Ask The Expert

stylized eye

Your eyes are so important to your daily life, so please join us from noon to 6:30 on Thursday, March 5 for a special Eye Health edition of Ask the Expert on WJZ-TV sponsored by The Krieger Eye Institute at LifeBridge Health.

12 p.m.

Macular Degeneration

4 p.m.

Diabetic Eye Health.

5 p.m.

General Eye Health and Cataracts

6 p.m.


Dr. Nancy Kunjukunju
Dr. Nancy Kunjukunju
Dr. Parvathy Pillai
Dr. Parvathy Pillai
Dr. Donald Abrams
Dr. Donald Abrams
Dr. Lauren Dhar
Dr. Lauren Dhar

See a listing of all of our physicians.

To schedule an appointment or for more information, call 410-601-2020.


Submit your question below and it will be answered shortly.


    Q: How does diabetes impact the eye?
    A: Diabetes can impact the part of the eye called the retina. When sugar in the blood is elevated, it can cause the blood vessels inside the retina to leak blood and fluid. This can cause the vision to become blurry. If it becomes very severe, the retina can be starved for oxygen and more serious complications can occur including irreversible vision loss.

    Q: How can I get rid of a stye?
    A: A stye is a colloquial term for an clogged oil gland in the eyelid. They usually look like a bump on either upper or lower eyelid. The initial treatment is usually warm compresses for 10 minutes at a time about four times or more a day. Sometimes lid scrubs to clear the lids from debris or discharge are also used. If the bump persists, you may need an injection of a steroid or surgical removal of the bump.

    Q: What are the treatments for macular degeneration?
    A: Macular degeneration has two types, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is more common than wet and often less severe. Sometimes a special formulation of vitamins, called AREDS 2, can be used to help prevent advancement of the disease. The vitamins have not be proven to prevent macular degeneration from developing but can help slow progression once you have intermediate dry disease. Wet macular degeneration can be treated with injections into the eye.

    Q: What is low vision?
    A: Low vision is a term used to describe a person with visual impairment that is impacting their normal activities of daily life. Sometimes even mild impairments can impact activities such as reading or threading a needle. A low vision specialist can be a useful provider. They evaluate your visual function and then make recommendations to help improve your efficiency at activities of daily living as well as increase independence and safety.

    Q: Are over-the-counter eye drops for redness/itchiness safe?

    A: For the most part they are safe but should only be used sporadically. If they don’t help fairly quickly, the patient should be evaluated.

    Q: If I have to be at a computer all day for work, what are some ways that I can prevent eye strain?

    A: Taking a break for a few seconds and looking off into the distance can sometimes help with the constant strain. Also, using an artificial tear drop can also help when using a computer all day. If artificial tears are not enough, there are some prescription eye drops that can be used to help with chronic dryness.

    Q: What is astigmatism?A: Astigmatism is where the eye is shaped a little more like a football than a basketball. This can cause distortion in vision. Glasses or contacts can fix it for the most part. There are certain more severe eye diseases that can cause significant astigmatism and they can be diagnosed at a regular eye exam.

    Q: What is macular degeneration?

    A: Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD), is a medical condition which may result in blurred or no vision in the center of the visual field. Early on there are often no symptoms. Over time, however, some people experience a gradual worsening of vision that may affect one or both eyes.

    Q: Are there any remedies for itchy eyes?

    A: There are a lot of allergy drops that can help, particularly antihistamine eye drops – some are over the counter and some are by prescription. Prescription eye drops can be nice because many only need to be used once a day.

    Q: What ways can you ease pain or ensure proper healing if you have a scratched eye?

    A: You should be seen by an eye doctor to make sure that the scratch has not become infected. Usually patching or keeping the eye closed can ease the pain. Often pain medications like ibuprofen can help ease the pain.

    Q: Are cataracts preventable? My mother has them, and I want to know what I can do to avoid getting them myself.

    A: Most people will eventually get cataracts. However, decreased UV light exposure can delay the onset but since a lifetime of UV light exposure contributes to the development of cataracts, it is unlikely that suddenly limiting UV exposure will make much difference. Make sure that all your glasses and sunglasses have UV protection. Also, don’t smoke!

    Q: When I blow my nose hard, sometimes clear fluid comes out of my lower eyelid. Is this normal?

    A: A: It can be normal – the normal tear ducts drain into the nose so it’s possible that a forceful nose blowing will force fluid in the reverse direction.

    Q: How does diabetes impact your eye health?

    A: Diabetes can contribute to early cataract formation along with seriously affecting the vision by causing diabetic retinopathy. All diabetics should have regular annual eye examinations by an eye doctor. If diabetic retinopathy is starting, the frequency of eye exams will probably increase even before any treatments are indicated.

    Q: How do I know when to seek help from a doctor?

    A: If you have risk factors for eye disease you should get routine eye exams to screen for those diseases. If your glasses aren’t working, particularly if there is any sudden change in your vision, you should be seen by an eye doctor. If your eyes become painful, if you develop light sensitivity, if you see shadows or flashing lights in your vision, then you should be seen immediately. If you have discharge or pus coming out of your eyes, then you should be seen immediately. If you just have a gradual decrease in the ability to read small print and you are over 40, you should be seen by an eye doctor but it is probably not an emergency.

    Q: My contacts have gotten uncomfortable and feel dry. Could this be allergies?

    A: Dryness often causes contact lenses to become uncomfortable, but dryness can be caused by many things - including allergies. Allergies and dryness often co-exist and form a cycle of worsening dryness and allergies. Medications that treat allergies such as Claritin, Allegra, or any decongestant, can also cause the eyes to become dryer.  There are several treatment options to help improve an uncomfortable contact lens, such as switching to a different brand or replacement modality, or switching cleaning solutions, and treating the underlying cause of the dryness.

    Q: Can I use contacts now that I need reading glasses?

    Yes! There are several options for wearing contact lenses for patients that need distance and near correction. There are multifocal contact lenses that work like a bifocal which allow both eyes to work together to see far, computer, and up close reading. Monovision is another option. This means that one eye is set for distance and the other is set for near, when both eyes are open then the brain pays attention to what is clear and works very well for many patient. Monovision is also an option for cataract surgery so it isn't a bad idea to try it in contact lenses prior to making that decision with a cataract surgeon. The last option is to set both eyes for distance in the contact lenses and then use some over-the-counter reading glasses to see at near.

    Q: What are cataracts?

    Cataracts are a normal age-related eye disease. Everyone will develop cataracts at some point as they age. When people are born, they are born with a perfectly clear lens inside of their eye. As they get older, that lens becomes cloudy and yellow -- this is a cataract. Cataracts cannot be prevented with any medications or lifestyle modifications. Once a cataract is advanced enough, then they are removed with cataract surgery. This surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear, plastic lens.\

    Q: Some of my friends have had cataract surgery and no longer need glasses. Is this normal?

    Yes, it certainly can be an outcome of cataract surgery. During cataract surgery, the patient's natural lens is replaced with a clear plastic lens of the surgeon's choosing. This new, plastic lens can be different powers. If a patient has a simple spherical prescription, this can usually be corrected with the new implant, eliminating the need for distance glasses. If a patient has an astigmatic prescription, this can also be corrected with the new implanted lens but this requires a special toric lens, which almost always incurs an additional out-of-pocket cost compared to traditional cataract surgery.

    Q: I get crusty eyes each morning. Is that normal?

    A: Chronic crusty eyes in the morning could be a sign of having dryness and/or eyelid inflammation (blepharitis). Both dryness and blepharitis usually starts multiple, concurrent, over-the-counter treatments. The best option is to be evaluated by an eye care provider in order to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

    Q: What should I do for my itchy eyes?

    A: Itchy eyes are most often caused by ocular allergies. Seasonal allergies can be treated over-the-counter allergy eye drops. If over-the-counter treatment is not sufficient, then prescription eye drops, and sometimes systemic medications, can be used to control the allergy drops. 

    Q: I wear progressive lens & have astigmatism. Is it better to find an ophthalmologist or optician for eye exams etc., especially if you haven't had your eyes checked in a few years?

    A: Ophthalmologists and optometrists are both eye doctors. Ophthalmologists attend medical school and have surgical training. Optometrists attend optometry school and are trained in primary eye care to diagnose and treat common eye conditions but do not perform surgery. Both are great options for having your glasses prescriptions checked. Opticians are the eye care professionals that will help you select the best lenses for your visual needs after you receive a prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

    Q: What is the best way to remove dirt particles, loose eyelash or other objects from your eye?

    A: Sterile saline or eye wash is usually sold in drug stores. You can rinse your eyes with this if it is on hand. If something is more embedded, then you should see an eye doctor to evaluate and remove the foreign body with sterile techniques and a microscope.

    Q: When I'm reading or playing a game on my phone my eyes all of a sudden will start watering A LOT, like I'm crying crocodile tears. Is this eye strain or dry eye?

    A: Near activities usually require a lot of concentration and people tend to start blinking much less. This causes dryness which can lead to variable blurred vision and tearing. Taking breaks from near activities and using artificial tears before doing an intensive near activity can be helpful!

