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What’s the Link Between Sleep and Glaucoma?

Sleep is usually a time for restoration and healing, but the way we sleep, how much we sleep and conditions like apnea can increase your chances of developing a serious eye condition: glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a sight-threatening optic nerve disease that generally affects people over 50 and, in its early stages, usually presents no symptoms until permanent vision loss has occurred.

This is why it’s essential to have your annual eye exam, especially if you’re 50 or older or at high risk of developing glaucoma. Regular check-ups enable your eye doctor to detect any eye problems, including glaucoma, early on. This can maximize the effectiveness of eye disease treatment and management.

If you’re due for your annual eye evaluation, schedule your eye exam with at in today.

Sleep and Risk Factors for Glaucoma

The quality and amount of our sleep and the way we sleep can increase our risk of developing glaucoma due to the following factors:

Eye Pressure and Glaucoma

The pressure within our eyes is affected by the amount of aqueous fluid and its ability to drain from the eyes. The aqueous fluid doesn’t drain efficiently when we lie flat on our back. The lack of drainage due to positioning during sleep can increase ocular pressure, which can strain the optic nerve and increase the risk of glaucoma.

Blood Pressure and Glaucoma

When we sleep, our blood pressure decreases. This is often good for people who suffer from hypertension because it takes some pressure off the cardiovascular system. However, long periods of low blood pressure, or hypotension, during sleep has been shown to exacerbate glaucoma symptoms.

Sleep Apnea and Glaucoma

Sleep apnea is marked by the occasional or frequent cessation of breathing during sleep. Usually, the person is unaware that they have sleep apnea, and only a partner or someone else who sleeps in the same room will notice that they make choking or gasping sounds as they stop breathing.

These periods of interrupted breathing can lessen the flow of oxygen and damage the optic nerve. There is an observable link between people who have sleep apnea and those who suffer from glaucoma, which may suggest a causal connection. The risk of people with sleep apnea developing glaucoma could be as high as 10 times the average. Individuals with sleep apnea should consult with their primary care physician, who can suggest lifestyle changes and devices such as oral appliances to help treat the condition.

Glaucoma and the Amount of Sleep

Too little or too much sleep can affect general health and contribute to eye problems. As mentioned above, extended periods of lying down can increase pressure on the optic nerve and contribute to the development of glaucoma. Yet too little sleep causes fatigue and has been associated with field vision loss.

According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005-2008), those who slept 10 hours or more a night had triple the risk of developing glaucoma compared to people who slept only 7 hours a night. Getting three hours of sleep a night tripled the risk of field vision loss.

Among other lifestyle glaucoma prevention tips, such as maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking, getting the right amount of sleep — not too much or too little — are important steps towards preventing optic nerve problems.

How Glaucoma Interferes with Sleep

Not only does the amount and way we sleep affect the development and progression of glaucoma. This optic nerve disease can interfere with our sleep. This occurs because the communication between the retina’s photosensitive cells and the hypothalamus — the part of the brain that contains the circadian clock that regulates sleep — is disrupted in glaucoma patients.

The hypothalamus no longer sends a message to the pineal gland to secrete melatonin and induce sleep at the proper time. The result: people with glaucoma may also experience sleep disturbances.

Risk factors for Glaucoma

Since many glaucoma patients do not experience symptoms prior to diagnosis, it is essential to undergo regular eye exams, especially for those considered at higher risk:

  • Aged 50 or older
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, heart disease
  • Are African American, Asian or Hispanic
  • Have corneas that thin at the center
  • Eye injury or prior eye surgery
  • High myopia (severe nearsightedness)
  • Take corticosteroids such as eye drops, pills or creams

How is Glaucoma Detected?

A digital eye exam maps out the eye with 3D full color images allowing your eye doctor to detect any problems early.

Retinal imaging can detect glaucoma and show optic nerve damage. Eye dilation is occasionally required before the imaging of the eye to enable your optometrist to more easily see the inside of your eye.

To facilitate the early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma and other eye diseases and conditions, schedule an appointment with at in today.

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.

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Q&A

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of glaucoma.

