Red Deer Eye Centre
4402 49 Ave Red Deer AB T4N 3W6 (403) 342-0333
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Red Deer Eye Centre
5010 50 Ave Rimbey AB T0C 2J0 (403) 843-6000
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Red Deer Eye Centre
5040 50 St Rocky Mountain House AB T4T 1C1 (403) 845-2780
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(587) 600-1975 587-802-1498 587-802-1851 587-802-1922
Buyers' Guides

For most people, contact lenses are an excellent and versatile eyewear option. They allow you to enjoy day-to-day activities without worrying about the safety or cleanliness of eyeglasses.

Unfortunately, I’ve met a lot of patients who have already determined that contact lenses are not for them. They wear lenses once or twice, find them too uncomfortable or too difficult to keep in, and assume they just can’t wear contacts. In some cases, optometrists tell patients that their eyes are too hard to fit.

It’s certainly true that certain eye conditions or diseases make contact lens wear difficult or uncomfortable. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that contact lenses aren’t an option. There are a wide variety of specialty contact lenses designed specifically for patients with hard to fit eyes.

Let’s talk about what it means to have hard-to-fit eyes, and what sort of specialty contact lenses exist to give you a better experience.

Why Are Some Eyes “Hard-to-Fit?”

When optometrists use the phrase “hard-to-fit,” they’re usually referring to the shape of the eye. Some conditions, like astigmatism, impact the shape of the cornea. When the cornea isn’t uniformly round, it makes it difficult for the contact lens to stick to the eye.

Other issues, like dry eye disease, make contact lens wear deeply uncomfortable and irritating for the eyes. This doesn’t necessarily impact your optometrist’s ability to fit you for contact lenses, but it will make traditional lenses more uncomfortable to wear. 

These are the four eye conditions that impact contact lens wear the most.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a condition that eventually impacts everyone in middle age. As you get older, your natural lens stiffens, which makes it harder to focus on near objects. That’s why people usually start relying on reading glasses in their mid to late 40s. 

This problem can be easily rectified with reading glasses if you don’t need any other correction. However, if you are also nearsighted or astigmatic, you’ll need multiple prescriptions for different distances. Owning multiple pairs of glasses is one thing, but having to switch contact lenses based on what activities you’re engaged in is rather unrealistic.

Dry Eye

Your eyes need tears to keep them hydrated, clean, and lubricated. When your body doesn’t produce enough tears or produces tears of poor quality, it irritates the eye. This irritation is made significantly worse when wearing contact lenses.

Contact lenses can dry out during the day. If your eyes are already dry, the additional dryness just compounds the problem, making your existing dry eye symptoms more prominent than before. Dry eye is one of the major causes of contact lens discomfort.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism describes an uneven corneal shape. As we’ve already established, the cornea needs to be uniformly round to work properly. Patients with astigmatism have irregularly-shaped corneas, which prevents light from refracting properly in their eye. As a result, their vision is blurry or unfocused to some degree at all distances. Astigmatism can also develop due to the shape of the natural lens inside the eye.

Contact lens wear can be difficult for patients suffering from astigmatism, not only because of their irregular corneal shape but also because different areas (or meridians) of the eye require different prescriptions (or corrective powers) to offer consistently clear vision.

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a condition that causes the cornea to bulge outwards in a cone-like shape. There are a variety of elements that could cause keratoconus, such as excessive rubbing of the eye, or imbalanced enzymes in the cornea.

This structural change to the cornea alters the way light refracts in the eye, preventing clear vision. It also makes traditional contact lenses difficult to wear due to the cornea’s progressively-changing shape.

Specialty Contact Lenses for Hard-to-Fit Eyes

Contact lens technology is advancing all the time, providing us with new and innovative solutions for a variety of eye issues. Many of these specialty contact lenses are appropriate for multiple types of eye conditions. I’ve listed the conditions these lenses are typically used for, however, you’ll have to speak to your eye doctor to determine what works best for you.

Scleral Lenses

Diagram of scleral lens

Scleral lenses are hugely popular among patients who find traditional contact lenses uncomfortable. Scleral lenses cover more of your eye’s surface area, resting on the white part of the eye which is called the sclera. The sclera is not nearly as sensitive as the cornea, which makes the lens is more comfortable to wear. The additional surface area also stabilizes these lenses, making them less likely to shift as you blink.

Because the edges of the lens rest on the sclera, scleral lenses don’t actually touch your cornea at all; they vault directly over it, leaving space between the lens and your cornea. This space can act as a reservoir for tears, making scleral lenses a more comfortable choice for patients with dry eye.

Scleral lenses are typically used for:

  • Dry eye
  • Keratoconus
  • Irregular corneas

Hybrid Lenses

Diagram of hybrid contact lenses

Hybrid contact lenses are designed to offer the benefits of two different types of lenses. At the centre, hybrid contact lenses are rigid or gas permeable. This provides crisp and accurate vision. The outer ring or skirt of the lens is a soft contact lens which offers a higher degree of comfort. Hybrid lenses are relatively large in diameter, which makes them secure and helps them to stay centred on the eye. 

Hybrid lenses are typically used for:

  • Astigmatism
  • Presbyopia
  • Irregular corneas

Bifocal & Multifocal Lenses

Diagram of Multifocal contact types

Multifocal contact lenses are any type of contact that has more than one prescription or corrective power in a single lens. Bifocal contacts are a type of multifocal contacts that offer just two corrective powers. 

There are several different types of multifocal contact lenses, and each one lays out the different corrective powers in different patterns. Some use alternating rings, making a sort of target design, with each ring offering a different prescription level. Other multifocal lenses work in a sort of gradient, having one corrective power slowly fade Into the next. 

Bifocal & Multifocal lenses are typically used for:

  • Presbyopia

Toric Lenses

Toric lenses are a specific type of contact lens, offering different corrective powers in different areas of the lens. They are most often used to correct astigmatism. Astigmatism is unique in that it requires specific prescriptions for different meridians of the eye, which means that unlike traditional contact lenses, they have to be properly oriented to work. 

Thanks to stabilizing dual-thin zone, toric lenses automatically maintain the correct orientation with each blink; ensuring the appropriate prescription is applied to the right part of your eye. 

Toric lenses are typically used for:

  • Astigmatism

You Do Have Options

I certainly understand that a bad experience with contact lenses can be off-putting. But contact lens technology has come so far, and we now have so many different options to allow comfortable and effective contact lens wear for nearly every type of eye, even those who have found contacts too uncomfortable in the past. 

If you’ve been told that your eyes are too difficult to fit, I would encourage you to seek a second opinion from another optometrist, particularly one who specializes in contact lenses for hard to fit eyes. There is a good chance that there are some options available to you.

It may sound biased, but I think it’s reasonable to say that optometrists are one of the most underused resources in the medical field. 

In fact, there’s evidence to indicate that patients often seek help from a general practitioner for eye-related issues when an optometrist could treat the problem just as well, sometimes even better due to more specialized technology and treatments.

I think the issue is that many people don’t necessarily realize exactly what an optometrist is trained to do. Today, I’d like to explore that a little bit so you can develop a more comprehensive view of how your optometrist is equipped to take care of you.

What Is An Optometrist?

Optometrist Explaining Results

One of the most common questions people ask about optometry is “are optometrists actual doctors”? The short answer to this is yes, we are doctors of optometry.

The longer answer is a little bit more nuanced.

Your family doctor or general practitioner is a medical doctor, or an MD. MDs study the human body over a period of years, learning about each system, different types of diseases, how to diagnose and treat those diseases, and more.

Optometrists learn about the optics and anatomy of the eye over a period of years, studying how the visual system works, various eye diseases, and more. A doctor of optometry is not a medical doctor; however, as ODs, we are qualified to test for, diagnose, and treat a large range of eye-related medical conditions. We can even perform some types of procedures on the eyes.

The biggest distinction is that, while optometrists spend four years learning about the eye, MDs must focus on the entire body and only get a short period of training in terms of eye health.

Diagnosing Diseases

I think some people operate under the impression that their general practitioner will diagnose any eye issues (other than the general need for glasses) should the need arise.

The truth is that in many cases, your optometrist can most likely diagnose eye diseases and issues earlier and more effectively than your general practitioner. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that, because we specialize in eye health, we invest in technology to evaluate the health of your eyes, such as a slit lamp which is a microscope for the eye.  Most general practitioners do not have access to a slit lamp which is critical in diagnosing conditions such as red eye, cataracts, or retinal changes. The second reason is that your primary care doctor will probably only evaluate your eye health if you are complaining of eye-related symptoms, or if they have reason to suspect you are having eye issues. The problem is that many eye diseases and conditions develop without causing any noticeable symptoms

When you see an optometrist, they perform an in-depth eye health evaluation as a part of your eye exam. An eye doctor is far more likely to detect eye diseases before they cause problems than a general practitioner. 

What Can My Optometrist Diagnose?

The world of eye health is pretty expansive, so this is by no means an exhaustive list, but some of the conditions optometrist frequently diagnose include:

In some cases, eye symptoms can indicate diseases that affect other parts of the body. Specific signs may eventually lead to a diagnosis of:

What Can My Optometrist Treat?

Optometrist Explaining Eyedrops

Once again, this question has a long answer and a short answer. The short answer is that an optometrist can treat almost any eye issue that doesn’t require surgery, assuming they have the appropriate technology and products to do so.

The longer answer is that different optometrists have different areas of clinical focus. Assuming your optometrist has all of the necessary equipment and training, your optometrist could offer any of the following treatments:

  • Medicated eye drop prescription
  • Eyeglasses prescription
  • Contact lens prescription (specialty or traditional)
  • Glaucoma management
  • Oral & topical drugs (schedule 1 & schedule 2)
  • Myopia control

What Procedures Can My Optometrist Perform?

We’ve determined that optometrists cannot perform surgery. But your optometrist can perform some procedures. What’s the difference?

A procedure is a series of steps a medical professional performs to help achieve a health-related goal or desired outcome. Meanwhile, surgery is a procedure that requires cutting into the patient’s tissue.

Assuming your optometrist has the necessary equipment, they could perform any of these procedures:

  • Dilating & flushing out eye glands
  • Removing gland blockages
  • Removing foreign bodies stuck in the eye
  • Treating a cut or scratch on the cornea
  • Applying Intense Pulsed Light or IPL for dry eyes

Ask Your Optometrist First

Of course, your family doctor is most likely capable of helping you with eye issues. The difference is your optometrist has specialized technology and treatment options that your GP probably doesn’t.

If you don’t know who you should visit for an eye issue, take a moment to call your optometrist’s office. Tell them about your circumstances, and they will help you determine the best course of action. 

Just remember, regular eye exams with your optometrist are the absolute best way to detect eye diseases before they cause permanent damage to your vision.

No one knows when daily life will return to something we might consider normal. It’s challenging to plan ahead, but of course, the world keeps spinning, and we need to keep meeting our basic needs.

If you have a refractive error like astigmatism or myopia, glasses or contact lenses are a basic need for you. If you already have a few pairs of relatively new glasses at home, you probably won’t have an issue. However, if you only have one pair, you may want to buy a second pair just in case something happens to damage the first. 

Of course, buying glasses looks different right now, with most optical boutiques and dispensaries closed, or at least working limited hours.

Whether you’re waiting until practices open up, or buying online, here are a few things you should consider before purchasing new glasses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Should I Buy Glasses Online?

With social distancing measures in place, ordering glasses online may feel like your only option, and depending on the provincial and municipal rules in your area, that may be true. However, that does not mean you need to choose an online-only retailer.

A lot of local businesses are now offering ecommerce, meaning you may be able to purchase glasses from your optometry practice without leaving home. Some practices may still be open for in-store orders as well. You will just have to call ahead to find out.

It may be tempting to order from online-only retailers. Still, I would encourage you to support local businesses as much as possible. Putting money back into the local economy is the best way to support your community during a difficult time like this.

Choosing the Right Glasses for Your Face Shape

Even if you have the opportunity to shop in-store, trying sample frames on during a pandemic is not advisable. But how do you buy frames if you can’t try them on?

Generally speaking, you can determine which frames will work best for you based on your face shape.

Chart showing oval, square, rectangle, diamond, heart, and round-shaped faces

Oval-Shaped Face

An oval-shaped face features a forehead and jaw with approximately the same width and a soft, rounded jawline. Typically, oval-shaped faces are somewhat longer and narrower.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Rectangular frames
  • Round frames
  • Aviator frames
  • Browline frames

Square-Shaped Face

A square-shaped face features wide, prominent cheekbones and a strong jawline. The forehead and jawline are usually around the same width for a square-shaped face.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Oval frames
  • Round frames
  • Browline frames
  • Cat-eye frames

Diamond-Shaped Face

A diamond-shaped face is a little bit longer with an angular look. It is characterized by a narrow forehead and jawline with wider cheekbones.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Round frames
  • Oval frames
  • Browline frames
  • Cat-eye frames

Rectangle-Shaped Face

Rectangular faces are sometimes called pear-shaped faces for their wide jaws and slightly more narrow foreheads. A rectangle-shaped face is typically longer than a square-shaped face.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Aviator frames
  • Browline frames
  • Oval frames
  • Cat-eye frames

Round-Shaped Face

A round-shaped face is nearly as wide as it is long. With a soft, rounded jaw and a shorter forehead, the cheeks are usually the widest part of a round face.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Rectangular frames
  • Geometric frames
  • Square frames

Heart-Shaped Face

A heart-shaped face is widest at the forehead, rounding down to its narrowest point, the chin. Because the heart-shaped face is often a little bit longer, it can appear quite angular.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Aviator frames
  • Geometric frames
  • Round frames

Choosing the Right Frames for Your Prescription

Before you actually buy any frames, there’s one important thing you need to know: can the frames you want support your prescription? 

Different powered lenses have different edge thicknesses. That means that some frame shapes, sizes, and thicknesses may not be able to support a high prescription. 

Different lens types and materials work differently, so it’s better to speak with an optician about your options. But here are some general guidelines when shopping for high-prescription glasses:

For Nearsightedness

If you are myopic or nearsighted, you will need lenses that are thinner in the centre and thicker at the edges. That means you may run the risk of getting the “coke bottle” effect, where the lenses look thicker than the frames from the side.

You can avoid this issue by choosing a shorter and more narrow pair of frames.

For Farsightedness

If you are hyperopic or farsighted, you will need lenses that are thicker in the middle and thinner around the edge. You don’t have to worry about the coke bottle effect, but your lenses could magnify your eyes, making you look somewhat bug-eyed. 

You can avoid this issue by choosing generally smaller frames with aspheric lenses to reduce the magnification effect.

Laughing young woman wearing new glasses at home

Choosing the Right Lenses

Most of us spend a great deal of time looking for the frames that suit us most, but not nearly enough of us consider what kind of lenses we need. Lens technology has come an incredibly long way over the last few years. 

Eyewear is now capable of an unbelievably high standard of optical performance. But because so few eyewear buyers look into the lens options available to them, people seldom get the benefit of high-performance lenses.

When choosing your lenses, consider how you spend the majority of your time. Are you indoors or outdoors? Are you driving a lot or looking at computers? There are lenses to improve your optical experience for all of these situations. There are even lenses to reduce eye fatigue.

Ask your optician what kind of lenses they have available. Tell them about your lifestyle and ask which lenses they would recommend to complement your prescription as well as your day-to-day visual needs.

Evaluate Your Options & Make an Educated Decision

Glasses are a truly custom product. For the best results, you need the right frames and the right lenses made from the right materials. 

If you don’t need glasses right away or you have a backup pair, there’s nothing wrong with waiting until the pandemic has subsided and ordering in-store. 

If you do need eyewear in the midst of the pandemic, do some research. Find the best type of glasses and lenses for your needs, then find a reliable local ecommerce retailer. You’ll be supporting a local business and making the best possible decision for your vision.

In many industries like construction, manufacturing, and others, employers require their employees to use safety eyewear as part of their personal protective equipment, or PPE. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for workers to avoid wearing their protective eyewear. 

There could be a few different reasons for this. The most common reasons a worker may avoid their safety eyewear could be:

  • The user finds them uncomfortable
  • They negatively impact the user’s vision, 
  • The user doesn’t like the style of their safety eyewear

Leaving your safety glasses at home puts your vision at risk. Approximately 90% of eye injuries are totally preventable with the appropriate eyewear. 

Rather than choosing not to wear your safety eyewear, look into what solutions are available. There are far more options than you probably realize. 

Let’s talk about some of the ways you can make your safety eyewear work well for you.

Comfort

A group of workers were polled about their use of safety eyewear in the workplace. 98% of them said they did not always wear their protective eyewear when they were supposed to. Of that 98%, 40% said they did not wear the appropriate eyewear because it was uncomfortable.

If your safety goggles aren’t comfortable, you just won’t wear them. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for comfortable eyewear.

The Right Fit

Your safety glasses will not feel quite the same as your everyday glasses. The frames and the lenses are thicker and sturdier so they can stand up to impact.

Even though it feels a little bit different, your protective eyewear should not hurt. Wearers sometimes complain that their safety eyewear pinches their nose, their temples, or behind their ears. This indicates that your eyewear does not fit you properly.

Your face is unique. Finding comfortable PPE might be more difficult for you than it is for other people. But you still need to wear it. 

Your optician can help you find safety eyewear that meets your industry requirements and fits comfortably on your face.

Security

Safety eyewear can’t work effectively if you have to mess with it all day. Your safety glasses or goggles should fit securely to your face. Of course, they should not hurt or pinch, but they should fit snugly enough to prevent slipping or falling off.

If you’re having trouble finding eyewear that fits securely and comfortably, you may want to try a pair that uses a strap, similar to goggles.

Craftsman wearing protective eyewear while working working with power tools

Light Conditions

Squinting in the sunlight is not comfortable, and it definitely isn’t safe when you’re on the job. When you invest in safety eyewear, you should consider the light conditions during an average day at work. For example, if you work outside, you should ensure your lenses offer UV protection. Polarized lenses are another excellent option to reduce glare.

It’s also important to make sure your protective glasses will work well regardless of the weather. You do not want to use a heavily-tinted lens on an overcast day, which could impact your ability to see clearly.

Clarity

You rely on your vision to do your job safely and effectively. Without clear vision, it’s far too easy to miss things or misjudge your environment, which puts your safety and the safety of others at risk. That’s why clear vision is so vital for safety eyewear.

Anti-Fog Design

Fog can develop on both sides of eyewear lenses. When eyewear isn’t properly ventilated, moisture from your body can condense on the inside of your lenses with nowhere to escape. And when your glasses or goggles are exposed to steam, that steam can cling to both sides of your lenses, making it very difficult to see.

Anti-fog lenses are designed to prevent fog on both sides of the lens. They are coated in a special substance that prevents moisture from sticking to the lens and eliminating fog before it has a chance to develop.

If you’re not exposed to steam or moisture all that often, ventilated goggles may be enough to prevent fog build-up on the inner side of the lenses. Different types of safety goggles have different ventilation designs. If you work with chemicals, you should invest in eyewear with indirect ventilation. Indirect ventilation reduces the risk of potentially harmful substances accidentally entering your goggles. 

Prescription Lenses

If you already wear prescription glasses, safety eyewear can be a pain, especially if your protective eyewear doesn’t fit comfortably over your everyday glasses.

Some people may consider their normal glasses to be protection enough, and forego protective eyewear altogether. The truth is that your average prescription glasses are not enough to protect your eyes. Chemicals or debris can easily reach your eyes from any number of chemicals. Your average prescription lenses also are probably not shatter-proof. If your frames or lenses break on your face, they could cause even more damage.

However, you don’t have to choose between safety eyewear and prescription eyewear. Protective lens technology is highly advanced and can accommodate most prescriptions. Even more complicated lenses, like bifocals, can be reproduced for a pair of safety glasses.

Investing in prescription lenses for your safety eyewear means you don’t ever have to compromise between eye safety and clear vision.

Scratch-Resistant Lenses

Safety eyewear is an investment. Ideally, if you take care of your glasses or goggles, they should last you quite a long time. However, flying debris, accidentally dropping your glasses, and other mishaps can happen. After a while, you may start to notice scratches on your lenses.

You can probably wear scratched glasses for a while. But, if the lenses continue to develop new scratches, eventually, you’ll have a hard time seeing through them.

Scratch-resistant lenses allow you to get more use out of your protective eyewear without straining your eyes. While scratches may still develop, your lenses will be far less prone to them, so they should occur less frequently.

Style

When it comes to protective eyewear, safety should always be the number one concern. However, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with wanting to look good as well.

Stylish safety glasses sitting in a protective case

If your protective eyewear style is important to you, some options can make your PPE stand out. Different frame shapes and colours make it easier to create a signature look. While safety eyewear will most likely not look like normal glasses or sunglasses, they can have a stylized look. Safety glasses can be made in retro, sporty, and even steampunk styles. 

As long as the style doesn’t compromise your safety, there’s nothing wrong with expressing your personality through your protective eyewear.

Eye Safety Should Always Be Taken Seriously

You rely on your eyes for work, hobbies, communication, and even just relaxing. While it may not seem like a big deal to neglect your protective eyewear, it could literally change your entire future.

Take the time to find out what safety eyewear options are available to you. Your optician can help you find the ideal pair of safety glasses that balance your vision, comfort, and safety.

