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. Much of the time, oral anti-allergy medications are not that effective at treating the symptoms in the eye. In fact, oral anti-allergy medications can cause dry eyes which then worsen the symptoms due to allergies. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, either over-the-counter or prescription- strength eye drops can be prescribed to 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 many 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 is getting better from Amblyopia? Is it too late to help my child if the problem is undetected 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 of getting 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 vision.
Q: What exactly is astigmatism?
A: Usually it is related to the shape factor of the front surface of the eye called the cornea. Instead of being shaped spherically like a ball bearing or a marble, it is shaped like a football, being more curved in one direction than the other. This brings light to focus at more than 1 point. The root word stigma means point and the prefix A means without a point focus in the eye.
Q: My previous eye doctor told me I have “stigma!” Am I going to go blind?
A: Stigma is actually referring to a type of refractive error known properly as astigmatism, and no, you will not go blind from having astigmatism; it is not a disease, in fact, it is relatively common. There are three types of refractive error, myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. The former two are more regularly referred to as nearsighted (cannot see far away) and farsighted (cannot see up close). Astigmatism is simply the third category; it affects both the near and far vision at the same time. Much like nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism is corrected using glasses or contacts. Technically speaking an eye with astigmatism requires two different prescriptions to correct vision in one eye due to the more oval shape of the cornea. This will require a more specialized contact lens and a more in depth fitting procedure. Nonetheless your eye care provider can, and will, correct your astigmatism with glasses and/or contacts.
Q: I have heard about blue light being a concern as well. Can you talk a little bit about this and what it means for protecting your eyes?
A: Recently, the optical community has found that blue light can also cause long term damage to the eye. It has been found that overexposure to blue light over time can lead to macular degeneration. To help protect our eyes from these rays, a new coating has been found to block out this blue light. Anti-reflective or anti-glare coating could be a term that is familiar to you. Labs have found a way for these features to block the blue rays coming from our handheld devices, computers and fluorescent bulbs. This coating has several benefits and protecting our eyes from these harmful rays is one of them.
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: Does reading 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 this is 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. Doctors of Optometry recommend limiting screen use during the last hour before bedtime.
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 is monitored. Some cataracts never really reach the stage where they should be removed. If your cataract is 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 doctor.
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 cataracts and how can they be treated?
A: Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye, positioned just behind the pupil, changes from clear to cloudy. This causes increasingly blurry vision that eyeglass prescription changes cannot help. When the blurriness worsens to the point that it interferes with a person’s ability to read or drive or hinders their lifestyle, the cloudy lens is surgically removed and replaced with a clear plastic one, restoring clear vision. These days, cataract surgery can take as little as 20 minutes, and with little down-time and excellent outcomes.
Q: Can younger people get cataracts?
A: You may have a cataract from birth. Yes. Very rare but you could be born with cataracts or cataracts could be caused from injury or surgery. Some cataracts may have a little dot - congenital cataract that doesn't affect your vision and you won't even notice. The doctor may see it on exam.
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, causing 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 gradual 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: 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.