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Many people know the dangers that exposure to sunlight can pose to the skin, but did you know it can also severely damage your eyes?

Here comes the sun! Get outside, but be sure to protect your eyes

Written by Shaista Vally, OD, an optometrist at UK Advanced Eye Care.

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

The weather is warming up, and sunshine, swimming and the great outdoors are on everyone’s mind. While there is a lot of fun to be had in the summer, we must also consider how to adequately protect our eyes and skin, which can be damaged by prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Wear sunglasses with UV protection

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation can cause sunburns and in some cases lead to cancer. UV radiation can also be a catalyst for cataracts, an eye condition marked by blurred vision. The best way to keep your eyes safe in the sun is to wear sunglasses with UV protection that prevent UV rays from entering the eye.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) determines the safety of ophthalmic sunglasses and verifies that they can prevent ultraviolet radiation from damaging the eye. Look for the “ANSI” symbol and “UV protection” when purchasing sunglasses. Keep in mind that cheaper shades are more affordable and trendy, but they may not offer you any protection from ultraviolet radiation.

In fact, wearing sunglasses without protection from ultraviolet radiation can actually do more harm than wearing nothing at all. When you wear nothing over your eyes, your tendency is to squint or keep your eyes closed, and the brightness naturally makes your pupils constrict, allowing fewer harmful rays to enter your eye. But your eyes dilate slightly when you wear tinted lenses, which lets more harmful rays enter your eye.

Apply sunscreen around your eyes

Additionally, the eyelid and eyebrow region is especially susceptible to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which make up 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers. Because the skin around the eye is very thin and contains very little subcutaneous tissue, it makes it easier for tumors to spread to nearby nasal and orbital cavities. Sunscreen with SPF is a simple way to prevent damage to the skin, but people often overlook applying sunscreen to their eyelids and area around their eyes as it often irritates their skin.

Buying facial lotions formulated for sensitive skin and applying a small amount with your eyes closed can prevent it from burning. Some people find that applying their daily facial cream first and allowing it to dry before applying SPF lotion helps prevent sunscreen irritation.

Get out there and enjoy the sunshine, but don’t forget to apply SPF sunscreen around your eyes and wear some UV-protected sunglasses!


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April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, the perfect time for women to learn more about eye issues that affect them more regularly than men.

Women, here’s what you should know about your eyes

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

Written by Shaista Vally, OD, an optometrist at UK Advanced Eye Care.

Eye health and vision issues can affect everyone, but there are certain conditions that are more common in women than in men. April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month and a great time for women to learn more about the issues that uniquely affect them.

Dry eyes, migraines

With women’s hormonal changes being so frequent throughout their lifetime, including changes associated with birth control, it’s no wonder that women experience eye and vision issues linked with hormonal changes. Two such issues include dry eyes and migraines.

Dry eyes can be annoying and debilitating, but the good news is that they are easy to treat. Artificial tears, emulsions, gels and ointments can offer relief for dry eyes. If heavy lubrication with artificial tear eye drops is not working to manage your symptoms of burning, redness and irritation, speak with your eye doctor about alternative treatment options.

Migraines are severe, painful headaches sometimes accompanied by symptoms of nausea, numbness, light and noise sensitivity, and vomiting. But they can also cause visual disturbances known as scintillating scotomas. These moving lights and patterns, sometimes called a visual aura, can mimic the signs of a retinal detachment or tear. If you see flashes of light or spots in your view, be sure to have a dilated eye exam within 24 hours of these symptoms.

Eye issues linked to obesity

With diabetes and cardiovascular disease on the rise, Americans – both men and women – are struggling with obesity. However, overweight young women of child-bearing ages are at an increased risk for a condition known as idiopathic increased intracranial pressure, or pseudotumor cerebri. This condition causes an increase in brain pressure, damaging the optic nerves and potentially leading to blindness.

Women with pseudotumor cerebri often complain of headaches, ringing sounds in their ears and mild visual blurriness, though sometimes visual symptoms are not present at all. If you think you may be at risk for this condition and are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.


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A floater is a dark spot or squiggly line that enters your vision when the eye moves. They can be bothersome, but how can you tell if they're serious?

Eye floaters are common with age but may signal a more serious problem

Dr. Claire Fraser

Written by Dr. Claire Fraser, an ophthalmologist at UK Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

Have you ever noticed the sudden appearance of a black dot in your field of vision that moves around when you move your eyes? It could also look like a cob web. You try blinking, but it just won’t go away. It’s called a floater, and it can be quite bothersome especially if you’re trying to read or do other close work. But what exactly are floaters?

