What exactly are cataracts?

Inside the eye there is a lens that aids in maintaing focus at different distances.  Over time, it will gradually become cloudy, like a window getting dirty.  This will cause some blur as the light is now being diffracted and scattered, like in a salty windshield.  In most cases, the changes are a gradual process that occur over years.  However, some medications, like steroids, can induce cataracts that will grow at a faster rate.  Fortunately, the fix is quite simple.  When they get “ripe” enough, your optometrist will send you to an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) to get them removed.  They will take out the cloudy lens, and replace it with a new clear one.  This will not only sharpen up the vision, but improve contrast and colour vision as well.  It has gotten to the point where, in some cases, they are able to integrate a patient’s distance glasses prescription, so that they only require glasses for reading post-surgery.  Even though cataracts are very common, they are very easily dealt with, and the risk factors are very minimal.  If you had to pick something to go wrong with your body, this would be it, as it generally provides instant gratification with minimum effort!

We need to discuss your medication list…

As part of your eye exam, your optometrist should include your medical history, as well as your medication list.  “Why?”, you ask.  Well, last time we checked, your eyes are part of your body, and what affects your body will affect your eyes.  And believe it or not, some medications will have adverse ocular effects.  The birth control pill may cause dry eye, and therefore make wearing your contact lenses much more uncomfortable.  Another example is Plaquenil.  This guy can actually wreck some retinal tissue and damage your vision-so we need to check these people with more in-depth testing, and more frequently.

Now, a list is always a handy thing to bring.  For one, the lab people who invent the names like to use every letter in the alphabet, and make up words that we can’t pronounce.  Second, changing the type of med (even if it’s in the same family) can have different side-effects.  Third, a visual description is not helpful.  We are not pharmacists, and have no clue what your pills should look like.  For instance, my daughter was on the medication Oxybutinin for a spastic bladder.  It was a blue pill.  I can think of another blue pill that would be totally inappropriate for a young girl to take (it starts with a v…).

So, bring your medication list to your eye exam.  It will help us determine if they are contributing, or outright causing some of your ocular symptoms.  Then we can better manage what is going on.  Trust me, we love getting to the root of a problem.

What to look for in a laser centre.

At this time of year, we like to spend more time outdoors to enjoy the summer weather.  Glasses and contact lenses can become a hindrance for the activities that we want to do.  This is where some people consider laser surgery to be able to function without any visual aids.  When looking into having the surgery done, you must ensure that you’re going to a reputable centre.  These will offer the latest techniques with custom laser and bladeless surgery (intralase).  The cost should include your pre-op exam, the surgery itself, and all follow-ups.  Also, a lifetime guarantee will ensure that you don’t incur extra costs if the eyes don’t heal to where the vision should be.  Be careful of centres that advertise that they have done “over 60 000 surgeries”.  You want to know how many the actual surgeon has done, not the sum total of every surgeon that has ever worked there.  Look into places that have been around for an extended period-they’ll have the experience, and they won’t be closing shop due to bankruptcy, leaving you out in the cold.  All in all, lasik is a wonderful surgery.  However, you must ensure that you have a proper surgeon with the latest technology to do it.  After all, it’s not like you can go to the eyeball store to get a new pair…

What to look for in sunglasses.

Summer is here, and the sun is shining bright.  This is the time of year that sunglasses shift from fashion accessory to a necessity.  But did you know that sunglasses, like sunscreen, have a protective role to play?  By blocking the UV rays that can penetrate the eyes, they can reduce the risk for certain eye diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.  Not all sunglasses are created equal, though.  The best ones will offer protection from all UV’s.  Here, you need to look for UV400, or 100% UVA and 100% UVB on the label.  Tints are a matter of preference, so pick the shade that seems to give you the most relief from the glare.  And if you want more glare reduction, a polarized lens will help to reduce eye fatigue caused by excess light scattering.  The best sunglasses offer full UV protection, with lenses that offer minimum distortion.  These are more expensive, however the reduced eyestrain is worth the investment.  So, summer is here.  Get your shades on!  Your eyes will thank you.

