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UV Safety Awareness Month

July is UV Safety Awareness Month, and no wonder! With the summer sun out in full force, it’s now more important than ever to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. –

During this month, people who have suffered from UV ray damage and their loved ones are encouraged to share their experiences and advice. Use the hashtag #UVSafetyAwareness on your social media channels to support others in your community.

Did You Know?

Your eyes can get sunburned. It isn’t only your skin that’s at risk, but your eyes, too. When your cornea is exposed to too much UV radiation, a condition known as keratitis can occur. Keratitis can actually cause a temporary loss of vision, often after using a tanning bed or being out in the sun too long. UV radiation can also cause small growths on the white part of your eye, which are called pterygium and pinguecula. They can make your eyes feel dry, irritated, and scratchy.

If you experience any of these symptoms, Texas State Optical Fair Oaks can help.

UV ray exposure is a risk factor for eye conditions and diseases. In 20% of cataract cases, cataract growth has been linked to UV ray damage. Cataracts develop when the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy. UVA rays are a known risk factor for macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula of the eye, which is responsible for clear central vision becomes damaged. It’s critical to be aware of UV ray exposure, especially if you or a family member are in this age group.

What Exactly Are UV Rays?

You may have heard about UV rays without knowing what they actually mean. UV stands for ultraviolet light. That’s a potentially harmful type of radiation, which is typically found in fluorescent lights, tanning booths. But its main source is from the sun, and it’s invisible to the naked eye, so you don’t even feel it as it touches your skin or body.

Why Are UV Rays Dangerous?

So why are they considered dangerous? Well, too much of a good thing isn’t really a good thing. Sunlight helps us make vitamin D, which is healthy. Too much sun exposure, though, can cause premature aging in the skin, burns in the eye, and may even change the shape of your cornea and other serious eye damage, leading to vision problems. It’s even more dangerous for younger people, especially children, because children’s lenses are more transparent and transmit UV rays more easily.

If you or a loved one is experiencing vision problems or eye diseases, we can help. Dr. Ashlynn Dennington sees patients from all over the Fair Oaks, Texas area, and can treat your condition with a number of advanced solutions. Regular eye exams and checkups are critical for keeping your vision healthy, especially during the summer.

UV Safety Can Go a Long Way

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to protect yourself from long-term exposure to UV rays. Check out our top 3 UV safety tips:

  1. Put on Those Shades

Snag a pair of sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB blocking power. Anything less than that won’t protect your eyes from harmful rays. Concerned about your look? Don’t worry, There are plenty of awesome sunglass designs, so you’ll protect your eyes without compromising on incredible style. Ask the optometrist which lens is best for you.

  1. Sunscreen and More Sunscreen

Mothers and doctors say it all the time, and with good reason! Use sunscreen before going outdoors and make sure it has a good SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number. If you’re in the water, reapply it every 2 hours. UV rays can reflect off of water, so if you’re hitting the pool or beach, take extra precautions.

  1. I Tip My Hat to You

Protect your head and the skin on your scalp with a hat. A wide-brimmed hat is best for a good amount of sun-blocking coverage, since it also protects the tops of your eyes which might not be shaded by your sunglasses, and is too sensitive for sunscreen. For the fashion-conscious, there are endless styles to choose from, so go shopping!

During this UV Safety Awareness Month, we encourage you to share your stories and successes. If you have any questions, Dr. Ashlynn Dennington is here to help.

Top 4 Eyecare Tips for Summer Vacation

This summer, whether you’re headed across state lines on a family road trip, flying off to Europe, grabbing a quick weekend getaway, or taking a vacation in your own backyard, don’t forget to protect your eyes!

Summer Eye Care Near You

Check out our top 4 tips for ensuring healthy eyes this summer, and remember, your eye doctor is here to help make the most out of your vision. Dr. Ashlynn Dennington sees patients from all over the Fair Oaks, Texas area. Let us give you the top-quality eye care you and your family deserve, not only during the summer, but all year long.

  1. Don’t Leave Home Without It

If you have a chronic illness and need to head out of town for a few days, you would never leave home without your medications, right? That’s because you know that if something happens and your meds aren’t with you, you could suffer discomfort or complications to your health.

The same is true for your vision. If you suffer from dry eyes, make sure to take artificial tears or medicated eye drops with you when you travel. Preservative-free eye drops are a traveler’s friend. They’re also available as individual strips, which are recommended since there’s less risk of contamination.

Running low on disposable contact lenses? Include an extra pair in your carry-on suitcase and stock up on new lenses ahead of time. If you wear eyeglasses, bring a spare set and a copy of your prescription along with you, just in case they get lost or broken.

We recommend speaking to Dr. Ashlynn Dennington before you leave for vacation to make sure your vision needs are all set.

  1. It’s Getting Hot Outside

Usually, most people think of protecting their skin from sunburns when they’re at the beach, by the pool, or just spending time outdoors.

Did you know that your eyes can get sunburned, too?

This happens when the cornea is exposed to excessive UV rays. When the sclera (the white part of your eye) looks red, that’s a sign that you’ve got sunburned eyes. You might also notice symptoms like a sudden sensitivity to light, or your eyes may feel like something is stuck in them, or they could feel sore.

The best way to prevent sunburned eyes? Always wear sunglasses with 100% of UVA and UVB light blocking protection.

  1. Watch Out for the Pool

Swimming is one of summer’s greatest pastimes. There’s nothing quite like a dip in a pool or ocean to cool off from the sweltering summer heat. While you’re slicing through the water, remember to protect your eyes.

Remove contacts before going swimming, wear goggles while underwater, and rinse your eyes with cold water when you get out of the pool (it helps get the chlorine or salt out). If your eyes feel dry or scratchy after a swim, use some moisturizing eye drops to lubricate your eyes.

  1. Back to School is Sooner Than You Think

Your kids will be back in school before you know it. Help them prepare for the upcoming school year by scheduling an eye exam now. If they need new glasses because their prescription has changed or your teen simply wants a new look for the new school year, come in to Texas State Optical Fair Oaks for a consultation and take a look at the newest selection of frames and contact lenses.

Have you had a sudden eye injury or emergency while on vacation? Don’t wait until you’re back home to handle it — seek immediate care today. Certain eye injuries can damage your vision or lead to ulcers, so if you notice symptoms like redness, eye pain, changes to your vision, or flashing light, contact your eye doctor right away.

At Texas State Optical Fair Oaks, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision this summer and throughout the year.

Cataract Awareness Month

June is Cataract Awareness Month. During this important time, people living with cataracts (and their loved ones) are encouraged to talk about their personal experiences by giving each other helpful information and sharing their knowledge and advice. Use the hashtag #CataractAwarenessMonth on your social media channels to encourage and support others.

Did you know that over 24 million Americans have cataracts? More than 3.5 million Canadians are blind from cataracts, making it one of the most common – and serious – eye conditions today. Dr. Ashlynn Dennington treats cataract patients from all over Fair Oaks, Texas with the newest and most effective methods of eye care.

With millions of people living with the condition, it’s now more important than ever to bring awareness to this serious condition.

What Are Cataracts?

So what exactly are cataracts?

The lens of the eye is normally clear, which allows you to see things clearly and in sharp detail. Over time, the lens can become cloudy, causing blurry vision. It’s as if you’re looking through a dirty window and can’t really see what’s outside. This clouding of the lens is called a cataract, and it can affect one or both of your eyes.

What Causes Cataracts?

Aging is the most common cause of cataracts. The lens of your eye contains water and proteins. As you age, these proteins can clump together, and when that happens, the normally clear lens becomes cloudy.

Did you know that certain types of major eye surgeries and infections can trigger cataracts? Other issues that can lead to cataracts include congenital birth defects, eye injury, diseases, and even various kinds of medications. If you’re already developing cataracts, be careful when going outside. UV rays from the sun can make cataracts develop faster.

How Can I Lower My Risk of Cataracts?

Certain risk factors increase your chance of developing cataracts. These typically include:

  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Family and medical history
  • Medications
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • UV ray exposure

To lower your risk, consider reducing your alcohol intake, quit smoking, start an exercise program, eat foods rich in vitamin A and C, and wear 100% UV blocking sunglasses.

Common Symptoms of Cataracts

If you have cataracts, you may experience some common symptoms like:

  • Blurry vision
  • Colors that used to be bright now appear dim
  • Double vision
  • Glare from natural sunlight or from artificial light, like light bulbs and lamps
  • Halos around lights
  • Night vision problems
  • Sensitivity to light

If you or a family member notice any of these signs, talk to Dr. Ashlynn Dennington right away. The sooner you seek treatment, the faster we can help you get back to clear vision.

Coping With Cataracts

If you’re experiencing vision problems from cataracts, there is hope. If you have a mild case, a combination of a different eyeglass prescription and better lighting in your home, office, or other environment can improve your vision. In more advanced cases, your optometrist will likely recommend cataract surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear one.

Do I Need Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures today. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that 2 million people undergo the procedure each year.

During the procedure, the doctor will gently remove the cataract from the eye and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens (known as an IOL). Because it’s a common procedure, cataract surgery is usually performed in an outpatient clinic or in your eye doctor’s office. There is no need to stay in a hospital and you can usually resume your normal activities in just a few days.

If you’ve exhausted every other solution and still suffer from blurry vision from cataracts, surgery may be an option. Schedule a consultation online or call 210-698-6393 to book an eye doctor’s appointment at Texas State Optical Fair Oaks and together, we’ll determine if cataract surgery is right for you.

During this Cataract Awareness Month, share your stories and successes, and give your loved ones hope for a healthy and high quality of life.

Help! My Child Doesn’t Want to Wear Glasses!

Do your kids need glasses in order to see clearly? Maybe they have a strong case of nearsightedness, perhaps they have astigmatism, or another type of refractive error. Whatever the cause, getting your kids to wear eyeglasses can be a parenting challenge.

Dr. Ashlynn Dennington treats patients from all over Fair Oaks, Texas with their vision correction needs. The knowledgeable, caring staff at Texas State Optical Fair Oaks can help you and your kids if they’re struggling with their glasses or don’t want to wear them.

Why Won’t My Child Wear His or Her Glasses?

To help your children get the best vision possible, you first need to understand why they’re fighting with you over their glasses. It usually stems from something physical, emotional, or social, such as:

  • Wrong fit
  • Wrong prescription
  • Personal style
  • Reactions from friends

How do you know which it is? Pay close attention to the signs, from what your kids say, to how they behave, to how they interact with others.

Physical

Improper fit is a big reason why glasses could feel uncomfortable. If they slip down, itch behind the ears, or put pressure on the bridge of the nose, it can explain why a child wouldn’t like to wear them.

If there’s been a big change to their prescription, they may need time to get used to it. If they were given the wrong prescription, they may be straining their eyes, getting headaches, or having eye fatigue. An incorrect prescription can make wearing glasses painful or awkward. It doesn’t correct their vision, either, so they’ll still see blurry images. When this happens, your eye doctor can check the prescription and make an adjustment.

Emotional

Your kids at home aren’t the same as your kids in school, on the sports field, or with their friends. They may be afraid of being made fun of in school, or they may not want the sudden attention on their appearance. These feelings can be even stronger among the tween and teen set.

Social

Even young kids can feel different when they put on a pair of glasses, especially if it’s for the first time. Feeling different or weird, in their eyes, translates to a negative experience. When wearing glasses makes them feel like the odd man out, they may not want to wear them. The last thing your child wants is to feel like a social outcast. After all, everyone wants to belong.

How We Can Help

First, bring your child in to the eye doctor for an eye exam. Our optometrist, Dr. Ashlynn Dennington, will check to make sure that your child has the right prescription and that any vision problems are being corrected. Next, we’ll take a look at the glasses and place them on your child’s face to determine if they’ve got the proper fit. Our optician will take care of any adjustments that need to be made.

The Vision They Need, The Style They Want

Fashion isn’t only for adults. Your budding fashionista or trendy young stud wants to look awesome, so don’t forget about style. When your kids look great, they’ll feel great! Give them the top-quality eyewear they need without compromising on style. Your kids are a lot more likely to wear glasses when they like the way they look.

What You Can Do to Help

Encourage, stay positive, and don’t give up. Avoid telling them what you want them to wear. Let them choose for themselves. In the end, they’re the ones wearing the glasses. Making decisions is an important life skill, something they’ll need as they grow up and become more independent.

For younger children, use positive words to encourage them. Talk about how glasses are like magic, letting them see beautiful things around them. Show them how a pretty flower or a bright red truck looks with the glasses on, and how different it looks with the glasses off. For older kids, throw in a little pop culture. Tell them how trendy they’ll look by showing them pictures of celebrities who also wear glasses. You’ll also rack up some cool parent points.

At Texas State Optical Fair Oaks, we have the experience and unique approach to children’s eyewear that will make your kids want to wear their glasses. Schedule an eye exam today – you can book an appointment online right here. If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call and we’ll be glad to help.

World Braille Day 2019

Each year during the month of January we recognize World Braille Day which gives us the opportunity to take a moment and appreciate the incredible gift that Braille has given to those who are blind or suffer from vision loss. 

What is Braille?

Braille is a tactile representation of letters and numbers that can be utilized by people with vision loss to read using their fingers.  The system uses combinations of six raised dots – three rows of two – that serve to represent the numbers, letters and even symbols such as music notes. 

Braille History:

Braille was developed by a young Frenchman named Louis Braille and was first published in 1829. Braille invented the system at the age of 15 after he became blind as the result of an accident. The idea was originally based on night writing, a touch-based military code developed for Napoleon’s army by Charles Barbier as a strategy for soldiers to be able to communicate silently in the dark. Barbier’s code was ultimately rejected because it was too difficult to be used effectively by the soldiers. Barbier and Braille later met at the Royal Institute for the Blind in Paris and Braille was able to adapt the idea into a more functional system. In braille, the characters, or letters, are each represented by a cell or block with a particular arrangement of raised dots.

