Effects Of Astigmatism And Best Treatments

Wouldn’t it be stressful to drive through life with a “warped windshield”? That’s exactly how astigmatism feels. Astigmatism is an eye disorder which occurs due to the irregular curvature of the eye. It prevents light from being focused on the retina properly and blurs your vision. Astigmatism has different extents of affecting people. Medical research shows that astigmatism can be congenital or occur after an eye injury, disease or surgery.

The Two Types Of Astigmatism

Corneal Astigmatism – This is when the cornea is curved improperly. The cornea has a distorted shape that prevents light rays from getting refracted properly.

Lenticular Astigmatism – When the lens of the eye is improperly curved, it is Lenticular Astigmatism. The lens is curved imperfectly so the image reaching the retina is blurred. Lenticular Astigmatism is seen in patients with diabetes, but is reduced once you start treating diabetes.

Symptoms Of Astigmatism  

Astigmatism can be diagnosed through various eye check-ups and eye tests, but other indicators are headaches, squinting, fatigue, blurry vision, eyestrain, distorted vision and photophobia – sensitivity to light. A visual acuity test, regular eye tests and use of a Snellen Chart, Keratometer or Astigmatic dial can be used for the diagnoses.

Treatment For Astigmatism 

Eye glasses, corrective lenses or refractive surgery are a few ways through which astigmatism can be corrected. Eyeglasses and corrective lenses are the primary means of correcting blurred vision caused by astigmatism, but the best way to improve vision and correct astigmatism is through corrective surgery. There are two types of laser surgery: PRK and LASIK.

  • (PRK) or Photorefractive Keratectomy is one of the laser surgery methods to treat astigmatism. The protective layer of the cornea is removed and another laser reshapes the cornea. However, this treatment is known to be painful.
  • (LASIK) or Laser in situ keratectomy is a recently developed technology. It has been favored largely because it is less painful. The surgery involves using a laser to make an incision into the cornea and reshaping it with the help of an excimer laser.

Lesser Known Facts Of Astigmatism

Some mild types of this disorder may not affect vision but this is common in young people and women. It is congenital for some people, so the intensity may increase with age.

  • It can be treated – Most people do not experience symptoms and hardly require treatment. Prescription glasses and contact lenses are just enough to treat astigmatism in the early stages.
  • Diabetes – High blood sugar levels can affect the eye, especially the shape of the lens which helps with the focusing power of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when tiny blood vessels in the eye are blocked.
  • Rubbing can weaken your eyes – Allergies or rubbing vigorously may weaken your eyes because it can distort the shape of the cornea.
  • Eye exercises help – Our eyes are muscles and need to be kept in shape. It is important to do the “read and avert gaze” exercise every now and then. You can start by reading and then shifting your gaze to a nearby object and then get back to reading. Doing this repeatedly will strengthen your eye muscles and help you with your ability to focus.

Vision therapy, eye exercises and a healthy diet can be beneficial to treat astigmatism as well as other eyesight conditions like Myopia, Hyperopia and Presbyopia. Though there are alternate measures to curb the problem only an ophthalmologist would know best and will suggest the best possible treatment to you.

Author Bio:   

Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for Insight Vision Center, an Ophthalmology Center in California. With a knack for understanding medical procedures, and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns. He blogs to inform readers about the latest eye care technology and other topics related to eye care, especially LASIK. Aaron loves collecting coasters from the different bars and restaurants he visits during his travels.

Seasonal Dry Eye Relief Tips And Other Recent Eye Care News

It’s once again that time of year when your eyes can feel like the Sahara desert or your vision may seem blurrier than usual. It may just be seasonal dry eye.

The most common type of dry eye is evaporative dry eye – which can often be worse in the wintertime. Evaporative dry eye is caused by inflammation on the eyelids – which is called blepharitis. This can lead to a poor tear film and quicker evaporation of tears, which are the eyes’ natural moisturizer Winter can make this condition worse because the air is dry and heaters are on. Symptoms can include blurry and fluctuating vision, a gritty feeling like sand in your eyes, and even excess tearing.

Tips To Help Relieve Seasonal Dry Eye

  • Reduce reading or heavy computer use, which can worsen dry eye because you don’t blink as often.
  • Have humidifiers on in the house and office.
  • Don’t have the car heater blowing directly on your face.
  • Take omega-3 as fish or flax seed oil – 1000-1500 milligrams of DHA/EPA – to help improve the quality of the tear film.
  • Use over-the-counter artificial tears or lubricant eye drops up to four times a day.
  • Contact lenses can make dry eye worse, so minimize contact lens use if possible.