Open-angle glaucoma results from a lack of drainage of fluid from the eye. It generally has no obvious symptoms in its early phases. In its later stages, it presents with:

  • Blind spots and patches in the central or peripheral vision
  • Tunnel vision

Acute angle-closure glaucoma occurs when there is a sudden buildup of fluid pressure in the aqueous humor. Symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Pain in the eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Eye redness
  • Appearance of halos

What Causes a Feeling of Pressure Behind the Eye?

Glaucoma is often caused by pressure on the optic nerve. However, a feeling of pressure behind the eye is generally only felt with closed-angle glaucoma.

An excessive amount of fluid in the eye, called the aqueous humor or a sudden blockage to proper drainage causes a buildup and increased pressure on the optic nerve. Drainage of the aqueous humor is through the trabecular meshwork, which is located where the cornea and the iris meet.

Eye Vitamins: Can They Prevent or Treat Glaucoma?

Some initial studies have shown a potential link between Vitamin A and Vitamin C and a protective effect related to glaucoma. However, a systematic review of the literature on vitamins and glaucoma (Nutrients, March 2018), concludes that these studies are inconclusive and more research, including randomized clinical trials, are needed to establish any clear link between specific vitamins and preventing or treating glaucoma.

5 Contact Lens Health Tips

Contact lenses are a convenient way to correct vision without glasses or LASIK surgery. To keep their eyes healthy, contact lens wearers should adopt a care regimen that involves regular rinsing, disinfecting and replacing their lenses when needed.

A contact lens exam and fitting session with Loudoun Eye Associates in ​​Ashburn will ensure that you receive the best lenses for you and your lifestyle. The eye doctor will also instruct you on how to clean and care for them.

The following tips are essential for healthy and safe contact lens use:

  1. Replace contact lenses as advised by your eye doctor
  2. Wash hands carefully before touching the lenses, either removing or inserting
  3. Only use the prescribed solution to rinse lenses
  4. Disinfect contact lenses as instructed by your eye doctor
  5. Schedule a contact lens exam and fitting
  6. Always attend your contact lens follow up exams, even if you are not experiencing any problems

Replace Contact Lenses as Instructed

It’s important to replace your contact lenses as directed by your eye doctor. The period of time you can wear your lenses before using new ones depends on the type of lenses you have:

  • Daily disposable lenses – one-time use
  • Bi-weekly disposable lenses – replace every two weeks or sooner
  • Monthly lenses – every month
  • Traditional (non-disposable) lenses – replace every 6 to 12 months, or as per your eye doctor‘s advice.

Inspect your lenses carefully. If they are showing signs of wear and tear, replace them sooner. Exceeding the maximum time frame for contact lens wear can increase the risk of eye irritation and infection, and may even damage your eyes to the point where you can no longer wear contact lenses.

Wash and Dry Hands Carefully Before Applying Contact Lenses

Teens and adults often lead active lives and it can be easy to skip important routines like washing your hands with soap and water and drying them thoroughly with a lint-free towel or paper towel before applying contact lenses. This step shouldn’t be ignored as unwashed fingers transmit germs onto the lenses, which can enter the eye and lead to serious eye damage and vision loss.

So make sure you use plain soap (and not heavily scented varieties that may contain irritants) and dry your fingers with a lint-free towel before inserting or removing your contacts.

Use Solution to Rinse Contact Lenses

Rinsing contact lenses properly keeps tiny particles of makeup residue and microbes from reaching your eye. Apply the solution generously and rub the lens in the palm of your hand.

Even if you are at school or work and feel you are in too much of a hurry to get your solution, do not use tap water to rinse your lenses. Tap water is teeming with minerals, impurities and microbes that can damage lenses, irritate your eyes and spread infection.

Disinfect Contact Lenses

Disinfecting contact lenses kills germs and pathogens that can cause eye infections. There are several products and methods for disinfecting:

  • Multipurpose solution
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Disinfecting devices

A multipurpose solution (MPS) can be used for routine rinsing as well as disinfecting. The procedure involves rinsing the lenses twice, placing them in a case filled with the multipurpose solution, letting the lenses soak, then rinsing them again before use.

