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All About Vision

Contacts & Glasses that Enhance Performance

Every sports activity requires a different skill set for success, yet all sports share a critical need for good vision. Geraint Griffiths, a British optometrist, devised a study to determine the effects of visual acuity on sports performance. This study distributed special vision-blurring goggles to Wimbledon tennis players and UK national clay pigeon shooters. Their performance was studied while the goggles were worn. Even though the goggles only blurred their vision a bit, the marksmen and tennis players showed a 25% decrease in accomplishment. This study demonstrated clearly that vision and sports achievement are inextricably linked.

Visual clarity isn’t the only benefit provided by sports eyewear. There are a number of additional eyewear features that boost athletic performance and enhance eye safety.

Protect Your Eyes from Impact-Related Injuries

As reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, over 42,000 sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States each year. Approximately 43% of those injuries happen to children under the age of 15. The majority of these injuries can be prevented with protective eyewear, such as safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses.

Regular eyeglasses are designed for daily wear, and they aren’t resilient enough to handle the rough and tumble wear needed for sports. They also provide inadequate protection for your eyes. Contact lenses offer zero protection from sports-related eye injuries. In contrast, sports eyewear is constructed to be highly impact-resistant, thereby granting superior protection for your eyes and removing anxiety about potential eye injuries. Able to withstand the hit of a ball traveling at up to 90 miles per hour, polycarbonate lenses are about 10 times more impact-resistant than regular lenses.

Safety eyeglasses are advised for every activity that has the potential for injuries to the eye. Be aware that the following land sports run a higher risk to eyes: softball, baseball, hockey, football, basketball, handball, squash, racquetball, tennis, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse. In water, all swimming and pool sports require specialized eye gear. Paintball players should also make safety eyewear an essential part of their game.

A Barrier against UV Rays

Harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be just as damaging to your eyes as other injuries. A number of eye diseases, such as ocular tumors, macular degeneration, and cataracts, have been associated with exposure to UV rays. Photokeratitis, which refers to sunburn on your eye, is another hazard. This painful condition can cause long-term corneal damage.

Dangerous UV rays are more potent at higher altitudes and also bounce off snow or outdoor water, which increases exposure. It is imperative for skiers and anyone who enjoys outdoor water sports to wear sports sunglasses or tinted goggles that block 100% of the sun’s UV rays.

Some types of contact lenses provide UV protection, yet they only cover the central part of your eye. For this reason, sunglasses that block UV rays should still be worn, preferably in a wraparound style that also covers the delicate tissues surrounding your eyes. Hats with a wide brim will upgrade your protection by further reducing facial exposure to UV rays.

Enhance Your Game with Colored Lenses

Special tinted eyewear may add a winning edge to your game. Depending upon the lighting conditions, it’s not always simple to “keep your eye on the ball”. Hunters favor shooting glasses with amber tinted lenses, which highlight the contrast of birds flying against an overcast, dim sky. Golfers tend to gain the largest benefit from green tinted lenses.

A wide range of specialized tints for specific indoor and outdoor sports are available. These lenses can improve visibility and contrast in a diversity of environments. Ask your eye doctor or optician for more information about which lenses can help raise your scores.

Don’t Let Light Get in the Way

Reflective surfaces, such as a flat body of water, a sandy beach or even light-colored pavement, can disturb your vision with glare. Polarized sunglasses are one effective way to resolve this problem.

Another glare reducer is to add and anti-glare (AG) component to your lenses. At night, sports eyewear with anti-glare will diminish lens reflections when playing under bright lights or spotlights. It’s a good idea to apply anti-glare to the back surface of sport sunglasses in order to decrease the glare that bounces into your eyesight when sunlight hits the back of your lenses.

You can control the light that enters your eye by wearing photochromic lenses. These clear lenses transition automatically into dark lenses upon exposure to UV rays. They also offer 100% UV protection, and return quickly to their former clear state when you go indoors.

Contacts Provide Comfortable and Convenient Vision

Many advantages come along with wearing contact lenses for sports, even if you normally wear eyeglasses on a daily basis:

  • Unobstructed peripheral vision
  • Natural-appearing vision, with no changes in image sizes
  • No fogging lenses
  • Non-slip when perspiring

The best contact lens choice for sports is soft one-day disposables. There’s no need to clean them and you can toss them in the garbage at the end of the day. The flexible, oxygen-permeable material of one-day soft lenses also requires very little adaptation. They can be inserted easily and worn comfortably for a full day of physical activity.

