Time is Running Out to Use Your 2018 Benefits!

Many people participate in Vision plans, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or Health Savings Accounts (HSA) through their employers. Many vision benefits and flexible spending accounts (FSA) offer benefits that expire at the end of every year. This means that if you do not USE the money by the end of your benefits year (usually December 31st) you will LOSE it. In most cases, unused benefits cannot be transferred over to the New Year (usually beginning January 1st). Most vision insurance plans entitle you to annual comprehensive eye examination and either an allowance or discounts toward eyewear or contact lenses each year. Have you taken advantage of these benefits this year? If you are not sure of the date of your last comprehensive eye examination, please call us and we can look it up for you.
The end of the year is often the busiest time for optometrists and optical shops. Schedule your exam early, stop by anytime to pick out your next pair of eyeglasses and/or call to order a supply of contact lenses before time runs out!

What is A Comprehensive Eye Exam?

Periodic eye and vision examinations are an important part of preventive health care. Many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms, so you might not know a problem exists. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye and vision problems can help prevent vision loss.

Each patient’s signs and symptoms, along with your optometrist’s professional judgment, will determine what tests your optometrist conducts. A comprehensive adult eye and vision examination may include, but is not limited to, the following tests.

Patient History
The doctor will ask about any eye or vision problems you are currently having and about your overall health. In addition, a patient history will include when your eye or vision symptoms began, medications you are taking, and any work-related or environmental conditions that may be affecting your vision. The doctor will also ask about any previous eye or health conditions you and your family members have experienced.

Visual Acuity
Visual acuity measurements evaluate how clearly each eye is seeing. Reading charts are often used to measure visual acuity. As part of the testing, you will read letters on charts at a distance and near.

The results of visual acuity testing are written as a fraction, such as 20/40. The top number in the fraction is the standard distance at which testing is done (20 feet). The bottom number is the smallest letter size you were able to read. A person with 20/40 visual acuity would have to get within 20 feet to see a letter that should be seen clearly at 40 feet. Normal distance visual acuity is 20/20.

Preliminary Tests
An optometrist may first want to look at specific aspects of your visual function and eye health. Preliminary tests can include evaluations of depth perception, color vision, eye muscle movements, peripheral or side vision, and the way your pupils respond to light.

Keratometry
This test measures the curvature of the cornea (the clear outer surface of the eye) by focusing a circle of light on the cornea and measuring its reflection. This measurement is particularly critical in determining the proper fit for contact lenses.

Refraction
Refraction determines the lens power you need to compensate for any refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism). Using an instrument called a phoropter, your optometrist places a series of lenses in front of your eyes. He or she then measures how these lenses focus light using a handheld lighted instrument called a retinoscope. Your doctor may choose to use an instrument that automatically evaluates the focusing power of the eye. The lens power is then refined based your input on the lenses that give you the clearest vision.

Eye Health Evaluation
Your optometrist may need to perform additional tests based on the results of the previous tests. These tests can help confirm or rule out possible problems, clarify uncertain findings or provide a more in-depth assessment.

At the completion of the examination, your optometrist will evaluate all the test results to determine a diagnosis. He or she will discuss with you any visual or eye health problems and explain treatment options. In some cases, your optometrist may refer you to another optometrist or other health care provider for consultation or treatment.

Supplemental testing
Additional testing may be needed based on the results of the previous tests to confirm or rule out possible problems, to clarify uncertain findings, or to provide a more in-depth assessment.

At the completion of the examination, your optometrist will assess and evaluate the results of the testing to determine a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. He or she will discuss with you the nature of any visual or eye health problems found and explain available treatment options. In some cases, referral for consultation with, or treatment by, another optometrist or other health care provider may be indicated.

Donate to QA Food Bank & Win Sunglasses!

Queen Anne Food Bank provides healthy food assistance to low-income and homeless members of our community. This program serves every person that comes to their door in need, without discrimination and with respect and dignity.

Eyeballs is excited to support their mission and give you an opportunity to win some fabulous sunglasses!

For every donation you drop off at Eyeballs, you will be entered to win a pair of INVU sunglasses!*

Items in need the most:

  • Canned soup and chili
  • Cereal or granola
  • Pasta & rice
  • Tomato sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Snack crackers
  • Cans of tuna or spam (pop top)
  • Mayo & mustard

Other ways to support the Queen Anne Food Bank can be found here.

*One entry per donation. Winners will be announced June 30, 2018. Donations to be dropped off at: Eyeballs, 166 Roy Street, Seattle, WA 98126. Frame only, excludes prescription lenses

Frame Sale Starts April 28th!

Now’s the best time to get great deals on your next pair of glasses. Whether it be your first pair, spare pair, dress up pair, or sunglasses. We’ve got you covered! Stop by to see what looks good on you! All in stock frames will be 40% off April 28 – May 12*

SALE KICK OFF PARTY – SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 12-5pm
Please join us for special discounts, music, dancing, games, prizes, and refreshments to kick off our annual SALE!

Nutrition and Eye Health

Research suggests that antioxidants and other important nutrients may reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Specific antioxidants can have additional benefits as well; for example, vitamin A protects against blindness, and vitamin C may play a role in preventing or alleviating glaucoma.

The following vitamins, minerals and other nutrients have been shown to be essential for good vision and may protect your eyes from sight-robbing conditions and diseases.

Beta-Carotene
Beta-Carotene rich foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and butternut squash when taken in combination with zinc and vitamins C and E, may reduce the progression of macular degeneration.

Bioflavonoids (Flavonoids)
To help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, eat a diet rich in bioflavonoids, which comes from tea, red wine, citrus fruits, bilberries, blueberries, cherries, legumes, and soy products.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Eating plenty of spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and squash may prevent cataracts and macular degeneration because they are rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, freshly ground flaxseeds, and walnuts may help prevent macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eyes.

Vitamin A
Foods such as beef or chicken liver, eggs, butter, and milk contain vitamin A and may protect against night blindness and dry eyes.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C rich foods like sweet peppers (red or green), kale, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, cantaloupe, may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Vitamin D
Foods high in vitamin D such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and milk may reduce the risk of macular degeneration. The best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun stimulates production of vitamin D in human skin, and just a few minutes of exposure to sunlight each day will insure your body is producing adequate amounts of vitamin D.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E rich foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts may reduce the risk of advanced AMD.

Zinc
Zinc rich foods such as oysters, beef, Dungeness crab, turkey (dark meat) may play a role in reducing risk of advanced AMD and reduce the risk of night blindness.

In general, it’s best to obtain most nutrients through a healthy diet, including at least two servings of fish per week and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.

We recommend trying Imperfect Produce– a company that sources not so perfect fruits and veggies and delivers them right to your door at 30-50% less than the grocery store. You can even get $10 off your first order!

Contact Lens Discomfort?

Ever feel like something’s not quite right with your contact lenses? If so, you’re not alone. Plenty of people who wear contacts experience contact lens discomfort at some point.

Episodes of contact lens discomfort usually does not mean you no longer are a good candidate for contact lenses or that you have to permanently stop wearing contacts. It’s likely that a simple change to your lenses, care products or daily habits will make your contact lenses much more comfortable.

Detection And Treatment Of Contact Lens Discomfort
To determine the specific causes of your contact lens discomfort and appropriate remedies, you need to see your optometrist. A visit to your eye doctor also will rule out the possibility that your discomfort indicates a more serious underlying problem.

Remove your contact lenses and visit your eye doctor if:

  • Eyes stinging, burning, itching (irritation), or other eye pain
  • Comfort is less than when lens was first placed on eye
  • Abnormal feeling of something in the eye (foreign body, scratched area)
  • Excessive watering (tearing) of the eyes
  • Unusual eye secretions
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Reduced sharpness of vision (poor visual acuity)
  • Blurred vision, rainbows, or halos around objects
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Dry eyes

Remember: If your eyes don’t feel good, look good, or see well, you need a checkup by an eye care professional. Sometimes a minor contact lens irritation, if left untreated, can develop into a more serious problem — occasionally one that can be sight-threatening.

Your eyes change, contacts lenses that worked for you before, may not work for you now. Ask your eye doctor about new types of contact lenses and/or cleaning solutions that can relieve discomfort, and improve your vision.

