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Cougar Health Services vision clinic

Protect your eyes from injury

Protect your eyes from injury

Did you know that most eye injuries happen during everyday activities? We rarely think about protecting our eyes when we work in the garage, kitchen or yard – but nearly half of all eye injuries happen at home. Sports and recreational activities are another common setting, factoring into about 40 percent of all eye injuries.

When to use protective eyewear

Luckily, the vast majority of serious eye injuries can be prevented by wearing protective eyewear. Always wear protective eyewear when you are:

  • Using common household cleaners
  • Doing housework that involves hammering, sanding or working with power tools
  • Playing a sport where eye protection is recommended
  • Working in the yard (for example: mowing, trimming weeds and cutting branches)
  • Working with metal, drywall, wood, or any other materials that create a lot of dust

How to choose the right eyewear for you

If possible, choose protective eyewear approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  ANSI-approved eyewear has thicker lenses which are shatter resistant, and can help prevent injuries from impact, chemical splashes and similar hazards. All ANSI-approved eyewear are marked with a stamp on the frame and lenses. You may want to double-check your safety eyewear to make sure it meets ANSI standards.

For sport eyewear, you can start by checking out the National Eye Institute’s eye protection recommendations for any sports you play.

For any eye protection needs, talking to your optometrist about your specific situation is the best way to ensure you get the right style and a good fit. Your optometrist can then help you order either prescription or non-prescription protective eyewear that meets your needs.

If you have questions about how to keep your eyes safe while working or playing, you’re welcome to stop by our vision clinic or give us a call. We’ll help you talk through your options for protective eyewear and figure out what’s right for you!


Simplify your contact lens care routine

Close up of contact disinfectant

Taking good care of your contact lenses is the single best way to prevent eye infections.  The good news: contact lens care takes only a few minutes as part of your daily routine!

To simplify your routine, we’ve broken down how to care for your contacts into five easy steps.

Step 1: Wash your hands

Whether you’re putting in your contacts or taking them out, first wash your hands and dry them with a lint-free towel.  Be sure to use a mild soap with no lotion, perfume or oil, since these can leave a film on your hands.

Step 2: Clean your contacts

It’s important to clean your contacts when you take them out at night before placing them in disinfectant. Put a contact in the palm of your hand and add a few drops of a preservative-free saline solution (try Simply Saline or PuriLens). Then, gently rub the contact using your index finger.

Why clean your lenses this way in addition to using disinfectant? Think of it like washing dishes. Hot water and soap alone can dissolve some grease and food, but it helps to scrub dishes with a sponge or brush as well. Disinfectant removes bacteria and some protein from your lenses, but using saline and your finger first will be more effective for breaking down protein build-ups that can irritate your eyes.

Step 3: Disinfect your contacts

Always use the disinfectant recommended by your eye care professional! Most optometrists suggest using a peroxide-based disinfectant such as Peroxiclear or Clearcare. These solutions are stronger and more effective than multi-purpose solutions.

Be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid getting any of the solution in your eyes. If your lenses have been stored in a case for longer than seven days, you’ll want to disinfect them again.

Step 4: Put in your contacts

Before putting your contacts in, you can rinse them with your preservative-free saline solution. This step can be especially helpful for new contact wearers or anyone who experiences discomfort from disinfectant left behind on the lenses.

If you use hairspray, use it before putting in your contacts. And if you wear makeup, wait to apply until after you’ve put in your contacts to avoid getting it on your lenses.

After putting your contacts in, empty the disinfecting solution from the case, rinse it with hot water and let it air dry.

Step 5: Replace contacts and your case

Wear and replace your contact lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your eye care provider. If you’re not a regular contact wearer, consider getting daily disposable lenses.

Make sure to replace your contact case every three months. Most disinfectants come with a new case, which will remind you to replace yours.

Following these simple steps will extend the life of your contact lenses and protect your eyes. If you need saline solution or a disinfectant, or just have questions about how to care for your contacts, stop by our vision clinic!

3 common lens cleaning mistakes

Student cleaning eyeglass lenses

It’s easy to accidentally damage your glasses when you’re cleaning them. Thankfully, by avoiding these common mistakes you can keep your glasses in great condition!

1) Wiping lenses without rinsing them first

If you don’t start by rinsing your lenses, you may be wiping around dust or debris and scratching your glasses. Always start with warm water or spray cleaners designed for lenses. You can also use a mild dish soap on tough smudges.

However, be careful to avoid any dish soap with added lotion, which can leave a film. Also, avoid household cleaners like Windex, because these can damage the coatings on your lenses.

2) Using paper products or your T-shirt to dry lenses

Paper products such as napkins, paper towels or tissues are made of wood fibers and can cause scratches. Try to break the habit of using your T-shirt, even if it’s cotton. It only takes a little dirt or dust to scratch your glasses.

Some people like to air dry their glasses after washing, but minerals in the water can leave spots behind. A soft, clean, lint-free cloth made of cotton or microfiber is your best option for drying lenses.

3) Holding glasses by the arms to clean them

It’s best to hold your glasses firmly by the bridge to avoid accidentally bending them. Always lay them down with the lenses facing upward and store them in a hard-shell case.

Avoiding these mistakes and washing your glasses at least once a day will help you see clearer! Come visit us at the vision clinic if you need to pick up some spray cleaner for your lenses.

High definition for your eyes

Glasses close up

Digital technology has affected almost every aspect of our lives, and now it’s making a big impact on the optical industry. Digitally customized eyeglass lenses are a new technology that could change the way you see – forever.

The traditional manufacturing process starts with a standard, pre-cut lens. This results in glasses that are a close (but not exact) match to your prescription.

Digital manufacturing uses computer-aided design and surfacing to create customized lenses unique to your specific prescription. These digitally surfaced lenses are so accurate it’s like high definition for your eyes!

Digitally customized lenses can benefit anyone who wears glasses. However, people with complex prescriptions and progressive lenses notice the biggest improvements.

Three benefits of digitally customized lenses

  1. Sharper vision. When it comes to matching your prescription, digitally customized lenses are 12 times more accurate than traditional lenses. Since these lenses are designed specifically for you, you’ll notice much sharper vision.
  1. Clear, distortion-free sight. If you wear progressive lenses cut with traditional methods, you may experience distortion in your peripheral vision. Objects around the edges of your glasses can seem blurry or shaky, and you may experience symptoms similar to motion sickness. Digitally customized lenses minimize distortions, helping progressive lens wearers see, and feel, better.
  1. Better night vision. Digitally customized lenses come with a premium anti-reflective coating, which eliminates glare. This is especially helpful for driving at night, when oncoming headlights can be blinding.

Be sure to discuss the benefits of digitally customized lenses with your eye care provider. Our vision clinic offers digitally customized lenses with premium anti-reflective coatings as our standard of care. Give us a call or swing by our clinic if you’d like to learn more!

Benefits of anti-reflective coatings

Glasses up close

Most people have probably heard of anti-reflective coatings for eyeglass lenses, but are these coatings worth the additional cost? Do they really make your vision sharper and clearer? And how do they work?

What is it?

An anti-reflective coating is a special coating that can be applied to the front and back of eyeglass lenses. Simply stated, anti-reflective lenses cancel out harmful glare by absorbing reflected light, bending it, or both.

Anti-reflective coatings virtually eliminate reflection and glare from your lenses. This allows more light to pass through, helping you to see more clearly.

What are the benefits?

Anti-reflective coatings are especially helpful during prolonged computer use and in low-light conditions, such as driving at night. The glare from oncoming headlights can be blinding for some people.

People with stronger prescriptions benefit even more from anti-reflective coatings, because thicker lenses reflect more light. This is true even for lenses made from specialty high-index material.

Eliminating reflections with an anti-reflective coating also makes lenses look nearly invisible. This allows people to see your eyes and facial expressions more clearly.

Which anti-reflective coating option is best?

There are several different types of anti-reflective coatings and many optical labs have their own brand. To get the most benefits, choose a multi-layer coating instead of a thinner “standard” coating.

Multi-layer coatings are more scratch resistant and come with a hydrophobic coating, which repels dust, water and oils. Because anti-reflective coated lenses are so clear, smudges and finger prints can be more noticeable. For most people, the less frequent need to clean their lenses is worth the extra cost for a hydrophobic coating.

Questions about anti-reflective coatings? You’re always welcome to stop by our vision clinic for advice on selecting glasses that are right for you.

Why blue light is harmful to your eyes

Students looking at smartphones

What is blue light, anyway?

Sunlight contains 25-30 percent blue light, so some blue light is natural. Other sources of blue light include fluorescent light bulbs, computer monitors, tablets, readers and smartphones. We all know that too much exposure to ultraviolet light causes sunburn. Since blue light is next to violet on the light spectrum, it has some harmful effects as well.

More research is needed to find out how much blue light is harmful to our eyes. But, since eyes are not very good at blocking blue light, many eye care providers are concerned that additional blue light exposure from digital devices may increase our risk of macular degeneration later in life.

What are the effects of blue light?

Blue light from digital devices creates visual “noise” which reduces contrast and can cause digital eye strain. Nearly 70 percent of adults who regularly use media devices report experiencing some symptoms of digital eyestrain! But very few do anything to avoid or relieve symptoms.

Symptoms can include: tired eyes, shoulder pain, headache, fatigue, eye irritation and pain, blurred or double vision, light sensitivity, tearing, dry eyes and trouble focusing.

What can help reduce digital eyestrain?

  • 20-20-20 rule. Try taking a screen break every 20 minutes, and look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Blue light blocking app. Try f.lux, or Twilight. iPhone users have a blue light blocking feature that comes with the newest update.
  • Blue-blocking filter. Wearing eyeglass lenses with blue blocking filters can help reduce strain.
  • Anti-reflective coatings. Using eyeglasses with anti-reflective coatings eliminates reflections and glare. This reduces the harmful effects of blue light.
  • Special computer eyewear. Gunnar Optiks make amber-colored lenses that filter blue light and add contrast to define shapes and sharpen detail. These lenses can also help prevent dry eyes and irritation from too much screen time.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about special computer eyewear, talk to your eye care provider or stop by the Health & Wellness Services vision clinic. At our clinic you can try on Gunnar eyewear and experience its blue light blocking benefits.

