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Why You Should Avoid Online Eye Tests

An online eye exam is an automated and interactive vision test that claims to measure mainly visual acuity. It may seem like a convenient way to evaluate your vision or get an eyeglass or contact lens prescription, as these tests can be administered using your computer, tablet, or smartphone from the comfort of your home.

But these tests — which should not be confused with telehealth visits — are performed by a computer program, not a professional eye care practitioner, and they cannot and should not replace a comprehensive, in-person eye exam.

Online eye tests, which are impersonal and superficial by nature, can cause you to miss out on some important, even life-saving, information about your eye health and vision.

What Do Online Eye Tests Evaluate?

First off, it’s important to recognize that an online eye test does not evaluate the health of your eyes. It’s more of a vision test than an eye test, as it’s designed as an attempt to measure your visual acuity and refractive error, and, in some cases, contrast sensitivity and color blindness. Furthermore, the accuracy of the prescriptions provided by online vision tests is questionable. Providing the correct optical prescription requires the eye doctor’s direct and open communication with the patient. The right prescription needs subjective input and experienced analysis from an eye doctor — professional skills that can never be replicated accurately through an online program.

While the technology promises convenience, the American Optometric Association (AOA) advises caution, as these exams can offer misleading information and may contribute to a patient believing—incorrectly—that his or her eye health needs have been met. The online eye test measurements provide little-to-no information on the health of your eyes, and cannot determine whether you may have a sight-threatening condition such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or other eye diseases. Nor do online exams address problems like dry eye, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, or functional vision problems — such as difficulty with eye teaming or convergence insufficiency.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Eye Exam

Optometrists undergo years of study and specialized training. They develop a comprehensive understanding of how to evaluate your eyes not only for sight, but for any underlying conditions. In fact, vision and health are closely linked. Comprehensive eye exams enable Dr. Derek Feifke and Dr. Soll to detect signs of diseases that may affect your entire body, but which show early signs in your eyes.

These include:

  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Strokes
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or a brain tumor

Is a Virtual Eye Exam Cost-Saving?

Some people erroneously believe that an online eye test can save them not only time but also money, compared with a comprehensive eye exam performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. It’s important to note that these virtual tests offer only a sliver of the services you’d normally receive from your eye doctor during a thorough ocular exam.

Carrying out a professional eye exam requires training, precision, and the proper equipment. Anything less can put your eyes and vision at serious risk.

Safeguard Your Eyes and Sight

A comprehensive in-person eye exam is the only way to determine whether your eyes are healthy and free from sight-threatening conditions. Early detection and treatment of these problems can potentially prevent vision loss. Eye care practitioners frequently discover an infection, chronic illness or eye disease during what patients would have expected to be a simple, routine ocular exam. These scenarios are far more common than we’d like to imagine.

To safeguard the health of your eyes and sight, have a comprehensive, in-person eye exam with Dr. Derek Feifke and Dr. Soll on a regular basis. Your health may depend on it.

Insight Optical in Burlington provides comprehensive eye exams using the most advanced equipment available. Schedule an exam with us today.

 

12 Tips for Optimal Eye Health

Expert Eye Care| Optometrist in Burlington | Insight Optical

Good Eye Care Habits & Hygiene

By practicing good eye care habits and hygiene, you can prevent many vision problems from occurring. Eye problems and the risks associated with vision loss only grow as you age. By neglecting eye care, you place yourself at a higher risk of suffering from cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and low vision.

So make sure you maintain great eye health by following these 12 tips for optimal eye health.

1. Avoid rubbing your eyes

Itchy eyes can be a hallmark symptom of allergies, and though rubbing may bring temporary relief, it ultimately increases swelling and worsens the itch. If you wear contact lenses, rubbing your eyes can also dislodge or even break a lens, causing the lens to get lost or scratch the cornea. Plus, eye rubbing can lead to eye infections, since our hands are typically covered with a host of germs.

2. Regularly wash your hands

Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is often caused by germs and bacteria carried to your eyes by unclean hands. Frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water helps keep bacteria away and prevents eye contamination. Prior to inserting or removing contact lenses, make sure to wash your hands with mild soap and dry them using a lint-free towel.

