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EyeSmart features information and resources you need from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and other to help keep your eyes healthy. CSEPS encourages you to live EyeSmart!

 

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7 Ways to Protect Your Eyes from Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Posted By Chet Seward, Thursday, February 6, 2020

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness over age 50, affecting about 2.1 million people nationwide. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to preventing vision loss. During February, CSEPS joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in educating the public about the facts on AMD.

 

AMD is a degenerative disease that happens when part of the retina called the macula is damaged. It’s the part of the eye that delivers sharp, central vision needed to see objects straight ahead. Over time, the loss of central vision can interfere with everyday activities, such as the ability to drive, read, and see faces clearly.

Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – have more tools than ever before to diagnose the disease earlier, and to treat it better. But these advances cannot help patients whose disease is undiagnosed, or patients who are unaware of the seriousness of their disease. People’s lack of understanding about AMD is a real danger to public health. A recent study showed that most people with AMD don’t realize it’s a chronic health issue that requires regular attention for the rest of their lives. 

The Academy offers these seven steps to help people take control of their eye health:

  1. Get regular comprehensive medical eye exams. AMD often has no early warning signs, so getting regular comprehensive eye exams from an ophthalmologist is critical to diagnosing and treating the eye disease in its early stages. The Academy recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40 — the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. By age 65, the Academy recommends getting an exam every one to two years, even in the absence of symptoms or eye problems.
  2. Quit smoking. Numerous studies show smoking increases the risk of developing AMD, and the speed at which it progresses. Smokers are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration compared with a nonsmoker.
  3. Eat a well-balanced dietMany studies demonstrate that eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-packed foods, such as salmon and nuts, may reduce the risk of AMD. Research also suggests that patients who ate fresh fish, an important source of omega-3s, were at lower risk of developing AMD.
  4. Take the right kind of vitamins. Vitamins can delay progression of advanced AMD and help people keep their vision longer if they have intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in one eye. But make sure it’s the right combination of vitamins. A recent study found that some of the top-selling products do not contain identical ingredient dosages to eye vitamin formulas proven effective in clinical trials. 
  5. Exercise regularlyExercising three times a week can reduce the risk of developing wet AMD by 70 percent. Studies also show that physical activity may lower the odds of both early and late-stages of AMD.
  6. Monitor your sight with an Amsler Grid. This simple, daily routine takes less than one minute and can help people with AMD save more of their vision. Using this grid is essential to finding any vision changes that are not obvious, so you can report them to your ophthalmologist.
  7. Know your family’s eye health history. If you have a close relative with AMD, you have a 50 percent greater chance of developing the condition. Before your next eye exam, speak with your family about their eye health history. You may need more frequent eye exams based on your family history.

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Make sure protective eyewear is on your holiday shopping list

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, November 22, 2019

A Christmas Story, Ralphie attempts to convince his parents and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun is the perfect Christmas gift. They all reject his pleas with the same warning: "You'll shoot your eye out." While you may not literally shoot your eye out, a new study in Ophthalmology Retina – a journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology – shows that BB and pellet guns do blind children every year.

And, the number of eye injuries related to such nonpowder guns are increasing at an alarming rate. Another study published earlier this year showed an increase of almost 170 percent over the last 23 years. If toy guns are on your shopping list, CSEPS and the American Academy of Ophthalmology urge you to also give the gift of protective eyewear. Protective eyewear and proper guidance make BB, pellet and paintball gun activities safer for children.

To prevent eye injuries, ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – share the following tips.

  • Get a target. Have children shoot BB and pellet guns at paper or gel targets with a backstop to trap BBs or pellets.
  • Educate children. Teach them proper safety precautions for handling and using non-powder guns.
  • Be present. Ensure that there is always appropriate adult supervision.
  • Know what to do (and what not to) if an eye injury occurs. Seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist. As you wait for medical help, make sure to never to touch, rub, apply pressure, or try to remove any object stuck in the eye. If an eye injury occurs, follow these important care and treatment guidelines.

To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.

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Is too much screen time harming children’s vision?

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, August 9, 2019

As children spend more time tethered to screens, there is increasing concern about potential harm to their visual development. Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – are seeing a marked increase in children with dry eye and eye strain from too much screen time. But does digital eyestrain cause lasting damage? Should your child use reading glasses or computer glasses? As you send your kids back to school this month for more time with screens and books, the Colorado Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are arming parents with the facts, so they can make informed choices about their children’s eye health.

