Recently, Dr. Rachel Watson participated in a medical mission trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, through the organization Hope for Haiti’s Children. This organization sponsors 10 different schools around the city. Each of the schools gets to come to the annual clinic. In just four days, a team of 46 volunteers and 40 Haitian staff were able to treat over 800 kids and 200 adults.
At the clinic, the children have a school picture taken. They are measured for height and weight. The kids see a nurse and a doctor, if needed. And they get their vision tested to see if they need glasses or have glaucoma. As this is an annual clinic, the children may only see a doctor “once a year, if they are lucky,” says Dr. Watson.
One of the biggest reasons proper eye care is necessary for the people of Haiti is that about 20% of the population there has glaucoma. That’s a very high concentration in such a small area. During the trip, even children as young as six were diagnosed with glaucoma. With glaucoma, catching the disease as early as possible is critical. The doctors were able to distribute a year’s worth of glaucoma medication to patients.
Eye exams also revealed a great need for prescription glasses. Many people were able to see clearly for the first time due to the doctor’s efforts. “These people couldn’t see more than a couple of inches in front of their face. We gave them prescription glasses and suddenly they could see across the room… for the first time in their lives,” commented Dr. Watson
The available prescription glasses were donated from previous users to the Lion’s Club who provided them to the project. Each donated pair is cleaned, the prescription measured, and then they are distributed to the people of Haiti. Kids and adults not needing prescription glasses were given sunglasses to help protect their eyes from the Caribbean sun.
The volunteers, doctors, and patients faced 85 to 90-degree days with little access to air conditioning. There were also hints of civil unrest during the time of the trip. Security guards had to be supplemented by armed guards. One day, the clinic was evacuated in a hurry because of riots occurring and tear gas being used just outside their hotel. Some children had to miss their only chance to see the doctor due to the political unrest.
Many more children went through other trials to get to their appointments. “It was heartbreaking. Some of the kids that came to our clinic would walk three hours down the mountain and sleep on the concrete floor of a school. Then they get on the bus the next day for maybe an hour and come see us,” Dr. Watson explains.
Despite the circumstances, the children of Haiti are some of the most well behaved. Dr. Watson adds, “it’s crazy to think what these kids went through to get to the clinic. You would never guess from their attitudes and clean and pressed school uniforms the conditions they came from.” But the volunteers with the mission didn’t just treat the kids with medicine and glasses.
“We were handing out candy,” Dr. Watson says. “this was a big luxury for them. A child could have two pieces, but they still wanted to give one of them to us. It melted your heart.” Several days, the group tossed candy to the people through school bus windows on the way to and from the clinic. One woman was even throwing pairs of shoes. Haiti is a poor country where clean water, food, and basic necessities are scarce. Each child at the clinic was given a gift bag containing a toothbrush, washcloth, socks, and underwear. Meals were also served for the children.
Dr. Watson describes her motivations. “Some people from my church—an MD and a couple of nurses—had worked with this organization before and they kept telling me they needed an eye doctor. I had been on another mission trip to Venezuela in optometry school, so I was interested in doing that again.”
But it’s not like a luxury vacation—although you pay a luxury price for going. Dr. Watson had to cover all her own expenses and even get shots before entering the country. It was about $2500 to go. However, the experience was certainly worth the expense and effort. “Haiti has a very different culture. We were so welcomed, and it was nice to meet everyone. Even the translators we used from the island were coveted for their roles in getting to help us.”
If you want to help the people of Haiti, please bring in your gently used eyeglasses as a donation. Dr. Watson will get them where they need to go. You can also sponsor a Haitian child through https://www.hopeforhaitischildren.org/ Each sponsorship helps with school tuition, supplies, uniforms, and transportation to and from school. Only about 50% of Haiti’s children go to school because the education system is not free. Donate to this amazing organization today and be assured that you are making a difference.
In anticipation of March Madness this year, we decided this is the perfect time to put the spotlight on eye safety because as always, your eye safety and health is our top priority at Northwest Eye Surgeons.
According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, basketball is the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries in the United States followed by baseball and softball. The study also lists the most common types of sports eye injuries: corneal abrasion (27.1%), conjunctivitis (10.0%) and foreign body in the eye (8.5%). Most of these injuries can be treated and released but some of the more serious injuries can lead to hospitalization.
How to Avoid Sports-Related Eye Injuries.
Most sports-related eye injuries can be easily prevented with one simple solution – wearing eye protection. Protective eyewear made with polycarbonate lenses is the best choice for basketball players. All eyewear worn by athletes should meet the requirements of the appropriate organizations.
Professional Athletes Who Have Sustained Eye Injuries.
Sports-related eye injuries can happen in a split second and have the possibility of lasting a lifetime. Here are some real-life examples of preventable eye injuries during basketball.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding eye protection or eye health, feel free to give us a call at (614) 451-7550 or schedule an appointment online.
Your eye health is our top priority at Northwest Eye Surgeons and since February is a month to celebrate love, why not show some love to your eyes? Keep reading for some tips and tricks to keep your eyes happy and healthy.
Eat Right. According to the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, adding certain nutrients to your daily diet can be good for your vision. Foods rich in lutein, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, zinc, and vitamins C and E are great for your eye health. These nutrients have been linked to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases and can lower the risk of age-related eye issues.
Foods that are best for eye health:
Exercise. We all know that exercise has many health benefits, but did you know that it’s also good for your eyes? Many studies over the years have indicated that regular exercise can reduce the risk for common eye diseases such as cataracts, wet age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Additionally, exercise helps avoid health issues that aren’t primarily related to eye health but can damage your eyes such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
Use Basic Eye Protection at Work. According to Prevent Blindness, more than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day. The right eye protection could lessen the severity or event prevent 90% of eye injury accidents in the workplace. We encourage you to know the eye safety dangers at your place of work and use the proper protection.
Get an Annual Eye Exam. We cannot stress the importance of an annual eye exam enough! Not only should you get an eye exam to evaluate how well you can see, but it is important to check your overall eye health. Some diseases, such as Glaucoma, can show no symptoms or early warning signs. By the time people notice a difference in their vision, the disease may be in a much more advanced stage. Contact our office at (614) 451-7750 or fill out our appointment request form to schedule your eye exam today.
What to do if You Sustain an Eye Injury. When an eye injury occurs, you should seek medical help from an ophthalmologist or another doctor as soon as possible, even if the injury seems minor. Additionally, there are simple steps you can take to prevent further damage:
The winter season is in full swing! While that comes with many wonderful white, snowy sceneries and fun-filled holidays, it also comes with increased cold and flu symptoms. This can make it extremely important to look after your health during this time of year. There’s another part of your body you need to think about protecting, your eyes.
How the winter affects your eyes
Our most precious sense is often under attack during the winter season in more ways than one. For instance, snow and ice is extremely reflective. This means the sun’s UV rays can reach your eyes from both below and above you, which puts you at greater risk for damaging your eyes. Additionally, in extreme weather, you might find it hard to fully open your eyes while also feeling a burning sensation. In conditions like this, it is possible for your cornea to freeze, which can be very painful and lead to issues with light sensitivity and blurry vision. Another common winter eye issue is excessive tearing; excessive tearing can cause your vision to become blurry which is a common, yet frustrating issue.
One of the most common winter eye issues though is dry eye. Cold temperatures can cause your eyes to lose their natural moisture and become dry, leaving them sore and uncomfortable. Although this condition is not usually serious, there are easy steps you can take to ease your discomfort and keep your eyes healthy this winter!
Common symptoms of dry eye
Watch for these common warning signs of dry eye:
Tips for protecting your eyes in winter
Treating your eyes right in the winter can be easy! Follow these tips in order to make sure your eyes are as healthy as possible this season:
Lower the temperature in rooms. High temperatures can cause your tears to evaporate, causing dry eye.
Wear sunglasses! If you’re spending time outdoors on a cold, windy day, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from dryness, harmful UV light, and burning eyes.
