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The Reason You're Seeing Halos Around Lights

If you've started to notice halos around lights and are experiencing pain along with it, it's crucial to consult an eye doctor as soon as possible. These symptoms could be a sign of an underlying issue that requires immediate attention.

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The Reason You're Seeing Halos Around Lights Optometrist

When Should I See an Eye Doctor for Halos Around Lights?

If you're experiencing halos, here are some guidelines to help you determine when it's time to seek professional advice:

Immediate Consultation Recommended

  • Sudden Onset with Pain: If halos appear suddenly and are accompanied by sharp or throbbing eye pain, seek immediate medical assistance.
  • Vision Loss or Darkening: Experiencing a sudden loss of vision or areas of darkening in your visual field alongside halos is a sign that you need urgent medical care.

Schedule a Visit Soon

  • Increasing Frequency: If halos have been occasional but are becoming more frequent or noticeable, it's wise to schedule an eye exam.
  • Associated Symptoms: Additional symptoms like red eyes, eye fatigue, and sensitivity to light could indicate an underlying condition. It's a good idea to get these checked out.
  • No Relief After Rest: If halos persist even after you've had ample rest or limited screen time, schedule a check-up.

Regular Check-up Suffices

  • First-Time Occurrence Without Pain: If you're seeing halos for the first time and it's not accompanied by pain or other symptoms, make a note and bring it up during your next regular eye check-up.
  • Over the Age of 40: As you age, the risk for several eye conditions increases. Even if the halos aren't causing immediate concern, it's prudent to discuss them during your regular eye exams if you're over 40.

Additional Considerations

  • Family History: If eye diseases like glaucoma or cataracts run in your family, be extra vigilant and consult an eye doctor if you start experiencing halos.
  • New Prescription: Sometimes, a new eyeglass or contact lens prescription can cause temporary vision changes, including halos. If these persist, go back to your optometrist for a reevaluation.
  • After Surgery: If you've recently undergone eye surgery, such as cataract removal or LASIK, some visual disturbances like halos may be expected. However, prolonged symptoms should be evaluated to rule out complications.

If you're experiencing persistent halos around lights, it's essential to consult an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms effectively and can be crucial in preventing more severe eye conditions.

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What Causes Halos Around Lights?

If you're experiencing halos around lights, it could be due to several different factors, some of which may require medical intervention. Understanding the underlying causes is the first step in getting the appropriate treatment and ensuring the health of your eyes.

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors, such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism, occur when the eye doesn't refract light properly. This results in vision distortions, including the appearance of halos around lights. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), refractive errors are the most frequent eye problems in the United States.

Nearsightedness: The eye's shape causes light rays to focus in front of the retina instead of on it, leading to blurry vision for distant objects. Halos may appear more prominent during nighttime.

Farsightedness: This is the opposite of nearsightedness. Light rays focus behind the retina, making close-up objects appear blurry. Halos can occur when you're focusing on distant lights.

Astigmatism: This condition is caused by an irregular shape of the cornea. This unevenness can scatter light as it enters the eye, creating halos and other distortions.

Refractive errors can often be corrected easily with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. A visit to an optometrist can confirm the diagnosis and help you find the best correction method.

The Cloudy Issue of Cataracts

Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over age 40. The eye's natural lens becomes clouded, which disrupts normal vision. According to the National Eye Institute, cataracts affect 24.4 million Americans aged 40 and older, and the prevalence increases with age. The clouding scatters light entering the eye and can manifest as halos around lights.

Early-stage cataracts might not significantly impact your vision, but they progress over time. 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma can sneak up on you without noticeable symptoms in the early stages, earning it the nickname "the silent thief of sight." The disease is characterized by elevated intraocular pressure, which can damage the optic nerve over time. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, more than 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half are aware of it.

Early detection is crucial. One of the symptoms you might notice is the appearance of halos around lights, which can be an indicator of increased eye pressure affecting your optic nerve. Discover more about Glaucoma.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes might seem like a minor inconvenience, but they can lead to a host of vision problems, including halos. In the United States, dry eye disease (DED) is a common problem. About 16.4 million adults have been officially diagnosed, and another 6 million display symptoms but haven't been diagnosed yet. Inadequate tear production or poor tear quality can cause light to scatter in different directions as it enters the eye, leading to the perception of halos around lights.

Medication Effects: A Lesser-Known Cause

Certain medications can alter your vision and cause halos as a side effect. Antihistamines, some blood pressure medications, and even specific types of glaucoma medications can lead to this phenomenon.

Always consult your doctor if you notice vision changes after starting a new medication. You may need to switch to a different drug or adjust your dosage.

Post-Surgery Vision Changes

If you've recently had eye surgery, such as LASIK or cataract removal, experiencing halos is not uncommon. Your eyes are adjusting to the changes, and the healing process can cause temporary vision distortions. However, these usually resolve as your eyes heal.

Fuch's Dystrophy: A Corneal Condition

Fuch's dystrophy is a progressive eye disease that affects the innermost layer of cells in the cornea, known as the endothelium. The dysfunction of these cells leads to fluid accumulation within the cornea, causing it to swell and distort vision. One of the vision distortions you may notice is halos around lights. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Fuch's dystrophy is estimated to affect about 1% of the U.S. population.

Scleral Lenses for Fuch’s Dystrophy

Photokeratitis: Sunburn for the Eyes

Photokeratitis is essentially a sunburn of the cornea caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds or welding machines. The condition is temporary but can be painful and cause various visual symptoms, including halos around lights.

What Causes Photokeratitis

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea thins and gradually bulges outward into a cone-like shape. This altered shape disrupts the way light enters the eye, leading to distorted vision and halos around lights. Recent data from the Gutenberg Health Study suggests that keratoconus affects about 1 in 200 Caucasians. This means that in the United States, more than 650,000 people in just the Caucasian community could be dealing with this eye condition.

In the early stages, corrective lenses or specially designed contacts can help manage the symptoms. However, in severe cases, a corneal transplant may become necessary.

How to Manage Keratoconus.

Driving While Seeing Halos Around Lights

Driving While Seeing Halos Around Lights

Driving while experiencing halos around lights can be challenging and potentially unsafe, especially at night or in low-light conditions. The glare and halos can affect your ability to judge distances and identify obstacles or traffic signals. Here's what you need to consider:

Situations Where You Should Avoid Driving

  • Severe or Sudden Onset: If the halos around lights suddenly appear and are intense, affecting your vision significantly, it's best not to drive and seek medical advice immediately.
  • Accompanied by Pain or Other Symptoms: Experiencing halos along with eye pain, redness, or a sudden change in vision could indicate a serious eye condition. Driving in this state is not advisable.
  • After Eye Surgery: Your vision may not be stable right after undergoing eye surgery like LASIK or cataract removal. Driving is generally not recommended until your eye doctor confirms that it's safe for you.

Legal Implications

  • Liability Risks: Should an accident occur while you're experiencing vision problems, you may be held legally responsible for driving under impaired conditions.
  • License Restrictions: Some eye conditions that cause halos might lead to restrictions on your driving license or even revocation, depending on the severity and local laws.

Safety Concerns for You and Other

  • Impaired Judgment: Halos can distort your perception of distances and object sizes, increasing the likelihood of miscalculations while driving.
  • Reduced Visibility: The glare from halos can reduce your overall field of vision, making it harder to see pedestrians, other vehicles, and road signs.
  • Difficulty in Night Driving: Halos are particularly troublesome at night and during low-light conditions, affecting your ability to navigate safely.
Treatment and Management of Halos Around Lights

Treatment and Management of Halos Around Lights

Addressing the issue of halos around lights involves understanding the underlying cause and treating it appropriately. Here are some common treatments and management strategies based on the root cause:

Refractive Errors: Glasses and Contacts

  • Prescription Lenses: A precise prescription can correct refractive errors, reducing or eliminating halos.
  • Anti-Glare Coating: Consider adding an anti-glare coating to your lenses to minimize halos, especially while driving at night.

Cataracts: Surgical Intervention

  • Cataract Surgery: Removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial one can significantly reduce or eliminate halos.
  • Lens Choices: Discuss with your eye doctor the types of intraocular lenses (IOLs) available and which one might best suit your lifestyle.

Acute Conditions: Emergency Treatment

  • Glaucoma: Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency requiring immediate intervention, often including medications to lower eye pressure and laser surgery.
  • Photokeratitis: Immediate relief from UV exposure and treatment with soothing drops or ointments may be prescribed.

Progressive Conditions: Ongoing Management

  • Fuch's Dystrophy: Saline drops and ointments are often the first line of treatment, with corneal transplantation as a last resort for severe cases.
  • Keratoconus: Rigid or scleral contact lenses can help reshape the cornea, improving vision and reducing halos.

General Lifestyle Changes

  • Limit Screen Time: Excessive screen time can cause eye strain and contribute to halos. Make sure to follow the 20-20-20 rule: a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
  • Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can worsen vision problems, so make sure to consume adequate fluids.
  • Good Lighting: Ensure that your living and working spaces are well-lit to reduce strain and the appearance of halos.

If you're experiencing halos around lights, it's critical to consult an eye doctor for an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your needs. Management and treatment can be straightforward or may require more advanced interventions, but the first step is getting a comprehensive eye exam.

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