Q: How do allergies directly affect the eyes?
A: Chronic allergies may lead to permanent damage to the tissue of your eye and eyelids. If left untreated, it may even cause scarring of the conjunctiva, the membrane covering the inner eyelid that extends to the whites of the eyes. Ocular allergies can make contact lens wear almost impossible and are among the many causes of contact lens drop-out. Most common allergy medications will tend to dry out the eyes, and relying on nasal sprays containing corticosteroids can increase the pressure inside your eyes, causing other complications such as glaucoma.
Q: What are the common symptoms of OCULAR allergies?
A: Excessive tearing, frequent eye rubbing, constant irritation especially in the corners of your eyes closest to the nose, lid swelling or puffy eyes, and red or pink eyes are some of the most common ocular allergy symptoms.
Q: What is the difference between seasonal and perennial allergies? How would I know the difference?
A: Simply put, seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) is a more common and persistent form of ocular allergies that occurs during changes in season, which include outdoor weeds, grasses, and tree pollen. Whereas perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC) is a more mild and chronic presentation that occurs year-round from common indoor allergens, such as animal dander, molds, fungus, and even dust mites.
Q: What is Amblyopia?
A: Sometimes called Lazy eye, it is the underdevelopment of central vision in one or sometimes both eyes; it also prevents both eyes from working together.
Q: What exactly is astigmatism?
A: Astigmatism is usually caused by an irregularly shaped cornea, the front surface of the eye. Instead of being a perfect sphere, like a ball bearing or a marble, it can become a little more like a football, being more curved in one direction than the other. This brings light into focus at more than one point on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in blurry or distorted vision.
Q: I've heard that blue light is dangerous, like UV radiation. Do I need to protect my eyes from it and, if so, how?
A: We all know about ultraviolet (UV) sun damage, but recently, the optical community has found that high-energy visible light (HEV) or "blue light" from digital screens may cause long term damage to the eye, too. Over time, exposure can increase the risk of macular degeneration, and other problems. Similar to anti-reflective and UV-protective coatings, a new lens coating has been developed to protect our eyes by blocking out blue light rays coming from our handheld devices, computers and fluorescent bulbs.
Q: What is blue light and why is it dangerous?
A: Blue light is part of visible light and has a wavelength close to UV rays on the light spectrum. It is naturally produced by the sun, given off by fluorescent light bulbs, and emitted by LED screens on computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones. The eye's natural filters do not block blue light and chronic exposure may increase your risk for age-related macular degeneration. Evidence also shows that blue light exposure can lead to sleep problems.
Q: What are cataracts and how do they affect my vision?
A: A cataract is a gradual clouding of the crystalline lens located inside the eye, which causes decreased vision. Cataracts most commonly occur with aging, and are a normal part of the aging process. Other causes of cataract development include ocular trauma/surgery, radiation, smoking, systemic disease (metabolic and genetic conditions), and certain medications (particularly corticosteroids). Symptoms of cataract vision loss depend on the type, location, and severity of the cataract. Cataracts may cause gradually worsening blurry vision, halos around lights, poor night vision, prescription changes, and glare symptoms. A cataract is treated with outpatient surgery, in which the crystalline lens is removed and replaced with a clear lens implant. Surgery is typically done with local anesthesia, with minimal or no complications. Nearly all patients achieve improved vision and often do not require glasses post surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most common surgeries performed in the United States. Your optometrist will evaluate your eyes for cataracts at each comprehensive eye exam. Please let your optometrist know if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Q: My child is struggling in school. Does he / she need an eye exam?
A: A comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist can often determine if there are visual issues interfering with a child’s ability to perform well in school. Many visual symptoms, some obvious, others less so, can contribute to a child’s poor academic achievement. The most common symptoms to watch out for: blur at distance or near, skipping or re-reading lines or words, reduced reading comprehension, difficulty shifting focus from near to far or far to near, difficulty copying from the smart board, double vision, closing or covering an eye when working at near, headaches -- especially in the forehead, temple, or eyebrow regions, difficulty attending to near work or an avoidance of reading, poor spelling, misaligning numbers in math, unusual head or body posture when working at near. Some of these issues can be alleviated with a good pair of eyeglasses while others may require vision therapy. Vision therapy, like occupational therapy or physical therapy, is a systematic program where the body, in this case the visual system, can be retrained and strengthened to improve it’s ability to function.
Q: What is color blindness?
A: Color blindness describes the inability to see colors in a normal way. Most often, color vision deficiency is when someone cannot distinguish between certain colors, usually between greens and reds, and occasionally blues. In the vast majority of cases, it's genetic, and is inherited from their mother's side of the family, affecting males more often than females. Acquired color vision deficiency can be caused by certain diseases such as multiple sclerosis, drugs or chemicals, but it's rare.
Q: I work all day on my computer. How can I reduce the strain to my eyes?
A: Usually we recommend that the height of the monitor should be level with the tip of your nose. The screen should be 26 - 30 inches away from your eyes. You can prevent glare from the screen and the harmful effects of blue light by wearing anti-glare lenses and blue light protection. In addition you should follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of computer use, you should take a break for 20 seconds by looking at an object that is 20 feet away from you. If you feel that your eyes are suffering from computer use, please call to make an appointment so we can evaluate your condition.
Q: Do I need to use an anti-glare filter on my computer screen?
A: Anti-glare filters for the computer can be effective at reducing reflections from the computer screen, which may improve comfort for some. However, computer screen anti-glare filters will not help if you have eye fatigue due to visual problems associated with the constant focusing and refocusing of the eyes while working on computers. An evaluation with your eye doctor may determine that you may need prescription computer eyewear.
Q: What are progressive computer glasses?
A: Progressive lenses let people clearly see objects at multiple distances by incorporating a prescription for distance, midrange, and near vision. Since they are used full time for all activities like driving and watching TV, the upper portion you see through when looking straight out is for distance vision; you must lift your chin a little to see the computer through the midrange portion. Progressive computer glasses, however, are made for heavy computer use. When looking straight ahead, your eyes focus on your computer and when you look down, you can read. Some lenses can focus out 5 feet, others out to 10 feet. Generally speaking, progressive computer lenses are for computers and reading due to their larger midrange zone and are not recommended for driving. They can be perfect for anyone who spends long hours in front of a monitor.
Q: What age can you start wearing contact lenses?
A: There's no set age limit for contact lenses; whenever mom says it's okay, it's okay! Typically children start using contacts at age 12 or 13. Daily or 1-Day lenses are easier for children and teens because they require zero maintenance and are a safer option for younger wearers.
Q: Can I wear contacts while I sleep?
A: Generally, we do not recommend sleeping in contact lenses on a regular or prolonged basis. The eye is a dark, warm place while you are sleeping. Bacteria thrive in dark, warm places. There are contact lenses FDA approved to sleep in, but they should always be removed and thoroughly disinfected every week.
Q: Can beauty supply stores or flea markets sell contacts?
A: No, contact lenses are medical devices that are regulated by the government. It is illegal for beauty supply stores or flea markets to sell contacts, even cosmetic lenses, and even if they aren't for vision correction. All contact lenses (including decorative ones) require a valid prescription, and only certified vendors can sell them. It can be very dangerous for your eyes to wear counterfeit lenses. You should contact your local police department.
Q: What is diabetic retinopathy?
A: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is an eye disease that can occur at any stage and with any type of diabetes. In fact, sometimes diabetes is identified during an eye exam in a person who never suspected it. It is caused by damage to the very delicate blood vessels within the retina at the back of the eye. As DR progresses, these blood vessels may start to leak blood and fluid into the retina or other areas of the eye, and new vessels may begin to grow within the retina, which can cause vision loss, and sudden complications including internal bleeds and retinal detachment.
Q: My eyes are always burning and tired, what is causing this and what can I do about it?
A: Tired, burning, and irritated eyes are signs of dry eye syndrome, a very common condition. Women are more prone to developing dry eyes, and aging is a risk factor too. Eye dryness is often due to a decrease in the oil production in our eyelid glands, which causes the tears to evaporate too quickly. Certain medications and health issues can also contribute to dryness. There is no true cure for dry eye, but many treatments are available such as the use of artificial tears, Omega 3 nutritional supplements, prescription medications such as Restasis, and eyelid hygiene. Our eye doctors customize the treatments for each person and their specific condition.
Q: Why do my eyes water if I have dry eye?
A: People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have poor quality tears. As the eyes dry out, they become more irritated and uncomfortable. The lacrimal glands may produce more tears in response to the inflammation and ocular surface changes, but they evaporate too quickly. Mild cases of dry eyes can often be managed using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. These can be used as often as needed to supplement natural tear production.
Q: I was cleaning in the shed or grinding some metal and I felt something fly into my eye and now it is irritated and watery, what should I do?
A: Call and request an emergency eye doctor's appointment. We will examine your eye to make sure the damage isn't serious, or treat it if necessary, and can recommend safety goggles or specialty eyewear to prevent injuries for next time you do that kind of work.
Q: At what age should I bring my child in for her first eye exam? And how much does it cost?
A: The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that the first eye exam be done at the age of 6 months, then next around the age of 3, and then yearly thereafter. Your Optometrist may recommend more frequent eye exams if he or she has something they want to monitor more closely. As for the cost; luckily, in many Provinces in Canada, children’s eye exams are covered by the provincial health care provider until the child’s 19th birthday. It’s not just “once per year” either; a child can come in as often as necessary and the province will cover it.
Q: How often should I have my glasses prescription checked?
A: The American Optometric Association recommends yearly eye-health examinations. As part of a comprehensive eye exam your optometrist will not only check your glasses prescription for changes, but he/she will also evaluate your eye health. Every patient needs to be regularly monitored for glaucoma and other eye conditions. For adults, it’s important to screen for age-related ocular diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration. Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, require annual eye-health exams, to monitor the potential side-effects they can have on the eyes. For children, visual dysfunction conditions like “lazy eye” and “crossed eyes,” can be missed with school vision screenings alone, so yearly eye exams are recommended for kids too. A regular complete eye examination is an integral part of routine health care.
Q: When I close my eyes, I see flashes of light in my vision. Is that bad?
A: Flashes of light in your vision could be a very dangerous sign! Something is tugging at your retina and eliciting these flashes of light. Sometimes it could be the vitreous humor pulling at the retina in aging vitreous degeneration, but sometimes it could mean a dangerous retinal tear or detachment. Detachments need to be treated within 24 hours for the best prognosis in preventing permanent vision loss. Emergency minor evaluations are often covered by medical insurance.
Q: What exactly is glaucoma?
A: Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye's intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high. This means that your eye has too much aqueous humor in it, either because it produced too much, or because it's not draining properly. Other symptoms are optic nerve damage and vision loss. Glaucoma is a silent disease that robs the patient of their peripheral vision. Early detection is very important.
Q: Will my insurance plan cover my new glasses?
A: Most insurance plans only cover a portion of the cost for a new pair of glasses. While your insurance may provide a great saving to you, it may still cost you to have the quality of protection and comfort in vision you are hoping for.
Q: Am I a good candidate for refractive surgery?
A: Patients who are at least 18 years of age, have healthy eyes that are free from retinal problems, corneal scars, and any eye diseases are generally suitable. Many patients who are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism are potential candidates. We will also discuss your lifestyle needs to help you decide if LASIK is the best alternative for you. If you would like to schedule a free LASIK consultation, please contact our office.
Q: What exactly is macular degeneration?
A: Macular degeneration is a condition in which the eye's macula breaks down, causing a gradual or sudden loss of central vision. There are two forms called wet and dry. Patients need a detailed retinal eye exam to determine if they have this condition.
Q: What causes myopia?
A: Myopia is caused by a combination of environmental factors and heredity. Studies show that if we can move the focal point in front of the mid peripheral retina we can slow the progression of myopia. The increased use of cell phones and computers, as well as less time outdoors is probably a contributing factor.
Q: What are some foods I could eat to keep my eyes healthy?
A: Foods rich in vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids would be helpful. Here are some examples: Vitamin C citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes and broccoli Vitamin E vegetable oils, wheat germ, nuts and legumes Lutein and zeaxanthin Beta-carotene carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato and spinach Zinc oysters, beef and other meats, nuts Omega-3 fatty acids kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, corn, colored bell peppers cold-water fish (sardines, herring, salmon and tuna. esp wild-caught)
Q: What benefit does taking fish oil have on my eyes?
A: Fish oil, also known as omega 3 fatty acids, have fabulous anti-inflammatory properties. High quality triglyceride forms of fish oil are absorbed by the body and can help reduce inflammation throughout the whole body, but more specifically the eyes. Dry eyes are the most common symptom of inflammation that affects the front part of the eyes causing blurred vision, watering, redness, itching, and the feeling of "grit" or trash in the eye. PRN Nutraceuticals is the brand that we recommend and sell in our office. The daily recommended dose of omega 3's is at least 2000 mg and should be taken with a meal for proper absorption.
Q: What's the difference between buying eyeglasses online or from a Doctor of Optometry?
A: The best way to select a great pair of eyeglasses would be to use a team effort. The eye doctor generally interacts with the client during the exam and then all information is discussed along with the optician. The staff are trained to consider the shape of your face along with the size, and listen to exactly how the client prefers for their customized glasses to perform. Under our care, you get to be more hands- on and ensured of the quality of your purchase. The measurements and quality assurance we provide are critical to guarantee that you are seeing your best at all times. Our opticians take the time to make sure that you are educated thoroughly and that you are making informed decisions before purchasing, and we provide a warranty.
Q: Why can I no longer focus on objects up close?
A: Vision changes occur naturally as you age. When you reach your 40’s, focusing at close range becomes difficult. This is a natural part of the aging process caused by a gradual hardening of the eye’s crystalline lens, reducing its ability to change shape and focus at near. This condition is called Presbyopia.
