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 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: 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: 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: My doctor says I have a cataract, but he wants to wait a while before removing it. Why?
A: A cataract usually starts very small and practically unnoticeable, but grows gradually larger and cloudier. Your doctor is probably waiting until the cataract interferes significantly with your vision and your lifestyle. You need to continue to visit your eye doctor regularly so the cataract's progress can be monitored. Some cataracts never really reach the stage where they should be removed. If cataracts are interfering with your vision to the point where it is unsafe to drive, or doing everyday tasks is difficult, then it's time to discuss surgery with your eye doctor.
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 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: 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: 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: What are CRT contact lenses?
A: Paragon CRT® Contact Lenses are therapeutic contact lenses that gently reshape the cornea while you sleep to temporarily correct nearsightedness up to -6.00 diopters, and mild amounts of astigmatism. If you or your child have been diagnosed with nearsightedness (or myopia), Paragon CRT® Contact Lenses offers a non-invasive and non-surgical treatment.
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: How do I know if I have Dry Eye?
A: Dry eye syndrome can only be diagnosed by an eye doctor. We take your symptoms into account, including the eyes feeling dry, burning, itchy or irritated. Watery eyes and blurry vision are also common because the tears, which protect the outermost surface of the eye, can be unstable.
Q: What happens at a dry eye exam?
A: To diagnose dry eye disease, the eye doctor can use a biomicroscope to examine whether there are plugged oil glands in the lid or any dry patches on the cornea present. A yellow stain called fluorescein can help us see how quickly the tears evaporate. We also look for eyelid issues like blepharitis (inflamed crusty lids) or Demodex mites which can worsen dry eye symptoms.
Q: I woke up with my eyes glued together with some white/yellow sticky stuff, what should I do?
A: There could be several causes for this including bacterial or viral eye infections, corneal abrasions, or corneal ulcers. These can sometimes be vision threatening and should be seen on the same day. Make an emergency eye appointment with us so our eye doctor can determine the exact cause and treat accordingly.
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: 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