How important is it to have our eyes examined regularly?
It is generally recommended that young, healthy individuals have their eyes examined at least once every two years if they do not wear contact lens or have other complicating issues. If people are aware of other complicating issues, they should have their eyes examined more frequently and precisely how often can be established by consulting with an eye care specialist.
By dilating your pupils and looking inside your eyes, an optometrist or ophthalmologist can detect early signs of health and sight-threatening diseases such as glaucoma, diabetes and hypertension. Early detection and prevention are crucial to the successful treatment of these diseases.
What is nearsightedness?
Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is a visual condition where the image a person is looking at is not pin-pointedly focused on the portion of the back of the eye that allows for discerning detail. It is actually focussed short of where it should be. As a result, distant objects appear blurry, but near objects, if viewed close enough, appear sharp and clear.
Nearsightedness is very common. In the U.S., it affects about 30 percent of the population. There is some evidence that nearsightedness can be caused by too much near work, but primarily, it is inherited and is usually found in early childhood. The good news it that proper prescriptive eyewear can remedy the problem easily.
What is farsightedness?
Farsightedness, also known as hyperopia, is a visual condition where the image a person is looking at is also not pin-pointedly focussed where it should be. In this case however, it is beyond the place at the back of the eye that allows for seeing detail. With this eye condition, distant objects usually appear clear, but near objects may appear blurry.
Some signs of farsightedness include eye strain, fatigue or headaches after close work. There may also be aching or burning eyes, or difficulty maintaining a clear focus of near objects. Farsightedness can occur earlier in a person’s life, but it is also something that happens as a natural part of aging. In this case, it is called presbyopia. At whatever age farsightedness occurs, it can easily be addressed with proper prescriptive eyewear as well.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye condition if not properly treated that can result in a progressively restricted field of vision. This restriction is typically associated with high ocular pressures that impact the optic nerve. Comprehensive eye exams can detect glaucoma in its early stages. During the exam, your eye doctor checks the pressure of both eyes. Though there is an association of glaucoma with high eye pressure, glaucoma can occur in eyes with low pressure as well. Your eye doctor can check for blind spots in your side vision and also the health of the optic nerve heads.
Glaucoma occurs more frequently in certain groups of people such as those who are over 40, diabetics, and people who are very nearsighted. Other risk factors include a family history of glaucoma, previous eye injuries and surgery, and high blood pressure. Despite the higher prevalence of glaucoma in these populations, anybody can develop glaucoma. Everybody needs to be tested during regular eye exams, even if your vision seems fine. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S. Yet, glaucoma can be controlled with little or no further vision loss, if detected at an early stage and treated promptly. Treatment may be as easy as using pressure lowering eye drops.
What are the differences in contact lens types?
Rigid gas permeable lenses are generally the healthiest for your eye. These lenses allow for good tear exchange under the lens and a good supply of oxygen to the eye. They provide excellent vision, and can even correct astigmatism. Rapid gas permeable lenses are relatively comfortable to wear, easy to put on and take off, simple to care for, relatively inexpensive and have a long life. Adaptation may take longer than other types of contacts. Consistent wear to maintain adaptation is a requirement. Wearing lenses on an occasional basis may be difficult. Replacing a lost lens takes a few days, as all rigid gas permeable lenses are custom made.
Daily-wear soft lenses, on the other hand, require a much shorter adaptation period and can be worn on an occasional basis. They are more difficult to dislodge than rigid gas permeable lenses and debris does not get under the lens as easily. These lenses are relatively inexpensive and can be tinted to change the color of your eyes. Vision with daily wear soft lenses may not be as sharp as with rigid gas permeable lenses. Handling of these lenses may not be as easy. These lenses should be replaced at least once a year.
Disposable/planned replacement soft lenses are very similar to the daily-wear soft lenses. However, disposable contacts are disposed of and replaced according to a wearing schedule, which may consist of throwing a pair of lenses away after a prescribed period of time. This may be from one day to a few months.
Another sub-type of daily-wear and disposable/planned replacement soft lens is the toric soft lens, which corrects for astigmatism. The pros and cons are similar to daily wear and disposable soft lenses. The main difference is the fitting of these lenses is more difficult and requires more office visits. Also the astigmatism may not be corrected as well compared to astigmatism correction with a rigid gas permeable lens.
Extended-wear lenses are rigid gas permeable or soft lenses that can be worn overnight. Protein deposits and bacteria can build up on the lens, thus, increasing the risk for complications, such as eye infections. More frequent office visits are required for follow-up care. In general, extended wear contact lenses are not recommended.