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How Sleep Apnea Affects The Eyes

Did you know that some eye conditions are associated with sleep apnea? According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and Health Canada reports similar prevalence. It’s a sleep disorder where people stop breathing — often multiple times per night — while sleeping.

If you have sleep apnea: it tends to take longer for your tears to be replenished, you’re more likely to have ocular irritation, you have a higher chance of developing floppy eyelids, and you’re at increased risk for glaucoma.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During OSA, your airway becomes partially blocked due to relaxed muscles in your nose and throat. This causes apnea (the absence of breathing) or hypopnea (abnormally shallow, slow breathing). It’s twice as common in men, and is more likely to affect people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, which can lead to potentially serious health consequences.

While snoring is a common symptom, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Interrupted sleep can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability or depression, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating and thinking, and a sore throat.

Which Eye Conditions Are Associated With Sleep Apnea?


Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, leading to vision loss and sometimes blindness. In some cases, it might be due to a drop in blood oxygen levels, which happens when you stop breathing. However, CPAP machines, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, can also cause glaucoma.

So, people with sleep apnea — even if it’s being treated — need to get their eyes checked on a regular basis for glaucoma.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is an eye condition where a person has an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid. It can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, or blurry vision — and over 90% of people with FES also have sleep apnea.

Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is an eye condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve. Patients typically complain of significant vision loss in one eye without any major pain. Approximately 70-80% of patients with NAION have been found to have OSA.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also referred to as an ‘eye stroke,’ retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. A recent study of 114 RVO patients found that sleep apnea was suspected in 74% of the patients that had previously been diagnosed with RVO.

Other Eye Health Issues Associated With Sleep Apnea

Some other ocular conditions that are more common in patients with sleep apnea include: papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, in addition to glaucoma mentioned above, CPAP machines are associated with dry eye syndrome and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Talk To Your Doc

Get eye exams regularly to rule out eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. At Professional VisionCare in Lewis Center we encourage you to share your medical history with us so we can better diagnose and treat any eye conditions or ocular diseases you may have, and help you keep your eyes nice and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Amy R. Lay

Q: What Causes Sleep Apnea?

  • A: Sleep apnea occurs when in-part or completely stop breathing when sleeping. This causes your lungs to strain harder for oxygen, and makes the brain send signals that jerk your body awake to resume proper breathing.

Q: What are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

  • A: A common sign of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Snoring that is loud enough to disturb the sleep of the patient as well as others around, even across the walls. That said, not everyone who snores suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Lewis Center, Ohio. Visit Professional VisionCare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Does BlephEx Cause Side Effects?

Dry eye disease has become a common, household term. But the names “blepharitis” and “BlephEx,” often mentioned in the same breath as “dry eye” may leave you stumped. Our optometrist in Lewis Center, Westerville, Johnstown, and explains.

Blepahartis is a condition in which the eyelids become inflamed as a result of normal bacteria growing out of control along the lash lines of your eyelids. Because eyelids aren’t easy to clean, this layer of bacteria, biofilm, debris and scurf accumulates over years, leading to damage to the tear glands and eyelids – making blepharitis a common cause of dry eyes.

BlephEx treatment, performed by a qualified optometrist, exfoliates the eyelid margins, cleaning any problematic build-up, thereby preventing clogged tear glands and chronic dry eye.

How Does BlephEx Feel?

Most patients report to our optometrist that during the BlephEx procedure, they feel only a mild tickling sensation that’s totally painless. The side effects are also reported to be negligible; some people find their eyelids are slightly irritated or red immediately afterward, but these symptoms are short-lived, lasting less than 24 hours.

Who is a Candidate for BlephEx?

Theoretically, BlephEx is suitable and effective for patients of all ages, including kids and seniors. However, candidacy for this procedure is to be determined by your optometrist. A personalized, professional assessment of each individual’s eye condition is the only way to decide whether BlephEx is a good fit.

Dry eye symptoms, such as itchiness, irritation and redness, should never be neglected. Book an eye exam with our optometrist in Lewis Center, Westerville, Johnstown, or to get to the root of your problem. If blepharitis is to blame, ask about BlephEx treatment to bring lasting relief.

At Professional VisionCare, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 614-898-9989 or book an appointment online to see one of our Lewis Center eye doctors.

Want to Learn More? Read on!


The Best Foods for Your Eyes

We all know that eating nutrient-rich foods, drinking plenty of water, and exercising can boost our health. So it’s no surprise that these same activities also support eye health. Research has shown that regularly consuming certain vitamins and nutrients can actually prevent or delay sight-threatening eye conditions and diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. 

Here’s a list of the best vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can help keep your eyes healthy for a lifetime. 

We invite you to consult with our eye doctor, Dr. Carole Burns, to discuss which nutrients are most suited to your specific eye health and needs. 

Vitamins and Nutrients That Support Eye Health

*Always best to speak with your primary care doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements, and to ensure you consume the correct dosage for your body.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency can cause a host of eye health issues, including dry eyes and night blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Vitamins A and A1, which are essential for supporting the eye’s photoreceptors (the light-sensing cells) in the retina, can be found in foods like carrots, leafy greens, egg yolks, liver, and fish. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating Omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish can support eye health in a few ways. DHA and EPA, 2 different types of Omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to improve retinal function and visual development.  

Omega-3 supplements can also ease dry eye symptoms. A randomized controlled study found that people who consumed Omega-3 supplements experienced improved tear quality, which resulted in reduced tear evaporation and increased eye comfort.  

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that accumulate in the lens and retina and help filter out damaging UV rays and blue light. One study showed that individuals who had the highest levels of these nutrients in their diets had a 43% lower chance of developing macular degeneration than those who had consumed the least amount.  

Spinach, egg yolks, sweet corn, and red grapes are some of the foods that contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. 

Vitamin C 

High amounts of vitamin C can be found in the aqueous humor of the eye, the liquid that fills the eye’s anterior chamber and supports corneal integrity. This has prompted scientists to consider this vitamin’s role in protecting eye health. 

Research suggests that regularly taking vitamin C (along with other essential vitamins and minerals) can lower the risk of developing cataracts, and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.

While vitamin C appears to support eye health in a variety of ways, it’s still unclear whether taking this supplement benefits those who aren’t deficient. Vitamin C can be found in various fruits and vegetables, like bell peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits, broccoli, and kale. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect fatty acids from becoming oxidized. Because the retina has a high concentration of fatty acids, sufficient vitamin E intake is crucial for optimal ocular health. 

Vitamin E can be found in almonds, flaxseed oil, and sunflower seeds. 


Healthy eyes naturally contain high levels of zinc. A zinc deficiency can cause night blindness, and thus increasing zinc intake can improve night vision. Zinc also helps absorb Vitamin A, an essential antioxidant. 

Make sure to avoid taking high doses of zinc (beyond 100 mg daily) without first consulting your eye doctor. Higher doses of zinc have been associated with side effects such as reduced immune function. You can increase your zinc intake naturally by consuming more oysters, meat, and peanuts. 

Phytochemical Antioxidants

Phytochemical antioxidants are chemicals produced by plants that contain several health benefits. Some studies show that these plant-based chemicals may enhance vision and eye health as well as prevent age-related eye diseases and complications by alleviating ocular oxidative stress. Oxidative stress within the eyes contributes to several eye conditions, including  dry eye syndrome. Consuming more produce with these antioxidants can help balance the anti-oxidant and pro-oxidant system, resulting in healthier eyes. 

Personalized Eye Nutrition 

If you or someone you know is looking for ways to boost or maintain eye health, speak with an optometrist near you about what supplements and vitamins are best for you. For an eye doctor in Lewis Center, give us a call at 614-898-9989.


What is TearCare – And How Does It Feel?

TearCare is an in-office treatment for people who suffer from dry eyes. It uses electrothermal devices to warm your eyelids and unblock clogs associated with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). The process is “blink-assisted,” in that the devices conform to your eyelids so you can blink during treatment, which takes advantage of your eye’s natural system of expressing meibum (oils that help keep your eyes moist) while blinking.

If the irritating symptoms of dry eye syndrome are getting in the way of your daily life, our eye doctors in Lewis Center, Westerville, Johnstown, and Northeast Columbus, Ohio, can help! Book an eye exam to learn more about TearCare and how it can help restore comfort and clarity to your vision.

Who is a candidate for TearCare?

One of the most common eye conditions we diagnose in our eye care center is dry eye syndrome. This problem has been estimated to affect up to 40 million people in the United States. While dry eye has a variety of causes, MGD is one of the leading culprits. That’s because when your meibomian glands are blocked, your tears have less of the fatty lipids that help slow down the evaporation of your tear film – so your eyes dry out more quickly, despite blinking.

We’ll perform a specialized eye exam to diagnose the cause of your dry eye. If MGD is to blame, then TearCare can be the ideal solution.

How does TearCare work?

TearCare treats MGD by clearing the obstruction of the meibomian glands. By using therapeutic levels of heat, hardened oil deposits are melted – allowing them to flow out. Immediately after the thermal cycle, our eye doctor will manually help to express your meibomian glands to make sure all residual clogs are removed. Throughout the whole session, your natural blinking also helps to clear any blockages. The TearCare treatment can offer lasting relief from painful dry eye symptoms.

What do patients say about TearCare?

We’ve treated many long-time sufferers of dry eye with TearCare in our eye care centers in Lewis Center, Westerville, Johnstown, and Northeast Columbus, Ohio. Patients report that the warming part of the process is relaxing and they were happily surprised by how the meibomian gland expression was finished so rapidly – taking only a few minutes. The temperature of the TearCare thermal application was comfortable.

Typically, patients return about every 4-6 weeks for a repeat session with TearCare, and just about everyone finds remarkable improvement in their dry eye symptoms. When our eye doctor performs an eye exam to evaluate the results, we almost always detect an improvement in the tear film, linked to better eye health.

Is TearCare for me?

Only an eye exam and consultation with our eye doctor can answer that question! We invite you to book an appointment at one of our eye care centers near you. In the meantime, read more about TearCare as an effective dry eye treatment.

At Professional VisionCare, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 614-898-9989 or book an appointment online to see one of our Lewis Center eye doctors.

Want to Learn More? Read on!


Do I Have Dry Eye or Eye Allergies?

My eyes are red, swollen and itchy – I need an eye doctor near me to relieve my painful vision fast!

Your eyes itch, sting, look bloodshot and your eyelids are puffy. Even though your eye irritation is crystal clear, the cause of the irritation isn’t always as clear. Two typical conditions that you could be suffering from are dry eye or eye allergies. While these conditions share many of the same signs, the causes are very different – and so is the treatment.

To get rapid relief, you need to visit an eye doctor near me for a thorough eye exam. That’s the most reliable way to receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. At our eye care clinics in Lewis Center, Westerville, Johnstown, and , our eye doctor will use advanced diagnostics to identify the root of your problem and recommend the best treatment to restore comfort to your eyes.

All about dry eye

To understand dry eye, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of how your eyes normally stay moist. Tears are composed of three layers: water, lipids and mucin. When the proportions of this composition are out of whack, dry eye results. Most of the time, dry eye is caused by an inadequate quantity of fatty lipids, which work to slow the evaporation rate of your tears.

If your tears evaporate too quickly, your eyes start to burn and turn red. Some people feel like sand is stuck under their eyelids, while others suffer from reflex tearing that causes watery eyes.

What’s the treatment for dry eye?

Depending on the precise cause of your dry eye, our eye doctor will recommend personalized dry eye therapies, such as:

  • Moisturizing eye drops or ointments. A variety of over-the-counter drugs are available, but it’s best to check with our eye doctors in Lewis Center, Westerville, Johnstown, and , before buying – so you can verify which type of medication is right for you
  • Treatment for clogged Meibomian glands, such as LipiFLow
  • Omega-3 fatty acids nutritional supplements
  • Punctal plugs to block tear drainage and help disperse lubricating tears across the eye surface
  • Restasis or Xiidra eye drops
  • Amniotic membrane treatment

All about eye allergies

The most common symptom of eye allergies is itchy eyes, and this annoying sensation often appears along with inflammation and redness – especially if your allergies are more extreme. What’s causing the itchiness? When you have eye allergies, your immune system perceives that allergens – pollen, dust and pet dander are classic culprits – are threatening your health. In response, it goes into attack mode and releases histamines into your body, which cause the irritating symptoms of eye allergies.

Our eye doctors in Lewis Center, Westerville, Johnstown, and treat many patients who experience eye allergies. The first line of defense that we recommend is not to rub your eyes! Rubbing your eyes and eyelids simply spreads the allergens around, exacerbating the symptoms.

What’s the treatment for eye allergies?

  • Avoidance of the bothersome allergen, whenever possible
  • Cool compresses held gently against your eyes
  • Antihistamine/mast cell stabilizer eye drops, which block the release of histamine
  • Artificial lubricants – ask our eye doctor which nonprescription medication would be most helpful for your condition

Two for the price of one – dry eye & allergies at the same time

Unfortunately, some people suffer from both types of eye irritation simultaneously. When that happens, the conditions play off each other, because dry eyes and the lack of a healthy tear film will make allergy symptoms worse. In this case, moisturizing eye drops may help to alleviate your pain – because they add lubrication to your eye surface and help to wash away the allergens.

We offer relief from dry eye and eye allergies in Lewis Center, Westerville, Johnstown, and

Don’t delay, we’re here to figure out the problem and help you experience comfortable vision. Contact our conveniently located eye care clinics to book an appointment with a knowledgeable eye doctor near me.

At Professional VisionCare, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 614-898-9989 or book an appointment online to see one of our Lewis Center eye doctors.

Want to Learn More? Read on!


Your Eyes Are the Windows to Your Health

Your eyes aren’t just the windows to your soul — they can also reveal valuable information about your general health beyond whether you need glasses, including: diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It is not unusual for people to come in for an eye exam just to check their eyesight and then have certain health issues or predispositions picked up by the optometrist. 

Eye Exams and Your Health

Eye examinations can help doctors detect general health conditions early enough to intervene. Advanced screenings enable eye doctors to better predict cardiovascular incidents like stroke, and possibly detect signs of mental changes such as Alzheimer’s. Read below to learn how eye exams can unveil a whole lot more than just eye health.

Brain Cancer & Stroke

Because of the similarities between the blood vessels in the eye and brain, an eye doctor can occasionally detect an issue taking place in the brain by examining the blood vessels in the eyes. If swelling or shadows in the eye is observed, it may indicate a serious condition in the brain, like a tumor, or clots that might result in a stroke.


Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). If an optometrist detects leaky blood vessels in the eye, the patient would be advised to see a doctor to help control their blood sugar. Changes are gradual, and they start before visual symptoms are noticed. The earlier diabetic eye disease is managed, the better the chances are of preserving eyesight. 


High blood pressure, characterized by having too much pressure in the blood vessels, can be detected during an eye exam, sometimes even before it’s diagnosed by your regular doctor. The damaged blood vessels lead to swelling, hemorrhages, and leaking — all of which can be observed in the eyes. According to the CDC, hypertension “the silent killer” affects nearly 1 in 3 adults, and up to a whopping 20% of those don’t even know they have it. So early detection at an eye doctor’s evaluation can be truly life-saving.

High Cholesterol 

Eye exams can also detect a buildup of cholesterol. High cholesterol is among the easiest conditions to spot during a complete eye exam, as the cholesterol deposits manifest on the front of the eye, appearing as a thin, gray rim around the cornea. It can also be detected in the retina by assessing artery and vein patterns.

These deposits may indicate the current or future development of Retinal Blood Vessel Occlusion, a condition where blockages restrict blood flow to the back of the eye, causing temporary or permanent vision loss. 

Heart Conditions

In some cases, heart conditions associated with a buildup of plaque in the carotid artery in the heart can also lead to deposits that clog the ocular arteries in the eye. If an optometrist detects such changes to the vascular structure at the back of the eye, he or she will typically recommend going to a specialist.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Sudden vision loss may be attributed to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While the optometrist can recognize signs indicating the presence of MS, such as the color and appearance of the optic nerve, such cases will be referred for further testing to confirm the diagnosis.


Thyroid disease can make itself apparent through the eyes in several ways. The thyroid gland controls the hormones that regulate tear production so some thyroid disorders can cause dry eye disease. Additionally, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can make the extraocular muscles enlarge and stiffen, causing bulging eyes — an indicator of Graves’ disease. 


Systemic conditions that are associated with inflammation in the body can have an inflammatory effect on the eyes. Uveitis, for example, causes eye inflammation, redness, and blurred vision, and tends to occur in people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. 


Breast cancer, leukemia, and other metastatic cancers are occasionally discovered during an eye evaluation. In addition to brain cancer mentioned above, melanoma and basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) can be detected, and eye doctors can also diagnose lymphoma and other eye tumors. Eye exams save lives.

What the Future Holds 


Recent studies show that a non-invasive and precise imaging device called Octa (optical coherence tomography angiography) can signal the presence of eye changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Because the retina is in many ways an extension of the brain, the altered blood vessels at the back of the eye offer a glimpse into the changes taking place within the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease can often be misdiagnosed as its early symptoms are characteristic of other conditions. Research has shown that subtle eye tremors, an early Parkinson’s marker, could be detectable using advanced eye exam technology. One day soon, practitioners may send patients to an eye doctor to test for this and other diseases.

Your Eye Doctor’s Appointment Could Change Your Life

So the next time you visit Dr. Carole Burns at Professional VisionCare in Lewis Center, remember that a comprehensive eye exam can do more than determine your eyeglasses or contacts prescription. Dr. Carole Burns can evaluate your eyes for existing or potential health issues, and communicate them to your primary care physician for the best possible care. By knowing that you’re at risk for a certain disease, you can take precautions early on and manage the condition as needed. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

How To Prevent Dry, Itchy Eyes This Winter

sport protective eyewear 640x350Winter’s cold air and rainfall are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem. However, this weather can have unfavorable effects on the eyes. The decrease in temperature and humidity levels and the rise of winter’s cool and arid winds may trigger various dry eye symptoms, such as redness, grittiness, stinging, itching, watery eyes, and blurred vision. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent dry eye this winter season, listed below.

Tips To Prevent Winter Dry Eyes

The following tips on preventing dry eye do not replace the advice and care of an optometrist but are meant to shed light on the topic and hopefully render your winter season a more comfortable one.

  • Combat the outdoor dryness by using a humidifier indoors. Your eyes will thank you.
  • Always wear sunglasses or other protective eyewear outside to shield your eyes from winds, debris, and harmful UV rays.
  • Being stuck inside on a snowy day can mean more screen time. Remember to blink often while enjoying that movie or writing that email.
  • Try using lubricating eye drops. Dr. Carole Burns can guide you on which eye drops will best suit your needs.
  • Stay hydrated! The eyes are part of a whole system; if one part is dehydrated, chances are the rest of the system could use some hydration as well.
  • Eat foods rich in Omega-3s to promote healthy tears, such as salmon or nuts, as they stimulate quality tears and reduce dryness.

Dry eye symptoms can range from being mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. Don’t let this condition stop you from enjoying this winter season. If you are concerned that you may have dry eye or are experiencing any of its symptoms, speak to us at Dry Eye Center At Professional Vision Care and we’ll be happy to provide you with the relief you need.

Dry Eye Center At Professional Vision Care provides dry eye relief and treatment to patients from Lewis Center, Westerville, Johnstown, Northeast Columbus, and throughout Ohio.

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