The vast majority of eye doctors recommend an MPS for all disposable lenses

Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful disinfectant that should be used with care and only with a [neutralizer]. Rinse the lenses and place them in a special contact lens container, then dip them in the solution. A [neutralizer] may be built-in to special lens holders or is available in tablet form. After the solution has been [neutralized], you can rinse, dry, and wear the contact lenses.

Schedule a Contact Lens Exam, Fitting and Follow Up

To keep your eyes healthy and vision sharp, your contact lenses should be the right size and type to suit your vision requirements and lifestyle. A thorough contact lens exam and fitting are essential. Your eye doctor will perform a series of tests, including measurements of the cornea, iris and pupil, an evaluation of tear production and of the surface of your eyes.

A contact lens exam also includes questions about lifestyle and what kind of lenses you prefer. For instance, a teenager who is on a high school sports team may also need disposable lenses for road games and swim meets. The exam also involves a fitting session as well as follow-up exams to ensure the lenses do not cause irritation.

Follow up appointments are essential to allow the eye doctor to observe your eye health and make any adjustments to the lenses or your care regimen. It is essential to come to these exams, even if you are not experiencing any problems.

To schedule a contact lens exam, fitting or follow-up exam, contact us at Loudoun Eye Associates in ​​Ashburn. We serve patients of every age, from children to seniors. Book your appointment with Loudoun Eye Associates today
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.

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Q&A

Why do my eyes feel dry when I wear contacts?

There are a few possible reasons your eyes may feel dry or irritated when wearing contacts. Your contacts may not be fitting properly or something may have entered into your eyes. There may also be an issue with your eyes and may be suffering from dry eye disease. It’s best to speak with your eye doctor and choose the optimal lens for ultimate comfort and hydration. If dry eye disease is diagnosed, your eye doctor will provide guidance and help you get the treatment you need for lasting relief.

7 Questions And Answers About Astigmatism

7 Questions And Answers About Astigmatism 640×350If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you probably have some degree of astigmatism. But how much do you really know about this all-too-common refractive error?

Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about astigmatism and explain why scleral contact lenses are often prescribed to astigmatic patients.

1. What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common refractive error caused by a cornea that isn’t perfectly spherical. The cornea is the outer front covering of the eye and is partially responsible for refracting light onto the retina. When the cornea is misshapen, it refracts light incorrectly, creating two focus points of light entering the eye. Since the light is no longer focused on the retina, it results in blurred vision at all distances.

2. What are the Symptoms of Astigmatism?

The main symptom of astigmatism is blurred vision, but it can also cause symptoms like:

  • Objects appearing wavy or distorted
  • Squinting
  • Headaches
  • Poor night vision
  • Frequent eye strain

3. How Common is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism affects approximately 1 in 3 individuals around the world. Most people with myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness) also have some level of astigmatism.

4. What’s the Difference Between Astigmatism, Nearsightedness and Farsightedness?

Although all 3 of these refractive errors negatively affect visual clarity, they are caused by different mechanisms.

Astigmatism is a result of a non-spherical cornea, which causes two focal points and blurry vision. Myopia occurs when the corneal focusing power is too high and the light focuses in front of, instead of directly, on the retina. Hyperopia occurs when the corneal power is too weak, so the light rays focus behind the retina, not on it. Both myopia and hyperopia can occur with a spherical cornea.

5. How is Astigmatism Corrected?

In cases of mild to moderate astigmatism, the blurred vision can be easily corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses. But for patients with high levels of astigmatism, standard contact lenses may not be an option. Toric contact lenses are a popular choice for patients with mild or moderate astigmatism due to their unique focusing features and oblong shape. Scleral contact lenses are suitable for moderate to severe astigmatism.

Refractive surgery is also an option, but comes with the risk of surgical complications.

6. Why Can’t Individuals With High Astigmatism Wear Standard Contact Lenses?

A highly astigmatic cornea has an irregularly shaped surface that isn’t compatible with standard soft contact lenses. Standard soft lenses are limited in the amount of astigmatism they can correct, as these lenses move around on the cornea due to the cornea’s irregular shape. This, in turn, reduces visual clarity and comfort.

Regular hard lenses can often correct astigmatism better than soft lenses, but they, too, have limitations: these lenses are smaller and may also move around too much.

