E Y E H E A L T H
Q: When Should I Get An Eye Exam?
A: The American Optometric Association recommends that adults aged 19 to 40 receive an eye exam at least every two years. If you are at risk for eye problems due to a family history of eye disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or past vision problems, your eye doctor may recommend more frequent exams.
In between examinations, if you notice a change in your vision, contact your doctor. Detecting and treating problems early can help maintain good vision for the rest of your life.
- After Age 40 the AOA recommends having eye exams on a yearly basis.
Adults over 40 may be particularly at risk for the development of eye and vision problems if any of the following exist:
- Chronic, systemic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- A family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration.
- A highly visually demanding job or work in an eye-hazardous occupation.
- Health conditions like high cholesterol, thyroid conditions, anxiety or depression, and arthritis for which you take medications.
- Many medications, even antihistamines, have ocular side-effects.
Q: When Should My Child Get His/Her first eye exam?
A: Even if no eye or vision problems are apparent, at about age 6 months, you should take your baby to your doctor of optometry for his or her first thorough eye examination.
Things that the optometrist will test for include:
- excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism
- eye movement ability
- eye health problems.
These problems are not common, but it is important to identify children who have them at this young age. Vision development and eye health problems are easier to correct if treatment begins early.
Q: What to do if my eye is red/pink?
A:. There can be many causes of a red/pink eye. These include infection (bacterial, viral, fungal), allergic response (seasonal, environmental, other allergens), dryness, or other types of inflammation. Because redness of the eye can be caused by many different things it is important to have your eye doctor evaluate the eye if you notice any redness, pain or discomfort, so that it can be properly treated.
Q: My eyes always feel dry, what can I do about it?
A: Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
People with dry eyes may experience symptoms of irritated, gritty, scratchy, or burning eyes, a feeling of something in their eyes, excess watering, and blurred vision. Advanced dry eyes may damage the front surface of the eye and impair vision.
Treatments for dry eyes aim to restore or maintain the normal amount of tears in the eye to minimize dryness and related discomfort and to maintain eye health.
Q: How do I properly care for my contact lenses?
- Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses.
- Carefully and regularly clean contact lenses, as directed by your optometrist. Rub the contact lenses with fingers and rinse thoroughly before soaking lenses overnight in sufficient multi-purpose solution to completely cover the lens.
- Store lenses in the proper lens storage case and replace the case at a minimum of every three months. Clean the case after each use, and keep it open and dry between cleanings.
- Use only products recommended by your optometrist to clean and disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.
- Only fresh solution should be used to clean and store contact lenses. Never re-use old solution. Contact lens solution must be changed according to the manufacturer's recommendations, even if the lenses are not used daily.
- Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your optometrist.
- Remove contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub.
- See your optometrist for your regularly scheduled contact lens and eye examination.
Q: What do I do if I see flashes of light or floaters?
A: Occasionally, you may see spots or floaters in your eyes. In most cases, these are actually shadowy images of particles floating in the fluid that fills the inside of the eye. Although they can be bothersome, spots and floaters are usually harmless and typically do not risk vision. They are a natural part of the eye's aging process. But if you suddenly see more floaters than normal, and they are accompanied by bright, flashing lights, they may be a warning sign of impending retinal detachment—a tear of the retina. This should be treated immediately to prevent serious loss of vision.
Q: I have Diabetes, what eye care do I require?
A: Diabetes is a disease that interferes with the body's ability to use and store sugar, which can cause many health problems. Too much sugar in the blood can cause damage throughout the body, including the eyes. Over time, diabetes affects the circulatory system of the retina.
Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. They leak blood and other fluids that cause swelling of retinal tissue and clouding of vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.
Like many disease of the eye, early diabetic eye changes may be asymptomatic. Because of this all diabetics (Type 1 or Type 2) should have their eyes dilated on a yearly basis. If any retinopathy is detected more frequent eye exams may be recommended.