Q: Does your office treat any eye related problems that children may have?
A: Any health concern related to the eye and the surrounding area can be taken care of in our office. Red eyes, allergies, blurred vision etc can all be medically related problems, and we can treat them in our office.
Q: What are bifocal glasses?
A: Bifocal glasses are old technology originally designed by Benjamin Franklin. They have a line which divides the lens with distance on the top and reading down below. There is no midrange so computer work is very difficult. Our office seldom uses bifocal lenses since midrange like dashboards and computer monitors are out of focus with a traditional bifocal design.
Q: What are progressive lenses and how do they differ from ordinary bifocals?
A: Progressive addition lenses feature a continuous, clear field of vision from distance, through the intermediate ranges to near without the use of annoying bifocal lines. Bifocal lenses use very old technology. Abrupt and awkward changes between distance and near prescriptions are separated by annoying lines that can be frustrating to wear. Please discuss with our optometrist to see if progressive lenses would be right for you.
Q: What are the signs of a retinal detachment?
A: A detachment of the retina may be preceded by flashes of light, increased “floater” spots in the vision or areas of “wavy, distorted vision”, etc. Most retinal detachments are painless. They can happen as a result of recent or past trauma such as falls, automobile accidents or other types of head injury. In some instances, people may be at risk for retinal detachments based on family history and increased nearsightedness. If you experience any of the above symptoms, consult your eye care professional as soon as possible.
Q: Why should I take an image of my retina during my eye exam?
A: A picture can say a 1000 words, and this saying holds true with the eye. There are many components of the eye, but one of the most important parts of the eye is the retina,which is located in the back of the eye behind the pupil and lens inside. The retina is responsible for converting light energy into chemical signals that are then transferred via the optic nerve to the brain, where that information is processed, resulting in our vision. There are no pain receptors within the retina, and so you will never feel any issues in the retina that may be life threatening, such as melanomas, and sight threatening, such as glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy. Changes within the retina can cause vision loss, therefore it is important for us to get imaging in the back of the eye so that we can check for any retinal disease, such as Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma, and so that we can establish a normal baseline so that we can monitor any changes more accurately. Dilations are also necessary for us to evaluate the back of the eye as well as imaging to ensure we have a complete overall sense of the eye.
Q: Should I wear sunglasses during the winter?
A: Yes! Ultraviolet (UV) rays can be just as damaging to your eyes during the winter as they are during the summer. UV rays are still strong during the winter because the sun sits lower in the sky, and at a different angle. Your eyes can be susceptible to UV exposure when sunlight bounces off of snow and reflects UV rays back up (sometimes up to 80 percent of them). Additionally, when sunlight reflects off of snow, it makes it very bright outside and can create an intense glare that makes it difficult to see. . In the long-term, overexposure to UV rays can lead to eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.
Q: What exactly does "20/20 vision" mean?
A: "20/20 vision" is commonly accepted as the standard of normal distance vision for a human being. Basically it means "good visual acuity at 20 feet." So if your vision is 20/20, you can read certain sizes of letters on a Snellen chart clearly at 20 feet or closer. But if your friend has 20/15 vision, his visual acuity is better than yours: you would have to stand 15 feet away from the chart to read the smaller letters that he can read while standing 20 feet away. Conversely, someone with 20/30 vision has worse distance vision than you. By the way, visual acuity at a distance isn't the only measure of how good your vision is. You could have 20/20 distance vision but still have difficulty seeing at night because of poor contrast sensitivity. Or you could have near vision problems because you're over 40 and experiencing presbyopia.
Q: Why shouldn't I buy my eye wear over the internet?
A: We feel it is important that proper measurements are taken and the frames are fitted for your face when choosing eyewear. There are certain measurements we utilize outside of just the "PD" (pupillary distance, which is the measurement between the eyes) that ensure a proper fit and centration of the lenses in the frame. This will enhance the optics of the lenses and the comfort of the prescription. This is especially important with patients who have an astigmatism, high prescriptions and patients who are progressive wearers.
Q: What is the difference between buying eyeglasses online or from a Doctor of Optometry?
A: With all of the options we now have for online purchasing, the question often comes up about buying glasses online. The bottom line is beware of doing this. There are several parameters of glasses that your doctor, the optician, and the optical lab work together to make glasses custom to your eyes and prescription. Ordering glasses online makes it very hard to get all of these parameters correct. In fact, in a recent study, researchers found that nearly half of all glasses ordered online either contained an inaccurate prescription, or didn't meet safety standards designed to protect the eyes. We strongly recommend buying your glasses through your eye doctor, and be fit for them correctly by a licensed optician.