Eye Health Questions

by Portland Optometrist Annie Bacon

Eye Department Eye Care and Eyewear

Eye Care Frequenty Asked Questions

Dr. Annie Bacon is very engaged with her patients. This is why she schedules 30-45 minutes for each comprehensive eye exam. She believes it is important to schedule enough time for patients to ask questions, learn about eye health and discuss their visual needs.

Eye Health Questions and Answers By Portland Eye Doctor Annie Bacon

There are many different types of refractive eye surgeries.  LASIK is the most well-known.  Various factors must be considered when qualifying for refractive eye surgery.  Any elective surgery can be very stressful and the Optometrists at Eye Department will take the time to answer questions to help make your decision easier.

Dr. Annie believes in early childhood detection and prevention and recommends that children see her at Eye Department starting between 6 months and two years old. Dr. Annie has developed a program called EYE BABY where she offers complimentary diagnostic vision screenings to babies to two year olds in the community. It is vital to ensure babies are developing proper visual acuity. It is during these formative years where Dr. Annie can provide early detection analysis and screenings. These events are held on several dates throughout the year, however, space is limited. Please contact Eye Department at 503-227-0573 for details and event booking.

Astigmatisma is a vision condition that causes blurred vision due either to the irregular shape of the cornea, the clear front cover of the eye, or sometimes the curvature of the lens inside the eye. An irregular shaped cornea or lens prevents light from focusing properly on the retina, the light sensitive surface at the back of the eye. As a result, vision becomes blurred at any distance.  

Amblyopia is the medical term used when the vision in one of the eyes is reduced because the eye and the brain are not working together properly. The eye itself looks normal, but it is not being used normally because the brain is favoring the other eye. This condition is also sometimes called lazy eye.

Amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment among children, affecting approximately 2 to 3 out of every 100 children. Unless it is successfully treated in early childhood, amblyopia usually persists into adulthood. It is also the most common cause of monocular (one eye) visual impairment among young and middle-aged adults.

Studies are very limited at this time, and scientists don’t know the success rate for treating amblyopia in adults. During the first seven to ten years of life, the visual system develops rapidly. Important connections between the eye and the brain are created during this period of growth and development. Scientists are exploring whether treatment for amblyopia in adults can improve vision.

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, involves inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye, or sclera. The inflammation makes blood vessels more visible, giving the eye a pink or reddish appearance. The affected eye(s) may be painful, itchy or have a burning sensation. The eyes can also tear or have a discharge that forms a crust during sleep causing the eyes to be “stuck shut” in the morning. Other signs or symptoms that may accompany pink eye include:

Swelling of the conjunctiva

Feeling like a foreign body is in the eye(s)

Sensitivity to bright light

Enlargement and/or tenderness of the lymph node in front of the ear. This enlargement may feel like a small lump when touched. (Lymph nodes act as filters in the body, collecting and destroying viruses and bacteria.)

Contact lenses that do not stay in place on the eye and/or feel uncomfortable due to bumps that may form under the eyelid.

Pink eye is most often caused by bacterial or viral infections. Allergic reactions or exposure to irritants can also cause pink eye. Pinpointing the cause may be difficult because the signs and symptoms tend to be similar regardless of the underlying cause.

Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a wide variety of viruses, but adenovirus and herpesvirus are the most common viruses that cause pink eye. Viral conjunctivitis may also occur along with an upper respiratory tract infection, cold, or sore throat. Viral conjunctivitis is often diagnosed based on a person’s history and symptoms. It tends to occur in both eyes and often accompanies a common cold or respiratory tract infection. Laboratory tests usually are not needed to diagnose viral conjunctivitis; however, testing may be done if a more severe form of viral conjunctivitis is suspected. More severe causes include herpes simplex virus (which usually involves blisters on the skin), varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox and shingles), rubella or rubeola (measles). This testing is performed using a sample of the discharge from an infected eye.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by infection of the eye with bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumonia, or Haemophilus. It is a common reason for children to stay home sick from day care or school. Bacterial conjunctivitis tends to occur in one eye and may accompany an ear infection. A sample of the discharge from the affected eye may be obtained for laboratory tests to determine which type of bacteria is causing the pink eye and how best to treat it.

Allergic conjunctivitis can be caused by allergies to pollen, dust mites, molds, or animal dander. Allergic conjunctivitis tends to occur in both eyes and often accompanies allergy symptoms, such as an itchy nose, sneezing, and scratchy throat. Allergic conjunctivitis may occur seasonally when pollen counts are high, and it can cause the person’s eyes to itch intensely. A detailed health history may help determine the source of the allergic reaction.

Irritants such as contact lenses and lens solutions, chlorine in a swimming pool, smog or cosmetics may also be an underlying cause of conjunctivitis.

Most cases of pink eye are mild and will resolve on their own without prescription treatment. In many cases, symptom relief can be achieved by using artificial tears for the dryness and cold packs for the inflammation. (Artificial tears can be purchased without a doctor’s prescription.)

However, you should seek medical attention if you have any of following symptoms:

  • Moderate to severe pain in the eye(s)
  • Vision problems, such as sensitivity to light or blurred vision, that do not improve when any discharge present is wiped from the eye(s)
  • Intense redness in the eye(s)
  • Symptoms that become worse or persist when severe viral conjunctivitis is suspected

Also seek medical attention if you have signs of conjunctivitis and you have a weakened immune system from HIV infection, cancer treatment, or other medical conditions or treatments.

