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Eye Health News & Information

Online Tool: Ask An Ophthalmologist
Georgia Children's Vision Task Force
Medical Myth Exposed: Children & Contact Lenses
Is it Pink Eye?
When it Comes to Your Eyes, Make it Home Safe Home
Leave Fireworks to the Professionals this Fourth of July
UV Safety: Tips for Safe Fun in the Sun
Taking Flomax May Cause Cataract Complications
Top 10 Tips to Save Your Vision
Eating Healthy Prevents Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Summer Safety for Children
Seasonal Allergies Attack the Eye!
Eye Protection is Essential for All Athletes
Vigorous Exercise May Prevent Vision Loss
Medical Myth Exposed: It's Okay to Use Expired Contact Lens Solution
Vision Problems Common in Children with Hearing Loss
Don't Lose Sight of Your Eye Health: Importance of Baseline Eye Exam
Which Eye is Your Dominant Eye?
Living with Glaucoma: It's All in the Family

 All articles reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology

New Feature: Ask an Ophthalmologist!

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), has launched a new online feature, Ask an Eye M.D.  As the name suggests, Ask an Eye M.D. enables the public to submit questions about eye health issues directly to volunteer ophthalmologists who are members of AAO.  Questions are answered within about one week, and the response is posted online for others to see.  Previously answered questions are categorized by topic, so users can look for previously answered questions related to their concern. 

Georgia Children's Vision Task Force

Along with Prevent Blindness Georgia, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology is a collaborative member of the Georgia Children’s Vision Task Force.

Prevent Blindness Georgia was established in 1965 as an affiliate of Prevent Blindness America, the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization. With a focus on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness Georgia touches the lives of thousands of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patient service programs, and research.

The Georgia Children’s Vision Task Force is organized by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and includes representatives from more than 35 state agencies, nonprofits and professional societies. The Task Force is currently developing plans to improve children’s vision in Georgia and make recommendations to the national level.

For more information on Prevent Blindness Georgia, please click here. Other useful links:

Medical Myth Exposed - Children & Contact Lenses

Q: At what age can you start wearing contact lenses? My son is only 11 and wants to wear contacts; is there a specific age for contact wearers?

A: There are no firm lower age limits for contact lens fittings. The important criterion is how responsible the patient and the parent are. A motivated, clear-thinking 11-year-old could well become a successful contact lens wearer. Be aware, however, that there will probably be more frequent changes in the necessary power of the contact lenses in patients younger than 18 than in older patients. Therefore, regular follow-up visits to the Eye M.D. who fits the contact lenses are important.

Is it Pink Eye?

The kids have returned to school and so have eye infections. If you or your child wakes up with itchy, red, and swollen eyes, it’s possible you have an eye infection.  Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as “pink eye” irritates the thin, clear layer covering the eyeball and part of the eyelid (the conjunctiva). “Pink eye” is very common and can be quite contagious. It is often caused by a virus or bacteria and can also be caused by allergies or environmental irritants. Many people want to know how long pink eye is contagious.  Unfortunately, there is no certain answer. The infectious state may last from a couple of days to more than a week. One rule of thumb is that if there is any discharge coming from the eye, then there is a risk of transmission. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Increased tearing
  • Soreness of the eye
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Itchiness of the eye
  • Hazy or blurred vision due to mucous or pus
  • Excess mucous (pus)
  • Crusting of the eyelashes in the morning

Regardless of the cause, conjunctivitis should not disrupt your vision. More serious conditions, such as damage to the cornea, very severe glaucoma or inflammation inside the eye can also cause the conjunctiva to become inflamed and pink. If your case of “pink eye” affects your vision or you experience eye pain, you should see an ophthalmologist.  More information about pink eye and other eye infections can be found here.

When it Comes to Your Eyes, Make it "Home Safe Home"

Survey finds nearly half of eye injuries occur in the home during everyday projects

“Many people still believe that they are most at risk of an eye injury in the workplace, when in fact they face the greatest danger in their home doing household projects like home repair and yard work,” said Malcolm S. Moore, Jr., MD, a former president of the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology. “Unfortunately, all too often the victims of these injuries are children. 90% of the injuries could be prevented simply by wearing protective eyewear.”

In an effort to combat the rate of household eye injuries, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology recommends that every household in America have at least one pair of ANSI-approved* protective eyewear to be worn when doing projects and activities at home to safeguard against eye injuries. For more information about preventing eye injuries in the home click here.

*ANSI-approved protective eyewear is manufactured to meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) eye protection standard. ANSI-approved protective eyewear can be easily purchased from most hardware stores nationwide and can be identified by the mark "Z87" placed on the eye wear. ANSI-approved protective eyewear is not approved for use in sports. To locate appropriate eyewear for specific sports talk to your ophthalmologist or visit 


Leave Fireworks to the Professionals this Fourth of July

Each Fourth of July, thousands of people are injured from using consumer fireworks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries happen each year. Of these, nearly half are head-related injuries with nearly 30% of these injuries to the eyes.  One-fourth of fireworks eye injuries result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

Children are the most common victims of firework accidents, with those fifteen years old or younger accounting for half of all fireworks eye injuries in the United States. For children under the age of five, seemingly innocent sparklers account for one-third of all fireworks injuries. Sparklers can burn at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause a third-degree burn.

“Among the most serious injuries are abrupt trauma to the eye from bottle rockets,” according to Dr. Moore.  The rockets fly erratically, often injuring bystanders. Injuries from bottle rockets can include eye lid lacerations, corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, eye muscle damage, and complete blindness.

For a safe and healthy Independence Day celebration, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology urges observance of the following tips:

  • Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
  • View fireworks from a safe distance: at least 500 feet away, or up to a quarter of a mile for best viewing.
  • Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
  • Follow directives given by event ushers or public safety personnel.
  • If you find unexploded fireworks remains, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.
  • If you get an eye injury from fireworks, seek medical help immediately.

UV Safety: Tips for Safe Fun in the Sun

As you apply sunscreen this summer, don’t forget to protect your eyes as well. Summertime means more time spent outdoors, and studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and growths on the eye, including cancer. 

“UV radiation, whether from natural sunlight or indoor artificial rays, can damage the eye's surface tissues as well as the cornea and lens,” said president Malcolm S. Moore, Jr., MD. “Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the dangers UV light can pose. By wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, you can enjoy the summer safely while lowering your risk for potentially blinding eye diseases and tumors.” It is important to start wearing proper eye protection at an early age to protect the eyes from years of ultraviolet exposure.

“Your eyes are at risk from the sun year-round,” says Dr. Moore.  However, the longer the exposure to bright light as happens frequently during the summer, the greater the risk is. Excessive exposure to UV light reflected off sand, water or pavement can damage the eyes’ front surface. In addition to cataracts and AMD, sun exposure can lead to lesions and tumors that may be cosmetically unappealing and require surgical removal. Pinguecula, tiny yellow bumps on the eye, are common from too much UV exposure. They begin on the white part of the eye and may eventually disrupt your vision.

Damage to the eyes from UV light is not limited to the outdoors; it is also a concern with indoor tanning beds. “Tanning beds can produce UV levels up to 100 times what you would get from the sun, which can cause very serious damage to the external and internal structures of the eye and eyelids,” according to Dr. Moore. “Corneal burns, cataracts, and, in rare instances, retinal damage can occur.” It is critical that you wear the properly designed goggles for use in tanning booths to protect the eyes.

The Georgia Society of Ophthalmology offers these tips to protect your eyes from the sun:

  • Don’t focus on color or darkness of sunglass lenses: Select sunglasses that block UV rays. Don’t be deceived by color or cost. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the price tag or how dark the sunglass lenses are. 
  • Check for 100% UV protection: Make sure your sunglasses block 100% of UV-A rays and UV-B rays.
  • Choose wrap-around styles: Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around to your temples, so the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.
  • Wear a hat: In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes.
  • Don’t rely on contact lenses: Even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection, remember your sunglasses.
  • Don’t be fooled by clouds: The sun’s rays can pass through haze and thin clouds. Sun damage to eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summertime.
  • Protect your eyes during peak sun times: Sunglasses should be worn whenever outside, and it’s especially important to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes, where UV light is more intense. 
  • Never look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, damage to the eye’s retina from solar radiation.
  • Don’t forget the kids: Everyone is at risk, including children. Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses. In addition, try to keep children out of the sun between 10 AM and 2 PM, when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.