7. Why are Scleral Lenses Ideal For Astigmatism?

Scleral contact lenses are customized to each patient. They have a larger diameter than standard lenses, and thus cover the entire front surface of the eye. These specialized rigid lenses gently rest on the white part of the eye (sclera) and don’t place any pressure on the sensitive cornea, making them suitable for even highly astigmatic eyes.

Furthermore, scleral contact lenses contain a nourishing reservoir of fluid that sits between the eye and the inside of the lens, providing the cornea with oxygen and hydration all day long. In fact, patients typically report that sclerals provide sharper vision than other types of contact lenses.

Have Astigmatism? We Can Help

If you’ve been told that you have astigmatism and that your current contacts or glasses just aren’t cutting it, ask your optometrist whether scleral contact lenses are right for you.

At The Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center at Loudoun Eye Associates, we provide a wide range of eye care services, including custom scleral lens fittings and consultations. Our goal is to help all patients achieve crisp and comfortable vision, no matter their level of astigmatism or corneal shape.

To schedule your appointment or learn more about what we offer, call The Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center at Loudoun Eye Associates today!

The Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: Can a person outgrow astigmatism?

  • A: About 20% of all babies are born with mild astigmatism, but only 1 of those 5 babies with astigmatism still have it by the age of 5 or 6, at which point it is unlikely to diminish or disappear. Astigmatism can continue to change and even progress as the child grows, but tends to stabilize at around age 25.

Q: Can eye surgery cause astigmatism?

  • A: Yes. For example, cataract surgery may cause or worsen astigmatism as the surgeon makes a tiny incision in the cornea to replace the lens. During the healing process, the cornea may change its shape and lead astigmatism to develop.

Request A Scleral Lens Appointment Today
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? Find Out! 703-724-0330

Are Your Eyes Sensitive To Light? Consider Scleral Lenses!

Are Your Eyes Sensitive To Light 640×350For some people, standard soft contact lenses are a great way to conveniently correct vision. For those with very dry eyes or corneal conditions like keratoconus, standard contacts simply aren’t an option.

Scleral contact lenses, however, are a great alternative for these patients with hard-to-fit eyes. They provide several benefits, such as reducing sensitivity to light (photophobia).

What Does Light Sensitivity Feel Like?

Patients with keratoconus and other corneal conditions tend to experience discomfort or unclear vision in brightly lit environments, even after undergoing treatment for their conditions.

They may see halos around lights while driving or may not be able to drive at all due to the worsening or clouding of vision that comes with light sensitivity. Bright fluorescent lights, like in an office setting, can trigger eye pain and interfere with their productivity and creativity.

Moreover, a photophobic person may not be able to comfortably look at a computer screen or other digital device. Even with the brightness setting turned all the way down, the light that’s emitted from the screen may be too intense.

How Can I Reduce Light Sensitivity?

While implementing the following suggestions can ease your symptoms of light sensitivity, we recommend that you speak with your optometrist for a more personalized approach.

  • Try to stay out of the sun whenever possible, but when you do go outside, wear dark sunglasses to block out the light.
  • Consider installing filters on fluorescent light sources.
  • Take frequent breaks when using a digital device.
  • Reduce glare in your home by turning mirrors away from light sources and keeping windows clean and streak-free. You may want to consider removing reflective surfaces from your home altogether.
  • Speak with your optometrist about whether scleral contact lenses can help you.

What are Scleral Contact Lenses?

Scleral lenses are larger in diameter than standard lenses and rest on the white part of the eye (sclera). Their large surface area vaults over the entire cornea (the eye’s top layer), and thus avoid placing pressure on the sensitive corneal tissue.

The scleral lens holds a reservoir of nourishing fluid between the inside of the lens and the surface of the eye, providing visual clarity and optimal comfort. In fact, many patients report that they are able to wear scleral contacts for longer amounts of time as compared to standard contacts.

Scleral lenses are customized to fit each individual eye, and are suitable for patients with keratoconus, dry eye syndrome, irregular/excessive astigmatism, Sjorgen’s syndrome, other corneal abnormalities and for those having undergone LASIK surgery.

How Do Scleral Lenses Reduce Light Sensitivity?

Light sensitivity, or photophobia, is a common side effect of several eye conditions, such as dry eye syndrome and keratoconus. When the cornea is irregularly shaped, it doesn’t properly reflect light onto the retina, which can lead to light sensitivity.

Thanks to their unique and customized design, scleral lenses act as a new, accurately curved cornea that is able to reflect light in a healthy way. Because of their large diameter, scleral lenses are more stable and have a wider optic zone than other lenses. They offer a more accurate perception of peripheral vision and help minimize glare and sensitivity.

An irregularly shaped cornea is not the only reasons one experiences photophobia. In fact, there are several conditions that can cause it. Your optometrist will determine what’s causing your discomfort through a comprehensive eye exam and will determine whether scleral lenses are the optimal solution for you.

The Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, Ryan, and throughout Virginia.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: How long does it take to adjust to scleral contact lenses?

  • A: Scleral lenses are usually very comfortable right off the bat, but some patients may find that it takes up to 10 days to get used to the lenses. Your optometrist will guide you on how to shorten the adjustment period.

Q: How long do scleral contact lenses last?

  • A: Under normal conditions, scleral lenses last between 1 and 3 years — far longer than standard lenses. Your tear film composition and your lens care habits will influence your lenses’ lifespan.
Request A Scleral Lens Appointment Today
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? Find Out! 703-724-0330

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.

Do You Struggle With Contact Lens Comfort? Scleral Lenses May Be the Answer!

boy wearing a gray hoodie 640Most people are familiar with traditional soft lenses, which provide clear vision for those who are nearsighted or farsighted.

In certain cases, particularly for those with corneal irregularities or astigmatism, standard gas permeable (GP) lenses may be recommended. However, people with several eye conditions can’t tolerate standard GPs and find scleral lenses a much better, more comfortable alternative.

What are Scleral Lenses?

Patients with sensitive eyes or corneal abnormalities may benefit from custom-designed scleral lenses, which provide crisp vision and comfort thanks to their unique design.

Scleral lenses are usually recommended for those with keratoconus, severe dry eye syndrome, astigmatism or anyone who find it difficult or impossible to wear standard contact lenses.

Scleral lenses are large gas permeable lenses that vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye, instead of the cornea. This creates a new optical surface and prevents corneal irritation. Furthermore, a reservoir of pure saline solution between the back surface of the lens and the front of the cornea keeps the eye hydrated all day long.

Benefits of Wearing Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses provide comfort, visual acuity and stability.

Stable Vision

With scleral lenses, you’ll experience continual clear vision. Because of their wide diameter, the lenses remain centered on your eye. Even if you play sports or lead an extremely active lifestyle, scleral lenses will stay in place and won’t easily pop out.

Long-Lasting Lenses

These gas permeable lenses are made of high-quality long-lasting materials. As a result, scleral lenses usually last between 1-2 years. While the initial cost of scleral lenses is higher than the cost of regular contacts, they give you more bang for your buck.

Safe and Easy-to-Use

Scleral lenses are easier to insert and remove from your eyes than regular GP lenses, thanks to their large size and rigid material. This also limits the risk of damaging your cornea while handling your lenses.

Comfort for Dry Eyes

It’s not uncommon for certain contact lens wearers to suffer from eyes that feel dry, red, itchy, uncomfortable, and at times very painful. Eye drops and artificial tears can deliver relief, but they are no more than a temporary solution.

One of the best contact lenses for optimal comfort and hydration are scleral lenses, as they simultaneously provide vision correction, protect the eyes, and lubricate them.

If you’ve experienced discomfort while wearing regular contact lenses, you may have keratoconus, irregular corneas, dry eyes or hard-to-fit eyes. Find out whether custom-designed scleral lenses are right for you by scheduling an eye exam at our optometric team today!

The Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: Can you sleep with scleral lenses?

  • A: It’s not recommended to wear scleral lenses while you sleep. Sleeping with your scleral lenses on can cause the tear layer behind the lens to become stagnant, thus increasing the risk of eye infections.

Q: Are scleral lenses more comfortable than standard gas permeable lenses?

  • A: Scleral lenses provide clear vision and long-term comfort for those with irregularly shaped corneas. This is due to their unique design that covers a wider area of the eye while avoiding direct contact with the cornea.

