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Family Eyecare Center of Optometry:
Dr. Harold Ashcraft OD

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Thanksgiving 2020

With the holiday season upon us, many of us ponder on the virtue of gratitude.

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Your Thanksgiving may look different this year because of COVID-19 precautions and restrictions.

In spite of the difficulties and disappointments we face, there is always something to be grateful for.

We hope that during this holiday season you can find ways to connect with friends and family, and to recognize the simple things in life that bring you joy.

Here are some great quotes that reflect this attitude of gratitude:

“Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willie Nelson

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.” Sam Lefkowitz

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” Epictetus

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Ashcraft & Staff

New To Contact Lenses? Here Are Our Top 5 Tips!

For an estimated 56 million North Americans, contact lenses are the preferred form of vision correction. So if you’ve just started wearing contact lenses — you’re in good company.

Advice About Contact Lenses from Los Angeles Eye Doctor: Dr. Harold Ashcraft

Here are 5 tips to quickly help you adjust to wearing and caring for your new lenses so you can enjoy the many benefits they offer.

  1. Learn How to Tell if Your Contact Lens Is Inside Out

This is a common mistake many beginners make when inserting soft contacts. Place the lens on your index fingertip and look carefully at its shape. The edge of the lens should be pointing upwards, like the rim of a teacup. If the edge is flared outward like a blooming flower, the lens is inside out.

Some contact lenses have tiny laser markings of numbers or letters. If the numbers/letters read correctly when you hold the lens on your fingertip, they are properly oriented and the lens is ready to be inserted.

  1. Never Use a Substitute for Contact Lens Solution

Your eye doctor will recommend the appropriate contact lens solution to suit your eyes and lenses. Some people have sensitivities and not all lens solutions are the same.

Even if you run out of contact lens solution, don’t be tempted to rinse your lenses with water, and never use saliva to moisten or clean them.

Using substances other than the recommended contact lens solution to rinse or rewet your contacts can introduce harmful microbes to the eye and cause a serious infection. That’s why it’s best to remove your contacts before showering, swimming, or any other time they might get wet.

  1. If Your Contact Lenses Feel Uncomfortable, Take Them Out!

Some newcomers mistakenly think that if their contacts feel uncomfortable or gritty, they simply need to “get used to them.” Contact lenses are supposed to be comfortable, so if you are experiencing discomfort there may be something wrong.

With clean fingers, remove your contacts and rinse them, inside and out, with the solution or rewetting drops as recommended by your eye doctor. Dust or dirt could have gotten stuck between the lens and your eye, causing irritation. Flushing the lenses with contact lens solution will help remove the irritant.

If your eyes still feel irritated, don’t place the contact lenses back in your eyes. Instead, wait until they are no longer red or irritated, and try inserting them again. If the problem persists, contact your eye doctor.

  1. Wear Contact Lens-Friendly Makeup

Wearing makeup around the eyes can be a source of irritation and infection whether you wear contact lenses or not. Here’s what we recommend when it comes to eye makeup and contact lenses:

  • Choose hypoallergenic makeup.
  • If using a cream-based product around your eyes, choose a water-based formula instead of an oil-based one.
  • Keep your eye closed during application to avoid makeup particles entering your eye.
  • Don’t apply eyeliner or eyeshadow to the inner rims of your eyelids.
  • Replace eye makeup at least once every 3 months to minimize the growth and spread of bacteria.
  • Never share eye makeup with friends or family.
  • Remove your contact lenses before removing your makeup.
  1. Stick to the Hygiene Guidelines

We can’t emphasize this enough — always thoroughly wash and dry your hands before handling your contact lenses.

Try to avoid washing your hands with oily or heavily scented hand soaps, as they tend to cling to the surface of the lens and could irritate the eye. Additionally, if you touch moisturizers or lotions before handling your contact lenses you run the risk of some residual product adhering to the lens and clouding your vision.

After washing your hands, dry them using a lint-free towel. It’s harder to grasp contact lenses with wet hands, and — as mentioned above — lenses shouldn’t come into contact with tap water.

Bonus Tip: Get an Eye Exam

While all this advice can be very helpful, it doesn’t replace an in-person exam with your eye doctor. Your eye doctor will advise you when to return for your next contact lens consultation. Following this schedule is the best way to ensure you can enjoy the freedom of contact lens wear.

If you are new to contact lenses (or not!) and have any questions or concerns about your eyes or vision, call 310-620-6495. Family Eyecare Center of Optometry will be happy to schedule you for a contact lens exam and fitting.

With the help of Dr. Harold Ashcraft, you’ll be an expert in contact lens wear and care in no time!

How Can My Child’s Myopia Be Corrected?

At Family Eyecare Center of Optometry, we help children like yours achieve clear and comfortable vision, so they can succeed at the important things in life.

How to Correct Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Contact Lenses

Contacts can be a great choice, especially for physically active children or teens who don’t want to worry about breaking or misplacing their eyeglasses. In some cases of very high myopia, contact lenses can offer clearer vision than glasses.

Corrective contact lenses are usually placed in the eyes upon waking and removed at night before bedtime. There are several types, including: soft contacts, daily disposables, extended wear, and rigid gas permeable (hard) lenses. Navigating through the differences between them can be daunting. Fortunately, if you’re located in Los Angeles our eye doctor will be happy to guide you. Speak with Dr. Harold Ashcraft to determine whether your child is ready for contact lenses.

Prescription Glasses

Glasses are a popular choice among our younger patients. Choosing from an array of styles makes the process fun and exciting! Allowing the children to be active participants in selecting their eyewear increases the likelihood that they’ll actually wear them. There are strong, flexible and resilient frames which look great and are comfortable too.

Many children like to wear glasses and some are even disappointed when they are told they don’t need them.

The optician can customize the lenses with additions and upgrades like impact-resistant or shatter-proof materials, scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coatings, UV filters, and transition lenses that darken in the sun. For those requiring vision correction for distance and near, we also offer bifocal or multifocal lens prescriptions.

We Can Help Correct Your Child’s Myopia

If you’re located near Los Angeles, California, an eye exam with our optometrist can determine your child’s exact prescription, and give you the opportunity to receive answers to any questions you may have about your child’s eye health and vision. Progressive myopia, where a growing child’s prescription continues to worsen, is why it’s important for myopic children to undergo eye exams at least once a year.

At Family Eyecare Center of Optometry, our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to recommend the most suitable method of correcting your child’s myopia to meet his or her individual needs. Thanks to the wide range options available, your child will walk away with eyewear that will not only enhance his or her style but will also be a boost of confidence.

Let us help your child see the world in a whole new light. To schedule your child’s annual eye exam or if you have any further questions, contact Family Eyecare Center of Optometry at 310-620-6495 today.

Are Floaters and Flashes Dangerous?

You’ve most likely experienced occasional visual “floaters” or flashes and may have wondered what they were and if they’re a cause for concern. They look like tiny lines, shapes, shadows, or specks that appear to be drifting in the visual field. More often than not, seeing floaters is a normal occurrence and does not indicate a problem with ocular or visual health. However, when floaters become more frequent and are accompanied by flashes of light, that can indicate a more serious problem.

Eye flashes resemble star-like specks or strands of light that either flash or flicker in one’s field of vision. They can either be a single burst in one visual zone, or can be several flashes throughout a wider area. Flashes can sometimes be missed as they most often appear in the side or peripheral vision.

Floaters & Flashes Eye Care in Los Angeles, California

If you suddenly, or with increasing frequency, experience flashes or floaters, call Family Eyecare Center of Optometry and schedule an eye exam with Dr. Harold Ashcraft right away to rule out any serious eye conditions.

What Causes Floaters?

The vitreous in the eye is a clear gel that fills most of the eyeball and resembles raw egg-white. Within the vitreous are small lumps of protein that drift around and move with the motion of your eyes. When these tiny lumps of protein cast shadows on the retina — the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye — the shadows appear as floaters.

As we age, the vitreous shrinks, creating more strands of protein. This is why the appearance of floaters may increase with time. Floaters tend to be more prevalent in nearsighted people and diabetics, and occur more frequently following cataract surgery or an eye injury.

If seeing floaters becomes bothersome, try moving your eyes up and down or side to side to gently relocate the floaters away from your visual field.

What Causes Flashes?

Flashes result from the retinal nerve cells being moved or tugged on. As the vitreous shrinks over time, it can tug at the retina, causing you to “see stars” or bursts of light. The process of the vitreous separating from the retina is called “posterior vitreous detachment” (PVD) and usually isn’t dangerous.

