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Tips to Relax Your Eyes

Do your eyes hurt after spending a significant amount of time reading, playing video games, driving, or staring at a screen? These visually intense activities can sometimes be hard on the eyes, causing uncomfortable symptoms like headaches and blurry vision. Other symptoms of eye strain can include light sensitivity, neck and shoulder pain, trouble concentrating, and burning or itchy eyes.

Fortunately, preventing painful computer vision syndrome and eye fatigue symptoms can be as simple as trying a few of these eye exercises. To learn more about digital eye strain and discover the best relief options for you, call Lowy & Sewell Eye Care at 905-738-6680 and schedule an eye exam with Dr. Lowy.

Relax Your Eyes with These Supportive Techniques

Many of these exercises are designed for computer users. Eye strain resulting from long drives, reading, or other activities, can be alleviated by modifying some of these recommendations.

The Clock Exercise

The clock exercise relieves strain on overworked eye muscles and can help you avoid headaches and eye pain, among other symptoms. Begin the exercise by imagining a large analog clock a few feet in front of you. Keep your head still and move your eyes to the imaginary 9, then to the imaginary 3.

Keep moving your eyes to the opposite pairs on the clock — 10/4, 11/5, 12/6, and so on. Hold your gaze for a second or two on each number before moving on to the next one. Continue doing this for 4-5 minutes.

The 20-20-20 Rule

The 20-20-20 rule helps you avoid dry eyes and eye strain by giving your eyes frequent breaks. After about 20 minutes of screen time or doing close-up work, focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives the eyes a much needed rest and helps them relax. There are also free apps available that provide pop-up reminders that notify you when it’s time to shift your gaze.

Screen Ergonomics

The American Optometric Association recommends placing computer monitors 20 to 28 inches, or 50-70 cm, away from your eyes and the top of the computer should be at eye level or right below for optimum eye comfort. Glare filters can reduce the amount of glare produced by digital devices and improve your viewing experience.

Poor sitting posture can also contribute to eye strain. Your chair should be situated so that your feet are flat on the floor, or use an angled footrest for additional comfort.

Optimize your Eyewear

Since regular prescription lenses or glasses may not adequately meet your visual needs for lengthy computer use, you may benefit from wearing computer glasses. These prescription glasses are customized to your needs and also reduce glare and block blue light.

 

You don’t have to live with the discomforts of eye strain. If symptoms persist, it may be time to visit Lowy & Sewell Eye Care and get the relief you seek. Call our office to schedule a convenient eye doctor’s appointment.

 

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Dr. Deborah Lowy & Associates Optometrists - Local Vision Center in Concord, OntarioWhether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

“Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness”

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.”
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.”

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment. ”

Call Dr. Deborah Lowy & Associates Optometrists on 905-738-6680 in Concord, ON to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist.

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Local Dry Eye Treatment in Concord, Ontario

Alternatively book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

Just in case you missed them, here are some of our previous blog posts :

8 Ways to Protect Your Eyes at the Office

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Can Lasik Correct Astigmatism?

Trouble Seeing at Night? All About Night Blindness

Exercise and Your Eye Health

Dr. Deborah Lowy & Associates Optometrists - Local Vision Center in Concord, OntarioRegular exercise is an essential component of overall health and wellness. It is proven that exercise reduces sickness and disease; it increases strength, immunity, and mental health; and it also helps regulate bodily functions and maintain a healthy weight. Research shows that exercise can lower our risk of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, as well as other eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Whereas, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of these diseases and of vision loss, studies show that even moderate exercise at least three times a week can improve the prognosis of the above-mentioned chronic illnesses and reduce the risks of developing vision threatening eye diseases.

Inactivity is an even higher risk factor if you have other co-factors for developing eye diseases, including: a family history, previous eye injury or surgery, diabetes, high blood pressure or very high myopia. A combination of healthy lifestyle habits which include regular exercise and a nutritious diet and tending to your mental and emotional well-being can reduce these risks significantly.”

“Regular exercise is an essential component of overall health and wellness.”

Tips for Incorporating Physical Activity Into Your Day

  1. Make it a priority. Schedule your exercise time into your day as if it is a non-negotiable appointment. Find the time of day that works best – for some that is early morning and for others late at night. Work your way up to a half hour at least three times a week.
  2. Be realistic. You don’t need to become a fitness expert to experience the benefits of exercise. Walking, yoga, swimming, even dancing around the house are all options for staying fit. Find a type of exercise that you love so you will enjoy working this habit into your life.
  3. Just move. Find ways to move your body throughout your day. Park your car a little further away from the mall entrance, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk or bike to work. Remember, every little bit of movement helps.
  4. Find something you enjoy. Often finding the right exercise is a good stress reliever, and reducing stress will also reduce risk of many chronic diseases.
  5. It’s never too late. Exercise for the elderly can be a challenge especially during the cold winter months, when many seniors can’t get out of the house due to the weather. Even walking up and down the stairs in the house or following an exercise video can be helpful to keep from being sedentary.”

Protection & Prevention of Eye Conditions

If you are exercising outdoors or playing contact sports, make sure to protect your eyes with sunglasses or sports safety glasses to ensure your eye health and safety.

Regular exercise can significantly decrease your risks of certain eye conditions but you still have to ensure that you visit your eye doctor for regular exams. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to ensure your vision and your eyes are healthy and to catch any possible problems as early as possible.”

Eye health and disease prevention are just two of the many health and wellness benefits you gift yourself when you make exercise a regular part of your lifestyle. Speak to your doctor if you have any health issues that need to be considered. At any age or level of physical fitness, you can find some form of exercise that works for you.

Call Dr. Deborah Lowy & Associates Optometrists on 905-738-6680 in Concord, ON to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist.

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Alternatively book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

Local Eye Health in Concord, Ontario

Just in case you missed them, here are some of our previous blog posts :

The Importance of Eye Exams for Contact Lenses

10 Tips to Teach Children About Eye Safety

Are You Missing Your Child’s Hidden Vision Problem?

Why Does Your Eye Doctor Dilate Your Pupils for an Eye Exam?

Wearing Colored Contact Lenses Safely on Halloween

Halloween Jack-O-Lantern in ThornhillCosmetic, colored contact lenses can take your Halloween costume to a whole new level! As the perfect finishing touch to any outfit, costume contact lenses can fully transform you into that sneaky cat, bloody vampire or any other character you dream up. Unfortunately, colored contacts can also turn your Halloween into a genuine eye nightmare if you don’t have a contact lens prescription and professional contact lens fitting.

“Many people think that it’s safe to purchase colored contact lenses from any novelty store or website, without a prescription from an eye doctor,” says our optometrist, Dr. Deborah Lowy, O.D. of Lowy and Sewell Eye Care, in Concord, Ontario. “Yet colored contacts must be fit properly, just like all contacts, in order to avoid serious eye damage.” An optometrist must perform a thorough eye exam to check and measure both eyes. An improper contact lens fit can cause corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers, decreased vision and pink eye, as well as other severe eye injuries and infections (such as keratitis) that can lead to permanent vision loss or blindness.

“…colored contacts must be fit properly, just like all contacts, in order to avoid serious eye damage.”

If you’re thinking about wearing circle or anime lenses, think again. With larger-than-normal diameters, the wearer has an illustrated, doll-like look. Yet this new type of costume lens is extremely unsafe for eyes and unavailable by prescription. Stay clear of purchasing these lenses, even if your local convenience store has them in stock!

Wearing Colored Contact Lenses Safely on Halloween in Concord, Ontario

Man with blue Halloween costume contact lens in ThornhillEven if costume lenses are the right fit for your eyes, they must be cleaned just like regular lenses, with the correct disinfecting solutions. This is another piece of information that many people don’t realize. Bacterial infections can develop rapidly – in as little as 24 hours of wearing lenses. “If you experience symptoms of redness, decreased vision or eye pain that doesn’t go away quickly, it’s important for the health of your vision to schedule an eye exam,” advises our pediatric optometrist Dr. Jeremy Sewell, O.D.

Costume lenses are often thicker than regular contacts, which makes them less permeable to oxygen. This may make them unsuitable for some people’s eyes, and an expert eye exam and prescription for contact lenses is the only way to safely dress your eyes up eyes. As long as they fit correctly and are worn in accordance with an eye doctor’s instructions, colored contacts are an awesome way to make any mediocre Halloween costume into the ultimate disguise!

Lowy & Sewell Eye Care - Dry Eye Disease in Concord, OntarioIf you are unsure about what to order, or just want to check what contact lens prescription would be best for you, book an appointment and we’ll be happy to direct you to the safest options on the market.

Call Lowy & Sewell Eye Care on 905-738-6680 in Concord, Ontario to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist.

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Alternatively book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

5 Tips For Avoiding Dry Eyes with Contacts

Woman suffering from dry eyes in Concord

Dry eye is one of the most common complaints among our patients who wear contacts. However, a typical misunderstanding is that contact lenses always cause dry eyes. To set the record straight, most of the time contacts are not the cause – but they can make the symptoms of dry eye irritation much worse.

Don’t despair! Dry eye with contacts does not mean you need to return to wearing eyeglasses all of the time. Our Thornhill eye doctor shares the following advice on how to prevent dry eye with contacts, as well as ways to alleviate the painful symptoms.

Intro to Dry Eye

Let’s begin with a basic explanation of the classic causes and symptoms of dry eye. Your eyes have tear-producing glands that keep the ocular surface lubricated, so it doesn’t dry out. Yet sometimes the quantity or quality of tears is not sufficient for maintaining enough moisture on your eyes. How does dry eye feel? The most usual symptoms include redness, itchiness, a feeling of sand in your eyes, watery eyes, and soreness.

Dry eye could result from a number of reasons, such as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), side effects from medication, systemic health conditions, and living in an arid or windy climate. If you suffer from a condition that affects tear quality, contact lenses will contribute to your dry eye problem.

1. Get an Eye Exam

If you suffer from painful dry eye, your first step should be to visit your eye doctor. Our Thornhill optometrist will perform a comprehensive eye exam to uncover the root of your dry eye syndrome and to recommend the most appropriate, helpful solution. We will also check your contact lenses and how they move on your eyes to ensure that an improper fit isn’t causing you discomfort.

2. Look into a New Contacts Solution

Not all disinfectants are the same. Some cleaning solutions can make dry eye worse, while others contain moisturizing ingredients to help reduce symptoms of dry eye. Ask your eye doctor to recommend the most suitable product for cleaning and storing your contacts.

3. Use Eye Drops

Also known as artificial tears, over-the-counter eye drops are usually the frontline treatment for dry eye. In many cases, these lubricating products are all that you need to alleviate eye irritation. With so many types of eye drops on the market, how do you choose? First of all, check with your optometrist to verify which types of eye drops are compatible with your contact lenses. Second, look for healthier preservative-free eye drops, especially if you use them more often than once every two hours.

4. Wear the Right Type of Contacts

Contact lenses are not created equal. In general, lightweight soft contacts are more likely to prevent dry eye, because they allow a higher level of water retention than hard lenses. It is a good idea to investigate the water content of your lenses; look for the maximum! Thin and breathable are important criteria for choosing your contacts. Many of the newer, advanced technologies give contacts a moister and comfortable feel, such as specialized silicone hydrogel lenses.

5. Daily Disposable Contacts

The more frequent the replacement schedule for your contacts, the less time for irritating deposits to build up on the lens surface. Debris and deposits can worsen your dry eye symptoms, as well as lead to clogged tear ducts.

Dry eye used to make it impossible to wear contacts. That is no longer the case. Nowadays, we can offer plenty of tips on how to enhance comfort for our Thornhill patients who wear contacts with dry eye syndrome. Schedule a consultation to learn more!

Does Smoking Affect Vision?

Eye Doctors Weigh In: How Smoking Can Harm Your Vision & Eye Health

We all know that smoking is bad for you, especially the risks that it poses to your heart and lungs. What many people do not know is that cigarette smoke negatively affects your eyes and vision too. As our eye doctor can explain during your next eye exam, smoking has been directly linked to an increase in the risks of both cataracts and macular degeneration, two leading causes of vision loss, and it is believed to be a factor in a number of other eye and vision issues.

Smoking and Cataracts

Studies show that smoking doubles the risk of cataracts and with heavy smoking, the risk triples. In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of smoking and the likelihood of cataracts. Cataracts are characterised by the clouding of the lens of the eye and it is believed that smoking affects the cells of the lens, accelerating this process.

Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, however they can be treated surgically by removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Symptoms include:

    • Blurred, cloudy or dim vision
    • Sensitivity to light and glare
    • Presence of halos around lights
    • Increasingly poor night vision
    • Fading color vision
    • Double vision
    • and frequent prescription changes with minimal improvement in vision

Smoking and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

According to medical research, smoking increases the likelihood of developing age-related macular degeneration between two and four times the normal risk – the more you smoke, the greater the risk. Unfortunately, there is also an increased risk for those exposed to cigarette smoke for extended periods of time.

Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is a condition in which the macula, which is the center of the retina, begins to to deteriorate, reducing central vision and the eye’s ability to see fine details. The disease is characterized by blurred and distorted eyesight and blind spots in the central vision. With time, the disease can progress to leave the person with low vision, which is significant vision loss that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.

Other Eye and Vision Risks of Smoking

Smoking has also been linked to dry eyes, optic nerve damage and diabetic retinopathy (for those with diabetes).

“Eye Vitamins” are often used without doctor’s recommendations. Smokers are cautioned not to take beta-carotene supplements, specifically, (or multi-vitamins containing this ingredient) as studies indicate there is increased risk of cancer even in people who quit smoking.

What to Do?

Even if you have been smoking for years, quitting will reduce the risks of developing these conditions, for yourself and those around you. If you do smoke, make sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to catch any developing disease early. Early diagnosis and treatment can be the key to saving your vision and preventing permanent vision loss.

Sjogren’s Awareness – Understanding The Invisible Disease 

In an effort to spread the word to increase awareness about Sjogren’s Disease, eye care providers are speaking out about this hard-to-diagnose condition.

As our eye doctor can explain during your next eye exam, Sjogren’s is a systemic autoimmune disorder that can affect the whole body. One of the primary symptoms is excessive dryness particularly in the eyes and mouth. Other serious symptoms include chronic fatigue and pain, specifically in the joints, as well as major organ dysfunction. The syndrome also increases chances of neuropathies and lymphomas.

The severity of the disease varies greatly, ranging from mild discomfort to debilitating symptoms that can seriously impair normal functioning in everyday life. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious complications and improve quality of life. There is currently no cure for Sjogren’s, yet there are treatments for many of the individual symptoms. On average patients are prescribed upwards of 8 medications to treat the wide range of symptoms.

Women are nine times more likely to develop Sjogren’s than men and diagnosis usually occurs around the age of 40. Unfortunately, because the symptoms vary from person to person, and the disease often occurs in the presence of or mimics other diseases (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, allergies or multiple sclerosis) the disease is often misdiagnosed or overlooked. Further, because the symptoms can affect different parts of the body system such as the teeth, eyes or musculoskeletal system, various health professionals are sought to diagnose or treat specific symptoms (such as rheumatologists, dentists or eye doctors) while the big picture is often missed. On average it takes almost three years to obtain a Sjogren’s diagnosis once symptoms are noticed.

Since dry eye is one of the most common early symptoms of the disease, there has been an effort to educate eye care providers to recognize and to be aware to look for symptoms of the disease. Patients also need to be aware and proactive about speaking to their health care providers about potential diagnosis and treatment. Knowing the risk factors and symptoms can be imperative to a faster diagnosis.

Your eye doctor may be able to detect and diagnose Sjogren’s syndrome from dry eye symptoms as well as other diagnostic tests and review of symptoms. With this diagnosis the treatment will be different from typical dry eye disease. Since it is an autoimmune disease, lubricating eye drops may provide temporary relief but will not address the source of the problem. Your doctor may prescribe newer cyclosporine drops as well to treat the inflammatory response. If you have dry eyes and typical treatments aren’t working, it may be worthwhile to ask about Sjogren’s.

Sjogren’s patients often feel misunderstood because most of the debilitating symptoms are not visible to others and the disease is often not recognized largely due to a lack of awareness. By increasing both public and professional awareness, the goal is to reduce diagnosis time and to advance research on the cure for this disorder.

Eye Health For Women

Hey women! Did you know that women are more likely to suffer from vision problems and are at higher risk of permanent vision loss than men? Well 91% of the women surveyed recently didn’t know that, which means that many of them aren’t taking the necessary precautions to prevent eye damage and vision loss.

According to a recent study, the statistics for many of the major vision problems show that women have a higher percentage of incidence than men. These include:

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration 65%
  • Cataracts 61%
  • Glaucoma 61%
  • Refractive Error 56%
  • Vision Impairment 63%

As our eye doctor can explain during your next eye exam, women are also more susceptible to develop chronic dry eye, partially because it is often associated with other health issues that are more common in women such as ocular rosacea which is three times more prevalent in women. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can also contribute to dry eye.

It’s important for women to know the risks for eye-related diseases and vision impairment and the steps they can take to prevent eventual vision loss. Here are some ways that you can help to protect your eyes and save your eyesight:

  • Find out about family history of eye diseases and conditions.
  • Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses when outdoors.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Consume a healthy diet with proper nutrition and special eye health supplements as prescribed by an eye doctor.
  • Adhere to contact lens hygiene and safety.
  • Adhere to cosmetic hygiene and safety precautions.
  • Protect your eyes against extended exposure to blue light from computers, smartphones and LED lamps.
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and have diabetes, see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. In women who have diabetes, diabetic retinopathy can accelerate quickly during pregnancy and can present a risk for the baby as well.

Mothers are often charged with caring for the eye health of the entire family, but too often their own eye health needs fall to the wayside. It is critical that mothers take care of their eyes and overall health so that they can be in the best condition to care for their families.

Speak to your eye care professional about your personal eye health and vision risks and the precautions and measures you should take to protect your eyes. Encourage the other women in your life to do so as well. Once vision is lost, it often can’t be regained and there are many steps you can take to prevent it with proper knowledge and awareness.

The most important way to prevent vision loss is to ensure you schedule regular eye exams. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear as many eye issues are painless and symptomless, and sometimes by the time you notice symptoms, vision loss is untreatable.

The Right (and the Wrong) Way to Clean Your Glasses

There is nothing worse than a dirty spot on your glasses – well except perhaps many dirty spots or smudges. When that happens, most of us are tempted to grab the corner of our shirt and wipe it off, but resist the temptation – this is actually not a good idea.

As our eye doctor can explain during your next eye exam, there is a right way and a wrong way to clean your glasses. Cleaning your glasses properly will not only remove irritating dirt and smudges, but will also prevent your lenses from getting scratched allowing you to see your best.

You want to make sure that the materials you use to clean your lenses are clean and soft. The reason your shirt corner is not the best option is because it likely contains dust or particles that can scratch your lens. However, you don’t need fancy, lens cleaners either. In truth the best cleaner for your glasses may be more simple than you expect –

Gentle Dish Soap

That’s right, a gentle dish soap, warm water and a clean, dry soft cotton towel are the best tools you can have for cleaning your lenses.

Simply rinse your glasses in warm water and apply a small drop of soap (make sure to use a brand of soap that is lotion and moisturizer free). Rub the soap into the lens with your fingers and rinse thoroughly until all of the soap has been removed. Gently shake the glasses to remove excess water and then dry with a clean, dry, lint-free towel.

You may be wondering about the microfiber lens cloths and spray cleaner you get from your optician. These lens cleaning packs are great for when you are on the go and don’t have access to a sink and dish soap. The microfiber cloths are also great for polishing dry lenses after any dust or particles are blown away- just make sure they are cleaned regularly. For a real, thorough clean however, we advise that you use the technique above.

Cleaning Don’ts

Don’t use vinegar, glass or window cleaner, bleach, ammonia or spit/saliva for cleaning your lenses. The chemicals could strip off the coatings on your lenses, and saliva – well, it just doesn’t work. In particular, many lenses these days have anti-glare treatments that are especially prone to damage if not cleaned properly and are particularly vulnerable to window cleaners and alcohol.

Remember once your glasses are scratched, there is little to do to repair them. If you see something on your lens try to blow or brush it away carefully before you use a cloth to clean your lenses.

Keeping Your Lenses Clean

To avoid dirt and smudges, always take your glasses off with two hands using the arms of the frame and avoid touching the lenses. Further, the best way to preserve your glasses and keep them clean is to keep them in a case when they are not in use. It’s worthwhile to get an extra case or two to have on hand in the car or in your purse for times that you need to take your glasses off. If you notice swirled or circular scratches on your lenses, those are almost always from improper cleaning so make sure to take the time to clean them properly the next time.