    Q: I use a computer all day and my eyes feel strained, what should I do about that?

    A: Taking a break for a few seconds and looking off into the distance can sometimes help with the constant strain. Also, using an artificial tear drop can also help when using a computer all day.

    Q: Post trauma, I was immediately seen by an optometrist and no retinal detachment was seen. However, I am still seeing a tiny dot (floater) and a clear floater in one eye, and occasional flashes of light in the other eye. It has decreased since 2 months ago. Also, my vision appears to be getting progressively worse.

    A: After any eye or head trauma, it is important to get an eye examination to rule out damage to the delicate structures that make up the eye, including a dilated eye exam to evaluate the retina and rule out retinal tears and detachments. Even after an initial normal eye exam, things can change. It would probably be safer to get another dilated eye examination to rule out changes since the initial trauma.

    Q: I recently developed "floaters" with some peripheral "flashes." I went to my Optometrist who did a dilated eye exam. She was not too concerned with it, but told me if it gets worse to notify her. I do not have hypertension or diabetic issues. I thought I should ask. Thank you!

    A: First of all, it is important to understand what causes us to see floaters. The eye is a ball which is filled with a jelly called the vitreous. Floaters are protein clumps that are floating in the jelly and casting a shadow on the retina. As we age, it is common for people to see these floaters as the vitreous detaches and becomes more liquefied. When the vitreous detaches, it can pull on the retina and cause flashes. If the vitreous pulls too hard, the retina can tear and/or detach which can lead to vision loss. It is important to have a dilated eye examination as soon as possible after experiencing symptoms so that early treatment can be given if necessary.

    Q: Can you get rid of floaters?

    A: There is no medical treatment for floaters. Floaters can be removed surgically by a procedure called a vitrectomy. This is an invasive procedure that is rarely done because the benefits rarely outweigh the risks. As mentioned in earlier questions, floaters themselves are a manifestation of an aging vitreous jelly with protein clumps producing shadows on the retina.

    Q: My eye is itchy, red, and I have some discharge … my kid says that there’s been some pinkeye in her class. Could I have it?

    A: Yes – pink eye (viral conjunctivitis) and spread very easily.

    Q: My eyes get red a lot. Do I need to see a doctor?

    A: Red eyes can be caused by many things. Some of the most common causes include bacterial and viral infections, seasonal allergies, and dry eye. Depending on the cause, there are different treatments so the best thing to do is see an eye doctor to determine the cause and best treatment.

    Q: Are there any vitamins I should be taking to help with my eye health?

    A: Most well-nourished people do not need to take any additional vitamins for eye health. There is a specific vitamin formulation that has been studied that can be useful for some people with age-related macular degeneration. It does not prevent the development of AMD but it can help prevent progression.

    Q: I am 65 years old and in good physical shape, however when I do light physical activities I lose focus in my eyes. I am not dizzy, I just lose focus. The situation started several years ago and it was very sporadic. Now it is a daily occurrence. Sometimes if I continue on with the activity my focus may come back. I also notice when I am driving and I look left and right I have trouble seeing, and things are out of focus. This happens more in the day time and does not happen all the time. I just had an eye examine and besides reading glasses, my ophthalmologist prescribed distance classes. He said my lenses are getting less flexible. Previously, I had an MRI and my arteries and blood flow to the eye muscles look good. Could these muscles need to be strengthened to compensate for the thicker lenses? Any suggestions on what might be causing my problem.

    A: I would consider hydration and fluctuations in blood pressure when it comes to losing focus with physical activity. It could be that you are looking at objects at different distances and as you age it takes your eyes longer to focus – this is caused by the lens losing flexibility as mentioned by your doctor. Focus, however, is not related to eye muscles. Thicker lenses won’t necessarily help; stronger glasses aren’t always better. There is only one “right” prescription for distance for each eye. You may need different strengths for near depending on how close an object is that you are trying to view.

    Q: My daughter was diagnosed with amblyopia when she was 5-6 years old and has been seeing an ophthalmologist since then. She is now 18. Does she still need to be seen by an ophthalmologist, or can she switch to an optometrist?

    A: It is probably fine to switch to an optometrist. If she is no longer having any new or worsening symptoms, then eye exams every 1-2 years are recommended. Additionally, optometrists are trained to recognize eye disease and refer when necessary.

    Q: I’m beginning to have a hard time reading small print. What kind of reading glasses should I get?

    A: Often, over the counter reading glasses are fine for people over 40 who can no longer read small print. I would recommend an eye exam to make sure there isn’t anything else wrong with your eyes.