3. Beware of UV rays

By exposing yourself to sunlight and UV rays, you increase the risk of developing macular degeneration and corneal sunburn. Beyond just adding some style and zest to your look, sunglasses should protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays. Speak to your optometrist about the different options available for people who wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses too, to keep your eyes safe in the sun.

4. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial for your body’s overall health and wellbeing — and that includes your eyes. Among other complications, if you don’t have enough fluid in your body, it impacts tear production and can cause dry eyes and irritation. Drink up!

5. Don’t smoke cigarettes

Need some extra motivation to quit smoking?

Smokers are more prone to developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye conditions. Cigarette smoking can also destroy optic nerves, which can adversely affect your vision over time. So think twice before you light up, and speak to your doctor about getting help to quit.

6. Eat a healthy diet

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure that your diet is rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamins A and C. These can be found in leafy greens (your mom was right about spinach!), orange vegetables (think, carrots and sweet potato) and citrus fruit. Furthermore, fatty fish like salmon contain essential omega-3 fatty acids which also promote excellent eye health.

7. Keep a healthy distance from screens

Nip digital eye strain in the bud by positioning your computer monitor about an arm’s length away from the eyes and 20 degrees below eye level. Ideally, work in a room with enough diffused lighting to reduce stress on your eyes from the computer light.

8. Remember the 20-20-20 rule

Speaking of computers, have you heard of the 20-20-20 rule? When using digital devices, rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 continuous seconds.

Once you’re at it, blink 20 times in succession to prevent dry eyes, and make it a habit to rise from your seat and take 20 steps to promote good posture and blood circulation, which helps your vision too.

9. Be careful with eye make-up

Make sure that your eye shadow, mascara, and eyeliner don’t cause your eyes an allergic reaction. Get in the habit of removing your make-up before going to sleep in order to avoid bacterial build-up from residual make-up left in the eye area. And, from time to time, clean your make-up brushes, especially those used to apply cosmetics around the eye area.

10. Sleep is golden

Just as with the rest of your body, your eyes need a break. So make sure that you get sufficient shut-eye (8 hours) each night to keep your eyes revitalized and healthy.

11. Wear protective eyewear

Whatever you do, make sure your eyes are well-protected. If you’re swimming, wear goggles to prevent chlorine from entering your eyes. If you’re gardening or engaged in a DIY project at home, wear safety glasses to keep dust particles and bacteria at bay and prevent eye injuries. Ask your local eye doctor about protective eyewear for sports and other activities.

12. Regularly visit your eye doctor

Don’t underestimate the importance of getting a routine eye exam, whether you need an updated prescription or not. Even if you can see well today, a comprehensive eye exam can pick up early signs of eye diseases and conditions before symptoms become noticeable, such as glaucoma, diabetes, retinal holes which could lead to retinal detachment, and cancers like melanoma. Early detection and management can prevent further complications and serious vision loss down the line.

Only an eye doctor has the required knowledge, experience, tools and techniques to determine whether you have these or other eye conditions.

It is recommended that everyone gets a comprehensive eye exam once a year (or at least every two years). Children, whose eyes are rapidly developing, and people at higher risk for developing eye problems such as diabetics and older people, need to undergo eye exams even more frequently: at the minimum, yearly.

During the evaluation, the eye doctor will check for things like:

  • Farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism and/or presbyopia
  • Eye coordination
  • Optic nerve and eye pressure tests to spot glaucoma

It’s also important to be on the look-out for any changes in your vision. If you experience hazy or double vision, worsening eyesight, red eyes, eye pain, swelling or floaters, contact Dr. Derek Feifke.

Incorporate these tips and habits into your lifestyle to maintain healthy eyes and a high quality of life. Insight Optical offers comprehensive eye exams in Burlington, Massachusetts, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about ways to maintain healthy vision.

What Is Amblyopia?

eye doctor in Burlington MA

Amblyopia is one common eye condition that is often hidden behind the appearance of good eyesight.

Also known as “lazy eye” it usually occurs when the brain begins to ignore the signals sent by one eye, often because that eye is weaker and doesn’t focus properly. Sometimes it can occur in both eyes, in which case it’s called bilateral amblyopia. This eye condition is especially common in preemies, and tends to run in families as well, so it’s important to provide our eye doctor with a complete medical and family history during your next eye exam.