In about 16% of cases, PVD causes tiny tears in the retina that can lead to retinal detachment — a sight-threatening condition that causes irreversible blindness if left untreated.

Other possible causes of flashes are eye trauma or migraine headaches.

When To Call Dr. Ashcraft About Floaters

If you experience any of the following symptoms, promptly make an appointment with Dr. Harold Aschcraft for emergency eye care in the Southbay, Los Angeles, Ca. area.

Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

  • A sudden onset of floaters accompanied by flashes (which can be any shape or size)
  • An increase of floaters accompanied by a darkening of one side of the visual field
  • Shadows in the peripheral vision
  • Any time flashes are seen

In many cases, seeing floaters is no cause for concern; however the above symptoms could indicate retinal detachment—which, if left untreated, could cause a permanent loss of sight or even blindness.

If the receptionists pick up the phone and hear the main concern is floaters or flashes, they will try to squeeze in the appointment within 24 hours. Expect the pupils to be dilated during your eye exam, so the eye doctor can get a really good look at the peripheral retina to diagnose or rule out a retinal tear or other serious condition, as opposed to a non-vision-threatening condition such as uncomplicated posterior vitreous detachment (quite common) or ocular migraine.

Please contact Family Eyecare Center of Optometry in Los Angeles at 310-620-6495 with any further questions, or to schedule an eye doctor’s appointment.

Tips to Relax Your Eyes and Find Relief From Eyestrain

Do your eyes hurt after spending a significant amount of time reading, playing video games, driving, or staring at a screen? These visually intense activities can sometimes be hard on the eyes, causing uncomfortable symptoms like headaches and blurry vision. Other symptoms of eye strain can include light sensitivity, neck and shoulder pain, trouble concentrating, and burning or itchy eyes.

Fortunately, preventing painful computer vision syndrome and eye fatigue symptoms can be as simple as trying a few of these eye exercises. To learn more about digital eye strain and discover the best relief options for you, call Family Eyecare Center of Optometry at 310-620-6495 and schedule an eye exam with Dr. Harold Ashcraft.

Relax and Relieve Your Eyes with These Techniques

Many of these exercises are designed for computer users. Eye strain resulting from long drives, reading, or other activities, can be alleviated by modifying some of these recommendations.

The Clock Exercise to Relieve Overworked Muscles

The clock exercise relieves strain on overworked eye muscles and can help you avoid headaches and eye pain, among other symptoms. Begin the exercise by imagining a large analog clock a few feet in front of you. Keep your head still and move your eyes to the imaginary 9, then to the imaginary 3.

Keep moving your eyes to the opposite pairs on the clock — 10/4, 11/5, 12/6, and so on. Hold your gaze for a second or two on each number before moving on to the next one. Continue doing this for 4-5 minutes.

The 20-20-20 Rule for Reducing Eyestrain

The 20-20-20 rule helps you avoid dry eyes and eye strain by giving your eyes frequent breaks. After about 20 minutes of screen time or doing close-up work, focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives the eyes a much needed rest and helps them relax. There are also free apps available that provide pop-up reminders that notify you when it’s time to shift your gaze.

Screen Ergonomics

The American Optometric Association recommends placing computer monitors 20 to 28 inches, or 50-70 cm, away from your eyes and the top of the computer should be at eye level or right below for optimum eye comfort. Glare filters can reduce the amount of glare produced by digital devices and improve your viewing experience.

Poor sitting posture can also contribute to eye strain. Your chair should be situated so that your feet are flat on the floor, or use an angled footrest for additional comfort.

Consider Computer Glasses and Blue Light Filters

Since regular prescription lenses or glasses may not adequately meet your visual needs for lengthy computer use, you may benefit from wearing computer glasses. These prescription glasses are customized to your needs and also reduce glare and block blue light.

 

You don’t have to live with the discomforts of eye strain. If symptoms persist, it may be time to visit Family Eyecare Center of Optometry and get the relief you seek. Call our office to schedule a convenient eye doctor’s appointment.

 

COVID-19 –  What Constitutes an Eye Care Emergency? 

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An eye care emergency is defined as medical care for conditions requiring prompt medical attention due to a sudden change in ocular or visual health.

Eye trauma, chemical exposure to the eyes, foreign objects in the eye, and ocular infections are all considered eye emergencies and should be given immediate medical attention. If you have an eye emergency, it’s critical to get immediate care in order to avoid permanent damage to your vision.

