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What Exactly is an Eye Chart?

If there’s one aspect of optometry that everyone recognizes, it’s the traditional eye chart, with its rows of big letters on top, which gradually become smaller the farther down you go. This chart is usually known as the Snellen chart.

Yet how much do you really know about this eye chart? Are all eye charts the same? How are these eye charts used? And when were they invented?

Here’s everything you need to know about eye charts and more!

What is an Eye Chart?

An eye chart is one of the tools your eye doctor uses to assess your eyesight. Based on how well you can see various letters on the chart, your optometrist will determine whether you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) or astigmatism, and will measure the prescription that will give you the clearest, most comfortable vision.

Are All Eye Charts The Same?

There are a number of variations to the standard Snellen eye chart. The one an eye doctor uses depends on the personal needs and abilities of the patient. For example, eye doctors will use charts with pictures or patterns for younger children who may not have learned to read or identify letters and numbers.

There are also certain charts that specifically measure distance vision, while others are better for measuring near vision.

History of the Snellen Eye Chart

The Snellen eye chart was developed by Dutch eye doctor Hermann Snellen in the 1860s. Before this standardized eye chart was developed, each eye doctor had their own chart that they preferred to use.

Having so many different eye charts made it impossible to standardize the vision correction available to patients. Eyeglass makers didn’t receive the defined measurements they needed to accurately design, manufacture and measure the optical prescriptions their patients needed.

For the first time, the Snellen eye chart allowed a person to provide a standardized prescription from any eye care provider they chose to any eyeglass maker, and get the same optical lenses to accurately correct their vision.

How The Snellen Chart Is Used in Eye Exams

The standard Snellen chart displays 11 rows of capital letters, with the first row consisting of a single large letter. The farther down the chart you go, the smaller the letters become.

Your Morrisville eye doctor will ask you to look through a phoropter – an instrument used to test individual lenses on each eye during an eye exam – and look at the Snellen chart placed 20 feet away. Your eye doctor will prescribe the lenses that provide you with the clearest and most comfortable vision.

In many offices, where 20 feet of space may not be available, you’ll be asked to view the chart through a mirror. This provides the same visual experience as if you were standing 20 feet away.

If you have 20/20 vision, it means you can see what an average person can see on an eye chart from a distance of 20 feet. On the other hand, if you have 20/40 vision, it means you can only see clearly from 20 feet away what a person with perfect vision can see clearly from 40 feet away.

If you have 20/200 vision, the legal definition of blindness, this means what a person with perfect vision can see from 200 feet away, you can see from 20 feet away.

Does 20/20 Visual Acuity Mean Perfect Vision?

No. While eye chart tests identify refractive errors, they can’t detect signs of visual skill deficiencies or diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. These are diagnosed using advanced equipment as part of a comprehensive eye exam with your local Morrisville eye doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions are essential to ensuring long-term vision and eye health.

For more information, give us a call at 919-372-3555 or visit us in person at Triangle Family Eye Care, today!

Q&A With Your Local Optometrist

How do you keep your eyes healthy?

You only have one set of eyes – don’t take them for granted!

Make sure to implement the following habits for healthy eyes (and body). These include:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking plenty of water to hydrate your body and eyes
  • Not smoking, and avoiding 2nd-hand smoke
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Maintaining normal BMI with regular exercise
  • Regular visits to your eye doctor as recommended

What health conditions can an eye exam detect?

A comprehensive eye exam can often detect certain underlying diseases that can threaten your sight and eye health, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumors, autoimmune conditions and thyroid disorders. This is why having your eyes checked regularly is key. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome and the higher your quality of life.

The Link Between Dry Eyes and Depression

The Link Between Dry Eyes and DepressionDepression is a serious illness that impacts a person’s mood and emotional well-being. It creeps into all areas of a person’s life, and can become life-threatening if left untreated.

Not only does depression impact mental health; it can manifest as physical symptoms, too, like insomnia, chronic pain and inflammation, weight loss or gain and heart problems, among others. These physical problems can worsen depressive thoughts — sometimes leading to a vicious cycle.

Interestingly, many patients with depression also suffer from severe dry eye symptoms. The question is, how are these two conditions related?

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome, also known as dry eye disease, is a chronic condition that results from inadequate lubrication of the eyes. Ocular hydration is crucial when it comes to keeping your eyes healthy and your vision clear. Your tears are responsible for maintaining this necessary hydration, and in healthy eyes fulfill their unique mission each time you blink.

Your tear film is made up of three layers, consisting of oil, water and mucus. If any of these layers become compromised, inadequate tear quality or insufficient tear quantity can result and lead to a host of uncomfortable dry eye symptoms.

The most common dry eye symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Gritty eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision

Can Depression Cause Dry Eye (or Vice-Versa)?

This is what researchers are trying to find out.

In a March 2022 study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers examined the link between depression and severe dry eye symptoms. The study followed 535 dry eye patients for an entire year.

After a year, the patients who tested positive for depression had more severe dry eye symptoms than the patients who didn’t have depression. Their symptoms were measured based on the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), Brief Ocular Discomfort Index and composite dry eye disease sign score.

Additionally, severe depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms at baseline, six months, and one year.

The study concluded that depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms, which suggests that among patients with moderate to severe dry eye syndrome, those with depression may be likely to have more severe dry eye symptoms.

The researchers said further research is needed to learn exactly why people with depression have more severe dry eye symptoms than those without depression.

Could the sometimes debilitating symptoms of dry eye syndrome actually cause depression and anxiety?

A 2016 dry eye study published in Nature concluded that chronic discomfort and pain from dry eye symptoms can negatively affect the cognitive processes, sleep, mood and mental health. The researchers urged eye doctors to be aware of the higher incidence of dry eye syndrome in people with depression, whatever the underlying cause.

Can Antidepressants Cause Dry Eye Symptoms?

Yes. Antidepressants have been shown to increase dryness in the body, including the eyes. These medications work by blocking signals between nerve cells, which can result in insufficient tear production and dry eye syndrome.

If you’re taking an antidepressant, be sure to inform your eye doctor during your consultation.

How We Can Help

At Triangle Family Eye Care in Morrisville, we recognize that some of our patients that come in with dry eye symptoms may be suffering from depression.

We’ll diagnose the cause of your dry eye symptoms and offer the most effective dry eye treatments to give you the relief you’re searching for.

Contact us today to schedule a dry eye assessment and take the first step towards regaining your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Hiten Prajapati

Q: Who is affected by dry eye syndrome?

  • A: While dry eye syndrome is most common in adults over 50, it can occur at any age. The following factors can increase your risk of dry eye:
    – Aging
    – Hormonal changes
    – Medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis
    – Prolonged screen time
    – Living in a dry, dusty or windy environment
    – Eye allergies
    – Blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction
    – Certain medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy
    – Vitamin A deficiency

Q: How can you reduce your risk of dry eye?

  • A: While some dry eye risk factors can’t be avoided completely, making some lifestyle changes can help. Practice these recommended tips:
    – Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
    – Wear wraparound sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes from harsh winds
    – Take frequent screen breaks and blink often while using your digital device.
    – Quit smoking
    – Use lubricating eye drops
    – Consume a healthy diet including omega 3 and drink plenty of water.
    – Have regular eye exams

Book An Appointment
Call Us 919-891-8005

Bloodshot Eyes – Should You Be Concerned?

You wake up in the morning ready to start your day, only to discover that your eyes are bloodshot. That might not be surprising if you stayed up late to finish a project, had too many drinks at a party or spent time in a smoke-filled room.

But bloodshot eyes can also signal an underlying eye problem. If your eyes appear red or bloodshot, make an appointment with an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause and to receive effective treatment.

Why Do I Have Bloodshot Eyes?

When blood rushes to the front of the eye, the tiny red blood vessels on the white of the eye dilate and become visible. This makes the eyes appear red and irritated.

So why do these blood vessels dilate, causing your eyes to look bloodshot?

Bloodshot eyes tend to be caused by:

  • Dry eyes
  • Irritants such as smoke, pollen and perfume
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Spending too much time in front of the computer

Bloodshot eyes due to lifestyle and environmental irritants may disappear on their own, or you can try to relieve them with over-the-counter eye drops or liquid tears. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, cutting down on alcohol intake and limiting screen time can often be helpful. If allergies are the culprit, oral antihistamines and antihistamine eye drops may relieve symptoms.

At other times, underlying problems requiring prompt medical attention can cause your eye’s blood vessels to dilate. The following are some of these medical conditions:

Conjunctivitis

You’ve probably heard of “pink eye.” It’s another name for infectious conjunctivitis – an infection of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the eyelid and the front surface of the eye.

There are two types of infectious conjunctivitis – bacterial and viral.

If your child has conjunctivitis, they’re not alone. About 12% of kids get bacterial conjunctivitis every year. This highly contagious condition affects children and adults. In addition to reddish eyes, the following symptoms are associated with conjunctivitis:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis – irritated eyes, swollen eyelids, eye discharge, crusty eyelids and excessive tearing
  • Viral conjunctivitis – cold or flu-like symptoms, runny nose, fever, itchy eyes, excessive tearing

If you or your child are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to schedule a prompt appointment with an eye doctor, who can diagnose whether the conjunctivitis is viral, bacterial or due to allergies.

Depending on the diagnosis, your eye doctor will prescribe antibiotic eye drops or creams to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. The viral form may run its course after a few days, but cold compresses and non-prescription eye drops may provide relief.

Dry Eye Syndrome

If your eyes are chronically bloodshot you may have dry eye syndrome (DES). Signs of DES include:

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • A feeling you have something stuck in your eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes

Dry eye syndrome is most commonly caused by a blockage of the tiny meibomian glands in the eyelids. These glands secrete oil that keeps eye moisture from evaporating too quickly. Without the oil, tears dry fast, leaving your eyes feeling dry, itchy and with a bloodshot appearance.

Too much screen time, aging, certain medications such as antihistamines, and medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dry eye syndrome.

In addition to any medications or in-office treatments your eye doctor recommends, make sure to get plenty of hydration, take frequent breaks from digital screens and use a humidifier in your home.

Uveitis

In addition to bloodshot eyes, if you also experience blurred vision, see floaters or your eyes feel painful, you may have an eye inflammation called uveitis. The causes of uveitis include:

  • Autoimmune or inflammatory condition
  • Infection
  • Medication side effects
  • Cancer (in rare cases)

Unfortunately, uveitis symptoms can often be mistaken for something less serious. That’s the reason it’s important to get an eye exam if your eyes are bloodshot. Left untreated, uveitis can lead to serious conditions such as retinal scarring, cataracts and vision loss.

Depending on the cause and severity, your eye doctor may treat uveitis with prescription eye drops, steroid pills, injections or eye implants.

Eye Injury

It’s vital that all eye injuries receive immediate eye care from an eye doctor.

Even a minor eye injury can cause a big red blotch to form on the white part of the eye (sclera). The cause is a broken blood vessel or a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

Although the appearance of this blood looks severe, and can make the entire white part of the eye appear bright red, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually painless and doesn’t cause vision loss. Any time you notice excessive blood on the eye following an eye injury, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor to assess the health of your eye.

Glaucoma

In rare cases, bloodshot eyes may signal the presence of glaucoma – a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.

While some types of glaucoma don’t show symptoms in the early phases, bloodshot eyes can indicate the type of glaucoma that requires immediate medical care. This disease causes damage to the optic nerve due to excessive pressure within the eye. When this pressure suddenly rises, the eye’s blood vessels become dilated and visible, making the eye appear red.

If you have bloodshot eyes and/or have the following risk factors for glaucoma, immediately schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Aged 60+
  • African American, Asian or Hispanic
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Bloodshot Eyes Won’t Go Away?

Talk to Us Any time you notice bloodshot eyes or blood on the front of the eye, don’t wait. Schedule your eye exam with Dr. Hiten Prajapati at Triangle Family Eye Care in Morrisville today.

Q&A With Your Local Optometrist

Can I get bloodshot eyes after LASIK surgery?

LASIK surgery is highly effective minimally invasive laser eye surgery that can correct refractive errors, but like all surgical procedures, it can have side effects. Your eyes may be bloodshot or you could see halos from a few days to three weeks after surgery. Additionally, you may experience other dry eye symptoms. Eye drops and liquid tears can alleviate these symptoms, but if you have any concerns about your eyes following LASIK surgery contact your eye surgeon.

What Should I Expect from a Glaucoma Exam?

If you have a family history and/or other risk factors for glaucoma, and if your eyes look bloodshot, consider scheduling a glaucoma exam. Your eye doctor may perform the following tests:

  • Tonometry – eye pressure test
  • Gonioscopy – to see how fluid is draining out of your eye
  • Vision field test – to examine the functioning of the optic nerve
  • Dilated pupil exam – to detect any damage to the optic nerve
  • Retinal photo or OCT – digital examination of the retina and optic nerve health

5 Ways to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

Dry Eye Air Travel Tips 640×350While traveling can be taxing on the entire body, the eyes are especially vulnerable — particularly when wearing a mask to protect from COVID. When traveling by plane, the dry air can cause your eyes to become red, parched and irritated. While you can’t control all variables during your travels, eye specialists have discovered a number of ways to reduce the chances of experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of “travelers’ dry eye.”

Here are five suggestions for preventing dry eye from affecting your vision.

Drink plenty of water. If your body isn’t properly hydrated, it will have a tougher time increasing tear production in a dry atmosphere. Humidity levels on planes are typically below 20%, which is lower than the Sahara Desert! Keep your eyes moist and comfortable by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your flight.

Wear your glasses. Since contact lenses remove moisture from your eye’s surface tear film, they can contribute to dry eye. Wearing your glasses can help keep your eyes moist.

Wear a sleep mask. Even when your eyelids are closed, your eyes might lose moisture, which happens frequently when you sleep. On a plane, a sleep mask can help prevent additional dryness.

