The Hargrave Eye Center

Severe Dry Eyes: Causes and Treatments

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Severe dry eyes is a common condition caused by insufficient lubrication on the surface of the eye. Patients with dry eyes often experience itching or burning eyes, blurred vision, and the feeling of “grit” in the eye. Dry eyes is especially common in older adults, and severe cases may lead to permanent eye damage. 

Normally, the eye produces tears that lubricate the eye’s surface. Without lubrication, the eye cannot function normally, resulting in eye irritation and inflammation. Tears have other jobs as well, like removing foreign matter from the eye and reducing infection risk.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Tears are produced by several glands near the eye, and then drain into the back of the nose. Tears consist of three layers: water, oil, and mucus, all three of which are necessary for tears to function properly. If the eye doesn’t produce enough tears, or if tears don’t contain the correct components, dry eyes can result.

What are the Risk Factors for Dry Eyes?:

Age: Older adults more commonly experience dry eyes than younger people.

Sex: Women more commonly experience dry eyes than men.

Diet: Eating a diet low in vitamin A can lead to dry eyes.

Contact Lenses: Contacts can irritate the eyes, leading to inflammation and dry eye.

How are Dry Eyes Treated?

There are several ways to treat try eyes, ranging from over-the-counter medications to medical procedures. Some common solutions include:

Artificial tears: for mild cases of dry eyes, your doctor may recommend the use of lubricating eye drops. Many brands are available without a prescription, although note different brands can vary in quality. Consult your eye doctor about which brand to use.

Prescription Eyedrops: for more severe cases of dry eyes, your doctor may recommend prescription eyedrops. These eyedrops contain medication that reduces inflammation within the eye.

Punctal plugs: in some cases, doctors may place a small plug in the drainage canal of the eye, causing tears to remain on the eye for longer.

Meibomian Gland Expression: many cases of dry eye are caused by inadequate oil (or meibomian) in the tears, causing tears to evaporate too quickly. A doctor may apply pressure to clogged meibomian glands, opening them up and allowing them to secrete oil properly.

from Hargrave Eye Center

The Different Health Benefits of Daily and Monthly Contacts

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Contact lenses may have been around longer than many might think. Especially, when one discovers that the first contact lenses manufactured were in 1887. Those early lenses were made of glass, created to cover the entire eye, and, as one can imagine, were said to be terribly uncomfortable. This is a wide departure from the little plastic or silicon discs most people are familiar with. However, as contact lens technology has advanced the array options available grown.


There are three main types of contact lenses available, daily, weekly, and monthly. Daily disposable lenses are typically worn only for the day and then thrown away after you remove them. This type of lens is generally made of thinner material both to keep the costs lower and for easy disposal. The other two types of contact lenses are weekly and monthly disposable. Monthly disposable lenses were the standard for a long time and although that is not the case any longer, some people still opt for this version. Both of these options are made of sturdier material than the daily disposable lens type so that they may be used several times before they need to be replaced. Both of these options also require daily cleaning, storage and overnight soaking in solution.


There are a few factors that one needs to consider if they decide to wear contact lenses; the prescription, sensitive eyes or conditions like astigmatism or dry eye syndrome, when they’ll be worn, where they’ll be worn, and cost. The other, possibly more important, are the health factors. Daily activity, as well as, one’s own tears can leave residue on contact lenses. This residue can include common things like dust, as well as, the proteins, calcium, and lipidspresent in tears. Although cleaning lenses may reduce these deposits or residues, it’s not always completely effective. For this reason, many patients prefer the daily disposable contact lenses both for hygiene and comfort. Disposing of contacts and all of the stuff that has collected on them throughout the day is much more convenient than the alternative, cleaning, soaking and storing. Daily disposable contact lenses may also give the benefit of less exposure to irritations and infections of the eye.


With so many choices available in the contact lens market there seems to be something to meet just about everyone’s needs. Remember to consider all the factors when working with your doctor in order to ensure the right fit for and for the health of your eyes.

from Hargrave Eye Center

The Importance of Protective Eyewear While Playing Sports

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While it is important to protect your joints, arms, legs, and extremities during sports, it’s also important to protect your eyes. The eyes are a complex organ that enables you to see the world around you. Navigating would be difficult if not impossible, without the ability to see. There are many reasons why you should keep your eyes safe in general, but they’re even more crucial while playing sports.

The Importance of Healthy Vision

Your eyes take in visual information from light in order to help you make sense of your surroundings. Even though this information is processed in the brain, you wouldn’t be able to see without your eyes. This organ is made of various parts that work in conjunction to keep your eyes healthy and provide your brain with visual cues from light:

  • Conjunctiva: The conjunctiva serves to lubricate the eye and protect it from dust, debris, and microorganisms. A common ailment of the conjunctiva is known as conjunctivitis. It’s caused be either viral infection, bacterial infection, or allergens such as pet dander. Bacterial conjunctivitis is the most damaging to the eye if left untreated.
  • Sclera: The sclera is made of small fibrous collagen that serve to maintain the shape of the eyeball. The sclera helps to protect the eye from external trauma such as laceration or rupture. It also serves as an attachment point for the muscles that control eye movement. External trauma to the sclera can often result in retinal detachment (separation of the retina from its connective tissue).
  • Cornea: This clear front surface of the eye allows light to pass to the retina and is responsible for approximately 65-75 percent of the eye’s focusing power. Damage to underlying levels of the cornea can cause permanent scars that affect vision.
  • Lens: The lens is composed of flexible tissue and is responsible for 25-35 percent of the eye’s focusing power.
  • Iris: The iris is composed of connective tissue and muscles that control how much light enters the eye. A common ailment of the iris is synechia. Synechia happens when the iris adheres to the cornea, and can be caused by trauma to the eye.
  • Retina: The retina is a sensory membrane that lines the back of the eyeball. It contains specialized cells that gather information from light and transfers it to the visual centers of the brain.

Any injury to one or more of these parts of the eye can have an affect on your vision and quality of life. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to wear protective gear for your eyes while playing sports.

Choosing Protective Eye-Wear

Choosing the right protective gear is just as important as deciding to keep your eyes safe. There are plenty other body parts injured in sports, but the eyes can be an overlooked area. Flying objects, pokes, jabs, or elbows to the eye are something that is best avoided. A racquetball can move between 60 and 200 mph during the average game. With that in mind, it’s best to go for highly durable polycarbonate eye-wear. Most protective eye-wear is made of polycarbonate, which is shatter-proof and offers UV protection. There are also protective coverings fitted to helmets for sports like paint-ball and motocross. Whichever sport you play, there are plenty of options available.


No matter what sport you play, it’s a wise decision to keep your eyes safe. An injury to them can easily cause a loss of vision in one or both eyes. This can dramatically affect your quality of life, so remember, safety first.

from Hargrave Eye Center

How Smartphones Can Detect Eye Disease

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The importance of smartphones is undeniable for today’s society. It would be hard to find a person without a smart device, and it easy to see why since these devices have become quite useful. For example, there is a new app that has just been developed meant to detect an eye disease.

How Does This App Work?

It may sound incredible to hear that an app can be an effective eye tester, but a Swedish study shows that the results of this app were more precise than regular vision tests.

As people age, the eyes begin to change, and some of these changes can end up hurting one’s vision. Sometimes, the changes are subtle but other times the changes are problematic enough to worry anyone who is concerned about the health of their eyes.

One thing that can begin to affect an elderly person is macular degeneration. This issue can distort vision so much that it could make everything blurry given enough time. It is this problem that Swedish scientists were trying to address when they first attempted to create the smartphone application that is going to help test a person’s eyes for this problem.

The app can test a person’s eyes for this issue, record the results, and send the findings to the appropriate eye specialist for further analysis. The app is quite interesting, and it is called MultiBit.

It asks the user to read letters out loud when they are presented. The trick is the letters start to fade for the user, and it is up to the user to figure out what the letters are as the written letter starts to lose focus.

