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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 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 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 or visit us in person at , 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.

Covid Patients Are 40% More Likely to Get Diabetes – What Does That Mean for Your Vision?

Covid 19 Patient Sick in BedHave you had Covid-19? After your fever and cough have subsided, you may think the virus is behind you. However, even after your Covid test comes back negative, you may experience health problems in the near future, including diabetes.

Recent studies have found that a significant percentage of post-Covid-19 patients developed diabetes within a year of contracting the virus. This is particularly problematic, as diabetes raises the risk of developing many health problems, including several sight-threatening eye conditions that can rob people of their vision.

What Does the Research Show?

A March 2022 Lancet study that evaluated the records of 181,280 U.S. military veterans found a 40% higher risk of developing Type-2 diabetes in those who had Covid. Although those at greatest risk were over 65, African American and/or had underlying health conditions, many younger patients also developed Type 2 diabetes.

A study published in January 2022 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that children and teens under 18 were more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis (both Type 1 and Type 2) at least 30 days after infection than those who never contracted Covid.

Scientists are investigating exactly why Covid-19 raises the risk of developing diabetes. In many cases, it’s believed that the virus targets pancreatic cells, which are responsible for making insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. A lack of insulin causes diabetes.

Some scientists also theorize that inactivity and weight gain due to lockdowns and quarantines may have raised the risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes-Related Conditions

Diabetes is linked to many eye conditions, including:

Blurry Vision – High blood sugar drives the lens inside your eye to swell, causing your vision to blur.

Cataracts – Diabetes can cause cataracts, cloudy patches that form in the lens of the eye.

Glaucoma – This disease develops from high pressure inside the eye and can lead to severe vision loss.

Diabetic Retinopathy – High blood sugar levels damage the small fragile blood vessels on the retina, leading to vision loss.

Maculopathy – Swelling of the macula, the center of the retina, can make it difficult to drive, read or see detail.

Some of these conditions have no noticeable symptoms during their early stages when it’s still possible to prevent or minimize vision loss. So having regular comprehensive eye exams is crucial.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes Post-Covid

Even after you’ve recovered from Covid, you may still be at a higher risk of developing diabetes. So, along with people who have a family history of the disease, make sure to book a comprehensive eye exam, eat a healthy and balanced diet, don’t smoke, maintain your appropriate weight, and ask your physician to monitor your blood sugar levels.

Also, if you have any eye symptoms, such as blurry vision, schedule an appointment with Freedom Eye Care Lasik & Cataract Surgery Center immediately. Remaining vigilant and aware of the risks can help safeguard your vision thanks to early intervention and treatment.

Are you concerned about the effect having Covid may have on your eyes? Schedule an appointment with Freedom Eye Care Lasik & Cataract Surgery Center today!

Our practice serves patients from Austin, South Austin, Sunset Valley, and Bluff Springs, Texas and surrounding communities.

Q&A with Dr. Azadi

Q: What is a diabetic retinal eye exam?

A: A diabetic retinal [eye__exam] checks for diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the small thin blood vessels in the retina located at the back of the eye. Your optometrist will place eye drops into your eye to open your pupils so they can more easily see the back of your eye. They may take digital images to inspect blood vessels: these full-color 3D images show the cross-section of the retina and measure the retinal thickness to help your optometrist detect any fluid or blood leakage.

Q: How common is vision loss with diabetes?

A: People with diabetes are more likely to experience eye and vision problems. Among people over 45 diagnosed with diabetes, 17.6% experience some degree of vision loss.
– 9.2% is caused by cataracts
– 4.1% is caused by diabetic retinopathy
– 2.2% is caused by macular degeneration
– 2.1% is caused by glaucoma. Therefore, anyone diagnosed with or with risk factors for diabetes should have regular eye exams to protect their vision and eye health.

The Link Between Dry Eyes and Depression

The Link Between Dry Eyes and Depression 640×350Depression 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 Freedom Eye Care Dry Eye Center in Austin, 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. Azadi

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

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. Azadi at Freedom Eye Care in Austin 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

Regular Contact Lenses Not Working for You? Consider Scleral Lenses

Woman wearing scleral lensesIf you have dry eye syndrome, a corneal transplant, keratoconus or who simply find conventional contacts uncomfortable to wear, you may want to try scleral contact lenses. Scleral lenses are larger than standard lenses and vault over the entire surface of the cornea. Because the lens sits firmly on the eye, it offers more comfortable and stable vision than traditional lenses.

Eye Problems That Can Make Contact Lens Wearing Difficult

If your cornea is irregularly sized or shaped, standard contact lenses may not fit you properly or may move when you blink. Furthermore, standard contacts can also cause or exacerbate dry eye symptoms, such as red, irritated, itchy or dry eyes.

Below are common eye conditions that can make contact lens wearing a struggle:

  • Keratoconus
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Astigmatism
  • Corneal transplant
  • Post-refractive surgery (i.e. LASIK)

Why are Scleral Lenses a Comfortable Alternative?

These oversized lenses provide relief, clear vision, and visual rehabilitation for dry eye, keratoconus, corneal degeneration, eyelid abnormalities, and corneal ectasia, among other conditions. That’s because the custom-designed scleral lenses are fitted to your unique eye shape, providing a superior level of comfort.

Moreover, a fluid reservoir between the lens and the cornea optically neutralizes any corneal irregularities and hydrates the ocular surface, providing a moist and comfortable environment between the eye and the lens.

How Large are Scleral Lenses?

The average size of regular contact lenses is 9mm, which is smaller than the cornea, whereas scleral lenses measure between 14.5mm to 24mm in diameter. This allows the scleral lens to form a dome over the cornea, creating a cushion of tears between the lens and the eye.

What Happens During a Scleral Lens Fitting?

Scleral lenses are custom-fit to each person’s unique eye shape, corneal curves, and contours, providing unparalleled comfort. Their size and shape also ensure stability.

To design the lenses, your Freedom Eye Care Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center eye doctor in Austin will take exact measurements of your cornea through a process called corneal topography. This process ensures that your personal pair of scleral lenses allows the right amount of light in and sits stably on the eye, thus offering superior vision, all-day ocular hydration, and increased comfort.

Schedule an appointment with Soroush Azadi and talk to us about getting fitted with scleral lenses.

Our practice serves patients from Austin, South Austin, Sunset Valley, and Bluff Springs, Texas and surrounding communities.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Azadi

 

Q: Can Scleral Lenses Treat or Cure Keratoconus?

  • A: While scleral lenses aren’t a cure for keratoconus, they are highly effective at correcting vision if you have irregular-shaped corneas or cone-shaped corneas.Because those with keratoconus have irregular, cone-shaped corneas, glasses and standard contact lenses cannot conform to the shape of the eyes and thus cannot adequately correct the patients’ vision. The best solution, therefore, is scleral contact lenses, since they sit on the sclera without touching the cornea and deliver maximal clarity while being perfectly comfortable in most cases.

Q: Can Scleral Lenses Help Improve Vision Following Corneal Transplants?

  • A: Though corneal transplants have a high rate of success, it can take more than a year for the eye to recover from surgery. This is because the eye needs time to adapt to the new cornea, during which time nearsightedness or astigmatism may develop. For this reason, scleral lenses are the ideal choice for clear and comfortable vision following a corneal graft.

 

Stay Active and See Better With Scleral Lenses

Stay Active and See Better With Scleral Lenses 640×350Scleral contact lenses have long been the way to provide clear and comfortable vision to people with keratoconus, severe dry eye syndrome, irregularly shaped corners and patients recovering from corneal transplants and refractive surgeries.

But did you know that scleral lenses are also a great option for active people who need their lenses to sit securely and not pop out? Many people find that traditional contact lenses don’t provide the stable and clear vision required for their active lifestyle. This is especially true for athletes with high astigmatism who want to achieve a greater level of clarity comparable to LASIK surgery.

Whether you like to run marathons, go skiing or play sports that require sharp vision, scleral lenses can provide the vision correction and peace of mind you’ve been seeking.

What Makes Scleral Lenses Different?

Scleral lenses are hard, gas-permeable contact lenses that settle on the eye in a more stable position than regular soft or hard contacts. That’s because scleral lenses have a larger diameter than standard lenses, so they’re less prone to falling out or moving on the eye.

In addition, these lenses vault over the cornea to rest on the sclera, the whites of the eyes, on a cushion of fluid, providing additional comfort. Your eyes stay hydrated when exposed to harsh winds during winter sports or in hot and dry conditions.

These features make sclerals a good option for active people and athletes.

What Else Are Scleral Lenses Used For?

Scleral lenses are the go-to lenses if you have an irregularly shaped cornea or keratoconus, which causes the lens to thin, bulge and develop a cone-like shape. As keratoconus progresses, patients often can’t achieve clear vision from eyeglasses or regular contact lenses.

The fact that scleral lenses are custom-designed to fit a patient’s eyes can make them the best option for people who can’t wear traditional hard or soft lenses.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Scleral Lenses?

The following people may find a particular benefit from scleral lenses:

  • Active people and athletes who need clear vision and want contacts that will stay firmly in place
  • People with irregular corneas, such as keratoconus
  • Those with dry eye syndrome
  • Post-corneal transplant patients
  • Those who have poor vision due to complications after eye surgery.

Can You Play Sports with Scleral Lenses?

Thanks to their greater width, scleral lenses stay in place on the eye more than standard lenses while simultaneously providing clear crisp vision. Many wearers also find them more comfortable than other contact lenses. This makes sclerals ideal for most sports, including baseball, basketball, cycling and skiing.

There are, however, some direct contact sports, such as karate, boxing and wrestling, where sclerals aren’t recommended due to the risk of eye injury if the lens is damaged.

Do Scleral Lenses Treat Keratoconus?

Scleral lenses aren’t a cure. However, sclerals are highly effective at correcting vision if you have irregular-shaped corneas because the lenses vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, compensating for the misshapen cornea.

If you love sports, live an active lifestyle, have an irregularly shaped cornea or dry eyes, consult with Soroush Azadi at Freedom Eye Care Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center to see whether scleral lenses are the right solution for you.

Our practice serves patients from Austin, South Austin, Sunset Valley, and Bluff Springs, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Azadi

Q: How Can Scleral Lenses Improve An Athlete’s Vision?

  • A: Athletes are typically exposed to challenging environmental conditions, such as dust, chalk, sand and wind. These can all interfere with the comfort of wearing soft contact lenses. Because scleral lenses provide a seal over the eye’s surface, the eyes are better protected from the elements, allowing athletes more stable, clear, crisp vision.

Q: Do Scleral Lenses Cure Keratoconus?

  • A: No. Custom-designed scleral lenses help patients with corneal irregularities, like astigmatism and keratoconus, achieve dramatic improvements in visual acuity and comfort. These lenses vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, thus creating a new optical surface. Moreover, the reservoir of pure saline solution between the back surface of the lens and the front of the cornea ensures that the eye is always in a liquid environment, ensuring optimal vision and comfort for those with keratoconus.

5 Need-to-Know Facts About Glaucoma

elderly couple sitting outside width=While most people have heard of glaucoma, many aren’t aware of how and why it can lead to vision loss and blindness, and why or how regular eye exams can help safeguard their vision. To get a better understanding, check out these 5 important facts.

Glaucoma Causes Permanent Vision Loss

Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness, affecting more than 1 in 50 adults. Nowadays, more than 80 million people around the world have glaucoma, with the number is expected to reach a staggering 111 million by 2040!

Vision loss is caused by abnormally high pressure within the eye which permanently damages the optic nerve that delivers the eye’s messages to the brain.

The rise in eye pressure results from the buildup of fluid in the eye that does not drain effectively out of the eye.

Though it’s possible to manage glaucoma symptoms, vision loss can’t be reversed once it’s occurred. That’s why it’s crucial to catch this serious eye condition in its early stages.

Half the People With Glaucoma Don’t Know They Have It

Yes, you read that correctly. One of the most worrying things about glaucoma is that half the people with this condition don’t even know they have it! The most common type — primary open-angle glaucoma — has no obvious symptoms in its early stages. It’s no wonder glaucoma is called the ‘Thief of Sight.’

The best way to avoid any vision loss from glaucoma is to have regular eye exams to detect the condition as soon as possible.

Some Are More At Risk for Glaucoma Than Others

The following are risk factors for glaucoma:

  • Being 60 or older
  • A family history – particularly of open-angle glaucoma
  • African, Asian or Hispanic descent
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Underactive Thyroid

Glaucoma Can Be Treated, Not Cured

There is no cure for glaucoma and vision that has already been lost to the condition can’t be restored. However, glaucoma can be treated, and the progression of the disease can be stopped or slowed.

Common treatments for glaucoma include:

  • Prescription eye drops that can lower pressure inside the eye
  • Oral medications, such as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors
  • Laser therapy, such as SLT or trabeculoplasty, is used to open up channels to improve the drainage of fluid from the eye
  • Eye surgery or trabeculectomy – surgical removal of obstructions in the eye’s drainage system
  • Trabecular stent bypass – a stent is placed in the eye to make drainage easier

Only an Eye Exam Can Diagnose Glaucoma

As mentioned above, regular eye exams are essential to detect glaucoma, especially in the early stages before permanent vision loss has occurred. Your eye doctor may use several types of tests to detect glaucoma:

  • Tonometry – measurement of eye pressure
  • Visual field – tests for peripheral vision loss
  • Gonioscopy – determines if the drainage system is open.
  • Corneal thickness (pachymetry) – the thickness of the cornea can affect the eye pressure measurements
  • Optic Nerve Exam – detection of any nerve damage using digital imaging

Glaucoma is yet another good reason to get your eyes tested regularly, especially if you’re over 60. To check the health of your eyes, schedule a comprehensive eye exam at Freedom Eye Care Lasik & Cataract Surgery Center today.

Our practice serves patients from Austin, South Austin, Sunset Valley, and Bluff Springs, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Azadi

Q: How much time does it take for glaucoma to cause blindness?

  • A: In most cases of open-angle glaucoma, it can take several years from the onset of the disease before significant vision loss occurs. However, in the case of closed-angle glaucoma, where the eye pressure rises suddenly, it can immediately cause severe vision loss. The speed of the onset of glaucoma depends on the type of glaucoma and eye pressure levels. The higher the pressure, the faster glaucoma can drive vision loss.

Q: How many people go blind from glaucoma?

  • A: Overall, the incidence of blindness in at least one eye from glaucoma is 26.5% after 10 years, and 38.1% after 20 years. This means that without effective treatment the chance of going blind in one eye is more than 1 in 4 in just 10 years.

References

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 Freedom Eye Care Dry Eye Center. Our dedicated eye doctors will get to the bottom of your dry eye and provide effective, lasting treatment.

Our practice serves patients from Austin, South Austin, Sunset Valley, and Bluff Springs, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Azadi

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 Freedom Eye Care Dry Eye Center today!

Signs It’s Time For Cataract Surgery

Elderly Couple Discussing Cataract SurgeryCataract surgery, which replaces the cataract-affected lens of the eye with a new, clear artificial lens, is the most common surgical procedure in the world. While the procedure is considered safe and effective, patients want to know the optimal time to have the surgery.

Early Signs of Cataracts

During the earlier stages, individuals with cataracts experience cloudy vision and sensitivity to glare and light. Halos may appear around lit objects at night, and night vision may be impaired. Colors may appear washed out, such as bright red hues appearing dark pink.

Signs You Need Cataract Surgery

It’s common for people to live with cataracts for several years before considering surgery. The following are signs it is time to have your cataracts removed:

  • You find it difficult to see well enough to perform tasks at work
  • Your vision has gotten in the way of doing activities around the home, such as cooking and cleaning
  • You no longer see the television screen or printed material clearly
  • Driving, especially at night, no longer feels safe
  • Glare and bright lights are more pronounced

If you experience any of the above, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss cataract surgery.

The Presence of Other Eye Problems

Your eye doctor may encourage you to have cataract surgery if your cataracts render it difficult to examine the back of your eye to treat a range of serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinopathy. Any of these may require the urgent removal of the cataract so the optometrist can accurately diagnose and manage other serious eye problems.

What Happens If You Delay Surgery?

There are advantages to having cataract surgery earlier rather than later. Cataracts can severely interfere with daily life and can make night driving difficult, even hazardous. If left untreated, cataracts result in vision loss and eventually blindness. Additionally, over time cataracts become thicker, darker and denser, which can add unnecessary complications to the surgery and lengthen the post-surgery recovery period.

However, in certain cases, patients can wait to have cataract surgery. In the meantime, their eye doctor can recommend stronger prescription lenses or the use of bright lights to help them see better.

Whether you decide to get cataract surgery early on or to wait it out, we encourage you to do so under the guidance of Soroush Azadi at Freedom Eye Care Lasik & Cataract Surgery Center.

Our practice serves patients from Austin, South Austin, Sunset Valley, and Bluff Springs, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Azadi

Q: What Are the Benefits of Cataract Surgery?

A: Having cataract surgery:

  • – Restores clear vision
  • – Enhances enjoyment of reading and watching TV
  • – Improves quality of life by allowing you to do everyday activities and hobbies
  • – Lowers the risk of developing other eye problems, such as eye inflammation and glaucoma
  • – Renders it safer to drive in low light environments

Q: How Do I Lower My Risk of Cataracts?

A: The tips below may help reduce the risk of developing cataracts:

  • – Have regular eye exams to catch any problems early
  • – Wear sunglasses to block UV rays – 10% of cataract cases are related to the sun’s harmful UV rays
  • – Maintain healthy blood sugar levels, particularly if you have diabetes
  • – Eat colorful fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamins C and E
  • – Quit smoking and drink only moderate amounts of alcohol
  • – Be aware that steroidal eye drops and corticosteroids may increase the risk of cataracts

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6 Things To Know About Keratoconus

happy couple in winterKeratoconus is an eye disease that causes the cornea, the clear dome-shaped front surface of the eye, to become misshapen and bulge. This progressive disease usually occurs in both eyes and affects approximately 50-200 in every 100,000 individuals.

People who have keratoconus often experience problems like blurred vision, distorted vision, night blindness and sensitivity to light. Clear vision correction for keratoconus can be challenging to achieve because the irregular corneal shape makes it difficult or impossible for standard eyeglasses or contact lenses to provide you with sharp vision.

Thankfully, there are ways for people with keratoconus to achieve clear and comfortable vision, something we explore below, along with several other key points about keratoconus.

1. Everyone has different risk factors for developing keratoconus

Some risk factors for developing keratoconus include:

  • Hereditary predisposition
  • Eye rubbing
  • Other medical conditions like Down syndrome, allergic dermatitis and connective tissue disorders
  • Eye inflammation

2. Keratoconus can develop at any age

Although most cases of keratoconus are first diagnosed in adolescence or young adulthood, it can appear during any stage of life. That’s why regular eye exams are crucial, even if your vision seems clear and your eyes appear to be healthy.

3. Early diagnosis is key

This rings true for almost every eye disease, especially keratoconus. Catching it early in its tracks can allow the eye doctor to implement various treatments to slow down its progression during the initial stages, when this condition tends to worsen more rapidly.

4. Keratoconus progresses at different rates throughout life

Keratoconus progression varies from person to person, and one person can experience varying degrees of progression in each eye. Some patients live with mild keratoconus their entire lives, while other patients develop severe keratoconus early on.

Often, optometrists will recommend that patients undergo certain procedures to strengthen the cornea and prevent or slow down further progression.

5. Keratoconus can be treated with surgery or scleral contact lenses

Corneal cross-linking surgery is an effective option to provide enhanced strength to the cornea and is the only FDA-approved method of stopping or slowing keratoconus progression. However, if the condition develops into severe keratoconus, a corneal transplant may be the best option for treating the condition and restoring clear vision.

Scleral contact lenses offer another option to surgery. They are ideal for patients with early or moderate levels of keratoconus because they safely and effectively correct vision without irritating the misshapen cornea. In fact, studies have shown that patients with keratoconus who wear scleral contact lenses greatly reduce their risk of needing keratoplasty (corneal transplant surgery).

The large diameter of scleral contact lenses allows them to vault over the sensitive corneal tissue and then also coat the cornea in a nourishing reservoir of fluid for optimal comfort and visual clarity. Because eye rubbing and corneal irritation are significant risk factors for the progression of keratoconus, the protective qualities of scleral lenses can help to minimize keratoconus progression.

6. You can live a normal life with keratoconus

With the proper care and treatment from your optometrist, keratoconus shouldn’t stop you from living your life to the fullest. Although it can be discouraging to experience vision problems that can’t be resolved with standard lenses or glasses, know that there are other options available.

At Freedom Eye Care Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center, we help patients with keratoconus and other corneal abnormalities achieve crisp and comfortable vision using scleral contact lenses and other specialty lenses.

Our practice provides scleral lenses to patients from Austin, South Austin, Sunset Valley, and Bluff Springs, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Azadi

Q: Who else can benefit from wearing scleral contact lenses?

  • A: Scleral contact lenses are ideal for patients with any of the following conditions: corneal abnormalities, severe dry eye syndrome, post-LASIK or corneal transplant, eye allergies, high refractive error or corneal trauma. Speak with your optometrist to find out if scleral lenses are right for you.

Q: Do all optometrists fit specialty contact lenses like sclerals?

  • A: No. If you are interested in scleral contact lenses, be sure to choose an optometric practice that has years of experience fitting specialty lenses. At Freedom Eye Care Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center, we have the knowledge, skill and experience necessary to provide you with the best lenses for your eyes. Call us to learn more or schedule your scleral lens fitting.