What is a stye? How do I treat it?

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A stye (also known as a hordeolum) is an inflamed/infected tear gland on the upper or lower eyelid which causes pain, redness and swelling.  It typically doesn't affect vision unless the eyelid is swollen to the point where it obscures vision.  

Styes are caused by bacteria very common in the body and isn't considered contagious except through direct contact.  Treatment is usually a mild antibiotic ointment a 2-3 times per day and warm compresses twice per day for a few days.  After this time it will come to a head and drain on its own.  Never attempt to drain or "pop" a stye as it can cause serious damage to the eyelids and surrounding tissue and can occasionally cause the infection to go deeper into the tissues.  Recurrent styes can indicate chronically clogged tear glands and lid scrubs can greatly aid in reducing the frequency of styes.

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Visual Changes During Pregnancy


Expectant mothers have often been told that their vision may change during pregnancy and that they should put off seeing their optometrist until after delivery. But nine months is a long time to go without seeing properly (and dangerous)!

In general, most women experience minimal to no visual symptoms throughout their pregnancy. Common minor vision changes include: dry eye symptoms, contact lens intolerance, difficulty focusing or reading for extended periods, or a change in one's eyeglass prescription. These prescription changes are usually the result of cornea edema (thickening) caused by normal fluid retention during pregnancy, and may reverse post pregnancy or can become permanent. Depending on the severity of your symptoms or vision changes, you may want to talk with your optometrist about treatment options or about updating your eyeglasses.  

More serious visual problems that should never be ignored include: blurred vision, halos around lights, headaches, neck pain, changes in colour perception, or distorted vision. Should you ever experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your optometrist as soon as possible and call your doctor. If you feel it is an emergency, then proceed directly to the hospital. These symptoms may be secondary to preeclampsia, which is a potentially serious condition caused by an elevation in blood pressure. These symptoms may also be related to a less serious medical condition called central serious chorioretinopathy, which is an inflammation of the central retina.

Special consideration should also be given to mothers with diabetes, as they require vision care throughout the duration of their pregnancy. It’s recommended that any mothers with diabetes receive a thorough dilated eye exam prior to conceiving as well as monthly to bi-monthly eye exams throughout the course of their pregnancy, depending on how well controlled her blood sugars are. These eye examinations are used to monitor visual fluctuations along with diabetic retinopathy.

What exactly is pink eye?

To start, there are a few different types of pink eye:

Pink eye related to bacterial eye infections can cause a lot of swelling and produce sticky green discharge, resulting in eyes that are often ‘glued’ shut in the morning. Bacterial eye infections are more commonly seen in contact lens wearers and can result from our skins own bacteria.

Pink eye related to viral infections is by far the most common cause, and is caused by the same virus that results in the common cold. Viral pink eye will usually result in a watery eye with little to no discharge, but may still be crusted shut in the morning. Viral pink eye is the most contagious of all pink eyes, which is why it hangs out in preschools, daycares and work environments.

Pink eye related to allergies is more common after coming in contact with allergens and is often associated with other physical symptoms like stuffy nose, itchy skin or swollen eyes. People often complain of itching and may want to rub their eyes.

Pink eye can also be related to some more serious eye conditions like scleritis, uveitis, or iritis. These conditions require more urgent care, and will generally not resolve on their own if left untreated.

Regardless of the cause of your pink eye, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis by your optometrist to ensure that the treatment matches the condition. Please don’t touch anyone until you see us, and we’ll let you know if you are contagious.

Please Note: Alberta Health Care now covers the cost of emergency eye care visits to your optometrists office – there is no charge to you as a patient. 

Is it okay to sleep in my contact lenses?

Unless you have specific contact lenses that are approved for overnight wear, it is NOT OKAY to sleep in your contact lenses!  When you sleep in them a few things happen: bacteria adhere to the lens surface and increase your risk of eye infection, your eyes dehydrate and the contact lens can cause small abrasions, and most commonly, your eye doesn't get enough oxygen (your closed eyelids when you are sleeping means that your cornea doesn't get as much oxygen as when your eyes are open).  When this happens, you can develop serious infections that can cause discomfort, light sensitivity, scarring and even blindness.

Related: What is the harm in extending the life of my contact lenses?

What is the harm in extending the life of my contact lenses?

Extending the life of your contact lenses is kind of like driving a car at 250 km per hour.  For a while, if everything goes smoothly, there is no indication of trouble.  However, if something starts to go wrong, it can go wrong in a major way very quickly. 

Some complications that can occur are:

  • Allergic Reaction – protein build-up on the lens can cause discomfort, itchiness, dry eyes and intolerance to contact lens wear.
  • Conjunctivitis – accumulated protein attracts bacteria which can easily lead to conjunctivitis.  Symptoms include redness, burning, itching, tearing, light sensitivity, blurred vision and mucous discharge.
  • Corneal Edema (swelling) – Extended contact lens wear decreases the oxygen supply to the cornea and can cause increased fluid in the cornea. It can cause blurred vision and halos around lights.
  • Neovascularization – The cornea normally doesn’t have any blood vessels. When it is deprived of oxygen (by over wearing contact lenses), the body responds by growing new blood vessels, hoping to increase oxygen to the cornea. This abnormal blood vessel growth can interfere with vision. The new vessels are also weak and can hemorrhage and cause blindness.
  • Corneal Abrasion/Corneal Ulcer – Again, due to the lack of oxygen, the surface cells on the cornea become weak and easily damaged.  Corneal abrasions or corneal ulcers can form causing very serious infection and complications that can lead to blindness.