Viral Conjunctivitis:

Most cases of viral conjunctivitis are mild and will clear up in 7–14 days without treatment and without any long-term consequences. In some cases, however, viral conjunctivitis can take two or more weeks to resolve, especially if complications arise.

Antiviral medication can be prescribed by a physician to treat more serious forms of conjunctivitis, such as those caused by herpes simplex virus or varicella-zoster virus. Antibiotics will not improve viral conjunctivitis as these drugs are not effective against viruses.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Mild bacterial conjunctivitis may get better without antibiotic treatment and without causing any severe complications.

Antibiotics can help shorten the illness and reduce the spread of infection to others. Your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment, which should resolve the infection within several days.

Consult your healthcare provider if you have been given antibiotics for bacterial conjunctivitis and symptoms have not improved after 24 hours of treatment.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis caused by an allergy usually improves by eliminating or significantly reducing contact with the allergen (such as pollen or animal dander). Allergy medications and certain eye drops can also provide relief.

Conjunctivitis caused by an irritant often clears up by eliminating the irritant. If you develop conjunctivitis and you wear contacts, stop using them temporarily until the conjunctivitis resolves. In some cases, your healthcare provider may also prescribe drug treatments to improve symptoms.

Eyes are organs and should be regarded as such. Maintain a healthy life style and your eyes will also be healthy.  High antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids also help maintain healthy eyes.

Nearsighted means having a greater difficulty seeing far away objects than objects that are nearby.  It is called Myopia and there are various degrees.

Farsighted means having a greater difficulty seeing objects that are close than objects that are far away. It is called Hyperopia and also has various degrees.

As we accumulate birthdays, the lens in our eye loses it’s ability to focus at near distances.  It is called Presbyopia.

Federal regulations stipulate a contact lens prescription is valid for one year. Once the optometrist has arrived at your final contact lens prescription, Dr. Annie will indicate an expiration date based upon your eye health status on the written prescription. That expiration date will be based upon the doctors finding of your eye health.

The contact lens exam is an additional evaluation service Dr. Annie Bacon performs in addition to the routine eye exam. One of the biggest concerns Dr. Bacon has for contact lens wearers is monitoring the health of the cornea and ensuring that enough oxygen reaches the cornea. The contact lens evaluation ensures you are a candidate to wear contact lenses, the lenses are fit properly and your vision is evaluated with the contacts. If you are a good candidate for contact lenses, Dr. Bacon will provide training, education and care instruction.

Progressive lens designs provide a continuous clear field of vision from the distance prescription through the intermediate prescription to the near prescription.  The progressive design attempts to provide a smooth transition between correction points.  Bifocal lenses provide a distinct distance and near viewing area, but no intermediate area (distances 3 feet to 20 feet away, similar to a computer screen).

Blepharitis is a common condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids. It can affect the inside or outside of the eyelids. The condition can be difficult to manage because it tends to recur.

Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when they evaporate too quickly. Dry eye can make it difficult to do some activities, such as using a computer or reading for an extended period of time, and it can decrease tolerance for dry environments, such as the air inside an airplane.

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. Open-angle glaucoma, is the most common form of the disease.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. If you have any questions call Eye Department at 503-227-0573.

Pupillary distance, “PD”, refers to the measured distance between the patients pupils, and is taken for at least far and near viewing distances. Today’s lenses require precise horizontal and vertical placement of the lens selected by the patient. These measurements are effected by the lens and frame shape, size and use (driving, computer or reading) of the prescription. Therefore, the patient must be measured by the seller and/or dispenser of the eyeglass frame. This measurement is not taken during an eye exam.

No. In fact, these measurements are now taken by the Optician during an eyewear styling and fitting. An optometrist is not required to include the interpupillary distance and height segment measurements on an eyeglass prescription. In the past all spectacle lenses were made of the same index of refraction (density), same center, edge thickness and the same style. All of the patients facial anatomical measurements were taken with a millimeter ruler at the time of the eye examination.

With the explosion of new frame designs, lens materials and technologies, the old measurement system is no longer remotely adequate. Proper placement of the appropriate aspect of the lens in front of the patients pupil is critically important for today’s technologically more advanced spectacle lens and frame materials. Special instrumentation and devices are required to ensure the prescription lenses will function properly for the patient. The measurements must be made relative to the eyeglass frame selected. Therefore, the patient must be measured by the seller and/or the dispenser of the eyeglass frame. The optometrist cannot assume any responsibility for the proper prescription being misplaced in front of the pupil due to the configuration of the frame, the lens style or material chosen by the patient. Not all lenses are created equal and there are many technological differences.

Segment height, bifocal, trifocal or progressive lenses, refers to the height or placement of the near viewing (intermediate or reading portion) of the lens. Most lens manufacturers have a fitting guide to ensure the lens is positioned for maximum viewing efficiency with minimum of peripheral distortion. Therefore, the patient must be measured by the seller and the dispenser of the eyeglass frame.

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treate.(source: http://njpublicsafety.com/ca/faq/optfaqsII.htm#3c)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that blurs the sharp, central vision you need for “straight-ahead” activities such as reading, sewing, and driving. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. AMD causes no pain.If you have any questions call Eye Department at 503-227-0573.

Floaters are little “cobwebs” or specks that float about in your field of vision. They are small, dark, shadowy shapes that can look like spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines. If you have any questions call Eye Department at 503-227-0573.

Diabetes may have an affect on your vision. Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina as a complication to diabetes which can lead to blindness. Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may face as a complication of diabetes. People with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher the risk of diabetic retinopathy. If you have any questions call Eye Department at 503-227-0573.