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: 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 meant by the term allergic conjunctivitis? Is that the same as “pink eye”?
A: Allergic conjunctivitis is the clinical term for inflammation of the lining or membrane of the eye, called the conjunctiva, caused by allergic reactions to substances. Although a patient may present with red or pink eyes from excess inflammation, the common term "pink eye" can signify a broad range of conditions and can be misleading, as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other irritating substances can cause redness resembling a "pink eye." Your eye doctor can differentiate between an allergy and a true infection, which can lead to faster healing with the right treatment.
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: I have seasonal allergies. How come my eyes are still itchy even after I take a Claritin pill?
A: You may need an anti-allergy eye drop to target the symptoms in the eye. Sometimes, oral antihistamine medications are not that effective at treating the ocular symptoms, especially within the first few days of treatment. In fact, many of them can cause dry eyes, which worsens eye discomfort. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, over-the-counter or prescription-strength eye drops can provide relief.
Q: Why does allergy season affect my eyes?
A: It’s that time of the year for allergies, and for those who suffer, it’s more than just sneezing. It can mean months of itchy, watery, and puffy eyes. Because many of the allergens are in the air, they easily get into the eyes and cause problems. For some people, a sudden case of red and watery eyes can feel like an infection when really, it’s just allergies. Eye allergies, known as “allergic conjunctivitis”, can often be treated with over the counter medication, but for some, it is not enough. Let us help you manage your allergies this season.
Q: My previous eye doctor told me I have “stigma!” Am I going to go blind?
A: Stigma is actually referring to a type of refractive error known properly as astigmatism, and no, you will not go blind from having astigmatism; it is not a disease. In fact, this condition is relatively common. There are three types of refractive errors: myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. The former two are also known to as nearsighted (cannot see far away) and farsighted (cannot see up close). Astigmatism is simply the third category; it can affect both the near and far vision. Much like nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism is corrected using glasses or contacts. Technically speaking an eye with astigmatism requires two different prescriptions to correct vision in one eye, due to the more oval shape of the cornea. For contact lens wearers, this will require a more specialized contact lens and a more in-depth fitting procedure.
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: Does reading my smartphone or tablet in the dark damage my eyes?
A: Reading from a tablet or smartphone in the dark is okay for your eyes, as long as it's not for a long period of time. These devices have decent lighting and good contrast. However, they give off blue light, and long-term exposure may cause damage to the structures of the eye. As well, studies have shown that blue light at night disrupts melatonin production and interferes with healthy sleep cycles. Optometrists recommend wearing blue light blocking eyewear for extended digital device use, and limiting screen time during the last hour before bedtime.
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: Do I have to wait until my cataracts are "ripe" before I can have them removed?
A: No! Waiting for cataracts to get "ripe" refers to an outdated surgical technique. Today, we recommend cataract removal when your quality of vision interferes with your quality of life. It is possible to have 20/20 vision, yet be so disabled by glare from headlights or sunlight, that cataract surgery may be the right treatment. We will monitor your cataract progression and help you decide the proper timing of cataract surgery.
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: My child passed the screening test at school, isn’t that enough?
A: Distance and reading are two different things. Someone with perfect distance vision can still have focusing problems up close. Eye doctors check for both. Many children have undiagnosed accommodative (focusing) problems because no one ever looked for it before. We always check the distance and near vision of our patients of all ages because it is so important. Other areas that need to be checked include: eye muscle alignment, color vision, depth perception, and overall health of the eyes.
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: Is too much computer or hand-held device use bad for my child’s eyes?
A: The last few years have seen a radical shift in how our children use their vision. More and more time is spent looking at an electronic screen; TV, computer, cell phone, game device, and so on. Vision scientists have long pointed out that excessive near point tasks can lead to increased myopia (nearsightedness) in children, eyestrain, and headaches. Combined with the potentially damaging effect of the blue light these screens emit, you have the possibility of a dangerous situation. We recommend a common-sense approach. First, limit the time your child has to electronic media. Psychologists, educators, and doctors all agree: too much is not good. Second, practice the 20/20/20 rule. For every twenty minutes of near point tasks, take twenty seconds and look at something twenty feet or more away. In short, take frequent rest breaks. Third, use lenses that are designed for your particular activity. Having the correct eyeglass or contact lens prescription is always the place to start. There are lenses and coatings that not only provide the proper focus, but also block unwanted glare and limit the amount of damaging blue light.
Q: Who can wear contact lenses and at what age can you start?
A: Just about anyone can wear contact lenses, however occasionally a patient's ocular surface health may not allow them to wear contacts. A contact lens exam including a complete evaluation will determine if a patient is a good candidate for contacts. We suggest that children over the age of 10 can wear contacts as long as the parents feel their child is going to be responsible to care for the contact lenses and the child feels he/she is motivated in wanting to wear them.
Q: What type of contact lenses are best for children?
A: We recommend daily disposable contact lenses for children. Daily disposables allow the patient to have a sterile, fresh lens every day. Many infections occur when patients do not properly disinfect their contact lenses with solution. Daily disposables eliminate this step completely, and help decrease the risk for contact-lens-related problems. Also, you won't have to keep track of when the contacts need to be replaced, as they are thrown away at the end of every day, instead of after two weeks or a month.
Q: Do you carry contacts that can change my eye color?
A: Yes, AirOptix Colorblends was released by Alcon to provide exceptional comfort, vision, and eye health, in a variety of color options.
Q: I keep hearing more and more about contact lenses that are thrown away every day. What is the advantage? Wouldn't that be more expensive?
A: One-day disposable contact lenses have several advantages over traditional lenses. They are the healthiest way to wear contact lenses, because all lenses get dirty over time with a biofilm of protein and lipids that are part of our tears. These lens deposits are what cause eyelid irritation, redness, and reduced wearing time. Single-use lenses, on the other hand, greatly reduce the build-up of deposits on contact lenses. The other advantage is the low maintenance required since you do not have to clean and soak your lenses overnight. This is especially helpful for children and teenagers who may not take care of their lenses well. Another advantage is that, when you travel, you can just take some strips of contact lenses with you and do not have to carry solution or cases. Daily disposables do cost more than traditional lenses, but the difference in price can be as little as $30.00 per month. In this day and age, that is the cost of a few cups of coffee at your favorite coffeehouse. In addition, one-day lenses are now available for astigmatism and as multi-focal contacts, as well. Daily lenses are ideal for part-time contact lens wearers who wear lenses occasionally. The percentage of one-day disposable wearers is increasing rapidly in the United States and will likely become the predominant way that people wear contact lenses in the near future.
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: Why do my eyes feel irritated when I wear contacts?
A: There can be countless reasons why someone’s eyes may be irritated with contact lens wear. Here are 5 of the most common reasons that we come across. 1. Dry Eye: Dry eye symptoms affect more than 20 million people in the U.S., according to one Allergan study. Symptoms can include a burning sensation, excessive tearing, and redness. Some contact lenses can work better than others for dry eye patients. 2. Allergies / GPC: Many people suffer from different degrees of allergies associated with contact lens wear. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC) is when bumps develop under the lid, where the constant blinking motion over the contact lens can irritate the eyes. There are many effective strategies for contact lens wear and allergies. Daily disposable contact lenses can have tremendous benefits for contact lens wearers with seasonal allergies. 3. Lid involvement / Meibomian Gland Dysfunction / Blepharitis: Our eyelids have a complex system that properly lubricates the eyes. When one component of it gets out of whack, it can dramatically affect the comfort of contact lens wear. There can also be different types of buildup on eyelashes, that can then fall into the eyes and irritate the surface. 4. Chronic Abuse of Contact Lenses / Overwear: Many of us have heard contact lens wearers say something like, “I wear my contacts until they start to bother me.” That strategy is like changing the oil after the car breaks down. 5. Fit / Type of Contact Lenses: Whether it’s dated technology, an old school lens, or a lens that’s too loose or tight, there are many aspects of contact lens wear that can be affected by the fit and type of lens used. A person’s history is important in determining what contact lens may work best for them, including certain systemic conditions, as well as the factors mentioned above. Visit your eye doctor, so we can diagnosis the issue, and try to help you feel more comfortable with wearing contact lenses.
Q: Do all contacts have UV blocking?
A: No, many lenses do not have UV blocking capabilities, so make sure to ask your optician for contact lenses that block ultraviolet radiation.
Q: I wear contact lenses, but now I’m having trouble seeing clearly to read things up close. What can I do?
A: There are several options but first, it’s important to get a routine eye exam to make sure that your prescription is up-to-date. If it turns out that you need corrective lenses for near vision and distance vision, there are several choices to allow a patient to see at all distances: monovision contacts, multifocal contacts, or distance only contacts with reading glasses over the lenses. Monovision works by correcting one eye for distance and the other for near. With this modality, the two eyes do not work together as a team. It will require some adaptation. Multifocals work by correcting both eyes for distance and near. With this option, getting clear vision at one distance can blur the vision at another distance; the goal is to be spectacle-free with acceptable vision 90% of the time. Distance-only contacts with reading glasses will provide the clearest vision at all distances, but requires the use of glasses for anything up close. The option that is right for you will depend on multiple factors and can be discussed with your optometrist.
Q: Can I swim with contacts in?
A: No, there are a lot of bad bugs in the waters and one of the worst is known as pseudomonas, which is a kind of bacteria that lives in the water, and adheres to contact lenses. A pseudomonas infection can cause major corneal damage within 24 hours.
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: If someone has overly teary eyes, that isn't Dry Eye, is it?
A: Ironically, yes, watery eyes can be a symptom of dry eye syndrome. The eyes try to overcompensate for the lack of good quality tears by producing reflex tears, which are usually meant to help flush out foreign bodies or function in a good "cry", and tend to spill out over the eyelids.
Q: Why do I need to have my eyes examined by an Optometrist if the nurse at my last physical exam says I can see 20/20?
A: The nurse performed a “sight test”, when you come to see your Optometrist we perform an “Eye Exam”. A “sight test” only measures if you can see 20/20. An “Eye Exam” measures all aspects of visual function: sight (or visual acuity), binocular vision function (ability of the eyes to work together), visual pathway integrity, and the overall health of your eyes. Seeing 20/20 is an important part of the overall function of your eyes; however, just because you can see 20/20 does not necessarily mean your eyes are 100% healthy. There are many conditions that exist in which someone can still see 20/20. To name just a few examples: Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma, and even Retinal tears or detachments (if the macula is unaffected). I recommend having a full eye exam every 1-2 years, even if you are in good health and feel like you don’t need glasses.
Q: Why do I have to have my eyes dilated?
A: A thorough, dilated exam allows your optometrist to do a complete exam of the retina, and that is important to do throughout your life, as several eye diseases and conditions are detected at their earliest stages during a thorough eye exam: diabetes, eye tumors, high blood pressure, infectious diseases, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, glaucoma
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: Is it a bad sign if I see dots or strings that float around when I move my eyes?
A: Usually, the dots and threads you describe are called floaters, and are generally harmless. If you had a recent eye injury or an impact to the eye, see a new onset of them, see a lot of them, or if they're accompanied by flashes of light, make an emergency eye appointment with our eye doctor so that we can make sure there aren’t any concerning problems forming on your retina, such as retinal holes, tears, or detachments, which case could potentially result in permanent vision loss. Most often, floaters are just shadows caused by the jelly-like vitreous fluid inside your eyes.
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: How do I tell that I am developing glaucoma?
A: The real tragedy behind vision-stealing glaucoma is that most people afflicted with this eye disease do not even realize they have it. As a result, the condition goes undiagnosed and untreated, which too often leads to unnecessary blindness. Of the 2.7 million people in the United States with glaucoma, half are undiagnosed. Most are lulled into a false sense of confidence because glaucoma often displays no symptoms in its early stages. By the time it begins to affect vision, any lost sight is impossible to regain. The risk of developing glaucoma begins to increase dramatically at midlife, which is why everyone should have a baseline exam by age 40. The most important concern is protecting your sight. Doctors look at many factors before making decisions about your treatment. If your condition is particularly difficult to diagnose or treat, you may be referred to a glaucoma specialist. While glaucoma is most common in middle-aged individuals, the disease can strike at any age, with those having a family history of the disease being especially vulnerable.
Q: If one of my parents has glaucoma, does that mean I will develop it as well at some point?
A: Having a parent with glaucoma does not mean that the child will automatically develop the condition too. However, those people with an immediate family history (parents, siblings) of glaucoma are at more risk to develop this disease. Patients should have a comprehensive eye examination each year to evaluate the health of the eyes and to look for signs of glaucoma. Some of these signs can be an increase in the pressure of the eyes as well as changes to the appearance of the optic nerve. Many times there are no symptoms noticed by the patient. If there is suspicion of glaucoma, more frequent visits to the eye doctor along with additional nerve testing are often required.
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: 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: 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 is it Important to Wear Sports Eyewear?
A: Not long ago, athletes rarely wore eyewear specifically designed to protect their eyes during sports, and sports-related eye injuries were widespread. Today, sports eyewear can be spotted on almost anyone who picks up a ball, bat, racquet or stick — whether they play in the major leagues or the Little League. Fortunately, coaches, parents and players now realize that wearing protective eyewear for sports pays off in several ways. The risk of eye damage is reduced, and the player's performance is enhanced by the ability to see better. In fact, many athletic and fitness clubs today do not permit their members to participate without wearing proper eye gear. Initially, there was some resistance by children to "looking funny" when they wore protective eyewear. Today, sports goggles are an accepted part of everyday life, much the way bike helmets have become the norm. In addition, both children and adults like the image that wearing protective eyewear gives them: It shows they mean business on the playing field. If You're Not Wearing Protective Eyewear, Consider This... Prevent Blindness America reports that hospital emergency rooms treat more than 40,000 eye injuries every year that are sports-related. Even non-contact sports such as badminton can present inherent dangers to the eyes. Any sport in which balls, racquets or flying objects are present pose a potential for eye injury. Sports such as racquetball, tennis and badminton may seem relatively harmless, but they involve objects moving at 60 miles per hour or faster. During a typical game, a racquetball can travel between 60 and 200 miles per hour.
Q: Aren’t sunglasses really only needed in the summer?
A: No. Although we think of summer when we think about sunglasses, the damage from UV radiation occurs year-round. Long-term exposure to UV has been shown to increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Q: Is there a difference between a cheap pair of regular sunglasses versus designer sunglasses?
A: I believe once you put on a pair of polarized sunglasses you will understand and appreciate the difference. the clarity , and the difference in color is amazing. It is also one of the best way to protect you eyes from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. A "regular" pair of sunglasses is better than nothing ( along with wearing a hat) in protecting your eyes from the sun, but there is no comparison to polarized sunglasses
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.