The Warm Up Project

Eyeballs is excited to be part of The Warm Up Project. We will be collecting blankets, socks, gloves, hats, and other warm provisions for the homeless within King County. Please donate or volunteer for this amazing project. For donations dropped off at our office, you will receive a $20 eyewear credit to go towards your next pair of eyeglasses! There’s no better time to give!

November is National Diabetes Month

If you are one of more than 25 million Americans with diabetes, you may already know the importance of watching your diet and keeping track of your blood sugar. But did you know it’s also important to have regular eye exams?

In the United States, diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of vision loss among working-age adults. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common form of this disease, and affects about 28.5 percent of Americans with diabetes age 40 and older. That’s more than 7 million people, and the number is expected to reach more than 11 million by the year 2030.

The condition can creep up quietly. It gradually weakens small blood vessels in and around the retina, the light-sensing layer of tissue at the back of the eye. If the disease progresses, these vessels may rupture and leak blood into the eye; they can also spread and grow on the surface of the retina and cause scarring.

Typically, diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. But the disease can be detected early through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. In this procedure, an eye professional will put drops in your eye to dilate (widen) the pupil, which allows a closer look at the retina.

The good news is that with early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up, the risk of severe vision loss from diabetic retinopathy can be reduced by 95 percent. There are several effective treatment options including laser surgery and injections of anti-VEGF drugs. These drugs block the actions of a protein that can cause abnormal blood vessels to grow and leak fluid.

November is National Diabetes Month. If you have diabetes, it’s a good time to remember these health tips:

  • Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.
  • Control your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. By controlling your diabetes, you’ll reduce your risk of diabetic eye disease.
  • Talk to your eye care professional about diabetic retinopathy.
  • Learn more about diabetic eye disease from the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
  • Learn more about preventing and managing diabetes from the National Diabetes Education Program.

A Spooky Deal! BOGO 50% off!

Happy October!

Now is a great time to get a new pair of eyeglasses before the holiday rush.

From now until October 31st, buy one pair of eyeglasses (frame + lenses), get the second pair 50% off!*

*on select styles only

Forget the tricks! Treat yourself to a new pair of glasses!

Is Corrective Laser Surgery Right For You?

You’ve worn glasses or contacts forever, and frankly, you’re tired of the hassle. You want to see clearly from the second you wake up in the morning till the moment you drift to sleep at night. The most common way to achieve this is by corrective laser surgery, often called Lasik. But if you’re considering corrective laser surgery, you probably have some questions like, “Will I be laid up for days?” “Will it hurt?” And: “What are the odds it’ll work?” Before you go under the laser, here are a few things you should know.

How is corrective laser surgery done?
After your eye surgeon applies numbing drops, they make an incision in the cornea and lifts a thin flap. Then a laser reshapes the corneal tissue underneath, and the flap is replaced.

Who can get the procedure?
Corrective laser surgery is used to treat the common vision problems nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. To find out if you’re a good candidate for the surgery, see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam.

Corrective laser surgery can also be used to fix presbyopia—that effect of aging that makes it harder to focus close-up—but you need to have one eye corrected for near vision and the other for distance.

Also know that as you get older, your vision may continue to get worse, so you may need another corrective laser surgery procedure or glasses down the road.

What’s the success rate?
According to the AAO, 90% of corrective laser surgery patients end up with vision somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40.

There’s chance you will still need to use corrective lenses sometimes: Still, 80% of the survey respondents reported feeling “completely” or “very satisfied” with their procedure.

According to the FDA, results are usually not as good in people who have very large refractive errors. Make sure you discuss your expectations with your eye doctor to see if they’re realistic.

What are the risks?
While the thought of a laser boring into your eye may seem, well, terrifying, the procedure is overwhelmingly safe, the risk of problems is about 1%.

That said, it’s important to weigh the risks against the benefits, as the potential complications can be debilitating. The FDA has a list on its site, including severe dry eye syndrome, and a loss in vision that cannot be fixed with eyewear or surgery. Some patients develop symptoms like glare, halos, and double vision that make it especially tough to see at night or in fog.

