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What’s the Connection Between Sleep Apnea, Concussion, and Your Vision?

Sleep Apnea 640A recent comprehensive sleep study on people with post-concussion syndrome showed that 78% were diagnosed with sleep apnea.

What came first: the concussion or sleep apnea? Determining the answer can be difficult. People who don’t get enough sleep already exhibit some of the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome even when they haven’t had one.

What we do know is that there is a connection between sleep apnea and concussion. Sleep apnea affects the recovery from a concussion, and at the same time, the condition may result from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Where does vision come in?

Sleep Apnea and Concussions

For those having sustained a concussion, sleep is very important for a speedy and thorough recovery. A poor night’s sleep, as in the case of sleep apnea, may lead to impaired decision-making, cognitive loss, and symptoms of depression—all of which can interrupt the recovery process.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep apnea, is caused by a physical collapse or blockage of the upper airway that interrupts breathing during sleep. This also reduces blood and oxygen flow to the brain, making it difficult for those with a concussion to recover.

A lesser known type of apnea is central sleep apnea. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, this type is caused by a dysfunction in the brain that regulates breathing and sleep, which could also be affected by a TBI.

Sleep Apnea and Vision

As we all know, getting a good night’s sleep is essential to good health. There are a number of eye conditions that are exacerbated by poor sleep patterns and therefore may be associated with sleep apnea.

These include:

  • Floppy eyelid syndrome
  • Nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy
  • Papilledema
  • Glaucoma
  • Swelling of the optic nerve
  • Retinal conditions

Getting your eyes checked regularly is important as it allows your eye doctor to rule out any eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss. This is all the more important if you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Concussions and Vision

Concussions can have a significant impact on the functioning of the visual system. Post-trauma vision syndrome is a group of symptoms that cause eye coordination problems, dizziness, and blurred vision after a concussion.

The symptoms of post-trauma vision syndrome can include:

  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Focusing problems
  • Problems with walking and stride

Severe concussions can cause double vision and blindness, while mild concussions can affect vision and cause visual dysfunction.

How a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

Neuro-optometrists can help post-TBI patients in ways that other health care providers may not be able to.

Neuro-optometry deals with how the visual system impacts daily functioning. By training the brain to control and communicate with the eyes more effectively, symptoms like headaches and dizziness can be significantly reduced or disappear altogether.

If you have experienced a concussion or suspect you may have sleep apnea, contact Associates in Eye Care to follow up on a diagnosis and treatment for any vision problems you may be having due to either condition.

Associates in Eye Care serves patients from Somerset, Russell Springs, Jacksboro, and Jellico, all throughout Southern Kentucky and North Tennessee.

Frequently Asked Questions with our optometrists

 

Q: What’s the connection between sleep apnea, concussion, and your vision?

  • A: After sustaining a concussion, you may begin to experience sleep apnea. This not only affects the healing process but your vision as well.

Q: Is there a way to treat vision problems due to a concussion?

  • A: Yes. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can retrain the brain to relieve dizziness, headaches, double vision, and other TBI-related problems.

Request A Functional Visual Exam

Why Does Bono Always Wear His Signature Shades?

Ever wonder why Bono always wears shades, even indoors? U2’s frontman doesn’t sport sunglasses simply as part of his image. Bono has had glaucoma—a build-up of pressure in the eyeball, which can damage the optic nerve and potentially lead to blindness if untreated—for over two decades now.

The real reason he wears his trademark shades is due to this progressive, sight-robbing eye disease, to protect his sensitive eyes from light and glare.

How Do Sunglasses Help People With Glaucoma?

People with glaucoma experience sensitivity to light (or photophobia) and glare, among other symptoms. When the sun is strong, those with this condition will be more affected by glare emanating from a variety of surfaces, like water, snow, sand or pavement, than the average person. Furthermore, certain glaucoma medications constrict the pupils, which can further contribute to acute sensitivity to glare and light, as well as redness and irritation.

That’s why people with glaucoma — and lots of people without glaucoma — feel best wearing sunglasses when outdoors on a sunny day, in a bright indoor space, or while driving in the early evening.

Here’s How You Can Protect Your Eyes

By wearing sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection, you can reduce your risk of developing sight robbing diseases, like cataracts and macular degeneration, and reduce glaucoma symptoms. Polarized lenses, in particular, can help with glare. With yearly comprehensive eye exams, early diagnosis and consistent treatment, you can prevent vision deterioration from glaucoma or similar sight-threatening eye diseases. Contact Associates in Eye Care in Somerset to book your eye doctor’s appointment today.

Q&A

Can glaucoma be cured?

While there is currently no cure for glaucoma, there are many effective treatment options available. Treatments that can help stop or slow the progression of glaucoma include eye drops, oral medications, as well as laser and surgical procedures.

How can glaucoma vision loss be prevented?

The best way to avoid glaucoma-related eyesight deterioration is to undergo regular eye exams, as glaucoma can be detected and treated even in its early stages, which can prevent significant vision loss or blindness. That’s why routine eye exams that include glaucoma testing are so important.

What Is Vision Therapy?

by Dr. Katy Wilson

Vision therapy (VT) is a phrase that you might have heard lately surrounding Associates in Eye Care. You might wonder, what is vision therapy? How can it help ourselves or our kids? How does VT work? What are signs that VT might be necessary? I will try to answer these questions in order to shed some light on the amazing possibilities that are available through VT.

Broadly speaking, vision therapy is a customized program of both visual and physical activities that is designed to correct vision problems and improve visual skills. One way to look at Vision Therapy is as Physical Therapy for your eyes. If you or your child has a weak visual system we can do therapy on that system to make it stronger and more functional. In other words, Vision Therapy helps you use your eyes more easily.

VT starts with assessing each patient as an individual, and then specific activities are put into place to help strengthen the skills that person needs to use their eyes as a strong team. These abilities include overall coordination, body awareness, visual awareness, how well the two eyes work as a team, and how well the eyes send signals to the brain. We then put all of those skills together so that the individual can successfully, easily, and quickly process the information they see.

How well your eyes communicate with your brain is so important for learning and for comfortable vision. For example, when you are first learning to drive there is a lot to pay attention to. You have to pay attention to your arms to steer, your legs to hit the correct pedal at the correct pressure, other cars, road signs, the speed limit, the mirrors, the gas gauge etc…. It feels overwhelming at first. Once you master the wheel, the pedals, the roads, the mirrors, the AC, and the wipers you find yourself hardly even thinking about it anymore. You just do it without a thought.

When someone is unable to use their eyes effortlessly it is like they’re just learning to drive for the first time every single time they sit down to learn. It’s frustrating for them! There is so much they are trying to concentrate on at once. Focusing their eyes, avoiding seeing double, what word they are on, what line they are on, even what letter are they on… To most, this comes naturally. To some, it is a constant struggle. When someone has to really work to use their eyes as a team they often don’t have enough energy left to focus on the material they are reading. They are so focused on just making their vision functional that their ability to learn becomes severely compromised. Kids might get fidgety or lose focus. They might become irritable or disruptive in class. Both adults and kids might feel tired or have poor memory. These are all things that are completely understandable for someone who is struggling to use their eyes efficiently.

Alternatively, when the eyes can easily and effortlessly see they are then able to easily process what the brain is trying to learn. It is in this environment that a child’s performance skyrockets both in school and sports. The ultimate goal of Vision Therapy, and the ultimate goal of Associates in Eye Care, is to help our patients learn and live with comfortable and effortless vision.

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Dr. Wilson is the VT specialist at
Associates in Eye Care of Somerset

Cataract Facts

by Dr. Stephen McKinley

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye. Cataracts are very common as you get older. In fact, more than half of all Americans age 70 or older either have cataracts or have had surgery to get rid of cataracts. At first, you may not notice that you have a cataract. But over time, cataracts can make your vision blurry, hazy, or less colorful. You may have trouble reading or doing other everyday activities. The good news is that surgery can get rid of cataracts.

There are many different types of cataracts

Most cataracts are age-related — they happen because of normal changes in your eyes as you get older. But you can get cataracts for other reasons — for example, after an eye injury or after surgery for another eye problem.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

You might not have any symptoms at first, when cataracts are mild. But as cataracts grow, they can cause changes in your vision. You may notice that your vision is cloudy or blurry, and that colors look faded. You can’t see well at night or you see halos around lights. You may even notice that you begin to see double.

Who is at risk for cataracts?

Your risk for cataracts goes up as you get older. You’re also at higher risk if you have diabetes, or you smoke or drink too much alcohol. Family history plays a role, have had an eye injury, or that you have taken certain medications for a long time. An example of this is steroids. Steroids can cause certain types of cataracts to show up in your eyes.

What causes cataracts?

Most cataracts are caused by normal changes in your eyes as you get older. When you’re young, the lens in your eye is clear. Around age 40, the proteins in the lens of your eye start to break down and clump together. This clump makes a cloudy area on your lens — or a cataract. Over time, the cataract gets more severe and clouds more of the lens.

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Stephen McKinley is the chief optometrist
of Associates in Eye Care of Whitley City.
Call 606-376-5258 for an appointment.

Glaucoma Facts

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By Dr. Mark Jacobs, Associates in Eye Care of Somerset

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of diseases, but they all cause a loss of the fibers in the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. The damage is most often caused by elevated pressure in the eye, but is also possible to have glaucoma with normal eye pressures.

What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?

In most cases of glaucoma, there are no symptoms until the very end stages of the disease. That is the reason it is sometimes called the “silent stealer of sight”. Glaucoma causes loss of the peripheral, or side, vision first before ultimately taking central vision if not properly treated. This is one of the reasons it is so important to have regular eye exams, even if you think your current glasses are OK or even if you don’t need glasses or contacts.There is a type of glaucoma, called angle closure glaucoma, that will cause severe eye and brow pain, foggy vision, redness of the eye, and even vomiting. This is an ocular emergency and requires treatment within hours of onset to preserve sight.

How do you test for glaucoma?
At every comprehensive eye exam, we will measure the pressure oft he eye and do a careful examination of the optic nerve through a dilated pupil. If either the pressure is elevated above normal and/or the optic nerve has an appearance possibly indicative of glaucoma, we will order further testing and imaging to measure the peripheral vision, the ocular drainage system, and the thickness of the nerve fiber layer in the retina. In most cases, we will repeat the tests after a period of several months to monitor for changes that would indicate a need for treatment.

How do you treat Glaucoma?
Most patients with glaucoma are treated with a single eye drop used nightly. In those cases where that is not sufficient, we can add additional drops or perform a laser treatment in our office called SLT. In rare cases, it is required that the patient be sent for more extensive surgical procedures, but again, that is not often required.Generally, glaucoma patients are seen every 3-4 months to monitor their condition.

What is the prognosis for people with Glaucoma?
Worldwide, glaucoma is among the three leading causes of blindness.Untreated, most glaucoma patients would go blind within 10-15 years of developing the condition. Thankfully, with proper treatment and monitoring, most patients never notice any vision loss or other symptoms.

 

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Dr. Mark Jacobs is the chief optometrist
at Associates in Eye Care of Somerset.
Call 606-678-4551 to schedule your
appointment.

Protect Your Eyes From Strain And Injury At Work

by Dr. Matthew Testa, Associates in Eye Care of Jellico

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No matter what you do for a living you probably couldn’t do it without using your eyes. Whether you’re a mechanic, welder, or you work in an office on a computer all day; protecting your eyes is very important.

If you have a job that has a lot of dangerous equipment like landscaping, any job that requires grinding metal, or construction, the main thing you can do is wear safety glasses. Safety glasses are specially made using more durable lenses that will not shatter. They will stop fast moving metal and rocks. Safety glasses have saved countless eyes from potentially sight threatening injuries. If you are a welder or out in the sun all day, making sure you have proper protection from the light is also important. That can be either a welder’s mask or sunglasses to prevent UV rays from damaging your eyes.

If you work in an office or in front of a computer all day, there are a few tricks to help maintain healthy eyes. When looking at a computer screen, you tend to blink less, which can dry out your eyes. Keeping over-the-counter artificial tears at your work desk can help your eyes feel more comfortable throughout the day. Also, when looking at the computer for long periods of time some people feel eye strain. It is important to take 30 second breaks, where you either close your eyes or look at something far away (about 20 feet), every 20 minutes or so. This will help prevent eye strain and tension headaches. One last thing you can do to help your eyes stay healthy is get blue blocker or anti-glare coatings on your lenses to minimize glare and the amount of harmful blue light getting in your eyes throughout the day. To find out more about these safety options for your glasses, find your nearest Associates in Eye Care office.

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Dr. Matthew Testa can be reached
at our Jellico, TN office.
Call (423) 784-2020

What You Should Know About Macular Degeneration

by Dr. Todd Overley, Associates in Eye Care of Williamsburg

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 50. There are about 1.8 million Americans that have AMD and another 7.3 million are at risk for vision loss from AMD.Individuals with fair skin and blue eyes are at higher risk for developing AMD. Women tend to develop AMD at a younger age than men. There are genetic factors that may be involved as well, so if you have relatives with AMD it is important to have yearly eye exams.This eye disease occurs when there are degenerative changes to the macula, which is a small central part of the retina that is used to see fine details. AMD is a loss of central vision that can occur in a “dry” and “wet” form. The wet form occurs with fluid beneath the retina starts leaking through the retina from the blood supply beneath it leading to rapid vision loss.

Most people with macular degeneration have the dry form. While there is no specific treatment for dry AMD, studies have shown a potential benefit from over the counter vitamin supplements, a heart healthy diet, regular exercise, and stop smoking. The less common wet form may respond to injections of medications into the eye if detected and treated early.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of AMD

In its early stages, signs of macular degeneration include a gradual loss of the ability to see objects clearly, objects appear distorted, lines that you know are straight appear to look wavy, and a dark area in the center of vision that will not go away. These can often go unnoticed, so it is important to check each eye individually on a daily basis.

If you experience any of the above signs or symptoms, contact your doctor of optometry immediately for a comprehensive eye examination. Your optometrist will perform a variety of tests to determine if you have macular degeneration or any other eye health problems.

Central vision that is lost to macular degeneration cannot be restored. However, low-vision devices, such as telescopic and microscopic lenses, can improve existing vision.

Treatment of AMD

With “dry” macular degeneration, the tissue of the macula gradually deteriorates and becomes thin and stops working properly. There is no cure for dry AMD, and any loss in central vision cannot be restored.There seems to be a link between nutrition and the progression of dry AMD. Making dietary changes such as eating a heart healthy diet, exercise, and taking nutritional supplements can often slow vision loss.In about 10% of cases, “wet” macular degeneration occurs. This is when fluids leak from newly formed blood vessels under the macula. This leakage causes a sudden and severe loss of central vision. If detected early, wet AMD can be treated with intraocular injections of anti-VEGF medications.Researchers have linked nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including macular degeneration. So even though it may not prevent the occurrence of AMD, it may slow its progression.

Regular eye exams from your optometrist can help detect these changes in their earliest stages.

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Dr. Todd Overley is the chief optometrist
at Associates in Eye Care of Williamsburg, KY.
To schedule an appointment, call 606-549-0464.

3 Reasons Why You Should Kickstart the New Year With Vision Therapy

holidays mug blog imageIt’s that time of year again when we sit down with a pumpkin spice latte in hand and think of a resolution we can take upon ourselves for the new year. Here at Associates in Eye Care, we believe that the best resolutions are the ones that positively impact other areas of our lives and enhance our overall quality of life. Vision therapy offers just that! This therapy is made up of a series of customized visual exercises designed to develop or regain visual processing skills.

Vision Therapy is highly effective in treating:

  • Amblyopia, (or “lazy eye”)
  • Strabismus, (or “eye-turn”)
  • Eye movement disorders
  • Focusing disorders
  • Binocular vision problems
  • Vision, balance, and memory problems associated with brain injury

Even those with 20/20 eyesight can benefit from vision therapy because perfect eyesight doesn’t mean perfect vision. Below are the ways in which vision therapy will help you kick-off the new year.

Improve Existing Vision Skills

You’re good at what you do, be it at work, school or sports. But can you do better? By training the eyes and brain to work in unison, you increase your potential for greater performance. Not only will you be more efficient, but performing tasks will become more enjoyable. This especially applies to school-aged children, as their brains are still in rapid development. Vision therapy effectively enables the brain to correctly process information for optimal academic success.

Learn New Skills With Ease

Many people make it their resolution to learn a new skill in the upcoming year but an underlying vision problem can interfere with that. Since learning is 80% visual, vision therapy offers an excellent opportunity to gear up for success! Undiagnosed or untreated vision problems related to convergence and focus can cause memory and reading problems and hinder learning. our optometrists will use an array of tools, such as prisms, specialized lenses, filters, balance beams, and computerized visual activities to train the eye-brain connection and help you learn more efficiently in almost any area that requires vision.

Gain The Confidence You Crave

Whether you’re a pro-athlete or a 4th grader struggling to read, improved vision skills will boost your confidence. This confidence will surely trickle into other areas of your life leading to increased self-esteem.

Start 2020 by empowering yourself or your child with vision therapy. Call Associates in Eye Care to book your appointment today.

Associates in Eye Care serves patients in Somerset, Russell Springs, Jacksboro, and Jellico, and throughout Southern Kentucky and North Tennessee.

Request A Functional Visual Exam

12 Tips for Optimal Eye Health

Good Eye Care Habits & Hygiene

By practicing good eye care habits and hygiene, you can prevent many vision problems from occurring. Eye problems and the risks associated with vision loss only grow as you age. By neglecting eye care, you place yourself at a higher risk of suffering from cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and low vision.

So make sure you maintain great eye health by following these 12 tips for optimal eye health.

1. Avoid rubbing your eyes

Itchy eyes can be a hallmark symptom of allergies, and though rubbing may bring temporary relief, it ultimately increases swelling and worsens the itch. If you wear contact lenses, rubbing your eyes can also dislodge or even break a lens, causing the lens to get lost or scratch the cornea. Plus, eye rubbing can lead to eye infections, since our hands are typically covered with a host of germs.

2. Regularly wash your hands

Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is often caused by germs and bacteria carried to your eyes by unclean hands. Frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water helps keep bacteria away and prevents eye contamination. Prior to inserting or removing contact lenses, make sure to wash your hands with mild soap and dry them using a lint-free towel.

3. Beware of UV rays

By exposing yourself to sunlight and UV rays, you increase the risk of developing macular degeneration and corneal sunburn. Beyond just adding some style and zest to your look, sunglasses should protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays. Speak to your optometrist about the different options available for people who wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses too, to keep your eyes safe in the sun.

4. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial for your body’s overall health and wellbeing — and that includes your eyes. Among other complications, if you don’t have enough fluid in your body, it impacts tear production and can cause dry eyes and irritation. Drink up!

5. Don’t smoke cigarettes

Need some extra motivation to quit smoking?

Smokers are more prone to developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye conditions. Cigarette smoking can also destroy optic nerves, which can adversely affect your vision over time. So think twice before you light up, and speak to your doctor about getting help to quit.

6. Eat a healthy diet

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure that your diet is rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamins A and C. These can be found in leafy greens (your mom was right about spinach!), orange vegetables (think, carrots and sweet potato) and citrus fruit. Furthermore, fatty fish like salmon contain essential omega-3 fatty acids which also promote excellent eye health.

7. Keep a healthy distance from screens

Nip digital eye strain in the bud by positioning your computer monitor about an arm’s length away from the eyes and 20 degrees below eye level. Ideally, work in a room with enough diffused lighting to reduce stress on your eyes from the computer light.

8. Remember the 20-20-20 rule

Speaking of computers, have you heard of the 20-20-20 rule? When using digital devices, rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 continuous seconds.

Once you’re at it, blink 20 times in succession to prevent dry eyes, and make it a habit to rise from your seat and take 20 steps to promote good posture and blood circulation, which helps your vision too.

9. Be careful with eye make-up

Make sure that your eye shadow, mascara, and eyeliner don’t cause your eyes an allergic reaction. Get in the habit of removing your make-up before going to sleep in order to avoid bacterial build-up from residual make-up left in the eye area. And, from time to time, clean your make-up brushes, especially those used to apply cosmetics around the eye area.

10. Sleep is golden

Just as with the rest of your body, your eyes need a break. So make sure that you get sufficient shut-eye (8 hours) each night to keep your eyes revitalized and healthy.

11. Wear protective eyewear

Whatever you do, make sure your eyes are well-protected. If you’re swimming, wear goggles to prevent chlorine from entering your eyes. If you’re gardening or engaged in a DIY project at home, wear safety glasses to keep dust particles and bacteria at bay and prevent eye injuries. Ask your local eye doctor about protective eyewear for sports and other activities.

12. Regularly visit your eye doctor

Don’t underestimate the importance of getting a routine eye exam, whether you need an updated prescription or not. Even if you can see well today, a comprehensive eye exam can pick up early signs of eye diseases and conditions before symptoms become noticeable, such as glaucoma, diabetes, retinal holes which could lead to retinal detachment, and cancers like melanoma. Early detection and management can prevent further complications and serious vision loss down the line.

Only an eye doctor has the required knowledge, experience, tools and techniques to determine whether you have these or other eye conditions.

It is recommended that everyone gets a comprehensive eye exam once a year (or at least every two years). Children, whose eyes are rapidly developing, and people at higher risk for developing eye problems such as diabetics and older people, need to undergo eye exams even more frequently: at the minimum, yearly.

During the evaluation, the eye doctor will check for things like:

  • Farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism and/or presbyopia
  • Eye coordination
  • Optic nerve and eye pressure tests to spot glaucoma

It’s also important to be on the look-out for any changes in your vision. If you experience hazy or double vision, worsening eyesight, red eyes, eye pain, swelling or floaters, contact our optometrists.

Incorporate these tips and habits into your lifestyle to maintain healthy eyes and a high quality of life. Associates in Eye Care offers comprehensive eye exams in Somerset, Southern Kentucky and North Tennessee, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about ways to maintain healthy vision.

Sports-Related Eye Injuries

September Is Sports Eye Safety Month!

Ocular sports trauma is among the leading causes of permanent vision loss in North America. Tens of thousands of people get treated for sports-related eye injuries a year, with the most common injuries occurring during water sports and basketball. Infections, corneal abrasions, eye socket fractures, and detached retinas are just a few of the typical cases eye doctors encounter on a regular basis.

Sports Eye Safety Month is sponsored by Prevent Blindness America (PBA) to remind people to protect their eyes when playing sports. Though young children are usually the most vulnerable to eye injuries, it should be noted that professional athletes can also suffer eye injuries while on the job.

Eye accidents can happen in a split second – the effects can last a lifetime…

By wearing protective eyewear, you can safeguard your eyesight without compromising on your favorite sports activities. Athletes who wear contact lenses still need additional eye protection for relevant sports.

At Associates in Eye Care, our eye doctor is experienced and trained to treat sports-induced eye injuries sustained by our active patients. our optometrists and our dedicated staff are committed to providing the most comprehensive eye care to help get you back on the field again. Furthermore, we provide consultations on a wide array of protective eyewear for all your sporting needs.

What Eye Injuries Can Be Caused by Sports?

Corneal Abrasion

A corneal abrasion, also known as a scratched cornea, is the most common sports-related eye injury. When someone gets poked in the eye, the eye’s surface can get scratched. Symptoms may include acute pain and a gritty or foreign body sensation in the eyes, as well as redness, tearing, light sensitivity, headaches, blurry or decreased vision. Medical care includes prevention or treatment of infection, and pain management. If you suspect that you have suffered a corneal abrasion, make sure to see an eye doctor right away.

