Tired, red, stinging, watery or itchy eyes can be a sign that you have dry eyes. Dry eyes can be an indication that your tears are inadequate or imbalanced. This can cause a condition that can become chronic. Nearly 5 million Americans suffer from dry eyes.1 If you’re one of them, start the New Year right by finding the solution to your problem with dry eyes. At Colorado Ophthalmology Associates, we treat chronic dry eyes with a balanced approach.
Symptoms of dry eyes
- Easily fatigued or tired eyes
- Red eyes
- Scratchy, gritty, itchy feeling
- Watery eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Difficulty with contact lenses
- Blurred vision
- Unusual, heavy or stringy discharge
- Stinging or burning eyes
- Difficulty with night vision
My dry eyes are irritating but are they really a serious condition?
Chronic dry eyes could be caused by atmosphere issues, such as fans or forced air, by computer eye fatigue, by hormone changes, by decreased tear production, or even by allergies. These causes can often be corrected with lifestyle changes and minor treatments.
But at other times, dry eyes can be the symptom of another underlying medical condition. If you have been suffering from dry eyes, get a complete eye exam to ensure your eyes are healthy. Some conditions that cause dry eyes include thyroid conditions, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Bell’s palsy, and diabetes.
What options are available to treat my dry eyes?
At Colorado Ophthalmology Associates, we treat dry eyes starting with the most minimally-invasive options. Most conditions can be managed or reversed with these treatments and with lifestyle and environmental changes2.
- Over-the-counter products: artificial tears, gels and moisturizers
- Prescription eye drops
- Punctal plugs to block drainage duct
- Surgery to fix eyelids to prevent evaporation
- Vitamin A supplements
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements
- Flaxseed oil supplements
- Prescription steroids
- Prescriptions slow-release eye lubricants
- Meibomian gland expression to open oil glands in eyelids
- Warm compresses
- Eye makeup removal and eye scrubs to make sure eyelids are clean
- Avoid contact lens use
- Antibiotic treatment for any eyelid inflammation or cornea inflammation
Is there any way to prevent dry eyes?
Yes, some kinds of dry eyes are preventable3. Environmental and lifestyle adjustments may be needed such as:
- Redirecting fans or staying out of the wind.
- Wearing wrap-around sunglasses to deflect wind.
- Don’t use hairdryers.
- Increase moisture with air humidifiers.
- Avoid smoke and stop smoking.
- Take frequent breaks when staring at computer or video screens. Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Lower your computer to below eye level so your eyes aren’t open as wide for as long.
- Increase blinking, especially when using a computer. Post reminders or use alarms to help you make more effort blinking.
- Use artificial tears as needed.
- Drink enough water each day.
- Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep in a darkened room each night.
- Medication management – some prescriptions can cause dry eyes. There are also prescriptions that can help manage conditions that cause dry eyes.
Get an appointment for an eye exam today
Dry eyes can reduce your quality of life and interfere with your activities. Let us give you a thorough examination to try to pinpoint the cause of your dry eyes. Come to one of our two Colorado locations for an exam by one of our board-certified, experienced ophthalmologists and let us help you start feeling better again. Call us today to make an appointment:
If your eye’s lens has become cloudy, causing your vision to become blurry, hazy and dulled, your ophthalmologist from Colorado Ophthalmology Associates has likely recommended cataract surgery. One of the most common procedures worldwide, cataract surgeries can help people who have been noticing increasing difficulty seeing when driving, watching TV, climbing stairs, or even focusing in bright lights.
In cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will use delicate instruments to make a small incision in the eye to remove part of the lens and then to remove the cataract. An artificial lens, folded up, will then be inserted into position1. It will unfold and become the new permanent lens implant, allowing light to refract onto the retina for a clearer visual image.
What will happen during my pre-surgery appointment?
Before your cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will want to measure your eye for the right fit and for the correct power of your intraocular lens (IOL). The details of the surgery will be discussed and you will be given instructions for the day of surgery, such as not wearing any makeup, creams or facial lotions that day. You will also be instructed not to eat or drink anything for 12 hours prior to your surgery.
Your doctor will want to know what medications you are taking, so bring a list with you. You may receive instructions to stop taking some of the meds prior to your surgery. Additionally, you may receive an antibiotic eye drop prescription along with instructions to use the drops before your surgery. These drops may help prevent infections and lessen swelling.1
What will cataract surgery be like?
On the day of your surgery, you will need to have someone drive you home, so be sure to make arrangements. Surgery will last only 10 to 15 minutes, but with prep and recovery, plan on an hour in the office. Here are the steps to the surgery:
- Eye dilated with drops
- Eye numbed with drops or injection
- You may be given a light sedative to make you groggy and relaxed
- You will be awake and see light and movement, but not exactly what the doctor is doing
- Your surgeon will use a special microscope to view the eye and the procedure
- The old cataract will be removed and the new, artificial lens will be implanted
- Stitches are not usually needed since the lens will attach and heal by itself
- A shield will be placed over your eye to protect it while it heals
- You will rest in recovery for 15-30 minutes before being discharged
What will recovery be like?
Your vision will usually start to improve within a day or so, though it may start out blurry. Since the cataract was likely a brown or yellow color, you will probably notice a remarkable difference in colors. You may experience some mild discomfort for a few days while the eye heals. If it feels itchy, avoid rubbing or touching it. Your doctor may have you wear an eye patch during the day and a shield during the night.
Eye drops may be prescribed. It is important to follow these instructions to prevent infection and to protect your eye during healing.
Your ophthalmologist will want to see you a day or two after surgery. You will have a follow-up appointment or two within the first month so the eye can be monitored closely. If both eyes are receiving surgery, your second cataract surgery will be scheduled to take place after the first eye heals. By two months, your eye should be completely healed.
You may still need to wear glasses after cataract surgery. After the eye has healed, you will need to have a new prescription for your glasses. If you chose an intraocular lens (IOL) implant, you may not need glasses or you may only need them part of the time.
At Colorado Ophthalmology, we specialize in fitting the right IOL to the right patient to improve vision and to reduce dependency on eyeglasses. Your ophthalmologist will discuss the different kinds of IOLs with you prior to your surgery.
- A monofocal IOL gives you one clear focal point. You can choose whether that point is near, middle or far. Many patients prefer to see clearly farther away so they don’t have to wear glasses for driving but only for reading and doing things close-up.
- A trifocal IOL will help you see clearly in all three positions: near, middle and far. Unlike trifocal glasses, you will be able to see in all directions.
- A toric IOL is designed for patients with astigmatism where the cornea is flatter on one side than the other. This kind of IOL can either give you monofocal or trifocal vision.
Other than these IOL choices, your ophthalmologist may recommend phakic lenses. A phakic lens helps patients with severe nearsightedness. In this case, the eye’s lens is not removed, but this lens is added to it to correct the vision.
You will be on restriction for a few days following surgery with instructions on how much you can lift and bend and how much you are safely allowed to do. It is important to rest and to allow the eye to heal without straining it during this time.
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
As with any surgery or procedure, there are certain risks that come with cataract surgery2. These risks, though rare, include:
- Inflammation or swelling
- Eyelid problems
- Detachment of artificial lens
- Detachment of retina
- Secondary cataract
- Halos or glare from light
- Vision loss
What urgent conditions should I watch out for?
Complications from cataract surgery are very rare. However, if you experience any of the following, call your surgeon right away:
- Eyelid swelling
- Pain that doesn’t lessen with over-the-counter medications
- Increase or change in redness of the eye
- Flashes of light, halos, light spots in the eye
- Vision loss
Get an appointment for a cataract consultation today
If you suffer from blurred vision due to cataracts, we can help. Come to one of our two Colorado locations for a consultation to see if you are a good candidate for surgery so you can start to enjoy a more active lifestyle again. Call us today to make an appointment:
Wondering about laser eye surgery in Denver? Tired of your contacts, glasses and not being able to see clearly? The answer to your vision challenges might be a refractive surgery, such as LASIK. LASIK surgery is a corrective surgery that allows people with nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism to see better.
By reshaping the cornea with laser technology, your ophthalmologist from Colorado Ophthalmology Associates can manipulate how the light strikes the retina and then travels to the brain as an image. In effect, this surgery could reduce or eliminate the need for glasses altogether.
