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6 Common Myths About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which increased pressure causes progressive, permanent vision loss and even blindness. Unfortunately, many misconceptions about the disease can leave you misinformed. Below we sort fact from fiction by debunking 6 of the most common glaucoma myths.

Glaucoma Facts vs. Myths

MYTH 1: Glaucoma is a single disease

FACT

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases; the most common ones are open-angle glaucoma (OAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG).

In open-angle glaucoma, the drainage structure in your eye (called the trabecular meshwork) doesn’t allow the fluid inside the eye to flow out as it should, causing an increase in internal ocular pressure that damages the optic nerve. OAG develops slowly, and usually by the time people perceive symptoms, such as peripheral vision loss, they already have optic nerve damage.

In angle-closure glaucoma, the eye doesn’t drain fluid as it should because the drainage channel between your iris and cornea becomes too narrow, causing increased eye pressure. This pressure damages the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. ACG can occur suddenly or gradually.

MYTH 2: Only the elderly suffer from glaucoma

FACT

Although it’s true that people over 60 are at a greater risk of developing open-angle glaucoma compared to people in their 40s, there are other types of glaucoma that can affect people aged 20 to 50 and even young infants (due to abnormal ocular development).

In addition to age, those with a higher risk of developing glaucoma include:

  • African Canadians and Hispanics
  • Individuals with a family history of glaucoma
  • Patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia
  • Those who have previously sustained an eye injury
  • People taking steroid medications over the long term

MYTH 3: Glaucoma shows symptoms early on

FACT

The most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, shows virtually no signs or symptoms until its later stages when vision loss sets in. Despite what people may think, the increased eye pressure causes no pain. And since peripheral vision is the first to go, you may not recognize vision loss until your vision has become significantly impaired. The only way to detect glaucoma is to undergo a comprehensive eye exam.

MYTH 4: Nothing can be done once you have glaucoma

FACT

While there’s currently no cure for glaucoma, many effective treatment options exist: eye drops, oral medications, as well as laser and surgical procedures that can help slow glaucoma progression. Each treatment option is used to get the fluid to flow properly out of the eye, reducing pressure inside the eye and decreasing damage to the optic nerve.

MYTH 5: Testing for glaucoma is painful

FACT

Actually, testing for glaucoma is practically painless. One of the tests includes a non-contact device that blows a gentle puff of air into each eye to test the intraocular pressure. The sound of the puff may be startling, but it’s over in a second and is painless. With the Goldmann applanation tonometry test, an anesthetic eye drop is inserted into each eye, which may cause a stinging sensation for a few seconds. Your eye doctor will then use a blue light to quickly and gently touch the cornea to precisely measure intraocular pressure. The most accurate of all, however, are visual field testing and OCT (optical coherence tomography), non-invasive imaging, both of which are also painless.

MYTH 6: You can’t prevent glaucoma

FACT

Regular eye exams are the only way to prevent glaucoma, as blindness or significant vision loss can be prevented if the disease is diagnosed and treated in the early stages. That’s why routine comprehensive eye exams which include glaucoma testing are so important.

Getting your eyes checked regularly can ensure that any existing eye problems are detected early enough to prevent or slow ocular damage. Contact Dr Hafiz Walji in Markham to book your comprehensive eye exam today!

The Importance of Eye Exams for Contact Lenses

Are you planning on wearing contact lenses for the first time? Do you need a new contact lens prescription? Are your current contacts not as comfortable as you wish they were? Your eye doctor will perform a contact lens eye exam to ensure that your vision with contacts is clear, comfortable, and safe, providing you with the right lenses for you.

What is a contact lens exam?

If you wear or want to wear contact lenses, you’ll need an eye exam for contact lenses, in addition to your regular comprehensive eye exam. Special tests are performed during a contact lens exam to evaluate your eyes and vision with contacts.

Are eyeglass prescriptions the same as contact lens prescriptions?

No, a prescription for glasses cannot be used for contact lenses. An eyeglass prescription is for lenses that are positioned approximately 12 millimeters from your eyes, whereas a contact lens prescription is measured for lenses that sit directly on the surface of your eye.

The prescription for contact lenses also includes the brand, lens diameter and curvature, which are not part of an eyeglass prescription.

Contact lenses fitting: One size does not fit all

One contact lens size doesn’t fit all eyes. If a contact lens is too flat or too steep for your corneal shape, you may experience discomfort or even eye damage. Your eye doctor will take certain measurements to determine the best contact lens design and fit for your eyes.

Corneal curvature

This measures the curvature of your eye’s clear front surface (cornea) so the eye doctor can select the optimal curve and diameter for your contact lenses. If your eye’s surface is somewhat irregular because of astigmatism or other conditions, you may require a special lens.

Pupil and iris size

The size of your pupil and iris (the coloured part of your eye) is also important in determining the best contact lens design.

Tear film evaluation

This test evaluates the quality of your tears, to determine whether they will be able to keep contact lenses and your cornea sufficiently hydrated throughout the day. If you have dry eye disease, standard contact lenses may not be right for you.

Trial lenses

Following the eye exam, you will be provided with trial lenses to verify that the chosen contact lenses offer clear and comfortable vision. This will allow the eye doctor to make any fine adjustments to the prescription.

Contact Lens Eye Exam Near You

Wearing the correct contact lenses for your eyes allows you to enjoy all of the benefits of wearing contacts, while keeping your eyes healthy and comfortable.

If you’re already a contact lens wearer, visit your eye doctor at least once a year to make sure the lenses are still providing you with optimum vision and comfort.

Contact Dr Hafiz Walji in Markham to book your contact lens eye exam today!

8 Ways Your Eyes Change With Age

Our eyes and vision change with age. Your eye doctor can monitor these changes — some of which are a natural part of the aging process — and identify any eye conditions or diseases early enough to treat them and prevent vision loss. Read on to learn more about the different types of eye changes one may encounter with age.

Age-Related Eye Conditions and Diseases

Cataracts

If your vision is starting to get blurry, you may be developing cataracts. There are a few types of cataracts, but the one usually caused by aging is known as a “nuclear cataract”. At first, it may lead to increased nearsightedness or even a temporary improvement in your reading vision. But with time, the lens gradually turns more densely yellow and clouds your vision. As the cataract slowly progresses, the lens may even turn brown. Advanced yellowing or browning of the lens can lead to difficulty distinguishing between shades of colour, and left untreated, it can eventually lead to blindness. Luckily, cataract surgery, where the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear lens, is an extremely safe and effective treatment option.

Blepharoptosis

Blepharoptosis or ptosis is a drooping of the upper eyelid that may affect one or both eyes. The eyelid may droop only slightly or may droop enough to cover the pupil and block vision. It occurs when there is a weakness of the eye’s levator muscle that lifts the eyelid. This condition is usually caused by aging, eye surgery, or disease affecting the muscle or its nerve. Fortunately, blepharoptosis can be corrected with surgery.

Vitreous detachment

This occurs when the gel-like vitreous fluid inside the eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina, causing “spots and floaters” and, sometimes, flashes of light. This occurrence is usually harmless, but floaters and flashes of light can also signal the beginning of a detached retina — a serious problem that can cause blindness, and requires immediate treatment. If you experience sudden or worsening flashes and increased floaters, see Dr. Hafiz Walji immediately to determine the cause.

Other Age-Related Changes

In addition to the above eye conditions and diseases, the structure of our eyes and vision change as we get older.

Presbyopia

Why do people in their 40s and 50s have more difficulty focusing on near objects like books and phone screens? The lens inside the eye begins to lose its ability to change shape and bring near objects into focus, a process is called presbyopia. Over time, presbyopia, also known as age-related farsightedness, will become more pronounced and you will eventually need reading glasses to see clearly. You may need multiple prescriptions – one prescription to enable you to see up close, one for intermediate distance, and one for distance vision. In that case, people often get bifocals, multifocals or PALs, and they can be combined with contact lenses as well.

Reduced pupil size

As we age, our reaction to light and the muscles that control our pupil size lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting. The result? It becomes harder to clearly see objects, such as a menu, in a low-light setting like a restaurant.

Dry eye

Our tear glands produce fewer tears and the tears they produce have less moisturizing oils. Your eye doctor can determine whether your dry eye is age-related or due to another condition, and will recommend the right over-the-counter or prescription eye drops, or other effective and lasting treatments, to alleviate the dryness and restore comfort.

Loss of peripheral vision

Aging causes a 1-3 degree loss of peripheral vision per decade of life. In fact, one may reach a peripheral visual field loss of 20-30 degrees by the time they reach their 70s and 80s. While peripheral vision loss is a normal part of aging, it can also indicate the presence of a serious eye disease, like glaucoma. The best way to ascertain the cause is by getting an eye exam.

Decreased colour vision

The cells in the retina responsible for normal colour vision tend to decline as we age, causing colours to become less bright and the contrast between different colours to be less noticeable. Though a normal part of aging, faded colours can at times signal a more serious ocular problem.

Beyond the normal changes that come with age, the risk of developing a serious eye disease, such as age related macular degeneration and glaucoma, increases. Routine eye exams are essential to keeping your eyes healthy. Your eye doctor can determine whether your symptoms are caused by an eye problem or are a normal byproduct of aging.

If you or a loved one suffers from impaired vision, we can help. To find out more and to schedule your annual eye doctor’s appointment, contact Dr Hafiz Walji in Markham today.

Protect Your Eyes From Vision Loss: Diabetes Awareness Month

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is one of the most prevalent eye diseases affecting the working age population. It is thought to be caused by high blood sugar levels which, over time, damage the tiny blood vessels of the retina at the back of the eye, making them swell and leak. Left untreated, DR can lead to vision loss and eventually blindness.

Since diabetic eye disease is typically painless and shows no symptoms until its advanced stages, it’s critical to get your annual eye evaluation, as an optometrist can detect the developing signs early enough to prevent vision loss.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetics may not realize they have diabetic retinopathy, because it develops silently. As the condition worsens, it may cause:

  • Blurred vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Colours to appear faded or washed out
  • An increased presence of floaters
  • Vision loss
  • Blank or dark areas in your field of vision

Diabetic retinopathy symptoms usually affect both eyes.

Risk Factors

If you are diabetic, caring for your eyes by undergoing routine eye exams and taking care of your body by controlling blood sugar levels are critical to preventing vision loss. There are several risk factors associated with diabetic eye complications, including:

  • Poor blood sugar control
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Excess weight/obesity

Are There Any Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy?

Today’s treatment options may improve your vision, even if you feel your eyesight has begun to deteriorate. Medications can be injected to reduce swelling, and laser surgery can be used to shrink and seal off swollen and leaking blood vessels — preserving and, in many cases, even improving vision.

While certain treatments may work, frequent monitoring of your eyes coupled with managing your blood sugar levels can go a long way toward preventing or reducing diabetic retinopathy complications.

If You Have Diabetes, Make Sure to:

  • Control blood sugar and blood pressure to prevent long-term damage to the fine blood vessels within the retina.
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle routine, especially during stressful times such as the COVID-19 pandemic. (Plus, while diabetics are in the high-risk category, your chances of developing serious COVID-19 related complications is lower if your diabetes is under control.)
  • Maintain a steady diet and exercise regimen to help the body and mind feel better.
  • Quit smoking, if applicable; you can reach out to a medical professional for guidance.
  • Get yearly diabetic eye exams.

Preventing and managing diabetic retinopathy require a multi-disciplinary approach involving your eye doctor and other medical professionals. Your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine whether you have diabetic retinopathy, assess its severity, and discuss preventative strategies as well as the latest treatment options.

