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What Exactly is an Eye Chart?

If there’s one aspect of optometry that everyone recognizes, it’s the traditional eye chart, with its rows of big letters on top, which gradually become smaller the farther down you go. This chart is usually known as the Snellen chart.

Yet how much do you really know about this eye chart? Are all eye charts the same? How are these eye charts used? And when were they invented?

Here’s everything you need to know about eye charts and more!

What is an Eye Chart?

An eye chart is one of the tools your eye doctor uses to assess your eyesight. Based on how well you can see various letters on the chart, your optometrist will determine whether you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) or astigmatism, and will measure the prescription that will give you the clearest, most comfortable vision.

Are All Eye Charts The Same?

There are a number of variations to the standard Snellen eye chart. The one an eye doctor uses depends on the personal needs and abilities of the patient. For example, eye doctors will use charts with pictures or patterns for younger children who may not have learned to read or identify letters and numbers.

There are also certain charts that specifically measure distance vision, while others are better for measuring near vision.

History of the Snellen Eye Chart

The Snellen eye chart was developed by Dutch eye doctor Hermann Snellen in the 1860s. Before this standardized eye chart was developed, each eye doctor had their own chart that they preferred to use.

Having so many different eye charts made it impossible to standardize the vision correction available to patients. Eyeglass makers didn’t receive the defined measurements they needed to accurately design, manufacture and measure the optical prescriptions their patients needed.

For the first time, the Snellen eye chart allowed a person to provide a standardized prescription from any eye care provider they chose to any eyeglass maker, and get the same optical lenses to accurately correct their vision.

How The Snellen Chart Is Used in Eye Exams

The standard Snellen chart displays 11 rows of capital letters, with the first row consisting of a single large letter. The farther down the chart you go, the smaller the letters become.

Your eye doctor will ask you to look through a phoropter – an instrument used to test individual lenses on each eye during an eye exam – and look at the Snellen chart placed 20 feet away. Your eye doctor will prescribe the lenses that provide you with the clearest and most comfortable vision.

In many offices, where 20 feet of space may not be available, you’ll be asked to view the chart through a mirror. This provides the same visual experience as if you were standing 20 feet away.

If you have 20/20 vision, it means you can see what an average person can see on an eye chart from a distance of 20 feet. On the other hand, if you have 20/40 vision, it means you can only see clearly from 20 feet away what a person with perfect vision can see clearly from 40 feet away.

If you have 20/200 vision, the legal definition of blindness, this means what a person with perfect vision can see from 200 feet away, you can see from 20 feet away.

Does 20/20 Visual Acuity Mean Perfect Vision?

No. While eye chart tests identify refractive errors, they can’t detect signs of visual skill deficiencies or diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. These are diagnosed using advanced equipment as part of a comprehensive eye exam with your local eye doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions are essential to ensuring long-term vision and eye health.

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How do you keep your eyes healthy?

You only have one set of eyes – don’t take them for granted!

Make sure to implement the following habits for healthy eyes (and body). These include:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking plenty of water to hydrate your body and eyes
  • Not smoking, and avoiding 2nd-hand smoke
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Maintaining normal BMI with regular exercise
  • Regular visits to your eye doctor as recommended

What health conditions can an eye exam detect?

A comprehensive eye exam can often detect certain underlying diseases that can threaten your sight and eye health, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumors, autoimmune conditions and thyroid disorders. This is why having your eyes checked regularly is key. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome and the higher your quality of life.

Bloodshot Eyes – Should You Be Concerned?

You wake up in the morning ready to start your day, only to discover that your eyes are bloodshot. That might not be surprising if you stayed up late to finish a project, had too many drinks at a party or spent time in a smoke-filled room.

But bloodshot eyes can also signal an underlying eye problem. If your eyes appear red or bloodshot, make an appointment with an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause and to receive effective treatment.

Why Do I Have Bloodshot Eyes?

When blood rushes to the front of the eye, the tiny red blood vessels on the white of the eye dilate and become visible. This makes the eyes appear red and irritated.

So why do these blood vessels dilate, causing your eyes to look bloodshot?

Bloodshot eyes tend to be caused by:

  • Dry eyes
  • Irritants such as smoke, pollen and perfume
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Spending too much time in front of the computer

Bloodshot eyes due to lifestyle and environmental irritants may disappear on their own, or you can try to relieve them with over-the-counter eye drops or liquid tears. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, cutting down on alcohol intake and limiting screen time can often be helpful. If allergies are the culprit, oral antihistamines and antihistamine eye drops may relieve symptoms.

At other times, underlying problems requiring prompt medical attention can cause your eye’s blood vessels to dilate. The following are some of these medical conditions:

Conjunctivitis

You’ve probably heard of “pink eye.” It’s another name for infectious conjunctivitis – an infection of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the eyelid and the front surface of the eye.

There are two types of infectious conjunctivitis – bacterial and viral.

If your child has conjunctivitis, they’re not alone. About 12% of kids get bacterial conjunctivitis every year. This highly contagious condition affects children and adults. In addition to reddish eyes, the following symptoms are associated with conjunctivitis:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis – irritated eyes, swollen eyelids, eye discharge, crusty eyelids and excessive tearing
  • Viral conjunctivitis – cold or flu-like symptoms, runny nose, fever, itchy eyes, excessive tearing

If you or your child are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to schedule a prompt appointment with an eye doctor, who can diagnose whether the conjunctivitis is viral, bacterial or due to allergies.

Depending on the diagnosis, your eye doctor will prescribe antibiotic eye drops or creams to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. The viral form may run its course after a few days, but cold compresses and non-prescription eye drops may provide relief.

Dry Eye Syndrome

If your eyes are chronically bloodshot you may have dry eye syndrome (DES). Signs of DES include:

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • A feeling you have something stuck in your eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes

Dry eye syndrome is most commonly caused by a blockage of the tiny meibomian glands in the eyelids. These glands secrete oil that keeps eye moisture from evaporating too quickly. Without the oil, tears dry fast, leaving your eyes feeling dry, itchy and with a bloodshot appearance.

Too much screen time, aging, certain medications such as antihistamines, and medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dry eye syndrome.

In addition to any medications or in-office treatments your eye doctor recommends, make sure to get plenty of hydration, take frequent breaks from digital screens and use a humidifier in your home.

Uveitis

In addition to bloodshot eyes, if you also experience blurred vision, see floaters or your eyes feel painful, you may have an eye inflammation called uveitis. The causes of uveitis include:

  • Autoimmune or inflammatory condition
  • Infection
  • Medication side effects
  • Cancer (in rare cases)

Unfortunately, uveitis symptoms can often be mistaken for something less serious. That’s the reason it’s important to get an eye exam if your eyes are bloodshot. Left untreated, uveitis can lead to serious conditions such as retinal scarring, cataracts and vision loss.

Depending on the cause and severity, your eye doctor may treat uveitis with prescription eye drops, steroid pills, injections or eye implants.

Eye Injury

It’s vital that all eye injuries receive immediate eye care from an eye doctor.

Even a minor eye injury can cause a big red blotch to form on the white part of the eye (sclera). The cause is a broken blood vessel or a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

Although the appearance of this blood looks severe, and can make the entire white part of the eye appear bright red, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually painless and doesn’t cause vision loss. Any time you notice excessive blood on the eye following an eye injury, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor to assess the health of your eye.

Glaucoma

In rare cases, bloodshot eyes may signal the presence of glaucoma – a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.

While some types of glaucoma don’t show symptoms in the early phases, bloodshot eyes can indicate the type of glaucoma that requires immediate medical care. This disease causes damage to the optic nerve due to excessive pressure within the eye. When this pressure suddenly rises, the eye’s blood vessels become dilated and visible, making the eye appear red.

If you have bloodshot eyes and/or have the following risk factors for glaucoma, immediately schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Aged 60+
  • African American, Asian or Hispanic
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Bloodshot Eyes Won’t Go Away?

Talk to Us Any time you notice bloodshot eyes or blood on the front of the eye, don’t wait. Schedule your eye exam with Dr. Kathryn Collins at Kissel Eye Care in Lancaster County today.

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Can I get bloodshot eyes after LASIK surgery?

LASIK surgery is highly effective minimally invasive laser eye surgery that can correct refractive errors, but like all surgical procedures, it can have side effects. Your eyes may be bloodshot or you could see halos from a few days to three weeks after surgery. Additionally, you may experience other dry eye symptoms. Eye drops and liquid tears can alleviate these symptoms, but if you have any concerns about your eyes following LASIK surgery contact your eye surgeon.

What Should I Expect from a Glaucoma Exam?

If you have a family history and/or other risk factors for glaucoma, and if your eyes look bloodshot, consider scheduling a glaucoma exam. Your eye doctor may perform the following tests:

  • Tonometry – eye pressure test
  • Gonioscopy – to see how fluid is draining out of your eye
  • Vision field test – to examine the functioning of the optic nerve
  • Dilated pupil exam – to detect any damage to the optic nerve
  • Retinal photo or OCT – digital examination of the retina and optic nerve health

What’s Your Optometrist Role in Cataract Surgery?

If you’re over the age of 60, there’s a good chance you’ll develop cataracts sometime in the next 20 or so years. While the only effective long-term treatment for cataracts is surgery, it can take years or even decades for a cataract to reach the point where it needs to be surgically removed.

In the meantime, your optometrist can monitor its progression, manage your symptoms and ensure you have the best vision possible. Once your cataract makes it difficult for you to function day-to-day, your eye doctor will refer you to an ophthalmologist who will perform eye surgery to replace your eye’s natural lens with a clear artificial lens.

Following your surgery, your optometrist will co-manage your post-op recovery in coordination with your eye surgeon.

Your Optometrist Will Discuss Cataract Treatment Options

A cataract, a clouding of the eye’s natural lens caused by the breakdown of proteins in the lens, leads to progressively blurry vision. So if you’ve been diagnosed with a cataract but aren’t yet ready for surgery, you’ll be having regular contact with your optometrist, who will explain the condition, discuss your treatment options and help manage your symptoms.

Once you’re diagnosed with cataracts, you may want to slow the progression of the condition. Working with an optometrist who knows your personal and family health history as well as your various options for cataract management and surgery is a massive advantage, as your optometrist can give you advice on dietary and lifestyle changes.

The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

Regular eye exams are important for everyone, and particularly if you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts. Because the cloudy areas on your eye lenses will worsen with time, your optometrist will carefully monitor your vision and upgrade your glasses or contact lens prescription as needed. Your optometrist will perform a visual acuity test and other tests to gauge increased sensitivity to light and glare, as well as deterioration in your contrast and color vision.

When’s It Time for Cataract Surgery?

At some point, your optometrist may determine that your cataracts are severe enough to require surgery. That’s typically when options to correct your vision — updated prescriptions and speciality filters that block glare and increase contrast vision — are no longer sufficient to give you the vision you need.

Your optometrist can recommend an ophthalmologist and provide information about what to expect during cataract surgery. You’ll see your eye surgeon for post-surgery check-ups, and your optometrist for long-term eye care.

If your vision is blurred or if you notice a cloudy patch forming on your eye, you may have developed cataracts. For optimal vision care and cataract management, make sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kathryn Collins at Kissel Eye Care in Lancaster County today.

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What’s the best treatment for cataracts?

Although many people use glasses to manage cataract symptoms and improve their deteriorating vision, the only way to really treat cataracts is via surgery. You may want to delay the procedure, but once your quality of life is affected to the degree that it’s difficult to drive or perform everyday tasks, it’s time to have cataract surgery.

Will cataracts return after surgery?

Generally, no. Because the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one during cataract surgery, a cataract can’t return to that eye. That said, there’s a possibility that a few years after the surgery, you may need a quick laser procedure if the proteins on the lens capsule — the layer that holds the artificial lens in place — becomes cloudy.

5 Vision-Saving Tips for National Save Your Vision Month

March is here. And you know what that means…

It’s National Save Your Vision Month!

In honor of this special month, which not only signals the start of spring but reminds us to protect our eyes, we’ve put together a list of 5 essential ways that you can ‘save your vision.’

It goes without saying that routine eye exams are a top priority when it comes to taking care of your eyes, so here are 5 additional things you can do to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear.

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet

You’re likely aware that a balanced diet consists of all different types of nutritious foods that contain the vitamins and nutrients you need to keep your body healthy and strong.

But did you know that certain foods actually promote eye health and can lower your risk of eye disease?

Eating foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamins A, B, C and E, can protect your eye health and help save your vision from sight-threatening eye diseases, like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

If you don’t think your daily meals offer enough of these essential vitamins and nutrients, ask your doctor whether you should add a daily supplement to your diet.

2. Limit Screen Time

The digital world has created a new venue for working, communicating, socializing and entertainment. But it’s also brought about a new eye condition called computer vision syndrome (CVS) — also called digital eye strain (DES) — that’s a growing concern among eye care professionals.

Not only can too much screen time affect productivity in work and school, but it can also result in dry, red, irritated eyes, blurry vision, headaches, neck, back and shoulder pain, and even have a negative effect on your mood and quality of sleep.

So this month, take it upon yourself to be more aware of how much time you spend in front of a digital screen, and try to set boundaries whenever possible for you and your children. You can also practice the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds.

3. Use Protective Eyewear

Every day, thousands of people receive emergency care for an eye-related accident — many of them resulting in permanent damage and vision loss.

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is by wearing protective eyewear for all activities that pose an eye health risk — from sports and water gun fights to lightsaber tournaments and science experiments. And, of course, this also implies any type of home-improvement project that involves small particles like grass, saw dust or metal flying into your eye.

Protective eyewear can truly save your vision.

4. Wear Sunglasses All Year Round

Sunglasses are more than just a fashion accessory to enhance your look. They shield your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can damage your vision and lead to serious eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Now you have an even better excuse to go out and buy yourself the new pair of shades you’ve been dreaming about. Just make sure they offer 100% UV protection.

Wear your new sunglasses all year round, even on cloudy and snowy days, because the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the clouds and reflect off the snow-covered ground, doubling your exposure.

5. Quit Smoking

If you’ve been thinking about quitting, now’s the time! Smoking is not only dangerous for your overall health, it increases your risk for sight-threatening eye diseases like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

So, for the sake of your vision and overall health, take the first steps toward kicking your smoking habit.