There are several factors that can cause amblyopia to develop. These include:

  • astigmatism
  • high nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • uneven eye development as an infant
  • congenital cataract (clouding of the lens of the eye)
  • strabismus (where the eyes are misaligned or “cross-eyed”).

However in many cases of amblyopia there may be no obvious visible structural differences in the eye. In addition to the fact that the eyes may look normal, vision often appears fine as the brain is able to compensate for the weaker eye by favoring the stronger one. Because of this, many children live with their eye condition for years before it is diagnosed. Unfortunately, as a person ages, the brain loses some of its plasticity (how easy it is to train the brain to develop new skills), making it much harder – if not impossible – to treat amblyopia in older children and adults. That’s why it’s so important for infants and young children to have a thorough eye exam.

Are There Any Signs of Amblyopia?

If you notice your child appears cross-eyed, that would be an indication that it’s time for a comprehensive eye exam to screen for strabismus and amblyopia development.

Preschoolers with amblyopia sometimes show signs of unusual posture when playing, such as head tilting, clumsiness or viewing things abnormally close.

However, often there are no signs or symptoms. The child typically does not complain, as he or she does not know what normal vision should look like. Sometimes the condition is picked up once children begin reading if have difficulty focusing on the close text. The school nurse may suggest an eye exam to confirm or rule out amblyopia following a standard vision test on each eye, though it might be possible to pass a vision screening test and still have amblyopia. Only an eye doctor can make a definitive diagnosis of the eye condition.

So How Do You Know If or When To Book a Pediatric Eye Exam?

Comprehensive eye and vision exams should be performed on children at an early age. That way, hidden eye conditions would be diagnosed while they’re still more easily treatable. An eye exam is recommended at 6 months of age and then again at 3 years old and before entering first grade. The eye doctor may need to use eye drops to dilate the pupils to confirm a child’s true refractive error and diagnose an eye condition such as amblyopia.

Treatment for Amblyopia

Glasses alone will not completely correct vision with amblyopia in most cases, because the brain has learned to process images from the weak eye or eyes as blurred images, and ignore them. There are several non-surgical treatment options for amblyopia. While your child may never achieve 20/20 vision as an outcome of the treatment and may need some prescription glasses or contact lenses, there are options that can significantly improve visual acuity.

Patch or Drops

In order to improve vision, one needs to retrain the brain to receive a clear image from the weak eye or eyes. In the case of unilateral amblyopia (one eye is weaker than the other), this usually involves treating the normal eye with a patch or drops to force the brain to depend on the weak eye. This re-establishes the eye-brain connection with the weaker one and strengthens vision in that eye. If a child has bilateral amblyopia, treatment involves a regimen of constantly wearing glasses and/or contact lenses with continual observation over time.

Your eye doctor will prescribe the number of waking hours that patching is needed based on the visual acuity in your child’s weak eye; however, the periods of time that you chose to enforce wearing the patch may be flexible. During patching the child typically does a fun activity requiring hand eye coordination to stimulate visual development (such as a favorite video game, puzzle, maze etc) as passive activity is not as effective.

The earlier treatment starts, the better the chances are of stopping or reversing the negative patterns formed in the brain that harm vision. Amblyopia treatment with patches or drops may be minimally effective in improving vision as late as the early teen years (up to age 14) but better results are seen in younger patients.

Vision Therapy

Many optometrists recommend vision therapy to train the eyes using exercises that strengthen the eye-brain connection. While success rates tend to be better in children, optometrists have also seen improvements using this occupational therapy type program to treat amblyopia in adults.

The key to improvement through any non-surgical treatment for amblyopia is compliance. Vision therapy exercises must be practiced on a regular basis. Children that are using glasses or contact lenses for treatment, must wear them consistently. Your eye doctor will recommend the schedule of the patching, drops, or vision therapy eye exercise and the best course of treatment.

Amblyopia: Take-home Message

Even if your child is not showing any signs of vision problems, and especially if they are, it is important to have an eye examination with an eye doctor as soon as possible, and on a regular basis. While the eyes are still young and developing, diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions such as amblyopia are greatly improved.

Back to School Eye Exams Are Important – Schedule Today!

At Insight Optical, we take the time to get to know you child’s eye care history, and vision needs.

Our optometrists in Burlington, MA provide expert pediatric care. Insight Optical is known locally their high end optical store with the latest in eyeglass lens technology for the whole family. Finding the best frames to fit your style is what our opticians do best.

All About Polarized Eye Wear

Everyone wants to drive safer, see more comfortably and protect the long term health of their eyes. What many don’t know is the advantages that polarized eyewear can give when trying to accomplish these goals, and more.

Polarized lenses aren’t new. For many years now, polarized sunglasses have been a popular accessory for boaters and fisherman who are looking to reduce glare while out on the water. In more recent years, those who spend significant amounts of time outdoors, such as skiers, bikers, golfers, and joggers have also discovered the advantages of these amazing lenses. Polarized lenses are also great for reducing glare while driving, for safer vision while behind the wheel.

In explaining how Polarized lenses work, Dr. Derek Feifke says, “Light that reflects off of flat surfaces such as car hoods and snow on the ground, reflect onto the eye horizontally, meaning that it is not scattered in the normal fashion. This makes the light reflected quite intense and can cause momentary blindness, which can be quite dangerous in certain circumstances. Polarized lenses contain a special filter that blocks this intense horizontal light, significantly reducing glare.

Polar lenses are also great when it comes to guarding your long term eye and vision health. Many tests and trials in previous years have shown that prolonged or repeated exposure to intense light, such as glare from snow or car windshields, can significantly increase a person’s risk of developing serious sight-threatening eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as a painful “sunburn of the eye,” called photokeratitis.

Polarized lenses are great for many uses from boating and fishing to biking and jogging. They are also increasingly being offered in combination with other beneficial eyeglasses features. Polarized bifocals or progressives are an excellent choice for those with presbyopia that are also looking to have comfortable vision and guard the health of their eyes, and photochromic lenses are also great for those with light sensitivity, as the lenses get darker when you walk into the sun, protecting your eyes both from intense glare and bright sunlight.

Polarized sunglasses are the right choice for anyone who wants to enjoy the active life only afforded by the beautiful outdoors, whether you’re a person who likes to spend your time waterskiing or boating, in-line skating or mountain biking, driving or jogging.

For more information, schedule an appointment today!

Halloween Eye Safety

October has arrived and that means many people are already starting to plan for upcoming costume parties and trick-or-treating for the Halloween season. This is why now is the time to remind the public about some very important precautions about eye safety since there are some common costume props and accessories out there can be very dangerous to your eyes.

Cosmetic Contact Lenses

One of the biggest costume-related dangers to your eyes and vision is cosmetic or decorative contact lenses. Decorative lenses can be a great addition to your costume, but they must be obtained safely and legally with a prescription, through a professional, authorized vendor.

The bottom line is that contact lenses are a medical device that are manufactured and distributed under very strict regulations. Even non-corrective contact lenses require an eye exam to measure your eye and fit lenses according to a prescription. Costume stores, beauty supply stores and similar websites are not authorized dealers of contact lenses, and over-the-counter contact lenses are not legal under any circumstances. 

Beware of anyone advertising “one-size-fits all” lenses or promoting that you do not need a prescription to purchase. Never buy contact lenses that don’t require a prescription. You could be risking serious damage to the eye and even blindness.

When contact lenses are not fitted to your unique eye measurements by an eye doctor, they can cause dryness and discomfort as well as a corneal abrasion or a scratch on the front surface of the eye. Serious corneal abrasions can leave scars and create permanent vision damage. Further, unregulated contact lenses may not be manufactured with optimal materials that are flexible and breathable and can be applied and removed properly. There are stories of lenses being stuck to people’s eyes and causing serious damage. Even if you aren’t feeling pain, it is best to check with a qualified licensed contact lens fitter to confirm if the contact lens is causing any harm to the eyes.

Non-prescription contacts have also been shown to present a higher risk of eye infection.  Serious infections can lead to vision loss, sometimes on a permanent basis. There are far too many stories these days of people that have used off-the-counter contact lenses that are now blind or suffering serious vision loss and chronic discomfort. 

Don’t worry, you don’t have to forgo your red, devil eyes this year! Just be safe and plan ahead. There are many manufacturers of cosmetic lenses, and these can be obtained safely through an authorized contact lens dealer. Contact your eye doctor or local optician to find out more. 

False Lashes

False eyelashes have become quite the rage in recent years but they carry a number of risks with them as well. First of all, they can damage the natural eyelash hair follicles, causing them to fall out, sometimes permanently. The chances of this increase when people sleep in their lashes or leave them on for extended periods of time. In addition to the aesthetic damage, this can be dangerous to your eyes because eyelashes are essential for protecting your eyes from sweat, debris, and dust. Without your eyelashes your eyes are at greater risk for infection and irritation.  

False eyelashes can also be a trap for dirt, debris and bacteria which can enter your eye causing irritation and infections, along the lids or inside the eye itself. As we said above, severe infections can sometimes lead to vision loss. 

Additionally, the glue that adheres the lashes to your eyelid can sometimes cause an allergic reaction in the skin around the eye or to the eye itself. The eye is one of the most sensitive areas of the body, so you want to keep any potential allergens or irritants far, far away. 

Masks and Props

If your (or your child’s) costume includes a mask, fake face, hood or anything else that goes on your head, make sure that visibility isn’t impaired. Unfortunately, it’s common for children especially to trip and fall because they cannot see well. Also, use caution when using props such as plastic swords, pitchforks, guns, sports equipment which can easily cause a corneal abrasion or contusion to the eye if hit in the face. 

Makeup

Lastly be careful about the makeup you apply around your eyes. Wash your hands before you apply eye makeup and don’t share makeup and brushes with others, as this can lead to the spread of infections such as conjunctivitis (pink eye). Make sure your makeup isn’t expired (mascara for example is recommended to throw away 2-4 months after opening) and try not to apply anything like eyeliner too close to the underside of the eyelid. Lastly, only  use makeup intended for eyes in the area around the eyes.  

When you are planning for this Halloween season, just remember that your vision is too high a price to pay for any great costume. Dress up safely and Happy Halloween!

 

FUNDRAISER FOR VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) BY DR. FEIFKE

Dr. Derek Feifke has donated his time on multiple VOSH missions to care for the less fortunate. Along with other volunteers, Dr. Feikfe has helped numerous people without access to basic eyecare needs the opportunity to see the world clearly.

On a few of his visits, Dr. Feifke was given hand-crafted beaded animals as a gift for his efforts. While these beaded animals mean a lot to us, we know that we can do more to help VOSH secure medical care and eye care needs for more people.

We're selling these beaded animals, and all proceeds will go directly to VOSH. Visit our practice and take the initiative to donate. Not only will you have the rare chance to receive a unique gift, but your contributions will go to a worthy cause.

 

Colorful toy hippos in Burlington, MA
Colorful toy elephants in Burlington, MA
Colorful toy elephants and giraffes in Burlington, MA
Colorful toy animals in Burlington, MA

What is Evaporative Dry Eye?

Middle Aged Woman Winter with dry eyesYour Dry Eye Specialists in Burlington Explain

Dry eyes are caused by a vast number of culprits, but most people experience similar annoying symptoms. It is typical to feel like sand is stuck in your eyes and you need to rub it out. Itchiness, swelling, redness, and blurry vision are also usual complaints. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to consult with your local dry eye specialists in Burlington, MA – the experienced eye doctors at Insight Optical.

The most common form of dry eye syndrome is Evaporative Dry Eye (EDE), which occurs when the tiny glands in your eyelids get blocked. Called meibomian glands, these glands release lubricating oil to coat your eye surface. When they are clogged, the moisture level of your eye is reduced.

What are typical causes of Evaporative Dry Eye?

Tears have a three-layer composition: water, oil, and mucus, and they are released constantly – not just when you cry. Tears cover your eyes, creating a smooth surface and helping to protect against infection. If your meibomian glands do not release enough tears because they are swollen or blocked, then your tears won’t contain enough oil to slow down the rate of evaporation. This leads directly to the soreness of Evaporative Dry Eye.

If you’re wondering how meibomian glands get clogged, there are a variety of ways. Staring at a screen and not blinking often enough can cause debris to accumulate on the edge of your eyelids, which blocks the glands. Other causes for clogged glands include:

  • Wearing contact lenses for extended periods
  • Skin conditions, such as psoriasis and rosacea
  • Medication side effects, such as from antihistamines, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, diuretics, and decongestants
  • Eye injury
  • Eye surgery

How Do Our Burlington Dry Eye Specialists Diagnose Dry Eye?

