Q: What is diabetic retinopathy?
A: Diabetic retinopathy is a condition which can occur at any stage or type of diabetes. In fact, many times diabetes is identified during an eye exam in a person who never suspected they may have diabetes. It is caused by damage to the very delicate blood vessels within the retina. Over time, these blood vessels may start to leak blood and fluid into the retina or other areas of the eye. If the condition progresses, new vessels may begin to grow within the retina, which places the retina at risk of additional and sometimes sudden complications including internal bleeds and retinal detachment.
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: What are the pros of daily disposable contact lenses?
A: Daily disposable contact lenses are great for many reasons. The risk of infection is reduced, because a new sterile lens is used everyday, and there is no need to clean the lens or the case. This is also a great option for patients who have allergies, contact lens solution sensitivities, or dry eye, as it eliminates the buildup of contaminants on the lenses, which can exacerbate those problems. Dailies make for a low-maintenance and comfortable option for almost any patient!
Q: Why do I need to scan my retinas/back of the eye?
A: The retina shows us a lot about the overall ocular health as well as systemic conditions that can affect the eyes. Often diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol can be observed from a retinal scan. Also, retinal scans allow us to diagnose and treat macular degeneration and glaucoma. Scans are often very important for a complete eye check up.
Q: How do allergies directly affect the eyes?
A: Chronic allergies may lead to permanent damage to the tissue of your eye and eyelids. If left untreated, it may even cause scarring of the conjunctiva, the membrane covering the inner eyelid that extends to the whites of the eyes. Ocular allergies can make contact lens wear almost impossible and are among the many causes of contact lens drop-out. Most common allergy medications will tend to dry out the eyes, and relying on nasal sprays containing corticosteroids can increase the pressure inside your eyes, causing other complications such as glaucoma.
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 the difference between seasonal and perennial allergies? How would I know the difference?
A: Simply put, seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) is a more common and persistent form of ocular allergies that occurs during changes in season, which include outdoor weeds, grasses, and tree pollen. Whereas perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC) is a more mild and chronic presentation that occurs year-round from common indoor allergens, such as animal dander, molds, fungus, and even dust mites.
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: 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: 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: 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 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 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.