Chlorine and Your Eyes

Chlorine is a sanitizing agent used in swimming pools to prevent algae and to kill bacteria. While this is fantastic for your general health, chlorine can temporarily harm your eyes and, as we enter the summer months, knowing how to protect your vision against chlorine becomes increasingly important.

Goggles are a type of protective sports eyewear that can keep chlorine out of your eyes and help prevent irritation. This one of those situations in which paying a little extra up front can help reduce long-term issues down the road. Cheap goggles are often ill-fitting or completely ineffective, making it well worth the few extra dollars to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear.

Long-Term Effects of Chlorine on Eyes

The effects of chlorine on eyes is generally not permanent. However, excessive chlorine exposure can lead to myriad other health conditions including respiratory problems and even certain types of cancer.

Before you go swimming in a public or private pool, make sure you trust those responsible for its upkeep. When used correctly, chlorine can help keep swimmers safe without any adverse health risks.

To learn more about protecting your eyes during the summer months, please use the eye doctor locator at eyes.com to find an experienced ophthalmologist in your area.

It’s Allergy Season!

Tis the season…allergy season!  Eye allergies affect one in five Americans.   Seasonal allergies happen during certain times of the year when usually spring and fall, when exposure to pollen from grasses, trees, weeds, and mold spores increases.

Seasonal eye allergy symptoms include red, itchy, burning eyes, over-tearing, or even swollen, puffy eyelids.   You can limit your exposure to allergens and stave symptoms by staying indoors and using your air conditioner while driving instead of rolling down your car windows.   Wearing large sunglasses can block some degree of pollen that could potentially get near your eyes too.  Do not rub your eyes, that will make your symptoms worse.

Saline eye rinses and lubricants soothe allergy-irritated eyes and help flush out the allergens. Oral antihistamines can help as well.   Refrigerating eye drops may help them provide additional relief of allergy symptoms.

Red, itchy, burning, and puffy eyes can be caused  by infections and other conditions that could potentially threaten your vision.  If your symptoms persist after you’ve already tried drops and antihistamines, visit your eye doctor to make sure it isn’t anything more serious.

Fighting Seasonal Dryness

Your skin is not the only organ that needs extra moisture during the dry winter months.  Indoor heat and lack of humidity can also reek havoc on your eyes.  Dryness can cause discomfort and distortion.  At Price Vision Group we offer several products to help combat these problems. 

Dry eye sufferers experience abnormal tear film through the reduction of lipids, water, and mucin layers, and artificial tears can provide relief.  Oasis Tears and Oasis Tears Plus both contain glycerin, which works together with the water and lipids present in tear film and holds them on the surface of the cornea.  Blinking allows the solution to thin and spread, thus recoating the ocular surface and providing lasting comfort.  If artificial tears do not provide enough relief then a prescription product might be necessary.  Restasis® is an eye drop used to help increase the eyes’ natural ability to produce tears, which may be decreased because of inflammation due to dry eye. 

Sometimes drops are used in conjunction with supplements like HydroEye, a patented oral formulation that provides a blend of omega fatty acids, antioxidants and other nutrients which collectively maintain a healthy tear film and reduce inflammation.  And if HydroEye is not providing enough relief, Physician Recommended Nutriceuticals makes a formula for dry eye which combines highly refined and concentrated Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and vitamin D to both provide relief and support proper tear function. 

Contact Price Vision Group at 800-317-EYES for more information about these products.

Dry Eyes and LASIK

Dry eyes are one of the most common LASIK complications, affecting nearly 50% of all patients who undergo laser vision correction. Fortunately, this condition is temporary in most LASIK patients and will gradually subside within 6-12 months after surgery. However, a small percentage of patients experience long term dry eye issues which may impact them for the rest of their lives.

Patients who suffer from dry eyes after LASIK fail to produce a sufficient amount of tears to keep their eyes properly lubricated. This is commonly caused by nerve damage to the cornea during laser vision correction. When the corneal flap is created allowing your eye surgeon to reshape your cornea during LASIK, there is a chance the corneal nerves responsible for tear production can be cut, resulting in dry eyes.

Common symptoms of dry eyes include:

  • Scratch or sandy feeling in your eyes
  • Stringy discharge from the eyes
  • Heaviness of the eyelids
  • Stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Blurred, changing, or decreased vision
  • Periods of excess tearing followed by extended periods of a dry sensation
  • Pain and redness in the eyes

Because dry eyes are such a common LASIK complication, patients who suffer from dry eye syndrome prior to surgery may not be suitable candidates for LASIK. During your consultation, your LASIK surgeon should discuss these risks with you in detail before recommending the ideal procedure to achieve your refractive surgery goals.

Please contact eyes.com today to find an experienced LASIK surgeon in your area.

Can Omega-3 Improve Dry Eye Symptoms?

Ophthalmologists are trying to determine whether dry eye patients can benefit from omega 3 supplements, according to an article by Vanessa Caceres in this month’s issue of EyeWorld. These doctors are considering some preliminary research, as well as their own hands-on experience with dry eye patients, to decide whether omega 3 supplements should be included in recommended treatments for this condition.

Omega 3 supplements are often taken in the form of fish oil or flaxseed oil. The supplement has been linked to many health benefits, including prevention of age-related macular degeneration, heart attack and heart disease. The supplement is sometimes used to improve symptoms of depression, and to lower triglycerides.

There seems to be some evidence omega 3 is beneficial as a dry eye treatment. The EyeWorld article mentions one study published in a March 2011 issue of Cornea. In the study, researchers treated patients with fish oil and flaxseed oil for three months. Thirty-six patients were included in the study, and dry eye symptoms disappeared for 70 percent of those being treated. Thirty-seven percent of patients receiving placebos became asymptomatic.

Ideally researchers will continue to investigate the effectiveness of this supplement in treating dry eye. Most people can safely take omega 3 supplements, and it could be an easy, healthy way to reduce your symptoms.

To learn more about managing dry eye symptoms, please find an eye doctor in your area on the eyes.com directory.

Accutane and Eye Infections

The once-popular acne medication known as Accutane has been linked to several serious side effects including liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and more when the drug is taken over a long period of time. Several lawsuits have been filed and won due to these side effects. Another side effect linked to Accutane is that of eye infections.

Research published in Israel by an Atlanta LASIK surgeon points to a study involving 15,000 patients gathered over time. The study split the patients into three groups: those without acne who did not take Accutane; those who had acne and did not take Accutane; those with acne who took Accutane. It was found that the group who took Accutane had a much higher risk of developing conjunctivitis.

Although eye irritation is noted as a common severe side effect, the incidence of eye infections is not as well known. The reason conjunctivitis may be so high among those who take Accutane may be due to wearing contact lenses while on the drug. If Accutane is known for drying out the eyes and leading to irritation, it isn’t much of a leap to realize the drug is the reason some of these patients have a high incidence of eye infection.

According to the LASIK surgeon, people who take Accutane should not wear contact lenses. He says, “LASIK is dangerous while on this medication and not something I recommend.”

When you speak to your ophthalmologist or optometrist, you should disclose all medications you are taking. This helps them either recommend alternatives for your eyesight, or narrow down the reason you are getting eye infections. As the LASIK surgeon stated, you should not be taking Accutane if you are interested in this procedure. Chronic dry eyes is not a good indicator for a successful LASIK surgery.

If you have an eye infection and wear contact lenses, find an eye doctor in your area who can help to diagnose what the problem may be.

Casting about for Profitable Indications

Pharmaceutical companies are in it for the profit, and one of the ways they look to maximize profits from a drug they have patented is to find new indications for a slightly altered and therefore newly-patent-protected variation on an old medication. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Consider the case of ISTA Pharmaceuticals, a manufacturer of eye medications, and their flagship product to date had been Xibrom, a twice-daily non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) solution that is used by cataract surgery patients to reduce inflammation and speed healing. Xibrom’s patent expired in January 2009. However, the company recently capitalized on a reformulated version, Bromday, designed for once-a-day use and capable of providing similarly good results. However, the patent for Bromday expires in 2013, at which point ISTA seems to be out of tricks for this drug.