It’s a fact that there is a world-wide epidemic of myopia, also known as nearsightedness. Since 1971, the incidence of nearsightedness in the US nearly doubled, to 42 percent. In Asia, up to 90 percent of teenagers and adults are nearsighted. Clearly, something is going on. But scientists can’t agree on exactly what.

A new study appearing in Ophthalmology, offers further evidence that at least part of the worldwide increase in nearsightedness has to do with near work activities; not just screens but also traditional books. And, that spending time outdoors—especially in early childhood—can slow the progression of nearsightedness. It remains unclear whether the rise in nearsightedness is due to focusing on phones all the time, or to light interacting with our circadian rhythms to influence eye growth, or none of the above.

While scientists look for a definitive answer, there is no doubt that most computer users experience digital eyestrain. Kids are no different from adults when it comes to digital eyestrain. They can experience dry eye, eye strain, headaches, and blurry vision, too. While symptoms are typically temporary, they may be frequent and persistent.

But this doesn’t mean they need a prescription for computer glasses or that they have developed an eye condition of middle-age that requires reading glasses, as some suggest. It also doesn’t mean that blue light coming from computer screens is damaging their eyes. It means they need to take more frequent breaks. This is because we don’t blink as often while using computers and other digital devices. Extended reading, writing or other intensive near work can also cause eye strain. Ophthalmologists recommend taking a 20 second break from near work every 20 minutes.

Here are 10 tips to help protect your child’s eyes from computer eyestrain:

  • Set a kitchen timer or a smart device timer to remind them.
  • Alternate reading an e-book with a real book and encourage kids to look up and out the window every two chapters.
  • After completing a level in a video game, look out the window for 20 seconds.
  • Pre-mark books with a paperclip every few chapters to remind your child to look up. On an e-book, use the “bookmark” function for the same effect.
  • Avoid using a computer outside or in brightly lit areas, as the glare on the screen can create strain.
  • Adjust the brightness and contrast of your computer screen so that it feels comfortable to you.
  • Use good posture when using a computer and when reading.
  • Encourage your child to hold digital media farther away, 18 to 24 inches is ideal.
  • Create a distraction that causes your child to look up every now and then.
  • Remind them to blink when watching a screen.

 To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.

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10,000 reasons to leave fireworks to the professionals

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, June 7, 2019

Every year, about 10,000 people are rushed to the emergency department for fireworks injuries. Many people believe that consumer fireworks are safe. But here’s the explosive truth: Most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles. To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, CSEPS and the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourage you to sharing these tips with your patients:

  • Wear protective eyewear when igniting fireworks: Ophthalmologists recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear. Stop by any hardware store and pick up some safety glasses for the entire family. 
  • Don’t pick up duds and misfires: When a lit firework didn’t explode, Javonte McNair, 14, walked over and picked it up. The “dud” exploded, severing his hand and blasting hot debris into his eye, causing severe damage to his cornea. Keep a hose and buckets of water on hand for duds and misfires. Soak the dud from a distance with a hose or a bucket of water. Pick it up with a shovel and fully submerge it in a bucket of water to ensure it’s safe for disposal. 
  • Keep a safe distance: Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as the operator. Stacy Young was 100 yards away when an illegal firework sent shrapnel into her skull. Ophthalmologists couldn’t save her eye. It had to be removed. 
  • Supervise children closely: Sparklers seem like harmless fun for the kids, but they are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year. Even those tiny poppers or snappers can pose dangers. A ricocheting popper burned parts of five-year-old Nolan Haney’seye and eyelid
  • Celebrate with the pros: The Fourth can be complete without using consumer fireworks. The Academy and CSEPS advise that the safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.

To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.

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Urge your patients to use eye protection for sports

Posted By Chet Seward, Wednesday, May 15, 2019

New research shows that about 30,000 people in the U.S. go to emergency departments each year with sports-related eye injuries, a substantially higher estimate than previously reported. This April during Sports Eye Safety Month, CSEPS and the American Academy of Ophthalmology remind the public that the right protective eyewear is the best defense against eye injury.