Traumatic Iritis

Iritis is an inflammation of the iris, the colored part of the eye. The condition rapidly develops and typically affects only one eye. Symptoms include pain in the eye or brow region, blurred vision, a small or oddly-shaped pupil, and sensitivity to bright lights.

Hyphema

Hyphema is among the more common sports-related eye injuries, with racquet sports, baseball and softball accounting for more than 50% of all hyphema injuries in athletics.

A hyphema is a broken blood vessel inside the eye which causes blood to collect in the space between the cornea and iris, also known as the “anterior chamber”. Although the main symptom is blood in the eye, it can be accompanied by blurry or distorted vision, light sensitivity or eye pain.

If you recognize the signs and symptoms of hyphema, make sure to seek immediate medical attention in order to avoid secondary complications.

Angle recession

Angle recession can develop from an eye injury or bruising of the eye, caused by getting punched, elbowed, or hit with a ball. The trauma damages the fluid drainage system of the eye, which causes it to back up, increasing the pressure in the eye. In 20% of people with angle recession, this pressure can become so severe that it damages the optic nerve, and causes glaucoma (known as “angle-recession glaucoma”).

You may not notice any symptoms at first, and it may take years before you experience any signs of vision loss. Therefore, it’s critical to visit the eye doctor as soon as possible for a complete eye exam and make sure that you follow-up with routine screenings.

Retinal tear or detachment

Retinal detachment is a condition in which the retina gets lifted or pulled away from its normal position at the back of the eye. If not treated immediately, retinal detachment can develop permanent vision loss.

Symptoms include seeing flashing lights, floaters or little black spots in your vision. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency and requires an eye doctor’s immediate attention – surgical intervention may be necessary.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This happens when a blood vessel breaks on the white part of the eye. In addition to a sport-related injury, it can be induced by rubbing the eye, heavy lifting, sneezing or coughing. For those with subconjunctival hemorrhage, the eye appears intensely red – though this minor condition will often clear up within a couple weeks on its own without treatment.

Orbital Fracture

This occurs when one or more of the bones around the eyeball break, often caused by a hard blow to the face – such as by a baseball or a fist. This is a major injury and should be assessed by an eye doctor, like our optometrists, along with X-Rays or CT scan imaging to help confirm the diagnosis.

Black Eye or Periorbital Hematoma

A “shiner” can occur when a blunt object such as a fist or ball strikes the eye-area of the face and causes bruising. Typically, this kind of injury affects the face more than the eye. Blurry vision may be a temporary symptom, but it’s a good idea to get a black eye checked out by an optometrist in any case, because sometimes there is accompanying damage to the eye which could impact vision.

How Does One Prevent Sports-Related Eye Injuries?

One of the most important things one can do in order to prevent eye injuries is to wear protective eyewear. In fact, wearing eye protection should be part of any athlete’s routine, and should be prioritized just like wearing shin guards or a helmet.

Below are a few tips to prevent sports-related eye injuries:

  • Wear safety goggles (with polycarbonate lenses) for racquet sports or basketball. For the best possible protection, the eye guard or sports protective eyewear should be labeled “ASTM F803 approved” – which means it is performance tested.
  • Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for baseball.
  • If you wear prescription eyewear, speak with our optometrists about fitting you for prescription protective eyewear.
  • Sports eye protection should be comfortably padded along the brow and bridge of the nose, to prevent the eye guards from cutting into the skin.
  • Try on protective eyewear to assess whether it’s the right fit and size for you and adjust the straps as needed. For athletic children who are still growing, make sure that last-year’s pair still fits before the new sports season begins. Consult our optometrists to determine whether the comfort and safety levels are adequate.
  • Keep in mind that regular glasses don’t provide nearly enough eye protection when playing sports.

For athletes, whether amateur or pro, there is so much more at stake than just losing the game. Fortunately, by wearing high-quality protective eyewear, you can prevent 90% of all sports-related eye injuries.

Speak with our optometrists at Associates in Eye Care about getting the right sports-related protective eyewear to ensure healthy eyes and clear vision. Our eye care clinic serves patients from Somerset and the surrounding areas.