Asking for a Friend: Ophthalmologists Answer Your Questions
Ophthalmologists from UT Health Austin’s Mitchel and Shannon Wong Eye Institute answer your questions from social media
Video by: Emily Kinsolving and Alyssa Martin
Written by: Ashley Lawrence and Erich Pelletier
At UT Health Austin, what matters most to you matters most to us, too! We reached out through social media and asked you to share your questions for our ophthalmologists.
In this installment of our “Asking for a Friend” video series, Eileen Bowden, MD, and Eric Crowell, MD, MPH, from UT Health Austin’s Mitchel and Shannon Wong Eye Institute answer your questions.
Eileen Bowden: “Great question! There’s been a lot of studies done on this because blue light blocking glasses have been quite the rage over the last few years. And most of these studies have shown that there’s not too much benefit to blue light blocking glasses. A lot of them are very expensive, so I would not recommend any patients spend a lot of money on blue light blocking glasses. The best alternative, in my opinion, is to take frequent eye breaks when you’re working on the computer or doing a lot of reading or near work and using artificial tears frequently. Whenever we’re working on our computer or reading, we’re not blinking as much as we should, so our eyes often dry out. And a lot of the symptoms that we’re feeling are due to dryness at the surface and just needing a little bit more breaks and rest.”
Eileen Bowden: “The most common cause of cataracts is age. I tell my patients, ‘If you get cataracts, it means you’ve lived long enough to get them.’ But other things can cause them, too, including steroid use. A lot of times, people who have eczema or things that have required a lot of topical steroids or oral steroids over their lifetime will get cataracts at a little bit of an earlier age.”
Eric Crowell: “I would say really a lot of other diseases that might affect the rest of the body can lead to your cataracts developing a little bit faster. The other thing that’s really important is to protect yourself from UV light, so wearing sunglasses can actually delay the onset of cataracts as well.”
Eric Crowell: “We both love and hate this question. I feel like patients want to, you know, maximize the amount of time that those contacts last for, because contacts are not cheap. Contacts are really expensive. But the companies have all designed their dailies or their weeklies or biweeklies or their monthlies kind of along guidelines with the FDA. And that’s what’s really safe to use. Otherwise, they can start causing other problems. So, the most important thing is to stay in your contacts the amount of time that the manufacturer recommends. Please take them out every night, and make sure that you’re washing your hands really good. The main reason for that is, the thing that we worry about the most with contacts, is they can cause ulcers of the eye, and that is an infection in your eye. The ones that are specifically associated with contacts can actually eat through your eye really quickly. If it doesn’t eat all the way through your eye, it can leave really bad scars, especially in the center of your vision, which is where those like to go, and that can just leave you with some long-term permanent blindness.”
Eileen Bowden: “So, glaucoma is a disease that we actually sometimes label the ‘silent thief of sight,’ because, most of the time, most types of glaucoma are asymptomatic, meaning patients don’t have symptoms, and they don’t even really have any visual complaints, often until glaucoma has become quite advanced. And how this affects the patient is it actually damages their peripheral vision, or the outside vision, first, and slowly over time, it progresses towards the central vision until the patient starts to experience almost tunnel vision. So, the patient often, you know, when they start to actually have symptoms, it’s often unfortunately very late in the disease, and a lot of damage has already been done. So, most of the time, I really say, if you have any family history or if you have any history of having high eye pressures measured in an eye exam, it’s best to really have that monitored annually with thorough, complete eye exams with an ophthalmologist.”
Please remember that every patient is unique. You should consult with your own doctor to ensure you receive the best answers to your specific health questions.
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For more information about the Mitchel and Shannon Wong Eye Institute or to schedule an appointment, visit here.
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