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: Today it seems that many children are very quickly diagnosed as learning disabled or dyslexic. Does vision play a role?
A: In some cases a large undetected prescription (farsightedness or astigmatism) or an eye muscle imbalance (binocular vision problem) can make reading and learning a challenge. Once properly diagnosed and treated, reading and learning tasks can become much more comfortable, visually.
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 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: 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 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: 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: 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 are multifocal lens implants?
A: Multifocal lens implants are often used in cataract surgery to reduce the dependency upon glasses for both distance and near vision after the surgery is completed. As with other medical technology, not everyone will be a good candidate for this type of surgical implant. Patients with corneal scarring or significant astigmatism, as well as surgical candidates with eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration, may not receive the full benefit from these lenses. Your eye care professional can help determine if this lens implant option is right for you.
Q: What are cataracts and what's the best treatment?
A: Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye, positioned just behind the pupil, changes from clear to cloudy. This causes increasingly blurry vision that a higher vision prescription cannot help. When the blurriness worsens to the point that it interferes with a person’s ability to read or drive, or otherwise hinders their lifestyle, the cloudy lens is surgically removed and replaced with a clear plastic one, restoring clear vision. These days, cataract surgery can take as little as 20 minutes, with little down-time and excellent outcomes.
Q: My child saw 20/20 at their school physical. That's perfect vision for back to school, right?
A: Maybe! 20/20 only tells us what size letter can be seen 20 feet away. People with significant farsightedness or eye muscle imbalances may see "20/20", but experience enough visual strain to make reading difficult. Eighty percent of learning is visual so include a thorough eye exam in your child's Back-to-School list.
Q: Why is my child having trouble reading and concentrating on schoolwork?
A: Your child may have an underlying refractive issue, such as farsightedness, nearsightedness or an astigmatism that maybe be causing blurred vision, making it hard for your child to concentrate and focus. There may also binocularity issues, which is how well the two eyes work together, or focusing issues that can affect a child's schoolwork. When working with your child, we will evaluate the visual system including binocular and accommodative systems to determine if his/her vision may be interfering with academic success.
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: What can I do about Digital Eye Strain?
A: We can help! There are various eyeglass lenses and lens coatings for people of all ages to relieve digital eye strain and ease fatigue after extended reading or computer use. Lens treatments, such as anti-reflective and blue light blocking coatings, protect your eyes and increase comfort. We also prescribe many different types of contact lenses to reduce reading discomfort and make it easier to switch focus from near to far.
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: Can children wear contact lenses?
A: Yes! Once a child is mature enough to learn how to insert and remove contact lenses as well as take care of them, they can wear contact lenses. The best option for children is daily disposable contact lenses. Kids greatly benefit from contact lenses, especially when playing sports and during other extracurricular activities. They also help with a child's self esteem and confidence.
Q: Can I swim with contact lenses?
A: Swimming with contact lenses should be avoided whenever possible to help prevent bacterial contamination of your eye. Swimming with contacts can result in eye infections, irritation, and potentially sight-threatening conditions such as a corneal ulcer. Water can be home to countless viruses and dangerous microbes. One of the most serious is the Acanthamoeba organism, which can attach to contact lenses and cause the cornea to become infected and inflamed. This condition, called Acanthamoeba keratitis, is associated with wearing contact lenses while swimming and can cause permanent vision loss or require a corneal transplant to recover lost vision if not treated early enough. If water gets in your eyes when swimming, you should remove, clean, and disinfect your contact lenses as soon as possible to reduce your risk of eye irritation and infection. If you're going to swim while wearing contact lenses, the best way to reduce your risk of eye irritation and infection is to wear waterproof swim goggles with disposable contact lenses. In addition to protecting your eyes from waterborne contaminants, swim goggles reduce the risk of one of your contact lenses dislodging from your eye. Your eye doctor will be able to advise you on your best eyewear options for swimming and other activities you enjoy.
Q: What Is Convergence Insufficiency?
A: Convergence Insufficiency (CI) is a visual condition where the eyes are not able to comfortably focus on near-vision tasks, which makes reading difficult or impossible. The condition tends to make kids see double, lose their place, read slowly, and get tired after a short time reading. Many children with CI avoid books, struggle in school, take very long to do their homework, and may even be misdiagnosed as having ADD/ADHD. Convergence Insufficiency patients are also more prone to dizziness and vertigo. The best treatment for CI is vision therapy. These exercises help the person have better control of their eyes, allowing them to enjoy reading and do well at school.
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: What are some of the symptoms of Dry Eye?
A: There are numerous symptoms of dry eye disease, but the most common ones include excess tearing, lack of tearing, burning, redness, foreign body sensation, intermittently blurred vision, and an inability to tolerate contact lenses. If you have any of the above symptoms, and want a professional diagnosis, please make an appointment here.
Q: How does high blood pressure affect vision?
A: High blood pressure alone does not usually affect vision directly, however hypertension is a known risk factor in the onset and/or progression of other eye disease, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration, as well as blocked veins and arteries in the retina or nerves of the eye that can severely affect vision. In malignant hypertension, very high blood pressure can damage organs, and may cause swelling of the macula and acute loss of vision.
Q: I see fine. Why do I need to see an Eye Doctor?
A: Regular eye exams are the only way to catch “silent” diseases such as diabetes, glaucoma and other conditions in their early stages, when they’re more easily managed or treated. Considering mass-produced, over-the-counter reading glasses? You are truly doing yourself a disservice, both financially and medically. One-size-fits-all reading glasses not only do not work well for most people who have a different prescription in each eye, and/or astigmatism, or whose lens and frame parameters are not measured correctly. Moreover, they bypass the opportunity to have their eyes checked for early detection of many manageable diseases or conditions. For those insisting on selecting glasses not measured specifically for their eyes, headache and eye fatigue are common symptoms.
Q: What exactly is pink eye?
A: Pink eye is really anything that makes the eye pink. The official term is conjunctivitis, meaning an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mostly transparent, skinnish like covering over the white of the eye. When the eye is irritated, the conjunctiva swells and blood vessels in it dilate, giving the eye a pink or reddish appearance. Many different agents can lead to this, including bacteria, viruses, allergens, and toxic or mechanical irritants. Treatment and contagion protection depend on the specific cause. Often the cause can be determined based on history, eye appearance with specialized instruments, and symptoms. Viral pinkeye, for example, is typically associated with increased light sensitivity, whereas itching is a key sign in allergic pink eye. There is a good deal of overlap with all kinds, however. Bacterial and viral pinkeye are both contagious, and fairly common. With any pink eye, particularly if it is getting worse, or not getting any better within a day, it’s best to be seen by an eye care practitioner. She or he will have the experience, knowledge and instrumentation to provide the most efficient treatment and recommendations.
Q: Is wearing makeup or eye mascara harmful to my eyes?
A: Wearing makeup is not harmful to your eyes, if it's done properly. Eyeliner should be worn on the outer eyelid margin, not the inner margin where it can cause issues with infections and dry eyes if it blocks the openings of the meibomian glands, which secrete oil to keep your tears on your eyes longer. Additionally, all eye makeup should be removed every night before bed. We all have bacteria that lives on our skin, which is normal. However, the bacteria and mites that live in and around our lashes like to feed on the dried mascara and eyeliner overnight, which can cause bacterial overgrowth and infections. Replace your mascara every 3-4 months: that bacteria gets in the tube, too!
Q: I have "spots" floating around in my eye. Should I be worried?
A: Spots and floaters are usually harmless. However, in some cases it can be a sign of a retinal detachment or bleeding. Anyone experiencing symptoms of flashing lights and flashing spots should contact our office immediately for a detailed eye exam.
Q: Tax Dollars: If I have flex money available towards an eye exam, what do you recommend I use it towards or what does it cover?
A: Flex money isn't on any eye care plan but just money that comes from your job. If you need an eye exam that comes first, but right after would be eyeglasses. Glasses are something that they can pocket and most of the time, flex money can cover most, if not all, the cost of a pair.
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: What is “Low Vision”?
A: The term “low vision” refers to partial sight that cannot be corrected with surgery, drugs, eyeglasses, or contact lenses. The condition can range from having unsatisfactory vision to being nearly blind. The causes of low vision include eye injury, diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and heredity. As a result of reduced visual acuity or decreased contrast sensitivity, low-vision individuals may be unable to fully distinguish colors, see contrasts, or determine spatial relationships among objects. Fortunately, there are a variety of devices and strategies available for helping people with low vision overcome vision loss and live independently.
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: Who's at the most risk for macular degeneration?
A: If you're over age 65, a smoker, african american, have vascular health problems, or have a family member with macular degeneration, you have an increased risk for macular degeneration. You're also at risk if you take these drugs: Aralen (chloroquine) or phenothiazine derivatives [Thorazine (chlorpromazine), Mellaril (thioridazine), Prolixin (fluphenazine), Trilafon (perphenazine) and Stelazine (trifluoperazine)].
Q: Is there any way to prevent macular degeneration?
A: Doctors aren't sure how to prevent macular degeneration. Research suggests that ultraviolet light (and possibly blue light) factors into the problem, so sunglasses could be very beneficial. What you eat also affects your macula. Researchers know that antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E), zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and essential fatty acids all can aid in preventing and slowing down macular degeneration. Read more about nutrition and eye health. Ask your doctor about recommended nutritional supplements. Exercising and quitting smoking might also be helpful.
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: 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: At what age should my child have his/her eyes examined?
A: According to the American Optometric Association, infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months old. Children should return for eye exams at 3 years of age and prior to starting kindergarten at about age 5 or 6 years old, then every year afterwards. School screenings are not adequate and often miss vision issues. Having an early eye examination is important to ensure proper visual skills for learning. Read More Here to learn more about children's eye exams.
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: 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: 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 does it mean to have 20/20 vision [actually, 20/20 visual acuity]
A: When we say that someone has 20/20 visual acuity, we mean that he or she could read a letter standing 20 feet away that most people with healthy eyes should be able to read standing 20 feet away. It is a standard set in our industry to indicate “normal” vision. Some people could actually see better than 20/20 visual acuity, so it is not accurate to state that 20/20 visual acuity is “perfect” vision. Also, visual acuity is not the only aspect of a person’s overall vision. For instance, you also have to consider one’s color vision, depth perception, peripheral vision, and contrast sensitivity.
Q: What is Vision Therapy?
A: Vision therapy is an individualized treatment plan prescribed by a Doctor of Optometry. It is used to treat eye conditions, such as strabismus (eye turn) or amblyopia (“lazy eye”). Through Vision Therapy, a Doctor of Optometry also teaches, improves and/or reinforces important visual skills, such as eye tracking, eye focusing and eye teaming abilities. Without these visual skills, simple tasks like reading or copying notes from the board become difficult. Skipping words or lines while reading, using a finger while reading, blurry near vision, double vision, eyestrain and/or eye fatigue are also common symptoms.