New iPad Vision Test

Vision Test, a free app created by 3 Cube, gives iPad users a new way to test their vision. No matter if you suspect you need something simple such as glasses or LASIK, or if you are concerned about larger issues such as age-related macular degeneration, Vision Test can provide a series of tests and questions that can help you determine if it may be time to see an eye doctor.

This new app provides a visual acuity test, a Duochrome test, an astigmatism test, and tests for far field vision and color recognition. While these tests cannot compete with the services of an experienced ophthalmologist, they may prompt people who did not know they could benefit from professional eye care to seek advice following abnormal or unsatisfactory test results. The app is free, but currently only available to users of the iPad.

When to See an Ophthalmologist

It is true that we live in an age where technology places significantly more power in our hands. However, it is important to remember that self-diagnosing is never a good idea and professional assistance should be sought at the first sign of vision troubles.

Maintaining regularly scheduled appointments with your eye doctor remains the best way to check your vision and identify small problems before they result in serious vision disruptions, and you should be certain to contact your eye doctor if you notice changes in your vision, experience eye pain, or are suddenly beset by any vision troubles.

If you are overdue for a regular vision exam, don’t rely on an app for medical advice, please use our eye doctor locator to find an ophthalmologist in your area and schedule an appointment today.

Protect Your Eyes from the Summer Sun

As we enter the sunny summer months, it is time once again to consider the impact of sun damage to the eyes and the most effective ways to protect your vision well into the future. Excessive unprotected exposure to sunlight can result in painful and damaging burns to your cornea. It has also been identified as a risk factor for things including:

  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Pterygia

The best way to avoid the harmful effects on the sun on eyesight is by wearing protective glasses at all times when outside.

Skimping is a Bad Idea

Cheap sunglasses are available at nearly every gas station and grocery store in the country. Many of these discount brands are cost effective, but despite their claims of “broad UVA/UVB protection,” they may actually do more harm than good.

Your pupils dilate in lower-light conditions, allowing more sunlight to enter into the inner chambers of your eyes. Discount sunglasses make things darker, but often fail to live up to their claims of UV protection, allowing harmful rays of light to penetrate deep into your lens and retina.

Sunglasses purchased through an eye doctor may seem more expensive, but their quality and protection far outweigh their initial costs. When it comes to protecting your eyes from sun damage, you deserve the most effective option available.

If you are looking for the latest sunglasses styles to protect your eyes this summer, please visit our Eye Doctor Directory to find a well-stocked ophthalmologist in your area today.

February is Low Vision Awareness Month

February is AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month, a campaign that focuses on raising awareness of macular degeneration and other vision problems. This years slogan, “Don’t Lose Site,” is of particular importance to Prevent Blindness America spokeswoman, Jane Seymour, who became involved in the campaign following her mother’s two decades struggle with macular degeneration.

Prevent Blindness America plans to promote awareness of vision disorders this month through online and print media campaigns in an attempt to increase awareness of the prevalence of vision problems and symptoms that should lead to an immediate visit to an ophthalmologist.

Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD may be, initially, asymptomatic. In its beginning stages, AMD is most often detected by your eye doctor during your routine examinations. AMD is common in people over the age of 50, making it important to visit your eye doctor yearly for check ups as you age.

Macular degeneration symptoms may include:

  • Difficulties working in low light settings
  • Blurriness of printed words
  • Difficulties recognizing faces
  • Blurry or blind spots in central vision
  • An increase in visual haziness

In most cases, AMD is slow to progress. However, a sudden onset of any of these symptoms may indicate a more serious form of the disorder and should be brought to the attention of your eye doctor right away.

Treating AMD

Low Vision Awareness Month focuses on early detection of AMD because it is essential for preserving vision. There is no way to reverse damage once it has been done by AMD, but your eye doctor can help you slow future damage and preserve your vision well into the future.

Most often, treating macular degeneration includes lifestyle changes such as improving your diet, adding certain nutritional supplements, quitting smoking, and increasing physical activity. Medications and surgical treatments may also be used, but this will be dependent on your unique needs.

To learn more about macular degeneration and other vision disorders, please locate an experienced ophthalmologist in your area to schedule an initial consultation today.

Using Aspirin regularly may increase Macular Degeneration Risk

A recent study shows there may be a link between regular aspirin use and a slightly increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. AMD in its most severe form is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65.

