Why You Need Multiple Pairs

Thanks to our busy lives, multiple hobbies, and all the activities in between, having multiple pairs of eyewear handy is a necessity. Even contact lens wearers should have alternative pairs of eyewear. But some of us still haven’t jumped on that bandwagon. If you’re still on the fence, here are a few reasons why it’s a great idea to have at least two pairs of eyewear:

Misplacement

We’ve all been there, searching for missing glasses just when we need them the most. An additional pair of eyewear can’t guarantee they won’t keep slipping through the cracks, but it will significantly reduce the chances of having to go without. Lost a contact lens and don’t have a replacement? Backup glasses can hold you over until your new contact lenses come in!

Style

Think about it: a night out on the town is going to call for more stylish eyewear than the amber-tinted lenses you wear at your computer desk. Funky frames may better showcase your personality, but a more neutral pair may be needed for professional situations. Having different styles of glasses removes this dilemma by giving you situation-specific options.

Protection

Chances are, your standard glasses aren’t going to adapt and darken in reaction to sunlight (unless you have photochromic lenses), so it only makes sense to invest in a pair of prescription sunglasses to protect your eyes. Polarized lenses are a good option, especially since the tint can be tailored to your specific sport or hobby.

Contact Lens Wearers

Plano sunwear is a must have for all contact lens users. Contact lenses do not protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun. We recommend plano sunwear that blocks 100% of UV rays for anyone who wears contacts.

Schedule an appointment with our office if you’re interested in investing in a second pair of glasses! We will help you find the best frames and lenses for your lifestyle!

Toys and Eye Safety

Playing with a toy stimulates a child’s vision at a young age and grows their imagination as they get older. As a parent, it is important to consider toy eye safety before purchasing for the children in your life. Typically, toys are deemed unsafe because they are not age-appropriate for the child. Here are some common toy-related injuries and tips for choosing eye safe toys!

Toy-Related Eye Injuries

Each year more than a quarter of a million children were seen in emergency rooms due to toy-related injuries. Nearly half of these injuries were to the head and face. In a survey conducted by AllAboutVision.com, 41% of parents say they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ considered eye safety when choosing toys. When asked if any of the toys their children own could cause harm to their eyes 54% of parents responded ‘definitely,’ and 22% said ‘possibly.’

We encourage you to consider eye safety everytime you purchase a toy. Toys that pose a higher risk for eye injuries include:

  • Toy Guns
  • Water Balloon Launchers
  • Toy Fishing Poles
  • Toy Wands, Swords, Sabers
  • Aerosol String
  • Laser Pointers and Bright Flashlights

 

Tips for Choosing Eye Safe Toys

Anytime you are purchasing toys for someone else’s child, be sure to discuss with the parent if the toy sounds fitting for their child. Parent’s know the maturity and personality of their child which plays a huge factor into whether a toy would be suitable or not suitable for their child. Check the recommended age range for the toy. This is usually a good way to determine the safety of the toy. However, don’t be afraid to trust your gut and use your common sense to assess the safety of a toy! We also recommend shopping in a store rather than online. When shopping in a store, you can see the features of the toy and make better judgments to the safety of the toy.

Toy eye safety is an important consideration for all parents. If you have more questions please reach out to our office, we want to help you protect your child’s eyes.

Screen Time and Children

Screen time is the amount of time a person spends staring at digital displays including computers, tablets, smartphones, and TVs. In our modern and technology-focused world children are spending time on digital displays for educational and recreational purposes. Children who spend several hours on digital devices are at risk of developing vision-related problems.

Average Time Children Spend On Digital Devices

According to the Vision Council, 72% of American parents report their children regularly spend more than two hours on screens per day. It is likely that children spend significantly more time on screens than their parents think. Common Sense Media reports that children under age eight spend more than two hours a day with screen media. For 8 to 10-year-olds screen time triples to six hours per day. Kids in middle school and high school spend up to nine hours per day looking at digital displays.

Risks of Screen Time

Too much screen time can be dangerous for anyone’s eyes, children included. Screens emit a broad spectrum of visible light. While most of these light rays are harmless, blue light is a high-energy visible light that can cause damage to your eyes. Blue light has shorter wavelengths and higher energy causing harm to the retina over time. Overexposure to blue light can cause:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Eye strain
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behavior
  • Irritability

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome is a condition caused by visual stress. Symptoms include tired eyes, dry eyes, headache, and fatigue.

Unhealthy Posture

Your body naturally slouches inwards when on digital devices. Your back and shoulders round, your head tilts back, and your chin justs forward. This reaction to digital devices is called “turtling” and can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain.

How To Protect Your Child’s Eyes

It is clear digital devices will not be going away anytime soon. Therefore it is essential to ensure you are doing everything you can to protect your children’s eyes from digital screens. One way you can do this is by limiting screen time for your children while at home. You can also apply blue light filters or download blue light filtering apps to all digital devices. If your child wears prescription glasses, ask us about add blue light blocking to their lenses during your next appointment.

Nighttime Use

The largest source of blue light is our sun, which tells our brain when to be awake or sleep. The high use of digital devices emitting blue light may disrupt your natural circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) by miscommunicating the time of day and if you should be awake or asleep. Stop digital device time two hours before usual bedtime to ensure your child’s sleep schedule affected by blue light.

Do you have more questions about screen time and blue light? Stop by our office or give our office a call and we would be happy to answer your questions!

Puffy Eyes and Dark Circles

Ordinary swelling around the eyes is due to an excessive accumulation of fluids in the surrounding skin tissue. Puffy eyes and dark circles can occur for many reasons, and a visit to your eye doctor can usually detect the underlying cause behind your puffy eyes.

Causes

The skin around your eyes is the thinnest skin on your body; therefore it shows swelling and discoloration more prominently. There are various factors which can cause puffy eyes, a few of the most common causes include:

  • Overconsumption of salt
  • Allergies
  • Sinus problems
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue and lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Crying
  • Aging
  • Inherited facial features

Why are my eyes puffy in the morning?

Some individuals may notice their eyes are puffy when they wake up in the morning. Since we don’t blink when we sleep, this allows fluids to settle or get trapped in the skin around the eyes. As soon as you wake up and start blinking this swelling will begin to diminish. Likewise, some individuals develop swelling in their lower extremities while sleeping, which reduces upon walking.

Medical condition

In some situations, puffy eyes can be due to an underlying medical condition. Those with thyroid disease can develop swelling around their eyes. Eye allergies can cause swollen eyelids due to the release of histamine. Additionally, eye infections such as pink eye can cause swelling and puffiness. However, the best way to detect the cause of your puffy eyes is through a comprehensive eye exam by your doctor.

What can be done?

To find the best solution or remedy to your puffy eyes, your eye doctor must first determine the underlying cause. Temporary solutions include eye drops, hydration, iced compresses, cucumber slices, creams, reducing salt in your diet, and getting plenty of rest. In other circumstances, cosmetic solutions may be the only long term way to reduce swollen eyes.

To learn more about your puffy eyes, schedule an appointment with our office. We are here to answer all of your questions and advise you on the best steps to alleviate your puffy eyes.

Eye Color & Genetics

Ever wonder why your eyes are blue, green, brown, or somewhere in between? The colored part of your eye, the Iris, contains pigmentation which determines our eye color. Your parents pass on chromosomes which combine to customize your eye color.

How eye color develops

Eye color is not as simple as other genetic traits. Three different genes contribute to your eye color. Due to dominant gene types, darker colors like brown overpower lighter colors like blue and green. Colors such as gray, hazel, and multiple combinations are not as common and are not yet completely understood.

Most babies are born with blue eyes, but did you know their eyes can darken for three years? Melanin is a pigment not present at birth, which develops with age and causes eyes to darken. The more melanin someone has, the darker their eyes will be.

Facts About Common Eye Colors:

  • Brown: Most common eye color worldwide. This varies between dark brown, light brown, and honey brown eyes.
  • Blue: People with blue eyes have less melanin in their eyes than any other color. Blue eyes are thought to come from a genetic mutation of one individual.
  • Green: Thought to be the most attractive and one of the rarest eye colors.
  • Hazel: The hue of hazel eyes changes based on what you are wearing and the type of lighting you are in. Hazel eyes host a variety of colors.

Changes in eye color

When your pupil changes size, the pigments in the iris of your eye compress or spread apart causing the color of your eyes to change. Your pupils change size for a variety of reasons including changes in light and the distance of the object you are focusing on. Emotions can also change the pupil size and iris color.

Heterochromia

Heterochromia is a condition in which a person’s eyes are different colors, caused by one eye having more melanin than the other. Typically, present at birth and is not considered an eye disease as it does not commonly cause vision problems.

Enhancing your eye color

  • Wear eyeglass frames to compliment your eye color and skin tone.

Example: Determine if you are “warm” or “cool” toned skin and eye color then match your frames with a complementary color.

  • Use eye makeup to bring out the color of your eyes.

Example: Pinks, purples, and silvers bring out the warmth in brown eyes.

  • Wear clothing which compliments or contrasts your eye color.

Example: Orange, red, and gold highlight the natural hue of blue eyes.

  • Choose hairstyles and colors to accentuate your eyes.

Example: Bangs and layers which frame the face draw more attention to your eyes.

  • Colored contact lenses give you the opportunity to try out a new look.

Flashes, Floaters, and Spots: What’s in my Vision?

Have you noticed tiny shadows cast upon objects you are looking at? Do you see small spots in your vision when looking at a clear or overcast sky? You may be seeing floaters and spots in your field of vision.

What is the spot in my vision?

It is completely normal to see spots or floaters in your vision. As you age the gel-like consistency in your eyes begins to dissolve creating floaters in the watery center of your eye. While you cannot see the particle floating in your eye, a shadow of these particles can be seen reflected in the objects you are viewing.

Do I need treatment for my floaters?

No, most of the time treatment is not required for floaters in the eye. The floaters and spots are harmless, and most will fade over time. If your vision is inhibited by large floaters, give our office a call to discuss options available to reduce these symptoms.

Why is there a flash in my vision?

When light enters your eye it sends a message to the retina, the retina then produces an electrical impulse which is sent to the brain. The brain interprets this impulse as an image. If the retina is tugged, torn, or detached from the back of the eye it is common to see a flicker of light. The flashes or flickers of light can be temporary or continue indefinitely depending on the severity of the retinal issue.

Is this ever a medical emergency?

Seeing a few new floaters is not an emergency, however, if you suddenly see a shower of floaters or spots this may be cause for concern. The sudden appearance of flashes of light could mean that damage is occurring to your retina. If any of these symptoms suddenly appear, call our office immediately to discuss with your eye doctor.

Conditions associated with eye floaters and flashes:

  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Inflammation of the interior of the eye
  • Nearsightedness
  • Cataract surgery
  • Laser eye surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Eye infections

How to Read Your Prescription

Have you ever received your prescription at the end of your exam but were unsure how to interpret it? Below are some common questions and terms explained to help you better understand what each part of your prescription means. If you have any questions about your prescription, please reach out to our office.

What does it mean to be nearsighted?

Nearsightedness (myopia) is the most commonly diagnosed refractive error. Nearsighted individuals have difficulty reading road signs and clearly seeing distant objects. This refractive error typically begins in childhood and stabilizes in early adulthood. Symptoms of myopia include squinting, eye strain, and headaches.

What does it mean to be farsighted?

Farsightedness (hyperopia) affects about one-fourth of the population.* Farsighted individuals will have difficulty focusing on objects up close but can clearly see objects at a distance. The eye shape of someone who is farsighted is shorter than normal. For this reason, many children are born farsighted and outgrow it as their eyeball grows.

I have astigmatism, what does that mean?

Individuals with astigmatism usually experience some degree of blur or distortion at all distances. In astigmatism, light comes into the retina at multiple focus points because of an irregular shaped cornea, which causes blurring. With astigmatism, one or both eyes can be farsighted, one or both eyes can be nearsighted, or one eye can be nearsighted while the other is farsighted.

Reading the Prescription

Your prescription is an outline of corrections your eyes need in order to see as precisely as possible. Every prescription will look different based on the patient’s eyes. If you have questions or do not understand a section of your exam or prescription, be sure to ask your doctor.

OD and OS

Doctors use the abbreviations OD, OS, and OU when writing a prescription for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and eye medicines. OD and OS are abbreviations for the latin words oculus dexter (right eye) and oculus sinister (left eye). The latin term oculus uterque is used for describing both eyes.

Other terms on your prescription:

  • Sphere (SPH): Indicates the lens power needed to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness. If you have a minus sign (-) you are nearsighted; if you have a plus sign (+) or no sign you are farsighted.
  • Cylinder (CYL): Indicates the amount of lens power for astigmatism. If nothing appears in this column you do not have astigmatism. The minus sign is for nearsighted astigmatism and a plus sign for farsighted astigmatism.
  • Axis: Indicates the direction of astigmatism. For example, if the axis is 180 degrees the astigmatism is horizontal.
  • Add: Indicates the magnifying power applied to the bottom of multifocal lenses to correct presbyopia. The number is typically a plus power and will be the same for both eyes.
  • Prism: This is to compensate for eye alignment problems, a very small percentage of prescriptions contain a prismatic power. Abbreviations used for prism direction: BU- base up, BD- base down, BI- base in, BO- base out.

Sample Prescription:

How-to-Read-Your-Prescription-INTERNAL-IMAGE-1024x714

*All About Vision

Combating Dry Eye Syndrome

Do you experience itchy, burning, or dry eyes? You may be suffering from dry eye syndrome. Tears are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision, when there is insufficient moisture on the surface of the eye it can cause discomfort. Let’s looks at some common causes of dry eye syndrome, symptoms, and risk factors.

What are the causes of dry eye syndrome?

Tears keep the eyes surfaces moist and wash away dust, debris, and other microorganisms. Without constant, adequate moisture, dry eye will occur. Not enough oil in the tears causes them to evaporate too quickly, and without sufficient water production, eyes cannot maintain proper moisture.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome:

  • Scratchy or gritty feeling
  • Red eyes
  • Blurriness
  • Irritation from windy conditions
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Problems with contacts
  • Excessive tearing
  • Heavy eyes
  • Sore eyes

Contact lenses and dry eyes

One of the most common complaints from contact lens wearers is their contacts make their eyes feel dry. If you experience dry eye symptoms while wearing your contacts or immediately after removing your contacts, talk with your eye doctor, as it is irregular to feel discomfort.

If discomfort occurs, it is possible you are using the incorrect solution with your contact lenses; not all solutions are made equally. Your eye doctor may also recommend you use eye drops to help temporarily relieve dry eye symptoms.

Another means to relieve symptoms is to change your contact lens type to a more breathable or moisture-focused lens, which is specially made to help retain moisture. You may also want to discuss with your eye doctor the option to switch from reusable contact lenses to single-use lenses. Single-use lenses will help prevent your lens from drying out and work to maintain moisture in your eyes.

Factors that Increase Risk of Dry Eyes

Dry eye symptoms stem from multiple risk factors, including health conditions, environments, and eyewear choice. If you are suffering from dry eye try some of the tips below to help reduce your symptoms.  

  • Computer use. Humans blink less frequently when working at computers, allowing for more evaporated tears. When working on a computer for an extended period of time, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a rest.
  • Contact lens. Dry eye discomfort is a primary reason for wearers to stop using contacts. Use rewetting drops daily or talk with your eye doctor about contact lens types that work best for your eyes.
  • Indoor environment. Air conditioning, fans, and air heating systems can decrease the humidity indoors and cause symptoms of dry eye. Try using a humidifier in your house if you notice the air getting dryer.
  • Outdoor environment. If you are outdoors in dry or windy conditions, wear a pair of sunglasses or hat to reduce your exposure to the elements which can cause dry eyes.
  • Smoking. Can cause eyes to dry over time and is the root of various other eye problems.
  • Aging. Dry eye syndrome is more common after the age of 50.
  • Menopause. Women who have completed menopause are at a greater risk for dry eye than men the same age.
  • Health conditions. Certain diseases have a higher risk of contributing to dry eye- such as diabetes or thyroid diseases.
  • Medications. Prescription and nonprescription medications can have dry eye as a side effect.

Eye Exams 101

Regular comprehensive eye exams are key to early detection of eye-related diseases to keep you seeing your best every day. Adults should have a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years. Children should have an eye exam as early as 6 months, before they start school, and then every 1-2 years. If you or your family need a comprehensive eye exam, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

We often get questions about what an eye exam is like, so we’ve created an overview of a typical eye exam in our office.

Eye Exam Basics

What does an eye exam test for? Eye exams test your visual acuity and the overall health of your eye.

Why is an eye exam important? Eye exams check for early signs of serious eye and health problems; some of which may not present with any symptoms.

Who gives an eye exam? Your eye exam is performed by a licensed eye doctor.

Terms to know:

  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in eye care. Ophthalmologists can prescribe eyeglasses and contacts but commonly specialize in treating medical conditions of the eye and performing eye surgery
  • Optometrist: Optometrists are eye doctors who prescribe glasses, contacts, vision therapy, and medication to treat eye diseases. Optometrists are not trained or licensed to perform eye related surgery.
  • Optician: An optician is not an eye doctor, but is an eye care professional who fits, adjusts, and repairs your eyeglasses. They can also help patients learn to apply, remove, and care for contact lenses.

What to prepare for your appointment?

Before your comprehensive eye exam, there are several materials you can prepare. First, create a list of all your prescription and non-prescription medications you take along with the dosage. This will help your eye doctor determine any vision risks you may have. Bring your most recent pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses, if you have them. Don’t forget to have a copy of your vision insurance card and other medical insurance cards with you. To learn more about the insurance providers our office accepts and other payment options, please call our office directly. Finally, bring a list of questions or concerns you may have about your eyesight to discuss with your eye doctor.

What to expect during your appointment?

Prepare for your eye exam to take an hour or more depending on the number of tests your eye doctor needs to evaluate your vision and eye health. A typical comprehensive exam is a series of visual tests to inform your eye doctor about your vision.

These tests help determine:

  • Sharpness of near and distance vision
  • Color blindness
  • Lazy eye
  • Ability to follow moving object and/or move between two separate fixed objects
  • Depth perception
  • Determine your eyeglass prescription
  • Structures of the eye
  • Glaucoma test
  • Eye drop test to look inside your eyes
  • Blind spots

What to do after the exam?

Following your exam, you will have the opportunity to explore the various frames and lenses found in our optical space. An optician will be available to assist you in selecting a pair of eyewear that best fits your lifestyle needs. If you choose to wear contact lenses, you will need to schedule a contact lens fitting appointment.

Once your new eyewear is ready to be picked-up, an optician will adjust your frame to fit you best and make it comfortable for everyday wear.

Finally, schedule your follow-up appointment for the next year. Regular comprehensive eye exams are essential in maintaining healthy vision. If you ever experience any sudden vision changes or eye injuries be sure to contact our office.

What’s in a Prescription?

It seems like contact lenses and glasses would use the same prescription. After all, the idea is that your eyes don’t see quite right, so you use a lens to change the view, and then you see clearly, right? Well, the two prescriptions are quite different. Few patients check the numbers or notice any change during the exam process, but the prescriptions are not the same because of where the lens sits in relation to your eye.

The lens of your glasses rests about twelve millimeters from your eye. Contact lenses, on the other hand, are placed directly on the surface of your eye. Why would this make your prescription different? Well, think about holding a magnifying glass out in your hand. When you hold it far away and look through, the view you see is much different than if you try to hold the magnifying lens up close to your eye. The same principle is in play when you consider glasses in contrast to contact lenses.

If you’re still imagining the magnifying glass held out in your hand, think about how grass would look if you’re sitting on the ground and have the magnifying glass down near the grass. You’d be able to see the blades clearly, right? If you held the magnifying glass up close to your eye, the refraction would be so strong that you wouldn’t be able to see anything other than a blur. The power of the glass would need to be reduced for you to see clearly. This is the reason why your contact lens prescription is weaker than your glasses, but you get the same crisp, clear vision with each. Neat, right?

Not all contact lens prescription powers are drastically less than the glasses prescription for the same person, but usually the power used for contact lenses is reduced. In addition to the powers being different, your eye care professional will need some additional measurements to fit you for contact lenses because there are specifications needed to fit contact lenses appropriately that aren’t needed for glasses.

Some things that need to be measured to receive an accurate contact lens prescription are the size of the cornea, the curve and overall size of the lens, and the suggested brand of lenses that will work best for you. Eye care professionals usually have an idea of which contact lenses work best with different eye conditions, so they will suggest a particular toric lens for your astigmatism, or a type of disposal lens based on your needs, for example.

Some aspects of the lens prescriptions are included for both kinds of eyewear. The lens power is included in both prescriptions. Lens power is the measurement used to correct your “refractive error,” or the nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism that you have. It wouldn’t be identical because of the magnifying glass analogy, but it is included in both prescriptions. They’re also laid out per eye—right vs. left—because very few people have the same prescription in both eyes, so they are measured individually regardless of what type of eyewear you’re getting. More technical aspects of your prescription (the power and axis determined to correct astigmatism, for instance) may also be included in both the contact lens and glasses versions of your prescription.

Hopefully that makes the difference between your contact lens and glasses prescriptions clearer. Talk to your eye care professional if you have any questions about your prescription or are curious about getting contact lenses or glasses.

Grand Rapids Eye Care