Our Optometrists Answer Your Eyecare Questions
On our website home page we showcase new questions about common eye health concerns of interest to our patients. Drs. Bartoletti, Nogales, Mitchell and Swanson share their responses in order to help educate our patients and website visitors. This FAQ page houses our archives of FAQ.
The Dangers of Blue Light
Q. Are electronic devices really unhealthy for my eyes or is it all hype?
A. Dr. Bartoletti Responds: Electronic devices such as computer screens, laptops, tablets, smart phones and televisions are strong emitters of blue light (400-500 nm) which recent studies have shown can be harmful to the eye when over exposed. Cumulative lifetime exposure to blue light causes photo-oxidative stress in retinal cells that is a contributing factor to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Blue light does have some beneficial properties in that it coordinates our circadian rhythm and helps with mood, however even that can be thrown off by over use of these types of electronics. For patients that use a lot of electronics through the majority of their day and children who use a lot of electronics we, at Vista Eye Care, recommend a non-glare coating on glasses that can also block blue light coming from the devises. There is still a lot of research to be done on this topic and we have yet to see the long term effects of the increased exposure to blue light but we feel that with these types of coatings available to block blue light, it is important to make our patients aware of the potential risks and of the protection we can provide.
Q. Is it true that I can have diabetic retinopathy even though I am not experiencing any symptoms?
A. Dr. Nogales Responds: Yes. Diabetic retinopathy is bleeding and swelling on the retina caused by damage to small blood vessels from diabetes. This type of bleeding and swelling is more likely to be seen during your eye exam the longer you have had diabetes or depending on how good or bad your blood sugar control is. In the majority of cases, most patients do not see or feel these changes in their own eyes until there are severe changes or most of the time mistake the changes for a problem with their glasses. During an eye exam, your doctor can directly view the retina and blood vessels to monitor changes from diabetes even before you experience any symptoms.
Q. If my diabetes is controlled, can I rest assured that diabetic retinopathy is not something I have to worry about?
A. Dr. Nogales Responds: No. The longer a person has diabetes the more likely some sign of bleeding or swelling ie diabetic retinopathy, may be noted on the retina even if a person has really good blood sugar control. Also, as mentioned above these changes may not be something a patient notices but only seen with an eye exam. For our diabetic patients we recommend an eye exam annually not matter what their blood sugar control is and sometimes every 4-6 months if there control is poor.
Q. I understand that Glaucoma is all about having high pressure in the eye. Is that true?
A. Dr. Bartoletti Responds: Glaucoma is a progressive disease which causes damage to the optic nerve. It is NOT a disease of intraocular pressure (IOP), although IOP is the only modifiable risk factor. Elevated intraocular pressure can lead to glaucoma, but sometimes does not. You can also develop glaucoma with a normal or even low pressure. There is no magical number as to what pressure is best for any one eye. The optometrist determines what pressure is best by the severity of damage to the optic nerve, rate of progression, and what the average eye pressure is for the individual eye.
Q. How do I know if I am at risk for Glaucoma, what are the most important risk factors?
A. Dr. Bartoletti Responds:
a. Family History
b. Systemic conditions such as heart failure/disease, diabetes, migraines, Raynaud's phenomenon, and sleep apnea
c. High Intraocular Pressure or asymmetry of Intraocular Pressure
d. Optic nerve cupping or asymmetry
e. African American or Hispanic Race
f. Thin corneas
g. History of or present use of corticosteroids