Excerpt from the American Optometric Association:

With the record-breaking cold and snow the country experienced this winter, spring will be a much welcomed relief.  But, for many Americans who suffer from allergies, warmer weather brings the onset of sneezing, coughing and itchy, watery eyes.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), eye allergies, also called “allergic conjunctivitis,” are a reaction to indoor and outdoor allergens – pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander – that get in the eyes and cause inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner eyelid.

While eye allergies can affect anyone, spring can be particularly hard on contact lens wearers. Even if you don’t generally experience problems wearing contacts throughout most of the year, allergy season can make contacts uncomfortable.  Extended wear time and infrequent lens replacement are two of the main reasons contact lens wearers face more prevalent symptoms.

W. Lee Ball, O.D., staff optometrist, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, Boston, recommends contact lens wearers consider the following tips to make the spring season more comfortable:

•  Talk to your optometrist about changing your cleaning method or using single-use contact lenses.

•  If possible, reduce contact lens wearing time.  Otherwise, use eye drops as prescribed by a doctor of optometry.

When it comes to treating symptoms of allergies, the American Eye-Q®, a recent nationwide survey commissioned by the American Optometric Association, found almost half (44 percent) of allergy suffers use antihistamines or other medications to treat their symptoms. While antihistamines can help with typical symptoms like runny noses and sneezing, the medication can make ocular symptoms worse by reducing tear quality and quantity.

“To effectively treat and relieve the symptoms caused by eye allergies, patients should see their optometrist,” said Dr. Ball. “In most cases, we can soothe allergy-related conjunctivitis with prescriptions or over-the-counter eye drops depending on the patient and his or her medical history.”

Eye-Q® respondents also indicated that eye allergies can be a nuisance and interfere with participating in recreational outdoor activities (32 percent); sleep (29 percent) and the ability to think or concentrate (28 percent).  Fortunately, eye allergies can be curtailed and sometimes even prevented by following these recommendations from the AOA:

  • Don’t touch or rub your eyes.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Wash bed linens and pillowcases in hot water and detergent to reduce allergens.
  • Avoid sharing, and in some cases, wearing eye makeup.
  • Never share contact lenses or contact lens cases with someone else.

Beyond discussing allergy relief with your optometrist, the AOA also recommends adults have yearly eye exams. Based on an individual’s eye health and the severity of their eye allergies, the eye doctor may recommend more frequent visits. Contact us at 630-844-2500 to schedule an appointment at Park Family Eye Care.

Park Family Eye Care on Facebook

Come “like” our fan page on Facebook by going to https://www.facebook.com/ParkFamilyEye.  By “liking” our page you may have a chance to win 2 tickets to the Broadway Production of Hair at the Paramount Theatre for a show in March or April of 2012.  Good luck to all those who participate!!  

A new service called DemandForce will be implemented soon in our office to communicate with our patients by texting, emailing to remind patients, confirming appointments, sending newsletters, getting reviews,announcing new services and products, and making appointments. Bookmark our website on your smartphone to make appointments. Also reorder your contact lenses 24/7.

ST. LOUIS, MO, May 3, 2010With summer right around the corner, more people will be spending time outdoors and UV protection will be top of mind. Unfortunately, most people think about the protection of their skin, when they should also be considering the safety of their eyes. In fact, according to the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) American Eye-Q® survey, only one-third of Americans said UV protection is the most important factor they consider when purchasing sunglasses. Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, summer or winter, the AOA urges Americans to take measures to protect their eyes from the sun’s UV rays in order to decrease the risk of eye diseases and disorders.

“Overexposure to UV rays is quite serious and can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, or, in some cases, skin cancer around the eyelids,” said Sarah Hinkley, O.D., the AOA’s UV protection expert. “Other disorders that can occur are abnormal growths on the eye’s surface and even sunburn of the eyes. These conditions can cause blurred vision, irritation, redness, tearing, temporary vision loss and, in some instances, blindness.”

Even more concerning is the lack of awareness surrounding the potential effects of overexposure to UV radiation. According to the American Eye-Q® survey, 35 percent of adults are unaware of the eye health risks associated with spending too much time in the sun without the proper protection.

The following top five tips from the American Optometric Association may help prevent eye and vision damage from overexposure to UV radiation:

  1. Wear protective eyewear any time the eyes are exposed to UV rays, even on cloudy days and during the winter.
  2. Look for quality sunglasses or contact lenses that offer good protection. Sunglasses or protective contact lenses should block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
  3. Check to make sure sunglass lenses are perfectly matched in color and free of distortions or imperfections.
  4. Purchase gray-colored lenses because they reduce light intensity without altering the color of objects to provide the most natural color vision. Brown or amber-colored lenses may be better for those who are visually impaired because they increase contrast as well as reducing light intensity.
  5. Don’t forget protection for young children and teenagers, who typically spend more time in the sun than adults and are at a greater risk for damage.

Children need protection too
“The lenses of children’s eyes are more transparent than those of adults allowing shorter wavelength light to reach the retina,” said Dr. Hinkley. “Because the effects of solar radiation are cumulative, it’s important to develop good protection habits early, such as purchasing proper sunglasses for young children and teenagers.”

According to the AOA, parents should purchase sunglasses for all children, including infants.
The American Eye-Q® survey found 66 percent of Americans purchase sunglasses for their children, but more than one in four parents do not check to make sure the lenses have proper UV protection. Additionally, less than one third (29 percent) of parents make sure their child wears sunglasses while outdoors.

More information on UV protection

Additional information from the AOA’s 2009 American Eye-Q® survey, which identified Americans’ attitudes and behaviors regarding eye care and related issues, includes the following statistics:

  • While just over one-third (33 percent) of Americans said UV protection was the most important factor when purchasing sunglasses; the other factors respondents said were important included comfort/fit (26 percent), price (18 percent), style (15 percent) or lens color (3 percent).
  • 73 percent of survey respondents have worn lenses (contacts lenses or eyeglasses) that provide UV protection.
  • 38 percent of respondents wear prescription sunglasses.
  • 42 percent of respondents do not wear sunglasses during the winter months
  • 66 percent of parents do not make sure their children wear sunglasses during winter months.

A good way to monitor eye health, maintain good vision, and keep up-to-date on the latest in UV protection is by scheduling periodic comprehensive eye exams with an eye doctor. The AOA recommends adults age 60 and under have a comprehensive eye exam every two years and then annually thereafter. Based on an individual’s eye health, the optometrist may recommend more frequent visits.

Our office will launch a new service on June 17th. Stephanie Pinkston will join our team to provide hearing instrument service.

Mark you calendar to attend Alumni Weekend on August 27-29. A good place to connect with classmates and see the changes at ICO. Perhaps take the Chicago Trolley Tour or the Architectural Riverboat Tour or Good Old Fashioned “Blind Spot.” Go to the ico.edu website for details.

Dr. Bill Park has been invited to meet the alumni board of the nation’s largest and best optometry school, Illinois College of Optometry. It is a pleasure to become their ambassador.

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