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Why Are Dilated Eye Exams So Important?

Foresight Eyecare Dilated Eye Exam near you in Calgary, Alberta

Having your eyes dilated during an eye exam may seem like a nuisance. But when you consider the benefits of a dilated eye exam, the temporary blurred vision and sensitivity to light that typically follow are definitely worth it.

What Are Dilated Eye Exams?

At some point during a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will shine a bright light into your eyes to examine the back of your eye, called the retina. The problem is that bright light causes the size of the pupil’s opening to constrict, which makes it hard for the optometrist to see a large portion of the retina.

That’s why eye doctors apply diagnostic eye drops in each eye to keep the pupils open. A dilated pupil allows for a much more accurate assessment of your eye’s structures, including the lens, blood vessels and tissues at the back of the eye called the retina, as well as the optic nerve and macula.

Dilating the eyes makes it easier for your optometrist to detect the following conditions and diseases:

It’s important to note that many of these conditions can develop without noticeable symptoms, until they cause vision loss at which point treatment may be more challenging, making dilated eye exams all the more crucial.

The Dilation Process

First, your eye doctor will apply eye drops to each eye to trigger dilation of the pupil. Your eyes should be fully dilated about 10-20 minutes later.

Your eyes will remain dilated for 4-6 hours, and during this time you may be sensitive to light. That’s because the larger pupil allows more light than usual to enter the eye. Many patients find it more comfortable to wear sunglasses until their eyes return to normal.

Reading and using a computer may be difficult with dilated eyes, and your vision may be blurred. Some patients report feeling a tightening sensation in their eyelids, or headaches.

Dilated eye exams are a crucial part of keeping your eyes healthy. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, feel free to call our office or fill out an appointment request form on our website.

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At what age should one have a dilated eye exam?

You should have your dilated eye exam no matter your age. Most eye doctors will dilate a new patient at their first exam regardless of age to get a baseline of their retinal health.

Will I be able to return to work after a dilated eye exam?

Everyone reacts differently, so it’s hard to tell. If your job requires you to focus on small print or detail, it may be challenging. Typing and writing may also be difficult with dilated pupils. To be on the safe side, book your appointment at the end of your work day, clear your schedule after your eye exam and only plan to do activities which aren’t visually demanding.

What Causes Halos Around Lights?

Foresight Eyecare Local Cataract, Astigmatism, Fuch’s Dystrophy and Glaucoma Eye exams and treatment near you in Calgary, Alberta

Have you ever seen bright rings or “halos” around sources of light? Read on to learn what can cause halos and when they’re a reason to visit an eye doctor near you.

For local Management of Ocular Diseases near you in Calgary, Alberta

Seeing bright rings or “halos” around sources of light can either be normal or a cause for concern. Below, we’ll explain the most common reasons that people see halos and when you should visit your eye doctor.

We see halos around light fixtures and headlights when light entering the eye from a bright object is bent in an unusual way. This causes the bright light to appear as if it is surrounded by a ring of light, known as a halo. Several conditions can cause light to bend in this way.

  • CataractsA cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Cataracts usually develop slowly and are most often seen in older people.

    When the lens becomes cloudy, light is dispersed abnormally as it enters the eye and causes a person to see halos around lights. In fact, seeing halos around lights is one of the most common symptoms of cataracts. Other symptoms that may accompany cataracts are blurred vision, light sensitivity, and difficulty seeing at night.

  • AstigmatismThis eye condition occurs when the cornea (the front surface of the eye) is irregularly curved. People with astigmatism may see halos around lights because of the way the cornea refracts incoming light.
  • Fuch’s Dystrophy This progressive genetic disease causes the cornea to swell. As the cornea swells and becomes misshapen, it causes light to enter at an incorrect angle. As a result, people with this condition see halos around lights.
  • GlaucomaGlaucoma occurs when the optic nerve becomes damaged due to high inner eye pressure, and is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Seeing halos around lights can be an early sign of acute glaucoma, which is considered a medical emergency.