Get relief for itchy eyes

Students standing outside

Dry, itchy eyes bothering you this summer? You’re not the only one! About 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children in the United States have seasonal allergies. In addition to symptoms of sneezing, congestion and a runny nose, many allergy sufferers also experience swollen eyelids and itchy, watery, red eyes.

If you have these symptoms, here are a few tips on how to get relief for your eyes:

  • Splash your eyes with icy cold water for about 5 minutes when you first get up in the morning. This helps wash away allergens and reduce puffiness and itching.
  • Try to avoid touching your eyes! Rubbing your eyes can intensify feelings of itchiness.
  • Limit your exposure to common allergens. Keep your windows closed during high pollen periods, and use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after petting animals. Pet dander is one of the most common triggers for eye allergies.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to help stop pollen from getting in your eyes.

There are many over-the-counter remedies available to help relieve red, itchy, watery eyes. Decongestants are eye drops that reduce redness from eye allergies by narrowing the blood vessels in the eye. Using these for too long can actually increase swelling and redness, so don’t use them for more than 2-3 days a time. Oral antihistamines are another option that can be mildly effective in relieving itching, but they can also cause dry eyes and may worsen eye allergy symptoms.

One of the best remedies to try is artificial tears. Artificial tears will temporarily wash allergens from the eye and help reduce that dry, irritated feeling. You can use these drops as often as needed for relief. Storing them in the refrigerator to keep them cool can be even more soothing.

Make sure to choose preservative-free artificial tears to avoid irritating your eyes further. A good brand to try is Alaway by Bausch & Lomb. These can be found at many pharmacies, and we also carry them in our vision clinic. Come visit us in the Washington building to pick some up!

Wear sunglasses for healthier eyes

Student wearing sunglasses

Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but did you know they’re also critical for keeping your eyes healthy? Sunglasses protect your eyes from a wide variety of diseases and health complications, including:

  • Migraines and headaches. Bright sunlight can trigger migraines and bad headaches. Wearing sunglasses can reduce the frequency and intensity of these headaches.
  • Scratches. Getting dust or sand in your eyes isn’t just painful, it can also be dangerous. Sand and other particles can scratch your eye and cause permanent damage.
  • Snow blindness. Sunglasses aren’t just for summer! Snow reflects 80 percent of UV rays from the sun and can cause a condition called snow blindness, where glare from the sun actually burns your cornea.
  • Cataracts and glaucoma. Exposing your eyes to the sun’s ultraviolet rays for many hours at a time or over the course of many years can cause these serious eye conditions or worsen their symptoms. Cataracts (cloudy areas on the normally clear lens of your eye) and glaucoma (a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve) are both leading causes of blindness.
  • Surfer’s eye. You don’t have to be a surfer to get this! Also known as pterygium, surfer’s eye is a growth on the eyeball itself. It’s usually not serious, but can be painful and annoying. The most common treatments are eye drops, steroids and sometimes surgery. But the best treatment is prevention by wearing good quality sunglasses that wrap around and have 100 percent UV protection!
  • Skin cancer. Nearly 10 percent of skin cancers are found near the eyes. You can protect the delicate, light-sensitive skin around your eyes by wearing sunglasses.

So what kind of sunglasses do you need to give your eyes maximum protection? Polarized lenses are one of your best options. While all sunglasses reduce the intensity of sunlight, polarized lenses go the extra mile to block harmful glare from reflected light. Wearing polarized lenses is a must if you’re doing outdoor activities involving snow or water.

With so many lens and frame options available, everyone should be able to find their perfect pair of sunglasses. Our vision clinic can help you find sunglasses that fit your needs and style, and keep your eyes healthy and protected!

You can take advantage of our May special on sunglasses by giving us a call at 509-335-0360 or visiting our location in the Washington building.

Save on sunglasses at the vision clinic

Student tries on sunglasses


Start your summer with the perfect sunglasses! Get $10 off any pair of sunglasses in stock at the Health & Wellness Services vision clinic between now and May 31, 2016.

We carry a wide selection of sunglasses (and eyeglass frames!) to fit every budget, including designer brands such as Tom Ford, RayBan, Nike, Nine West and Scott Harris. We also stock Acuvue Oasys contact lenses and can order most other brands of contact lenses.

Straining your eyes looking at too many screens? We sell computer eyewear from GUNNAR Optiks that’s designed to help protect your eyes from artificial blue light.

If you’re looking for eyewear accessories, we carry contact lens solutions, eye drops for allergy relief and sports cords for your sunwear.

And, of course, we provide vision care services including comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, pre-and post-op LASIK care, and frame adjustments and repairs and care for medical eye conditions and injuries.

If you have questions about our products and services, give us a call at 509-335-0360 or swing by our location in the Washington building!