It’s Never too Late to Quit: Why Smoking Can Ruin Your Vision

Smoking is terrible for overall health, but it is particularly bad for eye health and can exacerbate conditions that trigger vision loss. Here’s what you need to know about smoking and your eyes. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

There is no part of the body that smoking does not imperil, but we don’t necessarily think of how it affects our eyes. We associate smoking with conditions of the lungs, like lung cancer and emphysema, and we should also consider the different ways our eyes can be harmed. Here are some of the ways smoking can damage our eyes.

Smoking makes you vulnerable to age-related eye conditions.

Study after study has found smoking to be a major factor in the development of a wide range of eye conditions, including glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

Smoking is associated with the development of cataracts.

Smoking more than doubles your risk of cataracts, which are the number-one cause of blindness worldwide. Symptoms of cataracts include reduced night vision, double vision, poor color distinction, and light sensitivity.

Smoking is associated with diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetes weakens blood vessels in the eyes, which can burst and inhibit the circulation of oxygen within the eye. While diabetes is the major factor in diabetic retinopathy, smoking is a significant trigger for the disease, increasing the likelihood of developing the condition by approximately 40 percent. Smoking also increases the possibility of complications from diabetes.

Smoking is associated with age-related macular degeneration.

The macula is the component within the eye that processes colors and fine details. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of the macula, resulting in total and uncorrectable blindness. Smoking more than triples the risk of developing AMD, and also accelerates the development of the condition, so smokers are likelier to develop AMD at a younger age than nonsmokers.

Second-hand smoke is also associated with eye conditions.

Although smokers are inevitably more vulnerable to serious health conditions than non-smokers, people who have been exposed to second-hand smoke are also at risk of significant issues, too. Second-hand smoke has been known to cause a multitude of medical issues, including heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, asthma, and more. Children are also at risk of developing medical conditions from cigarette smoke exposure.

There is no safe method for using tobacco products.

Different nicotine products — most notably vaping — have become popular alternatives to cigarettes, but any consumption of a tobacco product is a risky proposition to your health. There are several chemicals in the e-liquids used for vaping that are associated with eye issues, so it’s best to simply not use them.

Quitting tobacco use is the best way to avoid tobacco-related eye conditions.

The sooner you quit using tobacco products, the better. While certain eye conditions are an inevitable part of aging, smoking exacerbates the deterioration of the eyes. If you’re a lifelong smoker or a heavy smoker, quitting now will significantly reduce your risk of developing eye disorders.

At OptiExpress, we offer comprehensive eye health services, from thorough eye exams to a gallery of beautiful designer frames. Whether you want a fitting for contact lenses or want the latest Dolce and Gabbana frames, we are proud to be South Florida’s go-to eye care resource!

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is proud to be one of Ft. Myers’s most valued optometrists and has served South Florida for more than two decades. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

Eye Care Frequently Asked Questions

While there is no substitute for regular eye exams, knowing how to properly care for your eyes between optometrist visits is critical for optimizing eye health. Here are answers from OptiExpress to a few of the most frequently asked questions about eye health and eye care. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

Most people share concerns about eye health, and quite a few patients ask the same or similar questions about their vision. Here are some of the most common questions about eye health we’ve received at our practice.

Is working in front of a computer screen harmful?

Digital eye strain after hours of staring at a computer screen is very common, and it likely won’t lead to long-term vision issues, though persistent dry eyes — a prominent symptom of digital eye fatigue — can make your eyes susceptible to infections.

Unfortunately, digital eye strain can be very uncomfortable, and result in lasting symptoms, like headaches, and shoulder and back pain. To avoid digital eye strain, the most effective measure you can take is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. This involves taking a break every 20 minutes to focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This helps your eyes relax and also reduces the facial tension that can accumulate while frowning at a monitor for extended periods.

I occasionally see string-like objects floating in my line of vision. What does that mean?

These are “floaters,” and they are a quite common phenomenon. As we age, collagen protein fibers in the retinas begin to accumulate and gather together, making them appear in our line of vision. A few occasionally appearing is perfectly normal, but if you notice a lot of floaters suddenly, seek medical attention ASAP — it may be an indication of retinal detachment, which can be serious.

Do corrective lenses make vision weaker over time?

No. This is a highly common misconception because people who require corrective lenses typically need stronger prescriptions as they age. However, this isn’t a reaction to the vision correction — it’s how our eyes age naturally.

If your vision isn’t as clear as it used to be, don’t hesitate to have your eyes checked and wear corrective lenses if necessary. Wearing glasses or contacts not only helps us enjoy clear, sharp vision, it also reduces the headaches and discomfort that frequently accompany blurred vision.

How frequently should I see an eye doctor?

Regular eye exams are essential for identifying vision problems and even health concerns that most people don’t immediately associate with eyes, like high blood pressure. If you don’t require vision correction (prescription glasses or contacts) every other year before the age of 50 is typically acceptable if you are in overall good health. After the age of 50, every year is the recommended timeframe.

If you do wear corrective lenses, it’s a good idea to have yearly eye exams to make sure your prescription is up to date and your vision is clear.

If it’s about time for your next eye exam — or if you think it’s about time for your first — the team at OptiExress offers comprehensive eye care services. These include full eye exams, a gallery of designer frames, contact lens fittings, a one-hour onsite lab, and much more. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is among Ft. Myers’s most trusted and respected optometrists and has practiced in South Florida for more than two decades. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

Why A Good Night’s Sleep is Essential for Eye Health

Sleep affects eye health in a variety of ways. Here is why you should always strive for the best possible quality of sleep every night. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

Have you ever struggled to recover from an all-nighter or a poor night’s sleep? Restorative sleep is essential for cellular repair and staying healthy, and if you don’t get enough sleep, your body and mind will pay a steep price. Research suggests that lack of sleep can have the same effect on the brain and body as alcohol consumption, so if you get behind the wheel of a car in a sleep-deprived state, you are essentially driving drunk.

Making sure you are always getting a good night’s rest is essential for preserving your eye health, but what you do with your eyes before bed will have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Here’s what you should know about sleep and eye health.

How Poor Sleep Quality Influences Ocular Function

You are likely acquainted with the side-effects of sleep deprivation — irritability, drowsiness, lack of focus, and sluggishness. However, over time, lack of sleep can compromise immune function, trigger weight gain, raise blood pressure, and even exacerbate symptoms of depression. In addition to reducing your overall quality of life and putting you at risk for serious health issues, all of these conditions can harm your eyes and make you more susceptible to cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.

Everyone needs at least five hours of restorative sleep per night for optimum eye function. Not only do you need sleep to enhance your overall alertness, but you also need sleep to keep your eyes properly lubricated and reduce susceptibility to dry eyes and eye strain. Here are a few tips that can help you enhance the quality of your sleep.

Turn off your electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime.

It doesn’t matter how digitally savvy you are — your eyes will still respond to environmental factors the way all human eyes have for thousands of years. This means that light exposure will trigger brain signals that make winding down and going to sleep difficult. This is because the brain associates blue light from sunlight, but digital screens illuminate blue light, too.

Because blue light from screens — TV screens, computers, tablets, and smartphones — is omnipresent, it can be challenging to avoid being bombarded. However, it is essential to give the brain the opportunity to unwind properly. It’s not easy to turn off our communications devices for any extended length of time, but doing so will improve your ability to fall asleep easily.

Remove contact lenses before sleep.

While extended wear contact lenses are designed for enhanced breathability and have been FDA approved for multi-day wearing, it’s still a bad idea to sleep while wearing contact lenses. Wearing contact lenses during sleep inhibits the eyes’ ability to rest and rejuvenate. This is because contacts, even breathable ones, do limit oxygen exposure and block the flow of air to the corneas.