Taking Flomax May Cause Cataract Complications

Research confirms the link between patients taking Flomax and complications when undergoing cataract surgery. Men taking Flomax to treat an enlarged prostate face more than double the risk for serious complications should they need cataract surgery. In this new study, 7.5% of the men who had taken Flomax in the two weeks before cataract surgery had a serious complication, compared with 2.7% of those who had not taken the drug. That makes it a 2.3 times greater risk. This study strengthens an existing study from 2005 about risks associated with taking Flomax before cataract surgery. The 2005 study found that men taking Flomax or other alpha-blockers before cataract surgery had complications during and immediately after the procedure.

Flomax is often prescribed to treat an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, which affects almost three of four men 70 and older. Women are also prescribed Flomax, for urinary problems. Anyone who is taking or has ever taken Flomax or a similar alpha-blocker should tell his or her ophthalmologist prior to cataract surgery. If you have cataracts and know you will need cataract surgery, you should consult with your prescribing physician before starting to take any alpha-blocker. Do not discontinue taking an alpha-blocker without talking to your doctor.

Top 10 Tips to Save Your Vision

May is Healthy Vision Month and through its EyeSmart campaign, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology wants to remind consumers how important it is to take protect your vision. “Proper care and caution is very important to prevent serious eye diseases and possible blindness,” says Malcolm S. Moore, Jr., MD, president of the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology. “Something as simple as remembering to wear your sunglasses can delay the development of cataracts,” Dr. Moore says.

Wear sunglasses UV-blocking sunglasses delay the development of cataracts, prevent retinal damage, protect the delicate eyelid skin which prevents wrinkles and skin cancer around the eye. The lenses should have a UVB (280 to 315nm) transmittance of no more than 1% and a UVA (315 to 380nm) transmittance of no more than 0.5 times of the visual light transmittance.

Don’t smoke Tobacco smoking is directly linked to many adverse health effects, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Studies show that current smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to develop AMD than people who have never smoked. Smokers are also at increased risk for developing cataracts.

Eat a balanced diet Vitamin deficiency can impair retinal function. The belief that eating carrots improves vision has some truth, but a variety of vegetables, especially leafy green ones, should be an important part of your diet. Researchers have found people on diets with higher levels of vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are less likely to develop early and advanced AMD.

Get a baseline eye exam Adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease should get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40—the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. Based on the results of the initial screening, an ophthalmologist will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams. Anyone with symptoms or a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure should see an ophthalmologist to determine how frequently your eyes should be examined.

Eye protection An estimated 2.5 million eye injuries occur in the U.S. each year, so it is critical to wear proper eye protection to avoid eye injuries during sports such as hockey and baseball and home projects such as home repairs, gardening, and cleaning. For most repair projects and activities around the home, standard ANSI-approved protective eyewear will be sufficient. Sports eye protection should meet the specific requirements of that sport; these requirements are usually established and certified by the sport's governing body and/or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Know your family history Many eye diseases cluster in families, so you should know your family’s history of eye disease. Age-related eye diseases, including cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are expected to dramatically increase—from 28 million today to 43 million by the year 2020.

Early intervention Most serious eye conditions (like glaucoma) are successfully treated if diagnosed early. Left untreated, these diseases can cause serious vision loss and blindness. Early intervention will prevent vision loss later.

Know your eye care provider When you go to get your eyes checked, there are a variety of eye care providers you might see. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians all play an important role in providing eye care services to consumers. However, each has a different level of training and expertise. Make sure you are seeing the right provider for your condition or treatment. Ophthalmologists are specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery.

Contact lens care Follow your Eye M.D.'s instructions regarding the care and use of contact lenses. Abuse, such as sleeping in contacts that are not approved for overnight wear, using saliva or water as a wetting solution, using expired solutions, and using disposable contact lenses beyond their wear can result in corneal ulcers, severe pain and even vision loss.

Be aware of eye fatigue If your eyes are tired from working at a computer or doing close work, you can follow the 20-20-20 rule: Look up from your work every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for twenty seconds. If eye fatigue persists, it can be a sign of several different conditions, such as dry eye, presbyopia, or spectacles with lenses that are not properly centered. See an Eye M.D. to determine why you are having eye fatigue and to receive proper treatment.


Eating Healthy Prevents Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

A new study confirms the importance of eating healthy to help protect our eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD.)  Researchers found that people whose diets had higher levels of certain nutrients— vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA—and had high levels of low-glycemic index (low GI) foods,  were less likely to develop early and advanced AMD.  Although the researchers say clinical studies are needed before physicians can begin recommending specific nutrient doses or dietary patterns to AMD patients, there’s no need for people to delay adding healthy food to their shopping carts. Sources of AMD-protective nutrients include citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and cold water fish.  The GI value is based on how fast a food’s carbohydrates raise the body’s blood sugar levels; low GI foods have less impact on blood sugar fluctuations.

AMD affects the retina, light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.  Advanced AMD can destroy the central, detailed vision that we need to read, drive, and enjoy daily life. Although the “wet” form of advanced AMD is often treatable, there’s no effective treatment for the much more common “dry” form.  Eating well is a practical way to reduce AMD risk while enjoying better health. To learn more about AMD, click here. 

Summer Safety for Children

Spring is upon us and summer is right around the corner, which means children spend more time outdoors – trips to the beach, outside sporting leagues and playing in the yard. Research shows that children's eyes can be damaged from sun exposure, just like their skin. This damage may put them at increased risk of developing debilitating eye diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration as adults. It is important to make sure your children are wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses. Whenever you are outside with children, remember to put a hat and/or sunglasses on them just as you would yourself. Children should be taught at a young age to wear sunglasses and hats to protect their eyes from the sun, so they will grow up with healthy sun protection habits. Keep children out of the sun between peak times -10 a.m. and 2 p.m.-- when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest. Here are some summertime safety suggestions:

Make sure your kids wear sunglasses - Sunglasses for children may be purchased inexpensively. Make sure your sunglasses block 100% of UV rays and UV-B rays. Don’t focus on the color or darkness of sunglass lenses. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the price tag. Look for glasses with a polycarbonate lens; children under six may need a pair with straps to keep them in place.

Wear protective eyewear when playing sports. Tens of thousands of sports and recreation-related eye injuries occur each year. The good news is that 90% of serious eye injuries are preventable through use of protective eyewear. While helmets are required for many organized sports, protective eyewear unfortunately is not. For all age groups, sports-related eye injuries occur most frequently in baseball, basketball and racquet sports. Sports eye protection should meet the specific requirements of that sport; these requirements are usually established and certified by the sport's governing body and/or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Sand? No rubbing! If a child gets sand blown or thrown into his eyes, an adult should immediately take him to a sink with running water. You should restrain the child from rubbing his eyes, as this can irritate the thin corneal tissue and make symptoms worse.  Encourage the child to blink; also crying will help as the tears remove eye irritants. If the child’s eye still bothers him, it is important to seek medical attention from an Eye M.D.

Seasonal Allergies Attack the Eye

Seasonal allergies affect more than 35 million Americans each year and can have a tremendously negative impact on an individual’s quality of life. Tree pollens peak in April and May, grass pollens in June and July, and mold spores and weed pollens in August. That adds up to five months of eye-irritating allergens!

The combination of growing flowers and human antibodies makes for some awful allergy attacks each spring. Plant pollen and mold spores initiate the allergic response when they come in contact with the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and lungs. Antibodies called immunoglobulin react by activating mast cell, which release chemicals, including histamine, to attack what it believes is an threat to the body. Thus, allergy symptoms appear. Spring and summer allergy episodes can be a bigger problem than chronic varieties. Drier air and exploding springtime pollen counts wreak havoc on the itchy, inflamed ocular surface.

Seasonal allergic sufferers usually endure a combination of ocular itching, inflammation, watering and redness of the eyes. Ocular itching is the most distinguishing feature when seasonal allergic episodes occur. Some symptoms of seasonal allergies are also quite similar to dry eye symptoms. If you have seasonal allergy symptoms it is important to see your Eye M.D. for a visual examination to help rule out dry eye.

Eye Protection is Essential for All Athletes
Sport-Specific Eyewear Recommended to Prevent Devastating Injuries

For Stephen Sacks, what started out as a routine basketball game his senior year of high school turned into a medical emergency. Stephen was a young basketball star who played years of hoops without any injuries. But when he was accidentally elbowed in the eye by a teammate, Stephen ended up with a large laceration on his left eyelid and a close encounter with permanent eye damage. 