In honor of National Save Your Vision Month, why not try some of these vision-saving habits that can help you keep your eyes and vision healthy for a lifetime. Your future self will thank you.

Interested in learning more about how you can protect your eyes and vision? Contact Kissel Eye Care in Lancaster County today to schedule an appointment. We’ll be happy to answer any of your questions and to offer you the best possible eye care.

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Do children need to wear sunglasses?

Yes, sunglasses are essential for protecting your child’s eyes both now and in the future. A child’s eyes are still maturing and are therefore even more susceptible to UV damage than adults. Encourage your child to wear sunglasses whenever they play outside by setting a good example and making sure to wear sunglasses whenever you venture outdoors.

What are sports goggles?

Sports goggles are a type of protective eyewear worn by many athletes. These goggles contain impact resistant, durable polycarbonate lenses, offering the ultimate eye protection during sports activities. If you or your child play sports, sports goggles are an essential accessory to your athletic gear.

10 Ways to Give Your Eyes Some Love This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the time to express your love and appreciation to those you care about most. But it’s also a great opportunity to take the time to pamper yourself — so why not start with your eyes?

Practice these 10 healthy lifestyle habits to help protect your eye health and vision.

1. Be Mindful of the Food You Eat

Fill your plate with fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grains. A well-balanced diet is good for your body and can lower your risk of eye disease.

Studies show that foods high in vitamins A, C, E, Omega-3, lutein and zeaxanthin are especially beneficial for promoting eye health.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day will keep your body hydrated and your eyes moist — which is essential for preventing dry eye syndrome. To add some flavor to your water, try adding a splash of lemon juice or swap some of those glasses of water for an herbal tea or other non-caffeinated beverage. Caffeinated drinks have a dehydrating effect, so try to limit your coffee consumption as much as possible.

3. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is widely known for its physical and mental health benefits, but studies show that it can also lower your risk of serious eye conditions and diseases. Cardio exercise in particular has been shown to lower eye pressure and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye. So grab your gym bag and get moving!

4. Don’t Smoke

If you’ve been thinking about quitting, there’s no better time than now. Smoking tobacco significantly raises your risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and can also lead to their early development.

Smoking also robs the body of the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to maintain eye health, and contains around 7,000 chemicals that can lead to eye irritation and dry eye.

5. Practice Good Makeup Hygiene

While wearing makeup can accentuate your eyes and make you feel more beautiful, it’s important to note that if not used properly, certain makeup products can adversely affect eye health.

To keep your eyes and vision healthy, make sure to:

  • Clean your brushes and applicators regularly
  • Toss any expired products, or eye makeup you’ve used during an eye infection
  • Only apply makeup to the outer margin of your eyelids
  • Remove your makeup before going to bed
  • Never share makeup or use in-store testers

Following these safety tips will help to lower your risk of eye infections and other serious complications.

6. Wear Sunglasses

Studies show that prolonged UV exposure can damage the eyes and lead to the development of sight-threatening eye conditions, like cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma, in the future.

Purchase a pair of stylish sunglasses with 100% UV protection and wear them any time you venture outdoors — the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the clouds and reflect off of snow, sand, water and pavement. So keep a pair of sunglasses next to your front door and a spare pair in your bag or car to ensure you have UV protection wherever you go.

7. Prevent Eye Injuries

About 90% of vision loss from eye injuries can be prevented by wearing the right eye protection.

Protective eyewear like sports goggles or glasses with polycarbonate lenses are designed with sturdy materials that are less likely to break or shatter while you play sports, and can protect your eyes from small particles that fly in the air when you mow the lawn or engage in DIY projects.

8. Learn First Aid for Eye Injuries

Let’s be real, accidents can happen even if we take all the right measures to protect ourselves. But knowing what to do in case of an unexpected eye injury can potentially save you or someone you love from permanent eye damage or vision loss.

Note: Any type of eye injury should be taken seriously, and promptly examined by an eye doctor.

9. Avoid Digital Eye Strain

Prolonged screen time can cause eye strain, dry eyes, blurry vision and headaches — and lead to a condition called digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome.

Avoid symptoms of digital eye strain by limiting screen time as much as possible. If prolonged screen time is unavoidable, practice the 20-20-20 rule: set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to take breaks every 20 minutes to focus on an image at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.

10. Visit Your Eye Doctor

Regular eye exams are crucial when it comes to maintaining your eye health. With an eye exam, your eye doctor can identify early signs of sight-threatening eye diseases and conditions — enabling earlier treatment and increasing your chances for optimal results.

From all of us at Kissel Eye Care in Lancaster County, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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What’s the difference between an eye exam and vision screening?

Vision screenings are basic tests of visual acuity, generally conducted by a school nurse or pediatrician. These screenings can’t identify many vision conditions that impact learning or work performance, and are unable to detect ocular health problems.

A comprehensive eye exam, which is performed by an eye doctor, includes tests for visual acuity and functional vision, as well as close examination of the inner and outer structures of the eye.

How often do I need to have an eye exam?

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), it is important to have your eyes examined every one to two years, depending on your age, whether or not you wear glasses or contacts, your family history of eye disease, and your ocular health to date. Annual eye exams help your eye doctor monitor your eye health and easily identify any changes in your vision.

How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Eyesight

Pregnancy can impact almost every part of a woman’s body and health — including her eyes. In fact, an estimated 14% of pregnant women report experiencing visual changes during pregnancy that usually resolve on their own within a couple of months after giving birth.

Knowing the different visual symptoms that can present when you’re expecting can help alert you to potential underlying health concerns that your physician may need to address.

Normal Visual Changes During Pregnancy

Blurred Vision

Blurred vision is the most common visual symptom that pregnant women may experience. Hormonal fluctuations are usually to blame for the temporary decrease in visual acuity, and your eyesight will likely return to normal soon after giving birth.

The influx of pregnancy hormones causes fluid retention in some areas of the body and can cause the cornea to thicken slightly. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused accurately and vision may be blurred.

Less commonly, blurred vision can signal gestational diabetes, a pregnancy complication affecting 6-9% of pregnant women. The rise in blood sugar level impacts the focusing lens of the eye, leading to blurry vision. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, including gestational diabetes, it’s a good idea to book an eye exam to monitor for retinal changes.

Blurred vision is also a common side effect of dry eye syndrome, a condition characterized by tears that don’t adequately lubricate the eyes, which can be brought on or exacerbated by pregnancy.

Eye Dryness

Pregnancy hormones can cause a reduction in the amount of tears your eyes produce or affect the quality of the tears. These changes can affect a woman throughout her entire pregnancy, but studies show that eye dryness is particularly common in the last trimester. For this reason, some women find it difficult to wear contact lenses in their third trimester and temporarily switch to glasses.

Eye Puffiness

Yet another body part that swells during pregnancy: the eyelids and tissues around the eyes.

Pregnancy-related water retention may cause your eyelids to appear puffier than during your pre-pregnancy days. You may also notice darker areas under the eyes. If your puffy eyes bother you, try limiting your salt and caffeine intake, as they can worsen the problem.

Visual Changes That May Indicate a Problem

The following visual changes warrant a prompt call to your eye doctor or obstetrician to rule out any underlying complications.

Flashes or floaters

Seeing stars during pregnancy can signal high blood pressure, which is associated with preeclampsia — a serious medical condition that requires close monitoring by your physician and possible treatment.

It’s crucial to have your blood pressure monitored throughout your pregnancy, as preeclampsia can potentially endanger the life of mother and child, as well as damage the cornea and retina.

Temporary vision loss

Temporary vision loss is concerning for pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. Vision loss is another warning sign of preeclampsia, so contact your doctor promptly if you suddenly lose any portion of your visual field.

Sensitivity to light

Light-sensitivity can either be a normal side effect of fluid retention in the eye, or it can signal dangerously high blood pressure and preeclampsia.

How We Can Help

At ​​Kissel Eye Care, our goal is to keep your vision and eyes healthy throughout your pregnancy and beyond. If you experience any visual symptoms, we can help by thoroughly examining your eyes to determine the underlying cause and provide you with guidance on what next steps to take.

Pregnancy is a wonderful time, when self care should be at the forefront — and that includes comprehensive eye care.

To schedule an eye exam or learn more about our eye care services, call Kissel Eye Care in Lancaster County today!

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Why are regular eye exams important?

Having your eyes evaluated by an optometrist on a regular basis is crucial for detecting early signs of eye diseases and changes in your prescription, including during pregnancy. Many serious eye diseases don’t cause any noticeable symptoms until they’ve progressed to late stages, when damage to vision may be irreversible. Whether or not you wear glasses or contact lenses for vision correction, ask your optometrist about how often to schedule a routine eye exam.

Will my baby need an eye exam after birth?

According to the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists, babies should have an eye exam within the first 6-12 months of life, even in the absence of noticeable vision problems. Healthy vision is a significant part of healthy overall development, so be sure not to skip your baby’s eye exams!

What Is the Long-Term Impact of Virtual Learning on Children’s Eyes?

Kids, like adults, are spending more time online. At some point during the COVID-19 pandemic, many children attended school via Zoom and completed assignments online. The trend toward more screen time — whether playing games or being in touch with friends — is likely to continue even after everyone returns to the classroom.

We already know that prolonged screen time can cause digital eye strain as well as dry eye symptoms, among other problems in children and adults. There is some indication that extended exposure to blue light may impact the development of retinal cells. However, studies on actual subjects still need to be done to establish a clear connection.

