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What Exactly is an Eye Chart?

If there’s one aspect of optometry that everyone recognizes, it’s the traditional eye chart, with its rows of big letters on top, which gradually become smaller the farther down you go. This chart is usually known as the Snellen chart.

Yet how much do you really know about this eye chart? Are all eye charts the same? How are these eye charts used? And when were they invented?

Here’s everything you need to know about eye charts and more!

What is an Eye Chart?

An eye chart is one of the tools your eye doctor uses to assess your eyesight. Based on how well you can see various letters on the chart, your optometrist will determine whether you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) or astigmatism, and will measure the prescription that will give you the clearest, most comfortable vision.

Are All Eye Charts The Same?

There are a number of variations to the standard Snellen eye chart. The one an eye doctor uses depends on the personal needs and abilities of the patient. For example, eye doctors will use charts with pictures or patterns for younger children who may not have learned to read or identify letters and numbers.

There are also certain charts that specifically measure distance vision, while others are better for measuring near vision.

History of the Snellen Eye Chart

The Snellen eye chart was developed by Dutch eye doctor Hermann Snellen in the 1860s. Before this standardized eye chart was developed, each eye doctor had their own chart that they preferred to use.

Having so many different eye charts made it impossible to standardize the vision correction available to patients. Eyeglass makers didn’t receive the defined measurements they needed to accurately design, manufacture and measure the optical prescriptions their patients needed.

For the first time, the Snellen eye chart allowed a person to provide a standardized prescription from any eye care provider they chose to any eyeglass maker, and get the same optical lenses to accurately correct their vision.

How The Snellen Chart Is Used in Eye Exams

The standard Snellen chart displays 11 rows of capital letters, with the first row consisting of a single large letter. The farther down the chart you go, the smaller the letters become.

Your eye doctor will ask you to look through a phoropter – an instrument used to test individual lenses on each eye during an eye exam – and look at the Snellen chart placed 20 feet away. Your eye doctor will prescribe the lenses that provide you with the clearest and most comfortable vision.

In many offices, where 20 feet of space may not be available, you’ll be asked to view the chart through a mirror. This provides the same visual experience as if you were standing 20 feet away.

If you have 20/20 vision, it means you can see what an average person can see on an eye chart from a distance of 20 feet. On the other hand, if you have 20/40 vision, it means you can only see clearly from 20 feet away what a person with perfect vision can see clearly from 40 feet away.

If you have 20/200 vision, the legal definition of blindness, this means what a person with perfect vision can see from 200 feet away, you can see from 20 feet away.

Does 20/20 Visual Acuity Mean Perfect Vision?

No. While eye chart tests identify refractive errors, they can’t detect signs of visual skill deficiencies or diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. These are diagnosed using advanced equipment as part of a comprehensive eye exam with your local eye doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions are essential to ensuring long-term vision and eye health.

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How do you keep your eyes healthy?

You only have one set of eyes – don’t take them for granted!

Make sure to implement the following habits for healthy eyes (and body). These include:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking plenty of water to hydrate your body and eyes
  • Not smoking, and avoiding 2nd-hand smoke
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Maintaining normal BMI with regular exercise
  • Regular visits to your eye doctor as recommended

What health conditions can an eye exam detect?

A comprehensive eye exam can often detect certain underlying diseases that can threaten your sight and eye health, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumors, autoimmune conditions and thyroid disorders. This is why having your eyes checked regularly is key. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome and the higher your quality of life.

Bloodshot Eyes – Should You Be Concerned?

You wake up in the morning ready to start your day, only to discover that your eyes are bloodshot. That might not be surprising if you stayed up late to finish a project, had too many drinks at a party or spent time in a smoke-filled room.

But bloodshot eyes can also signal an underlying eye problem. If your eyes appear red or bloodshot, make an appointment with an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause and to receive effective treatment.

Why Do I Have Bloodshot Eyes?

When blood rushes to the front of the eye, the tiny red blood vessels on the white of the eye dilate and become visible. This makes the eyes appear red and irritated.

So why do these blood vessels dilate, causing your eyes to look bloodshot?

Bloodshot eyes tend to be caused by:

  • Dry eyes
  • Irritants such as smoke, pollen and perfume
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Spending too much time in front of the computer

Bloodshot eyes due to lifestyle and environmental irritants may disappear on their own, or you can try to relieve them with over-the-counter eye drops or liquid tears. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, cutting down on alcohol intake and limiting screen time can often be helpful. If allergies are the culprit, oral antihistamines and antihistamine eye drops may relieve symptoms.

At other times, underlying problems requiring prompt medical attention can cause your eye’s blood vessels to dilate. The following are some of these medical conditions:

Conjunctivitis

You’ve probably heard of “pink eye.” It’s another name for infectious conjunctivitis – an infection of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the eyelid and the front surface of the eye.

There are two types of infectious conjunctivitis – bacterial and viral.

If your child has conjunctivitis, they’re not alone. About 12% of kids get bacterial conjunctivitis every year. This highly contagious condition affects children and adults. In addition to reddish eyes, the following symptoms are associated with conjunctivitis:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis – irritated eyes, swollen eyelids, eye discharge, crusty eyelids and excessive tearing
  • Viral conjunctivitis – cold or flu-like symptoms, runny nose, fever, itchy eyes, excessive tearing

If you or your child are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to schedule a prompt appointment with an eye doctor, who can diagnose whether the conjunctivitis is viral, bacterial or due to allergies.

Depending on the diagnosis, your eye doctor will prescribe antibiotic eye drops or creams to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. The viral form may run its course after a few days, but cold compresses and non-prescription eye drops may provide relief.

Dry Eye Syndrome

If your eyes are chronically bloodshot you may have dry eye syndrome (DES). Signs of DES include:

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • A feeling you have something stuck in your eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes

Dry eye syndrome is most commonly caused by a blockage of the tiny meibomian glands in the eyelids. These glands secrete oil that keeps eye moisture from evaporating too quickly. Without the oil, tears dry fast, leaving your eyes feeling dry, itchy and with a bloodshot appearance.

Too much screen time, aging, certain medications such as antihistamines, and medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dry eye syndrome.

In addition to any medications or in-office treatments your eye doctor recommends, make sure to get plenty of hydration, take frequent breaks from digital screens and use a humidifier in your home.

Uveitis

In addition to bloodshot eyes, if you also experience blurred vision, see floaters or your eyes feel painful, you may have an eye inflammation called uveitis. The causes of uveitis include:

  • Autoimmune or inflammatory condition
  • Infection
  • Medication side effects
  • Cancer (in rare cases)

Unfortunately, uveitis symptoms can often be mistaken for something less serious. That’s the reason it’s important to get an eye exam if your eyes are bloodshot. Left untreated, uveitis can lead to serious conditions such as retinal scarring, cataracts and vision loss.

Depending on the cause and severity, your eye doctor may treat uveitis with prescription eye drops, steroid pills, injections or eye implants.

Eye Injury

It’s vital that all eye injuries receive immediate eye care from an eye doctor.

Even a minor eye injury can cause a big red blotch to form on the white part of the eye (sclera). The cause is a broken blood vessel or a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

Although the appearance of this blood looks severe, and can make the entire white part of the eye appear bright red, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually painless and doesn’t cause vision loss. Any time you notice excessive blood on the eye following an eye injury, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor to assess the health of your eye.

Glaucoma

In rare cases, bloodshot eyes may signal the presence of glaucoma – a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.

While some types of glaucoma don’t show symptoms in the early phases, bloodshot eyes can indicate the type of glaucoma that requires immediate medical care. This disease causes damage to the optic nerve due to excessive pressure within the eye. When this pressure suddenly rises, the eye’s blood vessels become dilated and visible, making the eye appear red.

If you have bloodshot eyes and/or have the following risk factors for glaucoma, immediately schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Aged 60+
  • African American, Asian or Hispanic
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Bloodshot Eyes Won’t Go Away?

Talk to Us Any time you notice bloodshot eyes or blood on the front of the eye, don’t wait. Schedule your eye exam with Dr. Chris Hiura at Drs. Hiura & Hiura in San Francisco today.

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Can I get bloodshot eyes after LASIK surgery?

LASIK surgery is highly effective minimally invasive laser eye surgery that can correct refractive errors, but like all surgical procedures, it can have side effects. Your eyes may be bloodshot or you could see halos from a few days to three weeks after surgery. Additionally, you may experience other dry eye symptoms. Eye drops and liquid tears can alleviate these symptoms, but if you have any concerns about your eyes following LASIK surgery contact your eye surgeon.

What Should I Expect from a Glaucoma Exam?

If you have a family history and/or other risk factors for glaucoma, and if your eyes look bloodshot, consider scheduling a glaucoma exam. Your eye doctor may perform the following tests:

  • Tonometry – eye pressure test
  • Gonioscopy – to see how fluid is draining out of your eye
  • Vision field test – to examine the functioning of the optic nerve
  • Dilated pupil exam – to detect any damage to the optic nerve
  • Retinal photo or OCT – digital examination of the retina and optic nerve health

What’s Your Optometrist Role in Cataract Surgery?

If you’re over the age of 60, there’s a good chance you’ll develop cataracts sometime in the next 20 or so years. While the only effective long-term treatment for cataracts is surgery, it can take years or even decades for a cataract to reach the point where it needs to be surgically removed.

In the meantime, your optometrist can monitor its progression, manage your symptoms and ensure you have the best vision possible. Once your cataract makes it difficult for you to function day-to-day, your eye doctor will refer you to an ophthalmologist who will perform eye surgery to replace your eye’s natural lens with a clear artificial lens.

Following your surgery, your optometrist will co-manage your post-op recovery in coordination with your eye surgeon.

Your Optometrist Will Discuss Cataract Treatment Options

A cataract, a clouding of the eye’s natural lens caused by the breakdown of proteins in the lens, leads to progressively blurry vision. So if you’ve been diagnosed with a cataract but aren’t yet ready for surgery, you’ll be having regular contact with your optometrist, who will explain the condition, discuss your treatment options and help manage your symptoms.

Once you’re diagnosed with cataracts, you may want to slow the progression of the condition. Working with an optometrist who knows your personal and family health history as well as your various options for cataract management and surgery is a massive advantage, as your optometrist can give you advice on dietary and lifestyle changes.

The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

Regular eye exams are important for everyone, and particularly if you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts. Because the cloudy areas on your eye lenses will worsen with time, your optometrist will carefully monitor your vision and upgrade your glasses or contact lens prescription as needed. Your optometrist will perform a visual acuity test and other tests to gauge increased sensitivity to light and glare, as well as deterioration in your contrast and color vision.

When’s It Time for Cataract Surgery?

At some point, your optometrist may determine that your cataracts are severe enough to require surgery. That’s typically when options to correct your vision — updated prescriptions and speciality filters that block glare and increase contrast vision — are no longer sufficient to give you the vision you need.

Your optometrist can recommend an ophthalmologist and provide information about what to expect during cataract surgery. You’ll see your eye surgeon for post-surgery check-ups, and your optometrist for long-term eye care.

If your vision is blurred or if you notice a cloudy patch forming on your eye, you may have developed cataracts. For optimal vision care and cataract management, make sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chris Hiura at Drs. Hiura & Hiura in San Francisco today.

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What’s the best treatment for cataracts?

Although many people use glasses to manage cataract symptoms and improve their deteriorating vision, the only way to really treat cataracts is via surgery. You may want to delay the procedure, but once your quality of life is affected to the degree that it’s difficult to drive or perform everyday tasks, it’s time to have cataract surgery.

Will cataracts return after surgery?

Generally, no. Because the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one during cataract surgery, a cataract can’t return to that eye. That said, there’s a possibility that a few years after the surgery, you may need a quick laser procedure if the proteins on the lens capsule — the layer that holds the artificial lens in place — becomes cloudy.

5 Vision-Saving Tips for National Save Your Vision Month

March is here. And you know what that means…

It’s National Save Your Vision Month!

In honor of this special month, which not only signals the start of spring but reminds us to protect our eyes, we’ve put together a list of 5 essential ways that you can ‘save your vision.’

It goes without saying that routine eye exams are a top priority when it comes to taking care of your eyes, so here are 5 additional things you can do to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear.

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet

You’re likely aware that a balanced diet consists of all different types of nutritious foods that contain the vitamins and nutrients you need to keep your body healthy and strong.

But did you know that certain foods actually promote eye health and can lower your risk of eye disease?

Eating foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamins A, B, C and E, can protect your eye health and help save your vision from sight-threatening eye diseases, like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

If you don’t think your daily meals offer enough of these essential vitamins and nutrients, ask your doctor whether you should add a daily supplement to your diet.

2. Limit Screen Time

The digital world has created a new venue for working, communicating, socializing and entertainment. But it’s also brought about a new eye condition called computer vision syndrome (CVS) — also called digital eye strain (DES) — that’s a growing concern among eye care professionals.

Not only can too much screen time affect productivity in work and school, but it can also result in dry, red, irritated eyes, blurry vision, headaches, neck, back and shoulder pain, and even have a negative effect on your mood and quality of sleep.

So this month, take it upon yourself to be more aware of how much time you spend in front of a digital screen, and try to set boundaries whenever possible for you and your children. You can also practice the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds.

3. Use Protective Eyewear

Every day, thousands of people receive emergency care for an eye-related accident — many of them resulting in permanent damage and vision loss.

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is by wearing protective eyewear for all activities that pose an eye health risk — from sports and water gun fights to lightsaber tournaments and science experiments. And, of course, this also implies any type of home-improvement project that involves small particles like grass, saw dust or metal flying into your eye.

Protective eyewear can truly save your vision.

4. Wear Sunglasses All Year Round

Sunglasses are more than just a fashion accessory to enhance your look. They shield your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can damage your vision and lead to serious eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Now you have an even better excuse to go out and buy yourself the new pair of shades you’ve been dreaming about. Just make sure they offer 100% UV protection.

Wear your new sunglasses all year round, even on cloudy and snowy days, because the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the clouds and reflect off the snow-covered ground, doubling your exposure.

5. Quit Smoking

If you’ve been thinking about quitting, now’s the time! Smoking is not only dangerous for your overall health, it increases your risk for sight-threatening eye diseases like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

So, for the sake of your vision and overall health, take the first steps toward kicking your smoking habit.

In honor of National Save Your Vision Month, why not try some of these vision-saving habits that can help you keep your eyes and vision healthy for a lifetime. Your future self will thank you.

Interested in learning more about how you can protect your eyes and vision? Contact Drs. Hiura & Hiura in San Francisco today to schedule an appointment. We’ll be happy to answer any of your questions and to offer you the best possible eye care.

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Do children need to wear sunglasses?

Yes, sunglasses are essential for protecting your child’s eyes both now and in the future. A child’s eyes are still maturing and are therefore even more susceptible to UV damage than adults. Encourage your child to wear sunglasses whenever they play outside by setting a good example and making sure to wear sunglasses whenever you venture outdoors.

What are sports goggles?

Sports goggles are a type of protective eyewear worn by many athletes. These goggles contain impact resistant, durable polycarbonate lenses, offering the ultimate eye protection during sports activities. If you or your child play sports, sports goggles are an essential accessory to your athletic gear.

10 Ways to Give Your Eyes Some Love This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the time to express your love and appreciation to those you care about most. But it’s also a great opportunity to take the time to pamper yourself — so why not start with your eyes?

Practice these 10 healthy lifestyle habits to help protect your eye health and vision.

1. Be Mindful of the Food You Eat

Fill your plate with fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grains. A well-balanced diet is good for your body and can lower your risk of eye disease.

Studies show that foods high in vitamins A, C, E, Omega-3, lutein and zeaxanthin are especially beneficial for promoting eye health.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day will keep your body hydrated and your eyes moist — which is essential for preventing dry eye syndrome. To add some flavor to your water, try adding a splash of lemon juice or swap some of those glasses of water for an herbal tea or other non-caffeinated beverage. Caffeinated drinks have a dehydrating effect, so try to limit your coffee consumption as much as possible.

3. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is widely known for its physical and mental health benefits, but studies show that it can also lower your risk of serious eye conditions and diseases. Cardio exercise in particular has been shown to lower eye pressure and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye. So grab your gym bag and get moving!

4. Don’t Smoke

If you’ve been thinking about quitting, there’s no better time than now. Smoking tobacco significantly raises your risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and can also lead to their early development.

Smoking also robs the body of the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to maintain eye health, and contains around 7,000 chemicals that can lead to eye irritation and dry eye.

5. Practice Good Makeup Hygiene

While wearing makeup can accentuate your eyes and make you feel more beautiful, it’s important to note that if not used properly, certain makeup products can adversely affect eye health.

To keep your eyes and vision healthy, make sure to:

  • Clean your brushes and applicators regularly
  • Toss any expired products, or eye makeup you’ve used during an eye infection
  • Only apply makeup to the outer margin of your eyelids
  • Remove your makeup before going to bed
  • Never share makeup or use in-store testers

Following these safety tips will help to lower your risk of eye infections and other serious complications.

6. Wear Sunglasses

Studies show that prolonged UV exposure can damage the eyes and lead to the development of sight-threatening eye conditions, like cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma, in the future.

Purchase a pair of stylish sunglasses with 100% UV protection and wear them any time you venture outdoors — the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the clouds and reflect off of snow, sand, water and pavement. So keep a pair of sunglasses next to your front door and a spare pair in your bag or car to ensure you have UV protection wherever you go.

7. Prevent Eye Injuries

About 90% of vision loss from eye injuries can be prevented by wearing the right eye protection.

Protective eyewear like sports goggles or glasses with polycarbonate lenses are designed with sturdy materials that are less likely to break or shatter while you play sports, and can protect your eyes from small particles that fly in the air when you mow the lawn or engage in DIY projects.

8. Learn First Aid for Eye Injuries

Let’s be real, accidents can happen even if we take all the right measures to protect ourselves. But knowing what to do in case of an unexpected eye injury can potentially save you or someone you love from permanent eye damage or vision loss.

Note: Any type of eye injury should be taken seriously, and promptly examined by an eye doctor.

9. Avoid Digital Eye Strain

Prolonged screen time can cause eye strain, dry eyes, blurry vision and headaches — and lead to a condition called digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome.

Avoid symptoms of digital eye strain by limiting screen time as much as possible. If prolonged screen time is unavoidable, practice the 20-20-20 rule: set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to take breaks every 20 minutes to focus on an image at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.

10. Visit Your Eye Doctor

Regular eye exams are crucial when it comes to maintaining your eye health. With an eye exam, your eye doctor can identify early signs of sight-threatening eye diseases and conditions — enabling earlier treatment and increasing your chances for optimal results.

From all of us at Drs. Hiura & Hiura in San Francisco, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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What’s the difference between an eye exam and vision screening?

Vision screenings are basic tests of visual acuity, generally conducted by a school nurse or pediatrician. These screenings can’t identify many vision conditions that impact learning or work performance, and are unable to detect ocular health problems.

A comprehensive eye exam, which is performed by an eye doctor, includes tests for visual acuity and functional vision, as well as close examination of the inner and outer structures of the eye.

How often do I need to have an eye exam?

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), it is important to have your eyes examined every one to two years, depending on your age, whether or not you wear glasses or contacts, your family history of eye disease, and your ocular health to date. Annual eye exams help your eye doctor monitor your eye health and easily identify any changes in your vision.

How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Eyesight

Pregnancy can impact almost every part of a woman’s body and health — including her eyes. In fact, an estimated 14% of pregnant women report experiencing visual changes during pregnancy that usually resolve on their own within a couple of months after giving birth.

Knowing the different visual symptoms that can present when you’re expecting can help alert you to potential underlying health concerns that your physician may need to address.

Normal Visual Changes During Pregnancy

Blurred Vision

Blurred vision is the most common visual symptom that pregnant women may experience. Hormonal fluctuations are usually to blame for the temporary decrease in visual acuity, and your eyesight will likely return to normal soon after giving birth.

The influx of pregnancy hormones causes fluid retention in some areas of the body and can cause the cornea to thicken slightly. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused accurately and vision may be blurred.

Less commonly, blurred vision can signal gestational diabetes, a pregnancy complication affecting 6-9% of pregnant women. The rise in blood sugar level impacts the focusing lens of the eye, leading to blurry vision. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, including gestational diabetes, it’s a good idea to book an eye exam to monitor for retinal changes.

Blurred vision is also a common side effect of dry eye syndrome, a condition characterized by tears that don’t adequately lubricate the eyes, which can be brought on or exacerbated by pregnancy.

Eye Dryness

Pregnancy hormones can cause a reduction in the amount of tears your eyes produce or affect the quality of the tears. These changes can affect a woman throughout her entire pregnancy, but studies show that eye dryness is particularly common in the last trimester. For this reason, some women find it difficult to wear contact lenses in their third trimester and temporarily switch to glasses.

Eye Puffiness

Yet another body part that swells during pregnancy: the eyelids and tissues around the eyes.

Pregnancy-related water retention may cause your eyelids to appear puffier than during your pre-pregnancy days. You may also notice darker areas under the eyes. If your puffy eyes bother you, try limiting your salt and caffeine intake, as they can worsen the problem.

Visual Changes That May Indicate a Problem

The following visual changes warrant a prompt call to your eye doctor or obstetrician to rule out any underlying complications.

Flashes or floaters

Seeing stars during pregnancy can signal high blood pressure, which is associated with preeclampsia — a serious medical condition that requires close monitoring by your physician and possible treatment.

It’s crucial to have your blood pressure monitored throughout your pregnancy, as preeclampsia can potentially endanger the life of mother and child, as well as damage the cornea and retina.

Temporary vision loss

Temporary vision loss is concerning for pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. Vision loss is another warning sign of preeclampsia, so contact your doctor promptly if you suddenly lose any portion of your visual field.

Sensitivity to light

Light-sensitivity can either be a normal side effect of fluid retention in the eye, or it can signal dangerously high blood pressure and preeclampsia.

How We Can Help

At ​​Drs. Hiura & Hiura, our goal is to keep your vision and eyes healthy throughout your pregnancy and beyond. If you experience any visual symptoms, we can help by thoroughly examining your eyes to determine the underlying cause and provide you with guidance on what next steps to take.

Pregnancy is a wonderful time, when self care should be at the forefront — and that includes comprehensive eye care.

To schedule an eye exam or learn more about our eye care services, call Drs. Hiura & Hiura in San Francisco today!

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Why are regular eye exams important?

Having your eyes evaluated by an optometrist on a regular basis is crucial for detecting early signs of eye diseases and changes in your prescription, including during pregnancy. Many serious eye diseases don’t cause any noticeable symptoms until they’ve progressed to late stages, when damage to vision may be irreversible. Whether or not you wear glasses or contact lenses for vision correction, ask your optometrist about how often to schedule a routine eye exam.

Will my baby need an eye exam after birth?

According to the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists, babies should have an eye exam within the first 6-12 months of life, even in the absence of noticeable vision problems. Healthy vision is a significant part of healthy overall development, so be sure not to skip your baby’s eye exams!

What Is the Long-Term Impact of Virtual Learning on Children’s Eyes?

Kids, like adults, are spending more time online. At some point during the COVID-19 pandemic, many children attended school via Zoom and completed assignments online. The trend toward more screen time — whether playing games or being in touch with friends — is likely to continue even after everyone returns to the classroom.

We already know that prolonged screen time can cause digital eye strain as well as dry eye symptoms, among other problems in children and adults. There is some indication that extended exposure to blue light may impact the development of retinal cells. However, studies on actual subjects still need to be done to establish a clear connection.

Dry Eyes

Spending a long time in front of screens can impact how quickly our tears evaporate, because we blink around 66% less when using a computer compared to other daily activities. When tears evaporate too quickly and aren’t replenished with blinking our eyes start to feel dry and gritty. So remember to blink every few seconds to prevent your eyes from drying out!

Blue Light Exposure

Screens, such as those that appear on computers, phones and tablets emit blue light. Recent studies have shown that overexposure to blue light can damage the retinal cells at the back of your eyes. This may increase the risk of vision issues such as age-related macular degeneration which eventually leads to permanent loss of vision.

Excess blue light has also been shown to disrupt the circadian rhythms that regulate our sleep patterns, as it tricks your internal clock into thinking that it is the middle of the day. This may lead to difficulty in falling asleep, insomnia, and daytime fatigue.

Digital Eye Strain

Nearly 60% of people who routinely use computers or digital devices experience symptoms of digital eye strain — also called computer vision syndrome. Symptoms of eye strain include eye fatigue and discomfort, dry eye, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, eye twitching, and red eyes.

Taking frequent breaks from your screen can help reduce eye strain and neck, back and shoulder pain during your workday.

It is recommended to take at least one 10-minute break every hour. During these breaks, stand up, move about and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders to relieve tension and muscle aches.

Also, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This relaxes the focusing lens inside the eye to prevent fatigue.

How to Make Virtual Learning Safer For Your Child

The following tips can lessen the impact of screens on your child’s eyes:

  • Reduce overall screen time
  • Encourage frequent breaks
  • Use accessories that filter blue light (for example, blue light glasses)
  • Schedule regular eye exams

Make Sure Your Child Gets Routine Eye Exams

Children need comprehensive eye exams to assess the health of their eyes, correct their vision and spot potential problems which can affect learning and behavior.

To schedule a pediatric eye exam near you, call our optometrist in San Francisco today!

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What are blue light glasses?

Blue light glasses, also known as computer glasses, effectively block the transmission of blue light emitted from devices and computer screens. They often include a coating to reduce glare to further reduce eye strain. These glasses can be purchased with or without a prescription.

What’s the 20-20-20 rule?

If you find yourself gazing at screens all day, whether your computer, smartphone, iPad or television, you’re at risk of experiencing eye strain. So make sure you schedule frequent breaks from your screen and follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. And while you’re at it, use this time to get up, walk around, and stretch.

7 Ways to Wish Dry Eye ‘Goodbye’

7 Ways to Wish Dry Eye Goodbye 640×350There’s no reason to suffer through the uncomfortable, sometimes debilitating symptoms that can accompany dry eye syndrome. Living with chronically dry, red and irritated eyes can affect your productivity and overall enjoyment of life.

That’s why we’ve put together 7 of our top tips for relieving dry eye syndrome.

1. Stay Hydrated

The tears are mostly made up of water, supplied by the tear glands. People need to drink enough liquid to maintain a stable tear film, so if your body isn’t sufficiently hydrated, your eyes won’t be able to produce sufficient tears and will suffer the consequences.

Keep your water bottle at arm’s reach throughout the day. You can even sip on juices, broths and dairy or plant-based milk to keep your body and eyes properly hydrated. Many health authorities recommend drinking between 2-3 liters of hydrating fluids per day.

If your eyes have been feeling dry or irritated, try limiting your alcohol intake because it is a diuretic.

2. Use Artificial Tears

Artificial tears aren’t just great for making your eyes feel more comfortable; they also have protective properties that can prevent ocular surface damage from occurring or worsening.

The tricky part is choosing the correct drops for your specific condition.

By assessing your eyes, your eye doctor can determine what’s causing your eyes to be dry and recommend the most appropriate drops. There are numerous types of artificial tears on the market, and what may work for a friend or relative may not be the best option for you.

3. Up Your Omega-3 Intake

A healthy tear film consists of three layers: water, oil and mucus. An imbalance in any of these components can result in tears that evaporate prematurely. To ensure that your eyes can produce enough of the oils that stabilize your tears, include the recommended daily intake of Omega-3’s in your diet. You can take a supplement and/or eat foods like fatty fish, seeds and nuts.

*It’s best practice to speak with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or introducing a new supplement to your routine.

4. Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses not only reduce your glare symptoms and provide important UV protection but also effectively offer relief from dry eyes. Dry eyes are vulnerable to irritation from light winds that can dry out the eye’s tear film.

Whenever outdoors, wear a pair of protective wraparound sunglasses to minimize the effects of wind and seal out dirt and debris that can be carried in the breeze. For severe cases of dry eye syndrome, ask your optometrist about specific lenses or eye drops to provide even more relief from dry eyes.

5. Use a Humidifier

When the air around you is too dry, it pulls the remaining moisture from your tears, leaving your eyes feeling parched.

Humidifiers combat the dryness in any indoor environment by replenishing moisture in the air. Whether at work or home, use a humidifier to offset dryness, especially if you are using a fan, heater or air conditioner in the room.

6. Try Warm Compresses

Warm eye compresses are a great way to relieve symptoms of mild to moderate dry eye syndrome.

The gentle heat from a compress helps to soften any hardened oils that may be clogged in the little oil glands that line the eyelashes. Your oil glands will work more efficiently to deliver tear-stabilizing oils to your eyes’ surface once the glands aren’t blocked. Your eye doctor will instruct you on how to easily prepare a warm eye compress at home.

7. Visit Your Dry Eye Optometrist

Your [eye doctor] offers a range of successful options to treat your dry eyes to ensure you always have clear vision and comfortable eyes. Call your dry eye optometrist to have your eyes thoroughly evaluated and treated for long-lasting relief. There is a wide range of in-office treatments that can alleviate symptoms of dry eye syndrome and help your eyes feel refreshed.

To learn more about our dry eye services and schedule a consultation, call Drs. Hiura and Hiura Dry Eye Center in San Francisco today!

Drs. Hiura and Hiura Dry Eye Center serves dry eye patients from San Francisco, Nob Hill , Pacific Heights, and Russian Hill, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Chris Hiura

Q: What are other symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Aside from redness and dryness, dry eye syndrome can also cause watery eyes, stinging or burning, stringy mucus, blurred vision, grittiness, light sensitivity and difficulty wearing contact lenses. Symptoms can range from mild to debilitating, and from occasional to chronic.

Q: Does dry eye syndrome need to be treated?

  • A: If left untreated, dry eye syndrome can cause eye inflammation, corneal ulcers or abrasions and even vision loss in severe cases. Dry eye syndrome also puts a person more at risk of developing eye infections. If you have any symptoms of dry eye syndrome, contact us for a tailor-made treatment plan.

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Why Ortho-K Is A Great Alternative To LASIK

Why Ortho K Is A Great Alternative To LASIK 640×350Most people elect to have refractive surgery like LASIK for the hassle-free, crisp vision it provides. But did you know that you can achieve the same results as LASIK without undergoing surgery?

Orthokeratology, commonly referred to as ortho-k, safely eliminates the need for daytime glasses or contact lens wear by correcting myopia (nearsightedness), and is a popular alternative to LASIK surgery.

What Is Ortho-K?

Ortho-k uses rigid gas-permeable contact lenses to gently and safely reshape the front surface of the eye, the cornea, for clear daytime vision. These specialized lenses are designed to be worn overnight while you sleep, and removed in the morning, leaving you with corrected, stable vision throughout the day.

These custom-designed lenses work by gently applying light pressure to the epithelial layer of the cornea and molding its shape to alter its focusing power.

What are the Advantages of Ortho-K Over LASIK?

Lower Risk of Complications

Any medical device or procedure involves some risk of complications. Both ortho-k and LASIK have associated risks, but those of LASIK are considered more serious.

LASIK complications, while rare, can leave patients with corneal disorders, such as astigmatism or severe dry eye syndrome and — more commonly — visual problems like glare, distortion and seeing halos around lights.

In contrast, the risks associated with ortho-k lenses are no different from those connected to any other rigid contact lenses. Poor hygiene is the biggest risk factor for developing contact-lens irritation and complications.

Orthokeratology is Reversible

LASIK surgery is not reversible, and in the event of complications, further medical procedures may be necessary to correct any resulting problems.

Ortho-k, on the other hand, is non-invasive and completely reversible if you ever decide to cease treatment. After a few nights of not wearing the lenses, your corneas will slowly revert back to their original, natural shape.

Better For Dry Eyes

If you have symptoms of dry eye syndrome like dryness and irritation, you may want to think twice before undergoing LASIK. A common side effect of LASIK is dry eye syndrome, and many people who already have the condition are advised to not have refractive surgery.

Dry eye syndrome can also make it uncomfortable to wear standard contact lenses.

Ortho-k is great for people with mild to moderate dry eyes because there’s no need to wear eyewear, such as standard contacts, during the day.

More Cost-Effective

Both LASIK and ortho-k will most likely save you money in the long term, as eyeglasses, contact lenses and other related expenses are no longer incurred. That said, in most cases, the up-front expenses of ortho-k lenses are about half the cost of LASIK surgery.

The exact cost of ortho-k lenses will vary depending on many factors and the degree of your refractive error.

Reduce Myopia Progression

Myopia, or nearsightedness, significantly increases the risk of developing sight-threatening diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment and macular degeneration later in life. The higher (worse) the myopia, the greater the risk. As myopia progresses and worsens, the risks further increase.

Slowing myopia can effectively reduce this risk. Myopia can continue to worsen into a person’s 20’s, and at least 10% of nearsighted adults from ages 20 and older will still experience some degree of myopia progression.

Ortho-k has been clinically proven to slow the progression of myopia in children and young adults, making it an excellent treatment for nearsightedness.

LASIK, on the other hand, offers no such benefits. Refractive surgeries simply alter the focusing power of the cornea to produce clear vision, while ignoring the underlying problem that causes the eyeball elongation associated with myopia.

LASIK is only offered to those whose eyes have stopped growing, usually people 21 and older. So, unlike ortho-k, it generally cannot slow the myopia progression in teens and young adults.

In fact, many teenagers and young adults who are interested in eventually choosing LASIK use ortho-k lenses to stabilize their myopia and increase their chance of successful LASIK outcomes in their 20s, once their eyes stop growing.

Interested in Ortho-K? We Can Help!

If you are interested in correcting your vision without surgery or the need to wear daytime contact lenses or glasses, contact us to learn if ortho-k lenses are right for your eyes and lifestyle.

At Drs. Hiura and Hiura Myopia Management Center, our friendly and knowledgeable optometric team will guide you through all of your options and help you achieve optimal vision.

To learn more about ortho-k or to schedule a consultation, call Drs. Hiura and Hiura Myopia Management Center today!

Drs. Hiura and Hiura Myopia Management Center offers myopia management to patients from San Francisco, Nob Hill , Pacific Heights, and Russian Hill, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Chris Hiura

Q: Who is a candidate for Ortho-K?

  • A: Children (ages 8 and above) and adults with mild to moderate nearsightedness/astigmatism who want clear vision without daytime eyewear are great candidates for orthokeratology. Ortho-k is also a great option for athletes who require stable vision without worrying about eyewear that can be damaged.

Q: Are there any disadvantages of Ortho-K?

  • A: Ortho-k lenses must be cleaned after each use to maintain hygiene and reduce the risk of contact lens-related problems. Occasionally, ortho-k lenses aren’t suitable for patients with very high prescriptions.

References

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World Keratoconus Day + Keratoconus Treatment Options

world keratoconus day November 10 640×350World Keratoconus Day is dedicated to raising awareness about keratoconus (KC), as well as educating and advocating for those living with keratoconus and ectatic corneal disorders.

Keratoconus, or KC, is a degenerative non-inflammatory eye condition affecting the cornea. In KC, the cornea, which is normally dome-shaped, gradually becomes thinner and bulges out as it begins to assume a cone shape.

Keratoconus tends to develop during the early teens, with mild symptoms. As the disease progresses, the cornea’s shape changes to a point where wearing regular contact lenses is no longer an option and eyeglasses cannot fully correct one’s vision.

Fortunately, with the right contact lenses, those with keratoconus can once again see the world clearly and comfortably.

Keratoconus and Contact Lenses

In its early stages, people with keratoconus can usually wear glasses or standard soft contact lenses to correct resulting astigmatism and improve clarity. As the condition progresses, however, your eye doctor will prescribe the most suitable contact lens to accommodate a cone-shaped cornea to provide you with the clearest vision possible.

There are a variety of contact lens options for keratoconus, all of which depend on the severity of the condition.

1. Soft Toric Lenses

Astigmatism can be corrected with soft toric lenses, a comfortable and effective solution during the early stages of KC. However, this may not be a good treatment option as the condition worsens.

2. Custom Soft Contact Lenses

Custom soft contacts are an improvement over soft toric lenses since they are designed to match the exact contour of your cornea. Soft contact lenses can be custom-made for KC patients and may eliminate the need for glasses by fully correcting astigmatism.

3. Gas Permeable Contact Lenses

Gas permeable contact lenses (hard lenses) allow more oxygen into the eye than standard soft lenses. A gas permeable lens has a somewhat different shape than soft contact lens alternatives, as it rests on the cornea, and because the lens is hard, it creates a new optical surface. These lenses are suitable for people with moderate KC.

4. Hybrid Contact Lenses

These lenses are a cross between hard and soft lenses. The hard center provides a flat surface, which helps alleviate the issues associated with a misshapen KC cornea. The lens is rendered more comfortable by the soft outer ring. Hybrids combine the convenience and comfort of soft lenses with the crisp, clear vision of rigid gas permeable contacts.

5. Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses are larger than standard hybrid, gas permeable or custom soft contact lenses. They vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, the white of the eye. The advantage of scleral lenses is that they do not sit on the cornea, which removes any rubbing and irritation on the corneal bulge. This reduces the risk of corneal injury from the contact lens.

Furthermore, as the scleral lens vaults above the cornea, the reservoir of pure saline solution between the underside of the lens and the front of the cornea keeps the eye in a liquid environment at all times. This enables the eye to receive an abundance of oxygen.

While both rigid gas permeable (GP) and scleral lenses deliver enough oxygen to the eyes, scleral lenses provide more comfort and better stability than regular GP lenses. For this reason, scleral contact lenses are a very successful option for people with keratoconus and irregularly shaped corneas.

Treatment for Keratoconus

We offer treatment for keratoconus that is tailored to each patient based on the severity and progression of the condition, as well as the patient’s lifestyle.

Contact Drs. Hiura and Hiura Scleral Lens Center to learn more about scleral lenses and to discover ways we can help you manage your keratoconus.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Chris Hiura

Q: For how many hours can scleral lenses safely be worn in a day?

  • A: Scleral lenses can be worn for 12-14 hours per day. To preserve the greatest possible vision and comfort, some patients may need to remove the lenses, clean them, and reapply fresh saline several times a day.

Q: Can scleral lenses completely correct my vision?

  • A: Scleral lenses hide abnormalities on the eye’s surface and may improve vision over other types of correction. However, you’ll probably need to wear glasses over the lenses to see clearly at all distances, particularly if you’re over 40 and require reading glasses for close work.

Drs. Hiura and Hiura Scleral Lens Center provides scleral lenses to patients from San Francisco, Nob Hill , Pacific Heights, and Russian Hill, California and surrounding communities.

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Call 415-770-0772