Every summer, you hear the same thing: protect your eyes with sunglasses. It’s not just about comfort. It’s about filtering out harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. Wearing sunglasses that offer 100%UVA and UVB protection could save you from cataracts, AMD, and other eye issues.

But of course, not all sunglasses are created equal. And as you’re shopping around for a good pair of sunglasses, you may notice pairs are advertised as “polarized.”

Is polarization the same as filtering UV light? Are polarized lenses better than other sunglasses? Should I invest in polarized lenses?

Let’s take a look at what exactly polarization means and whether polarized lenses are an option for you.

How Do UV Filtering Lenses Work?

Ultraviolet light is a type of radiation that’s on the very end of the visible light spectrum. In the short-term, too much UV light can cause dryness, eye strain, or even temporary blindness (like snow blindness). In the long-term, too much exposure to UV light increases your chances of developing eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Quality sunglass lenses and even some clear prescription lenses come with a UV coating, which absorbs ultraviolet light. This absorption prevents ultraviolet light from reaching your eyes and contributing to long-term damage. 

How Do Polarized Lenses Work?

Polarization is actually a very different process from ultraviolet filtering. In fact, on its own, the process of polarization will not protect against ultraviolet light. Instead, it reduces glare.

All light frequencies vibrate. Most light, such as sunlight, vibrates in all directions. However, when light bounces off a horizontal surface like pavement or the roof of a car, it only vibrates horizontally.

This horizontally reflected light is concentrated and can cause problems with glare, which can be quite disabling.

Polarized lenses are treated with a coating that absorbs visible light. The chemical is applied in a sort of vertical stripe pattern. As a result, some vertical light can pass through, but horizontal light is blocked.

Imagine this: you might be able to get your couch through your front door if you carry it through length-wise. But if you were to try width-wise, the door would be far too narrow to let you through.

That’s essentially how polarized lenses work. Any glare from horizontal light is unable to penetrate the vertical filters.

What Are Polarized Lenses For?

A pair of polarized sunglasses partially covering an ocean scene to reduce glare on the water

We understand now that polarized lenses reduce glare, allowing for more precise vision and less eye strain

You can wear polarized sunglasses nearly any time you wear your normal UV filtering sunglasses. Athletes and hobbyists, in particular, find them most beneficial for activities like:

  • Boating & water sports
  • Biking
  • Golf
  • Fishing
  • Snowsports

It’s worth noting that polarized sunglasses are not the best option for every activity. Many digital displays like phone screens and GPS screens emit horizontal light, which isn’t visible through polarized lenses. 

Should I Buy Polarized Sunglasses?

If you like to spend a lot of time outside on the water or in the snow, you should absolutely invest in polarized lenses. You could also benefit from polarized sunglasses if you do a lot of driving or road work.

Ultimately, everyone could benefit from polarized lenses sometimes. If possible, it’s an excellent idea to have both polarized and non-polarized sunglasses so you can enjoy the benefits of polarization when appropriate.

Protection Is the Priority

Whether you wear polarized sunglasses or not, UV protection is really the most important thing. Invest in quality sunglasses with at least 100% UVA and UVB protection, and make sure you have them with you when you go outside. It could preserve your vision for years.

School is back in, which means your child is back to relying heavily on their vision all day. For kids to do their best in school, they need comfortable, secure, and hard-wearing eyewear.

I’ve put together this infographic to help you ensure your child has the best possible eyewear for the school year.

Infographic detailing how children's eyewear should fit and function

Safety eyewear is absolutely crucial to protect your vision and prevent potentially vision-threatening eye injuries. Take a look at this helpful infographic that illustrates why protective eyewear is so important.

Infographic describing the importance of safety eyewear.

More and more, doctors are prescribing daily contact lenses to their patients. But what are the benefits of daily disposables? And maybe, more importantly, are there any drawbacks?

I’ve put together this infographic to explore that very topic.

Infographic detailing the pros & cons of daily disposable contact lenses

Children's Eye Care

COVID-19 has certainly changed the way we live day-to-day. One prominent example is online schooling. Many families who never really considered online schooling for their kids now find themselves sending children off to digital classrooms.

Among the many potential complications of online learning are the potential risks that full days of screen use could pose to your child’s vision.

I’m not trying to say digital learning is a bad option. I think that, as long as parents understand the potential eye health risks and know how to mitigate them, online education is a good way to limit the spread of COVID-19.

So with that said, let’s talk about how digital school could impact your child’s vision and what you can do to protect them.

What Are the Risks?

The risks associated with digital learning aren’t necessarily specific to schooling- screen time, in general, isn’t great for a child’s eye health. That’s why optometrists typically recommend limiting your child’s access to screens, especially when they’re younger. 

The reason online learning is potentially more harmful than just watching a movie or an hour of Minecraft is the level of exposure. Children attending digital classes are suddenly sitting in front of a computer screen for roughly 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.

The more time your child spends in front of a screen, the more likely they are to encounter eye issues.

Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain can happen to anyone who spends a lot of time in front of a screen. 

Our eyes are not designed to focus on close-up objects for hours at a time. Like any other part of your body, the eyes start to get tired and uncomfortable after holding what’s essentially the same position for long periods. 

The symptoms of digital eye strain can include:

  • Fatigue or trouble keeping eyes open
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Neck & shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Burning or itching eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light

Myopia

Myopia, or nearsightedness, has become increasingly common over recent years. Children are developing the condition at younger and younger ages. This trend is particularly disturbing because childhood myopia gets worse as kids get older. Without intervention, it can develop into high myopia, which brings an increased risk of retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and other dangerous conditions. 

The direct cause of myopia is still uncertain. There is some evidence to indicate that myopia is at least partly genetic. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that the recent spike in myopia is related to the advent of digital devices, although probably not how you think.

Recent studies suggest screen time is not directly responsible for myopia; it’s actually the lack of time spent outside.

Your child’s eyes are designed to focus on a range of distances in a variety of lighting conditions. As video games, mobile devices, and general internet use have become more popular, kids have felt less inclined to spend time playing outside.

If your child’s school day no longer includes recess and lunchtime outside, they may not get the natural light they need to keep their eyes healthy.

Some of the early symptoms of myopia could include:

  • Blurry or double vision
  • Squinting
  • Partially closing the eyes
  • Excessive blinking

Child sitting at a laptop in his room rubbing his eyes from digital eye strain.

Dry Eyes

Dry eye disease is a chronic medical condition that typically needs to be treated with medication or therapeutic treatments. It’s not uncommon for people to develop dry eye symptoms when they spend a lot of time in front of their computer.

When you blink, your eyelid evenly distributes tears over the surface of your eye, hydrating, cleaning, and protecting it. Normally, we blink around 20 times per minute. But that blink rate plummets to approximately 15 times per minute when we use computers and mobile devices. Fewer blinks mean the eyes have more time to dry out, which can lead to symptoms like:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Stringy discharge
  • Periods of excess tears
  • Grittiness, dryness, or burning sensations
  • Feeling like something is stuck in the eye

Sleep Problems

Blue light has been a hot topic in eye care over the last few years. Some sources have claimed that blue light from digital devices can cause retinal damage like macular degeneration. But these claims are misleading.

High levels of blue light could cause retinal damage, however, the amount of blue light our screens emit is not nearly enough to harm your eyes. 

While blue light may not hurt your child’s retinas, it could still impact their overall health.

Your child’s brain uses an internal clock called the circadian rhythm (or wake/sleep cycle) to essentially schedule their hormones. The human body relies on hormones to regulate appetite, sleepiness, body composition, and even mood. 

 The circadian rhythm relies on light. When it’s light outside, the body understands it’s time to be active and alert. When it’s dark, the body knows it’s time to sleep and recharge.

The blue light emitted by laptops and tablets can throw off your child’s circadian rhythm when used at night. Obviously, your child’s digital classes take place during the day. But if they’re working on homework or after school activities via digital displays within 2 hours of bedtime, it could impair their ability to function and learn. 

What Can Parents Do?

Online schooling may not be the ideal situation for your family this year. But there are ways you can protect your child’s vision so they can absorb as much information as possible from online classes.

Invest in Computer Glasses

While blue light from devices may not damage your child’s eyesight, there is still some value in purchasing some computer glasses, particularly if your child gets a lot of homework or needs to use the computer for other activities in the evenings.

Schedule Daily Time Outside

Remember that spending time outside can help slow myopia development. Ensure your child goes outside to play at least a little bit every day. Of course, this may be tricky once our particularly cold winter weather rolls around. My recommendation is to bundle up on chilly days and take advantage of the sunshine as much as you can.

Set Up an Ergonomic Work Space

Workspace ergonomics are important to reduce digital eye strain, no matter who you are. The same general rules for adults apply to kids:

  1. Positions your child’s screen about an arm’s length away from them, just below their eye level.
  2. Position their screen to reduce glare and keep it free of dust or fingerprints as much as possible.
  3. Ask your child to sit with their back against the backrest, and their feet flat on the floor as much as possible.
  4. Encourage your child to sit with their shoulders relaxed and slightly back.
  5. If your child needs access to a keyboard during school, ensure the keyboard is roughly level with their elbows. They should be able to type with their elbows resting comfortably at their sides.

Most furniture isn’t made for them, so you may have to get creative. For example, if your child’s feet don’t touch the floor when sitting in their chair, place a box or small stool beneath their feet. If your child is too short in the chair, have them sit on some cushions to boost them up.

It may seem like a hassle, but it will keep your child comfortable and help them pay closer attention.

Diagram of a child on the computer showing proper ergonomics

We’ve made this handy graphic to illustrate the ideal posture for your child. Feel free to print it out and place it at your child’s workstation as a reminder to sit properly during school time.

Everyone Is Doing the Best They Can

At the risk of sounding disingenuous or sappy, I get that this isn’t necessarily ideal. But as a parent, you’re doing the best you can. You can’t make this school year seem normal to your child. But you can take a few steps to protect their visual health. And while they may not recognize it today, that’s doing your child a huge service.

School is back in, which means your child is back to relying heavily on their vision all day. For kids to do their best in school, they need comfortable, secure, and hard-wearing eyewear.

I’ve put together this infographic to help you ensure your child has the best possible eyewear for the school year.

Infographic detailing how children's eyewear should fit and function

Contact lenses

For most people, contact lenses are an excellent and versatile eyewear option. They allow you to enjoy day-to-day activities without worrying about the safety or cleanliness of eyeglasses.

Unfortunately, I’ve met a lot of patients who have already determined that contact lenses are not for them. They wear lenses once or twice, find them too uncomfortable or too difficult to keep in, and assume they just can’t wear contacts. In some cases, optometrists tell patients that their eyes are too hard to fit.

It’s certainly true that certain eye conditions or diseases make contact lens wear difficult or uncomfortable. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that contact lenses aren’t an option. There are a wide variety of specialty contact lenses designed specifically for patients with hard to fit eyes.

Let’s talk about what it means to have hard-to-fit eyes, and what sort of specialty contact lenses exist to give you a better experience.

Why Are Some Eyes “Hard-to-Fit?”

When optometrists use the phrase “hard-to-fit,” they’re usually referring to the shape of the eye. Some conditions, like astigmatism, impact the shape of the cornea. When the cornea isn’t uniformly round, it makes it difficult for the contact lens to stick to the eye.

Other issues, like dry eye disease, make contact lens wear deeply uncomfortable and irritating for the eyes. This doesn’t necessarily impact your optometrist’s ability to fit you for contact lenses, but it will make traditional lenses more uncomfortable to wear. 

These are the four eye conditions that impact contact lens wear the most.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a condition that eventually impacts everyone in middle age. As you get older, your natural lens stiffens, which makes it harder to focus on near objects. That’s why people usually start relying on reading glasses in their mid to late 40s. 

This problem can be easily rectified with reading glasses if you don’t need any other correction. However, if you are also nearsighted or astigmatic, you’ll need multiple prescriptions for different distances. Owning multiple pairs of glasses is one thing, but having to switch contact lenses based on what activities you’re engaged in is rather unrealistic.

Dry Eye

Your eyes need tears to keep them hydrated, clean, and lubricated. When your body doesn’t produce enough tears or produces tears of poor quality, it irritates the eye. This irritation is made significantly worse when wearing contact lenses.

Contact lenses can dry out during the day. If your eyes are already dry, the additional dryness just compounds the problem, making your existing dry eye symptoms more prominent than before. Dry eye is one of the major causes of contact lens discomfort.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism describes an uneven corneal shape. As we’ve already established, the cornea needs to be uniformly round to work properly. Patients with astigmatism have irregularly-shaped corneas, which prevents light from refracting properly in their eye. As a result, their vision is blurry or unfocused to some degree at all distances. Astigmatism can also develop due to the shape of the natural lens inside the eye.

Contact lens wear can be difficult for patients suffering from astigmatism, not only because of their irregular corneal shape but also because different areas (or meridians) of the eye require different prescriptions (or corrective powers) to offer consistently clear vision.

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a condition that causes the cornea to bulge outwards in a cone-like shape. There are a variety of elements that could cause keratoconus, such as excessive rubbing of the eye, or imbalanced enzymes in the cornea.

This structural change to the cornea alters the way light refracts in the eye, preventing clear vision. It also makes traditional contact lenses difficult to wear due to the cornea’s progressively-changing shape.

Specialty Contact Lenses for Hard-to-Fit Eyes

Contact lens technology is advancing all the time, providing us with new and innovative solutions for a variety of eye issues. Many of these specialty contact lenses are appropriate for multiple types of eye conditions. I’ve listed the conditions these lenses are typically used for, however, you’ll have to speak to your eye doctor to determine what works best for you.

Scleral Lenses

Diagram of scleral lens

Scleral lenses are hugely popular among patients who find traditional contact lenses uncomfortable. Scleral lenses cover more of your eye’s surface area, resting on the white part of the eye which is called the sclera. The sclera is not nearly as sensitive as the cornea, which makes the lens is more comfortable to wear. The additional surface area also stabilizes these lenses, making them less likely to shift as you blink.

Because the edges of the lens rest on the sclera, scleral lenses don’t actually touch your cornea at all; they vault directly over it, leaving space between the lens and your cornea. This space can act as a reservoir for tears, making scleral lenses a more comfortable choice for patients with dry eye.

Scleral lenses are typically used for:

  • Dry eye
  • Keratoconus
  • Irregular corneas

Hybrid Lenses

Diagram of hybrid contact lenses

Hybrid contact lenses are designed to offer the benefits of two different types of lenses. At the centre, hybrid contact lenses are rigid or gas permeable. This provides crisp and accurate vision. The outer ring or skirt of the lens is a soft contact lens which offers a higher degree of comfort. Hybrid lenses are relatively large in diameter, which makes them secure and helps them to stay centred on the eye. 

Hybrid lenses are typically used for:

  • Astigmatism
  • Presbyopia
  • Irregular corneas

Bifocal & Multifocal Lenses

Diagram of Multifocal contact types

Multifocal contact lenses are any type of contact that has more than one prescription or corrective power in a single lens. Bifocal contacts are a type of multifocal contacts that offer just two corrective powers. 

There are several different types of multifocal contact lenses, and each one lays out the different corrective powers in different patterns. Some use alternating rings, making a sort of target design, with each ring offering a different prescription level. Other multifocal lenses work in a sort of gradient, having one corrective power slowly fade Into the next. 

Bifocal & Multifocal lenses are typically used for:

  • Presbyopia

Toric Lenses

Toric lenses are a specific type of contact lens, offering different corrective powers in different areas of the lens. They are most often used to correct astigmatism. Astigmatism is unique in that it requires specific prescriptions for different meridians of the eye, which means that unlike traditional contact lenses, they have to be properly oriented to work. 

Thanks to stabilizing dual-thin zone, toric lenses automatically maintain the correct orientation with each blink; ensuring the appropriate prescription is applied to the right part of your eye. 

Toric lenses are typically used for:

  • Astigmatism

You Do Have Options

I certainly understand that a bad experience with contact lenses can be off-putting. But contact lens technology has come so far, and we now have so many different options to allow comfortable and effective contact lens wear for nearly every type of eye, even those who have found contacts too uncomfortable in the past. 

If you’ve been told that your eyes are too difficult to fit, I would encourage you to seek a second opinion from another optometrist, particularly one who specializes in contact lenses for hard to fit eyes. There is a good chance that there are some options available to you.

More and more, doctors are prescribing daily contact lenses to their patients. But what are the benefits of daily disposables? And maybe, more importantly, are there any drawbacks?

I’ve put together this infographic to explore that very topic.

Infographic detailing the pros & cons of daily disposable contact lenses

COVID-19

COVID-19 has certainly changed the way we live day-to-day. One prominent example is online schooling. Many families who never really considered online schooling for their kids now find themselves sending children off to digital classrooms.

Among the many potential complications of online learning are the potential risks that full days of screen use could pose to your child’s vision.

I’m not trying to say digital learning is a bad option. I think that, as long as parents understand the potential eye health risks and know how to mitigate them, online education is a good way to limit the spread of COVID-19.

So with that said, let’s talk about how digital school could impact your child’s vision and what you can do to protect them.

What Are the Risks?

The risks associated with digital learning aren’t necessarily specific to schooling- screen time, in general, isn’t great for a child’s eye health. That’s why optometrists typically recommend limiting your child’s access to screens, especially when they’re younger. 

The reason online learning is potentially more harmful than just watching a movie or an hour of Minecraft is the level of exposure. Children attending digital classes are suddenly sitting in front of a computer screen for roughly 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.

The more time your child spends in front of a screen, the more likely they are to encounter eye issues.

Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain can happen to anyone who spends a lot of time in front of a screen. 

Our eyes are not designed to focus on close-up objects for hours at a time. Like any other part of your body, the eyes start to get tired and uncomfortable after holding what’s essentially the same position for long periods. 

The symptoms of digital eye strain can include:

  • Fatigue or trouble keeping eyes open
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Neck & shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Burning or itching eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light

Myopia

Myopia, or nearsightedness, has become increasingly common over recent years. Children are developing the condition at younger and younger ages. This trend is particularly disturbing because childhood myopia gets worse as kids get older. Without intervention, it can develop into high myopia, which brings an increased risk of retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and other dangerous conditions. 

The direct cause of myopia is still uncertain. There is some evidence to indicate that myopia is at least partly genetic. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that the recent spike in myopia is related to the advent of digital devices, although probably not how you think.

Recent studies suggest screen time is not directly responsible for myopia; it’s actually the lack of time spent outside.

Your child’s eyes are designed to focus on a range of distances in a variety of lighting conditions. As video games, mobile devices, and general internet use have become more popular, kids have felt less inclined to spend time playing outside.

If your child’s school day no longer includes recess and lunchtime outside, they may not get the natural light they need to keep their eyes healthy.

Some of the early symptoms of myopia could include:

  • Blurry or double vision
  • Squinting
  • Partially closing the eyes
  • Excessive blinking

Child sitting at a laptop in his room rubbing his eyes from digital eye strain.

Dry Eyes

Dry eye disease is a chronic medical condition that typically needs to be treated with medication or therapeutic treatments. It’s not uncommon for people to develop dry eye symptoms when they spend a lot of time in front of their computer.

When you blink, your eyelid evenly distributes tears over the surface of your eye, hydrating, cleaning, and protecting it. Normally, we blink around 20 times per minute. But that blink rate plummets to approximately 15 times per minute when we use computers and mobile devices. Fewer blinks mean the eyes have more time to dry out, which can lead to symptoms like:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Stringy discharge
  • Periods of excess tears
  • Grittiness, dryness, or burning sensations
  • Feeling like something is stuck in the eye

Sleep Problems

Blue light has been a hot topic in eye care over the last few years. Some sources have claimed that blue light from digital devices can cause retinal damage like macular degeneration. But these claims are misleading.

High levels of blue light could cause retinal damage, however, the amount of blue light our screens emit is not nearly enough to harm your eyes. 

While blue light may not hurt your child’s retinas, it could still impact their overall health.

Your child’s brain uses an internal clock called the circadian rhythm (or wake/sleep cycle) to essentially schedule their hormones. The human body relies on hormones to regulate appetite, sleepiness, body composition, and even mood. 

 The circadian rhythm relies on light. When it’s light outside, the body understands it’s time to be active and alert. When it’s dark, the body knows it’s time to sleep and recharge.

The blue light emitted by laptops and tablets can throw off your child’s circadian rhythm when used at night. Obviously, your child’s digital classes take place during the day. But if they’re working on homework or after school activities via digital displays within 2 hours of bedtime, it could impair their ability to function and learn. 

What Can Parents Do?

Online schooling may not be the ideal situation for your family this year. But there are ways you can protect your child’s vision so they can absorb as much information as possible from online classes.

Invest in Computer Glasses

While blue light from devices may not damage your child’s eyesight, there is still some value in purchasing some computer glasses, particularly if your child gets a lot of homework or needs to use the computer for other activities in the evenings.

Schedule Daily Time Outside

Remember that spending time outside can help slow myopia development. Ensure your child goes outside to play at least a little bit every day. Of course, this may be tricky once our particularly cold winter weather rolls around. My recommendation is to bundle up on chilly days and take advantage of the sunshine as much as you can.

Set Up an Ergonomic Work Space

Workspace ergonomics are important to reduce digital eye strain, no matter who you are. The same general rules for adults apply to kids:

  1. Positions your child’s screen about an arm’s length away from them, just below their eye level.
  2. Position their screen to reduce glare and keep it free of dust or fingerprints as much as possible.
  3. Ask your child to sit with their back against the backrest, and their feet flat on the floor as much as possible.
  4. Encourage your child to sit with their shoulders relaxed and slightly back.
  5. If your child needs access to a keyboard during school, ensure the keyboard is roughly level with their elbows. They should be able to type with their elbows resting comfortably at their sides.

Most furniture isn’t made for them, so you may have to get creative. For example, if your child’s feet don’t touch the floor when sitting in their chair, place a box or small stool beneath their feet. If your child is too short in the chair, have them sit on some cushions to boost them up.

It may seem like a hassle, but it will keep your child comfortable and help them pay closer attention.

Diagram of a child on the computer showing proper ergonomics

We’ve made this handy graphic to illustrate the ideal posture for your child. Feel free to print it out and place it at your child’s workstation as a reminder to sit properly during school time.

Everyone Is Doing the Best They Can

At the risk of sounding disingenuous or sappy, I get that this isn’t necessarily ideal. But as a parent, you’re doing the best you can. You can’t make this school year seem normal to your child. But you can take a few steps to protect their visual health. And while they may not recognize it today, that’s doing your child a huge service.

Your eyes are very delicate and vulnerable organs. Touching them or rubbing them could cause injuries, infections, and even worse!

Take a look at this infographic to find out how you could get sick from just touching your eyes.An infographic demonstrating the vulnerability of eyes.

 

Digital Eye Strain

COVID-19 has certainly changed the way we live day-to-day. One prominent example is online schooling. Many families who never really considered online schooling for their kids now find themselves sending children off to digital classrooms.

Among the many potential complications of online learning are the potential risks that full days of screen use could pose to your child’s vision.

I’m not trying to say digital learning is a bad option. I think that, as long as parents understand the potential eye health risks and know how to mitigate them, online education is a good way to limit the spread of COVID-19.

So with that said, let’s talk about how digital school could impact your child’s vision and what you can do to protect them.

What Are the Risks?

The risks associated with digital learning aren’t necessarily specific to schooling- screen time, in general, isn’t great for a child’s eye health. That’s why optometrists typically recommend limiting your child’s access to screens, especially when they’re younger. 

The reason online learning is potentially more harmful than just watching a movie or an hour of Minecraft is the level of exposure. Children attending digital classes are suddenly sitting in front of a computer screen for roughly 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.

The more time your child spends in front of a screen, the more likely they are to encounter eye issues.

Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain can happen to anyone who spends a lot of time in front of a screen. 

Our eyes are not designed to focus on close-up objects for hours at a time. Like any other part of your body, the eyes start to get tired and uncomfortable after holding what’s essentially the same position for long periods. 

The symptoms of digital eye strain can include:

  • Fatigue or trouble keeping eyes open
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Neck & shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Burning or itching eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light

Myopia

Myopia, or nearsightedness, has become increasingly common over recent years. Children are developing the condition at younger and younger ages. This trend is particularly disturbing because childhood myopia gets worse as kids get older. Without intervention, it can develop into high myopia, which brings an increased risk of retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and other dangerous conditions. 

The direct cause of myopia is still uncertain. There is some evidence to indicate that myopia is at least partly genetic. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that the recent spike in myopia is related to the advent of digital devices, although probably not how you think.

Recent studies suggest screen time is not directly responsible for myopia; it’s actually the lack of time spent outside.

Your child’s eyes are designed to focus on a range of distances in a variety of lighting conditions. As video games, mobile devices, and general internet use have become more popular, kids have felt less inclined to spend time playing outside.

If your child’s school day no longer includes recess and lunchtime outside, they may not get the natural light they need to keep their eyes healthy.

Some of the early symptoms of myopia could include:

  • Blurry or double vision
  • Squinting
  • Partially closing the eyes
  • Excessive blinking

Child sitting at a laptop in his room rubbing his eyes from digital eye strain.

Dry Eyes

Dry eye disease is a chronic medical condition that typically needs to be treated with medication or therapeutic treatments. It’s not uncommon for people to develop dry eye symptoms when they spend a lot of time in front of their computer.

When you blink, your eyelid evenly distributes tears over the surface of your eye, hydrating, cleaning, and protecting it. Normally, we blink around 20 times per minute. But that blink rate plummets to approximately 15 times per minute when we use computers and mobile devices. Fewer blinks mean the eyes have more time to dry out, which can lead to symptoms like:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Stringy discharge
  • Periods of excess tears
  • Grittiness, dryness, or burning sensations
  • Feeling like something is stuck in the eye

Sleep Problems

Blue light has been a hot topic in eye care over the last few years. Some sources have claimed that blue light from digital devices can cause retinal damage like macular degeneration. But these claims are misleading.

High levels of blue light could cause retinal damage, however, the amount of blue light our screens emit is not nearly enough to harm your eyes. 

While blue light may not hurt your child’s retinas, it could still impact their overall health.

Your child’s brain uses an internal clock called the circadian rhythm (or wake/sleep cycle) to essentially schedule their hormones. The human body relies on hormones to regulate appetite, sleepiness, body composition, and even mood. 

 The circadian rhythm relies on light. When it’s light outside, the body understands it’s time to be active and alert. When it’s dark, the body knows it’s time to sleep and recharge.

The blue light emitted by laptops and tablets can throw off your child’s circadian rhythm when used at night. Obviously, your child’s digital classes take place during the day. But if they’re working on homework or after school activities via digital displays within 2 hours of bedtime, it could impair their ability to function and learn. 

What Can Parents Do?

Online schooling may not be the ideal situation for your family this year. But there are ways you can protect your child’s vision so they can absorb as much information as possible from online classes.

Invest in Computer Glasses

While blue light from devices may not damage your child’s eyesight, there is still some value in purchasing some computer glasses, particularly if your child gets a lot of homework or needs to use the computer for other activities in the evenings.

Schedule Daily Time Outside

Remember that spending time outside can help slow myopia development. Ensure your child goes outside to play at least a little bit every day. Of course, this may be tricky once our particularly cold winter weather rolls around. My recommendation is to bundle up on chilly days and take advantage of the sunshine as much as you can.

Set Up an Ergonomic Work Space

Workspace ergonomics are important to reduce digital eye strain, no matter who you are. The same general rules for adults apply to kids:

  1. Positions your child’s screen about an arm’s length away from them, just below their eye level.
  2. Position their screen to reduce glare and keep it free of dust or fingerprints as much as possible.
  3. Ask your child to sit with their back against the backrest, and their feet flat on the floor as much as possible.
  4. Encourage your child to sit with their shoulders relaxed and slightly back.
  5. If your child needs access to a keyboard during school, ensure the keyboard is roughly level with their elbows. They should be able to type with their elbows resting comfortably at their sides.

Most furniture isn’t made for them, so you may have to get creative. For example, if your child’s feet don’t touch the floor when sitting in their chair, place a box or small stool beneath their feet. If your child is too short in the chair, have them sit on some cushions to boost them up.

It may seem like a hassle, but it will keep your child comfortable and help them pay closer attention.

Diagram of a child on the computer showing proper ergonomics

We’ve made this handy graphic to illustrate the ideal posture for your child. Feel free to print it out and place it at your child’s workstation as a reminder to sit properly during school time.

Everyone Is Doing the Best They Can

At the risk of sounding disingenuous or sappy, I get that this isn’t necessarily ideal. But as a parent, you’re doing the best you can. You can’t make this school year seem normal to your child. But you can take a few steps to protect their visual health. And while they may not recognize it today, that’s doing your child a huge service.

Dry Eye

COVID-19 has certainly changed the way we live day-to-day. One prominent example is online schooling. Many families who never really considered online schooling for their kids now find themselves sending children off to digital classrooms.

Among the many potential complications of online learning are the potential risks that full days of screen use could pose to your child’s vision.

I’m not trying to say digital learning is a bad option. I think that, as long as parents understand the potential eye health risks and know how to mitigate them, online education is a good way to limit the spread of COVID-19.

So with that said, let’s talk about how digital school could impact your child’s vision and what you can do to protect them.

What Are the Risks?

The risks associated with digital learning aren’t necessarily specific to schooling- screen time, in general, isn’t great for a child’s eye health. That’s why optometrists typically recommend limiting your child’s access to screens, especially when they’re younger. 

The reason online learning is potentially more harmful than just watching a movie or an hour of Minecraft is the level of exposure. Children attending digital classes are suddenly sitting in front of a computer screen for roughly 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.

The more time your child spends in front of a screen, the more likely they are to encounter eye issues.

Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain can happen to anyone who spends a lot of time in front of a screen. 

Our eyes are not designed to focus on close-up objects for hours at a time. Like any other part of your body, the eyes start to get tired and uncomfortable after holding what’s essentially the same position for long periods. 

The symptoms of digital eye strain can include:

  • Fatigue or trouble keeping eyes open
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Neck & shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Burning or itching eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light

Myopia

Myopia, or nearsightedness, has become increasingly common over recent years. Children are developing the condition at younger and younger ages. This trend is particularly disturbing because childhood myopia gets worse as kids get older. Without intervention, it can develop into high myopia, which brings an increased risk of retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and other dangerous conditions. 

The direct cause of myopia is still uncertain. There is some evidence to indicate that myopia is at least partly genetic. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that the recent spike in myopia is related to the advent of digital devices, although probably not how you think.

Recent studies suggest screen time is not directly responsible for myopia; it’s actually the lack of time spent outside.

Your child’s eyes are designed to focus on a range of distances in a variety of lighting conditions. As video games, mobile devices, and general internet use have become more popular, kids have felt less inclined to spend time playing outside.

If your child’s school day no longer includes recess and lunchtime outside, they may not get the natural light they need to keep their eyes healthy.

Some of the early symptoms of myopia could include:

  • Blurry or double vision
  • Squinting
  • Partially closing the eyes
  • Excessive blinking

Child sitting at a laptop in his room rubbing his eyes from digital eye strain.

Dry Eyes

Dry eye disease is a chronic medical condition that typically needs to be treated with medication or therapeutic treatments. It’s not uncommon for people to develop dry eye symptoms when they spend a lot of time in front of their computer.

When you blink, your eyelid evenly distributes tears over the surface of your eye, hydrating, cleaning, and protecting it. Normally, we blink around 20 times per minute. But that blink rate plummets to approximately 15 times per minute when we use computers and mobile devices. Fewer blinks mean the eyes have more time to dry out, which can lead to symptoms like:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Stringy discharge
  • Periods of excess tears
  • Grittiness, dryness, or burning sensations
  • Feeling like something is stuck in the eye

Sleep Problems

Blue light has been a hot topic in eye care over the last few years. Some sources have claimed that blue light from digital devices can cause retinal damage like macular degeneration. But these claims are misleading.

High levels of blue light could cause retinal damage, however, the amount of blue light our screens emit is not nearly enough to harm your eyes. 

While blue light may not hurt your child’s retinas, it could still impact their overall health.

Your child’s brain uses an internal clock called the circadian rhythm (or wake/sleep cycle) to essentially schedule their hormones. The human body relies on hormones to regulate appetite, sleepiness, body composition, and even mood. 

 The circadian rhythm relies on light. When it’s light outside, the body understands it’s time to be active and alert. When it’s dark, the body knows it’s time to sleep and recharge.

The blue light emitted by laptops and tablets can throw off your child’s circadian rhythm when used at night. Obviously, your child’s digital classes take place during the day. But if they’re working on homework or after school activities via digital displays within 2 hours of bedtime, it could impair their ability to function and learn. 

What Can Parents Do?

Online schooling may not be the ideal situation for your family this year. But there are ways you can protect your child’s vision so they can absorb as much information as possible from online classes.

Invest in Computer Glasses

While blue light from devices may not damage your child’s eyesight, there is still some value in purchasing some computer glasses, particularly if your child gets a lot of homework or needs to use the computer for other activities in the evenings.

Schedule Daily Time Outside

Remember that spending time outside can help slow myopia development. Ensure your child goes outside to play at least a little bit every day. Of course, this may be tricky once our particularly cold winter weather rolls around. My recommendation is to bundle up on chilly days and take advantage of the sunshine as much as you can.

Set Up an Ergonomic Work Space

Workspace ergonomics are important to reduce digital eye strain, no matter who you are. The same general rules for adults apply to kids:

  1. Positions your child’s screen about an arm’s length away from them, just below their eye level.
  2. Position their screen to reduce glare and keep it free of dust or fingerprints as much as possible.
  3. Ask your child to sit with their back against the backrest, and their feet flat on the floor as much as possible.
  4. Encourage your child to sit with their shoulders relaxed and slightly back.
  5. If your child needs access to a keyboard during school, ensure the keyboard is roughly level with their elbows. They should be able to type with their elbows resting comfortably at their sides.

Most furniture isn’t made for them, so you may have to get creative. For example, if your child’s feet don’t touch the floor when sitting in their chair, place a box or small stool beneath their feet. If your child is too short in the chair, have them sit on some cushions to boost them up.

It may seem like a hassle, but it will keep your child comfortable and help them pay closer attention.

Diagram of a child on the computer showing proper ergonomics

We’ve made this handy graphic to illustrate the ideal posture for your child. Feel free to print it out and place it at your child’s workstation as a reminder to sit properly during school time.

Everyone Is Doing the Best They Can

At the risk of sounding disingenuous or sappy, I get that this isn’t necessarily ideal. But as a parent, you’re doing the best you can. You can’t make this school year seem normal to your child. But you can take a few steps to protect their visual health. And while they may not recognize it today, that’s doing your child a huge service.

Eye Care How To

It may sound biased, but I think it’s reasonable to say that optometrists are one of the most underused resources in the medical field. 

In fact, there’s evidence to indicate that patients often seek help from a general practitioner for eye-related issues when an optometrist could treat the problem just as well, sometimes even better due to more specialized technology and treatments.

I think the issue is that many people don’t necessarily realize exactly what an optometrist is trained to do. Today, I’d like to explore that a little bit so you can develop a more comprehensive view of how your optometrist is equipped to take care of you.

What Is An Optometrist?

Optometrist Explaining Results

One of the most common questions people ask about optometry is “are optometrists actual doctors”? The short answer to this is yes, we are doctors of optometry.

The longer answer is a little bit more nuanced.

Your family doctor or general practitioner is a medical doctor, or an MD. MDs study the human body over a period of years, learning about each system, different types of diseases, how to diagnose and treat those diseases, and more.

Optometrists learn about the optics and anatomy of the eye over a period of years, studying how the visual system works, various eye diseases, and more. A doctor of optometry is not a medical doctor; however, as ODs, we are qualified to test for, diagnose, and treat a large range of eye-related medical conditions. We can even perform some types of procedures on the eyes.

The biggest distinction is that, while optometrists spend four years learning about the eye, MDs must focus on the entire body and only get a short period of training in terms of eye health.

Diagnosing Diseases

I think some people operate under the impression that their general practitioner will diagnose any eye issues (other than the general need for glasses) should the need arise.

The truth is that in many cases, your optometrist can most likely diagnose eye diseases and issues earlier and more effectively than your general practitioner. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that, because we specialize in eye health, we invest in technology to evaluate the health of your eyes, such as a slit lamp which is a microscope for the eye.  Most general practitioners do not have access to a slit lamp which is critical in diagnosing conditions such as red eye, cataracts, or retinal changes. The second reason is that your primary care doctor will probably only evaluate your eye health if you are complaining of eye-related symptoms, or if they have reason to suspect you are having eye issues. The problem is that many eye diseases and conditions develop without causing any noticeable symptoms

When you see an optometrist, they perform an in-depth eye health evaluation as a part of your eye exam. An eye doctor is far more likely to detect eye diseases before they cause problems than a general practitioner. 

What Can My Optometrist Diagnose?

The world of eye health is pretty expansive, so this is by no means an exhaustive list, but some of the conditions optometrist frequently diagnose include:

In some cases, eye symptoms can indicate diseases that affect other parts of the body. Specific signs may eventually lead to a diagnosis of:

What Can My Optometrist Treat?

Optometrist Explaining Eyedrops

Once again, this question has a long answer and a short answer. The short answer is that an optometrist can treat almost any eye issue that doesn’t require surgery, assuming they have the appropriate technology and products to do so.

The longer answer is that different optometrists have different areas of clinical focus. Assuming your optometrist has all of the necessary equipment and training, your optometrist could offer any of the following treatments:

  • Medicated eye drop prescription
  • Eyeglasses prescription
  • Contact lens prescription (specialty or traditional)
  • Glaucoma management
  • Oral & topical drugs (schedule 1 & schedule 2)
  • Myopia control

What Procedures Can My Optometrist Perform?

We’ve determined that optometrists cannot perform surgery. But your optometrist can perform some procedures. What’s the difference?

A procedure is a series of steps a medical professional performs to help achieve a health-related goal or desired outcome. Meanwhile, surgery is a procedure that requires cutting into the patient’s tissue.

Assuming your optometrist has the necessary equipment, they could perform any of these procedures:

  • Dilating & flushing out eye glands
  • Removing gland blockages
  • Removing foreign bodies stuck in the eye
  • Treating a cut or scratch on the cornea
  • Applying Intense Pulsed Light or IPL for dry eyes

Ask Your Optometrist First

Of course, your family doctor is most likely capable of helping you with eye issues. The difference is your optometrist has specialized technology and treatment options that your GP probably doesn’t.

If you don’t know who you should visit for an eye issue, take a moment to call your optometrist’s office. Tell them about your circumstances, and they will help you determine the best course of action. 

Just remember, regular eye exams with your optometrist are the absolute best way to detect eye diseases before they cause permanent damage to your vision.

Eye Conditions

Strabismus, also colloquially known as crossed eyed, is an eye condition that makes it difficult for eyes to align on a solitary focal point and is often the result of injury or hereditary genetics. Also called wandering eyes, the disease is due to a muscular defect that turns one eye down (hypotropia), out (exotropia), in (esotropia) or up (hypertropia). This irregular resistance to eye coordination can negatively impact binocular vision and depth perception.

The condition is most often seen in children less than 6 years of age, which gives eye care professionals plenty of time to diagnose and treat the irregularity before full eye functionality is compromised. Strabismus can lead to amblyopia or lazy eye, which has a more serious risk of visual impairment without early detection and management. Strabismus requires professional attention to eliminate, but a wealth of effective eyeglasses and visual aids are available for treating individuals with this condition.

If you have ever strained to read a faraway street sign or identify your child on a soccer field, you may want to be screened for myopia, or nearsightedness. Patients with this condition have difficulty focusing their vision on distant objects. With myopia, the retina is elongated, preventing light from focusing properly. Patients with myopia may find themselves squinting frequently or straining to see clearly. Myopia affects over 42% of the U.S. population, and can be treated with eyeglasses, contact lenses or Lasik eye surgery.

Our Optometrists are experienced in working with myopia. We offer customized eye care solutions, including the best selection of kids’ frames in central Alberta and the Zeiss’s digital eyeglass measuring tool to ensure that your eyeglasses will be a perfect fit.

Lazy eye or amblyopia is the result of having eyes of mismatched strength or health. Essentially, the brain favors communication from one eye because it relays sharper or more consistent information. As the brain continues utilizing one eye over the other, the weaker eye continues to decrease in strength and ability.

To treat amblyopia, you’ll need to first schedule an appointment with your eye care professional and ask about coping with lazy eye. The root of your treatment plan is strengthening your weaker eye, intensify your brain’s neurological activity and foster a solid communication pattern between your nervous system and weak optic nerve.

Without prompt treatment, lazy eyes can cause irreversible symptoms including blindness. If a child is diagnosed and begins treatment before 6 years of age, he or she will likely make a full recovery. However, treatment beyond corrective lenses is usually necessary because of the disease’s associated neurologically active process. When you speak with your eye care professional, he or she may recommend one of the following treatment techniques:

  • Vision Therapy: Used frequently for children, a customized treatment plan can help you develop focus control, accurate movement and eye coordination, which in turn causes improved brain synapses and boosted activity.
  • Medication: Safe and harmless, atropine drops can be used to blur vision in your healthy eye, which will increase the optic nerve activity in your other eye.
  • Eye patches: By isolating your weaker eye, your brain will be forced to use the associated optic nerve and develop the eye. On your healthy eye, you’ll wear the patch periodically until your eyes are of equal strength and health.

Approximately 4 percent of children suffer from amblyopia and the condition is easily detected with a routine eye examination. Recovering full visual health is dependent on timely action at an early age. If you have any concerns, give us a call and make an appointment.

Astigmatism is an eye condition where the cornea or lens displays irregular curvature. As a result, light refracts improperly or imprecisely on the retina causing blurry vision depending on the distance. A large number of individuals live with mild astigmatisms because perfectly shaped eyes are exceptionally rare. Poor night vision, frequent eye strain, repeated squinting and excessive eye fatigue after viewing lit screens are all signals of possible astigmatism.

The irregularity is thought to be hereditary and is more frequently found in Hispanic and Asian populations. Today, optometry has several effective treatments for astigmatisms including refractive surgery and a full range of corrective lenses. If you think you have an astigmatism, schedule a standard eye examination.

As the body ages, many parts begin to change, functioning with less precision than they previously enjoyed. The eye is no exception. Aging eyes and vision, known medically as presbyopia, is largely due to a loss of elasticity in the ocular tissue. For people over the age of 45 this is a natural, if distressing condition. You may be suffering from presbyopia if you have difficulty focusing on nearby objects, need more light to focus vision, or experience blurred vision or occasional headaches.

Routine eye exams screen for presbyopia. Our clinic can assist patients with choosing prescription eyeglasses and contacts, and can even recommend a competent eye surgeon to conduct Lasik surgery to restore the eye to its youthful health.

Patients with hyperopia, or farsightedness, have no difficulty seeing things that are far away, but experience blurred vision when attempting to focus on objects nearby, such as a book or restaurant menu. They may experience eyestrain, eye fatigue and headaches when straining to focus on objects at close range.

Hyperopia can be caused by a shorter than average eyeball when measured from the cornea to the retina. Light is focused behind the retina instead of directly onto it, causing blurred vision that becomes clearer as an object is moved farther away. Children who suffer from untreated hyperopia may face difficulties in school and may struggle to learn to read. We offer eye screenings for the whole family and have a vast selection of contact lenses and eyeglasses for children and adults.

By this point, most of us have heard that computers, smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices have some kind of impact on our eyes. Blue light lenses are incredibly popular, and everyone is looking for ways to prevent computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain.

We’re still learning about the precise causes and effects of digital eye strain. But we do have some insight into how this condition impacts your overall health.

A Quick Primer on Digital Eye Strain

Every part of your body is designed to work a certain way. Your eyes were intended to spend the day looking at different objects at different distances in different kinds of light. Unfortunately, that is not really how we use our eyes. Whether we’re going to school, you’re working, or even just lounging around at home, most of us spend a good portion of the day looking at some kind of screen.

Looking at an object directly in front of you for hours is exhausting to your eyes. To put it into perspective, think about holding a ping pong ball straight out in front of you with your arm extended. A ping pong ball isn’t heavy or difficult to hold. For the first few minutes, you wouldn’t really notice anything. By an hour, you would definitely be uncomfortable. And after a few hours, you most likely wouldn’t be able to hold your arm in that position anymore. 

This is the same principle that causes your eyes to feel tired after a day of looking at computers, mobile devices, tablets, and other digital components.

Woman holding phone close to her face

Why Do Digital Devices Cause Specific Strain?

Of course, school work and office work is hardly a new concept. For hundreds of years now people have spent 8 hours or a day or more reading and writing. So why is eye strain such a new thing? Why does it seem to be specific to digital devices?

The major reason has to do with how we use digital devices. Most people hold a book or newspaper approximately 40 cm from their face when they’re reading. That position is relatively comfortable for your eyes. Meanwhile, most people hold their smartphones and tablets about 32 cm from their face. This position is far less comfortable and forces your eyes to work much harder to focus on what you’re trying to see.

Another significant component of digital eye strain is blink rates. On average, we blink between 19 and 26 times per minute. When we’re using a computer or digital device, the average blink rate goes down by 60%. Blinking is what keeps your eyes hydrated. If we stop blinking properly or frequently enough, our eyes become dry, tired, and uncomfortable.

Symptoms Of Eye Strain

Man holds bridge of his nose in front of computer

Sore or Tired Eyes

Your eye focuses on different objects at different distances through the lens, which is controlled by muscles. Just like any other muscle, overuse leads to soreness and fatigue. Forcing a muscle to hold a position for a long time will cause discomfort and exhaustion.

Dry Eyes

The process of blinking is designed entirely to keep the eyes clean and hydrated. Each blink introduces more tears, replenishing them as they evaporate. When you’re working on a phone, tablet, laptop, or other similar devices, your blink rate slows down, allowing tears to evaporate from your eyes without replenishing them. As your eyes dry out, they become irritated.

Headaches

Regular headaches can be a symptom of many things, from dehydration to depression. But very frequently, headaches are a symptom of vision issues. When your eyes have to work particularly hard due to a refractive error or digital eye strain, it often results in a headache.

Sore Neck

As our eyes grow tired, we may start to unconsciously compensate by craning our neck forward or hunching over our desk to see better.  As a result, people suffering from digital eye strain often experience pain in their shoulder and neck muscles. With the proper office ergonomics, this can be avoided, and the overall impact of digital eye strain can be greatly reduced.

Sleeplessness

Some optometrists and medical professionals consider sleeplessness a symptom of digital eye strain. This stems from the belief that blue light, which is emitted by digital displays, is one of the leading causes of digital eye strain. 

Blue light is a specific range of ultraviolet light which can alter your circadian rhythm, or your sleep schedule. Staring at a digital screen for too long, or too close to bedtime can prevent your brain from releasing melatonin, the hormone that makes you drowsy.

Preventing & Managing Digital Eye Strain

Man demonstrating office ergonomics

The 20/20/20 Rule

So much of digital eye strain comes from too much near work. I recommend the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a chance to rest throughout the workday.

Every 20 minutes, stop looking at your phone, computer, or device. Choose a spot about 20 feet away, and stare at it for at least 20 seconds. The 20-foot focus point is considered to be the most neutral position for your eyes. This is sort of like stretching your legs after sitting the same way for 20 minutes. It can make the rest of your workday much more comfortable. 

If you have trouble remembering, set reminders on your phone or computer every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Office Ergonomics

Setting up your office or workspace ergonomically can help alleviate some of the strain on your eyes and your body.

Your computer screen should be about an arm’s length away from your face. The top of your screen should be about 20 degrees below your eye level and tilted up towards your face. Position your monitor to eliminate as much glare as possible.

Do Blue Light Filters Work?

This is a tricky question, to which the answer is both yes and no. Blue light filtering glasses or lenses can block up to 99% of blue light from entering your eye. However, there is now some debate as to whether blue light actually triggers digital eye strain or not. Studies have been released on both sides, dismissing and supporting the use of filters to alleviate symptoms.

Regardless of the impact blue light may or may not have on digital eye strain, protecting your eyes from blue light is still important. Studies indicate that blue light exposure may increase your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye diseases. Scientists believe blue light exposure is cumulative, meaning the sooner you start filtering blue light, the better.

What Are The Long Term Effects Of Digital Eye Strain?

Doctors have been studying the impact of digital displays on the eye since computers became a regular part of office life. However, all of the technology that we use, particularly its modern iterations, are quite new. At this point, it’s still too early to really tell what sort of long-term effects digital eye strain could have on your health.

Until we know more, it’s best to protect your eye health by taking frequent breaks, maintaining an ergonomic workspace, and visiting your optometrist regularly.

For most people, contact lenses are an excellent and versatile eyewear option. They allow you to enjoy day-to-day activities without worrying about the safety or cleanliness of eyeglasses.

Unfortunately, I’ve met a lot of patients who have already determined that contact lenses are not for them. They wear lenses once or twice, find them too uncomfortable or too difficult to keep in, and assume they just can’t wear contacts. In some cases, optometrists tell patients that their eyes are too hard to fit.

It’s certainly true that certain eye conditions or diseases make contact lens wear difficult or uncomfortable. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that contact lenses aren’t an option. There are a wide variety of specialty contact lenses designed specifically for patients with hard to fit eyes.

Let’s talk about what it means to have hard-to-fit eyes, and what sort of specialty contact lenses exist to give you a better experience.

Why Are Some Eyes “Hard-to-Fit?”

When optometrists use the phrase “hard-to-fit,” they’re usually referring to the shape of the eye. Some conditions, like astigmatism, impact the shape of the cornea. When the cornea isn’t uniformly round, it makes it difficult for the contact lens to stick to the eye.

Other issues, like dry eye disease, make contact lens wear deeply uncomfortable and irritating for the eyes. This doesn’t necessarily impact your optometrist’s ability to fit you for contact lenses, but it will make traditional lenses more uncomfortable to wear. 

These are the four eye conditions that impact contact lens wear the most.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a condition that eventually impacts everyone in middle age. As you get older, your natural lens stiffens, which makes it harder to focus on near objects. That’s why people usually start relying on reading glasses in their mid to late 40s. 

This problem can be easily rectified with reading glasses if you don’t need any other correction. However, if you are also nearsighted or astigmatic, you’ll need multiple prescriptions for different distances. Owning multiple pairs of glasses is one thing, but having to switch contact lenses based on what activities you’re engaged in is rather unrealistic.

Dry Eye

Your eyes need tears to keep them hydrated, clean, and lubricated. When your body doesn’t produce enough tears or produces tears of poor quality, it irritates the eye. This irritation is made significantly worse when wearing contact lenses.

Contact lenses can dry out during the day. If your eyes are already dry, the additional dryness just compounds the problem, making your existing dry eye symptoms more prominent than before. Dry eye is one of the major causes of contact lens discomfort.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism describes an uneven corneal shape. As we’ve already established, the cornea needs to be uniformly round to work properly. Patients with astigmatism have irregularly-shaped corneas, which prevents light from refracting properly in their eye. As a result, their vision is blurry or unfocused to some degree at all distances. Astigmatism can also develop due to the shape of the natural lens inside the eye.

Contact lens wear can be difficult for patients suffering from astigmatism, not only because of their irregular corneal shape but also because different areas (or meridians) of the eye require different prescriptions (or corrective powers) to offer consistently clear vision.

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a condition that causes the cornea to bulge outwards in a cone-like shape. There are a variety of elements that could cause keratoconus, such as excessive rubbing of the eye, or imbalanced enzymes in the cornea.

This structural change to the cornea alters the way light refracts in the eye, preventing clear vision. It also makes traditional contact lenses difficult to wear due to the cornea’s progressively-changing shape.

Specialty Contact Lenses for Hard-to-Fit Eyes

Contact lens technology is advancing all the time, providing us with new and innovative solutions for a variety of eye issues. Many of these specialty contact lenses are appropriate for multiple types of eye conditions. I’ve listed the conditions these lenses are typically used for, however, you’ll have to speak to your eye doctor to determine what works best for you.

Scleral Lenses

Diagram of scleral lens

Scleral lenses are hugely popular among patients who find traditional contact lenses uncomfortable. Scleral lenses cover more of your eye’s surface area, resting on the white part of the eye which is called the sclera. The sclera is not nearly as sensitive as the cornea, which makes the lens is more comfortable to wear. The additional surface area also stabilizes these lenses, making them less likely to shift as you blink.

Because the edges of the lens rest on the sclera, scleral lenses don’t actually touch your cornea at all; they vault directly over it, leaving space between the lens and your cornea. This space can act as a reservoir for tears, making scleral lenses a more comfortable choice for patients with dry eye.

Scleral lenses are typically used for:

  • Dry eye
  • Keratoconus
  • Irregular corneas

Hybrid Lenses

Diagram of hybrid contact lenses

Hybrid contact lenses are designed to offer the benefits of two different types of lenses. At the centre, hybrid contact lenses are rigid or gas permeable. This provides crisp and accurate vision. The outer ring or skirt of the lens is a soft contact lens which offers a higher degree of comfort. Hybrid lenses are relatively large in diameter, which makes them secure and helps them to stay centred on the eye. 

Hybrid lenses are typically used for:

  • Astigmatism
  • Presbyopia
  • Irregular corneas

Bifocal & Multifocal Lenses

Diagram of Multifocal contact types

Multifocal contact lenses are any type of contact that has more than one prescription or corrective power in a single lens. Bifocal contacts are a type of multifocal contacts that offer just two corrective powers. 

There are several different types of multifocal contact lenses, and each one lays out the different corrective powers in different patterns. Some use alternating rings, making a sort of target design, with each ring offering a different prescription level. Other multifocal lenses work in a sort of gradient, having one corrective power slowly fade Into the next. 

Bifocal & Multifocal lenses are typically used for:

  • Presbyopia

Toric Lenses

Toric lenses are a specific type of contact lens, offering different corrective powers in different areas of the lens. They are most often used to correct astigmatism. Astigmatism is unique in that it requires specific prescriptions for different meridians of the eye, which means that unlike traditional contact lenses, they have to be properly oriented to work. 

Thanks to stabilizing dual-thin zone, toric lenses automatically maintain the correct orientation with each blink; ensuring the appropriate prescription is applied to the right part of your eye. 

Toric lenses are typically used for:

  • Astigmatism

You Do Have Options

I certainly understand that a bad experience with contact lenses can be off-putting. But contact lens technology has come so far, and we now have so many different options to allow comfortable and effective contact lens wear for nearly every type of eye, even those who have found contacts too uncomfortable in the past. 

If you’ve been told that your eyes are too difficult to fit, I would encourage you to seek a second opinion from another optometrist, particularly one who specializes in contact lenses for hard to fit eyes. There is a good chance that there are some options available to you.

Glaucoma is one of the major causes of vision loss in North America. But despite the fact that it’s quite common, few people know much about it until they’ve been diagnosed, and at that point, they may have already lost a good portion of their vision.

By educating ourselves about glaucoma and similar diseases, we can take a more proactive stance on our eye health. 

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes permanent cumulative damage to the optic nerve. This nerve is responsible for transmitting signals from the retina to the brain. If it sustains too much damage, we can experience vision loss, which is precisely what happens with glaucoma.

Sometimes, the optic nerve is damaged by something called intraocular pressure. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the optic nerve becomes damaged without an increase in intraocular pressure. Doctors don’t quite know what causes the damage in these cases.

Perhaps the most dangerous element of glaucoma is its stealth. Optic nerve damage usually occurs very slowly over a period of years. In most cases, this damage is so gradual that people don’t even notice the changes to their vision until they’ve lost a good portion of their sight. Unfortunately, once glaucoma has damaged the optic nerve, the damage cannot be undone.

dark fuzzy landscape

A simulation of what advanced glaucoma may look like.

The best and most effective way to reduce your chances of vision loss is by seeing your optometrist on a regular basis for testing. 

Types of Glaucoma

Each type of glaucoma works a little bit differently. But before you can understand the mechanics of glaucoma, we first need to explore a little bit of the eyes’ anatomy. 

Eye anatomy diagram

There is a space between your crystalline lens and your cornea called the anterior chamber. Part of the eye called the ciliary body secretes a liquid called the aqueous humour, which flows through a small space between the lens and the iris, and out into the anterior chamber. Eventually, the aqueous humour will flow back out of the chamber through ducts.

Intraocular pressure is a metric that expresses how much of the aqueous humour is filling the anterior chamber. 

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open angle glaucoma diagram

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, occurring when there’s enough space between the iris and the lens to allow the aqueous humour to flow through, but IOP keeps rising. The climbing pressure is due to an issue with the drainage ducts in the anterior chamber.

If open-angle glaucoma is caught early, it can be managed to limit further vision loss.

Angle-Closure

Angle-closure glaucoma diagram

Angle-closure glaucoma is unique from the other types of glaucoma because it comes on very suddenly. While other types of the disease develop with few noticeable symptoms, this one is accompanied by severe and rather violent indicators, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme eye pain
  • Headache
  • Excessive tears
  • Blurry vision
  • Glare or halos around lights

This condition develops when the space between the iris and the lens suddenly closes, preventing the aqueous humour from flowing properly without the ability to drain, the aqueous humour continues to fill the eye, rapidly building eye pressure and damaging the optic nerve.

Angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency. If you experience these symptoms, it’s vital that you seek immediate medical attention.

Normal-Tension

Medical science is always changing, and we’re learning more about the human body every single day. However, sometimes the body does things we just don’t understand. This is what happens with normal-tension glaucoma. 

In cases of normal-tension glaucoma, the angle between the iris and the lens is wide enough to allow the aqueous humour to flow through, and the drainage ducts appear to be working properly. Still, for some reason, the optic nerve continues to sustain cumulative damage. Doctors are not yet sure what causes the damage. However, the condition can be managed once it has been diagnosed. 

Congenital

Most people associate glaucoma with seniors, but it is possible for children to suffer from glaucoma. Childhood glaucoma or congenital glaucoma develops in children whose eyes did not develop properly. As a result, the aqueous humour cannot drain effectively, causing their IOP to increase.

Children with congenital glaucoma may have:

  • Enlarged eyes
  • Cloudy corneas
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tears

Most cases of congenital glaucoma are diagnosed within the child’s first year of life. This condition can be managed with surgery, medication, or a combination of the two. 

Risk Factors

Like most diseases, some people are more likely to develop glaucoma than others. Of course, genetics and family history a factor. Other factors include:

  • Age, specifically when over the age of 60.
  • Ethnic background, including Carribean, African, Latino, and Asian lineage
  • Trauma to the eye, such as injuries or surgeries
  • Long-term use of corticosteroids
  • Conditions affecting blood flow, including diabetes, high blood pressure, or low blood pressure

When Does Glaucoma Develop?

Generally speaking, your risk of glaucoma does increase as you get older. However, that’s not to say that glaucoma will not develop in someone who is 39, or even 21. Unfortunately, glaucoma can develop at any time, so it’s crucial that you stay vigilant with eye exams. It is never too early to test for glaucoma.

Should I Be Worried About Glaucoma?

I don’t like clickbait. I actively try to avoid scare tactics as a means of getting patients’ attention. So I wouldn’t necessarily say that you should be worried about glaucoma. But you should absolutely be aware of glaucoma. 

The reality is that, unless glaucoma is diagnosed early, it results in significant irreversible vision loss. By seeing your optometrist regularly and undergoing glaucoma testing, you can significantly reduce your risk of profound vision loss. Even more encouraging, technology is advancing at breakneck speed. With the right equipment, optometrists can diagnose glaucoma years earlier than they would have done previously.

Itchy eyes are incredibly frustrating, particularly when you don’t know what’s causing them.

I’ve put together this infographic to help distinguish some of the common sources of itchy eyes, and explain where you should go for help!

Infographic discussing different causes of itchy eyes and who to see about them

Your eyes are very delicate and vulnerable organs. Touching them or rubbing them could cause injuries, infections, and even worse!

Take a look at this infographic to find out how you could get sick from just touching your eyes.An infographic demonstrating the vulnerability of eyes.

 

No matter what kind of doctor you’re going to see, filling out your family history is usually part of your first visit.

In my experience, patients seem to think we only need to know about a family history of eye issues. Don’t get me wrong; you should always tell your optometrist about any eye diseases that run in your family. But many patients don’t seem to realize that we are also looking for diseases that may seem unrelated to eye health.

Your body is like a machine made of several smaller systems. While your heart health and eye health may not seem related, these and other systems are connected, and they can all have a profound impact on each other.

Here are 5 conditions you should include in your optometric family history.

Diabetes

Diabetes isn’t always genetic. Sometimes it develops as a result of lifestyle. Still, if someone in your family has diabetes type 2 diabetes, you may carry the genetic mutation that can cause it.

Diabetes can lead to a range of eye health issues, not the least of which is diabetic eye disease. This condition is serious and can lead to blindness without proper monitoring and treatment. 

If you’re at risk of developing diabetes, your eye doctor needs to know so they can lookout for early signs of diabetic eye disease. 

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a relatively common issue. Many people believe that, as long as they keep an eye on it, their high blood pressure is nothing to worry about.

However, when it comes to ocular health, this may not be strictly true. 

Your retinae are responsible for detecting light and sending images to your brain through the optic nerve. High blood pressure can damage the delicate blood vessels in your retina over time. This damage may lead to bleeding or scarring that will permanently impact your vision.

If you have high blood pressure or high blood pressure runs in your family, it’s important to let your optometrist know and, of course, work with your general practitioner to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.

Shingles

Shingles is a painful and itchy rash that only shows up on one side of the face or body. This condition is caused by a viral infection, meaning it technically isn’t a genetic condition. However, studies show that some families are genetically predisposed to catching the virus.

Shingles is not hereditary, but susceptibility to shingles is. 

If the infection develops on or around the eye, patients might end up with permanent corneal scarring. In some cases, the infection can increase intraocular pressure and damage the optic nerve, essentially triggering glaucoma.

You should let your optometrist know if your family is susceptible to shingles. If you’re 50 years old or older, you may also want to get the shingles vaccine, which can reduce your chance of developing shingles by up to 97%

Smiling optometrist discussing medical history with an older female patient

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases prevent the human body from distinguishing between safe, healthy cells and foreign or harmful cells. As a result, someone with an autoimmune disease may often be sick or in pain as their body tries to fight itself. 

Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and AIDS are all examples of autoimmune diseases.

Many autoimmune diseases cause chronic inflammation in or around the eye. This swelling destroys tissue in a condition called uveitis. 

There are different types of uveitis, which are linked to more or less severe symptoms. However, all types of uveitis should be taken seriously as some can result in blindness. 

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is the name for a group of conditions that affect hemoglobin. Hemoglobin delivers oxygen to different parts of the body through red blood cells. In patients with sickle cell disease, the hemoglobin molecules can cause red blood cells to take on a crescent shape. 

Unlike normal red blood cells, sickled cells are rigid, which can cause them to get stuck in blood vessels, depriving parts of the body of oxygen. 

The blood vessels in the retina are very narrow. Blockages in these blood vessels can cause them to burst and bleed into the retina, which may result in vision loss or even blindness. 

The More Your Optometrist Knows, the Better

Questions about your family medical history may seem irrelevant or invasive, but you must give as much information as you can. Your eye health team knows what medical conditions to look for, so you don’t have to decide what’s relevant and what isn’t. 

It’s better just to give them a complete list of medical conditions that run in your family and let them determine which ones to look out for. It could make the difference between managing a condition and living with vision loss. 

Eye Health Articles

A Bit of Foresight Will Help Preserve Your Sight!

Something that we work hard to inform our patients about is the importance of preventative eye care. As Optometrists, we carry a certain amount of bias on the subject because of what we do and see (pun intended) every day. However, bias aside, there are a lot of reasons to have your ocular health top of mind.

  • You only have one set of eyes – While it’s possible to lead a fulfilling and independent life without vision, why go through that experience if you don’t have to? Prevention goes a long way.
  • Eyesight lost due to disease or physical damage generally cannot be restored – There are some exceptions to this (such as cataracts, which can be removed via cataract removal surgery), though these exceptions are far from the rule.
  • Protecting your eyes is often as simple as wearing a pair of glasses or goggles – How frustrating would it be to lose sight in one or both eyes for something that was completely preventable?

With the above in mind, we’ve prepared a small list of ways you can protect your eyes without having to impair your quality of life.

Safety Goggles: A Must When Working Outdoors

One of the most frustrating things we see as doctors are patients with chemical burns or foreign bodies embedded in their eyes. This type of injury can be minor, or it can be major- it’s often the luck of the draw as to which way it will go.

So why do we find it frustrating? In most cases, a pair of safety goggles could have completely prevented the injury. The real kicker is, as frustrating as we find it, imagine having to come to terms with losing visual acuity because of a completely preventable reason.

Working on the car? Trimming the hedges? Painting the fence? Throw on a pair of safety goggles- your eyes will thank you!

Sunglasses Are About More Than Just Squinting

A good pair of sunglasses will enhance your vision, sharpen your style, and help keep your vision on point.

The big ball of fire anchored in space – the one that the Earth derives its energy and sustenance from – also emits something particularly harmful to our eyes. UV light. We’ve talked about UV before- check out our other posts on the subject:

UV light is invisible, harmful to vision, and often overlooked. Don’t be a UV-newbie, throw on a pair of sunglasses when you’re outside!

Have Your Eyes Examined

We can’t stress this enough! An annual eye exam is all most people need to have clear, unbiased perspective on the state of their eye health. An eye exam is quick – generally taking under an hour – and provides you the peace of mind knowing that any issues that are found can be rectified easily.

Almost all eye diseases respond best when caught and treated early, and most eye diseases don’t display obvious symptoms during their initial development. In other words: with many diseases, by the time you notice a change to your vision, permanent vision loss has already occurred.

Among all the creatures in the animal kingdom, humans are the most well-adapted to life on Earth. We have thrived as we have evolved, and we can thank the amazing evolution of our eyes for helping us to witness the transformation.

Our eyes, though not necessarily the most sharp, discerning, or expansive (in comparison to some specialized animals), are excellent all-around performers that have allowed us to flourish. One of the advantages our eyes provide us is with our excellent perception of colour.

Not All Animals Can See in Colour Vision…*

Perhaps the most famous example of this fact are our best friends, dogs. Where humans have three color-receptive cone cells in our eyes (that see red, green, and blue), dogs only have two.

*… But They Likely Don’t See in Grayscale Either.

Interestingly enough, dogs don’t see in grayscale. Their vision is best compared to someone that has deuteranopia (red/green colorblindness). Their colour-cells are receptive to tones of yellow and blue.

Recent studies have shown that animals that were once widely thought to see in grayscale (seeing in black and white), like your family dog and cat, can actually see in color. Their differentiation of color is distinctly different from what a humans see, as humans have more robust colour vision compared to most mammals.

Insects & Animals That Can See Into the UV Spectrum

Many different animals and insects can see well outside the range humans can, with many being able to see into the UV spectrum. The UV spectrum of light exists at wavelengths under 400m and is completely invisible to human eyes.

Seeing into the UV spectrum can have huge advantages. Bees, for example, look at the UV markings on flowers as giant homing beacons that guide them to the flowers pollen.

Color Vision Is Quite the Evolutionary Advantage

Humans, and other animals that have evolved exceptional color vision, have benefitted immensely from our colour perception. We can leverage our understanding of colour to make quick decisions, or to determine if something may be poisonous or dangerous.

We are able to infer the flavour and palatability of food and drink based on its colour (interested in a glass of toxic-green water?), and being able to clearly differentiate between similar shades of colour makes us better hunters, farmers, and craftsmen.

What About Color Blindness?

Approximately 10% of men and 1% of women are colorblind. Though the name suggests that these people see in grayscale, they are usually color deficient. Red/green colorblindness is the most common version.

People who are colorblind see as clearly as anyone else. However, their perception of colour is greatly diminished compared to someone who has color-normal vision.

Take Some Time to Enjoy the Sights (And Sounds!)

2016 is enjoying a great summer, with El Nino providing plenty of wonky-weather for us to… “enjoy”. We’re spending the time outdoors, and we hope you are too.

If you haven’t already, try on a pair of polarized sunglasses. Sunglasses with polarized lenses reduce glare and improve contrast, making colours pop. Maui Jim’s also feature colour-enhancing lenses that increase colour saturation and fidelity, making outdoor scenes really something special.

Next time you’re out for a stroll and appreciating a nice flower bed, think about how special and unique our ability to perceive colour is- we sure are lucky!

It is no secret that Alberta has a very dusty and dry climate – especially when it comes to winters.  Dry eye is a common symptom in Alberta’s climate.  Here are a few pointers to help ease the pain of dry eye in our dry and dusty climate:

Artificial Tears

Artificial tears, taken as eye drops, will bring with instant relief of the pain that can come from having dry eyes.  As the name suggests, they will give your eyes that instant lubrication that is needed to keep the eye moist.  

If over the counter artificial tears aren’t doing the job, we may prescribe medicated drops that reduce the inflammation related to dry eyes.

Improve Air Quality

Protect your eyes from poor air quality. The simple act of putting on sunglasses can help with the dust, and even the harshness of the wind.

Adding a humidifier to your home can help as well.  A humidifier will help substantially, particularly in winter, as it will keep the air humid.  You can compliment your humidifier by beefing up your home’s air filter system- you can add more restrictive filters, or purchase portable air purifiers.

Compresses

Sometimes a person’s eye duct can just become clogged.  A simple way to correct this is to put a warm cloth compress right on the eye to open up the duct.  This will promote the glands to open up and drain, restoring the working function of the tear duct.  

This can be done at home, though severely blocked glands should be checked out by one of our Optometrists.

Nutrition

Sometimes changing your diet can help in the correction of dry eyes.  Drinking more water and staying hydrated is a great way to make sure that your body is producing enough natural tears.  Incorporating more healthy omega fats into your diet has also been linked to dry eye relief.

Seek Medical Help

If dry eyes are persistent, and you cannot find any relief, there may be something more than just the climate that is causing your discomfort.  There could be an underlying issue that is causing the discomfort, and our Optometrist may be the best way to figure out what is exactly going on with your eyes.  

Digital eye strain is all the rage these days. It seems like everyone is getting on board the digital eye strain bandwagon, and with up to 70% of Albertans experiencing the symptoms of digital eye strain, it’s no wonder that this fun, family-friendly condition is gaining popularity.

The best part about digital eye strain is how easy it makes everyday tasks (like working at a computer or using your smartphone). It helps you stay alert, engaged, and focused.

Wait… What? Digital Eye Strain is… Fun?

By now it must be clear that we’re being sarcastic. Super sarcastic. While our claims of digital eye strain being a “fun, family-friendly” condition are obviously false, the shocking statistic that up to 70% of Albertans experience it (and growing) is unfortunately completely true.

What Exactly is Digital Eye Strain?

Anyone who’s ever spent hours engrossed in a page-turning book knows what some of the symptoms of eye strain are like. However, compared to a book, a digital display is much more jarring on the eye.

Simply put, digital eye strain is the result of spending hours and hours of our days/lives staring at a display. Whether it’s an LCD screen, OLED smartphone, tablet, plasma TV… all these displays have the potential to promote eye strain.

Our eyes aren’t supposed to spend prolonged periods of time focusing on a fixed point. In fact, for most of our evolutionary history, there was no advantage to being able to do so. It’s only recently – in the last 30 years or so – that digital screens have become as prevalent as they are.

What Are The Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain?

We’re glad you asked. They are:

  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Death

Okay, we’re joking! Digital eye strain certainly won’t kill you, but it will greatly reduce your comfort. Typical symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision (for real this time)
  • Neck pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty focusing/remaining on-task
  • Burning sensation in the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • A feeling of strong eye fatigue (can’t keep your eyes open)

Get That Eye Strain Under Control!

We’d never tell our patients to stop using digital devices. In 2016, such an option doesn’t even exist. However, we would like to remind you of the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a well-deserved break and helps stave off symptoms.

At Red Deer Eye Care, we carry lenses and coatings that are specifically targeted to reduce digital eyestrain.  Find out more about the lenses we offer for digital users at our clinics.

If you’re struggling to manage your digital eye strain symptoms, visit us! We have three practices in Red Deer, Rimbey, and Rocky Mountain House- we are ready to help you!

Despite the phenomenal leaps we are making every year in biological science and technology, the human eye is still irreplaceable. However, could corneal implants represent one future of vision correction by replacing reading glasses?

As you crest 40 years old, you become an easier target for presbyopia, the age-induced condition which causes your near vision to falter. Presbyopia is the reason so many of us require reading glasses, even when our general short range sight is still very sharp.

Corneal implants are an exciting new player in vision correction, and they might be just the thing for you!

Okay, But What are Corneal Implants Exactly?

Also referred to as corneal inlays, these are the latest attempt by optometry experts to make presbyopia manageable and less problematic. Unlike contact lenses which are placed on the outer layer of the cornea, inlays are much smaller lenses which are placed in the middle of the cornea- a layer called the stroma.

There are three different implants currently being used and developed:

  • The AcuFocus Kamra (FDA approved)
  • The Presbia Flexivue Microlens
  • The Raindrop, by ReVision Optics. (FDA approved)

AcuFocus Kamra

Only 4mm diameter and less than a tenth of a human hair thick, this tiny inlay gained FDA approval a few years ago and is now commonly used to correct near and intermediate vision impairment. It is only implanted in the nondominant eye, allowing regular distance vision (for non-hyperopic patients) while sharply improving reading ability.

Raindrop

This device (only half the size of the Karma) gained FDA approval in June of this year following extensive testing and a very successful clinical trial. Its optical characteristics are almost identical to the human cornea. It is inserted into the eye following a laser incision to the outer cornea.

Flexivue

Similar to both of the other models in production, the Flexivue is also designed to be completely replaceable- young people who require corrections, but whose vision will change over their lifetime, can swap out their implant for a different strength when it becomes necessary. This implant is also fully reversible, so if a patient decides to use lenses or laser surgery instead, they can do so.

What’s All the Fuss About?

It can sound like a small thing, but the added convenience of never requiring to carry lenses with you to read a poster, book, mobile phone or even to see some family photos, is priceless. It’s also a huge stepping stone towards minimally invasive and reversible procedures to correct other vision impairments.

Sure, glasses and contacts are great (and they really are) but if our industry can start permanently correcting vision with smart, low-risk technology like inlays, then the future is very bright indeed.

By this point, most of us have heard that computers, smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices have some kind of impact on our eyes. Blue light lenses are incredibly popular, and everyone is looking for ways to prevent computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain.

We’re still learning about the precise causes and effects of digital eye strain. But we do have some insight into how this condition impacts your overall health.

A Quick Primer on Digital Eye Strain

Every part of your body is designed to work a certain way. Your eyes were intended to spend the day looking at different objects at different distances in different kinds of light. Unfortunately, that is not really how we use our eyes. Whether we’re going to school, you’re working, or even just lounging around at home, most of us spend a good portion of the day looking at some kind of screen.

Looking at an object directly in front of you for hours is exhausting to your eyes. To put it into perspective, think about holding a ping pong ball straight out in front of you with your arm extended. A ping pong ball isn’t heavy or difficult to hold. For the first few minutes, you wouldn’t really notice anything. By an hour, you would definitely be uncomfortable. And after a few hours, you most likely wouldn’t be able to hold your arm in that position anymore. 

This is the same principle that causes your eyes to feel tired after a day of looking at computers, mobile devices, tablets, and other digital components.

Woman holding phone close to her face

Why Do Digital Devices Cause Specific Strain?

Of course, school work and office work is hardly a new concept. For hundreds of years now people have spent 8 hours or a day or more reading and writing. So why is eye strain such a new thing? Why does it seem to be specific to digital devices?

The major reason has to do with how we use digital devices. Most people hold a book or newspaper approximately 40 cm from their face when they’re reading. That position is relatively comfortable for your eyes. Meanwhile, most people hold their smartphones and tablets about 32 cm from their face. This position is far less comfortable and forces your eyes to work much harder to focus on what you’re trying to see.

Another significant component of digital eye strain is blink rates. On average, we blink between 19 and 26 times per minute. When we’re using a computer or digital device, the average blink rate goes down by 60%. Blinking is what keeps your eyes hydrated. If we stop blinking properly or frequently enough, our eyes become dry, tired, and uncomfortable.

Symptoms Of Eye Strain

Man holds bridge of his nose in front of computer

Sore or Tired Eyes

Your eye focuses on different objects at different distances through the lens, which is controlled by muscles. Just like any other muscle, overuse leads to soreness and fatigue. Forcing a muscle to hold a position for a long time will cause discomfort and exhaustion.

Dry Eyes

The process of blinking is designed entirely to keep the eyes clean and hydrated. Each blink introduces more tears, replenishing them as they evaporate. When you’re working on a phone, tablet, laptop, or other similar devices, your blink rate slows down, allowing tears to evaporate from your eyes without replenishing them. As your eyes dry out, they become irritated.

Headaches

Regular headaches can be a symptom of many things, from dehydration to depression. But very frequently, headaches are a symptom of vision issues. When your eyes have to work particularly hard due to a refractive error or digital eye strain, it often results in a headache.

Sore Neck

As our eyes grow tired, we may start to unconsciously compensate by craning our neck forward or hunching over our desk to see better.  As a result, people suffering from digital eye strain often experience pain in their shoulder and neck muscles. With the proper office ergonomics, this can be avoided, and the overall impact of digital eye strain can be greatly reduced.

Sleeplessness

Some optometrists and medical professionals consider sleeplessness a symptom of digital eye strain. This stems from the belief that blue light, which is emitted by digital displays, is one of the leading causes of digital eye strain. 

Blue light is a specific range of ultraviolet light which can alter your circadian rhythm, or your sleep schedule. Staring at a digital screen for too long, or too close to bedtime can prevent your brain from releasing melatonin, the hormone that makes you drowsy.

Preventing & Managing Digital Eye Strain

Man demonstrating office ergonomics

The 20/20/20 Rule

So much of digital eye strain comes from too much near work. I recommend the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a chance to rest throughout the workday.

Every 20 minutes, stop looking at your phone, computer, or device. Choose a spot about 20 feet away, and stare at it for at least 20 seconds. The 20-foot focus point is considered to be the most neutral position for your eyes. This is sort of like stretching your legs after sitting the same way for 20 minutes. It can make the rest of your workday much more comfortable. 

If you have trouble remembering, set reminders on your phone or computer every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Office Ergonomics

Setting up your office or workspace ergonomically can help alleviate some of the strain on your eyes and your body.

Your computer screen should be about an arm’s length away from your face. The top of your screen should be about 20 degrees below your eye level and tilted up towards your face. Position your monitor to eliminate as much glare as possible.

Do Blue Light Filters Work?

This is a tricky question, to which the answer is both yes and no. Blue light filtering glasses or lenses can block up to 99% of blue light from entering your eye. However, there is now some debate as to whether blue light actually triggers digital eye strain or not. Studies have been released on both sides, dismissing and supporting the use of filters to alleviate symptoms.

Regardless of the impact blue light may or may not have on digital eye strain, protecting your eyes from blue light is still important. Studies indicate that blue light exposure may increase your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye diseases. Scientists believe blue light exposure is cumulative, meaning the sooner you start filtering blue light, the better.

What Are The Long Term Effects Of Digital Eye Strain?

Doctors have been studying the impact of digital displays on the eye since computers became a regular part of office life. However, all of the technology that we use, particularly its modern iterations, are quite new. At this point, it’s still too early to really tell what sort of long-term effects digital eye strain could have on your health.

Until we know more, it’s best to protect your eye health by taking frequent breaks, maintaining an ergonomic workspace, and visiting your optometrist regularly.

Glaucoma is one of the major causes of vision loss in North America. But despite the fact that it’s quite common, few people know much about it until they’ve been diagnosed, and at that point, they may have already lost a good portion of their vision.

By educating ourselves about glaucoma and similar diseases, we can take a more proactive stance on our eye health. 

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes permanent cumulative damage to the optic nerve. This nerve is responsible for transmitting signals from the retina to the brain. If it sustains too much damage, we can experience vision loss, which is precisely what happens with glaucoma.

Sometimes, the optic nerve is damaged by something called intraocular pressure. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the optic nerve becomes damaged without an increase in intraocular pressure. Doctors don’t quite know what causes the damage in these cases.

Perhaps the most dangerous element of glaucoma is its stealth. Optic nerve damage usually occurs very slowly over a period of years. In most cases, this damage is so gradual that people don’t even notice the changes to their vision until they’ve lost a good portion of their sight. Unfortunately, once glaucoma has damaged the optic nerve, the damage cannot be undone.

dark fuzzy landscape

A simulation of what advanced glaucoma may look like.

The best and most effective way to reduce your chances of vision loss is by seeing your optometrist on a regular basis for testing. 

Types of Glaucoma

Each type of glaucoma works a little bit differently. But before you can understand the mechanics of glaucoma, we first need to explore a little bit of the eyes’ anatomy. 

Eye anatomy diagram

There is a space between your crystalline lens and your cornea called the anterior chamber. Part of the eye called the ciliary body secretes a liquid called the aqueous humour, which flows through a small space between the lens and the iris, and out into the anterior chamber. Eventually, the aqueous humour will flow back out of the chamber through ducts.

Intraocular pressure is a metric that expresses how much of the aqueous humour is filling the anterior chamber. 

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open angle glaucoma diagram

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, occurring when there’s enough space between the iris and the lens to allow the aqueous humour to flow through, but IOP keeps rising. The climbing pressure is due to an issue with the drainage ducts in the anterior chamber.

If open-angle glaucoma is caught early, it can be managed to limit further vision loss.

Angle-Closure

Angle-closure glaucoma diagram

Angle-closure glaucoma is unique from the other types of glaucoma because it comes on very suddenly. While other types of the disease develop with few noticeable symptoms, this one is accompanied by severe and rather violent indicators, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme eye pain
  • Headache
  • Excessive tears
  • Blurry vision
  • Glare or halos around lights

This condition develops when the space between the iris and the lens suddenly closes, preventing the aqueous humour from flowing properly without the ability to drain, the aqueous humour continues to fill the eye, rapidly building eye pressure and damaging the optic nerve.

Angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency. If you experience these symptoms, it’s vital that you seek immediate medical attention.

Normal-Tension

Medical science is always changing, and we’re learning more about the human body every single day. However, sometimes the body does things we just don’t understand. This is what happens with normal-tension glaucoma. 

In cases of normal-tension glaucoma, the angle between the iris and the lens is wide enough to allow the aqueous humour to flow through, and the drainage ducts appear to be working properly. Still, for some reason, the optic nerve continues to sustain cumulative damage. Doctors are not yet sure what causes the damage. However, the condition can be managed once it has been diagnosed. 

Congenital

Most people associate glaucoma with seniors, but it is possible for children to suffer from glaucoma. Childhood glaucoma or congenital glaucoma develops in children whose eyes did not develop properly. As a result, the aqueous humour cannot drain effectively, causing their IOP to increase.

Children with congenital glaucoma may have:

  • Enlarged eyes
  • Cloudy corneas
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tears

Most cases of congenital glaucoma are diagnosed within the child’s first year of life. This condition can be managed with surgery, medication, or a combination of the two. 

Risk Factors

Like most diseases, some people are more likely to develop glaucoma than others. Of course, genetics and family history a factor. Other factors include:

  • Age, specifically when over the age of 60.
  • Ethnic background, including Carribean, African, Latino, and Asian lineage
  • Trauma to the eye, such as injuries or surgeries
  • Long-term use of corticosteroids
  • Conditions affecting blood flow, including diabetes, high blood pressure, or low blood pressure

When Does Glaucoma Develop?

Generally speaking, your risk of glaucoma does increase as you get older. However, that’s not to say that glaucoma will not develop in someone who is 39, or even 21. Unfortunately, glaucoma can develop at any time, so it’s crucial that you stay vigilant with eye exams. It is never too early to test for glaucoma.

Should I Be Worried About Glaucoma?

I don’t like clickbait. I actively try to avoid scare tactics as a means of getting patients’ attention. So I wouldn’t necessarily say that you should be worried about glaucoma. But you should absolutely be aware of glaucoma. 

The reality is that, unless glaucoma is diagnosed early, it results in significant irreversible vision loss. By seeing your optometrist regularly and undergoing glaucoma testing, you can significantly reduce your risk of profound vision loss. Even more encouraging, technology is advancing at breakneck speed. With the right equipment, optometrists can diagnose glaucoma years earlier than they would have done previously.

It may sound biased, but I think it’s reasonable to say that optometrists are one of the most underused resources in the medical field. 

In fact, there’s evidence to indicate that patients often seek help from a general practitioner for eye-related issues when an optometrist could treat the problem just as well, sometimes even better due to more specialized technology and treatments.

I think the issue is that many people don’t necessarily realize exactly what an optometrist is trained to do. Today, I’d like to explore that a little bit so you can develop a more comprehensive view of how your optometrist is equipped to take care of you.

What Is An Optometrist?

Optometrist Explaining Results

One of the most common questions people ask about optometry is “are optometrists actual doctors”? The short answer to this is yes, we are doctors of optometry.

The longer answer is a little bit more nuanced.

Your family doctor or general practitioner is a medical doctor, or an MD. MDs study the human body over a period of years, learning about each system, different types of diseases, how to diagnose and treat those diseases, and more.

Optometrists learn about the optics and anatomy of the eye over a period of years, studying how the visual system works, various eye diseases, and more. A doctor of optometry is not a medical doctor; however, as ODs, we are qualified to test for, diagnose, and treat a large range of eye-related medical conditions. We can even perform some types of procedures on the eyes.

The biggest distinction is that, while optometrists spend four years learning about the eye, MDs must focus on the entire body and only get a short period of training in terms of eye health.

Diagnosing Diseases

I think some people operate under the impression that their general practitioner will diagnose any eye issues (other than the general need for glasses) should the need arise.

The truth is that in many cases, your optometrist can most likely diagnose eye diseases and issues earlier and more effectively than your general practitioner. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that, because we specialize in eye health, we invest in technology to evaluate the health of your eyes, such as a slit lamp which is a microscope for the eye.  Most general practitioners do not have access to a slit lamp which is critical in diagnosing conditions such as red eye, cataracts, or retinal changes. The second reason is that your primary care doctor will probably only evaluate your eye health if you are complaining of eye-related symptoms, or if they have reason to suspect you are having eye issues. The problem is that many eye diseases and conditions develop without causing any noticeable symptoms

When you see an optometrist, they perform an in-depth eye health evaluation as a part of your eye exam. An eye doctor is far more likely to detect eye diseases before they cause problems than a general practitioner. 

What Can My Optometrist Diagnose?

The world of eye health is pretty expansive, so this is by no means an exhaustive list, but some of the conditions optometrist frequently diagnose include:

In some cases, eye symptoms can indicate diseases that affect other parts of the body. Specific signs may eventually lead to a diagnosis of:

What Can My Optometrist Treat?

Optometrist Explaining Eyedrops

Once again, this question has a long answer and a short answer. The short answer is that an optometrist can treat almost any eye issue that doesn’t require surgery, assuming they have the appropriate technology and products to do so.

The longer answer is that different optometrists have different areas of clinical focus. Assuming your optometrist has all of the necessary equipment and training, your optometrist could offer any of the following treatments:

  • Medicated eye drop prescription
  • Eyeglasses prescription
  • Contact lens prescription (specialty or traditional)
  • Glaucoma management
  • Oral & topical drugs (schedule 1 & schedule 2)
  • Myopia control

What Procedures Can My Optometrist Perform?

We’ve determined that optometrists cannot perform surgery. But your optometrist can perform some procedures. What’s the difference?

A procedure is a series of steps a medical professional performs to help achieve a health-related goal or desired outcome. Meanwhile, surgery is a procedure that requires cutting into the patient’s tissue.

Assuming your optometrist has the necessary equipment, they could perform any of these procedures:

  • Dilating & flushing out eye glands
  • Removing gland blockages
  • Removing foreign bodies stuck in the eye
  • Treating a cut or scratch on the cornea
  • Applying Intense Pulsed Light or IPL for dry eyes

Ask Your Optometrist First

Of course, your family doctor is most likely capable of helping you with eye issues. The difference is your optometrist has specialized technology and treatment options that your GP probably doesn’t.

If you don’t know who you should visit for an eye issue, take a moment to call your optometrist’s office. Tell them about your circumstances, and they will help you determine the best course of action. 

Just remember, regular eye exams with your optometrist are the absolute best way to detect eye diseases before they cause permanent damage to your vision.

Your eyes are very delicate and vulnerable organs. Touching them or rubbing them could cause injuries, infections, and even worse!

Take a look at this infographic to find out how you could get sick from just touching your eyes.An infographic demonstrating the vulnerability of eyes.

 

No matter what kind of doctor you’re going to see, filling out your family history is usually part of your first visit.

In my experience, patients seem to think we only need to know about a family history of eye issues. Don’t get me wrong; you should always tell your optometrist about any eye diseases that run in your family. But many patients don’t seem to realize that we are also looking for diseases that may seem unrelated to eye health.

Your body is like a machine made of several smaller systems. While your heart health and eye health may not seem related, these and other systems are connected, and they can all have a profound impact on each other.

Here are 5 conditions you should include in your optometric family history.

Diabetes

Diabetes isn’t always genetic. Sometimes it develops as a result of lifestyle. Still, if someone in your family has diabetes type 2 diabetes, you may carry the genetic mutation that can cause it.

Diabetes can lead to a range of eye health issues, not the least of which is diabetic eye disease. This condition is serious and can lead to blindness without proper monitoring and treatment. 

If you’re at risk of developing diabetes, your eye doctor needs to know so they can lookout for early signs of diabetic eye disease. 

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a relatively common issue. Many people believe that, as long as they keep an eye on it, their high blood pressure is nothing to worry about.

However, when it comes to ocular health, this may not be strictly true. 

Your retinae are responsible for detecting light and sending images to your brain through the optic nerve. High blood pressure can damage the delicate blood vessels in your retina over time. This damage may lead to bleeding or scarring that will permanently impact your vision.

If you have high blood pressure or high blood pressure runs in your family, it’s important to let your optometrist know and, of course, work with your general practitioner to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.

Shingles

Shingles is a painful and itchy rash that only shows up on one side of the face or body. This condition is caused by a viral infection, meaning it technically isn’t a genetic condition. However, studies show that some families are genetically predisposed to catching the virus.

Shingles is not hereditary, but susceptibility to shingles is. 

If the infection develops on or around the eye, patients might end up with permanent corneal scarring. In some cases, the infection can increase intraocular pressure and damage the optic nerve, essentially triggering glaucoma.

You should let your optometrist know if your family is susceptible to shingles. If you’re 50 years old or older, you may also want to get the shingles vaccine, which can reduce your chance of developing shingles by up to 97%

Smiling optometrist discussing medical history with an older female patient

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases prevent the human body from distinguishing between safe, healthy cells and foreign or harmful cells. As a result, someone with an autoimmune disease may often be sick or in pain as their body tries to fight itself. 

Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and AIDS are all examples of autoimmune diseases.

Many autoimmune diseases cause chronic inflammation in or around the eye. This swelling destroys tissue in a condition called uveitis. 

There are different types of uveitis, which are linked to more or less severe symptoms. However, all types of uveitis should be taken seriously as some can result in blindness. 

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is the name for a group of conditions that affect hemoglobin. Hemoglobin delivers oxygen to different parts of the body through red blood cells. In patients with sickle cell disease, the hemoglobin molecules can cause red blood cells to take on a crescent shape. 

Unlike normal red blood cells, sickled cells are rigid, which can cause them to get stuck in blood vessels, depriving parts of the body of oxygen. 

The blood vessels in the retina are very narrow. Blockages in these blood vessels can cause them to burst and bleed into the retina, which may result in vision loss or even blindness. 

The More Your Optometrist Knows, the Better

Questions about your family medical history may seem irrelevant or invasive, but you must give as much information as you can. Your eye health team knows what medical conditions to look for, so you don’t have to decide what’s relevant and what isn’t. 

It’s better just to give them a complete list of medical conditions that run in your family and let them determine which ones to look out for. It could make the difference between managing a condition and living with vision loss. 

Eye Products

Sunglasses and Their UV Rating: What It Means for Your Eyes

Almost all brands of sunglasses available in Alberta tout their UV protection. Have you ever wondered what that really means? Let’s find out.

While most people purchase sunglasses based on how they look,  we feel that how they protect your eyes from UV radiation is more important from a health perspective. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t buy a snazzy pair of sunglasses; it just means that there is more to a pair of sunglasses than how they look.

The Basics of UV Rays

UV radiation (often referred to as UV rays) can have a significant impact on your health, and on your eyes in particular. Many people understand how too much sun can damage your skin (and contribute towards skin cancer and other conditions), but a surprisingly large number of people don’t have the same understanding with respect to how UV radiation interacts with your eyes.

There are three types of UV rays:

  • UVA – These rays pass through glass easily. These rays can help cause cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • UVB – These rays are the most dangerous and are the main reason that sunglasses and sunscreen are important. They do not pass through glass.
  • UVC – These rays are filtered out by our atmosphere.

 

UV light occupies the part of the spectrum that is just outside our ability to see. It’s also important to remember that UVA and UVB rays can pass through clouds, meaning that sunscreen and sunglasses are important even on cloudy days.

How Sunglasses Protect Your Eyes

UV Protection

Sunglasses are rated based on the wavelengths of UV light that they block. For example, if a pair of sunglasses are rated as “UV 400”, this means that they block rays of light up to 400 nanometres. Sunglasses rated for “UV 400”  block between 99 and 100% of UV rays on both the UVA and UVB spectrum.

We recommend that you invest in a high quality pair of UV 400-rated sunglasses for maximum protection.

Additional Protection

In addition to UV protection, many sunglass lenses protect your eyes in other ways. While the list below is far from complete, it outlines some of the more common types of protection offered by different types of sunglass lenses.

 

  • Blue filtering lenses – Recent studies have supported the idea that blue light can be harmful to our eyes. Many types of lenses and coatings exist to filter out blue light.
  • Anti-reflective lenses – Anti-reflective coatings and polarized lenses can significantly reduce the glare on your eyes.
  • Mirror coatings – Mirror coated lenses reflect a much larger percentage of light compared to non-mirrored lenses, reducing how much light and glare reach the eyes.
  • Photochromic lenses – These lenses darken as they are exposed to UV light. Think of them as sunglasses on demand.

 

Looking For a New Pair of Sunglasses? Try Ours on For Size!

We carry today’s most popular brands – like Maui Jim and kate spade new york – in a variety of styles and lens options. We have locations in Red Deer, Rimbey, and Rocky Mountain House (click here to find our locations). Come check us out!

Eye Safety

In many industries like construction, manufacturing, and others, employers require their employees to use safety eyewear as part of their personal protective equipment, or PPE. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for workers to avoid wearing their protective eyewear. 

There could be a few different reasons for this. The most common reasons a worker may avoid their safety eyewear could be:

  • The user finds them uncomfortable
  • They negatively impact the user’s vision, 
  • The user doesn’t like the style of their safety eyewear

Leaving your safety glasses at home puts your vision at risk. Approximately 90% of eye injuries are totally preventable with the appropriate eyewear. 

Rather than choosing not to wear your safety eyewear, look into what solutions are available. There are far more options than you probably realize. 

Let’s talk about some of the ways you can make your safety eyewear work well for you.

Comfort

A group of workers were polled about their use of safety eyewear in the workplace. 98% of them said they did not always wear their protective eyewear when they were supposed to. Of that 98%, 40% said they did not wear the appropriate eyewear because it was uncomfortable.

If your safety goggles aren’t comfortable, you just won’t wear them. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for comfortable eyewear.

The Right Fit

Your safety glasses will not feel quite the same as your everyday glasses. The frames and the lenses are thicker and sturdier so they can stand up to impact.

Even though it feels a little bit different, your protective eyewear should not hurt. Wearers sometimes complain that their safety eyewear pinches their nose, their temples, or behind their ears. This indicates that your eyewear does not fit you properly.

Your face is unique. Finding comfortable PPE might be more difficult for you than it is for other people. But you still need to wear it. 

Your optician can help you find safety eyewear that meets your industry requirements and fits comfortably on your face.

Security

Safety eyewear can’t work effectively if you have to mess with it all day. Your safety glasses or goggles should fit securely to your face. Of course, they should not hurt or pinch, but they should fit snugly enough to prevent slipping or falling off.

If you’re having trouble finding eyewear that fits securely and comfortably, you may want to try a pair that uses a strap, similar to goggles.

Craftsman wearing protective eyewear while working working with power tools

Light Conditions

Squinting in the sunlight is not comfortable, and it definitely isn’t safe when you’re on the job. When you invest in safety eyewear, you should consider the light conditions during an average day at work. For example, if you work outside, you should ensure your lenses offer UV protection. Polarized lenses are another excellent option to reduce glare.

It’s also important to make sure your protective glasses will work well regardless of the weather. You do not want to use a heavily-tinted lens on an overcast day, which could impact your ability to see clearly.

Clarity

You rely on your vision to do your job safely and effectively. Without clear vision, it’s far too easy to miss things or misjudge your environment, which puts your safety and the safety of others at risk. That’s why clear vision is so vital for safety eyewear.

Anti-Fog Design

Fog can develop on both sides of eyewear lenses. When eyewear isn’t properly ventilated, moisture from your body can condense on the inside of your lenses with nowhere to escape. And when your glasses or goggles are exposed to steam, that steam can cling to both sides of your lenses, making it very difficult to see.

Anti-fog lenses are designed to prevent fog on both sides of the lens. They are coated in a special substance that prevents moisture from sticking to the lens and eliminating fog before it has a chance to develop.

If you’re not exposed to steam or moisture all that often, ventilated goggles may be enough to prevent fog build-up on the inner side of the lenses. Different types of safety goggles have different ventilation designs. If you work with chemicals, you should invest in eyewear with indirect ventilation. Indirect ventilation reduces the risk of potentially harmful substances accidentally entering your goggles. 

Prescription Lenses

If you already wear prescription glasses, safety eyewear can be a pain, especially if your protective eyewear doesn’t fit comfortably over your everyday glasses.

Some people may consider their normal glasses to be protection enough, and forego protective eyewear altogether. The truth is that your average prescription glasses are not enough to protect your eyes. Chemicals or debris can easily reach your eyes from any number of chemicals. Your average prescription lenses also are probably not shatter-proof. If your frames or lenses break on your face, they could cause even more damage.

However, you don’t have to choose between safety eyewear and prescription eyewear. Protective lens technology is highly advanced and can accommodate most prescriptions. Even more complicated lenses, like bifocals, can be reproduced for a pair of safety glasses.

Investing in prescription lenses for your safety eyewear means you don’t ever have to compromise between eye safety and clear vision.

Scratch-Resistant Lenses

Safety eyewear is an investment. Ideally, if you take care of your glasses or goggles, they should last you quite a long time. However, flying debris, accidentally dropping your glasses, and other mishaps can happen. After a while, you may start to notice scratches on your lenses.

You can probably wear scratched glasses for a while. But, if the lenses continue to develop new scratches, eventually, you’ll have a hard time seeing through them.

Scratch-resistant lenses allow you to get more use out of your protective eyewear without straining your eyes. While scratches may still develop, your lenses will be far less prone to them, so they should occur less frequently.

Style

When it comes to protective eyewear, safety should always be the number one concern. However, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with wanting to look good as well.

Stylish safety glasses sitting in a protective case

If your protective eyewear style is important to you, some options can make your PPE stand out. Different frame shapes and colours make it easier to create a signature look. While safety eyewear will most likely not look like normal glasses or sunglasses, they can have a stylized look. Safety glasses can be made in retro, sporty, and even steampunk styles. 

As long as the style doesn’t compromise your safety, there’s nothing wrong with expressing your personality through your protective eyewear.

Eye Safety Should Always Be Taken Seriously

You rely on your eyes for work, hobbies, communication, and even just relaxing. While it may not seem like a big deal to neglect your protective eyewear, it could literally change your entire future.

Take the time to find out what safety eyewear options are available to you. Your optician can help you find the ideal pair of safety glasses that balance your vision, comfort, and safety.

Safety eyewear is absolutely crucial to protect your vision and prevent potentially vision-threatening eye injuries. Take a look at this helpful infographic that illustrates why protective eyewear is so important.

Infographic describing the importance of safety eyewear.

Your eyes are very delicate and vulnerable organs. Touching them or rubbing them could cause injuries, infections, and even worse!

Take a look at this infographic to find out how you could get sick from just touching your eyes.An infographic demonstrating the vulnerability of eyes.

 

Eyewear

School is back in, which means your child is back to relying heavily on their vision all day. For kids to do their best in school, they need comfortable, secure, and hard-wearing eyewear.

I’ve put together this infographic to help you ensure your child has the best possible eyewear for the school year.

Infographic detailing how children's eyewear should fit and function

Safety eyewear is absolutely crucial to protect your vision and prevent potentially vision-threatening eye injuries. Take a look at this helpful infographic that illustrates why protective eyewear is so important.

Infographic describing the importance of safety eyewear.

Frames

No one knows when daily life will return to something we might consider normal. It’s challenging to plan ahead, but of course, the world keeps spinning, and we need to keep meeting our basic needs.

If you have a refractive error like astigmatism or myopia, glasses or contact lenses are a basic need for you. If you already have a few pairs of relatively new glasses at home, you probably won’t have an issue. However, if you only have one pair, you may want to buy a second pair just in case something happens to damage the first. 

Of course, buying glasses looks different right now, with most optical boutiques and dispensaries closed, or at least working limited hours.

Whether you’re waiting until practices open up, or buying online, here are a few things you should consider before purchasing new glasses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Should I Buy Glasses Online?

With social distancing measures in place, ordering glasses online may feel like your only option, and depending on the provincial and municipal rules in your area, that may be true. However, that does not mean you need to choose an online-only retailer.

A lot of local businesses are now offering ecommerce, meaning you may be able to purchase glasses from your optometry practice without leaving home. Some practices may still be open for in-store orders as well. You will just have to call ahead to find out.

It may be tempting to order from online-only retailers. Still, I would encourage you to support local businesses as much as possible. Putting money back into the local economy is the best way to support your community during a difficult time like this.

Choosing the Right Glasses for Your Face Shape

Even if you have the opportunity to shop in-store, trying sample frames on during a pandemic is not advisable. But how do you buy frames if you can’t try them on?

Generally speaking, you can determine which frames will work best for you based on your face shape.

Chart showing oval, square, rectangle, diamond, heart, and round-shaped faces

Oval-Shaped Face

An oval-shaped face features a forehead and jaw with approximately the same width and a soft, rounded jawline. Typically, oval-shaped faces are somewhat longer and narrower.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Rectangular frames
  • Round frames
  • Aviator frames
  • Browline frames

Square-Shaped Face

A square-shaped face features wide, prominent cheekbones and a strong jawline. The forehead and jawline are usually around the same width for a square-shaped face.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Oval frames
  • Round frames
  • Browline frames
  • Cat-eye frames

Diamond-Shaped Face

A diamond-shaped face is a little bit longer with an angular look. It is characterized by a narrow forehead and jawline with wider cheekbones.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Round frames
  • Oval frames
  • Browline frames
  • Cat-eye frames

Rectangle-Shaped Face

Rectangular faces are sometimes called pear-shaped faces for their wide jaws and slightly more narrow foreheads. A rectangle-shaped face is typically longer than a square-shaped face.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Aviator frames
  • Browline frames
  • Oval frames
  • Cat-eye frames

Round-Shaped Face

A round-shaped face is nearly as wide as it is long. With a soft, rounded jaw and a shorter forehead, the cheeks are usually the widest part of a round face.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Rectangular frames
  • Geometric frames
  • Square frames

Heart-Shaped Face

A heart-shaped face is widest at the forehead, rounding down to its narrowest point, the chin. Because the heart-shaped face is often a little bit longer, it can appear quite angular.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Aviator frames
  • Geometric frames
  • Round frames

Choosing the Right Frames for Your Prescription

Before you actually buy any frames, there’s one important thing you need to know: can the frames you want support your prescription? 

Different powered lenses have different edge thicknesses. That means that some frame shapes, sizes, and thicknesses may not be able to support a high prescription. 

Different lens types and materials work differently, so it’s better to speak with an optician about your options. But here are some general guidelines when shopping for high-prescription glasses:

For Nearsightedness

If you are myopic or nearsighted, you will need lenses that are thinner in the centre and thicker at the edges. That means you may run the risk of getting the “coke bottle” effect, where the lenses look thicker than the frames from the side.

You can avoid this issue by choosing a shorter and more narrow pair of frames.

For Farsightedness

If you are hyperopic or farsighted, you will need lenses that are thicker in the middle and thinner around the edge. You don’t have to worry about the coke bottle effect, but your lenses could magnify your eyes, making you look somewhat bug-eyed. 

You can avoid this issue by choosing generally smaller frames with aspheric lenses to reduce the magnification effect.

Laughing young woman wearing new glasses at home

Choosing the Right Lenses

Most of us spend a great deal of time looking for the frames that suit us most, but not nearly enough of us consider what kind of lenses we need. Lens technology has come an incredibly long way over the last few years. 

Eyewear is now capable of an unbelievably high standard of optical performance. But because so few eyewear buyers look into the lens options available to them, people seldom get the benefit of high-performance lenses.

When choosing your lenses, consider how you spend the majority of your time. Are you indoors or outdoors? Are you driving a lot or looking at computers? There are lenses to improve your optical experience for all of these situations. There are even lenses to reduce eye fatigue.

Ask your optician what kind of lenses they have available. Tell them about your lifestyle and ask which lenses they would recommend to complement your prescription as well as your day-to-day visual needs.

Evaluate Your Options & Make an Educated Decision

Glasses are a truly custom product. For the best results, you need the right frames and the right lenses made from the right materials. 

If you don’t need glasses right away or you have a backup pair, there’s nothing wrong with waiting until the pandemic has subsided and ordering in-store. 

If you do need eyewear in the midst of the pandemic, do some research. Find the best type of glasses and lenses for your needs, then find a reliable local ecommerce retailer. You’ll be supporting a local business and making the best possible decision for your vision.

Glasses

No one knows when daily life will return to something we might consider normal. It’s challenging to plan ahead, but of course, the world keeps spinning, and we need to keep meeting our basic needs.

If you have a refractive error like astigmatism or myopia, glasses or contact lenses are a basic need for you. If you already have a few pairs of relatively new glasses at home, you probably won’t have an issue. However, if you only have one pair, you may want to buy a second pair just in case something happens to damage the first. 

Of course, buying glasses looks different right now, with most optical boutiques and dispensaries closed, or at least working limited hours.

Whether you’re waiting until practices open up, or buying online, here are a few things you should consider before purchasing new glasses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Should I Buy Glasses Online?

With social distancing measures in place, ordering glasses online may feel like your only option, and depending on the provincial and municipal rules in your area, that may be true. However, that does not mean you need to choose an online-only retailer.

A lot of local businesses are now offering ecommerce, meaning you may be able to purchase glasses from your optometry practice without leaving home. Some practices may still be open for in-store orders as well. You will just have to call ahead to find out.

It may be tempting to order from online-only retailers. Still, I would encourage you to support local businesses as much as possible. Putting money back into the local economy is the best way to support your community during a difficult time like this.

Choosing the Right Glasses for Your Face Shape

Even if you have the opportunity to shop in-store, trying sample frames on during a pandemic is not advisable. But how do you buy frames if you can’t try them on?

Generally speaking, you can determine which frames will work best for you based on your face shape.

Chart showing oval, square, rectangle, diamond, heart, and round-shaped faces

Oval-Shaped Face

An oval-shaped face features a forehead and jaw with approximately the same width and a soft, rounded jawline. Typically, oval-shaped faces are somewhat longer and narrower.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Rectangular frames
  • Round frames
  • Aviator frames
  • Browline frames

Square-Shaped Face

A square-shaped face features wide, prominent cheekbones and a strong jawline. The forehead and jawline are usually around the same width for a square-shaped face.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Oval frames
  • Round frames
  • Browline frames
  • Cat-eye frames

Diamond-Shaped Face

A diamond-shaped face is a little bit longer with an angular look. It is characterized by a narrow forehead and jawline with wider cheekbones.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Round frames
  • Oval frames
  • Browline frames
  • Cat-eye frames

Rectangle-Shaped Face

Rectangular faces are sometimes called pear-shaped faces for their wide jaws and slightly more narrow foreheads. A rectangle-shaped face is typically longer than a square-shaped face.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Aviator frames
  • Browline frames
  • Oval frames
  • Cat-eye frames

Round-Shaped Face

A round-shaped face is nearly as wide as it is long. With a soft, rounded jaw and a shorter forehead, the cheeks are usually the widest part of a round face.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Rectangular frames
  • Geometric frames
  • Square frames

Heart-Shaped Face

A heart-shaped face is widest at the forehead, rounding down to its narrowest point, the chin. Because the heart-shaped face is often a little bit longer, it can appear quite angular.

Frames that might work for you include:

  • Aviator frames
  • Geometric frames
  • Round frames

Choosing the Right Frames for Your Prescription

Before you actually buy any frames, there’s one important thing you need to know: can the frames you want support your prescription? 

Different powered lenses have different edge thicknesses. That means that some frame shapes, sizes, and thicknesses may not be able to support a high prescription. 

Different lens types and materials work differently, so it’s better to speak with an optician about your options. But here are some general guidelines when shopping for high-prescription glasses:

For Nearsightedness

If you are myopic or nearsighted, you will need lenses that are thinner in the centre and thicker at the edges. That means you may run the risk of getting the “coke bottle” effect, where the lenses look thicker than the frames from the side.

You can avoid this issue by choosing a shorter and more narrow pair of frames.

For Farsightedness

If you are hyperopic or farsighted, you will need lenses that are thicker in the middle and thinner around the edge. You don’t have to worry about the coke bottle effect, but your lenses could magnify your eyes, making you look somewhat bug-eyed. 

You can avoid this issue by choosing generally smaller frames with aspheric lenses to reduce the magnification effect.

Laughing young woman wearing new glasses at home

Choosing the Right Lenses

Most of us spend a great deal of time looking for the frames that suit us most, but not nearly enough of us consider what kind of lenses we need. Lens technology has come an incredibly long way over the last few years. 

Eyewear is now capable of an unbelievably high standard of optical performance. But because so few eyewear buyers look into the lens options available to them, people seldom get the benefit of high-performance lenses.

When choosing your lenses, consider how you spend the majority of your time. Are you indoors or outdoors? Are you driving a lot or looking at computers? There are lenses to improve your optical experience for all of these situations. There are even lenses to reduce eye fatigue.

Ask your optician what kind of lenses they have available. Tell them about your lifestyle and ask which lenses they would recommend to complement your prescription as well as your day-to-day visual needs.

Evaluate Your Options & Make an Educated Decision

Glasses are a truly custom product. For the best results, you need the right frames and the right lenses made from the right materials. 

If you don’t need glasses right away or you have a backup pair, there’s nothing wrong with waiting until the pandemic has subsided and ordering in-store. 

If you do need eyewear in the midst of the pandemic, do some research. Find the best type of glasses and lenses for your needs, then find a reliable local ecommerce retailer. You’ll be supporting a local business and making the best possible decision for your vision.

Polarized Lenses

Every summer, you hear the same thing: protect your eyes with sunglasses. It’s not just about comfort. It’s about filtering out harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. Wearing sunglasses that offer 100%UVA and UVB protection could save you from cataracts, AMD, and other eye issues.

But of course, not all sunglasses are created equal. And as you’re shopping around for a good pair of sunglasses, you may notice pairs are advertised as “polarized.”

Is polarization the same as filtering UV light? Are polarized lenses better than other sunglasses? Should I invest in polarized lenses?

Let’s take a look at what exactly polarization means and whether polarized lenses are an option for you.

How Do UV Filtering Lenses Work?

Ultraviolet light is a type of radiation that’s on the very end of the visible light spectrum. In the short-term, too much UV light can cause dryness, eye strain, or even temporary blindness (like snow blindness). In the long-term, too much exposure to UV light increases your chances of developing eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Quality sunglass lenses and even some clear prescription lenses come with a UV coating, which absorbs ultraviolet light. This absorption prevents ultraviolet light from reaching your eyes and contributing to long-term damage. 

How Do Polarized Lenses Work?

Polarization is actually a very different process from ultraviolet filtering. In fact, on its own, the process of polarization will not protect against ultraviolet light. Instead, it reduces glare.

All light frequencies vibrate. Most light, such as sunlight, vibrates in all directions. However, when light bounces off a horizontal surface like pavement or the roof of a car, it only vibrates horizontally.

This horizontally reflected light is concentrated and can cause problems with glare, which can be quite disabling.

Polarized lenses are treated with a coating that absorbs visible light. The chemical is applied in a sort of vertical stripe pattern. As a result, some vertical light can pass through, but horizontal light is blocked.

Imagine this: you might be able to get your couch through your front door if you carry it through length-wise. But if you were to try width-wise, the door would be far too narrow to let you through.

That’s essentially how polarized lenses work. Any glare from horizontal light is unable to penetrate the vertical filters.

What Are Polarized Lenses For?

A pair of polarized sunglasses partially covering an ocean scene to reduce glare on the water

We understand now that polarized lenses reduce glare, allowing for more precise vision and less eye strain

You can wear polarized sunglasses nearly any time you wear your normal UV filtering sunglasses. Athletes and hobbyists, in particular, find them most beneficial for activities like:

  • Boating & water sports
  • Biking
  • Golf
  • Fishing
  • Snowsports

It’s worth noting that polarized sunglasses are not the best option for every activity. Many digital displays like phone screens and GPS screens emit horizontal light, which isn’t visible through polarized lenses. 

Should I Buy Polarized Sunglasses?

If you like to spend a lot of time outside on the water or in the snow, you should absolutely invest in polarized lenses. You could also benefit from polarized sunglasses if you do a lot of driving or road work.

Ultimately, everyone could benefit from polarized lenses sometimes. If possible, it’s an excellent idea to have both polarized and non-polarized sunglasses so you can enjoy the benefits of polarization when appropriate.

Protection Is the Priority

Whether you wear polarized sunglasses or not, UV protection is really the most important thing. Invest in quality sunglasses with at least 100% UVA and UVB protection, and make sure you have them with you when you go outside. It could preserve your vision for years.

Procedures

Eye conditions seriously affect your lifestyle, and come in many different forms including astigmatism, myopia, farsightedness and nearsightedness. Fortunately, new advances in refractive surgery make it possible to completely fix some problems and greatly improve others. With LASIK, laser surgery is used to precisely repair areas of the eye that control light refraction to the retina. During the procedure, the ability to focus the vision is restored as a thin flap is pulled back from the front of the eye and necessary corrections are made. After LASIK, the eye heals quickly on its own.

Here at Red Deer Eye Care, we ensure that your surgery is as successful as possible as we walk you through the entire process. LASIK is an increasingly popular alternative to contact lenses or glass, and we are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve the process for our patients. As refractive surgery advances, we are excited to provide these options to our patients.

Sunglasses

Every summer, you hear the same thing: protect your eyes with sunglasses. It’s not just about comfort. It’s about filtering out harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. Wearing sunglasses that offer 100%UVA and UVB protection could save you from cataracts, AMD, and other eye issues.

But of course, not all sunglasses are created equal. And as you’re shopping around for a good pair of sunglasses, you may notice pairs are advertised as “polarized.”

Is polarization the same as filtering UV light? Are polarized lenses better than other sunglasses? Should I invest in polarized lenses?

Let’s take a look at what exactly polarization means and whether polarized lenses are an option for you.

How Do UV Filtering Lenses Work?

Ultraviolet light is a type of radiation that’s on the very end of the visible light spectrum. In the short-term, too much UV light can cause dryness, eye strain, or even temporary blindness (like snow blindness). In the long-term, too much exposure to UV light increases your chances of developing eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Quality sunglass lenses and even some clear prescription lenses come with a UV coating, which absorbs ultraviolet light. This absorption prevents ultraviolet light from reaching your eyes and contributing to long-term damage. 

How Do Polarized Lenses Work?

Polarization is actually a very different process from ultraviolet filtering. In fact, on its own, the process of polarization will not protect against ultraviolet light. Instead, it reduces glare.

All light frequencies vibrate. Most light, such as sunlight, vibrates in all directions. However, when light bounces off a horizontal surface like pavement or the roof of a car, it only vibrates horizontally.

This horizontally reflected light is concentrated and can cause problems with glare, which can be quite disabling.

Polarized lenses are treated with a coating that absorbs visible light. The chemical is applied in a sort of vertical stripe pattern. As a result, some vertical light can pass through, but horizontal light is blocked.

Imagine this: you might be able to get your couch through your front door if you carry it through length-wise. But if you were to try width-wise, the door would be far too narrow to let you through.

That’s essentially how polarized lenses work. Any glare from horizontal light is unable to penetrate the vertical filters.

What Are Polarized Lenses For?

A pair of polarized sunglasses partially covering an ocean scene to reduce glare on the water

We understand now that polarized lenses reduce glare, allowing for more precise vision and less eye strain

You can wear polarized sunglasses nearly any time you wear your normal UV filtering sunglasses. Athletes and hobbyists, in particular, find them most beneficial for activities like:

  • Boating & water sports
  • Biking
  • Golf
  • Fishing
  • Snowsports

It’s worth noting that polarized sunglasses are not the best option for every activity. Many digital displays like phone screens and GPS screens emit horizontal light, which isn’t visible through polarized lenses. 

Should I Buy Polarized Sunglasses?

If you like to spend a lot of time outside on the water or in the snow, you should absolutely invest in polarized lenses. You could also benefit from polarized sunglasses if you do a lot of driving or road work.

Ultimately, everyone could benefit from polarized lenses sometimes. If possible, it’s an excellent idea to have both polarized and non-polarized sunglasses so you can enjoy the benefits of polarization when appropriate.

Protection Is the Priority

Whether you wear polarized sunglasses or not, UV protection is really the most important thing. Invest in quality sunglasses with at least 100% UVA and UVB protection, and make sure you have them with you when you go outside. It could preserve your vision for years.

Symptoms

Itchy eyes are incredibly frustrating, particularly when you don’t know what’s causing them.

I’ve put together this infographic to help distinguish some of the common sources of itchy eyes, and explain where you should go for help!

Infographic discussing different causes of itchy eyes and who to see about them

UV Protection

Every summer, you hear the same thing: protect your eyes with sunglasses. It’s not just about comfort. It’s about filtering out harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. Wearing sunglasses that offer 100%UVA and UVB protection could save you from cataracts, AMD, and other eye issues.

But of course, not all sunglasses are created equal. And as you’re shopping around for a good pair of sunglasses, you may notice pairs are advertised as “polarized.”

Is polarization the same as filtering UV light? Are polarized lenses better than other sunglasses? Should I invest in polarized lenses?

Let’s take a look at what exactly polarization means and whether polarized lenses are an option for you.

How Do UV Filtering Lenses Work?

Ultraviolet light is a type of radiation that’s on the very end of the visible light spectrum. In the short-term, too much UV light can cause dryness, eye strain, or even temporary blindness (like snow blindness). In the long-term, too much exposure to UV light increases your chances of developing eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Quality sunglass lenses and even some clear prescription lenses come with a UV coating, which absorbs ultraviolet light. This absorption prevents ultraviolet light from reaching your eyes and contributing to long-term damage. 

How Do Polarized Lenses Work?

Polarization is actually a very different process from ultraviolet filtering. In fact, on its own, the process of polarization will not protect against ultraviolet light. Instead, it reduces glare.

All light frequencies vibrate. Most light, such as sunlight, vibrates in all directions. However, when light bounces off a horizontal surface like pavement or the roof of a car, it only vibrates horizontally.

This horizontally reflected light is concentrated and can cause problems with glare, which can be quite disabling.

Polarized lenses are treated with a coating that absorbs visible light. The chemical is applied in a sort of vertical stripe pattern. As a result, some vertical light can pass through, but horizontal light is blocked.

Imagine this: you might be able to get your couch through your front door if you carry it through length-wise. But if you were to try width-wise, the door would be far too narrow to let you through.

That’s essentially how polarized lenses work. Any glare from horizontal light is unable to penetrate the vertical filters.

What Are Polarized Lenses For?

A pair of polarized sunglasses partially covering an ocean scene to reduce glare on the water

We understand now that polarized lenses reduce glare, allowing for more precise vision and less eye strain

You can wear polarized sunglasses nearly any time you wear your normal UV filtering sunglasses. Athletes and hobbyists, in particular, find them most beneficial for activities like:

  • Boating & water sports
  • Biking
  • Golf
  • Fishing
  • Snowsports

It’s worth noting that polarized sunglasses are not the best option for every activity. Many digital displays like phone screens and GPS screens emit horizontal light, which isn’t visible through polarized lenses. 

Should I Buy Polarized Sunglasses?

If you like to spend a lot of time outside on the water or in the snow, you should absolutely invest in polarized lenses. You could also benefit from polarized sunglasses if you do a lot of driving or road work.

Ultimately, everyone could benefit from polarized lenses sometimes. If possible, it’s an excellent idea to have both polarized and non-polarized sunglasses so you can enjoy the benefits of polarization when appropriate.

Protection Is the Priority

Whether you wear polarized sunglasses or not, UV protection is really the most important thing. Invest in quality sunglasses with at least 100% UVA and UVB protection, and make sure you have them with you when you go outside. It could preserve your vision for years.

Vision Health Concerns

Dry eye is a common condition that affects more than 30% of Canadians at some point in their lifetime. In fact, this condition will affect most individuals at some point to different degrees, and is caused by a number of different things. While dry eye is often undiagnosed, this condition may present itself in several symptoms:

  • Contact lens discomfort
  • Eye fatigue
  • Redness
  • Itching or burning
  • Feeling like something is in the eye
  • Eye discharge
  • Blurred vision
  • Periods of dryness immediately followed by a tearing session
  • Problems with vision that go away with eye drops

Dry eye should be discussed with your doctor, and may be caused by a variety of factors. Consulting with an Optometrist can help identify the factors that exacerbate dry eye, and discover ways to limit them as much as possible. We strive to educate our patients on the bad habits and lifestyle factors that can be changed to limit the effects of dry eye, including:

  • Health concerns such as thyroid disease, Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or other autoimmune diseases
  • Environmental causes like high altitude, fumes, smoke or air conditioning
  • Medications like sleeping pills, diuretics, antidepressants, allergy or cold medication, antihistamines, pain medication or motion sickness pills
  • Lifestyle factors such as hormonal changes, contact lenses, regular computer use, diet or the natural aging process

With just a few tweaks to a lifestyle or habit, dry eye can be avoided completely, or the symptoms can be limited and controlled for minimal discomfort.

Glaucoma is an eye disease resulting from damage to the optic nerve from high pressure and improper fluid drainage inside the eye. The optic nerve stops sending signals to the brain when it is damaged, hindering its ability to function properly, diminishing neural activity from the brain, and potentially causing blindness. The three most common types of glaucoma include:

  • Open-angle. Fluid does not drain correctly creating increased pressure in the eye, despite an open angle.
  • Closed-angle. The angle for fluid to escape is completely blocked, causing pressure to build in the eye. Blockages can be the result of trauma, causing sudden pain and potential blindness.
  • Congenital. The angle of drainage is dysfunctional from birth and pressure builds in the eye over time. Symptoms include cloudy eyes, excessive tearing, and light sensitivity.

Diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk of developing glaucoma. Although individuals over 40 are at a greater risk for the condition, people of any age can be diagnosed with glaucoma. Other risk factors for glaucoma include:

  • Nearsightedness
  • African ancestry
  • Thin corneas
  • Past Injuries
  • Genetics

Glaucoma management is a vital part of visual health as we age. Regular eye health exams at Red Deer Eye Care allow us to detect possible sources of glaucoma and prevent permanent optic nerve damage.

If you see spots or small threads floating around your eyes or darting away when you try to focus, you are experiencing eye floaters. This is the natural aging process of your eyes and a side effect of the vitreous gel shrinking, the substance that makes up most of your eye. While eye floaters or flashes are annoying, they are not usually a reason for concern. However, sudden increases in the frequency or amount may indicate a serious condition, including:

  • Infection
  • Eye Injury
  • Retinal Tear
  • Inflammation
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Retinal Detachment

If the floaters affect your vision, our Optometrists at Red Deer Eye Care can discuss treatment options, such as a vitrectomy. During the surgicy, we remove the floaters by extracting fluid from your eye, and replace the lost volume with a saline solution. This procedure is only performed in extreme cases where considerable adverse symptoms are apparent as a result of eye floaters.

Conjunctivitis is an infection resulting in inflammation of the front surface of the eye, also known as pinkeye. The conjunctiva is the thin clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. This is frequently a less serious visual health concern attributed to a bacteria or virus contacting the eye in between the surface and eyelid. The condition may also be caused by irritants coming into contact with the eye, such as pool chlorine, shampoos, and smoke. Seasonal allergies, including pollen and dust also can contribute to conjunctivitis. Symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Unusually watery eyes
  • Yellow ocular discharge
  • Red or pink colored eyes
  • Itchy or burning sensation
  • Increasingly excessive tearing

Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and must be thoroughly removed from anything that may have come in contact with the infected area. Eyeglasses, sunglasses, and face towels should be washed immediately. Makeup and contact lenses need be replaced. Over the counter solutions such as polysporin eye drops can be used to help speed recovery, but you should also cleanse the irritant from the eye area thoroughly. However, avoid irritating your eye any further by touching or scratching the eyelid. Consult with an Optometrist at Red Deer Eye Care if symptoms do not clear up or worsen.

Cataracts affect the vision of nearly three million Canadians, the majority of which are over the age of 60. While the condition is typically the result of the natural aging process of your eye’s crystalline lens, cataracts do occur in younger people. However, they usually do not form until the lens hardens, developing a cloudy texture. The three primary types of cataracts include:

  • Congenital. This type of cataracts is usually present at birth or develops in early childhood and usually affects both eyes. Congenital cataracts have less severe indications and may not impair vision at all.
  • Traumatic. Traumatic cataracts are the result of an eye injury. However, the cataract may take a long period to form following the original trauma to the eye.
  • Radiation. As a result of overexposure to radiation, harmful UV rays are the cause of this type of cataracts.

Surgical procedures may correct or eliminate the vision-impairing effects of cataracts, although the condition is not always harmful or dangerous. Our specialists at Red Deer Eye Care can provide information about the type of cataracts you have and offer treatment suggestions should the condition require medical attention. You can decrease your risks of cataracts by limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding overexposure to harmful UV rays.

What is diabetes? It’s a disease resulting in elevated blood sugar concentrations because it inhibits your body’s natural insulin production. The disease impacts the optical system as it disrupts blood flow to the eyes and degrades important blood vessels. Though diabetics should be aware of the full gambit of eye diseases, the three major eye conditions related to diabetes are cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Cataracts

Cataracts involve your eye’s lens becoming cloudy and/or having an opaque texture. Without regular eye exams, seniors and diabetics are very susceptible to this eye disease. Cataracts can be treated with a simple and effective surgery, but diabetics should be proactive with their eye care and utilize period eye exams.

Glaucoma

While medical professionals are still researching and learning about the intricate causes of glaucoma, there is a strong correlation between living with diabetes and developing glaucoma. The disease is the result of a damaged optic nerve, a critical eye component highly sensitive to the pressure of swelling and increased blood vessels diabetes causes. Treatments like medicated eye drops and laser surgery aim to relieve this pressure. Afterwards, doctors will monitor the optic nerve’s progress with regular eye exams.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can directly affect your eyes’ blood vessels with inflammation or structural weakening due to inconsistent blood pressure. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. The disease can cause leaky blood vessels, the creation of new vessels and similar side effects. Ultimately, the condition continues to negatively impact eye health without treatment from an eye care professional. Unchecked, the disease can lead to blurred vision and/or blindness.

At Red Deer Eye Care Centre, we have the experience and resources to treat diabetic retinopathy with multiple effective solutions. Moreover, we strongly recommend scheduling periodic eye examinations to help prevent the onset of this disease. Retinopathy can be treated with:

  • Vitrectomy: This surgical procedure removes any extra fluid or blood found in your eye.
  • Medication: Bavacizumb, steroid and other chemical injections are known to effectively combat the disease.
  • Scatter Laser Treatment: This laser procedure uses high precision technology to target the eye’s irregular vessels.
  • Focal Laser Treatment: The laser treatment aims to prevent blood leakage in retinal vessels.

If you don’t have diabetes, you can reduce your risk of developing the disease with simple lifestyle choices like eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, scheduling periodic medical checkups and avoiding tobacco and alcohol. To help prevent eye disease and catch potential issues early, schedule regular eye examinations and talk with your Optometrist about prevention techniques.

Inside the eye, the macula, located in the very center of the retina, is responsible for high-resolution, central vision, and is home to a high density of cone cells. As an individual ages, the macula naturally deteriorates, and AMD is the result. This condition causes close to 9% of visual impairment in Canadians over 60. A natural occurring process that comes with aging, age-related macular degeneration impacts visual acuity, and may cause blurred central vision – meaning that dark spots or straight lines appear in the vision without any type of pattern. AMD can be categorized into two different groups:

  • Wet AMD: Caused by enlarged or irregular blood vessels near the center of the retina. As the vessels change, fluid may leak and cause serious destruction to the retina. Drastic, sudden changes in vision are a typical symptoms of wet AMD.
  • Dry AMD: This is the more common type of AMD, and is caused by age as cells within the macula degenerate over time. While deterioration is often slow, it may eventually result in total vision loss. Dry AMD may be categorized as early, intermediate or advanced depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Symptoms of AMD may not be noticeable for long periods of time, as they are typically subdued in the beginning. While it’s difficult to avoid AMD, it can be managed with regularly scheduled eye exams for patients over the age of 60. A healthy diet and awareness of UV exposure can also help to delay the start of AMD, although the condition is natural with aging.

Between the eyelid and the eye, there is a mucus membrane layer that protects components that aid in vision, called the conjunctivitis. When a foreign substance comes into contact with this layer, it may cause inflammation, irritation or an uncomfortable sensation referred to as allergic conjunctivitis, or more commonly called allergies. Although there are many types of allergies and allergens (the substance that causes the allergy), most can be broken into two different categories:

  • Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis – A chronic allergy that affects the individual all year round, PAC can be caused by substances such as chemicals, dust, or animal dander.
  • Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis – Also known as hay fever, SAC typically occurs during certain seasons and during the productions of substances like weeds or pollen.

Allergies can often be treated with over the counter medications, although any persistent, chronic problems should be taken seriously and treated by a professional Optometrist to avoid further damage to the eye. Some over the counter medications that aid in the process of treating allergies include:

  • Cold compressions
  • Steroid drops
  • Antihistamine drops
  • Vasoconstrictors
  • Oral antihistamines

Individuals can also do their best to completely avoid the allergens, although this may be impossible at times. OTC and prescription medications are most often successful at treating allergies, or at least relieving the discomfort associated with them.

Protecting Your Eyes from UV Light: Why UV Protection is Important to Your Eye Health.

UV radiation can have profound effects on our eyes, from the seemingly benign (ever had an ocular sunburn?) to the tragic (eye cancer). Small investments in UV protection can pay off big long-term.

Alberta gets a lot of sun. As we transition from spring to summer, and people spend more time enjoying the warm weather, we feel it important to remind people to be mindful of their eyes.

In our last blog post, “Sunglasses and Their UV Rating: What It Means for Your Eyes”, we talked about how sunglasses are rated for UV protection. We also talked a little bit about UV radiation, briefly touching on the impacts they can have on our eyes. We’re going to expand on those points here.

How UVA and UVB Radiation Affects Our Eyes

There are three types of UV rays:

  • UVA and UVB, which are both known to have damaging effects on our eyes;
  • UVC, which (thankfully) gets filtered out by our atmosphere

UVA Radiation and the Eye

UVA radiation can pass through the cornea, reaching the lens and retina. In high doses (such as going for a long bike ride without sunglasses), you may experience a condition called photokeratitis (essentially, a sunburn of the eye).

Severe photokeratitis, also called “snow blindness”, is often the result of UV light reflecting off of snow. If you’ve ever gone skiing and come home with sunburns, UV light is why. Snow blindness causes a temporary, but painful, loss of vision.

UVA radiation has also been shown to assist in the development of cataracts as well as macular degeneration.

UVB Radiation and the Eye

UVB radiation is what causes the skin to produce melanin (aka, giving you a tan). UVB light has been shown to stimulate the development of cataracts, as well as other serious eye conditions (including cancer of the eye).

Your cornea absorbs most UVB rays.

Protecting Our Eyes from UV Light

Now that we have an understanding of how UV rays can harm us, it’s important to understand how to protect our eyes.

Eyeglasses

Most eyeglass lenses are rated at UV 400 protection. This means they block wavelengths of light up to 400 nanometres, which is somewhere between 99% and 100% of UV rays.

Remember, a lens does not need to be tinted in order to offer UV protection.

Sunglasses

Throwing on a pair of UV-blocking sunglasses is a great way to look good and protect your eyes when enjoying the great outdoors. Be mindful that not all sunglasses are rated to block 100% of UV light, though all sunglasses we carry are.

Hats

A hat or visor is an easy way to help protect your eyes against UV light. Make sure the one you’re wearing has a brim sufficiently large so as to actually offer some level of protection.

Common Sense

It goes without saying, but never look directly at the sun. The high intensity light and UV rays can cause lasting permanent damage to your retina.

By this point, most of us have heard that computers, smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices have some kind of impact on our eyes. Blue light lenses are incredibly popular, and everyone is looking for ways to prevent computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain.

We’re still learning about the precise causes and effects of digital eye strain. But we do have some insight into how this condition impacts your overall health.

A Quick Primer on Digital Eye Strain

Every part of your body is designed to work a certain way. Your eyes were intended to spend the day looking at different objects at different distances in different kinds of light. Unfortunately, that is not really how we use our eyes. Whether we’re going to school, you’re working, or even just lounging around at home, most of us spend a good portion of the day looking at some kind of screen.

Looking at an object directly in front of you for hours is exhausting to your eyes. To put it into perspective, think about holding a ping pong ball straight out in front of you with your arm extended. A ping pong ball isn’t heavy or difficult to hold. For the first few minutes, you wouldn’t really notice anything. By an hour, you would definitely be uncomfortable. And after a few hours, you most likely wouldn’t be able to hold your arm in that position anymore. 

This is the same principle that causes your eyes to feel tired after a day of looking at computers, mobile devices, tablets, and other digital components.

Woman holding phone close to her face

Why Do Digital Devices Cause Specific Strain?

Of course, school work and office work is hardly a new concept. For hundreds of years now people have spent 8 hours or a day or more reading and writing. So why is eye strain such a new thing? Why does it seem to be specific to digital devices?

The major reason has to do with how we use digital devices. Most people hold a book or newspaper approximately 40 cm from their face when they’re reading. That position is relatively comfortable for your eyes. Meanwhile, most people hold their smartphones and tablets about 32 cm from their face. This position is far less comfortable and forces your eyes to work much harder to focus on what you’re trying to see.

Another significant component of digital eye strain is blink rates. On average, we blink between 19 and 26 times per minute. When we’re using a computer or digital device, the average blink rate goes down by 60%. Blinking is what keeps your eyes hydrated. If we stop blinking properly or frequently enough, our eyes become dry, tired, and uncomfortable.

Symptoms Of Eye Strain

Man holds bridge of his nose in front of computer

Sore or Tired Eyes

Your eye focuses on different objects at different distances through the lens, which is controlled by muscles. Just like any other muscle, overuse leads to soreness and fatigue. Forcing a muscle to hold a position for a long time will cause discomfort and exhaustion.

Dry Eyes

The process of blinking is designed entirely to keep the eyes clean and hydrated. Each blink introduces more tears, replenishing them as they evaporate. When you’re working on a phone, tablet, laptop, or other similar devices, your blink rate slows down, allowing tears to evaporate from your eyes without replenishing them. As your eyes dry out, they become irritated.

Headaches

Regular headaches can be a symptom of many things, from dehydration to depression. But very frequently, headaches are a symptom of vision issues. When your eyes have to work particularly hard due to a refractive error or digital eye strain, it often results in a headache.

Sore Neck

As our eyes grow tired, we may start to unconsciously compensate by craning our neck forward or hunching over our desk to see better.  As a result, people suffering from digital eye strain often experience pain in their shoulder and neck muscles. With the proper office ergonomics, this can be avoided, and the overall impact of digital eye strain can be greatly reduced.

Sleeplessness

Some optometrists and medical professionals consider sleeplessness a symptom of digital eye strain. This stems from the belief that blue light, which is emitted by digital displays, is one of the leading causes of digital eye strain. 

Blue light is a specific range of ultraviolet light which can alter your circadian rhythm, or your sleep schedule. Staring at a digital screen for too long, or too close to bedtime can prevent your brain from releasing melatonin, the hormone that makes you drowsy.

Preventing & Managing Digital Eye Strain

Man demonstrating office ergonomics

The 20/20/20 Rule

So much of digital eye strain comes from too much near work. I recommend the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a chance to rest throughout the workday.

Every 20 minutes, stop looking at your phone, computer, or device. Choose a spot about 20 feet away, and stare at it for at least 20 seconds. The 20-foot focus point is considered to be the most neutral position for your eyes. This is sort of like stretching your legs after sitting the same way for 20 minutes. It can make the rest of your workday much more comfortable. 

If you have trouble remembering, set reminders on your phone or computer every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Office Ergonomics

Setting up your office or workspace ergonomically can help alleviate some of the strain on your eyes and your body.

Your computer screen should be about an arm’s length away from your face. The top of your screen should be about 20 degrees below your eye level and tilted up towards your face. Position your monitor to eliminate as much glare as possible.

Do Blue Light Filters Work?

This is a tricky question, to which the answer is both yes and no. Blue light filtering glasses or lenses can block up to 99% of blue light from entering your eye. However, there is now some debate as to whether blue light actually triggers digital eye strain or not. Studies have been released on both sides, dismissing and supporting the use of filters to alleviate symptoms.

Regardless of the impact blue light may or may not have on digital eye strain, protecting your eyes from blue light is still important. Studies indicate that blue light exposure may increase your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye diseases. Scientists believe blue light exposure is cumulative, meaning the sooner you start filtering blue light, the better.

What Are The Long Term Effects Of Digital Eye Strain?

Doctors have been studying the impact of digital displays on the eye since computers became a regular part of office life. However, all of the technology that we use, particularly its modern iterations, are quite new. At this point, it’s still too early to really tell what sort of long-term effects digital eye strain could have on your health.

Until we know more, it’s best to protect your eye health by taking frequent breaks, maintaining an ergonomic workspace, and visiting your optometrist regularly.

Glaucoma is one of the major causes of vision loss in North America. But despite the fact that it’s quite common, few people know much about it until they’ve been diagnosed, and at that point, they may have already lost a good portion of their vision.

By educating ourselves about glaucoma and similar diseases, we can take a more proactive stance on our eye health. 

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes permanent cumulative damage to the optic nerve. This nerve is responsible for transmitting signals from the retina to the brain. If it sustains too much damage, we can experience vision loss, which is precisely what happens with glaucoma.

Sometimes, the optic nerve is damaged by something called intraocular pressure. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the optic nerve becomes damaged without an increase in intraocular pressure. Doctors don’t quite know what causes the damage in these cases.

Perhaps the most dangerous element of glaucoma is its stealth. Optic nerve damage usually occurs very slowly over a period of years. In most cases, this damage is so gradual that people don’t even notice the changes to their vision until they’ve lost a good portion of their sight. Unfortunately, once glaucoma has damaged the optic nerve, the damage cannot be undone.

dark fuzzy landscape

A simulation of what advanced glaucoma may look like.

The best and most effective way to reduce your chances of vision loss is by seeing your optometrist on a regular basis for testing. 

Types of Glaucoma

Each type of glaucoma works a little bit differently. But before you can understand the mechanics of glaucoma, we first need to explore a little bit of the eyes’ anatomy. 

Eye anatomy diagram

There is a space between your crystalline lens and your cornea called the anterior chamber. Part of the eye called the ciliary body secretes a liquid called the aqueous humour, which flows through a small space between the lens and the iris, and out into the anterior chamber. Eventually, the aqueous humour will flow back out of the chamber through ducts.

Intraocular pressure is a metric that expresses how much of the aqueous humour is filling the anterior chamber. 

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open angle glaucoma diagram

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, occurring when there’s enough space between the iris and the lens to allow the aqueous humour to flow through, but IOP keeps rising. The climbing pressure is due to an issue with the drainage ducts in the anterior chamber.

If open-angle glaucoma is caught early, it can be managed to limit further vision loss.

Angle-Closure

Angle-closure glaucoma diagram

Angle-closure glaucoma is unique from the other types of glaucoma because it comes on very suddenly. While other types of the disease develop with few noticeable symptoms, this one is accompanied by severe and rather violent indicators, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme eye pain
  • Headache
  • Excessive tears
  • Blurry vision
  • Glare or halos around lights

This condition develops when the space between the iris and the lens suddenly closes, preventing the aqueous humour from flowing properly without the ability to drain, the aqueous humour continues to fill the eye, rapidly building eye pressure and damaging the optic nerve.

Angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency. If you experience these symptoms, it’s vital that you seek immediate medical attention.

Normal-Tension

Medical science is always changing, and we’re learning more about the human body every single day. However, sometimes the body does things we just don’t understand. This is what happens with normal-tension glaucoma. 

In cases of normal-tension glaucoma, the angle between the iris and the lens is wide enough to allow the aqueous humour to flow through, and the drainage ducts appear to be working properly. Still, for some reason, the optic nerve continues to sustain cumulative damage. Doctors are not yet sure what causes the damage. However, the condition can be managed once it has been diagnosed. 

Congenital

Most people associate glaucoma with seniors, but it is possible for children to suffer from glaucoma. Childhood glaucoma or congenital glaucoma develops in children whose eyes did not develop properly. As a result, the aqueous humour cannot drain effectively, causing their IOP to increase.

Children with congenital glaucoma may have:

  • Enlarged eyes
  • Cloudy corneas
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tears

Most cases of congenital glaucoma are diagnosed within the child’s first year of life. This condition can be managed with surgery, medication, or a combination of the two. 

Risk Factors

Like most diseases, some people are more likely to develop glaucoma than others. Of course, genetics and family history a factor. Other factors include:

  • Age, specifically when over the age of 60.
  • Ethnic background, including Carribean, African, Latino, and Asian lineage
  • Trauma to the eye, such as injuries or surgeries
  • Long-term use of corticosteroids
  • Conditions affecting blood flow, including diabetes, high blood pressure, or low blood pressure

When Does Glaucoma Develop?

Generally speaking, your risk of glaucoma does increase as you get older. However, that’s not to say that glaucoma will not develop in someone who is 39, or even 21. Unfortunately, glaucoma can develop at any time, so it’s crucial that you stay vigilant with eye exams. It is never too early to test for glaucoma.

Should I Be Worried About Glaucoma?

I don’t like clickbait. I actively try to avoid scare tactics as a means of getting patients’ attention. So I wouldn’t necessarily say that you should be worried about glaucoma. But you should absolutely be aware of glaucoma. 

The reality is that, unless glaucoma is diagnosed early, it results in significant irreversible vision loss. By seeing your optometrist regularly and undergoing glaucoma testing, you can significantly reduce your risk of profound vision loss. Even more encouraging, technology is advancing at breakneck speed. With the right equipment, optometrists can diagnose glaucoma years earlier than they would have done previously.

It may sound biased, but I think it’s reasonable to say that optometrists are one of the most underused resources in the medical field. 

In fact, there’s evidence to indicate that patients often seek help from a general practitioner for eye-related issues when an optometrist could treat the problem just as well, sometimes even better due to more specialized technology and treatments.

I think the issue is that many people don’t necessarily realize exactly what an optometrist is trained to do. Today, I’d like to explore that a little bit so you can develop a more comprehensive view of how your optometrist is equipped to take care of you.

What Is An Optometrist?

Optometrist Explaining Results

One of the most common questions people ask about optometry is “are optometrists actual doctors”? The short answer to this is yes, we are doctors of optometry.

The longer answer is a little bit more nuanced.

Your family doctor or general practitioner is a medical doctor, or an MD. MDs study the human body over a period of years, learning about each system, different types of diseases, how to diagnose and treat those diseases, and more.

Optometrists learn about the optics and anatomy of the eye over a period of years, studying how the visual system works, various eye diseases, and more. A doctor of optometry is not a medical doctor; however, as ODs, we are qualified to test for, diagnose, and treat a large range of eye-related medical conditions. We can even perform some types of procedures on the eyes.

The biggest distinction is that, while optometrists spend four years learning about the eye, MDs must focus on the entire body and only get a short period of training in terms of eye health.

Diagnosing Diseases

I think some people operate under the impression that their general practitioner will diagnose any eye issues (other than the general need for glasses) should the need arise.

The truth is that in many cases, your optometrist can most likely diagnose eye diseases and issues earlier and more effectively than your general practitioner. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that, because we specialize in eye health, we invest in technology to evaluate the health of your eyes, such as a slit lamp which is a microscope for the eye.  Most general practitioners do not have access to a slit lamp which is critical in diagnosing conditions such as red eye, cataracts, or retinal changes. The second reason is that your primary care doctor will probably only evaluate your eye health if you are complaining of eye-related symptoms, or if they have reason to suspect you are having eye issues. The problem is that many eye diseases and conditions develop without causing any noticeable symptoms

When you see an optometrist, they perform an in-depth eye health evaluation as a part of your eye exam. An eye doctor is far more likely to detect eye diseases before they cause problems than a general practitioner. 

What Can My Optometrist Diagnose?

The world of eye health is pretty expansive, so this is by no means an exhaustive list, but some of the conditions optometrist frequently diagnose include:

In some cases, eye symptoms can indicate diseases that affect other parts of the body. Specific signs may eventually lead to a diagnosis of:

What Can My Optometrist Treat?

Optometrist Explaining Eyedrops

Once again, this question has a long answer and a short answer. The short answer is that an optometrist can treat almost any eye issue that doesn’t require surgery, assuming they have the appropriate technology and products to do so.

The longer answer is that different optometrists have different areas of clinical focus. Assuming your optometrist has all of the necessary equipment and training, your optometrist could offer any of the following treatments:

  • Medicated eye drop prescription
  • Eyeglasses prescription
  • Contact lens prescription (specialty or traditional)
  • Glaucoma management
  • Oral & topical drugs (schedule 1 & schedule 2)
  • Myopia control

What Procedures Can My Optometrist Perform?

We’ve determined that optometrists cannot perform surgery. But your optometrist can perform some procedures. What’s the difference?

A procedure is a series of steps a medical professional performs to help achieve a health-related goal or desired outcome. Meanwhile, surgery is a procedure that requires cutting into the patient’s tissue.

Assuming your optometrist has the necessary equipment, they could perform any of these procedures:

  • Dilating & flushing out eye glands
  • Removing gland blockages
  • Removing foreign bodies stuck in the eye
  • Treating a cut or scratch on the cornea
  • Applying Intense Pulsed Light or IPL for dry eyes

Ask Your Optometrist First

Of course, your family doctor is most likely capable of helping you with eye issues. The difference is your optometrist has specialized technology and treatment options that your GP probably doesn’t.

If you don’t know who you should visit for an eye issue, take a moment to call your optometrist’s office. Tell them about your circumstances, and they will help you determine the best course of action. 

Just remember, regular eye exams with your optometrist are the absolute best way to detect eye diseases before they cause permanent damage to your vision.

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