Dry Eyes

Spending a long time in front of screens can impact how quickly our tears evaporate, because we blink around 66% less when using a computer compared to other daily activities. When tears evaporate too quickly and aren’t replenished with blinking our eyes start to feel dry and gritty. So remember to blink every few seconds to prevent your eyes from drying out!

Blue Light Exposure

Screens, such as those that appear on computers, phones and tablets emit blue light. Recent studies have shown that overexposure to blue light can damage the retinal cells at the back of your eyes. This may increase the risk of vision issues such as age-related macular degeneration which eventually leads to permanent loss of vision.

Excess blue light has also been shown to disrupt the circadian rhythms that regulate our sleep patterns, as it tricks your internal clock into thinking that it is the middle of the day. This may lead to difficulty in falling asleep, insomnia, and daytime fatigue.

Digital Eye Strain

Nearly 60% of people who routinely use computers or digital devices experience symptoms of digital eye strain — also called computer vision syndrome. Symptoms of eye strain include eye fatigue and discomfort, dry eye, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, eye twitching, and red eyes.

Taking frequent breaks from your screen can help reduce eye strain and neck, back and shoulder pain during your workday.

It is recommended to take at least one 10-minute break every hour. During these breaks, stand up, move about and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders to relieve tension and muscle aches.

Also, 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. This relaxes the focusing lens inside the eye to prevent fatigue.

How to Make Virtual Learning Safer For Your Child

The following tips can lessen the impact of screens on your child’s eyes:

  • Reduce overall screen time
  • Encourage frequent breaks
  • Use accessories that filter blue light (for example, blue light glasses)
  • Schedule regular eye exams

Make Sure Your Child Gets Routine Eye Exams

Children need comprehensive eye exams to assess the health of their eyes, correct their vision and spot potential problems which can affect learning and behavior.

To schedule a pediatric eye exam near you, call our optometrist in Lancaster County today!

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What are blue light glasses?

Blue light glasses, also known as computer glasses, effectively block the transmission of blue light emitted from devices and computer screens. They often include a coating to reduce glare to further reduce eye strain. These glasses can be purchased with or without a prescription.

What’s the 20-20-20 rule?

If you find yourself gazing at screens all day, whether your computer, smartphone, iPad or television, you’re at risk of experiencing eye strain. So make sure you schedule frequent breaks from your screen and follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. And while you’re at it, use this time to get up, walk around, and stretch.

What Is Excess Eye Fluid?

What Is Excess Eye Fluid 640×350Collagen, water and protein make up the majority of the human eye, and tears are always present to help keep the eye moist. However, surplus fluid can occasionally accumulate inside the eye and signal a serious eye problem.

Several factors may contribute to this problem.

There are two primary sources of fluid inside the eye. The first is needed to flush out waste products from behind the cornea, leading it to flow out from the eye through the anterior angle. The second type of fluid is found in blood vessels that nourish the retina and macula at the back of the eye.

Conditions that Cause Excess Eye Fluid

Several conditions can result in excess eye fluid, and each is managed and treated in its own way to prevent eye damage and vision loss. These conditions include:

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the central part of the retina, called the macula. Fluid build-up on the macula causes the wet form of macular degeneration, which affects central vision and the ability to see fine details. This usually occurs when very fragile new blood vessels form in the retina. These abnormal blood vessels leak fluid, made up of plasma and blood into the retina.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma develops when the eye’s drainage system becomes clogged, inhibiting the flow of fluid through the anterior angle and causing fluid to accumulate in the eye. Glaucoma can also develop when the eye produces more fluid than usual and is unable to drain it quickly enough. In both cases, as the fluid builds up inside the eye, the pressure inside the eye rises, potentially damaging the nerve fibers that send all our visual signals from the eye to the brain. The optic disc becomes hollow and cupped as a result of the injured nerves.

Glaucoma will progress if extra fluid continues to collect in the eye, and can lead to serious vision loss or blindness if left untreated.

Macular Edema

Macular edema occurs when there is a build-up of fluid in the macula. The macula is positioned in the middle of the retina, which is the neural tissue at the back of the eye that sends the light signals to the brain and allows you to see.

Damaged blood vessels in the retina cause fluid to accumulate in the macula. This leads to compromised vision, with common symptoms including blurred or wavy vision in the center of your field of vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic macular edema is a result of diabetic retinopathy. There are two types of diabetic retinopathy, based on the stage of the disease: nonproliferative retinopathy (when blood vessels in the retina enlarge and leak) and proliferative retinopathy (when abnormal new blood vessels form on the retina).

Blurred or double vision, as well as floating, dark patches in your vision, are all common symptoms of diabetic macular edema.

Central Serous Retinopathy

Central serous retinopathy occurs when fluid accumulates behind the retina. The fluid buildup is caused by leaking from the layer of blood vessels beneath the retina (choroid).

When the retinal pigment epithelium, the layer between the retina and the choroid, fails to function properly, fluid builds up behind the retina, causing the retina to detach and vision to be impaired. Symptoms include dimmed, distorted or blurred vision, as well as straight lines seeming crooked or bent.

