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How to Treat a Corneal Abrasion

A cut to the eye can be one of the most physically painful experiences in an individual’s life. The front surface of the eye, the cornea, is a delicate structure important for transmitting light and protecting the eye.

This structure has many nerves and is very sensitive to all stimuli. People may experience trauma to the cornea via an abrasive injury, such as a scratch from a fingernail, a tree branch, or even a metal foreign object.

In these cases, a visit to the eye doctor is important to ensure a successful recovery.

What Causes a Corneal Abrasion?

As stated above, a corneal abrasion is a cut on the eye which can result from a variety of causes. This could be from a foreign object that enters the eye and disrupts the surface, either from impact or continued eye rubbing.

Metal, dirt, and sand are common examples. Another cause could be from blunt trauma, whether it is a fingernail or bush branch to the eye.

What to Do if You Have a Scratched Cornea

If one of the above scenarios has occurred and the cornea has been injured, here are the immediate steps that can be taken.

First, try to flush out the eye using saline solution, if it is available. It is best to avoid other sources of water, including tap water.

Other sources may contain microbes that can cause the abrasion to become infected, doing more harm than good. Any type of sterile water is best, and you could also use an over the counter antibiotic eye drop until you can get in to see our eye doctor.

Next, try blinking lightly. Your eyelids are designed to keep out debris and protect the eye, so gentle blinking may move the foreign body out of the eye.

However, in some cases, the particle may be trapped under the eyelid, making blinking even more painful and harmful as the particle repeatedly scrapes the cornea. If you feel that it is getting worse with blinks, stop blinking and try to keep the eye closed.

Generating tears is helpful in these situations. Your tears are constantly being replenished onto the surface of the eye and are useful in washing away debris.

Allow the eye to naturally wash away the particle if possible.

Make sure to visit our optometrists to ensure proper healing of the abrasion. Our optometrist will assess the depth and severity of the cut.

If the particle is still in the eye, our optometrist may apply an anesthetic eye drop and subsequently remove the offending item that may be lodged in the eye. This is done with specialized tools while viewing the cut and item under high magnification.

In some cases, a bandage contact lens may then be used to help with discomfort from the injury, and a prophylactic antibiotic eye drop may be prescribed for you to use to decrease the risk of an infection.

What NOT to Do When You Have a Corneal Abrasion

It is important to remember that rubbing your eyes with your hands can easily make the situation worse. In cases when the debris is trapped under the eyelid, rubbing your eyes will cause the particle to further scratch the front surface of the eye.

This can lead to more damage, although it is reversible in most cases. If there is an open wound on the front surface of the eye, touching the eye with non-sanitized fingers may also increase the risk of infection.

Stay away from using water sources other than saline solution. In some situations, such as a chemical eye injury, tap water will be a better option for rinsing than using nothing if saline is unavailable, but saline is ultimately the best option.

If you wear contact lenses, make sure to discontinue contact lens wear. This will encourage healing of the cornea and prevent infection.

As mentioned above, a bandage contact lens can be instilled by the optometrist, but this may differ from the lenses that you wear for vision correction. Only certain lenses are approved by the FDA for safe overnight wear and give an optimal healing environment for the eye injury.

 

Our eye doctors at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you think you have a scratched cornea or corneal abrasion.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Midtown, Downtown, Museum District, Montrose, East Downtown, and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston, Texas.

The Basics of Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a condition that causes thinning and bulging of the clear front of the eye, the cornea. There are a variety of causative factors for keratoconus and more is being understood about its diagnosis and treatment all the time. This article will outline keratoconus, its causes, and its treatment.

What is Keratoconus?

The cornea is the front transparent surface of the eye and is largely responsible for focusing light onto the back of the eye, the retina, to allow for clear vision.

When there are deformities or changes in the curvature of the cornea, vision is therefore affected. Keratoconus is when the central cornea thins and the pressure from fluid inside the eye pushes it forward, leading to a bulging out and, if severe, a cone shape at the front of the eye.

It is a progressive disease with the highest rate of change in the teenage years and twenties with the process completing around age thirty.

The rate of progression can vary and the condition can sometimes progress later on in life as well or occur following a surgical procedure involving the cornea.

Symptoms of keratoconus include reduced vision even when corrected with glasses or contact lenses and inconsistent and highly variable prescriptions.

If the cornea is severely thinned and bulged, a break can occur where fluid from inside the eye drains into the cornea itself, leading to severe pain and visual disturbance. This acute condition, called hydrops, resolves with time and proper treatment.

What Causes Keratoconus to Occur?

Keratoconus is under constant study and causative factors are being investigated all the time. Family history and other genetics like ethnicity can play a role.

Excessive eye rubbing is an important risk factor as it increases eye pressure and strain on the cornea, leading to further degeneration.

Eye rubbing is associated with allergic or atopic conditions that cause the eyes to itch. Another possible cause can be refractive surgery, as this procedure involves altering and thinning the cornea in order to change the power of the eye.

This is why extensive testing of the cornea must be done before laser surgery to ensure that this does not occur.

Keratoconus is also associated with other genetic or connective tissue disorders, like Down syndrome and Marfan syndrome.

How is Keratoconus Treated?

In the early stages of keratoconus, it is often easily corrected with glasses or soft contact lenses. In the later stages, vision will be optimal only with the use of rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses or scleral lenses.

RGP lenses are hard lenses that are smaller than the diameter of the colored part of the eye. These lenses will often take some time to get used to but provide excellent vision for patients.

They sit on the front surface of the eye and create a tear layer between the cornea and the lens that corrects the keratoconic irregularity and allows for better vision. Scleral lenses sit on the white part of the eye and are larger than RGP lenses.

They are also more comfortable and easier to get used to than RGP lenses. There are also hybrid lenses, which have a RGP center and soft contact lens edge, allowing for better comfort while still optimally correcting vision.

Corneal cross-linking is another treatment option for patients with keratoconus. This procedure helps to slow the progression of the cornea bulging outwards and maintains the integrity of the cornea as it is.

The procedure involves riboflavin (vitamin B2) being applied to the front surface of the eye with ultraviolet radiation exposure for 30 minutes. This makes the cornea stronger and more resilient against further change.

In severe and advanced stages of keratoconus, penetrating keratoplasty may be needed. This procedure involves transplanting a cornea from donor tissue and replacing the cornea of the patient.

Following the surgery, the patient will often be fit with a scleral lens for optimal vision.

 

Our eye doctors at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about keratoconus.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Midtown, Downtown, Museum District, Montrose, East Downtown, and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston, Texas.

What is Ocular Rosacea?

Acne rosacea is a condition in which the skin on your face looks red or flushed chronically, often being worse during episodes of a flare-up. This can also be associated with acne in various regions of the face as well as have effects on the eyes. When rosacea affects the eyes, it is referred to as ocular rosacea. Below is a quick summary of the causes, symptoms, and treatment for ocular rosacea.

 

The Cause of Ocular Rosacea

At this time, it is uncertain exactly what causes rosacea. It is hypothesized that it may be genetic or due to something in the environment. There have been speculations that it may be caused by a bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori, the same organism that is responsible for infections along the digestive tract. This bacteria could be blocking the glands on the face, thus making the skin swollen and red. The redness could also be due to swelling of the blood vessels. Women are more likely than men to have rosacea.

Flare-ups of rosacea have different causes and can vary for each person. Some triggers include sun, wind, or cold exposure, very active exercise, alcohol, spicy foods, or stress.

 

Ocular Rosacea: Signs and Symptoms

Ocular rosacea is associated with red, gritty eyes or a burning sensation. It may feel like something is stuck in the eye and causing the eyes to water. Individuals may also find that their eyelids are swollen and red and their oil glands, located within the eyelids, get clogged. This is referred to as Meibomian gland disease and can lead to recurrent development of lumps growing on the inside of the eyelid. Demodex blepharitis is also more common in patients with ocular rosacea, referring to an inflammation of the eyelid caused by mites that live at the base of the lashes. Demodex is associated with crusty dandruff at the base of the lashes.

 

Ocular Rosacea Treatment Options

At this time, there is no cure for rosacea, though there are many ways to treat the symptoms. Often the first step is to avoid the triggers that can cause flare-ups.

In order to reduce the redness and swelling, our optometrist may prescribe a steroid eye drop. Antibiotics, taken either orally or topically, can be used to treat ocular infections as well as artificial tears to keep the eyes moist. It is often advised that individuals do not use eye drops meant for reducing the look of bloodshot eyes as this can make the rosacea worse and lead to a rebound effect of more red eyes after discontinuation. Eyelid hygiene will also need to be improved with the use of lid scrubs and hot compresses. In cases where the individual also has Demodex blepharitis, tea tree oil will need to be used.

 

Our eye doctors at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses, and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about ocular rosacea.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Midtown, Downtown, Museum District, and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston, Texas.

