5 Tips to Relieve Eye Allergies

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With spring comes allergens like pollen, spores and grasses that can cause severe reactions upon entering the body. Eye allergies in particular can be irritating, impair vision and cause lasting damage at worst. The most common type of eye allergy is Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAC), which affects individuals only during certain seasons. When an allergen comes into contact with your eye, your immune system sometimes overreacts, releasing histamines and other chemicals to fight the allergen. This can result in tiny blood vessels bursting, leaving eyes itchy, watery and red. Symptoms of eye allergies can include itching, red eyes, burning, watery eyes, and dark circles under the eyes (known as an “allergic shiner”). Triggers will vary from person to person, but are frequently caused by specific pollens or spores released from grasses, trees and weeds. The number one way to treat eye allergies is to avoid the allergens. Symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter products, but you should seek professional medical advice if you have severe or prolonged symptoms.

 

Check the Pollen Counts

During allergy seasons, many news and weather stations will broadcast the pollen count and severity, even mentioning what specific pollens are present on any given day. Avoid going outside when pollen counts are high, noting that they typically peak during mid morning and early evening. Avoid windy days as well, which stir up and cause more pollens to enter the air. Staying inside as much as possible during allergy season can help you avoid (or at least minimize) itchy, red, watery eyes.

Wear Sunglasses

Not only do sunglasses protect retinas from harmful ultraviolet radiation, they also serve as a great barrier between your eyes and airborne allergens. Large, wrap-around sunglasses will provide the most protection, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors while experiencing lessened eye allergy symptoms.

Wash Your Hands Often

Washing your hands will remove the vast majority of lingering pollens or other allergens that have adhered to your skin, especially if you spend most of your time outdoors. We absentmindedly touch our face and eyes frequently, and this will easily transfer allergens, causing your eye allergies to flare up.

Close the Windows

While it may be tempting to open the windows to let fresh air in, you will also invite millions of microscopic allergens into your home, and the itchy, red eyes will soon follow. Running your air conditioner and changing your air filter regularly will help keep the air in your home fresh and clean, sparing your eyes from allergic distress. This also applies to the car; resist the temptation to roll down the windows or put your convertible’s top down during allergy season…your eyes will thank you.

Control Your Symptoms

To treat the eye allergy symptoms you already have, there are a variety of non-perscription, over-the-counter solutions. A cool compress can sooth irritated, itchy eyes. Saline eye drops and lubricating drops can help soothe stinging and itchy eyes and can help flush out allergens. Decongestant eye drops made specifically for allergies can provide significant symptom relief but may sting at first; these should not be used for more than a few consecutive days or they can aggravate and worsen your symptoms. Oral antihistamines can calm down your body’s reaction to allergens, which can reduce your symptoms, but may dry eyes out. By being conscientious about your eye allergies and carefully treating the symptoms, you can significantly lessen or even eliminate symptoms and enjoy the spring again.

Sports and LASIK

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Wearing glasses or contacts can be an inconvenience for anyone, but for athletes and people with active lifestyles, it can have a huge impact on performance. Vision is an important part of athletics, and wearing glasses or contacts can be a hassle and even dangerous. For this reason, athletes are among some of the best candidates for LASIK eye surgery.

Sports and LASIK are becoming increasingly popular. Recently, many professional athletes have opted for LASIK to free themselves from the inconvenience and limitations of corrective lenses. Some of these athletes include Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Greg Maddux. Eye glasses can easily get lost or broken during sports activities and contacts can get irritated by sweat and dirt; many swimmers often lose their contact lenses underwater. LASIK is an optimal choice for eliminating these issues.

Many athletes are under the false assumption that LASIK requires weeks of downtime for recovery, which may impede with their athletic schedules. This is a myth; you can resume majority of your athletic activities the day after your LASIK surgery. It’s important to note, however, that athletes are at a higher risk of complications due to their increased risk of injury, particularly in contact sports such as football or martial arts. The main concern during LASIK recovery is damage to the corneal flap before it fully heals, causing it to reopen. Should this happen, it will need to be set back into place by your doctor before becoming infected.

The results of LASIK can be truly life changing. In fact, 95 percent of patients end up seeing 20/20 or even better! Immediately following the LASIK procedure, you should have someone drive you home to rest for up to six hours. Majority of patients are able to partake in their routines the day after their procedure, however athletes should wear impact resistant goggles for the first few months during their activities.

Whether you aim to be a professional athlete or just want to maintain an active lifestyle, corrective lenses could be preventing optimal performance. Visual accuracy is vital in all of our day to day activities, which is why more and more people are choosing LASIK.

#Glaucoma Awareness Month

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The American Academy of Ophthalmology has designated January as Glaucoma Awareness Month to raise awareness for the chronic eye condition commonly known as “the sneak thief of sight.” The leading cause of preventable blindness, Glaucoma is estimated to affect nearly three million people over the age of 40 in the United States; approximately 120,000 Americans are totally blind as a direct result of the disease. Current research has found no cure for Glaucoma, but if detected and treated early, symptoms can be improved or stabilized. For this reason, regular eye exams are vital in early detection of Glaucoma.

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases caused by damage to the optic nerve, causing vision loss, and if left untreated, blindness. The role of the optic nerve is to carry images to the brain. The optic nerve is damaged when there is high eye pressure, called intraocular pressure. Vision loss begins in the peripheries, then spreads towards the center of your field of vision. In the most common form of Glaucoma, there are virtually no symptoms, and as much as 40 percent of your vision can be lost before it becomes noticeable.

Open Angle Glaucoma is the most common form, in which pressure builds up slowly behind the eye, gradually damaging the optic nerve. This causes slow, almost imperceptible vision loss, but if left untreated, can lead to total blindness. Alternatively, Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma is caused by a sudden hindrance to the normal movement of the fluid between the eye lens and the iris. This may cause severe headaches, pain and blurred vision. Immediate treatment is required, otherwise there’s a possibility of complete loss of sight. Vision loss from Glaucoma is permanent, but medication or surgery can slow down or prevent further vision damage.

Glaucoma is more common in people of African American, Asian and Hispanic descent, as well as individuals over the age of 40. Siblings of people with Glaucoma have also been shown to have a significantly increased risk. Early detection is vital; the best preventative measure against Glaucoma is to have regular comprehensive eye exams. According to the World Health Organization, Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. It is important to spread the word about the prominence of this disease, and remind people of the importance of getting regular eye exams to maintain overall eye health.

Give the Gift of Vision this Holiday Season

As a LASIK surgery center, we want to help as many patients as possible with their vision problems. You shouldn’t have to suffer through the holidays with vision-correcting contacts and glasses—consider IntraLase LASIK surgery instead.

More than 150 million people in the United States wear glasses to assist with their vision and another 36 million Americans wear contact lenses. More than $15 billion is spent on eyewear every year. The Atlanta Vision Institute is helping patients who need their vision corrected with the Gift of Vision promotion. It will allow you to be as festive as you want this year with 20/20 vision.

In the United States alone, more than 32 million people over the age of 40 suffer from myopia, or nearsightedness, which is the most common refractive problem in the eye. Patients who are nearsighted have eyes that don’t bend or refract light correctly, which causes close objects to look clear and distant objects to look blurry. Over 12 million Americans age 40 and older are afflicted with hyperopia, or farsightedness. Patients who are hyperopic can see far away objects clearly but can’t focus on things that are close to them.

Astigmatism is a prevalent refractive error that happens to one in three people in the United States. It is often seen combined with other vision problems like nearsightedness and farsightedness. Patients suffering from astigmatism have blurry vision because of an imperfectly rounded cornea.

LASIK surgery is capable of correcting and improving all of these common vision problems. During LASIK surgery, Dr. Ashraf uses a laser to remove corneal tissue and reshape the cornea in order to change how light is focused on the retina. Almost one million refractive surgeries are performed each year in the United States, and almost 96 percent of patients have the vision they want after their LASIK procedure. It is an extremely quick surgery with a very fast recovery time.

The Atlanta Vision Institute is running the Gift of Vision promotion for patients through the end of December. When you purchase IntraLase LASIK surgery for yourself, you will be able to give a free IntraLase LASIK surgery to someone else. This special encourages patients to help others who also have vision problems to achieve their ideal vision, without the need for contacts or glasses. In order to be eligible for the promotion, you must print and fill out the form on our website.

For more information on the Gift of Vision promotion or if you have any questions, please contact us.

Eye Health and #AmericanDiabetesMonth

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Professionals in the eye care industry—like those at the Atlanta Vision Institute—stay informed on the latest studies and findings in optical news. This can include research on the newest advances in technology or recent links between diseases and eye health.

One such disease that affects almost 30 million Americans is diabetes, which is a metabolic disease where the body is unable to manufacture enough insulin, resulting in elevated blood glucose levels. There are almost two million cases of diabetes diagnosed in Americans each year and it remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. Almost 90 million Americans are classified as prediabetic, which means that they are at an elevated risk of developing diabetes and heart disease due to higher than normal levels of glucose in the blood.

There are several common symptoms associated with diabetes. These can include:

  • Tingling, aching or lack of feeling in the hands and feet
  • Bruises and scratches that heal slowly
  • Feeling thirsty or hungry despite a regular intake of food and drink
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Blurry vision

High glucose levels in the blood are known to cause many eye problems in patients with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is a common term for all diabetic retina disorders. The two major types of disorders are nonproliferative retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to suffer from one of these disorders.

Patients suffering from diabetes are at a 40% higher risk of developing Glaucoma; this percentage increases with age. Cataracts are also extremely prevalent in diabetes patients, who often develop them at a younger age with a 60% higher risk than those without diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes is the primary cause of blindness in adults.

There are several additional complications that are proven to result from diabetes in patients. These include blindness, kidney failure, loss of limbs, stroke and heart disease. Almost a third of Americans suffering from diabetes remain undiagnosed and untreated.

Thankfully, the American Diabetes Association has officially declared November as American Diabetes Month with the hopes of raising awareness and understanding of all aspects of this disease. For more information on programs and initiatives, visit the American Diabetes Month website.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is vital for you to visit your ophthalmologist for regular eye exams to avoid developing some of these eye problems. The Atlanta Vision Institute supports American Diabetes Month and encourages all of our patients to raise awareness and remain informed of the latest optical developments.