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: 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: 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 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: What is a cataract? How will I know when I have one? What can be done to fix it?
A: A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens. The crystalline lens sits behind the iris, or the colored part of the eye. Its function is to fine tune our focusing system by changing shape as we view objects at different distances. Our lens eventually loses its ability to change shape; this is when we require reading glasses or bifocals. In addition, the crystalline lens can become cloudy or yellow as a part of normal aging. This is also known as an age-related cataract. Normal, age-related cataracts are unavoidable and everyone will develop them at some point if they live long enough. The discoloration of the lens leads to an overall blur, a decrease in contrast sensitivity, and a worsening of glare, especially at nighttime. Because they tend to develop gradually, the symptoms are often unnoticed by the patient. A yearly eye exam will allow your optometrist the opportunity to identify the cataracts and advise on how to proceed. When you and your optometrist determine that your cataracts are affecting your vision and are advanced enough to require removal, you will meet with an ophthalmologist. Cataract surgery is a safe and effective out-patient procedure that will reverse any vision loss caused by the cataracts; and it is usually covered by your medical insurance.
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: 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: Why do my eyes tear up when I am reading or spending time in front of a computer?
A: This may be due to a decreased rate of blinking as you concentrate on reading or working on the computer. When you blink less, less tears are pumped out of the tear drainage system, leading to a welling of the tears. Also, if you have an unstable tear film in conjunction with a decreased rate of blinking, this could lead to reflex tearing. Patients who experience this often have evaporative dry eye, which could be diagnosed with some additional testing.
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.