Treatment for Excess Eye Fluid

Treatments often include reducing pressure produced by fluid buildup and treating the underlying cause of the buildup.

In diabetic macular edema, for example, your eye doctor will recommend treatment for your diabetes along with treatment for the retinal impairment that is causing fluid buildup.

In some circumstances, surgery may be required. For instance, glaucoma patients may require surgery to create a new opening from the eye through which fluid can drain. Certain medications can also assist in fluid drainage from the eye, which works to lower the pressure inside the eye or causes the eye to produce less fluid.

Intravitreal injection is a treatment used when there is a buildup of fluid in or under the retina. Anti-VEGF medications absorb fluid and stop fluid/blood from leaking out of blood vessels, which is a common occurrence in both macular edema and wet macular degeneration.

If you have signs of fluid buildup, it’s essential to promptly speak with your eye doctor. Treatment will be more successful once the underlying disease is identified.

Contact Kissel Eye Care Lasik & Cataract Surgery Center today. We’ll be happy to assist you in identifying the source of the problem and direct you to the appropriate treatment.

Kissel Eye Care Lasik & Cataract Surgery Center serves patients from Lititz, Lancaster County, Elizabeth Township, and East Petersburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Kathryn Collins

Q: What is wet macular degeneration?

  • A: Wet macular degeneration is an eye disease that causes blurred vision or a blind spot in your visual field. It is caused by abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the macula, the section of the retina responsible for central vision. Symptoms like visual distortions and increased blurred vision tend to appear suddenly and quickly worsen.

Q: What other conditions can cause excess fluid in the eye?

  • A: Other conditions that may cause excess fluid in the eye include:
  • Choroidal effusion – the buildup of fluid between the choroid, the sclera, and a layer of blood vessels on top of the retina.
    A retinal tear – may cause fluid to accumulate and lead the retina to detach.
    Chemosis – a swelling of the eye due to accumulation of fluid often caused by allergies or eye infection.


Wet AMD and Visual Hallucinations

Wet AMD and Visual Hallucinations 640×350Any eye condition, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that results in vision loss can lead to a person experiencing visual hallucinations. Wet age-related macular degeneration causes significant vision loss due to the leaking of plasma and blood from abnormal blood vessels in the back of the eye, resulting in permanent macular damage.

Visual hallucinations that appear as a result of vision loss are also known as Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS), and are an infrequent, yet sometimes disabling, symptom of wet AMD that occurs in some patients. These hallucinations, which result from vision loss and not due to mental illness, can be highly disconcerting and even frightening when they first appear.

These hallucinations have no known cure or single treatment. However, by understanding what causes them, you’ll be able to reduce your anxiety when they occur — and establish techniques to get through them with minimal discomfort.

What is Charles Bonnet Syndrome?

Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS) affects some patients with low vision caused by a variety of eye diseases. Patterns, as well as more complex pictures such as people, animals, flowers, and buildings, can appear in these hallucinations.

If you lose vision from any eye condition, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy, the eyes no longer send signals to the brain as before. Without visual signals arriving at the brain, the brain then fills the void by recalling images from memory, resulting in the visual hallucinations of CBS.

CBS is named after Charles Bonnet, an 18th-century Swiss scientist who first identified this condition in his grandfather and then developed it himself.

What Do Visual Hallucinations Look Like?

Charles Bonnet hallucinations may appear as simple unformed flashes of light, colors or shapes.

However, many people envision more complex structures, such as geometrical grids and lattices.

Landscaped gardens or views, animals, people and a procession of small costumed characters wearing hats have also been reported by CBS patients, according to the Macular Society. The hallucinations are frequently depicted in greater detail than they would if they were real.

Some people find their hallucinations enjoyable. Others find them an unwelcome inconvenience, especially if they temporarily obstruct vision.

When Do Visual Hallucinations Occur?

CBS hallucinations come and go without warning, typically spanning months or years, with no apparent reason and no connection to cognitive or psychiatric disease.

The syndrome’s prevalence in patients with visual impairment varies from 10% to 15%, but it can can also affect patients with other macular diseases, ocular conditions including glaucoma, and stroke.

CBS is more frequent in people over the age of 80, but it can affect anyone at any age. CBS does not necessarily indicate that an individual’s vision is deteriorating, and people can have visual hallucinations even if they just have minor vision loss or small blind spots.

What Causes CBS?

Exactly what causes visual hallucinations is unknown, but researchers believe that deafferentation (the interruption or destruction of nerve cells) leads to the loss of signals from the eye to the brain. MRI investigations show that these visual signals ordinarily inhibit some nerve activity in the brain and when the signals are missing, there is more spontaneous nerve activity, which is perceived as hallucinations.

