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So you’re going about your day and notice a slight twinge when you blink. It starts off as a mild awareness then proceeds to a painful feeling with every...

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bifocal lenses
 

For many people, different lenses are needed for seeing at different distances. Bifocal lenses allow the wearer to look through two areas of the lens. One area focuses on distant objects. The other is used for reading. A little-known fact is that bifocals were invented by Benjamin Franklin, and his style of bifocals are still available today.

Most of the time the “reading” area is smaller, shaped like a sideways “D”, and found in the lower hemisphere of the lens. These bifocals are called line bifocals or flat-tops. If you are focusing on distant objects, you look through the top half of the lenses. To read a book, magazine, or newspaper, you look through the “reading” area. The Franklin style lenses are less common, and are split horizontally down the middle of each lens. One thing that is difficult about using bifocals is dealing with the line between the two vision areas. Fortunately, recent technologies have developed a new type of lens, called the no-line, or progressive, lens.

progressive lenses
 
Progressive Lenses

One of the main problems with bifocal and trifocal lenses is the issue of eye fatigue. It can be difficult to switch from one focusing power to another. Your eyes can tire, which can even lead to a headache, sore neck and sore back.

A variation of bifocals and trifocals is the no-line lens or progressive lens. No-lines provide a smooth transition from focusing on nearby to distant objects because they do not have a distinct line separating the focusing powers. Instead, a gradual change in power allows the wearer to focus on objects at all distances. Distant objects are viewed through the upper portion of the lens, while near objects are viewed through the middle or lower portion of the lens. These are also great for computer users.

 

Bifocals allow the wearer to read through one area of the lens, and to focus on distant objects through another area of the lens. As the eyes age, though, a stronger prescription is often needed to read. This would be fine, but the stronger prescription that allows for reading makes it difficult to focus on objects at intermediate distances, such as grocery items on a shelf or your speedometer. Thus, trifocals are necessary for a third prescription for intermediate focusing.

Trifocals, also known as line trifocals, feature three areas of focusing power, each separated from the other by a distinct line. The three windows allow for focusing on distant objects, intermediately distanced objects, and for reading. The downside of trifocals is dealing with the lines between the different focusing powers. Fortunately, recent advances in technology have led to developments in no-line, or progressive lenses.

 

Previous to the last few years, the only materials available for use as lenses were glass and a hard resin called CR-39. But recently, high index lenses have become available. High index materials are named because they have a higher index of light refraction. Basically, they can do the same job that glass or CR-39 does, but high index lenses are much thinner and lighter. With high index lenses, you can avoid having “soda bottle” lenses.

When learning about high index lenses, you may hear many unfamiliar numbers and terms. Here are a few things to remember.

Polycarbonate

The first and still the most popular high index plastic is polycarbonate. Polycarbonate was originally developed for fighter jet cockpits. It is very strong, very light, and resistant to scratches and breaking. Most sports lenses are made of polycarbonate.

Mid-Index

Other high index materials are classified by numbers. The higher the number, the thinner and lighter the lens. The lower numbers are classified as mid-index lenses. Mid-index lenses, such as 1.54, 1.56, and 1.57, are thinner than glass, and nearly as strong as CR-39.

High-Index

High index lense are much thinner than regular glass or plastic. Talk with your doctor to decide which high index lens is right for you.

anti-reflective-coating
 
Anti-Reflective Lenses

Normal eyewear often creates glare, reflections, and “ghost images.” Now all that can be eliminated with an anti-reflective coating.

What we see is a result of light being sensed by our eyes. With normal glasses, much of the light reflects off the lenses. This produces glare. It also reduces the wearer’s visual acuity. In other words, the light reflection is both a cosmetic and visual problem.

Anti-reflective coatings increase light transmission through the lenses to 99.5 percent. They make it easier to see and easier for others to see you. These coatings are especially useful for those viewing computer screens and driving at night.

polarized lenses
 
Polarized Sunglasses

Glare from wet roads, light reflecting off other vehicles, and glare from your own windshield can be annoying and dangerous. To eliminate this glare, we offer polarized lenses. Polarized lenses eliminate the majority of glare, reducing eye strain and increasing visibility. Polarized lenses are the most effective means to reduce glare.

Most glare comes from horizontal surfaces, so the light is “horizontally polarized.” Polarized lenses feature vertically-oriented “polarizers.” These polarizers block the horizontally-polarized light. The result is a glare-reduced view of the world. Polarized lenses can make a world of difference for any outdoor enthusiast. Fisherman can eliminate the bright reflections from the water and actually see into the water more easily than with other sunglasses, golfers can see the green easier, and joggers and bikers can enjoy reduced glare from the road. In addition, drivers can enjoy the safety and comfort that polarized lenses provide while driving.

scratch resistant coatings
 

If you have hard resin lenses (CR-39), you should consider getting a scratch-resistant coating. Resins and plastics are more susceptible to scratches than glass. Scratches damage the cosmetic look of the lenses and compromise their performance. With a scratch-resistant coating, you do not have to worry as much about minor scratches on your lenses.

Another advantage of scratch-resistant coatings is that most coatings come with a one-year warranty. They are a great investment to prevent minor scratches. However, it is important to remember that scratch-resistant does not mean scratch-proof. All lenses are susceptible to scratches.

 

If you have ever felt frustrated at needing both prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses to accommodate an outdoor lifestyle, you should consider photochromic lenses. Photochromic lenses darken when exposed to UV rays. The change is caused by photochromic molecules that are incorporated into the lens or into a coating on the lens. When the wearer goes outside when it's bright, the lenses darken automatically. When the wearer goes back inside, the glasses become clear.

There are a variety of photochromic options available. Depending on what you choose, you can customize the lenses to your needs. Some lenses darken only in direct sunlight, while others darken in little or no direct light. Some are designed to darken while you are in the car to reduce road glare while you are driving. You can even choose the color of the tint. Ask your doctor what options are available.

cosmetic and specialty tints
 

Your glasses do not have to be an eyesore to those around you. Eyeglasses can be a stylish accessory, a part of your personality, or a way for you to be unique. There are a variety of frames to choose from, but you may not know that there are also many ways to improve the appearance of the lenses. Cosmetic tints are now available. These tints offer a variety of colors and shades. You can choose light blue or any other color of the rainbow. Some lenses are clear at the bottom and gradually get more colored towards the top of the lenses. There are many ways to adjust your lenses to whatever style suits your personality. Some tints are also functional.

Recently there has been much attention on a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS. A special tint for your glasses can reduce eyestrain associated with CVS.

specialty lenses
 
Computer Vision Glasses

We all have heard the phrase, “Different strokes for different folks.” Well, this also holds true when it comes to selecting glasses. There are different lenses for just about everybody. No matter what your particular need, there is probably a specialty lens designed for you.

For example, a specialty lens that is becoming increasingly common is one designed for computer users. Computer lenses have “windows” designed for viewing your computer screen, documents on your desk, and distant objects. The lenses are designed to reduce Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS, which is characterized by headaches, eye strain, neck and back aches, dry eyes, blurred vision, and double vision.

Another example is called the double D-segment lens, also known as the double flat-top lens. If you look through most of the lens, you can focus on distant objects. But you can also look through a D-shaped segment near the top of the lens to see nearby overhead objects more clearly. This is very useful if you are involved in work where you are looking at nearby objects above your field of vision, as with carpenters and pilots. The D-shaped segment near the bottom of the lens allows for reading.

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older man with glasses

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.