Have regular eye exams at a licensed and certified optometry center.

Make sure you stay on top of your eye health and bring any concerns you may have to your optometrist. Having regular screenings will help you keep your vision healthy, because they will alert you to any abnormalities that could progress into serious concerns.

At OptiExpress, we offer the South Florida community a trusted resource for all visual health needs. From comprehensive eye examinations to a gallery of designer frames, we provide the very best in eye care services.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is proud to be one of Ft. Myers’s most respected optometrists and has practiced in South Florida for more than twenty years. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

How to Reduce the Risk of Eye Injury at Home

Do you know how to maximize your eye safety at home? Here are a few tips from OptiExpress for making sure you aren’t at risk of eye injury from items around the house. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

Nearly half of the eye injuries suffered in the United States occur in the home environment. There are numerous reasons why these injuries occur:

  • We aren’t as vigilant about eye safety at home.
  • We feel more in control of the environment.
  • We don’t notice the hazards.

However, injuries to the eyes are very easy to prevent while at home. Here are a few things you can do to maximize your safety.

Recognize the major threats to eye safety around the house.

Numerous, ostensibly non-threatening objects can accidentally cause significant eye injury: pens and pencils and the corners of furnishings can be considerable hazards. But certain activities, like cooking and cleaning, can also cause eye injuries that you might not initially notice, but can cause damage over time. These include:

  • Persistent exposure to chemicals from cleaning products.
  • Splattering hot oil that can splash into eyes.
  • Exposure to pesticides and herbicides from home and garden pest control.

Here’s how you can make sure your eyes stay safe while performing your normal activities.

  1. Wear protective lenses. Safety glasses or goggles are great tools to have in case you have to perform an activity that involves flying particulate matter.
  2. Secure your rugs and runners. Tripping and falling due to unsecured rug corners is one of the main causes of traumatic eye injury. Make sure all of your rugs are flush with the floor — an adhesive stabilizer can help keep rugs stable.
  3. Make sure your lawn is raked and clean. If you mow your own lawn, make sure there are no objects that can get caught in the mower blades and be sprayed outwards, putting your eyes at risk.
  4. Be careful about cleaning products. Certain cleaning products should never be used together because the chemical reaction is toxic. Always wash your hands after using a harsh disinfectant cleaner.
  5. Never touch your eyes without washing them first. Wear gloves when handling substances that can be irritating to the eyes.

Have an Eye Safety Plan

A significant part of ensuring the risk of eye injury is minimal is having a plan ready to execute in the event of an eye emergency. Because the major kinds of eye injuries involve materials or foreign objects getting into the eye, you should anticipate the best response to different types of injuries and have the medical supplies ready. These may include sterile eyewash and eye patches to protect the injured eye before seeking medical treatment. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and seek medical attention.

At OptiExpress, we are more than happy to help you keep your eyes safe and healthy. If you have concerns about your eye health, please schedule an appointment for a comprehensive evaluation today!

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is among Ft. Myers’s most trusted and respected optometrists, and has practiced in South Florida for more than twenty years. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

How Safe is Eye Makeup? Here’s What You Need to Know

Can certain types of makeup harm our eyes? Here’s what you need to know about eye makeup and eye health. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

In previous centuries, cosmetics contained some pretty unsavory ingredients, such as arsenic, lead, and mercury, which are extremely harmful to human health. Fortunately, commercial makeup no longer contains these elements, but it is still possible for your eyes to become irritated and even injured by some products and application techniques.

Wearing eye makeup can be fun, and for many of us it is an important element within our grooming routines. So, how can we make sure we’re being safe with our makeup choices? Here’s what you need to know.

Don’t apply your cosmetics too close to the eye itself.

Even harmless elements can irritate the eyes during prolonged exposure. Any type of makeup that can easily be transferred into the eye comes with a level of risk, because bacteria could be transferred, too.