Or are they? ISTA is trying to find a new indication for a slightly reformulated version to treat the profitable condition du jour, dry eyes. Everyone is trying to get into the dry eyes market, one of the most common eye conditions for which there is not a standard treatment available. The market for dry eye treatments is already $1.7 billion and is expected to grow at least 10% per year until at least 2014, with a potential for reaching $2.4 billion, according to some estimates. That’s some serious scratch, so of course any sensible drug company is going to jump on the opportunity if it has some potentially effective drug under patent.

ISTA moved to third phase clinical trials of its new dry eyes medication Remura in 2010. Positive results from the phase II trials made them hopeful, but when the results came back from the phase III clinical trials, it was found that the drug did not perform better than placebo. Sophisticated statistical analysis showed that the drug actually did give some level of response for “conjunctival staining” (red eyes) when used at the highest dose for women aged 51-70. In other words, the trial is viewed as a total failure.

So ISTA’s stock prices took a dramatic dip (28%), despite a press release that blamed the failure of the study on a “dramatic” placebo response. And the company is looking for some other way to use this drug to make money.

The profit-driven nature of the pharmaceutical industry is another good reason to consult with a doctor about your medications rather than trusting claims or marketing material by the company itself. If you are looking to find the best treatment for your eye condition, please contact a local ophthalmologist today.

When Will Night Vision Problems Fade After LASIK?

Temporary night vision problems are a common side effect of LASIK. The most common night vision issues that patients experience include:

  • Halos
  • Starbursts
  • Glare

These symptoms are the result of the intense dryness that can occur in your eyes after LASIK surgery. Your LASIK surgeon should evaluate your eyes beforehand to gauge their current moisture levels and estimate how severe the problem might be after surgery. For the vast majority of patients, dry eyes can be easily controlled through the use of artificial tears and other common therapies.

The amount of time that it takes for your night vision symptoms to fade generally depends on how your quickly your eyes heal. This can vary from patient to patient. For some, night vision problems only last a couple of weeks. Others may struggle with halos and glare for months. Your LASIK surgeon will closely follow up with you to ensure your condition is controlled and any unusual symptoms are treated appropriately. If your symptoms do not go away after six months, it may be necessary to undergo a LASIK follow-up treatment.

Thankfully, modern LASIK technology – such as CustomVue WaveFront technology – has significantly reduced the frequency and severity of dry eyes and night vision problems after LASIK. An estimated 85% of patients who undergo CustomVue WaveFront LASIK experience much less glare at night once their eyes have healed from LASIK.

For more information about LASIK and night vision, contact an experienced ophthalmologist in your area.

Study Finds No Difference Between LASIK, PRK for Dry Eye Patients

Conventional wisdom has held that PRK is better suited for patients with dry eye than LASIK. But a randomized study led by Dr. Edward E. Manche of the Stanford University School of Medicine suggests that the procedures are essentially equals in terms of discomfort and vision fluctuations.

In a randomized study of 34 people, subjects had one eye treated with wavefront-guided LASIK and the other eye treated with wavefront-guided PRK. Following the procedure, researchers tracked symptoms of dry eye, the severity of dry eye, foreign body sensations and vision fluctuations.

The study found no difference in dry eye symptoms, and eye dryness remained the most common side effect of both LASIK and PRK. Likewise, the research revealed little difference in foreign body sensations between the two procedures.

The primary separation between the surgical methods was in vision fluctuations, which were initially higher among PRK patients, although these effects dissipated in the months following surgery.

Although the procedure that’s best for you depends on your vision condition and physical factors and can be determined during an examination with a qualified ophthalmologist, LASIK remains a more popular choice than PRK largely due to its rapid recovery time.

“PRK takes longer and the visual fluctuation is because there are still epithelium irregularities at one month,” Dr. Manche said in the May issue of EyeWorld USA. “That’s why I think we don’t see as many PRKs done as LASIK procedures, because people want fast recovery.”

If you have questions about PRK or LASIK, please contact an ophthalmologist in your area.