How often should I get my eyes examined?

Most people should have annual eye examinations. This facilitates timely detection of eye disease so that it can be treated before it gets out of hand. It also allows for a person to have the most up-to-date prescription possible for comfort, maximum productivity, and safety. Some younger people can go two years between eye examinations and some people need to be seen more often than once a year due to disease or the risk of disease. Our eye doctors can discuss this with you in detail during your comprehensive eye examination.

What exactly does “20/20 vision” mean?

“20/20 vision” designates normal visual acuity. Specifically, a group of normal people was tested to determine the size of the smallest letter they could see at a distance of 20 feet. That became the 20/20 letter size. If you can see that letter at 20 feet, you are said to have 20/20 vision.

When visual acuity is presented as a fraction, the numerator indicates the distance at which you would be able to see a letter, and the denominator is the distance at which a normal person could see the same letter. For example, if a person has 20/50 vision, the smallest letter they could see at 20 feet, a normal person could see at 50 feet.

When am I old enough to wear contact lenses?

Proper care of contact lenses is a responsibility that requires significant maturity and commitment. There is no single age at which all people are ready to wear contact lenses. Rather, when someone is able to do certain things on a consistent basis without being reminded, we believe that they may be ready to wear contact lenses. The things we look for are personal hygiene items like brushing teeth and bathing, doing homework, taking care of household chores or the care of a family pet. When these things are being accomplished, again consistently and without being reminded, then a person may be ready for contact lenses.

Can I sleep with my contact lenses in?

Sleeping with contact lenses in—more specifically the convenience of waking up in the morning with perfect eyesight—is a pleasure. We call this “extended wear.”

Extended wear contact lenses meet some important criteria. First, they transmit high levels of oxygen through the lens to your eye as compared to traditional daily wear lenses. The front of the eye where the contact lens rests is called the cornea. The cornea is living tissue and yet has no blood vessels, so it needs to receive oxygen directly from the atmosphere while you have your eyes open. The amount of oxygen available to the cornea is greatly reduced by the eyelid while we sleep. That is the reason why extended wear lenses must be more oxygen permeable.

Secondly, extended wear contact lenses need to resist deposits very well. If lenses are worn for several days in a row, they are not getting cleaned as often, so they form more rapid buildup. Extended wear lenses, if they are going to contribute to good eye health, must have a high level of deposit resistance.

Our doctors can help you determine whether you are a candidate for extended wear contact lenses. People with dry eyes, significant allergic eye disease, and certain others should not consider extended wear contact lenses. For these people to achieve maximum comfort and convenience, daily disposable contact lenses may be a good option.

My child needs glasses to see while playing sports. What are our options when choosing appropriate frames and lenses?

The lenses worn for sports need to be impact-resistant to provide eye protection. They should be able to absorb damaging UV radiation and reduce the intensity of sunlight for outdoor sporting activities. The eyewear itself should be durable. There are eyewear designs made specifically for high-impact sports. If a helmet is worn, care must be taken to find eyewear whose dimensions fit within the helmet. Our opticians will help you with these and any other questions you may have. Contact lenses are also an excellent choice for many athletes.

What kind of eye drops should I use?

There are drops for dryness, allergy, infection, inflammation, glaucoma, and plenty of other eye conditions. However, some may cause cataracts, glaucoma, and high blood pressure. A number of these drops are available over the counter; however, many require a prescription. The specific drops you need depend on the condition you have, along with your other health conditions. It is imperative that you be monitored for any possible adverse reactions to any drops you are using.

What’s the difference between an optometrist, optician, and ophthalmologist?

Doctors of optometry (ODs), or optometrists, are the primary health care professionals for the eye. Optometrists perform vision and eye health examinations, prescribe glasses and contact lenses, 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. This includes performing procedures such as the removal of a superficial foreign object lodged in the eye or eyelid.

An optician is a person who works with eyewear selection, adjustment, and repair. He or she helps with the selection of lens materials and other features and performs the necessary measurements to properly position the lenses in the eyewear. Some opticians are involved with the fabrication of the eyewear.

An ophthalmologist is a doctor who specializes in doing eye surgery and other eye disease management. He or she can do eye examinations and prescribe glasses and contact lenses, but they tend to focus more on surgery and disease management.