our new mission statement

“We treat your eyes like they’re irreplaceable.” This is our new mission statement. It was chosen as it is simple, yet encompasses all facets of eyecare. What this means to you, our patient, is that we will continue in our commitment in giving you excellent care. This applies not only to your eye exams, and any subsequent testing that we do, but also in the products that we deliver. We will prescribe according to your individual needs, and will use up-to-date technology, whether it be for glasses or contact lenses. If there are health issues that need to be addressed, we will stay on top of them. And if further treatment is required, we will ensure that we get you to the proper specialist. Your eyes are irreplaceable. We should all treat them as such.

Getting glasses or contacts online is cheaper, right?

The internet has provided us with access to information and purchasing options like never before.  However, certain things need to be taken with a grain of salt.  As purchasing eyewear online gains traction, we need to look at an apples-to-apples comparison to dispell some myths.

Let’s start with contact lenses.  If you were to buy a year’s supply of Focus Dailies, it would cost you $520 at our office (and you would get a $100 rebate).  At clearlycontacts, the price is 529.11 (no rebate).  Air Optix:  us, $220 ($35 rebate), them $189.55.  Acuvue Oasys:  us $260, them $233.91.  As you can see, the prices are very comparable.  What you won’t get from the online service is the security of knowing that your contacts have been evaluated for proper fit and strength.  Your glasses prescription does not always directly translate to contact prescription.  Also, if you get an infection, and you purchased your contacts elsewhere, there will be a fee for every visit (and you’re looking at a minimum of 2).  Whereas these would be covered if they were purchased in office.  How’s your savings tally after 3 visits @ $60 each?

How about glasses?  They advertise at 38$ online.  Good deal, right?  Well, you need to check if that frame is discontinued.  If so, and the dog or the kids get a hold of them (which happens more often than you think), you can’t get parts.  And some things just need to be tried before purchasing.  A frame may look good online, but not suit your face.  And if they arrive, and sit crookedly, who’s going to adjust them for you?  Is it fair to the optometrist/optical that will do the work for you to do it for free?  Would you work for free? 

And just to close, lets go to apples-to-apples again.  An Anne Klein frame with standard prescription and coatings, is $217.84 at coastal contacts.  In our office, it would be $50 more.  But you would get the service of having them properly set, and the back-up knowing that if something were to happen, we’d be able to fix it.  And all of our lenses and frames come with a 2-year guarantee, at no extra cost.

Just keep in mind that if something is too good to be true, it usually is, and will end up costing you more in the long run.

keratoconus-from our comments section

Keratoconus is a condition where the structure of the cornea loses its “stiffness”, and it begins to warp. This results in irregular astigmatism, which is difficult to correct with standard glasses and contact lenses. As the changes progress, the visual acuity decreases. If keratoconus develops at a young age (ie teenage years into the 20′s), the eye is more pliable, thus the changes are more dramatic. In later years, especially after 40, the structure is more rigid, so the condition is more stable. Fortunately, a new treatment called cross-linking has been developed recently that is of great benefit. Riboflavin and UV light are used to increase the links between the collagen fibers in the cornea. This reinforces the structure, and keeps it stable. So, age is a major factor as to how far the disease will progress, but technology is now allowing us to treat those that will evolve to the worse outcomes.

children’s vision

Often we are asked: “When should my child have their 1st eye exam?”. We usually like to see children at about age 3-4, just before they start school. There are times where we find blurred vision in one or both eyes, which if left untreated can cause permanent “lazy eye” (amblyopia), and learning difficulties. The earlier these problems are detected, the more effective the treatments will be. Luckily, children are covered under OHIP for yearly eye exams until they turn 20. This way, we can keep regular tabs on how things evolve as they grow, and ensure optimal vision for optimal learning.