It can take six to eight weeks to notice improvement, but if the symptoms last longer than that you should see a doctor to be sure nothing else is going on and to discuss alternative forms of treatment for dry eye. “A key point is that all dry eye treatments take time to work,” says Michelle D. Patel, M.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “There aren’t any quick fixes. Each intervention can take a few months to make a significant difference and often you need a combination of treatments for relief.”

Beating Dry Eye Syndrome

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome – dry, red, itchy, gritty, sore eyes – are more common among contact lens wearers. Some relief appears to be on the horizon. A group of Stanford University researchers are exploring the mechanical interactions between the eye surface, the cornea, and contact lenses, with a goal to create better contact lenses that maximize comfort and alleviate dry eye symptoms.

When developing biomaterial-based devices that are in direct contact with cells – like contact lenses – their mechanical interaction with cells, biomaterial adhesion to cells and biocompatibility are all extremely important factors. “Our system, a live-cell monolayer rheometer, is built on a standard inverted microscope for cell biology,” says Juho Pokki, a postdoctoral research fellow in the chemical engineering department at Stanford University. “It can simultaneously observe the cells and test cell mechanisms and adhesion.”

The group also created an automated system to enable controllable experiments at the microscale. Cornea cell surfaces consist of a mechanically complex, soft material which you can think of as nature’s “smart material.” “It has properties that depend on stress-strain conditions and time,” Pokki says. “Corneal cell mechanics and cell adhesion are altered for different corneal surface conditions, such as changes caused by disease, and different contact lenses.”

By measuring mechanics and cellular or bacterial adhesion-related information, the group can compare biocompatible materials that are most suitable for contact lenses or for developing new biomedical devices such as prosthetic electronic skin. To date, one of the group’s key findings is that corneal surface cells, which have adapted to protect the eye surface, are mechanically complex.

“Their effective mechanical behavior is different between small and large strain conditions,” Pokki said. This behavior may be caused by changes within the cells, which the group plans to study in the future. “In terms of applications,” Pokki added, “beyond developing better contact lenses, our system can be used to screen and find optimal contact lens solutions or eye drops for people who have dry eye symptoms. This would allow people with dry eye syndrome to use contact lenses while maintaining corneal mechanics and adhesion similar to those of users without dry eye symptoms.”

A New Kind Of Eye Dropper

A new kind of eyedropper can deliver tiny droplets of medication to treat the eye more precisely than traditional eyedroppers while reducing waste and avoiding dangerous side effects, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology. This technology may prove to be especially advantageous in the treatment of dry eye and glaucoma, for which patients require daily use of medicated eye drops that can cost hundreds of dollars for a bottle that lasts only a month.

Researchers at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai showed that a microdose delivery system achieved a treatment effect comparable to a conventional eyedropper, while delivering less than four times the amount of drug. Microdosing also reduced the eye’s exposure to the drug and preservative by 75 to 80 percent.  Patients experienced reduced side effects, leading to a gentler treatment.

Delivering drugs in very small, precise dosage volumes not only avoids spillage, it can also decrease tearing and blinking, thereby limiting dilution of the medication. The hand-held system evaluated in the study could deliver precise, single-digit microliter doses of medication to the eye’s surface within 80 milliseconds, quicker than the blink of an eye.

While glaucoma treatment preserves sight by reducing pressure inside the eye, it can also cause painful, irritating side effects for patients. A conventional eyedropper’s opening creates a drop that’s four to five times larger in volume than the human eye can actually hold. When drops are too big, the overflow runs down the face or drains into the body through the ducts in the corner of the eye.

Oversized eye drops don’t just waste medication, they overdose the eye with medication and toxic preservatives that cause side effects, such as redness, itching, irritation, and dry eye. Some topical medications can cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly when too much is absorbed into the body.

Testing The System

To test the safety and effectiveness of microdosing, the researchers delivered a common drug ophthalmologists use to dilate the pupil and examine the back of the eye. Microdosing was used to treat one group of patients, while a conventional eye dropper was used to deliver the drug to another group.

They found that high-precision microdosing dilated the pupil as well as the conventional eye dropper method. At the same time, microdosed patients showed lower levels of the drug in their bloodstream. They also experienced a significantly lower rate of side effects – eight percent compared with 66 percent for patients treated with conventional eye drops.

