Doctors' Blog


Contact Lens Care by Dr. Winkel


May is Healthy Vision Month, so today I want to discuss proper care and use of contact lenses.

Mistreating your contact lenses may lead to devastating loss of vision. I have observed this many times over my years of practice.

Unfortunately, in 1 week, I treated 2 individuals that had improperly cared for or did not wear their lenses as dictated by guidelines. Each had severe ulceration of one of their corneas.

Ulceration is due to infection of the cornea from bacteria, virus, or fungus.  It looks like fluffy, white or yellowish cloudiness on the cornea. This will leave a scar, always.  If small, and closer to the white part of the eye, vision may not be reduced.  However, if close to the pupil and/or large, vision will likely be impaired.

During the infection phase, it is painful, causing extreme redness of the white part of the eye, severe light sensitivity, much tearing of the eyes. Difficult to impossible to perform typical activities like work or school, etc.

Don’t think waiting and putting in any drops from the medicine cabinet will make it go away.  Call your eye care professional for early treatment.  This will improve the chances of saving your vision.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), published August 18, 2016 indicated 1 in 4 events of corneal damage to contact lens wearers occurred because patients weren’t caring for lenses properly, wore them too long, or while they slept.

Further research indicated that an unbelievable 99 percent of surveyed contact lens wearers reported at least one unsafe hygiene behavior.

According to the report, the top 5 worst behaviors are:

  1. Sleeping or napping in contact lenses (87.1 percent)
  2. Showering (84.9 percent) or swimming (61 percent) in contact lenses
  3. Extending the recommended replacement frequency of cases (82.3 percent), or lenses (49.9 percent)
  4. Topping off disinfecting solution (55.1 percent)
  5. Rinsing lenses with tap water (35.5 percent)


If you have questions about proper lens use and care, please call the office. We will be pleased to assist you.

#contactlenses #healthyvisionmonth #ulceration

Digital Eye Strain by Dr. Hedman

digital picture

We live in a digital world. Between TVs, tablets and computers, smartphones and even gaming systems, the average person spends hours every day on digital devices. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing electronic screens for extended periods. This is called Digital Eye Strain, or Computer Vision Syndrome and it’s becoming a widespread problem as people spend more and more time each day looking at their electronic devices. Digital eyestrain leads to dry eyes and puts strain on the muscles that help the eye focus. When viewing digital devices, the eyes are looking at a pixelated image that is rapidly alternating or flickering multiple times per second. It is much harder for the visual system to maintain a sharp or consistent focus on an electronic image compared to a hard image. Although computer vision syndrome causes discomfort, it doesn’t typically cause vision loss or any permanent damage to your eyes.

According to the American Optometric Association, the most common symptoms associated with Digital Eye Strain are:

  • eyestrain
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • dry eyes- including burning, stinging, gritty sensation and even watery eyes
  • neck and shoulder pain

These symptoms may be caused by:

  • poor lighting
  • glare on a digital screen
  • improper viewing distances
  • poor seating posture
  • uncorrected vision problems
  • a combination of these factors

The suggestions below can help alleviate some digital eye strain symptoms:

  • Don’t take a vision problem to work. Even if you don’t need glasses for driving, reading or other activities, you still may have a minor vision problem that is aggravated by computer use. You may need a mild glasses prescription to reduce vision stress on the job. It’s a good idea for computer users to get a thorough eye exam every year.
  • Make sure your glasses meet the demands of your job. If you wear glasses for distance vision, reading or both, they may not provide the most efficient vision for viewing your computer screen, which is about 20 to 30 inches from your eyes. Tell your optometrist about your job tasks, and measure your on-the-job sight distances. You may benefit from one of the new lens designs made specifically for computer work.
  • Minimize discomfort from blue light and glare. Blue light from LED and fluorescent lighting as well as monitors, tablets and mobile devices can negatively affect your vision. There are numerous eyeglass lenses now available to selectively block out the high-energy blue light that contributes to the fatigue and strain placed on the eye’s focusing system. For people who spend significant hours on a computer or other digital device, these lenses may provide some relief and comfort. Minimize glare on your computer screen by using a glare reduction filter, repositioning your screen, or using drapes, shades or blinds. Also, keep your screen clean; dirt and fingerprints increase glare and reduce clarity.
  • Adjust your work area and computer for your comfort. Place your computer screen 20 to 30 inches from your eyes. The top of teh screen should be slightly below horizontal eye level. Tilt the top of the screen away from you at a 10-to 20-degree angle.
  • Take breaks throughout the day. After working on your computer for an extended period of time, do anything in which your eyes don’t have to focus on something up close. To maintain comfortable vision while using digital devices, it is important to use the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes of digital device use, look away for 20 seconds focusing on something 20 feet away. 
  • Use artificial tears or lubricant drips to help relieve symptoms of dryness. When staring at a digital device, the eye does not blink as frequently, and this causes faster disruption and evaporation of the tear film that protects the ocular surface. When the surface of the eye begins to dry, irritation is felt, such as burning and stinging. Ask for eye care professional what drop they feel would work best for you.


Eye Protection by Dr. Piatt

shattered glassesPicture yourself riding your bike on a beautiful sunny day in the Tri-Cities along the Sacagawea trail with your fiance. You’re having a lot of fun and you’re competitive, so you’re moving fast. Suddenly, without warning, your boyfriend stops in front of you and you run into his back tire. You fly over the handle, clear him and his bike, and land on your side and head, bouncing to an ungentle stop. Sound a bit extreme? Well, this is exactly what happened to one of our employees last year… and she MARRIED the guy!

She not only suffered from a significant concussion (shameless plug for Dr. Hedman’s blog this month), but she also was wearing her sunglasses at the time. Everyone knows they need sunglasses with 100% UV protection, but most people don’t even think about whether their lenses are shatter resistant.

Although all non-laminated lenses must pass the ANSI standards (American National Standards Institute), which is to drop a 5/8 inch steel ball weighing approximately 0.56 ounce from a height on 50 inches upon the horizontal upper surface of the lens for dress wear, (industrial wear is even more strigent). The lens materials that are best for shatter resistance are polycarbonate lenses and trivex lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are not as optically clear of a meaterial and they’re easy to scratch. WE highly recommend trivex lenses if clarity  is important to you. However, if you need high velocity protection, that is typically made in polyccarbonate. Look for a marking on the lenses or the frame that has a variation starting with Z87, or if you need high velocity safety frame, look for Z87+. A quick demonstration of the difference between safety lenses and non safety lenses is available on a video.

Check it out: https://www.youtubcom/watch?v=jtqavYTI2p0e.

If you’re doing an activity where a safety frame is necessary, they’re available in several frame manufacturers. We carry Wiley X in our Pasco location and some of our Oakley frames are also safety rated. (If you want tot know abut the advantages of different sunglass tints for your different hobbies check out Laura Winkel’s blog this month.)

Be safe and keep your eyes healthy, not only from UV, but also from injury!bike crash

#eyeinjury #safetyglasses #concussion #WileyX #Oakley

Chemical Eye Injuries by Dr. Piatt

jalapeno with gloves

In Appreciation of Workplace Eye Wellness Month, I wanted to talk about chemical injuries at work. One of the common misconceptions that floats about out there is that acids in the eye are worse than alkaline burns. Don’t get me wrong, acid in the eye is an emergency and needs to be addressed right away, but alkaline burns tend to be more devastating to vision , and more likely to cause permanent blindness.

Accidents with chemicals can happen to anyone, but if you make sure you stay aware of the dangers of the chemicals you are working around, you can prevent a lot of incidents. Think of it this way, a strange dog may look as friendly as can be, but you are still going to take precautions that minimize the chance that you get bitten. Treat chemicals with that same level of respect.

You don’t have to be a chemist to be exposed to chemicals. Almost any workplace environment has access to powerfully destructive chemical agents in the form of cleaning solutions. Using proper protective devices, such as cleaning gloves and goggles is the surest way of preventing a burn, but even the most careful of us can have an accident.

If an accident does occur, it is instinctive to start flushing your eyes with water. That’s a good thing, follow that instinct! That being said, one of the most common mistakes made in these incidents is that a person does not flush their eyes out long enough. That standard is to flush your eyes after a chemical incident for a full 15-20 minutes. It’s best to flush with a sterile saline solution, but if that’s not something you have on hand, running tap water is much better than nothing. At a hospital your eyes would be flushed and tested with litmus paper until they are at neutral. If you happen to have litmus paper in your first aid kit, that is what it is for.

After flushing the eyes, go to an Emergency Room. Make sure to bring them the following information if you have access to it:

  1. The time and place of the injury.
  2. The name of the chemical and if possible the ingredients list. Bring the bottle the chemical came in if possible. Although the doctor can look it up through poison control, this step saves valuable time.

Oddly enough, a common place to get a chemical burn is when working with food. Imagine you’re working in a restaurant or for a caterer cutting chili peppers and didn’t think to wear gloves. You can wash your hands repeatedly with soap and water and still be able to taste the spice on your hands. If you’re one of the unlucky few that touches their eyes after cutting jalapenos, you know how painful that can be. Keep in mind that capsaicin, the active component of chili peppers that gives them their heat, is also used to give pepper spray its punch. If you cut peppers without gloves on, be sure to soak your fingers/hands in oil or milk. Even if you’ve already gotten the pepper in your eye, soak your hands first because it’s easy to get more pepper in your eye without cleaning your hands properly. Next, soak a paper towel in milk and dab it to your eye, if some milk runs into your eye, it may help your discomfort.  If there’s no abrasion on your cornea, you shouldn’t have to worry about causing an infection. The goal is to break down any oils on your eyelid.

Chemical burns in the eye are bad enough that I’ve never heard of anyone getting the same type twice. It’s something you’re careful not to repeat! Even better is being careful enough to not have to learn the lesson the hard way.

Good eye helath everyone!

Kendal Piatt, OD

#chemicaleyeburn #eyesafety