Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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How often should I have my eyes checked?

We recommend a full eye examination every year, even if your vision is perfect.  It is important to be sure the eyes remain free of disease.  Equally important is knowing that most retinal diseases are painless; something may be going wrong without you being aware of it until the problem is advanced.

What is a floater?

A floater is a piece of pigment suspended in the gel of the eye, observable in your field of vision, which you cannot look directly at (it “runs away” when you try to).  Floaters can be anything from dot-shaped shadows to squiggly lines.  It is normal for you to get a few more as you age; it is not normal for a sudden increase in their number.  A sudden increase could indicate a retinal tear or detachment, and you should seek care immediately. 

Am I a candidate for LASIK or lens replacement (Crystallens or Restor implants)?

For LASIK, it depends upon mainly corneal thickness.  Some patients have thin corneas, and that could make them poor candidates.  Extremely nearsighted, far-sighted, or highly astigmatic candidates may not be candidates (their better option would be lens replacement).  Patients with a history of dry eye are poor candidates for LASIK, as the procedure may worsen symptoms.  Diabetics are also considered poor candidates due to a more unpredictable corneal response.  For lens replacement, corneal thickness is a non-issue, and the procedure can correct higher refractive errors than LASIK.  If there is astigmatism, often the surgeon will perform a LASIK procedure just for the astigmatism and the rest will be corrected with the implant.  Patients over 40 who have LASIK will still need glasses to read, unless they have it set up in monovision (one eye distance, one eye near).  Patients who have lens replacement should rarely if ever need readers.

What is a visual fields test for?

The visual field test maps out for us your entire field of vision, from the center all the way out to the periphery.  It is a diagnostic tool for many diseases, including glaucoma, optic nerve problems, retinal disease, and even neurological issues between the back of the eye and the vision center in the brain.  Your eye doctor has been trained to look at a problematic field’s appearance and extrapolate where the problem lies.  The test itself involves testing each eye separately.  The patient pushes a button when they see lights of varying brightness appear.  It’s basically a boring video game, but with a purpose.

Should I have a picture of my retina taken?

Yes, even if your eyes are healthy, so that we can have a baseline we can always come back and compare to if we see changes.  Patients with healthy eyes should have it done every 3 years or so.  Patients with retinal disease, like diabetics, should have it done annually.

What does the machine do when I look at the farmhouse?

That is an AutoRefractor.  It estimates your prescription so that the doctor has a place to start from.

Can I accompany my child or spouse during their exam?

Of course.  If they are eighteen or older, privacy laws require us to make sure it’s OK with the patient.

Can I have an exam when I am pregnant?

Yes.  The prescription may fluctuate some during the pregnancy, but it usually stabilizes after the birth of the baby.

Can I drive after my eyes are dilated?

Yes, for most people asking this question.  You will just want some sunglasses on (and we will give you some paper ones).  There are a few patients who have tried it before and it just makes them too nervous.  If you are in that latter category, or have never had it done, you may want to bring along another licensed driver.  In non-emergency situations, we can always schedule the dilation on a different day than the exam.

What symptoms will I experience if my eyes are dilated?

Light sensitivity and near blur for 4-6 hours.  We give every patient we dilate a free pair of super-stylish paper sunglasses.

How long does pupil dilation last?

Four to six hours.  Darker eyes tend to stay dilated longer than light eyes.

Will my eyes be dilated?

They might be.  The doctor will discuss this with you if it is needed or recommended.  As long as the doctor does not feel it is urgent to dilate them the day of the exam, it can be rescheduled for a different day.  We almost never have to dilate just to get the glasses prescription.

What all is tested during an eye exam?

We will test how well you see with and without correction, as well as obtain the optimum prescription for both distance and near vision.  We will make sure both eyes work well together, and that all the muscles controlling the eyes work properly.  The eyes’ pressure will be checked, pupil reactions assessed, and the doctor will take a very careful look both internally and externally to make sure both eyes are healthy.

I am diabetic and my distance vision has changed drastically. What should I do?

Check your blood sugar.  This is nature’s way of letting you know it is elevated.

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

Symptoms range from simple blur to a central blind spot.  Patients who have the wet form will note they can try to look at a person’s face but the head will be missing, although they can see their shoulders and the rest of the body, as well as the environment around them.  Also, when looking at a grid pattern they may note that lines are wavy or distorted centrally, or even missing completely.  There is no pain involved.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Open angle glaucoma, the most common type, is painless. The patient is usually symptom-free until the disease is advanced, when they notice portions of their visual field missing.   Angle closure glaucoma, which is much rarer, can cause sudden severe pain to the point of nausea and vomiting.

What are the symptoms of cataract?

Usually simple blur.  Some patients describe the vision as “like looking through a film,” and that colors appear duller and washed-out.

What are the symptoms of a retinal detachment?

Flashes of light in one eye accompanied usually by a sudden increase in floaters and a slowly enlarging wavy/distorted area of the field of vision.

What should I do if I experience sudden-onset double vision?

Seek care immediately.  If you are diabetic or hypertensive, the likely problem is a (usually temporary) nerve palsy affecting the extraocular muscles, and temporary prism correction in glasses or patching one eye will relieve the symptom.  Keep in mind, however, that serious neurological problems can cause this also.

What should I do if an eye is punctured by a nail, BB, or other object?

Keep the head tilted back – never forward as gravity will work to drain the intraocular fluid.  Do not put any pressure on the eye.  Ideally you would like to gently tape a small cup, like a Dixie cup, over the eye.  If the object is protruding from the eye (like a nail), do not attempt to remove it.  Go to the nearest emergency room, calling ahead if possible to tell them what has happened and to please alert their on-call ophthalmologist.  This is obviously an ocular emergency.

Could headaches occur from a vision problem?

Absolutely – in fact headaches are usually the primary symptom that uncorrected farsighted patients (hyperopes) suffer from.

What should I do if I get a chemical in my eye(s)?

Flush copiously with water or saline if available, as fast as you can get to it.  It is important to dilute the chemical quickly to decrease the risk of permanent damage.  After 15-20 minutes of flushing, get to an eye doctor.

What should I do if one or both eyes is red and/or painful?

If you wear contact lenses, take them out.  Seek the care of an eye doctor, as infection or inflammation are likely culprits.

What could cause a sudden increase in light sensitivity?

This can be caused by corneal irritation and/or swelling from toxic exposure or contact lens wear complications.  This symptom is also usually the primary one in patients suffering from uveitis, which is an inflammation of the internal eye.  In both cases the eye is usually at least a little red.  In the presence of a quiet, white, and happy eye, the symptom is often associated with a migraine syndrome.  Contact your eye doctor.

What does it mean if one section of my vision in one eye is wavy or distorted?

Seek the care of an eye doctor immediately.  This symptom, usually accompanied with light flashes and/or a sudden increase in floaters, may indicate a retinal detachment.

What should I do if I am seeing light flashes?

This could mean a myriad of things, from a benign ocular migraine to a retinal tear or detachment.  The latter are considered ocular emergencies.  This symptom accompanied by a sudden increase in floaters and/or a distorted section of vision in one eye likely indicates a retinal detachment.  Drop everything you are doing and get to your eye doctor; fast intervention may mean no permanent vision loss!

Can you file my eye exam on my medical insurance?

Usually No, with a few exceptions.  There are a few medical plans that cover a routine vision exam, but usually only medical issues like glaucoma diagnosis and management, eye infections, foreign body removal, and the like may be filed on medical.   

How can I find out what benefits my plan provides?

You can call the phone number on your card, or provide us with the name of the carrier and your ID number and we can do it for you.

What if you don’t take my plan?

Some plans have Out-of-Network benefits, and we can help you determine if yours does.

Does your staff submit the claims?

Yes, unless the patient prefers or is required to pay themselves and self-file for reimbursement.

Do you take Medicare or Medicaid?

All of our doctors are Medicare providers.  None are Medicaid providers.

What vision insurance plans do you accept?

Vision Service Plan (VSP), EyeMed, CompBenefits (Vision Care Plan), Block Vision, Superior Vision, Aetna, Cigna, Davis Vision, Safeguard, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and several others.  If your plan is not listed give us a call at 817.453.4682 and we can tell you if we are providers for your plan.

What about deaf and/or mute person?

No problem. We can provide our full range of examination and optical services.

Do you take Spanish-speaking only patients?

Yes.  The doctors can perform most of the exam in limited Spanish, and we have Spanish-speaking staff that can assist them.

When did you open?

July 2003.

What age group patients do you see?

Ages 3 and up.  A child younger than three should see a pediatric specialist.

Are you taking new patients?

Yes. We are adding new doctors and staff members to see that we are never overbooked. You will be seen promptly when you arrive on time for your appointment.

Are contact lenses or glasses better for sports?

Probably contact lenses.  There is risk of losing a lens if you rub the eye or get poked in the eye, but glasses tend to fog up with sweating, and may fall off or break.  The absolute safest thing for sportswear is prescription sports goggles.  They are vented to avoid fogging and also offer eye protection.

For what sports do you recommend sports goggles?

Any sport involving a ball small enough to cause damage to the eye (racquetball is a perfect example), or contact sports where there is risk of getting poked in the eye.  We can put a patient’s prescription in sports goggles, too.

What is lens replacement surgery?

The procedure has been around for years; it is basically cataract surgery.  Surgeons just use a newer type of implant that can correct both far and near vision – an implant that acts like a bifocal.  Lens replacement is sometimes a better option than LASIK for patients with high corrections or patients over 40 that do not want to have to use reading glasses.  It is a more invasive procedure than LASIK, and significantly more expensive.  A patient that undergoes lens replacement will never have to worry about cataracts.

What is LASIK?

LASIK is an acronym for Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis.  But that’s not the answer you are looking for.  LASIK is a surgical procedure to correct a distance vision correction.  A surgical flap is cut in the cornea, either by keratome or laser, the flap is laid back, and a laser reshapes the cornea to correct that patient’s refractive error.  The flap is then laid back into place.  Recovery time is minimal and patients immediately notice improved vision – quite often to 20/20.  The procedure does not correct the over-40 reading problem (presbyopia), so if the patient is over 40 they will still require correction just for reading.

How can I avoid eyestrain when reading or on the computer?

First, make sure your eyes do not need correction at the computer.  If so, wear the glasses.  It also helps to look away from the screen at a distant object for a 5-10 second count every 15-20 minutes.  Adjust the monitor’s brightness and contrast to a point it feels most comfortable.  If the monitor’s screen will tilt, adjust it to remove any glare from overhead lighting.

Who should wear sunglasses?

Everyone.  Did you know that the highest UV exposure occurs in childhood and adolescence?

Are there certain foods that are good for the eyes?

Antioxidants!  Vitamins A, C, and E.  That would include green leafy vegetables, and yes, carrots.  Foods high in zinc and lutein are also beneficial.   Fish oil may help the symptoms of dry eye.

How does ultraviolet radiation (UV) affect the eyes?

Exposure to UV has been linked to both cataract formation and macular degeneration in later life.  It can also cause a growth on the exterior of the eye called a pterygium.  Everyone, at every age, should wear sunglasses with UV protection when outdoors as much as possible.

Any advice if I am planning my child’s first exam?

Reassure them it’s painless, and we will work to do the same thing when they come.  It’s always smart to let them sit in with you or a sibling during your exam so they can see what they’re in for!  Oh, and feel free to tell them we don’t give shots.

When should a child have their first eye exam?

Unless you see something that makes you suspicious there is a problem, a good age for the first routine exam is 5 or 6.  We usually specifically recommend the summer before kindergarten or first grade.  Our office can handle ages 3 and up; any younger than that and they should see a pediatric specialist.

Can you tell if a child is “faking” the need for glasses, just because they want to wear them?

Yes, and it happens more than you might think.  There are tests we can do to very closely approximate their prescription, without their input.  What those tests show should jibe with what they are able (or willing) to read on the eye chart.  So for example, if they will only read 20/50 for us, but our tests show the prescription near zero and healthy eyes, we start to get suspicious.

Is it possible for a child to fail the vision test at school and not need glasses?

Yes.  Without enough one-on-one time, it can be difficult to tell if the child really has a problem or if they are just nervous or a bit rushed during a school screening.   Bring them to an eye doctor and we will figure it out.

Is it possible for a child to pass the vision test at school and still need glasses?

Yes.  School screenings are VERY effective and can catch a lot of issues, but the children are only screened for a distance vision problem.  They could pass that test, yet still need glasses for reading.

What should I do if I have a lazy eye?

If you are a child younger than eight, we should get you fully-corrected and try patching therapy.  If you are older than that, simply said, it’s all about the good eye.  You should wear protective eyewear for all sports, and goggles when weed-eating, grinding metal, etc. to protect that good eye.  Be sure to have your eyes checked annually to be sure your eyes remain healthy.

Is there any chance my lazy/amblyopic eye can be improved?

The odds are very low after age 7 or 8, as far as improving the vision.  However, if you are talking about the cosmetic issue of a turning eye, then yes – there are surgical options.

Do you still use patching as a treatment for lazy eye/amblyopia?

Yes.  The idea is to catch the problem during the critical time that the eyes are learning to “talk to” the brain (birth to age 7 or 8).  The brain is ignoring the problem eye, and if this continues amblyopia will result (see question above).  The idea is to patch the good eye to force the brain to use the problem one, and do close-up, fine detail exercises.

What is a “lazy eye?”

That term simply will not go away; we prefer the word amblyopia.  Amblyopia occurs when one eye does not see as well as the other, usually due to either a large difference in correction between the two eyes or due to an eye turn (strabismus), AND there is no disease present. 

What options are there, besides over-the-counter lubricants, for Dry Eye Syndrome?

There is a prescription drop for dry eye treatment, called Restasis.  It has proven quite effective to relieve symptoms, but it often takes 6 weeks or more of therapy before relief occurs, and it burns a bit with insertion.  Another option is punctal plugs, which are inserted into the tear duct to block the drainage of tears from the eye.  The idea is the tears stay in the eye longer and simply evaporate into the atmosphere instead of draining.  Consider a humidifier for use while sleeping, and keep the ceiling fans off.  There are moisture masks you can purchase for night-time use, too.  Finally, we are seeing evidence that fish oil supplementation may be beneficial to relieve symptoms.

My parents have/had cataracts/glaucoma/macular generation; how worried should I be?

Family history is a risk factor for glaucoma, particularly if a sibling has been diagnosed.  There is strong modern evidence that there is a genetic component to macular degeneration, too.  Just get your eyes checked!  “Risk factor” simply means you are at greater risk than someone without a family history, not that you are doomed to get it.  As for cataracts, most genetic types will show up very early in life.  The most common, by far, are age-related cataracts.  Modern cataract surgery is as close to perfected as a human endeavor can be, usually a 20 minute procedure and the vision is completely restored.  Hope you live long enough to worry about cataracts.  And when it happens, stop worrying!

What is keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a corneal condition occurring when a portion of the cornea begins to thin.  The pressure inside the eye pushes this thinning area forward, creating a “nipple” which destroys the smooth spherical curvature of the cornea and creates a severe irregular astigmatism.  Usually the only corrective option for patients with keratoconus is rigid or hybrid contact lenses.  In advanced cases the thinning area can begin to scar, and rupture even becomes a possibility.  These end-stage cases require a corneal transplant. 

What can I do to protect my eyes from macular degeneration?

At the least, take your multivitamin.  If you are fifty or older with a family history, you should consider the ocular formulation of the antioxidants (Vitamin A, C, and E).  One study showed conclusively that antioxidant vitamin therapy dropped the risk of macular degeneration occurring in the other eye in patients with the disease in the fellow eye by 25%.  There is also strong evidence that additional zinc and lutein supplementation is beneficial.    In addition, recent studies have linked UV exposure to macular degeneration (wear your sunglasses!). 

Is it possible to have ocular allergies without other typical symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, etc)?

Yes.  The eye is the only exposed mucus membrane on the body, and often may be the only area of the body experiencing symptoms (usually itching, burning, and/or watering).

Can hypertension/high blood pressure affect the eyes?

Yes.  We will often see changes where arteries cross veins in the retina.  Hemorrhages can occur if an artery compresses a vein to the point it is occluded and ruptures.  The same can occur from an occlusive event from a clot or plaque, which are risks throughout the body when talking about uncontrolled hypertension.  Patients with hypertension are also at greater risk for glaucoma.

What are the risk factors for glaucoma?

Risk factors for primary open angle glaucoma, the most common type, include elevated intraocular pressure, age (over 60), ethnicity (five times more common in African Americans than Caucasians), family history of glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroidism, and long-term steroid use.  Risk factors for angle closure glaucoma, a severe and sudden-onset type, include a farsighted correction, age, and persons of Asian or Eskimo descent.   As for race, it is more common in women among Caucasians.

I have a form of arthritis and have been told it can affect my eyes. How so?

Many forms of arthritis, adult and juvenile, have been linked to both scleritis (a sometimes painful inflammation of the white of the eye) and uveitis (a painful inflammation of the anterior-internal part of the eye characterized by a red, extremely light-sensitive eye).  Both are treated with topical steroid drops.

Why/how does diabetes change my eyes?

Diabetes is a disease of the small blood vessels.  The vessel wall can break down, allowing fluid and blood components to leak into the surrounding tissue.   The process is most easily viewed by looking into the eye, and if it is occurring there it is called diabetic retinopathy.  These changes can cause permanent retinal damage and vision loss.  Retinopathy can be treated with injections and laser surgery, but it is critical to catch the problem as early as possible.  Hence it is essential for diabetics to have their eyes checked every year – in the early stages the patient may not realize anything is going wrong.  As far as the patient’s prescription goes, elevated blood sugar will cause a myopic shift, meaning a sudden worsening of distance vision.  This sudden change is nature’s way of warning a diabetic to check their blood sugar!

What is Retinitis Pigmentosa, or R.P.?

Retinitis Pigmentosa is a genetic retinal eye disease where vision is lost from “the outside in;” patients lose peripheral vision first and in end stages are only left with a small central area of tunnel vision and eventually complete blindness.  The most common early symptom is a huge loss in night vision.  Most forms of the disease will cause the deposition of “pigment spicules” in the peripheral retina along with a waxy, dull appearance to the optic nerve head, diagnosed by routine ophthalmoscopy.  An ERG (electroretinogram) confirms the diagnosis.  High-dose vitamin A therapy can slow the disease, but there is no cure.  Patients diagnosed should be educated that genetic testing is available for many forms of R.P., to determine if their offspring are carriers of the disease.

Can you tell if I am diabetic just from an eye examination?

Diabetic retinopathy is a fairly easy diagnosis, so yes, we can look in an eye and be almost certain diabetes is present.  However, we cannot look in an eye and be certain it is absent.  This is because not all patients with diabetes will have retinopathy.  Separately, we can get suspicious about a patient developing the disease based upon certain changes in their prescription – as a patient’s blood sugar elevates, their prescription will shift more near-sighted due to (temporary with treatment) changes in the lens.  This suspicion will be raised in a patient who shows a prescription shift atypical for their age.  The only way to make the diagnosis definitive is to refer for blood tests.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a breakdown of tissue and blood vessels near and/or underneath the macula.  The macula is located in the center of the retina and is responsible for our central, fine-detail, and color vision.  There is strong evidence now that there is a genetic predisposition to the disease; it used to be believed that it was strictly an age-related problem.  90% of macular degeneration is the dry form; 10% of cases are the wet form.  Wet macular degeneration causes a devastating loss of central vision, while the dry form may drop central vision to 20/40 or so.  One study showed conclusively that antioxidant vitamin therapy (Vitamins A, C, and E) dropped the risk of macular degeneration occurring in the other eye in patients with the disease in the fellow eye by 25%.  There is also strong evidence that additional zinc and lutein supplementation is beneficial.  We now recommend that patients in their fifties with a strong family history of the disease strongly consider the ocular formulations of these supplements.  In addition, more recent studies have linked UV exposure to macular degeneration (wear your sunglasses!).  Treatment has advanced tremendously even in the past decade, and includes laser therapy and/or injections.

What are cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens.  The lens is positioned just past the pupil and behind the iris (the colored part of the eye).  This occurs naturally with age, and a lifetime’s exposure to ultraviolet radiation has been linked to their formation.  Perhaps obviously, this clouding will cause a decrease in vision.  Cataracts can also be caused by trauma to the eye, and some medications (particularly steroids like prednisone and cortisone).  Treatment requires surgical removal, and replacing the lens with an implant.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that occurs most commonly as a result of a high pressure inside the eye.  The pressure increases usually because the fluid inside the eye cannot drain properly, but can be a result of over-production of fluid.  The high pressure compresses the tiny nerve fibers running through the retina, leading to their death and optic nerve damage.  The nerve damage causes vision loss.  Much less often glaucoma can be present with pressures in the normal range; modern theory is that there is a blood flow problem to the optic nerve, resulting in damage to the nerve itself.  This type of glaucoma, commonly called “normotensive glaucoma,” can be much more difficult to treat.  Most types of glaucoma, like Primary Open Angle, are slowly progressive without treatment.  However, one type – Angle Closure – can onset very quickly with skyrocketing pressures and is considered an ocular emergency.  Treatment options for all types include eye drops (usually) or surgical procedures to relieve the pressure.