While some may opt to visit an emergency room for an eye injury, research shows that most emergency room visits for eye emergencies could have been treated by an experienced optometrist. Furthermore, going to the hospital for an eye emergency during the coronavirus pandemic isn’t the fastest or safest way to treat the problem; the hospitals are already overloaded and you risk catching the virus during your visit.

Dr. Harold Ashcraft can offer personalized treatment for a wide range of eye emergencies and other ocular conditions. Call Family Eyecare Center of Optometry for further instructions or call the number provided in the voicemail.

What Is an Eye Emergency?

Eye emergencies refer to any sudden onset of symptoms or obvious eye trauma that affect vision. These emergencies range from severe eye pain or vision loss to a sudden blow to the eye or chemical exposure. Call us if you experience any of the following:

  • Eye pain
  • Bleeding of the eye
  • Blood in the white of the eye
  • Swollen or bulging eye
  • Vision loss or double vision
  • New eye flashes or floaters
  • Pupils that are unequal in size
  • Severe photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Being hit in the eye
  • Bruising around the eye
  • Eye discharge
  • Suspected eye infection
  • Severe burning, stinging, itching eyes
  • Scratched or cut eye or eyelid
  • Split contact lenses in the eye
  • A piece of broken eyeglass lens in your eye
  • Foreign object stuck in the eye

If you’re uncertain whether or not your condition is an emergency, contact Family Eyecare Center of Optometry immediately.

What Should I Do If I Have An Eye Emergency?

If you have a cut or foreign object in your eye, or if you suffered from other forms of eye trauma, DO NOT:

  • Rub your eye
  • Attempt to remove any foreign objects embedded in the eye
  • Use tweezers or swabs in your eye
  • Put any ointments or medication into your eye

First Aid for Eye Injuries

Refer to the following guidelines to prevent any long-term vision loss or eye damage.

Chemical Exposure

If a contact lens is in the eye, do not attempt to remove the contact lens using your fingers. Instead, flush saline solution or water over the lens immediately as it may dislodge the lens. Contact lenses can trap harmful chemicals against the cornea, causing unnecessary damage.

Seek emergency medical care promptly after flushing.

To avoid eye exposure to toxic or abrasive chemicals, always wear protective eyewear and use caution when handling these types of products.

Foreign Objects

Although your first instinct may be to rub your eye to get the foreign object out, try to resist the urge–as rubbing can further damage the eye.

If the object isn’t embedded in the eye, you may try to remove it by flushing it out. First, wash your hands with warm water and soap to prevent contamination or infection. Then, flush the eye thoroughly with clean water or preferably saline, if available. You can also try to induce tearing by using your fingers to gently lift the upper eyelid over the lower eyelid. Causing the eye to tear may flush out the foreign object.

If the object is visible, and not embedded on the eye, you can try to gently wipe it away with a damp, clean washcloth.

Seek immediate medical attention if the above methods do not work.

Blows to the Eye

To treat a black eye, apply a cold compress to decrease swelling and support healing. Use the compress for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, allowing the eye to rest between applications. A cold compress can be made by wrapping a bag of peas, or other soft frozen items, in a clean cloth.

Never place ice directly on the skin; use a clean cloth between the skin and ice.

Call Dr. Harold Ashcraft immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms after the eye is impacted:

  • Changes in vision
  • Persistent or increasing pain
  • Bleeding or any blood on the outside or inside the eye
  • Any visible difference to the appearance of your eyes

Cut or Puncture to the Eye

This type of injury always requires immediate medical care, so after you call us, make sure to follow these precautionary measures to avoid further injury:

  • Don’t attempt to remove something embedded in the eye
  • Don’t wash the eye or eyelid
  • Try to shield the eye with something protective, for example – use a pad of cotton wool as an eye shield and tape it to the surrounding eye area

If you have an eye emergency, don’t delay treatment. Timing is everything — the earlier you get treatment, the less vision damage you’ll have over the long term. Take immediate action by contacting Family Eyecare Center of Optometry today. Dr. Harold Ashcraft will treat any eye emergency you have or refer you to specialized care (i.e. surgery), as needed.

Family Eyecare Center of Optometry serves patients from Los Angeles, all throughout California.

Coronavirus and Your Eyes – What You Need to Know

As we are in middle of this Coronavirus Pandemic, first of all, I hope all of you are doing well health wise, considering the circumstances. I am optimistic and hopeful that “This too shall pass” and sooner is better than later.

Emergency Visits, Contact Lens & Glasses Ordering Available

Dr. Ashcraft is available for emergency visits as needed. We are closed for routine care through the month of April. We are watching the current situation on a day to day basis as far as routine eye care visits are concerned. We are available to answer any of your questions. Please call us at the office at 310-670-4411 as needed.

Contact Lens Orders

If you need to order contacts to tide you over, or for a regular contact lens order, call the office at 310-670-4411. You may also use our online contact lens store. The link is http://yourlens.com/ashcraft. The clickable link is also on the home page of our website familyeyecareoptometrist.com just under the photo near the top of the page.

Covid-19 and your Eyes: What You Need To Know)

As coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads around the world, health professionals are demanding that people limit their personal risk of contracting the virus by thoroughly washing their hands, practicing social distancing, and not touching their nose, mouth, or eyes. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that the eyes play an important role in spreading COVID-19.

Coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through droplets that an infected person sneezes or coughs out. These droplets can easily enter your body through the mucous membranes on the face such as your nose, mouth, and yes — your eyes.

But First, What Is The Coronavirus?

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, causes mild to severe respiratory illness associated with fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Symptoms typically appear within 2 weeks of exposure. Those with acute cases of the virus can develop pneumonia and other life-threatening complications.

Here’s what you should know:

Guard Your Eyes Against COVID-19

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. Although we all engage in this very normal habit, try to fight the urge to touch your eyes. If you absolutely must, first wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Tears carry the virus. Touching tears or a surface where tears have fallen can spread coronavirus. Make sure to wash your hands after touching your eyes and throughout the day as well.
  • Disinfect surfaces. You can catch COVID-19 by touching an object or surface that has the virus on it, such as a door knob, and then touching your eyes.

Coronavirus and Pink Eye

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, refers to an inflammation of the membrane covering the front of the eyeball. Conjunctivitis is characterized by red, watery, and itchy eyes. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can be spread by coughing and sneezing, too.

According to a recent study in China, viral conjunctivitis may be a symptom of COVID-19. The study found conjunctival congestion in 9 of the 1,099 patients (0.8%) who were confirmed to have coronavirus.

If you suspect you have pink eye, call Dr. Ashcraft right away. Given the current coronavirus crisis, we ask patients to call first and talk personally to Dr. Ashcraft as it will allow him time to assess your condition and it will allow the staff time to prepare for your visit if needed.

Contact Lenses or Eyeglasses?

Many people who wear contact lenses are thinking about switching to eyeglasses for the time being to lower the threat of being infected with coronavirus.

Wearing glasses may provide an extra layer of protection if someone coughs on you; hopefully that infected droplet will hit the lens and not your eye. However, one must still be cautious, as the virus can reach the eyes from the exposed sides, tops and bottoms around your frames. Unlike specialized safety goggles, glasses are not considered a safe way to prevent coronavirus.

Contact Lenses and COVID-19

If you wear contacts, make sure to properly wash your hands prior to removing or inserting them. Consider ordering a 3 to 6 month supply of contact lenses and solution; Home delivery may be available. At this stage there is no recommendation to wear daily lenses over monthlies.

Don’t switch your contact lens brand or solution, unless approved by Dr. Ashcraft.

Regularly Disinfect Glasses

Some viruses such as coronavirus, can remain on hard surfaces from several hours to days. This can then be transmitted to the wearer’s fingers and face. People who wear reading glasses for presbyopia should be even more careful, because they usually need to handle their glasses more often throughout the day, and older individuals tend to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications. Gently wash the lenses and frames with warm water and soap, and dry your eyeglasses using a microfiber cloth.

Stock up on Eye Medicine

It’s a good idea to stock up on important medications, including eye medicine, in order to get by in case you need to be quarantined or if supplies run short. This may not be possible for everyone due to insurance limitations. If you cannot stock up, make sure to request a refill as soon as you’re due and never wait until the last minute to contact your pharmacy.

It is important that you continue to follow your doctor’s instructions for all medications.

Digital Devices and Eyestrain

At times like this, people tend to use digital devices more than usual. Take note of tiredness, sore eyes, blurry vision, double vision or headaches, which are symptoms of computer vision syndrome if they are made worse by extensive use of digital devices, and might indicate a need for a new prescription in the near future. This usually isn’t urgent, but if you’re unsure, you can call our eye doctor’s office.

Children and Digital Devices

During this time your children may end up watching TV and using computers, tablets and smartphones more frequently and for more extended periods too. Computer vision syndrome, mentioned above, can affect children as well. We recommend limiting screen time to a maximum of 2 hours per day for children, though it’s understandably difficult to control under the circumstances.

Try to get your child to take a 10 to 15 minute break every hour, and stop all screen time for at least 60 minutes before sleep.

Children and Outdoor Play

Please follow local guidelines and instructions regarding outdoor activities for your children. If possible, it’s actually good for visual development to spend 1-2 hours a day outside.

From Dr. Ashcraft and all of our staff at Family Eyecare Center of Optometry, we wish you good health and please stay safe.

Pink Eye Treatment and Symptoms 2020

What Causes Pink Eye?

Conjunctivitis, also called pink eye, is one of the most frequently seen eye diseases, especially in kids. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria or even allergies to pollen, chlorine in swimming pools, and ingredients in cosmetics, or other irritants, which touch the eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis might be quite transmittable and quickly spread in school and at the office.

Symptoms and Signs of Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis is seen when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue covering the white part of the eye, becomes inflamed. You can identify conjunctivitis if you notice eye redness, discharge, itching or swollen eyelids and a crusty discharge surrounding the eyes early in the day. Pink eye infections can be divided into three main types: viral, allergic and bacterial conjunctivitis.

The viral type is usually a result of a similar virus to that which produces the recognizable red, watery eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. The red, itchy, watery eyes caused by viral pink eye are likely to last from a week to two and then will clear up on their own. You may however, be able to reduce some of the discomfort by using soothing drops or compresses. Viral pink eye is transmittable until it is completely cleared up, so in the meantime maintain excellent hygiene, remove eye discharge and try to avoid using communal pillowcases or towels. If your son or daughter has viral conjunctivitis, he or she will have to be kept home from school for three days to a week until symptoms disappear.

A bacterial infection such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. One should notice an improvement within just a few days of antibiotic drops, but be sure to adhere to the full prescription dosage to prevent pink eye from recurring.

Pink Eye Treatment

Allergic pink eye is not contagious. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as hay fever or pet allergies that sets off an allergic reaction in their eyes. First of all, to treat allergic pink eye, you should eliminate the irritant. Use cool compresses and artificial tears to relieve discomfort in mild cases. When the infection is more severe, your eye doctor might prescribe a medication such as an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine. In cases of chronic allergic pink eye, topical steroid eye drops could be used.

Pink eye should always be diagnosed by a qualified eye doctor in order to identify the type and best course of treatment. Never treat yourself! Keep in mind the sooner you begin treatment, the lower chance you have of giving pink eye to loved ones or prolonging your discomfort.

If you have pain, light sensitivity, or blurred vision, you most likely do not have pink eye. This is urgent. Call today for a priority appointment.

How Smoking Affects Vision

Smoking harms nearly every system in your body — including your eyes. 

Though we are all aware of the health effects associated with smoking, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and bad teeth, few know about the negative impact it can have on our vision. 

How Smoking Impacts Eye Disease 

Smoking, especially 20 cigarettes or more daily over a long period of time, can adversely impact your vision. Cigarette smoke is made up of compounds that can damage health and have been shown to cause cerebral lesions which affect the area of the brain that processes vision.

More specifically, tobacco addiction increases the risk of developing vision-robbing diseases such as macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy. Moreover, smoke is an irritant that can cause or exacerbate dry eye syndrome. Below we’ll delve a little further into each of these conditions. 

Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Smoking

Smokers run a high risk of developing AMD, a condition that severely impairs central vision, making it difficult or impossible to read, drive, recognize faces and colors, and leads to permanent vision loss in those aged 65 or older. Fortunately, the risk can be dramatically diminished by putting an end to tobacco smoking — even if later in life. 

Cataracts and Smoking

Heavy smokers double their risk of developing cataracts, the leading cause of blindness. Cataracts are characterized by clouded, blurred or double vision, photophobia, and reduced night vision. However, cataract surgery is common and replaces the clouded lens with an artificial intraocular lens. 

