Q: How do I know if I have Dry Eye?
A: Dry eye can cause quite a few symptoms, anything from the eyes actually feeling dry to the eyes watering often, or having a burning, itchy, or irritated feeling. One of the most common symptoms is the eyes feeling gritty or like something is in your eye. Most people will often experience blurred vision since the tears, which comprise the outermost surface of the eye, are unstable.
Q: What can I do to prevent dry eyes?
A: Dry eyes are caused by many factors. If you know you have dry eyes, try to pay attention to what makes them feel better or worse. For example, do not blow your hair dryer directly towards your eyes. Add moisture to the air with a humidifier. Use eye protection outdoors like wrap around sunglasses or other protective eyewear. Be mindful of changes in your environment (traveling). Position your computer screen below eye level. Stop smoking and avoid smoky areas. Supplement with lubricating eye drops and Omega 3 (orally).
Q: Why do my eyes water all the time? What can I do to make it stop?
A: Although it seems counterintuitive, watering is a sign of dry eye disease. When the eyes are dry a signal is sent to the brain to trigger tearing. In order to stop the eyes from tearing we need to treat the dryness. There are many lifestyle factors that contribute to dry eye disease. For example, while watching television, using a computer or reading we are so fixated on the task at hand that we do not blink as often as we should and the tear film evaporates and leaves our cornea exposed to the air. Another example is spending time near a fan or in front of an air vent; this too can cause our tear film to dry up quickly. While there are several more reasons for dry eye disease to occur, the good news is that it can be treated. There are several drops, medications, and home remedies that can be used and your optometrist can help to determine the treatment plan that is right for your type of dry eye disease.
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: 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: How will I know if my child's amblyopia is getting better? Is it too late to help if the problem is detected after age 6?
A: Lazy eye will not go away on its own. We have what is called electrodiagnostic testing which can determine the effectiveness of amblyopia treatment without relying on the response of the child to "tell" us how well they are seeing. Oftentimes, parents worry that the eye exam is not accurate if their child is not old enough to read the chart or is uncooperative due to anxiety surrounding an eye exam. This test is non-invasive and fast (30 minutes) and can be done right here in our office for patients of all ages, starting in infancy. We can track over time how the therapy is working and the prognosis of their vision.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 lens 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: Can I wear my contact lenses at the beach?
A: Technically, no, it's not a good a good idea to wear contacts at the beach, because there's a risk of infection. However, disposable contact lenses that you'll throw out when you get home from the beach would be okay. Just make sure that, if you experience any redness or irritation, you remove them and flush your eyes out with a saline solution if available, or clean water. If the redness or irritation continues, call our office for further instructions.
Q: What are the advantages of daily disposable contact lenses?
A: There are two big benefits to daily disposable contact lenses. One is convenience. With dailies, there is no cleaning or storage, and no cost of lens cleaner. You just throw away the lenses after the day, and use a brand new lens the next morning, nothing could be easier. The second benefit is comfort and health. Daily lenses tend to be more comfortable than monthlies, and also because they only stay in your eye for one day, there is no buildup of bacteria on the lenses that could cause infections or other problems. You also don't have to remember your replacement schedule and when to change your lenses, you have a new pair every day.
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: My eye is suddenly red and irritated/painful, what should I do?
A: Some red eyes will go away with rest, but some are vision threatening and could cause blindness within 24 hours (ie. If the cause was a microorganism from contact lens wear). Whenever you get a red eye, it is very important to make an emergency eye appointment immediately with our eye doctor to see what the cause is. If you wear contact lenses, remove them immediately and do not wear until the redness subsides. Our doctor uses a high magnification slit lamp to examine your eyes to determine the exact cause of the problem and will treat accordingly. A family doctor usually does not have the necessary equipment and will treat based on your symptoms only.If your eyes need antibiotic eye drops, our eye doctor can prescribe the proper ones for your condition.
Q: What is the Optomap? Is it important?
A: Absolutely! A major part of your eye examination is when your eye doctor looks through the pupil and examines the inside of the eye. Evaluating the retina is an extremely important health test that should be done regularly, especially since many of the eye diseases we routinely diagnose do not have any symptoms. The Optomap is a fast, easy, inexpensive way of quickly taking a very thorough and detailed image of the inside of the eye. It provides several benefits to the patient. First, it creates a digital record of the inside of the eye, which can be referred to in the future to make sure the eye is healthy and stable. Second, it provides your doctor with multiple images that help them assess certain types of eye problems in ways that they cannot with the naked eye. Third, it is much more comfortable for the patient compared to the extended light sensitivity that comes with dilation. Finally, it is just plain cool. Many people are curious about what we look at during the eye examination and the Optomap allow us to look inside the eye together. Your doctor typically uses the Optomap and a special microscope to look inside the eye and assess the health of the retina. The doctor is looking for cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal tears, or any other eye diseases. Depending on the appointment or symptoms, your doctor may recommend Optomap, dilation, or both.
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: Are carrots good for your eyes?
A: Carrots cannot restore vision or make physical changes to the eye. However, carrots are beneficial for overall vision health. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and lutein, which help delay/decrease cataracts and macular degeneration. So, keep eating those carrots! Eating healthy is necessary for a strong body, but certain foods can help keep eyes healthy too. The antioxidants in coffee are beneficial to eye health as well as eggs, leafy greens, berries and cold-water fish such as salmon. The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon help prevent dry eyes and keep the retina healthy.