Four Health Conditions That Can Lead to Vision Loss


We all know how important it is to eat right, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. But, it’s also important to see your doctor for an annual checkup. Routine medical visits can help doctors diagnose and treat serious medical conditions. Some serious medical conditions can lead to vision loss, and if they’re detected early enough, your doctor can help manage or treat the condition. Below you’ll find the most common health conditions that can lead to vision loss and risk factors to watch for.

Diabetic Retinopathy
According to the American Diabetes Association, living with diabetes can put you at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. This occurs when blood vessels in the retina become swollen or leak when blood sugar levels are too high. In severe cases, new blood vessels can form and create scar tissue which blocks vision. Monitoring your blood sugar and blood pressure levels can help prevent retinopathy.

If your vision is blurry, you could be suffering from cataracts. This happens when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. The National Eye Institute reports risk factors such as smoking, heavy drinking, diabetes and UV light exposure can lead to cataracts. In some cases, surgery is needed to help correct vision once cataracts have developed.

People who report that their peripheral (side) vision is diminishing may suffer from glaucoma.
The American Optometric Association notes when high fluid pressure in the eye builds up over time it has the potential to damage the optic nerve. Other symptoms include eye pain and redness, seeing halos around bright lights and tunnel vision. While lost eyesight cannot be restored, preventive measures can protect the remaining vision.

Macular Degeneration
Partial vision loss could be attributed to macular degeneration. As you age, the small center portion of the retina (macula) can start to deteriorate, causing dry and wet form. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation describes dry form as yellow deposits known as drusen, appearing in the macula and wet form as abnormal blood vessel growth behind the retina. Smoking and being overweight can increase your risk, as well as having light-colored irises.

All the conditions listed above share a common characteristic—no early warning signs. Getting an annual eye exam can help detect health conditions before they progress. If you need to visit an eye doctor for your annual eye exam, but don’t have insurance, consider a VSP Individual Vision Plan. It’s insurance you can buy on your own and it covers everything you’d expect from a vision plan: an eye exam, frames, lenses and more. Visit or call 800.785.0699 to learn more or enroll.

This is a guest post written by VSP employee Frances Preziosi.

Disclaimer: Information received through VSP Vision Care’s blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


Dry Eyes

The other day I just could not work on the computer. My eyes were hurting and I simply could not focus on anything.


I had this problem for the last few weeks but just ignored it thinking I was working too hard, but today it was just unbearable. My eyes were red, they were painful and I had blurry vision.

The doctor took one look and said I had dry eyes and I needed treatment ASAP. I panicked but then he said that there was no cause of panic and that proper treatment would help me get rid of the problem.

So I asked what are dry eyes?

It’s a condition where the eye is not able to produce enough tears or the tears produced evaporate quickly and cannot lubricate the eyes. For clear vision, the front surface of the eye needs to remain healthy and tears help maintain them. Dry eye is a common problem in adults which can become chronic if not attended to.

Symptoms of dry eyes:

Symptoms include

  • An itchy or scratchy feeling similar to when something is in your eye
  • There is a burning or stinging sensation in your eye
  • Your eyes have strings of mucus around it
  • You have red eyes and it increases when you are in a dusty place or around cigarette smoke
  • Wearing contact lenses is painful for you

What could cause dry eyes?

  • Dry eyes are a natural part of the aging process. People aged above 65 are more prone to it. Long-term use of contact lenses and LASIK surgery could also contribute to the decreased tear production, which in turn could cause dry eyes.
  • Women are more prone to dry eyes due to hormonal changes due to pregnancy and oral contraceptives.
  • Medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid problems are more likely to develop symptoms of dry eyes.

So the next question that pops into your mind is how will your doctor find out if you indeed have dry eyes?

Your doctor will run you through the following tests to confirm and find the cause of your dry eyes. This will help him determine the treatment.

  • A thorough eye exam: The doctor will check your eyes along with your overall health to diagnose what could be causing dry eyes.
  • Testing the quality of your tears: Special dyes are used in eye drops to test the surface condition of your eye. Your doctor checks for the staining patterns in your corneas and then determines how long it takes for your tears to evaporate.
  • Determining or measuring the volume of your tears: Your doctor might put blotting paper under your lower eyelids and measure the amount of tears soaked in five minutes. This test is called the Schirmer test.

After confirming that you have dry eyes your eye doctor will chalk out a treatment plant for you.

Treatments for Dry Eyes include:

Artificial Tears: If you have a mild case of dry eyes then you can use eye drops for temporary relief. Eye drops prescribed by your eye doctor will help lubricate your eyes.

Temporary Punctal Occlusion: Your doctor may temporarily plug the duct which drains tears from your eyes. If this solution works then your doctor may opt for permanent plugs.

Lipiflow: This is a medical device that uses pressure and heat to unclog the blocked glands. Once unblocked your tears will not evaporate.

Restasis or Xiidra are drops that help kick start your daily tear production.

Warm Compresses: This is more comfortable than some of the other procedures. Warm compresses are applied on closed eyelids for a minimum of 10 minutes at a temperature of 108 Fahrenheit twice a day.

Houman Ahdieh, MD
Lehigh Valley Center for Sight

Top 3 Ways to Soothe Seasonal Allergies


As winter shifts to spring, and flowers, grasses and trees begin to bloom, spring can take a toll on your eyes if you suffer from seasonal allergies. The spring season has a marked increase in pollen and allergens in the air, resulting in symptoms for allergy sufferers.

What are allergies? According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, an allergy occurs when the body’s immune system sees a substance as harmful and overreacts to it. The substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens. When someone has allergies, their immune system responds, resulting in an allergic reaction.

What can you do when you are suffering from eye allergies? By making some minor changes to your environment and activities, you can significantly reduce the amount of allergens you come in contact with, and lessen the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Stay Inside.
Keep your windows in your home and car closed. This will help to keep your surroundings clean during high pollen seasons. You can also purchase air filters and purifiers to help cleanse the air.

Protect Your Eyes.
Wear glasses, sunglasses or goggles when outdoors to minimize irritants having direct contact with your eyes.

Keep Everything Clean.
Thoroughly wash your hands after touching any animal, plant or tree. Frequently washing your bed linens can also help.

Seasonal allergies can be an unfortunate part of life. Check out our recent #AskAnEyeDoc for more tips on how to manage.

If allergy symptoms are prolonged or worsen, consult with your eye doctor to determine the best course of action.

Disclaimer: Information received through VSP Vision Care’s blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

How Come My Vision Changed After I Had a Baby?


It’s no secret, your body goes through some major changes during pregnancy. A lesser known fact is some expecting women experience vision changes pre-and post-partum.

How come my vision changed after I had a baby?

Approximately 20 percent of women experience this, according to Arian Fartash, OD. “The reason is because a lot of hormone changes go on when you’re pregnant.”

Hormones play a significant role in fluid retention so when estrogen levels are elevated, women tend to retain more water than usual. Just as many women will experience swollen feet, your eyes can swell too which could cause vision changes. The fluid retention can change the shape of the cornea which changes the way light passes through the eye, distorting one’s vision.

“It starts at the beginning of pregnancy, when your hormones are going all over the place,” said Dr. Fartash.

Your vision may return to normal once the hormones level out, but you could also experience the change permanently.

Dr. Fartash explains what you should do if you notice vision changes when you’re expecting in this episode of #AskAnEyeDoc:

Whether you’re pregnant or not, you should consult with your eye doctor if you notice any changes in your vision. Don’t have an eye doctor? Use our Find a Doctor tool for a quick and easy way to locate your nearest VSP network provider.

Need a vision care plan? Check out all the available individual plans to meet your eye care needs.

If you have a general eye-related question, be sure to comment below or post to social media with hashtag #AskAnEyeDoc.

Disclaimer: Information received through VSP Vision Care’s social media channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

A Game-Changing Treatment for Children with Lazy Eye


Most adults can remember a time from their childhoods where they observed another child wearing a pirate-like eye patch – and not at Halloween. In fact, maybe they were the child wearing the eye patch.

Whether the child was the observer or the wearer, the chances are that the eye patch was worn to treat what is colloquially called “lazy eye,” a condition known to medical specialists as amblyopia where one eye is weaker than the other.

Amblyopia occurs in about 3 percent of children and has traditionally been treated by “patching,” or covering the stronger eye with a patch in order to encourage the weaker eye to work harder and thus to gain greater eye-brain connection.

Though patching is an effective treatment, compliance can be a major issue. And even if children are perfectly compliant, in the process of treating a visual problem, patching may bring with it emotional and social problems; namely,  through self-consciousness a child may feel or bullying the child may receive for wearing the patch.

But it appears researchers have found a way to effectively treat amblyopia without patching, and in a truly win-win proposition, to make treatment fun.

The treatment, in the form of an iPad based game called Captain Lazy Eye, suggests that it may not only substitute for patching but work better than this traditional treatment.

As recounted in the JAMA Ophthalmology, 28 children aged 4 to 10 with a lazy eye participated in either an iPad game treatment group or an eye patch treatment group.

As explained by study author Krista Kelly, a postdoctoral fellow with the Crystal Charity Ball Pediatric Vision Evaluation Center at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest, “ The game required the kids to wear special glasses with red and green lenses, similar to 3D glasses, that separate game elements seen by each eye. For example, the stronger, healthy eye could see reduced-contrast elements, the amblyopic eye could see high-contrast elements, and both eyes could pick up high-contrast background images. The weaker eye is forced to work harder to keep up.”

Those in the game-treatment group played the game one hour per day, five days per week for two weeks, totalling 10 hours of treatment.

Those in the patch-treatment group wore the eye patch for two hours per day, seven days per week for two weeks, totalling 28 hours of treatment.

Not only did the game-treatment stack up to traditional path-treatment, it markedly outperformed it: after just two weeks of treatment, significantly more improvement was seen in the game-treated children than in the path-treated children.

“We found that the game was better than patching and children in that group improved twice as much,” Kelly confirmed.

Researchers were encouraged to discover that the game-treated group showed this significantly greater improvement with less than half as many hours of treatment as did the patch-treated group. (10 vs 28 hours).

Specifically, the authors reported that: “39 percent of the children in the iPad game group achieved 20/32 vision or better, compared with only 7 percent of the kids in the eye patch group.”

In their next move, researchers transferred patch-treated children to the game-treatment group, assigning them the same treatment protocols as the game-treated children.

Over the next two weeks, all study participants played the iPad game, with the former patch-treated group achieving the same improvements as seen in the original game-treated group.

Says Kelly about the findings: “The preliminary studies so far show promise but are only short term. We want to try adding new games, and we definitely want them to play it more than four weeks.”

Because early visual input plays a powerful in mapping the brain, it’s critical to catch amblyopia as early as possible. “If one of your eyes doesn’t have visual input, you map more monocular vision. Or if one muscle is really weak, you’ll map the brain really differently for the rest of your life,” Wendy Sue Swanson, executive director of Digital Health at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a pediatrician at The Everett Clinic in Mill Creek, Washington.

Swanson, who was not involved in the study, explained that the study was small but strong because it was populated with children presenting with muscle-related lazy eye and well as other lazy eye characterized by other visual conditions.

One of the things that struck Swanson about the study was the beneficial use of “screen time,” something that parents are often cautioned regulating on behalf of their children.

Swanson also affirmed the basic orientation of the study in its aim to achieve treatment efficacy in a way that proved to be enjoyable to the children, thus enhancing compliance and potentially solving for the emotional and social problems that patch-treatment can generate.

“I like the beautiful overlay of thinking in this study — about knowing what a standard of care is for an intervention and then using a tool to make it more engaging and child centered,” said Swanson.

At EyeCare 20/20, we’re full-service vision health providers who make it our business to ensure you have happy and healthy eyes. For any of your eye care needs from visual assessement for corrective eyewear to permanent vision correction through LASIK, give us a call today and see why we’re known as being the friendliest, most comprehensive, and most advanced eye care providers around!

The information presented on this Site and Blog and any related links is provided for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only. Nothing contained in this Site is intended to create a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a licensed, trained physician or health professional or to be a substitute for medical advice of a physician or trained health professional licensed in your state. You must never consider any of the information presented here as a substitute for consulting with your physician or health care provider for any medical conditions or concerns. Any information presented here is general information, is not medical advice, nor is it intended as advice for your personal situation. Please consult with your physician or health care provider if you have concerns about your health or suspect that you might have a problem.

ARVO 2018: Port Delivery System Designed to Reduce Burden of Lucentis Injections for Wet AMD

Dr. Christopher Brittain, Genentech medical director, discusses his company’s port delivery system, a tiny capsule implanted into the eye, for delivery of Lucentis® over a period of a few months. The device is currently in a Phase 2 clinical trial.

The image below shows the port implanted into an eye.


Mother’s Day (We See You, Mom)


Moms are often the chief medical officers of their households and the first line of defense when it comes to their family’s health. They are on call 24 hours, through every stage of life, and most of it goes unacknowledged because they make it look so easy. To mothers of all kinds, thank you for doing the hardest job in the world. Thank you for working tirelessly to care for others day after day, for never giving up on those who look up to you, and for understanding the powerful connection a mother figure can have in a person’s life. Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at Lehigh Valley Center For Sight.