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Optic Neuritis and Multiple Sclerosis: Understanding the Connection

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Mon, Nov 05, 2018 @ 04:37 PM

optic neuritis and MSThe optic nerve is comprised of a bundle of fibers which are responsible for transmitting images from the eye to the brain for interpretation.  A healthy optic nerve is crucial to strong eyesight, and when it becomes damaged, serious complications can result.  In the case of optic neuritis, inflammation of the optic nerve can threaten eyesight and produce symptoms such as pain, flashing lights, and reduced color perception.

The potential causes behind optic neuritis are many.  An episode may be set off by infections, drugs, or viruses. In many other cases, autoimmune disorders appear to be the cause of the inflammation.  One autoimmune disorder in particular which has been associated with the condition is multiple sclerosis.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. MS is often unpredictable and aggressive in its manor of attack. People who suffer from MS are at risk for paralysis, muscle stiffness, epilepsy, and symptoms that mimic brain damage such as forgetfulness, mood instability, slurred speech, and loss of motor skills and coordination.

How does MS lead to Optic Neuritis?

Those who experience optic neuritis and have not been diagnosed with MS are more than 50% more likely to develop MS over their lifetime than others.  Likewise, if a person suffers from MS already, they are more likely to experience episodes of optic neuritis in the future. MS acts by causing the immune system to attack the myelin surrounding the optic nerve, resulting in the classic inflammation and symptoms of optic neuritis. In addition to MS, there are other autoimmune disorders that attack the nerves in much the same way. Some of these conditions include lupus and neuromyelitis optica.

Treating Optic Neuritis

Most cases of optic neuritis resolve on their own; however, some may require the use of injectable steroids to help resolve inflammation.  Those who experience optic neuritis should also be mindful of the potential connection with MS.  If the condition is diagnosed and a brain scan reveals two or more lesions, proactive steps may be taken to help prevent the development of MS.  Speak with your physician to learn more about these options.

If you suffer from MS and experience frequent episodes of optic neuritis, consulting with a specialist is within your best interest. Eye Specialists of Louisiana have a dedicated staff trained to help you make the decisions that will best protect and preserve your vision and eye function. Call or contact us today for a consultation.

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How to Examine Your Child's Eyes [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Fri, Oct 26, 2018 @ 02:18 PM

Spotting problems with a child's eye health and vision is not always easy.  Without the language to fully describe their symptoms and often a reluctance to be fully forthcoming, parents are often left to decipher the clues at hand.  In the infographic below, we describe 6 symptoms which may indicate a problem with a child's eyes.  When multiple symptoms are observed or symptoms persist over time, it is important to see an ophthalmologist for a thorough eye exam.

 

your childs eyes infographic

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Tags: Childhood Vision Health

What Could These Symptoms Mean for Your Eyes?

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Mon, Oct 22, 2018 @ 03:00 PM

eye symptomsBeing proactive with your health is one of the best things that you can do for your body. You can eat a healthy diet, take vitamins, and exercise, but you should also focus on being in tune with your body.  When something is off, the body will generally try to tell you through warning signs and symptoms.  The ability to recognize these signs early can be highly beneficial in protecting overall health, particularly when they affect anything as important as the eyes.

Discharge from the Eye

Discharge from the eye, particularly when thick or crusty is never normal.  In most cases, this symptom is a sign of an infection of the outer layer of the eye.  In addition, the eyes may be red and itchy. The cause of conjunctivitis can be either bacterial or viral.  Mild cases are likely to disappear on their own.  However, a doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops to speed the healing process and prevent the spread of infection. Cold packs and artificial tears can also relieve the discomfort caused from inflammation.

Watering and Itching in Both Eyes

Allergens like dust, pet dander, and pollen can cause your eyes to become irritated.  When both eyes appear to be red and become watery or itchy, this is a likely explanation. The best solution is to identify the allergen responsible for symptoms, separate yourself from the source, and take antihistamines. Eye drops may be used as well to help ease symptoms, but it is important to note that these alone will not resolve the problem.

Gritty Feeling Eyes

If your eyes feel gritty, dry, or sandy, you are likely experiencing dry eyes. This can be caused by hormonal fluctuations, medications, or habits like staring at screens and lights without blinking often enough.  Artificial tears and frequent screen breaks can often make a significant improvement for dry eye sufferers.

Lump at the Edge of the Eye

Sties and chalazions are both conditions that appear as a pimple-like bump around the eyelid. A sty is an infected or ingrown hair in the follicles of the eyelash, while a chalazion is underneath the eyelid and further away from the edge. In many cases, these require a warm compress to encourage drainage. Sometimes, the bumps may harden, swell, and become quite painful.  In that case, a visit with a doctor for prescription creams or ointments will be needed.

Sharp Eye Pain after Trauma

If the eye appears red and has a sharp, persistent pain following trauma such as a sports injury, car accident, or fall, there is likely an abrasion to the cornea.  These occur when force causes a scratch or tear in the cornea, or the eye’s outer lens.  They can be very dangerous to vision and should be promptly treated by a medical professional.

Irritation along the Lash Line

If you notice that your eyes are feeling dry and sandy and that a lot of your irritation is around the lash line, you may be suffering from blepharitis. This is a chronic condition where the oil glands in the eyes become clogged. The best treatment is to use warm compresses to increase the flow of these glands. Artificial tears and eye drops may also help alleviate the symptoms that many find bothersome.

If you are experiencing any of these conditions or symptoms and home remedies are not proving successful, contact Eye Specialists of Louisiana for an eye exam today. Being proactive with the health of your eyes is the best way to preserve them and ensure that they will remain healthy and functioning for the long haul.

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First-Time Contact Lens Wearers: Tips to Get Started

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Mon, Jul 30, 2018 @ 02:04 PM

woman in her forties inserting contact lensesThe transition to contact lenses can be a little tricky for first-time wearers. Many are eager to try them and get a clear view of the world without glasses. Still, just like with any change, there is often a degree of anxiety and a learning curve that comes with the transition.

Although many patients are nervous about applying their contact lenses initially, the truth of the matter is that application and removal is safe, easy, and poses little threat of eye injury when the proper steps are followed. And, although the thought of something foreign in the eye is bothersome to some, today’s lens options are comfortable and should provide improved vision without discomfort.  Here are a few simple tips that, when followed, can allow wearers to make the most of their new contact lenses:

How to Prepare for Contact Lenses                                

There are a few simple habits that you must develop to ensure your transition to contact lenses goes smoothly. The first is to make sure that your hands are clean. Wash your hands with soap and water anytime you will be handling your lenses. Doing so will eliminate the threat of bacteria or abrasive substances inadvertently entering your eye.

The next habit is keeping your contact lenses moisturized.  Dry contacts equate to dry and irritated eyes. Many contact wearers place their contacts in fresh solution overnight to ensure that they are clean, moisturized and ready for wear each morning. However, this is not always necessary.  Some brands of contacts can be left in overnight without irritation.  For the best results, it is always wise to follow the manufacturer’s and doctor’s instructions.

Finally, you will need to ensure that your contacts are facing the correct direction each time you put them in.  Place your contact lens on the tip of your finger, and hold it at eye level.  Its shape should resemble a bowl.  However, if you notice that the edges flare out, your lens is inside out and should be corrected before placing it in your eye to ensure proper function and to avoid discomfort.

Habits to Break When Wearing Contact Lenses

In addition to habits you should develop for optimal contact lens wear, there are a few you may need to break as well.  One of the most important is to stop touching or rubbing your eyes. While you may be used to taking off your glasses and rubbing your eyes to give them some relief, this same habit can be problematic when wearing contact lenses.  Not only could you introduce dirt or bacteria into the eye, but you could knock the lens out of place as well.

You should also avoid certain things that make your eyes dry out. Computer screens, dry hot air, and cigarette smoke are all outside sources that can contribute to dryness of the eyes.  Similarly, it will be important to ensure adequate water intake.  If you don’t already drink water throughout the day, now is the time to start.  Not only will you help prevent dry eyes, you will improve your overall health.

Eye Specialists of Louisiana has helped many people make the transition to contact lenses, and our team of specialists are here to answer any questions you may have about making the switch.  Although the change may be a little daunting in the beginning, the benefits of contact lenses can be extraordinary.  Schedule an eye exam today, and ask if contact lenses are right for you!

 7 Unhealthy Habits That Are Harming Your Vision

Tags: Glasses and Contacts

What is Astigmatism, and How is it Treated?

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 @ 05:08 PM

astigmatism testDo you feel as though your vision is blurry from all distances? Do you find your self suffering from eye strains and headaches when reading or watching television for a prolonged period? If so, you may be one of the millions of Americans who have astigmatism.

Astigmatism is not an eye disease, but an error in the way that the eyes refract light. These refractive errors are caused by imperfections in the round shape of the cornea, or the lens inside of the eye. Ideally, these parts are perfectly round and symmetrical.  However, for people with astigmatism, their curvature is misshapen.  Instead of a perfectly round cornea and/or lens, these structures are more oval or “football-shaped.”  This results in an eye with essentially two different refractive errors (i.e. glasses prescriptions).  One along the long axis of the football, and one along the short axis.   

Three Types of Astigmatism.

Astigmatism affects different patients in different ways and may appear in any of the following forms:

  • Myopic- Both of the two refractive errors are near sighted. This results in blurry distance vision and better vision up close.  But unlike a nearsighted person without astigmatism, even near objects are not perfectly clear because of the irregular eye shape.
  • Hyperopic- The two errors of the eye are farsighted. This will make objects closer to the eyes appear blurry. Far away objects will look better than close objects, but still not crisp and clear.
  • Mixed- One axis of astigmatism is nearsighted and one is farsighted. This results in vision that is not particularly better at any certain distance, and is not very clear overall.

Diagnosis of Astigmatism

Diagnosing astigmatism is very simple and may be accomplished using a number of different tests.  These include:

  • Vision Test – You will be asked to read letters off of a chart from 20 feet away.
  • Refraction – You will look at the chart through a series of different lenses, telling your doctor which ones appear clear or blurry.
  • Keratometry – Your doctor will use a machine to measure the degree of bend in the center of your cornea.
  • Corneal Topography – You will focus on a specific point as a computer collects measurements of your cornea, producing a detailed map.

Treatment for Astigmatism

Astigmatism is very common, and there are a variety of ways to treat it. For many, it is as simple as choosing glasses or contact lenses to improve blurred vision, while LASIK surgery is also gaining popularity as another corrective option. Through this procedure, a laser is used to reshape the eye’s cornea to an appropriate curvature, thereby correcting associated refractive errors and astigmatism.

No matter what route you choose to correct your vision, Eye Specialists of Louisiana has a highly-trained staff who are dedicated to helping improve your vision. If you are suffering from blurred eyesight due to astigmatism, scheduling an eye exam is the first step to correct the problem. Contact us today, and schedule a consultation with an ophthalmologist to determine what treatment options are best suited to address your vision problems.

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Tags: Astigmatism

16 Reason To Visit An Ophthalmologist

16 Reasons To Visit An Ophthalmologist

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