    If you suddenly start seeing halos around lights in addition to other symptoms like headache, vomiting, blurred vision, eye pain, and weakness, seek medical care without delay.

  • Dry Eye SyndromeDry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes are chronically dry. In moderate to severe cases, the eye’s surface can become irregularly shaped, which can cause light to enter at an odd angle.

When To Visit Your Eye Doctor

If you see halos around lights, it’s best to schedule a timely eye exam at an eye clinic near you, even if you suspect you know why it’s happening.

A comprehensive eye exam by a qualified eye care professional is the only way to rule out a serious problem.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Calgary eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Foresight Eyecare eye clinic near you in Calgary, Alberta to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 877-760-5852

Foresight Eyecare, your Calgary eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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  • What is a cataract? How will I know when I have one? What can be done to fix it?

    A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens. The crystalline lens sits behind the iris or the colored part of the eye. Its function is to fine-tune our focusing system by changing shape as we view objects at different distances. Our lens eventually loses its ability to change shape; this is when we require reading glasses or bifocals. In addition, the crystalline lens can become cloudy or yellow as a part of normal aging. This is also known as an age-related cataract. Normal, age-related cataracts are unavoidable and everyone will develop them at some point if they live long enough. The discoloration of the lens leads to an overall blur, a decrease in contrast sensitivity, and a worsening of glare, especially at nighttime. Because they tend to develop gradually, the symptoms are often unnoticed by the patient. A yearly eye exam will allow your optometrist the opportunity to identify cataracts and advise on how to proceed. When your optometrist decides your cataracts are affecting your vision and are advanced enough to remove, you will meet with an ophthalmologist. Cataract surgery is a safe and effective outpatient procedure that will reverse any vision loss caused by cataracts, and it is usually covered by your medical insurance.

  • My previous eye doctor told me I have “stigma!” Am I going to go blind?

    Stigma is actually referring to a type of refractive error known properly as astigmatism, and no, you will not go blind from having astigmatism; it is not a disease, in fact, it is relatively common. There are three types of refractive error, myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The former two are more regularly referred to as nearsighted (cannot see far away) and farsighted (cannot see up close). Astigmatism is simply the third category; it affects both the near and far vision at the same time. Much like nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism is corrected using glasses or contacts. Technically speaking an eye with astigmatism requires two different prescriptions to correct vision in one eye due to the more oval shape of the cornea. This will require a more specialized contact lens and a more in-depth fitting procedure. Nonetheless, your eye care provider can, and will, correct your astigmatism with glasses and/or contacts.

  • What exactly is glaucoma?

    Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye’s intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high. This means that your eye has too much aqueous humor in it, either because it produced too much, or because it’s not draining properly. Other symptoms are optic nerve damage and vision loss. Glaucoma is a silent disease that robs the patient of their peripheral vision. Early detection is very important.

  • My eyes are always burning and tired, what is causing this and what can I do about it?

    A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens. The crystalline lens sits behind the iris or the colored part of the eye. Its function is to fine-tune our focusing system by changing shape as we view objects at different distances. Our lens eventually loses its ability to change shape; this is when we require reading glasses or bifocals. In addition, the crystalline lens can become cloudy or yellow as a part of normal aging. This is also known as an age-related cataract. Normal, age-related cataracts are unavoidable and everyone will develop them at some point if they live long enough. The discoloration of the lens leads to an overall blur, a decrease in contrast sensitivity, and a worsening of glare, especially at nighttime. Because they tend to develop gradually, the symptoms are often unnoticed by the patient. A yearly eye exam will allow your optometrist the opportunity to identify cataracts and advise on how to proceed. When your optometrist decides your cataracts are affecting your vision and are advanced enough to remove, you will meet with an ophthalmologist. Cataract surgery is a safe and effective outpatient procedure that will reverse any vision loss caused by cataracts, and it is usually covered by your medical insurance.

