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Celebrating Your Child’s First Exam!

Texas State Optical Kingwood cares for entire families in Kingwood, TX and nothing makes us happier than celebrating with our proud moms and dads on their child’s first eye exam.

It is a wonderful rite of passage with a ceremony and certificate with the doctors and staff of TSO Kingwood. Children are sometimes nervous having their first eye exam, however, our caring and sensitive staff makes every child comfortable and excited about having their eye checked for the first.

Please call us to schedule an appointment or simply ask questions about your child’s first eye exam, what to expect and how TSO Kingwood will make it a memorable experience!

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Protective Sports Eyewear is a Serious Matter

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There are thousands of eye injuries a year related to sports. According to the National Eye Institute eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in North America and most injuries occurring in school-aged children are sports-related. Further 99% of sports-related eye injuries can be prevented simply by wearing protective eyewear. 

Sports injuries aren’t just a result of contact sports. Any sport can pose a danger especially those that involve balls, bats rackets or even elbows. It’s up to parents, teachers, coaches and league administrators to make protective eyewear a mandatory part of any sports uniform. This includes safety glasses or goggles, helmets with built in eye shields, or eye guards, depending on the sport.

Prescription Sports Eyewear

For athletes that wear prescription eyewear or contact lenses, sports eyewear plays an additional role. Many athletes choose to forego eyewear during play because of the inconvenience it causes, however this impairs their vision and ultimately affects their performance ability. Wearing prescription sports eyewear or wearing non-prescription goggles over their glasses or contacts not only serves to protect the eyes, but it allows them to see better and increases performance. It’s very important to note that standard prescription glasses or sunglasses do not protect the eyes from an impact and could possibly cause greater harm if the lenses or frames are damaged during play. 

How to Select The Right Protective Sports Eyewear

Protective eyewear is made of special materials that are impact resistant such as polycarbonate or Trivex. Polycarbonate and Trivex lenses for outdoor use also have UV protection to protect the eyes from the sun, and can be made with added tints just like built-in sunglasses. It is a good idea to make sure that your lenses include a scratch resistant coating so that natural wear and tear don’t cause reduced visibility. Athletic eyewear frames are usually made from polycarbonate also, or from strong plastic, and often have padding on the forehead or nose to enhance comfort and fit. 

Especially in children who are growing, it is critical for protective eyewear to fit well, for optimal safety and vision. To check that the glasses fit properly make sure that the internal padding rests comfortably on the face and that the eyes are centered in the lens area. If the child complains that they are too tight or you can visibly see that they are too loose, it may be time for a new pair. Also take into consideration whether the child will be wearing a hat or helmet to make sure that the goggles or glasses fit comfortably inside the gear. 

Depending on the sport, the type and design of the eye protection varies, so be sure to tell your eye care professional what sport you play so he or she can find the best type of eyewear to keep your eyes safe. 

 

How Pregnancy Affects Vision

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The hormonal fluctuations experienced during pregnancy can cause many unexpected changes in your body, including your eyes and vision. Most of these changes are temporary and will return to normal once you give birth.  It’s important to know which vision changes are normal for an expecting mother and which could indicate a problem that requires medical attention.

Normal Vision Changes

Visual Acuity/Blurred vision

During pregnancy, you may notice a change in your vision due to hormone levels. If you find that your vision has gotten blurry or that your current prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses are not helping as much as they usually do, speak to your eye doctor. Often the change in your vision is due to fluid retention which can temporarily change the shape of your cornea. Since your hormones will continue to fluctuate and will return to normal shortly after you give birth or after you finish nursing, your doctor may advise waiting until after you deliver to assess whether you need to change your prescription. However, you may need a temporary pair of glasses with your current prescription if you need lenses for driving or other tasks that are dangerous or difficult without perfect eyesight.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes is a common and usually temporary condition that is experienced during pregnancy. Dry eyes can lead to irritation and discomfort in general and especially when wearing contact lenses. To relieve dry eyes, over-the-counter lubricating or rewetting eye drops are completely safe to use during pregnancy and nursing. It’s a good idea to consult with your optometrist to make sure you’re using a good dry eye solution, and definitely see the eye doctor if symptoms persist or if you wear contact lenses.

Puffy Eyelids

Along with many other areas in the body, eyelids may swell during pregnancy. To reduce water retention, make sure you drink a lot of water and limit your intake of sodium and caffeine.

Vision Changes that Require Medical Attention

Preeclampsia

Some serious vision changes could be signs of preeclampsia, a potentially serious issue that occurs in 5-8% of pregnancies. Vision symptoms associated with the condition include temporary vision loss, light sensitivity, blurry vision, auras and the appearance of flashing lights, along with high blood pressure.  If you experience these symptoms seek medical attention immediately.

Diabetes

Both women that are regularly diabetic and those that have gestational (pregnancy) diabetes need to keep an eye on their vision as blurred vision can indicate elevated blood sugar levels. The risks of vision loss associated with diabetes is heightened during pregnancy so it is critical to monitor blood sugar levels at all times. Women with gestational diabetes should get a diabetic eye exam, which includes dilating the eye and examining the retina for signs of retinopathy.

While minor changes in your eyes and vision are a normal part of pregnancy, if at any time you notice persistent eye pain, vision loss or discomfort, visit your doctor.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Is Your Baby’s EyeSight Developing Normally?

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A baby’s visual system develops gradually over the first few months of life. They have to learn to focus and move their eyes, and use them together as a team.  The brain also needs to learn how to process the visual information from the eyes to understand and interact with the world. With the development of eyesight comes also the foundation for motor development such as crawling, walking and hand-eye coordination. 

You can ensure that your baby is reaching milestones by keeping an eye on what is happening with your infant’s development and by ensuring that you schedule a comprehensive infant eye exam at 6 months.  

The AOA recommends that all babies have an eye exam by 6 months of age in order to be sure that the child is seeing properly, developing on track and to check for conditions that could impair vision (such as strabismus/misalignment of the eyes, farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism) or cause other health problems. 

Here is the general progression of vision development in the first year of life. It is important to know that many babies fall outside of the normal progression and that reaching these milestones does not mean that an infant eye exam should be skipped. 

1 month: Babies are just beginning to be able to focus on objects that are close – between 8-10 inches away. You may notice that your baby’s eyes don’t always work together and that one may drift inward or outward from time to time. If this is happening on occasion, there is no need for concern, however if you notice that the eyes are largely misaligned the majority of the time, consult with an eye care professional. 

2-3 months: Babies will begin to follow objects and to reach for things they see in front of them. They will also learn to shift their gaze from one object to another without having to move their head. 

4-6 months: By six months, babies are starting to be able to see more accurately and follow moving objects better. Their depth and color perception, eye teaming and alignment should be developing at this point.  This is when you should schedule an eye exam to evaluate for visual acuity and eye coordination. The doctor will also check for the health of the eyes and look for anything that could interfere with normal development. 

7-12 months: The last half of the first year is when infants start to really develop depth perception and hand-eye coordination. This is when you also need to be more vigilant about eye injuries as babies are starting to move around and explore their environment. Also keep a lookout for Strabismus or misalignment of the eyes. It is important that this is detected and treated early, otherwise it could lead to amblyopia or lazy eye, in which one eye does not develop properly. Lazy eye can lead to permanent vision problems if not corrected. 

Since the early development of vision is critical for future eyesight, learning and motor skills, if you have any concerns or questions about your baby’s eyes, contact your eye care professional immediately.  Early treatment of vision and eye problems is often able to prevent developmental delays and permanent vision problems for the future. 

Guidelines For Picking the Right Pair of Shades

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There is a lot more that goes into finding the right pair of sunglasses than just fit and fashion.  While it’s important to look and feel great in your shades, sunglasses also have the very important job of properly protecting your eyes from the sun. 

