Q: What are the advantages/disadvantages of contact lenses?

A: Advantages of contact lenses:

  1. Offer good peripheral (side) vision
  2. Reduce visual distortion that may occur with some eyeglasses
  3. Fit an active lifestyle
  4. Improve one's appearance

Disadvantages of contact lenses:

  1. They require more daily care than eyeglasses
  2. Some types require a short adaptation period
  3. Contact lenses require regular monitoring to maintain proper eye health

Q: What is the purpose of dilation?

A: When the pupil is functioning normally, shining a bright light into a person's eyes causes the pupil to constrict. Using dilating drops allows the optometrist to use the instruments necessary to evaluate the posterior portion of the eye, including the retina and optic nerve, without the pupil becoming smaller. In fact, the large, dilated pupil allows a much better view all the way to the "far corners" of the retina.

Q: How soon should I take my child for his/her first eye examination?

A: An infant should have his/her first eye exam at six months of age. Another exam should be scheduled at age three, and then again prior to your child entering first grade. If there is a history of early eye problems such as lazy eye or eye turn, more frequent exams are recommended.

Q: What causes spots and "fireworks" in an eye?

A: The spots and floaters, as we generally refer to them, may be associated with migraines or may occasionally be a sign of retinal detachment. But they are usually caused by a shrinkage of the jelly that fills the back two-thirds of the eye. As this jelly (vitreous) shrinks two things occur. As light goes through the shrunken jelly, a shadow is formed on the back of the eye. This is what is commonly perceived as a floater. Secondly, as the jelly shrinks, it can pull or tug on the retina causing flashing lights. A thorough evaluation including a dilated examination is suggested to rule out any other serious conditions that also can cause spots and floaters.

Q: When someone says that you have 20/200 vision, is that very bad or very good? In other words, is it what you see at 20 feet, they see at 200 ft or vice versa?

A:The 20/200 visual measurement means that at 20 feet away you see a size 200 letter. The first number is the distance away that the vision is checked and the second number is the size of the letter that you can read. The larger the number the larger the letter size. If you are 20/200, it means that what you see at 20 ft. is what a person 20/20 can see at 200 ft.

Q: What is an astigmatism?

A: Astigmatism is a vision condition in which light entering the eye is unable to be brought to a single focus, resulting in distorted vision at all distances. Astigmatism is not a disease, but rather, a vision condition that is quite common. It often occurs in conjunction with other refractive errors like nearsightedness and farsightedness and can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Q: What causes crossed-eyes?

A: Coordination of your eyes and their ability to work together as a team develops in early childhood. Failure of your eyes (or more precisely, your eye muscles) to coordinate together properly can lead to crossed-eyes. Excessive eye focusing effort in children who are farsighted can also result in crossed-eyes. Crossed-eyes also have a tendency to be hereditary.

Q: What is nearsightedness?

A: Nearsightedness (myopia) is a vision condition in which you can usually see close or near objects clearly, but cannot see distant ones as clearly.

Q: What is farsightedness?

A: Farsightedness (hyperopia) is a vision condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but close ones appear blurred.

Q: I sit in front of a computer screen all day. Can this affect my eyesight in any way? What can I do to prevent possible problems?

A: Many individuals who work at a computer experience Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS. However, based on current evidence it is unlikely that the use of computers causes permanent changes or damage to the eyes or visual system. Many of the potential eye and/or vision problems relating to computer use can be reduced or eliminated by appropriate adjustment and placement of the computer, proper workplace design and lighting control, and the use of special lens designs and coatings that eliminate computer eye strain.

Q: What is Glaucoma?

A: Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the internal fluid pressure of your eye rises to a point that the optic nerve is damaged. The pressure that builds up is usually due to inadequate drainage of fluid normally produced in your eyes. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S.

Q: What are the symptoms of a cataract?

A: Cataracts usually develop slowly and without pain. Some indications that a cataract may be forming include blurred or hazy vision, decreased color perception, or the feeling of having a film over the eyes. A temporary improvement in distance or near vision may occur, and increased sensitivity to glare, especially at night, may be experienced. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, but often at different rates.

Q: What is Conjunctivitis?

A: Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent layer covering the surface of the inner eyelid and a portion of the front of the eye. This condition appears in many forms, bacterial, viral, and allergic.

Q: What causes dry eye?

A: Dry eye occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears or produce tears which do not have the proper chemical composition. Dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process, exposure to environmental conditions, problems with normal blinking or from medications such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives or antidepressants. Dry eye can also be symptomatic of general health problems such as rheumatoid arthritis and other collagen vascular diseases.

Q: Is "pink eye" contagious?

A: True "pink eye" is caused by infectious organisms, such as virus, bacteria or fungus that is contagious. However, "pink eye" is just one of many types of conjunctivitis. In any case, if you have any type of conjunctivitis, it is best to use good hygiene by washing hands regularly, not sharing towels, and trying not to touch or rub the eyes. If the condition persists for more than a few days it is time to seek medical help.

Q: What should I look for when choosing a pair of sunglasses?

A: No matter what sunglass styles or options you choose, you should insist that your sunglasses:

  1. Block out 99-100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
  2. Screen out 75-90 percent of visible light (fashion tinted lenses usually do not meet this level);
  3. Are perfectly matched in color and are free of distortion and imperfection;
  4. Have lenses that are gray, green, or brown

Q: Why is it that even if you wear glasses or contacts, when you get below the water's surface (wearing goggles) you can see almost normal?

A: Because of the higher refractive index of water, light travels more slowly and is bent more in water than in air. The effect is that nearsighted persons wearing goggles underwater can see more clearly than in air.

Q: How do I know if I need bifocals?

A: The most common use of bifocals is for the treatment of presbyopia in individuals aged 40 and over. Whether or not a person has needed vision correction when younger, by the early to mid-forties, the ability to accommodate or focus the eyes has diminished. Bifocals allow the wearer to see clearly both at distance and near despite the reduced focusing ability. Bifocals may also be used to help align the eyes if a person tends to over-cross his or her eyes at near. Presbyopia can be treated with simple vision reading glasses, contact lenses, lined bifocals and no-line progressive addition lenses.

Q: How can I tell if my child needs glasses?

A: Many children who need vision correction will have signs or symptoms that a parent or teacher may notice such as headache, squinting or having difficulty in school. However, there are many cases where there will be no signs or symptoms. The only way these cases will be uncovered is by a comprehensive eye and vision examination. We recommend that all children have a complete vision examination before entering school or when experiencing difficulties in school.

Q: How does vision affect learning?

A: Vision problems can and often do interfere with learning. People at risk for learning-related vision problems should be evaluated by an optometrist who provides diagnostic and management services in this area. Prompt remediation of learning- related vision problems enhances the ability of children and adults to perform to their full potential. People with learning problems often require help from many disciplines to meet the learning challenges they face. Optometric intervention constitutes one aspect of the multidisciplinary management approach required to prepare the individual for learning success.