“We believe that we have developed a viable 21st-century microdosing technology to transform the 100-year old eyedropper paradigm with modern, high-precision smart technology,” said lead researcher, Tsontcho Lanchulev, M.D. MPH, professor of ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and director of the Ophthalmic Innovation Technology Program at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai Hospital.

Lanchulev expects additional clinical trials to begin within the next 12 months to further evaluate the technology for treating patients with glaucoma, as well as for pupil dilation. He believes the first micro-therapeutic formulations could be available for consumers by 2020. Lanchulev added that the microdosing approach could eventually be used to treat a wide variety of eye diseases and conditions, such as dry eye, allergic eye disease, and infections. He also believes that the smart electronics of the platform will be used for digital health applications, such as compliance monitoring by both patients and physicians.

Ask More Questions For Better Eye Care

Compare a patient’s self-reported eye symptoms to their electronic medical record and clear discrepancies can be seen. A study from the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center revealed wide disparities in the content of pre-appointment patient questionnaires and what a clinician wrote down to document the visit. The study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, analyzed the symptoms of 162 Kellogg patients. Each completed a 10-point survey while waiting to see a physician; questions came from sources including the National Institutes of Health Toolbox.

“We found pretty noticeable differences between the two,” says Maria Woodward, M.D., M.S., an assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at U-M. “I think certainly the biggest takeaway is when people are presented things in different ways, they tell you different things.”

The doctors treating these patients weren’t told about the surveys, or that their record-keeping would be reviewed for comparison. The contrast was stark: Of the study’s group, “exact agreement” between an individual’s survey and what appeared on their medical record occurred in only 38 patients.

A Need For Focus

Symptom reporting drove the inconsistencies between surveys and medical records, the study found. The top discordant issue: glare. Of patients reporting concern about glare on their surveys, 91 percent didn’t have it on their medical record.

Eye redness was second-most common – 80 percent had no medical record mention – followed by eye pain – 74.4 percent. Blurry vision was the only symptom to tilt the scales with more instances of inclusion in medical records than in questionnaires.

As a result, other doctors treating the same patient in future visits could have an incomplete picture of their symptoms. Perhaps more risky, because digital medical records are increasingly used to guide clinical practice or research, the collective data may be shortsighted or misleading in some scenarios. “Many parties in health care use the electronic health records now and they expect the data to accurately reflect the interaction with the doctor,” Woodward said.

Explanations for the medical record/doctor-patient disconnect are understandable, with neither party at fault. The doctor-patient relationship is more nuanced than what is reflected in the medical record. A patient might not choose to mention all of their symptoms. Doctor dialogue may follow a conversational path versus a point-by-point checklist.

Time constraints of record keeping in the electronic chart can also be an issue. And not every detail of a given appointment — particularly minor concerns — is necessarily worth documenting. “The concern highlighted by this research is that important symptoms may be overlooked,” Woodward added. “If a patient has severe symptoms, all of those symptoms should be documented and addressed.”

Gaining Greater Clarity

The study highlights an opportunity to improve lines of communication between patients and doctors. For example, implementing pre-appointment eye symptom questionnaires similar to those in the study could prove simple and effective. A similar pilot program is underway in Woodward’s clinic. “This is definitely a pathway I see as very feasible to resolving this disconnect in the near future; the infrastructure is already there,” she says.

The concept also could help bring more clarity to what ends up on a patient’s medical record. Because the surveys Woodward and her team used asked participants to assess their conditions’ severity on a numeric scale, results could help practitioners better evaluate the depth of a patient’s symptoms — and even identify concerns that might have gone unnoticed.

The use of a self-report system before seeing the doctor could really change the conversation between the doctor and the patient. Rather than spending time identifying symptoms, doctors and patients could be talking about how to manage severe symptoms.

Are Doctors Treating Pink Eye Incorrectly?

A recent study regarding the effectiveness of the common recommendation an individual receives for acute conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye, says doctors may be getting it wrong. Over 60 percent of patients are prescribed antibiotic eye drops, but research shows that antibiotics aren’t necessarily effective in properly treating this type of eye infection. Another 20 percent receive a type of antibiotic eye drop that also contains steroid which often makes the infection worse.

The study was published in the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which really dissected the use of antibiotics as a way to treat pink eye in the United States. It was shown that all this type of treatment protocol does is promote antibiotic resistance while also increasing overall costs to patients. The study identified those who had filled specific prescriptions for eye drops after being diagnosed with acute conjunctivitis. The 20 percent that received the antibiotic eye drops that also contain a steroid often found their symptoms prolonged or worsened because steroids shouldn’t typically be used for that type of infection.

