Floaters in your vision

A lot of people joke about seeing stars, but many people actually do see shapes run across their field of vision. These shapes are technically called “floaters” and can vary in appearance from specks and dots to clouds and cobwebs. EyeCare America explains this phenomenon as “clumps and strands within the gel of the eye” that create shadows on a person’s retina. These shadows account for the varying shapes and are typically cast when a person is looking at a large, solid-colored object (like a wall).

Unfortunately, although some are harmless, floaters can occasionally indicate a serious problem with the eye, such as a torn retina. People who are middle-aged are especially prone to floaters, so be alert and talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your vision. It’s important to get your eyes examined on a regular basis to treat and prevent conditions like floaters.

Communicating with your doctor over the Internet

In the past, it could be difficult to get in contact with your doctor or have personal communication. Doctors are busy, and an office visit, let alone a phone call, is rare. Now, thanks to the Internet, patients and doctors are establishing a much more immediate connection. Consider these tips from the Mayo Clinic to increase the success of your online interactions:

  1. Keep your online topics reasonable: In other words, don’t e-mail your doctor if you’re experiencing chest pain or another serious condition. Call 911 and get immediate help.
  2. Keep your messages short: Don’t send your doctor drawn-out histories and stories about your health. Write simply and effectively.
  3. Keep your contact secure: Do not send private health messages from a public computer, such as one at work or at the library. Messages sent from these places may not remain confidential, and your privacy may be compromised.
  4. Make sure you have an established connection: Online visits are most effective when doctors and patients already have an established history with one another. It’s much harder to be diagnosed or receive help when you’ve never had a face-to-face meeting with a doctor or constructed a medical history.

Talk to your doctor and ask if he or she conducts virtual visits online. If so, discuss the ways you can best make use of this technology and get personalized tips. You could be saving time and money in no time!

Should you wear contacts at work?

Certain professions may be more hazardous to your vision health than others. To help protect people involved in these environments, particularly industry jobs, the American Optometric Association released a statement in 1998 to provoke questions about vision hazards at work. The Association mandates that contact lenses themselves cannot and should not be used as protective eyewear. Other types of protection must be used (like goggles) to protect the eyes, whether a person wears contacts or not. In determining whether contact lenses present a risk in the workplace, the Association advises that people ask questions like, “Is the risk different for various contact lens materials and designs?” and “Do contact lenses decrease the efficacy of other safety strategies?

Doctors who prescribe contact lenses to patients involved in hazardous fields should also keep in mind certain factors, the Association says. For instance, a doctor should take into account what hygiene facilities are available, what raw materials are involved, whether protective equipment is provided and used, and what kinds of toxic chemicals/agents could be encountered on the job. In all, the Association found that “contact lenses may be worn safely under a variety of environmental situations including those which, from a superficial evaluation, might appear hazardous.”

Also, because there is no evidence to suggest that contact lenses negate the protection of safety equipment, the Association recommends that there be no ban on contact lenses in the workplace. This means you can feel confident about wearing your contact lenses to work, but be sensible when in hazardous environments, and never think of your contacts as protective eyewear.

Protect your child’s vision by limiting exposure to dangerous household items

It’s easy to forget that even the most mundane of household supplies – like paper clips – can be dangerous to a small child. This is especially true when it comes to vision, and there are a lot of common items that could be hazardous to the eyes of your young children. The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests that parents always supervise activities that involve pencils, scissors and forks, as these items have sharp ends that could accidentally come in contact with an eye.

It’s also important to be vigilant about common supplies like coat hangers, rubber bands and fish hooks. Very young children do not have complete control over their motor skills and are more prone to accidentally poking themselves while exploring a new item. It almost goes without saying that children should also not be permitted to play with BB guns, darts, and similar objects that could easily cause harm.

The same should be said about cleaning sprays and chemicals that could come in contact with the eye if a child gains access to cabinets or closets. Even as children get older, steps must be taken to protect their vision from activities like sports, so talk to your eye doctor about your child’s routine. He or she can give you tips about protective eyewear that will allow your child to enjoy the activities he likes without worrying about constant hazards.

Strabismus

It may sound rare for a person’s eyeballs to look in two different directions, but according to the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, approximately four out of every 100 adults has this condition, known as strabismus. As noted, people with strabismus cannot focus properly with both eyes and typically have symptoms such as double vision, loss of depth perception, and overlapped/blurred vision. The foundation suggests that the most common type of treatment for strabismus is eye muscle surgery.

This type of surgery either loosens or tightens the muscles around the eye to allow both eyes to look straight and focus correctly. Some adults also wear glasses with prisms, which helps to correct double vision by aligning images into one solid shape. While most people with strabismus have had it since childhood, there are many medical problems that can lead to acquiring the condition, including head trauma and diabetes. It is very important to consult with an eye doctor if you have symptoms of strabismus. Doctors can conduct simple tests to determine the existence of the condition and help you identify the cause.