Uveitis and Smoking

Uveitis, the inflammation of the eye’s central layer, is an ocular disease that can lead to blindness. This condition damages important structures of the eye, notably the iris and retina, and can lead to cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment. Smokers have a 2.2 times higher risk of developing uveitis than non-smokers. 

Diabetic Retinopathy and Smoking

Smoking raises one’s risk of developing diabetes by up to 40 percent thereby increasing the risk of retinopathy as well. Diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to leak blood into the eye, which — in severe cases — can deprive the retina of oxygen and result in blindness.

Dry Eyes and Smoking

Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition characterized by insufficient tears to keep your eye lubricated, or the tears are not composed of the correct balance of water, lipids, and mucous to maintain proper lubrication. Common symptoms include red, itchy, and gritty eyes.

Heavy smokers, and those exposed to secondhand smoke, not only double their risk of developing dry eye but also exacerbate an existing condition, especially among the contact lens wearers.

How Secondhand Smoke Affects Eye Disease 

Secondhand smoke— which includes the smoke that emanates from the end of a cigarette as well as the smoke exhaled— is nearly as harmful to health and vision. Second-hand smoke places others’ eyesight in danger, particularly in young children and infants. Furthermore, studies indicate that women who smoke during pregnancy put the newborn baby at risk of being born with eye disease or visual impairment that could affect his or her ability to learn.

Stop Smoking Now to Save Your Vision

The good news is that giving up smoking can have an immediate effect on your health — and it’s never too late to quit! Once the habit is broken, your body will begin to repair itself to prevent vision loss. It can be challenging to quit, as it requires dedication, support, and advanced planning. Dr. Harold Ashcraft and the rest of the staff at Family Eyecare Center of Optometry in Los Angeles care about your health and will be happy to provide any assistance or resources to help you quit smoking and improve your eye health. Keep in mind that if you smoke, quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to protect your health and vision.

If may be hard, since this habit is hard to break. But think about all of the benefits that will come to you, including better health and saving money. It will be worth all the effort you make.

 

woman holding eyeIs It Eye Allergies or Dry Eyes?

Eye Allergy and Dry Eye symptoms tend to be very similar. They both include redness, itchiness, tearing, and a gritty or burning sensation in the eyes.

 

Is it really an allergic reaction, or could it be Dry Eyes? Before running to the pharmacy for some antihistamines, it would be worth digging into the cause of these reactions in order to assure that you’re choosing the right treatment option.

If you’ve been using artificial tears, prescription allergy medication, or other over the counter medicine to relieve the itchy, dry feeling, but see no improvement— it may be worth visiting the Family Eyecare Center of Optometry and speaking with Dr. Harold Ashcraft, who can provide a diagnosis and solution for your condition.

What’s the Difference Between Eye Allergies and Dry Eyes?

Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, occur when the eyes react to elements that irritate them (allergens). One can develop eye allergies from pet dander, dust, pollen, smoke, perfumes, or even certain foods. To fight off the allergen, the eyes produce a substance called histamine, which causes the eyelids to become red, swollen and itchy — and at times to tear and burn. Those with eye allergies tend to experience nasal allergies as well, which include an itchy, stuffy nose, along with frequent sneezing.

People with Dry Eyes suffer from eyes that feel dry, itchy, swollen, irritated, and at times very painful. Dry eye syndrome can be developed as a result of genetics, age, environment, lifestyle, medications, and the overall health of your eyes. When one has dry eyes, the eyes are either not producing enough tears to keep your eye lubricated, or the tears are not composed of the correct balance of water, lipids, and mucous to maintain proper lubrication.

How Are Eye Allergies and Dry Eyes Treated?

eye drops

Eye allergies can be treated using artificial tears, medicated eye drops, decongestants, antihistamines, or anti-inflammatory medications. Depending on your specific case, Dr. Harold Ashcraft may recommend a combination of treatments.

However, if it is determined that you have dry eyes, Dr. Harold Ashcraft may suggest artificial tears or lubricant eye drops to alleviate the discomfort, and in some cases, may even prescribe drops or steroids. For patients with more acute cases of dry eyes, the doctor might suggest alternative treatment options, such as LipiFlow, True Tear, TearCare or scleral lenses.

If you’re suffering from any of the above symptoms, speak with , who will examine and thoroughly assess the source of these reactions, determine whether they are caused by allergies or Dry Eyes, and provide the right treatment.

The Family Eyecare Center of Optometry services patients from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, and throughout California.

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