What was even more unsettling was that the odds of whether or not the prescription was filled depended heavily on the patient’s socioeconomic status instead of their risk for developing additional eye infections. This is the case with those who wear contact lenses and those who have been diagnosed with chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS.

The Right Diagnosis

Pink eye is incredibly common. So much so that over six million people in the United States suffer from it per year. There are typically three types that are seen most regularly: allergic conjunctivitis, viral and bacterial.

The study found that acute conjunctivitis is often diagnosed improperly by the wrong type of medical professionals. Over 83 percent of urgent care providers, family physicians and pediatricians made the diagnosis instead of trained optometrists or ophthalmologists. It also needs to be noted that patients diagnosed by those outside of the specialty prescribe antibiotic eye drops two or three times more than an ophthalmologist

Patients who did fill their antibiotic prescriptions tended to be white, younger, wealthier and better educated. This highlights the systemic and prevalent bias that the medical industry is complicit in allowing – along with most other industries in this society.

One researcher explains: “This study opens the lid on overprescribing of antibiotics for a common eye infection. It shows that current treatment decisions for pink eye are not based on evidence, but are often driven more by the type of health care practitioner making the diagnosis and the patient’s socioeconomic status than by medical reasons. The potential negative consequences are difficult to justify as we move toward focusing on value in health care.”

This is also incredibly inefficient on top of being shameful. But many people who have frequented the doctor’s office for various illnesses and ailments know that sometimes the doctor is really only guessing when it comes to what they think the diagnosis is and what they advise you to take for it. Antibiotics as a whole are overprescribed, and because of this, certain strains of bacteria are performing mutations and becoming stronger than the antibiotics themselves. When dealing with prescription medication, even if it’s just eye drops or ointment, getting the proper item for your specific needs is crucial.


The Need To Understand Glaucoma

The eyes are not simply just the windows to our soul. In fact, the eyes are one of the foremost senses that we rely on in our day-to-day lives. Many people often take sight and seeing for granted, but for those who have impaired vision, from an accident or age-related issues, understanding the complexities of compromised eyesight is imperative to then being able to properly treat and combat it. Glaucoma is considered the second leading cause of blindness for those over the age of 40. More than 2.5 million Americans suffer from some form of the eye disease. This makes it incredibly pervasive and it’s only climbing higher as time goes on. That number is expected to more than double in 30 years.

Who Can Get Glaucoma?

There is ongoing research that has been done in regards to better understanding this condition and effective ways to prevent it from occurring. A very interesting tidbit of information regarding it is that anyone can actually develop glaucoma. Though there are certain people who may be more genetically predisposed to the condition, it can show up in anyone. Even younger individuals, such as children and babies, may develop the early onset of this condition which can have terrible effects and consequences on eyesight. Familial and genetic makeup does contribute to this specific condition in many ways. It has been found that people over the age of 60, especially those of Mexican-American descent, have a higher probability of suffering from glaucoma.

Comprehensive Eye Exam

The most effective way to catch the presence of glaucoma, in order to treat it quickly, is by getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam. One of the most beneficial methods of treatment and prevention starts when detection is made early. Eyesight can be saved and restored by taking this simple and relatively quick eye exam. The trained eye care professional will use a special tool that examines the very back of the eye. This magnifying lens will show any type of nerve damage or irregularity that may exist in the back of the eye where issues typically occur first.

Preventative Treatment Important

Simply waiting for symptoms is a bad idea. Because of how quickly glaucoma can spread and become unmanageable, preventative treatment is better than reactive treatment. This is how lack of awareness can really be costly in the end. For those who have a history of glaucoma in their family or have dealt with similar eye issues in the past, making it a point to be examined at least yearly is necessary. When glaucoma isn’t properly treated, eyesight begins to diminish. It is the peripheral eyesight that typically diminishes first. Seeing things out of the corner of the eye becomes more difficult. Over a period of time, even central vision can be negatively affected.

Nerve Cell Damage

The optic nerve is the compromised entity in the face of glaucoma. It exists in the very back of the eye and helps to carry specific peripheral visuals to the brain. When that optic nerve is damaged, its range of motion than becomes compromised. When the nerve cells become under attack from the presence of glaucoma, the flow of visual data is disrupted and can often be short circuited. Once this damage is done it cannot be reversed. Specific studies have been researching ways to protect eye cells from this nerve damage.