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 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 lenses 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: 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 Scleral Contact Lenses?
A: Scleral lenses are custom made lenses that rest on the sclera, the whites of your eyes. The size of the lens offers great vision that isn't possible with any other vision solution. These lenses provide a solution for those patients who can't wear other types of contact lenses due to dry eyes, complications from LASIK surgery, kerataconus, and other eye issues.
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: 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” or screening, 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: 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: When should my child have their first eye examination?
A: Our office actually participates in InfantSee, a free program that allows for screening of infants between 6 to 12 months of age. It is a way of checking for the risk of lazy eye and the internal health of the eye. Obviously at this age, children cannot read an eyechart, but we have methods that allow us to check for any prescription and health issues. After that, it is recommended that children have a comprehensive exam at around age 3. At this age, they are able to respond more interactively and we are able to make sure their vision is developing properly. We can also begin testing for any developmental delays that may be eye or vision related and that may hinder their learning abilities in the future.
Q: Am I a good candidate for refractive surgery?
A: Patients who are at least 18 years of age, have healthy eyes that are free from retinal problems, corneal scars, and any eye diseases are generally suitable. Many patients who are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism are potential candidates. We will also discuss your lifestyle needs to help you decide if LASIK is the best alternative for you. If you would like to schedule a free LASIK consultation, please contact our office.