I used to wear glasses when I was a kid; why don’t I need them now?

This situation can occur frequently.  A child is far-sighted and needs reading glasses.  Usually far-sightedness occurs because the eye is shorter in length than it needs to be.  As the child grows, so does the eye, and they may indeed reach a point they no longer need correction.

I read on the internet I can do exercises and never have to wear glasses. True?

There is limited evidence that some exercises may delay the need for reading glasses for a young hyperope or emerging presbyope.  We believe them to be ineffective for myopes.

If a vision correction is needed, when in general do the eyes stop changing?

For myopes, onset is usually in the preteen to early teen years, leveling off in the early twenties.  For hyperopes, it can vary depending on severity.  A life-long hyperope may need reading glasses as early as adolescence, reaching a point in adulthood where they need them full-time.  Their distance vision will generally worsen in their forties until leveling off in their mid-fifties.

If I wear my glasses a lot will my vision get better? Or worse?

The quick answer is if they are going to change, they are going to change whether you are wearing glasses or not.  Correction neither cures the problem (so that you eventually do not need correction) nor keeps it from getting worse.  Glasses “correct” in the sense that you see better with them; they do not make the problem go away.

Both I and my spouse are near-sighted. What are the odds our children will be?

Near-sightedness definitely tends to run in families.  If both parents are near-sighted the odds do go way up that their children will be; however it is difficult to put a number on.  We see families all of the time where both parents require a distance correction but all or some of the children may be fine – or vice versa.  It all depends on how the genes combine at conception.

What is presbyopia?

Presbyopia occurs when the human lens starts to lose its elasticity; it becomes much more difficult for it to change shape and focus for us close up.  Also, to some degree, the muscle that controls the change in shape of the lens starts to weaken somewhat.  This results in the need for a reading correction, either reading glasses (if the patient has no distance problem) or bifocals (if they are already wearing glasses).  Onset is almost always in the early forties.

What is astigmatism?

The most common type is external astigmatism; the cornea (the outermost portion of the anterior eye) is oval-shaped instead of perfectly round – much like a football or egg.  Internal astigmatism, much less common, is when the lens – deeper in the eye – has an oval shape.  Astigmatism in general is quite common.

What is the difference between near-sightedness and far-sightedness?

Near-sighted people (myopes) see more clearly at near without their prescription than they do at distance.  Far-sighted people (hyperopes) generally see better at distance than they do at near; more precisely, hyperopes have to focus just to make distance clear, and when they look close up they have a much higher focusing demand than others (since they are already having to work to clear their distance vision).

How are your doctors licensed?

All are licensed as Therapeutic Optometrists (the treatment of ocular surface disease) and Optometric Glaucoma Specialists.

Can optometrists detect glaucoma?

Yes, and if they are licensed as an Optometric Glaucoma Specialist they can treat glaucoma too.  All of our doctors are licensed as an Optometric Glaucoma Specialist.

What is an optometrist?

Doctors of Optometry (O.D.s/optometrists) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye.  Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.  They prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, spectacle lenses, contact lenses, and perform certain surgical procedures, as well as counsel their patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs related to their occupations, avocations, and lifestyle.  An optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree.   Some optometrists complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice.  Optometrists are eye health care professionals state-licensed to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system.  (American Optometric Association)

How long does it usually take until the glasses are ready?

Some simple single vision glasses we can have ready same-day or the next, if there is an emergency situation.  Most jobs take about a week to complete.  We certainly do not promote “glasses in one hour.”  We are going to take our time to make sure that your glasses are perfect in every way.

Why does the prescription expire?

The doctor needs to make sure that your eyes remain healthy and that the prescription remains optimal.

What should I look for when buying sunglasses?

UV protection is paramount.  UV rays have been linked to both cataract formation in later life as well as macular degeneration.  Polarized lenses give the overall best optical quality because they reduce both transmitted light through the lens and reflected light off bright surfaces (like water, snow, or the chrome of the bumper in front of you in traffic).

If I wear my glasses for my first prescription, will I get dependent on them?

In most cases, yes.  Your brain will get used to a nice, sharp image and objects may look more blurred when you are not wearing the glasses due to perceptual adaptation.  For far-sighted patients, many times the eyes will be so happy to be relaxed and allowing the glasses to do the work, that they won’t want to “go back to work” when the glasses aren’t on.  The exception is milder prescriptions, for part-time wear.

Can I just use over-the-counter reading glasses?

A lot of people can with absolutely no problem.  However, if there is a significant difference between the eyes as far as prescription, or a significant astigmatism in either eye, a prescription pair is recommended.

What should I look for in a spectacle frame if I have a large correction? And what options are available in spectacle lenses so that they do not look really thick?

Smaller eye size frames are ideal for higher corrections.  Also, if you are near-sighted, stay away from rimless and semi-rimless frames – i.e., pick a frame that totally encapsulates each lens.  Plastic is ideal because it will help hide the thicker lens edges.  In addition, high myopes (whose lenses have thicker edges) should consider a high index plastic for their lenses, which can greatly cut down edge thickness.  High hyperopes (whose lenses have thicker centers) will benefit from an aspheric lens which will reduce the magnification of the eyes.

What is the best vision corrective option for someone who works on a computer all day?

Either a progressive lens, which will also allow functionality when away from the computer, or a separate pair in single vision set up for the distance between your eyes and the screen (which will only be good for computer use).  Crizal anti-reflective coating is highly recommended to help reduce glare.  There are specialty progressives with a wider corridor specially made for high-rate computer users.

How long do you warranty my glasses?

Spectacle frames have a one-time replacement warranty for one year on breakage.  Lenses with Crizal anti-reflective coating have a two-year two-time replacement warranty.  Please note: a few insurance companies require the use of their own lab’s frame and lenses, which may have a different warranty system.

How well do the spectacle lenses that darken when you go outside work?

There are two types: Transitions (plastic) and Photogray (glass).  The plastic lenses are much more popular since they are lighter in weight.  Transitions have been improved to the point that they will get almost as dark as the Photogray, and lighten quickly when you move indoors.  We have a sample lens we can use to show you how dark they actually get outdoors.  Ultraviolet rays make the lenses darken, which has proven slightly problematic for some patients as of late.  Modern auto manufacturers now put a UV protection in their windshields – which means the lenses may not darken much in the car!

What are the pros and cons of the lined bifocal versus the no-line/progressive?

Progressive lenses are popular for other reasons than just “hiding the line.”  They work like a trifocal, in the sense that as you look straight ahead you have the distance correction, and as you look down the lens, power is progressively added so that there is a point of focus for both mid-range (arm’s length) and close detail work at the very bottom of the lens.  Lined bifocals jump quickly from distance to near, once the pupil of the eye crosses the line.  The lined bifocal is usually easier to adapt to, and gives a larger field of view up close than the progressive.  In addition, there is a bit of distortion in the lower-periphery of no-line bifocals that is not experienced with the lined bifocal.  Most patients adapt well to the progressive by learning to keep their eyes in the same position and using a head turn to scan the environment.

Why does the prescription expire?

The doctor needs to make sure that your eyes remain healthy and that the lenses continue to fit properly.

What are Hybrid lenses?

Hybrid lenses have a gas-permeable center, with a soft skirt around it.  They can be a great option for the patient wanting “rigid lens vision” with very near soft lens comfort.  They will correct astigmatism and are also available in bifocal.

How long does it take to learn to get contacts in and out, if you have never worn them?

It varies from person-to-person.  Generally as little as 20 minutes up to an hour or so.

Will I get my contact lenses the same day as the exam?

In almost all cases, yes.  We usually start with a trial pair then follow up a week later to be sure you are happy with them before committing to them.  In some instances we have to order the lenses, which can take 3-5 business days to arrive.

I wore contacts in the past but they always bothered me; is there a chance I could wear them now?

There is new technology available now with the advent of silicone hydrogel lenses.  They wet much better than older plastics and give the eye more oxygen.  Many patients who had comfort issues in the past with contact lenses have done very well with the new technology.

Why do I have to get an exam just for non-prescription colored contacts?

The doctor has to make sure your eyes are healthy enough for contact lens wear and that the lenses you want will fit you properly.  Poor-fitting lenses can cause irritation and infection. We want you to look great but, our first priorty is protecting your vision.

Can I get bifocal soft lenses in colors?

Not at the time we created this posting. However, new innovations are hitting the market daily. While our staff is well informed on all the latest information, our website is not updated daily. Call us to see if they have been announced for release soon.

What are the pros and cons of daily disposable contact lenses?

The only "con" is that they are more expensive.  Everything else is a pro: they are easy to use because there is nothing to clean, you do not have to purchase a disinfecting system, they will not deposit because each pair is only used one day, and they are the most comfortable contact lenses available.  Most manufacturers offer rebates – often of $100 or more – to help offset the patient’s investment.

What are the risks of sleeping in contact lenses?

Infection is the biggest, followed by corneal edema (swelling) and neovascularization.  By far, corneal ulcers are most common in people that sleep in their lenses – even if the lens is approved to be slept in, and the patient is compliant with the removal schedule.  They are treatable but painful, and usually require 7-10 days out of the lenses.  Corneal edema causes blur and discomfort and requires no lens wear for sometimes up to a month or more.  Neovascularization (or new blood vessel growth) of the cornea usually requires an adjustment to the wearing schedule when mild, but when severe may mean having to discontinue contact lenses permanently.

What options are out there in contacts that you can sleep in?

A lot.  Currently there are many lenses out there approved for up to one week extended wear, and three approved for up to thirty days without removing.

How old does my child have to be before they can wear contact lenses?

Usually around twelve or so.  This can vary depending upon the child’s responsibility/maturity level.  The main issue is that they will remember to take the lenses out before bedtime.  Cleaning the lenses is very simple with modern cleaning systems.  If our doctors, in consultation with the parents, feel like the child is ready we can try them a year or two younger than that.

Am I a candidate for soft bifocal contact lenses?

Quick answer: It depends.  The answer is “no” if you have a significant astigmatism.  If that is the case we could try a rigid lens or the Duette hybrid (which has a rigid center and a soft skirt around it).  If there is little or no astigmatism, then we have a 65-75% chance you could wear them.  The challenge in fitting them lies in getting the patient happy with BOTH the distance AND the near acuity at the same time.  Usually when they fail, there is either too much far or close vision compromise.

I have always worn hard contact lenses. Do you fit those?

True “hard” lenses were made of a plastic called PMMA, which gives the eye very little oxygen.  We do not fit those anymore.  We do fit rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, which are similar in texture and size, and give the eye much more oxygen than the old hard ones.

Is it true I can get my contact lenses much cheaper online, or at other big-chain retailers?

Our contact lens prices are very competitive with both online and retail providers of contact lenses.  In many cases they are cheaper, since we often can offer rebates they cannot.  In addition, we will take care of any problems with defects, power changes, etc. quickly and effortlessly on your part.  Still, we are happy if you prefer to price-shop the lenses and will provide you with a written prescription so that you may do so.

What options do I have in contact lenses if I want to change my eye color?

There are enhancers for light eyes and opaques for dark eyes.  Only limited options for patients with astigmatism exist (only about 4 colors).

What are the contact lens options for someone over 40 that needs a bifocal in their glasses?

There are basically three: 

  1. Both eyes corrected for distance, with reading glasses needed over the contacts
  2. Monovision, where we correct one eye for distance and the other for reading
  3. Bifocal contact lenses

The first option always works if you are willing to use readers.  The success rate with monovision is about 75% and is for the patient willing to live with the trade-off of not needing readers versus non-optimal distance and near vision.  Bifocal contact lenses have improved tremendously since 2005 or so, with a 65-75% success rate.  Unfortunately, there are currently no good options in bifocal soft lenses for the patient with astigmatism – but the manufacturers are working on it.

What are the pros and cons of soft vs. rigid gas permeable lenses?

Soft lenses will generally provide the best overall comfort with perhaps a slight vision trade-off compared to glasses, and are available in daily, two week, monthly, and semi-monthly disposable.  Rigid gas permeable lenses provide superior vision, usually equivalent to glasses, but take a lot more time to get used to as far as comfort.  They are available as a pair that lasts up to a year or more.  Because of the significant comfort difference, soft lenses are much more popular.

Why do you have to do the puff of air test?

Everyone’s favorite machine at the eye doctor’s is called an NCT (Non-Contact Tonometer).  It measures the pressure in the eye, and is a glaucoma screening test.

I have been told I have a large astigmatism; is it possible I can wear contact lenses?

Yes!  There are soft lenses available for astigmatism correction (toric lenses) available up to very high powers.  In addition, gas-permeable lenses (often called hard lenses) and Hybrid lenses will also correct astigmatism.