It should be pointed out that there are more than just one of these apps being introduced to the public; for example, there is the Celego, just to name one more. People sometimes have a hard time going to their eye specialist, even though it is important. This app is going to be a great tool for preventative eye care and diagnosis, which is pretty exciting because it means that each individual has an opportunity to care for their eyes more effectively. Then, they can go to their eye specialist for further assistance.

from Hargrave Eye Center |Ocular Health Experts

Causes of Red Spots on Your Eyes

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At some point, you might look into a mirror and see a red spot on one of your eyes. Although the sight appears distressing, the spot is not necessarily a serious medical problem. The spot forms when a fragile blood vessel beneath the conjunctiva ruptures and leaks blood. The condition is referred to as a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

Hemorrhage Causes

The blood vessel break or rupture commonly occurs due to increased pressure in the eye. Sometimes the spot may occur for an unknown reason. The leakage might also occur when someone’s blood pressure rises. Other contributing factors include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Eye injury
  • Infection
  • Physical straining
  • Rubbing the eye
  • Vomiting

Additional causes include:

  • Anticoagulant medications
  • Bleeding disorder
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Benign or cancerous growths categorized as actinic granulomas, conjunctival epitheliomas or keratoacanthoma. Unusual growths must be evaluated by a medical professional.
  • Conjunctival hemangioma refers to a group of abnormal blood vessels that sometimes develop on the sclera. The condition is typically benign although troubling in appearance.
  • Diabetic retinopathy refers to the condition when an ocular blood vessel ruptures secondary to high blood sugar levels. The blood often then causes floaters or dark spots in the diabetic’s visual field. The vision might also be blurred. Patients might experience a decrease in night vision. Colors might seem faded. Retinopathy is commonly the symptom that leads to diabetic’s to realize a problem exists.
  • Episcleritis involves inflammation of the episclera, which is the thin layer of tissue between the conjunctiva and the sclera. The layer contains a series of delicate blood vessels. The condition often resolves itself. However, up to one-third of the cases are due to inflammation in other body regions that require medical intervention.
  • Pinguecula refers to a growth on the sclera or a thickening of the outer layer of the sclera. The area often appears raised and yellow. When irritated by the sun, wind or debris, the area becomes reddened and swollen.
  • Sickle cell anemia is a genetic blood disorder involving abnormally shaped red blood cells. The shape, size and stiffness of the cells make it difficult to travel through fragile vessels and carry hemoglobin. Patients living with the disorder may develop what appears to be comma-shaped red lines on the sclera. These are abnormally shaped blood vessels. The eye might also develop red spots secondary to hemorrhage.

from Hargrave Eye Center |Ocular Health Experts

The Future of Smart Glasses

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When Google Glass was first announced, it was treated as a potential revolution, but what was announced as a bold augmented reality future never really took off. Fortunately, it’s not an uncommon occurrence. Virtual reality struggled for decades before reaching a level of sophistication and user interest to properly enter the market, and the rise of virtual assistants followed a former trajectory. Smart glasses are alive and well. Here are some of the most exciting opportunities coming down the pipeline in the next few years.

ODG R – 7 Smartglasses

While smart glasses original caught hold of the public imagination for their entertainment purposes, augmented reality shows a lot of promises for a wide variety of business models. The ODG R – 7 comes in a consumer model, but the most interesting features come in the form of the R-7HL, designed explicitly for hazardous conditions. These smart glasses could provide critical information to people working in the manufacturing and maintenance sectors and provide them with the relevant information they need to reduce accidents.


Epson has long been seen as a printer manufacturer, but they’re making some aggressive moves to corner the augmented reality market. Their Moverio device was first launched in Southeast Asia in 2012, but they’ve been steadily working on expanding its capabilities so it can see wider adoption throughout the world. The latest models offer support for video, and they’re already seeing significant use in the medical sector. The hands-free approach Moverio provides makes them an ideal choice for surgeons and clinicians who can use the device to access the data they need while still having free use of their hands and specialized tools. It also shows promise in the field of dentistry, allowing providers to see a heads up overlay of a patients’ mouth while they do their work.

