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: 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: 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: My doctor says I have a cataract, but he wants to wait a while before removing it. Why?
A: A cataract usually starts very small and practically unnoticeable, but grows gradually larger and cloudier. Your doctor is probably waiting until the cataract interferes significantly with your vision and your lifestyle. You need to continue to visit your eye doctor regularly so the cataract's progress can be monitored. Some cataracts never really reach the stage where they should be removed. If cataracts are interfering with your vision to the point where it is unsafe to drive, or doing everyday tasks is difficult, then it's time to discuss surgery with your eye doctor.
Q: What are cataracts and how do they affect my vision?
A: A cataract is a gradual clouding of the crystalline lens located inside the eye, which causes decreased vision. Cataracts most commonly occur with aging, and are a normal part of the aging process. Other causes of cataract development include ocular trauma/surgery, radiation, smoking, systemic disease (metabolic and genetic conditions), and certain medications (particularly corticosteroids). Symptoms of cataract vision loss depend on the type, location, and severity of the cataract. Cataracts may cause gradually worsening blurry vision, halos around lights, poor night vision, prescription changes, and glare symptoms. A cataract is treated with outpatient surgery, in which the crystalline lens is removed and replaced with a clear lens implant. Surgery is typically done with local anesthesia, with minimal or no complications. Nearly all patients achieve improved vision and often do not require glasses post surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most common surgeries performed in the United States. Your optometrist will evaluate your eyes for cataracts at each comprehensive eye exam. Please let your optometrist know if you experience any of the above symptoms.
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: 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 cataracts and how can they be treated?
A: Cataracts are a clouding of the lens inside the eye. They are common with age, certain medications and medical conditions. Patients usually feel like they are looking through a dirty window, cannot see colors the way they used to or have increased difficulty with glare. Currently, the treatment is surgery to remove the cloudy lens. Stay tuned for medical advances in cataract treatment in the future!
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: Do I have to wait until my cataracts are "ripe" before I can have them removed?
A: No! Waiting for cataracts to get "ripe" refers to an outdated surgical technique. Today, we recommend cataract removal when your quality of vision interferes with your quality of life. It is possible to have 20/20 vision, yet be so disabled by glare from headlights or sunlight, that cataract surgery may be the right treatment. We will monitor your cataract progression and help you decide the proper timing of cataract surgery.
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 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 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: 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: 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 are 3-5 times more common among those who wear them to sleep when they're not supposed to. Many of these infections and complications can be very painful and require discontinued use of the contacts during treatment, which may last up to a few months. In the most severe cases, they can even lead to permanent vision loss.