Solar Eclipse Mania!

Image result for solar eclipse images

There are a TON of articles on the internet about Monday’s Solar Eclipse – its truly an incredible phenomenon!  But please don’t ignore the warnings about protecting your eyes – here’s what you need to know:

The sun is the most powerful source of energy in the solar system.

 Its so intense, that if you look directly at it, it can actually burn your retina!  When light enters your eye, the lens focuses light to the retina, located in the back of the eye.  We “see” because the retina’s chemical sensors pick up on the presence of light and transmit information to the brain.

The retina can handle indirect sunlight, but looking directly at the sun is too intense.

Think of what happens when you hold a magnifying glass up to the sun; it can focus light intensely enough to start a fire.  Since a big chunk of sunlight is near-infrared radiation which can cause heat and thus burns, something similar happens with the lens in your eye when its focused directly on the sun (Solar Retinopathy).  The light from the sun is very intense and concentrated into a very small area called the fovea.  Its converted to heat which burns the retina, leaving a permanent burn.  This can leave a permanent blind spot in the most central part of the vision, where we perceive the sharpest vision.  Unfortunately, our retina doesn’t have pain receptors, so you can’t “feel” the sunburn.  What’s more, the burn doesn’t heal because the retina is made of nerve tissue, which doesn’t readily regenerate.

In addition, looking at the sun can cause a photochemical toxicity, forming free radicals that can attack the retinal tissue and cause cell death.  Once the retinal tissue is destroyed, it cannot regenerate.

How long does it take for damage to occur?

Only seconds!  Its like an intense burn – damage can happen almost immediately, but obviously the longer the exposure, the more damage can occur.  In cases of relatively short exposure and minimal damage, symptoms may resolve over weeks to months, but in more severe cases, the damage is permanent.  Children are particularly at risk, as they have virtually no natural protection – their pupils are large and their lenses are clear, both of which allow more light to the retina.

How will your vision be affected if you suffer damage?

You may have loss of your central vision (solar retinopathy), distorted or blurred vision, or altered color vision.  These symptoms may show up immediately, within days or weeks, or even in years to come.

So how do you view the eclipse safely?

 Sunglasses are NOT ENOUGH!!!  They don’t block enough light.  Viewing the sun without damage requires glasses that filter all but 0.003% of visible light, and block out most ultraviolet and infrared light as well.  When you put your NASA approved solar eclipse glasses on, you will notice that you can see almost nothing!  If you’re not sure if the glasses you purchased are safe, you can visit the American Astronomical Society for a list of trusted vendors.  If you’re still not sure, your safest bet is to watch the footage on TV – its not worth the risk!

Happy Viewing on Monday – be safe, and please comment on your experience!


Suffering from Chronic Dry Eye?


Suffering from Chronic Dry eye?


Did you know?  More than 22 million people suffer from Dry Eyes.

If you experience symptoms of burning, stinging, itchiness, light sensitivity, grittiness, redness, or blurred or fluctuation vision, you may have Dry Eye.  The exact causes of your dry eyes are as individual as you are.  Dr. DenHartog’s comprehensive evaluation can assess the specific cause your condition.

MiBo Thermoflow

Once the underlying cause of your dry eye is determined, Dr. DenHartog will prescribe at-home treatments.  In addition, treatment can be enhanced with our in-office MiBo Thermoflow treatment.  MiBo Thermoflow supplies continuous controlled heat that is applied to the outer skin of the eye lids along with ultrasound gel for a gentle massage.  The heat is absorbed deep into the tissue and breaks down the hardened oils in the Meibomian glands.  With a specific prescribed therapy regimen, the ducts of the Meibomian glands will secrete thinner and clearer oils which will allow for a healthier tear film.

For best results, Dr. DenHartog recommends 3 treatments within 1 month.  This treatment is not covered by insurance.

Give the office a call to schedule your Dry Eye Evaluation!

Allergies and Eye Discomfort


April showers have ended and the May flowers are in full bloom. If you find yourself with itchy, watery and swollen eyes you may be a sufferer of seasonal allergies.


Eye Allergy Relief


Avoid Allergens. The best way to keep seasonal allergies at bay is to stay away from allergens. Stay indoors as much as possible when pollen counts are high. When inside also be sure to use the air conditioner to filter the air from pollen, be sure to use a high quality furnace filter to trap common allergens. When you do have to go outside be sure to drive with the car windows up and wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from allergens.


Consider Eye Drops or Other Medication. If allergens are still causing eye irritation consider using over-the-counter eye drops or antihistamines. If over-the-counter medications and eye drops do not provide enough relief there is also the option to ask your eye doctor for a prescription medication. You can book an appointment at Downtown Eye Care by calling (515) 281-0902.


Avoid Contact Lenses. Contact lenses can attract and accumulate airborne allergens. Wearing daily disposable contact lenses can help avoid the build-up of allergens on contact lenses. You could also take this chance to treat yourself to a brand new pair of eyeglasses. During the month of May enjoy half off a new pair of frames at Downtown Eye Care!
Allergens don’t have to be a pain. Avoid discomfort this allergy season by making these small changes and booking your next appointment at Downtown Eye Care for half off your new eyeglasses frames.

Ray Ban Style Event

Join us this Friday for a Ray Ban Style Event featuring their entire line of sunglasses and prescription eyewear!  Enter to win a FREE pair of Ray Bans!


Enjoy 20% off Ray Ban frames and sunglasses on Friday, March 24

Announcing… RAY BANS!

Introducing Ray Bans!  Come see our selection of mens, womens, and sunwear!

Downtown Eye Care’s Macular Degeneration FAQ

Macular Degeneration Des MoinesMacular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that affects many older Americans that can only be treated effectively if it is diagnosed in its early stages. Even if you have normal vision with no symptoms of the disease, it’s important to undergo regular comprehensive eye exams to determine the health of your eyes and diagnose issues like macular degeneration that can lead to permanent blindness if left untreated. Our vision care team at Downtown Eye Care in Des Moines, headed by our board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Barbara Evans, M.D., will provide answers to your most important questions regarding macular degeneration and how to best protect your vision.

What is Macular Degeneration?

There are two types of age-related macular degeneration, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is identified by a progressive deterioration of your eye’s macula near the center of the retina. This condition can lead to blurred vision or even complete vision loss in the center of your vision. Central vision is integral to many daily activities like reading and driving, so this type of macular degeneration can severely impact your quality of life if left untreated.

Wet macular degeneration, on the other hand, is diagnosed when the blood vessels underneath your retina begin to leak. This condition can cause rapid vision loss and is less common than dry macular degeneration. [Read more…]

Come to Our Vision Clinic for Your Favorite Frames

Optometrist in Des MoinesIf you find yourself starting to squint or strain more often to see things that used to cause you no trouble at all, it’s time to see us at Downtown Eye Care in Des Moines. Our team, headed by Dr. Barbara Evans, M.D., can give you a comprehensive eye exam and help you pick out new glasses in our vision clinic. You’ll be impressed by the benefits we provide to make your experience shopping for new glasses easy and fun, like our friendly and knowledgeable eye care professionals and our Smart Mirror technology! [Read more…]

Introducing the Downtown Eye Care Smart Mirror!

smart mirror_eye care examPeople with especially blurry vision can have a hard time shopping for new glasses because they can’t see what new frames look like on their faces, but Downtown Eye Care’s Smart Mirror technology solves the problem. If you’re one of those people whose blurry vision makes shopping for new glasses a hassle, you’ll be delighted by how effortless and fun the process can be with our Smart Mirror. Today our team at Downtown Eye Care in Des Moines, IA will explain what the Smart Mirror is and how it can help you pick out your new glasses with ease! [Read more…]

Vision Screening vs. Comprehensive Eye Exams

eye exams_downtown eye careIf it’s been awhile since you’ve been to the eye doctor, you may not know what to expect when you come in for an appointment. For example, did you know that there’s a big difference between vision screening and comprehensive eye exams? If you’re not sure what the differences are between these two examinations, this article will explain everything you need to know. Our team at Downtown Eye Care in Des Moines, IA is here to serve all of your eye health needs, from eye exams to glasses and contacts to surgical procedures for correcting your vision. [Read more…]

Glaucoma and Family History Can Affect Your Vision

glaucoma treatment with downtown eye care Although anyone can develop glaucoma, those who have a family history of this optic nerve disease can be at even greater risk. The only way to effectively diagnose and prevent significant damage to your optic nerve is through early detection with regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams. Dr. Barbara Evans, M.D. at Downtown Eye Care in Des Moines, IA has years of experience diagnosing and treating glaucoma in her patients. If you have a family history of glaucoma, it’s important for you to undergo regular eye exams. [Read more…]