Although contact lenses offer high convenience and comfort, there are still a number of disadvantages with wearing contacts for sports. No protection against eye injury is provided and they don’t offer sufficient UV protection. For ultimate performance and safety, you need to wear quality protective eyewear or sunglasses over your lenses.

Eyeglass Frames

Are you in the market or mood for a new pair of eyeglasses? The selection is vast, with many fashionable, attractive pairs of glasses to browse through. How can you narrow down your options and choose the style of frames that are best for you?

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing Eyewear

  1. What’s my taste? Do I prefer a bold or subtle expression? Do I favor modern lines, a retro look or more conservative, classic styles?
  2. Where do I plan to wear these frames- at work, in the backyard, or for social outings?
  3. What colors work best with my skin and hair tones?
  4. What are the primary colors in my wardrobe?
  5. What’s the shape of my face?
  6. Do I like my current eyeglasses? If not, then what’s the problem?

Bring this information to your optician when you pay a visit to the eyeglass store, and most of the work will already be done! Your optician, who is highly skilled and an expert in fitting your eyewear will be able to hone in quickly on the eyeglasses that are most suitable.

How to Judge Fit and Comfort

Research conducted by the eyewear industry indicates that women pay more attention to how eyeglasses appear on their face, while men are more interested in how they feel and fit. Yet even if looks are your primary concern, if your eyeglasses aren’t comfortable – you won’t be pleased for long.

To judge the fit of frames when trying them on:

  • Frames should be wide enough for your face and not too snug on sides of your head. The edges of your eyeglasses should extend beyond the sides of your face. This ensures that the temples won’t press in on your head as they rest on your ears.
  • The curves at the end of each temple should go past your ear without pushing down on it. If they don’t, then the temples aren’t long enough.
  • The built-in nose piece or silicone nose pads should fit comfortably and firmly, without pinching the bridge of your nose. Silicone nose pads can generally be adjusted.
  • Your glasses should be able to stay in place when you move your head to and fro. Nod a few times, turn your head right and left, and bend over to touch the floor. Make sure that your glasses don’t slip off.

Is One Pair of Eyeglasses Enough?

Take a look at your closet. You likely own more than one pair of shoes, right? Unless you’re on a very tight budget, more than one pair of eyeglasses isn’t a luxury. Eyewear is a hip accessory, and the same pair may not be appropriate for all parts of your modern lifestyle. Just like your clothing, your eyeglass needs differ for home, work and social occasions.

If owning a solitary pair is enough for you, then choose frames that you love and feel good about no matter what you’re wearing or where you go. These eyeglasses will be on your face constantly, so take your time and pick a style that fits your unique personality and vision requirements.

Lens Options for Eyeglasses

If you thought the trickiest part of choosing a new pair of glasses was the frame selection, think again. You should be putting just as much thought and consideration into the lenses that you select for your new specs.

Here’s why: The quality and type of lenses in your eyeglasses will not only correct your visual acuity, but they will allow you to continue to see your best through various conditions. Whether it is keeping the lenses free from scratches, fog, glare or UV rays, or making them stronger or more attractive, your eyeglass lenses can help to keep your eyes safe and comfortable wherever the day (or night) takes you.

Lens Coatings

Here are a variety of coatings that you can apply to your lenses to maintain optimal vision and comfort and to protect your lenses and your eyes.

Anti-reflective/Anti-glare Coatings

Anti-reflective (AR) also known as anti-glare coatings help reduce the reflections and glare on your lenses, improving your vision and comfort in high-glare environments, and the look of your glasses as well (you can see your eyes clearly without a reflection on the front of the lens). Reflections from the sun, television and computer screens and bright lights (especially when driving at night) can cause eye strain, headaches and difficulty seeing. AR coatings and lenses can reduce this effect, improving your vision quality and comfort in these circumstances.

Scratch Resistant Coatings

Scratches not only affect the smooth look of the surface of your glasses but they can disrupt your vision. A scratch-resistant coating adds an extra layer of protection on the surface of the lens to significantly reduce scratching. This coating is particularly great for kids who may tend to be a little more rough with their eyewear.

Ultraviolet Coatings

Ultraviolet (UV) coatings protect your eyes from harmful UV rays from the sun. This coating can turn standard lenses into UV blocking lenses that can block 100% of the UV light from entering your eyes. UV is linked to the development of a number of eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration and retinal damage.

Anti-fog Coatings

Particularly if you live in a cold climate, you may have experienced walking indoors from the cold and having your glasses lenses fog up completely. This can take a few minutes to resolve and can be dangerous if you are driving or need to see clearly. Anti-fog coatings will eliminate this effect, creating a smooth transition from cold to hot environments.

Lens Options

You may want to go with an upgraded lens to improve the look, strength or functionality of your glasses.

High Index Lenses

High index lenses have a higher refractive index which means they reflect more light than standard prescription lenses. What this means for you, the consumer, is that they can be made thinner and lighter than traditional lenses. High index lenses are particularly popular with those that need a high prescription as they are able to avoid thick lenses, adding comfort and a smoother look, but a higher price tag.

Trivex or Polycarbonate Lenses

Trivex or polycarbonate lenses are impact resistant lenses – a fantastic choice for sports and safety eyewear as well as standard sunglasses and eyeglasses for active types or kids. These lenses also offer full UV protection and are lightweight for optimal comfort.

Polychromatic Lenses

Polychromatic lenses are made with special technology that turns them into sunglasses when exposed to sunlight. The lenses darken automatically when you go outside and return to normal when you go back indoors. Polychromatic lenses can come in a number of tint colors and are great when you need prescription sunglasses but don’t want to carry around or pay for another pair.

Aspheric Lenses

Aspheric lenses use advanced technology to create a slimmer, flatter and lighter lens than standard prescription lenses. While aspheric lenses can improve the appearance of any prescription lens, they are especially beneficial for those who are farsighted since those lenses tend to bulge out in the middle.

So the next time you are in the market for new eyeglasses, speak to your optometrist or optician about the best lens choices for your eyes, your vision and your lifestyle.

Computer Eyestrain

Digital eye strain is an increasingly common condition as digital devices become more ingrained into our daily lives. Digital eye strain, eye fatigue and computer vision syndrome (CVS) are conditions that result from extended exposure to digital screens such as computers, smartphones, tablets and televisions from a combination of factors including the blue light radiation emitted from the devices and the pixelated content that is difficult for our eyes to focus on.

Symptoms of computer or digital eyestrain tend to be noticed after someone has used a digital device for as little as 2 hours a day. Studies show that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device and 70% of adults report some symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) which include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sensitivity to light or
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain (caused by compromised posture to adjust to vision difficulty).

Digital eye strain also impacts your ability to focus and lessens productivity. Most people do nothing to ease their discomfort from these symptoms because they are not aware of the cause.

Protecting Your Eyes from Digital Eye Strain and Blue Light

There are a number of options for reducing digital eye strain and your exposure to blue light which include workspace ergonomics, computer glasses, specialized lenses and protective coatings. The first step is to get a comprehensive eye exam, making sure you speak to your eye doctor about how often you use a computer and digital device. This will help your doctor to get the full picture of your eye and vision needs in order to determine which option is best for you. It was also help the doctor to identify any underlying issues that could be worsening your symptoms.

Alleviating Digital EyeStrain

Workspace Alterations

Proper Lighting and Screen Brightness: You want the screen to be as bright as the surrounding environment or the brightest object in the room (depending on what is most comfortable for you). Therefore interior lighting or sunlight from the outdoors should be dimmed or blocked. Use fewer light fixtures or lower voltage light bulbs and close curtains or blinds when possible. Adjust the brightness and contrast of your monitor to the levels that are most comfortable.

Reduce Glare: Glare is a significant cause of computer eyestrain so it is important to minimize it as much as possible. Set up your computer where glare from windows won’t affect your screen or cover windows when this is not possible. Glare can also reflect from walls and shiny finishes on desks and other surfaces. An anti-glare screen on your monitor or an anti-reflective (AR) or anti-glare coating applied to your eyewear can also help to minimize glare and the strain it causes to your vision.

Screen size and distance: You want to make sure you are using a high quality (such as a flat LCD) screen that has a relatively large display (look for a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches) and is located directly in front of your line of vision. Your viewing distance should be about an arm’s length away with the top of the monitor at about eye level or slightly below.

Eye Care

Keep Eyes Moist: When viewing a digital screen or monitor for an extended period of time, we tend to blink less frequently (about ⅓ as often as we should). Blinking however, is critical for keeping the eyes moist, which allows them to remain clear and comfortable and to avoid dry eyes, irritation, blurry vision or eye fatigue.

Focus on blinking by setting a timer for every 20 minutes and slowly closing and opening your eyes 10 times. Keep a bottle of artificial tears handy to use when your eyes are feeling dry.

Give Your Eyes a Break: Schedule and take frequent breaks from your screen. Follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Take this time to stand up and stretch your back, neck and legs as well.

Computer Eyewear

Computer glasses reduce eye strain by adjusting the focus slightly so your eyes feel like they are focusing on something further away. They also have a tint to remove the glare and block blue light from entering into your eyes. There are a number of options for computer eyewear, both if you need prescription eyewear and not. Speak to your eye doctor about what the best options are for you.
Learn more about computer glasses here.

It is important to know that both adults and children alike are susceptible to computer eye strain from computers and digital devices. With the growing use of such devices in our everyday lives it is important to start educating ourselves and our children on how to combat the negative effects of these habits.

Why are Eye Exams Important?

For both adults and children alike, eye exams are an important part of one’s general health maintenance and assessment. Your eyes should be checked regularly to ensure that you are able to see as best as possible. Regular eye health exams will also check for signs of eye disease or conditions that can affect not only your vision but your overall health. Vision and eye health is such a critical part in learning and development, therefore, we highly recommend eye exams for infants and children.

Vision Screening vs. an Eye Exam

When we recommend regular eye exams, this should not be confused with a vision screening. A vision screening is a basic test that indicates if you have difficulty seeing and require further assessment and corrective measures. It can be performed by anyone, whether it is a school nurse, a pediatrician or even a volunteer at a vision clinic. A vision screening usually only checks vision, it does not check eye health. Also, most vision screenings for kids only check for nearsightedness (when you can not see far), but what happens when the majority of children are farsighted? Most of the time many of these kids get overlooked.

A comprehensive eye exam on the other hand, can only be performed by an eye doctor as it requires special knowledge and equipment to look around and into your eye to check your eye and vision health. Such an exam can assess whether there are underlying causes for vision problems and whether there are any signs of disease which can threaten your site and the health of your eye. A comprehensive eye examination can also diagnose symptoms of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumors, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and thyroid disorders. A comprehensive eye examination will also provide an accurate prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Eye Exams for Eye Health

Eye exams are critical because many vision threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy have no or minimal symptoms until the disease has progressed. In these cases, early detection and treatment is essential to halting or slowing down the progression of the disease and saving eyesight. During a comprehensive eye examination, your eye doctor will be looking for initial signs of these diseases. If a problem with your eyes arises such as red eyes, eye allergies, dry eyes, eye swelling,eye pain, always seek an eye doctor as your first doctor to call since they are specifically trained to treat eye diseases.

Eye Exams and Children

If your child is having developmental delays or trouble in school there could be an underlying vision problem. Proper learning, motor development, reading, and many other skills are dependent upon not only good vision, but your eyes functioning together. Children that have problems with focusing or hand-eye coordination will often experience frustration and may exhibit behavioral problems as well. Often they don’t know that the vision they are experiencing is abnormal so they aren’t able to express that they need help. Many conditions are much easier to treat when they are caught early while the eyes are still developing, so it is important to diagnose any eye health and vision issues as early as possible.

Eye Exams Over 40

Just like the rest of our bodies, our eyes begin to weaken as we age. There are a number of common age-related eye conditions such as presbyopia, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration that can begin to affect your vision and your daily life. While some of these conditions are more of an inconvenience, others could lead to vision loss and dependency.

In addition to regular yearly eye exams, it is important to be aware of any changes in your eye health and vision. Also know your potential risk factors as well as your family ocular and medical history. Over half of the vision loss worldwide is preventable with proper treatment and care.

Preparing for an Eye Exam

For both adults and children, an eye exam is a critical part in maintaining your overall health and well-being, and therefore, regular eye exams should be incorporated into your health routine. Comprehensive eye exams assess your vision and the health of your eye, looking for early signs of disease that may not have obvious symptoms. You should not wait until you experience a vision problem or symptoms of an eye condition to schedule a routine exam.

Depending on your age, family history, general health and eye health, it is recommended to have an eye exam every one to two years. Of course if you experience any serious symptoms that affect your eyes or your vision, you should contact your eye doctor immediately.

The Difference Between an Optometrist (OD) and an Ophthalmologist (MD or DO)

Confusion about the difference between optometrists and ophthalmologists is common, and many people are not aware of how the two eye care professionals differ.

Optometrists

Optometrists or Doctors of Optometry attend optometry school which is usually at least four years of graduate level training. They are able to perform eye exams, provide prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses, and diagnose and treat eye diseases as as glaucoma, dry eyes, or eye infections that may require medication or drops. They can consult with and co-manage patients in pre- or post-op surgical care, however they do not perform surgery.

