With the start of the new school year comes a surge in sports participation. Athletes in soccer, softball, football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, skiing, track, wrestling, hockey, lacrosse and more are ramping up for a competitive year. Whether they are 5 or 50, these athletes need proper eye safety training and equipment to prevent serious eye injuries or even blindness from occurring. Colorado Ophthalmology Associates of Denver, CO, follows the guidelines set by the National Eye Institute (NIH) making September our national Sports Eye Safety Month.
The bad news is eye injuries are a leading cause of blindness in children in the United States.1 The good news is many sports-related eye injuries are preventable. With the proper protective equipment, your son or daughter can safely enjoy years of exciting sports participation.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, almost 30,000 cases of eye injuries caused by sports are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year. Of these eye injuries, 90% of them could have been prevented.2
Who Should Wear Protective Eyewear?
Every participant in a sport should wear protective eyewear every time. If you have contacts or glasses, your safety eyewear can be made to fit your prescription. If you are playing a high contact sport, sport goggles are especially important. Protective eyewear should always be worn, whether it is practice, a game or just informal play.
If you wear glasses, they are not considered protective eyewear. Glasses are not enough to protect your eyes and can actually cause an injury if they shatter.
What Kinds of Protective Eyewear are Available?
- Sports goggles made with polycarbonate lenses are the top pick among athletes. Fastened with a flexible strap, these lightweight goggles protect the eye from all angles and can be made to prescription.
- Face shields made of a polycarbonate material are also a good option for many different kinds of athletes.
- Sunglasses with UV protection are used by bicyclists and track athletes who need protection from the wind, dirt and sun but not necessarily from physical contact.
- Swim goggles can protect the eyes from dirt, germs and chemicals that would enter the body through exposure.
- Helmets with a faceguard are essential for batting and football, allowing protective space around the face and eyes.
- Masks are essential protection for sports such as hockey, fencing or paintball.3
What to Do if Your Eyes are Injured
In the case of an eye injury during sports, play or work, come to Colorado Ophthalmology Associates immediately or go to the nearest emergency room. Even if the injury seems minor, it is important to have the eye examined immediately by a qualified health professional. Untreated eye injuries can become complicated over time.
Get Your Goggles On
Signed up for a sport? Call today for a sports safety goggle or mask fitting, or come to one of our two Colorado locations for all-inclusive optical exams. We can order the right sports eyewear to give you long lasting protection as you play.
Our board-certified ophthalmologists are here to help you find the right protective wear for the right sport. Let us help you try to prevent eye injuries that could lead to blindness or permanent eye impairment so you can enjoy the thrill of the sport with less risk to your vision.
Blurry spots in your vision that occur as you grow older may be attributed to a condition called age-related macular degeneration. Since this condition can grow slowly or quickly, at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates, we check your eyes for macular degeneration at every eye exam. While it usually doesn’t cause total blindness, the blurry spots can cause significant interference with vision and impede your lifestyle. That’s why early detection is crucial.
What is Macular Degeneration?
More than 10 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with macular degeneration. It is the leading cause of vision loss.1
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of the macula layer of the retina. There are two kinds: dry and wet. All AMD begins as dry and some deteriorate into wet, which is the more serious kind. Most people with AMD have the dry kind.
Dry macular degeneration is the thinning of the macula and may affect only one eye. A buildup of tiny yellow protein under the macula causes it to dry out and thin.
Wet macular degeneration occurs in late stage dry AMD. Fewer people suffer from wet AMD, but it is a more serious condition. Blood vessels develop under the macula and can cause pressure with fluid buildup. Much of the central vision can be lost.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
Several of the risk factors for macular degeneration are inherited. However, some of the causes are preventable.
Your risk for AMD may increase from2:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Family history of AMD
- Gender – women may be at higher risk
- Race – whites are at higher risk
- Sunlight exposure
- Late stage AMD in one eye increases risk for the other eye
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Early detection is key in slowing cases of AMD. However, early stage dry macular degeneration is not noticeable by the patient. Your ophthalmologist can check for it during dilated eye exams. Symptoms include3:
- Blurriness in central vision
- Trouble seeing in dim light
- Blank spots in vision
- Wavy lines that should be straight
Treatment for Macular Degeneration
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, your ophthalmologist will keep close watch over early stage dry AMD. Meanwhile, it is important to take steps to improve your health and to slow your AMD condition.
Begin by eating a healthy diet complete with plenty of dark, leafy greens and fatty fish2. Regular exercise and weight loss will also help slow AMD. Your ophthalmologist may recommend supplements of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, wear UV-rated sunglasses outdoors to lessen exposure to harmful rays.
See your primary care physician regularly. Smoking cessation is very important and your doctor will be able to assist you with that. Keeping your hypertension under control is also important.
In late stage wet AMD, your ophthalmologist may utilize options like eye injections called anti-VEGF drugs, photodynamic therapy (PDT) injections, or laser treatments2. Research continues into developing treatments for macular degeneration.
Make an appointment today
If it has been over three years since you’ve had your eyes checked for macular degeneration (a dilated eye exam), call us today for an appointment and come to one of our two Colorado locations for a complete exam. Our board-certified ophthalmologists are here to help you protect your vision as your body ages.
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: