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Do I still need an eye examination if my eyeglasses are still working?

Yes. Just because you think you can still see well with your eyeglasses does not mean that your eyes are healthy. Many eye diseases have little or no symptoms and it is very important that you see your eye doctor yearly.

The school nurse said my child was seeing 20/20. Does my child still need an eye examination?

Yes. Schools only do a vision screening, not a full comprehensive eye examination. They check to see how clear your child can see but do not check the health of your child's eyes. Just because a person is seeing 20/20 does not mean they do not have a eye health problem.

My contact lenses seem to be working fine. Why is it necessary for me to have regular check ups with my doctor?

Contact lenses can cause eye health changes that the patient is sometimes unaware of. Your eye doctor wants to make sure your eyes are as healthy as the last time you were examined and to treat any problems while still in the early stages. Since contact lenses rest on the cornea there can be eye health implications to wearing them. Sometimes an eye disease can start on the lens and damage the cornea, while the patient is unaware. Your eye doctor needs to check these things for you.

What does my eye doctor check for during the exam?

A comprehensive eye exam generally includes an internal and external examination of the eye, vision analysis, glaucoma screening, color vision testing and depth perception testing. An eye exam allows the doctor to check for cataracts, glaucoma, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, diabetes, ocular and cerebral tumors. Optic nerve problems and many other systemic conditions.

At what age should children have their first eye exam?

The American Optometric Association recommends the first complete eye exam by six months of age. It is definitely wise to make sure your child is examined thoroughly before beginning elementary school.

What does 20/20 vision or 20/80 vision mean?

The top number represents the distance at which your vision was tested. The bottom number indicates the size of the smallest letters read at that given test distance. In simpler terms, a measurement of 20/80 means you can only see at 20 feet what someone with 20/20 can see at 80 feet.

What is a Doctor of Optometry?

Doctors of Optometry are primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions. They examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders; systemic conditions like hypertension and diabetes and vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. Optometrists also do testing to determine the patient's ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, as well as judge depth and see colors accurately. They prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy and medicines that treat eye diseases, as well as perform surgical procedures. As primary eye care providers, optometrists are an integral part of the health care team and an entry point into the healthcare system. They are skilled in co-management of care that affects the eye health and vision of their patients and are an excellent source of referral to other health care providers.

What is Glaucoma?

It is important to note that there are many different types of glaucoma but the one most prevalent in the United States is primary open-angle glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve head. In glaucoma, the optic nerve head becomes damaged, resulting in changes in the outer rim tissue. These changes in the outer rim tissue are what cause loss of vision to occur.

Symptoms/signs of Glaucoma

The most common cause of changes to the optic nerve head is due to an increase in intraocular pressure however this is not always the case. Usually glaucoma is painless and the loss of vision starts to occur peripherally in areas that are difficult for patients to notice. It is not until advanced stages of glaucoma have occurred that the patient would notice loss of central vision. This is the reason why patients with glaucoma can go many years without a check-up or being symptomatic.

Who is at risk?

Primary open-angle glaucoma tends to be more prevalent in patients of African-American decent. It tends to occur more in the older population and there does not seem to be a difference in the prevalence between males and females. Lastly, family history plays a large role in the likelihood of developing glaucoma.

What is the treatment for Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is treated by decreasing the pressure in the eye until a desired level is reached. There are two modes of treatment: 1) medicated eye drops/oral medication or 2) surgery. In most cases, we start by putting the patient on medicated eye drops.

Outcome for Glaucoma

Unfortunately, once patients have lost vision due to glaucoma it is nearly impossible to return the vision that has been lost. Therefore, it is very important to detect glaucoma early so that your eye care provider can attempt to prevent losing vision in the first place. Our goal as eye care providers is to attempt to retain the vision that is good and to prevent more vision loss.

What is my role?

See your eye care provider annually! It is very important to see your eye care provider on an annual basis so that they can do the appropriate screening tests for glaucoma. If you have a family history of glaucoma, mention it to your eye care provider so they are aware of your condition. By working closely with your eye care provider, as a team, we can make every effort to preserve your sight and prevent vision loss.