Contact Lens Care

If you are one of the millions of Americans who wear contact lenses, then you know the overwhelming feeling of figuring out the hundreds of products displayed in the lens care aisle in the supermarket or drugstore.  To avoid eye infections, you know that you need to care for your lenses properly.  Following a careful and clean regime with your contacts is extremely important for the health of your eyes.  Let’s review some guidelines for the safe handling of contact lenses.

  1. Always wash your hands with soap and water before putting in or taking out your contacts.  Dry your hands on a clean, lint-free towel.
  2. Avoid wetting lenses with tap water or saliva from your mouth.  Saliva is not a sterile environment.
  3. The FDA recommends that you rub the lens in the palm of your hand with a few drops of solution, even if you are using a “no-rub” product.
  4. Following the recommendations of your eye doctor, use a solution to remove loosened debris.
  5. Place the lenses in a care case and fill with fresh solution.  Do not top off with old solution.
  6. Do not touch the tip of your solution bottle to any surface to avoid contamination.
  7. Do not transfer solution to travel size cases to avoid contamination as well.
  8. If you use hair spray, use it before you put in your contacts. It’s also a good idea to keep your fingernails short and smooth to avoid damaging your lenses or scratching the eye.
  9. Put on make up after you put in contacts so you don’t get any on your lenses. Take out contact lenses before you remove makeup for the same reason.
  10. Clean you contact case with either sterile cleaning solution or hot tap water.
  11. Follow the regimen that your eye doctor set out for your specific type of contact lenses.  Do not change the regimen without approval to avoid getting infections.


Allergies and Eyesight

Seasonal allergies affect millions of people every year.  Itchy red eyes, runny nose and sneezing are just a few of the symptoms that can ruin an otherwise beautiful spring, summer or fall day.  If you are an allergy sufferer you may have questions about the causes, symptoms and treatment for your red, swollen, painful eyes.  Let’s take a closer look at allergies and your eyesight.

What are Eye Allergies?  Eye allergies are many times called allergic conjunctivitis.  They can give your eyes a watery, red, puffy, itchy look and feel. Thankfully, most eye allergies are more irritating than dangerous.  If the eye allergy is severe it may take a trip to the allergy doctor or perhaps an ophthalmologist.

What are Symptoms of eye allergies?

  • milky red appearance to the eyes – bloodshot eyes
  • itchy and irritated feeling
  • puffy eyelids and under eyes
  • burning feeling
  • dry eye feeling
  • severe discharge and swelling of the eye

Treatment for Eye Allergies –

For many people a warm compress with a cloth or flushing the eye with water can take away the immediate pain and discomfort of eye allergies.  Other people find that over the counter (OTC) antihistamines can be quite effective.  If these remedies are not working or if there is eye pain, extreme redness, or heavy discharge, you should seek medical advice. Some conditions, for example, are serious with potential sight-threatening complications if required treatment is delayed.

Avoiding seasonal allergens or treating the symptoms seems to be the best course of action for most people.  See you eye doctor to confirm your allergy and the health of your eyesight.  

Foods that Promote Healthy Vision

Remember when your mom nagged you to eat all of the carrots on your dinner plate because they “helped keep your eyes healthy?”  My mom also told me that if I made funny faces that it might freeze that way.  Well, while she may have been wrong about the frozen ugly face she was definitely right about certain food promoting a healthy body and ultimately healthy vision.  I know you hate to hear it, but, your mom was right about those carrots at dinner.  The Beta-carotene (a type of vitamin A) in carrots and other orange veggies promotes good eye health specifically aiding the retina and other parts of the eye to function smoothly.  But eating for good eye sight is not just about orange veggies or Beta-carotene.  Let’s look at some of the other foods that help promote good eye health.

  • Oranges. Oranges and all of their citrus cousins — grapefruit, tangerines, and lemons — are high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that is critical to eye health. Scientists have found that your eyes need relatively high levels of vitamin C to function properly, and antioxidants can prevent or at least delay cataracts and AMD. (Source: Eye Smart)
  • Kale and Spinach – One cup of either of these cooked veggies is packed with more than 20 milligrams of lutein and zeaxanthin—two nutrients that do wonders for your eyes. These nutrients have been shown to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. (Source:  US News and World Report)
  • Nuts and Seeds – Just one ounce of sunflower seeds or almonds could get you 1/3 the daily allowance of vitamin E that can protect the cells in our eyes from free radicals and slows the progression of cataracts and age-related macular generation.
  • Fish – Salmon, tuna, mackerel or anchovies are filled with essential fatty acids that do your whole body good, including your eyes, Some studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acid from cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and halibut reduce the risk of developing eye disease later in life. A 2010 study from Johns Hopkins found that people who had a diet high in omega-3 fatty acid were much less likely to develop AMD. (Source: Eye Smart)
  • Olive Oil– A diet that is low in trans and saturated fat helps prevent retina diseases.  Several studies suggest that a Mediterranean-style diet (fish, plant-based foods, and healthy fats) is recommended for healthy vision. Not only is olive oil free of trans fats and is low in saturated fat. (Source: Cooking Light)


Importance of Sunglasses

Sure, sunglasses make you look pretty cool and sophisticated during these hot summer months.  With all the new styles and fashions, wearing a slick pair of shades has never been so “in” before. But, did you know that “looking good”  merely scratches the surface of the benefits and importance of wearing UV protected sunglasses?  Let’s look at the top reasons why every child and adult should make a practice of wearing sunglasses regularly.

  •  Safe From Debris  – Sunglasses can help shield eyes from flying debris whether it is sand at the beach or dust and dirt around the yard.  Physical damage to eyes can mean a loss of sight or damage to the outer covering of the eye called the cornea.
  • Less Eye Strain – The sun makes us naturally squint to block the suns rays.  Squinting and straining to see can be detrimental to your eyes as well as the skin around the eyes.  Think crows feet!
  • Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer – According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “The eyelid region is one of the most common sites for nonmelanoma skin cancers.”  10% of all skin cancers are found on the eyelid.  Sunglasses with a protective coating that can block the harmful rays of the sun and can help reduce that percentage.
  • Protect the Structures of the Eye – Ultraviolet rays from sun exposure can cause a number of eye health problems including cataracts and macular degeneration. Long-term exposure to UV rays without any eye protection may lead to these problems. Just like you would not go out without sunscreen on your skin, don’t go out without eye protection.
  • Reduce Sun Glare – As drivers, we have all had the occasion when the sun gets in our eyes and momentarily blinds us from properly seeing the road.  Sunglasses can cut down on that glare and keep our vision safe while taking part in a high risk activity like driving.

Preparing Your Child for an Eye Exam

Doctor visits can raise anyone’s anxiety level, most of all children’s.  Not knowing what to expect can be the root of the problem.  Therefore, preparing a child for their first eye exam, whether it happens to them as a toddler or when they are school age, is the best course of action.   Perhaps your pediatrician recommended an eye exam from something he/she noticed during a check up or maybe your school age child came home with a note saying that he/she did not pass the vision screening test.  Whatever the circumstances are, it is a good idea to talk to your child about the eye doctor appointment prior to going to alleviate any concerns there may be.

Here are some tips for parents to help children overcome any fears or anxiety about visiting the eye doctor.

  1. Use pictures – Either draw a picture of the human eye or show the child a picture online.  This will help them talk about their eye.  Tell them the names of the parts of the eye, pupil, iris, cornea.  That way these words won’t sound so foreign and scary during the visit.
  2. Role play – Pretend to be the doctor and have your child identify shapes and letters.  Have your child look up and down and following your finger.  Discuss that the doctor may have the child try on funny glasses or look into his/her eye with an instrument that let’s them see the eye better. Also explain that the doctor may need to put eye drops into the eye.  Tell your child that it will not hurt but might sting a little.
  3. Schedule smart – Depending upon the needs and age of the child, schedule the exam for the best time of day for them.  If the child still naps, schedule during a time when they are happiest.  If a child is in school, try to schedule on the least busy day for the office so the child is not overwhelmed with people, sounds and new experiences.
  4. Read stories about eye doctor visits to get your child used to the idea even further. Some great examples include: Arthur’s Eyes, The Princess Who Wore Glasses, Pearl & Wagner: Four Eyes and Curious George Goes to the Doctor.
  5. Visit the website– Most doctor’s offices have website that may have pictures of the actual office as well as pictures of staff members so the child can see that the people are friendly and the office is not so scary.
  6. Pack for comfort – Most children have something that makes them feel comfortable like a stuffed animal or small toy.  Let your child bring a comfort toy that can be stress relieving and can open up a conversation with the doctors, nurses or staff.


Dry Eye Syndrome

According to the American Optometrist Association, “Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.” Let’s look at causes, symptoms and potential treatments.

Persistent dryness, scratchiness, red eyes and a burning sensation are common symptoms of dry eyes. Many of us experience these symptoms at some point or other in our lives but certain characteristics such as age, gender and use of medications may make some people more susceptible to dry eye.

  • Age– Dry eye is an unfortunate part of the aging process for many people.  Seniors over 65 experience dry eyes at some point or another.  Persistent and continued problems with dry eye should be looked at by your eye doctor.
  • Gender – Due to hormonal changes women tend to experience dry eye more often then men. Menopause seems to be a key time for the initial symptoms to appear in women.
  • Medications – Certain medications can reduce the amount of tear production such as: antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants.

There are also environmental factors that may cause dry eye.  These include:

  • Living in a dry, dusty or windy climate.
  • Working or living in an environment with dry air conditioning and or heating.
  • Long-term contact lens wear – in fact it is the most common complaint of contact lens users.
  • Insufficient blinking, such as when you’re staring at a computer screen all day is also an environmental factor.

Treatment – Depending upon the severity of the dry eye your doctor will try several treatments to reduce the symptoms. One of the primary approaches used to manage and treat mild cases of dry eyes is adding tears using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. Tear duct plugs are an alternative treatment to help conserve tears. Prescription eye drops that help to increase production of tears can be recommended by your optometrist, as well as omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplements. Be sure to visit your eye doctor if any of these symptoms occur regularly to discuss an appropriate course of treatment.





Healthy Habits for Good Vision

Most of us know that to maintain good health we need to get regular exercise, eat the right amount of fruits and veggies, drink plenty of water and get an appropriate amount of sleep each night.  What a lot of of us overlook is our precious eye health.   Don’t take your eyes for granted.  Protect your sight with these simple healthy habits to maintain good vision.

  • Quit Smoking – Smoking makes you more likely to get cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration. If you’ve tried to quit smoking before and started smoking again, keep trying. Enlist the help of friends, coworkers and, of course your doctor. The more times you try to quit smoking, the more likely you are to succeed.
  • Wear Eye Protection – The right kind of sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Look for blocking protection at 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
    Too much exposure to the sun’s damaging rays can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration. If you work in conditions that could be hazardous or with airborne materials then wear safety goggle every time.  If you play sports such as basketball, hockey, lacrosse or practically any other, you are at a higher risk for an eye injury.  Wear sport protective glasses.
  • Eat Vision Healthy Foods – Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help ward off age related vision problems.  Try these food to maintain good vision: Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards, Salmon, tuna, and other oily fish, Eggs, nuts, beans, and other non-meat protein sources, Oranges and other citrus fruits or juices.
  • Take Eye Breaks – People who stare at a computer screen all day can suffer from eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes and headaches to name a few problems. Take frequent and regular breaks by looking away from the screen.
  • Regular Eye Exams – Children and adults alike need regular eye exams to catch any eye problems early.  Diseases tat are caught early on are easier to treat.  Get regular annual check-ups. Contact Independent Eye Care for your next visit!

What Happens at an Eye Exam?

Doctor’s visits make many people anxious. Knowing what to expect can sometimes quell the jitters prior to a doctor’s appointment.  Understanding the procedures, instruments, and surroundings can help.  So, what happens during an eye exam?  How long does the check-up take?  What procedures can you expect from your annual eye doctors visit?

In the interest of making all patients feel comfortable and relaxed about visiting an optometrist let’s look at what a routine visit would look like.

  • Check In – After checking in at the front desk where a helpful staff member will gather all the necessary insurance forms and patient information, you can wait in the comfort of a cozy waiting area.
  • History and Symptoms – Once you are in the doctor’s exam room the first thing that will probably happen will be a discussion of your medical history and any symptoms you may be experiencing. Knowing your general health background and history with glasses and/or contacts help give a good foundation of information to the doctor. If you are experiencing problems with your eyes or vision your optometrist will need to know what symptoms you have, how long you have had them and whether any changes have happened suddenly or slowly over a period of time.
  • The Exam – Once all background history has been taken the doctor will want to exam both the inside and outside of your eye.  The interior of your eye will be examined using an ophthalmoscope, a special torch which shines a light through the pupil allowing a detailed study of the internal structures. Your pupil reflexes will also be tested. Your vision will be measured both with and without glasses or lenses to check for any problems with your eyesight. He/she will be checking both your near and far vision. In addition to checking internal and external structures, the doctor will check eye movements and coordination to make sure that both eyes are working together
  • Length – The average doctors appointment takes about 30 minutes depending upon the situation and any problems that the patient is having.
  • After the exam – Once the doctor has completed the exam, you may find that he would like to see you back in a certain amount of time, ask for further tests or even decide on the need for glasses or contacts.  This will be determined during the exam and will be thoroughly discussed with you.

CareCredit Accepted at all Independent Eye Care Offices

Independent Eye Care is proud to be a provider for CareCredit.

CareCredit gives you financial choices for your health and wellness needs. It is a credit card specifically for healthcare, allowing you options to pay monthly. It can be used towards all co-pays and other services not covered by insurance plans.

If you don’t already have a CareCredit account, simply stop in any of our 3 locations and we can process your application on line. Once approved, you can start using your CareCredit account immediately.

CareCredit is just one more way Independent Eye Care is working to help ease financial expenses for our patients.

Area Flooding

For all our patients in the Peabody/Danvers/Topsfield and surrounding areas, there have been many reports of flooding and road closures on Tuesday night, December 9th. 

Some of the local highway closings include:

  • Route 1 at Route 97 in Topsfield
  • Route 1 Ipswich, north of the Topsfield line
  • Route 133 Rowley between Interstate 95 and Route 1
  • Route 1 southbound to Route 62 in Danvers
  • Route 1 southbound at Lake Street in Danvers

Also several streets in the downtown area of Peabody are closed as well.  Please stay safe out there if you have to drive tonight!