Here are the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions.
What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common vision problem; it is not an eye disease. Like nearsightedness and farsightedness, astigmatism is a refractive condition easily correctable with eyeglasses, contact lenses and laser vision correction. Astigmatism occurs when the front part of the eye, the cornea, is not a spherical shape. Instead, it is shaped like that of the surface of an egg – oval shaped. In milder cases the person may complain of tired or “strained” eyes, or of difficulty reading or using the computer, or of headaches, especially when trying to focus. If the amount of astigmatism is large enough, vision is blurred or distorted when the person is looking up close and also when looking further into the distance.
How often should I have my eyes tested?
We recommend annual eye examinations for every age group. Annual exams are especially crucial for children (because changes in vision can occur very quickly) and for seniors (because they are at higher risk for many eye diseases).
If I wear my eyeglasses, will it make my vision better?
No. That’s a myth. Wearing eyeglasses will enable you to see clearer while wearing them, but they will not improve your vision when you remove them.
If I wear my eyeglasses, will it make my vision worse?
No. That’s another myth.
If I don’t wear my glasses, will it make my vision worse?
The short answer is – no.
BUT, for young children who have a lazy eye, the answer is – yes.
Does Reading in the dark make my vision worse?
No. It can cause some eyestrain but it will not cause any damage to the eyes or cause your eyeglass prescription to deteriorate.
What do the dilation drops do?
A dilated eye exam is a painless procedure in which we examine your eyes to look for vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs.
While people may not like getting them, it is very important in order to do a thorough eye exam. Dilating drops may sting briefly when they are instilled, and when your pupils are dilated, you may be sensitive to light (because more light is getting into your eye). These effects may last for up to several hours. You should bring sunglasses with you to your eye exam, to minimize glare and light sensitivity on the way home.
Pupil dilation is very important for people with risk factors for eye disease, because it allows for the most thorough evaluation of the health of the inside of your eyes.
My eyes seem fine... Why should I get them examined?
Changes in vision usually occur slowly, and often people are unaware that they are no longer seeing 20/20. Also, sight-threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration do not cause perceptible changes in vision when they first begin. An eye exam will ensure that you are seeing as well as possible, and can detect eye diseases in their early stages before permanent vision loss has occurred.
What do I need to bring to the appointment?
Bring any eyeglasses and sunglasses that you have or currently wear. If the appointment is for someone older than 64 or younger than 20, then bring their health card because their eye exam is covered under OHIP. Come 10 minutes early if you are a new patient to allow time for filling out forms.
What do you think about LASER vision correction?
I think that it is a great option. I personally have had LASIK on my own eyes, so I’m a big believer in the procedure. As long as you are a good candidate, you have an extremely high chance of getting a perfect result. The question is; who is a good candidate? This depends on a number of factors, such as your eye health, prescription, prescription stability, corneal thickness and shape, your daily visual needs, expectations and so forth. Surgeon experience is also another factor that is important. Surgeon complication rate is a crucial factor that is quite impossible to determine without an objective consult. It can get quite complex, but we have dealt with thousands of cases to ensure that their surgeries have gone well without incident or complication. The last thing to consider is how much eyeglasses and contact lenses bother you. If you do not find them really annoying and you can tolerate them, then I would recommend delaying eye surgery until you reach that point.
I’ve always had perfect vision, but now that I’m 40, I’m having difficulty reading small print. What’s going on?
This is a normal eye condition that occurs as you age, it is called presbyopia. People start to have difficulty reading small words, doing detailed work, or using the computer for prolonged periods of time. The condition is sometimes called “short arm syndrome”, because people often have to push objects to their arms length to be able to see them. Eventually, their arms become “too short” to hold objects far away enough. Presbyopia is caused by a gradual thickening and loss of flexibility of the natural lens inside the eye. This causes the focusing power of the eye to diminish. This is the time when many people now start to need reading glasses. However, if they are nearsighted, many people simply remove their glasses and are read clearly with their naked eye.
I can read now with my naked eye, but if I have LASIK then I’ll need reading glasses? I don’t understand this?
This applies only to patients over the age of 40 and who are nearsighted. To understand this, you have to understand the concept of presbyopia (as discussed right above). When a nearsighted person over age 40, has to read up close, they read more clearly with their naked eye. If LASIK is performed on this person, then it is like having the distance glasses prescription permanently “put on the eyes”. They cannot take eyeglasses off to read anymore because there are no more distance eyeglasses. Thus, in order to read, reading glasses will be needed. Many nearsighted patients are in disbelief when I tell them this, but if they think about it for a while they usually eventually understand this concept.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is clouding of the normally clear and transparent natural lens of the eye. Everyone eventually gets a cataract from age related changes, so it is quite a common finding. However, cataracts can occur at birth and also from trauma, medications or certain diseases. The symptoms usually are blurriness, increased glare, colours being dimmer, poor night vision and sometimes a shadowing or doubling of images. Sometimes cataracts progress so slowly that people are not aware that they have them.
Are there any drops that I can take to get rid of cataracts? What can I do to protect my vision?
Unfortunately, there are no eyedrops that can improve cataracts. Protection from the sun is important. Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet rays from sunlight may help to delay cataract formation and progression. Nutrition may also play a role with cataracts. It is recommended to have a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and other foods with antioxidants.
How is a cataract treated? Is it removed with a Laser?
The symptoms of early cataract may be improved with a new eyeglass prescription, brighter lighting, sunglasses to reduce glare, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. The vast majority of surgeries are done with ultrasound. It was only until very recently (2012), that cataract surgery was first done with a laser in Canada.
Cataract surgery needs to be done only when vision loss interferes with your everyday activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV. We can make this decision together, but you have the final say. Once you understand the benefits and risks of surgery, you can make an informed decision about whether cataract surgery is right for you. In most cases, delaying cataract surgery will not cause long-term damage to your eye or make the surgery more difficult. You do not have to rush into surgery. However, cataract surgery is one of the most common operations performed in Canada. It also is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery.