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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Optometrist?
Why are my pupils dilated during an eye examination?
What should I consider when purchasing new glasses?
How to Make Computer Use Easier on Your Eyes?

What is an Optometrist?
Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose and treat disorders of the eye, visual system, and related structures-as well as diagnose related systemic conditions.

Following an undergraduate degree and four year doctorate program and national Boards, optometrists in Texas are licensed by the Texas Optometry Board. The are required to complete 16 hours of continuing education yearly.

Optometrists examine the internal and external structures of the eyes to diagnose: eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts, retinal disorders, systemic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, and vision conditions such as far-sightedness, near-sightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. They also perform additional testing to determine a patient’s ability to focus and coordinate their eyes and to judge depth and see colors.

Doctors of optometry in Texas prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy, topical medications and oral medications to treat eye diseases and conditions. As primary eye care providers, optometrists are an integral part of the health care team. They are skilled in coordination of care that affects the eye health and vision of their patients and are an excellent source of referral to other health care professionals when needed.

Why are my pupils dilated during an eye examination?
The pupil is the black hole in the very center of the colored part of the eye. The colored part of the eye is called the iris. A small muscle surrounds the edge of the pupil. When the muscle contracts, the pupil becomes smaller. When the muscle relaxes, the pupil becomes large.

The word “dilate” describes the pupil when it is large. So, when the pupils are dilated, it means the pupils are very large.

The pupils of the eyes should be dilated for one main reason - to carefully examine the inner lining of the eye, called the RETINA. The retina is a thin layer of nerve tissue that receives light images and transmits the picture to the brain. Without it, you would be completely blind. Like the film in the back of the camera, the eye is useless without the retina.

When your eye doctor looks through your pupil, the retina is viewed. The retina has small blood vessels bringing it nutrients and oxygen. The appearance of these blood vessels changes with high blood pressure, diabetes, trauma and other diseases. When the pupil is small, examination of about 60% of the retina is possible at best. This leaves about 40% of the retina difficult to examine.

What should I consider when purchasing new glasses?
When you receive a spectacle prescription from your eye doctor, there are many factors which need to be considered to obtain glasses that are right for you. Be sure to work with an experienced optician who can guide you through the decision-making process.

1) Prescription - Are you very nearsighted?
If so, your glasses will have thick-edged lenses. To minimize this edge thickness, you may consider a “high index” lens material (a material similar to plastic that provides a thinner edge with the same power). A wise frame choice would be a small, rounded shape to keep the edges as thin as possible. For the best look, the distance between your eyes should be approximately equal to the distance between the centers of the frame that you choose.
Are you very farsighted?
If so, your lenses will be thick in the centers and will magnify your eyes. to counteract these problems, “aspheric” lenses (lenses with a computer generated front curvature which reduces magnification and thickness) were designed. When choosing a frame, avoid rimless ones because they will have very thin edges and will be too fragile.
Are you wearing some type of bifocal?
If so, it is very important that your optician sets the lenses exactly where you need them. The height of the bifocal is the key factor in successfully wearing your glasses. The height you need depends upon the demands you place upon your eyes.

2)Lifestyle - What kinds of vocational or avocational demands do you place upon your eyes?
Glasses need to match your needs and the environments in which they will be worn. For example, factory workers will need glasses which are impact resistant to protect their eyes from flying objects.

3)Quality and Cost - How much do you wear your glasses?
If you wear your glasses all day, every day then you need a good quality pair of glasses. High quality frames and lenses are a good investment if they are worn daily and function well. Spring loaded hinges, silicon rubber nose pads, and high quality materials are all features of a good frame. Many times, when your prescription changes, you can have new lenses cut to fit your original frame if it has remained in good condition. This is when a high quality frame investment really pays off.
Do you only wear your glasses occasionally or lose them frequently?
If so, then a low cost pair of spectacles would be a good idea. Also if your prescription changes very frequently, you would not want to spend much on your lenses. In eye wear today, there is a wide variety of pricing but the old saying holds true that “you get what you pay for.”

4) Fashion - Do you consider your glasses a fashion statement?
If so, the frame manufacturers will always have something new for you. Every season, as with clothing, the styles change. New colors, shapes, sizes, and materials are unveiled. The frame designers work hard to keep your glasses looking great and on the cutting edge of style. The choice is yours to make a fashion statement that is unique.

In summary, be sure to take the time to discuss with your eye doctor and your optician what you need your spectacles to do. By working as a team, you will end up with a great looking and great functioning pair of glasses.

How to Make Computer Use Easier on Your Eyes
Computers are everywhere today and so are complaints from computer users about headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and other symptoms of eyestrain.

Although there is no evidence that using a computer causes vision problems, it can cause Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), says Dr Coble. CVS is a catch-all term for the eyestrain symptoms that can affect computer users’ productivity and leave them feeling tired and miserable at the end of the day. The good news is that CVS can be eliminated.

Dr Coble says here is how to do it:

Dont take a vision problem to work.

Even if you don’t need glasses for driving, reading or other things you do, you still may have a minor vision problem that can be aggravated by computer use. You may need a mild prescription to wear only on the job to reduce vision stress. A thorough eye exam every year for computer users is a good idea.

Be sure your glasses meet the demands of your job.

If you wear glasses for distance vision, reading or both, they may not give you the most efficient vision for viewing your computer screen, which is about 20 to 30 inches from your eyes. Tell your Optometrist about your job tasks and measure your on-the-job working distances. You may benefit from one of the new lens designs made specifically for computer work.

Take alternative task breaks throughout the day.

Make phone calls or photocopies. Consult with co-workers. Do anything that doesn’t require your eyes to focus on something up close to relax the eye during the day.

Reduce room lighting to half normal office levels.

An easy way to do this is to remove half the bulbs from ceiling fixtures. Use desk lamps for tasks that require more light.

Minimize glare on your computer screen with a glare reduction filter (look for one with the American Optometric Association’s Seal of Acceptance);

Try repositioning your screen; or use drapes, shades or blinds.You can also ask your Optometrist about eyeglass lens tints and coatings that can reduce glare.

Use an adjustable copy holder to place reference material at the same distance from your eyes as your computer screen and as close to the screen as possible.

Your eyes won’t have to keep changing focus when looking from one to the other and you won’t have to keep moving your head or eyes back and forth.

Adjust your work area and your computer for your comfort.

Most people prefer a work surface height of about 26 inches for computer use. Desks and tables are usually 29 inches high. Place your computer screen 16 to 30 inches from your eyes. The top of the screen should be slightly below horizontal eye level. Tilt the top of the screen away from you at a 10 to 20 degree angle.

Clean your computer screen frequently. Dust and fingerprints can reduce clarity.

Following these simple steps can enhance a person’s comfort and productivity when using a computer, says Dr Coble.