Use hydrating eye drops. When you’re in a dry environment, a good hydrating eye drop can provide a brief respite.

Make sure your face mask fits snugly. When a person’s breath rises upward it can dry out their eyes. A face mask that fits securely around the bridge of the nose can prevent air from reaching the eyes.

Is dry eye making you miserable, especially when traveling? Put an end to the discomfort and struggle by contacting Triangle Family Eye Care. Our dedicated eye doctors will get to the bottom of your dry eye and provide effective, lasting treatment.

Our practice serves patients from Morrisville, Cary, Apex, and Raleigh, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Hiten Prajapati

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: In some cases, yes. A range of successful treatment options can help manage dry eye for long-term relief. Your eye doctor can also provide in-office treatments for more advanced forms of dry eye disease.

Q: What type of treatments are available for dry eye?

  • A: Depending on the cause of the dry eye, treatment options include:
    – Lubricants
    – Punctal plugs
    – Topical steroids
    – Warm compresses
    – Protective eyewear
    – Intense pulse light
    – Switching to medications that don’t cause dry eye symptoms

Looking for dry eye treatment? Contact Triangle Family Eye Care today!

Book An Appointment
Call Us 919-891-8005

What’s The Link Between Dry Eye and Accutane (Acne Medication)

Teen with severe acne wearing maskAccutane, generically called isotretinoin, is an oral medication that is widely prescribed to treat severe acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments.

Although this drug often does a great job of reducing acne, it has several potential side effects that can affect many bodily systems, including the eyes.

Isotretinoin and Dry Eyes

Isotretinoin works by decreasing the size of the oil glands that secrete oil onto the skin. By reducing the production of the facial oils, the pores become less clogged and the amount of acne diminishes.

As the medication travels through the bloodstream, it also penetrates the eyelids’ meibomian glands, which produce the oil for tears.

These meibomian glands, which line the inner portion of the eyelids, play an important role in keeping the eyes hydrated and healthy by secreting oil to stabilize the tear film. When Accutane suppresses their function, the oil layer in the tear is inadequate, allowing excessive tear evaporation. As a result, the eyes dry out.

A 2012 study published in JAMA Dermatology analyzed the ocular effects of isotretinoin and concluded that taking it places patients at a significantly higher risk of experiencing a range of adverse ocular effects.

Common ocular conditions that were associated with this acne medication were dry eye syndrome, blepharitis, conjunctivitis, photosensitivity, contact lens intolerance and papilledema.

The researchers found that the ocular conditions resulted from changes to the cornea, eyelids, retina and meibomian glands. Additionally, the drug was found in the tear film and caused increased ocular irritation.

The good news is that these effects are often temporary, and resolve within a few months after completing treatment. One study, published in Optometry and Vision Science (2015), however, found that 1% of patients developed permanent meibomian gland dysfunction after taking isotretinoin.

 

How a Dry Eye Optometrist Can Help

Some dermatologists will refer their patients to an optometrist for a dry eye evaluation before prescribing isotretinoin to treat acne. If the patient already has signs of ocular surface disease or is taking other medications that interfere with tear production, the doctor may decide against prescribing isotretinoin.

We can help by thoroughly assessing your ocular condition to help your dermatologist determine the best acne treatment for you, as well as help you manage your dry eye symptoms.

If you or a loved one is currently taking or has taken isotretinoin and is experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome such as eye irritation or burning eyes, we can offer lasting treatment and solutions.

To schedule your dry eye consultation or learn more about our services, call Triangle Family Eye Care today.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Hiten Prajapati

Q: Should I use lubricating eye drops while taking acne medication like isotretinoin?

  • A: Lubricating eye drops may be an appropriate treatment for medication-induced dry eye syndrome However always consult with your optometrist before purchasing drops from the drugstore. The huge range of choices in your local pharmacy can be hard to navigate alone, and not all eye drops will be right for you. We can help guide you to the best eye drops for your condition.

Q: What are the common symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include watery eyes, gritty eyes, burning or painful eyes, red and irritated eyes, mucus around the eyes, the inability to wear contact lenses, sensitivity to light and blurred vision. The frequency and severity of these symptoms can range greatly from patient to patient, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your symptoms.

Our practice serves patients from Morrisville, Cary, Apex, and Raleigh, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Book An Appointment
Call Us 919-891-8005

Blinking Exercises for Dry Eye

Blinking Exercises 640×350Did you know that the average person spends around 7 hours a day looking at a screen? The glare and reflections from computer, smartphone, and tablet screens can reduce blink rates by as much as 60%. When we concentrate intensely we tend to blink less, which can, in turn, lead to dry eye syndrome.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include red and dry eyes, irritated eyes, blurred vision, painful or stinging eyes, light sensitivity and mucus around the eyes.