These complications can be caused both by wearing a contact lens too long in a day (or overnight) or by not replacing your lenses according to your optometrist's recommendations.  Either way, the eye is subject to less oxygen and more irritation and bacterial growth.  The blurred vision, pain, light sensitivity and potential scarring can be greatly reduced or eliminated by responsible contact lens wear.  If any of these symptoms occur, remove your contact lenses immediately and get checked by your optometrist.

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Vitamin C for Healthy Eyes

Vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) is a major player in eye health. It maintains lens transparency, prevents cataracts, and fights against age-related macular degeneration. The retina needs to be surrounded by vitamin C to protect itself from free radicals and promote healing if damaged. Our bodies do not naturally create vitamin C when needed, so including this in your diet is a critical part of keeping your eyes (and virtually all cells in your body) functioning properly.

Excellent sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, peppers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and broccoli. There are many tasty vitamin C supplements available from the drug store, too.

*Image credits: broccoli, tomatoes, citrus fruits.

Eat your way to healthier eyes

You know the age-old idea of eating carrots to maintain healthy eyes? Well, there is a reason for it. Beta-carotene is an important anti-oxidant that keeps eyes working correctly, and happens to be responsible for the orange color of carrots and other produce. Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A in your body which is used in the process of converting light into the actual images you see, and keeping your cornea moist. 

This antioxidant is easy to find: carrots, apricots, cantaloupes, peaches, blueberries, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and most of the dark green leafy vegetables.

*photo credits: carrots, peaches, winter squashes.

The 20/20/20 Rule

The 20/20/20 rule is a great little acronym to remember when trying to deal with excessive eyestrain at work. If you spend a large portion of your workday on a computer or doing paperwork, then this rule can help to prevent or reduce the onset of those frontal & temporal stress headaches that you may be experiencing. It may also help to eliminate that blurry vision you experience on the drive home.

Patients who have extended near point demands for work or hobbies can actually develop a pseudo-nearsighted posture by the end of a long session.  This can result in patients thinking that their eyesight has gotten worse, when really their eye muscles are just over worked and tired.

So remember – 20/20/20

  • Take a break every 20 minutes
  • Look at something 20 feet away
  • Look at it for at least 20 seconds

If none of these tips help, please make an appointment to see an eye care professional as soon as possible.

eye-bar offers complete optometry services and has 3 optometrists on staff to help you with all of your vision needs. 

Book your next eye exam in Sherwood Park with an eye-bar optometrist.

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I have diabetes, how often should I have my eyes examined?

Patients with diabetes understand the importance of seeing their primary care physician and undergoing routine blood testing on a regular basis. But many patients with diabetes don’t know that diabetes is still one of the leading causes of vision loss amongst North Americans. As such, routine eye health examinations with an optometrist are crucial for the early detection and intervention of any eye problems that may arise.  

Regardless of whether patients have Type-1 or Type-2 diabetes, the visual or ocular complications are often the same.   Patients with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing early cataract changes, glaucoma, dry eye syndrome, and diabetic retinopathy (bleeding within the eye).

Did you know?

Alberta Health Care now covers patients with diabetes for a detailed ocular health examination by their optometrist every year. This ocular health examination includes a review of any vision concerns, eye pressure testing (glaucoma screening) and a detailed dilated retinal health examination. These visits however, do not include a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses, so a routine eye exam is still recommended every 1-2 years.  

To book your next annual diabetic eye health examination with an optometrist at eye-bar, please call us @ 780.467.3341.

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Sunglasses are not a Luxury

Sunglasses are not a luxury... they are a medical necessity. In fact, Health Canada officially endorses the use of sunglasses to help protect your eyes from sun damage and the potential harmful effects of UV radiation. Chronic or acute overexposure to sunlight may increase your overall risk of developing conditions such as age-related macular degeneration or cataracts as you age.

For patients who have already been diagnosed with a vision condition such as age-related macular degeneration or cataracts, sunglasses may help to improve overall visual function. This is achieved by reducing the suns overall intensity and by reducing or eliminating glare.

Sunglass lens options include:

  • Tinted lenses – reduce the overall intensity of the light
  • Polarized lenses – reduce or eliminate glare
  • Photochromatic lenses – reduce the overall intensity of the light, and transition from clear to dark when exposed to UV radiation
  • Mirrored finishes – reflex sunlight reducing the overall amount of light being transmitted through the lens

Not all sunglasses block light equally, so it’s important to talk to your optometrist about what to look for when choosing your next pair. Depending on your lifestyle, one pair of sunglasses may not be enough. Many patients choose to purchase one pair of fashion sunglasses for driving and general outdoor activities and a second pair of sports sunglasses for golfing, biking, running, etc.

 

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