Am I a good candidate for LASIK?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology1, candidates for LASIK surgery must meet several requirements such as:
- Must be 18 years or older, but ideally over 21 when your vision is more likely to have stopped changing.
- Your eyes should not have changed much in the past year.
- The refraction needed to correct your vision must be viable for LASIK treatment.
- Eye health is key. Your corneas need to be thick enough and healthy enough and your eyes must be healthy.
What kinds of things would eliminate me from consideration for LASIK?
Conversely, several conditions would make you not a good candidate for LASIK surgery. Some of these conditions include:
- Cone-shaped corneas
- Dry eyes
- Eyes that are changing or unstable
- Extreme levels of nearsightedness, astigmatism or farsightedness
- Cornea disease or damage
- Corneas that are too thin
- Pregnancy or nursing
What are the risks of LASIK surgery?
There are certain risks that come with LASIK surgery2. These risks include:
- Dry eyes
- Light sensitivity – may be temporary
- Double vision
- Reduced vision in dim light or fog
- Corneal flap problems
- Vision loss or changes
What can I expect from my LASIK surgery?
Your ophthalmologist will perform a thorough eye exam, including measurements, to ensure you are a good candidate for the surgery and have healthy eyes. Before the surgery, you will be asked to not use eye makeup, lotions or perfumes the day before or the day of surgery to minimize the risks of infection2. Cleansing the eyelashes prior to surgery will also help minimize the risk of infection.
The day of surgery, you will need someone to drive you to the clinic and home again. The procedure is short, so plan on over an hour. You will lie back in a comfortable reclining chair and numbing drops will be placed in your eye. With your eye numb, an instrument will hold your eyelid open. Your surgeon will place a suction ring on the cornea and you will notice a change in your vision. A careful incision will be made on the cornea flap to expose the cornea. A pre-programmed laser will then reshape the cornea. The flap will be placed back in place and will reattach in minutes. It will heal on its own with no stitches. The procedure will then be repeated on the other eye, if needed.
After surgery, you will experience burning, itching, gritty feeling, watering eyes, dry eyes, and/or some pain. Prescription drops and pain relievers may help alleviate some of these symptoms. You will likely feel like sleeping once you get home. You will need to wear eye shields when you sleep. We will schedule several visits to examine you after surgery.
Your eyes need several weeks to heal and your vision to stabilize. You will need to refrain from eye makeup for a few weeks and avoid hot tubs, swimming or contact sports as your eyes heal.
Get an appointment for an eye exam today!
Intrigued by the possibility of LASIK surgery to help you see better? Come to one of our two Colorado locations for a comprehensive exam to determine if the procedure would correct your vision concerns. Since it is considered an elective surgery, your insurance provider may not cover it. We can discuss payment options during your exam. Call us today to make an appointment:
Are you suffering from watery, red, swollen eyes? As the leaves fall, allergies flare up, causing eye irritation and discomfort for many people in the Denver and Lakewood, CO, region. At Colorado Ophthalmology Associates, we see our share of patients struggling with seasonal allergies during this time when all the vegetation is becoming dry, dusty and airborne. Here is some information to help you during this uncomfortable time.
What are the symptoms of seasonal eye allergies?
Not sure if you have allergies, a cold, or even COVID-19? Here are some common allergy symptoms to help you distinguish:
- Red eyes
- Burning eyes
- Swollen eyes
- Bags under the eyes
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Runny nose
- Itchy nose, roof of mouth
To further distinguish between allergies and COVID-19, consider these two key points. First, coronavirus usually does not produce red, watery, itchy eyes like allergies do. Second, coronavirus usually comes with a fever and allergies don’t1.
What are the causes of seasonal eye allergies?
When an irritant comes in contact with your eyes, the body’s mast cells respond by releasing a substance called histamines. Histamines attack the invader in an attempt to fight it off. This can cause the red, watery and itchy eyes.
Some people are more susceptible to allergens than others. If both of your parents have allergies, you are much more likely to suffer from them as well2.
The eyes can react to a wide variety of irritants and allergens such as:
- Dried leaves
- Dried weeds
- Pet dander
- Preservatives in eye drops
When should I see my ophthalmologist?
