What is Strabismus Surgery?

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Who Needs Strabismus Surgery?

Strabismus surgery is a type of eye surgery to correct misaligned eyes. This can occur in one or both eyes, and occurs in children and adults. A misaligned eye, also called a wandering eye, is characterized by an eyeball that is further inward, outward, upward or downward than average. For some people, this condition is always present, while in others it may only occur when the person is tired, stressed, or looking at something closely. In any case, having a misaligned eye can often be treated with strabismus surgery.

When an eye is misaligned it is either due to an eye muscle that is too strong or too weak. In the eye, there are six muscles responsible for movement of the eyeball.

If one of these muscles is too strong, it will essentially tug on the eyeball, causing it to move too far up, down, left or right than it should. Likewise, if one of these muscles is too weak, then it’s not able to work with the other five to keep the eyeball centered, causing it to misalign.

What Happens During Strabismus Surgery?

Strabismus surgery is a procedure that adjusts the either too strong or too weak muscle. How the surgery is carried out depends on the cause of the wandering eye, though a recession procedure can help in either instance. If a muscle is too strong, a recession will involve detaching the muscle from the eyeball. It is then reattached further back on the eye. This lessens the muscles’ pull in relation to the other five muscles. On the other hand if one of the muscles is too weak, a recession procedure may be done on the opposing eye muscle. It’s important to note here that the surgery doesn’t actually occur on the weak muscle. The goal of this surgery is to even out the strength of the two opposing muscles, helping to balance the pull on the eyeball so that it is centered.

The good news is that strabismus surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, meaning no hospital stay is required. This means the patient can go home after it is finished. In fact, most people are able to resume normal activities mere days after the surgery.

Strabismus surgery is a great option for anyone suffering from misaligned eyes. While many people want the surgery for cosmetic reasons, it is not typically considered a cosmetic surgery but rather reconstructive surgery, which means many insurance companies will cover it. That’s because misaligned eyes can often cause double vision, which is a medical issue.

What Happens After Strabismus Surgery? 

Patients report some discomfort or pain immediately following the surgery when the eyeball moves, but this can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. Any pain or discomfort typically clears up in a few days.

Most strabismus surgeries are successful and correct the issue the first time. In some cases, the surgery may be only partially successful, requiring another surgery down the line. Either way, for most folks with wandering eyes, strabismus surgery is a perfect procedure that can really improve the quality of their lives

All About Cornea Transplants

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The cornea is a massively important component of the eye—and your ability to see. It’s the clear, dome-shaped front of your eyeball. Since it’s the outermost layer of the eye, it tends to take a beating. Cornea scratches are a common thing and can happen from something as simple as a little piece of sawdust getting trapped in your eye, or even a fingernail when taking out your contacts. But unfortunately, that’s not the worst thing that can happen to this transparent tissue. Diseases and serious eye injuries that damage the cornea means that, for some people, vision actually becomes impaired. In fact, corneal disease is the fourth most common reason for blindness in the world. Luckily, there is hope! Cornea transplants may be the perfect solution for someone suffering from vision loss due to an unhealthy or injured cornea.

How Can a Cornea Transplant Help Me?

Thanks to modern science, cornea transplants can also save vision. Just like in any other type of transplant, a donor with healthy tissue is required. The surgery may only need to replace part of the cornea, as opposed to the entire thing. The new tissue can do a number of things including restoring vision, reducing pain, and improving the look of a cornea that’s been damaged or diseased.

A cornea transplant is a relatively safe, easy, and successful surgery. In fact, most patients remain totally awake during the procedure, similar to LASIK. It typically takes only about 20-45 minutes for the surgery, during which the eye muscles are relaxed using a local anesthesia that is injected directly into the eyeball (it sounds worse than it actually is). Then, numbing eye drops are typically administered. Patients who go this route don’t report any pain or even discomfort during the surgery. But for some folks, a general anesthesia is a better choice. This means they will be unconscious during the entire procedure.

What Happens After a Cornea Transplant?

Following a cornea transplant there shouldn’t be any pain either (phew). Patients usually use an eye patch for a day or two. If there is discomfort, often over-the-counter pain relievers are sufficient. It’s important to know that full healing can take up to a year, so while the surgery is quick and essentially painless, it does not provide immediate relief. The eyeball will require good, old-fashioned time to heal and get used to the new cornea.  In the first few months some patients report worse blurriness than before the surgery. Sometime thereafter, they should start to notice vision finally improving.

Potential Cornea Transplant Complications

As we already mentioned, they have a really high success rate, so if you’re a candidate for one, you can feel pretty confident in the proposed outcome. There are some potential complications, such as infection, just like with any surgery, but again, these aren’t typical. One important thing to note though is that, as with any transplant, your body may reject the donor tissue. In this case, your immune system attacks it as a foreign object in the body. If this were to happen, the surgery would not work and vision would not improve. But the percentage of people that this happens to, while definitely unfortunate, is quite low, estimated at about 5-30%. On a more positive note, if your body does reject the donor tissue, you can always try the surgery again at a later time.

If you’ve lost part of your vision due to a cornea injury or disease, consider talking to your doctor about your eligibility for a transplant. For such a short and simple procedure, the outcome of restored vision is definitely exciting!

Cataracts 101

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We’ve mentioned cataracts a lot on here, but we’ve never actually dove into the topic. Chances are you probably know someone who’s had cataracts surgery before—typically someone older, like a great-aunt or grandparent. While it sounds awfully invasive, cataracts surgery is actually a fairly quick procedure that doesn’t even require a hospital stay. And the benefit of a successful cataracts surgery are pretty rewarding. Cataracts are common, unfortunately, so it’s time to arm yourself with some knowledge.

What are Cataracts?

While cataracts are painless—in fact many people don’t even realize they have it until it’s so advanced that it actually affects vision, it is the leading cause of blindness throughout the world. It’s also the primary reason for vision loss in people aged forty and over. In the US, it’s estimated that a whopping 22 million Americans have it in the 40+ bracket. Those statistics are pretty staggering, enough so that we think you’ll agree that it’s time to sort out exactly what it is, the symptoms it may bring, and how to treat it.

Cataracts are a clouding in the eye’s lens. The lens is located behind the pupil and the iris. The main job of the lens is to help focus light and images that are taken in so they can be processed. The lens is wonderfully flexible, which is why you can view things at a distance and also up close, thanks to its curved shape. As you age, this lens may become cloudy, kind of like a fogged up window—that’s cataracts.

Symptoms of Cataracts

Like we already mentioned, most people don’t even realize when they have cataracts until it’s fairly advanced. There are telltale symptoms you should be aware of though. These include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Difficulty seeing at night or in the dark
  • Constant updating of prescription contacts or glasses
  • Colors become dull or yellowed

When cataracts have advanced enough that it actually impedes daily activities like driving and reading, then it’s suggested to consider surgery. It’s an outpatient procedure, which is a relief to most folks. During the fairly simple surgery, your clouded, cataract-filled lens is removed and replaced with a nice and clear artificial lens. This lens actually becomes part of your eyeball. It may sound a little strange, but you can think of it like having a knee or hip replaced. Same idea.

The surgery is typically safe and successful. Perhaps best of all, on average it only takes about ten minutes! Lots of people happily report clear vision only hours after their procedure, too. It’s not often you can get such instantaneous results after surgery! Keep in mind that there is still a healing time following surgery. It’s generally said to take about eight weeks. The whole thing should be painless, though it’s common to experience some discomfort in the days following surgery.

Can Cataracts Be Prevented?

On a whole, cataracts isn’t really preventable, though there are still recommendations for keeping your eyes healthy. The best thing you can do for your eyes is to treat them well. That means having regular eye exams, following all prescription contact lens directions, wearing sunglasses with UV protection when outside, and maintaining a healthy diet full of good nutrition and vitamins.

How Your Ethnicity Affects Vision

Each ethnicity is unique and beautiful in its own right—and hopefully something you celebrate and share with others. It’s always fun to learn about new cultures’ beliefs, celebrations, languages, and more! Ethnicity, which refers specifically to your roots, can also be very telling concerning health and disease. That’s because each ethnicity has its own predisposition to developing certain health issues based on gene makeup.

Ethic groups usually share a certain amount of the same genes, or DNA, which can be linked back to a specific geographical area where their ancestors originally lived. So even if you’re family has moved thousands of miles away from that area (even many generations ago), some part of your genes will always link you back to that location. Pretty nifty, right?

Your ethnicity may mean you’re more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, or a wide range of other health issues—but you may be surprised to learn that it can also affect your vision. Keep reading as we explore this topic, including going over a few ethnicities and what vision problems they have a higher likelihood of developing.

Keep in mind, just because your ethnicity is considered at a higher risk for developing a certain vision problem doesn’t mean that you actually will; each person is different! However, it’s smart to be aware of any gene-related issues because it means you can actively work harder to prevent them. That means staying on top of your yearly eye exams and doing any other preventative tests you can to make sure that if you do develop an issue, it’s caught early. This is key to stopping it from getting worse over time, or even correcting the vision issue when possible.

Now, let’s look at a few of the highest population ethnicity groups in the United States and discuss the specific vision issues each is at a higher risk of developing:

African-American

African-Americans are at a higher risk for developing several vision-related diseases. Additionally, many of these conditions are made worse by UV exposure, which is why it’s so important to remember to wear UV-protectant sunglasses year round.

Cataracts and glaucoma are two eye diseases that African-Americans have a higher risk of developing over time. When it comes to cataracts, the risk is 1.5 times that of other populations. On the other hand, this ethnic group is five times more likely to develop glaucoma than other populations. Additionally, there is a higher risk of diabetes, which, while it isn’t a vision-specific condition, can cause some very serious eye problems, including vision loss and blindness.

Hispanic American

There are several vision issues that Hispanic Americans have a higher risk of developing—and their probability is often higher than any other ethnic group. Cataracts and glaucoma are considered higher risk issues for this group. Additionally, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the Hispanic population. This is pretty alarming—and good reason to schedule that yearly exam, making sure you are tested for this disease.

Hispanic Americans also have a higher chance of developing pterygium and diabetes than other populations. Pterygium is a non-cancerous growth on the white tissue in the eyeball. If it grows too big, it can interfere with vision.

Asian American

The main eye issue that Asian Americans are most likely to develop is myopia, or nearsightedness. In fact, it’s thought that about 80% of this ethnic group suffers from it. Myopia makes seeing things in the distance difficult, such as a road sign while driving; however, you can see things up close just fine, such as when reading a book or screen. Luckily, nearsightedness is a common issue for many people, ethnicity aside, and can be easily corrected with prescription contacts or glasses.

Asian Americans are also at a greater risk for glaucoma and diabetes. Again, glaucoma can be detected quite easily through a simple procedure during your routine eye exams. Diabetes is typically discovered through a blood test. In both cases, each disease is easily detected—and treated—by simply being aware.

Essential Vitamins for Eye Health

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While we love having the option to pop in our contacts and our vision instantly corrected, it can still be a little disheartening to go to a yearly exam and find out your vision has gotten poorer since your last check-up. This can be especially true as you age, when vision slowly begins to deteriorate for many people and they must change their contact prescription to something more suitable. That’s why we are always shouting the benefits of prevention. Your prescriptions lenses will always be there for you, but if there’s something you can do to keep your eyes young and healthy, well, why not?! Today we’ve got another tip to add to your arsenal for eye health: essential vitamins.

It’s common knowledge that daily vitamins are a great way to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to run in tip top shape. If you’ve ever perused a vitamin aisle, then you know there’s a vitamin for practically anything you want—including your eyes.

Taking the proper vitamins can actually slow down some eye disease progressions, such as age-related macular degeneration. In addition, essential vitamins for eye health aren’t just to help keep your vision fresh and young. They can also aid in other things like dry eyes, stave off cataracts, and overall eye health. Now, onto the list of vitamins…

Vitamin C

Vitamin C might be the MVP of the vitamin world. Anytime we get so much as a sniffle, people immediately begin telling us to start pumping ourselves with it. But studies have also suggested that taking this powerhouse over time can help prevent age-related vision loss and cataracts.

Vitamin E

You may have seen skincare items toting vitamin E. That’s because it helps cell regeneration, which is useful for aging skin, healing acne scars, and more. But it’s also been considered a great choice for the upkeep of health. Like Vitamin C, it’s thought to help in the fight against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Zinc

Zinc is a handy mineral you’ve likely heard of but may not know much about. It’s key for a healthy brain and immune system. But when it comes to eye health, it packs a punch, too. High levels of it are found in the macula, which is part of the retina. Zinc also helps vitamin A produce melanin, which is key to natural eye protection, (along with sunglasses).

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

This essential vitamin can be found in the likes of flaxseed oil and fish oil. They come in handy capsules like a regular vitamin. These supplements are helpful in relieving dry eyes, which are known for causing irritation, redness, and discomfort. Adding this vitamin alongside lubricating eye drops can give you noticeable relief.

You can find many of these vitamins in a multivitamin, making it convenient to get all of these in a single pill. You can also find them individually, too. Either way, if you want to start a new vitamin regime, check in with your doctor first. Vitamins have wonderful health benefits, but they can interact with some medications, so it’s wise to make sure they’re a good fit for you.