Request A Scleral Lens Appointment Today
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? Find Out! 703-724-0330

How Much Time Should My Child Spend Outdoors?

child outdoor 640The benefits of outdoor play are well known. It allows children to exercise, socialize, develop skills like problem-solving and risk-taking and lets them soak up some vitamin D.

A lesser-known benefit of outdoor play is its effect on myopia (nearsightedness). Numerous studies have confirmed an association between increased “sun time” and lower levels of myopia.

Below, we’ll explore why this is and recommend ways to keep your child’s eyes healthy, whether or not they are nearsighted.

Why “Sun Time” Helps Control Myopia

While researchers haven’t yet pinpointed the exact reason, some believe that the sun’s intense brightness and increased vitamin D play a role. Others theorize that children who spend time looking into the distance while outdoors prevent myopia from progressing or even developing.

How Much Outdoor Time Is Recommended?

There isn’t a unanimous opinion on an exact amount of time, but the general recommendation is that children ages 6 and up should spend 2 or more hours outdoors per day.

It’s important to note that UV rays can be harmful to the eyes and skin. So before you send your little ones out to play, be sure to hand them a pair of UV-blocking [sunglasses], a wide-brimmed hat and sunblock lotion.

What Can Parents Do For Their Children’s Vision and Eye Health?

Encourage your children to spend time outdoors whenever possible. It is also important to follow local health guidelines pertaining to the exposure of children to sunlight. Limit their daily screen time, and offer minimal screen time (if any) to children under the age of 2.

Make sure your child takes frequent breaks whenever doing near work like homework, reading, and spending time on a digital screen. A 5-10 minute break should be encouraged for every hour of near work.

However, the best thing you can do for your myopic child is to provide them with myopia management treatments, all of which have been scientifically proven to reduce the progression of myopia and risk of sight-robbing eye diseases later in life.

To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, call The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates today!

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: What is myopia?

  • A: A: Myopia is the most common refractive error among children and young adults. It occurs when the eye elongates, and rays of light are focused in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it. For those with nearsightedness, distant objects appear blurred while nearby objects remain clear. Although eyeglasses and standard contact lenses can correct a person’s vision, they do not treat the underlying cause of myopia or slow its progression.

Q: Why is myopia management important?

  • A: A: By 2050, half of the world’s population is expected to be diagnosed with myopia. That’s worrying because having myopia raises the risk of developing serious eye diseases later in life. Myopia management, which entails the use of eye drops, specialized contact lenses or multifocal glasses, can help slow the often rapid visual deterioration caused by myopia in children. If you’re concerned that your child’s vision is deteriorating, contact us today. We can help.



The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan, all throughout Virginia.

Request a Myopia Management Appointment
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 703-724-0330

 

The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan, all throughout Virginia.

6 Reasons Scleral Lenses Can Manage Your Dry Eye Syndrome

6 Reasons Scleral Lenses Can Manage Your Dry Eye Syndrome 640×350If your eyes are chronically itchy, dry, red or irritated, there’s a good chance you have dry eye syndrome.

Eye drops and artificial tears may provide temporary relief, but they often don’t help individuals with chronic or severe dry eye syndrome. That’s why so many people seek out other treatment options.

One such option is scleral lenses. Although custom-made scleral contact lenses are widely used to correct corneal abnormalities and refractive errors, they can also help patients with intractable dry eye symptoms. Here’s why:

1. Scleral lenses don’t irritate the cornea

Standard contact lenses are typically not an option for people who need vision correction and also have persistent dry eye syndrome. Standard soft lenses sit on the cornea, which can be exceedingly irritating. In contrast, scleral lenses vault over the cornea and sit on the sclera (the white of the eye). The lenses do not come into contact with the corneal surface, reducing discomfort.

2. The scleral lens design ensures constant hydration of the eye

Thanks to sclerals’ unique design, saline solution fills the space between the surface of the cornea and the scleral lens. This provides the eyes with constant hydration. To help lubricate and promote healing of the ocular surface, artificial tears and antibiotics can be administered to the lens’ bowl prior to insertion.