“After the knock to my eye, all I could see was a black haze,” Stephen recalls. “I was rushed to the emergency room in the middle of the game, where I was told that I might have permanent damage to my left eye.” Fortunately Stephan regained his vision three weeks later, but had to miss his last senior game because of the eye injury. He went on to play college basketball and has vowed to always wear protective eyewear while playing.

April is Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month, and the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology reminds the public that 40,000 people suffer from eye injuries related to sports every year. The Academy advocates the need for athletes to wear appropriate, sport-specific protective eyewear properly fitted by an eye care professional. Lenses made from polycarbonate materials provide the highest level of impact protection; they can withstand a ball or other projectile traveling at 90 miles per hour.

“Eye injuries from sports can be devastating, and the only way to prevent them is by wearing protective eyewear” said Malcolm S. Moore Jr., MD, president of the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology. “Most people don't realize that basketball is one of the leading causes of eye injuries because of elbows and fingers hitting the eye.”

In addition to abrasions of the cornea and bruises of the lids, sports injuries can include retinal detachments and internal bleeding. The most serious risks involve permanent vision loss along with infection. In addition, patients who have sustained eye injuries are at greater risk for developing glaucoma. 

Many sports create risk for eye injuries; however, protection is available for most sports, including basketball, baseball, hockey, football, lacrosse, fencing, paintball, water polo, golf and others. “Wearing properly fitted protective eyewear will not harm your performance, and it may well save your sight,” says Dr. Moore.  Most sporting leagues don’t require children to wear eye protection, so parents should take special care to ensure their children wear eye protection.

Vigorous Exercise May Prevent Vision Loss

Exercise may have yet another benefit – vision protection. In a recent U.S. study, researchers found that vigorous exercise reduced the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.  The study tracked approximately 41,000 runners for more than seven years. It suggested that people can possibly lessen their risk for these eye diseases by taking part in a vigorous fitness regimen. On average, running 2 to 4 km (1.2 to 2.5 miles) a day reduced the risk by 19% and running more than 4 km a day reduced the risk by 42% to 54%, compared with those who ran less than 2 km a day. It seems exercise could provide similar protective benefits for the eyes as it does for the heart and other bodily systems.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens, your eye becomes like a window that is frosted or yellowed. Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss, especially as we age. Age-related macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina. Macular degeneration can cause sudden, severe loss of vision in the middle of your visual field.

Medical Myth Exposed: It's Okay to Use Expired Contact Lens Solution

FALSE. Contact lens solutions, like most eye care products and pharmaceuticals, have an expiration date stamped on the package.  The disinfection solution may lose its potency over time. Therefore, old solution may not adequately disinfect the contact lens, putting the wearer at risk for contact lens-related eye infections. In addition to using solution that has not expired, you should to never reuse solution or top off old solution with water to make a bottle of solution go further.

Vision Problems are Common in Children with Hearing Loss

About one-fifth of children who have a particular type of hearing loss also have visual disorders, according to a recent study. An estimated one to three children per 1,000 has some degree of sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs as a result of abnormalities in the inner ear or in the auditory center of the brain. Half of all cases in children result from environmental causes and half from genetic causes; one gene accounts for a large proportion of sensorineural hearing loss cases in Caucasian patients. Because children with hearing loss rely heavily on their other senses, undiscovered visual problems could have further harmful effects on their development. Eye examinations for all children with sensorineural hearing loss can lead to early diagnosis and to help minimize visual problems.

Don't Lose Sight of Your Eye Health
The Importance of a Baseline Eye Exam

To many people, good vision=good eye health. But that is not necessarily true. A comprehensive eye examination can catch problems with your eyes well before your vision is affected.

February is Save Your Vision Month.  The Georgia Society of Ophthalmology reminds otherwise healthy Americans of the importance of getting a baseline eye disease screening at age 40—the age when early signs of eye disease and changes in vision may first be noted. For individuals at any age with symptoms of, or at risk for, eye disease (such as those with a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure), and the Academy recommends that individuals see their ophthalmologist to determine how frequently their eyes should be examined. Based on the results of the initial screening, an ophthalmologist will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams.

