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. Advanced Eyecare Professionals eye exams offer complete eye care for infants to senior citizens. Besides your yearly eye exam, if you ever experience any sudden vision changes or eye injuries be sure to contact our office as soon as possible.

Follow These Tips to Avoid Toy-Related Eye Injuries

Advanced Eyecare Professionals and the American Academy of Ophthalmology urges the public to celebrate with an eye on safety

With the holiday shopping season now in full swing, Advanced Eyecare Professionals (AEP) joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in reminding the public of certain safety guidelines when choosing the perfect gifts for little ones. A number of studies show that some popular types of toys are commonly associated with childhood eye injuries. These include air guns and other toys that shoot projectiles, high-powered lasers, and sports equipment.

Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat the eye injuries that sometimes result from these products, and so have seen the traumatic results of what can happen. The Academy encourages parents to follow these tips when shopping for toys this holiday season.

“Air soft, BB, and paint gun pellets are common sources of sometimes serious eye injury. Please wear eye protection when playing with these projectiles,” says ophthalmologist David Harrell, M.D.

Beware of airsoft, BB guns, and other projectile toys. Every year ophthalmologists treat thousands of patients with devastating eye injuries caused by seemingly safe toys. Avoid items with sharp, protruding or projectile parts such as airsoft guns, BB guns and other nonpowder gun–related toys. Foreign objects can easily propel into the sensitive tissue of the eye.

Never allow children to play with high-powered laser pointers. A number of recent reports in the United States and internationally show that children have sustained serious eye injuries by playing with high-powered lasers (between 1,500 and 6,000 milliwatts). Over the years, these lasers have become increasingly more powerful, with enough potential to cause severe retinal damage, with just seconds of laser exposure to the eye. The FDA advises the public to never aim or shine a laser pointer at anyone and to not buy laser pointers for children.

Read labels for age recommendations before you buy. To select appropriate gifts suited for a child’s age, look for and follow the age recommendations and instructions about proper assembly, use, and supervision.

Don’t just give presents. Make sure to be present. Always make sure an adult is supervising when children are playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.

Know what to do (and what not to). If someone you know experiences an eye injury, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist. As you wait for medical help, make sure to never touch, rub, apply pressure, or try to remove any object stuck in the eye. If an eye injury occurs, follow the important care and treatment guidelines given by your ophthalmologist.

“In the frenzied excitement of celebrations and toys it’s easy to become lax on your normal standards for safety,” says ophthalmologist Michael Flohr, M.D. “We want everyone to have healthy vision for future holiday seasons to come. Please stay vigilant, and protect yours and your loved ones eyes.”

For more information on toy safety in regards to the eyes please call our office, and/or visit the Academy’s EyeSmart® website www.aao.org/eye-health.

Reasons Not to Compromise on Price

Do you ever feel tempted to buy cheap glasses you see online or the reading glasses you found at a discount store? They look just as good as the prescription eyeglasses you paid full price for, right? The hard truth is they are not the same as the high-quality prescription eyewear provided by our office. Avoid buying cheap glasses to ensure you have the best vision possible.

Unreliable eyeglasses are more likely to break, scratch, and discolor over time. Your goal should be to buy glasses that will last and will not need frequent replacement. The cost of replacing cheap glasses can add up to the same cost as purchasing a more expensive, quality pair, originally.

Know what you lose
When you are comparing costs, there is always a compromise to be made. One of the biggest elements lost when buying cheap eyeglasses is individual care. Opticians recommend eyewear based on your daily routine, provide professional fittings, and ensure the quality of your eyewear is examined.

Same top quality?
Online glasses retailers often state that they offer the “same top quality” as eyecare practices. How do you know what their definition or range of top quality is? Cheap price often means cheaper materials.

Try before you buy
Usually, when buying glasses from an online retailer, you sacrifice the opportunity to try the glasses on and see how they fit your face. A virtual try-on does not allow for an accurate representation of how glasses look and fit on your face.

You cannot receive a proper fitting
If you choose to purchase eyeglasses from an online supplier, you forfeit a proper fitting. As a result, you may purchase a pair of glasses that are too tight or loose for your face.

Cheap frames
A downside to cheaper frames is they are more likely to cause skin irritation. Cheaper metal frames can discolor your skin or even cause a skin rash due to allergy. With prolonged wear, cheap plastic frames will discolor in sunlight and the smooth finish will diminish.

Durability
Another inevitable loss with cheaper eyeglasses is durability. If your frames are made with inexpensive materials they are not designed to withstand extended use, unlike eyeglasses sold by eye practitioners which are long-lasting.

Reading glasses
A wide-spread myth: all reading glasses are the same whether you purchase them at a discount store or at an eye practitioner. The truth is, your eye practitioner is able to customize the lenses to fit your exact eye and lifestyle needs. Read more about progressive lenses available at our office here.

Sunglasses lose UV protection
You might feel tempted to buy cheap sunglasses because of the fear of misplacing or scratching them. However, it is crucial to protect your eyes from UV radiation damage. Don’t give up 100% UV protection for a cheap sticker price.

At Advanced Eyecare Professionals we have specially trained opticians that are happy to speak with you about the many different types of eyewear and lens options available. They can also help explain what your insurance benefits are in regards to eyewear. No appointment is necessary to speak with one of our opticians, so please feel free to stop by one of our locations.

Reduce Exposure to Blue Light, Inside and Out

Risks of blue light exposure have become a topic of discussion in recent years. More eyecare professionals and scientists are studying the effects of blue light to assess the effects of relying on blue light for so much of our lighting.

It’s hard to say for sure how much added blue light exposure may lead to additional cases of degenerative eye health problems like macular degeneration. Plus, there is some evidence that overexposure to high-energy blue light can cause side effects such as sleep disturbances, eye strain, and headaches. With this in mind, how can you reduce your exposure, inside and out?

Inside
• Lower the brightness of your electronic screens, especially at night, but make sure you are not straining to see the words if you’re reading.
• Take frequent breaks while working at a computer. Regardless of blue light exposure, Computer Vision Syndrome is another problem you may face, and taking breaks to relax your eyes will help.
• Stop using your devices at least a couple hours before bed. Unplug and read a book instead, which will give your eyes something easy to focus on and help you wind down for good sleep.
• Adjust your distance. Viewing a bright screen up close is fatiguing. Make sure to set your computer monitor and television at a comfortable distance, and don’t hold handheld devices too close to your eyes. You can adjust text size if reading a device at arm’s length is difficult.
• Opt for non-glare lenses. Non-glare or anti-reflective treatments on your lenses will help reduce bright lights affecting your eyes.

Outside
• Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses that are an appropriate darkness and block 99-100% of UVA-UVB rays are the best protection for your eyes.
• Consider polarized lenses, too. Polarization cuts harsh glares that bounce off of water and other surfaces.
• Don’t forget a hat! In especially bright outdoor settings a hat will help block bright light from above, even if your eyes are protected from the front.

Ask us about what blue light-blocking options are available for your eyewear. We can help with your everyday lenses, reading glasses, and especially with sunglasses!

What Does it Mean to be Legally Blind?

People often ask about the distinction between being blind and being “legally blind.” Because “blindness” can mean several different things, legally blind is the threshold at which someone is considered visually impaired for legal purposes such as for insurance purposes, receiving certain benefits, or being accepted into various programs.

Blind people are “legally blind,” but some people who can see with strong prescription eyewear say that they are legally blind without their eyewear. This means that, without eyewear, they would not be able to see well enough to see certain things, drive, and so on. Visual acuity less than 20/200 is considered legally blind, but to actually fit the definition, the person must not be able to attain 20/200 vision even with prescription eyewear. Many people who would be legally blind without eyewear can function well in everyday life with appropriate glasses or contact lenses.

The reason that some people use this term is because there are so many different kinds of “blindness.” People wrongly believe that all blind people just see darkness, or literally nothing at all. In fact, blindness can include seeing some colors or light, or having greater visual acuity in some parts of their field of vision while others are blurry or absent.

DId you know: the largest letter on the chart (an E on most Snellen charts) corresponds to 20/200 vision. If someone cannot distinguish that letter with their prescribed eyewear, they are considered legally blind.

Visual acuity of 20/20 is considered “perfect vision” because no aids are required to see better, and the average person with good eyesight can see clearly what doctors have determined is 20/20 vision. Some people (especially young people with good eyes) are able to see letters smaller than the general “20/20” size.

If you have any questions about your own visual acuity, or if it has been a while since you’ve seen an eye doctor to determine your vision ability, get in touch. We’re happy to assess your vision with a number of painless tests and discuss any concerns you may have. You can speak to the doctor about how well you’re seeing now, and what options are available to help you get your best possible vision!

What Causes Red Eyes in Photos?

Digital photo retouching may be almost as popular as selfies are, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to remove distracting red-eye effects from photos. Why does that happen anyway? The explanation is simple, and so is avoiding the problem.

What is Red Eye?
Red eye is the term used to describe the bright red or orange-ish spots that can be see on people’s eyes in photos. Red eye is caused by light reflecting off the retina at the back of your eyes. Generally, it happens in low light conditions when a flash is used. The bright light flashes so quickly that eyes don’t have time to respond and constrict the pupil so that less light enters the eye. This light travels through the front of the eye, but is reflected at the back of the eye because the retina has a strong blood supply. There is a layer of connective tissue called the choroid that nourishes this part of your eye, and also gives it a red color. This is why “red eye” happens.

How to Prevent Red Eye in Photos
The easiest way to prevent red eye in photos is to not use a flash. If there is enough light in the area so that your pictures turn out clear without a flash, turn it off. You may have better luck if you steady the camera as a shot without a flash usually takes a little longer to gather light, and may turn out blurry if you are not steady.

Of course, if you cannot turn off the flash because the area is too dark, tell people to look just slightly away from the camera. As long as the angle is pointed somewhat away from the camera lens, there should be no flash.

If possible, make your room brighter to get clearer photos. This can help pupils reduce size somewhat and lessen the likelihood that you’ll see a red eye reflection in the photo.

Many cameras also have built-in anti-red eye functions that you may be able to switch on for specific lighting situations that otherwise would cause trouble.

How to Fix Red Eye
Fixing red-eye problems is usually pretty easy. If you’re using a digital camera, some of them can correct the problem digitally with a red eye function in the menu, if not avoid it altogether. Pictures taken on smartphones can be corrected with any number of photo editing apps. If you’ve had photos printed and red eye is present, check out some of the photo kiosks available at many stores that develop and print photos. You can usually scan the photo, remove the problem, and print it quickly and easily.

Choosing the Right Eye Doctor

As is true with any health care, it’s important to find a doctor who is qualified to treat you. With eye care, you may be able to get an eye exam from a large number of practitioners. If you need to confirm a diagnosis, treat an eye disease, or have other unique needs like a pediatric or geriatric specialty, you will have to spend more time choosing the right eye doctor. No matter what your current vision situation is, it’s crucial to choose the right eye doctor for you and your family.

What is an Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, or Optician?
Many people use the term “eye doctor” to refer to the qualified individual who administers your eye exam and writes you a prescription for lenses to correct your refractive error. We know just how many distinctions there are between eye care professionals, however!

Most people who want to see an eye doctor will seek an optometrist. An optometrist holds a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree and can examine eyes for vision or health ailments, visual acuity or refractive errors, and can prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses. Some optometrists also provide additional services, like vision therapy, care plans for people with low vision, diagnosis and treatment of disease, and prescribing medication.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor or osteopathic doctor who specializes in the eye. They can also perform eye exams, but they are more often used to diagnose and treat eye diseases, prescribe medications, and perform eye surgery. They are able to write prescriptions for eyeglasses and contacts, too.

Another term that people sometimes hear and may not know what the occupation entails is “optician.” An optician is not a doctor. These professionals are qualified to use prescriptions written by an eye doctor to help fit you for eyewear and explain use, care, and features of your glasses or contacts.

What kind of doctor should I see?
This depends on your vision and eye health. If you have not had problems with your eyes beyond typical blurriness at certain distances, and if you’re not concerned about risks of eye disease or more serious symptoms, generally you are fine to see an optometrist. If you aren’t sure and you see an optometrist, he or she will let you know if you need to seek treatment from an ophthalmologist.

How do I pick a good eye doctor?
This is up to you! Some people like to look at social media pages to see what is the personality of the practice. You may seek reviews from others online, or ask friends for suggestions. Others go based on convenience factors like when the office is open, how easily you can schedule an appointment, and proximity to your home or office. Some factors may require a visit. If you’re planning on getting new eyeglasses, most offices allow you to walk in any time that they are open to browse their selection of frames, and even to speak with an optician about specialty products and upgrades. This also gives you an idea of their customer service, friendliness, and general feel of the office.

Once you decide, you’re ready to make an appointment and get busy seeing your best!

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