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10 Ways to Give Your Eyes Some Love This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the time to express your love and appreciation to those you care about most. But it’s also a great opportunity to take the time to pamper yourself — so why not start with your eyes?

Practice these 10 healthy lifestyle habits to help protect your eye health and vision.

1. Be Mindful of the Food You Eat

Fill your plate with fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grains. A well-balanced diet is good for your body and can lower your risk of eye disease.

Studies show that foods high in vitamins A, C, E, Omega-3, lutein and zeaxanthin are especially beneficial for promoting eye health.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day will keep your body hydrated and your eyes moist — which is essential for preventing dry eye syndrome. To add some flavor to your water, try adding a splash of lemon juice or swap some of those glasses of water for an herbal tea or other non-caffeinated beverage. Caffeinated drinks have a dehydrating effect, so try to limit your coffee consumption as much as possible.

3. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is widely known for its physical and mental health benefits, but studies show that it can also lower your risk of serious eye conditions and diseases. Cardio exercise in particular has been shown to lower eye pressure and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye. So grab your gym bag and get moving!

4. Don’t Smoke

If you’ve been thinking about quitting, there’s no better time than now. Smoking tobacco significantly raises your risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and can also lead to their early development.

Smoking also robs the body of the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to maintain eye health, and contains around 7,000 chemicals that can lead to eye irritation and dry eye.

5. Practice Good Makeup Hygiene

While wearing makeup can accentuate your eyes and make you feel more beautiful, it’s important to note that if not used properly, certain makeup products can adversely affect eye health.

To keep your eyes and vision healthy, make sure to:

  • Clean your brushes and applicators regularly
  • Toss any expired products, or eye makeup you’ve used during an eye infection
  • Only apply makeup to the outer margin of your eyelids
  • Remove your makeup before going to bed
  • Never share makeup or use in-store testers

Following these safety tips will help to lower your risk of eye infections and other serious complications.

6. Wear Sunglasses

Studies show that prolonged UV exposure can damage the eyes and lead to the development of sight-threatening eye conditions, like cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma, in the future.

Purchase a pair of stylish sunglasses with 100% UV protection and wear them any time you venture outdoors — the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the clouds and reflect off of snow, sand, water and pavement. So keep a pair of sunglasses next to your front door and a spare pair in your bag or car to ensure you have UV protection wherever you go.

7. Prevent Eye Injuries

About 90% of vision loss from eye injuries can be prevented by wearing the right eye protection.

Protective eyewear like sports goggles or glasses with polycarbonate lenses are designed with sturdy materials that are less likely to break or shatter while you play sports, and can protect your eyes from small particles that fly in the air when you mow the lawn or engage in DIY projects.

8. Learn First Aid for Eye Injuries

Let’s be real, accidents can happen even if we take all the right measures to protect ourselves. But knowing what to do in case of an unexpected eye injury can potentially save you or someone you love from permanent eye damage or vision loss.

Note: Any type of eye injury should be taken seriously, and promptly examined by an eye doctor.

9. Avoid Digital Eye Strain

Prolonged screen time can cause eye strain, dry eyes, blurry vision and headaches — and lead to a condition called digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome.

Avoid symptoms of digital eye strain by limiting screen time as much as possible. If prolonged screen time is unavoidable, practice the 20-20-20 rule: set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to take breaks every 20 minutes to focus on an image at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.

10. Visit Your Eye Doctor

Regular eye exams are crucial when it comes to maintaining your eye health. With an eye exam, your eye doctor can identify early signs of sight-threatening eye diseases and conditions — enabling earlier treatment and increasing your chances for optimal results.

From all of us at Loudoun Eye Associates in Ashburn, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

At Loudoun Eye Associates, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 703-724-0330 or book an appointment online to see one of our Ashburn eye doctors.

Want to Learn More? Read on!

Do I have Eye Allergies?

How Often Does Your Myopic Child Need An Updated Prescription?

Why Does Your Eye Doctor Dilate Your Pupils for an Eye Exam?

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Q&A

What’s the difference between an eye exam and vision screening?

Vision screenings are basic tests of visual acuity, generally conducted by a school nurse or pediatrician. These screenings can’t identify many vision conditions that impact learning or work performance, and are unable to detect ocular health problems.

A comprehensive eye exam, which is performed by an eye doctor, includes tests for visual acuity and functional vision, as well as close examination of the inner and outer structures of the eye.

How often do I need to have an eye exam?

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), it is important to have your eyes examined every one to two years, depending on your age, whether or not you wear glasses or contacts, your family history of eye disease, and your ocular health to date. Annual eye exams help your eye doctor monitor your eye health and easily identify any changes in your vision.

Why Is My Eyelid Twitching?

What Is An Eyelid Twitch?

Myokymia, more commonly known as an eyelid twitch, occurs when the eyelid muscles spasm uncontrollably. This sensation is generally felt in either the upper or lower eyelid of one eye.

An eyelid twitch can develop for a number of reasons, and can last anywhere from a few moments to several days, depending on the underlying cause.

Eyelid twitches are usually nothing to worry about, though persistent eyelid spasms can signal a more serious underlying condition.

What Causes Eyelid Twitching?

There are a range of factors that could be causing your eyelid to twitch, including:

Stress.

This is the most common cause. Any type of physical or mental stress leads to the release of cortisol, a steroid hormone in the body that acts as a stimulant and puts your body into “flight or fight” mode. It can affect the nervous system in uncharacteristic ways, including making the nerves stimulate your muscles to twitch.

Fatigue.

Have you stayed awake later than usual, or are you juggling work and family commitments? Your eyelid twitch may be a sign that your body is craving a few more hours of rest and shut eye.

Allergies.

Itchy, watery, irritated eyes can cause eyelid spasms.

Dry eyes.

Dry, sore eyes may sometimes lead to an eyelid twitch.

Eye strain.

Eye muscle fatigue from prolonged reading or using a digital device can lead to blurry or double vision, dry eyes, headaches and, sometimes, an eyelid twitch.

Caffeine.

Consuming too much caffeine can over-stimulate your mind and body, including the muscles in your eyes.

Alcohol.

Similar to caffeine, excessive alcohol intake can have stimulating effects on your eye muscles.

Nutrient deficiencies.

According to research, a deficiency in vitamins B12 or D, or magnesium, or other electrolyte imbalance can cause an eyelid twitch.

Blepharospasm.

This rare eye condition is caused by a neurological problem that leads to uncontrollable facial and eyelid spasms that generally worsen over time.These spasms may also cause an increase in blink rate and intensity.

Neurological disease.

Although uncommon, an eyelid twitch can be a symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease or Bell’s palsy.

How to Stop Your Eye Twitch

  • Schedule an eye exam to find out what may be causing your eyelid twitch. Your eye doctor may prescribe glasses to relieve eye strain, or recommend dry eye treatments, Botox injections or oral medication to treat the underlying problem.
  • Practice stress-relieving activities such as yoga and deep breathing exercises, or simply take some time out of your day to relax.
  • Use eye drops to alleviate eye allergies or dry eye symptoms.
  • Take frequent breaks from the screen and consider wearing computer glasses to reduce eye strain.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption to determine if these stimulants may be the cause of your eyelid twitch.
  • Speak with your physician to find out if you can benefit from taking nutritional supplements and to rule out a neurological disorder, especially if other symptoms are present.

Although an eye twitch is generally not a cause for concern, if it persists for longer than a few days or you notice any changes to your vision, contact Dr. Richard Kao at Loudoun Eye Associates today to schedule an eye exam.

Q & A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a chronic condition that occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears or the quality of your tear film is compromised. This results in a range of symptoms that may include dry, itchy, irritated eyes, and sometimes eye twitches. While mild DES can often be alleviated temporarily with over-the-counter lubricating eye drops, moderate to severe DES generally requires specialized in-office treatments.

Q: How can I relieve eye strain after prolonged screen time?

  • A: Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, can cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms, including headaches, eye fatigue, dry eyes and blurry vision. Computer vision syndrome may cause your eyelid to twitch.If limiting screen time isn’t practical on a daily basis, try to follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something around 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. It is also important to remember to blink frequently and to close your eyes completely. Lastly, speak to your optometrist about wearing computer glasses while you work, as they are designed to eliminate glare from the screen, and reduce eye strain.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Ashburn, Virginia. Visit Loudoun Eye Associates for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

5 Ways to Protect and Improve Your Child’s Eyesight

Your child’s vision is their primary window into the world around them. Keeping their eyesight healthy is an important part of allowing them to experience life to the fullest.

Here are 5 tips on how to protect and improve your child’s eye health:

1. Take them to the eye doctor for routine eye exams

One of the most important take-aways from any article you read on the subject of keeping your child’s vision and eyes healthy, is the need to keep up with routine comprehensive eye exams.

Although your kid’s school may perform vision screenings, these tests can only detect the most basic issues, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or severe amblyopia. They are not equipped to check for eye diseases that can affect your child’s long-term ocular health, or binocular vision disorders that can hinder their ability to learn.

Our Ashburn eye doctor will be able to perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for the presence of these and other conditions. If ocular diseases or vision disorders are detected, your eye doctor will have the equipment and expertise to properly treat them.

2. Limit their screen time

Screens are an ever-present part of our lives. Children can spend hours every day texting, playing video games, watching television, and more. It is all-too-easy to spend way too much time on these digital devices, causing symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eye
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain

Excessive blue light, like the kind that comes from these screens, interferes with sleep and may increase eyestrain.

To prevent symptoms and protect your child’s long-term vision health, limit their screen time, when possible, to less than two hours, and devices should be turned off a few hours before bedtime to allow your child to wind down.

3. Encourage them to eat healthy foods and get exercise

As with every part of the body, a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring the long-term health of your child’s eyes.

Eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to promote eye health. Good sources include fish such as salmon and herring. For vegans and others who don’t eat fish, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also a great option.

Leafy greens and fruits are also important, as they’re high in vitamins A, C and E, which are all important for the development and maintenance of healthy vision.

Along with a healthy diet, you should encourage your child to get up and exercise. Physical activity is good for the whole body, and that includes the eyes.

Bonus points if you can get your child outside, as sunlight and outdoor play have been shown to slow or even prevent the development of myopia. Just make sure your child wears sunglasses and a sun hat — UV rays have a cumulative effect that could lead to eye diseases like macular degeneration later in life.

4. Help them avoid eye injuries

Eye injuries are an all-too-common occurrence, especially among children.

If you have little ones at home, make sure that paints, cleaners and other dangerous chemicals and irritants are put away somewhere safe. If these ever get into their eyes, they can cause severe damage to your child’s visual system, including permanent loss of vision.

For contact and ball/puck sports, ensure your child wears the right eyewear to protect their eyes from accidental impacts or pokes. Helmets should also be worn where the sport warrants it, to prevent concussions and other head injuries that can have an effect on vision.

5. Reduce eye infections

Even small, common infections such as pink eye can have an impact on your child’s vision.

Hands are some of the most bacteria-filled parts of our bodies. Your child should learn not to touch their eyes with their unwashed hands, as this is the primary way of introducing germs to the eye that may result in infection.

On a similar note, if you have contact lens wearers, be sure to teach them to wash their hands each and every time they put in or take out their contact lenses. They should also learn to store and clean their lenses strictly according to their eye doctor‘s instructions and should change lenses according to their intended schedule. Daily contacts should be changed daily, monthly contacts, monthly.

For more information on how best to protect and improve your child’s eyesight, contact Loudoun Eye Associates in Ashburn today.

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: Can I rely on the vision screenings at my child’s school to catch vision and eye health issues?

  • A: No. School-based vision screenings check for basic visual acuity. Even if your child has perfect 20/20 vision, there may still be issues with visual skills or undetected eye diseases that these types of screenings are not equipped to catch.It is important not to rely on school vision screenings as a replacement for an annual comprehensive eye exam with your local optometrist. During these visits, your eye doctor will be able to assess your child for vision skills such as:

    Eye teaming ability
    Convergence and divergence skills
    Tracking and focusing Visual accommodation

    They will also be able to diagnose and treat conditions such as:

    Amblyopia
    Strabismus
    (Rarely) pediatric glaucoma or cataracts

    These and other conditions can only be diagnosed and treated by a trained optometrist as part of a comprehensive eye exam.

Q: Can vision problems be misdiagnosed as ADHD/ADD?

  • A: It is unfortunately common for learning-related vision problems to go undetected. These vision problems can often mimic the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, leading to misdiagnosis and mistaken treatment.As many as 1 out of every 4 school-age children suffers from some form of visual dysfunction. If not properly treated, a child may struggle throughout their entire school career, harming their learning and possibly their long-term self-confidence.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Ashburn, Virginia. Visit Loudoun Eye Associates for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Eyesight

Pregnancy can impact almost every part of a woman’s body and health — including her eyes. In fact, an estimated 14% of pregnant women report experiencing visual changes during pregnancy that usually resolve on their own within a couple of months after giving birth.

Knowing the different visual symptoms that can present when you’re expecting can help alert you to potential underlying health concerns that your physician may need to address.

Normal Visual Changes During Pregnancy

Blurred Vision

Blurred vision is the most common visual symptom that pregnant women may experience. Hormonal fluctuations are usually to blame for the temporary decrease in visual acuity, and your eyesight will likely return to normal soon after giving birth.

The influx of pregnancy hormones causes fluid retention in some areas of the body and can cause the cornea to thicken slightly. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused accurately and vision may be blurred.

Less commonly, blurred vision can signal gestational diabetes, a pregnancy complication affecting 6-9% of pregnant women. The rise in blood sugar level impacts the focusing lens of the eye, leading to blurry vision. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, including gestational diabetes, it’s a good idea to book an eye exam to monitor for retinal changes.

Blurred vision is also a common side effect of dry eye syndrome, a condition characterized by tears that don’t adequately lubricate the eyes, which can be brought on or exacerbated by pregnancy.

Eye Dryness

Pregnancy hormones can cause a reduction in the amount of tears your eyes produce or affect the quality of the tears. These changes can affect a woman throughout her entire pregnancy, but studies show that eye dryness is particularly common in the last trimester. For this reason, some women find it difficult to wear contact lenses in their third trimester and temporarily switch to glasses.

Eye Puffiness

Yet another body part that swells during pregnancy: the eyelids and tissues around the eyes.

Pregnancy-related water retention may cause your eyelids to appear puffier than during your pre-pregnancy days. You may also notice darker areas under the eyes. If your puffy eyes bother you, try limiting your salt and caffeine intake, as they can worsen the problem.

Visual Changes That May Indicate a Problem

The following visual changes warrant a prompt call to your eye doctor or obstetrician to rule out any underlying complications.

Flashes or floaters

Seeing stars during pregnancy can signal high blood pressure, which is associated with preeclampsia — a serious medical condition that requires close monitoring by your physician and possible treatment.

It’s crucial to have your blood pressure monitored throughout your pregnancy, as preeclampsia can potentially endanger the life of mother and child, as well as damage the cornea and retina.

Temporary vision loss

Temporary vision loss is concerning for pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. Vision loss is another warning sign of preeclampsia, so contact your doctor promptly if you suddenly lose any portion of your visual field.

Sensitivity to light

Light-sensitivity can either be a normal side effect of fluid retention in the eye, or it can signal dangerously high blood pressure and preeclampsia.

How We Can Help

At ​​Loudoun Eye Associates, our goal is to keep your vision and eyes healthy throughout your pregnancy and beyond. If you experience any visual symptoms, we can help by thoroughly examining your eyes to determine the underlying cause and provide you with guidance on what next steps to take.

Pregnancy is a wonderful time, when self care should be at the forefront — and that includes comprehensive eye care.

To schedule an eye exam or learn more about our eye care services, call Loudoun Eye Associates in Ashburn today!

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: Why are regular eye exams important?

  • A: Having your eyes evaluated by an optometrist on a regular basis is crucial for detecting early signs of eye diseases and changes in your prescription, including during pregnancy. Many serious eye diseases don’t cause any noticeable symptoms until they’ve progressed to late stages, when damage to vision may be irreversible. Whether or not you wear glasses or contact lenses for vision correction, ask your optometrist about how often to schedule a routine eye exam.

Q: Will my baby need an eye exam after birth?

  • A: According to the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists, babies should have an eye exam within the first 6-12 months of life, even in the absence of noticeable vision problems. Healthy vision is a significant part of healthy overall development, so be sure not to skip your baby’s eye exams!

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Ashburn, Virginia. Visit Loudoun Eye Associates for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

5 Important Eye Care Tips For Kids

Your child’s ability to see the world relies on healthy eyes. By teaching them how to care for their eyes, you help protect them from injury and ensure their eyes and vision remain healthy in the long run. Here are our 5 top eye care tips for kids.

Good Eye Care Habits for Children

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet and Drink Plenty of Water

A nutritious diet and healthy eyes go hand in hand. Encourage your child to eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, and prioritize foods rich in vitamin A found in green leafy and yellow vegetables. Eggs are also rich in important nutrients, containing vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc, all vital for eye health.

Another thing to look out for is hydration. Proper hydration plays a key role in maintaining healthy eyes and a healthy body, so make sure your child drinks plenty of water (the appropriate amount will vary according to your child’s age, level of physical activity and weather conditions).

2. Wear Eye Protection

Physical activity is enjoyable and healthy, but make sure your child is wearing the right protective eyewear, like safety goggles, anytime they participate in sports or activities that could cause an eye injury (i.e. playing ball, hockey, carpentry). Wearing a helmet for sports like riding a bicycle protects against concussions, which can result in lingering vision problems, and are usually preventable.

Furthermore, provide your child with good UV-blocking sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s UV radiation. Staring directly at the sun, or the light rays reflecting off water and snow, can potentially cause retinal burns, in addition to long term damage.

3. Give The Eyes a Rest

Staring at the school board and school books all day, followed by playing video games or watching TV in the evening can cause eye strain. Be sure your child gets sufficient sleep to allow their eyes to rest. Replace evening activities with those that don’t require intense eye focusing: going to the park, playing outdoors with friends, or simply lying down with their eyes closed while listening to music or an audiobook.

4. Reduce Time Spent on Digital Devices

Spending time on digital devices and staring at screens is an integral part of our lives. Playing video games, watching videos on their smartphones and playing computer games, all require the eyes to fixate for extended periods of time, which can lead to digital eye strain, headaches and even dry eyes.

Experts believe that the number of hours spent on screens is the driving force behind the myopia pandemic. Try to reduce the amount of time your child spends on the screen by getting your child to participate in other activities, such as sports. If you are worried about the hours your child is spending on a screen myopia management can mitigate their risk of developing future eye problems.

5. Get Their Eyes Checked Regularly

School-aged children’s vision can change often, and unexpectedly, until the late teenage years. Left uncorrected, poor eyesight can interfere with learning, and cause behavioral and attention issues.

Getting a routine eye exam is important as it can uncover vision problems, detect eye conditions early on, and significantly increase the odds of preserving long-term eye health. For those who wear glasses or contacts, it’s important to check for any changes and update the prescription as needed.

Ensure your child’s eyes are being cared for properly by scheduling an eye exam with Loudoun Eye Associates in Ashburn today. Your child’s eye doctor can further educate them on eye safety and answer any questions you or your child may have.

Q&A

My kid frequently rubs their eyes. Is that bad?

Kids often rub their eyes, especially if they have allergies, irritated eyes, or they feel like something is stuck in their peepers. Rubbing can scratch the cornea, and transfer bacteria from the child’s hands to their eyes, causing an eye infection.

Instead of rubbing, have them wash their eyes with cool water to flush out any foreign body or irritant, and ease inflammation. If the problem persists, contact your child’s optometrist.

Other than reducing screen time, is there anything else I can do to maintain eye health & safety?

When you’re at home, keep an eye on your children’s playtime and make sure that none of their toys — or the toys at their friends’ homes — are sharp. Sharp plastic swords and toys with jagged edges can cause serious eye injuries.

How Can My Child’s Myopia Be Corrected?

At Loudoun Eye Associates, we help children like yours achieve clear and comfortable vision, so they can succeed at the important things in life.

Methods of Myopia Correction

Contact Lenses

Contacts can be a great choice, especially for physically active children or teens who don’t want to worry about breaking or misplacing their eyeglasses. In some cases of very high myopia, contact lenses can offer clearer vision than glasses.

Corrective contact lenses are usually placed in the eyes upon waking and removed at night before bedtime. There are several types, including: soft contacts, daily disposables, extended wear, and rigid gas permeable (hard) lenses. Navigating through the differences between them can be daunting. Fortunately, if you’re located in Ashburn our eye doctor will be happy to guide you. Speak with Dr. Richard Kao to determine whether your child is ready for contact lenses.

Prescription Glasses

Glasses are a popular choice among our younger patients. Choosing from an array of styles makes the process fun and exciting! Allowing the children to be active participants in selecting their eyewear increases the likelihood that they’ll actually wear them. There are strong, flexible and resilient frames which look great and are comfortable too.

The optician can customize the lenses with additions and upgrades like impact-resistant or shatter-proof materials, scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coatings, UV filters, and transition lenses that darken in the sun. For those requiring vision correction for distance and near, we also offer bifocal or multifocal lens prescriptions.

We Can Help Correct Your Child’s Myopia

If you’re located near Ashburn, Virginia, an eye exam with our optometrist can determine your child’s exact prescription, and give you the opportunity to receive answers to any questions you may have about your child’s eye health and vision. Progressive myopia, where a growing child’s prescription continues to worsen, is why it’s important for myopic children to undergo eye exams at least once a year.

At Loudoun Eye Associates, our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to recommend the most suitable method of correcting your child’s myopia to meet his or her individual needs. Thanks to the wide range options available, your child will walk away with eyewear that will not only enhance his or her style but will also be a boost of confidence.

Let us help your child see the world in a whole new light. To schedule your child’s annual eye exam or if you have any further questions, contact Loudoun Eye Associates at 703-724-0330 today.

Are Floaters and Flashes Dangerous?

You’ve likely experienced occasional visual “floaters” or flashes and may have wondered what they were and if they’re a cause for concern. They look like tiny lines, shapes, shadows, or specks that appear to be drifting in the visual field. More often than not, seeing floaters is a normal occurrence and does not indicate a problem with ocular or visual health. However, when floaters become more frequent and are accompanied by flashes of light, that can indicate a more serious problem.

Eye flashes resemble star-like specks or strands of light that either flash or flicker in one’s field of vision. They can either be a single burst in one visual zone, or can be several flashes throughout a wider area. Flashes can sometimes be missed as they most often appear in the side or peripheral vision.

Floaters & Flashes Eye Care in Ashburn, Virginia

If you suddenly, or with increasing frequency, experience flashes or floaters, call Loudoun Eye Associates and schedule an eye exam with Dr. Richard Kao right away to rule out any serious eye conditions.

