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

Introducing a New Lens Transplant Approved by FDA

A revolutionary new intraocular lens has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of cataracts, the first and only lens in the United States to provide a full range of continuous high-quality vision following cataract surgery.

The TECNIS Symfony® Intraocular Lens is a breakthrough in the field of optical lenses, engineered to reduce the effects of presbyopia (nearsightedness) by helping people focus clearly on near objects while still maintaining excellent distance vision – something no other surgically implanted lens has been able to do.

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. In addition, cataracts affect more than just seniors; an estimated 1 in 4 cataract surgeries are performed on people younger than 65.

During cataract surgery, the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Most IOLs are monofocal, meaning they can focus at a single distance, usually far. To focus on near objects, patients must use reading glasses. In contrast, the new Symfony lens allows focusing at near and far distances without loss of clarity, reducing or removing the need for additional eyewear.

Clinical studies have shown that the new lens provides high-quality vision in day and night conditions with very little halo or glare, often perceived as rings or blurring around bright lights. 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.

April 5, 2017

Protect Your Eyes From UV Radiation

Spring is coming! While we all look forward to warmer, brighter days, it’s important to protect our eyes against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light. Exposure to UV radiation has been linked to the development of cataracts, skin cancer and growths on the eye. The danger is greatest during the summer, of course, when UV radiation from the sun is three times greater than winter.

The best way to protect your vision from UV light is to wear high quality sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB radiation. Don’t be fooled by color or darkness of the lenses –be sure to check the label for 99 or 100 percent UV protection. Wraparound or oversized frames are best for blocking the sun’s rays from every angle.

We strongly recommend polarized lenses. These are extremely effective at reducing glare, which is especially troublesome on cloudy and hazy days. Surrounded by water here in South Jersey, I recommend polarized lenses to all my patients.

Beware of gimmicks such as infrared blockers – infrared rays do not cause eye damage. Despite the marketing hype, there is no evidence that the oft-advertised ‘blue blockers’ are of any value.

For the very substantial percentage of us who wear glasses, consider prescription sunwear. Assess whether or not your lifestyle has you spending much of your time outdoors or driving during the day. The convenience of prescription sunglasses may justify the added cost. The doctors at the Coastal Jersey Eye Center strongly recommend wearing sunglasses. Classic Eyewear, our optical dispensary, wants to help by offering a substantial discount on sunglasses purchased at the same time as regular glasses.

March 3, 2017