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Are You Susceptible To Vision Loss?

Vision loss is more common than you may think! In fact, it’s among the most prevalent disabilities in adults and children. Knowing what puts you at risk of developing vision loss is important and can help you to be proactive about caring for your eyes.

Below, we’ll explore the most common causes of vision loss and the risk factors associated with each. 

Spreading awareness and education about visual health is just one way that our eye doctors near you can help. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call us today. 

Common Causes of Vision Loss

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases caused by a buildup of pressure within the eye. Too much inner-eye pressure can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. 

Since symptoms don’t usually manifest in the early stages of glaucoma, getting regular eye exams is all the more crucial. Advanced or rapidly progressing glaucoma can show a variety of symptoms, such as blurred vision, headache, severe eye pain and redness, seeing halos around lights, and nausea. 

Risk factors for developing glaucoma include: 

  • Being 60 years or older
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
  • High myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Previous eye injury or certain eye surgeries
  • Certain medications, like corticosteroids 
  • Thin corneas
  • Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and sickle-cell anemia

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy. A healthy lens is clear and allows light to pass through it undisturbed. 

Common cataract symptoms include cloudy or blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, light sensitivity, double vision in the affected eye, and seeing colors as faded or yellowish. 

Risk factors for developing cataracts include: 

  • Aging
  • Diabetes 
  • Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Previous eye surgery, injury, or inflammation
  • Alcoholism
  • Extended use of corticosteroids

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) 

AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over the age of 60. It occurs when the macula (the small central portion of the retina, which is responsible for sharp, colorful, central vision) begins to wear down. 

Early stages of AMD usually go unnoticed, but later stages of the disease can produce symptoms like blurred vision, dark or blurry areas in your central vision, and problems with color perception. 

There’s not yet a cure for AMD, but certain treatments can help prevent vision loss. 

Risk factors for developing AMD include: 

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Aging
  • Long-term sun exposure 
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Family history of AMD
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Farsightedness 

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes that affects the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye called the retina. 

Initially, diabetic retinopathy shows no symptoms but can eventually lead to blindness. As it develops, it can cause increased floaters, impaired color vision, dark spots in your visual field, and blurred vision. 

Risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy include: 

  • Length of time from diabetes diagnosis — the longer you’ve had it, the higher your chances of developing visual complications
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol or blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • African American, Hispanic, and Native American ethnicities 
  • Family history of DR

So, what’s the bottom line ?

Multiple factors contribute to eye disease and vision loss, and some may even be relevant to you. If you think you may be at risk for vision loss or experience any of the symptoms listed above, speak with your eye doctor in Westchester, Los Angeles as soon as possible. We also recommend you have your eyes thoroughly examined every 1-2 years, or as often as your eye doctor recommends. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call Family Eyecare Center of Optometry today. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions With Our Westchester, Los Angeles Eye Doctors

  1. Can blindness be prevented?

When caught early, many eye diseases can be treated to halt or slow the progression of the disease and potentially prevent vision loss. The best things you can do to preserve your vision for the long term is to lead a healthy lifestyle and make sure you undergo a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years. 

  1. Which eye diseases are genetically inherited?

More than 350 ocular diseases have some sort of genetic component. Certain diseases, like retinitis pigmentosa and albinism, are directly inherited through chromosomal information. In other cases, a predisposition to the disease is inherited, rather than the disease itself. 

3 Benefits of Anti-Glare Coating

Glare refers to the excessive brightness caused by direct or reflected light. It can cause eye strain, digital eye strain (when using a computer, for example), halos, and headaches. Glare can also reduce visibility, making it unsafe to drive. 

Anti-glare coating, also known as anti-reflective (AR) coating, is a thin layer applied to the surface of your eyeglass lenses that allows more light to pass through your lenses. By reducing the amount of glare that reflects off of your lenses, you can see more clearly and experience more comfortable vision. You can request anti-glare coating for lenses when you buy eyeglasses.

AR Coating Offers 3 Major Advantages

Better Appearance

Without an anti-glare coating on your glasses, camera flashes and bright lights can reflect off your lenses. This can hinder your appearance when speaking to people or in meetings, cause flash reflections when picture-taking, and make it difficult to find the right angle for video calls. Anti-reflective coating eliminates the harsh reflections and allows others to clearly see your eyes and face. 

Reduced Digital Eye Strain 

You know that tired, irritated feeling you get after staring at a digital screen for several hours? That’s digital eye strain. Anti-glare coating helps reduce digital eye strain by lowering exposure to excessive glare from digital devices and lighting. 

Safe Driving at Night

The bright headlights from cars driving in the opposite direction can pose a serious danger when driving at night. These sudden glares can lead you to momentarily lose focus of the view ahead. AR coating on your prescription eyewear effectively reduces reflections from headlights at night, allowing you to enjoy a better view of the road and safer driving at night.

Let your eyes look and feel better every day with anti-glare coated lenses. Contact us to book your appointment today! 

Protect Your Eyes From Vision Loss: Diabetes Awareness Month

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is one of the most prevalent eye diseases affecting the working age population. It is thought to be caused by high blood sugar levels which, over time, damage the tiny blood vessels of the retina at the back of the eye, making them swell and leak. Left untreated, DR can lead to vision loss and eventually blindness.

Since diabetic eye disease is typically painless and shows no symptoms until its advanced stages, it’s critical to get your annual eye evaluation, as an optometrist can detect the developing signs early enough to prevent vision loss.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy 

Diabetics may not realize they have diabetic retinopathy, because it develops silently. As the condition worsens, it may cause: 

  • Blurred vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Colors to appear faded or washed out
  • An increased presence of floaters
  • Vision loss
  • Blank or dark areas in your field of vision

Diabetic retinopathy symptoms usually affect both eyes.

Risk Factors

If you are diabetic, caring for your eyes by undergoing routine eye exams and taking care of your body by controlling blood sugar levels are critical to preventing vision loss. There are several risk factors associated with diabetic eye complications, including: 

  • Poor blood sugar control
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol 
  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Excess weight/obesity

Are There Any Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy?

Today’s treatment options may improve your vision, even if you feel your eyesight has begun to deteriorate. Medications can be injected to reduce swelling, and laser surgery can be used to shrink and seal off swollen and leaking blood vessels — preserving and, in many cases, even improving vision. 

While certain treatments may work, frequent monitoring of your eyes coupled with managing your blood sugar levels can go a long way toward preventing or reducing diabetic retinopathy complications. 

If You Have Diabetes, Make Sure to: 

  • Control blood sugar and blood pressure to prevent long-term damage to the fine blood vessels within the retina.  
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle routine, especially during stressful times such as the COVID-19 pandemic. (Plus, while diabetics are in the high-risk category, your chances of developing serious COVID-19 related complications is lower if your diabetes is under control.)
  • Maintain a steady diet and exercise regimen to help the body and mind feel better. 
  • Quit smoking, if applicable; you can reach out to a medical professional for guidance.
  • Get yearly diabetic eye exams.

Preventing and managing diabetic retinopathy require a multi-disciplinary approach involving your eye doctor and other medical professionals. Your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine whether you have diabetic retinopathy, assess its severity, and discuss preventative strategies as well as the latest treatment options. 

Contact Family Eyecare Center of Optometry at 310-620-6495 to schedule your diabetic eye exam today, and to learn more about what you can do to protect your vision and general health.

How Long Does It Take to Get Used to New Glasses?

Most people who wear glasses are familiar with the excitement and confidence boost that accompanies wearing new specs for the first time. But sometimes there is an adjustment period before your vision is fully comfortable. Things may look blurry, or you may notice feeling dizzy after prolonged wear. Some of these symptoms can be a normal part of the adjustment period, but sometimes they’re a reason to contact your eye doctor. If your new glasses are giving you trouble, speak with Dr. Harold Ashcraft about ensuring that your eyesight is both clear and comfortable. 

When Will My Eyes Adjust to My New Glasses?

It can take a few days to a few weeks for your eyes and brain to fully adjust to your new eyewear, whether you are increasing your prescription or wearing eyeglasses for the first time.

Even if you are getting new glasses with the same prescription, different frames or lenses can alter your vision until you get used to the new frame style or lens type. The complexity of your prescription and whether you buy a lens with premium optics versus basic spherical lens or polycarbonate material all can affect the adjustment time. 

Progressive lenses tend to be the most difficult to adjust to. This is related to the peripheral soft focus zones, which are much less blurred for customized lenses prescribed by your local optometrist. 

What Are Some Possible Visual Symptoms I Could Experience?

Some common experiences shared by those adjusting to new eyewear include:

  • Eye strain, headache
  • Blurry vision
  • Trouble with depth perception, nausea and dizziness
  • “Barrel distortion” — objects appear distorted, for high plus lenses
  • “Fishbowl effect” — the feeling that your visual field is being bent along the edges, as if you’re looking through a fishbowl, common in high minus prescriptions 

Why Do My New Glasses Give Me a Headache? 

Fatigued eye muscles can cause headaches. But your eyes aren’t the only things adjusting to your new lenses. Your brain is also working hard to create a clear picture of the messages it’s receiving from your eyes. This extra brain activity can sometimes bring on a headache, which should only last about a day or so. 

Why Do I Feel Dizzy With My New Glasses?

Dizziness and nausea can be caused by problems with depth perception, similar to motion sickness. With motion sickness, you feel uneasy because your brain is having difficulty understanding the position of your body in relation to the space surrounding it. So when you wear your new glasses, your brain may need some time to understand how to interpret the new images it’s receiving, causing you to feel disoriented or dizzy. 

When Should I Call My Eye Doctor?

When the adjustment period extends beyond a few weeks, there is a possibility that there was an error in the manufacturing of the lenses. Many people purchase eyewear from somewhere other than their eye doctor or order glasses online, and some studies have shown that up to 40% of online eyewear is made incorrectly or inaccurately. 

It’s important to note that many offices may charge fees to check eyewear that is not made by them and that there may be fees for rechecking a patient’s refraction when glasses are made by another source.

Discomfort that lasts longer than a couple of weeks means it’s time to call your optometrist. Persistent symptoms like headaches, dizziness, or blurry vision can indicate that your glasses aren’t well suited to your eyes and need adjusting. Your optometrist will double check the prescription of the glasses among other things to ensure that the new glasses are right for you. 

If you need new glasses or are having a hard time adjusting to a new pair, don’t hesitate to contact Family Eyecare Center of Optometry to schedule an appointment with the Westchester, Los Angeles eye doctor. 

Dry Eye Home Remedies

woman washing her face with water 2087954If your eyes burn, itch, feel gritty, dry or tear, you may have dry eye syndrome. This is typically caused by a low production of tears or low-quality tears.

Many substances and situations can cause dry eyes, such as the medication you’re taking, the time spent staring at your phone or computer without blinking, exposure to smoke or dry air, wearing contact lenses or aging. No matter the cause, it feels pretty terrible.

If you’re stuck at home and social distancing in order to keep yourself and others safe, worry not — you can still find relief from your unpleasant symptoms. In addition to using artificial tears and ocular lubricants, you may want to try these at-home remedies with products or items you may have in your cupboard.

Eyelid Wash To Clean Eyelids

One way to produce higher quality tears is to keep your eyelids clean. You can do this by using a gentle cleanser, such as baby shampoo, and rubbing a small amount between your fingertips until it becomes frothy. Simply close your eyes and gently massage the soap into the base of your eyelids, right by your eyelashes, and then rinse with warm water while keeping your eyes closed.

Pay particular attention to the areas with makeup or facial creams that could enter the tear film and potentially irritate your eyes. Follow the eyelid wash with a warm compress (see below) to help your eyes regain moisture.

Repeat this process morning and night to relieve dry eye symptoms.

Warm Compress To Stimulate Tear Production

A warm compress increases circulation to the eye area and stimulates tear production. This method also soothes your eye irritation by releasing oils that may have accumulated in the glands of your eyelid, thus improving tear quality.

Instructions: Prepare a bowl with warm water. Then soak a clean, lint-free cloth in the water, wring it out and place it over your eyes for a maximum of ten minutes. If the compress cools down, soak it once again in the warm water. Do this several times a day for a few days until your eyes feel better.

Add Omega-3 to Your Diet to Improve Tear Quality

Those lacking essential fatty acids in their diet are prone to developing dry eye syndrome. Studies show that consuming omega-3 fatty acids may stimulate tear production and create quality tears that lubricate your eyes more effectively. Consider supplementing your diet with omega-3 fatty acids, which are naturally found in foods like salmon, sardines, anchovies, and flax seeds. Taking fish oil capsules or other omega-3 tablets also works really well.

Coconut Oil

Virgin coconut oil is great for those with dry eyes, as it creates a protective layer over the tear film layers, resulting in reduced evaporation. Furthermore, coconut oil has antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. All you need to do is soak a cotton ball in coconut oil and place it on your closed eyelid. Do this several times a day until your eyes feel better.

Increase Caffeine Intake But Not Too Much

Studies indicate that caffeine may alleviate dry eye by increasing production in the tear glands. Just make sure you’re careful when consuming caffeine, as it can lead to jitters, irritability and insomnia, particularly if you’re sensitive to caffeine, or if consumed in high quantities.

The participants in one study consumed capsules with 200 mg to 600 mg of caffeine (or 2-6 cups of coffee), depending on their weight.

On the other hand, caffeine in some people may act as a mild diuretic, which means they generally pass more water, possibly making the dry eye worse.

Change Your Environment-This is a BIG ONE

You may need to change your environment to prevent or alleviate dry eye, as dry air, high winds, dust, smoke, pollution and air conditioning can lead to temporary eye dryness. Consider using a cold-mist humidifier and avoid sitting directly in front of air conditioners or fans.

Wear Sunglasses To Protect Your Eyes

When outdoors, particularly when it’s windy, dusty or there’s the risk of high levels of UV exposure, wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes and decrease the chance of debris entering the eyes. Additionally, the front of your eyes has a protective layer called the conjunctiva, which can become red and inflamed when exposed to high levels of UV light or dust. Wearing good quality sunglasses will further prevent the eyes from experiencing those dry and irritating feelings.

Dry eye syndrome can cause another condition called photophobia, or acute sensitivity to light. By wearing sunglasses, you can further ease your dry eye symptoms.

More tips to prevent or alleviate dry eye symptoms

Blink More Especially Later in the Day and After Using the Computer

By deliberately blinking, you stimulate the flow of tears which can help keep the moisture on your eyes intact. Though purposeful blinking may look unnatural, it’s still worth practicing in order to get used to blinking enough throughout the day — particularly when staring at screens (computer or digital devices) for extended periods.

Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Drinking alcohol can dehydrate your body, which then affects the quality of your tears. Consider limiting your alcohol intake, or eliminate it entirely, and see whether there’s a correlation between your alcohol consumption and dry eyes.

Stop Smoking-Improve Your Dry Eye and Your Health

Cigarette smoking can double the risk of developing dry eye syndrome. Cigarette smoke is harmful to the eyes as it has more than 7,000 chemicals, all of which can irritate eyes. Furthermore, smoking can impact the composition of your tears.

If you’re a smoker, consider quitting. If you’re a non-smoker, avoid environments where there is an abundance of heavy smoking.

Drink More Water; Drink More Water

Last but not least: drink more water! Staying well-hydrated is good for your eyes and is critical for manufacturing healthy tears, clearing out debris, blinking and seeing comfortably.

Make sure you drink 8-10 glasses of water a day for eye health, and of course, overall general physical wellbeing.

At-home remedies can alleviate mild and temporary instances of the condition. If the symptoms persist or worsen, contact Family Eyecare Center of Optometry to speak with Dr. Harold Ashcraft.

Family Eyecare Center of Optometry is committed to helping you manage your long-term eye health. We serve patients from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, and throughout California.

Resources:

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/caffeine-dry-eye

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417102358.htm

https://www.healio.com/optometry/nutrition/news/print/primary-care-optometry-news/%7B4ec4aff0-09b2-4c1c-aca1-7c8201b7610b%7D/ods-recommend-omega-3-omega-6-supplements-for-managing-dry-eye

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