An Eye Exam Every Year Might Save You from Going Blind

If it’s been more than a year since you had an examination by an eye care professional, here are reasons why you need to make an appointment now.

How many doctors do you see on a regular basis? Many of us probably go to the doctor for an annual physical and see a specialist regularly as well, but what about an eye doctor? If you haven’t seen an eyecare professional in the last year, now is a great time because August is Eye Exam Awareness Month. More importantly, a comprehensive eye exam is a good way to get a glimpse of your overall health. An eye doctor can look into your eyes and see the signs of chronic diseases, so it’s not just about making sure you can see—it’s how you see and how you want to keep seeing.

How often should you see an eye doctor?

Acknowledging your eyes truly are a window to your overall health, adults should get a thorough eye exam every year. During a routine exam, your eye care professional doesn’t just check to see if you need glasses or contact lenses. He or she also checks for eye diseases and is often the first one to spot a number of other chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, brain abnormalities, and even certain cancers.

A regular eye exam is especially important if you’re considered at risk for eye and vision problems. At-risk people are usually those with diabetes and high blood pressure, or who have a family history of eye disease like glaucoma or macular degeneration. But you might be surprised to know that “at risk” also includes contact lens wearers and people whose jobs are highly demanding visually. If you stare at a computer screen all day, you may also be considered at risk so you’ll want to be sure to get a thorough eye exam every year.

So how do you know if you’re experiencing an eye issue? Many eye diseases have no symptoms until the disease process is well advanced. Typically, vision issues manifest with blurred vision while driving or reading. You may also find yourself squinting at the television, feeling visual fatigue by the end of the day, or getting frequent headaches. If it’s been more than a year since your last visit to your eye doctor, it’s possible your prescription may be out of date.

Is an online exam good enough?

You may come across websites or smartphone apps that offer online eye exams. These services are definitely tempting. You can get your eyes checked from the comfort of your home instead of making an appointment with your eyecare professional, but you shouldn’t rely on an online test to give you a complete picture of your eye health. Here’s why:

  • An online exam can only show what vision correction you may need. In fact, the American Optometric Association has warned against online exams specifically because they aren’t thorough enough. For example, your phone or computer can’t do an eye pressure test to check for glaucoma, which means key indicators of potential health problems could be missed.
  • A comprehensive eye exam should include several different tests—many of which, today, have to be done face-to-face with the proper equipment.

Let’s talk eye tests: What type of tests are included in a comprehensive exam?

In addition to the routine eye pressure test, a comprehensive eye exam should include several different tests—many of which must be done face-to-face with the appropriate equipment. These include a slit lamp exam, which uses a unique microscope to review the structures of your eye, as well as pupil dilation, which can help detect conditions like a retinal detachment, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and glaucoma.

During your comprehensive exam, your doctor will also review your medical history to identify any risk factors for eye disease. He or she will then determine the appropriate tests for you. For instance, glaucoma, a group of eye diseases where damage to the optic nerve can cause blindness, is hereditary. So if you have a family member with glaucoma, chances are good your doctor will test you for it as well.

Patients living with diabetes may develop retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that is a result of leakage from blood vessels. It can cause blindness. Diabetics may also be at higher risk of developing cataracts, a gradual clouding of the eye’s lens. Older individuals may be at risk of experiencing AMD, an eye disease that causes damage to the macula, which is a tiny spot near the center of the eye that is responsible for seeing objects straight ahead.

Additionally, during your exam, your doctor will give you tests for vision sharpness, color-blindness, eye movement testing, depth perception, and, potentially, a peripheral vision test. All of these tests are helpful in diagnosing potential vision issues and determining the best method to address them. Based on your results, your doctor might also suggest additional testing.

What should I know about children’s eyes?

While you’re making your eye exam appointment, don’t forget about your kids. The American Optometric Association recommends children receive at least 3 eye exams by age 6; before they start school, starting as early as 6 months old. After that, they should be examined every 1 to 2 years, depending on whether they need vision correction and whether they are at risk for development of eye and vision problems. Your child should also see an eye care professional if you suspect a problem with their vision. Keep an eye out for these symptoms or behaviors:

  • Avoiding or disliking reading
  • Short attention span
  • Difficulty throwing or catching a ball, copying from a chalkboard, or tying their shoes
  • Pulling a book in close to their face or sitting too close to a TV
  • Lots of blinking or eye rubbing

Another reason to ensure your kids get regular eye exams is that nearly 80% of a child’s learning happens visually. Too often, a child who can’t see well is misdiagnosed with a totally unrelated behavioral problem like ADHD when they may only need a pair of glasses.

What should I tell my eye doctor during an exam?

Just like any other doctor appointment, an eye exam should include a robust dialogue with your doctor, with full transparency on the amount of time you spend staring at screens and tablets and whether you follow guidelines for things like sleeping with your contact lenses in. Sharing your lifestyle and habits with your eye doctor will allow him or her to provide guidance on optimal eye health for you. Some questions you may want to ask your eye doctor include:

  • Does my vision seem stable?
  • Are prescription sunglasses a good option for me?
  • How do I address tired eyes?
  • What kind of eye drops do you recommend?

If it’s been awhile since you or your kids had an eye exam, don’t put it off any longer. Make an appointment with an eye care professional today to help ensure good vision for life.

Essilor See Change

The latest updates from Essilor See Change, FramesDirect.com’s parent company’s initiative to bring good vision to everyone, everywhere.

  • An estimated 500 million people living in Africa need vision correction but do not have the glasses they need. To reach these new customers, Essilor continues to expand its inclusive business models in the region. To meet some of our Vision Ambassadors in Kenya, click here
  • Last month, Vision For Life™ organized a screening event in an emergency shelter for displaced people in the suburbs of Paris. With the help of 50 Essilor volunteers, close to 200 adults got their eyes tested. Those who could not see clearly, about 40%, received a comprehensive eye exam from an ophthalmologist and glasses, if needed.
  •  Last year broadcasters across the U.S. premiered “SIGHT – The Story of Vision”, a one-hour documentary directed by Kris Koenig and narrated by Sir Elton John. It traces the progress in eye care over the past 800 years, as well as the growing worldwide vision crisis and efforts undertaken by individuals and organizations to resolve it. Read an interview with the director here.
  • Good vision is a basic human right everyone should have access to.  Seeing well improves everything in life, from an individual’s health, education and work opportunities, to the sustainable development of local communities and economies. Learn more in our latest infographic here.
  • To help make India’s streets safer, 2.5 New Vision Generation (2.5 NVG) partnered with the foundation of one of the world’s leading tyres manufacturers, Apollo. Thanks to this partnership 12,000 truckers received eye tests in one of 25 health centres run by Apollo’s foundation. 1500 drivers couldn’t see clearly and purchased a pair of affordable 2.5 NVG glasses. Learn more about NVG here.
  • Essilor Vision Foundation Australia has just launched its brand new website, Essilorvisionfoundation.org.au. In Australia EVF focuses on supporting the most disadvantaged members of local communities such as indigenous people and refugees. Since May 2016, the foundation has screened 2,283 children and equipped 181 with a free pair of glasses. Check out their new site here
safety glasses

Safety glasses: For Work, Hobbies, and with your Prescription

Safety glasses have come a long way. You used to have to buy big goggles to put over your prescription glasses, which were cumbersome and could get quite foggy – making your work even harder. Whether you need prescription lenses, or not, safety glasses are a lot less bulky these days.

Even with a streamlined look, safety glasses should (of course) protect your eyes from whatever hazards you may encounter.

The best way to ensure your safety glasses will give you reliable protection is to purchase frames and lenses that are ANSI rated.

ANSI stands for American National Standards Institute; they have minimum performance requirements for glasses and put frames and lenses through a series of tests – including a high velocity test conducted with a ¼ inch steel ball!

Whether you’re buying safety glasses (or prescription safety glasses) for work on a construction site, a laboratory, or for your kid to wear to play in a baseball game, the standards are the same. At FramesDirect.com we carry multiple brands of ANSI rated safety glasses and goggles, so you can find the the perfect pair for any activity. And if you buy prescription glasses in a safety frame, we will fit them with polycarbonate lenses that are ANSI rated. Polycarbonate is the most impact-resistant lens material. A full range of lens options are available including anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings and tinting.

You only get one pair of eyes per lifetime, so if you have a job that puts your eyes in harm’s way or just enjoy some of the more dangerous hobbies, its worthwhile to find a pair of glasses that fully protects them! All our operators at FramesDirect.com are trained opticians, so if you have any questions about getting the best safety glasses for your needs, just let us know.

