Vision Health Month


May is Vision Health Month

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 0 of 3 1079 St. Mary's Road 204.253.9219 SUNGLASS SALE 25% off all Rx and non Rx sunglasses. COME AND SEE! UNTIL MAY 31 ST HEALTH VISION MONTH F R I D AY, M AY 1 1 , 2 0 1 8 SPECIAL SECTION A S U P P L E M E N T T O T H E W I N N I P E G F R E E P R E S S D5 VIEW ONLINE AT Cannabis is scheduled to be legalized across Canada in just a few months but before you head down to a dispensary with visions of Cheech & Chong dancing in your head, take a second to look deep into your own eyes. Will doing your best Rastafarian impersonation have any long-term impact on your ability to see? Dr. Luke Small, a Winnipeg-based Doctor of Optometry, says nobody knows for sure because there simply isn't enough data yet, but he preaches extreme caution when it comes to cannabis consumption. Much has been made in recent years about the medicinal benefits of smoking cannabis to lessen a variety of pains but he won't be prescribing it to any of his patients. There are more than 400 chemical components in cannabis but THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the one responsible for most of the psychological effects — or getting people high. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another active ingredient, and that's what helps with pain. It's possible to get pain management without any having any hallucinations but you have to be careful when taking pills or edible forms, Small said. "A lot of people will pop a gummy bear and think because it goes into their stomach that it's not affecting them and then they'll pop another one. That's when things can go bad," he said. If cannabis has been prescribed to you by your family physician, follow their instructions and don't self-medicate, he said. Legalizing recreational marijuana, a key plank in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's campaign in 2015, was initially on track to be finalized in July but thanks to a couple of delays, won't happen until August at the earliest and possibly September. One of most common — and misunderstood — uses of CBD is in the treatment of glaucoma, an eye disease in which fluid pressure can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss or even blindness. In fact, it's the world's leading cause of irreversible blindness. Once the damage begins, peripheral vision can be the next to go. Cannabis proponents maintain if you can lower the pressure in your eyes, you can control the damage to your optic nerves but Small said that's simply not true. "We want to bust the myth that it's great for lowering eye pressure. It only has a very short-term effect. In order to keep your pressures down, you'd have to be using it all day. You can imagine the ramifications in the workplace might be a bit of an issue," he said, noting there are other treatments for glaucoma. Thanks to an unregulated internet, far too many people are getting their medical advice from Dr. Google. Small said there are studies that show chronic users of marijuana can sustain brain damage but proponents prefer to point to the many online sites that provide testimonials, rather than actual medical evidence, that say no damage occurs. "Be careful who you get your information from. It can damage your system and your brain long-term," Small said. In fact, one French study of chronic users found the toxic effects of marijuana slowed neural processing of what they were seeing. "As you look at something, a massive amount of information comes into your retina. You can measure the signals to your brain from your retina and the processing is done in the back of your head. That signal, that firing, is slower in a chronic marijuana user. Long-term, that could potentially affect your vision," he said. A common side effect from smoking marijuana is red bloodshot eyes. Medicinal marijuana lowers your blood pressure, causing peripheral blood vessels to dilate as they try to push blood back to the heart, causing the "stoned" look. "If your eyes are staying red longer or one is redder than the other, see an optometrist," Small said. "If something doesn't seem right, get an eye exam." HIGHS & YOUR EYES BY GEOFF KIRBYSON Dr. Luke Small says there isn't enough data yet to fully understand the long-term effects of marijuana use on eye health. Photo by Jason Halstead If you're seeking ways to get longer and more luscious lashes, it's a good idea to keep a close eye on the potential risks. F or Doctor of Optometry Nadine Shelton, owner of nv Exclusive Eye Care and Eye Wear, it's important that people understand possible issues with eyelash extensions and the Latisse procedure for eyelash growth. "Eyelash extensions are secured at the base of each individual lash with an adhesive. So basically you lie down and someone painstakingly puts one lash on one of your lashes, gluing it on at the base," she says. "Since you're getting something glued to your eyelashes, you want to make sure that whoever's doing it is certified and knows what they're doing. The glue shouldn't touch the eye or the eyelid; it should just touch the lash." The person applying the extensions is working with small tweezers, so there is always the risk you could get poked in the eye, Shelton adds. As well, they usually use a gel pad to separate the top lash from the bottom lash while they're gluing the extensions down. If this pad slips, it can touch the eye and cause irritation. Other problems could also arise, both during the application process and afterwards. "The glue can emit some fumes that can cause skin irritation. You can get red, puffy, irritated eyelids after the fact. It's a small allergic reaction, but sometimes it doesn't go away as quickly as it should," Shelton says. "Also, I've seen people who have glued a couple lashes to one lash, which creates this nice thick movie star look, but it's weighing down your own eyelash. That extra weight can make your eyelash fall out sooner than it would normally fall out, so you can get premature loss of eyelashes." Issues can also occur if you don't clean the eyelash extensions correctly, Shelton notes. "If you have these lovely extensions on there, you have to clean them properly. You're supposed to use an eyelash wash, which is basically just soap and water to get any gunk off the eyelashes. Dust and debris can stick to the fake lashes a bit more easily, so you've got to keep them clean," she says. "We see people who are afraid to clean them because they don't want them to come unglued, and that can lead to eyelid irritation. And if something's stuck on the lash and it falls in the eye, that could lead to irritation there as well." As for Latisse, the process involves a prescription liquid being applied to the base of the eyelashes with a small wand to make the lashes grow thicker and longer. Latisse is manufactured by California-based Allergan, the same company that makes Botox. In Manitoba, Latisse is generally only prescribed by an ophthalmologist or dermatologist. Doctors of Optometry can't prescribe Latisse at this time. The drug originated as Lumigan, which has been used in Canada for the treatment of glaucoma since 2002. Glaucoma patients using Lumigan noticed their eyelashes growing longer and thicker, so Allergan decided to turn the not fully-understood side effect into a cosmetic drug, rebranding it as Latisse. Available in the U.S. since 2008, Latisse contains the same active ingredient as Lumigan — bimatoprost — at the identical .03 per cent strength. "It was one of those mistaken inventions," Shelton explains. "Glaucoma patients were taking an eye drop to help lower the eye pressure, and one of the side effects of this drop was that they were getting these long lashes." With Latisse, instead of putting the drop in your eye as you would for glaucoma treatment, the drops are applied to the base of the eyelashes. "It extends the growth phase of the lashes so they grow longer and it increases the number of follicles that sprout hairs. As long as you're using it, the lashes will continue to grow," Shelton says. "The downside is that the drop causes a bit of inflammation on the skin, so you get a little bit of redness along where you put the drop." In addition, Latisse can cause pigmentation to look darker. "It increases pigment growth, so if you put it in the eye, it can cause brown eyes to look more brown and can cause blue eyes to turn brown. If you put it on the skin, it can cause increased pigmentation along the eyelash," Shelton says. Some patients are also surprised that their long lashes might not meet their expectations. "If you go to the Latisse website, they show beautiful voluminous curved eyelashes, but in reality only some people get those kind of eyelashes. Other people get very coarse and straight lashes that stick out straight," Shelton says. "So patients complain because they're not like their normal lashes. It depends on your reaction to that drop." With both procedures, Shelton offers some words of wisdom: "I think it can be safe to do, but you have to do it the right way." LEARN BEFORE YOU LENGTHEN LASHES BY JENNIFER MCFEE Dr. Nadine Shelton says it's important that people understand possible issues with eyelash extensions and the Latisse procedure. Photo by Darcy Finley For advertising information, call: 204-697-7389

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Vision Health Month - 2018