Smoking Can Lead to Vision Loss

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

smoking can lead to vision loss Levin eye care center

The most common health effects that come to mind when we think of smoking are lung cancer and bad teeth, but it doesn’t stop there because smoking can lead to vision loss and blindness.

Smoking is harmful to every system in the body, and it’s also harmful to our vision. A smoking habit can do more damage to our eyesight than disease can, in a few different ways. In a recent Rutgers Study researchers found that smoking can damage vision and your ability to see color.

Smoking: a Risk Factor for Every Age-Related Eye Disease

Studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and even Dry Eye Syndrome. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

AMD is the deterioration of the macula (the central part of the retina where we see the sharpest detail), causing irreversible blindness. Compared to nonsmokers, smokers have triple the risk of developing AMD, and they’re more likely to begin developing it up to ten years earlier than nonsmokers do on average.

Cataracts

Smoking doubles the risk of cataracts, the world’s leading cause of blindness. For heavy smokers, it triples the risk! Cataract symptoms begin with blurred or double vision, light sensitivity, faded colors, and reduced night vision. Fortunately, cataract surgeries are extremely common and safe, so this type of vision loss usually isn’t irreversible.

Retinopathy

Retinopathy is an eye disease closely associated with diabetes, but smoking increases a person’s chances of developing diabetes by up to 40 percent, thereby increasing the risk of retinopathy as well. Poorly controlled blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to leak blood into the eye. If the damage is severe enough, it can eventually starve the retina of oxygen and lead to blindness.

Smokers Aren’t Always the Only Ones Affected

Secondhand smoke combines the smoke from the end of the cigarette with what the smoker exhales. In addition to harming the vision of the smoker, it can put the eyesight of others at risk too, along with many other health effects. The most vulnerable are young children and infants.

Vaping: Not a Safe Alternative

Vaping is often touted as the “healthy” alternative to smoking, but many of the chemicals in e-cigarette liquid have been linked to increased risks of these same vision-threatening diseases we’ve discussed. If vaping is healthier than regular cigarettes, it isn’t by much. 

Break the Habit to Save Your Vision

Smoking can lead to vision loss but the most preventable because we can control whether or not we do it. It’s never too late to quit, either. Quitting reduces the risk of macular degeneration by six percent after just one year, and it also reduces the risk of developing cataracts! We, as your eye care specialists, care deeply about your health. If you need resources to help quit smoking, we would be happy to offer our suggestions.

Good overall health promotes good eye health!

Tips Every Parent Should Know For Healthy Vision Development In Children

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Child and Pediatric Care, Eye Health

Healthy Vision Development In Children Levin Eye Care Center

Did you know that babies have to learn how to see, just as much as they have to learn how to walk and talk?

That’s right, learning how to use their eyes and understand what they’re seeing is a process and critical to healthy vision development in children. There’s a lot we can do as parents to help them develop essential visual skills — everything from choosing the right toys for their age to knowing when it’s time to move on from playing peek-a-boo with them.

Newborn Eyesight: the First Six Months

An infant sees a world of light, shadows, and blurry shapes. They can only focus on objects 8-15 inches away — the perfect distance for looking at the face of the person holding them! Over time, their eyesight grows clearer and sharper, and there are a few things you can do to help foster healthy vision development In Children.

  • Encourage them to learn how to track movement with their eyes by moving objects in front of them
  • Give them plenty of color to look at. Their color vision will take a few weeks to begin developing, and then they won’t be able to get enough of those bright colors, which is why they love to look at mobiles so much.
  • Play peek-a-boo! This doesn’t just get them to laugh and make adorable surprised faces; it’s helping them learn to focus their eyes.

Quick Learners: 6-12 Months

By this point, your baby will begin developing hand-eye coordination, and you can help them along by giving them plenty of colorful objects to grab and play with. Crawling helps develop their coordination too, but it might take a couple of bumps on their cute noggins before they remember that their heads don’t stop at their eyes!

Around this age, you’ll probably notice that your baby isn’t so entertained by peek-a-boo anymore. This is because they’ve learned object permanence. They understand that Mommy and Daddy didn’t just blink out of existence like wizards when they went behind their hands. A good new game to play at this point is hide-and-seek, hiding a toy under a blanket and challenging them to find it.

Toddlerhood and Advanced Visual Skills

Around the time your baby learns to walk, they will be able to further improve their hand-eye coordination by throwing, bouncing, and chasing balls. Their visual skills in this area are tied to other important skills like comprehension and balance. As their vocabularies develop, they’ll be able to start putting names to objects.

By about age two, they’ll begin to discover their burgeoning artistic abilities, so make sure to provide them with drawing materials. Wooden blocks or interlocking blocks will be excellent toys for them at this age as well.

The Role of Eye Exams in Baby Eye Health

On top of providing your children with the right types of toys to encourage their developing visual skills, it’s also important to bring them in for eye exams. Unlike older children, who have the words and understanding to tell you when something’s wrong with their vision, babies and toddlers are fully dependent on adults to figure out when there’s a problem. This is why scheduling their first eye exam for around six months old is so important!

Your child’s healthy lifelong vision is one of our highest priorities!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Recognize the Signs of Retinal Detachment

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

retinal detachment levin eye care center

Our eyes are amazing, complex organs, but there are a lot of ways for things to go wrong.

One that we want to educate our patients on today is retinal detachment. This is a serious, sight-threatening condition that affects 1 in every 300 people at some point in their lives, but it can be treated with early enough action. Before that can happen, patients have to be able to recognize the signs.

How the Retina Works

The retina is the part of the eye that converts light into signals that go to the brain so that we can see. It consists of a network of specialized photoreceptor cells called rods and cones, and it’s made up of two layers. The inner layer is where all the rods and cones are, and the outer layer, called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), is a kind of filter that supports and nourishes the rods and cones and holds them in place on the back of the eye.

What Is Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment is pretty much what it sounds like. The layer of rods and cones peels away from the RPE. The most common cause is when a hole develops in the retina and fluid from the eye creeps between the two layers, but it can also happen as a complication of trauma, infection, or eye surgery. Retinal detachment needs to be treated immediately, because it leads to permanent vision loss in the affected eye.

Retinal Detachment Risk Factors

Some people are more likely than others to develop retinal detachment. The biggest risk factor is age, because as we grow older, the fluid in our eyes shrinks, and 10-15 percent of the time, this causes a tear in the retina. Other risk factors include:

  • Extreme near-sightedness
  • Cataract removal, especially if the lens is not replaced
  • Previous retinal detachment in one eye
  • Marfan’s syndrome
  • Injuries in contact sports and activities like paintball

Symptoms of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is usually not painful, but be on the watch for the following symptoms and get to an eye doctor quickly if you notice them — particularly if you notice more than one:

  • Sudden flashes of light, particularly when moving the eye
  • A sudden increase in the number of floaters in your vision
  • A heavy feeling in the eye
  • A shadow spreading from the peripheral vision towards the central vision
  • A sensation like a transparent curtain is coming down over the field of vision
  • Straight lines beginning to appear curved

Keep Up with Your Regular Eye Exams

Regular visits to the eye doctor aren’t just important for keeping your glasses prescription up-to-date. We can also check for early signs of retinal detachment and get it treated before it gets worse and causes permanent vision loss. In the meantime, make sure to protect your eyes with the right eyewear and help them stay strong by eating healthy foods and staying active!

We look forward to seeing you!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Is It Time For An Annual Eye Exam? Your eyes will thank you

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

Annual Eye Exam Child Levin Eye Care Center

Read why it is so important to have an annual eye exam

If you don’t need a new glasses prescription, it might not seem necessary to schedule an annual eye exam, but eyes are very complicated organs with a lot of ways for things to go wrong. That’s why it’s important to make sure they’re working the way they should on a regular basis. Annual eye exams do more than test your vision for glasses. They also help alert you to potential eye diseases like glaucoma and other health problems.

What Is A Regular Eye Exam?

Different genetics and personal habits, as well as age, will result in different risk factors related to vision. Your risk factors determine how frequently you should have an eye exam. A good age to bring a child in for their first eye exam is around six months old, then bring them back close to their third birthday, then again before first grade. These early childhood eye exams are crucial for catching vision problems that could interfere with learning.

Patients age six to sixty who don’t have risk factors typically only need an eye exam once every years. Past age sixty, patients should schedule yearly eye exams, but cases for patients of all ages will vary on an individual basis. The optometrist will help at-risk patients determine their ideal schedule.

Vision Risk Factors

How do you know whether you have “at-risk” vision? There are a few things that can increase a person’s chances of developing chronic eye diseases, such as a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration, or more general diseases like diabetes and hypertension (both of which can negatively affect vision).

Certain prescription medications also cause eye-related side effects like dry eye. This is important to monitor so that it doesn’t result in eye infections. Wearing contacts also increases the risk of eye infection. Another major risk factor is smoking, which greatly increases the risk of developing cataracts, AMD, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

Reasons Not To Wait For A Regular Eye Exam

If you stick to your schedule of regular eye exams based on your personal risk factors (or lack thereof), this will usually be enough, but sometimes a problem may crop up between appointments. You definitely shouldn’t wait until the next one comes along to come see us.

  • If your vision is getting blurrier, it probably means you’re due for a new glasses prescription. Don’t put it off!
  • Frequent headaches may be caused by eye problems like digital eye strain, and we can help!
  • A large number of floaters or bright flashes in your vision are symptoms of retinal detachment, which can cause permanent blindness if not treated immediately. Loss of peripheral vision is another symptom.
  • Sudden, strong sensitivity to light may indicate an eye infection.
  • Loss of night vision, such as increased difficulty with driving at night, could be a sign of vision loss. It might just require a stronger prescription to fix, but it may also be a symptom of an eye disease.

We Look Forward To Seeing You!

It can be easy to forget about something that typically only comes around once every two years, but we strongly urge you not to forget about your eye exams. If you aren’t sure when your last one was, go ahead and schedule the next now and start a new exam calendar. Your eyes will thank you!

Take a look at what our patients are saying about us!

https://www.facebook.com/pg/levineyecarecenter/reviews/

5 Reasons Why Childrens Glasses Are Awesome

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health, Promo

childrens glasses levin eye care center

Wearing glasses for the first time can be a difficult adjustment for any child.

Being able to see clearly might not always seem worth it to them compared to how strange the glasses feel on their nose and ears or what their peers think, so what can you do as a parent to help them get in the habit and really love their glasses? We’ve come up with five good approaches you can use to make childrens glasses cool.

1. Make Sure Their Glasses Fit

Ill-fitting glasses, no matter how perfectly they correct your child’s vision, are not going to be fun to wear, and they will be taking them off every chance they get. Whether they fall too easily or pinch too hard, we have tools at our practice to correct the fit of glasses. If your childrens glasses don’t fit properly, come see us so we can adjust them.

2. Set Goals For Your Childs Glasses

For a child who isn’t willing to wear their glasses full-time from the start, a gradual ramp-up might be a good idea. You can begin small by expecting them to wear their glasses for just a half-hour, then increase to an hour, then two, and ultimately they’ll be wearing them all day. You could offer small prizes for achieving these milestones to give them more motivation.

3. Find Bespectacled Role Models

A great way to combat your child’s worries that they’ll be made fun of for wearing glasses is to remind them that some pretty awesome people wear glasses too. Show them pictures of some of their favorite actors or inspirational figures wearing glasses, and point out that characters like Harry Potter, Superman, and Supergirl wear glasses (even if the latter two only wear them as their mild-mannered disguises).

4. Let Them Choose Their Glasses

Another essential for helping your child feel confident in their glasses is to let them pick out their own frames! Glasses are like a customizable facial feature, and that makes them a wonderful expression of personal style. So forget about your own ideas of color coordination and fashion, because your child has their own idea of what cool glasses look like.

A similar factor to think about is how the glasses make your child look for their age. A toddler should wear glasses made for toddlers, but older children will feel embarrassed to wear “baby glasses.” They want adults and other kids to respect them for how grown-up they seem, and their glasses are part of that.

5. Stand Firm And Enlist Help

Perhaps the most important thing to do is to remain firm in your expectations. Even with the perfect, well-fitting glasses and good role models to look up to, if you aren’t a stickler about making sure your child meets their glasses goals, it might not matter. And for the times and places when you aren’t around to check that the glasses are on, you might be able to recruit other adults, like their teachers, to help.

We Can Help Too!

Another group of adults who can help your child grow to love wearing glasses is the team at our practice! We’re the biggest fans of childrens glasses you’ll meet, and we’re happy to share our enthusiasm and success stories. We’d love to hear from you, whether these five tips did the trick or if you need a few other ideas to try.

We can’t wait to see your child looking happy and confident in their glasses!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

3 Tips to Protect Your Eyes at Work

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, and we want to make sure our patients have all the information they need to protect their eyes at work!

The type of job you have will determine what kinds of risks your eyes may be in for injury or health issues, so we’re going to break them up into two main categories: jobs that mainly involve physical labor and office jobs.

Preventing Workplace Eye Injuries

Jobs such as construction or manufacturing work, mining, carpentry, auto repair, electrical work, plumbing, welding, and maintenance are all high risk jobs when it comes to eye injury. More than two thousand workers in these fields have to seek medical attention for an eye injury every day.

That may sound alarming, but the good news is that 90 percent of these injuries can be prevented or at least reduced in severity through the use of proper safety equipment. If you work in one of these fields, make sure you wear your safety glasses, goggles, face shield, welding helmet, or full-face respirator as needed.

Office Jobs And Eye Safety

If you have an office job, you likely don’t face the same risks of eye injuries, but your work conditions could still be hazardous to your eye health. The most common eye problem for office workers is computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain.

Constantly staring at your computer screen might not cause permanent damage to your eyesight, but it can make your eyes tired and irritated and negatively impact your work, with symptoms including headaches, neck pain, inattentiveness, back strain, and dry eye.

A few ways you can fight back against that eye strain include repositioning your screen, following the 20-20-20 rule, making an effort to blink more often, using artificial tears, drinking plenty of water, using an anti-glare screen or wearing computer glasses, and, finally, scheduling regular eye exams!

If you don’t know what the 20-20-20 rule is, just watch this short video

Bring Us Your Questions About Workplace Eye Safety

If you’ve been experiencing eye strain symptoms or think you might not be doing everything you can to protect your eyes from injury at work, just call us or stop by. We’d love to answer any questions you have, because we want all of our patients to be able to do their best work without having to fear for their eyes’ safety!

Make sure you’re showing your eyes some love!

Progressive Lenses Versus Bifocals – Pros and Cons

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

Levin Eye Care Center Progressive Bifocals

Nearly everyone over the age of 65 will experience a reduced elasticity of the lenses of their eyes — a condition called presbyopia.

Those of us lucky enough to have perfect vision until that age will only require reading glasses to help with up-close vision. However, for the 42 percent of Americans who are nearsighted to begin with, a more complex solution will be necessary, such as bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses.

Bifocals: Pros And Cons

Bifocals are just what they sound like: glasses with one area that corrects nearsightedness and another area that corrects farsightedness. The worse presbyopia gets, it can start to affect middle distances too, and trifocals help by adding a middle strip for things like reading a computer screen.

If you’ve ever worn bifocals or trifocals, you know all about the line between the sections of the lenses. These lines can be distracting and create an odd “image jump” effect, and they can also serve as evidence of advancing age to anyone who sees them. Anyone who feels these drawbacks are too great to overlook might be more interested in progressive lenses.

The Science Of Progressive Lenses

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, progressive lenses do what bifocals and trifocals do but without the distracting lines. The way this works is that the prescription gradually changes along a corridor of power, going from supporting distance vision at the top to close vision at the bottom.

The trade off to make such a complex lens work is that the bottom corners of progressive lenses make things appear blurry. Fortunately, newer technology is helping to minimize this flaw. When we examine patients wishing to buy progressive lenses, we measure pupillary distance so that we can place the corridor of power in the best place.

Getting Used To Progressive Lenses

Any time we change the prescription or frame shape of our glasses, it will take some time to get used to the way things look. This is certainly the case for progressive lenses, especially if it’s your first time wearing them. A few things you can do to adjust more quickly include:

  • moving your head instead of your eyes to see different things
  • making sure the glasses fit properly so that the corridor of power stays in the right place
  • practicing looking at objects at different differences by watching TV and reading a book at the same time
  • not giving up! If you switch back and forth between your progressive lenses and your old bifocals, you’ll reset the clock on your eyes getting used to them!

Talk To Us About Your Next Pair Of Glasses

If you have any questions about progressive lenses, don’t hesitate to bring them to us. We want all of our patients at Levin Eye Care Center to have the perfect lenses to help them see clearly. And while we’re at it, we’ll help you find the perfect frames!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Glaucoma : Why Early Diagnosis Can Save Your Vision

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

Glaucoma test Levin Eye Care Center

Human eyesight is an incredibly complex system, and a problem like glaucoma anywhere along the way can lead to seriously compromised vision.

One such problem is glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that affect millions of people in the US, making it the second most common cause of vision loss and blindness in the country. In most cases, glaucoma is the result of damage to the optic nerve from increased pressure in the eye.

Intraocular Pressure: A Delicate Balance

The human eye is filled with fluid — aqueous humor in the front chambers, vitreous humor in the larger rear chamber behind the lens. In a healthy eye, the pressure of this fluid remains within a safe range because the amount of aqueous humor being produced is roughly equal to the amount flowing out through the pupil. In an eye with glaucoma, this drainage system does not work the way it should.

