#20 | Know Your Family History

3 generations: grandmother, mother, daughter

Eye Care Tip of the Week | #20

Know Your Family History 

Knowing your family history as it relates to eye disease or medical conditions can help to focus your optometrist's attention on areas of potential risk. 

Conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration have been shown to have a high familial history link. Both of these eye conditions are also better managed when discovered in their early phases.

By knowing your familial history, your optometrist may screen for these eye conditions more aggressively by performing dilated retinal exams, visual field tests and OCT imaging of the nerves and macula. 

It's important to remember though, that just because you have a family history of an eye condition, it by no means guarantees that you will also develop it. Always talk to your optometrist about lifestyle improvements that you can make to help reduce your risks.  

This Eye Care Tip of the Week was brought to you by optometrist Dr. Jeff Holtz

#19 | Please Don't Rub Your Eyes

Please don't rub your eyes. 

Eye Care Tip of the Week | #19

Please Don't Rub Your Eyes

Have you ever jumped out of bed and rubbed your eyes? Have you rubbed your eyes after getting something in them? Does allergy season just make you want to scratch your eyes out? Do you rub your eyes after a bright light gets shone in them, like when you visit the optometrist? 

In each one of these situations, you are probably doing more harm than good. 

Rubbing your eyes in the morning is your bodies way of trying to express the oil out of the meibomian glands in the eyelids and to stimulate tear production. A warm washcloth over your eyes works better. 

Rubbing your eye when you think you have something in them only moves the foreign object around on your eye causing more scratches and complications. Try flushing it out with a lubricating drop, or see your optometrist. 

Rubbing your eyes during allergy season just makes things worse. Rubbing the eyes causes a more significant release of histamines making the itch and allergies worse. Place a cold washcloth over the eyes or use a lubricating eye drop to flush out the histamines from the eye. 

Rubbing your eyes after having a bright light shone on them, won't make your vision return to normal any quicker.  

Here are 6 reasons not to rub your eyes: 

  1. It can lead to an eye infection by transferring bacteria and virus' from your hands. 
  2. It makes your allergy symptoms worse
  3. Eye rubbing is a risk factor for developing a potential sight-threatening eye condition called keratoconus. 
  4. Forceful rubbing of the eyes can lead to retinal detachments in patients with high nearsightedness or myopia. 
  5. Rubbing your eyes can change the pressure in your eyes, which is terrible if you have glaucoma. 
  6. Rubbing your eyes can break the small blood vessels around your eyes, leading to dark circles under your eyelids. 

If you 'need' to rub your eyes. We recommend that you do it very gently and always wash your hands first.

The best alternative is to use either a warm or cold compress.

#4 | Taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement can help reduce dry eye symptoms

Eye Care Tip of the week: Taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement can help reduce dry eye symptoms. 

Eye Care Tip of the Week | #4

Taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement can help reduce dry eye symptoms.

How? Research and our clinical observation continue to support the taking of omega-3 fish oil supplements to reduce dry eye signs and symptoms for some patients. Omega-3 fish oil supplements in addition to lubricating eye drops and a daily lid hygiene routine can help improve ocular comfort and quality of vision.

We especially see this in patients who suffer from evaporative or meibomitis related dry eye syndrome. Studies have shown both objective and subjective improvement in patient symptoms within these groups. Omega-3 supplements seem to help improve the quality of the oil layer within the tears. This increases the overall tear break up time, allowing for increased time between blinks because of a more stable tear layer.

So How Much Omega-3 Fish Oil Should You Take for Dry Eye? 

We suggest that patient's looking to start an omega-3 fish oil supplement to treat their dry eye syndrome begin small with about 1000mg per day of the natural bioactive triglyceride form (EPA&DHA).  

To determine how many tablets you need to take, flip the bottle over and read the ingredients label and add the EPA and DHA numbers together. 

Example: A popular Canadian company Jamieson's makes a Wild Salmon & Fish Oils omega-3 1000mg tablet which contains 180 EPA and 120 DHA or 300mg of bioactive omega-3. So you would need to take about 3-tablets per day to get a sufficient dose. 

How to Choose your omega-3 fish oils. 

It goes without saying the best source of fish oils is simply to eat more wild fatty fish. The alternative, however, is purchasing a supplement. We recommend looking for omega-3 fish oil supplements produced from smaller fish like sardines, mackerel and anchovies because of the lower risk of heavy metal and chemicals. 

We also prefer products that are as close to the original natural form as possible. The natural triglyceride oil is probably the closest, but it also has the highest risk for contaminants. The ethyl ester oils are the next best thing and are a more purified concentrated version of the natural triglyceride oil, allowing for greater quantities of DHA & EPA to be in each capsule. 

How to Store Your Fish Oil Supplements.

Fish oil supplements should be kept in the fridge, just like you would store the fish you buy from the grocery store or catch at the lake. Heat, light and oxygen all cause a degradation of fish oils over time and contribute to the fish smell some people notice. We also recommend not buying the mega tubs sold at warehouse stores, and stick with smaller 1-month supplies.  

Please Note: Before starting any new medication or supplement, please talk to your doctor to ensure that it is safe for you and that it would interact with any other medications you might be taking. Always read the manufacturers guidelines. 
Int J Ophthalmol. 2013; 6(6): 811–816. A randomized controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids in dry eye syndrome. NCIB resources
This Eye Care Tip of the Week was brought to you by Dr. Ross McKenzie. 

#2 | Always clean your contact lenses when you remove them not before you put them in

Eye Care Tip of Week Photo: always clean your contact lenses when you remove them not before you but them in. 

Eye Care Tip of the Week | #2

Always clean your contact lenses when you remove them not before you put them in.

If you wear monthly or 2-week disposable contact lenses, you should always rub and clean your lenses after you remove them, not before you put them back in. 

Why? Rubbing and cleaning your contact lenses at night helps to break down the protein and bacterial bio-films that deposit on the surface of the contact lens. The rubbing action allows the contact lens solution to better penetrate the contact lens matrix, resulting in a cleaner healthier contact lens.

By cleaning them at night, the contact lens solution is given an opportunity to build a protective film around the lens known as a hydrophilic or water loving layer which makes the contact lens less prone to dry out. Rubbing your contact lenses in the morning removes this protective film which can result in increased protein deposits on the lens and increased contact lens-related dry eye symptoms.

Rinsing your contact lens in the morning with fresh lens solution is ok, but try not to over handle them.

Check out our contact lenses page to learn more. 

This Eye Care Tip of the Week was brought to you by: Dr. Ross McKenzie