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Why Back to School Eye Exams Are Important

Since the start of COVID-19, many children have learned remotely at one point or another. While parents are anxious that their children not fall behind academically, eye professionals are concerned that undiagnosed visual problems will have an impact on the child’s performance during the coming school year.

A child’s capacity to learn can be harmed if visual problems go unnoticed. That is why, before the new school year begins, eye doctors strongly advise that children have a comprehensive eye exam.

While it may be tempting to depend on school-provided eye screenings, these superficial visual acuity tests can only detect a small fraction of vision problems. Only a comprehensive eye exam performed by an eye doctor can effectively diagnose and treat a variety of vision and eye health problems.

How Is Vision Affected By Online Learning?

The amount of time children spend staring at computer devices was already a concern before the covid pandemic, but the epidemic has further heightened these concerns. Children spent twice as much time on screens during COVID-related closures than they did before the pandemic, according to The Indian Journal of Ophthalmology.

For one thing, staring at a digital screen for long periods of time strains the eyes, making children and adults more prone to digital eye strain, one of the most common symptoms of computer vision syndrome. People who stare at a screen for two hours or longer are at an increased risk of developing this condition.

Digital eye strain symptoms may include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Eye pain
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Shoulder and neck pain

A combination of the following can trigger or contribute to symptoms:

  • Poor posture
  • Poor lighting
  • Screen brightness
  • Undetected vision problems
  • Excessive time looking at a screen
  • Glare and reflections from the screen

Aside from digital eye strain, multiple studies have revealed that children who spend a lot of time indoors performing ‘near work’ like writing, reading and staring at computers and other digital devices have a faster rate of myopia progression.

According to a study published in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s professional magazine, Ophthalmology, 1st graders who spent at least 11 hours per week outside in the sunshine had a slower progression of myopia. Around the world, researchers are investigating whether some component of sunshine, or the fact that children who play outdoors look into the distance, play a role.

Why Are Eye Exams Important?

Since visual learning accounts for up to 80% of a child’s learning, even the tiniest vision problem can have a severe impact on their academic performance. By taking your child to their eye doctor once a year the optometrist can diagnose and treat refractive errors like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, as well as check visual skills like convergence insufficiency, binocular vision, focusing, and more.

Comprehensive eye exams are the most effective way to detect both minor and major eye problems. Children with a family history of vision difficulties should get their eyes examined more frequently, or as directed by their eye doctor.

Regular eye exams are important for everyone in the family, but they’re especially important for individuals who spend a lot of time in front of a screen.

Don’t put off your child’s annual eye exam. Schedule an appointment with New Era Eyecare in Clifton today!

At New Era Eyecare, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 703-830-3977 or book an appointment online to see one of our Clifton eye doctors.

Want to Learn More? Read on!

6 Reasons Scleral Lenses Can Manage Your Dry Eye Syndrome

5 Tips To Encourage Your Child To Keep Their Glasses On

How Poor Nutrition and Lifestyle Can Lead to Cataracts

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Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Craig Spelke

Q: At what age should I have my child’s eyes examined?

  • A: According to the American and Canadian Optometric associations, it’s recommended that a child undergo their first exam between 6-12 months of age. The second time is at age 3.Before a child starts school they should have their eyes examined, and every 1 to 2 years after that, based on their optometrist’s recommendation.

Q: If my child passes their school vision screening, do they need their eyes examined?

  • A: Yes! School vision screenings briefly examine the eyes to detect a handful of vision problems, such as myopia. They don’t look for visual impairments or other issues that could hinder your child’s academic progress.Your optometrist will evaluate your child’s eye health and vision, along with visual abilities, including eye-tracking and depth perception, to let you know whether your child’s eyes are ‘school-ready.’

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Alexandria, Virginia. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Eye Makeup Tips For Those With Dry Eyes

Eye Care & Dry Eye Treatments

Eye Care & Dry Eye Treatments

Most eye makeup is formulated specifically for the sensitive eye area and is considered safe to use. But does this apply to those prone to dry eye syndrome?

Do you experience discomfort while wearing eye makeup? Find out whether the problem might be dry eye syndrome and learn what you can do to prevent future irritation.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a chronic lack of hydration on the eye’s surface. It occurs when your tear quality or quantity are off-balance, and can lead to symptoms like eye dryness, redness, irritation, watery eyes, light sensitivity and blurred vision.

How Can Eye Makeup Lead to DES?

The surface of your eye is covered by a nourishing layer of tears composed of mucus, oil and water. The production and turnover of the tear film helps keep our eyes feel comfortable and see clearly.

When you wear eye makeup, especially powder or glitters, the loose particles can cause the tear film to break down and evaporate too quickly, leaving your eyes feeling dry and irritated. This usually occurs within 30 minutes of applying your makeup.

Eye makeup can exacerbate symptoms in people who already have DES, or can trigger it in people who don’t. That’s why it’s important to apply your eye makeup in a way that will lessen your symptoms and support a healthy tear film.

Eye Makeup Tips For Those With DES

  1. Apply lubricating eye drops to each eye about 30 minutes prior to doing your makeup.
  2. Disinfect your applicators before each use to avoid contamination.
  3. Apply makeup products to the outside of your eyelashes. Avoid lining the inner rim of your lashes, as this area is very close to the tear film.
  4. Use a minimal amount of mascara, or simply curl your lashes without mascara for a lifted effect.
  5. Mascara has the shortest shelf life of all makeup products and should be tossed out 2-3 months after opening to avoid eye infection or clogging the meibomian glands in your eyelids.
  6. When possible, choose cream-based products and avoid anything containing glitter, even glitter promoted as ‘eye-safe.’
  7. Never share your eye makeup with anyone.
  8. Be diligent about thoroughly removing your makeup at the end of the day.
  9. Never apply eye makeup when your eyes are irritated or red.

With the right care, wearing eye makeup with dry eye syndrome is possible. If your eyes have been giving you any trouble, we can help.

Please don’t hesitate to contact New Era Eyecare in Clifton for all your eye care needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s the best way to remove eye makeup?

  • A: Start off by removing the bulk of your eye makeup with a cotton pad or washcloth and oil-free eye makeup remover. Then, use your face cleanser to wash off the rest of your makeup. Once your face and eyes are basically clean, use an eyelid cleansing wipe to remove any leftover makeup particles from your upper and lower lids.

Q: Which lubricating eye drops work best for dry eyes?

  • A: From soothing to lubricating to anti-redness drops, the pharmacy is full of different types of eye drops. Your optometrist will help you determine which brand and type will work best for your condition and lifestyle.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


3 Reasons to Buy Eyeglasses from an Optical Store vs Online

Quality Eye Care in Clifton

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping has grown in popularity. But when it comes to your eye health, nothing beats an in-person eye exam and fitting. While searching for specs online is a fantastic way to discover the current trends in eyewear, there are some key reasons you should buy your glasses from your local eye care shop.

Quality Eye Care in Clifton

Accuracy

According to the American Optometric Association, 29% of glasses ordered online from the top 10 online retailers arrived with incorrect prescription lenses. Incorrect lenses make it impossible to see clearly and can induce headaches and eye strain. When you buy glasses at an optical store, you can be sure you’ll get the perfect prescription and fit, assuring clear vision and maximum comfort.

High Quality

Poor-quality frames may end up costing you more in the long run. While searching the web, frames may appear to be high-end but actually composed of low-grade materials. Frame materials that aren’t up to grade can limit their durability and irritate your skin. Furthermore, after a few months of use, the sun’s intense rays may even bleach the frames.

Personal Service and Continuity

Why do so many individuals return year after year to their neighborhood optical store? Because they receive excellent service from someone they can rely on. Doing so ensures continuity of treatment and the certainty that your doctor will examine your eyes to assess both your visual acuity and eye health.

Finally, by shopping locally, you are contributing to the strength of your community.

When considering where to buy your next pair of glasses, keep all of these criteria in mind. While the initial price difference between an online and in-person purchase may be enticing, it comes at a cost. Looking for a new pair of glasses? Contact New Era Eyecare in to receive the highest level of care and quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I make sure my glasses are adjusted to fit properly?

  • A: Most online stores will adjust them based on a standard fit, while brick-and-mortar eyewear retailers will adjust your glasses to fit your personal needs.

Q: How frequently should I replace my glasses?

  • A: If your prescription has changed, you should get a new pair. See your optometrist every year or two to maintain clear vision.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


What To Do if a Mosquito Bites Your Eyelid

Many of us spend the warm weather outdoors, barbecuing, camping, hiking, swimming. Although the itchy mosquito bites are typically associated with summer, mosquitos can be relentless and be a major pest, in the spring and even into the fall.

Why do Mosquitoes Bite?

Mosquitoes are small flying insects, but they don’t actually “bite”. They pierce the skin to reach a person’s blood vessels to access a source of protein for the female’s eggs. Male mosquitoes do not consume blood.

While most mosquitoes are harmless, others may carry dangerous diseases, such as malaria, in certain parts of the world. In rare cases, mosquito bites can cause other complications.

What does a mosquito bite on the eyelid look like?

A mosquito bite on the eyelid typically causes redness and inflammation of the eyelid and the surrounding area.

Since the tissue around the eye is loose, fluid accumulation and inflammation following an insect bite is common. In severe cases, it can even inhibit the eye from opening, especially after lying down, as the fluid gravitates to that area.

The skin around the eye is sensitive, so the itching and discomfort from a bite on the eyelid may feel particularly intense. Rest assured that most of the time the itchiness lasts only a few days, but try to avoid rubbing your eyes as it can exacerbate the swelling and irritation.

Are Mosquito Bites on the Eyelid Dangerous?

Usually not, but they can cause severe itching and swelling.

Young children are at a higher risk for acute swelling from a mosquito bite, as they tend to have a stronger immune response than adults do. While your child’s eye may look concerning, the inflammation should naturally subside within a few days.

Signs of an infected mosquito bite

Although uncommon, there are instances when a mosquito bite can become infected and require medical attention. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • An eyelid that develops a deep red appearance
  • An eyelid that is hot and hard to the touch
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Intense pain around the eye
  • Swelling doesn’t subside after 2-3 days

Sometimes, if the bite becomes infected, the infection will spread to the second eye and symptoms will likely be apparent in both eyelids.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or if your vision is affected by your swollen eyelid, contact us for an eye exam and to determine the best course of treatment. If the eyelid isn’t infected, the following home remedies may help.

Home Remedies to Reduce Eyelid Discomfort and Swelling

Try these tips to help relieve your discomfort and promote healing.

  1. Cold Compresses. Place a cold, wet compress on your eye for around 20 minutes, 2-3 times per day to reduce the swelling and numb the itchiness. Be sure that the compress is not too cold as it can damage the skin around your eye.
  2. Allergy Medicine. Take an antihistamine, either in liquid or tablet form, to reduce itching and inflammation. Be sure to read the directions on the bottle for proper dosage information.
  3. Eye Drops. Eye drops can help further reduce inflammation and provide additional relief, especially if your vision is being affected. Vasoconstrictor eye drops are generally recommended to reduce the swelling of the blood vessels in the eyes. These drops should be used sparingly as they can cause a rebound effect – making the eyes red once they heal. It’s best to consult with your eye doctor before using any eye drops, just to be sure.

Most mosquito bites will heal on their own without any need for additional treatment. However, the eyelid is a sensitive area and may require special care to speed up the healing process.

Experiencing symptoms of an infected mosquito bite on the eye? Have any questions or concerns about your eye health or vision? We’re here to help! Simply contact New Era Eyecare in Clifton and one of our professional eye care professionals will be happy to assist.

Q&A

What is an eye infection?

An eye infection is a condition in which viruses, bacteria or other microbial agents attack the eye, causing itchy and red eyes. The infection can also affect the eyelid, cornea, and conjunctiva (the thin area that covers the inside of the eyelids and outer part of the eye).

​​What are the typical symptoms of an eye infection?

Usually people with an eye infection experience at least one of the following:

Eye pain, persistent itching, grittiness, sensitivity to light, watery eyes, fluid discharge, blurred vision, irritation, swelling and dryness. These symptoms can often be confounded with dry eye disease. To determine the source of the issue and receive optimal treatment, contact New Era Eyecare today.

5 Ways That Vision Problems Can Affect Your Overall Health

Eye Doctor in Clifton

Eye Doctor in Clifton

Healthy vision can often be taken for granted. But eyesight problems, like uncorrected refractive errors and vision loss, can affect your overall health in ways that may seem unexpected.

Here are 5 ways that vision problems can impact your life, above and beyond how well you see.