Vuzix M300

The future of augmented reality is likely one where there’s no one size fits all solution. Each headset will come with its own features and capabilities specialized to certain needs that allow them to remain affordable and lightweight. That’s the case with the Vuzix M300, an AR headset built for the needs of enterprise level businesses. The high level specs like Wi-Fi connectivity and 16GB of storage can give business leaders the data they need quickly and effectively without having to rely on computers or mobile devices.

from Hargrave Eye Center

Preparing For Your Eye Exam

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Even if your eyes are healthy, it is a good idea to have an eye exam once every few years. If you wear corrective lenses or if you have a medical diagnosis, such as diabetes, that may affect your eyesight, you should have an eye exam once a year.

An eye exam consists of a series of tests to evaluate your vision and to check for any eye diseases such as macular degeneration or glaucoma. If you want to benefit from your eye exam, there are a few steps to take before you arrive for your appointment.

Identify Issues

Think about why you want to get your eyes examined. Is it a routine checkup or have you been having problems with your eyesight such as blurred vision, double vision or poor night vision? Do you have any questions about your eyesight that you would like your optometrist or ophthalmologist to address. If so, right the issues down as you think of them.

Even if you are sure you will remember what you need to say to the eye care professional, it is easy to get sidetracked during an appointment and forget to ask about things you want to know. Writing them down will help ensure that all your concerns are addressed.

Bring the Appropriate Paperwork

There is some paperwork you should bring to your eye exam. First, bring alone any insurance cards. If you don’t have vision insurance, or if you have a deductible or co-payment, arrive prepared to pay. Most professionals accept cash, checks, debit and credit cards.

Second, your eye care professional may ask you to fill out some forms dealing with your vision and health issues. Your provider will probably want to know the name of your primary care physician. He or she will also want a complete list of any prescription and non-prescription medications you are taking. It’s easier to complete these forms at home and bring them with you to your appointment.

Plan for Safety

Your optometrist or ophthalmologist may want to dilate your eyes during the exam. Dilating your eyes can help your provider check for the presence of diseases. Dilation temporarily inhibits the ability of your pupils to contract in bright light. If dilation is going to be part of your exam, plan to bring along a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Most providers will strongly urge you to avoid driving after your eyes are dilated. You may want to arrange for ride share or for a friend or family member to take you home after the appointment is over.

Getting regular eye exams is an important part of your healthcare. Before you go to an eye appointment, make sure you make note of anything you want to discuss with your provider. You should also bring along any documentation your provider has requested. Finally, if your eyes are going to be dilated, arrange for transportation to get home.

from Hargrave Eye Center

Nanotechnology and Night Vision

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Nanotechnology refers to work that’s done at the very smallest of scales. In nanotechnology, individual molecules and even atoms are moved and manipulated. Nanotechnology was first discussed in the late 1950s. The idea was named in the mid-1970s. By the 1980s, it was growing into a proper field.

In the past 30-odd years, nanotechnology has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, real interventions are starting to become possible. In labs across the globe, people are finding ways to integrate nanotechnology with biology. One of the most recent developments in this arena has seen mice develop night vision after injections.

Teams in China and Boston, Massachusetts have been hard at work on this project. Researchers there used subretinal injections to bind nanoparticles to retinal photoreceptors. The nanoantennae made it possible for the mice to convert near infrared light into visible green light.

The potential for this technology is intriguing. Scientists in China, who conducted this research, say the mice suffered few side effects. The injections left the mice with infrared vision, which no mammals have naturally. If this treatment can be adapted for the human body, it could have valuable applications.

Currently, to see in the dark, humans rely on equipment. Infrared cameras are used in research and for security purposes. Night vision goggles are effective, but they can also break or get lost at an inopportune moment. Injections making it possible for humans to see in the dark could revolutionize military maneuvers and some types of research. It could also make search and rescue operations much more efficient.

Of course, there are some caveats with this research. Mice are much simpler animals than humans are. The effects of the injections were temporary. The mice were able to distinguish things in the NIR conditions for about two weeks. Although not many side effects were observed, they were mild and temporary. Issues like cloudy retinas cleared up after about one week.

Scientists are eager to see what nanotechnology can do in the human body. This technology has the potential to change the way diseases are treated. In the future, it may be possible to target specific cells to prevent or repair damage. Nanotechnology could also possibly be used to specifically target troublesome cells in cancers. For now, these early experiments are offering very promising results.

from Hargrave Eye Center |Ocular Health Experts

Evolving Patient Care Through Technology

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Advances in technology are improving patient care across many medical facilities. Telehealth is the use of telecommunication technology to enhance medical care for doctors and patients. The use of this technology can improve accessibility, convenience, and quality of care for patients with ongoing medical conditions. There are three main ways telecommunication technology is used in healthcare.

Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote patient monitoring (RMP) uses digital technology to collect patient data remotely. A patient using RPM can have important vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, and blood oxygen levels measured at home with the results sent wirelessly to physicians.

RPM can allow patients with chronic conditions to avoid full time care and unnecessary hospital readmissions. Early detection of dangerous symptoms can allow doctors to prescribe changes in care that will intercept serious conditions before emergency care is needed. These developments are especially helpful in improving the quality of healthcare for the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.

Electronic Medical Records

The use of technology to create electronic medical records (EMR) works to make a patient’s medical history easily accessible across the medical community. EMRs allow physicians to track data over time through multiple facilities. This technology allows each provider within a medical team to access the same information.

Most patients visit different doctors throughout the course of their life. It may be necessary for a patient to see a general practitioner, specialists, mental professionals, and other caregivers. EMRs allow each of these professionals to access the full medical history of the patient for a clear picture of overall health. This technology allows for more precise diagnosis and eliminates the occurrence of crossover visits for the same condition.

Video Communication

Video communication allows real-time communication between patients and caregivers. This technology is especially important in rural areas or for patients without dependable transportation. Video conferencing can allow patients to connect remotely with doctors, ER doctors to connect remotely with specialists, and provide ongoing education to students and practicing physicians.

The use of video communication combined with RPM can allow patients to replace some in-office visits with in-home telehealth visits. This is expected to be especially helpful for homebound patients and patients who frequently miss appointments. The use of video communication also shows promise in the areas of mental health and substance abuse by providing immediate access to professionals in a comfortable location for patients who are reluctant to attend in-person visits.

The use of technology in the medical profession improves care for patients and convenience for doctors. This type of care eliminates barriers created by distance and will even allow patients to seek the care of physicians in other states.

from Hargrave Eye Center

The Link Between Diet Soda and Blindness

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Diet soft drinks have been studied for many years and the warnings have gone out repeatedly. Sugar-free soft drinks can increase the risk of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. Scientists have linked diet drinks to the problem because they actually taste extremely sweet. They trick the body into thinking there is sugar and therefore it responds as if sugar was consumed in mass quantity. In fact, those who drink regular soft drinks with sugar in them do not have this same problem.

In studies of people drinking diet soft drinks, 25% of them have had retinopathy develop. This is a remarkably high percentage. People are being warned to stay away from diet drinks.

Better or Worse?

These drinks are often marketed as being the best choice for those who are weight watching. Many are fooled into thinking of these alternative drink options as a healthy food choice, with the reality being that they are horrible for you. Artificial sweeteners in the soft-drinks have been linked to other health issues besides the retinopathy that ultimately leads to blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the exact condition linked to diet soft drinks. This is an advanced form of retinopathy where new capillaries try to grow and then leak into the clear fluid in the back of the eye, creating cloudy vision that can ultimately lead to total blindness. Treatment exists, a laser surgery called photocoagulation.

What is Retinopathy?

Retinopathy is leaking of the tiny capillaries in the back of the eye. When blood becomes thick, an effect of having high blood sugar, it puts pressure on the walls of the tiniest capillaries in the body first. For some, this is fingers and toes, and for some, the eyes. Many diabetics ultimately go blind from not taking care of their blood sugar.

As the blood leaks out of ruptures in the capillaries, it forms clots and pockets of fluid in the back of the eye that begin to make vision blurry and ultimately can block vision completely, causing total blindness. Victims of retinopathy report vision that comes and goes and starts with blurriness that gets worse, then better, until eventually they may wake-up unable to see at all.

As you might imagine, someone with diabetes may be drinking diet soft drinks thinking that they are making wise choices when they are actually drinking something that can contribute to their risk of retinopathy.

from Hargrave Eye Center