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Join us for our Annual Spring Sunglasses Event
featuring Maui Jim Sunglasses

Date: Thursday, April 10
Time: 2-7pm

Stop by and register to win a pair of Maui Jims!

Uptown Eye Care
560 Cedar Street
Monticello, MN 55362

Maui Jim Sunglasses Event

Eyeing Allergies: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

eye allergy symptoms

Unfortunately for many spring means the onset of seasonal allergies.

It is officially spring, even though it may not feel like it outside! However, soon the weather will be warmer, grass will be green again, and flowers will begin to bloom. But for many people, the advent of spring also means the advent of seasonal allergies. And not just nasal allergies; many people suffer from eye allergies (or allergic conjunctivitis in medical terms), as well!

About Eye Allergies

Eye allergies can be either seasonal or perennial. Seasonal allergies occur mainly during the spring and fall, although they can be present in summer, too. They are directly related to pollen levels of grass, ragweed, trees, and other plants. Perennial allergies are generally related to indoor allergens, such as pet dander, dust, and mold. These last year-round and can flare up in the presence of a heavy load of the allergen, such as when a cat jumps onto your lap.

Eye allergies are caused when the presence of a usually-harmless item (the allergen) lands on the eye and is treated as harmful by the immune system. Mast cells, which are some of our immune system’s defense cells, release histamine to combat the allergen. Histamine causes inflammation and triggers nerves in the eye that send the itch message to the brain, as well as sets off the tear ducts. Thus, red, itchy, watery eyes are born. Often eye allergies will also be accompanied by nasal allergies.

eye  allergies

If you suffer from eye allergies, there are steps you can take to relieve symptoms.

Eye Allergy Relief

If you suffer from eye allergies, there are steps you can take to relieve symptoms. Avoidance of allergens is the first step; this can play a large role in preventing the symptoms from occurring in the first place. If you have seasonal allergies, don’t open your car or home windows (even when the temperature outside reaches a balmy 60-70 degrees!). Avoid going outside in mid-morning, early evening, or when it is windy; this is when the most pollen tends to be kicked up and floating on the air. If you do venture outside, wear sunglasses or glasses to help prevent pollen from getting in your eyes. If you have perennial allergies, vacuum and mop your floors often to prevent dander and dust build-up. Vacuum your furniture, as well, and launder your bedding often. Use pillowcases that are “mite-proof,” and do not allow your pets on your bed or in your bedroom. Use a dehumidifier in damp places, such as a bathroom or basement, to reduce mold, and scrub any visible mold with a solution of 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon water. If you go to others’ houses, ask them to place any pets in one room before you arrive and to keep them there during your visit.

Taking Eye Allergy Precautions

In spite of taking the most conscientious precautions, though, eye allergies sometimes just won’t go away. Try using eye drops, such as artificial tears or antihistamine drops. Do not use the antihistamine drops too much, though, because your eyes can come to rely on them to keep the capillaries small. If this happens, when you stop using them, your eyes may not be able to keep the capillaries small on their own, and you will end up with red eyes even when they are not exposed to allergens. People with glaucoma should not use them, and people with high blood pressure or heart problems should use them with caution. Avoid perfume, cigarette smoke, and diesel fumes. These can cause allergies to be worse. Also, if you wear contact lenses, be sure to remove them every night and clean them thoroughly, or use disposable lenses. You want to remove the allergens that can build up on them each day, and the contact lens itself can be irritating to the eye. If your eye allergy symptoms are severe, talk with your eye doctor about prescription treatments such as medication and steroid eye drops. Your symptoms may be from an underlying cause instead of allergies, as well, so your eye doctor may want to do a visual examination with a slit lamp microscope or even test your eye tissue for white blood cells associated with allergies to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Enjoy Spring!

This spring season, don’t let eye allergies get the best of you. Take precautions and keep symptom relief close at hand, and fully enjoy the outdoors after a long, harsh winter!

{ photo credit 1: jypsygen (http://www (http://creativecommons NULL.0/) }
{ photo credit 2: mcfarlandmo (http://www (http://creativecommons NULL.0/) }

What Not To Eat for Vision’s Sake!

foods for vision - caffine

Studies show a link between drinking 3+ cups of coffee per day and an eye disease called exfoliation glaucoma.

Last year we posted a blog about the best foods for your vision. Just as there are foods that have nutritional properties that are excellent for the health of your eyes, there are foods that negatively impact your vision. To create the best diet possible for your eyes, don’t just add the good-for-your-vision foods to what you already eat, but avoid the negative foods as well.

Avoid foods that are high in bad fat

Trans fat and some saturated fat. We have vascular eyes, so anything that you should avoid eating for your arteries’ sake you should avoid for the sake of your eyes, as well. The eye is full of tiny capillaries and when you eat high-fat foods, fatty deposits and cholesterol can block a capillary in the eye, causing vision problems. Avoid fried foods and foods with hydrogenated oil; these are the biggest culprits of bad fat. Not all fat (even saturated!) is bad, so you can still enjoy your eggs and avocadoes (in moderation).

Avoid salty food

High levels of sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which reduces the blood flow to the eyes. Since blood carries pollutants away from your eyes, reduced blood flow can also decreases the quality of your vision. Restaurants and convenience foods are often high in salt content. Limit the number of times you eat out and choose low-sodium or reduced-sodium items instead of the sodium-loaded alternatives.

Stay away from excessively sugary and starchy foods

A 2006 study (http://ajcn NULL.nutrition NULL.full) published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high-glycemic foods were linked to a higher instance of age-related macular degeneration. This includes foods like white bread, sugary foods, and processed carbohydrates in general. Instead of reaching for white or partial-white bread (like honey wheat), choose a whole-grain loaf. And eat apple slices with natural peanut butter instead of a candy bar for a snack.

Cut down on caffeine

Finally, cut out or at least cut down on caffeine, especially if you drink more than two cups of coffee per day. In 2012, Investigative Opthalmology and Visual Science published a study (http://www NULL.iovs NULL.full) showing that there is a link between drinking three or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day and an eye disease called exfoliation glaucoma. The good news is that there was not a link found between other sources of caffeine and this disease, so if reducing your caffeine intake to two cups per day sounds like a feat equivalent to climbing Mount Everest, try drinking another caffeinated beverage like green tea or chai instead of that third cup of coffee.

{ photo credit: ilmungo (http://www (http://creativecommons NULL.0/) }

The Vision and Learning Link Workshop – April 29, 2014

Vision WorkshopsStudents spend more than 75 percent of school time doing intense, visual work less than a foot from their eyes, but not all students’ vision can handle that intense workload. Thus, vision is an often overlooked component of learning and reading problems. Here is a fun workshop that will give you practical tools to help children who are having trouble with learning.

You are invited to attend a special workshop for parents, educators and professionals.

You will learn:

  • How to identify children whose vision restricts learning
  • How the way children “see” the world affect their behavior
  • How to build school performance by enhancing vision
  • How to perform assessments and tests of vision skills
  • How and why vision development therapy works

Workshop Details

Date: April 29
Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Location: Omni Vision & Learning Center (http://www NULL.omnivisioncenter, 9766 Fallon Ave., Ste. 105, Monticello, MN 55362
Presenter: Dr. Mary Gregory

This event is free but space is limited, please RSVP.
Contact Kim Kampa: 763.314.0664

A Reading Problem Checklist:

Takes “hours” to do a few minutes of homework.
Skips words or lines while reading. Often overlooks or mis-reads short words.
Rubs eyes, red eyes or gets headaches in the afternoon.
Poor concentration when reading.
Cannot comprehend material that has just been read. Must re-read to obtain meaning.
Falls asleep or gets tired when reading.
Slow-hesitant reading even when re-reading material.
Attention span shortens when doing intense close up work.
Must use finger or marker to hold place.

The Vision and Learning Link Workshop – April 29, 2014 at Omni Vision & Learning Center (http://www NULL.omnivisioncenter

replacement eyeglass framesSome things get better with age: wine, cheese, cast iron skillets, and whiskey. Unfortunately, your eyeglasses do not age as well. As time passes wear and tear take a toll on your glasses. Hinges wear out, joints weaken and small scratches appear on both your frame and lenses. Are there valid reasons other than simply wanting something new and different for replacing your glasses when they still seem to work in spite of their signs of aging?

Obviously, if your vision has changed, your lens prescription needs to change as well. Sometimes you can change the lens without changing the frames, but not always. If you bought a pair of readymade reading glasses, you will need to replace the entire pair of glasses. Sometimes, even with frames that have removable lenses, you will need to buy a new pair of glasses with a prescription change. This often occurs if you have had glasses designed to correct only your distance vision, but now you need help with your near vision, too. Multifocal lenses may require a larger frame size than your single vision lenses did in order to accommodate the progressive change of power through the lens.

If your frame has weakened significantly over time it may be at risk of breaking when inserting the new lenses. Our skilled opticians will be able to advise you on whether your frame and new prescription are compatible.

If you are holding on to a pair of frames that dates from, say, the 1990′s, you need to replace them. The fashion trends have changed, and while vintage is in, the shapes and sizes are altered enough to have a modern take on them. If you wear frames that are outdated, you are dating yourself and automatically aging yourself. If you are hesitant about buying a new pair of frames, take someone whose opinion you trust with you to the eye care clinic and try on several different pairs. You may be surprised at the difference an updated look makes!

Perhaps you like your frames and don’t need a new prescription, but you are constantly adjusting them or taking them in to be adjusted. Unfortunately, this can mean that you should probably get new glasses. Screws can become stripped, the frames can warp or bend out of shape, and everything just stops holding as tightly. Consider buying a new pair of glasses before yours break or stop holding adjustments altogether.

When your glasses become constantly uncomfortable, and adjustments don’t help, you ought to replace them. Maybe you gained or lost a lot of weight and your glasses just don’t fit well anymore, or perhaps they seemed okay when you first bought them but are now giving you a lot of headaches or irritating your skin. A new pair of frames that fits well and feels comfortable will seem to give you a new lease on life – no more stress about keeping them from falling off your nose or trying to prevent discomfort while wearing them!

Here at Uptown Eye Care, we have a large selection of stylish glasses for men, women, and children to try on and choose from. Come on in and let one of our trained opticians help you find the pair that is just right for you, from fit to style! We also offer adjustments for your current pair of glasses.

{ photo credit: Muffet (http://www - cc (http://creativecommons NULL.0/) }

Secrets for Younger-Looking Eyes

secret to younger-looking eyesHave you ever woken up, looked in the mirror, and wondered, “What happened?” Crow’s feet, puffy bags, and dark under-eye circles may have begun a daily assault on your eyes, and the only way you can think to combat it is piling the makeup on higher and deeper (if you’re a woman) or splashing some cold water on it and hoping no one notices (if you’re a man). Well, before resorting to your makeup bag or just throwing in the towel on aging eyes, try these tips out.

Sleep More

There really is truth to the phrase “beauty sleep.” The body renews its cells and goes through hormonal and metabolic changes when you sleep; a lack of sleep or poor sleep disturbs the process and results in you looking tired and aged. Go to bed at a consistent time and get seven to eight hours of sleep each night to get the full benefit of sleep. Also consider switching to a firmer pillow that will hold your head higher; this prevents fluid from pooling around your eyes and creating that puffy-eye look.

Use Sun Protection

Wear sunglasses every day. Even on days that may be cloudy; if it is bright enough to cause you to squint, you need to wear sunglasses. Not only will they protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, they will help keep you from squinting and causing lines and wrinkles to appear earlier than they normally would with age. Apply sunscreen or moisturizer with an SPF rating to your face, as well. Again, this will help protect the thin skin around your eyes.

Apply Cold Compresses

To help reduce puffiness and under-eye bags in the morning, apply a cold compress to your eyes for a few minutes. This can be anything from cold cucumber slices to a teaspoon dipped in ice water to a chilled, wet tea bag to refrigerated aloe vera gel gently rubbed under the eyes.

Stop Smoking

Smoking has numerous unwanted side effects, and one of them is drying out your skin (plus loading your skin and organs with toxins). Quit the habit and you will stop premature wrinkling and help the overall health of your eyes – your skin and eyes will begin to glow again!

Wear Less Makeup

Caking on foundation and concealer to try to hide wrinkles and dark circles will only exaggerate those pesky lines because it will collect inside the wrinkles. Use a light touch to apply foundation and concealer, as well as eyeshadow. Avoid blacks and grays in eyeshadow and eyeliner; these can run, causing dark shadows under your eyes and making you look tired. Reach for lighter colors instead.

Consider Contact Lenses

Try contact lenses instead of glasses. Glasses may seem to work well by distracting focus from the skin around your eyes, but contact lenses aren’t noticeable by others at all and may cause you to seem younger simply by hiding the fact that you have vision issues. Visit your eye doctor for more information on whether contact lenses are right for you.

{ photo credit: Viewminder (http://www - cc (http://creativecommons NULL.0/) }

Pink Eye Treatment

Preventing and Relieving Pink Eye

Pink Eye TreatmentConjunctivitis, commonly called “pink eye”, is a contagious eye infection that spreads easily throughout schools, daycares, and other places with lots of physical interaction. It is commonly caused by a virus or bacteria, and while it is usually not serious, it can cause a lot of discomfort in the affected person! Symptoms can include red coloring in the whites of the eyes, itching, swollen eyelids, sticky drainage, and discomfort. The best way to prevent pink eye from spreading is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face, since it spreads through contact of infected eye drainage. Contracting it could be as easy as touching your eye after shaking hands with someone who had just rubbed their infected eyes. Once you get pink eye, you can expect it to last anywhere from 3-10 days, although in some cases viral pink eye can last for several weeks.

When to see your Optometrist

You should see your optometrist right away if you think you have pink eye, especially with any eye pain, moderate eyelid swelling, or blurry vision, which could be a sign of a more serious condition. An eye doctor can determine what type of pink eye you have, and there are antibiotic treatments available for bacterial pink eye. Viral pink eye usually has to run its course, although there are some medications for more rare forms of viral pink eye. But while you are waiting for your pink eye to clear up, there are several things you can do at home to help relieve the discomfort.

Home Remedies for Pink Eye

Soak a washcloth in warm water and lay it over your eyes. Not only does this provide topical relief, it will help to soften any crusted discharge around the eyelid, which you can then wipe away. This also works well if you wake up in the morning and cannot open your eye because of the dried discharge.

A cold pack can also provide relief. Use a cold pack as an alternative to the warm washcloth; you may find that you prefer one type over the other. If your eye is swelling, the cold pack will help the swelling go down. Try freezing a wet washcloth or wet gauze for 30 minutes and using it as a cold pack.

Artificial tears are another way to help with pinkeye discomfort. They are especially helpful for dryness that results from the infection.

Avoid anything that would strain your eyes, such as a lot of screen time. This will just cause more discomfort on top of the infection.

As long as you wash your hands thoroughly, avoid sharing washcloths and other items that touch your face, and avoid touching your face, you will stand a better chance of preventing your pink eye from spreading through the house and to other people. Practice these prevention strategies when you are well, and you may avoid getting pink eye in the first place!


{ photo credit: Jessica Whittle Photography (http://www (http://creativecommons NULL.0/) }

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

AMD is the leading cause of permanent central vision loss for adults over the age of 65.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness

The leading cause of permanent central vision loss for adults over the age of 65 is age-related macular degeneration, or AMD.  The CDC estimates that 1.8 million Americans over the age of 40 have AMD, and another 7.3 million are at risk for developing AMD.  February is AMD Awareness Month, so let’s take a closer look at what AMD is.

About AMD

AMD can develop naturally during the aging process, and it affects the macula, a tiny spot on the center of the retina.  The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina and is filled with millions of light-sensing cells; the macula is what provides you with sharp, clear vision in the center of your visual field.  You read fine print and see sharp details using the macula.  If deposits called “drusen” form under the macula, the macula can thin out and stop functioning correctly.  This is called “dry AMD” and is the most common form of AMD. Another form of AMD is known as “wet AMD”; this is caused by blood vessels growing abnormally beneath the retina and leaking blood.  Wet AMD affects about 10% of people with AMD, and it progresses faster and causes more damage than dry AMD. Both types of AMD can begin in one eye and may progress to the other eye. AMD does not usually cause total blindness.

Supplements and Therapy options offer Hope

There is no treatment for AMD in the early stages, and there is no cure available for vision loss due to AMD.  However, researchers involved with the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2) have found that the progression of AMD can be slowed in the intermediate or late stages by taking certain vitamins and minerals.  There are over-the-counter supplements available based on the results of these trials.  Look for supplements that list lutein and zeaxanthin on the label.  Wet AMD can also be treated with laser therapy, direct injections of drugs into the retina, and photodynamic therapy. Photodynamic therapy involves injection of drugs into the arm; the drugs then travel to the blood vessels in the eyes and are activated by a light shone into the eyes.

Lower your Risk for AMD

The risk of AMD can be lowered or its progression slowed by certain lifestyle choices. Avoid smoking, maintain normal cholesterol levels and blood pressure, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet rich in leafy greens and fish.  And make sure to visit your eye doctor regularly because there are no symptoms in early and intermediate stages of AMD; only an eye exam can detect it towards the beginning of the disease.


{ photo credit: ashley rose, (http://www (http://creativecommons NULL.0/) }

Caring for Your Contact Lenses

You have completed your eye doctor appointment, you were prescribed contact lenses, and now you are at home staring at the box full of lenses.  If only you could remember everything you were told at your contact lens instruction class. You know they are supposed to be kept moist, but how else do you care for them?  Crank up your contact lens confidence and competence with our tips. Not only will your contact lenses thank you, but your eyes will, too!

Contact Lens Care

For contact wearers, proper contact lens care is essential to maintaining overall eye health.

Contact Lens Care

1.  Wash your hands before you handle your contact lenses.  You do not want any residue or debris from your previous activities making their way onto your contact lens!

2.  Wear your contact lenses for only the prescribed amount of time.  The short term side effects of over wearing your contacts can be red, sore eyes and compromised vision. Ignoring these symptoms and continuing to wear your contacts puts you at high risk for more serious consequences with a risk of permanent vision loss.

3.  Do not wear your contact lenses at night unless you have extended wear contacts.  Regular contacts will irritate your eyes and can even stick to them.  If you awake and find you have slept with your contacts still in, use an eye drop solution to moisten them, then wait a few minutes before removing them. Remember, not all artificial tears are safe to use with your contact lenses. Check the packaging to make sure the drops you purchase are compatible with contact lenses.

4.  Regularly clean your contact lens case with hot water or sterile solution and let it air dry. Replace it monthly. This will help keep bacteria from growing inside the case and keep debris from getting on your lenses.

5.  Wash your contact lenses daily to prevent build-up of grime and other contaminants. Rub them gently in the palm of your hand with solution, not plain water, which cannot get rid of microorganisms.  There are also no-rub solutions available that allow you to simply rinse the contacts instead of rubbing them.

6.  Put your contacts in before you put makeup on.  Because makeup often houses bacteria and germs, putting it on after your contacts are already in prevents the bacteria (and makeup residue) from getting on your contacts.  When removing your makeup and contact lenses, wash your hands first, then remove your contact lenses, and finally remove your makeup.

7.  Keep the tip of the solution bottle clean. Don’t allow it to touch your fingers or other items.

8.  Never share contacts.  Sharing contacts also means sharing germs, which could lead to an infection in your eye, even if there is no infection present in the sharer’s eyes.  You could also wear the wrong prescription, type, or shape of contact, which can cause irritation.

9.  Apply rewetting solution or lubrication whenever your eyes feel dry; this prevents irritation as well as infection.

10.  Stop using your contact lenses as soon as an eye infection develops. Wearing contacts can cause the infection to become worse; follow your eye doctor’s instructions regarding your contacts during and after the infection.

{ photo credit: andysimmons (http://www (http://creativecommons NULL.0/) }

Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA)The 2014 Annual Meeting for the Minnesota Optometric Association will be held this week, Feb 7 & 8th at River Centre in St. Paul.

Uptown Eye Care will be closed this Friday and Saturday so the staff can take advantage of the excellent continuing education courses being offered.

Many will be attending certification courses on Friday morning. Our own doctors, Dr. Elaine Happ and Dr. Mary Gregory are teaching two of these courses, so we are guaranteed to have top notch instruction.

We are also looking forward to covering a wide variety of topics, from how to make a positive first impression to cultivating productive relationships with our vendors to becoming better equipped to navigate the massive changes in the world of insurance and government compliance.

We regret any inconvenience to our patients and clients, but we are looking forward to implementing our new skills and sharing our renewed enthusiasm when we reopen on Monday, February 10th at 9:00 am (click here for our directions and hours).

See you then!

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