Which Contact Lenses Are Right For Me?

Contact_lensesSo, you’re interested in contact lenses for yourself or your children?  They can be an excellent investment for people who want discrete vision correction.  Most people never know when you’re wearing contacts, and there are even options that change the appearance of your eyes as well.

Today, there are several different types of contact lenses on the market.  But how do you know which is right for you?

Choosing The Right Contact Lens For You

1 – Rigid Gas Permeable 

RGP, or “hard” contact lenses, are the oldest style of contact lens still in use.  These carry with them many of the drawbacks associated with contact lenses:  They’re a bit less comfortable to wear, they have to be taken out at night, and they have to be cleaned daily.

There are two main benefits to RGPs:  First, they work with any sort of eye or vision problem.  Second, because of their rigidity, they can in some cases prevent progressive vision problems by encouraging the eyeball to hold its shape.

2 – Soft Contacts 

Soft lenses conform to the shape of your eye, making them more comfortable and easier to wear for extended periods.  Some soft lenses can be worn for up to a week straight, even while asleep, without being removed.  Their shape-changing comfort, however, means they cannot slow vision loss like RGPs can.

These are a good “all around” option, especially for children who may have trouble dealing with RGPs.

3 – Disposable Contacts 

Disposable lenses are almost always “soft” lenses.  These are the most expensive option on the market for eye wear – costing about $1-$2 per day – but also offer the most convenience.

These are excellent for people who only occasionally wear contacts, such as for formal appearances.  However, be careful.  Because disposables are meant to be thrown out, their edges wear down quickly and can become dangerously sharp.

4 – Bi- or Tri-Focals

If you need multiple lenses, you can still get contacts!  Depending on your needs, optometrists have several options.  You could get contacts with the traditional “over / under” style of lens.  Or, in special cases, a patient might get two different lenses, creating a “far-sighted eye” and a “near-sighted eye” that, together, combine into a single clear image in their brain.  (With a little adjustment.)

There are plenty of options! Talk to your Phoenix Optometrist for more information on what contacts might be right for you.

Genetics And Your Eye Health

Eye_HealthCan your family’s medical history have an influence over your own eye health, or that of your children? Unfortunately, it is so.

There are several known eye-related medical problems that have strong genetic factors. If these are in your family’s history, you and the rest of your family are going to have a higher chances of seeing those same problems. Knowing your own medical lineage is important, because you can tell an optometrist what to look for.

Common Eye Health Disorders With A Genetic Basis

1 – Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is one of the most common causes of blindness in people as they age. The macula is a circular region at the center-back of your eyeballs, which contains the most dense collection of light-sensing rods and cones in your eye. The macula is necessary for all types of vision, day and night.

AMD is the slow and steady breakdown of this region, leading to reduced vision and eventually blindness. It currently cannot be halted or reversed, but it can be slowed significantly if caught early. It’s also very strongly influenced by genetic factors.

2 – Glaucoma

Glaucoma is one of the other major forms of adult blindness, and it’s also been definitively linked to several genetic markets. Glaucoma is caused by damage to the ocular nerve itself, coming out the back of the eyeball, usually due to increased vascular (blood) pressure.

Unlike AMD, Glaucoma is 100% treatable with medication.

3 – Strabismus (Ocular Misalignment)

Strabismus covers nearly any situation where two eyes are misaligned, or cannot move together. Roughly 40% of children who are “cross-eyed” or “wall-eyed” or have other misalignments are carrying genetic traits for this.

Strabismus is usually obvious from birth, and can be corrected in a number of ways during childhood.

4 – Other Indicators

Eye issues can also indicate non-ocular genetic conditions. For example:

  • Yellow eyes indicate jaundice, or other serious liver disorders.
  • Dislocated lenses can confirm Marfan syndrome.
  • A bright red ‘blood’ spot in the eye is a telltale sign of Tay-Sachs.
  • Retinopathy, a symptom of diabetes, involves blood vessels hemorrhaging into the eye.

Know Your History!

If you have never inquired into your family’s eye health history, now may be a good time. Knowing your genetic background makes it easier for your Phoenix Optometrist to spot vision problems in time for treatment.

Pregnancy And Eye Health

Should an eye exam be part of your prenatal care schedule?

Eye_ExamsA lot of people don’t realize this, but along with all the other changes it brings, pregnancy can also affect your eyesight. The tendency of a pregnant woman’s body to retain water and increase blood circulation can cause small – but noticeable – changes in the shape of her eye.

Since the eyes are so delicate, even tiny physical changes can end up causing new vision problems or eye health issues.

Common Eye Health Issues During Pregnancy

1. Myopia

Many women who are pregnant tend to become a bit more myopic (nearsighted) during their term, due to swelling of the eyeball.