Contact Dr Hafiz Walji at 905-471-3937 to schedule your diabetic eye exam today, and to learn more about what you can do to protect your vision and general health.

Optometrists prepare for back to school

The Coronavirus or Covid-19 has set back many companies and institutions.

We have been afraid to go to the doctor and as such, frighteningly come to diagnose ourselves in order to avoid potential spread. But in many cases, this is not a good idea (at all) and you should not ignore your eyecare routine needs.

Optometrists have been gearing up now, more than ever, to make sure that eye exams during corona are safe. As such, many optometrists have taken new measures to ensure patient safety.

These safety measures include disinfecting surfaces, wearing masks, and telemedicine has become increasingly not only popular but a necessity. Now that children are back to school, they too must juggle between wearing masks and eyeglasses or come to learn how to wear contact lenses.

Dr. Hafiz Walji services the Markham and the Greater Toronto area for over thirty years. We are fully prepared for supporting you during this time. Call us at 905-471-3937 to schedule an appointment today for any matter or concern, big or small.

 

Tips to Relax Your Eyes

Do your eyes hurt after spending a significant amount of time reading, playing video games, driving, or staring at a screen? These visually intense activities can sometimes be hard on the eyes, causing uncomfortable symptoms like headaches and blurry vision. Other symptoms of eye strain can include light sensitivity, neck and shoulder pain, trouble concentrating, and burning or itchy eyes.

Fortunately, preventing painful computer vision syndrome and eye fatigue symptoms can be as simple as trying a few of these eye exercises. To learn more about digital eye strain and discover the best relief options for you, call Dr Hafiz Walji at 905-471-3937 and schedule an eye exam with Dr. Hafiz Walji.

Relax Your Eyes with These Supportive Techniques

Many of these exercises are designed for computer users. Eye strain resulting from long drives, reading, or other activities, can be alleviated by modifying some of these recommendations.

The Clock Exercise

The clock exercise relieves strain on overworked eye muscles and can help you avoid headaches and eye pain, among other symptoms. Begin the exercise by imagining a large analog clock a few feet in front of you. Keep your head still and move your eyes to the imaginary 9, then to the imaginary 3.

Keep moving your eyes to the opposite pairs on the clock — 10/4, 11/5, 12/6, and so on. Hold your gaze for a second or two on each number before moving on to the next one. Continue doing this for 4-5 minutes.

The 20-20-20 Rule

The 20-20-20 rule helps you avoid dry eyes and eye strain by giving your eyes frequent breaks. After about 20 minutes of screen time or doing close-up work, focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives the eyes a much needed rest and helps them relax. There are also free apps available that provide pop-up reminders that notify you when it’s time to shift your gaze.

Screen Ergonomics

The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends placing computer monitors 20 to 28 inches, or 50-70 cm, away from your eyes and the top of the computer should be at eye level or right below for optimum eye comfort. Glare filters can reduce the amount of glare produced by digital devices and improve your viewing experience.

Poor sitting posture can also contribute to eye strain. Your chair should be situated so that your feet are flat on the floor, or use an angled footrest for additional comfort.

Optimize your Eyewear

Since regular prescription lenses or glasses may not adequately meet your visual needs for lengthy computer use, you may benefit from wearing computer glasses. These prescription glasses are customized to your needs and also reduce glare and block blue light.

 

You don’t have to live with the discomforts of eye strain. If symptoms persist, it may be time to visit Dr Hafiz Walji and get the relief you seek. Call our office to schedule a convenient eye doctor’s appointment.

 

Why You Regularly Need to Replace Your Sunglasses

Did you know that sunglasses, or at least sunglass lenses, regularly need to be replaced?

According to a study conducted at the University of São Paulo, the UV protection that sunglasses provide deteriorates over time. You may adore your current ones, but if you’ve been rocking those shades for two or more years, it might be time to get a new pair.