How to Help Night Vision

Do you have difficulty seeing at night?Night blindness, or nyctalopia, is the inability to see well at night or in dim lighting. Drs. Dianna Leong and Andrew Chan want you to clearly see 24/7. 

Causes of Night Blindness 

The inability to see well at night can be the result of a condition such as:

Vitamin A Deficiency — Vitamin A helps build up the rhodopsin within rod receptors in the retina.  It also reduces dry eye by improving tear function to keep the cornea clear.   Although uncommon in North America, deficiency of Vitamin A can induce night blindness. 

CataractsBehind the iris is a natural crystalline lens that is transparent when you are born, but gradually gets more cloudy with exposure to UV light, certain medications, smoking, injury and other causes.  Less light gets transmitted to the retina, and this commonly causes complaints of poor night vision.  

Diabetic Retinopathy — Damage to the eyes’ blood vessels and nerves can result in vision loss, including difficulty seeing at night.  Particularly if laser PRP is done to tear the retina to avoid further diabetes damage, night vision becomes more difficult.   

Glaucoma — This group of eye diseases is associated with pressure build-up in the eye that damages the optic nerve. Glaucoma reduces peripheral vision which also results in problems with night vision.  

Myopia — Also called nearsightedness, myopia makes distant objects appear blurry.  Pupils get larger in the dark, reducing depth of field and increasing blur and a starburst effect around lights at night.  

Keratoconus — An irregularly shaped cornea causes blurred vision and may involve sensitivity to light and glare which tend to be worse at night.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) — A progressive genetic eye disease which can be associated with other diseases, RP leads to night blindness and peripheral vision loss.

Usher Syndrome — This genetic condition causes both hearing loss and vision loss, including night blindness and RP, mentioned above.

Symptoms of Nyctalopia

Since night blindness may be a symptom of some serious vision problems, it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly to ensure that everything is in good working order. Your eye doctor can assess for these conditions in a routine eye exam.  

Symptoms of Night Blindness Include:

  • Reduced contrast sensitivity
  • Difficulty seeing people outdoors at night
  • Difficulty seeing in places with dim lighting, like a movie theater
  • Trouble adapting to the dark while driving
  • Excessive squinting at night 
  • Trouble adjusting from bright areas to darker ones 

Treatments for Night Blindness

Your eye doctor will want to diagnose the cause of your night blindness in order to treat it. For example, in the rare case of vitamin A deficiency, it can be treated with vitamin supplements and vitamin-A rich Eyefoods; myopia can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Other conditions may require medications or surgery. 

If night blindness is caused by a birth defect, Usher syndrome, or retinitis pigmentosa, low vision aids and devices can help you make the most of your remaining vision. 

Prevention

While there is no proven way to prevent night blindness resulting from genetic conditions or birth defects, consuming healthy, nourishing foods and taking certain vitamin supplements may prevent or slow the onset of some eye conditions that cause night blindness. 

If you experience poor vision at night or in dim lighting, we can help. Contact Foresight Eyecare in Country Hills, Calgary to schedule your appointment today. 

What to Expect with Aging Eyes

Aging is so gradual that you may not even be aware that your eyes and vision are changing.  Regular checkups with your eye doctor help you establish your baseline then monitor these changes and identify any eye conditions or diseases early enough to treat them and prevent vision loss. Drs. Dianna Leong, Andrew Chan, and Anh Bui invite you to read on to learn more about the different types of eye changes one may encounter with age.

Age-Related Eye Conditions and Diseases

Cataracts

If your vision is starting to get blurry, you may be developing cataracts. There are a few types of cataracts, but the one usually caused by aging is known as a “nuclear sclerosis cataract”. At first, it may lead to increased nearsightedness or even a temporary improvement in your reading vision. But with time, the lens gradually turns more densely yellow and clouds your vision. As the cataract slowly progresses, the lens may even turn brown. Advanced yellowing or browning of the lens can lead to difficulty distinguishing between shades of color, and left untreated, the vision becomes foggy with brownish hue. Luckily, cataract surgery, where the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear lens implant (IOL), is a common eye surgery and effective treatment option. 

Blepharoptosis

Blepharoptosis or ptosis is a drooping of the upper eyelid that may affect one or both eyes. The eyelid may droop only slightly or may droop enough to cover the pupil and block vision. It occurs when there is a weakness of the eye’s levator muscle that lifts the eyelid. This condition is usually caused by aging, eye surgery, or disease affecting the muscle or its nerve. Fortunately, blepharoptosis can be corrected with surgery.

Vitreous detachment

This occurs when the gel-like vitreous fluid inside the eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina, causing “spots and floaters” and, sometimes, flashes of light. This occurrence is called a posterior vitreous detachment.  BUT floaters and flashes of light can also signal the beginning of a detached retina — a serious problem that can cause blindness, and requires immediate treatment. If you experience sudden or worsening flashes and increased floaters, see [Dr. Dianna Leong and associates immediately to determine the cause.

Other Age-Related Changes

In addition to the above eye conditions and diseases, the structure of our eyes and vision change as we get older. 

Presbyopia

Why do people in their 40s and 50s have more difficulty focusing on near objects like books and phone screens? The eyes work harder when viewing near objects, and the lens inside the eye begins to lose its ability to change shape and bring near objects into focus, a process is called presbyopia. Over time, presbyopia, also known as age-related farsightedness, will become more pronounced and you will eventually need reading glasses to see clearly. You may need multiple prescriptions – one prescription to enable you to see up close, one for intermediate distance, and one for distance vision. In that case, people often get bifocals, multifocals or PALs, and they can be combined with contact lenses as well.

Reduced pupil size

As we age, our reaction to light and the muscles that control our pupil size lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting. The result? It becomes harder to clearly see objects, such as a menu, in a low-light setting like a restaurant.  

Dry eye

Our tear glands produce fewer tears and the tears they produce have less moisturizing oils. Your eye doctor can determine whether your dry eye is age-related or due to another condition, and will recommend the right over-the-counter or prescription eye drops, or other effective and lasting treatments, to alleviate the dryness and restore comfort.

Loss of peripheral vision

Aging causes a 1-3 degree loss of peripheral vision per decade of life. In fact, one may reach a peripheral visual field loss of 20-30 degrees by the time they reach their 70s and 80s. While peripheral vision loss is a normal part of aging, it can also indicate the presence of a serious eye disease, like glaucoma. The best way to ascertain the cause is by getting an eye exam. 

Decreased colour vision

The cells in the retina responsible for normal color vision tend to decline as we age, causing colors to become less bright and the contrast between different colors to be less noticeable. Though a normal part of aging, faded colors can at times signal a more serious ocular problem. 

Beyond the normal changes that come with age, there is increased risk of developing a serious eye disease, such as age related macular degeneration and glaucoma.  Routine eye exams are essential to keeping your eyes healthy. Your eye doctor can determine whether your symptoms are caused by an eye problem or are a normal byproduct of aging. 

If you or a loved one suffers from impaired vision, we can help. To find out more and to schedule your annual eye doctor’s appointment, contact Foresight Eyecare in the Country Hills area of northwest Calgary.  With COVID-19, we are taking extra precautions to ensure our seniors can have a safe eye exam.

 

Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

Nation-wide awareness about the vast dangers of obesity is at an all-time high, with TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” and health initiatives such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign shining a spotlight on the importance of fitness and good nutrition. However, despite the public’s knowledge of obesity’s effects on hypertension, stroke, and diabetes, many are not aware of how it damages eye health and vision.

Increasing evidence shows that people who are clinically obese have an elevated risk of developing serious eye diseases. It is widely known that expanding waistlines place people at a higher risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, and cancer — but researchers say the link between obesity and deteriorating vision is the “risk factor that no one talks about”. Professor Michael Belkin and Dr. Zohar Habot-Wilner, from the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Center, found a consistently strong correlation between obesity and the development of four major eye diseases that may cause blindness:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy

The researchers said that although the evidence was out there suggesting a link between obesity and these conditions, their study emphasizes the optometric risks of obesity which can help motivate people to shed those extra pounds.

How Obesity Contributes to Eye Disease

A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is regarded as obese. A high BMI is tied to several chronic systemic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, among others. Recent research indicates that a handful of ocular diseases can now be added to that list.

Serious eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration are more common in individuals with obesity, as well as floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, thyroid-related eye diseases, and stroke-related vision loss.

The connection between obesity and these eye diseases is likely due to the increased risk of peripheral artery disease. This occurs when the tiny blood vessels bringing oxygen to parts of your body like the feet, kidneys, and eyes become compromised.

Your eyes are particularly prone to damage from obesity because the blood vessels in the eyes (called arterioles) are easily blocked, since they’re extremely thin and small — as thin as ½ the width of a human hair!

Most people are not aware that obesity may increase the rate of developing cataracts, too. Cataracts result when the focusing lens in the eye becomes cloudy and requires surgery to be replaced. In addition to age, cataract development is associated with obesity, poor nutrition, gout, diabetes and high blood sugar levels, though the exact cause isn’t clear.

A Healthy Lifestyle Can Reduce Your Risk of Ocular Disease

Knowing about the risk of vision loss may give those with a high BMI the extra motivational boost they need to lose weight. The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can reduce the associated risks.

An active lifestyle and a balanced, nutritious diet lower obesity and improve overall physical and eye health. Give your body a boost by incorporating important nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega 3, zinc, and lutein, many of which are found in green leafy and dark orange vegetables, as they have been shown to reduce the onset, progression, and severity of certain eye diseases.

We Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy in Calgary

While a healthy diet and regular exercise greatly increase your chances of living a disease-free long life, they alone are not enough to ensure long term healthy eyesight. Regular eye exams with Dr Leong can help prevent or detect the onset of ocular disease, and maintain vision that is clear and comfortable.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health, don’t hesitate to call Foresight Eyecare — we’re here for you.

Eye on Diabetes

Did you know that people with diabetes are 20 times more likely to get eye disease than those without it? There are three major eye conditions that diabetics are at risk for developing: cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. To prevent these sight-threatening diseases, it’s important to control your blood sugar level and have your eyes checked at least once a year by your eye doctor.   Drs. Leong, Yung and Bui feel it is important to educate patients about diabetes, as often there are no symptoms until advanced stages.

But First, What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that is associated with high blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps our cells get energy from the sugars we eat. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce or respond to insulin effectively, leaving too much sugar in the blood stream instead. Over time, diabetes can lead to potentially irreversible ocular damage and poor eyesight. However, by taking care of your blood sugar levels and your eyes, you can prevent vision loss.

Annual eye exams are recommended for everyone, but routine screenings are even more important for diabetics.  Alberta Health Care promotes preventative health care by covering the cost of a diabetes eye exam, which examines the eye health through dilated pupils. This is not the same as a comprehensive eye exam so vision check for updating glasses would not be covered.   Dr. Leong, Yung or Bui would send diabetic eye health reports to a patient’s primary care physician or internist to adjust medication or treatment as needed to prevent complications.

What’s the Link Between Vision and Diabetes? 

Blurred vision or fluctuating eyesight clarity is often one of the first noticeable signs that diabetes has begun to affect your eyes. Sometimes, fluid leaking into the eye causes the lens to swell and change shape. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, resulting in fuzzy vision. Such symptoms can indicate that an eye disease is developing, or may simply be due to imbalanced blood sugar levels which can be rectified by getting your blood sugar back to healthy levels. 

If you start to notice blurry vision, make an appointment with Drs. Leong, Yung and Bui as soon as possible.

