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What You Need to Know About Glaucoma – The Sneak Thief of Sight

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma, a silent eye disease, is the most common form of irreversible blindness in the world. It is actually a group of diseases that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve.

  • Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that can lead to permanent vision loss if not controlled.
  • There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but there are many treatments available for stopping and slowing the progressive damage to the eye. Treatment, however, can’t reverse damage that is already done.
  • Glaucoma affects the optic nerve which sends visual information from your eye to your brain.
  • Glaucoma is called the “Thief Sneak of Sight” because there are often no symptoms in the early stages such as pain or “pressure sensation” as one may expect, and by the time it is diagnosed there may already be permanent vision loss.
  • When vision loss occurs, peripheral vision is typically affected before central vision. As a result, glaucoma is a major public health issue because individuals usually do not notice any problem with vision until end stages of the disease when there is severe and irreversible vision loss.
  • Awareness and regular eye exams are key to early detection and preventing vision loss.

What Causes Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is caused by a buildup of natural fluid that doesn’t drain properly from the eye. The buildup of fluid can result in high pressure in the eye which is the most common cause of the condition. There are many types of glaucoma, which include:

Chronic (open angle) glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up over time, usually as a result of aging. This is the most common type of glaucoma.

Acute (angle closure) glaucoma is an acute condition where pressure builds up suddenly and demands immediate medical attention. Symptoms include blurred vision, eye pain, headaches, seeing halos around lights, nausea and vomiting.

Secondary glaucoma results from another eye disease, condition or a trauma to the eye.

Normal tension glaucoma is when there is no build up of pressure but the optic nerve is still damaged. We are still not yet sure what causes this type of glaucoma.

Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?

Everyone is at risk of glaucoma however there are certain factors which increase the likelihood of developing the condition. Vision loss from glaucoma can be greatly reduced when detected and treated early which is why knowing your risk factors can play a tremendous role in prevention.

Age

Age is one of the biggest risk factors, as your chances of developing glaucoma increase significantly after the age of 40. In fact people over 60 years old are six times more likely to get the condition.

Ancestry and Family History

Individuals from African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American or Aboriginal Canadian descent are at increased risk. Family history is a very strong factor as the condition occurs twice as much in people with close relatives who have had glaucoma.

Previous Eye Injury, Traumas or Surgery

Eye injuries, traumas or surgeries have been known to sometimes cause secondary glaucoma which can happen immediately after the injury or procedure, or even years later. Even childhood injuries can result in secondary glaucoma later in life.

Use of Steroids

Studies show that prolonged steroid use is linked to increased elevated intraocular pressure which increases the risk of open-angle glaucoma.

Certain medical and eye conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high myopia (nearsightedness) also increase a person’s risk of developing glaucoma.

Glaucoma Treatment

While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments to slow down the progression of the disease including eye drop medications, iridotomies, iridectomies, laser procedures and surgeries.

Glaucoma Prevention

Other than taking care of any underlying conditions that may increase the risk of developing glaucoma, there is little one can do in the way of prevention. You can however reduce your chances of suffering vision loss. The first step is knowing the risk factors and signs of the condition (even though as mentioned most cases have no symptoms in the early stages, until vision is already lost).

The best possible way to prevent vision loss is to have regular comprehensive eye exams to check the health of your eyes and if your eye doctors prescribes medication for glaucoma, make sure to diligently take them as directed. Your eye doctor will be able to conduct certain tests to detect eye diseases such as glaucoma before you even begin to notice symptoms. If you have any of the risk factors above, mention it to your eye doctor, and always be sure to schedule a yearly eye exam, or as often as your eye doctor recommends, to check the health of your eyes and rule out any underlying or developing eye conditions like glaucoma.

Choosing the Best Polarized sunglasses for Fishing in Bozeman, MT

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Polarized lenses with amber tints

How do you choose the best sunglasses for fishing in Bozeman MT

Polarized sunglasses are essential for fishermen, and understand how various tints & colors can go a long way. Eye protection is a no-brainer when staring at water as glare can cause lead to UV ray damage and can blind you without the right pair of sunglasses. However, for advanced fishermen, choosing sunglasses with the right color or tint can help you see fish in the water, differentiate colors, movable targets, and stumps to improve your rate of success.

Sunglasses Lenses and Sunlight

Sunny, bright days often are the culprits behind loads of glare. Choosing grey or smoke tint lenses can easily block out the brightness, reduce glare, and bring out amazing contrast while by a lake or fishing pond. Although some might find smoke lenses to be hard to see through, even a cloud lens or yellow lens can be a great alternative.

On days with less sunlight like low-lit, cloudy days, amber or yellow tint lenses enhance bright objects underwater. For people who love bass, bed fishing is a common activity during spring and amber or yellow lenses will really help. If you face even rain or like to fish later in the day, lenses with these tints work well towards the end of the day.

Even with helpful tips when choosing polarized sunglasses, simply testing out a pair of sunglasses can really show you a lot more about your vision.

Visit our practice today for your next eye exam & find out more about ensuring good eye health & improving your fishing activities.

Are Sunglasses Part of your Spring Sports?

Natives of Bozeman Montana know when the snow & ice melt that the time has come to prepare for the next season. Store all the skiing and snowboarding gear and prepare for warmer sports. Whether you’re checking over your old hiking gear, planning out your kayaking routes, or investing in a new fishing rod, many have their sights set on their favorite hobbies. However, spring means a lot of UV radiation, so don’t forget to prepare for the sunshine.

As much as rock climbers protect their hands with flexible, climbing gloves, and hikers find the sturdiest, most durable pair of boots, polarized sunglasses protect your eyesight. UV rays can increase the risk of ocular diseases just by being outside for 15 minutes. Sunglasses are one of the most overlooked methods of protecting your health. While women tend to sport sunglasses for their fashion, men generally avoid investing in a pair of polarized sunglasses. We recommend that if you’re an active, outdoorsman who enjoys being in the sun, speak with our eye doctor. During an eye exam, you can learn about the many benefits polarized sunglasses offer.

Sunglasses with polarization can:

  • Block glare
  • Improve visibility
  • Increase reaction time
  • Reduce dryness
  • Reduce sunburns around or on the eyes
  • Block out UVA and UVB radiation

If you’re looking for sports equipment this year, come to Bridger Eye care to learn about polarized sunglasses and how they can best enhance your summer activities.

Snowboarders & Skiers, Consider Contact Lenses

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Any native to Bozeman knows about the amazing ski resorts like the Bridger Bowl Ski Area. Hundreds of acres of snow prepared and maintained for your skiing and snowboarding pleasure. However, what many ski instructors have come to realize is that skiing or snowboarding involves lots and lots of sun, and when you have sun, you face sunburns, dryness, and more importantly, UV radiation. Aside from glare that could blind you on your way, for skiing a run successfully, one should wear proper eyewear and UV protection.

At Bridger Eyecare, our doctor and opticians advise patients to utilize a pair of polarized sunglasses with UVA & UVB protection. Even for those serious skiers who wear specialized goggles, investing in the right type of contact lenses can make a big difference as well. Wearing a pair of goggles for hours at a time can be tough on the eyes, and the worst timing for a difficult contact lens is while you’re nearly about to start a run.

Therefore, any skier or snowboarder should consider investing in daily contact lenses that offer a clean, fresh pair that can retain your eyes’ moisture and clarity for the entire day. Plus, many contacts include UV protection as well to ensure your vision stays healthy & avoid burned corneas or ocular disease later down the line. While prescription goggles can be an alternative, contact lenses are cheaper in the long run and a prescription change is far more accessible than buying a new pair of prescription goggles.

For more information how to take care of your eye health while enjoying your favorite winter sport, call our office today.

Skiing Eyewear

bridger-skiSkiing Eyewear

Proper eyewear is an absolute essential when equipping yourself for a fun and safe time on the ski slopes. A number of design and lens options exist in ski eyewear today. Below, the key aspects of ski eyewear design and function are discussed to help you understand more about this all important piece of skiing equipment.

Design and Materials

Although there are smaller versions on the market, Ski goggles are generally designed to protect both your face and eyes, making most ski goggles large enough to cover much of your face. Whatever the size, ski goggles are made to fit around your eyes in such a way that they will not let in snow, ice or wind that might hinder your vision. These larger goggles are also usually held in place by means of a thick strap that holds the goggles in place.

Smaller designs of ski wear tend to look more like regular sunglasses, with side shields that may or may not be detachable, in order to keep out snow and ice. These designs often feature cable or wraparound legs to keep the goggles in place as you ski.

skiing

Ski goggles are often made of softer, more flexible materials than eyeglasses or sunglasses, with the most popular materials being nylon, rubber and propionate. This is because these materials tend not to become misshapen or brittle in the cold, as opposed to other materials such as plastic or glass. These materials are also much better at not injuring you if you should fall or hit something while skiing.

Usually, ski goggles are designed in one piece that may or may not be difficult to wear with glasses. Some ski goggles can easily accommodate a small pair of glasses underneath them, while others may be designed with inserts for prescription lenses that can be custom-made and placed between the goggle lens and your eyes.

Ski Goggle Lenses

Many ski goggles on the market today are fitted with lenses that are an orange-yellow hue, which helps enhance contrast, by blocking blue light. This enhanced contrast helps you see shapes, objects and bumps in the snow more clearly.

Skiing may also be one sport where “seeing the world through rose-colored lenses,” may be a great option! Rose is a great contrast-enhancing alternative to the usual orange-yellow hue.

The best lenses for skiers should provide 100% ultraviolet protection and anti-fogging features such as double lenses, anti-fog coating and wide vents. Nothing is more bothersome and potentially dangerous than skiing with fogged up skiing eyewear, which hinders your ability to see ice patches and obstacles in your way.

For more information, contact your eye doctor today!

Is Your Teen Ready for Contacts?

Many teens who wear glasses are eager to try out contact lenses for convenience, fashion or to just provide another option for vision correction. For teens who feel self-conscious in their glasses, contact lenses can be a way to improve self-esteem. Young athletes and swimmers find that contacts are an excellent option for sports, especially as younger kids are becoming involved in travel sports and club teams outside of school.

While contacts might appear to be the perfect solution for teens that need corrective eyewear, they are a convenience that comes with a lot of responsibility so it’s not a decision to take lightly. Improper use of contact lenses can cause severe discomfort, infections, irritation and, in the worst cases, eye damage or even permanent vision loss.

“With Privilege Comes Responsibility”

Contact lenses are a medical device and should always be treated as such. They should never be obtained without a valid contact lens prescription from an eye doctor, and always purchased from an authorized seller. Among other issues, poor fitting contact lenses bought from illegitimate sources have been known to cause micro-abrasions to the eyes that can increase the risk of eye infection and corneal ulcers in worst case scenarios.

Particularly when it comes to kids and teens, it is best to purchase contact lenses from an eye doctor as they possess the expertise to properly fit contact lenses based on the shape of the eye, the prescription, the lifestyle of the child and other factors that may influence the comfort, health and convenience of contact lens use.

There is some debate over the recommended age for kids to start considering contact lenses. While some experts will say the ideal age is between 11 and 14, there are many responsible children as young as 8 or even younger who have begun to successfully use them. When children are motivated and responsible, and parents are able to ensure follow-up to the daily regimen, earlier contact lens use can be a success. A good measure of whether your child is responsible enough to use contacts is whether they are able to keep their room clean, or maintain basic hygiene like brushing teeth regularly and effectively.

When you think your child might be ready, you should schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for a contact lens exam and fitting. The process will take a few visits to perform the exam, complete a training session on how to insert, remove and care for lenses, then to try out the lenses at home and finally reassess the comfort and fit of the contacts. You may try out a few varieties before you find the best fit.

What Kind of Contact Lens Is Best for My Teen?

The good news is that contact lens use has become easier than ever, with safety, health and convenience being more accessible as technology improves. There are a number of options including the material used to make the lenses (soft or rigid gas permeable), the replacement schedule (if disposable, how often you replace the pair – daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly) and the wear schedule (daily or extended overnight wear).

Single use, daily disposable lenses have become very popular, particularly with younger users, because they are easy to use, requiring no cleaning or storing, and therefore they reduce the risk of infection and misuse. You simply throw out the lenses at night and open a new one in the morning. Your eye doctor will be able to help you and your teen determine the best option.

Tips for Contact Lens Wearers

Following are some basic contact lens safety tips. If your teen is responsible enough to follow these guidelines, he or she may be ready for contact lens use:

  1. Always follow the wearing schedule prescribed by your doctor.
  2. Always wash your hands with soap before applying or removing contact lenses.
  3. Never use any substance other than contact lens rinse or solution to clean contacts (even tap water is a no-no).
  4. Never reuse contact lens solution
  5. Follow the eye doctor’s advice about swimming or showering in your lenses
  6. Always remove your lenses if they are bothering you or causing irritation.
  7. Never sleep in your lenses unless they are extended wear.
  8. Never use any contact lenses that were not acquired with a prescription at an authorized source. Never purchase cosmetic lenses without a prescription!

Contact lens use is an ongoing process. As a child grows, the lens fit may change as well, so it is important to have annual contact lens assessments. Plus, new technology is always being developed to improve comfort and quality of contact lenses.

Contact lenses are a wonderful invention but they must be used with proper care. Before you let your teen take the plunge into contact lens use, make sure you review the dangers and safety guidelines.

Eyewear For Rock climbing

eyewear for rock climbing bozeman mt

Expert rock climbers use eyewear that has compatible lenses and gives the best UV protection through polarized lenses. The lenses are usually made with a prescription so one’s visual perception stays clear. Regardless of whether you’re a normal hiker or the sort of individual who reaches the highest peaks, the assortment of eyewear accessible to keep your eyes healthy covers all ranges.

Most shades or UV protected lenses come in classifications or levels of darkness/tint. They begin from level 0 which has no tint or scarcely any whatsoever, up to level 4, which is the darkest available. The normal match of shades available is around level 3, which blocks out about 80% of visible light. This enhances stability for most exercises, for example, driving, strolling through a neighborhood trail, and just keeping your eyes shielded from a run of the mill, splendid sunny day.

Be that as it may, when you’re rock climbing and particularly when you’re vigorously engaged in the game, you require most likely level four class lenses, however you’ll need to ensure it’s reflective as well. As much as you can avoid the glare from hitting your eyes when you’re going after that unseen corner, the better you’ll have the capacity to focus and play your best.

Deciding which brand design is best depends on what style, spending plan, and kind of sport you prefer. In case you’re hoping to get a decent match of polarized glasses that you can wear all the time, you’ll find one at Bridger Eyecare for sure! At our Bozeman eye care center we stock designer brands of eyewear that cater to sports minded people.

A Vision of Back-To-School

asian girl reading book bozeman mtThe new school year is coming up fast, and parents and students are getting ready to embark on new adventures and experiences. But this is also a reminder to parents that good eyesight is possibly the most important school supply your child may not have. A good education for children doesn’t just mean good schools, good teachers and good friends. Good vision is just as important. Dr. Carl Roth from Bridger Eyecare explains, “Your child’s eyes are his/her gateway into the world of learning. When your child’s vision is not functioning properly, learning and participation in recreational activities will suffer. Children are not likely to recognize vision problems or report them, and it is therefore the responsibility of parents and teachers to recognize signs of visual problems in their children.”

There is a basic set of vision skills that are needed for school. The first is near vision. This is the ability to see clearly at a distance of about 10-13 inches. This is obviously important for reading, writing and close work at your child’s desk. Distance vision, the ability to see clearly and comfortably beyond arm’s reach, is also important in order to see the board in the classroom, and Binocular coordination, or the ability to use both eyes together, is important for extra-curricular activities. Both are vision skills needed to be successful in school. Additionally, focusing skills, peripheral awareness and eye-hand coordination are also important. As a parent, it is your job to be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision or visual processing problem. A few examples of common conditions that may effect your child’s ability to learn are below:

If your child gets headaches while trying to read or do other close work, exhibits a short attention span during visual tasks, and/or has to use a finger to guide reading, it is possible your child may have a condition called convergence insufficiency. This is a condition in which the eyes have a hard time converging on a certain point close up. This may also cause the words to “jump” or “blur” when your child attempts to read.

You may also find that your child’s eyes do not seem to move together, that the eyes do not face the same direction, and/or that your child tilts his/her head or squints in order to see better. This could indicate a condition called Strabismus. This results from muscles in one or both eyes being misaligned or underdeveloped. This can cause severe difficulty for your child, and may cause more significant problems, including loss of depth perception, if not treated promptly. Dr. Roth adds, “Other symptoms to look out for that may signal vision related problems are difficulty remembering or identifying shapes, difficulty remembering what was read, excessive blinking or rubbing of his/her eyes, or placing his/her head very close to the book or desk when reading or writing”.

Because changes in your child’s vision can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the eye doctor every year or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist. Remember, school vision or pediatrician’s screenings are good, but they are not a substitute for a thorough eye exam.

Schedule an Eye Exam

Got a Shiner! Treatment for Black Eye in Kent

Black eye treatment kent

What Exactly Is a Black Eye?

A black eye, also known as a periorbital hematoma, is usually not an injury of the actual eye (which is why it is called “periorbital”- around the eye). It typically occurs when there is an injury to the face or the eye socket which causes bleeding beneath the skin and bruising. The term, “black eye” comes from the dark coloring of the bruising that occurs underneath the skin around the eye.

When a blunt force hits the eye socket, this can cause capillaries in the area to burst, causing hemorrhaging, also known as a hematoma. This blood can accumulate in the eye socket and as it begins to be reabsorbed into the surrounding tissues, the colors of the bruising begin to change. That’s why you will often notice the coloring of the black eye to go from a dark purplish-red color to brownish and then yellow.

Sometimes along with the external bruising, you might also notice a small amount of bleeding on the white surface of the eye, which is called a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This is when the tiny blood vessels on the white sclera are broken and leak blood. It’s generally harmless but sometimes looks scarier to the patient than the black eye does. This condition will also reabsorb on its own and is nothing to be concerned about.

While most black eyes can look pretty serious due to the dramatic color, an uncomplicated black eye will typically heal within a week to ten days. If it doesn’t, there could be a more serious issue such as a bone fracture or an orbital blowout fracture.This could present with restricted eye movement, especially if looking up or down, and numbness of the cheek and/or upper lip on the same side as the black eye. The eye may even appear sunken in. Further, if there is bleeding within the actual eye (called a hyphema) or floaters or flashes in the vision, then it is definitely advisable to see your eye doctor as soon as possible. These could be signs of more serious damage such a corneal or retinal damage and can lead to vision loss.

Treatment for a Black Eye in Kent

Usually, the best treatment for a black eye is to apply a cold compress (or even better, a bag of frozen vegetables, which is more flexible and can conform to the contours of the face) directly on the area. The cold will reduce swelling and constrict capillaries to reduce internal bleeding as well. Apply the cold for about 15-20 minutes every hour. If there is pain, over the counter pain medications can help.

If however, you experience any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical attention:

  • Blood on the surface of the eye or a visible incision on the eye
  • Vision changes such as double vision, blurred vision, loss of vision or the appearance of floaters
  • Loss of consciousness, dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of eye movement
  • Persistent headaches
  • Blood or fluids coming from the ears or nose
  • Vomiting
  • Signs of infection such as excessive swelling, pus, redness or a fever
  • Severe pain

In addition to blunt trauma, black eyes can be caused by sinus infections, nasal or eye surgery or other infections in the area such as the teeth infections or cellulitis (a serious infection that can occur around the eyes). A skull fracture can also cause both eyes to turn black, sometimes known as raccoon eyes.

Unless you notice any severe symptoms you can rest assured that your black eye is a bruise just like anywhere else on the body and with a little care, rest and patience, it will clear up in no time.

Eyewear For Kayaking and Whitewater Rafting

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For people who regularly paddle in rough surf, river and whitewater environments, equipment is always a subject of concern. There are quite a few sources of information about how to prepare for and buy this gear – such as dry suits, helmets, paddles, and even boats and kayaks.

However, just as important as the gear is the appropriate eyewear for kayaking and rafting. For successful and enjoyable outdoor boating of this kind, it is critical that good eyewear is purchased. For such athletes who are in need of corrective vision options, eyewear becomes an immediate concern. Generally speaking, there are four options: glasses, contacts, prescription goggles, and laser corrective surgery. However, because the decision to have surgery is a very personal one, and because many people disregard goggles as an uncomfortable and inconvenient option, the two most often chosen for kayakers and paddlers are glasses and contact lenses.

Glasses

When it comes to this debate, there is a clear choice for the average paddler: contact lenses offer corrected vision with no risk of hassles or issues that can easily arise from wearing glasses out on the river.

Here are a few specific issues to consider when making your eyewear choice:

Splash – The most obvious problem with wearing glasses in a choppy paddling environment is that splash from the river can obscure your vision. There is really no way to keep water droplets off of glasses, so while the lenses will correct your vision, you will be limited in other ways.

Steam – It is quite common in an environment such as out on the river for glasses lenses to steam up as your glasses need to cope with the change in temperature between the water and the air. This can actually be a worse obstruction than splash droplets – a steamed lens can become completely opaque, which can be at the best inconvenient and at the worst dangerous.

Loss – In large surf or during hole moves on the river it is not uncommon to lose your glasses. Glasses are made to fit tightly enough that they don’t fall off at random, but abrupt or violent shifts in position can still knock them out of place. You could, therefore, be inconvenienced by dropping your glasses into your boat, or, even worse, into the river!

Ultimately, the above-listed inconveniences are enough to make contact lenses the logical choice for paddlers and indeed other water sport enthusiasts. In fact, to make the decision even clearer, there are even some newer models of contact lenses that are specifically designed for enhanced stability. This can be helpful while kayaking or paddling, as significant splash can knock even contact lenses out of place!

If, however, you prefer prescription sports goggles see our specialty eyewear page.

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