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Healthy and Safe Swimming Week

The week before Memorial Day marks Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, an annual awareness week that aims to prevent drowning, pool chemical injuries, and illness outbreaks.

This year, Larson Eye Care encourages our patients to pay special attention to their contact lens habits, particularly while they’re swimming.

Is it safe to wear contact lenses in water?

No! If you’re thinking about dipping into a pool, lake, or ocean this summer, you should remove your contact lenses first.

Water – even seemingly clean water – can contain countless microbes and viruses. Most of the time, your eyes naturally fight these invaders by blinking them away. When you’re wearing contact lenses, these foreign organisms can get stuck between your eye and the lens, leading to irritation, infections, or even conditions that can permanently harm your vision.

  • Acanthamoeba keratitis: Acanthamoeba keratitis is a rare, but serious condition in which an organism known as Acanthamoeba infects the cornea, leading to inflammation and potential corneal scarring. If not caught early, people with this condition may need a corneal transplant to recover their lost vision.
  • Corneal ulcer: A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea, typically caused by an infection. Symptoms of corneal ulcers include pus or discharge, blurred vision, redness, severe pain, and a persistent sensation of having something in your eye. Some people may also notice a white spot on their cornea.

In addition, water can dislodge rigid gas permeable contact lenses or cause soft contact lenses to tighten around the eye. Both instances can lead to significant discomfort or worse – scratches on the surface of your eye.

What should I do if I swim in my contacts?

If water gets in your eye while swimming with contact lenses, you should immediately remove, clean, and disinfect the lenses. You should also rinse your eyes with rewetting drops or artificial tears.

Some doctors recommend throwing them away entirely. If you frequently swim while wearing contact lenses, daily disposable lenses may be the safest – and the most economical – option.

The best way to swim while still wearing your contacts is to invest in waterproof swim goggles. A good pair of goggles can protect your eyes from waterborne contaminants, as well as reduce the risk of your contacts dislodging or scratching your eyes. It’s also possible to purchase prescription swimming goggles that are custom-designed to correct your vision.

When should I see my doctor?

If you go swimming without removing your contact lenses, you might experience some unpleasant symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Unusual discharge
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately remove and disinfect your contact lenses. If these symptoms last for more than a few hours, it’s time to contact your eye doctor.

Do you have any other questions about swimming with your contact lenses? Contact Larson Eye Care today, and we’d be happy to discuss any questions you might have.

Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Pop quiz! Who is at a greater risk of developing eye disease: men or women?

If you guessed “both”, then you’re not alone – but you’re also not correct.

Despite common belief, women are significantly more likely to develop common eye diseases than men. According to a study conducted by the organization Prevent Blindness America, women make up the majority of older Americans who are visually impaired or blind.

Because of this gender disparity, Prevent Blindness American has dubbed April Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Each April, physicians across the country – including those at Larson Eye Care – do what they can to promote awareness of common eye diseases that affect women.

Which eye diseases disproportionately affect women?

Compared to men, women are more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy – the four leading eye diseases in the country.

Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to dry eye syndrome, light sensitivity, eye puffiness, and prescription changes.

Women experiencing menopause are at a greater risk of developing dry eye syndrome and uveitis, inflammation of the eye.

What should women do to maintain healthy vision?

The first step is awareness. According to a survey conducted by Prevent Blindness America:

86 percent of American women incorrectly believe that men and women are at equal risk of permanent vision loss
5 percent believe that men are at a greater risk
Less than 10 percent realize that women are at the greatest risk
In addition, they found that one in four women hadn’t received an eye exam in the past two years. While many common eye diseases can’t be cured, they can be treated or prevented with early intervention, making regular comprehensive vision examinations essential.

Other ways to reduce your risk of developing a common eye disease include:

Maintaining good nutrition
Not smoking
Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses
Using contact lenses safely
Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
“The first thing every woman should do, especially those ages 40 and older, is get a dilated eye exam,” explained Hugh R. Parry, president and chief executive officer of Prevent Blindness America. “Through early detection and treatment, vision loss can be lessened.”

Do you have any questions about eye health and safety? Contact Larson Eye Care to set up a comprehensive, dilated eye examination. We’ll be happy to let you know how you can keep your eyes safe and healthy.

National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month, an awareness month created by the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

This March, Larson Eye Care is celebrating National Nutrition Month by highlighting some food – and recipes – that can keep your eyes healthy.

Kale

Dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach are filled with antioxidants, which have been found to reduce the risk of some forms of eye disease includingmacular degeneration.

Allrecipes: Kale, Quinoa, and Avocado Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C. Foods rich in vitamin C have been found to reduce the risk of cataracts. Other vegetables that are high in vitamin C include broccoli, radishes, and bell peppers.

Allrecipes: Spicy Brussels Sprout Chips

Strawberries

Speaking of vitamin C, strawberries are another great source! Other fruits with high levels of vitamin C include blackberries, grapefruits, and papayas.

Allrecipes: Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch

Sunflower seeds

When was the last time you bought yourself a packet of sunflower seeds? Sprinkle some on your salad, or munch on them as a snack. They’re filled with vitamin E, which can be great for fighting common eye diseases. Almonds and pecans also are also excellent sources of vitamin E.

Allrecipes: Crunchy and Delicious Granola

Oysters

Oysters are an excellent source of zinc, a mineral that is essential for maintaining a healthy retina.

Allrecipes: Chef John’s Oysters Rockefeller

Turkey

Not a big fan of fish? Try having a turkey sandwich every once in a while. Like oysters, turkey is an excellent source of zinc.

Allrecipes: Grilled Turkey Reuben Sandwiches

Salmon

Salmon (along with other fish including sardines, tuna, flounder, and halibut) is filled with omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have been associated with vision development in infants and may reduce the risk of common eye diseases including macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome and glaucoma.

Allrecipes: Furikake Salmon

Carrots

Ever wonder why carrots are associated with good vision? Orange and yellow vegetables and fruits (e.g., carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe) are filled with beta carotene. This pigment is a precursor to vitamin A, a vitamin that prevents night blindness.

Allrecipes: Curried Carrot Soup

Of course, good nutrition is no substitute for regular visits to your doctor. While some of these foods may reduce your risk of developing certain eye diseases, you should speak with your doctor to learn more about specific steps you can take to keep your vision healthy.

Larson Eye Care is committed to your eye health. Contact us today to learn more about how you can keep your vision healthy year round.

September is Healthy Aging Month

Every September, the American Academy of Ophthalmology celebrates Healthy Aging Month. The goal of Healthy Aging Month is to encourage older adults to keep an eye out for symptoms of common health concerns, including visual disorders.

Common eye conditions for older Americans

  •  Age-related macular degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic eye disease

Many of these conditions have no obvious symptoms, which is why it’s necessary to make regular, comprehensive eye exams.

What is age-related macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (often shortened to AMD) is a degenerative eye disease characterized by a loss in central vision. You may find it difficult to focus on objects straight ahead of you, leading to struggles with activities like reading, driving or watching television. Over time, these symptoms will worsen.

Thankfully, AMD is treatable. Injections, supplements, photodynamic therapy and laser surgery are all ways in which doctors can work to prevent further loss of vision.

What is cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, leading to dim or blurry vision. Symptoms are often subtle at first, but with time, the lens will change colors, giving your eye a yellow or brownish tint.

Cataracts are very treatable – in fact, doctors have been treating cataracts with surgery for thousands of years. During cataract surgery, your eye will be numbed and the doctor will carefully remove the old lens and replace it with a new, artificial lens.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the ocular nerve. Increased eye pressure is a major risk factor for glaucoma, as well as high blood pressure. African Americans and Mexican Americans are the greatest risk of developing the disorders, but everyone should have their eyes checked after age 60.

The vision loss associated with glaucoma cannot be reversed, which makes catching it early essential. Surgery and medications can prevent the disorder from progressing.

What is diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic eye disease is not a single disorder – it’s any eye disease that disproportionately affects individuals with diabetes. Diabetic eye diseases include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts.

If you have diabetes, you must receive regular comprehensive eye exams. All of these vision disorders can be treated if caught early.

What to learn more?

Our team of experts at Larson Eye Care would love to help you learn more about eye conditions that plague older adults. Contact us today to set up a comprehensive, dilated eye exam.

Larson Eye Care’s Comprehensive Guide to the 2017 Solar Eclipse

The Great American Total Solar Eclipse is on the horizon! On August 21st, the moon will move between the Earth and the sun, casting a shadow and darkening the skies. Cities from coast-to-coast will have an opportunity to view this spectacular natural phenomenon, although only a small portion of the country will witness the sun vanish completely.

Can I see the eclipse in Sheboygan, WI?

Even though Sheboygan and the surrounding areas won’t be experiencing a total eclipse, we’ll still get an excellent view of a partial eclipse. The sky will still darken and the moon will still obscure the sun. Get ready!

When does the eclipse begin?

We’re expecting the eclipse to begin around noon, with a peak at around 1:15 PM CDT. For a more comprehensive image of when and where you can view the eclipse, check out this helpful, interactive graphic.

Why is it dangerous to look at the sun during an eclipse?

Looking directly at the sun can be dangerous, especially during an eclipse.

When you normally glance at the sun, your eyes hurt almost immediately, causing you to look away and avoid any damage. During an eclipse, the moon blocks the sun’s usual brightness, making it less painful (or even painless!) to look at. Even though you can’t feel the sun damaging your eyes, it can still damage your retina.

Is it possible to go blind during an eclipse?

Yes, it is. Your retina is responsible for processing any light that enters your eyes. Prolonged exposure to the sun can irreparably damage your retina, preventing it from sending the proper electrical impulses to your brain.

How can I protect my eyes during an eclipse?

The only way you can protect your eyes during a solar eclipse is by using a specially-made viewing device such as hand-held solar viewer or eclipse glasses.

These viewing devices must be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 internal safety standard. Homemade devices or ordinary sunglasses are not sufficient protection. Make sure to inspect your solar viewing device for any scratches or imperfections, since this may impact its ability to protect your vision.

Finally – even though you may be tempted – do not take pictures with your cellphone, even if you’re wearing protective glasses. Viewing a solar eclipse through a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other device concentrates the solar rays, negating the protection offered by your solar viewing device.

Where can I buy solar eclipse glasses?

The professionals at Larson Eye Care have taken the time to collect a list of vendors who offer solar eclipse glasses and handheld viewing devices.

IPL Treatment Options at Larson Eye Care

Our patients know that Larson Eye Care is the area’s premier provider of eye care and vision services. Now, we are excited to offer a variety of aesthetician services with our licensed aesthetician, Renee Shibur as well! With over 13 years of experience, Renee is a wonderful addition to the Larson Eye Care team.

Using the latest in IPL (Intense Pulse Light) technology, we provide many skin and laser hair treatments to help you achieve a more youthful and vibrant appearance. The state-of-the-art Lumenis M22 ® IPL Photorejuvenation equipment delivers remarkable results tailored to your individual needs.

We are proud to offer a comprehensive suite of solutions to treat common skin issues. Below, we have included a list of our most popular treatments. If you are interested in something that is not listed, please contact the Larson Eye Care team and we will happily assist you!

IPL Photorejuvenation

  • Broken Capillaries
  • Rosacea
  • Age & Sun Spots
  • Freckles & Birthmarks

*All treatments can be applied on full or partial face

Laser Hair Removal

  • Upper Lip
  • Side Burns
  • Upper & Lower Back
  • Chest
  • Abdomen
  • Arms
  • Underarms
  • Lower Legs
  • Feet

Your satisfaction and care are our focus. During your free consultation, you will discuss packages and treatment plans to fit your needs and budget. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today to build a treatment plan customized to your individual needs!

July is UV Safety Awareness Month

In the midst of the summer months, UV protection is paramount. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has established July as UV Safety Awareness Month.

Although most people understand the importance of protecting their skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, fewer are aware that UV rays can also have long-term effects on vision.

Extended UV exposure has been linked to:

Macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss for older Americans.
Pterygium, a non-tumorous growth on the cornea that may ultimately impact vision.
Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s natural lens.
Photokeratitis, also known as corneal sunburn or snow blindness. This painful condition can result in temporary blindness.

How can I protect my eyes from UV rays?

This July, take steps to protect your eyes from harmful UV exposure.

  • Wear sunglasses. Make sure that you purchase lenses that block 100 percent of UV rays.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Large hats can shield your eyes from the sun. If possible, try to wear both sunglasses and a hat.
  • Check the UV index before going outside. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, has a UV index that will let you know how strong the sun is on any particular day. Even cloudy days can have high levels of UV radiation.
  • Stay cautious at higher altitudes. Due to the atmosphere, UV radiation is stronger at higher altitudes.
  • Take extra care if you’re around water, snow and sand. Reflective surfaces can increase your UV exposure, even when you’re in the shade.

Keep your eyes healthy this summer

our vision is important to us. The best way to keep your eyes healthy is to engage in preventative care including regular, comprehensive eye examinations. If you would like to schedule an eye examination with Larson Eye Care – or if you’d like to learn more about protecting your eyes from the sun – contact us today.

A Q&A with Renee, Our Aesthetician!

Can you tell us a little more about your background? What made you want to become an aesthetician?
Well for starters, I’m proud to say I graduated from the Mequon/Thiensville School of Aesthetics at the top of my class. Since then, I’ve been offering aesthetician services to the Milwaukee and surrounding areas for over 13 years.I have always been passionate about beauty, health and skin care, so becoming a licensed aesthetician was a natural next step. I really enjoy helping people, so for me this means finding solutions to help patients love their skin and appearance.
What questions do you get asked the most? What questions should patients ask you when considering aesthetician services?

Oh, I get all sorts of questions! I think the most common question is, “does it really work?”. My answer is usually, “with the right treatment plan and provider, it really does.” While I recognize that IPL and other aesthetic treatments aren’t for everybody, I’m happy to help each of my patients determine if they should undergo treatments. This is why I offer complimentary screenings to everybody that I see.

When considering any sort of aesthetician services, I encourage everybody to evaluate a few key points:

  • How much experience does your aesthetician have, especially with your specific skin problem? It takes a lot of time and practice to develop a good understanding of the best way to treat each condition. An experienced provider can develop the best custom plan for you.
  • What kind of technology is the aesthetician using? This is extremely important and often overlooked! Many large providers will try and gloss over this aspect of treatment, but if a patient wants results this should be considered carefully.
  • What is the treatment plan, and how does it compares to other plans?  If you’re comparing treatments, make sure it’s apples-to-apples. It’s easy to jump right in, but make sure you know what to expect.
  • And finally, what is the fine print. Low-cost providers will oftentimes sneak a lot of important information into the fine print, so know what your plan includes and does not include.
What would you like us to know about IPL services?
I’m really excited about offering IPL services here at Larson Eye Care. We’re using state-of-the-art technology, the Lumenis M22 ® IPL, so I look forward to delivering amazing results.

IPL services are a great, long-term solution for many patients, and we treat a wide variety of skin problems. There’s a lot of information to consider before undergoing the treatment, and I know it can be overwhelming.

I’m happy to offer complimentary consultations to each prospective patient so we can design the right custom treatment plan – it’s that easy to get started!

If you are interested in learning more about your IPL service options, or if IPL treatments are right for you, please contact Larson Eye Careat or call 800-551-EYES.

Cataract Awareness Month

Prevent Blindness America, a nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting eye health and fighting vision loss, has declared June as Cataract Awareness Month. During this month, vision professionals across the country – including those at Larson Eye Care – encourage the general public to learn more about cataracts and focus on early intervention.

What is cataract?

A cataract is an eye condition characterized by clouding within the normally clear lens of the eye. Although cataracts are most common in older individuals, they can affect anyone at any age.

What can cause cataract?

  • Age
  • Diabetes
  • Sun exposure
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Alcoholism
  • Previous eye injury or surgery
  • Long-term use of corticosteroid medication
  • Obesity

Since cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness in the United States, regular eye checkups are essential.

What are symptoms of cataract?

The vast majority of cataracts develop gradually. At first, you might notice some blurred or double vision in certain circumstances – for instance, at night. Over time, your symptoms may become so severe and persistent that they impact your daily life.

Common symptoms associated with cataracts include:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Problems seeing at night
  • Yellowing of colors
  • Halos surrounding lights
  • Regular changes in your vision prescription
  • Double vision in one eye

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should receive a comprehensive, dilated eye exam to rule out cataracts or any other vision disorder.

What is the treatment for cataracts?

The only way to remove cataracts and restore your vision is through surgery. During cataract surgery, your physician will remove the clouded lens from your eye and replace it with an artificial lens, also known as an intraocular lens.

Cataract surgery is the most common form of eye surgery in the country. This routine, straightforward procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis. Your doctor will instruct you to take it easy for the next few days, as well as regularly use antibiotic eye drops. Most people can see clearly only hours after the procedure.

Larson Eye Care offers comprehensive eye examinations as well as cataract surgery, including both traditional cataract surgery and laser-assisted cataract surgery. For more information, contact us today to discuss your eyecare needs.

Struggling With Itchy Eyes?

Summer is upon us, and the air is filled with pollen and other allergens. In the coming months, you might find that your eyes are a little itchier than usual.

Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, occur when your immune system mistakenly believes that a harmless substance (e.g., pollen) is actually harmful. Although most people associate allergies with a stuffy nose, itchy eyes are another common symptom.

People who have eye allergies often experience

  • Itchiness
  • Redness in the eye and/or the eyelids
  • Tearful, runny eyes
  • Soreness or burning
  • Light sensitivity

What are the causes of eye allergies?

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Animal dander
  • Mold
  • Contact lenses
  • Make-up

    Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to determine what is causing your eye allergies. Even worse, multiple eye diseases resemble eye allergies. For instance, dry eye syndrome also results in burning, itchy eyes and light sensitivity. Blepharitis is another condition that also resembles an allergic reaction. Although both of these disorders can be treated, they require different treatment than eye allergies, making it important to speak with your eye doctor if you develop any of their symptoms.

If you know that you’re dealing with eye allergies, there are a few things you can do to manage their intensity.

  • You can use over-the-counter eye drops. Artificial tears will lubricate your eyes, potentially removing the irritants, whereas decongestant eye drops will soothe the allergic reaction.
  • You can consume oral antihistamines, which should ease the allergic reaction not only in your eyes, but also anywhere else.
  • You can wet a clean washcloth with cold water and hold it over your eyes. This should alleviate some of the itchiness.
  • Try your best to avoid allergens. If you’re allergic to pollen, avoid the outdoors on high pollen days. If you’re allergic to animals, wash your hands frequently if you pet them.
  • If your allergies are particularly severe, allergy shots or prescription eye drops may be the best option.
  • Do not rub your eyes. Rubbing your eyes will likely make your symptoms worse.

If you’re struggling with severe eye allergies, contact Larson Eye Care for a comprehensive eye and vision examination so that we can help you determine the best course of action. We can also help rule out eye diseases that resemble allergies. For more information, contact Larson Eye Care today.