MARCH NEWSLETTER: GLAUCOMA AWARENESS
March is Glaucoma Awareness Month. Why is this eye condition so important to diagnose and treat as early as it is detected? In this month’s newsletter you can read all about the true facts about glaucoma, signs and symptoms as well as treatments. We are also focussing on head injuries and their significance on the eye, as well as computer vision syndrome.
At De Jongh Optometry we are passionate about eye care and especially preventative eye care. Modern eye care aims to preserve the good vision one has by identifying threats to the health of your eyes and vision before it causes damage.
Glaucoma is known worldwide as the ‘sneak thief of sight’ and can be defined as a group of eye conditions that damages the nerve of the eye – the part of the eye that takes information to the brain. Loss of peripheral vision is sometimes the only symptom a patient might experience and this only happens during the later stage of Glaucoma. It is painless and does not cause blurred central vision.
Lost vision due to damage to the nerve cannot be restored and the earlier it is detected and treated the better the prognosis. Glaucoma is frequently caused by a build-up of pressure inside the eye. Normally eye fluid circulates through the front chamber of the eye to nourish and protect eye structures. The fluid then flows out through a drainage canal situated in the angle of the front part of the eye. If the drainage canal becomes blocked, pressure builds up inside the eye and damages the optic nerve.
How do I know if I might develop Glaucoma? Here are some potential risk factors:
- High myopia (very severe near-sightedness)
- Genetics (family member with Glaucoma)
- Eye surgery or injury
- High blood pressure
- Use of corticosteroids (eye drops, pills, inhalers, and creams)
- Ethnicity (studies show that people of Indian & African ethnicity have a bigger tendency to develop Glaucoma)
- Age (above 40 years)
12 to 18 March 2017 is Glaucoma Week across the world. Make sure that you get tested if you identify with one of the above-mentioned risk factors!
How to prevent Glaucoma
Go for regular eye examinations. This will ensure early detection and treatment to keep damage to the minimum. De Jongh Optometry uses state of the art technology to diagnostic tests to diagnose and monitor Glaucoma. Visual Field and Optical Coherence Tomography Analysis is one of the most accurate and repeatable tests for this condition.
Visual Field Analysis
With Visual Field Analysis we evaluate the function of the eye nerve and vision fibres in the brain to identify, diagnose and monitor your vision and health.
If Glaucoma is diagnosed, treatment can often effectively stop the progression of the disease. All Glaucoma treatments are aimed at lowering eye pressure and include medical therapy, surgery and laser therapy. Glaucoma is a chronic disease and this will require regular visits to an optometrist and eye specialist.
With Optical Coherence Tomography we analyse the fine nerve fibres of the optic nerve and can in some instances detect change up to 8-10years before the effect of damage is noticeable in your vision
Head injuries: how it can affect your vision and overall eye health
Head injuries not only have a severe effect on your overall health but your eye health might also be affected.
Ever thought you are an ace with administration and filing? Well, you have seen nothing. Yet. The human brain is the most organised, extensive filing cabinet you can think of. Therefore, when a brain injury is sustained – even when it is regarded as a ‘mild’ injury – it leads to a very traumatic experience to the injured person and their supporting family. Especially when ‘the contents of the filing cabinet lies strewn across the floor’.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be classified as mild loss of consciousness and/or confusion & disorientation for a period shorter than 30 minutes. While MRI and CAT scans often show normal results, a mild TBI causes an individual cognitive problems such as headaches, difficulty thinking straight, memory problems, attention deficits, mood swings and frustration. These injuries are commonly overlooked.
A Mild Traumatic Brain Injury is the most common TBI and is often missed at the time of the initial injury. It is defined as the result of the forceful motion of the head or impact causing a brief change in mental status (confusion, disorientation or loss of memory) or loss of consciousness for less than 30 minutes. 15% of people with mild TBI have symptoms that last one year or more – the symptoms experienced after injury are often referred to as post concussive syndrome.
Common symptoms of Mild TBI include fatigue, headaches, visual disturbances, memory loss, poor attention/concentration, sleep disturbances, dizziness/loss of balance, irritability, emotional disturbances, feelings of depression and seizures. Other symptoms associated with mild TBI include nausea, loss of smell, sensitivity to light and sounds, mood changes, getting lost or confused and slowness in thinking.
