Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month! This month, Intermountain Eye Centers is answering common questions parents have about their children’s eye health.

When should children receive their first eye exam?

Parents should have their children’s eyes examined during well-child visits starting at around age three. During this exam, your child’s eye doctor will look for refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism), as well as other common childhood eye conditions like amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), ptosis (drooping eyelid), and color deficiency (color blindness).

If you notice any warning signs that your child has vision problems, there’s no need to wait for an annual exam – schedule an appointment ASAP!

What are the warning signs of vision problems in children?

Your child may have vision problems if they experience:

  • Crossed or wandering eyes
  • Frequent blinking or eye rubbing
  • Disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects
  • Covering one eye
  • Squinting or turning their head while watching television

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule them for an eye exam.

My child injured their eye while playing. What should I do?

Don’t delay! Eye injuries are the leading cause of vision loss in children. If you suspect your child has injured their eye, bring them to a doctor as soon as possible.

To avoid injury, make sure to purchase age-appropriate toys and avoid toys with sharp edges. Many eye injuries occur during sports – because of this, children should wear the proper protective eyewear when participating.

Is screen time harming my child’s vision?

Yes and no. On one hand, spending too much time in front of a computer, iPad, or television can make your child more likely to develop myopia, or nearsightedness. On the other hand, myopia can also develop if your child spends too much time reading books, making crafts, or participating in other near work activities. 

In other words, screens themselves aren’t dangerous – the problem arises when children engage in near work activities without taking regular breaks. Ophthalmologists recommend taking a 20 second break every 20 minutes to reduce eyestrain.

Any other questions?

Intermountain Eye Centers is happy to answer any questions you might have about keeping your children’s vision healthy. To set up an appointment, contact us today!

Keeping Your Eyes Safe from Fireworks

In the month surrounding the Fourth of July, an average of 280 people go to the emergency room each day with fireworks-related injuries.

This July, Intermountain Eye Centers encourages our community to take care when using backyard fireworks.

Fireworks safety 101

Every year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission publishes an annual reportabout fireworks-related injuries and deaths. Last year, fireworks were involved in five deaths and an estimated 9,100 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments. More than half of these injuries (62%) occurred between June 22ndand July 22nd

Although people most frequently injure their hands (28% of all fireworks-related injuries) and legs (24% of all injuries), eye injuries are also very common, making up 19% of all fireworks-related injuries.

Fireworks can result in chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions, retinal detachment, or even a ruptured globe, all of which can result in permanent vision loss.

The American Academy of Ophthalmologyrecommends the following safety tips when using fireworks:

  • Do not allow young children to play with fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers can get up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and can even melt some metals.
  • Older children should only use fireworks under close adult supervision.
  • Make sure to set off fireworks outside in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves, grass, or any other flammable materials.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dark place. 
  • Never light fireworks in a container.
  • Do not attempt to relight or handle fireworks that fail to explode. Soak them with water before disposing of them.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over the firework as you’re lighting it.
  • Always obey local laws.

If you suspect that you or your child has experienced an eye injury from a firework, what should you do?

  • Seek immediate medical attention. A fireworks-related eye injury is considered a medical emergency.
  • Do not rub your eyes.
  • Do not apply pressure.
  • Do not attempt to rinse your eyes.
  • Do not attempt to remove the object.
  • Do not take any pain medication unless instructed to by a doctor.

Keep in mind that people who don’t handle the fireworks can still be injured by them. A study found that 65% of people injured by fireworks are bystanders.

Our entire staff at Intermountain Eye Centers is excited to wish you a safe and happy summer! Don’t forget these safety tips the next time you handle fireworks. For more information about our eye care services, contact us today.

Cataracts: Myths and Facts

June is Cataract Awareness Month! Every year, the organization Prevent Blindness America along with the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages Americans to be mindful of the signs and symptoms associated with cataracts.

This year, we’ve decided to outline several common myths about cataracts. 

Have you heard any of these before?

Myth: Cataracts only affect older adults

Cataracts are most common in older adults, but it’s still possible to develop a cataract when you’re young. Factors like long-term steroid use, UV exposure, eye injuries, smoking, and diabetes can increase your risk of developing cataracts at any age.

Myth: Cataracts are always visible

Sometimes cataracts are visible. During their early stages, however, your eyes may look completely normal. If you’ve been having problems with your vision lately, you will need a thorough examination to rule out cataracts.

Myth: The only symptom of a cataract is cloudy vision

Since a cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, it makes sense that your vision might appear cloudier if you have a cataract. That being said, there are a number of other symptoms associated with cataracts including decreased night vision, light sensitivity, double vision in a single eye, seeing “halos” around lights, and experiencing faded colors.

Myth: Cataracts are equally likely in men and women

Cataracts are actually more common in women than men. According to the National Eye Institute, 61 percent of Americans with cataracts are women, whereas 39 percent are men. 

Myth: Cataracts can be treated with medication

Once a person has developed a cataract, the only way to remove it is through surgery. While having surgery on your eye may sound intimidating, cataract surgery is one of the oldest surgeries ever performed. It’s also one of the safest surgeries done today!

Your vision is important to us

Intermountain Eye Centers encourages all our patients to keep an eye on their vision, report on any changes, and receive regular comprehensive eye examinations. Most forms of vision loss are preventable and can be slowed – or even eliminated – with treatment. If you suspect you’re suffering from a cataract or another vision problem, we can help.

Contact us today to learn more about our services set up a comprehensive eye examination.

Happy Healthy Vision Month!

Did you know that most vision problems are preventable?

Every May, the National Eye Institute (NEI) celebrates Healthy Vision Month, an awareness campaign designed to encourage healthy, sight-saving habits. 

This year, NEI is focusing on young adults between the ages 25 to 35. While people in this age group typically have healthy vision, it’s important to promote good habits early on to prevent future vision loss.

The NEI recommends the following tips to keep your eyes healthy:

  • Wear sunglasses

Sunglasses are more than just a fashion accessory – they also protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV damage can increase your risk of developing cataracts, so keep those shades handy!

  • Eat well

Maintaining a healthy diet is essential for eye health. The NEI recommends consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens like spinach and kale. They also recommend eating fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids including salmon, tuna, and halibut.

  • Exercise

According to the NEI, “anything that gets your heart beating faster” is good for your eye health. High blood pressure and diabetes are linked to eye disease, so it’s a good idea to keep yourself in shape.

  • Wear eye protection

People with sports-related eye injuries arrive in the ER every 13 minutes! If you’re participating in sports, proper eye protection is a must. Work-related eye injuries are also remarkably common, affecting 2000 Americans each year.

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule

If you spend a lot of time looking at screens, make sure to regularly rest your eyes. Physicians recommend focusing on a point about 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 twenty minutes. Following this rule can prevent eye strain.

For a full list of tips, check out the NEI official website.

Vision loss doesn’t need to be a natural part of getting older. By taking care of your eyes today, you can safeguard your vision tomorrow.

Intermountain Eye Centers encourages our readers to participate in NEI’s My Vision of the Future social media campaign. During Healthy Vision Month, use #MyVisionMyFuture to discuss ways in which you intend to protect your vision this year! For questions about your eye health, contact us today to set up an appointment.

Which sport causes the most eye injuries?

April is Sports Eye Safety Month. This month, Intermountain Eye Centers encourages all our patients to wear proper eye protection when participating in athletic activities.

Potential eye injuries that can result from sports include corneal abrasions, orbital fractures, detached retina, and even cataracts. In some instances, people have even had their eyes dislodged from their sockets.

But which sports are the most dangerous for your vision?

Basketball

Basketball is the leading causeof eye injuries in children. Protective eyewear made from polycarbonate lenses is the best way to keep your eyes safe during basketball.

Right now, there’s a viral video of a basketball player whose eye was dislodged from his socket – we don’t recommend watching it.

Baseball

Baseball is another leading causeof eye injuries among children 14 years and younger, with flying bats and careening balls as the main culprits.

Certified helmets with attached safety glasses (for batters and base runners) and protective eyewear for fielders can protect your vision.

Racquet sports

Racquet sports include badminton, table tennis, tennis, squash, and racquetball. Since these sports rely on quickly reacting to fast-moving balls, it’s no wonder they have a high incidence of eye injuries.

Once again, protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses is a must.

Although basketball, baseball, and racquet sports are responsible for the bulk of eye-related injuries, other sports can also pose risks to your eye safety. Ice hockey, lacrosse, and boxing are particularly risky, as well as soccer and field hockey.

Can regular glasses protect my eyes?

Unfortunately, glasses do not provide sufficient eye protection during sports or other recreational activities. Worse still, they can shatter if damaged, resulting in further injury.

The only way to protect your eyes while playing sports is to make sure you have the proper protective eyewear. In fact, 90 percent of serious eye injuries are preventable through use of protective eyewear.

ASTM Internationalsets the standards for sports eye protection, so before you spend money on those special glasses, make sure they’re certified!

Do you have any questions or concerns about sports-related eye health? Intermountain Eye Centers can help. Contact us today to learn more about how to keep your eyes safe and healthy.

What are common causes of blurry vision?

Have you been experiencing blurry vision lately? Step away from WebMD and try not to panic – there are many normal reasons why you may be experiencing this mild visual disturbance.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the more common causes of blurry vision.

You need to get glasses – or update your prescription.

Do you wear glasses or contacts? If not, you might need to start. Although most people develop nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism when they’re younger, your eyes are constantly changing. If you already wear glasses, it might be time to update your prescription!

You need reading glasses.

If you’re older than 40 and find it difficult to read menus, newspapers, or other small print, it might be time for reading glasses. Presbyopia, or the diminished ability to focus on close objects, is a common and natural part of aging.

Reading glasses and bifocals aren’t the only way to treat presbyopia – there are also surgical options such as corneal inlays and monovision LASIK.

You’re pregnant.

It might sound farfetched, but the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can alter the shape and thickness of your cornea, making your vision blurry. Dry eyes are another common culprit for blurry vision during pregnancy.

Although blurry vision is relatively common during pregnancy, it’s important that you report it to your doctor. In some cases, it could indicate gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.

You’re experiencing side effects from a medication.

Have you started using new eye drops recently? What about an antihistamine? Certain eyedrops and medications, e.g., allergy pills, can result in dry eyes and blurred vision. If you think medication is the likely culprit, speak with your doctor about what to do next.

You’ve been over-wearing your contacts.

When was the last time you changed your contact lenses? Wearing your contact lenses longer than recommended can cause proteins and debris to build up in the lenses, hindering your vision and increasing your risk of eye infections.

You have chronic dry eyes.

If you’ve ever been told by your doctor that you have dry eyes, your blurry vision might be related. Having insufficient tears can actually cause your vision to blur or fluctuate.

When should I see a doctor?

If you’re experiencing blurry vision, it’s always important to chat with your optometrist, ophthalmologist, or general physician. While there are multiple mundane reasons for blurry vision, it can indicate a serious problem – particularly if it has a sudden onset.

If you’re concerned about your vision, Intermountain Eye Centers is here for you. Contact us today to set up your first appointment.

Why Are My Eyes Dry? A Brief Introduction to Dry Eye.

Dry eye is a common condition, affecting at least 6.8 percent of the U.S. adult population. If you’ve been experiencing dry, scratchy eyes lately, you might be one of them.

Symptoms of dry eye include:

  • A stinging, scratchy, or burning sensation in your eyes
  • Feeling like something is stuck inside your eyes
  • Excess watering, or tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness

These symptoms can vary from person to person and don’t necessarily predict the presence and severity of dry eye disease. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your ophthalmologist.

So why are my eyes dry?

Healthy eyes are constantly producing tears to keep themselves lubricated. When eyes fail to produce these tears – or produce the wrong kind of tears – dry eye symptoms can arise.

There are multiple factors that can result in dry eyes.

Aging

Tear production often diminishes with age – in fact, most people over age 65 have at least some symptoms of dry eye. Hormones associated with menopause can also trigger the condition.

Tear Quality

Tears are composed of oil, water, and mucus. Oftentimes, people with dry eye disease have difficulties producing the water layer of their tears, resulting in tears that evaporate too quickly or fail to spread evenly over the cornea.

Medications

Medication can often influence the eye’s ability to make tears. Antihistamines, decongestants, oral contraceptives, blood pressure medications and antidepressant can all diminish tear production.

Environment

Heaters, air conditioning units, and smoke can all cause tears to evaporate quickly, resulting in dry eye symptoms. Computer use is another common culprit of dry eye, since focusing on a screen can prevent people from blinking regularly.

Other Diseases or Disorders

Other illnesses can affect the eye’s ability to produce tears including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid conditions.

What should I do if I have dry eyes?

If you suspect you have dry eyes, you should meet with your eye doctor to rule out other conditions.

Dry eye disease is typically chronic, with symptoms that come and go over time. Treatment for dry eyes includes artificial tears, prescription eye medications, and in-office procedures. Lifestyle changes – for instance, reducing the amount of time you spend on the computer – can also help reduce the discomfort of dry eyes.

Intermountain Eye Centers offers multiple treatments for dry eyes, as well as comprehensive eye exams to rule out any other conditions. For more information about how we can help your eye health, contact us today.

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Vision

It’s a new year! Have you figured out your resolutions yet?

Below, we’ve listed five resolutions you can follow for better eye health. Which of these can you see yourself accomplishing in 2019?

  1. Wear sunglasses

Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory – they’re also an important way to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful radiation. While most people understand that excessive sun exposure can be dangerous for skin, fewer are aware that UV rays can damage your vision as well.

According to the National Eye Institute, an estimated 20% of cataracts are caused by extended UV exposure. UV exposure may also increase the risk of developing macular degeneration (a serious eye disease that can result in blindness) or pterygium (a non-cancerous growth within the eye).

When you purchase sunglasses, make sure they block 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Other sunglasses might look nice, but they won’t protect your eyes.

  1. Wear protective eyewear

If you plan to participate in any home improvement activities this year, protective eyewear is a must. Woodworking, glass cutting, and many other projects can result in flying debris that can become lodged in the eye. Welding goggles are necessary during metal-working to avoid retinal burns.

When it comes to protective eyewear, accept no imitations. Most protective eyewear lenses are made from polycarbonate, a material that is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Regular glasses, swim goggles, and other makeshift solutions can shatter if they’re damaged, causing even more damage to your eyes.

  1. Quit smoking

If you smoke, 2019 is the perfect year to quit. Not only does smoking harm your lungs, but it also significantly increases your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. Compared to non-smokers, smokers are up to four times more likely to develop this condition – and smokers who have a genetic predisposition to AMD are up to 20 times more likely!

People who smoke alsodouble their risk for developing cataracts, uveitis, and dry eye syndrome. Smoking while pregnant can result in numerous fetal and infant eye disorders including strabismus (crossed eyes) and underdevelopment of the optic nerve, a condition that can result in blindness.

  1. Practice good contact lens hygiene

This year, take some time to make sure that you’re practicing proper contact lens hygiene. The American Optometric Association (AOA) published several recommendations for good lens hygiene including:

  • Wash and dry your hands before handling contact lenses
  • Replace your lens case at least every three months
  • Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule
  • Remove contact lenses before swimming or using a hot tub

People who fail to follow these recommendations are at risk for developing a contact lens-related eye infection like keratitis. Some infections can be so severe that they require surgery to correct.

  1. Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

Many common eye diseases – for instance, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic eye disease – have no early symptoms. By the time symptoms emerge, your vision may be damaged permanently. The only way to guarantee that your eyes are healthy is by receiving yearly comprehensive eye examinations.

If you’d like to schedule your yearly comprehensive eye examination, contact us at Intermountain Eye Centers today.

Our staff at Intermountain Eye Centers is always willing to discuss ways to keep your eyes healthy. Contact us today to learn more or set up an appointment!

What Should I Know About Snow Blindness?

Are you going skiing this winter? Snowboarding? Or do you plan to miss the cold weather entirely and spend the winter months on a beach somewhere, sipping a cold beverage and gazing out into the ocean?

Regardless of your decision, Intermountain Eye Centers would like to take this opportunity to discuss snow blindness, a painful condition that can arise when you spend too much time out in the snow – or, conversely, too much time on the beach.

What is snow blindness?

Snow blindness, a common form of photokeratitis, is a medical condition caused by overexposure to UV rays. People who develop snow blindness often spend several hours out in the snow without proper eye protection. Snow and ice can reflect UV rays into the eyes, resulting in a burned cornea. In fact, snow blindness is actually a form of sunburn.

Despite the name, snow blindness can also result from UV lights reflected from sand or water. Tanning lamps, tanning beds, and arc welding can lead to the condition as well.

What are the symptoms of snow blindness?

Symptoms of snow blindness include:

  • Eye pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Gritty sensation in eye
  • Red eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Headache
  • Swollen eyes or eyelids
  • Vision loss

Just like other sunburns, snow blindness is not immediately painful. It may take several hours after UV exposure before symptoms appear.

What is the treatment for snow blindness?

Thankfully, snow blindness is a temporary condition and typically resolves itself within 24 to 48 hours. In the meantime, you can take steps to relieve some of the pain and discomfort.

  • Remove your contact lenses are as soon as possible
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Stay indoors
  • Refrain from driving
  • Regularly moisten your eyes with artificial tears

How can snow blindness be prevented?

The best way to prevent snow blindness is to wear proper eye protection. If you’re planning to spend several hours in the snowy weather, wear snow goggles that are designed to block UV rays. If you’ve got warmer plans this winter, you can wear sunglasses that are designed to block or absorb 99 percent or more of UV rays.

Are you experiencing symptoms of an eye condition? Intermountain Eye Centers is eager to help. Contact us today to set up a comprehensive eye examination!

Five Eye-Healthy Thanksgiving Foods

If you’re looking to cook a healthy Thanksgiving meal, look no further.

Below, Intermountain Eye Centers has outlined five foods – and over a dozen dishes – you can cook this Thanksgiving to benefit your vision.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is packed with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that tends to be abundant in fruits and vegetables. Numerous studies have found that vitamin C can reduce the risk of developing cataracts, as well as slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD.

Cauliflower alsocontains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids may protect eyes from AMD, dry eye syndrome, and glaucoma.

For a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes, we recommend garlic mashed cauliflower. We also recommend roasted cauliflower steaks and truffled cauliflower gratin.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potato, like cauliflower, is also an excellent source of vitamin C. In addition, it contains beta-carotene, a pigment that is converted into vitamin A in the body. When combined with other antioxidant vitamins, vitamin A may play a role in reducing the risk of vision loss in people with AMD. It may also reduce the risk of eye infections.

Thankfully, this vibrant vegetable is already a staple in many people’s Thanksgiving dinners. Bake a sweet potato pie or try some roasted sweet potatoes with onions. Candied sweet potatoes are another excellent choice.

Pumpkin

Did you know that a serving of mashed pumpkin provides more than 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A? Pumpkin also contains vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, fiber, lutein, and zeaxanthin – all of which are beneficial for eye health.

Besides the usual pumpkin pie, we also recommend pumpkin hummus and pumpkin cake.

Nuts

Nuts including almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts are all excellent sources of vitamin E. Vitamin E – much like vitamin A and C – likely plays a role in reducing the risk of vision loss in people with AMD. In addition, some studies suggest that it may prevent the development of cataracts.

This Thanksgiving, try out some candied almonds, hazelnut mushroom pilaf, and pecan and apricot sourdough bread stuffing.

Cranberries

Good news: the cranberry sauce you’re enjoying with your turkey might be protecting your eyes from cataracts! Cranberries are full of vitamin C just like sweet potatoes, cauliflower and pumpkin. This antioxidant significantly decreases your risk of developing cataracts and may slow the progression of AMD.

Traditional cranberry sauce, stuffing with cranberries and sausage, and crustless cranberry pie are all excellent ways to add a little more vitamin C to your Thanksgiving dinner.

Would you like to learn more about how to keep your eyes healthy? Follow our blog or set up an appointment with Intermountain Eye Centers today!