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.
As the sun ramps up for the summer, it’s time to take a closer look at how you’re protecting your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) damage. Since May is UV Awareness Month, Colorado Ophthalmology Associates offers these tips on avoiding UV eye damage and how to choose the best sunglasses to help protect your eyes.
What is UV Light?
Ultraviolet light rays are emitted from the sun and many of them are blocked by the earth’s atmosphere. Still, many come through. These rays are important since they help the skin in the creation of Vitamin D. However, there can be too much of a good thing. UV rays can damage the skin and the eyes over time. The short rays enter the eye and damage the macula of the retina, which is responsible for the center field of vision. Additionally, the cornea and lens can be damaged by UV rays.1
Eye Conditions Caused by UV Damage
Apart from skin cancer, which can even be located on eyelids and around the eyes, UV damage can cause a number of conditions.2 These conditions include:
- Corneal sunburn – overexposure to the sun hurts the eyes like a sunburn.
- Photokeratitis – temporary loss of vision due to corneal sunburn or from sun glancing off of water, snow or highly reflective surfaces.
- Pinguecula – irritating growth on the white of the eye that requires surgery to remove.
- Eye cancer – takes longer to develop but can culminate from years of UV ray abuse.
- Macular degeneration – develops from overexposure of UV light over time. Vision loss cannot be regained.
- Cataracts – UV rays contribute to the development of cataracts later in life. Surgery will likely be needed.
- Pterygium – growth on the eye, also called surfer’s eye. Requires surgery to remove.
Prevention of UV Damage to the Eyes
There are some simple steps to help protect your eyes against UV damage. Be especially vigilant at higher elevations and locations closer to the equator where UV rays are more intense.
Choose a wide-brimmed hat that will shadow your face from UV rays. Some rays are blocked by glass but others will go through glass, so don’t expect to be fully protected indoors.
Wear sunglasses every day, even on cloudy days. UV light will be present all the time. Make sure your children also wear UV-rated sunglasses.
Choose sunglasses that are rated at 99% and greater UVA and UVB protection.3 Look for sunglasses that cover a wide surface and even wrap around. Grey lenses offer the closest thing to true color perception.
Stop smoking or don’t start smoking. Smoking can speed up UV light damage to the eyes. Talk to your medical provider about getting help to stop smoking.
See your ophthalmologist regularly. To make sure your eyes are not being damaged by overexposure to UV rays, make sure you get regular check-ups.
Discuss with your ophthalmologist
To kick of the sunny season, call us today for an appointment and come to one of our two Colorado locations for a consultation. Our board-certified ophthalmologists are ready to evaluate your eyes for UV damage and to recommend the best eye protection to help prevent damage as you enjoy the benefits of being in the sun this season.
With the fresh waves of spring’s new growth comes the dreaded eye allergy season. The misery that comes from red, itchy, watery eyes may have you rethinking your love of the great outdoors. How can you get ahead of spring allergies that can cause so much eye discomfort? Colorado Ophthalmology Associates offers tips for understanding spring eye allergies—known as allergic conjunctivitis—and preventing eye problems caused by allergies.
Symptoms of Eye Allergies
- Watery eyes
- Red eyes
- Swollen eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Burning eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Often accompanied by nasal allergies – itchy, stuffy, runny nose and sneezing
Causes of Eye Allergies
Substances in the air, such as pollen, grass pollen, ragweed pollen, pet dander, dust, smoke, perfumes, mold, and even cooking odors, irritate the eye and trigger the release of histamines to combat them. The histamines cause the eye to become red and watery and can increase the itchy feeling and the swelling.1
Eye allergies can be inherited. If both of your parents suffer from allergic conjunctivitis, your risk for inheriting the condition is greatly increased.1
Prevention of Seasonal Eye Allergies
If you suspect you will suffer from seasonal eye allergies this spring, you can begin protecting your eyes by eliminating exposure to the sources of irritation. If the fresh flowers and pollen affect you, avoid these triggers by staying indoors as much as possible. Use air conditioning and keep windows closed. Consider using special air filter units or add HEPA filters to your air conditioner and HEPA bags in your vacuum cleaner.
When you do go outside, try wearing sunglasses, goggles or eye shield to protect your eyes from the pollen. The best time to go outdoors is after a rain has settled the pollen. Avoid windy, dry days and early mornings when pollen count is at its highest. Listen to the weather reports that give pollen counts for the day. Wear a pollen mask outdoors.2
Frequently wash your hands and face to remove irritants before they are inadvertently passed onto your eyes. If you’ve been working outdoors, remove clothes and shower to remove allergens.2
Treatment for Seasonal Eye Allergies
While there are over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines, that can be taken, some of them can dry out the eye and not readily improve the eye discomfort you may be experiencing. Antihistamines with diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl™ or ChlorTrimeton™ can dry out the mouth and eyes. Try medications with cetirizine or levocetirizine, fexofenadine, loratadine or desloratadine that won’t cause drowsiness or dry eyes.3
Artificial tears can quickly wash irritants from the eyes before histamines are triggered. They can also keep the eyes moist. Use according to directions on the label and no more than six times a day.4
Other eye drop options include: corticosteroid eye drops, antihistamine eye drops, or decongestant eye drops. These should be used as directed and under the supervision of your ophthalmologist.4
Finally, there are immunotherapy shots that may be prescribed to help with severe seasonal allergies. Ask your ophthalmologist if you are a good candidate for this treatment option.4
Discuss your seasonal eye allergies with your ophthalmologist
Ready to nip your allergies in the bud? Call us today for an appointment and come to one of our two Colorado locations for a consultation. Our board-certified ophthalmologists are experienced in helping everything from mild to severe cases of spring allergies so you can enjoy the season free from eye discomfort.
While many people know that diabetes can affect your eyesight, few know that your ophthalmologist can be the first to detect diabetes by giving you a complete dilated eye exam. The eyes are directly linked to glucose levels in the body, and blood sugar that is too high for too long can often cause damage to the retina or cause changes to the lens. At Colorado Ophthalmology Associates, we are experienced in diagnosing and treating a group of vision concerns known as diabetic eye disease.
Symptoms of diabetic eye disease1
- Floaters – dark spots or strings that float in your vision
- Blurred vision
- Wavy vision
- Vision changes
- Flashes of light
- Loss of color clarity vision
Eye conditions that can be caused by diabetes
The change in pressure to the eye caused by diabetes can cause blood vessels to grow differently, which can cause a type of glaucoma, or it can cause swelling and blurred vision. Here are some of the eye conditions2 that can be caused or exacerbated by blood sugar that is out of control.
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Diabetic macular edema
- Retinal detachment
Prevention of diabetic eye disease
Your ophthalmologist at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates may be able to catch diabetic eye disease before it becomes serious, but taking steps to control your glucose levels is crucial. Here are some other ideas to help you prevent diabetic eye disease.
- Increase your daily physical activity
- Follow a healthy diet restricting carbs and sweeteners
- Lower your cholesterol levels
- Manage your blood pressure
- Stop smoking
- Carefully manage your diabetes with insulin and glucose testing
- Get annual eye exams
- Monitor any vision changes
- Get annual physical exam including an A1c test
When should I see a doctor?
You should receive a yearly ophthalmology exam with dilation if you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic. Your doctor may recommend even more frequent eye exams. If your ophthalmologist detects an elevation of glucose or a diabetic condition, you should follow up with a visit to your primary care physician.
If you’re pregnant, gestational diabetes can worsen diabetic eye disease, including diabetic retinopathy.3 It is important to have additional eye exams during pregnancy.
If you notice any changes in your vision, see your ophthalmologist right away. If you suddenly lose vision or experience flashes of light or floaters, it could be an urgent condition. Come to Colorado Ophthalmology Associates immediately for fast, quality care.
Treatment for diabetic eye disease
Depending on the kind of disease that has been detected, your ophthalmologist will offer a treatment plan that’s right for you. This plan could include1:
- Laser treatment
- Special equipment
Get an appointment for an eye exam today
Do you suspect your blood sugar levels may be changing your eyesight? Call us today to make an appointment for your exam. Come to one of our two Colorado locations for an exam by one of our board-certified, experienced ophthalmologists. We will go to work to check you for diabetes indicators and to check your eyes for good health and clear vision.
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: