The Importance Of Protecting Your Eyes From Sun Damage

Berks Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Ltd.

Most of us already know how important it is to protect our skin from the power of the sun. The effects of damage from ultraviolet solar rays are obvious: dry, wrinkled skin, sun spots, and in too many cases, skin cancer. The trusted vision care team at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons reminds you that your eyes are much more sensitive than your skin, and need a level of protection at least as strong as the sunscreen you use daily.

Costs of Neglect

The consequences of subjecting your eyes to years of unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays can be severe — for your eyes and for the delicate skin surrounding your eyes. In fact, up to 10 percent of all skin cancers occur on the fragile skin near your eyes. The eyelids are a common location for this type of malignancy.

For the eye itself, long-term exposure to the sun can cause cataracts; macular degeneration, which often leads to total loss of vision; pterygia, which are growths on the eye; and photokeratitis, which is essentially a sunburn on the eye.

Framing the Issue

Given these facts, it’s clear that sunglasses should be an indispensable daytime fashion accessory for everyone. And it’s also clear that when it comes to the health of your eyes and the sharpness of your vision, frugality is not a virtue.

Those cheap sunglasses you see on the rack at the drugstore can be quite costly in the long run. Most of these inexpensive varieties block only part of the sun’s harmful UV rays. Meanwhile, they trick you — and your eyes — into thinking that you are wearing adequate protection. The darker lenses of the sunglasses reduce visible light, and in response your pupils dilate. In doing so, they are allowing a higher intensity of ultraviolet light to enter and begin damaging the retina.

For optimal protection from all these risks, look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVB and UVA ultraviolet rays. If the label includes a UV 400 notation, that is a sign that the product offers complete blockage of ultraviolet light.

Because much of the ultraviolet light reaching your eyes is reflected off the inner surface of the lenses or penetrates through the side, wraparound or large, snug-fitting sunglasses are ideal. Wraparound sunglasses have the added benefit of protecting more of the delicate skin near your eyes. Some types of sunglasses feature anti-reflective coatings for the inner lenses. Polarized lenses are also a prudent investment, as these lenses almost always provide exemplary protection from damaging ultraviolet rays.

If you would like to learn more about ways to protect your eyes from UV rays, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation in our Reading office with one of the skilled ophthalmologists at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons today.

Dangers Of Elevated Eye Pressure

Berks Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Ltd.

Regularly checking your eye pressure is an important way you can help preserve your vision for a lifetime. Elevated eye pressure can occur without symptoms, and is as dangerous to your eyes as hypertension is to your organs. It is often the first sign that you may be developing glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness.

Below, the experienced vision care team at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons discusses prevention and treatment strategies for this serious condition.

Dangerous Imbalance

In many cases, it is not clear what causes an imbalance to occur in the production and drainage of aqueous humor, the fluid inside your eye. Pressure builds as the eye creates new fluid and the channels which normally drain the aqueous humor become obstructed or damaged. Once that happens, the effect is similar to the over-inflation of a balloon. There’s no bursting of tissue, but serious damage to the optic nerve can result.

Injury to the eye can trigger this chain of events. Eye trauma can range from a sports injury to a car accident, and if it happens near the eye with sufficient velocity, it can damage those vital drainage channels, setting in motion the rise in pressure. Often there is no obvious injury or damage to the release channels, yet the natural system of drainage unexpectedly stops working.

Risk Correlations

You are at greater risk for developing ocular hypertension is you are over 40, have thin corneas or have a family history of glaucoma. African Americans also have a statistically higher risk.

Use of steroids, including steroid eye drops that are sometimes prescribed after eye surgery, is also linked to elevated pressure within the eye. In addition, ocular hypertension may suddenly appear with the onset of other eye conditions, such as pseudoexfoliation syndrome, a disease related to age and genetics in which small protein fibers accumulate, clump together and block the free flow of fluid within the eye.

Pigment dispersion syndrome can similarly cause accumulation of drainage-blocking particles in the eye. When this condition occurs, granules of pigment break loose from the iris and obstruct one or more channels. Other causes include the fat deposits associated with corneal arcus. These lipids can increase in number with age, although younger individuals with high cholesterol may also develop corneal arcus.

If you would like to learn more about the risks of elevated eye pressure, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation in our Reading office with one of the skilled ophthalmologists at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons today.

Understanding The Different Types Of Cataracts

Berks Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Ltd.

When cataracts develop, images gradually become duller and hazier over time. Colors fade and vision slowly dims. These effects have real consequences for the quality of life and safety of individuals whose cataracts have become advanced.

Although the effects are the same, the types of cataracts that precipitate this visual decline vary. Here, the experienced vision care professionals of Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons review the fundamental causes and effects.

Cataract Types

Cataracts occur when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy, obscuring the image it projects on the retina. This process can begin in our 60s and becomes more common with each passing year.

The most common type of cataract, the nuclear sclerotic cataract, follows this age-related pattern. With this type of cataract, the central part of the lens (nucleus) hardens and gradually becomes yellow or brown. 

Cortical cataracts, by contrast, form around the edges of the lens nucleus. When the clouding begins at the back of the lens, the result is a posterior capsular cataract.

Congenital cataracts are less common, and are usually detected during a child’s first year. 

Medications or diseases such as glaucoma and diabetes can cause a type of cataracts called secondary cataracts. Injury to the eye sometimes results in traumatic cataracts, which may appear years after the initial impact or injury. Radiation cataracts can develop in cancer patients who are receiving radiation treatment.

Surgical Solution

In each case, the solution is the same: cataract surgery, a simple, convenient and routine procedure. Millions of cataract surgeries are performed each year. In this procedure, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with a lens implant that will remain clear for life. Originally performed with the use of a miniature blade, cataract removal is now done using a femtosecond laser to make incisions.

Our premier eye surgeons perform advanced cataract surgical procedures for patients in Reading and throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. We also offer state-of-the-art intraocular lenses that will replace your natural lenses with permanent, resilient artificial lenses that, depending on your preference, can give you superb vision at a variety of distances.

If you would like to learn more about cataracts, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation in our Reading office with one of the skilled ophthalmologists at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons today.

As Appeared In Berks Encore December 2020

Berks Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Ltd.

Cataracts: The Journey from Cloudy to Clarity
By Dr. Kasey Pierson M.D.
Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons

Trouble driving at night due to glare from headlights? Glasses no longer work or the prescription is constantly changing? Unable to see the things you enjoy to do? These frustrations can be caused from the almost inevitable formation of cataracts in the eyes. Cataracts are the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world and removing them is the most common procedure performed in the United States every year. What is a cataract really though?

Many people have heard of the term cataract but few people, including some people who have even had the surgery to remove them, know what a cataract actually is. Simply put, inside of our eyes and behind the colored portion, called the iris, we all have a spherical lens that helps focus light allowing us to see. This lens is initially crystal clear allowing for good vision.  As we age, the proteins in the lens begin to compact, break down, and become cloudy. Usually beginning around the age of 50, this slowly progressing process is what ultimately causes the formation of cataracts. Hence the inevitable component of cataracts; if people live long enough, everyone will develop them. Luckily there is a quick and safe option to remove them.

“Cataracts.” December 12, 2012.

Cataract surgery has been happening since 800 BC. Early civilizations used a technique known as couching which involves a sharp object inserted through the front of the eye, pushing the lens/cataract backwards.  Over the centuries eye surgery improved to the point where a 10 mm incision would be made to remove the cataract as a single piece.  However, it still required hospitalization for up to 2 weeks, and patient’s needed “coke-bottle” glasses to see. Thanks to the exponential improvement of technology over the last 40 years, we have finally arrived at modern day cataract surgery where patients can obtain spectacle-free vision.

Nowadays, cataract surgery represents one of the safest, quickest, and life changing surgeries.  In as little as 10-15 minutes a cataract can be removed and replaced with a new clear artificial lens. No needles. No injections. Only eye drops are necessary to numb the eye for the surgery, during which patients experience no pain. Furthermore, small incisions allow for a sutureless surgery. Once completed, patients can go directly home to enjoy their new vision!

Although inevitable, cataracts cause no permanent damage and vision loss can be completely reversed. The time to remove them is when a patient is having enough problems and is ready to have the surgery. No need to rush. An Ophthalmologist, or eye surgeon, like myself will be ready when you are.

Understanding Mgd

Berks Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Ltd.
LASIK Recovery in Reading, PA

If you are suffering from MGD, your symptoms will appear almost identical to those of dry eye syndrome. In fact, MGD is a prime cause of dry eye. Because these two conditions are so closely allied, only a trained professional like the experienced doctors of Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons can accurately diagnose and treat the root cause of your eye pain or blurred vision.

Oil and Water

The fine layer of moisture on the surface of your eye protects sensitive tissues, lubricates eye movement and promotes clarity in your vision. This layer is actually comprised of water, oil and mucus, and a deficiency in any of these three can lead to irritation and dryness.

When the cause of your discomfort is dry eye syndrome (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), the problem is a decrease in the amount of tears protecting the eye’s surface. When the condition is MGD (meibomian gland dysfunction), the 20 to 30 glands in the lower eyelid that secrete oils or lipids are not working properly. The purpose of these oils is to keep tears from evaporating quickly. When gland function is interrupted, the watery surface of the eye is constantly dissipating, resulting in evaporative dry eye. 

Symptoms for both dry eye and MGD may include pain or a burning sensation in the eyes, itchiness, redness, light sensitivity and blurred vision. Patients may have a feeling that there is a small particle in the eye.

MGD is common in the general population. Risk increases with age, with those over 40 having the highest likelihood of developing MGD. There also seems to be a correlation of MGD with heavy use of eye makeup. Over time, cosmetics can clog the meibomian glands and suppress oil production.

Convenient Solutions

In recent years many exciting new treatment therapies have been developed. The LipiFlow thermal pulsation system uses targeted heat to melt away waxy gland obstructions in as few as eight minutes.