3. Scleral lenses protect the cornea

Dry eye syndrome makes the corneas more susceptible to injury. Due to the mechanical friction of the eyelids on the cornea, even something as basic as rubbing the eye or even blinking can exacerbate any current corneal damage. Sclerals can act as a barrier between a patient’s eyes and their eyelids, as well as the outside environment.

4. Sclerals allow the eye to regain a healthier appearance

Dry eye patients frequently present with eyes that are red or bloodshot. Scleral lenses perform a therapeutic role by providing a shield from the outside world and ensuring a constant supply of hydration. The redness will begin to dissipate once the eyes receive enough moisture.

5. Patients can continue using artificial tears and eye drops while wearing scleral lenses

Patients can continue to moisten their eyes with preservative-free eye drops or artificial tears while wearing scleral lenses. With that said, many patients discover that after they start wearing scleral lenses, they can reduce the frequency of artificial tear use. Some need eye drops only at night, after they have removed their lenses.

6. Scleral lenses can dramatically improve quality of life

Patients with dry eye syndrome can feel worn down by the almost constant discomfort and eye fatigue, not to mention looking tired all the time due to eye redness.

For patients who have suffered from severe dry eye syndrome for months or years, finding relief while enjoying clear and comfortable vision definitely boosts their quality of life.

If you suffer from dry eye syndrome and have been looking for a more effective treatment option, ask our optometric team about scleral lenses. Call The Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center at Loudoun Eye Associates today to schedule your consultation and learn more about these special lenses.

The Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: What are scleral lenses?

  • A: Scleral contact lenses are gas-permeable lenses that sit on the sclera (the white area of the eye) and form a dome over the cornea. This dome forms a new optical surface over the injured, uneven or dry cornea, allowing for sharper and more comfortable vision.

Q: How long do scleral lenses last?

  • A: These rigid gas permeable contacts are made of high-quality, long-lasting materials and typically last 1-3 years. While scleral lenses are more expensive than standard contact lenses, they’re a worthwhile investment, particularly for those with hard-to-fit eyes, keratoconus, astigmatism or dry eye syndrome.

Request A Scleral Lens Appointment Today
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? Find Out! 703-724-0330

Why Myopia Is Much More Than An Inconvenience

Mom Daughter Child Eye HealthFor some parents, having a nearsighted child simply means frequent visits to the optometrist and regular eyewear purchases. But the truth is that nearsightedness (myopia) is more than an inconvenient eye condition that frequently requires correction.

Taking the short-sighted approach to myopia by simply updating a child’s lens prescription every year or two doesn’t help them in the long run.

Below, we explore the connection between myopia and eye disease, and how myopia management can help your child maintain healthy eyes throughout their life.

How Can Myopia Lead To Eye Disease?

Myopia is caused by the elongation of the eyeball. When the eyeball is too long, it focuses light in front of the retina instead of directly on it, causing blurry vision.

As childhood myopia progresses, the retina (the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye) stretches and strains, making the child more prone to serious eye diseases, including macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinal detachment, in adulthood.

Having medium to high myopia (-3.00 to -6.00) also increases a child’s chances of developing cataracts fivefold, compared to a child with little to no myopia.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in adults around the world. Medium to high myopia makes a child 5 times more likely to develop this sight-threatening eye disease as an adult. Several studies have also shown that the higher the myopia, the greater the risk of developing glaucoma.

Retinal detachment is also heavily linked to childhood myopia. A child with low myopia (-1.00 to -3.00) is 4 times more likely to develop retinal detachment, while children with high myopia are 10 times more likely to suffer from retinal detachment.

Highly myopic children are also at a significantly greater risk of developing myopic macular degeneration — a rare condition where the retina thins so much, it begins to break down and atrophy, leading to visual impairment. This condition occurs in 10% of people with high myopia (-6.00 and higher).

The fact is that most parents aren’t aware of these risks. That’s why we’re here for any questions you or your child may have about myopia and how to slow its progression.

What Is Myopia Management?

Myopia management is an evidence-based treatment program that slows or halts the progression of myopia in children and young adults. These treatments reduce the ocular stress that contributes to the worsening of the child’s myopia.

Our optometric team will take the time to sit with you and your child to learn about their lifestyle and visual needs in order to choose the most suitable treatment.

