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A Return to Tranquility

How often should I get an eye exam?
What does 20/20 mean?
Could I need glasses even if my uncorrected vision is 20/20?
Will wearing a prescription weaken my eyes?
What is the difference between an Optician, Optometrist, and an Ophthalmologist?
Will working at a computer screen hurt my eyes?
If I only need glasses for reading, can I still wear contacts?
Can I lose my contact behind my eye?
Can I sleep with my contacts in?
Can I swim with my contacts in?


Q: How often should I get an eye exam?

A: If you are a healthy person, under the age of 60, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends an eye exam at least every two years.

If you are at risk for eye problems due to a family history of eye disease or have diabetes, high blood pressure, past vision problems, or are over the age of 60, yearly exams are recommended and possibly more frequently depending on the condition.

If you wear contacts, an annual visit is required. The FDA classifies contact lenses as medical prosthetic devices, therefore, it is required to monitor their impact on your eye health yearly.

In between examinations, if you notice a change in your vision, contact Dr. Anderson. Detecting and treating problems early can help maintain good vision for the rest of your life.


Q: What does 20/20 mean?

A: This refers to what an average person who does not need correction can see from a distance of 20 feet. It is typically measured with a certain size of letter.

How about 20/40 or even 20/400?

An individual who has 20/40 vision needs to be 20 feet from something that the average person can see from 40 feet away. Someone with 20/400 vision needs to be 20 feet away while the person with normal vision can be 400 feet away to see the object clearly.

Just to make it a little more confusing, visual acuity is tested in each eye both uncorrected and with best correction (as with glasses or contacts). Your uncorrected vision could be 20/200, but the glasses could correct you to 20/15. Some people can’t see 20/20 even with the best glasses or contacts.


Q: Could I need glasses even if my uncorrected vision is 20/20?

A: Yes, even though someone may not need glasses to see clearly for distance, they may still need glasses for eyestrain when using the computer or reading.

Also, a person may require glasses for an eye turn (strabismus), double vision or poor visual efficiency (the ability to see objects clearly and comfortably).


Q: Will wearing a prescription weaken my eyes?

A: Glasses sit on your nose and contacts sit on the surface of the eye. There is no way for these devices to permanently affect the eye anatomy that determines your prescription.

The mistaken belief that glasses make your eyes get worse usually comes from someone who didn’t realize how bad their vision was. They get glasses and notice that their vision is better. Some time later, they take off their glasses and for the first time really notice how blurry their vision has always been. Thus the belief that they are getting more dependent on their glasses or that the glasses have made their eyes worse.


Q: What is the difference between an Optician, Optometrist, and an Ophthalmologist?

A: Opticians are experts in optics. They ensure that the eye wear is fitted properly, is comfortable, the prescription is filled accurately with the correct eyeglass lenses and the patient is properly informed of any issues like how to wear and how to care for their glasses.

Optometrists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating both vision problems and medical eye problems, as well as fitting glasses and contacts. Optometrists complete four years of graduate school after graduating college.

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in surgery and advanced eye diseases such as; cataract surgery, refractive surgery (LASIK), retinal disease, corneal disease, advanced glaucoma, ect.


Q: Will working at a computer screen hurt my eyes?

A: Although computer screens emit a very small amount of radiation, it is not enough to cause any eye damage. So, there is no permanent damage being done to your eyes from the screen.

There is a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS is placed in the same category of repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel. The constant focusing up close can cause eyestrain or headaches. We also tend to stare at the computer, decreasing how often we blink. This can lead to dry eye symptoms such as the feeling that something is in the eye, burning, tearing, redness and tired eyes.

We usually associate the need for “reading” glasses with getting older. However, with the widespread use of computers, more and more younger people are requiring a prescription for near work. “Computer glasses” can make your near work more efficient and comfortable.


Q: If I only need glasses for reading, can I still wear contacts?

A: Yes, there are contacts made for people who don’t need a distance prescription but are having difficulty with near work. You still need to have an eye exam and a contact lens evaluation. If you have never worn contacts before, you will also need to be shown how to insert, remove and care properly for the lenses.


Q: Can I lose my contact behind my eye?

A: No. The white part of the eye and the inside of your eyelid become one tissue just below the brow line and just above the cheekbone. The lens can’t go any further back that that.

If you lose a contact in the upper part of your eye, don’t panic. Put a few rewetting drops for soft contacts in your eye, close your eye, look down and gently massage down from your eye brow area. This should move the contact down to where you can find it.

If you still can’t find it, let Dr. Anderson know. Don’t keep digging at your eye. Many people scratch their corneas by digging excessively trying to find a lost lens. In many cases the lens has actually fallen out of the eye.


Q: Can I sleep with my contacts in?

A: Sometimes. Some lenses are approved by the FDA for seven or thirty day continuous wear. However, even with these lenses you are seven times more likely to develop a severe vision threatening condition, such as a corneal ulcer, than if you wear lenses only during waking hours.

If you are using FDA approved overnight wear lenses that Dr. Anderson has deemed appropriate for you, it may be recommended for you to have more frequent office visits to monitor your eye health. Also, if you experience any pain, redness, blurred vision, discomfort or extreme light sensitivity, even after removing the lenses, contact the office immediately.


Q: Can I swim with my contacts in?

A: In general you should not swim in your contacts. There are organisms in water, both fresh and sea, that can eat through an intact cornea in 24 hours. Contact lenses can allow these organisms to stay on the eye longer than if they were to be washed away naturally without contacts in. Also, the chemicals in treated pools can also soak into your contacts and cause corneal swelling or even a chemical burn.

There is good news for patients that rely on contacts to see at the pool or beach. The risk of infection or chemical reaction is greatly reduced when single use, or daily disposable, contacts are worn during these times and thrown away as instructed.