These symptoms may not be present or noticed at the time of injury. It may be days or weeks before they appear, are often subtle and are often missed by the injured person, family and doctors. The affected person looks normal and often moves in a normal way in spite of not feeling or thinking normally. This makes the diagnosis easy to miss and family and friends often notice changes in behaviour before the injured person realises there is a problem. Frustration at work or when performing household tasks may bring the person to seek medical care.
Head injuries with children
According to research presented at an AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) gathering, “damage to the brain caused by concussion can last for decades after the original head trauma.” Isn’t this a very scary fact? Especially since sport is such a huge part of our children’s lives at school.
Please remember that when children take part in contact sports, they can easily suffer from concussions. Children that suffer from concussion should stay away from any mental exercise until their symptoms abate as they may still be suffering from some forms of significant attention problems.
Signs and symptoms to look out for:
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Dizziness or “seeing stars”
- Ringing in the ears
The different processes required for ‘normal’ visual function is represented in 33 areas of the brain. Therefore, when a person has a brain injury many of the symptoms affecting his or her sense of disorientation, confusion, lack of concentration ability and slowness of thinking could all be linked to disarray in the visual system.
Neuro optometric rehabilitation is aimed at the diagnosis of changes in the visual system and the support and management thereof. In a many instances small changes to the spectacle prescription can solve a large part of this discomfort. In more complex injuries, neuro optometric rehabilitation is done with stimulation of the specific brain areas involved with therapy.
Computer Vision Syndrome
As our enthusiasm for using computers, tablets and smartphones grow, our eyes are paying the price, as 90 percent of computer and device users experience Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS comes with symptoms such as eye strain or blurred vision, burning or stinging eyes, sensitivity to light, headaches, and back and neck pain.
How to avoid eyestrain from tablets, phones and computers in 5 steps: if these symptoms affect you, use these tips from Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute Specialist Rishi Singh, MD to ease the strain and avoid the pain.
Adjust your viewing angle: The angle of your gaze plays a key role in CVS. For the best angle, the centre of the monitor, tablet or phone should be 50-60 cm from your eyes and 10-12 cm below eye level. If you’re looking back and forth between a screen and reference materials, keep those materials where you can see them with minimal head movement.
Reduce glare: Letters on a screen are not as clear as letters on a printed page. Too little contrast between letters and background or glare on the screen makes your eyes work harder. The result: sensitivity to light. Position your screen to avoid glare from overhead lights or windows. Close the blinds on your windows or switch to lower-watt bulbs in your desk lamp. An anti-glare coating on your spectacle lenses will significantly reduce glare from the screen.
Rest your eyes: When using a computer or device for an extended period of time, take regular breaks to prevent eye strain. Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer and look at a distant object for 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a chance to refocus.
Blink often: People normally blink about 18 times a minute, but computer users tend to blink only one-fourth as often. This increases the chance of developing dry eye. To reduce this risk, remind yourself to blink more often. And refresh your eyes periodically with lubricating eye drops.
Get your eyes checked: Uncorrected vision problems – farsightedness or astigmatism, problems focussing or coordinating the eyes and eye changes associated with aging – can contribute to eye strain.
Even if you don’t need glasses or contacts for daily activities, you may need them for computer or device use. If you do wear glasses or contacts and need to tilt your head or lean toward the screen to see it clearly, your lens prescription may need to be adjusted. Make an appointment today for your annual eye examination.
New technology: Tear Film-scan with the Oculus Keratograph
The tear film plays a vital role in keeping you comfortable during long hours in front of a computer and other digital devices. Our new high-resolution colour camera makes even the finest of structures visible. In addition to NIKBUT (Non-Invasive Keratograph® Break-Up Time) and measurement of the meniscus tear, the TF-Scan can also make an assessment of the lipid layer and the tear film dynamics.
Tear film analysis with the OCULUS Keratograph® 5 M is non-invasive and can determine the quality and functioning of your tear film. This will result in making a better recommendation to treat Computer Vision Syndrome.
Products: BlueControl – For that extra bit of comfort in a digital world
LCD and LED computer and television screens, smartphones, tablets and GPS devices all emit blue light. Although blue light is a natural phenomenon – it is present in daylight and help us to stay awake – over exposure can cause eye strain, eye fatigue and even sleeplessness.
Hoya BlueControl is a spectacle lens anti-glare coating that helps to neutralise the blue light emitted by digital screens, preventing eye fatigue and eye strain and even sleeplessness. It keeps the eyes in better condition, offering more comfortable and relaxed vision and a better contrast perception when using digital devices. Contact De Jongh Optometry for a quotation today.