Can Smoking Affect My Eyes?

Smoking has a variety of adverse effects on the body and the eyes are no exception. It is often a risk factor for developing several diseases or exacerbates existing conditions. Here are some of the interactions that smoking has with the health of your eyes.

Smoking Worsens Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

Smoking is one of the main modifiable changes to prevent age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) development and progression. In ARMD, the nerve fiber at the back of the eye, the retina, is damaged. Specifically, this disease involves damage to the macula, the portion of the area on the retina that is responsible for your central vision. This results in loss of vision centrally and currently, there is no treatment that can reverse this disease. Various studies have shown that smokers are more likely to develop ARMD compared to non-smokers.

Smoking Can Cause Cataracts

A cataract is the clouding and yellowing of the lens within your eye. This lens is responsible for focusing light on the nerve fiber layer at the back of the eye. The clouding causes people to experience blurry vision, glare, and a dimming effect with a diminished ability to distinguish colors. The change occurs gradually and the treatment includes cataract surgery to remove and replace the lens within the eye. Smoking increases the risk of developing cataracts and increases the likelihood that surgery will be needed sooner.

 

Glaucoma

Smoking is a risk factor for developing glaucoma as well. Glaucoma involves the loss of peripheral vision due to changes to the optic nerve at the back of the eye. The optic nerve transmits information from the eye to the brain and thus damage to this area will have detrimental effects on vision.

 

Diabetic Retinopathy and Cigarettes

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) refers to damage to the back of the eye as a result of diabetes. In DR, the blood vessels at the back of the eye are damaged and are leaky. This can result in hemorrhages and can cause swelling. This can blur and distort vision, ultimately leading to blindness if left untreated. Cigarette smoke can increase the likelihood of blockages in the blood vessels and the dysfunction of the vessel walls. This can in turn increase the chance of leakage of blood or the formation of excess and weak blood vessels that can cause permanent damage to the eye.

Dry Eye Disease is Exacerbated by Smoking

Dry eye disease could easily be exacerbated by the smoke produced by cigarettes. The smoke contains many chemicals and debris that can enter the eye, irritating and drying out the tear film that lubricates the front surface of the eye. Secondhand smokers will often also be consistently affected by this and unfortunately can develop dry eye disease as well. Symptoms include irritated, red, gritty, and itchy eyes.

 

Our eye doctors at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses, and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about how smoking can affect your eyes.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Midtown, Downtown, Museum District, and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston, Texas.

Corneal Abrasions and Eye Injuries

Most of us try our best to take care of our eyes. When something comes close to our faces that might hit us, we immediately shut our eyes and turn our faces away to protect them. Even with caution, however, injuries to our eyes still happen and these often affect the clear front of the eye, the cornea. Below is explained how injuries to the cornea commonly proceed, what treatment for them entails, and some ways to prevent their occurrence and recurrence.

Types of Eye Injuries

When an injury occurs to the cornea that scratches its surface but does not pierce it, this is called a corneal abrasion. There will be immense pain when this occurs and likely some light sensitivity will develop afterwards as well. The cornea can heal very quickly, within a couple of days depending on the size, when this happens, but steps must be taken to ensure that this healing proceeds normally. Scratches can also occur as a result of debris lodged under the upper eyelids, and these must be removed.

Sometimes, a small bit of a fast moving object can enter into the cornea and embed itself there. This can be a piece of metal, wood, dirt, etc. The cornea is tough and can often stop these foreign body projectiles, but they must be removed to prevent scarring and further damage. If the cornea is completely pieced or perforated, more complex surgical treatment may be required depending on the extent of damage deeper in the eye and on how large the entrance hole is.

Regardless of the source of the injury, corneal trauma carries a secondary risk. The wound itself heals quickly, but requires months to completely reattach to the underlying tissue. This means that the area that was injured has an increased sensitivity to further damage and may spontaneously lift up with the eyelids when first waking in the morning, reopening the original injury site. This is called recurrent corneal erosion.

Corneal Abrasion Treatment

Our eye doctors will usually either put on antibiotic eye drops in office or prescribe them to prevent infection of the injury. If something is stuck in the eye, it will be removed if possible after the eye has been numbed with eye drops. This can be done with various metal tools like forceps or tweezers and tiny hockey sticks, or with motorized drills that gently scrape off dirty tissue.

If there is nothing in the eye, the loose edges of a corneal abrasion may be manually removed to quicken healing. If the wound is large, a bandage contact lens may be put on your eye to shelter it while it recovers, then removed after a few days.

Other drops may be used depending on how inflamed the eye is, such as corticosteroid eye drops to reduce inflammation or painkiller eye drops if you are in a great deal of pain. Drops that dilate your pupils help both with pain and with speeding healing of inflammation within the eyes.

 

How to Prevent Corneal Abrasions and Eye Injuries

Obviously, avoiding risky activities for the eyes and wearing safety glasses when performing activities with eye hazards are both useful ways to prevent eye injuries. In addition, after an initial injury has occurred, one can prevent recurrent corneal erosion by using lubricating eye drops often during the day and hypertonic ointment before bed at night. This ointment provides a barrier between the eyes and the lids and dries out the cornea, reducing the chance of the lids ripping the cornea open in the morning and causing the injury to recur. Medications such as steroids or doxycycline may also sometimes be prescribed to help healing and thus reduce the chance of this happening.

Our eye doctors at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about corneal abrasions and other eye injuries.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Midtown, Downtown, Museum District, and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston, Texas.

Presbyopia and Vision Changes As You Age

Most middle-aged adults experience vision changes related to a condition known as presbyopia.  Presbyopia results in the gradual loss of the ability to focus on near objects.  It is a normal age-related change that begins to occur around the early to mid-40s and continues throughout adulthood.  Though this vision condition can be frustrating, confusing, or even embarrassing at first, it is a completely normal occurrence and there are many different options to help correct the blurry near vision caused by presbyopia.  

 

What Causes Presbyopia?

The focusing system of the eye is what allows us to view objects that are up-close, far away, and all distances in-between.  In youth, the focusing system of the eye is robust and flexible, and can easily focus to a wide range of distances.  However, as we age, the focusing system becomes more rigid, making it more difficult to clearly view objects at a close distance.  The acquired rigidness of the focusing system is a normal, age-related change and has no impact on the overall health of the eye or visual system.  Presbyopia gradually worsens over time, and near objects will become blurrier and blurrier.

 

Symptoms of Presbyopia

The early symptoms of presbyopia can be confusing at first. One of the most common early signs of presbyopia is needing to hold objects further away than normal in order to see them clearly.  While holding objects further away may work temporarily, presbyopia causes progressively blurred near vision as time goes on.  It may be more difficult to focus on fine print, and near work may be accompanied by headaches or significant eye strain.  People who are naturally farsighted may experience the symptoms of presbyopia sooner and more severely, while those who are nearsighted typically do not notice the symptoms quiet as early in life. Unfortunately, the blurred vision caused by presbyopia cannot simply be fixed by “focusing harder.”  For most, this vision condition requires optical correction in order to clearly and comfortably see close objects again. 

 

Seeing Clearly with Presbyopia 

Luckily, there are many corrective options for those affected by presbyopia.  Many people choose to use reading glasses to help them see up-close, but these glasses need to be removed in order to see clearly far away.  For people interested in a single pair of glasses that can be worn full time, there are several different options that can provide clear vision for near and distance objects.  Lined bifocal lenses contain a distance prescription at the top of the lens, and a reading prescription at the bottom.  Similarly, progressive lenses, or “no-line bifocals,” contain a gradient of prescriptions to allow for clear vision at a range of distances.  Many people prefer these lens options in order to avoid putting on and removing glasses many times throughout the day.  There are even contact lens options for those affected by presbyopia that want to avoid glasses altogether.  Multifocal contact lenses are special soft lenses that provide correction for both distance and near vision.  They come in many different brands and designs, so almost all contact lens wearers can find a multifocal lens that works for them.  

 

Our eye doctor at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excels in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about presbyopia.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services  and eye exams in Houston and Midtown Texas area.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem in the United States, and is expected to become even more common in the upcoming years.  Beyond being an overall health risk, diabetes can pose serious threats to the health of the eyes.  Both Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have the potential to cause sight threatening damage if not properly controlled.  Monitoring blood sugar levels and maintaining control of the condition with options such as diet, exercise, or medication is important.  Those affected by diabetes should work closely with both their primary care doctor and their optometrist to protect their eyes. 

 

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can cause a multitude of problems in the eyes, but one of the most common and concerning complications is diabetic retinopathy.  This condition affects the retina, which lines the back of the eye and receives all visual information.  The retina receives vital blood flow from lots of small and fragile blood vessels, which can become affected in diabetes if blood sugar levels are poorly controlled.  In mild cases of diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels in the retina may leak, leaving small hemorrhages in the retinal tissue.  If the disease continues to progress, it can lead to areas of the retina losing oxygen, or proteins leaking out of blood vessels and causing large areas of retinal swelling.  Many times, these changes can occur in the retina without causing any significant symptoms until lots of damage has already occurred. In the most severe cases of diabetic retinopathy, complications like retinal detachments can occur.  If not promptly addressed, these severe complications can lead to permanent vision loss. 

 

Who is at Eye Disease from Diabetes?

There are two main factors that increase the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.  The first is how long the person has been diabetic.  Those who have been diabetic for several decades are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than those who have recently been diagnosed.  This is because fluctuations in blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels over long periods of time, and the retinal vessels that have been affected for many years are more likely to be compromised.  The second factor is how well diabetes is controlled.  Diet and exercise are important in keeping blood sugar levels under control, and in many cases medication may also be required.  Following the directions of the primary care doctor or endocrinologist can not only help control diabetes, but it can also help protect the eyes.  

 

Treating Diabetic Retinopathy 

The most important aspect of preventing or treating vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy is early detection of the condition, which is why routine eye examinations are so important.  Mild cases of diabetic retinopathy may simply be monitored and can improve if the blood sugar becomes better controlled.  In cases of diabetic retinopathy where retinal swelling is affecting vision, treatment options can include injections or laser procedures.  If diabetic retinopathy has resulted in a retinal detachment, then a major surgical procedure may be required in an attempt to preserve vision.  If you have diabetes, working closely with your optometrist and your doctors can help prevent vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.   

 

Our eye doctor at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excels in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services  and eye exams in Houston and Midtown Texas area.

Digital Screens and Computer Vision Syndrome

For many people, extensive use of digital screens is an important part of maintaining a professional or personal life.  Unfortunately, extended and uninterrupted screen time using computers, tablets, or smart phones may cause a group of symptoms known as Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain.  The more time spent viewing digital screens, the worse the symptoms of this condition may be. Computer Vision Syndrome is becoming increasingly common. In fact, research suggests that the vast majority of people who use computers or other digital screens show some degree of symptoms associated with the condition. Continue reading to learn more about how Computer Vision Syndrome may be affecting your eyes. 

 

What are the Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome, also called CVS, can cause a wide range of symptoms.  Most commonly, people affected by this condition can experience blurred vision, eye fatigue or strain, and dry uncomfortable eyes. In more severe cases, symptoms can include headaches or double vision.  Using digital screens late at night can also disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm and may result in difficulty sleeping. The more time spent using digital screens, the more likely the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome are to be severe and bothersome.  For some people, these symptoms improve when they stop using a screen, but for others the symptoms can persist long after screen use has stopped. Those people may need to turn to other options for relieving the symptoms of CVS.

 

Specialized Computer Glasses

Eyestrain and fatigue is one of the most common symptoms associated with prolonged computer use. These symptoms occur because working on a computer or other digital screens in close proximity creates a lot of extra work for the focusing system of the eye. If you frequently experience this eye strain, a prescription can be written for specialized computer glasses to help improve visual comfort.  A computer prescription can be determined during a comprehensive eye examination, and will take into account factors like your traditional glasses prescription and the distance you sit from your screen.  These glasses can be made in a wide variety of lens designs, including progressive or bifocal glasses for those who view digital screens at a range of distances. They can also incorporate blue-blocking lenses to reduce additional eye fatigue associated with screen use.   

 

Treating Digital Dryness

When we look at digital screens, we tend to blink less often than normal.  This reduced rate of blinking leads to uncomfortable symptoms of dryness and irritation.  To address these symptoms of CVS, ask your optometrist for recommendations for a lubricating eye drop.  These over-the-counter artificial tears can be used during and after using digital screens to nourish the front surface of the eye and reduce discomfort associated with prolonged screen use. 

 

Remember to Take a Break from Digital Screens

As we have discussed, using digital screens for a long period of time can place a burden on the focusing system of the eye.  In addition to specialized computer glasses, one way to reduce eyestrain associated digital screens is to periodically give your focusing system a break.  To do this, try following the “20-20-20 rule.” This rule states that for every 20 minutes, you should look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  This temporary change in focus helps relieve the visual system and can reduce symptoms such as blurred vision, eyestrain, and headaches.  

If you are affected by Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain, make an appointment with one of our optometrists to discuss your symptoms and determine a treatment plan.

 

Our eye doctor at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excels in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to be evaluated computer vision syndrome or for us to help with the visual requirements of your digital screens.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services  and eye exams in Houston and Midtown Texas area.