1. Increased Risk of Depression

Vision loss can be isolating and has been linked to depression. A survey of more than 10,000 adults with vision loss published in JAMA Ophthalmology found a significant association between functional vision loss and depression.

2. Increased Risk of Anxiety

When you don’t see well, your brain has much less sensory intake, which may make you feel less sure about your surroundings and capabilities. Researchers put this theory to the test and examined the anxiety levels of older adults with low vision.

The results, which were published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found a significant correlation between vision loss and anxiety.

3. More Likely To Fall

Falls are a leading cause of injury and death in older adults. Vision loss not only increases your risk of falling, but can also heighten your fear of falling, research suggests.

4. Greater Incidence of Car Accidents

People with glaucoma often have limited peripheral vision, which makes it difficult to safely navigate busy roads. In fact, a study conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology found that senior citizens with glaucoma were 65% more likely to be involved in a car collision than those without the eye disease.

5. Vision Loss Is Associated With Increased Mortality

A recent study published in The Lancet found that vision loss is associated with a higher overall risk of death, compared to people with normal vision. Results indicated that the higher the level of vision impairment or loss, the higher the risks of mortality.

How to Preserve Vision And Overall Eye Health

Here’s the good news: approximately 4 out of 5 cases of vision impairment can be prevented or corrected.

Annual eye exams and ongoing consultations with your optometrist will significantly increase your chances of avoiding vision loss and eye disease, and living the healthy life you desire.

Speak with your eye doctor about your medical history, genetic and lifestyle risk factors, and our doctors will provide guidance to help preserve your vision for an optimal quality of life.

To schedule your eye exam, call New Era Eyecare in Clifton today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How often should I have an eye exam?

  • A: The American Optometric Association recommends that healthy, low-risk adults between the ages of 18-64 should have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every 2 years, or as directed by their eye doctor. High-risk individuals and adults aged 65 years and older should visit their optometrist annually for a comprehensive eye exam.

Q: What are the leading causes of blindness and vision impairment?

  • A: Globally, the leading causes of vision loss include: age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, uncorrected refractive errors, eye infections and traumatic eye injuries.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


5 Tips To Encourage Your Child To Keep Their Glasses On

Eye Doctor in Clifton

Eye Doctor in Clifton

If your child wears glasses, then you may be familiar with the struggle of trying to keep their glasses on. Whether their specs are constantly falling off, or they refuse to wear them in the first place, here are a few tips to help ensure that your child’s glasses remain where they belong: on their face!

1. Highlight Other Family Members Who Wear Glasses

Kids are sometimes apprehensive to try new things, especially things that seem foreign to them. That’s why it may be helpful to show them how common glasses are by pointing out other family members and friends who wear glasses. Once they view glasses as commonplace, they may be more accepting of wearing them.

2. Involve Them In Choosing Their Frames

Inviting your child to pick out their new frames will give them a sense of control and ownership. This will, in turn, lead them to want to wear their glasses. So next time you buy them glasses, select a few options and have them choose the pair they like most.

3. Compliment Their New Look

If your child chooses a frame style that isn’t your first choice, avoid showing any disappointment. A parent’s positive and encouraging attitude is crucial for kids who are resistant to wearing glasses.

Aside from discussing how glasses help people see, play up the style aspect of glasses to help your child love their new look.

4. Fix The Fit

If your child’s glasses are frequently sliding down their face, consider this:

A child’s nose bridge isn’t as developed as an adult’s, which means that glasses have a harder time staying in place on their small faces. Many types of children’s frames take this into account and have adjustable nose pads.

If you find that the fit still isn’t secure and comfortable, bring your child to New Era Eyecare, where we’ll be happy to adjust the glasses to perfectly fit their face.

5. Consider Using a Band or Other Anti-Slip Product

Slipping glasses is all too common with children, which is why companies have created products to secure children’s glasses. Ask your local optician about bands that attach to the temples, or anti-slip nose grips.

Adjusting to new glasses can take time, and that’s okay. With a positive attitude and a healthy dose of patience, parents can use these tips to help ease their child’s transition to wearing glasses.

If your child is having trouble with their glasses or experiencing any other vision-related issue, we can help. To schedule an appointment and learn about what we offer, contact New Era Eyecare in Clifton today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How often do children need to have their eyes examined?

  • A: Typically, a child’s first eye exam should be around 6 months of age. The next comprehensive eye exam should be between ages 3-5, and before first grade, and then annually thereafter. A child’s vision can change quickly, so don’t skip your child’s next eye exam!

Q: How can I tell if my child needs new glasses?

  • A: Signs that your child needs new specs may include: blurred vision, eye fatigue, headaches or squinting. It’s also advisable to get your child a second pair of glasses as a backup. The best way to know whether your child needs new glasses is through a comprehensive eye exam.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


Do You Struggle With Contact Lens Comfort? Scleral Lenses May Be the Answer!

boy wearing a gray hoodie 640Most people are familiar with traditional soft lenses, which provide clear vision for those who are nearsighted or farsighted.

In certain cases, particularly for those with corneal irregularities or astigmatism, standard gas permeable (GP) lenses may be recommended. However, people with several eye conditions can’t tolerate standard GPs and find scleral lenses a much better, more comfortable alternative.

What are Scleral Lenses?

Patients with sensitive eyes or corneal abnormalities may benefit from custom-designed scleral lenses, which provide crisp vision and comfort thanks to their unique design.

Scleral lenses are usually recommended for those with keratoconus, severe dry eye syndrome, astigmatism or anyone who find it difficult or impossible to wear standard contact lenses.

Scleral lenses are large gas permeable lenses that vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye, instead of the cornea. This creates a new optical surface and prevents corneal irritation. Furthermore, a reservoir of pure saline solution between the back surface of the lens and the front of the cornea keeps the eye hydrated all day long.

Benefits of Wearing Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses provide comfort, visual acuity and stability.

Stable Vision

With scleral lenses, you’ll experience continual clear vision. Because of their wide diameter, the lenses remain centered on your eye. Even if you play sports or lead an extremely active lifestyle, scleral lenses will stay in place and won’t easily pop out.

Long-Lasting Lenses

These gas permeable lenses are made of high-quality long-lasting materials. As a result, scleral lenses usually last between 1-2 years. While the initial cost of scleral lenses is higher than the cost of regular contacts, they give you more bang for your buck.

Safe and Easy-to-Use

Scleral lenses are easier to insert and remove from your eyes than regular GP lenses, thanks to their large size and rigid material. This also limits the risk of damaging your cornea while handling your lenses.

Comfort for Dry Eyes

It’s not uncommon for certain contact lens wearers to suffer from eyes that feel dry, red, itchy, uncomfortable, and at times very painful. Eye drops and artificial tears can deliver relief, but they are no more than a temporary solution.

One of the best contact lenses for optimal comfort and hydration are scleral lenses, as they simultaneously provide vision correction, protect the eyes, and lubricate them.

If you’ve experienced discomfort while wearing regular contact lenses, you may have keratoconus, irregular corneas, dry eyes or hard-to-fit eyes. Find out whether custom-designed scleral lenses are right for you by scheduling an eye exam at our doctors today!

New Era Eyecare serves patients from Clifton, Arlington, Sterling, and Alexandria, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with our doctors

Q: Can you sleep with scleral lenses?

  • A: It’s not recommended to wear scleral lenses while you sleep. Sleeping with your scleral lenses on can cause the tear layer behind the lens to become stagnant, thus increasing the risk of eye infections.

Q: Are scleral lenses more comfortable than standard gas permeable lenses?

  • A: Scleral lenses provide clear vision and long-term comfort for those with irregularly shaped corneas. This is due to their unique design that covers a wider area of the eye while avoiding direct contact with the cornea.

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How Much Time Should My Child Spend Outdoors?

child outdoor 640The benefits of outdoor play are well known. It allows children to exercise, socialize, develop skills like problem-solving and risk-taking and lets them soak up some vitamin D.

A lesser-known benefit of outdoor play is its effect on myopia (nearsightedness). Numerous studies have confirmed an association between increased “sun time” and lower levels of myopia.

Below, we’ll explore why this is and recommend ways to keep your child’s eyes healthy, whether or not they are nearsighted.

Why “Sun Time” Helps Control Myopia

While researchers haven’t yet pinpointed the exact reason, some believe that the sun’s intense brightness and increased vitamin D play a role. Others theorize that children who spend time looking into the distance while outdoors prevent myopia from progressing or even developing.

How Much Outdoor Time Is Recommended?

There isn’t a unanimous opinion on an exact amount of time, but the general recommendation is that children ages 6 and up should spend 2 or more hours outdoors per day.

It’s important to note that UV rays can be harmful to the eyes and skin. So before you send your little ones out to play, be sure to hand them a pair of UV-blocking [sunglasses], a wide-brimmed hat and sunblock lotion.

What Can Parents Do For Their Children’s Vision and Eye Health?

Encourage your children to spend time outdoors whenever possible. It is also important to follow local health guidelines pertaining to the exposure of children to sunlight. Limit their daily screen time, and offer minimal screen time (if any) to children under the age of 2.

Make sure your child takes frequent breaks whenever doing near work like homework, reading, and spending time on a digital screen. A 5-10 minute break should be encouraged for every hour of near work.

However, the best thing you can do for your myopic child is to provide them with myopia management treatments, all of which have been scientifically proven to reduce the progression of myopia and risk of sight-robbing eye diseases later in life.

To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, call New Era Eyecare today!

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with our doctors

Q: What is myopia?

  • A: A: Myopia is the most common refractive error among children and young adults. It occurs when the eye elongates, and rays of light are focused in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it. For those with nearsightedness, distant objects appear blurred while nearby objects remain clear. Although eyeglasses and standard contact lenses can correct a person’s vision, they do not treat the underlying cause of myopia or slow its progression.

Q: Why is myopia management important?

  • A: A: By 2050, half of the world’s population is expected to be diagnosed with myopia. That’s worrying because having myopia raises the risk of developing serious eye diseases later in life. Myopia management, which entails the use of eye drops, specialized contact lenses or multifocal glasses, can help slow the often rapid visual deterioration caused by myopia in children. If you’re concerned that your child’s vision is deteriorating, contact us today. We can help.



New Era Eyecare serves patients from Clifton, Arlington, Sterling, and Alexandria, all throughout Virginia.

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New Era Eyecare serves patients from Clifton, Arlington, Sterling, and Alexandria, all throughout Virginia.

What’s a Chalazion?

What is a Chalazion 640Finding a lump on your eyelid can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Luckily, a chalazion isn’t a serious condition and is rather simple to resolve.

In most cases, a chalazion can easily be treated and will completely disappear following treatment. However, if non-invasive treatments don’t work, your eye doctor may need to remove it through an in-office surgical procedure.

At New Era Eyecare we can diagnose and help treat your chalazion so that you can see comfortably.

What is a Chalazion?

A chalazion, also known as a meibomian cyst, is a small fluid-filled cyst.

Eyelids contain meibomian glands, which produce oil to lubricate the surface of the eye. When one of these glands becomes blocked, it may cause swelling and lead to a small painless lump called a chalazion.

What Causes a Chalazion?

A chalazion occurs when the gland in the eyelid is clogged. Exactly why the gland becomes clogged isn’t known, but some individuals appear to be more susceptible to developing a chalazion than others.

A chalazion may be associated with dry eye syndrome, which is often caused by meibomian gland dysfunction.

People exhibiting certain risk factors are more likely to develop a chalazion. This includes people who have:

  • Blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids
  • Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye
  • Thicker oil or meibum than normal consistency
  • Ocular rosacea, a skin condition adjacent to the eyes
  • Seborrhea, or dandruff, of the eyelashes
  • Styes or a history of styes

What Are the Symptoms of a Chalazion?

Common symptoms of a chalazion include:

  • A bump on the eyelid that sometimes becomes swollen and red
  • An entirely swollen eyelid, although very rare
  • Vision issues (such as blurred vision) if the chalazion becomes large enough to press on the eyeball

While a chalazion is not an infection, it may become infected. In the rare event that this occurs, it may become red, more severely swollen, and painful.

Chalazia are often mistaken for styes since they have a similar appearance.

What’s the Difference Between a Chalazion and a Stye?

It can be difficult to differentiate a chalazion from a stye.

Styes develop along the edge of your eyelid and can at times be seen at the base of an eyelash. In contrast, chalazia usually occur closer to the middle of the eyelid. A stye is more likely to be painful and tends to have a yellowish spot at the center that may burst after a few days.

Basically, the most noticeable difference between a chalazion and a stye is that a chalazion tends to be painless while a stye is usually painful and may cause the eye to feel sore, itchy or scratchy.

How to Treat a Chalazion

Most chalazia require minimal medical treatment and some may even clear up on their own in a few weeks to a month. When a chalazion first appears, you can try doing the following for 1-2 days:

  • Apply a warm compress to the eyelid for 10 to 15 minutes, 4 to 6 times a day. The warm compress helps soften the hardened oil that blocks the ducts, allowing drainage and healing.
  • Gently massage the external eyelids for several minutes each day to help promote drainage.

If the chalazion does not drain and heal within a few days, contact your eye doctor. Don’t attempt to squeeze or pop the chalazion, as it may inadvertently cause more damage.

To learn more about chalazion treatment and the other eye care services we offer, call New Era Eyecare to schedule an appointment.

New Era Eyecare serves patients from Clifton, Arlington, Sterling, and Alexandria, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with our doctors

Q: Can a chalazion spread from one person to another?

  • A: Since a chalazion is not an infection, it cannot spread from one person to another or even to the other eye of the affected person.

Q: Can a chalazion affect my eyesight?

  • A: A chalazion doesn’t affect vision. In rare cases, if the lump is large enough to distort the ocular surface it can cause temporary astigmatism, blurring vision. However, vision will return to normal once a medical professional removes the chalazion or once it diminishes in size.


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Risk Of Overusing Eye Drops

If you find yourself constantly reaching for eye drops, it’s time to start looking into the bigger issue: Why do you need them so often? While they may provide a quick and satisfying fix for irritated or itchy eyes, they don’t focus on what might be causing the irritation to begin with.

Two signs that you’re overusing eye drops: you often exceed the daily recommended dose and/or you view eye drops as a cure rather than a temporary treatment.

Risks of Overusing Eye Drops

When overusing eye drops you can run the risk of:

  • Washing away your natural tears. Artificial tears feel great as they lubricate your eyes and help with insufficient tear production. But overuse can literally wash away the natural moisturizers and your natural tears that protect your eyes.
  • Rebounding. As the effects of the eye drops subside or upon discontinuation of the drops, the original eye symptoms may return stronger than before. This is known as eye rebounding. Eye drops clamp down on the blood vessels in the eye to stop itchiness, which means your sclera isn’t getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. When you stop using eye drops, or their effects wear off, your eyes may work in overdrive to deliver oxygen to those vessels.
  • Masking a more serious problem. Addressing the symptoms of red, itchy eyes rather than the cause could be more serious than you think.

Conditions That Eye Drops Could Be Masking

Red, itchy eyes are a symptom of several conditions, including:

  • Blepharitis – Red and inflamed eyelids, caused by a fungal or bacterial infection, gland dysfunction, parasites, or dry eye, all of which require treatment beyond over-the-counter eye drops.
  • Eye trauma – Scratching or rubbing your eye can cause blood vessels to break, making the eye itchy and red. Some more serious traumas will require prescription eye drops or surgery.
  • Eye strain – Focusing on work all day and night can cause irritated, tired, and strained eyes.
  • Foreign objects – An eyelash, dust, or something worse could be in your eye. If you have long-term issues with itchy or dry eyes, make sure a foreign body isn’t the culprit.
  • Allergies – Allergies to the environment or pets can cause dry, itchy eyes.
  • Pink eye – A bacterial or viral eye infection, also called conjunctivitis, can cause burning, swelling, and itchiness.
  • Dry eye syndrome – Irritation, redness and itchiness are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. In severe cases, DES can damage the cornea.

Regardless of why you often use eye drops, the only way to get to the root cause of your symptoms is a thorough eye exam. Don’t cover up the symptoms with eye drops.

If you’re suffering from irritated, dry eyes that haven’t resolved on their own, contact New Era Eyecare in Clifton. We can help you find the long-lasting relief you’ve been looking for.

At New Era Eyecare, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 703-830-3977 or book an appointment online to see one of our Clifton eye doctors.

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Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Craig Spelke

Q: What are symptoms of dry eye syndrome ?

  • A: Irritation, redness and itchiness are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. In severe cases, DES can damage the cornea.

Q: Are OTC eye drops safe ?

  • A: Eye drops may provide relief. But don’t overuse them. Overuse can cause more harm than good. Find out what happens when you overuse those relieving eye drops.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Alexandria, Virginia. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.