A floater may appear as a dark gray or black spot, circle, or squiggly line that drifts in the vision as the eye moves. Floaters are most noticeable in bright sunlight or when looking at a white background. What we see as a floater is actually a shadow cast by a small condensation of something inside the eye called vitreous gel.

Does everyone have floaters?

No, but they are very common and are more likely to occur with age. Vitreous gel liquefies with age, causing spots of condensation within the gel. Those become the floaters that we see. Eventually the vitreous gel separates from the retina, forming a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).

This happens to most people at some point during their lives. A new central floater often appears when the PVD occurs and intermittent light flashes may be present. The risk of a retinal tear is highest during the month after a PVD occurs because gel that is stuck to the retinal surface may cause a tear as it separates.

When should I be concerned?

You should seek immediate evaluation by an ophthalmologist if you see new floaters, the floaters are accompanied by flashing lights or part of your vision becomes dark. Floaters that appear red could indicate bleeding inside the eye, which is another indication for urgent evaluation.

Symptoms like flashing lights, multiple new floaters, decreased vision or bleeding inside the eye can be the first sign of a retinal tear or retinal detachment, which can lead to permanent vision loss. Early treatment offers the best chance for preservation and recovery of vision. A retinal tear can often be treated with an in-office laser procedure to prevent retinal detachment and loss of vision.

Other important causes of floaters include diabetes, injury to the eye, inflammation (uveitis) and infection.

Will my floaters go away?

Over time, the brain learns to ignore floaters in the eyes. This process usually takes months. The floaters themselves may also settle to the bottom of the eye and move out of center vision.

Occasionally floaters can impair vision enough that a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy is needed to remove the vitreous gel. Most people find that floaters become much less noticeable over time and surgery is not needed.

Laser treatment of floaters to break them up into small particles has significant risk and has not yet gained wide acceptance. Eye drops and diet modification have not been shown to decrease floaters.

Most patients find that time is the best medicine.


UK Ophthalmology, now known as UK Advanced Eye Care, is moving! Beginning March 20, all appointments will be located in leased space within the new Shriners Medical Center for Children building, just across South Limestone from UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital.  This new space is not only beautiful, it’s state-of-the-art and will allow us to better serve our patients. We hope you’re as excited as we are.


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Dry eye is common and easily treated

Written by Dr. Seema Capoor, associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the UK College of Medicine.

Dr. Seema Capoor

Dr. Seema Capoor

It’s not uncommon for your eyes to become dry and uncomfortable. Factors like irritants in the environment, age, gender, certain medications or medical conditions can leave your eyes feeling gritty, itchy or irritated.

Tears are necessary for healthy eyes and clear vision. Dry eye syndrome, or DES, is a condition where the eye does not produce enough tears to keep the eyes well hydrated. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, but the good news is it’s usually easily treated.

Dry eye can be attributed to a number of factors, such as antihistamine or diuretic use, cigarette smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke, and environmental factors such as air drafts and low-humidity. DES can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. In the majority of patients, the condition is not sight-threatening and is characterized by troublesome symptoms of irritation, redness and intermittently blurred vision. If these symptoms are persistent, you should see your ophthalmologist, who can easily diagnose the condition with a simple external examination of the eye lids and cornea

The primary approaches used to manage and treat dry eyes include adding tears, conserving tears, increasing tear production, and treating the inflammation of the eyelids or eye surface that contributes to the dry eyes. Mild cases can be treated with artificial tears, emulsions, gels and ointments.

Moderate cases of DES can be treated with anti-inflammatory therapies such as Restasis, and topical steroids may be considered. Use of omega-3 fatty acid supplements has been reported to be beneficial.

Oral medications such as immunosuppressives are sometimes prescribed when DES is more severe. Also, humidifying ambient air and avoiding air drafts by using shields and by changing the characteristics of airflow at work, at home, and in the car may be helpful.

Measures such as lowering the computer screen to below eye level to prevent your eyes from opening too wide, scheduling regular breaks during the work day, and increasing blink frequency may decrease the discomfort associated with computer and reading activities.

Patients with severe DES are at greater risk for contact lens intolerance and should be cautioned that refractive surgery, particularly LASIK, may worsen their dry eye condition.


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  • Dry eyes aren’t just annoyance, they’re a real medical issue. Learn more dry eyes.
  • We provide comprehensive eye care at a number of locations across Kentucky. Find out more UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences.