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Armstrong, BC, V0E 1B0

Evening Appointments Available

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Box 660, #4-3380 Smith Drive
Armstrong, BC, V0E 1B0

Evening Appointments Available

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Why you should have more than one pair of Glasses

Prescription glasses can be expensive, so it’s understandable why many people don’t want to purchase multiples. However, there are many benefits to having more than one pair!

UV Protection
Not only do sunglasses make it more comfortable to see on sunny days, but they help block UV from reaching your eyes and the delicate skin around them, to protect and preserve your eye health.

A Backup Pair
If you own more than one pair of glasses, damaging or losing a pair won’t leave you struggling to see until you can visit your Optometrist. When you need a new prescription check into updating just the lenses in your old pair, for back up, and save the cost of a second pair of frames.

Task Specific Glasses
Progressive lenses are the most versatile option with zones for distance, intermediate, and near. In addition to this main pair of glasses, avid readers will benefit from Single Vision reading glasses to get a full field of view through the lens (especially when reading in bed!). Office lenses are designed to optimize zones for computer and near, which reduces neck and back strain and allows for more comfortable viewing of the screen. These lenses also work well for musicians reading sheet music and seeing their instrument. DriveSafe lenses are designed for driving by optimizing peripheral vision and providing antiglare technology specifically to help with headlights at night. Prescription safety glasses are also great for protecting your eyes when doing yard work or handling chemicals. Prescription sport specific lenses are also available; for kids these can double as their back-up pair, as well as prescription swim goggles and ski goggles.

Make a Statement
You change your purse or watch, so why not switch up your eye wear? Purchase a neutral colour for every day, and then a fancier pair for special occasions. Maybe your everyday pair will be statement glasses, and a more serious pair for your work.

Talk to your Optometrist or Optician about your needs and they can help you navigate ALL the possibilities, keeping in mind your lifestyle, age, and visual demands.

Lori Strom, Optometric Assistant, CCOA

Covid/Metabolism

As we enter 2022, we are experiencing a dramatic surge of Covid infections driven by the Omicron variant. Most of us are likely to be exposed to the Covid-19 virus, and it’s a good time to consider all the ways in which we can protect ourselves from severe illness.

The strongest method of protection is to get vaccinated. Vaccines give our immune system a massive head-start in recognizing and fighting the virus when it enters our body. We also want to make sure our immune system is functioning at its best when we do meet the virus. We can boost our immune function by maintaining a healthy diet, prioritizing regular sleep and exercise, and managing our stress.

The outcomes of Covid-19 make it clear that our health and lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on how we handle Covid infection. Conditions like obesity, pre-diabetes or diabetes, high blood pressure and/or cholesterol issues are all linked to higher rates of hospitalizations and death due to Covid. These conditions, collectively known as metabolic syndrome, are linked to high levels of inflammation and impaired immune function.

Metabolic syndrome is driven primarily by insulin resistance, which is an impaired biological response to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels and fat storage. Insulin resistance is the result of high and/or too-frequent intake of dietary carbs demanding higher and higher levels of insulin production to regulate the blood sugars at healthy levels.

The most significant factor that determines blood glucose levels is the consumption of dietary carbohydrate in the form of refined carbs, starch and simple sugars (think pasta, breads, rice, cereal, candy, pop and fruit juices). Eating too frequently also contributes to insulin resistance; by eating three meals per day PLUS two or three snacks we keep our insulin levels elevated all day long and promote the development of insulin resistance.

Metabolic syndrome is pro-inflammatory and linked to increased incidence of many eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, retinal artery occlusions, macular degeneration and cataracts. As an eye doctor, I have been fascinated by the recent research on metabolic syndrome and its implications on our eyes and our health. There are many strategies available to improve our metabolic health and even reverse/cure type 2 diabetes. Some excellent authors and speakers to check out on this topic include: Dr. Jason Fung, Dr. Robert Lustig, and Dr. Benjamin Bikman.

Making changes to our diet and eating patterns can improve our insulin sensitivity and metabolic health in a matter of days and weeks. Now is the time to re-focus on those New Year’s Resolutions towards better health and keep our immune systems in top fighting form amidst this Omicron wave of covid-19. Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Dr. Lisa Scharf, OD

Glaucoma

January is glaucoma awareness month. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over 60 years of age. Glaucoma is treatable and vision loss from glaucoma is preventable with early detection and management for most patients; the problem is that it goes undetected and untreated in up to half of cases. There are really no symptoms to early and moderate glaucoma; it develops painlessly and gradually. An eye examination is one of the only ways to detect it.

Here are the common questions I get asked about glaucoma:

What is glaucoma? This is one of my least favorite questions to explain, because the answer is so complicated! In many ways, we don’t understand glaucoma well. What we know is that glaucoma is progressive disease of the optic nerve, where the nerve fibres slowly die off in a somewhat predictable pattern, resulting in a somewhat predictable pattern of vision loss.

How does glaucoma affect my vision? Glaucoma causes damage to the fibres of the optic nerve. The fibres initially damaged by glaucoma are those that correspond to your peripheral vision. Early or well-treated glaucoma may not cause any vision loss at all – the optic nerve has over a million fibres and some can get damaged without any effect on your vision. Moderate glaucoma damage can cause loss of the peripheral vision, creating a tunnel-vision type effect. Severe glaucoma can progress to include loss of the center of the tunnel vision and blindness.

How is glaucoma diagnosed? Glaucoma can be diagnosed in a comprehensive eye examination by assessing the risk factors associated with the disease. There is not one single test or measurement to determine a glaucoma diagnosis. Diagnosing glaucoma involves analyzing several risk factors and doing a variety of testing, including a thorough examination and assessment of the optic nerve structure, a measurement of the intraocular pressures (IOP), visual field testing (assessing the sensitivity of the peripheral vision), and other specialized testing.

Is glaucoma treatable? Glaucoma is treatable, but not curable. We can slow or even stop the progressive damage to the optic nerve (and any corresponding vision loss) going forward, but we cannot reverse any damage that has already occurred.

How is glaucoma treated? Glaucoma treatment involves lowering the eye pressures (IOP). This can be achieved with medication delivered in eyedrops and dosed daily, or laser treatments that can lower the pressures for months or years at a time. Surgical treatments are also available, and usually reserved for cases that are not well-controlled with eyedrops or laser treatment.

Is glaucoma hereditary? Yes. Having a family history of glaucoma is a risk factor for developing the disease yourself. Go see your Doctor of Optometry for an eye examination to screen for glaucoma if it has been more than two years since your last exam. If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, you should encourage your direct family members to get tested.

Dr. Lisa Scharf

Children’s Vision

With the kids back at school, the fall is a great time for awareness about children’s vision. This year, increased awareness is especially important. With COVID around, most of us are spending more time than ever indoors and on a screen.

B.C. health data prior to COVID showed optometrists in B.C. were seeing only approximately 30% of children for annual eye examinations. In the last year, these numbers have unfortunately further decreased by 9-37%. From a public health standpoint, we want these numbers to increase because children are especially susceptible to their environment. Unlike adults, their visual system is still developing. Just like nutrition influences how their bodies function and grow, what we place in front of their eyes and how they use them, influences how their eyes function and grow.

Vision is not just about “20/20”. A comprehensive eye examination will check for how well they see (the “20/20”), their eye health, and how their eyes coordinate together.

The BC Doctors of Optometry launched an awareness campaign in the last year called EyeLearn that highlights why and how vision is important for children. Some interesting facts are that 80% of learning for children involves vision and visual processing, and that 1 in 4 school-age children has an undetected vision problem. Sometimes children are unable to recognize they have a vision problem because they do not know how to see the world any differently. Vision issues can also be misdiagnosed with other attention or developmental problems.

Children have either partial or full coverage under B.C. medical depending on what office you go to. Children can have their first visit to the optometrist between 6-12 months of age, and eye examinations are recommended annually thereafter.

Enhancing a child’s vision can directly enhance their confidence inside and outside of school, improve academic performance and visual processing for coordination in sports, as well as support healthy lifelong learning skills. For more information about children’s vision, including screen time recommendations, you can search online for the BC Doctors of Optometry or the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

Dr. Talisa Dennis, OD

Dry Eye Disease- Part 2: “Screen Time”

Our first dry eye article explained what dry eye disease is and how it has multiple causes. To review, anything that disrupts the tear film that coats the front of our eye can lead to dry eyes. One common external cause to dry eyes is screen time.