Three sports accounted for almost half of all trips to the emergency room: basketball, baseball, and air/paintball guns. Sports-related injuries can range from corneal abrasions and bruises on the lids to more serious, vision-threatening internal injuries, such as a retinal detachment and internal bleeding.

 

Here are some tips for both the professional athlete and the Little League star to stay safe: 

  • Athletes should wear sports eye protection that meets requirements set by appropriate organizations.
  • Parents should make sure that children wear eye protection. Most often, those who sustain sports-related eye injuries are 18 years old or younger.
  • Eye protection can weaken with age and may no longer provide adequate protection. Consider replacing when damaged or yellowed.
  • For basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey, wear protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses.
  • Athletes who wear contacts or glasses should also wear appropriate protective eyewear. Contacts offer no protection and glasses do not provide enough defense.
  • Professional athletes should also wear sports goggles that meet national standards.

To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.

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Most Americans unaware of one of the leading causes of blindness among seniors

Posted By Chet Seward, Thursday, February 7, 2019

Age-Related Macular Degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness among seniors, affecting approximately 2.1 million people nationwide. By 2050, it is expected that the number will more than double to 5.4 million. People may be putting themselves at unnecessary risk of vision loss by neglecting to have sight-saving eye exams. Throughout February, CSEPS joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in emphasizing AMD awareness and encouraging those who are most at risk to ensure the health of their eyes by getting an eye exam from an ophthalmologist – a physician who specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions.

AMD is a degenerative disease that damages the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that focuses images and relays information to the brain. Over time, retinal damage can lead to permanent loss of central vision, limiting the ability to drive, read and recognize faces. There are two forms AMD – wet and dry. While the dry form of AMD leads to gradual vision loss, the wet form progresses at a faster rate and is responsible for 90 percent of all AMD-related blindness. It is critical to get diagnosed and begin treatment as soon as possible to protect vision.

The Academy recommends the following steps to help potentially avoid AMD and other eye diseases:

  • Get regular comprehensive medical eye exams.
  • Quit smoking. 
  • Know your family’s eye health history. If you have a close relative with AMD, you have a 50 percent greater chance of developing the condition.
  • Eat a diet rich in omega-3s and low in cholesterol and saturated fat.
  • Exercise regularly.

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Avoid toy-related injuries

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, November 30, 2018

With the holiday shopping season now in full swing, CSEPS and the American Academy of Ophthalmology ask that you remind the public of certain safety guidelines when choosing the perfect gifts for little ones. A number of studies show that some popular toy types are commonly associated with childhood eye injuries. These include air guns and other toys that shoot projectiles, high-powered lasers,and sports equipment.

 

Encourage parents to follow these tips when shopping for toys this holiday season.

 

Beware of airsoft, BB guns, and other projectile toys. Every year ophthalmologists treat thousands of patients with devastating eye injuries caused by seemingly safe toys. Avoid items with sharp, protruding or projectile parts such as airsoft guns, BB guns and other nonpowder gun–relatedtoys. Foreign objects can easily propel into the sensitive tissue of the eye.

 

Never allow children to play with high-powered laser pointers.  A number of recent reports in the United States and internationally show that children have sustained serious eye injuries by playing with high-powered lasers (between 1500 and 6000 milliwatts). Over the years, these lasers have become increasingly more powerful, with enough potential to cause severe retinal damage,with just seconds oflaser exposure to the eye. The FDA advises the public to never aim or shine a laser pointer at anyone and to not buy laser pointers for children.

Read labels for age recommendations before you buy. To select appropriate gifts suited for a child's age, look for and follow the age recommendations and instructions about proper assembly, use,and supervision.

Don't just give presents. Make sure to bepresent. Always make sure an adult is supervising when children are playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.

 

Know what to do (and what not to). If someone you know experiences an eye injury, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist. As you wait for medical help, make sure to never to touch, rub, apply pressure, or try to remove any object stuck in the eye. If an eye injury occurs, follow these important care and treatment guidelines.

For more information on toy safety, see the American Academy of Ophthalmology's toy safety page or watch the toy safety video.

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Frightening risks of wearing costume contact lenses

Posted By Chet Seward, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Tell your patients that a good scare isn't worth it this Halloween. Wearing scary-looking costume contact lenses without a prescription could result in blindness. 