Ophthalmologists

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors that attend medical school and later specialize in ophthalmology. They are able to do all of the services mentioned above but also perform eye surgeries such as cataract surgery, refractive surgery such as LASIK and deal with more urgent eye conditions such as retinal detachment.

Infant and Child Eye Exams

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA) children should have their eyes examined by an eye doctor at 6 months, 3 years, at the start of school and then at least every 2 years following. If there are any signs that there may be a vision problem or if the child has certain risk factors (such as developmental delays, premature birth, crossed eyes, family history or previous injuries) more frequent exams are recommended. A child that wears eyeglasses or contact lenses should have his or her eyes examined yearly.

Adult Eye Exams

Healthy adults under 40 with good vision and who do not wear eyeglasses or contact lenses are recommended to have an eye exam at least every two years. Those that do use vision correction or have a health issue such as diabetes, high blood pressure or another health condition that can have an impact on your eye health should schedule a yearly exam, unless the eye doctor recommends more frequent visits.

Once you reach 40, you become susceptible to a number of age-related eye conditions such as presbyopia, cataracts or macular degeneration, therefore annual or bi-annual exams are strongly recommended.

As you continue to age, particularly after age 55, the risks of eye disease increase, and early detection can be critical to preventing significant vision loss or blindness. Scheduling a yearly eye exam can make all the difference in maintaining your independence and quality of life.

How to Prepare for Your Exam

Prior to your exam you should decide whether you will be seeking special services such as a contact lens exam or LASIK consultation. These services may cost extra. Check with the doctor’s office or your insurance provider to see if they cover any of the exam expenses.

You need to know if you have medical insurance, vision plan coverage or both. Medical insurance usually does not cover “wellness/refractive” exams for glasses or contact lenses. Vision plans will cover exams for glasses or contacts, but usually cannot be used for red eyes, floaters, or other medical eye health problems. Please bring your insurance cards with you.

In addition to bringing your current pair of glasses or contacts if applicable, it is important to be aware of your personal and family history and to have a list of medications or supplements you are currently taking. Your pupils will probably be dilated as apart of your exam, so plan accordingly.

Your Comprehensive Eye Exam

Your eyes are one of the most complex organs in your body. A comprehensive eye exam to assess your visual system and eye health involves a number of different of tests. Unlike a simple vision screening, which only assesses your vision, a comprehensive eye exam includes a battery of tests in order to do a complete evaluation of the health of your eyes and your vision.

The tests that you will undergo in a comprehensive eye examination may vary from eye doctor to eye doctor but here are are some common exams that you may encounter:

Patient Background and History

One of the most important parts in a comprehensive eye exam is your patient health history. This information will alert your doctor to any conditions that should be monitored closely, such as an allergy to any medications, current or family history of systemic or eye pathology or environmental conditions that could be affecting your vision or eye health. This will also help your doctor to determine any preventative eye care measures that are relevant to keep your eyes healthy for years to come.

Visual Acuity

Visual acuity is a measurement of your vision using an eye chart, the Snellen Eye Chart. In this test the patient is seated at a standard distance and is asked to read letters or symbols of various sizes, which get smaller as you move down the chart. The results are the familiar ratio of 20/20, 20/40 etc. which is a comparison of your vision compared to the average person with good vision, which is typically 20/20. For example, a patient that has 20/40 vision, can only see at 20 feet what the normal person can see from a distance of 40 feet. This test is a preliminary test of how clearly you are seeing in each eye but it does not give you a prescription for corrective lenses.

Refraction

Those who don’t have 20/20 vision have what is referred to in most cases as a “Refractive Error.” The patient may have nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or other eye conditions that prevent the patient from seeing 20/20. A refraction will tell the doctor which prescription lenses will correct your eyesight to achieve 20/20 vision or whichever amount your vision is correctable to.

A refraction may include a couple of steps.

Retinoscopy

Retinoscopy is a test that allows the doctor to obtain an approximate prescription for eyeglasses. In this test the doctor uses a hand-held instrument called a retinoscope that shines a light into the patient’s eye. The doctor then analyzes the reflex of the light from the patient’s eye to determine the patient’s prescription for glasses.

An instrument called a phoropter is something most patients associate with an eye exam. This space age appearing instrument, positioned in front of the patient’s face during the eye exam, gives the doctor the ability to determine the patient’s focusing ability as well as their eye alignment. The phoropter also determines which, out of the hundreds and hundreds of potential eyeglass prescriptions, will help the patient see as clear as possible. Using the phoropter, the doctor will ask the patient which series of lenses makes their vision the clearest.

While retinoscopy is quite effective for children and nonverbal patients, there are now a number of computerized or automated instruments available today to help doctors accurately determine a patient’s eyeglass prescription.

Autorefractors and Aberrometers

Autorefractors and aberrometers are computerized machines that are able to measure your refractive error to determine your prescription for glasses or contact lenses. These instruments are usually used in addition to testing described earlier:

– An autorefractor is similar to retinoscopy, which electronically analyses the light reflex from the patient’s eye.

– An aberrometer measures distortions or aberrations in the cornea and lens of the eye that disrupt proper focus of light on the retina. Using wavefront technology, the instrument measures the rays of light as they pass through your eye to look for imperfections which may indicate a refractive error.

Eye Focusing and Eye Teaming Tests

During the comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will also want to test how your eyes function individually and together from a mechanical perspective. In order to see clearly and comfortably, your eyes need to work together as a team.

Eye Health

The final and most important aspect of a comprehensive eye exam is a check of your overall eye health. These tests (below) are done to identify any eye conditions or diseases, both inside the eye as well as the external parts of the eye, that could affect your vision and general health.

Slit Lamp Test

The slit lamp or biomicroscope is an instrument that allows the doctor to examine the internal and external parts of the eye in detail, such as the conjunctiva, iris, lens, cornea, retina and the optic nerve. The patient rests their forehead and chin on a headrest to stabilize the head, while the doctor looks into the eye with the slit lamp microscope, which is magnified with a high-intensity light. A slit lamp test enables the doctor to evaluate the eyes for signs of normal aging and eye pathology, such as conjunctivitis, cataracts, macular degeneration or retinal detachment. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases are essential for preventing vision loss.

Tonometry

Tonometry is a test to detect glaucoma by measuring the pressure inside your eye or IOP (intraocular pressure). Glaucoma can cause vision loss and even blindness if the IOP in the eye is too high and damages the optic nerve.

The applanation tonometer, typically attached to a slit lamp, is one of the most common instruments used to measure the pressure in the eye. Prior to doing this test the doctor will numb the patient’s eyes using an anesthetic, before gently applanating (putting pressure on) the patient’s cornea to measure the pressure in the eye.

Pupil Dilation

During your comprehensive eye exam, your doctor may decide to do a dilated eye exam. In this test, your doctor will instill dilating drops in each eye, which would enlarge your pupils to give the doctor a better view of certain parts of the back of the eye. Dilation is done at the discretion of the doctor, with some patients dilated every year and others at specified intervals; the frequency of dilation will vary for each patient.

Typically the drops take around 20 to 30 minutes to take effect and may last up to several hours following the exam; each patient is different. Since more light enters your eyes when your pupils are dilated, you will be more sensitive to bright light, especially sunlight. Although your doctor may provide disposable sunglasses, you may want to bring a pair of sunglasses to wear after the exam to make it more comfortable until the drops wear off.

A comprehensive eye exam is an important part of your overall general health maintenance and should be scheduled on a regular basis. The findings from your comprehensive eye exam can give your doctor important information about your overall health, particularly diabetes and high blood pressure.

Eye Exams for Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are a great alternative to wearing eyeglasses. An often unknown fact is that not all patients wear contact lenses as their primary source of vision correction. Each patient is different, with some patients wearing contact lenses only on weekends, special occasions or just for sports. That is the beauty of contact lens wear, the flexibility it gives each individual patient and their lifestyle.

If you decide to opt for contact lens wear, it is very important that the lenses fit properly and comfortably and that you understand contact lens safety and hygiene. A contact lens exam will include both a comprehensive eye exam to check your overall eye health, your general vision prescription and then a contact lens consultation and measurement to determine the proper lens fit.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Eye Exam

Whether or not you have vision problems, it is important to have your eyes checked regularly to ensure they are healthy and that there are no signs of a developing eye condition. A comprehensive eye exam will check the general health of your eyes as well as the quality of your vision. During this exam the eye doctor will determine your prescription for eyeglasses, however this prescription alone is not sufficient for contact lenses. The doctor may also check for any eye health issues that could interfere with the comfort and success of contact lens wear.

The Contact Lens Consultation

The contact lens industry is always developing new innovations to make contacts more comfortable, convenient and accessible. Therefore, one of the initial steps in a contact lens consultation is to discuss with your eye doctor some lifestyle and health considerations that could impact the type of contacts that suit you best.

Some of the options to consider are whether you would prefer daily disposables or monthly disposable lenses, as well as soft versus rigid gas permeable (GP) lenses. If you have any particular eye conditions, such as astigmatism or dry eye syndrome, your eye doctor might have specific recommendations for the right type or brand for your optimal comfort and vision needs.

Now is the time to tell your eye doctor if you would like to consider colored contact lenses as well. If you are over 40 and experience problems seeing small print, for which you need bifocals to see close objects, your eye doctor may recommend multifocal lenses or a combination of multifocal and monovision lenses to correct your unique vision needs.

Contact Lens Fitting

One size does not fit all when it comes to contact lenses. Your eye doctor will need to take some measurements to properly fit your contact lenses. Contact lenses that do not fit properly could cause discomfort, blurry vision or even damage the eye. Here are some of the measurements your eye doctor will take for a contact lens fitting:

Corneal Curvature

In order to assure that the fitting curve of the lens properly fits the curve of your eye, your doctor will measure the curvature of the cornea or front surface of the eye. The curvature is measured with an instrument called a keratometer to determine the appropriate curve for your contact lenses. If you have astigmatism, the curvature of your cornea is not perfectly round and therefore a “toric” lens, which is designed specifically for an eye with astigmatism, would be fit to provide the best vision and lens fit. In certain cases your eye doctor may decide to measure your cornea in greater detail with a mapping of the corneal surface called corneal topography.

Pupil or Iris Size

Your eye doctor may measure the size of your pupil or your iris (the colored area of your eye) with an instrument called a biomicroscope or slit lamp or manually with a ruler or card. This measurement is especially important if you are considering specialized lenses such as Gas Permeable (GP) contacts.

Tear Film Evaluation

One of the most common problems affecting contact lens wear is dry eyes. If the lenses are not kept adequately hydrated and moist, they will become uncomfortable and your eyes will feel dry, irritated and itchy. Particularly if you have dry eye syndrome, your doctor will want to make sure that you have a sufficient tear film to keep the lenses moist and comfortable, otherwise, contact lenses may not be a suitable vision option.

A tear film evaluation is performed by the doctor by putting a drop of liquid dye on your eye and then viewing your tears with a slit lamp or by placing a special strip of paper under the lid to absorb the tears to see how much moisture is produced. If your tear film is weak, your eye doctor may recommend certain types of contact lenses that are more successful in maintaining moisture.

Contact Lens Trial and Prescription

After deciding which pair of lenses could work best with your eyes, the eye doctor may have you try on a pair of lenses to confirm the fit and comfort before finalizing and ordering your lenses. The doctor or assistant would insert the lenses and keep them in for 15-20 minutes before the doctor exams the fit, movement and tearing in your eye. If after the fitting, the lenses appear to be a good fit, your eye doctor will order the lenses for you. Your eye doctor will also provide care and hygiene instructions including how to insert and remove your lenses, how long to wear them and how to store them if relevant.

Follow-up

Your eye doctor may request that you schedule a follow-up appointment to check that your contact lenses are fitting properly and that your eyes are adjusting properly. If you are experiencing discomfort or dryness in your eyes you should visit your eye doctor as soon as possible. Your eye doctor may decide to try a different lens, a different contact lens disinfecting solution or to try an adjustment in your wearing schedule.

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia, which is also called “lazy eye”, is a disorder that affects the visual development in children. Amblyopia is difficult to correct just with the use of contact lenses, or eyeglasses. Ambylopia can cause vision loss if it is not treated early and properly. This vision disorder affects 2-3% of the population.

What are the symptoms of Amblyopia?

Usually children that are born with amblyopia, the symptoms start in early childhood. Some signs of amblyopia in children are squinting, closing one eye in order to see better, poor general vision, headaches, and eyestrain. Usually caretakers such as parents, caregivers, doctors, or nurses notice these symptoms and recommend the child for treatment.

What are the causes of Amblyopia?

Strabismus is usually the cause of amblyopia. Strabismus is the eyes aligning incorrectly. Amblyopia can also be caused when there is a large difference between the eyes in refractive errors (prescription much higher in one eye than the other). For example, one eye is nearsighted, while the other is farsighted. If amblyopia is not treated, the brain will learn to disregard the vision in the eye with amblyopia. The eye that is disregarded does not grow with clear image and vision loss can be permanent. This is why it is very important to get early treatment and take your child to see your eye doctor if any signs are apparent.

How is Amblyopia treated?

There are several treatments for amblyopia, depending on the cause. Often children are treated using vision therapy, which usually includes a patch on the better eye. Other treatments are atropine eye drops, correct prescription eyeglasses, or surgery.

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy consists of eye exercises, which aim to teach the eyes to work together. In cases of amblyopia, the exercises require the brain to recognize the affected eye, which restores vision in that eye. Some doctors place a patch over the more functional eye, which forces the less functional eye to work harder and become stronger. The patch is generally worn for a few hours a day. Depending on the severity of the condition, treatment can last for weeks or months. Some children refuse to wear a patch, in those cases, a prosthetic contact lens is available. These contact lenses look like the regular eye, and are designed to block vision in that eye.

Atropine drops

Some doctors use atropine eye drops to treat amblyopia. These drops blur vision in the child’s better eye, forcing the weaker eye to work harder and get stronger. In the morning, one drop is instilled under eye doctor’s instructions. The advantage to this method of treatment is that the patch is avoided.

Prescription eyeglasses

If your child has developed amblyopia because of uncorrected vision, sometimes all that is needed is a pair of eyeglasses. When there is strong uncorrected prescription, or when there is a large difference in prescription between the two eyes, sometimes amblyopia can result. Your eye doctor may recommend eye patch therapy in addition to corrective lenses.

Surgery

Strabismus surgery is usually required if the amblyopia is due to a large eye turn. This type of surgery aligns the eyes and corrects the problem within the eye muscles. After the surgery the eyes will able to focus better. Additional vision therapy may be required after strabismus surgery.

Amblyopia must be treated as early as possible as there is no chance that it will resolve by itself. Untreated amblyopia can lead to permanent vision loss in that eye and reduced depth perception. Amblyopia needs to be treated promptly so that your child can have the best vision possible in childhood and later in life. When amblyopia is diagnosed and treated before age 9, the weaker eye can often develop significantly better vision. The most critical time to treat amblyopia is from 3 to 6 years of age. If you or anyone sees any signs of amblyopia, go to your eye doctor to find the best treatment for your child.

Astigmatism

Many people have never heard of astigmatism, although it is an extremely common eye condition.

Astigmatism is one type of refractive error. Nearsightedness and farsightedness are other types of refractive error. Refractive errors are not eye diseases. Refractive error is a result of and imperfection of the size and shape of the eye, which results in blurry or double vision.

If left untreated, astigmatism may cause eyestrain, headaches, and blurry vision. If you have astigmatism you may not see objects in the distance or near without some form of distortion.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Small amounts of astigmatism can go unnoticed, however, you may be suffering from eye fatigue, eyestrain, and headaches.

Astigmatism is a condition that usually can develops early in childhood. According to a study from The Ohio State University School of Optometry, 28% of school age children suffer from astigmatism. Parents should be aware that their children might not notice that their vision is blurry, not understanding that this is not normal. Nevertheless, astigmatism should be treated because vision problems can lead to learning problems and in extracurricular activities. Make sure to have your child’s eyes examined at an eye doctor’s office at least once a year.

Causes of Astigmatism

Astigmatism is generally caused by a cornea with an irregular shape. The cornea is the front, clear layer of the eye. With astigmatism, the cornea is not round and spherical and is instead irregular having two curves instead of one curve. Astigmatism in some cases could also be caused by the lens located inside the eye that is irregular in shape.

Eyes with astigmatism distort the light that comes into the eyes because the cornea is irregularly shaped. This causes the light rays entering the eye to create two images in the back of the eye (because of the two curves), instead of one image. This is what causes the distortion in sight.

Treatments for Astigmatism

For most people, their astigmatism is fully corrected using prescription glasses or contact lenses. If you select contact lenses to correct your vision, soft contact lenses are the most common option. If for whatever reason soft contact lenses are not an option, rigid gas permeable (RGP or GP) are also a great choice. Rigid gas permeable lenses usually give the clearest vision but the adaptation process will be significantly longer. Another option are hybrid contact lenses. These contacts have a center made from a rigid gas permeable (RGP) lens and an outer ring made of soft contact lens material. This type of lens provides both excellent clarity and comfort. LASIK could be another option to correct astigmatism. LASIK usually only corrects low levels of astigmatism and some patients with higher levels of astigmatism might not be candidates.