We all know that smoking, whether it be in the form of cigarettes or cigars, has a multitude of adverse effects on our bodies and overall health. But did you know smoking has several negative effects on our eyes specifically as well?
May 31st is World No-Tobacco Day! The purpose of this day is to encourage people to reduce or stop tobacco use and to highlight all of the preventable health risks. Smoking tobacco in particular harms your eyes, increases your risk for eye disease, and can even lead to vision loss.
Among the eye conditions that are worsened by smoking are:
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
AMD is a condition in which the macula becomes damaged and central vision is lost, while peripheral vision stays the same. Studies show that smoking greatly increases your risk for AMD and unfortunately there is no cure for the disease.
This condition is caused by high blood sugar levels which causes the blood vessels behind the retina to leak or become blocked, which results in blurred vision or vision loss. Smoking is also said to increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy.
A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lens, which inhibits the light from passing through to the retina clearly and causes blurred vision. Smoking can speed up the progress of cataracts, making colors look dull or yellowish.
These are only a few eye conditions that are worsened by smoking. Others include glaucoma, dry eye, optic nerve issues, and uveitis. If you are a tobacco user, there is no better time than right now to quit! Invest in your long-term eye health.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a disease that, as the name suggests, is more prevalent in older individuals. In fact, AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss for people over the age of 50. The median age of folks from Malibu is 52.2, meaning that more than 50% of Malibu’s population is at a higher level of risk for AMD. If you’re over the age of 50, there is a relatively simple way to see if you might have early stages of AMD. Look at the grid below.
The picture above is called an Amsler grid. Cover one eye and look at the center dot. If the lines do not appear straight, or if you see any distortion in the grid itself, you may have early symptoms of AMD. Do the same thing for the other eye, as AMD symptoms are not always symmetric. If you have any of these symptoms, please contact California Retina Consultants today to prevent vision loss.
New Medicare card outreach to and education for people with Medicare will begin in January 2018, before we start mailing the new Medicare cards. The new cards, which we’ll begin mailing in April 2018, will have new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs) instead of Social Security Number (SSN)-based Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICNs) to help protect the identities of people with Medicare.
With so many people looking at the sky during this event, there is a hidden danger that a lot of people don’t know about if you stare at the sun without protective eye wear and that is called “eclipse blindness”.
23ABC’s Meteorologist Adam Bowles spoke to a Bakersfield eye doctor to show us how you can protect your self from permanent eye damage while experiencing this rare phenomenon.
What is Eclipse Blindness, Also Known as Solar Retinopathy?
Although this anticipated astronomical event is very exciting, it can also be extremely harmful to your vision unless proper precautions are taken before viewing. We all know that you should never look directly at the sun. But even during an eclipse, the sun’s light can cause permanent damage to the eyes which is referred to as “eclipse blindness” or solar retinopathy. Exposure to direct sunlight can cause permanent and irreversible damage to the retina. The retina is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye on the inside. Light rays are focused onto the retina through the cornea, pupil and lens. The retina then converts the light into neural signals, and sends these signals on to the brain for visual recognition.
Take Precautions for Safe Viewing
So how do you safely watch this wonder? The safest way is to view the eclipse through solar filter glasses that meet the worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. These solar glasses must be in perfect condition with no scratches, and should be less than three years old. The only time that you can safely look at the sun without a solar filter is if you are within the path of totality, and the moon completely covers the bright surface of the sun and it suddenly gets dark. As soon as the sun begins to reappear, you must immediately use the solar filter again to watch the remaining phase of the eclipse. When viewing the eclipse from other areas outside of the 70-mile totality range, it is not safe to look at the sun at any point with the naked eye. It is also important to remember to never view an eclipse through an unfiltered telescope, camera, or binoculars, as this can cause severe permanent retinal damage as well. Make certain to educate and supervise small children, as young eyes are more susceptible to vision damage.
READ MORE about the Great American Eclipse of 2017 and solar retinopathy at PRweb.com
Following major advances in the treatment of wet AMD, researchers at CRRF and around the world are now focusing their attention on treating AMD at earlier stages of the disease process. Genentech, maker of Avastin and Lucentis, is developing a novel inhibitor of Factor D (a protein involved in complementactivation and inflammation) for treatment of geographic atrophy,a major cause of vision loss in dry AMD. Dr.Pieramici, the principal investigator, led The California Retina Research Foundation’s efforts in a Phase 1 FDA trial of this drug. Working in conjunction with other top eye institutions, including Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, Harvard and Duke Universities, investigators hypothesize that inhibiting the complement system as discussed above might retard the progression of cellular and visual loss, and prevent the progression to more advanced stages of AMD. Dr. Avery presented the initial results at the Retina Society’s annual meeting this past fall in San Francisco. He comments, “The purpose of the Phase 1 study was to test and identify any safety issues associated with the new treatment, and we are pleased to report that the drug passed this first phase successfully,leaving us very hopeful.” Enrollment for Phase 2 of this study is underway.