If you have red, watery, irritated eyes, you can get an appointment at Colorado Ophthalmology & Associates any time for an evaluation. We can easily diagnose eye allergies through a microscopic examination of your eyes as well as a compilation of family history of allergies3. Your eyes will be examined for infection to ensure they are healthy during this season of heightened allergens.
What is the treatment for eye allergies?
The first and easiest step to treat eye allergies is to reduce your exposure to irritants. This would include staying indoors with doors and windows closed, using air conditioning, wiping or brushing pets when they come indoors, and changing clothes when you come inside. Keep inside air clean with wet mopping and HEPA air filters, and use a dehumidifier to keep mold away. Avoid lawn work that would increase your exposure as well as hanging laundry to dry outside. Try to go outdoors after a rain has settled the pollen and wear a pollen mask when you do go outside4.
Over-the-counter antihistamines may provide some relief from your eye allergies. Your ophthalmologist will be able to recommend a good brand of antihistamine, decongestant or combination medication that can help. Artificial tears and saline nasal washes can cleanse irritants from the eyes and sinuses. Your doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids or antihistamines with mast cell stabilizers. Immunotherapy shots may also be a treatment option.
Get an appointment for an eye exam today!
If you are suffering from seasonal eye allergies, come to one of our two Colorado locations for an initial exam so we can evaluate your eye health. We’re here to help when your eyes are irritated and reacting to the environment. Call us today to make an appointment:
Sometimes headaches or migraines are accompanied by vision issues which can be very disruptive to a person’s day. These ocular migraines usually fade rapidly and are often not a cause for alarm, but there are some cases when a migraine accompanied by visual disruptions—known as a retinal migraine—signals a much more serious underlying condition.
So how do you know if your ocular migraines are harmless or serious? The board-certified ophthalmologists at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates have answered some FAQs to help you know the difference.
What are the symptoms of ocular migraines?
Ocular migraines that involve your vision can contain auras that are present in both eyes. Auras are disruptions in the vision that usually don’t last long and may or may not be accompanied by a headache. According to Mayo Clinic1, these symptoms can include:
- Flashes of light
- Zigzagging patterns
- Blind spots
- Shimmering spots
- Sparkling lights
- Blurred vision
- Fuzzy areas or swirled colors
- Sensation of looking through broken glass, water, heat waves, etc.
- Loss of color vision
- Depth perception issues
What are the symptoms of retinal migraines?
Retinal migraines are rarer than ocular migraines. They can affect one eye, rather than both, and are much more serious than ocular migraines. Retinal migraines can come before or accompany a headache and the symptoms can be recurring. The symptoms include2:
- Diminished vision
- Areas with decreased vision
- Temporary blindness
- Twinkling lights
- Tunnel vision
- New dark spots or floaters in one eye only
- New flashes of light in one eye only that persist over an hour
When should I see my ophthalmologist?
If you are experiencing any vision changes, such as ocular migraines or retinal migraines, you should see your ophthalmologist at Colorado Ophthalmology & Associates right away. We can track the changes you’re experiencing and help determine a course of action to try to head off future migraines.
If you have suddenly lost vision in one eye or have experienced decreased vision or changes in one eye, go to the nearest emergency room (ER) immediately. This could be a symptom of a much more serious condition, such as a stroke, diabetes or concussion.
What is the treatment for ocular migraines?
Patients suffering from recurring migraines are encouraged to keep a headache diary and try to pinpoint the triggers and then avoid them. Common triggers could be anything like disrupted sleep patterns, alcohol, caffeine, food additives, perfumes, dehydration, hormones or stress3.
Over-the-counter medications can help alleviate symptoms until they subside. Prescription medications are also available and some things like beta-blockers might be prescribed to be taken daily as a preventative measure.
Get help with your ocular migraines today!
If you’ve been suffering from migraines that affect your vision, come to one of our two Colorado locations for an initial exam so we can track your vision changes and evaluate your eye health. Our ophthalmologists are experienced in evaluating and treating ocular migraines and are ready to bring our expertise to help you start to feel better. Call us today to make an appointment: