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: 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 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: 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: 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 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: 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: 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: If my eyes water how can I have dry eyes?
A: There are two basic types of tears; lubricating tears and reflex tears. Lubricating tears are the “normal tears” that help to properly lubricate our eyes so they feel comfortable and stay healthy. Reflex tears occur in response to eye irritation or discomfort. If someone gets poked in the eye, or a speck flies in, it will hurt and the eye will water because of the reflex tear response. If we’re outside on a cold windy day, the cold air has a drying effect on our normal tear film, causing evaporation, and the eye’s defense mechanism kicks, triggering reflex tears. There are countless reasons why the eye could be watering, and dry eyes could be one of them. If your eyes water, be sure to visit your eye doctor to have your eyes examined, so we can help get your eyes feeling better.
Q: How does high blood pressure affect vision?
A: High blood pressure alone does not usually affect vision directly, however hypertension is a known risk factor in the onset and/or progression of other eye disease, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration, as well as blocked veins and arteries in the retina or nerves of the eye that can severely affect vision. In malignant hypertension, very high blood pressure can damage organs, and may cause swelling of the macula and acute loss of vision.