Not Just the ABC’s

While first developed for the French alphabet, braille has since been expanded for many languages including all the European-based languages, as well as Arabic and Asian languages. Even within those languages there are different forms of the system.  For example, in English, there is Grade 1 braille which is composed of the representation of the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet and is primarily used for those learning to read and write the language. Grade 2 on the other hand is the type of braille you are likely to see written in public places such as menus or signs as it is more complex. Grade 2 includes higher level punctuation, abbreviations and contractions. Lastly, Grade 3 is a form of shorthand designed for personal use such as taking notes or writing letters. 

In addition to the cells which represent the letters, braille may also include illustrations, graphs and symbols such as bullets or arrows. Further, a cell can also represent a number, a word or a punctuation mark. Because braille takes up more space than standard print there are many abbreviations or contractions that represent words or word sequences to save space. This also helps to improve the speed at which one can read and write using the system. 

How To Write Braille

Writing braille requires some tools. To do it by hand you need a stylus, which is a metal tool that is used to create the dots, a slate, which is a type of stencil used to align the dots into neat cells and card-stock paper which is heavy enough to emboss.  You can also write braille with a special braille typewriter or an electronic brailler as well as certain computer programs with a braille embosser printer. 

Being able to read and write braille allows those with vision impairment to learn and express themselves in a way that they would otherwise not be able to. While newer technologies such as screen readers and other computer based programs have become more common in recent years, braille is the foundation of innovation in improving the lives of the blind and vision impaired. 

Healthy Aging for the Eyes

Getting old doesn’t have to be synonymous with vision loss. There is a lot you can do to keep your eyes and vision healthy and prevent age related eye disease and vision loss, especially if you start early. Keeping your eyes healthy and strong may require some lifestyle changes, but the good news is that these improvements will contribute to your overall health and wellness, not just your eyes.

There are a number of ocular diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy that primarily affect older adults, which can cause impaired vision and even blindness. Sometimes, they are caused by an accumulation of a lifetime of unhealthy habits; changing these poor habits may be the best form of prevention.

Here are some of the most critical lifestyle risk factors for eye disease, and what you can do to reduce your risks.

Diet

Eating healthy is about much more than weight loss. Nutritious foods give your body the ability to fight disease and function optimally. On the other hand, what you put in your body can also cause disease, inflammation, and upset your body’s homeostasis. Choose a healthy, balanced diet: it’s never too late.

Sugar, processed foods and unhealthy fats can increase your risk for eye disease and many other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. In contrast, colorful fruits and vegetables, particularly greens, can help to fight and prevent these same diseases. In fact, studies show that people who eat a healthy diet full of greens, healthy fats (such as Omega-3s) and proteins, and a variety of foods full of vitamins and minerals (such as antioxidants like lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamins A and C) have reduced occurrence of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cataracts and macular degeneration.

Try to eat a diet of at least 5-9 servings a day of fruits and vegetables rich and varied in natural color to get the most nutrients. Reduce your intake of sugar, refined grains (such as white bread and pasta) and processed foods and drinks. Eat mostly whole grains and real, natural foods as much as possible and drink plenty of water.

Ultraviolet (UV) and Blue Light Exposure

More and more studies are showing that extended exposure to UV and blue light emissions correlate to increased incidences of eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. To avoid this, all you need is some proper eye protection. 100% UV blocking sunglasses should be worn each time you go outside (rain or shine) and, if you work on a computer or use an electronic device for at a couple of hours a day or more, it’s worthwhile investing in blue-light blocking computer glasses. There are also some filters and apps available to reduce blue-light exposure from digital devices and screens.

Smoking

We all know that smoking is bad for you, and eye disease is just another way it can have a negative impact on your health. Studies show that smoking increases the risk of dry eye syndrome, cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration as well as diabetic retinopathy.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Once again, what is healthy for your body, is healthy for your eyes. Studies correlate regular exercise with lower risk of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic eye disease. Working a regular exercise routine into your schedule is important for your health and longevity. Being more active in your daily life can help too – walking up and down the steps in your house a few times, taking the stairs instead of an elevator or parking farther away from your destination are easy and free ways to incorporate physical activity into your everyday life. Additionally, individuals with diabetes who exercise regularly show less development of diabetic retinopathy. The recommended guidelines for diabetics (and most individuals) are a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week such as 30 minutes five times a week or three sessions of 50 minutes each.

Preventative Care (Regular Eye Exam)

Vision threatening eye diseases can often be caught and treated early, preventing further vision loss and sometimes even reversing damage. This is where annual comprehensive eye exams are key. You don’t want to wait until you have symptoms to get checked by your eye doctor because many eye diseases don’t present any signs until vision is lost and it is too late to fully recover. A yearly comprehensive eye exam can detect slight changes in your eye that could indicate a developing problem. Early detection can dramatically improve your chances for restored eye health and vision preservation.

When it comes to eye health, awareness and actions for prevention can have a huge impact on reducing your risks. Don’t wait until it is too late. Even small steps toward a healthier lifestyle can make a difference to your future eye health.

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