Mark Levengood, Chad Johnson of Customers Bank and Caitlin Degler of Customers Bank, talk about the Dine in the Dark event.
June is Cataract Awareness Month
Story Credit: Prevent Blindness America
Vision Loss from Leading Cause of Blindness Can be Restored with Proper Treatment
There are currently more than 24 million Americans age 40 and older who have cataract, according to the Vision Problems in the U.S. report from Prevent Blindness America. It is the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens which blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye. Unlike many eye diseases, however, vision loss due to cataract can be restored. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the United States and has a 95 percent success rate. And, a new study found that cataract surgery patients had a significantly reduced rate of hip fractures from falls.
To educate the public on cataract, Prevent Blindness America has declared June as Cataract Awareness Month. The national non-profit group provides free information through its dedicated web page at preventblindness.org/cataract, or via phone at (800) 331-2020. For those interested in conducting discussions or seminars on the subject, PBA offers a free online module on cataract including a PowerPoint presentation with a complete guide as part of its Healthy Eyes Educational Series.
Cataract generally does not cause pain, redness or tears. However, these changes in your vision may be signs of cataract:
- Blurred vision, double vision, ghost images, the sense of a “film” over the eyes.
- Lights seem too dim for reading or close-up work, or you are “dazzled” by strong light.
- Changing eyeglass prescriptions often. The change may not seem to help your vision.
- You may sometimes notice the cataract in your eye. It may look like a milky or yellowish spot in the pupil (the center of your eye is normally black).
“Although getting a cataract is common, it doesn’t have to mean permanent vision loss,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “One way to protect our vision is to make a commitment to take care of our eyes today, including getting a dilated eye exam, so we can help protect our sight for the future not just from cataract, but other eye diseases as well.”
For free information on cataract including Medicare coverage, please call Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020 or log on to preventblindness.org/cataract.
About Prevent Blindness America: Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness America is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness America touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patientservice programs and research. These services are made possible through the generous support of the American public. Together with a network of affiliates and regional offices, Prevent Blindness America is committed to eliminating preventable blindness in America.
Lori Shermerhorn talks with Shillington Lions Club member Marilyn Wagner about their commitment to helping those who are visually impaired.
May is Healthy Vision and Ultraviolet Awareness Month
News Release from American Academy of Ophthalmology
Taking Simple Steps Can Help Protect Your Sight
Approximately 37 million adults in America have age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma, all of which can cause visual impairment or blindness, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI).[i] However, recent studies show that making healthy choices and getting regular eye exams can help reduce a person’s risk of vision loss. In support of NEI’s Healthy Vision Month in May, Vision Resource Center of America and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are encouraging everyone to take charge of their eye health and preserve their sight by following some simple tips.
Live a healthy lifestyle.
Eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking can lower your risk of eye disease. Foods that boost eye health include dark green leafy greens, cold water fish and citrus fruits. A study recently published in the journal Ophthalmology showed that a diet rich in vitamin C can cut the risk of cataract progression by nearly a third.[ii] Other research shows that smoking doubles the risk of the eye disease age-related macular degeneration, is linked to cataracts, and worsens dry eye.
Know your family history.
Certain eye diseases can be inherited. If you have a close relative with macular degeneration, you have a 50 percent chance of developing the condition. In addition, a family history of glaucoma increases your chances of developing the condition by four to nine times. So talk to your family members about what eye conditions they have. It can help you and your eye care professionals evaluate whether you may be at higher risk.
Get a dilated eye exam.
Many eye diseases may have no symptoms in their early stages. A dilated eye exam is the best way to detect eye diseases so they can be treated as soon as possible to help prevent vision loss. The Academy recommends that adults have a baseline comprehensive eye exam with an ophthalmologist – a physician specializing in medical and surgical eye care – by the time they turn 40. This is when age-related eye changes often begin to occur. People who are 65 and older should get an eye exam every one to two years. Those with chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure or known eye diseases may need to go earlier and more often.
Over time, exposure to UV rays from the sun can increase your risk of cataracts, certain cancers and growths in or around the eyes. When choosing sunglasses, pick ones that block out at least 99 percent of UV rays. A wide-brimmed hat offers great additional protection as well.
Use protective eyewear to prevent injuries.
Roughly a third of all emergency room visits for eye-related issues stem from traumatic eye injuries, according to a recent study in the journal Ophthalmology.[iii] To help prevent these injuries, wear the right protective eyewear when doing activities that could cause eye injuries, such as home repair, garden work and sports.
“People don’t often realize that simple, everyday actions can help them preserve their vision well through their golden years,” said Rebecca J. Taylor, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “We encourage everyone to take these steps in order to keep their eyes healthy.”
To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s public information website at www.aao.org/eye-health.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology: The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit www.aao.org.
[ii] Genetic and Dietary Factors Influencing the Progression of Nuclear Cataract, Yonova-Doing, et al, Ophthalmology, article in press March 2016.
[iii] Eye-related Emergency Department Visits in the United States, 2010, Vaziri, et al. Ophthalmology, April 2016.
April 2017 is National Sports Eye Safety Month
from Eye Health in Sports and Recreation written by David Turbert, reviewed by Brenda Pagan-Duran MD – American Academy of Ophthalmology
Tens of thousands of sports and recreation-related eye injuries occur each year. The good news is that 90 percent of serious eye injuries are preventable through use of appropriate protective eyewear.
The risk of eye injury can vary depending on the activity. Make sure the level of eye protection you or others in your family use is appropriate for the type of activity. Regular eyeglasses do not offer proper eye protection.
For all age groups, sports-related eye injuries occur most frequently in baseball, basketball and racquet sports.
Boxing and full-contact martial arts pose an extremely high risk of serious and even blinding eye injuries. There is no satisfactory eye protection for boxing, although thumbless gloves may reduce the number of boxing eye injuries.
In baseball, ice hockey and men’s lacrosse, a helmet with a polycarbonate (an especially strong, shatterproof, lightweight plastic) face mask or wire shield should be worn at all times. It is important that hockey face masks be approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
Protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses should be worn for sports such as basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey. Choose eye protectors that have been tested to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards or that pass the CSA racquet sports standard. See the EyeSmart Protective Eyewear page for additional details.
If you already have reduced vision in one eye, consider the risks of injuring the stronger eye before participating in contact or racquet sports, which pose a higher risk of eye injury. Check with your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) to see if appropriate eye protection is available and whether or not participating in contact or racquet sports is advised.
Other Risky Leisure Activities
While sports account for a particularly high number of eye injuries, they are by no means the only hobby that poses a risk to your sight. According to physicians surveyed for the 2008 Eye Injury Snapshot conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma, more than 40 percent of patients treated for eye injuries sustained at home were involved in home repairs, yard work, cleaning and cooking. Use common sense and err on the side of caution, whatever the activity.
- Consider the risk of flying debris or other objects during activities and wear appropriate eye protection.
- Remember that eyeglasses aren’t sufficient protection.
- Be careful during activities or games involving projectiles and other sharp objects that could create injury if in contact with the eye. For example, the U.S. Eye Injury Registry indicates that fishing is the number one cause of sports-related eye injuries.
- If you wear contacts or eyeglasses, pack a back-up form of vision correction during bike trips or other activities where you could lose or shatter a lens.
If an eye injury occurs, see an ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room immediately, even if the eye injury appears minor. Delaying medical attention can result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
Learn What to Do For an Eye Injury
If you or your child get an eye injury, follow these important care and treatment guidelines for eye injuries.
On-the-Field Visual Test Helps Diagnose Concussions in Athletes
About 3.8 million Americans sustain sports-related concussions each year, so a quick, reliable screening test would be useful on the sidelines, to keep injured athletes from returning to play too soon, and off the field to help physicians more effectively diagnose, treat and rehabilitate patients with concussions. An on-the-field visual test can help.
For more information, please talk with your eye professional.
A great way to keep up with all the good things Vision Resource Center of Berks County is doing in our community is by staying informed through our newsletters. Please enjoy our Spring 2017 In-Sight Newsletter in print format below. Audio format is coming!
print version: Spring Newsletter, 2017
Lori Schermerhorn discusses different visual impairments and low vision with Dr. Heidi Sensenig and Dr. Dawn Hornberger.
March is National Save Your Vision Month
Digital technology not only redefines how people interact with the world, but also how they see it, making it all the more important for the public to make smart eye care choices.
credit: American Optometric Association
That’s why the ’21st-century Eye’ is the focus of AOA’s Save Your Vision Month public awareness campaign throughout March, offering consumers a healthy reminder about eye health from the most authoritative source they know—their eye doctors.
3 considerations for the 21st-century eye
Below are three messages bound to resonate with an increasingly tech-conscious public that this year’s Save Your Vision Month campaign will reinforce:
- Give your eyes a break. An AOA survey found that 83 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 use an electronic device for more than three hours a day, while only 14 percent reported taking a visual break every 20 minutes. The AOA recommends the 20-20-20 rule to ward off digital eye strain: Take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. And when it comes to digital devices, research indicates that blue light exposure could be doing some harm.
- Be a savvy shopper. Purchasing eyeglasses online may seem like a consumer convenience, but the AOA warns that the consequences of making an incorrect or uninformed purchase could cost patients more time and money in the long run. An AOA study published in 2011 with the Optical Laboratories Association and The Vision Council found nearly half of all glasses ordered online had either prescription errors or failed to meet minimum safety standards.
- Skip shortcuts. When it comes to the overall health and wellbeing of eyes, there is no substitute for a yearly, comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor. Mobile apps or online tests do not provide the appropriate accuracy or information when it comes to changes in eye and general health. Regular, comprehensive eye exams are one of the most important, preventive ways to preserve healthy eyes and save vision.
Jack Schaeffer, O.D., Optometry Cares board member, says the observance is a great chance to join a worthwhile national awareness campaign that benefits optometry.
“This is an opportunity to really educate as many people as we can, to start that word of mouth of, ‘hey, let’s take care of our eyes,'” Dr. Schaeffer says in an upcoming article about the campaign in the March edition of AOA Focus.
For more information, please talk with your eye professional.
February is AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month
Perhaps you have just learned that you or a loved one has age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD. If you are like many people, you probably do not know a lot about the condition or understand what is going on inside your eyes.
credit: National Eye Institute
AMD is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. It causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead.
In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. As AMD progresses, a blurred area near the center of vision is a common symptom. Over time, the blurred area may grow larger or you may develop blank spots in your central vision. Objects also may not appear to be as bright as they used to be.
AMD by itself does not lead to complete blindness, with no ability to see. However, the loss of central vision in AMD can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write, or do close work, such as cooking or fixing things around the house.
Who is at risk?
Age is a major risk factor for AMD. The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. Other risk factors for AMD include:
- Smoking. Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD.
- Race. AMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
- Family history and Genetics. People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk. At last count, researchers had identified nearly 20 genes that can affect the risk of developing AMD. Many more genetic risk factors are suspected.
You may see offers for genetic testing for AMD. Because AMD is influenced by so many genes plus environmental factors such as smoking and nutrition, there are currently no genetic tests that can diagnose AMD, or predict with certainty who will develop it.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (link is external) currently recommends against routine genetic testing for AMD, and insurance generally does not cover such testing.
Does lifestyle make a difference?
Researchers have found links between AMD and some lifestyle choices, such as smoking. You might be able to reduce your risk of AMD or slow its progression by making these healthy choices:
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Eat a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish
How is AMD detected?
The early and intermediate stages of AMD usually start without symptoms. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD. The eye exam may include the following:
- Visual acuity test. This eye chart measures how well you see at distances.
- Dilated eye exam. Your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to widen or dilate the pupils. This provides a better view of the back of your eye. Using a special magnifying lens, he or she then looks at your retina and optic nerve for signs of AMD and other eye problems.
- Amsler grid. Your eye care professional also may ask you to look at an Amsler grid. Changes in your central vision may cause the lines in the grid to disappear or appear wavy, a sign of AMD.
- Fluorescein angiogram. In this test, which is performed by an ophthalmologist, a fluorescent dye is injected into your arm. Pictures are taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in your eye. This makes it possible to see leaking blood vessels, which occur in a severe, rapidly progressive type of AMD (see below). In rare cases, complications to the injection can arise, from nausea to more severe allergic reactions.
- Optical coherence tomography. You have probably heard of ultrasound, which uses sound waves to capture images of living tissues. OCT is similar except that it uses light waves, and can achieve very high-resolution images of any tissues that can be penetrated by light—such as the eyes. After your eyes are dilated, you’ll be asked to place your head on a chin rest and hold still for several seconds while the images are obtained. The light beam is painless.
During the exam, your eye care professional will look for drusen, which are yellow deposits beneath the retina. Most people develop some very small drusen as a normal part of aging. The presence of medium-to-large drusen may indicate that you have AMD.
Another sign of AMD is the appearance of pigmentary changes under the retina. In addition to the pigmented cells in the iris (the colored part of the eye), there are pigmented cells beneath the retina. As these cells break down and release their pigment, your eye care professional may see dark clumps of released pigment and later, areas that are less pigmented. These changes will not affect your eye color.
For more information, please talk with your eye professional.
Celebrating Independence for the Visually Impaired. Chris Balatgek talks about his journey and experience becoming visually impaired with Mark Levengood. He also performs a song.