Blinking helps keep our eyes healthy and comfortable. With every blink, the ocular surface is cleaned of debris and lubricated, so less blinking means more irritation and dryness.

Below are a few blinking exercises to help you ensure that your eyes remain lubricated and refreshed throughout the day.

Blinking Exercises

Blinking exercises are simple to do and can be seamlessly integrated into your daily routine. These exercises should be done a few times an hour. Try alternating between the 2 exercises below.

1. Close-Pause-Pause-Open-Relax

  1. Without squeezing, gently close your eyes.
  2. Pause and keep your eyes closed for 2 seconds.
  3. Gently open your eyes and relax them.
  4. Repeat 5 times

2. Close-Pause-Pause-Squeeze-Open-Relax

  1. Without squeezing, gently close your eyes.
  2. Pause and keep your eyes closed for 2 seconds.
  3. While keeping your eyes closed, squeeze your eyelids together slowly and gently.
  4. Gently open your eyes and relax them.
  5. Repeat 5 times

The Importance of Fully Blinking

It’s important to fully blink to completely lubricate your eyes. If you’re only partially blinking, it can render your dry eye symptoms worse.

To find out whether you are fully blinking, just look at your eyes in the mirror. If they feel dry or appear red, or if you see a horizontal stripe of red blood vessels across your eyes, then you have been partially blinking.

If you’ve incorporated blinking exercises into your routine but are still experiencing eye irritation, you may have dry eye syndrome. We can diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms, and offer a variety of dry eye treatments to alleviate any discomfort. Schedule an eye exam with Triangle Family Eye Care today to receive effective, long-lasting relief.

Triangle Family Eye Care serves dry eye patients from Morrisville, Cary, Apex, and Raleigh, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Hiten Prajapati

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome is caused either by insufficient tears or poor tear quality. Every time you blink, you leave a thin film of tears over the surface of your eyes. This helps keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy. If your tears don’t keep the surface of your eye moist enough, you will experience dry eye symptoms. Some medical conditions, certain medications, dysfunctional glands, allergies and environmental irritants can all cause dry eye symptoms.

Q: What are the symptoms of dry eyes?

  • A: Symptoms of dry eye include irritation; a gritty, scratchy or burning sensation; blurred vision; excessive tearing; and/or a feeling of having something stuck in the eye.

Book An Appointment
Call Us 919-891-8005

7 Ways to Wish Dry Eye ‘Goodbye’

7 Ways to Wish Dry Eye Goodbye 640×350There’s no reason to suffer through the uncomfortable, sometimes debilitating symptoms that can accompany dry eye syndrome. Living with chronically dry, red and irritated eyes can affect your productivity and overall enjoyment of life.

That’s why we’ve put together 7 of our top tips for relieving dry eye syndrome.

1. Stay Hydrated

The tears are mostly made up of water, supplied by the tear glands. People need to drink enough liquid to maintain a stable tear film, so if your body isn’t sufficiently hydrated, your eyes won’t be able to produce sufficient tears and will suffer the consequences.

Keep your water bottle at arm’s reach throughout the day. You can even sip on juices, broths and dairy or plant-based milk to keep your body and eyes properly hydrated. Many health authorities recommend drinking between 2-3 liters of hydrating fluids per day.

If your eyes have been feeling dry or irritated, try limiting your alcohol intake because it is a diuretic.

2. Use Artificial Tears

Artificial tears aren’t just great for making your eyes feel more comfortable; they also have protective properties that can prevent ocular surface damage from occurring or worsening.

The tricky part is choosing the correct drops for your specific condition.

By assessing your eyes, your eye doctor can determine what’s causing your eyes to be dry and recommend the most appropriate drops. There are numerous types of artificial tears on the market, and what may work for a friend or relative may not be the best option for you.

3. Up Your Omega-3 Intake

A healthy tear film consists of three layers: water, oil and mucus. An imbalance in any of these components can result in tears that evaporate prematurely. To ensure that your eyes can produce enough of the oils that stabilize your tears, include the recommended daily intake of Omega-3’s in your diet. You can take a supplement and/or eat foods like fatty fish, seeds and nuts.

*It’s best practice to speak with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or introducing a new supplement to your routine.

4. Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses not only reduce your glare symptoms and provide important UV protection but also effectively offer relief from dry eyes. Dry eyes are vulnerable to irritation from light winds that can dry out the eye’s tear film.

Whenever outdoors, wear a pair of protective wraparound sunglasses to minimize the effects of wind and seal out dirt and debris that can be carried in the breeze. For severe cases of dry eye syndrome, ask your optometrist about specific lenses or eye drops to provide even more relief from dry eyes.

5. Use a Humidifier

When the air around you is too dry, it pulls the remaining moisture from your tears, leaving your eyes feeling parched.

Humidifiers combat the dryness in any indoor environment by replenishing moisture in the air. Whether at work or home, use a humidifier to offset dryness, especially if you are using a fan, heater or air conditioner in the room.

6. Try Warm Compresses

Warm eye compresses are a great way to relieve symptoms of mild to moderate dry eye syndrome.

The gentle heat from a compress helps to soften any hardened oils that may be clogged in the little oil glands that line the eyelashes. Your oil glands will work more efficiently to deliver tear-stabilizing oils to your eyes’ surface once the glands aren’t blocked. Your eye doctor will instruct you on how to easily prepare a warm eye compress at home.

7. Visit Your Dry Eye Optometrist

Your [eye doctor] offers a range of successful options to treat your dry eyes to ensure you always have clear vision and comfortable eyes. Call your dry eye optometrist to have your eyes thoroughly evaluated and treated for long-lasting relief. There is a wide range of in-office treatments that can alleviate symptoms of dry eye syndrome and help your eyes feel refreshed.

To learn more about our dry eye services and schedule a consultation, call Triangle Family Eye Care in Morrisville today!

Triangle Family Eye Care serves dry eye patients from Morrisville, Cary, Apex, and Raleigh, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Hiten Prajapati

Q: What are other symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Aside from redness and dryness, dry eye syndrome can also cause watery eyes, stinging or burning, stringy mucus, blurred vision, grittiness, light sensitivity and difficulty wearing contact lenses. Symptoms can range from mild to debilitating, and from occasional to chronic.

Q: Does dry eye syndrome need to be treated?

  • A: If left untreated, dry eye syndrome can cause eye inflammation, corneal ulcers or abrasions and even vision loss in severe cases. Dry eye syndrome also puts a person more at risk of developing eye infections. If you have any symptoms of dry eye syndrome, contact us for a tailor-made treatment plan.

Book An Appointment
Call Us 919-891-8005

What Happens If You Don’t Treat Dry Eye Syndrome?

girl sitting in the pool 640×350Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a condition where your eyes either produce low-quality tears or don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated. Sometimes the meibomian glands inside your eyelids, which produce the oily layer of your tears, don’t function properly or are blocked, causing your tears to dry out. Environmental factors, certain medical conditions and several medications can also cause DES.

Tears are essential for maintaining eye health and comfort. They moisten your eyes and remove debris. In severe cases, untreated dry eye syndrome can actually damage your cornea and cause vision loss.

The amount of dryness varies in severity from person to person. If you have a minor case of dry eye, you may be able to manage it with over-the-counter eye drops. However, if the problem persists or appears to be getting worse, it’s time to visit your eye doctor, who will assess your eyes, find the underlying problem and offer treatment for lasting relief.

Below is a list of complications that may occur if chronic dry eye syndrome isn’t treated:

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis refers to infected or inflamed conjunctiva — the clear layer of cells that covers the white part of your eyeball and the inner surface of your eyelids. Symptoms include grittiness, redness and sensitivity to light.

Keratitis

Keratitis refers to an inflammation of the cornea. It can be caused by different types of infections, abnormalities of the eyelids, injury and dry eye. If the deeper layers of the cornea are involved, scarring or a corneal ulcer may result, particularly if left untreated.

Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is an open sore that develops on the cornea—the clear, protective outer layer of your eyes.

While corneal ulcers typically develop following an injury, they can also be caused by severe dry eye.

On a daily basis, debris, like dirt and sand particles, enter your eyes and scratch the surface of the cornea. When your tear glands don’t produce enough tears to wash away the particles, bacteria can infect the scratch and cause an ulcer.

Luckily, corneal ulcers are easily treated with antibiotic eye drops. Left untreated, however, these ulcers can spread and scar the eyeball, causing partial or even complete blindness.

Inability to wear contact lenses

Unless your eyes produce enough good-quality tears, your contact lenses can become overly dry, leading to a gritty sensation, irritation and redness. Without sufficient moisture, your contacts may stick to your eyeball, making it difficult to remove them.

Though chronic dry eye syndrome may prevent you from wearing standard contact lenses, certain specialized contact lenses can improve ocular hydration and comfort.

Difficulty keeping your eyes open

Depending on the severity of dry eye, it may be difficult to keep your eyes open. This may occur if dry eye syndrome causes extreme light sensitivity or a chronic sensation that something is stuck in your eye.

While artificial tears may provide enough moisture to partially open your eyes, you may still feel the urge to squint, especially when exposed to a computer screen or sunlight.

Difficulty reading or driving

While blurred vision often signals that you need a stronger prescription, it’s also a common symptom of chronic dry eye syndrome.

Left untreated, the blurriness may worsen and even lead to double vision. Naturally, this makes driving and reading a real struggle.

Headaches

While there’s room for more research, studies have shown that there may be a connection between headaches and dry eye. A population-based case study of more than 72,000 patients published by JAMA Ophthalmology (2019) found that people who suffer from migraine headaches are more likely to have dry eyes compared to the general population.

It’s not clear why. According to the paper, being female and of advanced age play an important role in determining the strength of this association.

Depression

A 2015 study, published in the journal Cornea evaluated the connection between dry eye disease and depressive symptoms in more than 6,000 women. Researchers found that women diagnosed with dry eye had a higher likelihood of developing depressive moods, anxiety, and psychological stress.

While the connection isn’t fully understood, researchers noted that some medications for treating depression have a drying effect on the eyes, and that dry eye syndrome may limit a person’s participation in activities, to the point where they may become anxious, withdrawn and even depressed.

If you have dry eye, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with Triangle Family Eye Care in order to find the best treatment options and thus increase the quality of your tears and life.

Triangle Family Eye Care serves patients from Morrisville, Cary, Apex, and Raleigh, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Hiten Prajapati

Q: How do I know if I have dry eye syndrome?

  • A: If you experience itchiness, light sensitivity, tearing and tired eyes, it could indicate that you have dry eye syndrome. Get your eyes checked by an eye doctor, who will thoroughly diagnose your symptoms and offer lasting treatment.

Q: What causes dry eye?

  • A: Various things can cause dry, itchy eyes. Some of the most common causes include blocked glands, environmental factors (wind, air pollution), infrequent blinking, certain medications, standard contact lenses and Demodex mites.

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How to Deal with Contact Lens Discomfort

Do your eyes itch or burn when wearing contact lenses? There are several reasons why you may be experiencing contact lens discomfort. Discover the possible causes behind the problem and see what you can do to relieve your discomfort.

What Causes Contact Lens Discomfort?

Some of the top causes of uncomfortable contacts are:

Dry eyes

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that arises when your tears can’t keep your eyes sufficiently lubricated due to an imbalance in the tear film. Certain diseases, medications and environmental factors, like high levels of dryness and wind, can cause or contribute to red, itchy or irritated eyes, especially when wearing contacts.

Allergies

Allergens are typically harmless substances that induce an allergic response in certain people. Pollen, mold, dust and pet dander are some of the most common airborne allergens that trigger eye allergies. Cosmetics and certain eye drops, such as artificial tears with preservatives, can also induce eye allergies, which can make contact lens wear uncomfortable.

Corneal irregularities

The cornea at the front of the eye may be irregularly shaped due to astigmatism, keratoconus, eye surgeries (i.e. LASIK or cataract surgery), eye injuries or burns, scarring, corneal ulcers and/or severe dry eye. Irregular corneas often prevent traditional contact lenses from fitting correctly and comfortably.

Symptoms of Contact Lens Discomfort

  • Burning, itchy, stinging eyes
  • Sensation of something being stuck is in the eye
  • Excessive watering or tearing of the eyes
  • Unusual eye secretions
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Reduced sharpness of vision
  • Blurred vision, rainbows, or halos around objects
  • Sensitivity to light

How to Relieve Contact Lens Discomfort

Try Different Contact Lenses

Nowadays, there are many types of contact lenses on the market, including specialty contacts for dry eyes and astigmatism. Meet with our optometrist for a personalized eye exam for contacts.

With the variety of contact lens brands available, switching to a different contact lens may be the simplest answer if you’re experiencing discomfort that isn’t connected to improper fitting or issues with tear production. If your existing lenses fit well but still irritate and dry out your eyes, speak to us about trying a different design or brand of contact lenses, or changing your lens-wearing schedule.

Artificial Tears or Eye Drops

Over-the-counter artificial tears or eye drops are a common way to temporarily relieve contact lens discomfort. However, it’s important to keep in mind that unless prescribed by an eye doctor, they may not be treating the root of the problem.

Moreover, certain eye drops are incompatible with contact lenses, and may damage your contacts or harm your eyes. We also recommend staying away from products that claim to remove redness from your eyes, which temporarily reduce the size of blood vessels to lessen redness, but do not address the underlying cause of the condition, and can actually worsen it over time.

Take Good Care of Your Lenses

Inadequate contact lens care leaves residue on your lenses, which can discomfort, harmful eye infections and inflammation. Below are a few important contact lens hygiene guidelines to follow:

  • Before handling your contact lenses, thoroughly wash and dry your hands.
  • Remove your lenses before showering, bathing or swimming to prevent infection.
  • Do not sleep in your contact lenses (unless they are approved for sleeping).
  • Replace your contact lenses according to the manufacturer’s instructions (e.g., don’t reuse daily wear lenses).
  • Regularly clean your contact lens case and ask your eye doctor when to replace it.
  • Only use a contact lens solution that is appropriate for your lenses.
  • Never reuse or mix contact lens solutions.
  • Schedule regular appointments with your eye doctor.

If you are experiencing discomfort with your contact lenses, get in touch with Triangle Family Eye Care in Morrisville today. We’ll get to the bottom of the problem and provide effective solutions for all-day comfort.

Q&A

What kinds of contacts are available?

Contact lenses are available in a wide range of materials and replacement schedules. Disposable contact lenses and extended wear contacts are the most convenient for many users.

I’ve already been fitted for contact lenses, so why did my optometrist ask me to come back?

If you’re asked to return a week later, it’s because your optometrist wants to rule out any issues, such as contact lens-related dry eye or irritation.

If it’s been around a year since your last eye checkup, you’ve likely been contacted to check whether your prescription has changed and to evaluate your eye health. The sooner problems are detected and treated, the better the outcome.

What’s a Chalazion?

What is a Chalazion 640Finding a lump on your eyelid can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Luckily, a chalazion isn’t a serious condition and is rather simple to resolve.

In most cases, a chalazion can easily be treated and will completely disappear following treatment. However, if non-invasive treatments don’t work, your eye doctor may need to remove it through an in-office surgical procedure.

At Triangle Family Eye Care we can diagnose and help treat your chalazion so that you can see comfortably.

What is a Chalazion?

A chalazion, also known as a meibomian cyst, is a small fluid-filled cyst.

Eyelids contain meibomian glands, which produce oil to lubricate the surface of the eye. When one of these glands becomes blocked, it may cause swelling and lead to a small painless lump called a chalazion.

What Causes a Chalazion?

A chalazion occurs when the gland in the eyelid is clogged. Exactly why the gland becomes clogged isn’t known, but some individuals appear to be more susceptible to developing a chalazion than others.

A chalazion may be associated with dry eye syndrome, which is often caused by meibomian gland dysfunction.

People exhibiting certain risk factors are more likely to develop a chalazion. This includes people who have:

  • Blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids
  • Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye
  • Thicker oil or meibum than normal consistency
  • Ocular rosacea, a skin condition adjacent to the eyes
  • Seborrhea, or dandruff, of the eyelashes
  • Styes or a history of styes

What Are the Symptoms of a Chalazion?

Common symptoms of a chalazion include:

  • A bump on the eyelid that sometimes becomes swollen and red
  • An entirely swollen eyelid, although very rare
  • Vision issues (such as blurred vision) if the chalazion becomes large enough to press on the eyeball

While a chalazion is not an infection, it may become infected. In the rare event that this occurs, it may become red, more severely swollen, and painful.

Chalazia are often mistaken for styes since they have a similar appearance.

What’s the Difference Between a Chalazion and a Stye?

It can be difficult to differentiate a chalazion from a stye.

Styes develop along the edge of your eyelid and can at times be seen at the base of an eyelash. In contrast, chalazia usually occur closer to the middle of the eyelid. A stye is more likely to be painful and tends to have a yellowish spot at the center that may burst after a few days.

Basically, the most noticeable difference between a chalazion and a stye is that a chalazion tends to be painless while a stye is usually painful and may cause the eye to feel sore, itchy or scratchy.

How to Treat a Chalazion

Most chalazia require minimal medical treatment and some may even clear up on their own in a few weeks to a month. When a chalazion first appears, you can try doing the following for 1-2 days:

  • Apply a warm compress to the eyelid for 10 to 15 minutes, 4 to 6 times a day. The warm compress helps soften the hardened oil that blocks the ducts, allowing drainage and healing.
  • Gently massage the external eyelids for several minutes each day to help promote drainage.

If the chalazion does not drain and heal within a few days, contact your eye doctor. Don’t attempt to squeeze or pop the chalazion, as it may inadvertently cause more damage.

To learn more about chalazion treatment and the other eye care services we offer, call Triangle Family Eye Care to schedule an appointment.

Triangle Family Eye Care serves patients from Morrisville, Cary, Apex, and Raleigh, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Hiten Prajapati

Q: Can a chalazion spread from one person to another?

  • A: Since a chalazion is not an infection, it cannot spread from one person to another or even to the other eye of the affected person.

Q: Can a chalazion affect my eyesight?

  • A: A chalazion doesn’t affect vision. In rare cases, if the lump is large enough to distort the ocular surface it can cause temporary astigmatism, blurring vision. However, vision will return to normal once a medical professional removes the chalazion or once it diminishes in size.


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Call Us 919-891-8005