Usually the changes don’t require new prescriptions, but occasionally significant vision issues come up. If this happens, just remember that it’s normal, and at worst you have to wear slightly stronger glasses during your pregnancy.

2. Contact Lenses

Another side-effect of pregnancy on vision is it can make contact lenses hard to use. That same swelling of the eyeballs can either

A – Reduce the effectiveness of your lenses, or

B – Make the lenses painful to wear.

In most cases, the answer here is simply to go back to wearing glasses during your pregnancy. You’ll have fewer issues. However, going to the doctor for an eye exam and a new lens prescription isn’t entirely out of the question, if you have a need for them.

3. Discuss Your Glaucoma Medications

An important warning here: Most glaucoma medications may have adverse effects during pregnancy and lactation. If you are treating glaucoma while pregnant, it’s vital to discuss this with your OB or optometrist to ensure no harm is done to your child.

On the positive side, glaucoma tends to lessen during pregnancy, so you may not need the medications anyway.

Serious Vision Issues Need Immediate Attention

Finally, you should see an expert immediately if you experience any of the following during pregnancy:

  • Double or blurry vision
  • Bright spots or lights
  • High sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Vision loss

These are all early-warning symptoms of preeclampsia, a dangerous -but treatable- condition that develops in about 5% of pregnant women. If you experience any of these for more than a few minutes during pregnancy, please contact your OB immediately.

Need a prenatal or postnatal eye exam? Contact your Phoenix Optometrist today for an appointment!

Vision And Nighttime Driving

Driving at night is one of the most dangerous things you can do with your eyes.

Eye_DoctorsIn fact, according to government statistics, you are three times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident when driving at night. While there are multiple reasons for this, including a higher instance of drunk-driving, nighttime vision problems are one of the major contributing factors!

Common Vision Problems Affecting Nighttime Driving

1 – Blurred or Double Vision

As a person ages, their eyes’ ability to adjust to low-light conditions will slowly degrade. This often results in two eyes that react differently to the same light levels, or whose pupils don’t dilate to the same size. This will cause one eye to see better than the other, creating blurred vision.

Astigmatism is another contribution, as the ability to distinguish parallel lines is necessary for low-light vision. Either way, corrective lenses from certified eye doctors can fix these issues.

2 – Glare or Halos  

At the other end of the spectrum, damage to the iris or cornea can result in eyes that overreact to light at night, creating distracting halos or even painful glare. This also can sometimes happen after LASIK corrective procedures. Worse, sufficient damage to one eye can create glare that affects vision in both eyes.

Treatment is complicated, depending on the nature of the damage. In some cases, corrective lenses can help. In others, surgery may be required to reshape the eye.

3 – Poor Low-Light Reception

In extreme forms, this can be called “night blindness,” and it means what it says. It could even render someone unable to safely drive at night, at all.

In the best-case scenario, it’s caused by vitamin deficiencies. This can be corrected with eating more carrots or spinach. The other most common cause is glaucoma, which is 100% treatable with medication.

Unfortunately, this may also be caused by retinitis pigmentosa, or other degenerative diseases which cannot be entirely halted. Only a consultation with a trained optometrist will tell you for certain.

Don’t Risk Nighttime Vision Problems 

Driving at night is dangerous even under the best conditions, and it can easily become deadly when your vision is impaired. If you experience any visual problems while driving in low-light, we strongly recommend you contact your Phoenix Optometrist for an appointment immediately.

Students With Visual Impairments

Eye_ExamDid you know that taking your child to an eye exam at Valley Eyecare Center may help with behavioral problems in school?

A lot of parents don’t realize it, but some behavioral issues may be caused by vision problems! There are several early warning signs that can indicate a child is having trouble seeing correctly.

Only around 30% of students have an eye exam before entering school, making it very easy for vision problems to go undetected in the classroom.

Childhood Behaviors That Suggest Vision Problems

1 – Reluctance Reading Out Loud

There are many factors that can contribute to delayed reading development, but vision problems are among the most common.

A student who’s near-sighted will often desperately avoid being called on to read from the front whiteboard. Similarly, far-sighted students will avoid reading from the book, or -more obviously- start holding it at arm’s length when they read.

2 – Headaches Leading To Disruption

When a student is doing close-up work, like homework or arts, see if they show signs of a headache, such as rubbing their eyes or temples. Students with vision problems often have chronic headaches. They may not think to mention it because, to them, close-up work simply brings pain and “always” has.

However, they’re then more likely to misbehave from the pain, rather than doing the assigned work. If you see behavior like this, ask them if their eyes or head hurts rather than immediately reprimanding. If there’s pain, vision problems are likely.

3 – A Strong Preference For Auditory Learning

Most learning in school is either sight- or sound-based. If a student shows a wide variation in their ability to learn from visuals versus audio, that’s another strong suggestion that they are having vision problems.

For example: A student who cannot understand a math “word problem” from looking at the book, but immediately comprehends it when the paragraph is read aloud.

Have Your Child’s Eyes Been Checked?

In many cases, an examination and a pair of glasses can make a big difference to a student’s behavior. If they haven’t had an eye exam, contact your Phoenix optometrist for an appointment!

What is Retinoblastoma?

Eye_ExamWe tend to think of cancer as a disease that strikes older people, but even children can be susceptible.

Retinoblastoma is a rare form of eye cancer that is most commonly found in children, but it can be detected easily with an eye exam. In many cases, the child is born with the condition, due to problems with the eye’s development while in the womb.

The good news is, retinoblastoma is one of the most commonly-treated and survivable of childhood cancers. While it can present a serious threat to the child, the survival rates are upwards of 95% with treatment.

When caught early, it doesn’t have to threaten a child’s life.

Symptoms Of Retinoblastoma

The most common symptom of retinoblastoma is unusual reflections in a child’s pupils. When photographed, an infected eye will often seem to have the same “eyeshine” you sometimes see in cats, owls, or other night-sighted creatures. Or, one eye may show “red eye” in flash photographs when the other does not.

Runny or bloodshot eyes, squints, or even crossed eyes can also indicate retinoblastoma. However, these symptoms are common to many eye disorders – only a proper eye exam will be able to tell for sure.

Treatment Of Retinoblastoma

Today, there are a wide variety of techniques for treating tumors in the eyes. In cases of smaller tumors, there are options for using either lasers or cryotherapy (freezing) to remove the tumor without disturbing the eye. Chemotherapy is another option, although preferably avoided due to its side effects.

In advanced cases, where the blastoma was not caught early on, removal of the eye may be required. While eye doctors certainly want to preserve the child’s eyes, when possible, advanced tumors may not allow for it.

Early Childhood Screenings Are Vital

In most areas, retinoblastoma screenings are part of a child’s first-year health care schedule. However, if you have a young child who has not had a professional eye evaluation yet, we strongly recommend a screening with your Phoenix optometrist.

Retinoblastoma is only one of many childhood eye diseases that can be caught in time for treatment, with an early eye exam.

What Are Visual Acuity Tests?

Phoenix_OptometristVisual acuity tests are one of the most basic and universal tools an optometrist has at their disposal. Out of all the tests, Phoenix eye doctors can run on your eyes, this is the most fundamental in determining how well you can see.

Visual Acuity Tests: How They Work

Most of the time, the test is based on common eye charts you see everywhere: The ones with the big “E” at the top followed by rows of smaller letters. By carefully stepping down the font size for every line, it’s calibrated so that an optometrist can quickly tell how well a person’s eyes can focus.

The results they get are expressed in the form of a fraction, based on how far from the chart a person is standing, which is usually 20 feet. Someone with 20/20 vision can accurately see something 20 feet away.

This can go both ways. If someone is myopic (short-sighted), his or her vision might be 20/60. That is, without corrective lenses, they see an object 20 feet away as though it were 60 feet.

Or, some lucky people are born with superior eyesight. The famous pilot Chuck Yeager, for example, reportedly tested at 20/10 during his military days, meaning his eyesight was far more clear and detailed than the average eyes.

Another thing people often wonder about is whether they have to perfectly read every letter for it to “count,” especially on the smaller lines. The answer is “no.” While it’s up to the optometrist’s judgment, as long as you can read most letters on a line, you have that level of vision.

That said, these visual acuity tests can also check for astigmatism – your eyes’ ability to distinguish parallel lines. Certain mix-ups between similarly shaped letters, like A and H can give a trained Phoenix eye doctor more insight into your eyesight.

When Was Your Last Checkup?

Because your eyesight will change over time, it’s recommended you have an eye exam annually. If it’s been more than a year, contact your Valley EyeCare Optometrist for an appointment!

Spotting Early Signs Of Vision Problems

Children's Eye Care Children’s eye care is, of course, a large concern for many parents, especially because there are many vision problems that can manifest early in a child’s life. If your child does have vision problems at an early age, it’s vital to discover this as quickly as possible.

Uncorrected childhood vision problems can quickly lead to problems in school, social issues, and numerous other problems in day-to-day life.

Here are some of the top symptoms to watch for.

Children’s Eye Care Tips: Spotting Early Signs Of Vision Problems

1 – Crossed, wandering or otherwise “lazy” eyes.

Around 5% of children have a hard time properly moving their eyes together and focusing on the same thing. If your child has a wandering eye, it’s vital to get them to an eye doctor for treatment. If left untreated, a lazy eye will become weaker over time, making correction continually harder to achieve.

2 – Reading or identifying things below their grade level.

There are many problems, visual and neurological, that may contribute to delayed reading ability. However, undiagnosed vision problems are actually one of the TOP causes for this! Simply getting your child a pair of glasses may radically improve their school performance.

3 – Squinting in one or both eyes.

Squinting has always been one of the main symptoms of myopia (short-sightedness), and that’s also true for children. Be especially aware if they’re developing a squint in one eye. This could indicate their eyes’ focal abilities are significantly different, such as one eye being 20/20 and the other 20/80.

4 – Constant headaches or eye pain.

If your child often complains of headaches or eye pain when reading, doing homework, playing portable video games, or other close-up activities, that’s a big red flag for vision problems. If their eyes can’t focus correctly, their brain will be doing “double duty” trying to make sense of unfocused images.

Remember: Children have no way of knowing they have vision problems, because they only know what they see. Keeping an eye out for these symptoms will help ensure good children’s eye care for years to come!

Men’s Health Month and Eye Care

Phoenix OptometryGood eye care leads to good body care, and that’s important to remember during Men’s Health Month!

When you’re thinking about protecting your body, don’t forget about your eyes.  They’re critical for your overall health.  You only get one pair, so ocular health should be a top priority.

Eye Care Tips For Men’s Health Month

1 – Update your prescription.

If it’s been more than a year since your last eye exam, it’s time to make an appointment.  Here are two major reasons to do so:

A – Most people’s eyesight, unfortunately, gets worse over time.  While new glasses may not be needed every year, it’s important to periodically re-check your eyes to ensure you remain 20/20.

B – There are a range of diseases, including diabetes and even some brain disorders, which leave telltale early-warning signs in the eye that a trained optometrist can detect.

2 – Invest in better sunglasses.

If you’re still using cheap drugstore sunglasses, you leave your eyes open to damage from the sun’s UV rays.  Proper sunglasses are UV-treated, polarized, or tint-correcting to ensure optimal visibility while protecting your eyes from damage.

If you’re into outdoor sports, we highly recommend sports goggles as a preventative measure to protect your eyes from unexpected impact and debris.

3 – Always follow the instructions on your contacts.

If you wear contacts, it’s critical to follow the instructions:

  • Don’t leave lenses in overnight, unless designed for 24-hour wear.
  • Don’t use disposable lenses for longer than recommended, as their edges can quickly wear down and become sharp.
  • Always follow proper cleaning procedures, with fresh cleaner every time, to prevent the buildup of infectious microbes.
  • If your eyes burn or feel sharp stabs, immediately remove your lenses, clean both the lens and your eye, and leave them out until the pain goes away.

Need more eye care tips?  Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have!

 

New Prescription Eyewear: How to Adjust

One question Phoenix eyecare professionals hear very frequently is, “My new glasses/contacts are giving me headaches.  Is my prescription wrong?”

In most cases, the answer to this is no.  Usually, all it takes is a little time for your eyes to adjust.

Eyecare_PhoenixProtecting The Muscle That People Forget

It’s easy to forget, but your eyes are controlled by muscles, just like every other part of your body. And like all your other body’s muscles, too much overwork can cause them to hurt.

Eye strain is the straining of the muscles surrounding your eyes.  Since these muscles   surround your face and head, it can cause pain that turns into a headache.

Every time you change your prescription, it causes tiny changes to how your eyes react to everything.  Every attempt to refocus, at first, is “wrong” and requires correction, because your eyes are still trying to focus through your old lenses.  This causes your eyes to become strained.

To get through this critical period, most eyecare professionals suggest:

1 – Put them on first thing in the morning.  If your eyes wake up to the new lenses, they’ll be less likely to hold onto the old ways of focusing.

2 – Take short breaks.  If you get a headache, it’s fine to remove your glasses/contacts for an hour or so, but it’s better (as with athletic training) to “push through” the pain when possible, as it will shorten your transition period.

3 – Use standard painkillers.  The same over-the-counter NSAID medicines, like Advil or Aleve, that work on other muscle pains will work on your eyes.  In most cases, these eliminate the transition problems.

When should I contact a Phoenix optometrist?

If it’s been more than two weeks and you’re still getting headaches, it’s time to talk to your optometrist about the prescription.  Actual prescription problems are rare, but they do occasionally occur.  Sometimes they can point towards other, undiagnosed issues.

Otherwise, if the headaches are minor, there is probably no reason to contact your Phoenix eyecare provider.