Here are a few facts about the dangers of UV exposure:

  • Chronic UV exposure is linked to cataracts and macular degeneration in the long term.
  • Intense UV exposure can cause symptoms of eye pain and irritation within 6-12 hours.
  • Some medications such as birth control and certain antibiotics can increase sensitivity to UV so take extra precaution.
  • The most common source of UV is the sun especially with depletion of the earth’s ozone layer.  
  • Outdoor UV exposure is common in construction workers, landscapers and fisherman.
  • Some indoor occupations also get high exposure such as dentists, medical and research technician, electric welding.

Here is what you need to consider to make sure you select a pair of sunglasses that look and feel great and offer full sun protection. 

  • 100% UV protection: The number one most important feature of your sunglasses must be proper UV protection. Look for a pair that blocks 99-100% of UVB and UVA rays. Lenses labeled as “UV 400,” block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers, which includes all UVA and UVB rays. 
  • Frame size: Pay attention to the size of the frame – the bigger (meaning the more surface area they cover and the less light they let in from the top and sides) the better. Wraparound styles are the best frames at keeping UV rays from entering in through the sides of the glasses. 
  • Lens materials, coatings and tints: There are many options for lenses designed to help you see better and more comfortably in certain conditions. Polarized lenses, photochromic lenses, anti-glare coatings, mirror-coatings and gradient tints are just a few. Your best bet is to speak to a professional optician to determine which options are best suited for your needs. 
  • Frame shape: The general rule for selecting a pair of eyewear that looks great is to contrast the shape of your face with the shape of the frame. For example if you have a round face, try out an angular frame, and for a square-shaped face, a rounder, softer frame will look great. Along with shape, the size of the frames should be considered. Frames should not be too large, small, narrow or wide for your face. 
  • Proper fit: Your sunglasses should feel comfortable; they shouldn’t squeeze at your temples but they also shouldn’t be so loose that they will fall off.  Your eyelashes shouldn’t touch the lenses and the frames should rest comfortably on your nose and ears. 
  • Lifestyle fit: Your eyewear should be the proper fit for your lifestyle. For example, if you are active in sports or outdoor activities, polarized lenses in a durable frame are a must. There are many sunglass manufacturers out there that make eyewear to match certain lifestyles and activities so speak to your optician about your interests and hobbies to make sure you find the best pair to match your needs.
  • Frame color: The same wardrobe colors that match your skin tone, will look good in your eyewear. Generally speaking, if you have cool-toned skin (pink or rosy undertones) you will look best in blue-based hues such as blues, pinks, purples or greys. Alternatively, if you have warm-toned skin (golden or apricot undertones), you will want to try out yellow-based colors such as golds, oranges, reds, browns or tans. 

Remember, sunglasses aren’t just for fun in the sun. Dangerous UV rays can penetrate clouds and reflect off of water and snow. So even when the sun isn’t shining, a good pair of sunglasses should be worn every day to keep your eyes safe and to help you see your best. 

6 Things You Need To Know About Cataracts

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Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss in the United States and Canada. Here are 6 things you need to know.

1. Chances are you will develop a cataract! 

Cataracts are considered part of the natural aging process so if you live long enough, you will likely eventually develop one. 

2. A cataract is a clouding of the usually transparent lens in your eye.

The lens in your eye focuses light onto the retina at the back of your eye, allowing you to see. When your lens starts to clouds up, the images projected onto your retina become blurry and unfocused. You can compare this to looking through a dirty or cloudy window. If the window is not clear, you can’t see!

3. Age is not the only risk factor for cataract development.

While the risk of developing a cataract does increase as you age, it is not the only factor. Other risk factors include eye injury, certain medications (eg: steroids), diseases such as diabetes and macular degeneration, lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumption, smoking and prolonged exposure to the sun. 

4. Your treatment options are not limited to surgery.

If cataracts are detected in the early stages of development, non-surgical options including stronger glasses or even better lighting go a long way to help alleviate the condition’s detrimental impact on your vision at first. However, most people do need cataract surgery eventually. Fortunately, the procedure is very low risk and has an excellent success rate. It is relatively non-invasive, often requiring no more than a tiny laser-assisted incision, performed in an outpatient clinic.

5. Cataracts have warning signs

Cataracts don’t suddenly develop overnight. If you notice you have cloudy vision or see halos around lights, have trouble with night vision or see double in one eye, make a visit to your eye doctor a priority so you can get it checked out.

6. What you eat can reduce your risks.

Don’t let cataracts interfere with your quality of life. Be sure to schedule regular eye exams so that you stay on top of your overall eye health.

What You Need to Know About Firework Eye Safety

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Independence Day may have passed but fireworks season is still in full swing and fireworks-related injury and death is a real and serious danger.  According to the 2014 Annual Fireworks Report, compiled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission there were at least 11 deaths and 10,500 injuries due to fireworks last 

While the most common injuries occurred to the hands and fingers (approximately 36%), about 1 in every 5 of the injuries (19%) were to the eyes, where contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eyes were the most common injuries. The danger to the eyes is serious and can result in permanent eye damage and loss of vision. Fireworks can rupture the globe of the eye or cause chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and retinal detachment.

Sadly, children from 5-9 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated fireworks-related injuries (5.2 injuries per 100,000 people) and children under 15 years old accounted for 35% of the total injuries. Nearly half of those injured were bystanders and not actually handling the fireworks themselves. 

Here are Five Fireworks Safety Tips to enjoy fireworks safely:

  • The safest way to view fireworks is at a professional public display rather than at home use.
  • When viewing fireworks, carefully adhere to the safety barriers and view them from at least 500 feet away.
  • Never touch unexploded fireworks. Contact local fire or police departments immediately to deal with them.
  • Never let young children play with any type of fireworks even sparklers. 
  • In cases where consumer fireworks are legal, use them safely. Anyone that handles fireworks or is a bystander should wear proper protective gear and eyewear that meet national safety standards. 
  • Professional grade fireworks should only be handled by trained pyrotechnicians.

If a firework-related eye injury does occur, seek medical attention immediately. Try to leave the eye alone as much as possible; do not rub or rinse the eyes, apply pressure or try to remove an object that has entered the eye. 

In addition to knowing the dangers and safety precautions yourself, it’s important to teach your children about firework safety. Always remember that while they are fun to enjoy in the right setting, fireworks are explosive devices and should be treated as such. 

What Women Need to Know About Eye Health

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According to Women’sEyeHealth.org, ⅔ of blindness and visual impairment occurs in women. Additionally, an estimated 75% of visual impairment is preventable or correctable with proper education and care. With the increased risks for women it’s critical for women to know about the risks and prevention to effectively protect their eyes and vision.

There are a number of specific eye diseases, many of which cause vision impairment, that are more prevalent in women. Part of the reason for this is that women tend to live longer than men. These risks are exacerbated by often avoidable behavioral and environmental conditions such as smoking, poor diet and nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle and sun exposure to name a few.

Research shows that some of the statistics showing that women are at a higher risk of certain vision-threatening conditions depend on the living conditions and access to health care of the population being studied. Nevertheless, other eye conditions such as dry eye syndrome, autoimmune diseases related to the eyes (such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s Syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis) and cataracts are inherently more prevalent in women than men. Furthermore, women are more at risk for diseases associated with age, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), since they statistically live a few years longer than men.

Here are some facts about a few of the common eye diseases that women in particular should be aware of.

  1. Cataracts.

Cataracts are when the lens of the eye becomes clouded causing vision loss and eventually blindness if not treated. Nevertheless, treatment for the condition, which is usually a minor surgery, is very common and highly successful. An age-related condition, more than half of North Americans age 65 and older have at least one cataract.  While longer life expectancy is a factor, women also have been found to be intrinsically more at risk for developing cataracts.

While it is likely that most people that live long enough will eventually develop a cataract, there are a few things that can increase your chances such as smoking, and possibly diet and sun exposure. If you have diabetes, maintaining proper blood sugar levels might play a role in prevention. Scheduling a yearly, comprehensive eye exam is the best way to catch and treat cataracts early to prevent vision loss.

  1. Dry Eye Disease

Dry eye disease is a condition in which the eye does not create enough lubricating tear film to keep the surface moist and comfortable. While it doesn’t lead to blindness, dry eye can cause severe suffering and affect quality of life. It can also increase the chances of infection and  impair visual acuity leading to decreased ability to read and drive, particularly at night.  The condition is most common in middle aged and older adults, particularly women and is one of the leading causes of visits to the eye doctor.

Severe dry eye is sometimes caused by Sjögren’s syndrome, which is a chronic, multi-organ autoimmune disorder that also results in dry mouth and often arthritis, which is much more common in women.  

Dry eye disease is intrinsically 2-3 times more common in women than in men, which may be may be because of hormonal differences, and the use of birth control can result in increased dry eye as well.

There are a number of treatments available for dry eyes, including artificial tear solutions, ointments, anti-inflammatories and sometimes inserting tear duct plugs.

  1. Age-related Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma

For both of these vision threatening diseases, age is the greatest risk factor, making the risk higher for women who statistically live longer. Women are twice as likely to develop AMD as men.  African Americans are at higher risk for glaucoma, making black women over the age of 60, one of the highest risk groups for the disease.  Family history is also a strong risk factor.

The best way for women to keep their eyes and vision intact is to have a comprehensive eye exam every year and to take care of themselves by not smoking, wearing UV protective eyewear, maintaining proper nutrition and exercise. Because many of these diseases don’t show symptoms until it is too late, early detection is essential to eye health.  

Bonus Info: Pregnancy and Eyesight

Pregnancy can affect a woman’s vision, though the changes are often temporary. Although it’s definitely recommended for women with gestational diabetes to have diabetic retinopathy screenings, and it is generally safe to have a routine eye exam while you’re expecting, you should know that your prescription may not be “guaranteed” as it is subject to change until about 6 weeks after the yet-to-be-born baby stops nursing.

Many women complain that their contact lenses feel uncomfortable during pregnancy. The eye contours can shift due to hormones and swelling, so the lens might not fit the same way. You may want to try a different type of contact, or switch to glasses for a few months.

10 Steps to Prevent Vision Loss

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March is Save Your Vision Month, a time to raise public awareness about how to protect your eyes and your vision. Most people aren’t aware that 75% of potential vision loss can be prevented or treated. This largely depends on patients being proactive and educated about their eye health.

Here are 10 important steps to protect and preserve your precious eyesight:

  1. Regularly have your eyes checked: For a number of eye diseases, early detection and treatment is critical to success in saving your vision. Many conditions – such as diabetic eye disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma – have minimal or no symptoms, particularly in the early stages. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is sometimes the only way to detect eye disease early enough to save your sight and prevent vision loss.
  2. Know your family history: A number of eye diseases involve genetic risk factors, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Be aware of the incidence of eye disease in your family and if you do have a family history make sure to be monitored regularly by a trusted eye doctor.
  3. Wear sunglasses: Exposure to UVA and UVB rays from sunlight is associated with a higher risk of AMD and cataracts. Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection year round, any time you are outdoors. It’s worthwhile to invest in a pair of quality sunglasses which will have UV protection that lasts, as well as better glare protection and optics.
  4. Eat healthy: Diet plays a large role in eye health, especially certain nutrients such as antioxidants, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins and minerals found in leafy green and orange vegetables. Keep your diet low in fat and sugar and high in nutrients and you can reduce your risk of developing AMD or diabetes, two of the leading causes of blindness.  
  5. Stop smoking: Smokers are four times more likely to develop AMD.
  6. Wear eye protection: If you play sports, use power tools or work with dangerous equipment or chemicals, make sure to wear proper safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from injury. Never take risks as many permanent eye injuries happen within seconds.
  7. Manage diabetes: If you have diabetes or hyperglycemia, manage your blood sugar levels to reduce the risks of diabetic retinopathy.
  8. Limit alcohol intake: Heavy drinking is associated with higher risks of developing cataracts and AMD.
  9. Exercise: Yet another benefit of regular physical activity is eye health including reduced risk of AMD.
  10. Educate yourself: Below is some basic information about four of the most common vision impairing eye conditions.

4 Most Common Eye Conditions:

  • Cataracts

Typically an age-related disease, cataracts cause a clouding of the lens of the eye which impairs vision.  You can’t completely prevent this condition as more than half of individuals will develop a cataract by the time they are 70-80 years old. Cataract treatment involves a common surgical procedure that is one of the safest and most commonly performed medical procedures with a 98% success rate.

  • AMD (age-related macular degeneration)

A progressive condition that attacks central vision, AMD usually affects individuals 50 and older. Disease progression may be slow and early symptoms minimal, making an eye exam critical in early detection. Risk factors include race (more common in Caucasians), family history, age, UV exposure, lack of exercise, smoking and poor diet and nutrition. AMD can cause irreversible vision loss. While there is no cure, the progression of the vision loss can be slowed or halted when caught early. Individuals often develop a condition called low-vision which is not complete blindness but does require a change in lifestyle to deal with limited eye sight.

  • Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the 2nd leading cause of blindness worldwide, resulting from damage to the optic nerve most often caused by pressure build up in the eye. Vision loss is progressive and irreversible. Studies show that 50% of people with the disease don’t know they have it. While there is no cure, early detection and treatment can protect your eyes against serious vision loss and if caught early enough vision impairment could be close to zero. Risk factors include old age, diabetes, family history, ethnic groups (African Americans and Mexican Americans have higher risk factors), and previous eye injury.

  • Diabetic retinopathy

The most common diabetic eye disease, this is a leading cause of blindness in adults which is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. All people with diabetes both type 1 and type 2 are at risk, and the disease can often progress without symptoms, so regular eye exams are essential to prevent permanent vision loss. Regular eye exams and maintaining normal blood sugar levels are the best ways to protect vision.

The best way to protect your vision is to be informed, develop healthy habits and to get your eyes checked regularly. See you soon!

Under Pressure: Are you at Risk for Glaucoma?

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.  Glaucoma is a serious, vision threatening disease. You can save your eyesight, by knowing the facts. Are you at risk of developing glaucoma?

The short answer is yes. Anyone can get glaucoma and because of this it is important for every person, young and old to have a regular eye exam. Early detection and treatment are the only answers to preventing the vision impairment and blindness that result from untreated glaucoma.

Having said that, there are a few factors that put certain individuals at greater risk of developing the disease:

  • Over age 40: While glaucoma is known to occur in younger patients, even infants, the likelihood increases with age, particularly in those over the age of 40.
  • Family history: There is a genetic factor to the disease, making it more likely that it will occur when there is a family history.
  • Elevated Intraocular Pressure (IOP): Individuals that have an abnormally high internal eye pressure (intraocular pressure) have a dramatically increased risk of developing glaucoma and suffering eye damage from it.
  • Latino, Asian or African decent: Evidence clearly shows race is a factor and individuals from Latino, African and Asian backgrounds are at increased risk of developing glaucoma. African Americans in particular are at a higher risk, tend to develop glaucoma at a younger age and have a higher incidence of blindness from the disease.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes, particularly when it is uncontrolled, increases the risk of a number of vision threatening diseases including diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
  • Eye injury, disease or trauma: If you have suffered a serious eye injury in the past, your risk of glaucoma is increased. Similarly other eye conditions such as tumors, retinal detachment, lens dislocation or certain types of eye surgery can be factors.
  • Extremely high or low blood pressure: Since glaucoma has to do with the pressure inside the eye, abnormal blood pressure can contribute to an increased risk in the disease.
  • Long-term steroid use: Prolonged use of certain corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, particularly in eye drop form, may also increase your chances of getting glaucoma.
  • Myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness): Poor vision may increase your risk of developing glaucoma.

Comprehensive eye exams are the key to preventing vision threatening diseases and blindness. An annual exam for every person can help diagnose any eye disease, or any systemic disease from your body that has signs seen in the eyes.

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