FAQs

HAVE A QUESTION?

Are you wondering if a condition you have is treatable? Not sure if your symptoms should be treated or if what you’re doing can cause harm? Read below some of the most commonly asked questions. If you still have questions, contact us by phone or email and we’ll be happy to answer!

Accommodation is the lens inside the eye working to bring vision into focus. Esotropia is the excess turning of an eye towards the nose. When viewing a distance object, the lens should be at rest. If the lens is working to bring a distant target into focus, the brain assumes the target must be close and automatically turns the eyes in. Often, a person will compensate by straightening one eye out to correctly view the distant target and let the other eye turn in. This results in a poor retinal image and lack of depth perception. Permanent loss of clear vision can result if this condition is not treated early in life. Usually, all that is needed, is to relax the natural lens, thereby relieving the need to converge the eyes, which results in both eyes in proper alignment. This can be done with corrective spectacle lenses for accommodative esotropia. If an eye is turned due to anatomical reasons, such as problems with muscles that control eye movement, then surgery may be required. No child is too young for an eye examination. We recommend a complete eye exam by the age of three or sooner whether there is any indication of visual problems or not. OHIP does cover eye exams up to the age of 20.

In some children, sight doesn’t develop properly in one eye even though that eye is structurally normal. This condition is called Amblyopia. Since amblyopia causes no discomfort, the child will not be aware that vision is decreased. It is caused by different images being sent to the brain from the two eyes: due to misaligned eyes (strabismus) or the eyes having very different optical powers. Treatment must begin as early as possible or the condition will cause poor vision for the rest of the child’s life. If the eyes are misaligned, then surgery or glasses will be used to straighten the eyes. If there is different optical powers, then the proper glasses will balance out the difference in magnification and image clarity. Patching of the better eye, forcing use of the other eye, may be required. Do not wait for your child to enter the school system and assume problems will be detected at that time. We recommend a full eye examination by the age 3 or sooner whether there is any indication of visual problems or not. OHIP does cover eye examinations up to the age of 20, along with adults with conditions such as amblyopia or strabismus.

Astigmatism is not a disease. It is an optical defect that interferes with the eye’s ability to focus sharply, resulting in unclear vision. Astigmatism occurs when the shape of the cornea (the clear focusing surface that overlies the coloured iris), is not perfectly round like a baseball, but more oval, like a football. Heredity is the most common cause of astigmatism. It does not come from reading or using your eyes “too much” or reading in dim light. Astigmatic images are never sharp and crisp, either close up or in the distance. Straight lines running in one direction may be more blurred than lines running in another; for example, only the vertical edges of a window may appear out-of-focus. As you try to overcome the blur and see more clearly, you might get a headache from continually contracting the muscles around your eyes and furrowing your brows (actions that may be so automatic that you aren’t aware of them). Astigmatism can be optically corrected, and vision sharpened, by prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Glasses can also reduce the ocular “pulling”, dizziness, or difficulty with sustained reading. At first, the glasses can make objects look a bit tilted or distorted, but this should disappear after you get used to them. The amount of time you wear your correction will not have any effect on the basic astigmatism or its development – that is, wearing glasses or contacts will neither make the astigmatism better or worse. Astigmatism is easily diagnosed and corrected by your optometrist.

Floaters are translucent specks that seem to float about in your field of vision. Most people have floaters and they normally look like cobwebs, squiggly lines or floating bugs. Floaters become apparent when you look at something that is evenly bright, such as white paper or a blue sky, and are more evident when you move your eyes. Much of the interior of the human eyeball is filled with a clear, thick fluid that helps in maintaining the eye’s round shape. Light passes through this fluid and any bits of tissue will cast shadows onto the retina, and you see those shadows as something “floating” in your field of vision. Other occurrences can add more floaters. For example as your eyes age, the fluid in the eye may become stringy and the strands cast tiny shadows on the retina. Floaters can also come from old or new bleeding within the eye. They may be the result of a disease that causes opaque deposits in the fluid, an ocular inflammation that causes cellular debris, or they may be a residual from an old injury. In most cases floaters are simply an annoyance. However, the sudden appearance of new floaters accompanied by apparent flashes of light in the peripheral vision can be a sign that a vitreous detachment has occurred or, on rare occasions, these symptoms can be a danger sign that a retinal tear has occurred. The only way to diagnose the actual cause of the problem is by a complete eye examination with your optometrist.

Glaucoma is a general term used to describe an array of problems that affects the eye’s fluid drainage system. This leads to a build up of pressure within the eye that can damage the optic nerve and ultimately lead to blindness. The optic nerve is the connection between the eye and the brain that allows for vision. Any damage to the optic nerve leads to blind spots, or in severe cases, complete blindness. The most common type of glaucoma is called open-angle. This is created by a subtle increase in the eye pressure, similar to having high blood pressure. The real concern with this is that there are no symptoms such as pain, redness or blurred vision. The increased pressure gradually damages the optic nerve, reducing the sensitivity of your peripheral vision first. This process is so gradual that it goes undetected. Glaucoma is also hereditary and this is why regular eye examinations are so important to catch this disease in the early stages. Treatment is very effective in controlling open-angle glaucoma, and in most cases will prevent any further damage to the optic nerve. Standard medication to start with is eye drops that will lower the eye pressure. If this is not effective enough, laser treatments to the drainage area of the eye are implemented next. The final treatment to lower the pressure would be a surgical procedure to drain the fluid from the eye. Optometrists are well equipped and trained to recognize the early signs of glaucoma and recommend visits on a regular basis.

The macula is the centermost part of the retina, the light-sensitive membrane of nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye. Although it’s no larger than a pinhead, the macula contains the visual cells needed for sharp vision and for seeing straight ahead. If those cells are damaged, it causes a loss of the central part of your visual field and makes it difficult or impossible to see fine detail and read small print. Central vision, normally your sharpest, most useful vision, may become so impaired that things you look at directly may seem blotted out, smudged, or shrouded in a dark haze. Because the condition tends to appear later in life, it is also called age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. AMD is the leading cause of poor vision in people over 60, though it can also occur at younger ages. Fortunately, peripheral vision remains normal, so even severe macular degeneration does not lead to total blindness. Heredity, long-term exposure to bright sunlight, smoking and other factors that normally accompany aging somehow interfere with the macula getting enough oxygen and nourishment, causing damage. There are two major types of AMD, called dry and wet. Most patients have the dry type, which tends to develop slowly as the tissue beneath the macula gradually deteriorates. There are dietary supplements that may help to slow the degeneration. The wet type occurs when these tissue changes are accompanied by the formation of tiny abnormal blood vessels under the retina which start to bleed or leak fluid. A laser is sometimes used to seal the leaks or to destroy the abnormal blood vessels formed under the macula. More information regarding Macular Degeneration can be obtained from your eye doctor.

Retinal detachment is a serious condition that can lead to severe visual impairment or even total blindness in the affected eye. The retina normally lies smoothly and firmly against the inside back wall of the eyeball. If any part of the retina is lifted or pulled from its normal position, it is considered detached, and will cause some vision loss. The detachment will almost always progress, and vision loss will increase, until it is treated. Therefore, any new detachment is always considered an emergency. A retinal detachment is caused by tiny tears or holes in the retina that can allow fluid to seep under the retina, separating it from the back wall of the eye. Retinal tears may also result from a hard blow or injury to the eye. When it tears, you are likely to have a sudden appearance of floaters – a shower of “cobwebs” in your field of vision – which may be accompanied by “flashes,” a sensation of seeing a flashing bright light. When a tear progresses to a detachment, a sensation of a “curtain of darkness “comes across your vision from any side. This is an emergency, and if your optometrist is unavailable you should seek medical attention immediately. Any change in visual symptoms regarding floaters and/or flashes of light should be investigated by your optometrist with a dilated retinal exam.

A stye (hordeolum) is an abscess or mild infection associated with one or more of the glands along the eyelid margin or base of the eyelashes. You may first become aware of an aching and a feeling of fullness in the eyelid, followed in a day or so by some tenderness, swelling and redness. A small bump may form on the edge of the lid. As the bump grows it may form a “head” in the center and may drain a little pus, which dries to form flakes or crusts on the lashes. The usual treatment is to use warm soaks (compresses) on the eyelid two or three times a day. Moderate heat quickens the healing process by increasing circulation to the infected area and helps to unblock the affected glands. Medications are usually not necessary, though sometimes antibiotic eye drops and/or ointment may be prescribed for the eye if there is an associated bacterial infection. Most styes will resolve within a few weeks but if they persist or evolve into a hard non-tender nodule in the eyelid called a chalazion, they may need to be surgically removed. If you have repeated attacks of styes, you may be given oral antibiotics for 7 to 10 days in an attempt to fight the bacteria on the eyelids. As troublesome as they may be, styes do not threaten your eyesight, and their presence does not mean that you need glasses.

The Ontario Government approved a regulation on April 6, 2011 that allows Ontario’s optometrists to start prescribing medications for their patients. Optometrists will now be able to prescribe treatments for conditions ranging from routine bacterial eye infections to more serious diseases including glaucoma. The most common acute eye problem is a red eye, most of the time this is an inflammatory condition and not infectious. Optometrists have the equipment required to determine the cause, and can now prescribe the proper treatment. This decision by the Ontario government will alleviate
wait times in emergency rooms and walk-in clinics for patients with eye-related problems resulting in better healthcare and reducing costs for taxpayers. While Ontario is one of the last provinces to en-act this regulation, the new regulation has the widest scope in Canada and brings about the most benefits to patients. Optometrist are eye doctors who are university educated, completing a four year eye professional doctorate degree program and clinically trained to diagnose and treat disorders of the eye and visual system.

Dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions we encounter in daily practice. Your tears are a crucial part of clear comfortable vision. Without a smooth healthy tear film on the surface of the eye, the world you see can be very blurry. Surprisingly, one of the most common symptoms of a dry eye is a watery eye. This excessive tearing is often in response to irritation or even inflammation on the front surface of the eye. This excess watering however does not help with the dryness. It can actually make it worse – similar to how your skin wrinkles or dries out if in a bathtub for too long. Dry eye can make routine tasks such as reading, working on the computer or driving more frustrating and even uncomfortable. If left untreated, it can lead to pain, ulcers, or even scars on the front surface of the eye. Other common symptoms are a burning gritty sensation, stringy discharge, blurred vision, contact lens intolerance or redness. Dry eye can be caused by age, certain medications, hormonal changes, medical conditions (diabetes, Sjogren’s), environmental factors and even incomplete blinking. If you feel you are suffering from some of these symptoms, give our office a call for an assessment and we’d be happy recommend a treatment plan.

Presbyopia is the loss of ability to focus that comes with getting older, and everyone must tolerate it eventually. Most people are between the ages of 40 and 50 when they first become aware that they are losing the ability to see near objects or reading material close to their eyes. They have to hold the newspaper farther from their eyes to see it clearly. At the same time, their focus for distant objects remains normal. In the early stages of presbyopia, your eyes may become strained after a long period of close work, or eventually blur. You may have difficulty shifting your focus from near to far – when you look up from reading, your distance vision may stay blurred for several seconds or even minutes before it clears. These symptoms worsen later in the day, when you are tired. Presbyopia is caused by the lens within the eye losing its flexibility, which decreases the eye’s ability to change focus between close-up and faraway objects. Whenever the time comes that your eyes can no longer generate enough extra optical power to focus up close, you will need help in the form of glasses or contact lenses. People sometimes notice that their presbyopia gets “worse” after they start wearing reading glasses. The fact is, presbyopia will “worsen” whether you wear glasses or not, and putting off the use of corrective lenses will not slow down the presbyopia. Whether you are nearsighted, farsighted, astigmatic, or have perfect vision without glasses,you will still become presbyopic by middle age.

Ptosis – an upper eyelid that droops – is an annoying condition that can affect one or both lids. It is usually not serious unless the eyelids are drooping so much that they are interfering with vision. Ptosis is caused by any number of conditions that affect the muscle (levator) that holds the upper eyelid in proper position and moves it up and down. Most cases of ptosis in an adult comes on gradually during the later years of life, as part of the normal aging process. Newborns and infants can also appear to have a droopy eyelid. Less common causes include injury, previous eye surgery, and neurological and muscular problems. The levator muscle itself or its nerve supply can be involved in a systemic condition, such as diabetes. It is important in all of these scenarios to see your optometrist to determine the proper course of action. If the ptosis is not bothering your vision, and you are not concerned with its appearance, your optometrist may not recommend doing anything. If further testing or surgery is required, your optometrist will be able to make these arrangements .Make sure to contact your eye doctor if you have any questions regarding this condition.

This is a question that patients ask us all the time. The best and simplest answer is that we can only tell if someone is diabetic if the diabetes is affecting their eyes. Of course the best way of knowing if you are diabetic is having your blood sugar monitored. However, frequently we will see a patient that has had diabetic changes to the back of their eyes but they do not yet know that they are diabetic. Diabetic retinopathy is the term given to changes in the blood vessels and subsequent leaking and bleeding of these blood vessels into the retina, the area at the back of the eye that is responsible for your vision. These leakages can wreak havoc on the health of your eyes and potentially your vision. Mild diabetic changes may not affect your sight initially. If there is progression, the goal is to have you referred to an ophthalmologist for treatment before the diabetic changes affect the vision. Therefore, monitoring your eye health is very important even when your vision seems to be doing well. As a diabetic, the best way to ensure that you don’t develop vision loss due to diabetic changes to the back of the eye is to keep your blood sugar in control and to have your eyes examined regularly.

Especially after Christmas, and the increase in popularity of game systems and everything ipod related, children and adults alike are spending an abundance of time staring at screens. Although playing video games will not create a prescription, it can result in strain and headaches if you are not wearing the proper glasses or maintaining a proper distance from the screen. Your blink rate also decreases significantly when focusing on a screen for too long. This intent concentration can lead to dry, burning or irritated eyes. To minimize these effects make sure the room is “eye-friendly” by reducing sources of glare on the screen and use soft lighting. Encourage periodic breaks to give the eyes a much needed rest and balance video game time with other activities. Drink water to keep yourself and your eyes hydrated, and always remember the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and focus 20 feet away. Your eyes will thank you! If you are having difficulty staying focused on your screen please contact our office and we will be happy to help to discuss treatment options.

Most headaches are due to causes such as tension, poor neck posture, sinus trouble, high blood pressure, or a spasm of the blood vessels, as in a migraine. When headaches are actually caused by the eyes, they tend to be related to use of the eyes and are relieved by resting them. Headaches that regularly follow prolonged reading or other close work, working at a computer screen, or watching television or a movie are probably eye-related. Sometimes uncorrected astigmatism or farsightedness can cause an eyestrain type of headache and signify a need for glasses. Similarly, eye muscles that are not working together properly can result in eye-pulling or forehead headaches. Although these problems may exist for many years without causing any problems, later in life one’s tolerance may lessen. Very rarely, glaucoma (pressure in the eyes) of the narrow angle type can cause headaches. Some eye diseases and conditions cause a sensation of actual eye-ache, the same as you might have on coming out of a dark theatre into the bright sunlight. An eye-ache in only one eye, especially, should be brought to the attention of an eye specialist.

Children should be seen by the age of 3 or as early as 6 months if there is concern or family history of eye conditions. Examinations can be performed at any age, even before a child can speak. Vision, alignment, depth perception, colour vision and ocular health are assessed during a comprehensive examination. Vision screenings are not a replacement for eye examinations and even 43% of children with a vision problem may pass a vision screening. Since 80% of learning is done through the eyes, it is important to detect ocular and visual conditions at a young age. Don’t assume your child will tell you if they are having visual problems. Children often do not know what is normal for their vision or assume everyone sees the way they do. In fact, they can often work their eyes too hard to compensate and result in headaches. One in six children has a visual problem severe enough to impair their ability to learn. However, children with poor vision who have difficulties staying focused may be misdiagnosed with a learning disability or behavioural issues. Be proactive by having your child’s eyes examined to be certain they are ready to succeed. Eye examinations are covered by OHIP for children up to the age of 19 and are recommended every 12 months. Your eyes are your most important school supplies!

Cataracts are a naturally occurring phenomenon that will invariably affect all people at some point in their lifetime. Inside the eye, behind the iris, is the crystalline lens. This is where cataracts form by altering the clarity of the lens itself and creating fogginess to the vision. These changes can happen to one or both eyes at the same time. Most people often start to notice problems with glare, either with driving at night or from the sunshine. The good news is that cataracts can be surgically removed by an eye surgeon as a day surgery procedure. The exact point in time when surgery is required can depend on several factors. Other health conditions, maintaining vision for your driver’s license, night driving and working around bright lights can be some of the factors that will influence the exact time when surgery would be required. Feel free to discuss any of these symptoms with your optometrist if you have any concerns. Maintaining regular eye health examinations will detect cataracts in the early stages. Your optometrist is well equipped and trained in this and can arrange a referral to an eye surgeon when required.

Woman experience many changes during pregnancy, physically and emotionally, but a common health concern that may go unmentioned is the visual changes that can occur. The large changes in hormone levels can alter your prescription and quality of vision. These fluctuations in prescription are typically transient however, it is a good idea for expectant mothers to inform their optometrist about these changes and discuss whether a change in prescription is required. Many women also experience pregnancy induced dry eye. This can be intensified in contact lens wearers. If these symptoms arise, your optometrist may recommend a modified wear schedule or refit you in a better suited contact lens. Lubricating eye drops can also help alleviate the symptoms but do ask your eye care professional for brands suitable for pregnant or nursing mothers. It is also important for expectant mothers with pre-existing conditions like diabetes to be monitored closely during the nine months of pregnancy. Maintaining proper blood sugar control is crucial for mother and baby. Pregnancy can speed up the progression of diabetic retinopathy (a sight threatening retinal disease in patients with diabetes.) Expectant mothers should not put off their regular eye examinations; it is safe to have a dilated eye examination while pregnant. Please do not hesitate to contact our office should you have any concerns about the effects of pregnancy on your vision.

Yes! Proper nutrition is crucial for both your general and eye health. Good eye health is proactive and since our bodies do not create all the nutrients we need, it is essential to get them through diet or nutritional supplements. Below are details on two of the identified five essential nutrients that promote healthy vision and reduce the risk or slow the progression of eye diseases like age related macular degeneration (AMD).

Lutein & Zeaxanthin:
Lutein and zeaxanthin are important nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, eggs and corn. Both nutrients act as antioxidants, helping protect and maintain healthy cells. They filter harmful high energy blue wavelengths of light that can damage cells. Through diet or supplementation, they are deposited in various tissue of the eye including the macula.

Essential Fatty Acids:
Fats are a necessary part of our diet. They maintain the integrity of the nervous system, fuel cells and boost the immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be important for proper visual development and retinal function. Low levels of essential fatty acids have been linked to dry eye syndrome as well. These good fats can be found in fleshy fish
like tuna and salmon or fish oil supplements. Little changes in your diet can have a big impact on eye health. We would be happy to discuss the nutrients you may need daily to keep your eyes healthy and reduce your risk of certain eye diseases.