A Cure for Blindness?

UC Berkeley gene therapy helps blind mice gain sight, could be used to cure blindness

Drew Costley, SFGATE

Published9:28 am PDT, Sunday, March 17, 2019

A team of scientists at UC Berkeley used a breakthrough gene therapy to help blind mice gain sight, and some on the team think the same therapy could eventually be used to help cure blindness in humans.

A month after the team injected a gene for a green-light receptor into the eyes of blind mice, they showed signs of gaining sight, such as being able to identify and navigate around obstacles nearly as easily as mice without vision problems. The results of the study were published in Nature on March 15.

The once-blind mice who received the gene therapy were also able to detect motion and changes in brightness, recognize patterns, and see enough detail on an iPad to distinguish letters. The gene, called a medium wavelength cone opsin (MW-ospin rd1) and delivered by an inactivated virus that's injected into the eye, has the potential to restore vision enough to move around without assistance, read, or watch video.

"We actually think that within three years this could be in humans," said Ehud Isacoff, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and one of the authors of the study, referring to how soon the treatment could be tested in clinical trials. "The only thing that needs to be done in order to achieve that at this point is to work out the details of the delivery mechanism of the gene."

This isn't the first time that gene therapy has been used to restore vision in subjects that were once blind, even by this team of scientists at Berkeley. In 2017, a team at University of Oxford showed that it was possible to restore vision in humans using gene therapy injected into the eyes. The same year, the UC Berkeley team used another form of gene therapy, delivered the same way but using a different gene, to help blind mice gain sight.

To the read the full article in SF Gate, click here.

Digital Eye Strain and How to Avoid It

If you are reading this on your computer right now, you may be among a rapidly increasing number of Americans who suffer from digital eye strain.
According to The Vision Council, which claims credit for coining the term “digital eye strain,” more than 83 percent of people in the United States use digital devices for more than two hours a day. All that prolonged use of computers, smart phones, e-readers, and tablets can add up to a lot of strained eyes.
In the Vision Council’s survey, more than 60 percent of the people who are using computers for two hours or more report symptoms of digital eye strain, also called computer vision syndrome. With the average worker spending seven hours a day on a computer, the condition may be even more widespread than that.

For many of us, the symptoms might be familiar:

  • Eye fatigue or “tired” eyes

  • Headaches

  • Dry, itchy, or irritated eyes

  • Blurry or double vision

  • Neck, shoulder, or back pain

How does digital eye strain happen? 
Blue light is emitted in large quantities from computer screens, smart phones, flat screen TVs and other digital devices. Since blue light is everywhere and sunlight is the main source of blue light, the added exposure of staring at digital devices all day can be dangerous for our eyes. When we stare at screens, we don't blink as often as we do when we look at other objects. The lack of blinking damages and dries out our eyes.  

Eye strain is caused by excessive bright light. You can either eliminate exterior light by closing shades or blinds, or you can reduce interior light by turning down or eliminating overhead fluorescent lights. Consider using an anti-glare computer screen and upgrade your computer screen to an LCD screen, which usually has an anti-reflective surface. You can also adjust the brightness of your screen, make the text and size contrast larger, and reduce the color temperature of your display to lessen the amount of blue light emitted by your screen.
You can experience neck and back problems from tilting your head at an odd angle or slumping over because glare or poor lighting are marring your vision -- or you’re wearing glasses not designed for the computer.  According to the AOA, you should take a good look at how you position yourself in front of your computer. Your computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level.  Your reference materials should also be below eye level, and your chair should be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the floor.
Treating Digital Eye Strain
Dr. Schmidt has a multi-pronged approach to treating this form of eye strain. She will often prescribe digital lenses with a special coating that filters out the kind of blue light that’s emitted from screens. For people with dry eyes, she can prescribe lubricant eye drops, supplements, and eyelid treatments. For patients who wear contact lenses, she will make sure to offer brands that provide the most lubrication, comfort and maximum wearing time.
Dr. Schmidt will also take time to address any underlying vision issues that can be exacerbated by extensive screen time. This includes any vision disorder that puts heavy stress on the eye muscles, such as binocular vision disorder, where the line of sight of one eye is slightly out of alignment with the line of sight from the other eye.

The AOA has numerous recommendations for avoiding digital eye strain, including something called the 20-20-20 rule: when you’re on the computer, take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. The AOA notes that the symptoms will vary based on how much time you spend looking at screens and what vision problems you already have, such as farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia.

The good news is that often the symptoms are temporary and will subside once you walk away from the computer. Still, it’s wise to take steps to ensure that digital eye strain doesn’t lead to continued problems for your eyes, neck, and back.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Protect Your Vision as You Get Older

At some point in life, most of us will face this moment of truth: No matter how far from your face you hold the book you’re reading, you can’t quite make out the words. It’s not that your arms aren’t long enough. It’s that you’re encountering changes in your vision that we all experience as we age.
This particular change, which can start in our 40s, is called presbyopia, a Greek word that literally means “old vision.” Presbyopia makes it more difficult to see things close up and can be easily corrected with reading glasses. However, other age-related changes can be more serious, which makes attention to eye health even more critical as we grow older.
Many Americans may not be aware they have problems with their eyes, yet even those who do, tend not to visit an eye-care specialist as frequently as they should. In a national government health survey, 40 percent of adults with severe visual impairment and half of those with at least some impairment had not seen an eye care specialist in the previous year. Those numbers grow particularly important as the population ages. More than 40 million Americans are age 65 or older, and that number is expected to reach 88 million by 2050. 
For good reason, the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health recommends a comprehensive dilated eye exam by age 50. Although presbyopia is considered a normal part of aging, other types of vision loss are not. It’s important to know how your age is affecting your eyes and how to best protect them.
Age-related eye diseases and conditions

Macular degeneration. Also called age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, this is a deterioration of the macula, the area of the retina that controls visual acuity. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in older people.  More than two million Americans have this condition, and by 2050 the number of people with AMD is expected to more than double to 5 million.

Glaucoma. This is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve, most often linked to pressure buildup in the eye. One’s risk for glaucoma increases with each decade after age 40.
One thing that makes glaucoma so dangerous is that in its early stages it has no symptoms. By the time you notice symptoms, the disease may have progressed to irreversible vision loss – another good reason for regular eye exams.

Diabetic retinopathy. The Eye Institute estimates that of the more than 10 million Americans over age 40 known to have diabetes, 40 percent have some degree of diabetic retinopathy that could lead to permanent vision loss. 
The good news is that with early intervention and treatment, vision impairment from this condition can be prevented. It may take ten years from a diabetes diagnosis to develop this condition, but it’s best to get an eye exam soon after diagnosis and once a year after.

Cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of your eye. Cataracts are quite common among older people, so common in fact that, according to the Eye Institute, by age 80 more than half of all Americans either have cataracts or have already had surgery to remove them. They occur when proteins in the lens begin to clump together, eventually clouding vision. Cataract surgery is one of the most common and safest surgeries performed in the United States.
Night vision problems. Many people experience reduction in night vision as they age, and it may become particularly noticeable when driving at night. Among other factors, aging can cause a reduction in the size of the pupil, allowing less light to reach our eyes at night. We may also experience a loss in contrast sensitivity, which may make it harder to distinguish people and objects from the background.
Vision pointers
Aside from regular eye exams, there is much you can do to boost the health of your eyes well into your 80s and beyond. The University of California Berkeley Wellness Letter has these tips:

  • On sunny days especially, wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim. Lifelong exposure to ultraviolet rays can promote cataracts and macular degeneration. If you’re visiting a place with snow, it’s also a good idea to wear shades to reduce glare.

  • Avoid working or reading in bad light. Inadequate light won’t damage your vision, but you’ll be less prone to headaches and the frustration that comes with not being able to see well.

  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of AMD, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye syndrome.

  • If you are experiencing problems driving at night, consider prescription night-driving glasses, which are designed to give you sharper vision in all lighting conditions and reduce glare for nighttime driving. 

  • Also, before you drive, make sure your windows, headlights and mirrors are clean, and use your window defoggers frequently in inclement weather.

  • To further protect your vision,consider getting glasses made especially for digital devices such as computers, phones, and tablets. These glasses have special coatings that reduce exposure to harmful blue light emitted from LED screens.

Taking these steps may not prevent reading glasses, but they're your best bet for enjoying good vision for years to come.

Wellness Screenings at Acuity Vision

In addition to your annual comprehensive eye exam, Acuity Vision offers additional, more detailed screenings, including Digital Fundus Imaging and Wellness OCT, to complement your exam. We recommend you get a Wellness Screening, particularly if you have a history of eye disease in your family.

These tests aid in the early detection of many eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular eye diseases, retinal diseases, eye/brain tumors, and eye damage caused by diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure and other systemic conditions. 

Digital Fundus Imaging
This test captures a photograph of the back of the eye (fundus) and provides the doctor with a full image of the central retina and its structures (the optic nerve, macula, and main blood vessels). The specialized fundus cameras have an intricate microscope attached to a flash-enabled camera that takes a snapshot. There is normal variation in these eye structures from person to person and it is good to have a record of each individual patient's eyes. In some patients, these images may detect undiagnosed eye disease. Many eye diseases cause slow structural changes over time. Having a reference image allows your doctor to more accurately identify changes in your eye structures and treat diseases at an earlier stage, which can reduce the risk of visual complications.

Wellness OCT Scan
OCT, or Optical Coherence Tomography, is a quick, non-invasive imaging test that uses light waves to take a cross-sectional picture of your retina. It allows our doctors to see beneath the surface of your retina to view its distinctive layers and map or measure their thickness. Eye diseases often have no outward signs or symptoms in early stages. This unique technology helps your doctor detect vision-threatening diseases in very early stages, when they are most treatable and usually cannot be detected without this scan.

While an annual comprehensive eye exam is an important part of preventative healthcare by evaluating the clarity of your vision, prescription changes, and testing for various eye diseases, our digital fundus photos and OCT wellness scans provide additional information to verify your overall eye is healthy and that there are no early signs of eye disease.

How to take care of your eyes in the smoke and bad air quality

Smoke and air pollution can irritate your eyes and cause symptoms such as burning, dryness and tearing and can lead to chronic discomfort and eye irritation. It can also increase the risk of dry eye syndrome. Continual exposure to smoke and air pollution can affect the tears, oil glands and tear ducts, which can lead to dry eyes. Toxic fumes can cling to the outer surface of the eye the same way allergens can, and damage the tear film. The longer you are exposed to these toxic pollutants, the more the problem can worsen and even become chronic.
What can you do?
When the air quality is poor, it is best to not be outside for extended periods of time. If you are outdoors and your eyes do get irritated, below are options that can help:

  • Sunglasses with wraparound frames or protective glasses or shields can help to keep pollutants from adhering to the surface of your eyes.  

  • Saline eyewashes help rinse debris away from both your eyes and contact lenses. We recommend Ocufresh to rinse your eyes.

  • Wash irritants off your face using a gentle cleanser and concentrate around your eyes. We recommend a new product called Cliradex Foam, a gentle tea tree oil-based cleanser designed specifically for the eyes. Cliradex towlettes are also designed to clean around the eyes safely.

  • If you wear contact lenses, you should replace them more frequently than usual. Think about switching to dailies if your eyes are dry and this is a recurring problem. 

  • In between changing your contact lenses, use an enzymatic cleaner that removes protein deposits from your contacts.

  • Rewetting drops for irritated eyes throughout the day also help.

Remember, if your eyes become irritated to the point where you are in pain and over-the-counter products are not working, you should call to make an appointment with your eye doctor immediately.

High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, and Your Eyes

Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are affected by diet. And although you may not think of those conditions in terms of your vision, both can cause serious damage to your eyes. 
The good news is that there are plenty of easy, healthy food choices you can make this time of year to enjoy the season and lower your risk for those conditions. 
High cholesterol and your eyes
First, a note about cholesterol: Not all of it is bad. Cholesterol is a major component of all of our cell membranes and plays an important part in making hormones, some vitamins, and bile acids to help us digest our food. But too much LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol can build up plaque in the arteries. 
If the plaque breaks, it can block an artery causing a heart attack or, if it’s in the brain, a stroke. It can also block an artery in the eye, leading to what’s called a retinal artery occlusion. In that case the retina is deprived of oxygen, which can result in severe vision loss. Also referred to as an ocular stroke, it causes an abrupt loss of vision in one eye and requires immediate emergency medical attention.
Even when our eyes aren’t directly affected by too much cholesterol, they can alert us to the presence of cholesterol buildup in the rest of the body. One sign of high cholesterol is a bluish ring that forms around the cornea. These rings, called arcus senilis, are common in older people and benign, but if they appear in people under age 45 it’s a good idea for them to get a blood test to determine if overall cholesterol is too high. 
Eye Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause an eye condition called hypertensive retinopathy. If your blood pressure is too high, the retina’s blood vessel walls may thicken, which could cause the blood vessels to narrow, restricting blood flow to the retina. The damage can limit function of the retina and also put pressure on the optic nerve.  
Seek medical help immediately if you have sudden changes in your vision. Warning signs of this condition include:

  • Blurry vision

  • Vision loss

  • Dim vision

  • Headaches

  • Double vision

  • Blood vessel bursts

  • Eye Swelling

Another eye condition from hypertension is choroidopathy, the buildup of fluid under the retina. This results in distorted vision or, in some cases, scarring that impairs vision. Another risk to the eyes is that hypertension can also lead to stroke, which in turn can cause vision loss.

Nutrients that help 
Enjoying richer-than-usual food with family and friends is a major feature of the holidays. But while you’re indulging, why not also enjoy the benefits of nutrients that will help keep you in optimal health this season? Here are some to look for:
Potassium is great for helping to reduce blood pressure, and can be found in asparagus, avocado, corn, lima beans, potatoes, tomatoes, apples, bananas, oranges, peaches, plums, strawberries, chicken, cod, salmon, and tuna.
Magnesium helps potassium work and can be found in legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. Some foods that are particularly rich in magnesium are seaweed, almonds, cashews, brewer’s yeast, buckwheat, Brazil nuts, millet, pecans, and walnuts.
Calcium works with magnesium and can be found in many of the magnesium-rich foods as well as in dairy products, such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and buttermilk. Broccoli is also a good source of calcium.
The role of saturated fats in reducing cholesterol is currently hotly debated. On the one hand, saturated fat can increase your “bad” LDL cholesterol, but on the other, it can actually increase your “good” HDL cholesterol. The Harvard Heart Letter recommends several types of foods that can help lower LDL cholesterol. The main feature of most is their high amount of soluble fiber:

  • Oats

  • Barley and other whole grains

  • Beans

  • Eggplant, okra and other high-fiber vegetables

  • Nuts

  • Apples, grapes, strawberries and citrus fruits

  • Soy (such as tofu)

  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna (because of their omega-3 fatty acids)

Fortunately, many of the same foods that fight hypertension also reduce cholesterol. If you incorporate healthy helpings of these foods into your diet this season, your body may never notice that extra piece of pie.

Sleep Deprivation and Your Eyes

Although we know that adults should get at least eight hours of sleep a night, more than 40 percent of us are getting less than six hours of shuteye per day.

This dismal record continues even though most of us are aware of the dangers of getting too little sleep: Sleep deprivation puts us at risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If that weren’t enough, it turns out that chronic sleep deprivation can result in bigger hazards for our eyes than dark circles. Too little sleep can affect both vision and overall eye health. Among eye problems caused by too little sleep:

  • Eye spasms. Referred to as myokymia, involuntary twitching and eye spasms aren’t dangerous but they are annoying. Adequate sleep rests all the body’s muscles, including those in the eye, so this condition gets reversed quickly with better rest.

