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Common Questions

What is an Optometrist?
What is 20/20 Vision?
What is Myopia (Nearsightedness)?
What is Hyperopia (Farsightedness)?
What is Astigmatism?
What is Presbyopia?
What is Ambloypia (Lazy Eye)?
What is Strabismus?
What are Spots and Floaters?

What is an Optometrist?

The American Optometric Association defines Doctor of Optometry as the primary health care professionals for the eye. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye. Doctors of Optometry prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, spectacle lenses, contact lenses, and perform certain surgical procedures.

Optometrists counsel their patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs related to their occupations, avocations, and lifestyle.

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What is 20/20 Vision?

20/20 vision is a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance. If you have 20/100 vision, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.

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What is Myopia (Nearsightedness)?

Nearsightedness, or myopia, as it is medically termed, is a vision condition in which near objects are seen clearly, but distant objects do not come into proper focus. Nearsightedness occurs if your eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature, so the light entering your eye is not focused correctly.

Nearsightedness is a very common vision condition that affects nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population. Some evidence supports the theory that nearsightedness is hereditary. There is also growing evidence that nearsightedness may be caused by the stress of too much close vision work. It normally first occurs in school-age children. Because the eye continues to grow during childhood, nearsightedness generally develops before age 20.

A sign of nearsightedness is difficulty seeing distant objects like a movie or TV screen or chalkboard. A comprehensive optometric examination will include testing for nearsightedness. Your optometrist can prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses to optically correct nearsightedness by altering the way the light images enter your eyes. You may only need to wear them for certain activities, like watching TV or a movie or driving a car, or they may need to be worn for all activities.

Refractive surgery or laser procedures are also possible treatments for nearsightedness as is orthokeratology. Orthokeratology (ortho-k) is a non-invasive procedure that involves the wearing of a series of specially-designed rigid contact lenses to progressively reshape the curvature of the cornea over time.

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What is Hyperopia (Farsightedness)?

Farsightedness, or hyperopia, as it is medically termed, is a vision condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but close ones do not come into proper focus. Farsightedness occurs if your eyeball is too short or the cornea has too little curvature, so light entering your eye is not focused correctly.

Common signs of farsightedness include difficulty in concentrating and maintaining a clear focus on near objects, eye strain, fatigue and/or headaches after close work, aching or burning eyes, irritability or nervousness after sustained concentration.

Common vision screenings, often done in schools, are generally ineffective in detecting farsightedness. A comprehensive optometric examination will include testing for farsightedness.

In mild cases of farsightedness, your eyes may be able to compensate without corrective lenses. In other cases, your optometrist can prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses to optically correct farsightedness by altering the way the light enters your eyes.

What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a vision condition that occurs when the front surface of your eye, the cornea, is slightly irregular in shape. This irregular shape prevents light from focusing properly on the back of your eye, the retina. As a result, your vision may be blurred at all distances.

People with severe astigmatism will usually have blurred or distorted vision, while those with mild astigmatism may experience headaches, eye strain, fatigue or blurred vision at certain distances. Most people have some degree of astigmatism. A comprehensive optometric examination will include testing to diagnose astigmatism and determine the degree. Almost all levels of astigmatism can be optically corrected with properly prescribed and fitted eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.

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What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a vision condition in which the crystalline lens of your eye loses its flexibility, which makes it difficult for you to focus on close objects.

Presbyopia may seem to occur suddenly, but the actual loss of flexibility takes place over a number of years. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in the early to mid-40s. Presbyopia is a natural part of the aging process of the eye. It is not a disease, and it cannot be prevented.

Some signs of presbyopia include the tendency to hold reading materials at arm's length, blurred vision at normal reading distance and eye fatigue along with headaches when doing close work. A comprehensive optometric examination will include testing for presbyopia.

To help you compensate for presbyopia, your optometrist can prescribe reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals or contact lenses. Because presbyopia can complicate other common vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, your optometrist will determine the specific lenses to allow you to see clearly and comfortably. You may only need to wear your glasses for close work like reading, but you may find that wearing them all the time is more convenient and beneficial for your vision needs.

Because the effects of presbyopia continue to change the ability of the crystalline lens to focus properly, periodic changes in your eyewear may be necessary to maintain clear and comfortable vision.

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What is Ambloypia (Lazy Eye)?

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is the loss or lack of development of central vision in one eye that is unrelated to any eye health problem and is not correctable with lenses. It can result from a failure to use both eyes together. Lazy eye is often associated with crossed-eyes or a large difference in the degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness between the two eyes. It usually develops before the age of 6, and it does not affect side vision.

Symptoms may include noticeably favoring one eye or a tendency to bump into objects on one side. Symptoms are not always obvious.

Treatment for lazy eye may include a combination of prescription lenses, prisms, vision therapy and eye patching. Vision therapy teaches the two eyes how to work together, which helps prevent lazy eye from reoccurring.

Early diagnosis increases the chance for a complete recovery. This is one reason why the American Optometric Association recommends that children have a comprehensive optometric examination by the age of 6 months and again at age 3. Lazy eye will not go away on its own. If not diagnosed until the pre-teen, teen or adult years, treatment takes longer and is often less effective.

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What is Strabismus?

Strabismus occurs when one or both of your eyes turns in, out, up or down, and is usually caused by poor eye muscle control. This misalignment often first appears before age 21 months but may develop as late as age 6. This is one reason why the American Optometric Association recommends a comprehensive optometric examination before 6months and again at age 3.

There is a common misconception that a child will outgrow strabismus. This is not true. In fact, the condition may get worse without treatment.

Treatment for strabismus may include single vision or bifocal eyeglasses, prisms, vision therapy, and in some cases, surgery. Vision therapy helps align your eyes and solves the underlying cause of strabismus by teaching your two eyes to work together. Surgery alone may straighten your eyes, but unless your eye muscle control is improved, your eyes may not remain straight.

If detected and treated early, strabismus can often be corrected with excellent results.

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What are Spots and Floaters?

Spots (often called floaters) are small, semi-transparent or cloudy specks or particles within the vitreous, which is the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eyes. They appear as specks of various shapes and sizes, threadlike strands or cobwebs. Because they are within your eyes, they move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly.

Spots are often caused by small flecks of protein or other matter trapped during the formation of your eyes before birth. They can also result from deterioration of the vitreous fluid, due to aging; or from certain eye diseases or injuries. Most spots are not harmful and rarely limit vision. But, spots can be indications of more serious problems, and you should see your optometrist for a comprehensive examination when you notice sudden changes or see increases in them.

By looking in your eyes with special instruments, your optometrist can examine the health of your eyes and determine if what you are seeing is harmless or the symptom of a more serious problem that requires treatment.

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Rochester Optometric Society
Dr. Mark Parsons,
President
500 Kreag Road
Rochester, NY 14534
Phone:585.249.8300