Screen time duration and habits matter because we blink approximately 5 times less when we are on a screen. Every time we blink, the surface of the eye is lubricated. If we are blinking less often, then we are getting less natural lubrication on our eyes. Recreational screen time outside of work or school should be less than 2 hours a day for adults and older children. If you add up the hours you are on a screen, this could mean significantly less moisturized eyes by the end of the day.

If we do need to be on a screen, how can we make this easier on our eyes? One “easy” tip is to take breaks more often. Ideally, we should follow the 20-20-20 rule, which means taking a break every 20 minutes, for at least 20 seconds, while looking 20 feet away. This is likely not realistic if you are in a flow with work or immersed in a game. However, being more mindful of the importance of taking breaks is key. During the break, it is best to look away from all screens and blink your eyes, or to do another less visually demanding task. Outdoor time is encouraged over screen time for both physical and mental benefits.

If you are experiencing dry eyes, there are other forms of treatment other than just eye drops. These focus on improving the functioning of our eyelid glands to reduce dry eyes more naturally. Keep in mind that healthier screen time habits can also help lead to less strain on our eye muscles. Keeping reading material, a forearm’s length away, choosing larger screens and fonts over smaller ones, and considering prescription computer glasses, can help to reduce that strain. If you are experiencing dry eyes or eye strain, you should head over to your local optometrist so they can recommend the best solution for you.

Dr. Talisa Dennis, OD

Dry Eye Disease – Part 1

What is dry eye disease? Like many other medical diseases, the definition for dry eye disease continues to evolve as we gain more medical knowledge on the subject. Simply put, dry eye disease is an imbalance of the delicate tear layer that coats the front of our eye. This tear layer is not only responsible for keeping our eyes feeling comfortable and happy, it is also responsible for us maintaining clear and consistent vision throughout the day. Have you ever noticed that your vision fluctuates during the day? For example, is it better an hour or two after first waking up, or does it become worse after a session of screen time? If so, this is likely at least partially related to dry eye.

Dry eye can cause visual fluctuations up to a whopping 70%, and can lead to a huge range of ocular symptoms such as burning, stinging, redness, pain or a foreign body sensation, watery eyes, inconsistent or filmy vision, irritated and tired eyes, sensitivity to light, increased glare with lights at night time, etc.! How can one disease have such a varied range of symptoms you might ask? Well, dry eye disease is actually quite complex and has a multitude of different causes.

Like many other types of eye disease, dry eye disease does not only come from within our eyes, it can also come from an imbalance within our whole body. Dry eye specifically can come from an imbalance of different components within our body, from environmental disruptors, or from improper functioning of our eyelids or lacrimal gland. If something is causing damage to our eyes from within our whole body, this means the causation can be from our diet, our medications, our stress and inflammation levels, our hormones, etc. Environmental factors point to factors such as smoke or other allergens, dust, artificial heating/cooling, wind, etc. Lastly and more specifically with our eyes, inflammation on the eyelids, contact lens wear, blockage of our delicate meibomian glands in our eyelids (often from excessive screen time), or make-up (false eyelashes, tattooed eyeliner, cosmetic products with preservatives/chemicals) will lead to a fall out of homeostasis that causes dry eye.

Now that we have an idea of what dry eye is and where it comes from, it makes sense to realize that the treatment will vary by individual. In the past, this disease was often treated by artificial tears alone. However, we now know that we need to have multi-targeted treatment in order to address the individual’s specific cause of dry eye. Even artificial tears vary greatly in composition and function, and while you could haphazardly pick one for yourself out of the many choices on the pharmacy shelf, the best option would be to inquire with your Doctor of Optometry about the best one for you, along with an individualized dry eye treatment plan.

Please note that blurry vision can also be related to your prescription or other important eye conditions that should be addressed with annual or bi-annual comprehensive eye exams. For more information on dry eye, please consult your Doctor of Optometry and watch out for our continued dry eye information series with Armstrong Optometry!

Dr. Talisa Dennis

Mask Related Dry Eye

The COVID 19 global pandemic has created many challenges. Among them is an increase in dry eye related symptoms and complaints that have become known as “mask-associated dry eye”. This condition tends to affect those who are required to (or chooses to) wear a mask regularly and for extended periods of time.

The definition of dry eye describes a condition where the amount or quality of the tears is not sufficient. Dry eye symptoms can include stinging or burning, redness, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and scratchy or gritty feeling among others.

There are many causes for dry eyes – taking certain medications, previous laser refractive surgery, advancing age, and excessive screen time are some examples. Mask-associated dry eye is a relatively new condition, and subsequently there is no scientific literature on this subject.

Theories as to the cause of mask-associated dry eye suggest that some face masks can allow exhaled breath to flow up and across the surface of the eyes, causing increased evaporation of the tear film and ultimately dry eye irritation. To prevent this some people have turned to taping their mask to their face across the bridge of the nose. In this case the tape itself may interfere with the lower eyelid’s normal functioning, thus impairing normal blinking and leading to dry eyes. Improperly fitting masks can also pull down the lower eyelid, with a similar end result. If you choose to tape your mask to your cheeks, ensure you are using an appropriate tape to prevent skin irritation.

Managing symptoms of mask-associated dry eye starts with looking for a mask with a moldable upper rim that can be formed over the bridge of the nose, providing limited gaps for air to move upward from under the mask. Adjustable ear loops can be helpful to tighten the mask to the face. Folding a tissue and tucking it under the top of the mask can also reduce air flow coming up and over the eyes. If you choose to try taping the upper rim of the mask, apply tape to the cheeks taking care not to displace the lower eyelid to maintain healthy blinking.

Additional measures to alleviate dry eye symptoms can include regular and frequent blinking, using lubricating eye drops, hot compress of the eyes with closed eyelids, minimizing contact lens wearing time, and managing seasonal allergies that can involve the eyes and increase symptoms of dryness.

Your optometrist will be happy to discuss mask-associated dry eyes with you and recommend customized solutions that will be helpful for your specific circumstances.

Dr. Tim Styles

Omega 3 Oils

The Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that we do not want to go without! I hope we have all moved on from the ill-advised low-fat diet craze of the 80’s and 90’s, but we may still hang on to some mental adversity at adding fats into our diet on purpose. However, this is exactly what we should be doing! If you are not eating at least 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week, you should consider taking a supplement. Our bodies need Omega 3 essential fatty acids to function and they deliver some big health benefits:

Omega 3’s have been shown to lower the triglyceride levels in our blood, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

A diet high in omega-3s lowers inflammation, which can be helpful in conditions such as arthritis and asthma. It is also good for dry skin, and dry eyes and macular degeneration.

High levels of omega 3 oils may help with mood stabilization, depression and even help prevent dementia (more research needed on this).

Omega 3 oils are made up of two crucial fatty acids — EPA and DHA – and these are primarily found in certain fish. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), another omega-3 fatty acid, is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds and grains. ALA is less useful than EPA.

There is a massive wall of vitamins and dietary supplements at every pharmacy, grocery store and health food store. How does one figure out which Omega 3 supplement to take?? The basic rules are: look for high levels of DHA and EPA, not ALA. The DHA and EPA can be in an ethyl ester form or a triglyceride form. Ethyl ester is cheaper to produce, but your body does not absorb this form well. Triglyceride form is the one you want. It mimics the form of the Omega 3 as it is found in fish flesh, and has better bioavailability.

Supplements come in capsules or liquid form. Good quality products should not taste fishy, even in the liquid form. If you cannot have fish, there are Vegan products made from plankton that have DHA and EPA, and this is a great alternative. Armstrong Optometry has sourced both the capsules and the liquid and found excellent quality products to offer our patients. Contact us if you have any questions or to purchase these important supplements!

Dr. Lisa Scharf

Sense of Smell

Why is an eye doctor writing about our sense of smell?? Because it is fascinating! Smell is an under-rated and under-appreciated sense in humans. People can easily imagine how devastating it would be to lose our vision, but we tend to think that losing our sense of smell would have little impact on our lives. In fact, a survey of young people indicated that most would rather lose their sense of smell than live without their smartphones!

Covid-19 has brought new attention to a condition called anosmia – the loss of smell. Anosmia is a common symptom of COVID-19 – up to 86% of people infected with the virus may partially or fully lose their sense of smell. Anosmia can be the first or only symptom of mild COVID-19 infection. Most people recover their sense of smell within days or weeks, but a small percentage of people are experiencing long-term losses.

When we stop to appreciate it, our sense of smell is wondrous. Our sense of smell enhances and broadens our taste and appreciation of food. But think too of the information that smell gives us… we can deduce that a lawn has been mowed just from the whiff of fresh-cut grass, or know that bread has been baked the moment you open your front door. Smell also provides essential information on dangers in our environment – the smell of smoke, gas leaks, or rancid food. Humans can even distinguish between the smells of sweat from exercise versus sweat from fear. We gain all this information almost instantly from breathing in some chemical molecules floating on airwaves – it is amazing!

Our visual system has been well studied and we know a lot about the structure and function of the photoreceptors (rods and cones) that provide us with sight. Our smell receptor cells (olfactory sensory neurons) were only discovered in the 1990’s, and there is a great deal to be learned about them. Viruses have been known to affect our sense of smell, but it was previously assumed that this was due to congestion in the nasal passages. With COVID-19, many patients with anosmia have no nasal congestion to account for their loss of smell. Researchers are now thinking that the COVID-19 virus may cause damage to the supporting cells to the olfactory sensory neurons, which in turn causes a loss of function of the actual nerves responsible for smell.

As this pandemic continues, please be alert to any changes to your sense of smell. A loss of smell and/or taste indicates a need to get COVID tested and isolate while awaiting results. So take a moment today to appreciate your amazing sense of smell (and don’t forget your vision too! – book an appointment for an eye examination if it’s been more than two years).

Dr. Lisa Scharf

Anosmia

Sense of Smell

Why is an eye doctor writing about our sense of smell?? Because it is fascinating! Smell is an under-rated and under-appreciated sense in humans. People can easily imagine how devastating it would be to lose our vision, but we tend to think that losing our sense of smell would have little impact on our lives. In fact, a survey of young people indicated that most would rather lose their sense of smell than live without their smartphones!

Covid-19 has brought new attention to a condition called anosmia – the loss of smell. Anosmia is a common symptom of COVID-19 – up to 86% of people infected with the virus may partially or fully lose their sense of smell. Anosmia can be the first or only symptom of mild COVID-19 infection. Most people recover their sense of smell within days or weeks, but a small percentage of people are experiencing long-term losses.

When we stop to appreciate it, our sense of smell is wondrous. Our sense of smell enhances and broadens our taste and appreciation of food. But think too of the information that smell gives us… we can deduce that a lawn has been mowed just from the whiff of fresh-cut grass, or know that bread has been baked the moment you open your front door. Smell also provides essential information on dangers in our environment – the smell of smoke, gas leaks, or rancid food. Humans can even distinguish between the smells of sweat from exercise versus sweat from fear. We gain all this information almost instantly from breathing in some chemical molecules floating on airwaves – it is amazing!

Our visual system has been well studied and we know a lot about the structure and function of the photoreceptors (rods and cones) that provide us with sight. Our smell receptor cells (olfactory sensory neurons) were only discovered in the 1990’s, and there is a great deal to be learned about them. Viruses have been known to affect our sense of smell, but it was previously assumed that this was due to congestion in the nasal passages. With COVID-19, many patients with anosmia have no nasal congestion to account for their loss of smell. Researchers are now thinking that the COVID-19 virus may cause damage to the supporting cells to the olfactory sensory neurons, which in turn causes a loss of function of the actual nerves responsible for smell.

As this pandemic continues, please be alert to any changes to your sense of smell. A loss of smell and/or taste indicates a need to get COVID tested and isolate while awaiting results. So take a moment today to appreciate your amazing sense of smell (and don’t forget your vision too! – book an appointment for an eye examination if it’s been more than two years).

Dr. Lisa Scharf

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