One thing you don’t have to worry about: Flinching or blinking during the procedure. A device will keep your eyelids open, while a suction ring prevents your eye from moving.

How long will I be out of commission?
You will need someone to drive you home after the procedure, but you can go back to work the very next day.

How much will this cost?
The cost can range from $299 per eye to more than $4,000 per eye. Geography, technology, and the surgical experience of the doctor all factor into the price. Insurance companies don’t typically cover the surgery, but you can use tax-free funds from your FSA, HSA, or HRA account to pay for it.

How do I get started?
Schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor to make sure you are a candidate for corrective laser surgery first. Your eye doctor will discuss your options with you and refer you to the best clinic in your area.

The Aftermath of The Solar Eclipse

What is Solar Retinopathy?
The name given to eye damage which has been caused by looking directly at the sun is solar retinopathy. The recent eclipse has brought attention the harmful effects of viewing the sun without proper viewing devices.

Your eye has an opening at the front (pupil) and a lens which adjusts to focus images you are looking at onto the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is made up of delicate tissue that is sensitive to light. Solar retinopathy occurs when the harmful radiation from the sun reaches the eye and is concentrated by the lens onto the retina. This burns the retina and destroys the cells that enable you to see.

How do I know if I have solar retinopathy?
As there are no pain-sensing nerves in the retina you will not feel any pain while the damage is being caused. Some hours after the event you may experience the following symptoms:

  • eyes may become watery and sore
  • difficulty in seeing shape and detail of objects
  • discomfort with bright light
  • a blind spot in your central vision
  • things may appear to be unusually coloured
  • objects may be distorted in shape

What do I do now?
In the first instance, go to your local optometrist, the eye specialist found in the high street optician’s shop. Unfortunately, there are no treatments currently available, however the optometrist will be able to advise you on the extent of your particular eye damage and assess and monitor your condition. The optometrist can also refer you on to other specialists if necessary. Alternatively, visit your physicians office to get proper referral of care.

Is the damage permanent?
If the damage is mild, your eyesight may return to normal after a time when the swelling at the back of the eye is reduced. The length of time varies with each individual and the extent of the damage. The eye specialist will advise you on how to reduce the discomfort while the swelling goes down.

Unfortunately, if the damage is more severe, your eyesight may be permanently affected. It is only through monitoring of your sight over a period of weeks that the eye specialist will be able to assess the extent of the long-term damage.

What if my sight cannot be fully restored?
If your sight has been permanently affected, much can be done to help you adjust and use your remaining vision as fully as possible. Services on offer vary in different areas and you should ask your eye specialist to discuss the available options with you.

We hope that you enjoyed viewing the recent solar eclipse. If you, or anyone you know has any symptoms of solar retinopathy from improper viewing, please encourage them to see an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Safely View the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Did you know that the 2017 solar eclipse will take place on August 21?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and the Earth. The area of the Earth shaded by the outer shadow of the moon (penumbra) experiences a partial eclipse; the area shaded by the central shadow (umbra) experiences a total eclipse.

From beginning to end, the eclipse will be visible for about two and a half to three hours, depending on where in the U.S. you are viewing the phenomenon. The maximum level of the eclipse (“totality”), however, lasts only a minute or two.

On the West Coast, the 2017 solar eclipse will begin around 9:06 AM and end around 11:41 AM (Pacific time). On the East Coast, it will begin around 1:03 PM and conclude around 4:06 PM (Eastern time).

Solar Eclipse Glasses: Do They Really Protect Your Eyes?
Solar eclipse glasses are inexpensive, very dark filters with cardboard or paper frames that are designed to protect your eyes from retina damage when viewing an eclipse.

But do they really work?
Staring at a solar eclipse (or staring at the sun at any time) can cause a burned retina — called solar retinopathy or solar maculopathy — that can cause permanent vision loss. So having adequate eye protection when viewing a solar eclipse is extremely important.

Most “eclipse glasses” do offer adequate protection from the sun’s potentially damaging UV rays when viewing a solar eclipse. Look for documentation somewhere on the disposable glasses that says the eclipse shades are certified to meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for safe direct viewing of the sun.