Common Risk Factors

While everyone has some risk of developing glaucoma, certain factors can make it more likely. Glaucoma is far more common in people over 60, particularly African Americans and Hispanics. People of Asian descent are at greater risk of angle-closure glaucoma.

A major risk factor for glaucoma is heredity. Someone with a sibling who has glaucoma is ten times more likely to develop it than someone who doesn’t. Other risk factors include eye injury and steroid use.

Why Early Diagnosis Matters

Vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible and there is currently no cure for the disease, but medication and/or surgery can halt its progress as long as it is diagnosed in time. The key to early diagnosis is regular eye exams, especially for those with a high risk of developing the condition. Make sure you’re familiar with your family’s eye health history, and don’t forget to keep us in the loop!

Your lifelong healthy vision is our top priority!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Vision & Night Driving | The dangers of night driving are very real!

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

Dangers of night driving

Nights are long in the winter, and that means fewer hours of daylight for our morning and evening commutes.

Many of us feel safer driving during the day, particularly if our eyesight isn’t perfect. The dangers of night driving are very real, and we should all be taking them seriously, because our lives and the lives of others absolutely depend on it.

The Challenges Of Driving At Night

The road looks very different at night than it does in the day. Not only is it harder to see because of the darkened surroundings, but the glare of oncoming headlights can momentarily blind us to the curves of the road and obstacles in our way. And even if you feel confident in your ability to adjust to these conditions, other drivers around you may not be as confident in their own driving.

Aging Introduces New Difficulties

As we grow older, our night vision worsens. We have fewer rods (light-sensitive cells in our eyes that distinguish between light and dark) to detect objects in low light and our eyes’ lenses become stiffer and cloudier. Other conditions such as astigmatism can also make it difficult to see at night, affecting peripheral vision and depth perception and worsening glare.

Changes In Your Eyesight

If you’ve noticed any changes in your eyesight, such as halo effects, blurred, dim, or cloudy vision, or increased glare, they could be early symptoms of eye problems that will make it harder for you to drive safely at night. Another one to watch out for is eye fatigue. Even if you can see perfectly well, that won’t do much good if you struggle to focus while on the road. No matter what changes or difficulties you’re experiencing with your vision, schedule an eye appointment so that we can address the problem.

Aids To Night Driving

For those with mild to moderate difficulties with night driving, there are solutions to make it easier. The simplest is to keep the windshield and windows as clean as possible and make sure your headlights aren’t fogged over. Getting plenty of sleep and eating eye-healthy foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach will promote good eye health and reduce eye fatigue. You might also consider getting prescription night driving glasses, which reduce glare and light sensitivity.

For those who are doing all of these things and still struggling to see at night, it might be time to stay off the road after dark. It can be a struggle to adjust to a schedule of day driving only, but it’s worth it to stay safe.

To learn more about nyctalopia, or night blindness here and check out this short video:

What We Can Do For You

Sometimes all we need to improve our sight for night driving is a simple adjustment to our glasses prescriptions, so if it’s been a while since your last eye exam, schedule one today. Make sure you bring any questions or concerns you have about driving at night with you when you come!

Drive safely, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Her love for learning and reading blossomed after Vision Therapy!

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Vision Therapy

Vision Therapy Program Levin Eye Care Center

Vision Therapy helped me become more coordinated and focused! I love reading and learning in school now. 

Victoria’s mother talks about the changes she has seen in her daughter since entering in our vision therapy program at Levin Eye Care Center. Before vision therapy, Victoria found it very difficult to focus on her schoolwork. Learning and reading was very difficult and she could never seem to finish an entire chapter at her reading level. A math assignment would take her an hour and a half to complete. I have Victoria enrolled in Mexican folkloric dance and she would always get frustrated that she couldn’t grasp the steps or coordinate the dance with the rest of the group. At home she would fall or trip often and hurt herself.

The biggest change I have seen is that Victoria is able to finish reading books in their entirety. She has completed various books and loves to tell me about them. Before completing the vision therapy program she took more than an hour to complete a math lesson, now she averages about 40 minutes. She also amazes her dance teacher with her improved coordination.

My daughter is now confident at school and in dance class. She doesn’t doubt herself or make excuses since attending vision therapy. I have seen her love for learning and reading blossom as opposed to before vision therapy she just wanted to get her schoolwork out of the way or find an excuse not to do it. I always knew she had the potential and intelligence to perform well and am very thankful that Dr. Levin offers vision therapy!

Victoria states: “Thank you Levin Eye Care Center for helping fix my eye problems!”