It is illegal to sell non-prescription contact lenses, but they can still be easily purchased at places such as beauty supply stores, costume shops and on the Internet. Falsely advertised as “one-size-fits-all” or “no prescription necessary,” these lenses can cause serious eye damage. 

Share these five frightening consequences of ignoring the warnings with your patients: 

  • Scratches to the eye – If contacts are not professionally fitted to your eye, they can scratch the clear front window of the eye. This is called a corneal abrasion, which is not only painful, but can cause permanent damage. 
  • Infection – Research shows wearing non-prescription contacts increases the risk of an infection called keratitis by 16 times. 
  • Pink eye – Never share contacts because doing so can spread germs, causing conditions such as pink eye
  • Decreased vision – Whether from a corneal scratch or infection, wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to decreased vision. 
  • Blindness – It’s no scare tactic: wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to permanent vision loss.

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Back to school: Good vision and overall health are vital to learning

Posted By Chet Seward, Tuesday, August 14, 2018


Back-to-school time is here and as families across Colorado rally to get into a school routine, one reminder that ophthalmologists can provide is for parents not to neglect one of the most important learning tools: their children’s eyes. 

Good vision and overall eye health are vital to learning. The Colorado Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (CSEPS) joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology(AAO) in emphasizing the importance of healthy vision to academic success during Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month in August.

Because children are still growing, being vigilant about eye health is important. The earlier that problems are identified, the sooner they can be addressed. For children to maintain healthy eyes and vision throughout the school year, CSEPS and AAO recommend the following four tips:

  • Get regular childhood vision screenings – Children’s eyes change rapidly, making regular vision screeningsan important step in detecting and correcting eye problems early. In addition to screenings for infants, the Academy recommends further vision screening for children when they are pre-school age, between age 3 and 3 and a half, entering school, and experiencing a possible vision problem.

For school-age children, a vision screening – which is less comprehensive than a dilated eye examination by an ophthalmologist, can be performed by a pediatrician, family physician, nurse or trained technician during regular checkups. If the screening detects a problem, the child may need to see an ophthalmologist – an eye physician and surgeon – or other eye care professional.

  • Know and share your family eye health history – Everyone should find out whether eye conditions or diseases run in their family. Parents should share that information with the person performing the screening when possible. Examples of common eye conditions include nearsightedness, crossed eye, known as strabismus, and lazy eye, known as amblyopia. If these are not treated in childhood, they can cause permanent vision loss in one eye.    
  • Watch for signals of eye problems – Parents should be alert to symptoms that could indicate an eye or vision problem, such as complaints of eyestrain, headaches and squinting when reading or performing other common activities. Other symptoms to look for include a white or grayish-white coloring in the pupil, one eye that turns in or out, or eyes that do not track in sync together. 
  • Wear protective eyewear when playing sports – Eye injuries while playing sports can cause serious damage, whether by getting smacked with an elbow during basketball or hit with a hockey stick. If your child plays racket sports, hockey, field hockey, baseball or basketball, consider having them wear goggles or other certified protective eyewear.

Visit the Academy's website to learn more about common childhood eye conditions.

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No fireworks are safe

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, June 8, 2018

It’s the time to talk about fireworks. The fact is that no fireworks are safe. Not even “innocent” sparklers are safe.

Fireworks injuries cause approximately 10,000 visits to the emergency department each year. Most of those visits involve children who suffer thousands of eye injuries. Though the most disabling injuries occur with illegal firecrackers, most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles. 

Here are five fireworks facts to share with your patients:
1. Sparklers are NOT safe for young children. Sparklers burn at 1,800 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers are responsible for most of the injuries to children age 5 and younger.
2. It’s not necessarily safer to view fireworks than it is to light or throw them. Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as fireworks operators. Eye trauma contributes to an estimated 18 percent of the total number of fireworks injuries. 
3. Consumer fireworks are not always safe. Sparklers and firecrackers each account for 1,400 injuries to the eyes. 
4. It is not safe to pick up a firework after it has been lit. Even though it looks like a dud, it may not act like one. 
5. The Fourth of July can still be a “blast” without using consumer fireworks. Avoid the risk and just watch a professional show.

To help ensure people get the facts about fireworks, the Academy also created an animated public service announcement titled “Fireworks: The Blinding Truth”. It encourages the public and media to view and share the PSA. Visit the Academy’s EyeSmart® website for more information about fireworks eye safety.

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