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7 Tips for Your Next Eye Exam
The eye holds a unique place in medicine. Your eye doctor can see almost every part of your eye from an exterior view. Other t...

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Have you ever tried to look into a room by looking into the keyhole? You only see part of the room... right? Well, that is what it would be like for your eye doctor to look into your eye through an undilated pupil. They would only see a partial view of your retina, with the possibility of missing vital information about the health of your eyes.

That is why it is important to have your eyes dilated for your exam, whether through traditional eyedrops which will wear off in several hours, or through new technology that can take a panoramic digital picture of the inside of your eye without dilation. Either method will provide your eye care professional valuable insight into your ocular and systemic health. Here are the top 5 reasons to have your full retina evaluated through a dilated view:

  1. To have the health of your retina evaluated. The retina is like the film of the camera of your eye that processes the vision accurately. The central retina contains cones for your color and detail vision, and the peripheral outer retina contains rods for your night vision.
  2. To detect ocular and systemic diseases early. Ophthalmic diseases such as glaucoma, and macular degeneration need to be caught early and treated for optimum vision. Furthermore, the saying “the eyes are the window to the soul”, is true. Systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol can be detected sometimes before they show up in the rest of your body. Your eye care practitioner can coordinate care with your family physician to ensure optimal health.
  3. Dilation can help your doctor get an accurate glasses prescription, especially for children. In the pediatric population the eye muscle can contract extensively more than adults, so their muscles work harder, thus fatiguing the visual system. Dilated exams can ensure a more accurate glasses prescription.
  4. To give you peace of mind, and also provide a baseline for your eye doctor for future examinations. If you move or relocate with a new doctor, have your records transferred for maximum eye health benefits.
  5. Lastly.......A dilated exam could save your life! Numerous reports show that cancers such as lung, or breast cancer metasticize to the eye and can be detected in the retina during an eye exam. In children up to age 15, there is a 3% chance of an aggressive cancer in the eye called Retinoblastoma. Symptoms of this in a child’s eye are a “White Pupil “ reflex in a photo. When detected, this cancer can be caught early by dilating the eye.

Overall, the benefits far outweigh the risks in a dilation of the eyes. The side effects are blurry vision, and sensitivity to light for several hours following the exam (so bring a driver with you). The benefits, however, could be larger than life!

 

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Ask Dr. Stewart Your Eye Care Questions

What can be expected during a contact lens fitting?

A patient can expect to have a different experience when having a contact lens fitting. In addition to the eyeglass exam, questions will be asked to determine which contact lens will work best for them. Will they want to leave the lenses in their eyes overnight or will they remove them every day? Will they wear them only occasionally or will they be for everyday use? Do they want a contact lens that they throw away every day or do they want a contact lens that they have to clean and disinfect? If the patient is over age 40 and has a compromised ability to see up close, how will they see up close with their contact lenses? Will they wear readers over their distant contacts, or will they wear multifocal contacts, or will they wear monovision?

Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?

Experiencing dry eye symptoms is more common as we grow older, particularly in people 50 years of age and older. Hormonal changes in women who are experiencing menopause or who are post-menopausal. Inflammation in our body can affect the tear gland's ability to produce tears. Eye or health conditions such as glaucoma, diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren's Syndrome can be associated with Dry Eyes. Environmental conditions such as dry winter air, dry indoor heated air, working on the computer, and wearing contact lenses can cause Dry Eyes.

Are there advantages to single-use contact lenses? What are they?

Single-use daily wear contacts are convenient to the patient and a healthy recommendation from their eye doctor. At the end of the day, the patient only has to dispose of the contacts. There is no need to take the contacts out to clean and disinfect them. The patients time and money spent on solutions and caring for them are eliminated. Not to mention that the next time they wear a contact, they will be wearing a brand new contact! The single best recommendation your eye doctor can make is to recommend single-use daily wear contacts. They are the healthiest contact that can be worn. The contact lens pathology issues of wearing the same contact for two or four weeks such as neovascularization, microcystic edema, and bacterial infections are greatly reduced.

What is an eye infection?

Your eyes can get infections from bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Eye infections can occur in different parts of the eye and can affect just one eye or both. Two common eye infections are conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye) and lid styes which are swollen lid bumps that can also be painful. Common signs of an eye infection are pain, itching, or a sensation of a foreign body in the eye, photosensitivity, redness or small red lines in the white of the eye, discharge of yellow pus that may be crusty upon awaking, and tears.

What happens during a typical Diabetic Eye Exam?

Your Eye Doctor will evaluate the back of your eye called the Retina to check for leaking blood vessels. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when elevated blood sugars damage the walls of the blood vessels. The vessel walls may thicken, leak, develop clots, close off, or grow balloon-like defects called microaneurysms.

My eyes tear all the time. Why do you call it Dry Eyes?

Your eyes have extra tears because your eyes produce extra tears to combat irritation and dryness. A better way to describe Dry Eyes is tear film instability, which refers to the composition of your tears not being in the proper composition. Stopping eyes from producing extra tears is a goal in the treatment of Dry Eyes.

At what age should my child have his/her eyes examined?

If you ask 10 different Doctors you will get 10 different answers. Newborns have their eyes checked in the birthing ward for starters. From birth to age 5 their eyes are growing. At age 5 is a good time to schedule a regular eye examination, however, if any unusual eye behavior is observed under age 5 an eye exam should be scheduled at that time. Unusual eye behavior such as eye squinting, a head tilt, or having to get close to see.