The 3 Ways Diabetes Impacts Vision 

Cataracts

While cataracts are extremely common and a part of the natural aging process, those with diabetes tend to develop cataracts earlier in life. Characterized by a clouding or fogging of the lens within the eye, cataracts impede light from entering the eye, causing blurred vision and glares. The best treatment is cataract surgery, which is very safe and effective. 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases characterized by optic nerve damage. Since it tends to impact peripheral vision first, glaucoma often goes unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. However, routine glaucoma screenings can detect warning signs; early treatment can prevent disease progression and vision loss. 

Although there is no true cure for glaucoma, most glaucoma patients successfully manage it with special eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or other surgery. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed and managed, the better the outcome.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels on your retina (capillaries) become weakened and then balloon (microaneurysm) due to poorly controlled blood sugar levels.  Over time, the resulting poor blood circulation in the back of the eye causes more abnormal blood vessels to grow, which also bleed or leak fluid, and can lead to scar tissue, retinal detachment and even blindness.

Often there are no symptoms until the advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, where patients may begin to see spots and missing patches in their vision. Retinopathy can be treated through surgery and eye injections, but the best way to prevent this disease from progressing is to regularly have your eyes screened.

The good news is that diabetic eye disease can often be prevented with early detection, proper management of your diabetes and regular diabetic eye exams. Contact Foresight Eyecare in Country Hills, Calgary to set up your eye doctor’s appointment today. 

How Smoking Impacts Vision

Smoking harms nearly every system in your body — including your eyes. 

Though we are all aware of the health effects associated with smoking, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and bad teeth, few know about the negative impact it can have on our vision. 

Smoking and Eye Disease 

Smoking can adversely impact your vision. Drs. Leong, Yung and Bui have observed that in the short term, the fumes can irritate the eye surface but over the long term internal structures within the eye degenerate. 

More specifically, tobacco addiction increases the risk of developing vision-robbing diseases such as macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy.  Below we’ll delve a little further into each of these conditions. 

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Smokers run a high risk of rapid progression of AMD, a condition that severely impairs central vision, making it difficult or impossible to read, drive, recognize faces and colors, and leads to permanent vision loss in those aged 65 or older. Many people with AMD take vitamin supplements to counteract the degenerative changes.  Caution for smokers, who should not take beta-carotene supplements as this increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers (even if one stopped smoking for up to five years!)

Cataracts

Heavy smokers double their risk of developing cataracts, the leading cause of blindness. Cataracts are characterized by clouded, blurred or double vision, photophobia, and reduced night vision. However, cataract surgery is common and replaces the clouded lens with an artificial intraocular lens. 

Uveitis

Uveitis, the inflammation of the eye’s central layer, is an ocular disease that can lead to blindness. This condition damages important structures of the eye, notably the iris and retina, and can lead to cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment. Smokers have a 2.2 times higher risk of developing uveitis than non-smokers. 

Diabetic Retinopathy

Smoking raises one’s risk of developing diabetes by up to 40 percent thereby increasing the risk of retinopathy as well. Diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to leak blood into the eye, which — in severe cases — can deprive the retina of oxygen and result in blindness.

Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition characterized by insufficient tears to keep your eye lubricated, or the tears are not composed of the correct balance of water, lipids, and mucous to maintain proper lubrication. Common symptoms include red, itchy, and gritty eyes.

Heavy smokers, and those exposed to secondhand smoke, not only double their risk of developing dry eye but also exacerbate an existing condition, especially among the contact lens wearers.

Secondhand Smoke and Eye Disease 

Secondhand smoke— which includes the smoke that emanates from the end of a cigarette as well as the smoke exhaled— is nearly as harmful to health and vision. Second-hand smoke places others’ eyesight in danger, particularly in young children and infants. Furthermore, studies indicate that women who smoke during pregnancy put the newborn baby at risk of being born with eye disease or visual impairment that could affect his or her ability to learn.