“Eye diseases become more common as we age.  By the time you hit 40 years old, diseases such as primary open-angle glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can begin to show early signs. Often patients with eye diseases do not have recognizable symptoms until the diseases are quite advanced,” says Malcolm S. Moore, Jr., MD, president of the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology.  “Vision problems can be prevented only if identified and treated early.”

By 2020, 43 million Americans will be at risk for significant vision loss or blindness from age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Despite the statistics, many Americans are more concerned about weight gain or back pain than they are of vision loss. “Unfortunately, millions of people will suffer significant vision loss and blindness because they don’t know their risks,” said Dr. Moore.  “I can’t stress enough the importance of getting your baseline exam, because knowing your risks can save your sight.”


Which Eye is Your Dominant Eye?

Your dominant eye is the eye that your brain favors for receiving visual images. (Think of which eye you rely on when you look through a camera lens finder.)

Having a dominant right eye doesn’t mean that your vision will be better or worse, but it does matter if you are being fitted with monovision contact lenses or undergoing monovision refractive surgery, where one eye is adjusted for distance and the other for near. In monovision, your dominant eye will be corrected for your distance vision and your non-dominant eye will be corrected for your near vision, thus eliminating your dependence on reading glasses. By the way, being right-eye dominant doesn’t necessarily mean you are right-handed; there isn’t always a direct match between which eye you favor and which hand you favor.

Living with Glaucoma: It's All in the Family

With today’s improved treatments, glaucoma patients no longer face inevitable blindness, but preserving vision depends on seeing an Eye M.D. (ophthalmologist) at the right time and carefully following a prescribed plan. Glaucoma remains a leading cause of preventable blindness because it often goes undetected---about half of the three million Americans who have the disease are unaware of it. This January during Glaucoma Awareness Month, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology wants to remind Georgians that knowing your risks for glaucoma can save your sight.

Glaucoma can quietly damage the eye and optic nerve even before a person notices vision problems. Such damage cannot be reversed once it occurs. As is true for other chronic illnesses, family support from the first diagnosis onward makes a vital difference in a patient’s course of treatment, says Malcolm S. Moore, Jr., MD, president of the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology.

“When a patient comes alone to appointments, I know from experience that he or she will probably have a harder time staying on course,” says Dr. Moore.  “If at least one family member is involved, the patient will be much less likely to forget their eye drops or have other lapses that increase the risk of blindness.” Family members can help an elder set up a medication schedule that fits his or her daily routine and learn to self-administer eye drops. Empathic listening and companionship are also important, as studies show depressed or isolated patients are less likely to adhere to treatment. Sometimes an elder may just need a ride to a doctor’s appointment or help filling a prescription.

When you help a family member with glaucoma, it reminds you to pay attention to your own increased risk for the disease. Every adult who has a family history of glaucoma should have a comprehensive eye examination to be screened for glaucoma. John Ryan, president emeritus of Indiana University began getting check-ups years ago when his sister was diagnosed with an early glaucoma. A few years ago Mr. Ryan’s intraocular pressure (IOP), a key glaucoma indicator, was deemed too high. Following combined glaucoma and cataract surgery, Mr. Ryan now controls his glaucoma with a single medication.

In the rare instances when glaucoma strikes children, family support is essential. Brianna, was diagnosed at age 11. Now 16, Brianna has had several surgeries, uses medication daily, and faces a lifetime of managing the illness and dealing with reduced vision. In addition to her parents and close cousins, with whom she can share “anything,” Brianna relies on an online group where young patients and their parents can find information and understanding. Glaucoma support groups and resources for older patients and their families can also be found online.

About Glaucoma
Glaucoma damages the optic nerve that transmits images from the eye to the brain. As glaucoma worsens, cells also die in the retina---a special, light-sensitive area of the eye---which further reduces the optic nerve’s ability to relay visual information to the brain. In the most common form of the disease, primary open-angle glaucoma, the first noticeable symptom is often the narrowing of peripheral vision, followed by the appearance of other blank areas in the visual field. Symptoms of the less common but more acutely dangerous form, closed-angle glaucoma, include blurred vision, severe eye pain and headache, rainbow-colored halos around lights, and nausea and vomiting. Anyone with these symptoms needs to be seen by an Eye M.D. right away.

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