If you want to learn a little more about safety glasses, check out this video with Travis:

 

Glaucoma Awareness

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

January has been declared National Glaucoma Awareness Month by Prevent Blindness and other leading eye health organizations, in an effort to help educate the public on the disease. Glaucoma is a group of conditions that damage the optic nerve, the bundle of nerve fibers connecting the eye to the brain, and is the leading cause of preventable blindness.

Why Do I Need Reading Glasses?

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Reading glasses are an inevitability for most people, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for the $10 pair from the drug store with cheap lenses and little beads hanging off the temples…

It’s going to happen to everyone and you can’t fight it but that doesn’t mean that you have to get a boring pair from the drugstore down the street! Reading glasses (or readers) are a pair of glasses that help with close vision for activities like reading. Today many different, designer brands have been making stylish reading glasses that are cost effective, and for those who are not ready for bifocals.

Who needs reading glasses?

Deteriorating close vision is a symptom of an extremely common condition called Presbyopia. There is no treatment for Presbyopia because it is a natural phenomena that happens to our eyes as we get older. When we reach our forties, the lenses in our eyes start becoming less malleable, and it becomes more difficult for them to easily bend into the correct shape for up close vision. That means that activities like reading and driving can become more difficult. This is when adults in their forties begin to hold up books and menus at arms length to read them!

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Why don’t I just get bifocals?

Bifocal lenses are for people who need help with both far and near vision. The line on bifocal lenses can also be difficult to get used to. Bifocals can cost up to double what reading glasses do. Progressive lenses (which are like bifocals, but without an annoying line) can cost even more. If you are looking for a solution for just close vision, reading glasses are your best bet! Reading glasses come in six, generic powers that fit a majority of people (+1.00, +1.50, +1.75, +2.00, +2.25, +2.50, +3.00).

But reading glasses are ugly!

But they don’t have to be! Certain brands such as Private Eyes Readers and Corinne McCormack make beautiful readers that are fashion forward, professional, and not too expensive. If you need sunglasses, well-known sunglasses brands like Costa and Maui Jim make Costa C-Mates and Maui Jim Readers, which still have the style and innovation that is associated with the Costa and Maui Jim names, but at a more affordable cost!
More questions about reading glasses? Check out these awesome reading glasses below and our reading glasses page at FramesDirect.com!!

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August is National Eye Exam Month: Who Should Get Eye Exams?

Summer vacation is over. Time to go back to work or school, and time to start visiting doctors. Whether you need a physical for sports or vaccines for the new year, make sure that you add an eye exam to the list of check ups you’ll need to schedule.

Avoid Sore Eyes with Safe Screen Time

With the preponderance of digital devices in our lives it’s easy to lose track of the hours we spend staring at screens. Whether you are obliged to be in front of a computer for your job duties, or just a TV or video game junkie, the dangers are applicable to you. And that’s not to mention the ubiquitous smartphone, which has now become an appendage on even the youngest members of society.  Considering this, it’s no surprise that Digital Eye Strain is a potential problem for most of us, whether we wear glasses or not. And it’s important to consider the ways in which we can mitigate the cumulative damage done to our eyes from digital devices.

So what exactly is Digital Eye Strain? It’s simply the discomfort many of us feel after two or more hours in front of any type of digital screen. This includes desktops and laptops, smart phones and tablets, e-readers, TVs, and video games. Other bodily symptoms of overexposure include neck, shoulder, and back pain, headache, blurred vision, and dry eyes. The average person blinks about 18 times a minute, but staring at screen causes blink rates to reduce, resulting in dry, itchy or burning eyes and can even cause permanent changes to tear fluid.

The optical industry has begun paying attention to blue light, also called high-energy visible (HEV) light, exposure. This is the category of light emitted from backlit displays. Blue light can reach even deeper into the eye than UV, and may damage the retina with cumulative exposure (which could lead to macular degeneration.)  Digital devices expose the eye to hidden spikes in intensity at wavelengths within the blue part of the spectrum.

blue part of spectrum

Blue light can also impact circadian rhythms by suppressing the release of melatonin (the hormone that controls the day-night cycle in the body.)

This January, The Vision Council released its third annual Digital Eye Strain Report, based on a study involving around 10k participants conducted in October, 2014. Its findings about the amount of time most of us spend on digital devices is a little shocking – 1/3 of adults spend more than half their waking hours staring at a screen.  But many of us have no choice; our livelihoods are dependent on hours in front a computer. So what can be done?

