All posts by Melissa Carter

Contact Lenses – Are they right for you?

Contact Lenses are available for almost any prescription. Whether you are near sighted, far sighted, or even if you have astigmatism, contact lenses are a great way to have the perfect vision that comes with glasses, without having to wear frames. Though contacts are a perfect fit for millions of people around the world, you and your eye care professional need to decide together whether they are right for you. Here are a few things to consider about contacts before buying.

Exam

First it’s important to understand the process of getting contact lenses. When you order them from your optometrist for the first time they will schedule an appointment for you to come pick up your lenses and try them out. Don’t wear heavy makeup so that your doctor can see and access your eye quickly, and bring your frames with you to the appointment. The doctor will show you how to insert the lenses, and then make sure that you are comfortable and can see well once the lenses have settled in.

Lenses

When deciding what lenses are right for you, there are a few different choices that you need to make, and you need to weigh all your options before deciding.

Soft or Hard

Soft lenses are the most popular type of lenses, and are used to treat many conditions such as shortsightedness, longsightedness, blurred vision, and age-related loss of close-up vision. Because soft lenses are flexible and conform to the shape of your eye, they are generally more comfortable and stay in place. They are the better option if you play sports or are active, and there are many choices within the soft lens category such as daily, disposable and extended.
Hard lenses do not offer as much choice, but are more breathable, hence they are less likely to cause infection. Since they do not form exactly to the eye like soft lenses do, they are more likely to slip out of place and cause discomfort. Usually hard lenses are worn daily and removed every night, and can be used for up to two years.

Daily, Disposable or Extended

First you can choose between daily lenses that are for daytime use and extended lenses that you would wear overnight as well. Daily lenses can be used for a number of days depending on the manufacturer, but are removed and cleaned every night. Extended lenses can be worn while you sleep and need to be removed for cleaning at least once a week. Another option is disposable lenses which are thrown out every night or week, and do not need to be cleaned. These are better for young people or those who don’t want to have to clean or maintain lenses, but they are also the most expensive option.

Safety

For the most part, contact lenses are very safe, but you have to remember that they are a medical device. You need to keep them clean, have them fitted properly, and treat them as you would any other medical item.

Cleaning

Most of the problems that occur in people’s eyes related to contact lenses come directly from the case and its improper cleaning. Contact lenses should be kept in a case that is routinely rinsed out, air dried, filled with clean lens solution, and replaced every few months.

Sleeping

Unless you have extended lenses, you should not sleep in your contacts, but rather take them out and either place them in their solution or dispose of them. But, most people will fall asleep with their lenses in at one point or another. The important thing is to let your eyes moisten again when you wake up before trying to take your contacts out. When you sleep your eyes get dryer since you are not blinking, and trying to take dry lenses out may cause abrasion. Use eyedrops or wait a while for your eyes to moisten before trying to remove lenses.

Trouble

If you are having trouble removing your contact lenses, the most important thing is not to panic. Trying to get your contact out when you are upset and unable to do so can damage the eye. If you’re having trouble contact an eye care professional and they will have you in to safely remove your contact lens.

Children

Studies have shown that children as young as eight years old can wear and properly maintain contacts, but that all depends on maturity and personal hygiene, and whether they want an alternative to wearing traditional frames. If your child decides to wear contact lenses make sure they understand how to maintain them.

In most cases, contact lenses are a great option to have along with your everyday frames. Even if you decide to wear contacts daily, you should have backup frames in case you need to take your contacts out for some reason, but you still need to see. If you are thinking about contacts, make sure you speak to your optometrist so they can recommend the best brand and type for you.

Children and Glasses – Getting Your Child to be Happy With Their Lenses

If you are a parent and your child has been prescribed corrective lenses, the next step is to find a pair of glasses for your child to wear. Walking into a store with hundreds of lenses to choose from in the children’s section alone can be difficult, especially when you need to find a pair that your child is willing to wear and that can endure their active lifestyle. Here are a few pointers to help you and your child find a frame that will last.

Eye Exam

First of all, you need to determine whether your child needs glasses, which can be done by an optometrist through regular eye exams. Doctors recommend that children should have their first eye exam at 6 months, then again at 3 years old, and once more before they start school. If eye health is good, then children should be reexamined every 2 years until age 18, but children with risk factors and children who wear corrective lenses should be examined once a year.

Prescription

Before you let your child loose in the shop and they stumble onto a pair they love, you need to know which frames will work with their prescription. If they need thick lenses then you need to choose small frames to combat the thickness of the lens. If they have a strong prescription they might need larger lenses that are easier to see through. Consult with the optician and let them narrow down your choices before your child falls in love with a pair that won’t work for them.

Lenses

When choosing glasses, you also need to consider what kind of lenses you want for your child. Children’s lenses can be made of polycarbonate, a material that is stronger and more durable than normal adult lenses. These materials are more impact resistant and are also lighter so that they are more comfortable for children. They are usually also scratch resistant, and have ultraviolet (UV) protection built in.

Cost

Affording frames and lenses for your child can be difficult, especially when they are constantly growing and needing to update or overhaul their current glasses. Let them know they can only have frames under a certain number and stick to your budget. Letting them fall in love with a pair that you can’t afford will make the process much harder on both of you.

Material

Just like adult frames, plastic used to be considered more flexible, durable, and lighter, but today new metal materials can have all of these features as well. Some metals are made more durable than others, so consult with your optician to determine which materials would be best for your child, especially if they are clumsy or particularly active. You also need to consider any sensitivities or allergies your child might have to certain materials, and choose frames that will not irritate their skin.

Bridge

Since children are so young, and are still growing, their noses are not fully developed and do not have the kind of bridge that adults do to hold up glasses. Most manufacturers are aware of this fact and design their children’s glasses to fit smaller noses, but you still need to make sure that frames fit your child perfectly before choosing them. If the bridge doesn’t sit properly on the nose, the frames will likely slide down the nose and your child will be unwilling to wear them.

Temple

With children’s glasses you can also order a certain kind of arm called ‘cable temples’ that wrap around the ear to keep the glasses in place. These are great for toddlers or children who are active so that their glasses always stay on their face. However, these kind of arms are not recommended for children who only need to wear their glasses part time, as they are more difficult to take off and on. In this case, ‘skull temples’ which are just the normal, slightly angled kind of arm, are better for part time use.

Choosing glasses that your child will like and actually wear is difficult, and is a task that you and your child should complete together. Have a discussion first with your child about why they need glasses and convince them that it is a good idea. Don’t actually go to the store to choose frames until your child is ready and excited to start wearing glasses. Once you get there, stay calm, remember all the variables that go into choosing the right pair, and make sure you leave with a pair that you are both happy with.

Things to Consider When Choosing Glasses

Once you have been given a prescription for corrective lenses, the next step is to pick your frame. While some people find picking frames easy, most find all the choices daunting and difficult to navigate. Walking into a store and seeing all the options can be unnerving, but if you know what to look for, it will make your search a little easier. Here are a few things you should consider when choosing new frames:

Lens Thickness

Depending on the strength of the prescription you are given, the lenses you need may be fairly thick. You need to consider thickness when choosing frames, as certain styles are better to hide thickness and to hold the lenses without distortion. An optician on site can recommend the best frames for your particular lenses.

Trends

Just like fashion, trends change. Though you may love a certain frame right now, think of yourself wearing it a few years down the road. If the frame you choose is too modern or too much of a passing fad, you may regret your choice before it’s time to get new glasses.

The glasses you choose also need to be versatile. Though you might want a fun pair to show off your creativity, a really bright colour might turn off a serious employer if you go for a job interview. Think about all the different aspects of your life and what kind of message you need your glasses to convey.

Plastic vs. Metal

In the past, plastic frames were thought to be the better choice because they were more flexible, durable, and inexpensive, but today manufacturers are also adding these features to metal frames. Metal frames may even be more flexible and durable today as materials become stronger and bendable. You also need to remember that most metal frames come with an adjustable nosepiece that can be perfectly fitted to your face, while plastic frames have a immovable plastic bridge.

Face Shape

Depending on what shape your face is, certain kinds of frames will do a better job of flattering you. If you have a square or angular face you should try round or oval shaped frames to counteract the sharp angles of your face. If you have a round, softer face, you should consider more rectangular geometric frames to add some dimension and structure to the curves of your face. Though there are recommendations of what kind of frames to look for depending on each face shape, you will likely discover which frame shape works best for you just by trying them on.

Eye and Hair Colour

Just like makeup, certain frame colours can work better to accent your eye and hair colour. Frames with hints of blues can make blue eyes stand out and look even bluer, while dark frames can accent light coloured eyes. The first step is to determine whether you have warm or cool undertones, and pick frames that accent that. If you are warm, then colours like brown, green and gold will work best for you, while cooler undertones support colours like silver, grey, blue or black.

Size

Frames are sized by three different numbers which are written on the arm of the frames or on the packaging. These numbers represent the size of the lens, the length of the temples, and the size of the bridge that sits over the nose. If you know you have a large set face or are more comfortable wearing glasses with a large lens, keep this in mind when browsing.

Durability

Think about what you are doing in your day to day life and how your glasses will be treated. If you play sports or perform rough activities, then you need glasses that are durable and can stand a little abuse so that you aren’t running back to the shop with broken frames every few weeks. Ask your optician to recommend a durable brand of frames that will be able to fit your lifestyle.

Features

Once you’ve chosen your frames, there are a few more options to consider when it comes to the type of lenses you are going to have installed. You can get transitional lenses that tint when you are going into a sunny area, anti-glare lenses that help you avoid being blinded by bright lights, scratch resistant lenses if you are often in dusty areas, or lenses that come with magnetic sunglasses that you can easily take off and on.

Once you’ve got a prescription, the best place to start is a shop that offers a wide variety of frames. Make sure you give the optician your prescription and ask any questions you have before starting your search, as they can likely recommend a frame or brand that will fit your needs best. Then it is ultimately up to you to choose a frame that you like and feel good wearing.

Common Eye Problems – Explanations and Remedies

With regular eye exams, your doctor should be able to diagnose any eye problems in the early stages of development, and work to remedy them before they cause serious vision loss. While some eye problems are more severe than others, most can be treated. Below is a list of some of the most common eye diseases and problems.

Myopia (short sight):

Short sight means that you can only see objects up close clearly, and objects at a distance are blurry and out of focus. Short sight occurs when the eyeball is too long or the lens is too thick, and the light reflected does not reach the retina, but focuses just in front of it. This condition can be remedied by laser eye surgery or corrective lenses.

Hyperopia (long sight):

Long sight means that you can only see objects at a distance clearly, and objects up close are blurry and out of focus. Long sight occurs when the eyeball is too short or the lens is too thin, and the light reflected reaches past the retina, and focuses behind it. This condition can be remedied by laser eye surgery or corrective lenses.

Presbyopia:

This condition is a lot like hyperopia, except it is age related. Presbyopia means that over time you lose the ability to see objects up close or read small print, and is a normal process that happens slowly through your lifetime. A significant change is usually only noticed by people over the age of 40. This condition can usually be remedied by reading glasses.

Dry Eyes:

Dry eyes is a common condition that occurs when tear glands cannot make enough tears, or they produce tears of poor quality. Dry eyes can cause discomfort, burning, itching, and even vision loss. This condition can usually be remedied by using artificial tears or eye drops, a humidifier in your home, or more severely, plugs that are placed inside tear ducts.

Tearing:

On the other hand, tearing is a common condition that occurs when ducts create too many tears. This can be caused by light, wind or temperature changes. This condition can usually be remedied by protecting your eyes with sunglasses, though it can sometimes be indicative of a more serious problem.

Cataracts:

Cataracts are cloudy areas that can develop within the lens of the eye. The lens is the clear section of the eye that passes light through to the retina, where images are processed. When cataracts form, the lens is not as clear and light can not pass through as easily. The cataracts can impair your vision depending on how severe or large they are, but do not usually cause any pain. This condition can usually be remedied by surgery.

Glaucoma:

Glaucoma occurs over time when the optic nerve deteriorates. Glaucoma is not as common as some of these other conditions, and is usually caused by factors such as eye injury, infection, or inflammatory disorders. Glaucoma is not usually detected by the patient since there are no symptoms or pain in the early stages, so regular exams are vital.This condition can usually be managed by prescription eye drops or surgery.

Macular Degeneration:

This condition is one of the leading causes of vision loss and can only be diagnosed through an eye exam. The macula is a small area at the back of the eye that transmits images from the eye to the brain. This area can deteriorate with age and cause blurry vision, and inability to focus on details or distinguish colours. Though there is no cure, laser therapy, drugs, and even vitamins can slow progression of the disease and vision loss.

Conjunctivitis:

Conjunctivitis is also known as pink eye or red eye, and is a condition in which the tissue that lines the eyelids becomes inflamed. It can cause burning, redness, itching, and tearing. This condition is common and can be caused by infection, irritants or allergies. This condition is contagious for the first few days after it has surfaced and can be treated with warm or cool compresses, eyedrops, or ointment.

Floaters:

Floaters are small spots or strings that float in the liquid of your eye in your field of vision. Though they can distort vision, they should not be painful or uncomfortable. This condition is usually caused in older patients as the eye changes and naturally deteriorates, and most people over the age of 70 have experienced floaters at least once. Unless floaters are a symptom of an underlying condition, there is no treatment other than rolling your eyes to move the debris.

Though every eye condition has different levels of severity and discomfort, it is best to talk to your doctor about any condition that you think you may have. Since many of these conditions are within the eye itself and can only be diagnosed by a trained optometrist, the best thing to do is get regular eye exams to ensure your eyes are always healthy.

The Eyes Explained – How do We See?

Did you know that the human eye is responsible for 80% of all the information that our brain receives? The human eye is vital to the way that we live our lives and go about our daily activities, so understanding how our eyes work is important as well.

When the light reflects off of the objects around us and into our eyes, we are able to see them. The light enters the eye through the cornea, is focused through the lens, and is reflected onto the retina. Since the cornea is curved, the image is reflected upside down, and then reoriented before being transmitted into the brain through the optic nerve.

The iris is the coloured portion of our eye, and surrounds the pupil, which together control how much light enters the eye. This is why when you go from a dark room into the outdoors your pupil constricts, letting less light into the eye so that you aren’t blinded by the sun. Vice versa, when going from a bright space into a dark room your pupil dilates to let in as much light as possible. The light that reaches your eye is then reflected and formed into images on the retina.

The retina is a small, complex area at the back of the eye which the images we see are reflected onto. The retina is made of rods and cones which are sensitive to light. Cones are responsible for daylight vision, as they are sensitive to the colour and light we see around us. Rods are responsible for night time vision, and are only sensitive to light, which is why we do not see colour in the dark. The retina gathers the light we see and transmits the images that are formed to the brain through the optic nerve.

Eye Problems

Problems in the eye occur when one or more of these parts is not formed or functioning properly. Some common eye problems that can be remedied with prescription glasses are short sightedness, when you can only see objects up close, and long sightedness, when you can only see objects at a distance. Short sight occurs when the eyeball is too long, or the lens is too thick, and the light reflected does not reach the retina, but focuses just in front of it. Long sight occurs when the eyeball is too short or the lens is too thin, and the light reflected reaches past the retina, and focuses behind it.

Understanding how your eyes work means that you can know exactly what is going on in your eye, and you can protect and maintain your vision to the best of your abilities. Having regular eye exams is the best way to have these deformities diagnosed and optimize your eye health.

Eye Health – Simple Tips to Maintain Clear and Healthy Vision

The eyes are an incredibly important part of the human body, and a vital part of day to day life. While people exercise to keep their bodies healthy, many people don’t realize they should also be working to keep their eyes healthy. Though you don’t need to go as far as exercising your eyes, there are some basic steps you should be taking to maintain their health.

Have Regular Comprehensive Eye Exams

Though you may think that your vision is fine, having a comprehensive eye exam is the only way to know for sure. Optical Group, Dr Constance Odiase recommends that you have a complete eye exam once a year, and possibly more frequently depending on your age, whether you currently wear corrective lenses, and other risk factors. While you may think your vision is good because you can see, you might not even realize when your eyes are straining day to day, which damages your eye health over time. Even when you don’t realize there is a problem, an eye exam and the proper prescription of corrective lenses could improve your vision tenfold.

Children under 19

Children should have their first eye exam at 6 months, then again at 3 years old, and once more before they start school. Children with risk factors such as family history of eye disease, developmental delays, or premature birth should be examined more frequently, as well as children who wear corrective lenses. Early childhood eye exams will help develop and maintain basic visual skills.

Adults 20-64

Adults with good eye health should revisit a clinic for a comprehensive examination every two years. Adults with risk factors such as a family history of eye disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, taking certain prescription medication, or previous eye injuries or surgery, should be examined more frequently, as well as adults who wear corrective lenses.

Adults65+

Adults over 65 years old should have their eye health examined at least once a year, regardless of risk factors, as eye health can degrade with age.

Get your Eyewear Adjusted

If a comprehensive eye exam determines that you need corrective lenses, that is not the final step. You should have your eyewear adjusted every three months, and Optical Group provides free eyewear adjustments to patients and customers at all times. As glasses can shift and stretch with wear, having your eyewear adjusted to refit your face perfectly is vital to your eye health.

Wear your Prescription Eyewear

When a doctor prescribes corrective lenses for you, it is because you need them. Wearing glasses or contacts that have been prescribed for you will not only improve your vision but will slow or stop any further eye damage. Forgetting to wear your corrective lenses can strain your eyes and result in headaches, poor vision, and further eye damage.

Wear Sunglasses

If you wear prescription glasses, you can also get prescription sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun while maintaining optimal vision. Even if you do not wear prescription glasses, you should wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Top quality sunglasses can protect your eyes from 100% of UVA and UVB rays, and help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.

Eat Eye Healthy Foods

Did you know that certain foods are actually better for your eyes than others? Healthy eyes start with a healthy body, and that means the food you eat every day. Studies show that nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and E, and zinc can help you fight off age related eye problems. Foods such as non-meat protein sources, green leafy vegetables, oily fish, and citrus fruits can help you reach your daily dose of these nutrients. Diabetes is also the leading cause of adult blindness in North America, so a healthy overall body and diet can help you avoid vision problems.

Avoid Eye Strain

Even if you do not wear prescription lenses, straining your eyes on a consistent basis can cause long term damage. With the prevalence of computers and electronic devices in today’s world, it is important that you do not let your eyes suffer from computer strain. Staring at a screen too long can cause blurry vision, dry eyes, trouble focusing, headaches, and shoulder and neck pain, and long term damage if this happens daily. To avoid computer related eye strain you should choose a comfortable seated position, place the computer so that you are looking slightly down at it, and take breaks every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If you work on your computer daily for prolonged periods of time there is a free app you can install called Time Out Free which will remind you to take these breaks at set intervals and help avoid eye strain.

Generally, maintaining your eye health is simple. You just need to be aware of the potential sources of damage and strain and make sure you protect yourself against them. The best thing you can do for your eyes is maintain a healthy body, and visit your optometrist regularly so that any issues can be caught and treated at an early stage.