Vancouver Optometrists & Eye Doctors

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Archive for April, 2014

Everything You Need to Know about Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Thursday, April 24, 2014 @ 07:04 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

Everything You Need to Know about Myopia (Nearsightedness)

One of the most common vision problems is myopia, or nearsightedness. The condition affects nearly 30 percent of the population, and it makes it hard to see any objects that are not close up. By learning more about this common vision problem, you can be alert to the signs and symptoms in case you begin to experience it. That knowledge will prepare you to get the treatment you need as quickly as possible so you can protect your vision.

Cause of Nearsightedness

Several things can cause nearsightedness. Axial myopia is caused by an increase in the length of the eye’s axis. Curvature myopia is caused by increased curvature in the eye, such as the cornea. It can also be caused by higher corneal strength. Index myopia is caused by variations in the ocular media.

Any changes in the shape of the eye or the power of any of its elements could lead to myopia. Sometimes, this is caused by genetics, and sometimes, it is caused by lifestyle factors. For example, high blood-glucose levels can lead to swelling around the lens, which can cause short-term myopia.

Performing a lot of work that requires close attention to detail – such as art work or long periods sitting in front of a computer – can contribute to myopia.

Simple myopia involves an eye that has an imbalance between its length and its optical power. Degenerative myopia is a progressive condition that gets worse over time, often a result of the aging process. Nocturnal myopia is nearsightedness brought on in low-lighting situations – though the person may be able to see perfectly well in the daytime or in well-lit areas. Night myopia may be exacerbated by the widening of the pupils, which lets light in and can cause abnormalities in vision.

Nearsightedness can also be brought on by spasms in certain muscles or by exposure to pharmaceutical medications.

Signs and Symptoms

Each person may experience a different degree of myopia, which can result in different symptoms. The exact type of myopia experienced can also influence the types of symptoms that are present.
Some of the common symptoms of nearsightedness include:

  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • The need to squint
  • Fatigue when looking at objects at a distance, such as when driving
  • Blurred vision when looking at objects at a distance

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to be evaluated by an optometrist. A qualified eye doctor can look for signs of myopia within your eye, such as:

  • The appearance of a tilted optic nerve
  • White sclera next to a line of pigmentation
  • Changes in the pigment of the retina
  • Subretinal hemorrhage

A thorough eye exam will be conducted to look for these and other signs of myopia. Your exam will also include a vision test, which should note blurred vision at a distance.

Diagnosis

Many people understand that they are nearsighted just through the changes they notice in their vision when they are looking at objects up close and far away. However, for a formal diagnosis, you will need to get an eye exam from an experienced eye doctor.

The eye exam should include a typical vision test, as well as an inspection of your eyes using special tools. An autorefractor and phoropter should both be typically used to exam your eyes when nearsightedness is suspected.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment for myopia primarily involves wearing corrective eyeglass or contact lenses. Eyeglasses are the more common choice since they can be easily removed when looking at items close up (when vision correction is not needed). However, some experts believe that wearing glasses can make nearsightedness worse since they make the eyes dependent on assistance.

Refractive surgery is also available to correct myopia. Surgery may correct the shape or the function of the cornea or other elements of the eye. A lens implant may also help to flatten the cornea to help treat nearsightedness.

Surgery may also help to slow the progression of myopia in degenerative cases. The exact kind of surgery required depends on the type of myopia experienced, as well as the severity. Working with an eye doctor experienced in treating myopia can help you to explore all the potential treatments, including surgery, available to address your nearsightedness.

Alternative medical treatments, such as relaxation strategies and eye exercises, have also been reported to have some positive effects on treating nearsightedness.

There is no way to prevent myopia. Though getting the right treatment or even practicing alternative therapies has been shown to have some positive effect on nearsightedness, no treatments have been shown to prevent the condition. Generally, a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to encourage good vision overall. However, there are no guarantees that any lifestyle choices will prevent poor vision, and no dietary or lifestyle measures have been shown to impact nearsightedness in particular.

Nearsightedness certainly isn’t a life-changing condition (unless, maybe, if you are a pilot or dream to become a pilot), but it is surely a problematic condition. Without the right treatment, you could experience problems driving, playing sports or participating in other essential activities that require you to see at a distance. Learning what you can about nearsightedness will help you to recognize the signs and symptoms of the condition earlier so that you can get the treatment you need and start enjoying the activities that you love again. With the right treatment, you may even be able to slow progression of the condition.

 

How to Select the Right Optometrist for You

Thursday, April 17, 2014 @ 07:04 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

Visiting an optometrist should be a vital part of your regular eye care routine. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not do this regularly. A lot of people do not have an eye care professional that they go to on a regular basis. The fact is, if you get comfortable with one doctor you won’t mind him or her poking around at your eyes as much. Going to a new doctor is never an easy experience. However, it can be a little easier if you know how to find the proper doctor for your unique needs.

Remember, everyone is going to have their own unique preferences. Things they would feel comfortable with if a doctor were to possess them (like patience). Don’t feel your ideal traits must coincide with a doctor you already know as that is not the case. This article is designed to help you select your doctor without having to do the trial-and-error thing.

I’ve Never Had an Eye Doctor Before, Where Do I start?

When you have never had an eye check-up it can be intimidating to try to guess where to start. Talking to friends and family members is a great day to ensure you are getting honest information from people you trust. It is possible to ask your doctor for a referral as they will have a list of the optometrists in the area and they will likely have a good sense of who is good and who to avoid. Asking a health care professional is especially helpful when you have young children as they are able to give you the name of a doctor that will be extra good with the kids.

There are multiple websites you can go to which have lists of the eye care professionals in your area. This is helpful as it allows you to sift through the list yourself. There is not really any way for you to tell much about the dentist. However, you can read reviews in order to get a better feel for how they manage their practice.

Questions You Should Consider Asking During Your First Appointment

If this is your first optometrists appointment, you are probably wondering what type of questions you should be asking, if any. Experience really does matter when it comes to eye care. A doctor with more experience may be able to diagnose any potential issues well in advance and much more easily than someone who has less experience. This is often because the doctor with more experience has seen more patients and is able to notice slight imperfections easier.

If you have coverage for your eye care, you should probably ensure the doctor you selected accepts your coverage plan. If it is possible, you should be asking this question before you actually go in to see the doctor as it would be a waste of your time to go all the way down there to find out that your insurance is not accepted at that specific location.

It is ideal for a person to take a look at their doctors credentials before stepping foot into the office. Do an online search to ensure the doctor has a license, take a look at where they went to school and ensure that they have the proper background to be working on your vision to begin with. It may help to look up online reviews as well. Online reviews will help you to get an understanding of how other peoples experiences with that particular doctor went.

Some eye care professionals have a speciality (they work mostly with children or with people dealing with a certain disease). It is essential to ask your potential doctor what they specialize in and ensure you pick the doctor that has the skills and the expertise to properly treat you.

Things to Consider After Your Appointment

Most people think that after your eye doctor appointment you have done everything necessary and there is nothing left to do. This is not the case. After your initial appointment, you should reflect on your experiences and ask yourself how you thought it went.

The wait time is definitely something you should consider when selecting a doctor. Some eye doctors will take you right away where others will not. If you have experienced a longer wait time than you would have liked, you should ask the receptionist about the length of the standard wait for an appointment and see if you feel like waiting that long for your appointments. Just because you had to wait longer one time does not mean it will happen every time, so make sure you ask and don’t jump to conclusions.

When the examination was complete, did you feel that it was thorough? When you go to these types of appointments it is important to ensure that you are not feeling as if you are being rushed. It is never a good sign when an eye care professional rushes you out the door before you’re ready for it.

Look over the list of questions or concerns you had before you went to the eye doctors. Ask yourself if the doctor did a good job answering your questions. If your doctor does not have good communication skills you are likely going to run into issues later on down the road.

Lastly, you should ask yourself if you felt comfortable with the doctor you saw. This is probably the most important of all the questions as you are far less likely to go to a doctor you do not like. If you like your doctor, you will go to appointments as required.

What to Do If You Do Not Like Your Eye Care Professional

There is no shame in admitting that you tried out a doctor and you did not like them for whatever reason. There are many reasons why you may not want to go back to a specific eye care professional, and that is okay. The most important thing is that you have realized this and you want to know what to do next. You will be pleased to know that there is a simple answer for this. You can just try a different doctor next time. Just ensure that you go through the mental checklist when you’re done to be entirely positive that you want to remain with a specific doctor.

Making the Best Decisions For You

Unfortunately there isn’t much anyone can do to tell you for sure who is a good doctor and who isn’t unless they have firsthand experience with the specific doctor. Do your homework before selecting just anyone. In our modern society, it’s quite easy to find out information on anyone (even doctors and regular people off the street) on the internet. It is easy for us to do some research to ensure we are putting ourselves in good hands.

If you research the list of potential eye care professionals and select the one you believe to be the best out of the bunch then you are able to eliminate a lot of guess work. If you ask family, friends, and read reviews online about that specific eye care professional you should get a pretty good feel for their qualifications without even having to call them on the phone.

At your initial appointment, you should attempt to remain diligent and observant. You want to ensure you are comfortable with this doctor as well as the other staff members before you decide to stay with one doctor. Never settle for a doctor that you are not comfortable with.

Once you find the eye care professional that does a good job and you feel comfortable with it is imperil that you attend regular appointments to ensure that any issues are diagnosed early. If you drive, you may want to ensure someone else drives you to your appointment and picks you up as you will likely not be able to drive after having eye drops put into your eyes.

Is PRK Surgery the Superior Option for You?

Thursday, April 10, 2014 @ 07:04 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

Is PRK Surgery the Superior Option for You

LASIK surgery is the most popular surgery for correcting minor vision problems such as nearsightedness and farsightedness. More than 8 million people have received the surgery to date.
However, not all patients are candidates for LASIK surgery. In order to get the surgery, patients must have stable vision (meaning that their vision has not worsened in the previous year), they must have a minimum strength prescription, and they must have good overall eye health, as well as good general health.
Some patients who are not able to get LASIK surgery may qualify for PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, surgery instead.

About PRK Surgery

Many vision problems are caused by a distortion in the shape of the cornea. The cornea focuses light that shines on the eye and transmits it to the retina, where it produces an image. If the cornea has an irregular shape, the light may not focus properly, contributing to blurry vision. In some cases, objects that are close may be blurry (farsightedness), objects that are far away may be blurry (nearsightedness), or all objects may be blurry in general (astigmatism).

Both LASIK surgery and PRK surgery work to correct vision by reshaping the cornea. In LASIK surgery, a flap is made by cutting into the cornea, allowing the laser to enter and remove tissue. In PRK surgery, no incision is made, and the cornea is resurfaced from the outside. Only tissue from the top layer of the cornea is removed for the reshaping. The top of the cornea is slightly flattened to address nearsightedness, while a steeper grade is created to address farsightedness. The surgery smooths out irregularities on the surface of the cornea to address astigmatism.

The whole procedure only takes a few minutes, and it is performed while numbing agents have been administered in the patient’s eye. A protective contact lens is placed over the eye while it heals.

The surgery can also be administered after cataract surgery to improve vision.
Who Should Get PRK Surgery?

Most patients who choose PRK surgery over LASIK are those who meet all the same qualifications for LASIK but who have thin corneas. With thin corneas, these patients would be at risk for major complications with LASIK, which requires cutting into the cornea.

Other qualifications for the surgery include:

• Stable vision. Patients should not have experienced any changes in their vision within the last year.

• Minimum prescription. Most patients should have a refractive error of between +5.00 and -12.00 diopters to qualify for PRK surgery.

• Good overall health.

Patients who are disqualified from LASIK because of their work or recreational activities may also find PRK surgery to be a good alternative. For example, athletes who participate in contact sports like wrestling or boxing cannot undergo LASIK surgery because the impact could damage the cornea after it has been opened. The PRK surgery is not as invasive, so it is available for athletes and all types of employees.

Who Can’t Get PRK Surgery

Just like with LASIK surgery, certain health conditions can disqualify people from getting PRK surgery. For example, those who have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis may not be good candidates for the surgery. However, those who have an autoimmune disease are not necessarily disqualified from getting PRK surgery because the procedure does not require an incision.

Those who have herpes in the eye or other eye conditions may also be disqualified from the surgery.
Pregnant women may not be able to receive the surgery, depending on what stage of the pregnancy the woman is in when the surgery is requested. Some pregnant women may be able to have the surgery during the first trimester.

Risks of PRK Surgery

Though PRK surgery does not involve an incision in the cornea, the procedure still carries some risks. Like LASIK surgery, there is a risk of night glare after PRK surgery. Though this generally improves with time, some patients may find that they cannot drive at night because of it.
Other potential side effects include a haze in the vision or a risk of infection brought on by inflammation.

The risks of PRK surgery are very rare, and most patients experience no side effects whatsoever. Most patients are able to return to work within a few days, and medicine is given to control inflammation and reduce discomfort.
Ultimately, the only way for a patient to know if he or she is a good candidate for PRK surgery is to meet with a qualified optometrist and to be evaluated. An eye doctor will give you a complete eye exam, review your medical history and talk to you about your eye health and your concerns. Your doctor will be able to tell you whether you are a good candidate for the surgery and what you can expect from the surgery. If other options are available to correct your vision, your eye doctor will present them to you and explain the pros and cons of each for your particular needs.

It is absolutely essential that you find a qualified optometrist for your evaluation and to perform any corrective surgery that you choose. Look for an eye doctor who is board certified, and check the doctor’s credentials. Make sure the doctor has experience in performing PRK surgery (or whatever other procedure you choose). Search online and check with licensing agencies to look for any complaints or reports of malpractice. Choosing the right doctor will ensure that you get the surgery you need to correct your vision without increasing your risks.

Is Lasik the Superior Option for You?

Thursday, April 3, 2014 @ 07:04 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

Is Lasik the Superior Option for You

Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) eye surgery has become a very popular option for corrective vision. In fact, Duke University says that more than 8 million people have gotten the surgery.
However, LASIK surgery is not for every person who experiences vision problems. To understand who should get the surgery, it is first important to understand how vision works and what the surgery entails.
The cornea is the part of the eye that helps to focus light, which is then routed to the retina, which produces an image. When the cornea is misshaped, it can cause problems with that process, leading to blurry images. LASIK surgery involves creating a flap in the cornea so that a laser can go inside and reshape the cornea, helping to create better focus in the eye.

Ideal LASIK Candidates

Determining who is the ideal LASIK candidate requires assessing a patient’s vision and overall health. Ideal LASIK candidates should:

1. Be at least 18 years of age.

2. Have a moderate degree of nearsightedness (only able to see objects clearly up close), farsightedness (only able to see objects clearly from a distance), or astigmatism (overall blurry vision). Candidates will have to have a prescription with a minimum strength.

3. Have pupils that are no more than 8.5 mm when measured in the dark.

4. Have experienced no changes in their vision or their prescription for at least one year.

5. Have a healthy retina and eye pressure.

6. Have the money to pay for the surgery. Most insurance companies do not pay for LASIK surgery, which can cost an average of $2,000 per eye.

7. Not be pregnant or nursing.

8. Not be engaged in contact sports, such as boxing, football, wrestling or martial arts.
Every candidate for LASIK surgery should be evaluated by an experienced eye doctor to determine his or her current vision issues, eye health and overall health. Only a qualified eye doctor can make the final determination on who is a good candidate for LASIK surgery.

Who Should Not Get LASIK

Though LASIK eye surgery has become common, it is still a surgery and there are still risks. Therefore, there is a much longer list of who should NOT get LASIK eye surgery.

You should not get LASIK eye surgery if you:

1. Have a problem with dry eyes. One of the potential side effects of LASIK surgery is that it can make your eyes dry. If you already have this problem, getting LASIK surgery can make it even worse, making them painful.

2. Have ongoing problems with your vision. If your vision is worsening, or if you are experiencing vision problems off and on, you won’t be able to get LASIK surgery. Your vision must be stable before the problem can be addressed. If the pressure in your eye is too high or is fluctuating, you also won’t be able to get LASIK surgery.

3. Have misshapen eyes. There are many problems with the shape or your eyes that could prevent you from being a candidate for LASIK. For example, if you have an irregularly shaped cornea, or if your cornea is too thin, you won’t be able to get LASIK. Also, if you have eyes that are set very deep or have oddly shaped lids that could be problematic during surgery, you will likely not be a candidate for LASIK eye surgery.

4. Have an autoimmune disease. With LASIK eye surgery, doctors will be cutting into your body. If you have an autoimmune disease, you may not be able to heal as quickly from the surgery, and you may be more at risk for infection. Autoimmune diseases include HIV, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

5. Have other poor health conditions. Those with diabetes and other conditions may not be good candidates for LASIK surgery.

Overall, it is important for those considering LASIK surgery to have an honest discussion with their eye care providers about the surgery and about the risks and benefits for their specific case. Some may realize that their vision has not yet progressed to the point where LASIK is a good option. Others may decide that the risks of LASIK surgery do not outweigh the potential benefits, such as those who have severe nearsightedness, who could wind up with even more severe vision problems from side effects of the surgery.

Risks of LASIK Surgery

Even those who are considered to be good candidates for LASIK surgery should still consider the risks before deciding whether to proceed with the surgery. Some risks of LASIK surgery include:

• Blepharitis. With this condition, the eyelids become inflamed and the eyelashes become crusty. The condition can increase the risk of infection or can contribute to inflammation of the cornea.

Dry eyes. As previously noted, LASIK surgery can increase the risk of dry eyes, even if you did not experience the condition before the surgery.

Enlarged pupils. After surgery, patients can experience double vision, glare, halos and starbursts. Not only can this be uncomfortable, but it can also take away from quality of life, such as inhibiting a patient’s ability to drive a car at night or in adverse weather conditions.

• Blindness. If you have thin corneas, having LASIK surgery can increase the risk of complications that could lead to blindness.

It is important to thoroughly evaluate all the risks associated with the surgery before making a decision. Though LASIK eye surgery can be life-changing, you must be sure that you are the right candidate for the procedure. Otherwise, you could suffer from debilitating side effects that could actually worsen your vision or bring down your quality of life. Make sure you work with your eye doctor to determine the best course of action for your eye health.