Dr. Jones answers your questions about eyecare:
Q: Should I wear sunglasses during the winter?
A: Yes! Ultraviolet (UV) rays can be just as damaging to your eyes during the winter as they are during the summer. UV rays are still strong during the winter because the sun sits lower in the sky, and at a different angle. Your eyes can be susceptible to UV exposure when sunlight bounces off of snow and reflects UV rays back up (sometimes up to 80 percent of them). Additionally, when sunlight reflects off of snow, it makes it very bright outside and can create an intense glare that makes it difficult to see. . In the long-term, overexposure to UV rays can lead to eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.
Q: I have an infant, a toddler, and a teenager; should my kids be wearing sunglasses?
A: Yes. Everyone should protect their eyes from UV-light, which can include tanning beds and welding machines as well as the sun. Excess exposure to UV-light can increase a person’s risk of macular degeneration and premature cataracts. Did you know your eyes can get “sunburn”? It’s a condition called photokeratitis, which can occur after the eyes are exposed to too much UV light. Some symptoms of photokeratitis are sensitivity to light, redness, pain, and foreign body sensation—luckily it causes no permanent damage to the eyes. But, long-term exposure to UV light can cause damage both to the skin and the eyes. To avoid problems in the future, shield your eyes and your children’s eyes with sunglasses that offer UV protection.
Q: What can I do to prevent dry eyes?
A: Dry eyes are caused by many factors. If you know you have dry eyes, try to pay attention to what makes them feel better or worse. For example, do not blow your hair dryer directly towards your eyes. Add moisture to the air with a humidifier. Use eye protection outdoors like wrap around sunglasses or other protective eyewear. Be mindful of changes in your environment (traveling). Position your computer screen below eye level. Stop smoking and avoid smoky areas. Supplement with lubricating eye drops and Omega 3 (orally).
Q: At what age should my child have his/her eyes examined?
A: Eye exams for children should start between 6mos-1 year old. There is a nation-wide program called InfantSee (http://www.infantsee.org/) where participating providers offer a FREE eye exam to children in this age group to make sure the eyes are developing properly. If there are no issues detected, an exam at 3 and 5 years old is sufficient to make sure the eyes are still developing properly for preschool and kindergarten. Since babies and toddlers have no way of knowing if what they see is “normal” and “clear” or not, having a comprehensive eye exam is the best way to ensure their eyes and vision is developing properly. Any ocular issues are best addressed sooner rather than later because 80% of learning takes place through vision in kids!
Q: What is color blindness?
A: Color blindness occurs when you are unable to see colors in a normal way. Most commonly, color blindness happens when someone cannot distinguish between certain colors, usually between greens and reds, and occasionally blues. The vast majority of people with color vision deficiency is genetic and is inherited from their mother. People can also become color blind as a result of diseases such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes or the acquire due to aging and medication.
Q: Can I wear my contact lenses while I sleep?
A: It’s always better NOT to wear your contact lenses while sleeping. Complications and infections in contact lens wearers multiplies 3-5 fold when worn during sleeping/extended wear. Many of these infections and complications can be very painful, they require discontinued use of the contacts during treatment that may last up to a few months, and can even lead to permanent vision loss.