In addition to the UV-blocking properties, anti-reflective and anti-scratch coatings wear down, and the frame material may become brittle over the years, too. Even if you have the most durable sunglasses available, regular lens-replacement is the best way to ensure that your vision is maximally protected from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light.

UV Light and Sunglasses

The protective efficacy of your sunglasses comes in large part from the lens coating of dyes and pigments that reflect and absorb ultraviolet radiation. They create a barrier that prevents UV radiation from penetrating your eyes.

However, this protective coating can, and often does, break down over time. Wear and tear can cause an invisible web of tiny abrasions, compromising its UV-blocking power. Furthermore, the protective dyes and pigments aren’t able to absorb UV rays indefinitely; the more sunlight they’re exposed to, the more rapidly they’ll become ineffective.

A pair of shades worn on occasion and in mild conditions is likely to remain effective longer than a pair that is heavily used in a more intensely sunny environment. For example, if you spend long days on the water paddling, kayaking, or canoeing, the protective coating on your lenses will deteriorate more quickly than it would if you only wear your shades to go grocery shopping or sit in a cafe.

Why It’s Important to Protect Your Eyes From UV

Protecting your eyes from the sun is critical no matter where in the world you are, as UV exposure places you at risk for developing eye diseases like eye cancer, pterygium, and pinguecula — which can result in disfigurement and discomfort — as well as cataracts and macular degeneration — which cause vision loss and, in severe cases, blindness.

Even short-term overexposure can result in photokeratitis, a corneal sunburn. Symptoms include eye pain, swelling, light sensitivity, and temporary vision loss. Some people experience it when spending too much time boating or skiing without wearing eye protection. Snow and water can increase solar exposure because they reflect sunlight toward your face.

What to Look for When Getting New Sunglasses

When choosing new sunglasses, make sure they’re labeled 100% UV protection or UV400. Although most pairs sold in Canada offer this degree of protection, it’s still worth confirming before making the purchase. Keep in mind that factors like cost, polarization, lens color, or darkness don’t have much to do with the level of UV protection. Even clear prescription lenses can be UV protective.

It’s important to note that there is a lot of counterfeit sunwear in the marketplace. This is dangerous since counterfeit eyewear may not provide much-needed ultraviolet protection. So if the price of a renowned brand is too good to be true, it’s probably a fake.

The size and fit of the sunglasses is important. Bigger is definitely better if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Larger wrap-around eyewear is best if you regularly ski or spend many hours in the water, as this style blocks light from all directions.

To find out whether it’s still safe to wear your favorite shades, visit a Markham eye doctor to determine whether your lenses still offer the right level of UV protection. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss prescription sunwear.

For more information about UV safety, or to get the perfect sunglasses tailored to your vision needs and lifestyle, contact Dr Hafiz Walji in Markham today!

 

References

https://biomedical-engineering-online.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12938-016-0209-7

 

Why You Should Avoid Online Eye Tests

An online eye exam is an automated and interactive vision test that claims to measure mainly visual acuity. It may seem like a convenient way to evaluate your vision or get an eyeglass or contact lens prescription, as these tests can be administered using your computer, tablet, or smartphone from the comfort of your home.

But these tests — which should not be confused with telehealth visits — are performed by a computer program, not a professional eye care practitioner, and they cannot and should not replace a comprehensive, in-person eye exam.

Online eye tests, which are impersonal and superficial by nature, can cause you to miss out on some important, even life-saving, information about your eye health and vision.

What Do Online Eye Tests Evaluate?

First off, it’s important to recognize that an online eye test does not evaluate the health of your eyes. It’s more of a vision test than an eye test, as it’s designed as an attempt to measure your visual acuity and refractive error, and, in some cases, contrast sensitivity and color blindness. Furthermore, the accuracy of the prescriptions provided by online vision tests is questionable. Providing the correct optical prescription requires the eye doctor’s direct and open communication with the patient. The right prescription needs subjective input and experienced analysis from an eye doctor — professional skills that can never be replicated accurately through an online program.

