Remember the Rule of Thumb: You don’t have to study for an eye exam. We have all the info you need right here.
Q: How often should I get an eye exam?
Answer: This answer is different for everyone, so here are the most common examples, and how often you should get an eye exam if one of these describes you.
- If you are a healthy person, under the age of 60, with no specific eye health conditions (lazy eye, glaucoma, family history of blindness), with no systemic health conditions (especially diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, HIV) and are not a contact lens wearer, every two years is sufficient.
- If you wear contact lenses, you are required to have an annual visit. Contact lenses are considered to be medical devices by the FDA and therefore we are required to monitor their impact on your eye health at least once a year. If you have any health conditions that affect your connective tissue (like arthritis), blood vessels (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, risk factors for stroke), neurologic system (MS) or are over 60 years old, we recommend yearly eye examinations.
- If you have a lazy eye, loss of vision, loss of visual field, glaucoma, or any eye conditions that are treated with medications, you will be required to have at least an annual exam and maybe more frequently depending on the condition.
Q: Will wearing a prescription weaken my eyes?
Answer: The easy answer is “no”. Glasses sit on your nose and contacts sit on the surface of the eye. There is no way for these devices to permanently affect the eye anatomy that determines your prescription.
The longer answer is “usually not”. There are some studies that suggest that in some very specific situations, wearing a prescription can accelerate the development of nearsightedness. This is usually when a person has a focusing difficulty or misalignment of the eyes that goes beyond nearsightedness, astigmatism, or farsightedness. It has been shown that the rate of nearsighted progression can be slowed by fitting these patients in progressive lenses (bifocals), which lessen the eyestrain associated with near focus. However, the lessening is minimal and would not be enough to keep people from needing vision correction altogether.
The mistaken belief that glasses make your eyesight worse typically comes from one who didn’t realize how bad their vision was before they wore their glasses. He or she gets glasses and notices better vision, and after adapting to the new prescription, takes off the glasses and, for the first time, may really notice how blurry his or her uncorrected vision has always been.
Q: Do I need to go to a specialist?
Answer: We treat the majority of non-surgical eye health and vision conditions in our office. We can monitor the health of your eyes if you have systemic diseases, medically treat eye diseases, and prescribe almost any kind of visual device you may need. If you are currently a patient of ours and your PCP says you need to see your ophthalmologist, chances are very high that we can take care of you in our office, as we already have a relationship established with you.
Q: What if I need surgery?
Answer: While we do not do that in house, we have a wide network of eye care surgeons we are happy to refer you to.
Q: What’s the difference between an Optician, an Optometrist, and an Ophthalmologist?
OPTICIANS are specialists in optics. They know how to pick a frame that looks good on you and to make sure that frame will work with your prescription. Not all frames work well with all prescriptions. For example, a person with high farsightedness may not do well in a rimless design, or a person with high nearsightedness may fare better with a smaller, rounder frame. Opticians know how to fabricate your lenses and how to adjust your frames to eliminate many visual disturbances like the “fishbowl effect”.
OPTOMETRISTS (O.D.) are primary care eye doctors who examine,diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures. Optometrists complete four years of training after college, and many also complete a one year residency program.
OPHTHALMOLOGISTS (M.D. or D.O.) are medical doctors that specialize in eye surgery. They provide secondary and tertiary eye care including: cataract surgery, refractive surgery (like LASIK), strabismus surgery (eye realignment), treatment of retinal detachments, etc.
Q: Will working at a computer screen hurt my eyes?
Answer: Although computer screens emit a very small amount of radiation, it is not enough to cause eye damage. However, there is a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS can be thought of as a type of repetitive motion injury, similar to carpal tunnel syndrome. Excessive near focus can cause eye strain or headaches. Staring at a computer decreases how often we blink, sometimes up to fifty percent less. This can lead to dry eye symptoms, including foreign body sensatin, burning, tearing, redness, and tired eyes.
People tend to associate the need for “reading” glasses with getting older. However, with the widespread use of computers, more and more younger people are requiring a prescription for “near work,” or working activities with a short distance such as reading, studying, doing homework, etc. “Computer glasses” can make your near work more relaxed and comfortable.
Q: Does it matter how far away I sit from my computer screen?
Answer: Yes. Visual ergonomics is very important with regard to computers. We recommend that you sit approximately 22 inches away from your desktop screen. Your screen should be below “direct ahead” line of sight by about 15 degrees.
Try to follow the 20/20/20 rule. You should take a 20 second break about every 20 minutes and focus on something about 20 feet away.
Try to position any task lighting from the side so that it is not either glaring into your eyes or into the screen. The lighting should not be any brighter than three times the brightness of your screen. In most offices, it is ten times brighter. If you are able, it is often helpful to remove half of the bulbs in most fluorescent fixtures.