  • Eye vessel irritation. Shortchanging your sleep can result in irritated bloodshot eyes.

  • Dry eye. This is a condition in which the eyes don’t produce enough tears. Dry eye can result in a stinging, burning, or gritty feeling, redness and irritation.

More concerning, recent studies have found that sleep apnea can be a risk factor for both glaucoma and successful treatment of macular degeneration. With sleep apnea, which affects more than 100 million people worldwide, a person’s airway becomes blocked, with breathing stopping for a few seconds to as long as two minutes. People with this condition often snore loudly or gasp or choke while asleep. 

Glaucoma is a disease that causes pressure buildup in the eye which damages the optic nerve, potentially leading to blindness. Although the reasons for the connection are not entirely clear, researchers found that when they compared two groups -- one with sleep apnea and one without -- they found that those with the condition had a higher incidence of glaucoma. 

Here’s another good reason to get regular comprehensive eye exams if you suffer from sleep apnea: Studies have found a relationship between sleep apnea and macular degeneration, a condition affecting the retina resulting in vision loss or distortion. Untreated sleep apnea can hinder the affects of treatment for macular degeneration. 

What does this all add up to? Getting good quality sleep is essential for every part of your body, including your eyes. Signs that you may not be getting enough sleep include falling asleep while driving, riding in a car, reading, watching TV, sitting in traffic, in a classroom, or in a movie theater. You may also need more shuteye if you struggle to stay awake when you’re inactive. But take heart; there are plenty of ways to get the rest you need.
 Tips for getting a good night’s sleep

  • Create a digital curfew. Turn off all electronics an hour before bedtime. TVs, computer and iPad screens, as well as smart phones, emit a blue light that mimics sunlight, confusing your body into thinking you should be awake.

  • Get regular physical activity – but not too late at night. Walking for 30 minutes a day is a great way to get started if you’re not used to exercise. Any amount of physical activity is helpful.

  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, and try not to consume alcohol too late in the evening. Although it seems that alcohol has a calming affect, it actually lowers levels of melatonin, a hormone that controls sleep-wake cycles.

  • Eat wholesome foods, especially proteins that are rich sources of tryptophan such as turkey, dairy, eggs, nuts, pumpkin seeds and brown rice.

  • Manage your stress. Try meditation, deep breathing, yoga, Tai chi, biofeedback, or music.

  • Establish a regular sleep routine, even on weekends. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.

  • Make sure your bedroom is dark enough. Melatonin is secreted only in darkness.

And last, but not least, if you wear contact lenses, don’t forget to remove them before going to bed.

Are you seeing things?

If your vision changes suddenly, you see flashes of light or it looks like a spider web is covering part of your eye, don’t ignore it! It could be a detached retina which needs immediate attention. You should contact your eye doctor immediately.

A detached retina is when the retina, a light sensitive thin layer of nerve fibers toward the back of the eye, separates from its normal position. In some cases, the retina may be torn, and these tears can cause the detachment. Vitreous fluid, a gel-like substance, can leak into the area between the retina and the back wall of the eye, which can cause the retina to pull away or detach.
There is no pain associated with retinal detachment but this is a serious issue that can cause loss of vision. The sooner you contact your doctor, the better chance you will have of being treated and fully healing.
Signs and Symptoms
If you see any of the several warning signs for detached retina, you should contact your doctor immediately. Spots, floaters, flashes of light, sudden blurry or poor vision, or a shadow or web that seems to fall over your eye are all signs that the retina may be tearing, which can lead to detachment.

Who’s at Risk
Retinal detachments can happen to anyone, but they become more common after the age of 40. Extreme myopia, or nearsightedness, can be a cause, and there is increased risk with eye surgery, eye injuries, retinal detachment in the other eye, family history of retinal issues, cataract surgery, and diabetes. 
Laser photocoagulation or a freezing probe called cryopexy can help repair small retinal tears, but surgery is required to repair a fully detached retina. Surgical reattachment isn’t always successful though, and immediate treatment greatly increases your odds of regaining any vision you may have lost. Generally, the surgery is more successful if the detachment is limited to the peripheral retina and not the macula.
Always be aware of the warning signs of a detached retina! If you experience any of the warning signs noted above, contact your doctor immediately. You should also be aware if your family has a history of retinal problems, and you should always have your eyes thoroughly checked after any sort of eye injury. If you are nearsighted, be sure to have regular, dilated eye exams. And always wear protective eyewear during sports and other hazardous activities.

Go to sleep nearsighted, wake up 20/20!

Most of us have learned that there are only three ways to deal with nearsightedness: glasses, contact lenses, or LASIK surgery. But what if there was a fourth? What if you could go to bed at night and wake up in the morning with near-perfect vision?
Sounds like science fiction but it’s a solution that’s actually been around for more than 50 years. It’s called orthokeratology or ortho-k for short. In the last decade, ortho-k has been enjoying a renaissance and has undergone some fine-tuning that could make it an attractive choice for many people who are nearsighted.

Ortho-k is a vision correction treatment that involves wearing specially designed gas-permeable contact lenses overnight. While you sleep, the lenses reshape your corneas. When you awake, you remove the lenses, and your distance vision is improved. It may take weeks or just days, but eventually your vision can range from 20/40 to 20/20. Better vision can last from one to two days before you need to reinsert the lenses before going to bed. 
Ortho-k has been used effectively in Latin America, the United States, and China, and is on the rise in Europe. Thanks to some improvements over the years, optometrists are taking a closer look at ortho-k, particularly for children. As reported in the February 2018 newsletter, myopia (nearsightedness) among children has grown at an alarming rate, and there is evidence that the treatment can forestall the progression of nearsightedness in children. 
One study from the Centre for Myopia Research at Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Optometry found that starting treatment for myopia at an early age halves the risk of progression in children whose myopia is progressing rapidly. Although the study’s authors recommended that the ideal age for orthokeratology is six to nine years old, we have had success in treating older children as well at Acuity Vision Optometry Boutique.

There are other reasons that ortho-k may be preferable for children to eyeglasses or regular contacts:

  • Children frequently break, scratch, or lose their glasses.

  • Kids and teens who wear contact lenses often have difficulty keeping them germ-free at school or on the go.

  • Children whose vision is corrected without the encumbrance of contacts or glasses may have an easier time playing sports, particularly for activities such as swimming.

Ortho-k could also be an alternative to refractive surgery, such as LASIK, when the person is younger than 18 or not a good candidate for other reasons. And if you’re environmentally conscious, you might consider the treatment as a way to reduce waste from contact lenses that need periodic replacement.
How does ortho-k work?
Although the first orthokeratology design emerged in the 1960s, it wasn’t practically implemented until the 1990s. During that time and since, lens materials have improved, along with computerized corneal topography, a mapping technique for measuring the curvature of the cornea that’s necessary for the correct fit.
The lenses work by flattening the center of the cornea, which controls how light is bent as it enters the eye. The lenses flatten and reshape the cornea by night, and when they’re removed in the morning the cornea stays flattened for a while, which corrects vision by day. If you stop wearing the lenses at night, your corneas will return to their original shape and your nearsightedness will return.  
Are the lenses safe?
Generally, putting any contact lens in your eye carries a small risk of an infection called microbial keratitis. Although there have been instances of corneal abrasion with the lenses, studies have shown that the infection risks from ortho-k are no greater than the risks from using soft contact lenses.
What to do if you’re interested
Dr. Schmidt recommends that patients schedule an eye exam with her if they want to learn more about ortho-k for themselves or their child. If you decide on the treatment, she’ll design lenses specially for you. The cost of ortho-k varies, and although it is an elective procedure generally not covered by vision insurance, Dr. Schmidt can work out a fee structure with you at your next appointment.

