the vitreous become more prominent, casting shadows on the retina that then seem to appear in front of your eye. Floaters usually settle below the field of vision after a time, but don’t go away completely.

However, there are other potential causes of floaters. Inflammation at the back of the eye, such as posterior uveitis, can cause inflammatory debris to break loose from the point of infection and appear as floaters. The same can happen with bleeding within the eye, with broken blood cells looking like floaters. Certain surgeries and medications can cause floaters to appear, as well, although these are typically temporary side effects

How Common are Floaters?

It may be a relief to hear that floaters are very common. Because the vitreous inevitably changes to some degree as we age, most people will experience some kind of optical changes, like floaters, as its fibrous material casts shadows on the retina.

With that said, there are some types of floaters that aren’t as common and that should be cause for concern. For example, a sudden increase in the number of floaters, subsequent deterioration of your peripheral vision, and flashes of light shouldn’t be waved off as common and temporary.   

When Should I See a Doctor?

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. While it’s possible you have posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), a common condition when the vitreous detaches from the retina that’s not an emergency, there’s also a risk that you’re experiencing retinal detachment. This condition is serious and needs immediate attention so that it doesn’t cause lasting damage and vision loss to your eyes.

If you’re worried about floaters or you’re experiencing a concerning change in the number of floaters you see, reach out to ICON Eyecare today. A consultation is a great way to develop a baseline for the number of floaters in your field of vision, but if it’s an emergency, be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

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