It is important to have your eyes examined regularly. During an exam, eyes should be checked for health problems as well as visual acuity (ak-YOU-it-tee). How often you should have your eyes checked varies, depending on your individual circumstances. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (op-thal-MALL-o-gee) recommends that people with healthy eyes have their eyes examined periodically from puberty to the age of forty. Children should be examined by age three or four, and people ages forty and over should be examined by an eye doctor every year. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, it’s a good idea to have your eyes checked every year.
You should always check with your personal eye doctor because eyecare, like all medical exams and treatment, is individualized. Most eyecare professionals will tell you it is good to have your eyes examined once a year.
Many doctors believe that you should replace regular lenses at least every 4-6 months and disposable lenses every 1-2 weeks. Everyone’s needs are different, always consult your doctor.
Farsightedness is a condition in which you have no problem seeing objects in the distance, but may have difficulty focusing clearly on near objects. The blurriness is caused by an eyeball that is too short, causing light rays to focus behind the retina, instead of directly on the retina, which is necessary for normal vision. This form of farsightedness is called hyperopia (hi-per-OH-pee-ah). Its symptoms include eyestrain or headache. In children, a lack of interest in reading may be a sign. The condition will usually worsen over time.
The inability to see objects clearly at a distance is called nearsightedness or myopia (my-OH-pee-ah). The condition is caused by an eyeball that is too long and focuses light rays in front of the retina, instead of directly on the retina, which is needed for normal vision. Myopia usually begins in childhood, making uncorrected nearsightedness the most common eye problem among school-age children. As the body grows, the myopia usually progresses and then stabilizes in adulthood.
Presbyopia (prez-bee-OH-pee-ah) is the term used for the diminished power of accommodation or focusing ability of the eye. The crystalline lens in the eye loses elasticity with age. This leads to a loss of ability of the lens to change from distance vision to near vision. The symptoms usually first appear around the age of forty. It is at this time that people begin to notice that their near vision is diminishing, and they need to hold tiny objects further away in order to see clearly. This is a normal aging change of the human eye. Presbyopia can easily be corrected with the use of reading glasses or contact lenses. Consult your eye care provider.
Astigmatism (a-STEEG-ma-tiz-em) is caused by an irregular curvature of the cornea. The cornea is the transparent front surface of the eye and it is normally round in shape. If you have astigmatism, your cornea is shaped more like a football, causing your vision to be distorted. The blur from astigmatism is frequently combined with nearsightedness or farsightedness, and can usually be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. If you choose to wear contact lenses and have a high degree of astigmatism, a hard or gas permeable lens may be needed to correct your vision. In some cases, a special soft lens, called a toric lens, may be required. The symptoms of astigmatism are blurry vision, headaches and eyestrain. If you experience any of these visual problems, see an eye doctor for a thorough eye examination.
A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens inside the eye. Cataracts cannot spread and are not contagious. They cannot be prevented, nor can their progress be stopped or reversed. Cataract progression may be slowed down with the use of ultra violet protective eyewear or contact lenses.
Color blindness is a condition in which an individual cannot distinguish between certain colors, especially those with red and green tones. Approximately ten percent of all men are affected with this type of color blindness, while women are rarely affected with this disorder.
Conjunctivitis (kon-junk-ti-VIE-tis) or pink eye, as it is commonly called, is an inflammation of the conjuctiva (kon-junk-TI-vah), or the thin, transparent membrane lining of the eyelids and front of the eyeball. Conjunctivitis can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, an allergy, or an irritant in the eye. Viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis can be highly contagious. They can spread by contact with contaminated fingers, towels, handkerchiefs, or wash cloths. Symptoms may include eye swelling, redness, irritation, and a yellow, sticky discharge that cause the eyelids to stick together. The infection is often treated with antibiotic drops or ointments which must be prescribed by a doctor. If symptoms of pink eye are experienced, an eye doctor or physician should be consulted.
Amblyopia (am-blih-o-p-ia), or lazy eye, results in defective vision without any obvious injury or disease to the eyeball. Amblyopia may be temporary or permanent, and it may be partial or lead to legal blindness.
Crossed eyes is a condition in which one eye looks at an object while the other looks elsewhere, usually inward. Crossed eyes usually occur because of misaligned or imbalanced eye muscles.
Tear production normally decreases with age. While dry eyes can occur in both men and women at any age, women are most often afflicted, especially after menopause. Stinging, burning, scratchiness, stringy mucus, and excess irritation from smoke are some of the usual symptoms of dry eye. Excessive tearing is another common symptom. In this case, there is a deficiency of lubricating tears, causing an eye irritation that results in an outpouring or reflex tearing.