But unfortunately, according to the National Science Foundation’s American Astronomical Society (AAS), excitement about the 2017 solar eclipse has caused the marketplace to become flooded with counterfeit eclipse glasses that say they are ISO-certified when in fact they are not.

Because it is impossible to tell if eclipse glasses truly meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard (sometimes written as ISO 12312-2:2015) by simply looking at them, the AAS created a Solar Eclipse Task Force that has compiled a list of reputable manufacturers and retailers of certified eclipse glasses.

Sunglasses Are Not Enough
Sunglasses don’t provide adequate eye protection during the course of a solar eclipse.

Regular sunglasses, polarized sunglasses or photochromic lenses do not offer adequate eye protection when watching a solar eclipse.

Though these lenses provide 100 percent UV protection during general wearing conditions, the special-purpose solar filters used in genuine eclipse glasses are thousands of times darker than ordinary sunglasses to protect the eyes from the intense visible sunlight that can cause a serious retinal injury or even blindness when viewing the sun directly.

When Is The Next Solar Eclipse?
If you miss the 2017 solar eclipse, you’ll have to wait awhile to see another one in the United States. The next total solar eclipse to cross North America will take place on April 8, 2024.

ISO certified eclipse glasses are available for purchase in our office while supplies last. HAPPY VIEWING!

The Effects of Smoking on Your Eyes

Sure, you know that lighting up a cigarette is never healthy — but did you know that smoking even damages eye health?

Cigarette smoke is extremely toxic, containing as many as 4,000 active compounds, including tar, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals. Its effects on the lungs and heart have been well established by medical researchers and are well known.

Not as well known are the detrimental effects that smoking can have on your vision. Smoking has been directly linked to two of the leading causes of vision loss, cataracts and macular degeneration. In fact, researchers believe smoking also causes or contributes to a number of other eye health problems.

The Link Between Smoking and Cataracts
Research has found that smokers have double the risk of developing cataracts compared with non-smokers. This risk is triple for heavy smokers. In fact, doctors have discovered a specific relationship between cataracts and the amount that you smoke — the more you smoke, the more chance you have of developing cataracts.

Cataracts occur when the eye’s naturally clear lens grows cloudy over time. This age-related condition causes blurry vision, faded colors, and increased sensitivity to glare. For some people, having cataracts is like trying to see through a waterfall.

Doctors believe smoking contributes to cataracts by altering the cells of the lens through oxidation. There is also evidence that smoking leads to the accumulation of heavy metals like cadmium in the lens.

Smoking and Macular Degeneration: What’s the Connection?
Smoking also increases a person’s risk of developing macular degeneration. Studies have found that smokers face a risk of developing macular degeneration that is two to four times greater than that of people who have never smoked. As with cataracts, doctors have found that the risk increases the more a person has smoked. Researchers have also found an increased risk of macular degeneration in people who don’t smoke but are frequently exposed to environmental cigarette smoke.

Macular degeneration involves the deterioration of the macula, the central part of the retina that allows us to perceive fine details. As the macula wears out, people experience blurriness, distortions, or blind spots in their central vision.

Doctors believe that smoking promotes macular degeneration by interfering with blood flow to the retina. Smoking might also increase the deleterious effects of oxidation on the cells of the macula.

Other Eye Health Problems Related to Smoking
Studies also have linked cigarette smoking to eye problems such as:

  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Dry eyes
  • Optic nerve damage
  • Lazy eye
  • Conjunctivitis

Vision Problems and Smoking: What You Can Do
There is hope for smokers who want to avoid smoking-related vision loss. Research has found that quitting smoking does improve their chances of avoiding eye disease. For example, studies show that people who quit smoking will have a 6.7 percent reduced risk of developing macular degeneration after one year. After five years, the risk drops by another 5 percent.

The same goes for cataracts. The eyes can heal from the damage done by cigarette smoking, although very slowly. Doctors say people who have quit smoking for 25 years have a 20 percent lower risk of cataracts when compared with current smokers.

One of the safest things to do for your vision? Never start smoking at all. Ex-smokers still have an increased risk of vision loss from cataracts or macular degeneration when compared with people who have never lit up a cigarette.

Routine, comprehensive eye exams will help monitor and prevent the effects of smoking on your eyes. Make an appointment today!