Once a treatment plan is chosen, we will monitor your child’s myopia progression over a 6-12 month period to assess the plan’s effectiveness.

With myopia management, we bring your child’s future into focus.

To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, contact The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates today!

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: How old does my child have to be to begin myopia management?

  • A: Children as young as 8 years old can begin myopia management. In fact, children who are at risk of developing myopia or high myopia should ideally start before the age of 10 for optimal results, but it’s never too late to start! Either way, your optometrist will help determine whether your child is ready.

Q: Do children with very low myopia need myopia management?

  • A: Yes, definitely. Taking the ‘wait and see’ approach runs the risk of allowing your child’s prescription to rise as they grow older, increasing their risk of developing serious eye diseases in the long run.
The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan, Virginia and surrounding communities.

 

 

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Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 703-724-0330

5 Common Keratoconus Questions, Answered

5 Common Keratoconus Questions, Answered 640If you’re reading this, you or someone you care about may have been recently diagnosed with keratoconus. We’ve compiled a few commonly asked questions about keratoconus to help you understand what it is, what causes it, and how your eye doctor can help.

1. What Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive, non-inflammatory disease that causes the cornea to thin and bulge, resulting in a cone-shaped cornea. Over time, this bulge leads to myopia and irregular astigmatism, and vision becomes progressively distorted. Ongoing treatment is crucial to prevent significant vision loss.

2. What Are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?

Many patients aren’t aware that they have keratoconus, which typically begins during the teenage years.

Symptoms of keratoconus include:

  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Blurry vision
  • Halos and glare around lights
  • Increased sensitivity to bright light
  • Headaches or eye irritation associated with eye pain
  • Progressively worsening vision that’s not easily corrected

3. What Causes Keratoconus?

While there is no one cause of keratoconus, a paper published in Biomed Research International (2015) identified these risk factors:

  • Genetics. About one in 10 people with keratoconus also has a family member with the condition.
  • Inflammation. Irritation and inflammation from allergies, asthma and other atopic eye diseases can lend to the development of keratoconus.
  • Frequent eye rubbing. Intense and frequent eye rubbing is thought to thin out the cornea and can worsen the condition.
  • Underlying disorders. Keratoconus has been associated with several conditions, including Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Leber congenital amaurosis, Marfan syndrome and Osteogenesis imperfecta.
  • UV light. UV light can cause oxidative stress, which weakens the corneas in predisposed eyes.
  • Weak collagen. In a healthy eye, small protein fibers called collagen help keep the cornea in a dome-like shape and free from bulges. In the case of keratoconus, the collagen fibers become weak and therefore can’t maintain the shape of the eye, which causes the cornea to bulge.

4. How Is Keratoconus Treated?

Scleral lenses are the most common and successful treatment for patients with keratoconus. These are specialized rigid, gas permeable contact lenses that have a very wide [diameter] and vault over the entire corneal surface, making them effective and comfortable for people with keratoconus.

5. Is There a Cure for Keratoconus?

Currently, there is no cure for keratoconus. However, in most cases, it can be successfully managed.

For mild to moderate keratoconus, scleral contact lenses are typically the treatment of choice, as they provide clear, comfortable vision.

A relatively non-invasive procedure called corneal cross-linking (CXL) can stabilize and strengthen a thinning and irregularly shaped cornea.

At The Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center at Loudoun Eye Associates, we can recommend the best treatment options for your keratoconus, to help preserve your vision, and ensure the highest level of comfort and visual acuity. Call to schedule an appointment to start discussing your keratoconus treatment options.

The Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan, all throughout Virginia.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: Can You Go Blind If You Have Keratoconus?

  • A: Keratoconus does not typically cause total blindness. However, as keratoconus progresses it can cause visual impairment including blurred distance vision, distortion, glare, astigmatism, extreme light sensitivity and even vision loss that can be classified as “legal blindness.

Q: Does keratoconus affect both eyes?

  • A: Yes, in approximately 90% of keratoconus cases, the disease will manifest in both eyes. However, the rate of progression and the timing of the onset of the disease is different for each eye.



Request A Scleral Lens Appointment Today
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? Find Out! 703-724-0330