Stop Smoking to Save Your Vision

The good news is that giving up smoking can have an immediate effect on your health — and it’s never too late to quit! Once the habit is broken, your body will begin to repair itself to prevent vision loss. It can be challenging to quit, as it requires dedication, support, and advanced planning. Drs. Leong, Yung and Bui and the rest of the staff at Foresight Eyecare in NorthWest Calgary care about your health and will be happy to provide any assistance or resources to help you quit smoking and improve your eye health. Keep in mind that if you smoke, quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to protect your health and vision.

Cataract Awareness Month

June is Cataract Awareness Month. During this important time, people living with cataracts (and their loved ones) are encouraged to talk about their personal experiences by giving each other helpful information and sharing their knowledge and advice.

Cataract is a common eye disease.  If you live long enough, guaranteed you will develop a cataract.   Fortunately, it is a treatable eye disease with many experienced cataract surgeons performing surgical removal on a regular basis.  New technologies have improved the treatment process too, with many options of intraocular lens (IOL) implants to improve quality of vision after surgery.   Dr. Leong and associates are not surgeons, but we can assist patients with informing what is their current cataract status and make recommendations on when and what treatment options would be beneficial.

With millions of people living with the condition, it’s now more important than ever to bring awareness to this serious condition.

What Are Cataracts?

So what exactly are cataracts?

The lens of the eye is normally clear, which allows you to see things clearly and in sharp detail. Over time, the lens can become cloudy, causing blurry vision. It’s as if you’re looking through a dirty window and can’t really see what’s outside. This clouding of the lens is called a cataract, and it can affect one or both of your eyes.

What Causes Cataracts?

Aging is the most common cause of cataracts. The lens of your eye contains water and proteins. As you age, these proteins can clump together, and when that happens, the normally clear lens becomes cloudy.

Did you know that certain types of major eye surgeries and infections can trigger cataracts? Other issues that can lead to cataracts include congenital birth defects, eye injury, diseases, and even various kinds of medications (e.g. steroids).  If you’re already developing cataracts, be careful when going outside. UV rays from the sun can make cataracts develop faster.

How Can I Lower My Risk of Cataracts?

Certain risk factors increase your chance of developing cataracts. These typically include:

  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Family and medical history
  • Medications
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • UV ray exposure

To lower your risk, consider reducing your alcohol intake, quit smoking, start an exercise program, eat foods rich in vitamin A and C, and wear 100% UV blocking sunglasses.

Common Symptoms of Cataracts

If you have cataracts, you may experience some common symptoms like:

  • Blurry vision
  • Colors that used to be bright now appear dim
  • Double vision
  • Glare from natural sunlight or from artificial light, like light bulbs and lamps
  • Halos around lights
  • Night vision problems
  • Sensitivity to light

If you or a family member notice any of these signs, talk to Dr. Leong and the Foresight Eyecare team right away. The sooner you seek treatment, the faster we can help you get back to clear vision.

Coping With Cataracts

If you’re experiencing vision problems from cataracts, there is hope. If you have a mild case, a combination of a different eyeglass prescription and better lighting in your home, office, or other environment can improve your vision. In more advanced cases, your optometrist will likely recommend cataract surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear one.

Do I Need Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures today. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that 2 million people undergo the procedure each year.

During the procedure, the doctor will gently remove the cataract from the eye and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens (known as an IOL). Because it’s a common procedure, cataract surgery is usually performed in an outpatient clinic or in your eye doctor’s office. There is no need to stay in a hospital and you can usually resume your normal activities in just a few days.

If you’ve exhausted every other solution and still suffer from blurry vision from cataracts, surgery may be an option. Schedule a consultation online or call Foresight Eyecare to book an eye doctor’s appointment and together, we’ll determine if cataract surgery is right for you. 

During this Cataract Awareness Month, share your stories and successes, and give your loved ones hope for a healthy and high quality of life.