Diabetes and Our Eyes

Did you know that Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in United States?

There are many factors that can cause blindness but diabetes ranks number one. The primary reason is uncontrolled blood sugars. Uncontrolled blood sugars can cause damage to the “end organs” in our body such as: fingers, toes, kidneys and eyes. Specifically, in the eyes, the elevated blood sugar causes lack of oxygen to the retina and it leads to leakage of the small blood vessels. These leaks or bleeds in the retina can cause permanent damage and loss of vision if left untreated by both your eye doctor and primary care physician. Another factor is unstable blood sugars, this can cause fluctuating vision due to swelling in the lens of the eye. This causes changes to our glasses or contact lens prescriptions in short time frames. The inability to control diabetes may increase the risk of eye infections and sty’s. In other cases, diabetes can affect the cranial nerves that are responsible for our eye movements.

The current recommendation for patients with diabetes is to have an annual dilated comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor if there is a diagnosis. If your sugar is under control with medications and diet, changes to blood vessel can occur over time, hence the importance of annual exams to detect and treat any early signs of diabetic retinopathy.

On a side note, uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause similar damage to retinal blood vessels and loss of vision. These patients also should heed the same warnings as those with diabetes.


Dr. Nicole Shams, OD.

Kirkland Vision Center

Solar Eclipse and Eye Safety

  On August 21, 2017, the moon will cover the sun for about two hours, a total solar eclipse. The excitement is building for something that may only happen once in a lifetime. At the same time, there are reports of eye injuries with sun gazing that are completely preventable.   The most important thing to keeping your eyes safe, is to use approved solar eclipse glasses and solar filters. It is not a great idea to buy the solar eclipse glasses from just any vendor that may pop up on an online search. The correct glasses must meet the International Standard ISO 12312-2. Regular dark sunglasses, cameras, or telescopes are not safe, and will not be enough protection. With increased demand, reports of some vendors selling fake glasses online that have the ISO logo printed on them, however they but do not block the UV and infrared rays! The only way to make sure your eclipse glasses and filters are safe is to verify the source. For a list of approved vendors you can visit : https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters.   Watching a solar eclipse is such a great experience, but if you are not using the right glasses and filters, serious eye injury can occur. Staring at the sun for even a few seconds can cause damage to our sensitive retina in the back of the eye; this damage is called solar retinopathy. The infrared and UV rays can literally cook the sensitive rods and cones in the retina and create a permanent blind area in our central vision.   It is essential to make sure that the filter is not scratched or damaged before using your solar eclipse glasses. When it is time to view the eclipse, put the approved eclipse glasses on, look away from the sun and then look up.The sun should be the only thing visible through your eclipse glasses and it shouldn't be uncomfortably bright either. Remember, do not remove them while you are still looking at the sun!   In any case, if you have any of the following symptoms contact your eye doctor right away: -Watery, sore eyes. -Pain/discomfort looking at bright lights. -Distorted vision and difficulty seeing details. -Noticing a new blind spot in the center of your vision.   At Kirkland Vision Center, we hope that you enjoy the eclipse and keep your eyes safe and healt...

Today around 30 million Americans wear contact lenses!

Contact lenses help you see better without affecting your appearance or interfering with sports, which is specially helpful for younger contact lens wearers. There are many options, but with a busy life, daily disposable contact lenses are a great option.Daily disposable lenses have a much better safety profile and a lower risk of infections. These daily contacts are available in most prescriptions , astigmatic lenses and even in multifocals for people over age 40 with distance and near visual needs. Use of extended wear lenses and sleeping in contacts are associated with higher risks of complications. And of course, yearly eye exams are necessary to evaluate the health of your eyes if you are a contact lens wearer.   Contact lenses and lens solutions are considered medical devices and are regulated by FDA. Contact lenses are a very safe option to correct refractive problems as long as you follow the instructions provided by your optometrist.   Keep your eyes healthy by following these rules and always remember to carry a pair of glasses with you in case you have to take out your contacts.     - improper cleaning and/ or delayed replacement and/ or sleeping in contacts are the number one risk factor for contact lens related complications. - eye infections , specially Kerititis (sight threatening corneal infection) are often the result of improper lens use. -unfortunately,  around 60% of contact lens users do not properly follow the care instructions. - significant reduction in incidence of contact lens related corneal infections is achieved by attention to lens handling hygiene and storage case hygiene as follows:  
  1. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry with lint free paper towel before handling your contacts.
  2. Do not rinse or store your soft or gas permeable contacts in tap/sterile water or your saliva, or saline or contact lens rewetting drops. ONLY use the contact lens solution that is recommended to you by your eye doctor.
  3. Replace your lenses according to your eye doctor's instructions.
  4. Even if the solution says "no rub", rubbing the lenses with solution and rinsing them is better.
  5. Replace your contact lens case every 2-3 months and rinse them with fresh solution (not tap water) and let...

Have an Eye-Healthy Summer!

The temperature is finally on the upswing. Time to get out those sandals, shorts, tank tops, sunscreen, and most importantly sunglasses.

One of the most important accessories for summer is a pair of good sunglasses. Your eyes deserve the best protection! Invest in sunglasses that provide good coverage from every angle, that sit close enough to your face, or are wrap-around.

Good sunglasses should also provide both UVA and UVB protection. For people that spend a lot of time outdoors or on the water, polarized lenses are also a big plus to keep those eyes protected. And of course, if you have prescription glasses, it's always great to have a pair of stylish prescription sunglasses with all the above features too!!

Summer days are filled with fun activities, from kids soccer matches and baseball games to bike rides and sitting on the beach. Make sure you wear your sunglasses! Even better to wear a sunglass-hat combo for all sunny activities.

Just like protecting our skin with sunscreen, our corneas can get painful burns in the summer too.  Recent studies show people who do not wear sunglasses will have cataracts on average, ten years earlier than people who do wear sunglasses. Of course, don't forget the little ones. Children as young as 6 months old need to wear sunglasses and a hat while outdoors.

Keeping your eyes safe during summer, also means wearing safety goggles when doing home renovation projects and mowing the lawn. Sports safety goggles are also as essential with ball sports like baseball, tennis, soccer, and even cricket.

When it is time to get in the water to cool off, wear tight fitting swim goggles, not only for sun protection but also to protect your eyes from chemicals and bacteria. Since it is much safer to not wear your contacts in the pool, having those prescription goggles to find your way around will make the experience more enjoyable.

Summer can be lots of fun for the whole family, if you just remember to take your activity-appropriate eye wear and sunscreen with you!

Nicole Shams, OD Kirkland Vision Center