What Causes Floaters?

The vitreous in the eye is a clear gel that fills most of the eyeball and resembles raw egg-white. Within the vitreous are small lumps of protein that drift around and move with the motion of your eyes. When these tiny lumps of protein cast shadows on the retina — the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye — the shadows appear as floaters.

As we age, the vitreous shrinks, creating more strands of protein. This is why the appearance of floaters may increase with time. Floaters tend to be more prevalent in nearsighted people and diabetics, and occur more frequently following cataract surgery or an eye injury.

If seeing floaters becomes bothersome, try moving your eyes up and down or side to side to gently relocate the floaters away from your visual field.

What Causes Flashes?

Flashes result from the retinal nerve cells being moved or tugged on. As the vitreous shrinks over time, it can tug at the retina, causing you to “see stars” or bursts of light. The process of the vitreous separating from the retina is called “posterior vitreous detachment” (PVD) and usually isn’t dangerous.

In about 16% of cases, PVD causes tiny tears in the retina that can lead to retinal detachment — a sight-threatening condition that causes irreversible blindness if left untreated.

Other possible causes of flashes are eye trauma or migraine headaches.

When To Call Your Optometrist About Floaters

If you experience any of the following symptoms, promptly make an appointment with an eye doctor near you for emergency eye care.

Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

  • A sudden onset of floaters accompanied by flashes (which can be any shape or size)
  • An increase of floaters accompanied by a darkening of one side of the visual field
  • Shadows in the peripheral vision
  • Any time flashes are seen

In many cases, seeing floaters is no cause for concern; however the above symptoms could indicate retinal detachment—which, if left untreated, could cause a permanent loss of sight or even blindness.

If the receptionists pick up the phone and hear the main concern is floaters or flashes, they will try to squeeze in the appointment within 24 hours. Expect the pupils to be dilated during your eye exam, so the eye doctor can get a really good look at the peripheral retina to diagnose or rule out a retinal tear or other serious condition, as opposed to a non-vision-threatening condition such as uncomplicated posterior vitreous detachment (quite common) or ocular migraine.

Please contact Loudoun Eye Associates in Ashburn at 703-724-0330 with any further questions, or to schedule an eye doctor’s appointment.

Tips to Relax Your Eyes

Do your eyes hurt after spending a significant amount of time reading, playing video games, driving, or staring at a screen? These visually intense activities can sometimes be hard on the eyes, causing uncomfortable symptoms like headaches and blurry vision. Other symptoms of eye strain can include light sensitivity, neck and shoulder pain, trouble concentrating, and burning or itchy eyes.

Fortunately, preventing painful computer vision syndrome and eye fatigue symptoms can be as simple as trying a few of these eye exercises. To learn more about digital eye strain and discover the best relief options for you, call Loudoun Eye Associates at 703-724-0330 and schedule an eye exam with Dr. Richard Kao.

Relax Your Eyes with These Supportive Techniques

Many of these exercises are designed for computer users. Eye strain resulting from long drives, reading, or other activities, can be alleviated by modifying some of these recommendations.

The Clock Exercise

The clock exercise relieves strain on overworked eye muscles and can help you avoid headaches and eye pain, among other symptoms. Begin the exercise by imagining a large analog clock a few feet in front of you. Keep your head still and move your eyes to the imaginary 9, then to the imaginary 3.

Keep moving your eyes to the opposite pairs on the clock — 10/4, 11/5, 12/6, and so on. Hold your gaze for a second or two on each number before moving on to the next one. Continue doing this for 4-5 minutes.

The 20-20-20 Rule

The 20-20-20 rule helps you avoid dry eyes and eye strain by giving your eyes frequent breaks. After about 20 minutes of screen time or doing close-up work, focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives the eyes a much needed rest and helps them relax. There are also free apps available that provide pop-up reminders that notify you when it’s time to shift your gaze.

Screen Ergonomics

The American Optometric Association recommends placing computer monitors 20 to 28 inches, or 50-70 cm, away from your eyes and the top of the computer should be at eye level or right below for optimum eye comfort. Glare filters can reduce the amount of glare produced by digital devices and improve your viewing experience.

Poor sitting posture can also contribute to eye strain. Your chair should be situated so that your feet are flat on the floor, or use an angled footrest for additional comfort.

Optimize your Eyewear

Since regular prescription lenses or glasses may not adequately meet your visual needs for lengthy computer use, you may benefit from wearing computer glasses. These prescription glasses are customized to your needs and also reduce glare and block blue light.

 

You don’t have to live with the discomforts of eye strain. If symptoms persist, it may be time to visit Loudoun Eye Associates and get the relief you seek. Call our office to schedule a convenient eye doctor’s appointment.

 

How Long Does It Take to Get Used to New Glasses?

Most people who wear glasses are familiar with the excitement and confidence boost that accompanies wearing new specs for the first time. But sometimes there is an adjustment period before your vision is fully comfortable. Things may look blurry, or you may notice feeling dizzy after prolonged wear. Some of these symptoms can be a normal part of the adjustment period, but sometimes they’re a reason to contact your eye doctor. If your new glasses are giving you trouble, speak with Dr. Richard Kao about ensuring that your eyesight is both clear and comfortable.

When Will My Eyes Adjust to My New Glasses?

It can take a few days to a few weeks for your eyes and brain to fully adjust to your new eyewear, whether you are increasing your prescription or wearing eyeglasses for the first time.

Even if you are getting new glasses with the same prescription, different frames or lenses can alter your vision until you get used to the new frame style or lens type. The complexity of your prescription and whether you buy a lens with premium optics versus basic spherical lens or polycarbonate material all can affect the adjustment time.

Progressive lenses tend to be the most difficult to adjust to. This is related to the peripheral soft focus zones, which are much less blurred for customized lenses prescribed by your local optometrist.

What Are Some Possible Visual Symptoms I Could Experience?

Some common experiences shared by those adjusting to new eyewear include:

  • Eye strain, headache
  • Blurry vision
  • Trouble with depth perception, nausea and dizziness
  • “Barrel distortion” — objects appear distorted, for high plus lenses
  • “Fishbowl effect” — the feeling that your visual field is being bent along the edges, as if you’re looking through a fishbowl, common in high minus prescriptions

Why Do My New Glasses Give Me a Headache?

Fatigued eye muscles can cause headaches. But your eyes aren’t the only things adjusting to your new lenses. Your brain is also working hard to create a clear picture of the messages it’s receiving from your eyes. This extra brain activity can sometimes bring on a headache, which should only last about a day or so.

Why Do I Feel Dizzy With My New Glasses?

Dizziness and nausea can be caused by problems with depth perception, similar to motion sickness. With motion sickness, you feel uneasy because your brain is having difficulty understanding the position of your body in relation to the space surrounding it. So when you wear your new glasses, your brain may need some time to understand how to interpret the new images it’s receiving, causing you to feel disoriented or dizzy.

When Should I Call My Eye Doctor?

When the adjustment period extends beyond a few weeks, there is a possibility that there was an error in the manufacturing of the lenses. Many people purchase eyewear from somewhere other than their eye doctor or order glasses online, and some studies have shown that up to 40% of online eyewear is made incorrectly or inaccurately.

It’s important to note that many offices may charge fees to check eyewear that is not made by them and that there may be fees for rechecking a patient’s refraction when glasses are made by another source.

Discomfort that lasts longer than a couple of weeks means it’s time to call your optometrist. Persistent symptoms like headaches, dizziness, or blurry vision can indicate that your glasses aren’t well suited to your eyes and need adjusting. Your optometrist will double check the prescription of the glasses among other things to ensure that the new glasses are right for you.

If you need new glasses or are having a hard time adjusting to a new pair, don’t hesitate to contact Loudoun Eye Associates to schedule an appointment with the Ashburn eye doctor.

Don’t Do These 11 Things If You Wear Daily Disposable Contacts!

Countless people around the world wear daily disposable contact lenses or dailies. These popular single-use lenses are removed and discarded at the end of each day, and a new, fresh pair is inserted the next morning. Used properly, dailies promote eye health, and they’re comfortable and convenient.

Despite the many advantages associated with wearing daily disposables, there are plenty of ways you can damage your eyes and vision — some you may never have considered.

1. Don’t Touch Contacts with Dirty Hands

Before touching your lenses, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. By touching your contact lenses with dirty hands, you transfer bacteria to your lenses, which can lead to an infection. Preferably dry your hands with a disposable paper towel rather than a cloth towel, and ensure that no remnants of the towel remain on your fingers.

2. Don’t Expose Your Contacts to Water

Any source of water, whether tap, pool, or lake water, can change the shape of your lenses and cause micro-abrasions on your cornea. Plus, the water may contain bacteria that can wreak havoc on your eye health and cause you to experience temporary vision loss or even permanent blindness.

If you must get in the water with your contacts on, make sure to wear waterproof goggles. If you do get water on your contact lenses, dispose of these lenses and insert a new pair. Exposing contact lenses to chemicals like chlorine binds to the lens and cannot be cleaned off. It then leeches onto the cornea and causes irritation.

The next time you’re tempted to swim or shower with your lenses on, think twice before doing so.

3. Don’t Reuse Your Contacts

Daily disposable contacts are designed to be thrown away after every single use, and people who reuse them risk painful and risky outcomes. Dailies are thinner, more fragile, and don’t hold moisture as well as other contacts.

Users sometimes attempt to increase the lifespan of these lenses by cleaning them in a disinfecting solution and wearing them for several days or even weeks at a time. This is problematic, as the lens material doesn’t allow for repeated disinfecting. In fact, the process of cleaning the lenses tends to be not only ineffective but also breaks down the lens itself, increasing the risk of the lens falling apart while in the eye. The risk of complications and infection is not worth the few saved bucks.

4. Don’t Insert a Dropped Contact In Your Eye

One of the perks of daily lenses is that they are less expensive (per lens) than other types of contacts. So if you find yourself dropping a lens into the sink or on the floor, don’t bother placing it back in your eye. Doing so can cost you your eye health.

5. Don’t Ever Put Contacts In Your Mouth

It seems like a funny concept, doesn’t it? You wouldn’t believe the number of people who do this. If you drop a contact lens, avoid rooting around the floor trying to find it, and if you do, definitely don’t put it in your mouth to lubricate it. Your mouth contains bacteria that can infect your eyes once you reinsert your contacts.

Play it safe by carrying around an emergency pair of glasses or an extra pair of daily disposable contacts in your bag, your car, or at work.

6. Don’t Overwear Your Daily Lenses

Wearing your lenses for long periods of time can damage your eyes, even if they’re daily contacts. The maximum recommended daily use for any contact lens is 14-16 hours, though Dr. Richard Kao will determine the exact number of hours you should wear your lenses. Your eyes, just like any other part of your body, need to rest. Your corneas receive oxygen from the air, not from blood vessels, and while it’s healthy to wear contacts during the day, wearing them for extended periods can significantly reduce the amount of oxygen your eyes receive, which can lead to complications. If you don’t give your eyes the rest they need, your corneas might get swollen, which can lead to corneal abrasion and even bacterial infection.

7. Don’t Sleep With Your Lenses

Daily lenses should never be worn overnight. You’re risking your sight by sleeping in a lens that’s not approved for overnight use, as it can lead to ocular irritation, swelling and corneal ulcers.

8. Don’t Insert Contacts Before Completing Your Morning Routine

Avoid inserting your contacts before you shower or wash your face, since you risk exposing your lenses to tap water and the bacteria that come with it. We also recommend that you insert your lenses after blow-drying and styling your hair, especially if you’re using hairspray or other aerosols, as these products can dry out your contacts. Additionally, the spray can coat the lenses and leave a film that not only irritates the eyes, but can make it difficult to see. If you’re at the hairdresser’s and cannot remove your lenses, shut your eyes when spray is applied.

9. Don’t Get Makeup On Your Contacts

Insert your contacts before applying makeup, because any makeup residue on your hands, such as mascara, can easily transfer to your lenses.

It’s not uncommon for people to get concealer, eyeliner or mascara on their contact lenses. If that happens, immediately remove the lens and clean the makeup with solution (while making sure to dispose of the lens before bed). Otherwise, simply replace with another lens. Avoid wearing waterproof makeup, since it can’t always be removed from your lenses, even when rinsed with solution.

To prevent makeup from getting on your lenses, don’t apply mascara all the way from the base of your lashes up. Instead, apply it from the midway point. It’s also important not to apply eyeliner on the inner lid of your eye, but rather to the skin above your lashes.

10. Don’t Wear Contact Lenses If Your Eyes Are Irritated

As the saying goes, “if in doubt – take them out!” If your eyes feel irritated, uncomfortable, or if you notice any pain or redness, don’t power through. If your symptoms last a while, contact Dr. Richard Kao at Loudoun Eye Associates. You don’t want to let a serious infection go unchecked.

When your eyes feel more rested and are free of discomfort, put in a fresh pair of contacts.

11. Don’t Rub Your Eyes

If your eyes feel itchy or dry, or if a lens feels out of place, you may be tempted to rub your eyes. But rubbing, whether with contacts or without, can lead to long-term ocular issues. This may cause you to experience blurred vision, and may even damage your cornea. Instead, Dr. Richard Kao can recommend eye drops to relieve any discomfort. Make sure to apply them only when contact lenses are removed.

Above, we have delved into things you should never do with daily contact lenses. Fortunately, if you do make a mistake, you can remove the lens and replace it with a fresh one. The few dollars you might save by not opening a new pack aren’t worth the damage a mistake can cause.

 

If you have any questions or are interested in finding out more about contact lenses, contact Loudoun Eye Associates in Ashburn today. Dr. Richard Kao will be happy to explain how to care for your eyes and maintain your vision.

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Please note: Our office will be closed on Monday, July 4th and reopen on Tuesday July 5th. Thank you.