Drink more fluids. Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do to help your body fight off dry eyes. Consider increasing your daily intake of fluids during the winter months.
Use a warm washcloth. A warm, damp compress can actually help your eyes with tear secretion. Do this for two to three minutes per eye to help your eyes create moisture and become less irritated.
Use eye drops. Over the counter or prescription, eye drops can significantly reduce the symptoms of dry eye.
If you still can’t seem to kick your dry eye, make an appointment with us online or call us at (614) 451-7550. At Northwest Eye Surgeons, your healthy eyes are our priority.
You might be surprised to hear that January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. Most people are unaware that glaucoma has no symptoms in its early stages. If detected early enough, glaucoma can usually be controlled. It is very important to us here at Northwest Eye Surgeons for everyone to be educated and informed about glaucoma and to get tested.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma affects peripheral (side) vision, narrowing the field of vision. The optic nerve is a bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibers that connect the retina to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve is caused by increased pressure from fluids that build up inside the eye. A healthy optic nerve is crucial for good vision.
Statistics and Facts about Glaucoma.
Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?
Anyone can get glaucoma but there are some people who are at higher risk
How to Prevent Glaucoma?
The best way to prevent glaucoma is getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam. This exam will examine:
How is Glaucoma Treated?
There is no cure for glaucoma yet, but it can be treated and managed if caught early enough. Treatments include medications, laser surgery, and traditional surgery. Contact our office at (614) 451-7750 or fill out our appointment request form to schedule your eye exam today.
Foods to eat this holiday season that are good for your sight!
There are so many things to be thankful for this time of year—family, friends, good health, and, of course, good eyesight. Eyesight can be impacted by many factors, but people are often surprised by how important a role diet plays in your continued eye health. However, nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene may reduce your chances of age-related eye diseases by up to 25%.1
For example, Lutein is found in many common foods and is said to reduce the risk of age-related macular disease, the leading cause of blindness in seniors.2 Vitamin C and vitamin A also make the list of important nutrients for eye health. One study showed that women who ingested more vitamins A and C had a reduced chance for developing glaucoma.3 And, of course, there are carotenes, the magical ingredient of carrots that make them so wonderful for eyesight.
To keep your eyes healthy and happy this winter, dig into these dishes with gusto knowing they are giving you the vitamins and nutrients you need to avoid eye problems and have sharp vision for years to come.
Whether you serve them whole, mashed, with marshmallow topping, or in a sweet potato pie, sweet potatoes are full of eye-helping nutrients. They have vitamin E, an anti-oxidant, and beta-carotene, the same healthy ingredient in carrots. (Note: marshmallow topping is not known to promote eye health, but boy is it delicious.)
This dark green vegetable will do wonders for your eye health. It contains high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases.
There are plenty of opportunities to add a few nuts to your holiday dinner spread—and I’m not just talking about inviting over your relatives. Consider adding finely chopped walnuts to your stuffing. Or you can serve them up in cookie form. The nutrients in nuts are fantastic for promoting good eye health.
We can’t mention eye health and food without mentioning carrots. Those amazing beta-carotenes will be helping your eyes whether you eat carrots raw on the appetizer buffet or cooked as a side dish for the main meal.
While carrots may have high levels of beta-carotene, pumpkin has even higher levels. That means every slice of pumpkin pie will be helping protect your eyes from disease and degeneration. There’s never been a better excuse to go back for a second helping of dessert.
Don’t just use the holidays as a time to protect your eye health. Eating healthy and maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the year is critical to receiving the long-term benefits and protections for your eyes that come from important nutrients. For more information, talk to your ophthalmologist today.
Moms-to-be know their bodies are going to go through a lot of changes over their pregnancy. Many do not realize that their vision can also be affected.
Blood pressure, water retention, and hormone changes can all affect vision for a short amount of time. Fluid retention can even affect the shape of the cornea, changing how vision is seen through glasses and contacts. It is common for women to end up more nearsighted than before.
Below, are 5 ways to help keep moms-to-be eyes in good shape.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. You can reach us at (614) 451 – 7550.