Tips for preventing digital eye strain:

  • Increase the text size and adjust the contrast to make text easier to read
  • Change the background color from white to grey
  • 20-20-20 rule: look away from the screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds at something 20 feet away
  • Remind yourself to blink
  • Dust & wipe down screens to cut down on glare
  • Put your computer screen one arms length from your face (20-28 inches from your eyes)
  • Your screen should be directly in front of your face, slightly below eye level
  • Anti-reflective coatings on the front and back of lenses (more info)
  • Anti-glare protective screens on monitors
  • Adjust the lighting in your workspace using desk lamps or other portable lighting (since fluorescent lighting emits blue light as well)
  • Try blue-light blocking lenses (like these, or any lens with an amber, yellow, or gold tint that has UV coating)

Tips for kids

  1.       Take regular breaks
  2.       Don’t let them hold the screen too close to their eyes
  3.       Correctly set up workstation, with 2 feet flat on the floor.

If you suspect you are suffering from digital eye strain, get an evaluation from your eye care provider.

 

The Vision Council (2015, January) Hindsight is 20/20/20: Protect Your Eyes from Digital Devices, 2015 Digital Eye Strain Report, Retrieved February, 03, 2015, from http://www.thevisioncouncil.org/

 

Sunglasses in Spain

UV Protection: Important for Your Eyes, too

UV Protection for the Eyes

In addition to hot weather locations, mountainous, cold terrains are just as exposed to UV radiation as higher temperature terrains.

Most of us have heard of the dangers of UV radiation since our childhood. As soon as we were old enough to play outside, we were instructed to lather our skin in UV protective sunblock and wear sunglasses that offer UV protection. But what exactly is UV radiation and what are its potential dangers? To know more about how you can protect yourself against UV radiation, you must know its source. In short, know your enemy.

What is UV Radiation?

UV radiation is a light that comes in three different forms, UVA, UVB, and UVC. The majority of what reaches our eyes and skin is UVA, but small traces of the latter two also leak through the ozone layer of our earth from the sun. Overexposure of UV radiation to the human body damages DNA cells. This damage can result in something as mild as sunburn, to something as severe as skin cancer. Since human eyes are just as openly exposed as the human skin, the effects of UV radiation on the eyes are nearly the same. Just like the skin can develop sunburn from over exposure to the sun, eyes can develop a type of sunburn called photokeratitis. Like skin sunburn, photokeratitits’ effects are usually only surface deep and temporary, but long term exposure of UV radiation to the eye can cause more severe effects like cataracts or macular degeneration.

Where Does UV Radiation Come From?

Most of the UV light that humans come in contact with is from the sun. But contrary to popular assumption, the sun isn’t the only source of UV light. Human inventions of light, like tanning booth lamps, welding machines, and lasers all contain traces of UV light that are enough to cause major damage to the eyes. Another incorrect assumption is that hot weather locations, like the beach, are more susceptible to UV damage than cold weather locations, like the mountains. Mountainous, cold terrains are just as exposed to UV radiation as higher temperature terrains, if not more.

Photokeratitis, commonly called “snow blindness,” is a form of eye damage resulting from UV rays reflecting from the snow into the eye. Also, UV radiation increases with altitude, so the higher up you are, the more damage can be done. UV rays can also reflect off of other surfaces such as sand, water, and concrete, so make sure you are protected regardless of what environment you’re in.

Protection From UV Radiation

Here are a few ways that you can protect your eyes from UV radiation to avoid long and short term damage.

1. First and foremost, is to wear UV protective sunglasses during the daytime. Make sure that whatever sunglasses you are purchasing have UV protection. The best sunglasses for UV protection are the ones that have the most face coverage, and are a solid tint all the way through (not a faded tint). Also, UV rays can pass through thin clouds, so even if it’s a lightly clouded day, wear your shades. Make sure that the sunglasses you wear block 100% of UV radiation, this is the recommendation by the FDA. Contact lenses and prescription glasses also offer UV protection when it is too dark outside to wear sunglasses.

2. Protect your eyes by wearing safety goggles or sunglasses if you are around UV emitting lights. Welders, people that use tanning booths, and people that work around lasers in the tech industry should all wear protective eyewear when working around UV rays.

3. Wear sunscreen on your face and skin. UV rays can reflect off of your skin and into your eyes, so make sure that you use a sunscreen that offers the proper UV protection for your environment. The FDA recommends that you use a sunscreen that offers SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 or more.


Related: Vision Therapy, What is 20/20 Vision?, Eyeglass Lens Prescription Explained, Contact Lens Prescription Explained.