Always be very careful wearing false eyelashes, waterline eyeliner, colored contact lenses, and eyelash extensions. Even mascara should be handled carefully and thrown out eight weeks after first use (the first time you use mascara and re-insert the wand into the bottle, you contaminate it).

Pay attention to the expiration dates on your makeup.

All makeup that is applied to the face comes with an expiration date. Always replace your cosmetics after the expiration date has passed. While the products may still seem fine, many of the ingredients can become irritants over time.

Only use clean applicator tools when applying makeup.

If you have especially sensitive eyes, you probably want to take extra precautions when applying eye makeup. Use clean brushes whenever possible, and fresh Q-tips make great eyeshadow applicators if you don’t want to risk contaminating either your eyeshadows or your eyes.

Do not share makeup applicator tools.

Sharing makeup applicator tools facilitates the spread of infection.

Do not purchase colored contact lenses from a vendor without a prescription.

Even colored contact lenses that don’t correct vision require a prescription. A retailer that sells them over the counter and doesn’t need proof of prescription should not be trusted.

Staying Safe While Looking Great

At OptiExpress, we are always happy to answer any questions you might have about eye health and safety. If you aren’t sure how to apply your eye makeup properly and safely, we can show you during your next eye exam. Schedule an appointment at our Cape Coral or Ft. Myers location today!

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has been one of Ft. Myers’s most trusted eye care optometrists for over twenty years, having practiced in South Florida for more than two decades. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.

What You Need to Know About Diabetes and Your Eyesight

If you have unmanaged diabetes or think you might have diabetes, you should seriously consider having a complete eye exam. Here’s what you need to know about how diabetes affects your eye health. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

The ability to see can be severely compromised by unmanaged diabetes, whether it’s type 1, type 2, or even gestational diabetes. The likelihood of enduring several eye conditions increases with a diabetes diagnosis, including not only diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy, but also glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness globally.

Why Diabetes Affects Vision

Diabetes is a medical condition where the lack of insulin in the body causes dangerously high blood sugar spikes. When blood sugar levels aren’t managed, they can lead to an acidic blood supply. This affects the eyes in the following ways:

  • Cataracts. A person with diabetes is at five times the risk for developing cataracts than a non-diabetic person. This is because the eye lens reacts to the high sugar levels in the blood supply by swelling and forming a layer of proteins, which causes the eyes to become cloudy over time. Fortunately, these can be treated relatively easily via cataract-removal surgery.
  • Retinopathy. The blood supply to the eyes is accomplished by tiny blood vessels, or capillaries. The acidic nature of the blood supply will eventually cause damage to the blood vessels that transfer blood to the retina. While the body does replace blood vessels, the new blood vessels are even more fragile than the original ones, and even more susceptible to damage.
  • Macular Edema. Macular edema occurs in approximately 10 percent of people who experience retinopathy. It involves a fluid accumulation in the portion of the retina, known as the macula. The condition results in visual distortion and partial color blindness. Macular degeneration can be treated through surgical intervention.
  • Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition that is commonly associated with diabetes. In healthy eyes, moisture is continually replaced, so that the eye is less vulnerable to infections. Glaucoma interferes with this process by causing a blockage that results in optic nerve damage. Glaucoma can cause permanent eye damage, so it is important to have your eyes checked regularly, so that it can be addressed early.

Regular Eye Exams Can Protect Your Vision

Having yearly eye exams is not only critical to the successful management of diabetes, but can also help to diagnose diabetes in the early stages. Successful eye care can lower blindness risk by as much as 95 percent, but comprehensive diabetes treatment will reduce blood sugar levels, effectively preventing several types of eye damage.

OptiExpress offers comprehensive eye care services including eye exams. If you are concerned about your eye health, please don’t hesitate to stop by our Ft. Myers, Florida or Cape Coral, Florida eye care center today!

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has provided eye care services to South Florida for more than two decades and is one of Ft. Myers’s most trusted optometrists. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location please visit our contact page.