While the technology promises convenience, the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) advises caution, as these exams can offer misleading information and may contribute to a patient believing—incorrectly—that his or her eye health needs have been met. The online eye test measurements provide little-to-no information on the health of your eyes, and cannot determine whether you may have a sight-threatening condition such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or other eye diseases. Nor do online exams address problems like dry eye, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, or functional vision problems — such as difficulty with eye teaming or convergence insufficiency.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Eye Exam

Optometrists undergo years of study and specialized training. They develop a comprehensive understanding of how to evaluate your eyes not only for sight, but for any underlying conditions. In fact, vision and health are closely linked. Comprehensive eye exams enable Dr. Hafiz Walji to detect signs of diseases that may affect your entire body, but which show early signs in your eyes.

These include:

  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Strokes
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or a brain tumor

Is a Virtual Eye Exam Cost-Saving?

Some people erroneously believe that an online eye test can save them not only time but also money, compared with a comprehensive eye exam performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. It’s important to note that these virtual tests offer only a sliver of the services you’d normally receive from your eye doctor during a thorough ocular exam.

Carrying out a professional eye exam requires training, precision, and the proper equipment. Anything less can put your eyes and vision at serious risk.

Safeguard Your Eyes and Sight

A comprehensive in-person eye exam is the only way to determine whether your eyes are healthy and free from sight-threatening conditions. Early detection and treatment of these problems can potentially prevent vision loss. Eye care practitioners frequently discover an infection, chronic illness or eye disease during what patients would have expected to be a simple, routine ocular exam. These scenarios are far more common than we’d like to imagine.

To safeguard the health of your eyes and sight, have a comprehensive, in-person eye exam with Dr. Hafiz Walji on a regular basis. Your health may depend on it.

Dr Hafiz Walji in Markham provides comprehensive eye exams using the most advanced equipment available. Schedule an exam with us today.

 

COVID-19 Office Update

In accordance with the advice and direction of Ontario Ministry of Health as well as The College of Optometrists of Ontario, our clinic is temporarily closed until further notice.

If you are experiencing a medical eye emergency please call our special telephone number for Eye Emergencies at 905-471-3937 and leave us a voice message. We will be sure to return your call within a few hours.

Why You Shouldn’t Visit the ER for Eye Emergencies During COVID-19

In an effort to reduce exposure to COVID-19, local health authorities encouraged patients with emergency eye care needs to get in touch with their local optometrist prior to seeking treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Doing so not only eases the burden on emergency departments but also helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What Is Considered an Eye Emergency?

Most eye-related conditions can be treated in an outpatient optometry office or clinic. Emergency eye care includes, but is not limited to, urgent clinical advice or intervention for eye injuries and conditions that entail a foreign object in the eye, chemical burns, a sudden change in vision, flashes and floaters (which might suggest a retinal detachment), contact lens discomfort, red eyes and any other problems or symptoms that may impact or interfere with daily activities.

Prioritizing Your Eye Care Needs During COVID-19

During the coronavirus outbreak, we have been going above and beyond to ensure that people are receiving the emergency eye care they need.

Patients should first contact Dr Hafiz Walji for guidance and potential treatment prior to heading to an overwhelmed hospital emergency room. Dr. Hafiz Walji can assess the level of care the patient needs—whether it’s telehealth or urgent care that requires a visit to the eye clinic or, in severe cases, even the emergency room.

This will ensure that patients get prompt treatment while allowing hospitals to conserve their resources for the current pandemic. In fact, research has shown that treating eye emergencies at eye doctors’ offices can potentially divert 1.4 million patients away from emergency rooms per year.

While we have closed our store for routine appointments, Dr Hafiz Walji at Markham continues to provide emergency care for those who need it. We’d like to reassure our patients that we are here to help with anyone’s emergency eye care requirements – for both for new and existing patients.