A word of caution: You should not stop taking aspirin based on this information. Although there may be a slightly higher risk of AMD if you have used aspirin regularly, this risk does not outweigh the benefit of taking aspirin to prevent heart disease and heart attack. Talk to your doctor before making any decision about medication you are currently taking.

About 1 in 5 adults take aspirin regularly, according to the New York Times.

The study – conducted by lead author Dr. Barbara Klein and others – found regular use of aspirin doubled the risk of developing wet AMD symptoms. This advanced form of AMD arises in about 1 in 200 older adults, and the risk can rise to 1 in 100 older adults who regularly take aspirin. Regular use was defined as at least twice a week for more than three months.

The study does not show a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but it does show there may be a meaningful association between aspirin and AMD. The findings in the study are quite useful insofar as they point to the importance of seeing a doctor if you begin experiencing vision problems, particularly if you take aspirin regularly.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

If you are interested in learning more about your risk of macular degeneration, please find an eye doctor in your area through the eyes.com directory.

Faster, Easier Reading with use of iPad and Kindle

Many of us may not recognize how precious the ability to read is until we start to experience vision loss. A recent study shows hope for people suffering central vision loss, such as occurs with age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. It seems digital tablets, including the iPad and Amazon Kindle, help people with vision loss read faster and easier.

The study was carried out at New Jersey’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The study author and his team asked the 100 participants to read on digital tablets. All 100 participants had lost some degree of central vision, which is what you see straight ahead of you. Certain diseases, namely macular degeneration, degrade central vision so that you no longer see clearly or sharply in front of you.

Using digital tablets, the study participants read faster compared to reading print. They read faster by an average of 15 words per minute. With Apple’s iPad, participants read faster by a rate of 42 words per minute, and by a rate of 12 words more per minute with Amazon’s Kindle. Reading improvement was greatest among those with 20/40 vision or worse.

The team conducting the study, including the lead author Dr. Daniel Roth, attributes the improved reading from the iPad to its backlit screen. At the time, the Kindle was not backlit, but current Kindle models are. The study was presented at a joint meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology.

Depending on the size, storage capacity and brand of the device, tablets right now cost anywhere from $200 to close to $1,000.

To learn more about treatments for vision loss, please find an eye doctor through the eyes.com directory.

Study Findings May Point Way for Easier Macular Degeneration Test

A recent study suggests that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may be diagnosed less expensively, more rapidly and just as effectively under bright lights as compared with tests that first require patients to sit in a darkened room.

AMD affects millions of Americans, and it is the leading cause of blindness in Americans over age 65. There is currently no cure for AMD, although there are some treatments that can slow its progression.

There are differing opinions as to whether AMD tests conducted in light are better than those in which a patient’s vision is first adapted to darkness. One reason for this is because the vision cells in the eye’s rods that are used to see in low light tend to die off earlier in macular degeneration than those used in bright daylight.

Increasing research, however, indicates that while the cones in the eye die later than the rods, they actually begin to deteriorate at the same time as the cells used for night, or dark, vision. In order to assess whether AMD diagnosis could be effectively conducted under bright light, Australian researchers used a device to test how participants’ pupils responded to visual stimuli.

The manner in which pupils respond provides a reliable indicator of how well your eyes are working. Researchers found that they were able to diagnose AMD through this method just as effectively as longer, more traditional AMD tests.

If you would like to learn more about age-related macular degeneration, please contact Eyes.com to find an eye doctor near you.

Antioxidant Shows Promise in Preventing Degenerative Vision Problems

A research group at the Missouri University of Science and Technology are testing an antioxidant that may prevent cataracts and other degenerative eye disorders, including macular degeneration.

Age-related eye problems are thought to currently affect at least 30 million Americans, and macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in those over age 65. Although there are treatments that can slow the progression of age-related vision disorders, there is currently no cure for cataracts and macular degeneration.

However, early research led by Dr. Nuran Ercal has shown success with eyedrops that contain the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine amide in treating certain degenerative eye disorders. This particular antioxidant is thought to be effective in part because it is rich in glutathione, which helps stave off the cellular damage caused by conditions like macular degeneration.

