What to expect during an eye exam

eye-exam-37066978Have you been putting off getting an eye exam? August is National Eye Exam Month, making it the perfect time to take charge of your vision health.

Even if your vision seems fine to you, eye exams can identify potential problems and serious threats, like glaucoma and cataracts, before they get out of hand.

During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor will exam both the inside and outside of your eyes through a series of tests.

Sharpness and clarity
Visual acuity tests measure the sharpness and clarity of your vision. The doctor will test how well you can see objects, from a distance and up close, by having you identify the smallest line of letters you can read clearly on an eye chart.

Cover test
How well your eyes work together is measured using the cover test. The doctor will have you stare at a distant object in the room while having you cover each eye alternately. You’ll repeat the test focusing on an object close to you. The doctor uses these tests to assess whether the uncovered eye must move to focus on the target.

Ocular mobility
To evaluate how well your eyes can follow a moving object and move between two separate objects, your doctor will conduct two tests. The doctor will have you follow the movement of a small light or other target with just your eyes. You’ll then be asked to focus on one object and move your eyes to another to test how well your eyes move between the two objects.

Early on in your examination, the doctor measures the eyes’ refraction using a retinoscope. The doctor shines a beam of light in the eye, then places a series of lenses in front of the eye, and observes the reflection off the retina. The way the light reflects determines if you can see clearly or if you are farsighted, nearsighted or have astigmatism. This test provides the doctor with an estimate of your glasses or contact lense prescription.

The doctor will use an instrument known as a phoropter to develop your final vision prescription. The phoropter is put in front of your eyes, and the doctor shows you a series of lenses. You can identify the ones that make your vision the sharpest.

Eye pressure
Two tests can be used to check the fluid pressure of the eyes to see if it is in normal range: the “puff test,” or an applanation tonometer test. During the “puff test” the doctor uses a non-contact tonometer (NCT) to gently push a puff of air onto the eye. Or the doctor may put numbing drops in the eyes and touch the surface of each eye with an applanation tonometer.

These tests can help identify glaucoma, a pressure buildup in the eye, which can damage the optic nerve over time and cause vision loss.

Pupil dilation
The last step in a comprehensive eye exam is to dilate the pupil. In this test, known as the dilated fundus exam, eye drops are put into the eyes to increase the size of the pupil. The doctor uses a slit lamp and biomicroscope to examine the internal areas of the eye, including the optic nerve, blood vessels, retina, vitreous and macula. Pupils may remain dilated for three to four hours after this test.

It typically takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete a comprehensive eye exam. Your doctor may also offer you optional tests, such as photographing the eye, which may not be covered by your insurance.

After the exam, your doctor will discuss with you any corrective measures you may need and work with you to choose the method that best fits your lifestyle. Whether you need corrective measures or not, the doctor will recommend a date for your next exam.

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National Fresh Breath Day: Tips to Freshen Your Breath

National-Fresh-Breath-Day_87681877_900That clean, fresh feeling your mouth has after you brush your teeth in the morning helps get your day started and can give you a boost of confidence. But as the day wears on, your breath may take a nose dive.

To mark National Fresh Breath Day, we’ve identified some potential causes of bad breath and ways that you can maintain clean, fresh breath.

Bad breath can be caused by:

  • Foods: Eating garlic, onions and spicy dishes can not only lead to strong odors lingering in your mouth, but after these foods are digested, their chemicals travel through the bloodstream to the lungs where you breathe them out.
  • Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing and flossing enough can lead to plaque and bacteria build up in your mouth resulting in cavities, gum disease and infections.
  • Dry mouth: Saliva helps clean your mouth naturally. When your mouth is dry and not producing enough saliva, food particles and bacteria remain in your mouth causing bad breath.
  • Health issues: Diseases such as diabetes, bronchitis, acid reflex, ulcers, cancers and kidney or liver disease can give off strong odors that can be detected in the mouth.
  • Tobacco: Smoking and chewing tobacco cause their own unpleasant odors. Using tobacco can also lead to gum disease, which is another source of bad breath.

You can freshen your breath by:

  • Brushing your teeth and tongue at least twice a day and flossing at least once per day. Using a tongue scraper also helps remove bacteria from your tongue.
  • Drinking lots of water to rinse and clean your mouth of bacteria.
  • Avoiding sweets. Bacteria feed on sugar making bad breath worse.
  • Chewing sugarless gum to produce saliva, which cleans your mouth.
  • Not using tobacco.

If these tips don’t help eliminate bad breath, consult your dentist or doctor. Your bad breath may be a symptom of a larger medical issue.

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Six ways to reduce the effects of sport drinks on your teeth

Advantica-sports-drinks-900Summer is here and that means getting more outdoor exercise like walking, hiking and biking. To quench their thirst, many people turn to sports drinks, but may be unaware of the harm that these beverages can have on teeth.

The acid levels of sports drinks can cause damage to teeth by softening tooth enamel and exposing the softer material underneath. When tooth enamel becomes damaged, teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, and more vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay. Since tooth enamel can’t be regrown, its loss is irreversible.

Sports drinks may be needed to replace electrolytes after long, high intensity workouts, but for light to moderate exercise, water is still the best drink for rehydrating. If you do reach for a sports drink, follow these tips to minimize the effects on your teeth:

  1. Dilute with water to reduce concentrated sugar levels
  2. Drink out of a straw to minimize contact with teeth
  3. Drink in moderation
  4. Chew sugar-free gum after drinking to increase saliva flow, which helps return acid levels to normal levels
  5. Rinse your mouth with water to keep excess drink from collecting on teeth
  6. Wait 30-60 minutes before brushing, since the toothbrush could spread acid around the mouth and cause further damage to teeth

These tips will help keep your oral health in shape as you work towards improving your overall physical health through exercise.

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Make Summer Reading More Enjoyable by Following the 20-20-20 Rule

boy-reading-in-library-AdvanticaSummer reading programs are a great way for kids to retain what they learned during the school year and continue to develop their reading skills.

Help your kids get the most out of summer reading programs by keeping their eyes healthy and avoiding eyestrain. Reading for long periods of time without taking breaks can cause:

  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Tired, itchy eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Headache
  • Sore neck, shoulders or back
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Problems concentrating
  • Difficulty keeping eyes open

Following the 20-20-20 Rule can reduce eyestrain and help keep eyes fresh. While reading, children and adults should remember to:

  • Take a break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds

Taking short, frequent breaks while looking away from reading material will reduce eye fatigue and make reading more enjoyable.

Eyestrain does not have serious or long-term consequences and usually goes away by resting the eyes. If rest doesn’t relieve the symptoms of eyestrain, make an appointment with your eye doctor.

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The Dirty Truth is a Touchy Subject

From toilBlog Photo - Advanitca 6-30et seats to television remotes – everything we touch transfers germs to our hands. And, what’s found on your fingers can end up in your eyes and lead to infections like conjunctivitis, pink eye or a stye. Beyond bacteria, there is a host of other substances that can cause eye irritants.

Have you ever ended up with wing sauce, hot pepper or onion in your eye? What about a grain of sand, suntan lotion, bug repellent or dirt? Aside from being extremely uncomfortable, it can be dangerous.

 When your eye itches, you instinctively want to rub it, but try to resist the urge. Wash your hands regularly. And, should you get something in your eye, avoid rubbing it. Instead, blink rapidly, flush with water, use a damp cloth to wipe it and, if needed, seek medical attention from an eye care professional.

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Headaches and Dental and Vision Health

Migrane Blog Photo - Advantica

Everything from stress to sinus congestion, allergies to alcohol and hunger to hormones are said to serve as triggers for headaches and migraines. Some dental and eye health issues can also play a role in this not so pleasant pain.

Teeth grinding, jaw clenching and dental stress due to a bad bite or poorly aligned teeth can create muscle tension and result in headaches. Likewise, eyestrain caused by astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea), hyperopia (farsightedness) and persbyopia (inability to focus on close objects) are known to cause headaches, as are eye diseases like glaucoma.

If you are experiencing headaches and suspect they might be caused by a dental or vision health issue, it is important to inform your dentist or eye doctor. They can help address and correct the issue, and as a result, the associated headaches should cease.

On the flip side, be aware that headaches are known to affect vision too. Migraine headaches can cause eye pain or sensitivity to light. According to the National Headache Foundation, 15-20 percent of migraine sufferers get what is known as an aura before a migraine headache. The aura can cause individuals to see flashing lights, dots, wavy lines or experience blind spots or tunnel vision.

Learn more about the significance of headache disorders and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment by visiting the American Migraine Foundation at www.americanmigrainefoundation.org or the Headache Foundation at www.headaches.org.

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Got Pool (or beach) Plans? Grab Goggles

Memorial Daygoggle girl weekend is just days away, which means the official swim season will soon be in full swing. To ensure the fun in the sun is free from harm, it’s important to remain mindful of helpful swimming habits that promote eye safety.

Chlorine is designed to keep swimming pool water safe. But, the harsh chemicals can also be eye irritants. Salt water is also filled with contaminants. This makes it important to wear properly fitting goggles. When worn, eyes are protected from chlorine, as well as any bacteria in the water that could cause infection.

So, when making pool plans or breaking away to the beach, be sure to grab goggles.

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