How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Your Eyes

Drinking alcohol can of cause effects to your entire body including your eyes. A low intake of alcohol shouldn’t cause you any health problems but drinking alcohol heavily can potentially cause health problems including harmful effects to your eyes.

Here are a few of the effects heavy drinking can have on your eye health.

Pupils

Alcohol can cause slow pupil reactions. It slows down the iris’ ability to dilate and constrict. This might not seem to be too much of a problem at first but if you have been drinking alcohol, even a small amount, and then drive your pupils won’t react as quickly to oncoming car headlights, therefore dazzling your vision which could cause an accident. So even if you have drunk alcohol and it is under the legal limit for driving and you feel fine to drive, think again about the other effects the alcohol is having on your vision.

Vision

Drinking alcohol can not only affect your pupils but also your general visual performance, especially if you have been drinking heavily. The alcohol can weaken the eye muscles which can cause blurred or double vision and also can cause delayed reactions.

Peripheral Vision

Not only can your general vision be affected after heavy alcohol consumption but your peripheral vision can change. Alcohol can sometimes lower your peripheral vision sensitivity and this can give the sensation of tunnel vision.

Contrast Sensitivity

Another way alcohol can affect your eyes is by making them less contrast sensitive. This means it can be harder to tell the difference between shade of grey.

Eye Lid Twitching

Eye lid twitching can be caused by many factors and one of these is a high intake of alcohol. If you suffer with eye lid twitching and drink heavily, try to lower your alcohol intake and see if your eye lid twitching improves.

Eye Dryness

A study carried out by the Hallym University College of Medicine indicated that drinking alcohol, even a small amount, reduced tear breakup time and induced tear hyperosmolarity which in turn can result in eye dryness.

Computer Eye Strain & Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Computer eye strain is caused when you overuse your eyes and they become fatigued. Eye strain can occur when looking at a computer screen, or other device, for too long. Normally resting your eyes can help relieve the symptoms of computer eye strain. Symptoms of computer eye strain can include; headaches, difficulty focusing, dry eyes, watery eyes, eye discomfort, blurred vision, itchy eyes, and tired eyes.

Computer Eye Strain; How Does It Cause Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

The meibomian glands are the tiny glands on the lower and upper eye lid margins that secrete oil, which when we blink, protection the surface of the eye. This oil helps keep the water element of your tears from drying out too quickly. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is a very common type of dry eye disease where the meibomian glands do not secrete enough oil or the quality of the oil is not good. Normally in MGD the glands get blocked and very little oil, if any, can get out and this causes the eye symptoms. Computer eye strain can cause MGD due to a reduction in blinking. Most people when using a computer or similar device do not blink as often as they should, this can be up to 60% less blinking than when not looking at a computer. If your blink rate is reduced, the oils will not be secreted as often which means the watery element in your tears evaporates quicker, drying out your eyes. Overtime this can cause the glands to block leading to meibomian gland dysfunction.

Treatment for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

There are many different types of treatment that can help MGD sufferers and what suits one person may not suit another. If MGD has been linked to computer eye strain, then looking at the way you use a computer is a good place to start. Trying to reduce the time in front of a computer can be difficult, especially if you use a computer for work, but remembering to blink and keeping hydrated will help. Also try to follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes’ look 20 feet away from your screen for 20 seconds. MGD sufferers will likely need to combine this with other at home’ treatments, such as heated eye masks, eye lid massaging, artificial tear drops, taking omega 3 supplements, and possibly taking other medication. There are other treatments that can be offered with an ophthalmologist or eye clinic that have great results in helping with MGD when used in conjunction with the at home’ treatments;

E-Eye Intense Regulated Pulsed Light (IRPL) The E-Eye device creates polychromatic pulsed light using the new IRPL (intense regulated pulsed light) technology. The E-Eye releases a flash of light that is made up of a pulse train, which is flashed on the treatment area (cheekbone and temple area around the eye). Within this treatment area nerve branches are located and these nerve branches are connected to meibomian gland nerves. When these nerve branches are flashed with the E-Eye (IRPL) it causes a stimulatory response within the meibomian glands and they start to resume secretion of the normal oil layer again and symptoms of eye dryness will disappear. Accordingly, it will be effective in 80% of patients affected by dry eye disease. From a single flash of IRPL it is possible to produce sub-flashes of varying intensities, this offers unparalleled therapeutic potentials, especially with the treatment of MGD, which is impossible with conventional IPL. The E-Eye emits a cold light’ and it is non-invasive, totally painless, and entirely harmless to the eyeball.

Winter Eye Problems

During winter, the weather is colder and windier and this can really dry the eyes, but also when you try to warm up by using heat, such as a blower heater or central heating, this can also dry out the eyes. Some easy tips to help combat this problem is to use artificial tear drops to keep your eyes hydrated throughout the day, drinking plenty of water, and even warm soup, will keep your body and eyes hydrated. Also try to avoid direct heat, especially heat that is blowing directly in your face, like car heaters for example, try to direct the airflow away from your face. If it is a windy day you can use glasses or goggles to help protect your eyes from the wind directly drying out your eyes. If you already suffer from dry eyes it is always a good idea to speak to your ophthalmologist if you are struggling in the winter months, as they will advise what else you can do to keep on top of your dry eyes during winter.

Tearing Eyes

Apart from winter weather drying out your eyes, the cold weather can also make your eyes over produce tears which can be very annoying and can make vision blurry. The best thing to help with this is to wear glasses, goggles, or sunglasses when outside to avoid the wind causing watery eyes. Also, if you are wiping your eyes to get rid of the tears make sure you use clean tissues or cloths to avoid infection. Excessive tearing eyes can also be caused by other factors such as infection, blocked tear duct, or surprisingly dry eyes, so if you are concerned make an appointment with your eye clinic or opticians so they can check it out.

Tired Eyes

The winter months are darker and natural light is less which can make certain tasks more difficult, reading and writing for example. Straining your eyes to see in lower light can cause eyestrain making your eyes feel tired quicker than usual. To help avoid this try having a lamp on when carrying out close work and if you require glasses to see well, make sure you wear them to avoid overstraining your eyes.

Light Sensitive Eyes

The sun tends to be lower in the sky during winter and this can cause difficulty seeing, especially when driving, light sensitivity, and damage caused by UV rays. Try to make a habit of not only wearing sunglasses in the summer, but also the winter. If you drive, keep a spare pair of sunglasses in your car so you are always prepared for the low, bright sun. Sunglasses also protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays which can contribute to many eye issues, such as cataracts. Make sure your sunglasses are 100% UVA and UVB protected.

Red Eyes

Red eyes can be a sign of many things, such as tiredness, dryness, blurry vision, over tearing, infection, and inflammation. Winter weather can cause eye redness due to many of these factors but also it can be caused from the sunlight either directly or from being reflected on snow for example. This can lead to inflammation of the cornea causing the red eyes, therefore this is another reason why wearing sunglasses or snow goggles is so important in winter.

Spring Clean Your Eye Health

1.Allergies

The season of spring is not only a sign that the days are getting longer and brighter but also that flowers, plants, trees and grasses begin to come alive again after the cold winter. This may look nice but if you suffer from allergies, such as hay fever, this can play real havoc with your eyes. If you use antihistamines, try to start these early in the year so when hay fever season starts you will already be protected. Also, where possible, try to avoid going outside on high pollen days, but if you have to, as soon as you get back home have a shower/bath and put on fresh clothes to avoid the pollen returning to your eyes from your body and clothes. There are many aids to help your eyes during the hay fever months, getting an appointment with your ophthalmologist to discuss your options is always recommended.

2.Sunglasses

Sunglasses should be worn all year round but many people forgot to wear them during the winter months and wait until the bright summers days to start wearing them again. Make an effort to start wearing your sunglasses earlier this year. During the spring months of March, April and May the days start to get brighter and longer but even when we get those grey days you should try to wear sunglasses when outdoors, it’s a great habit to get into. Long term sun overexposure can play a part in causing some eye problems, such as cataracts, so protecting them earlier will always be best.

3.Diet & Exercise

After the long winter months of possibly less exercise and a poor diet, spring is a perfect way to kick start healthy living again. A healthy diet and exercise is not only great for your general health but is very important to eye health. Foods high in beta-carotene, omega 3, vitamin c and e, and lutein are vital to healthy eyes. Examples of these foods are carrots, pumpkin, oily fish, berries, citrus fruit, almonds, avocados, kale, spinach, and eggs.

4.Rest & Relaxation

Resting and relaxing your eyes is very important in keeping them healthy. If you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen for example, you could strain your eyes. A great tip is following the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes’ look about 20 feet away for 20 seconds, this can really help prevent your eyes getting tired and strained from over working them. Getting good sleep is another way your eyes need to rest, about 7-8 hours for an average adult is recommended. Placing something warm over closed eye lids, such as a heated eye mask, can really aid in resting and relaxing your tired eyes in the evening, this is also great if you suffer from dry eyes and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).

5.Eye Test

The average adult should have an eye test every 2 years and this may be more frequent if you suffer with health or eye problems. Spring is a perfect time to check if you are due for an eye test. If you are looking for a more thorough examination you can get an appointment with an ophthalmologist, their appointments tend to be more detailed and it may include having detailed eye scans (topography) carried out to enable the ophthalmologist to check all parts of your eyes more thoroughly.

6 Newborn Baby Eye Problems

A lot of people think eye problems come with age, but there are many eye problems that newborn babies can have. Babies can develop eye problems for a variety of reasons such as from infections, present of problem at birth, or congenital eye problems, amongst other reasons. Here I will go through a few of these problems.

1. Childhood Cataracts

Childhood cataracts is a common eye problem. They can be congenital, developing before or soon after a baby is born, or they can develop in older babies and children. Although more commonly found in older adults cataracts can happen at any age. Cataracts happen when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and hardens which causes issues with the vision. Cataracts in babies are normally picked up by healthcare professionals when they are carrying out checks on the baby. It may be necessary for the baby to have surgery to remove the cataracts. They can occur in one or both eyes.

2. Blocked Tear Ducts

Tears are drained from each eye from four tiny holes on the eyelid margins, two at the top and two at the bottom. Another common condition in babies is that one or more of the ducts may be blocked. This can cause eye infections and the baby might need antibiotics to clear up the infection. If the tear duct does not open naturally, then surgery with an ophthalmologist may be required, but most tear ducts do open up by themselves within the baby’s first year.

3. Ptosis

Again, ptosis is a problem seen a lot in older adults where one or both eyelids start to droop. This can also be found in newborn babies where one or both eyelids do not develop correctly. Surgery may be needed, as if it is left untreated it can cause a lazy eye later in the baby’s life.

4. Retinopathy of Prematurity

Babies that are premature can be born with underdeveloped eyes. It tends to be the blood vessels that transport blood to the retina that are not fully matured and need more time to grow. Once a baby is born, the inside of the eye could be damaged if these type of blood vessels do not grow as they should. Premature babies will be under constant monitoring and they will have an examination of their eyes to make sure the blood vessels have developed correctly, if they are not then treatment may be needed to prevent any more damage to the eye.

5. Eye Infections

Babies are exposed to whatever bacteria is found in the mother’s birth canal during labour, and this can cause eye infections. It isn’t uncommon for babies to contract conjunctivitis soon after birth, an antibiotic drop or ointment will clear this up. There are also various sexually transmitted infections which can be passed onto the baby during labour that cause eye infections.

6. Eye Defects

Newborn babies can be born with eye defects that can affect any part of the eye such as the cornea, lens, retina, eyelids, one eye being smaller than the other, and sometimes there is an abnormality or loss of vision that cannot be explained. If a baby is born with an eye defect it is known as a congenital condition, and depending on the type of defect it is, will depend if treatment or surgery is needed.

Eyes are such an important part of us and looking after them needs to start from birth. If you have any concerns about your newborn’s eyes, whether it be infection, disease or just something that doesn’t seem right it is extremely important to get it checked by an eye doctor as soon as possible to avoid any long term damage or vision loss.

Corneal Transplants; What Are They

Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK)
This type of cornea transplant replaces the full thickness of the cornea with a healthy and clear donor tissue and is required when a cornea has been severely damaged or disease, and where no other option of surgery remains. PK can be carried out under local or general anaesthetic and takes about one to two hours to complete. During surgery, a central 8mm button of cornea is removed and a similar sized button of the donor cornea is stitched in with tiny stitches. After surgery vision will stay misty and/or cloudy for a few days and will improve gradually for about 12-18 months. Individual stitches may be removed from three months after the surgery, but complete stitch removal is not performed until at least one year after the surgery. Following surgery, and once fully healed, around 75% of transplant recipients have adequate vision to drive legally, but to get the best results from vision, glasses or contact lenses may need to be worn.

Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK)
This type of cornea transplant is a partial thickness transplant and replaces the front 99% of the cornea with a donor cornea. Unlike penetrating keratoplasty, DALK keeps the back layers of the cornea, the Descemet’s membrane and endothelium layer, in place and it is used as an alternative to PK, when these back layers of the cornea are healthy. The surgery itself is carried out much the same as PK, but just less donor cornea is used. Again, stiches are used to keep the donor tissue in place, but as only part of the cornea has been replaced, healing and visual recovery are usually quicker than what are seen with PK. To get the best vision following surgery, glasses or contact lenses may need to be worn.

Endothelial Keratoplasty (EK)
This type of cornea transplant is a partial thickness transplant and replaces only the back layers of the cornea. Unlike to above two transplants, EK can be further split into two methods; Descemet’s stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK) and Descemet’s membrane endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK). Both DSEK and DMEK are very similar and the procedure to carry them out is the same, but DMEK differs as the donor cornea tissue does not include any stromal layer tissue. The consultant ophthalmic surgeon will decide which surgery is necessary, depending on the damage or disease that is present. EK transplants are used when there is a problem at the back of the cornea. To help keep the cornea clear, the cells lining the inside of the cornea pump fluid to stop the cornea from swelling, if there are not enough cells, due to disease or damage, then the cornea starts to swell and vision will become cloudy. The surgery is carried out differently when compared to PK and DALK; it will again be under either local or general anaesthetic but a very small incision is made between the coloured and white part of the eye. The eye surgeon removes the dysfunctional endothelial cells through this opening and a disc of donor cells is placed back inside the eye. The donor endothelial cells are pressed to the back of the cornea with an air bubble and the patient will need to lie still for about 1 hour following surgery to make sure the air bubble stays in place. Occasionally, a few stitches to close the incision may be needed. Vision will stay misty or cloudy for a few days, and will get better over 3-4 months, as with all types of corneal transplants glasses or contact lenses may be needed after surgery to get the best results from vision