beaumont vision pdx eyecare blog
June 20, 2018

How Does a Lack of Sleep Affect My Eyesight and Vision?

The Link Between a Good Night’s Sleep and Good Vision

According to a new study by the Sleep Foundation, most adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night in order to function at the highest capacity. On the flip side, getting less than five hours of sleep per night can have adverse effects on the body. Symptoms of sleep loss can include trouble focusing, feelings of depression or anxiety, and increased risk of some diseases, among other things.

Not getting enough sleep at night can also affect your motor skills and vision. You may already know something about the link between lack of sleep and dark circles under the eyes, but not getting enough sleep can affect your eyes and vision in even more severe ways. Eyes function best with a minimum of five hours of “shut eye” a night. Here, we take a look at what can go wrong when prolonged lack of sleep negatively affects vision and eyesight.

Vision Problems Linked to Lack of Sleep

Lid Twitching

One of the most common side effects of not getting enough sleep is eye spasms. Eye spasms, or myokymia, is the sudden and uncontrollable twitching of eyelid muscles around the eye. Lid twitching and eye spasms are caused by misfired neurons in the eyelid muscle.

Myokymia is not a serious condition and usually doesn’t require medication to treat. If you experience myokymia, reducing caffeine and increasing the hours that you sleep each night will usually alleviate the symptoms.

Dry Eyes

Without at least five hours of sleep per night, the eyes cannot properly replenish themselves, which can lead to dry or irritated eyes during waking hours. Dry eyes occur when the eyes aren’t properly lubricated, and can lead to symptoms like itchy irritation in and around the eye, redness, and blurred vision.

Eye drops can be relatively effective when trying to treat dry eyes. However, regularly getting a good night of sleep is the only thing that will target the root of the problem.

Other Risk Factors Associated With Sleep Deprivation

After years of sleep deprivation, some adults suffer from Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (AION). Although it is extremely rare, AION is most common in elderly people, and is characterized by loss of vision, optic disc swelling, and flame hemorrhages.

While the causes of AION are widely controversial, many doctors and scientists believe patients with cardiovascular issues like diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol levels are at higher risk. Since all of these cardiovascular risk factors have links to sustained lack of sleep, there may be a link between between AION and years of sleep deprivation.

Because sleep deprivation is detrimental to your health and can increase the risk of certain diseases, lack of sleep has also been linked to health issues like glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye condition where pressure builds up in the eye; this can eventually lead to loss of vision.

Tips for Getting a Good Night of Sleep, for Your Eyes’ Sake

Set intentions to go to bed at the same, reasonable hour every night, and wake up at the same time every morning as best you can. A regular sleep schedule will help you fall asleep faster and maintain healthy energy levels. Try to engage in exercise every day, as this will also make it easier to fall asleep.

Avoid looking at your phone or other bright screens within two hours of going to sleep. If you experience insomnia, sleep apnea, or other serious sleeping issues, contact your doctor so that you can get the help you need to get on a regular sleeping schedule.

June 6, 2018

What Causes Cataracts and How Are They Treated?

Understanding Cataracts

A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the lens of the eye. The natural lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and the iris. In a healthy eye, light passes through the lens and into the retina where it then changes into nerve signals and is sent to the brain. When cataracts occur, images appear blurred or out of focus due to cloudiness in the lens, which scatters light entering into the retina.

If you are suffering from a cataract, you may experience blurred vision, muted colors, increased sensitivity to light and glares, and difficulty seeing at night. Here’s what can be done about them.

Causes of Cataracts

It’s fairly common to experience cataracts as a symptom of old age. However, there are some external factors that could increase your risk of developing cataracts. Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption, for example, have been linked to cataracts, as shown by this study by the National Health Institute and the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Cataracts can also be caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, diabetes, and some nutritional deficiencies, too. Studies have shown that vitamins C and E can help reduce their risk. The Nutrition and Vision Project conducted a study showing how prolonged use of vitamin C and E supplements for ten or more years could actually reduce the progression of cataracts.

It’s possible for some cataracts to be passed from mother to child; these are called congenital cataracts. Cataracts can also form after sustained damage to the eye—this is called a traumatic cataract and can form years after injury.

Types of Cataracts

There are three common types of cataracts, and each type occurs in a different part of the lens. First, a nuclear cataract occurs in the center of the lens. When nuclear cataracts occur, the nucleus of the lens can turn from clear to yellow or brown. This type of cataract is most closely associated with aging. Second, a cortical cataract affects the area surrounding the nucleus of the lens. This type of cataract can look like the spokes of a bicycle.

Third, a posterior capsular cataract, or a subcapsular cataract, occurs in the back outer layer of the lens. This type of cataract is most commonly associated with diabetes and high doses of certain steroids.

Treatment for Cataracts

Mild cataracts can often be corrected with prescription eyeglasses. Anti-glare material on eyeglasses and sunglasses may also help to relieve the symptoms associated with cataracts, like blurred vision.

However, if a cataract progresses to the point where the patient cannot see, corrective surgery may be necessary. Some cataract surgery involves removing the damaged lens and replacing it with an artificial one. These artificial lenses are called intraocular lenses (IOLs). The two most common types of cataract surgery are small-incision surgery and extracapsular surgery. After surgery, many people require reading glasses or progressive lenses.

How You Can Prevent Cataracts

A healthy diet and lifestyle can greatly reduce the risk of cataracts, and healthy levels of vitamin E and C are thought to help prevent cataracts. Sunflower seeds, almonds, and spinach are all rich in vitamin E, in addition to other important nutrients. Although it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of developing cataracts, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will lower your chances and could reduce the severity of existing cataracts.

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