Symptoms alone are often enough to make a diagnosis of evaporative dry eye. However, to confirm the cause of your problem and recommend the most suitable dry eye treatment, we will ask you to share information about your overall health, lifestyle and medications. Our optometrist will also perform a comprehensive eye exam to detect or rule out clogged meibomian glands. Eye drops with dyes can be used to help us see your eye surface and observe the evaporation rate of your tears. We may perform specialized testing, such as placing a thin strip of paper under your lower eyelids, to measure tear volume. All of these procedures are quick and painless.

Who is at a higher risk for EDE?

Evaporative dry eye generally affects older people, although it can appear at any age. Statistically, it also affects women more frequently than men. People who have specific health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjorgen’s syndrome, thyroid disorders, and diabetes are also at an increased risk.

What Are the Symptoms?

Typically, eyes feel uncomfortable or painful, with symptoms that range from mild to extreme.

  • Stinging
  • Redness
  • Sensation that grit or sand is in your eyes
  • Inability to wear contacts
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye fatigue
  • Blurry vision that comes and goes
  • Swollen eyelids

What is the treatment for EDE?

Girl Smiling Brown Hair with dry eyesOur dry eye specialists in Burlington evaluate each patient’s condition thoroughly in order to recommend the best treatment. Sometimes only a simple change is needed, such as installing a humidifier in your home or changing the type of contact lenses you wear. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet may also help, as they enhance the consistency of oils in your tears.

When there is a more severe blockage of the meibomian glands, we may advise you to apply warm compresses to your eyelids and use an over-the-counter eyelid scrub (often, baby shampoo works great!). Our eye doctor may also recommend artificial tears or prescription eye drops. The LipiFlow thermal pulsation system is another treatment for extreme cases of evaporative dry eye. This technology can help open up clogged meibomian glands and bring relief.

Evaporative dry eye can get in the way of your lifestyle, making it hard to drive, watch TV, read, and play sports. Yet there is no reason to live with the discomfort of this condition. Our dry eye specialists in Burlington are qualified and experienced in treating dry eye. Talk to us about your symptoms, and we’ll work with you so you see comfortably and clearly again!

Are Dry Eyes Bothering You?

man with dry eyes burlington maWe Offer Advanced Dry Eye Treatment in Burlington, MA

If you suffer from dry eyes, you probably experience burning, stinging, redness and/or painful vision. Sometimes the symptoms are mild, while other times they may be more severe. However, they are chronic and get in the way of many typical daily tasks, such as reading, viewing a computer or TV, and driving. Does this all sound familiar to you? If so, then it’s time to get relief – and your Burlington eye doctors are here to help.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is due to an inadequate quantity or quality of tears. Tears are composed of three layers: the outer oily later, middle watery layer, and inner mucus layer. If your glands cannot manufacture all of these components in the right amounts, it can lead to dry eye. Tears that lack lipids (fatty oils) evaporate more rapidly. In sum, your eyes aren’t coated with enough lubrication to feel comfortable.

What is causing my dry eyes?

The cause of dry eye syndrome varies widely between patients. Numerous factors, including your health, lifestyle, environment, and daily habits, can impact the development of dry eyes. It can be hard to pinpoint the exact culprit. However, our experienced Burlington eye doctors will work together with you to diagnose the cause and design a personalized treatment for you.

Some of the most common causes of dry eye syndrome are:

  • A/C or Heating: Air conditioning, heating, and fans can all dry out your eyes.
  • Not Enough Tears: The formal term for this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca , and a variety of possible reasons could be behind a reduction in the amount of tears that your eyes produce.
  • Climate: Extreme climates, cold or hot, and prolonged wind exposure can stress your eyes so they cannot make enough lubricating tears.
  • Contact Lenses: Wearing contacts for long periods can lead to dry eyes. A change in the type of lenses may alleviate this irritation.
  • Health Conditions: Certain health conditions, such as Sjorgen’s syndrome, thyroid conditions, lupus, diabetes, vitamin A deficiency and scleroderma are associated with dry eye.
  • Aging: As the years pass, you are at an increased risk of developing dry eye syndrome, especially if you’re female. Hormone replacement therapy may also be to blame.
  • Allergies: If you suffer from seasonal allergies, a high pollen count can irritate and dry out your eyes.
  • LASIK: Refractive laser surgery can cause dry eyes.
  • Smoke or Dusty Air: Cigarette smoke, polluted or dusty air is a known cause of dry eyes.
  • Blepharitis: This skin condition can block oil ducts, which interferes with production of a healthy tear film.
  • Medicine Side Effects: Particular drugs are linked with poor tear production, such as diuretics, antihistamines and antidepressants. Remember to tell our Burlington eye doctor about any medications you are taking currently.
  • Computer Usage: Gazing at a screen can reduce blinking, which dries out eyes.

woman with dry eyes burlington maWhat is the treatment for dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye treatment must be matched to address the cause of this condition, as well as the specific symptoms. Depending upon your personal situation, we offer a variety of treatments in our Burlington eye care center, including:

  • Artificial Tears – eye drops to enhance eye moisture
  • Medications – the most commonly prescribed drug for dry eye is an anti-inflammatory called Restasis. Another treatment is corticosteroid eye drops.
  • Punctal Plugs – we may insert small silicone plugs to block the drainage ducts in the corners of your eyes. The procedure is done in-office, and it is quick and virtually pain-free.
  • Nutritional Supplements – a well-balanced diet with adequate vitamins and minerals can help keep your eyes healthy. We may recommend omega-3 fatty acids to improve the oil content of your eye.

LipiFlow

We are the exclusive providers in Burlington, MA, of LipiFlow, a revolutionary technology to treat chronic dry eye syndrome. The LipiFlow system warms and massages your meibomian glands in order to expel any blockages of these oil glands. LipiFlow restores the natural oil flow to your tears. This FDA-approved therapy is both safe and effective at treating dry eyes caused by Meibomain Gland Dysfunction (MGD).

To find out which dry eye treatment is right for you, contact us for an appointment at Insight Optical, in Burlington, MA.

Does Smoking Affect Vision?

Eye Doctors Weigh In: How Smoking Can Harm Your Vision & Eye Health

We all know that smoking is bad for you, especially the risks that it poses to your heart and lungs. What many people do not know is that cigarette smoke negatively affects your eyes and vision too. As our eye doctor can explain during your next eye exam, smoking has been directly linked to an increase in the risks of both cataracts and macular degeneration, two leading causes of vision loss, and it is believed to be a factor in a number of other eye and vision issues.

Smoking and Cataracts

Studies show that smoking doubles the risk of cataracts and with heavy smoking, the risk triples. In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of smoking and the likelihood of cataracts. Cataracts are characterised by the clouding of the lens of the eye and it is believed that smoking affects the cells of the lens, accelerating this process.

Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, however they can be treated surgically by removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Symptoms include:

    • Blurred, cloudy or dim vision
    • Sensitivity to light and glare
    • Presence of halos around lights
    • Increasingly poor night vision
    • Fading color vision
    • Double vision
    • and frequent prescription changes with minimal improvement in vision

Smoking and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

According to medical research, smoking increases the likelihood of developing age-related macular degeneration between two and four times the normal risk – the more you smoke, the greater the risk. Unfortunately, there is also an increased risk for those exposed to cigarette smoke for extended periods of time.

Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is a condition in which the macula, which is the center of the retina, begins to to deteriorate, reducing central vision and the eye’s ability to see fine details. The disease is characterized by blurred and distorted eyesight and blind spots in the central vision. With time, the disease can progress to leave the person with low vision, which is significant vision loss that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.

Other Eye and Vision Risks of Smoking

Smoking has also been linked to dry eyes, optic nerve damage and diabetic retinopathy (for those with diabetes).

“Eye Vitamins” are often used without doctor’s recommendations. Smokers are cautioned not to take beta-carotene supplements, specifically, (or multi-vitamins containing this ingredient) as studies indicate there is increased risk of cancer even in people who quit smoking.

What to Do?

Even if you have been smoking for years, quitting will reduce the risks of developing these conditions, for yourself and those around you. If you do smoke, make sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to catch any developing disease early. Early diagnosis and treatment can be the key to saving your vision and preventing permanent vision loss.