Whether you are an eyesight expert or don't know the difference between nearsighted and farsighted, understanding the basics of eyesight is crucial to keeping your eyes happy and healthy. At WebEyeCare, our passion is providing our customers with the best in vision correction. To keep you up to date, here are the answers to some of your most frequently asked vision questions!
• What is the difference between an optometrist, ophthalmologist, and an optician?
• How often should I have my eyesight checked?
• What are the most common eye diseases and disorders?
• What causes blurry vision?
• Does my headache have to do with my eyesight?
• What causes light sensitivity?
What Is the Difference Between an Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, and an Optician?
Did you know that there is more than one type of eye doctor? When you visit an eye care professional to have your eyesight checked, you will see an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. But what is the difference between these two eyesight specialists?
An optometrist is someone with a degree in optometry and a license to practice optometry. These doctors possess at least six years of schooling and training beyond high school. Optometrists are trained to evaluate a patient's need for vision correction devices, prescribe vision correction accessories such as glasses and contacts, and screen patients for a range of eye conditions.
An ophthalmologist is a step above an optometrist in terms of education and experience. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors that focus on eyesight and eye surgery and possess at least 12 years of training and education post-high school. In addition to determining a patient's need for contact lenses and glasses, an ophthalmologist is qualified to perform surgery and diagnose and treat all known eye diseases.
The third eyesight professional is an optician. These professionals are not doctors but are still a crucial part of the eye care process. Opticians have a combination of education and training, including opticianry school, college, and on-the-job experience. An optician works with patients to help them find the perfect fit of glasses or contact lenses based on a prescription from a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist.
How Often Should I Have My Eyesight Checked?
The best way to keep your eyes safe and healthy is through preventative care. Although our eyes are one of the smaller organs in our bodies, they're one of the most often overlooked when it comes to our health and wellness. Experts recommend that people see an eye doctor every year, regardless of whether they have corrective vision needs.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, every newborn baby should receive an eyesight screening before being discharged from the hospital. As they grow, pediatricians or family physicians should check the child's ocular alignment and eyesight during each well-child visit, followed by alignment and amblyopia screenings at age three and then yearly after age five.
As an adult, the need for regular eyesight examinations depends on various circumstances. Assuming you do not have any vision correction needs:
• Adults age 20 to 39 should be seen by an eye doctor minimally every three to five years.
• Adults age 40 to 64 should be seen by an eye doctor minimally every two to four years.
• Adults over age 65 should be seen by an eye doctor every one to two years.
Adults without corrective vision needs but with high-risk conditions, such as a family history of glaucoma, those with HIV/AIDS, or patients with diabetes should see an eye doctor every year for a routine check-up. Doctors also recommend patients with vision correction needs receive an eye exam each year to determine whether an updated prescription is necessary and evaluate any eye health changes. However, if you experience light sensitivity, unexplained headaches, blurry vision, or other eye concerns, see your doctor or another eyesight professional immediately.
What Are the Most Common Eye Diseases and Disorders?
Did you know that the most common causes of low vision and blindness in the United States are age-related eyesight diseases? According to the National Eye Institute, refractive correction through glasses, contact lenses, or surgical correction could improve the vision of nearly 150 million Americans. Although you may believe your headache, blurry vision or light sensitivity is from stress, tiredness, or other easily explained condition, you could be overlooking something that will have a permanent impact on your vision. Keep your eyesight knowledge up to date with this list of the most common eye diseases and disorders:
• Refractive conditions: Hyperopia, myopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism are the most frequently seen eyesight issues in the United States. These conditions impact your ability to see things clearly close to you (hyperopia/farsightedness), at a distance (myopia/near-sightedness), at all distances (astigmatism), and when reading (presbyopia). Doctors can easily correct these conditions through the use of contact lenses, eyeglasses, or surgery.
• Macular degeneration: Things change as people get older, and blurry vision is one of the most common frustrations aging adults must deal with. Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), impacts the macula and prevents someone from seeing objects clearly in their central vision. The macula is the part of the retina that controls our ability to see fine details. AMD impacts an estimated 1.8 million Americans 40 years of age and older, with an additional 7.3 million people at high risk of developing AMD through untreated drusen.
• Cataracts: Although many people associate cataracts with aging, this condition can occur at any age, even being present at birth. Cataracts is the appearance of clouding on the eye's lens and is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Cataracts are easily treatable. However, barriers such as a lack of insurance, cost, and personal choice prevent millions of people from seeking treatment. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 17.2% of Americans over age 40, or nearly 20.5 million people, have cataracts in one or both eyes.
• Diabetic retinopathy: While cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, diabetic retinopathy is the most prevalent cause of blindness in America's adults. Diabetic retinopathy impacts people with diabetes and is due to blood pressure changes within the retina's blood vessels. This tissue impacts light sensitivity and is a critical component for proper vision. Although management and treatment of diabetic retinopathy drastically reduce a person's risk of vision loss, approximately 50% of people with diabetes at risk of diabetic retinopathy don't engage in annual eye exams and are typically diagnosed too late for effective treatment.
• Glaucoma: Another crucial reason to schedule annual eye exams is to prevent glaucoma. Doctors once believed that this group of diseases was caused by a rise in fluid pressure within the eye. However, research shows that the conditions can occur with normal eye pressure as well. Glaucoma affects the optic nerve and causes partial or full vision loss, although early treatment can prevent significant permanent damage. Glaucoma is either open or closed angle, with open-angle progressing slowly and closed-angle arising very suddenly. Open-angle glaucoma is called the sneak thief of sight because it is rarely noticed until the damage is already very advanced. Closed-angle glaucoma involves sudden and painful vision loss, typically leading patients to contact an eye doctor before any permanent damage occurs.
What Causes Blurry Vision?
If you notice that you're suddenly squinting, blinking more frequently, or straining your eyes to get a better look at your surroundings, you may be suffering from blurry vision. Although many people blame blurry vision on age or the need for updated eyesight treatment such as glasses or contacts, there may be other dangerous health conditions in play as well.
In addition to poor eyesight, blurry vision can be attributed to several health conditions, including diabetes, a migraine, stroke, or preeclampsia, to name a few. If you experience blurry vision and other symptoms, it may be an important sign to contact your eye doctor immediately. Here are some conditions and symptoms to keep an eye out for (no pun intended) if you experience blurry vision.
• Diabetes: Long periods of high blood sugar can damage the retina's blood vessels, leading to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. In addition to blurry vision, contact your eye care specialist if you are a diabetic and experience vision loss or spots that seem to float in your line of vision.
• Migraine: When you experience a migraine, it's a pain unlike anything else. Unlike a traditional headache, a migraine can cause light sensitivity, blurry vision, nausea, overwhelming headache pain, and other vision changes. Many people experience changes to their eyesight before a migraine strikes, which can be a powerful indicator in the ultimate prevention of these powerful headaches. If you notice vision loss, wavy spots or lines in your vision, or flashes of light in your eyesight, contact your doctor and ask about migraine treatment.
• Stroke: The eyes are the key to the soul. Your eyes are also the key to determining dozens of other scary health conditions, including a stroke. If you experience blurry vision, balance loss, slurring speech, dizziness, drooping face muscles, or the loss of feeling or strength in one arm, call 911 immediately.
• Preeclampsia: If you experience blurry vision during pregnancy, it might be a sign of preeclampsia, also known as pregnancy-related high blood pressure. This condition occurs in women with no history of high blood pressure and typically appears after 20 weeks. Preeclampsia can be deadly if left untreated, and blurry vision, as well as lasting headaches, face or hand swelling, and nausea or vomiting after the first trimester can be an indication that you're suffering from this dangerous condition. Always contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms and learn more about how to reduce your risk of preeclampsia.
Does My Headache Have to Do with My Eyesight?
Your nervous system has a significant impact on your vision, which is why headaches and eyesight often go hand-in-hand. Although migraine and cluster headaches can impact your eyesight, there are times when problems with your eyes can cause headaches.
As the use of technology increases, one of the major causes of eyesight-related headaches tends to be eye strain. This condition is due to the overuse of the eye muscles that help us focus on the images in front of us. Working on a computer, texting, or watching television on a tablet for long periods can cause the muscles in your eyes to become stressed. When the muscles in our eyes become tired, it can cause a headache behind or around the eyes.
Other causes of eye-related headaches are farsightedness and presbyopia. These conditions involve our abilities, or lack thereof, to focus on objects directly in front of us, such as reading, writing, or working on the computer. If your farsightedness or presbyopia go untreated, you may notice yourself attempting to focus harder or strain your eyes to see clearly, causing a headache.
If you find yourself suffering from headaches accompanied by vision problems or vice versa, contact your doctor or eye care professional to see what treatment options are available.
What Causes Light Sensitivity?
Nearly everyone can relate to the light sensitivity caused by walking from a dark room into the bright sunlight. Light sensitivity, also known as photophobia, is a condition associated with numerous medical issues that range from minor annoyances to true medical emergencies. The following conditions impact the brain and may cause serious complications or even death. If you experience unexplained light sensitivity, contact a medical provider or 911 immediately.
• Encephalitis: This condition is caused by inflammation of the brain and can be indicated by sudden light sensitivity. A viral infection typically causes encephalitis, and severe cases can be life-threatening.
• Meningitis: This infection causes inflammation of the membranes around the spinal cord and brain. Meningitis can be viral or bacterial, with bacterial being the much more dangerous of the two. Bacterial meningitis is usually indicated by light sensitivity, a stiff neck, headache, and fever and can result in hearing loss, seizures, brain damage, and death.
In less severe cases, you can attribute light sensitivity to eye conditions such as injury to the cornea, conjunctivitis, and scleritis.
• Corneal abrasion: Injuries to your cornea are relatively common and can be caused by dirt, debris, or other materials entering the eye. This injury can cause light sensitivity, pain, and irritation, as well as an infection or corneal ulcer if left untreated.
• Conjunctivitis: When the tissue that protects the white part of your eye becomes infected, you will likely suffer from light sensitivity. More commonly known as pink eye, this condition can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or allergies and may also cause pain, redness, and itching.
• Scleritis: The inflammation of the white part of the eye is called scleritis. This condition can cause blurry vision, light sensitivity, tearing, and eye pain. Although an injury to the eye can cause scleritis, more than 50% of cases are caused by diseases that affect the immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, or lupus.