For more than a decade, the dedicated specialists at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, P.C. have provided patients from all across Georgia with a wide array of eye care services, ranging from routine and comprehensive medical eye examinations to advanced eye disease treatment, laser cataract surgery, and LASIK vision correction surgery. In the latest installment of our ongoing blog feature, board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. William Segal and licensed consultative optometrist Dr. Marc Lay answer some of the vision and eye care questions most frequently asked by our patients.
QUESTION: Ever since I was a young child, I have been told that staying up late and reading in bed, and especially reading in poor lighting conditions, could potentially hurt my eyesight. I always ignored these warnings, and have been an avid reader my whole life, but over the last few months I have found that it is increasingly difficult for me to focus on small text and that reading for long periods can give me headaches. I turn forty this month and even though I have never needed prescription eyeglasses, I fear that I may now need to get some. Is there any way that my reading habits did this to my eyes and is there any way that I can fix them?
ANSWER: Many of us heard this same cautionary refrain from anxious mothers while we were growing up, but fortunately, it is simply not true. The muscles that control the focus of the eyes can become fatigued from overuse, usually as a result of prolonged activities that require tight focus, like driving, reading, or even watching television. However, this process is similar to the way that exercise at the gym can make your muscles sore; it is completely normal and does not cause any permanent damage. Headaches and itchy eyes are common symptoms of eye strain, and although this condition can often be inconvenient and uncomfortable, it can also be easily treated with simple saline eye drops or even by giving your eyes regular rest breaks. Studies have also shown that people tend to blink less than usual when focusing on video displays, which can exacerbate the problem, so switching to paper books may help alleviate some of your symptoms.
The blurry vision that you are experiencing is much more likely to be the result of an extremely common condition called presbyopia. As the eye ages, the lenses gradually become less flexible and the muscles surrounding them grow weaker and less responsive. Eventually, usually around the age of forty, the lenses are no longer able to bend far enough to bring nearby objects into focus and patients start to experience difficulty seeing objects at close range. While LASIK vision correction surgery can address defects in the shape of the eye that cause common vision problems, it cannot reverse the deterioration of the lenses, so reading glasses are usually the simplest and most effective way to treat this condition and advanced multifocal contact lenses can often provide patients with relief. In some cases, patients who are suffering from severe presbyopia, which often occurs in combination with cataracts, may also opt to undergo intraocular lens replacement surgery, which can potentially reduce or even completely eliminate their dependency on reading glasses, depending on the specific type of intraocular lens they choose.
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing a loss of vision, a comprehensive medical eye exam and consultation with Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay can help you decide which treatment is best suited to your individual needs. Please feel free to contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons today to make an appointment, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more to keep your vision healthy.