How to Manage Visual Hallucinations

Eye movements appear to reduce the severity and duration of hallucinations. Even if individuals have limited remaining vision, eye movements engage visual areas of the brain in people with macular degeneration. Certain types of hallucinations, notably patterns and colors, may be stopped by these motions.

Dr. Dominic ffytche at King’s College, London, recommends that patients consciously move their eyes when experiencing a hallucination.

Try the following exercise:

  • Imagine two locations on a wall in front of you that are about 3 feet apart to the left and right. For 15–30 seconds, stand approximately 3.5 feet away and glance from one place to the other once every second or faster. When looking left and right, don’t move your head and keep your eyes open. Allow yourself a brief break.
  • Try repeating the exercise if your hallucinations are still there.

The technique is unlikely to work if the hallucinations have not stopped after four or five attempts. However, you might want to try again later.

Other ways to stop a hallucination:

  • Look away from the image towards an object on the side of your vision or shut your eyes
  • Turn on the lights in the room or, if you’re in a brightly lighted place, go somewhere darker.
  • Get up and engage in an activity.

If you have wet AMD and are experiencing visual hallucinations, contact Kissel Eye Care Low Vision Center. We can help you manage your AMD.

Kissel Eye Care Low Vision Center serves patients from Lititz, Lancaster County, Elizabeth Township, and East Petersburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Kathryn Collins

Q: Are there risk factors to CBS?

  • A: Yes. Individuals with vision loss who are over 80, live in isolation or in dark environments are at a higher risk of experiencing visual hallucinations.

Q: Can other conditions cause visual hallucinations?

  • A: Other disorders that might cause visual hallucinations include psychiatric diseases and neurologic conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Visual hallucinations can be also caused by a variety of prescription and illegal substances, as well as withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. Tell your eye doctor if you are experiencing hallucinations.

What’s Causing My Migraines?

What’s Causing My Migraines 640×350Chronic migraines are difficult to live with, especially when they get in the way of your productivity and enjoyment of life. But what many don’t know is that migraines can sometimes be linked to binocular vision dysfunction (BVD).

Below, we explore some common causes of migraines and how binocular vision dysfunction may play a role.

Migraines: Symptoms and Causes

A migraine is a neurological condition that can present with a host of symptoms, including:

  • Chronic and intense headaches, usually pulsing or throbbing
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating or chills
  • Blurred vision or temporary vision loss
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

The frequency and intensity of migraine symptoms vary from person to person, but the main symptom is usually intense pain in at least one part of the head. Some people have migraines with aura (sensory, motor and speech disturbances).

While the exact cause of migraines is unknown, there are several contributing factors. Some common causes and triggers of migraines include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • An imbalance in brain chemistry
  • Sensory stimuli, like flashes of light or strong odors
  • Certain medications
  • Certain foods
  • Stress
  • Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Dehydration
  • Binocular vision dysfunction

What Is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Binocular vision dysfunction (BVD) is a horizontal or vertical misalignment of the eyes. This misalignment makes it difficult or even impossible for the eyes to work together as a team. When each eye sends a slightly different image to the brain, the brain and eyes struggle to unite them into one clear, unified image.

People with BVD may experience a wide range of physical, visual or emotional symptoms. Because BVD shares many symptoms with other conditions, it is often overlooked or mistaken for other causes.

The migraines, neck pain, dizziness, nausea and anxiety that many people with BVD experience can make it harder to carry out daily tasks like driving, reading and concentrating in school or at work.

How Can BVD Cause Migraines?

To compensate for the eyes’ incorrect positioning, the muscles in and around the eyes overexert themselves in order to reposition the eyes. In other words, the pain arising from a BVD-related migraine is caused by strained eye muscles.

This is why adults or children who experience migraines on a regular or occasional basis should have their vision thoroughly evaluated to rule out BVD.

How is BVD Treated?

Patients diagnosed with BVD typically experience massive relief when wearing prism glasses. These specialized glasses contain microprisms in the lenses that refocus light in a way that bypasses the eye’s misalignment. In many cases, patients experience immediate relief upon first wearing prism glasses.

Whether you’re living with migraines or experiencing other visual symptoms, a functional vision evaluation can diagnose underlying visual dysfunction and lead to appropriate treatment.

To schedule a functional visual evaluation for yourself or a loved one, call today!

serves patients from Lititz, Lancaster County, Elizabeth Township, and East Petersburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Kathryn Collins

Q: What other conditions can be mistaken for BVD?

  • A: BVD may cause or contribute to symptoms that mimic conditions like anxiety, agoraphobia, ADHD, reading and learning disabilities, spinal or neck misalignment, chronic fatigue syndrome, temporomandibular joint disorders and Meniere’s disease. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, visit your optometrist to rule out BVD.

Q: How common is BVD?

  • A: BVD is thought to affect 1-8% of the population, although more research is needed in the field. Because BVD may be confused with other conditions, it makes accurate diagnosing more difficult.