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 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: What is blue light and why is it dangerous?
A: Blue light is part of visible light and close to UV on the light spectrum. It is naturally produced by the sun, used in fluorescent light bulbs and emitted by LED screens on computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones. The eyes’ natural filters do not block blue light and chronic exposure can cause age – related macular degeneration. Evidence also shows that blue light exposure can lead to sleep problems.
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: 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 is meant by the term allergic conjunctivitis? Is that the same as “pink eye”?
A: Allergic conjunctivitis is the clinical term for inflammation of the lining or membrane of the eye, called the conjunctiva, caused by allergic reactions to substances. Although a patient may present with red or pink eyes from excess inflammation, the common term "pink eye" can signify a broad range of conditions and can be misleading, as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other irritating substances can cause redness resembling a "pink eye." Your eye doctor can differentiate between an allergy and a true infection, which can lead to faster healing with the right treatment.
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’s The Difference Between Vision Plans & Health Insurance?
A: Health insurance covers the cost of basic healthcare needs, such as physical exams, emergency care, medically necessary procedures, and some prescription drugs. Many health insurance plans include coverage for sudden eye injuries or disease, but not general vision care. A vision plan covers the cost of care for maintaining healthy vision. This can include annual eye exams, vision tests, some eye surgeries, and prescription eye medications. Some vision plans cover prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses either at reduced cost or offer discounts.
Q: Will wearing (or not wearing) corrective lenses change my eyesight?
A: NO! For those who need corrective lenses of any kind to see better, the choice to wear or not wear them will NOT alter your vision in the long term. As kids grow, their eyesight changes naturally and that process is different for everyone. Wearing correction will not cause children or adults to become more near or far sighted and will not bring about any added change in prescription. For adults, wearing "cheaters" for reading and computer work also does NOT make you more reliant on them. Any changes in up close vision are caused by the natural lens inside your eye becoming immobile and unable to change shape, making focusing difficult. However, near vision can be altered slightly by certain medications at any age.
Q: What exactly does "20/20 vision" mean?
A: "20/20 vision" is commonly accepted as the standard of normal distance vision for a human being. Basically it means "good visual acuity at 20 feet." So if your vision is 20/20, you can read certain sizes of letters on a Snellen chart clearly at 20 feet or closer. But if your friend has 20/15 vision, his visual acuity is better than yours: you would have to stand 15 feet away from the chart to read the smaller letters that he can read while standing 20 feet away. Conversely, someone with 20/30 vision has worse distance vision than you. By the way, visual acuity at a distance isn't the only measure of how good your vision is. You could have 20/20 distance vision but still have difficulty seeing at night because of poor contrast sensitivity. Or you could have near vision problems because you're over 40 and experiencing presbyopia.
Q: Should I wear sunglasses during the winter?
A: Absolutely! Ultra-violet (UV) rays are present and harmful whether it’s cloudy out or sunny! While we all know that UV rays can cause damage to the skin, UV exposure can also cause damage to several important parts of the eyes and can lead to problems such as early onset cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.
Q: What are specialty contact lenses?
A: Specialty contact lenses are contact lenses made for people who have trouble wearing regular contact lenses because of some type of eye health or vision issue. If you have dry eyes, or astigmatism, or kerataconus, you may have been told that you can't wear contact lenses. However, we now have new technology that allows us to fit all different types of patients with contact lenses that are comfortable, and provide great vision. These contact lenses require special fittings, performed by an eye doctor who is trained in this area, and knows what contact lenses will be best for your particular condition.
Q: What are progressive lenses?
A: Progressive lenses are also called no line bifocals or multifocals. We like the term multifocal because it describes what they do: they focus at multiple distances at a time. For example, if you were shopping at the grocery, you would need to see far away to see the signs to find out what aisle you need, that is distance. Once you are there, you need to scan the shelves to find the item that you wanted, that is mid-range. Once you find the item, you pick it up to read the ingredient, that is near vision. Progressives allow you to see different distances without having to lift up your glasses or reach for readers.
Q: Is it normal to need reading glasses as we get older?
A: Beginning at approximately age 40, most people find themselves holding reading material further from their eyes in order to see the print clearly. This loss of close-up focusing power, known as “presbyopia” (Latin for “old man’s eyes”) is caused by age-related stiffening of the eye lens, which eventually makes reading at a normal distance impossible. At this point, those with no previous need for prescription lenses often resist their need for reading glasses out of vanity, denial, or the mistaken notion that wearing glasses makes eyes weaker. However, the fact is that eyes are going to lose their near focusing ability as we get older whether or not we wear glasses, so we might as well opt for sharper vision. To help you compensate for presbyopia, your eye doctor can prescribe reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals, or contact lenses.