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!

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

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.

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 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!

Contact Lenses & Presbyopia

Is your vision with your current contacts not as clear at all distances as it was before? Are you having difficulty reading smaller print or seeing in low light? Are you finding yourself holding objects further>>>>away to see them clearly? Have you enlarged the text on your digital devices?

Now with multifocal contact lenses for presbyopia, you may be able to stay in contact lenses longer, without compromising vision or comfort. The result is balanced vision near, far and in-between, across variable lighting conditions, along with remarkable comfort — even in challenging environments that can make your eyes feel tired and dry. Make an appointment today to see if multifocal contact lenses are right for you!

Digital Eye Strain

Computers, tablets, e-readers, smartphones and other electronic devices with visual displays all can cause tired eyes, digital eye strain, and computer vision syndrome.

Here are some tips that can help reduce digital eye strain:

Get a comprehensive eye exam.
Having a routine comprehensive eye exam is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems. If you haven’t had an eye exam in over a year, schedule a visit with an eye doctor near you.

Use proper lighting.
Eye strain often is caused by excessively bright light either from outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or from harsh interior lighting. When you use a computer, your ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices. If possible, position your computer monitor or screen so windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.

Minimize glare.
Glare on walls and finished surfaces, as well as reflections on your computer screen also can cause computer eye strain. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor and, if possible, paint bright white walls a darker color with a matte finish. If you wear glasses, purchase lenses with anti-reflective (AR) coating. AR coating reduces glare by minimizing the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your eyeglass lenses.

Adjust your computer display settings.
Adjusting the display settings of your computer can help reduce eye strain and fatigue. Generally, these adjustments are beneficial:

  • Brightness. Adjust the brightness of the display so it’s approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation. As a test, look at the white background of this Web page. If it looks like a light source, it’s too bright. If it seems dull and gray, it may be too dark.
  • Text size and contrast. Adjust the text size and contrast for comfort, especially when reading or composing long documents. Usually, black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.
  • Color temperature. This is a technical term used to describe the spectrum of visible light emitted by a color display. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light that is associated with more eye strain than longer wavelength hues, such as orange and red. Reducing the color temperature of your display lowers the amount of blue light emitted by a color display for better long-term viewing comfort.

Blink more often.
Blinking is very important when working at a computer; blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation.

Exercise your eyes.
Another cause of computer eye strain is focusing fatigue. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. Some eye doctors call this the “20-20-20 rule.” Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.

Take frequent breaks.
To reduce your risk for computer vision syndrome and neck, back and shoulder pain, take frequent breaks during your computer work day.

Consider computer eyewear.
For the greatest comfort at your computer, you might benefit from having your eye care professional modify your eyeglasses prescription to create customized computer glasses. This is especially true if you normally wear contact lenses, which may become dry and uncomfortable during sustained computer work. Computer glasses also are a good choice if you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, because these lenses generally are not optimal for the distance to your computer screen.

What is dry eye?

What is dry eye?
Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when the tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly.

In addition, inflammation of the surface of the eye may occur along with dry eye. If left untreated, this condition can lead to pain, ulcers, or scars on the cornea, and some loss of vision. However, permanent loss of vision from dry eye is uncommon.

Dry eye can make it more difficult to perform some activities, such as using a computer or reading for an extended period of time, and it can decrease tolerance for dry environments, such as the air inside an airplane.

What are the symptoms of dry eye?
Dry eye symptoms may include any of the following:

  • stinging or burning of the eye;
  • a sandy or gritty feeling as if something is in the eye;
  • episodes of excess tears following very dry eye periods;
  • a stringy discharge from the eye;
  • pain and redness of the eye;
  • episodes of blurred vision;
  • heavy eyelids;
  • inability to cry when emotionally stressed;
  • uncomfortable contact lenses;
  • decreased tolerance of reading, working on the computer, or any activity that requires sustained visual attention;
  • eye fatigue.

How is dry eye treated?
Depending on the causes of dry eye, your doctor may use various approaches to relieve the symptoms. Most common treatments are lubricating eye drops and healthy blinking techniques.

If you suffer from any symptoms of dry eye, it’s time to get some relief! Make an appointment today!

Are your eyes protected?

Are you protecting your eyes from harmful UV exposure?
The sun’s ultraviolet rays pose a significant risk not just to your skin but also to your vision. That’s right. No matter the season, solar radiation can harm your eyes, and other components of those UV rays can lead to serious eye health and vision problems. Despite these health risks and warnings, only 40 percent of Americans cite protection from sun damage as their main reason for wearing sunglasses.

Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to eye damage, including cataracts, macular degeneration, pingueculae, pterygia and photokeratitis.

We recommend that you schedule a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years. Such visits are a good investment to monitor your eye health, maintain good vision, track UV protection needs and learn the latest advances in eye protection.

You can enjoy the great outdoors no matter the season or location. Just remember that sunglasses offer a simple solution to protect your vision from the harmful rays of the sun. Let us help you find your next pair of eyeglasses that provide the protection you need and the style you want!