If you would like to learn more about MGD, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation in our Reading office with Dr. Domenic C. Izzo, Jr. at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons today.

How Quickly Will I Recover From Lasik?

Berks Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Ltd.
LASIK Recovery in Reading, PA

Advanced technology has made LASIK more convenient and comfortable than ever before. Part of that convenience is the brevity of the procedure and speed at which your eyes achieve maximum clarity.

The surgical laser is in contact with the cornea for 40 seconds or less, and the entire procedure is over in about a half hour. The recovery period is also brief, and typically free of complications. Below, the experienced vision care professionals of Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons outline the phases of post-LASIK healing.

Recovery Stages

Your eyes begin healing immediately after your LASIK procedure, and you should begin seeing clearly within eight hours. Over the next few months, your vision will adjust to the new cornea shape until you achieve maximum clarity.

During the recovery period, some patients report slight fluctuations in vision, sensitivity to light, halos around lights, occasional blurring and difficulty with night driving. In addition, it is not uncommon to experience dry eyes for weeks or months. You may briefly experience a slight itching or burning sensation. Give your eyes room to heal efficiently by avoiding makeup, swimming, vigorous physical activity, contact sports and, especially, rubbing the eyes.

Make sure to keep your follow-up appointments, as it allows your ophthalmologist an opportunity to measure the changes in your vision and check for any complications. If you do feel pain as your eyes heal, this is actually an indicator that you need to return to the office so that your surgeon can check for infection or other side effects that require prompt attention.

If you would like to learn more about LASIK, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation in our Reading office with Dr. Domenic C. Izzo, Jr. at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons today.

At What Age Will I Need Reading Glasses?

Berks Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Ltd.
Presbyopia Treatment in Reading, PA

At age 40 or above, you are likely to experience presbyopia, the condition that makes a trip to the drug store’s reading-glass carousel a middle-age rite of passage for many.

Presbyopia becomes obvious when a person begins holding books and magazines farther away to allow the eyes to focus on fine print at greater distances. Eventually everyone runs out of arm length, and must accept that vision correction is necessary for focusing on close distances. Below, the experienced vision care team at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons reviews treatment options for presbyopia, including traditional lenses, LASIK and advanced IOLs.

Rigid With Age

As we grow older, the lenses in our eyes become thicker and less flexible, and it becomes harder for the optical ciliary muscle to flex the lenses sufficiently to focus on near objects. In addition to needing larger print, greater distances and brighter light to read, you may also experience headache and eye strain. Although the effect is the same as farsightedness, it is actually a separate condition. One main difference is that farsightedness usually shows up much earlier in life.

Revolutionary Spectacles

Solutions to presbyopia trace as far back as Benjamin Franklin, whose enlightened quest to free himself from myopia and presbyopia led to the invention of bifocals. Eyeglasses remain a popular choice for mild presbyopia, even as the options have expanded beyond that of a pair of “Ben Franklins.” Progressive lenses blur the line between lenses of different strength and contour, and trifocals allow clear vision at a range of distances.

Contact lenses have been designed with these same principles in mind. Thanks to tremendous technological advances in recent years, multifocal contacts can now provide seamless, panoramic vision for patients with almost any type of prescription. In addition, some people choose the “monovision” option. Using this technique, a patient wears one contact lens that corrects for near vision; and, if correction for distance is necessary, a lens for nearsightedness in the other eye.

Surgical solutions include LASIK and refractive lens exchange (RLE), which replaces your eyes’ natural lenses with permanent, multifocal intraocular lenses (IOLs). IOLs are most commonly used after cataract surgery.

If you would like to learn more about effective solutions for presbyopia, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation in our Reading office with one of the skilled ophthalmologists at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons today.

Tips To Avoid Digital Eye Strain

Berks Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Ltd.

With more of our work, communication and leisure time taking place digitally, the team at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons has seen an uptick in patients experiencing symptoms of computer vision syndrome — also referred to as digital eye strain.

Common symptoms of digital eye strain include eye fatigue, eye dryness or irritation, headaches, blurry vision and neck and shoulder pain. The more time spent using a computer, the worse the symptoms can be.

Luckily, there are ways to reduce symptoms of digital eye strain without giving up your job or social media use. Read on as our team shares some simple steps to minimize digital eye strain when working on computers.

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Why We Dilate Your Eyes During An Eye Exam

Berks Eye Physicians & Surgeons, Ltd.

The team at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons greatly values your ocular health, and we want to help you enjoy clear vision as long as possible. One of the most important ways to ensure the long-term health of your eyes is to have regular comprehensive eye exams.

Often our doctors use dilating drops prior to eye exams. Dilating your eyes allows more light into your eyes, giving our doctors a clear look all the way into the back of your eyes.  Think of dilation as a way of opening a door to see inside a room, instead of trying to look through a peephole.

Not only can we spot problems like a torn retina or an eye tumor during dilated eye exams, we can also catch signs of systemic diseases early — sometimes before a primary care doctor or specialist has a chance to diagnose these conditions.

Continue reading “Why We Dilate Your Eyes During an Eye Exam”
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