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 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: 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: Why does allergy season affect my eyes?
A: It’s that time of the year for allergies, and for those who suffer, it’s more than just sneezing. It can mean months of itchy, watery, and puffy eyes. Because many of the allergens are in the air, they easily get into the eyes and cause problems. For some people, a sudden case of red and watery eyes can feel like an infection when really, it’s just allergies. Eye allergies, known as “allergic conjunctivitis”, can often be treated with over the counter medication, but for some, it is not enough. Let us help you manage your allergies this season.
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'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 blue light and why is it dangerous?
A: Blue light is part of visible light and has a wavelength close to UV rays on the light spectrum. It is naturally produced by the sun, given off by fluorescent light bulbs, and emitted by LED screens on computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones. The eye's natural filters do not block blue light and chronic exposure may increase your risk for age-related macular degeneration. Evidence also shows that blue light exposure can lead to sleep problems.
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: 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.
Q: Why is my child having trouble reading and concentrating on schoolwork?
A: Your child may have an underlying refractive issue, such as farsightedness, nearsightedness or an astigmatism that maybe be causing blurred vision, making it hard for your child to concentrate and focus. There may also binocularity issues, which is how well the two eyes work together, or focusing issues that can affect a child's schoolwork. When working with your child, we will evaluate the visual system including binocular and accommodative systems to determine if his/her vision may be interfering with academic success.
Q: One of the greatest tasks of a school-aged child is learning to read and in older children, the amount of reading required. What should parents be on the lookout for concerning their child’s reading and potential vision problems?
A: We often discuss vision problems as they relate to sitting in a classroom, but what about the playground or vision acuity’s effect on socialization and play?
Q: Today it seems that many children are very quickly diagnosed as learning disabled or dyslexic. Does vision play a role?
A: In some cases a large undetected prescription (farsightedness or astigmatism) or an eye muscle imbalance (binocular vision problem) can make reading and learning a challenge. Once properly diagnosed and treated, reading and learning tasks can become much more comfortable, visually.
Q: My child is struggling in school. Does he / she need an eye exam?
A: A comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist can often determine if there are visual issues interfering with a child’s ability to perform well in school. Many visual symptoms, some obvious, others less so, can contribute to a child’s poor academic achievement. The most common symptoms to watch out for: blur at distance or near, skipping or re-reading lines or words, reduced reading comprehension, difficulty shifting focus from near to far or far to near, difficulty copying from the smart board, double vision, closing or covering an eye when working at near, headaches -- especially in the forehead, temple, or eyebrow regions, difficulty attending to near work or an avoidance of reading, poor spelling, misaligning numbers in math, unusual head or body posture when working at near. Some of these issues can be alleviated with a good pair of eyeglasses while others may require vision therapy. Vision therapy, like occupational therapy or physical therapy, is a systematic program where the body, in this case the visual system, can be retrained and strengthened to improve it’s ability to function.
Q: My child says it gets blurry when looking from his paper to the board at school, and getting him to read is difficult. Is there anything I can do to help?
A: Your child is not alone. While we have been seeing children with focusing problems for many years, there is a huge increase in accommodative (focusing) problems with children today. Our eye doctor works with children to make reading easier and more enjoyable. Words shouldn’t move in and out of focus or move around when you are reading. For example, spec lenses with extra power for reading or multifocal contacts, can make reading more comfortable for many children. School is challenging enough as it is, without the added difficulty of eyestrain and the eyes working hard just to see.
Q: How can a child's learning in school be affected by their vision?
A: A child's ability to learn is strongly dependent on having a normal visual system. Visual acuity (being able to see the letters on the chart with the big E) is only one aspect of about 17 visual skills that are required for reading and learning. Vision therapy is a treatment program that can remediate mal-developed visual skills and certain vision disorders, helping children reach their maximum learning and reading potential.
Q: My child is struggling in school. Should I have his/her eyes examined?
A: A comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist can often determine if there are visual issues interfering with a child's ability to perform in school. Many visual symptoms, some obvious, others less so, can contribute to a child's poor academic achievement. Some of these issues can be alleviated with a good pair of eyeglasses while others may require vision therapy. The doctors at our eye clinic are trained in the diagnosis of vision related learning problems.
Q: What are some of the learning difficulties a child may encounter if they have vision issues?
A: Children may have difficulty reading if their near vision is blurry or the words jump around the page. Older children may have difficulty copying from the board at the front of the class or may struggle with math homework that has multiple questions on the page.
Q: My child passed the screening test at school, isn’t that enough?
A: Distance and reading are two different things. Someone with perfect distance vision can still have focusing problems up close. Eye doctors check for both. Many children have undiagnosed accommodative (focusing) problems because no one ever looked for it before. We always check the distance and near vision of our patients of all ages because it is so important. Other areas that need to be checked include: eye muscle alignment, color vision, depth perception, and overall health of the eyes.
Q: What is color blindness?
A: Color blindness describes the inability to see colors in a normal way. Most often, color vision deficiency is when someone cannot distinguish between certain colors, usually between greens and reds, and occasionally blues. In the vast majority of cases, it's genetic, and is inherited from their mother's side of the family, affecting males more often than females. Acquired color vision deficiency can be caused by certain diseases such as multiple sclerosis, drugs or chemicals, but it's rare.
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: Does reading on my smart phone or tablet in the dark damage my eyes?
A: Reading from a tablet or smart phone in the dark is okay for your eyes, as long as it's not for a long period of time. There is good lighting from these devices, with good contrast. There is, however, blue light emitted from these devices. Blue light is a short wavelength light, with high energy that may cause damage to the structures of the eye if exposed for a long period of time. As well, studies have shown this blue light can disrupt melatonin production which is required for a healthy sleep cycle. Optometrists recommend limiting screen use during the last hour before bedtime.
Q: Why do my eyes tear up when I am reading or spending time in front of a computer?
A: This may be due to a decreased rate of blinking as you concentrate on reading or working on the computer. When you blink less, less tears are pumped out of the tear drainage system, leading to a welling of the tears. Also, if you have an unstable tear film in conjunction with a decreased rate of blinking, this could lead to reflex tearing. Patients who experience this often have evaporative dry eye, which could be diagnosed with some additional testing.
Q: I work all day on my computer. How can I reduce the strain to my eyes?
A: Usually we recommend that the height of the monitor should be level with the tip of your nose. The screen should be 26 - 30 inches away from your eyes. You can prevent glare from the screen and the harmful effects of blue light by wearing anti-glare lenses and blue light protection. In addition you should follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of computer use, you should take a break for 20 seconds by looking at an object that is 20 feet away from you. If you feel that your eyes are suffering from computer use, please call to make an appointment so we can evaluate your condition.
Q: Why do I have difficulty with my bifocal glasses while working on my computer?
A: Many people experience discomfort if they use a desktop computer while wearing bifocals because, to see the monitor at eye level, they look through the top of their eyeglasses, which is the portion for distance vision. To compensate, some patients have to tilt their head upwards to bring the computer into focus on the lower near-vision portion of the lens. However, that's not ideal either, since computer monitors are usually positioned farter away than typical near-vision activities and reading material. One solution for this is to have a separate pair of bifocal computer prescription lenses. In this case, the top part of the glasses has the appropriate power for the monitor at whatever specific distance it is from the eye; the bottom portion of the glasses is the traditional bifocal power for regular near viewing. Also, anti-reflective coatings help reduce eye fatigue and glare from prolonged computer use.
Q: Do I need to use an anti-glare filter on my computer screen?
A: Anti-glare filters for the computer can be effective at reducing reflections from the computer screen, which may improve comfort for some. However, computer screen anti-glare filters will not help if you have eye fatigue due to visual problems associated with the constant focusing and refocusing of the eyes while working on computers. An evaluation with your eye doctor may determine that you may need prescription computer eyewear.
Q: Is too much computer or hand-held device use bad for my child’s eyes?
A: The last few years have seen a radical shift in how our children use their vision. More and more time is spent looking at an electronic screen; TV, computer, cell phone, game device, and so on. Vision scientists have long pointed out that excessive near point tasks can lead to increased myopia (nearsightedness) in children, eyestrain, and headaches. Combined with the potentially damaging effect of the blue light these screens emit, you have the possibility of a dangerous situation. We recommend a common-sense approach. First, limit the time your child has to electronic media. Psychologists, educators, and doctors all agree: too much is not good. Second, practice the 20/20/20 rule. For every twenty minutes of near point tasks, take twenty seconds and look at something twenty feet or more away. In short, take frequent rest breaks. Third, use lenses that are designed for your particular activity. Having the correct eyeglass or contact lens prescription is always the place to start. There are lenses and coatings that not only provide the proper focus, but also block unwanted glare and limit the amount of damaging blue light.
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 have eye allergies, are daily contact lenses better for me than monthlies?
A: The main benefits of daily disposable contact lenses are comfort, convenience and eye health; it's often worthwhile even though they cost a little more. Daily lenses only stay in your eyes for one day, and then get thrown away, eliminating any buildup of bacteria on the lenses that could cause infections or allergic reactions. So for patients who suffer from allergies, dailies are better than monthlies.
Q: Can I wear my contact lenses at the beach?
A: Technically, no, it's not a good a good idea to wear contacts at the beach, because there's a risk of infection. However, disposable contact lenses that you'll throw out when you get home from the beach would be okay. Just make sure that, if you experience any redness or irritation, you remove them and flush your eyes out with a saline solution if available, or clean water. If the redness or irritation continues, call our office for further instructions.
Q: We have many choices today to correct our vision. What do you recommend as the earliest age for contact lenses?
A: This is very patient-specific and task-specific. Once the parent and child agree on the goals, and if the child is responsible enough for contacts, we can begin assess each situation individually. For example, disposable contacts may be used specifically for a sport, as needed.
Q: Who can wear contact lenses and at what age can you start?
A: Just about anyone can wear contact lenses, however occasionally a patient's ocular surface health may not allow them to wear contacts. A contact lens exam including a complete evaluation will determine if a patient is a good candidate for contacts. We suggest that children over the age of 10 can wear contacts as long as the parents feel their child is going to be responsible to care for the contact lenses and the child feels he/she is motivated in wanting to wear them.
Q: Can children wear contact lenses?
A: Yes! Once a child is mature enough to learn how to insert and remove contact lenses as well as take care of them, they can wear contact lenses. The best option for children is daily disposable contact lenses. Kids greatly benefit from contact lenses, especially when playing sports and during other extracurricular activities. They also help with a child's self esteem and confidence.
Q: What type of contact lenses are best for children?
A: We recommend daily disposable contact lenses for children. Daily disposables allow the patient to have a sterile, fresh lens every day. Many infections occur when patients do not properly disinfect their contact lenses with solution. Daily disposables eliminate this step completely, and help decrease the risk for contact-lens-related problems. Also, you won't have to keep track of when the contacts need to be replaced, as they are thrown away at the end of every day, instead of after two weeks or a month.
Q: At what age do you recommend children start with contact lenses?
A: As an optometrist, I believe that contact lenses can be worn at any age. But contacts are a privilege, and not a right. There is a financial responsibility associated with contact lens wear, as well as the need for overall accountability to avoid eye health issues. Therefore, for young people I recommend that we wait to try contacts until both the patient and parent are on board. In my experience, if the patient doesn't want contact lenses, he/she will not take care of them appropriately, and will not be successful at handling the lenses. On the flip side, the parent(s) must agree to assume the financial responsibility of the initial fitting, follow-up appointment, and the contact lenses themselves; also, they must confirm that their child is mature enough to take care of the contacts on his/her own.
Q: Can kids wear contact lenses?
A: Contact lens wear is not a matter of age. Some infants and toddlers even wear them; some teenagers shouldn't. In other words, every case is different. Here are a few things you should know to help you decide whether contacts are a good idea for your own children: some contact lenses can slow the progression of nearsightedness; contact lenses are better for sports activities; many children, and most teens, would rather wear contacts than glasses. Most eye care professionals report great results with kids and contact lenses. No eye doctor will prescribe contact lenses for children or teenagers who aren't ready for them or who don't have a good reason to wear them, and they shouldn't hesitate to "un-prescribe" them if a child doesn't take good care of them.
Q: Do you carry contacts that can change my eye color?
A: Yes, AirOptix Colorblends was released by Alcon to provide exceptional comfort, vision, and eye health, in a variety of color options.
Q: Are disposable contact lenses good for my eyes?
A: Everyone has different eyes. Some people can wear contacts overnight while some patients are never good candidates for contacts. It is best to let your eye doctor determine which contacts are a good option for you.
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 are one-day disposable contact lenses becoming so popular?
A: One-day lenses are discarded each evening, so that every day you start with a fresh pair of clean lenses, which is what makes them so popular with my patients. Other reasons for the shift to single-use lenses is that the cost is about the same as two-week or one-month lenses when you factor in solution and lens cases, they’re the healthiest option for your eyes, and you don’t need to use contact lens solution to rinse and store them.
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’s your vision prescription? And does that limit what contacts you can use?
A: There are a number of factors to consider when selecting contact lenses, and your vision condition is one of the most significant – as not all lenses are ideal for all prescriptions. If you have a more complicated or acute correction, then certain lenses such as toric (for astigmatism) or multifocal, are more readily available in monthly wearing schedules. Monthlies are composed of more rigid materials, which enable them to grant highly reliable vision correction at higher magnifications. Ultimately, your eye doctor will make the final prescription decision based on your vision needs and lifestyle preferences.
Q: What are monthly lenses?
A: Reusable contact lenses are replaced monthly (or bi-weekly), depending upon the type of lens. Monthly lenses are thicker and more durable than daily disposables, and they must be cleaned regularly and stored properly to prolong their healthy use. They are available in a wide selection of fittings and prescriptions, and are typically more resistant to drying out than dailies.
Q: What happens if I wear my contacts longer than recommended?
A: The longer a contact lens is worn, the less oxygen the eye receives. The cornea needs to receive oxygen directly from the air, and contact lenses inhibit this process to some extent. If your eyes don't get enough oxygen, you can have symptoms including eye pain, blurred vision, red eyes, light sensitivity, tearing and irritated eyes. If you experience any of these symptoms from contact lens over-wear, make sure to see your eye doctor. You may need to be treated for any damage to your eye, and you may need to take a break from wearing your lenses.
Q: Do you recommend certain contact lenses for sensitive eyes?
A: Some people’s eyes do not react well to specific lens materials. Since they don’t need to withstand long-lasting wear, daily lenses generally differ from monthlies with regard to the materials, water content and oxygen permeability. A particular lens composition may be more or less comfortable for your eyes, and what feels good for one contact lens wearer may be uncomfortable for another. We’ll evaluate your vision condition with an eye exam, to recommend the best materials for your comfortable vision.
Q: What are the advantages of daily disposable contact lenses?
A: There are two big benefits to daily disposable contact lenses. One is convenience. With dailies, there is no cleaning or storage, and no cost of lens cleaner. You just throw away the lenses after the day, and use a brand-new lens the next morning: nothing could be easier. The second benefit is comfort and health. Daily lenses tend to be more comfortable than monthlies, and also because they only stay in your eye for one day, there is no buildup of bacteria on the lenses that could cause infections or other problems. You also don't have to remember your replacement schedule and keep track of when to change your lenses: you have a new pair every day.
Q: How do I choose which contacts are for me? Well... Where do you plan to wear your contact lenses?
A: If you’re always on-the-go, playing vigorous sports or engaged in other activities that involve sweat, water, dirt or sunscreen, a daily lens may be most appropriate for you. You’ll be able to remove your lens and replace it in a flash with a new, sterile lens, with no need to disinfect and store it. The convenience and ease are ideal for an active lifestyle. One disadvantage of daily lenses is that depending upon the environment you’re in, these thinner lenses may dry out more rapidly. Monthly lenses are most suitable for people who spend the majority of their time in controlled environments, where time isn’t as pressured and there’s ample access to cleaning solutions. If you’ll need to remove your lenses a few times each day, monthly contacts are also preferred.
Q: Can I wear contacts while I sleep?
A: Generally, we do not recommend sleeping in contact lenses on a regular or prolonged basis. The eye is a dark, warm place while you are sleeping. Bacteria thrive in dark, warm places. There are contact lenses FDA approved to sleep in, but they should always be removed and thoroughly disinfected every week.
Q: What are the best types of contact lenses?
A: The majority of contact lens wearers wear soft contacts: almost 95%. However, the safest, easiest to handle, best for preventing the deterioration of vision, best value, and often the most comfortable (when designed correctly) contacts are rigid gas permeable contact lenses (RGP). So why are they not as popular as soft lenses? These are custom lenses and the quality of the design depends on the skills of the eye doctor; they're much more complicated to fit than the one-size-fits-all soft contact. They can be designed for any prescription, for any amount of astigmatism, with bifocal or multifocal prescriptions, or for corneal molding which are only worn while you sleep. The RGP lens allows over fifty times more oxygen through to the eye than a typical soft lens, reducing the risk of irritation and infection. These lenses are also much more durable than soft contact lenses, typically lasting for years, which can save money in the long run.
Q: Can beauty supply stores or flea markets sell contacts?
A: No, contact lenses are medical devices that are regulated by the government. It is illegal for beauty supply stores or flea markets to sell contacts, even cosmetic lenses, and even if they aren't for vision correction. All contact lenses (including decorative ones) require a valid prescription, and only certified vendors can sell them. It can be very dangerous for your eyes to wear counterfeit lenses. You should contact your local police department.
Q: When I wear my contacts, at the end of the day, my eyes are usually dry and uncomfortable. What can I do to alleviate this problem?
A: Contacts are meant to be worn all day, as long as the eyes are healthy. In order to keep them comfortable, here are a few tips: Work with your optometrist to find the most comfortable lens material/brand for your eyes. Consider one-day disposable lenses, which are worn once and then discarded along with the irritating protein and bacteria deposits acquired during the day. If you choose to not wear dailies, be sure you are changing your contacts according to your doctor’s recommendation, as stretching the life of the lenses can lead to discomfort and infection. Choose a contact lens solution that will not only disinfect your lenses appropriately, but will also moisturize your lenses to allow for maximum comfort. Not all multipurpose solutions do this effectively. Rewetting drops or tear drops are effective in helping to moisturize the contacts during the day as well. Not all drops are safe to use with contacts, but your optometrist can help you choose the best drop for your eyes.
Q: Why do my eyes feel irritated when I wear contacts?
A: There can be countless reasons why someone’s eyes may be irritated with contact lens wear. Here are 5 of the most common reasons that we come across. 1. Dry Eye: Dry eye symptoms affect more than 20 million people in the U.S., according to one Allergan study. Symptoms can include a burning sensation, excessive tearing, and redness. Some contact lenses can work better than others for dry eye patients. 2. Allergies / GPC: Many people suffer from different degrees of allergies associated with contact lens wear. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC) is when bumps develop under the lid, where the constant blinking motion over the contact lens can irritate the eyes. There are many effective strategies for contact lens wear and allergies. Daily disposable contact lenses can have tremendous benefits for contact lens wearers with seasonal allergies. 3. Lid involvement / Meibomian Gland Dysfunction / Blepharitis: Our eyelids have a complex system that properly lubricates the eyes. When one component of it gets out of whack, it can dramatically affect the comfort of contact lens wear. There can also be different types of buildup on eyelashes, that can then fall into the eyes and irritate the surface. 4. Chronic Abuse of Contact Lenses / Overwear: Many of us have heard contact lens wearers say something like, “I wear my contacts until they start to bother me.” That strategy is like changing the oil after the car breaks down. 5. Fit / Type of Contact Lenses: Whether it’s dated technology, an old school lens, or a lens that’s too loose or tight, there are many aspects of contact lens wear that can be affected by the fit and type of lens used. A person’s history is important in determining what contact lens may work best for them, including certain systemic conditions, as well as the factors mentioned above. Visit your eye doctor, so we can diagnosis the issue, and try to help you feel more comfortable with wearing contact lenses.
Q: Can I wear my contact lenses while I sleep?
A: It’s always better NOT to wear your contact lenses while sleeping. Complications and infections in contact lens wearers multiplies 3-5 fold when worn during sleeping/extended wear. Many of these infections and complications can be very painful, they require discontinued use of the contacts during treatment that may last up to a few months, and can even lead to permanent vision loss.
Q: What are the latest trends in contact lenses?
A: Many contact lens manufacturers are now producing “daily” disposable contact lenses. These are lenses that are inserted in the morning and thrown away at night. This style of contact lens wear is both convenient and healthy. With these lenses, patients buy less solutions and don’t have to keep up with how old their lenses are and when to change them. Daily disposables are also beneficial in causing less allergy and dryness while reducing the risks of infection. Daily lenses are now offered in all types of prescriptions from distance vision to astigmatism and multifocal/bifocal prescriptions.
Q: Do all contacts have UV blocking?
A: No, many lenses do not have UV blocking capabilities, so make sure to ask your Optometrist for UV blocking lenses if that is a concern to you.
Q: For my my New Year's resolution I resolved to work out more often, but my glasses keep falling off while I'm at the gym. What would you recommend?
A: Even if you have never worn contact lenses before, I would recommend trying daily disposables for your workout and any other physical activity like bike riding, yoga, or sports. If you do wear contact lenses for sports and fitness activities, you should still use non-prescription protective eyewear to ensure that your eyes are safe from physical trauma and or glare. Daily disposable come in a wide variety of types for every lifestyle and are very convenient to use. Contact us to find out which are the best for you.
Q: Is wearing contacts better for sports activity?
A: Yes, wearing contacts provide a wider field of view thus preventing avoidable injuries. Prescription sports goggles work well but when you are actively sweating your goggles will fog up and start to move around a lot. I recommend contacts a lot for my active patients.
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: How will I know if my child's amblyopia is getting better? Is it too late to help if the problem is detected after age 6?
A: Lazy eye will not go away on its own. We have what is called electrodiagnostic testing which can determine the effectiveness of amblyopia treatment without relying on the response of the child to "tell" us how well they are seeing. Oftentimes, parents worry that the eye exam is not accurate if their child is not old enough to read the chart or is uncooperative due to anxiety surrounding an eye exam. This test is non-invasive and fast (30 minutes) and can be done right here in our office for patients of all ages, starting in infancy. We can track over time how the therapy is working and the prognosis of their vision.
Q: I wear contact lenses, but now I’m having trouble seeing clearly to read things up close. What can I do?
A: I still want to wear my lenses. There are several options but first, it’s important to get a yearly check up to make sure that the distance prescription is up-to-date, if it isn’t, it can make near vision appear worse. The choices to allow a patient to see at all distances: monovision contacts, multifocal contacts, or distance only contacts with reading glasses over the lenses. Monovision works by correcting one eye for distance and the other for near. With this modality the two eyes do not work together as a team. It will require some adaptation. Multifocals work by correcting both eyes for distance and near. With this option, in order to get clear vision at one distance it can blur the vision at another distance; the goal is to be spectacle-free with acceptable vision 90% of the time. Distance-only contacts with reading glasses will provide the clearest vision at all distances, but requires the use of glasses for anything up close. The option that is right for you is based on multiple factors and can be discussed with your optometrist.
Q: I wear multifocal eyeglasses. Is it possible for me to wear contact lenses?
A: Of course! There are several different types of multifocal contact lenses, and we specialize in fitting you with the one that will be the most comfortable and correct your vision the best. There are bifocal, multifocal, and monovision lenses to choose from, as well as Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) and soft lenses. Depending on your prescription and what is most comfortable, we will fit you with a contact lens that will provide you with great vision. There are 3 good options for patients who want to use contact lenses to correct distance and near vision at the same time. Most all patients can be successful with either multifocal contact lenses or monovision. Both of those options would make you "glasses free". But, some people are ok just wearing contact lenses for distance and then putting cheaters on over the top when they need to read. The right decision is usually based on your activity level and visual demands on a daily basis.
Q: Can you explain what multifocal contact lenses are and who can wear them?
A: Multifocal contact lenses are soft or rigid gas permeable contact lenses that are appropriate for anyone with presbyopia or difficulty seeing up close. They are available in different modalities so some are single use disposable while others may be worn for up to a month. Most designs have one power in the center that changes toward the periphery of the lens and they can be adjusted to emphasize better distance or near correction for either eye as required. By wearing them, patients can reduce or eliminate the need for reading glasses while maintaining good far vision. The advantage of multifocal contact lenses is that they can minimize or even eliminate the need to wear reading glasses in addition to traditional single vision contact lenses. So distance, computer vision and reading vision are corrected in the same lens. People in their 40s and later are good candidates for multifocal lenses as this is the time when it becomes increasingly difficult to focus at near. Often these patients are already wearing contact lenses so making the switch is a natural thing to do. Not everyone is a candidate for multifocals but anyone can try. Motivation and flexibility are keys to success with multifocals. Certainly a healthy cornea and good tear film are prerequisites to being able to wear these lenses. Anyone who is motivated to decrease their use of spectacles should consider this option. A trial fitting will give a patient a good idea if these lenses are right for him/her.
Q: What are Scleral Contact Lenses?
A: Scleral lenses are custom made lenses that rest on the sclera, or white part, of your eye. 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: Can I wear contacts when I'm swimming?
A: We usually tell our patients that their contact lenses should never be in contact with regular water, tap or pool water because it can cause an increase risk of bacterial infections. The contact lenses act as magnets and can hold bacteria found in water that can cause harm to the eyes. However, we understand that sometimes when swimming, it is hard to see without your contacts and glasses aren’t an option. For these reasons, I generally recommend daily contact lenses whenever possible when swimming along with waterproof goggles. If daily disposable lenses aren’t an option, I recommend using your contact lenses along with waterproof goggles and when you are done that evening, to REMOVE THE LENSES and THOROUGHLY CLEAN them with the proper disinfection systems. Whatever you do, DO NOT SWIM IN YOUR CONTACT LENSES AND THEN PROCEED TO SLEEP IN THEM. This is a recipe for disaster and can cause significant damage to your eyes.
Q: Can I swim with contact lenses?
A: Swimming with contact lenses should be avoided whenever possible to help prevent bacterial contamination of your eye. Swimming with contacts can result in eye infections, irritation and potentially sight-threatening conditions such as a corneal ulcer. Water can be home to countless viruses and dangerous microbes. One of the most serious is the Acanthamoeba organism, which can attach to contact lenses and cause the cornea to become infected and inflamed. This condition, called Acanthamoeba keratitis, is associated with wearing contact lenses while swimming and can cause permanent vision loss or require a corneal transplant to recover lost vision if not treated early enough. If water gets in your eyes when swimming, you should remove, clean and disinfect your contact lenses as soon as possible to reduce your risk of eye irritation and infection. If you're going to swim while wearing contact lenses, the best way to reduce your risk of eye irritation and infection is to wear waterproof swim goggles. In addition to protecting your eyes from waterborne contaminants, swim goggles reduce the risk of your contacts dislodging from your eyes. Your eye doctor will be able to advise you on your best eyewear options for swimming and other activities you enjoy
Q: What Is Convergence Insufficency?
A: Convergence Insufficency is a visual condition where there is a misalignment of the two eyes. Some people have great difficulty keeping the two eyes looking at the same spot while reading. This causes several visual symptoms leading to poor reading ability. The condition can make you see double, lose your place, read slow, make reading so difficult that some people will avoid reading and some people will become sleepy after about fifteen minutes of reading. People with this condition are also very prone to have problems with dizziness and vertigo. The only treatment for convergence insufficency is vision therapy. This is a procedure that lets the person with the condition learn to get better control of their eyes and results in better reading ability. Many children with this problem struggle with reading , take very long to do their homework and often are misdiagnosed as having ADD/ADHD.
Q: I was just diagnosed with diabetes in August. I had glasses before and I try and use them now, but they don't help me see any better. What should I do?
A: Diabetes can have many effects on the eyes, including changes in vision. Because you are diabetic you are now covered under OHIP for an eye exam once per year with a Doctor of Optometry. These yearly exams are very important when you are diabetic as your Doctor of Optometry will ensure your prescription is stable as well as monitor the health of your eyes for any changes related to your diabetes. We watch for bleeding at the back of the eye, as well as other ocular diseases such as glaucoma. Please call our office to book your eye exam as soon as possible.
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: My eyes are always burning and tired, what is causing this and what can I do about it?
A: These are often signs of dry eye syndrome, a very common condition that affects many people over time. Women are generally more prone to developing these symptoms and aging is often a cause as well. Dryness of our eyes is often due to a decrease in the oil production in our eyelid glands which causes the surface of the eye to become irritated. Certain medications and health issues can also contribute to dryness. There is no true cure for dryness but many treatments are available such as the use of artificial tears, nutritional supplements incorporating Omega 3, prescription medications such as Restasis, and eyelid hygiene. No single treatment works for every individual so we customize treatments for each person and their specific condition.
Q: Are there some every day activities that can cause Dry Eye?
A: Yes. Generally those that suffer with allergies, or have systemic inflammatory diseases like arthritis and sjogrens’, or those who use the computer or digital devices often and even contact lens wearers tend to be more susceptible to dry eye symptoms.
Q: Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?
A: Yes. Generally those that suffer with allergies, or have systemic inflammatory diseases like arthritis and sjogrens’, or those who use the computer or digital devices often and even contact lens wearers tend to be more susceptible to dry eye symptoms.
Q: Are there any day to day activities that can cause Dry Eye?
A: Certainly age, gender and medications can be causative factors, but so can work environment (dry offices or factories), weather/seasons, and geographical location.
Q: How do I know if I have Dry Eye?
A: Dry eye can cause quite a few symptoms, anything from the eyes actually feeling dry to the eyes watering often, or having a burning, itchy, or irritated feeling. One of the most common symptoms is the eyes feeling gritty or like something is in your eye. Most people will often experience blurred vision since the tears, which comprise the outermost surface of the eye, are unstable.
Q: I have a friend whose eyes are frequently overly watery. That isn't Dry Eye, is it?
A: Yes, actually the two biggest causes of watery eyes are allergies (usually accompanied by itching) and dry eye. There are two kinds of tears, basal and reflex tears. If you don't have enough (or the right kind) of basal tears to keep the eye moist, the reflex tears (which are the crying/cutting onion tears) kick in and then you have too many tears streaming down your face! Think of it as your eyes turning on the taps to water themselves.
Q: Is it true that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
A: Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn't always black and white. Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a chronic multi-factorial disease process in which signs and symptoms don't always correlate with one another. Some patient may be more sensitive in certain seasons than others, depending on the humidity level, wind factor, working environment, and other variables. Therefore, screening for this common and chronic condition is crucial to maintaining a healthy and stable tear film, no matter the season, and should not be based on symptoms alone.
Q: What are some of the symptoms of Dry Eye?
A: There are numerous symptoms of dry eye disease, but the most common ones include excess tearing, lack of tearing, burning, redness, foreign body sensation, intermittently blurred vision, and an inability to tolerate contact lenses. If you have any of the above symptoms, and want a professional diagnosis, please make an appointment here.
Q: What are some of the warning signs of Dry Eye? How is it best detected?
A: Warning signs can accumulate quite gradually over many years. Not uncommonly among contact lens wearers, they may incorrectly assume the lenses are old and need to be replaced. Other times the eyes water a bit more, or burn, or itch. Many, many cases are sub-clinical – they can only be diagnosed with the use of microscopic detection and special equipment! We look at tear quality, tear meniscus, and gland structure. Research has pointed towards the testing of tear osmolarity as a reliable indicator of the disease in terms of pre-treatment and post-treatment situations.
Q: What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?
A: Treatment for dry eye varies due to the severity and stage of the disease. Artificial tears can be helpful in the early stages. If artificial tears are not sufficient, we progress to a prescription medication such as Restasis or Xiidra. Also, lid hygiene as well as omega-3 fish oil supplementation can improve symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications as well as punctal plugs are also available if needed for treatment.
Q: What is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes?
A: A full dry eye evaluation may include a series of tests depending on initial signs and symptoms, systemic history, medication, and lifestyle. Most of these tests are non-invasive and are painless. They can range from special colored dyes placed on the eyelid to assess severity, direct visualization of the oil glands to check for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) or atrophy, to tear production analysis to name a few. The evaluation will be tailored to narrow down the specific cause of Dry Eye Syndrome.
Q: When should a person come in to see their optometrist for Dry Eye symptoms and when is it enough to take care of this problem yourself?
A: Patients should undergo a dry eye evaluation by a therapeutic optometrist at the first signs of dry eyes. Those who wear, or over wear, contact lenses are at higher risk for dry eye syndrome, as are patients who suffer from multiple systemic conditions. Patients who are taking multiple medications may also complain of dry eye due to drug interactions. Mild acute symptoms may be treated with over the counter drops, but most patients select an incorrect product that isn't specific to their condition, and can often mask serious conditions or lead to toxic corneal reactions. A consult is also warranted for any patient who has been recently diagnosed with an autoimmune condition or undergoing high-risk medications.
Q: Why do my eyes water if I have dry eye?
A: People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have poor quality of tears. As the eyes dry out, they become more irritated and uncomfortable. This often times stimulates the lacrimal glands to produce more tears in response to the inflammation and ocular surface changes. Mild cases of dry eyes can often be managed using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. These can be used as often as needed to supplement natural tear production.
Q: Are there any natural treatments available for dry eyes?
A: Diet is very important for eye health in general. Make sure you eat plenty of green, red and orange vegetables, and fish, especially wild salmon. Most people do not get enough Omega 3 healthy oil in their diet, so we recommend taking an Omega 3 fish oil supplement. Omega 3 has been shown to relieve dry eye symptoms, and is also important for heart and general health.
Q: How do I know if I have dry eyes, or my eyes are just tired?
A: The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can include tearing, burning, and a feeling of scratching in your eye, in addition to feeling that your eyes are dry. Dry eyes can be caused by some medications, certain diseases, allergies, hormones and aging, as well as other factors. There are various treatments for dry eyes, depending on the severity, and of course the underlying cause. Dry eye syndrome can be very uncomfortable, however there are treatments available that provide symptom relief almost immediately.
Q: What eye drops do you recommend for dry eye syndrome?
A: There are 2 prescription eyedrops on the market right now, Restasis and Xiidra. Both eyedrops reduce inflammation. Restasis takes longer for patients to notice symptom abatement, when using Xiidra patients find relief faster. After a thorough eye exam, focusing on your dry eye symptoms, I will be able to make a determination about which eye drop would be best for your particular eye condition.
Q: What can I do to prevent dry eyes?
A: Dry eyes are caused by many factors. If you know you have dry eyes, try to pay attention to what makes them feel better or worse. For example, do not blow your hair dryer directly towards your eyes. Add moisture to the air with a humidifier. Use eye protection outdoors like wrap around sunglasses or other protective eyewear. Be mindful of changes in your environment (traveling). Position your computer screen below eye level. Stop smoking and avoid smoky areas. Supplement with lubricating eye drops and Omega 3 (orally).