Q: I have diabetes and my doctor told me to have my eyes checked. I see very well, and only need reading glasses to see up close. Is it really necessary for me to see an eye doctor?
A: Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people 20 to 74 years of age. Early detection of diabetic changes in the eyes is critical for preventing severe vision loss. The American Medical Association recommends that any person with diabetes have their eyes completely checked by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist at least once every year. The doctors at Advanced Eye Care perform comprehensive eye examinations on all diabetics. We work together with your primary care physician to completely manage all aspects of the diabetes process.
Q: My six year old complains of headaches, especially in bright light, and tends to rub his eyes a lot. Is there something I can do to help him?
A: Many children complaining of headaches, bright lights, and eyes that hurt are actually far-sighted. School screenings often miss these children, because they see very well when looking t something far away. Reading, watching TV, or working on a computer, however, causes far-sighted children significant problems. These children tend to become tired when reading, complain of headaches or eye pain, and often will avoid reading all together. Occasionally, these children can become discipline problems in school, or even educationally delayed, simply because they have a much more difficult time seeing to read. This is a condition that can be corrected with glasses.
Q: I work on a computer all day long. I wear bifocals and can't ever seem to see my computer screen clearly. Is there something that I can do without having to use three different pair of glasses during my day?
A: There are new lenses available that were designed specifically with the computer user in mind. The Progressive lenses have been engineered specifically for computer use. It allows you to see clearly in the distance, and as your eyes gradually move down the lens, the power changes, to give you a full range of clear vision at whatever distance you are trying to see. The doctors and staff at Advanced Eye Care specialize in fitting a variety of different designs of Progressive lenses.
Q:I've always been told that I can't wear soft contact lenses because of my astigmatism. Lately I've been seeing ads on TV about soft contact lenses for astigmatism. Do you think these would work for me?
A: The contact lens industry has improved drastically in the past 10 years. Yes, it is true that there are soft contact lenses specifically designed for astigmatism. In fact, the engineering has come so far that for some prescriptions we are now able to offer disposable lenses for many people with astigmatism. Of course, a full evaluation of your prescription and the health of your eyes would ultimately determine if you are a good candidate for these types of contact lens fittings.
Q: I have a friend who sleeps in his contact lenses. Is that really safe for your eyes?
A: There are certain types of contact lenses developed for extended wear use, meaning they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be slept in for up to 30 nights in a row—depending on the brand. Research has shown, however, that extended wear use of contact lenses can place the patient at a 30 times greater risk of developing complications from the contact lens wear. These complications include severe allergies, infections, corneal ulcers, vessel growth onto the cornea, and in some cases hospitalization and the need for a corneal transplant. Patients who wear extended wear lenses need to be followed more closely than traditional contact lens wearers in order to prevent such complications.
Q: My grandmother went blind from glaucoma. I've always heard that glaucoma is a genetic disease, but I see very well, and my eyes don't ever hurt. Do I really need to have my eyes checked for glaucoma?
A: Absolutely YES!!! Glaucoma is a painless disease resulting in a gradual loss of vision. It generally occurs in people who have high pressures in their eyes, but can occur in people with normal eye pressure as well. Glaucoma progresses very slowly over time, beginning with a gradual decrease in peripheral, or side, vision. If you rely on decreased vision to be your indication that something is wrong it could be too late and the glaucoma could have already progressed to a late stage form.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, we do have several treatments for this disease. The key to treating glaucoma, however, is early detection. So, you should be checked annually for any signs of glaucoma. This evaluation includes a side vision test, eye pressure test, and examination of the optic nerve (which is done by painlessly examining inside of your eye). The doctors at Advanced Eye Care check for glaucoma as part of all comprehensive eye examinations.
Q: What is macular degeneration, and when should I be checked for it?
A: Macular degeneration is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S., and the leading cause in people over 65. It is a progressive disorder of the central retina (area of fine, central vision), typically resulting in decreased central vision, which is crucial for reading and driving. Risk factors include: age (over 60 years old), high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, family history, and exposure to UV radiation (sunlight). Everyone over the age of 60, and those having one or more risk factors should be checked once every year.
Q: What causes cataracts?
A: There are many things that contribute to the formation of cataracts. These include diabetes, certain medications, UV radiation, smoking, alcohol, and poor nutrition. Studies have shown that antioxidant vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A) can have a significant effect on decreasing the incidence of cataracts. If you are noticing a decrease in vision, difficulties seeing in dim lighting, or trouble driving (especially at night), you should be checked by an eye doctor to determine if you are developing cataracts.
Q: What is “pink eye”?
A: “Pink eye” has become a generic term for a variety of eye infections or inflammations. What most people think of as “pink eye” is actually a viral conjunctivitis. Symptoms include redness, tearing, swollen eyelids, and small blisters known as follicles inside the eyelids, itching, and sensitivity to light. Viral conjunctivitis is extremely contagious and caution should be taken when exposure occurs. Preventative measures include frequent hand washing, and no sharing of makeup, towels or bedding with an infected person. It can take up to 3 weeks for some types of “pink eye” to completely resolve. Immediate medical attention should be rendered to rule out more serious bacterial infections in all cases of “pink eye”.
Q: How often should I have an eye exam?
A: One of the most common questions we are asked is, “How often should I get my eyes examined?” Well, it depends. Your age, past eye history, your family eye history, and whether you wear glasses or ontact lenses determine, in large part, how often you need to have your eyes checked.
Most eye doctors agree most children should be seen for a first exam by age three, sooner if there is a problem. For those under the age of forty with a prescription, exams should occur annually. If contacts or glasses aren't necessary, every two to three should be sufficient. After forty, though, your body stands a greater chance of developing health and eye problems, like glaucoma. Therefore, these folks should be seen once every twelve months barring any eye or health problems.
These are just guidelines. If you've been seeing your eye doctor regularly, continue doing so. He or she knows your eyes best. This allows you and your optometrist to best plan your examinations on a timely basis.
Q: Why do my eyelids twitch?
A: It's happened to most of us at one time or another. We're going about our daily business, eating, driving, or working. Suddenly, we become aware of our eyelids starting to twitch and jump for no reason. This is called an “eyelid tic.” They are common and not a sign of an eye or health problem.
Eyelid tics are best described as a small quivering of the muscles within the eyelid. We mostly find that they're more common in people under high stress and tension. They can also occur if the body is depleted of needed vitamins such as potassium or magnesium. Proper nutrition, and usually, the simple act of getting a little more sleep and relaxation gets rid of this problem. And for the tough twitch that just won't seem to go away, over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Benadryl, may be useful to cure eyelid tics when taken at night.
If you have an eyelid tic, you may feel it's very easy for others to see the twitching, and be self-conscious as a result. Rest assured, though. It's hardly noticeable.
Q: How do we see in color?
A: The human eye is an amazing organ! It allows us to experience the rich varieties of colors and depth that are so much a part of our lives. The process by which the eye can appreciate color is truly miraculous.
As light enters your eye and strikes the retina, it will usually focus in the macular area. The macula of the eye is responsible for your clearest vision, and contains most of your eye's cone nerve receptors. It is the cones which, when excited by light, translate that message into an electrical impulse. Your brain can then perceive the color, whether it is red, green, blue, yellow, or a combination of these. Individuals with color blindness are deficient in some of the cones responsible for distinguishing a given color. Red-green color blindness is most common, and affects men five times more often than women. Go out and look at the beautiful colors all around you and be amazed about your eyes!
Q: What's My Vision?
A: “So, Doc, what’s my vision anyway?” That is perhaps the single most common question patients ask me. And it is a good one! After all, visual acuity measurements provide a “score card” of sorts for how well our eyes are doing their job.
When most people talk of vision, they're talking about 20/20 type readings, or Snellen acuity. That's the most common system, though it's not the only one available. In that system, the top number is the testing distance, and the bottom number corresponds to the smallest letter read on the Snellen chart. What we consider to be “perfect” vision is the 20/20 measurement.
Good vision can be affected by a wide range of factors, including eye and systemic diseases, certain medications, and eyestrain. It is a mistake to believe that just because you're seeing 20/20, your eyes are healthy. Many diseases, such as glaucoma, may still allow 20/20 vision even though the side (peripheral) vision is slowly being destroyed. Other conditions, especially diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumors, may cause visual acuity readings to fluctuate widely. Good vision is ne thing, but total vision wellness is so much more!