Fireworks and Eye Injuries: A Dangerous Mix

Fireworks may be advertised like toys, and you may think you know how to handle them safely, but the danger to you and your loved ones is real. Fireworks can cause severe eye injuries, including chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and retinal detachment — all of which can permanently affect vision.

According to the most recent Fireworks Injury Report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks injuries in the United States caused nearly 10,500 injuries requiring treatment in emergency rooms. The report also showed that nearly 1,300 eye injuries related to fireworks were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2014, more than double the 600 reported in 2012.

Those injured by fireworks are not necessarily handling the explosives themselves. In fact, nearly half of people injured by fireworks are bystanders. Children are frequent victims: 35 percent who sustained a fireworks injury are age 15 and under.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the leading professional organization of American ophthalmologists, advises that the best way to avoid a potentially blinding fireworks injury is by attending a professional public fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use.

For those who attend professional fireworks displays and/or live in communities surrounding the shows:
• Respect safety barriers at fireworks shows and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
• Do not touch unexploded fireworks; instead, immediately contact local fire or police departments to help.

For those who decide to purchase consumer fireworks because they live in states where they are legal, the Academy recommends the following safety tips to prevent eye injuries:
• Never let young children play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers.
• People who handle fireworks should always wear protective eyewear that meets the parameters set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.
• Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians.

July 3, 2017

Extended Range Intraocular Lenses Approved by FDA

People with cataracts now have a better option for surgically implanted lenses – a lens which corrects near and far vision so well that eyeglasses are rarely needed.

The TECNIS Symfony® Intraocular Lens has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of cataracts. It works by spreading light over an extended range within the eye, allowing a full range of continuous high-quality vision. This is a breakthrough in the field of optical lenses, since other surgically implanted lenses focus at a single distance, usually far. To focus on near objects, reading glasses are usually needed.

Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over 40, resulting in blurred or foggy vision and even blindness. Nearly 4 million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the U.S., and that number is expected to increase.

During cataract surgery, the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The new Symfony lens allows focusing at near and far distances without loss of clarity. This means that additional eyewear such as reading glasses or distance spectacles are often not needed at all.

In most cases, recovery time after surgery is minimal with the Symfony lens. Most patients were able to return to their normal routine after 24 hours, with no reports of lens-related adverse effects.

Clinical studies have shown that the new lens provides high-quality vision in day and night conditions with very little halo or glare. A version of the lens is also available with correction for astigmatism.

If you have cataracts, ask your ophthalmologist about your options. If surgery is recommended, this new type of intraocular lens may be right for you.

June 7, 2017

Why Do Most People Have Brown Eyes?

You may have noticed that brown eyes are more common than green, blue or hazel eyes, but did you know that originally all humans had brown eyes? The brown pigment is melanin, which also colors hair and skin cells brown. The less melanin in the iris or colored part of the eye, the lighter the eye color.

How did blue and other lighter-colored eyes come into the picture? Scientists trace the historic change back to a single common ancestor. That person had a change in a gene that controls melanin production. This change, or mutation, is believed to have reduced the production of melanin in the iris.

Interestingly, parents with the same eye color can have children with entirely different eye colors. This is because eye color is not determined by a single gene, but might be affected by as many as 16 different genes.

Very young infants sometimes have blue eyes while their melanin is still developing. By the time a baby is 12 months old, cells begin to produce melanin, and as more melanin builds up in the iris, eye color may darken.

Large amounts of melanin in the eyes and skin are protection against the sun’s damaging rays, which explains why people (or ancestors) who live near the equator have darker eyes and skin. On the other hand, in Iceland, most people have blue eyes.

Eye color has been linked to certain eye diseases. People with brown eyes have a lower incidence of eye cancer, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. However, brown-eyed people have a higher risk of cataracts. Since many serious eye diseases have no symptoms, an annual eye exam can help monitor your eye health for these potential risks.

May 10, 2017