Halloween is Around the Corner!

It’s never to early to order your Gothika Halloween contacts for your best costume ever!

Contact lenses can be ordered in non-prescription styles, as well as in powers ranging from -0.25 to -6.00 diopters.  

To make the ordering process for your Halloween lenses simple and fast, download our Release Form for Halloween Contacts and email it back to us at  

The deadline to order contacts in time for Halloween is October 22nd, but popular styles and powers run out of stock well before the order deadline!

Call us at 415-673-2020 or email to order.

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Back to School and Back to Sports. Are Your Eyes Ready?

Sports and Eye Safety

For many families, the end of summer means trips to the store for clothes, backpacks, and notebooks for the new school year. But if your children are planning on signing up for fall sports, there are some often-overlooked safety items that also belong on your shopping list.

Along with heralding the start of school, September is Sports Eye Safety Month.  Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the United States, and most eye injuries among school-aged children happen while playing sports. According to the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, wearing protective eyewear could eliminate 90 percent of sports-related injuries.

Those injuries can be severe, ranging from abrasions of the cornea and bruises of the lid to internal eye injuries, including retinal detachments and internal bleeding.

The sports most likely to result in eye injuries include baseball, basketball, ice hockey, and racquet sports, but children can also sustain injuries from soccer, tennis, and water sports, according to the Vision Council. 

Don’t become an eye-injury statistic
Every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the U.S. treats an adult or child with a sports-related eye injury. But if you or your children enjoy sports, there’s plenty you can do to keep your family out of the ER.

Many children’s and youth teams don’t require eye protection, so make sure you supply your child with safety glasses or protective goggles -- and set a good example by wearing protective eyewear yourself when you play sports.  Here’s what you should know:

  • Fashion eyewear does not offer protection. Make sure protective eyewear meets the impact standards of the American Standards for Testing and Materials purchased from a reputable sporting goods store, optical store, or optometry clinic. Acuity Vision Optometry Boutique has a wide selection of sports safety glasses.

  • Face masks should be constructed of polycarbonate (which is 10 times more impact-resistant than other plastics) that can be attached to helmets or worn alone. Polycarbonate lenses are also available in sunglasses and eyeglasses.

  • Adults or children who participate in baseball and softball (when batting), football, hockey, biking, skateboarding, inline skating, skiing, and snowboarding should always wear helmets. Among other severe problems, head injuries can cause double vision, loss of eye muscle control, and problems focusing.

  • Sunglasses or goggles with ultraviolet (UV) protection are a must when playing outdoor sports, including swim goggles when in the pool.

  • If you or your children wear glasses or contact lenses, make sure to wear safety goggles over them. Some protective eyewear, such as swim goggles, can be made to match prescriptions.

You or your child should be wearing sports goggles if either of you participate in basketball, baseball, handball, racquetball, soccer, squash, or tennis. Use swim goggles for regular swimming and water polo. You’ll need a helmet for cycling and a helmet with full face protection for football, ice hockey, or are up at bat for baseball or softball. For lacrosse, use sports goggles at a minimum but consider a helmet with full face protection.

Emergency eye care
The Vision Council has some recommended dos and don’ts in the event of an eye injury:

  • As soon as possible, have an eye doctor or other medical doctor examine the injury.

  • Until you can get medical help, shield the eye from more damage by gently holding a folded cloth over it.

  • Bandage any cuts around the eye to prevent infection or contamination in the eye.

  • If there is small debris in the eye, flush it with water, but DO NOT wash the eye if there are cuts or punctures.

  • DO NOT remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.

  • Use a cold compress to treat a blunt trauma injury such as a black eye, but do not apply pressure.

  • DO NOT apply ointments or any medications to the injured eye or give over-the-counter medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which may increase bleeding.

  • DO NOT rub the eye, which could cause more damage.

Aside from taking your own steps at home, encouraging policies on protective eyewear in your child’s school and sports teams will go a long way toward protecting kids from needless accidents. And preventing eye injuries before they happen is a goal worth aiming for. 

Digital Eye Strain and Your Eyes

With an increase in digital technology, many individuals suffer from physical discomfort after screen use for longer than two hours at a time. The Vision Council refers to this collection of symptoms as digital eye strain.

More than 83 percent of Americans report using digital devices for more than two hours per day, and 53.1 percent report using two digital devices simultaneously, with 60.5 percent reporting experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain.

Here's how Americans responded on average to The Vision Council's 2017 survey:

- 75.6% regularly use a computer to research
- 54.2% to shop online
- 48.7% to find a recipe
- 36.2% to check social media
- 26.7% to play games

- 58.2% regularly use a smartphone to get directions
- 56.6% to serve as an alarm clock
- 53.7% to check the weather
- 38.1% to check social media
- 25.8% to play games

- 32.2% use television to get the news
- 16% to keep track of professional sports
- 14% to check the weather


Eyewear is available with lenses featuring digital eye strain-reducing capabilities. However, individuals don't have to sacrifice style for function when it comes to eyewear. These specialized lenses can be incorporated into virtually any pair of frames, so individuals can choose eyewear that complements their personal look, while meeting their eye health needs.

Many people are unaware of the solutions available to combat digital eye strain – in fact, 71 percent of Americans report they have not discussed their digital device usage with their eyecare provider, and 72.6 percent reported they did not know eyewear can be used to protect the eyes from short- and long-term effects of digital eye strain.

The Vision Council recommends individuals and their child(ren) visit a local eyecare provider to discuss their digital habits and what eyewear solutions are available to relieve the symptoms of digital eye strain.

Santa Visits Acuity!

Santa visited Acuity today, ringing in the 2017 Holiday Season! Check out some photos from today's festivities:

Trick or Treat on Sacramento Street!

Join us on Sacramento Street for the annual Trick or Treat Halloween stroll on Tuesday, October 31. Merchants between Broderick and Spruce Streets will be greeting trick or treaters and handing out candy from 3:00 - 6:00 pm.  Come by Acuity Vision to check out our spooktacular haunted Halloween interactive window display and get your tricks and treats!  Click here to see a video of the window.

*If you received our October newsletter, please note we have corrected a typo in the main article of the newsletter, Breast Cancer and Your Eyes.  You can view the entire newsletter here

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2017 Halloween Contacts Are Here!

Dressing up for Halloween?  We have Halloween contact lenses! Order your costume lenses early to make sure you get the best selection of what you want.  Contact lenses can be ordered in non-prescription styles, as well as in powers ranging from -0.25 to -6.00 diopters.  

To make the ordering process for your Halloween lenses simple and fast, download our Release Form for Halloween Contacts and email it back to us at  

The deadline to order contacts in time for Halloween is October 17th, but popular styles and powers run out of stock well before the order deadline! Call us at 415-673-2020 or email to order now!


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Gesundheit! Allergy Season is Here!

Although not comprehensive, the table below illustrates some of the most commonly available products from each category of allergy treatment classified as oral antihistamines, topical antihistamines, anti-inflammatories such as NSAIDS and corticosteroids, and artificial tears. When using multiple eye drops, ensure drug efficacy by spacing instillation of eye drops 5 minutes apart.

Popular Allergy Therapies


Prescription Required

Oral Antihistamines

Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, Benadryl

Clarinex, Palgic, Atarax

Topical Antihistamines

With Mast Cell Stabilizers: Alaway, Claritin Eye, Zaditor

With Naphazoline HCl: Opcon-A, Naphcon-A, Visine-A

Patanol, Pataday, Pazeo, Lasticraft, Bepreve, Optivar, Emadine, Livostin

NSAID drops


Acular, Acuvail



Lotemax, Alrex, Vexol, Pred Mild, Fluromethalone (FML)

Artificial Tears

Retaine, Systane, Refresh, Optive, Blink, Genteal