The research team recently received a three-year grant to continue study. Preliminary testing showed the antioxidant eyedrops to slow cataract growth in rats with cataracts and prevent cataracts from forming in rats without the condition.

Further study will focus in part on whether the solution can also reverse the effects of degeneration. The potential for treatment in humans is not yet known, but researchers hope that ongoing success in animal subjects will eventually lead to human applications.

If you would like to learn more about macular degeneration, cataracts or other degenerative vision disorders, please contact eyes.com to locate an experienced eye doctor near you.

Avastin and Lucentis Equal in Treating Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Study Says

After two years of treatment, both Avastin and Lucentis are equivalent in improving vision loss resulting from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to research supported by the National Institutes of Health and published in the May 2012 issue of the journal Ophthalmology.

AMD is the primary cause of blindness among Americans over age 65. Although there is no cure for AMD, taking steps to prevent macular degeneration can help preserve your vision or slow the progress of AMD.

Taking Avastin or Lucentis on a monthly or as-needed basis prescribed by your ophthalmologist may also help improve vision damaged by the effects of AMD. Although Lucentis was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically for the treatment of AMD, Avastin—a related drug that, like Lucentis, blocks the growth of abnormal blood vessels—is approved for the treatment of certain cancers including colon cancer.

Avastin has been administered to patients with AMD in clinical trials, and the recent study was the first to examine the results of both Lucentis and Avastin head-to-head after two years of repeated use. Researchers found that with regular administration, both Lucentis and Avastin led to a noticeable and lasting improvement in vision.

On average, patients taking the medications experienced vision improvement of about a half-line better on eye charts.

If you would like to learn more about macular degeneration treatment options, please contact Eyes.com to locate an ophthalmologist near you.

Eye Diseases on the Rise in the US

According to a report issued by Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute, eye diseases – including those that cause blindness – are on the rise in the US. The research shows that since 2000, there has been a marked increase in cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy has increased an alarming 89% over the last 12 years, and an estimated eight million people 40 and over now have this disease, which can lead to blindness.

Other results show:

  • A 25% increase in macular degeneration affecting more than two million people over the age of 50
  • A 22% increase in open angle glaucoma affecting nearly three million people 40-years-old and older
  • A 19% increase in cataracts affecting more than 24 million people 40 and older

While vision can be restored if the patient has cataracts, provided they are caught in time, glaucoma can only be treated and the pressure relieved. The high percentage of diabetic retinopathy cases seems to be due to the diabetes epidemic plaguing the country, especially among minorities. A clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology calls the results “scary” and says they are “proof we are in a losing battle.” She also says the he increase in macular degeneration “mirrors the booming aging population.”

Protecting the eyes against these and other diseases is very important. Getting regular eye exams yearly can help head off any serious problems you may encounter later on in life. Eating healthy, getting your blood glucose levels checked, and talking to your healthcare provider, as well as your ophthalmologist are things you can do to keep your risks of eye diseases low.

If you believe you are at risk for these or other eye diseases, please find an experienced eye doctor in your area through eyes.com today.

Smoking and Your Eyes

While the health dangers associated with smoking cigarettes are well documented, they generally focus on lung cancer and respiratory issues such as asthma and emphysema. But did you know that smoking can also cause serious damage to your eyes?

There are approximately 4,000 chemicals introduced into your bloodstream when you smoke cigarettes. Many of these chemicals can result in severe damage to your vision. In fact, smoking can increase your risk of developing age-related eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Smoking is the leading preventable risk factor for macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of blindness among people over the age of 65. In fact, a 2006 study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology found that smoking was a causal factor in approximately 25% of all age-related macular degeneration cases resulting in vision loss. Furthermore, living with someone who smokes will double your risk of developing the condition.

Studies have also found smoking to be a considerable risk factor in developing cataracts, a condition occurring when your eye’s natural lens becomes clouded. People who smoke 15 or more cigarettes a day are three times as likely to develop cataracts as nonsmokers. Researchers believe that cigarette smoke increases your risk of cataracts by boosting the oxidative stress on your eye’s lens.

If you didn’t already have enough reasons to quit smoking, add protecting your vision to the list. Years of smoking will take its toll on your body in many ways, and your vision is too important to place in jeopardy.

Please contact eyes.com today to find an experienced ophthalmologist near you.