mythbusters

Each month, Drs. A. Reid Patty and Trey Benfield
answer a new eye question.

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Doesn't Everyone See the Same Colors?

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The Eye Atlas

photo of the retina

Our retinal camera allows us to take high-quality digital photograph of the eye to monitor your ocular health and diagnose eye conditions.
View our retinal photographs to find out more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell what is wrong with children’s Eyes?

Our accommodative (focusing) system is directly tied to our eyes’ ability to converge (cross). In a child that is very farsighted, the eyes will usually cross when looking at something up close. This is usually why the parent brings the child in. Drops are then used to relax the accommodative system. From there, I can use handheld instruments and lenses to come up with the prescription. When you work with a lot of kids, you get good at moving around during the exam. I have even given an exam or ten sitting on the floor because that is where he felt more comfortable.

In small children that cannot read or aren’t responsive to shapes, I really just have to get close and to assure that the visual system is working properly so that there is no risk of strabismus (eye turn) or amblyopia (lazy eye).

My eye hurts and is red. Can you call something in for me?

We get these kinds of calls a lot. I fully realize how busy our lives have become with long work hours, kids’ activities, and on and on. It seems very simple to say what your symptoms are in the phone, and we can call in a prescription for a drop. Unfortunately, red eyes are not always infections. Even if the problem is infectious, it could be viral, bacterial or fungal. Does it affect the cornea? Treatment varies greatly if it just effects the conjunctiva or if the cornea is involved as well. It may be an allergy or possibly something more serious like uveitis which is inflammation of the inside of the eye.

Indiscriminate use of antibiotics for viral infections or for things that turn out to be noninfectious can lead to antibiotic resistant organisms. Improper treatment of certain eye conditions can lead to vision loss. Usually, a visit for a “red eye” is very short and can significantly reduce complications from using the wrong medication or problems that arise from delaying proper treatment.

In general, if you have pain, irritation, or redness that does not go away with over-the-counter artificial tears or it is accompanied with loss of vision, you should get checked as soon as possible by an eye doctor.

Can I sleep in my contact lenses?

With the development of the new silicone hydrogel lenses, more and more people can sleep in their contact lenses. Currently, there are a number of lenses that I use for extended wear. Use of these lenses is very individual. Some people can sleep in certain lenses longer than others. There are lenses available for 30-day consecutive wear. However, not everyone can maintain good comfort for that long. Also, even though the lenses let through more oxygen than standard disposable lenses, individual corneas will react differently.

The time of year can also play a big role in effectiveness of extended wear. People generally do worse with them in winter when it is dry than they do in the summer when the air is nice and humid. Computer use can also be a factor in the success of this lens option. Extended wear is available for a large amount of people who are nearsighted or farsighted and/or have astigmatism.

If you have any questions, please give us a call. Or, if you would like to know if you are a candidate for an extended wear lens, please make an appointment for an exam.

Am I a candidate for LASIK?

This can be a very difficult question to answer generically. There are a few different types of refractive procedures using laser and convention surgical techniques. The best way to find out if you are a candidate is to have a consultation with an eye care provider. What type of refractive procedure you should have is dependent on a number of factors such as age, goals, need for reading correction, previous ocular surgery, dry eye, corneal thickness, corneal curvature and many others.

It is very important that the proper procedure is chosen because laser procedures are permanent. Other procedures such as implantable lenses for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and presbyopia can be reversed, but the potential risks involved are much different. You need to make sure that you know all your options and potential risks and side effects before undertaking this.

We offer free consultations at our office.

How can diabetes affect the eyes?

Diabetes is a vascular disease that results from the body not producing enough insulin or not using it properly. The eye has a tremendous amount of blood vessels that feed its metabolism and remove waste products. As a result, and because vascular disease can have a detrimental effect on the eyes. Diabetes can cause blood or protein to leak out of the vessels to cause swelling in the retina. Also, if the blood vessels are so compromised that they cannot deliver oxygen to the retina effectively, then new blood vessels can form which can lead to severe hemorrhaging, retinal detachment, and irreversible vision loss. The only way to effectively evaluate the eye of a diabetic is through a dilated pupil. Early signs of diabetic retinopathy often do not present with any visual symptoms; so preventative examination is important. If we find changes in the eye, digital photos are taken and we communicate with the patient’s primary care physician or endocrinologist to make sure that the diabetes is perfectly under control. If the diabetes is affecting the eyes, then it may be affecting the kidneys or other organs as well; so, coordinating care is essential. If you have any other questions about diabetes and the eye, please feel free to give us a call.

Is there anything parents should be on the look out for?

There are obvious ones like one eye turning in or out or squinting to see an object across the room. Also, if there is a family history of early onset vision problems, eye muscle surgery, etc. The child should be examined.

Here are some subtle signs that will help guide the doc to come to a diagnosis:

  * One at a time, cover each of the child’s eyes. If he fusses or is resistant to covering one eye, then the uncovered one probably doesn’t see as well.
  * If he tends to close one eye all the time when out in the bright sun, then that one might have a problem.
  * Poor motor development or failure to reach and grasp for things.
  * Delayed or absent recognition of familiar faces.
  * In children learning how to read, if there is a delay, check vision FIRST before jumping to the conclusion that he is having trouble learning.

A general rule of thumb for when to get a “normal” child checked. First exam 6–12 months to make sure no tumors around the eyes, congenital glaucoma, and to monitor for any developmental issues. Second between 2 and 3 years old to make sure development is going well and no sign of amblyopia. Finally, I recommend the summer before starting kindergarten to make sure there won’t be any problems as he starts school.

My eyes feel fine and I see well with my contact lenses; why must I get them checked every year?

Contact lens wear has become much safer and more comfortable over the years. However, there can be changes to the eye that occur without the wearer’s knowledge because of a lack of sensitivity common to contact lens wearers. We can diagnose subtle changes to the cornea that may not cause immediate symptoms but can lead to much more serious things like corneal edema or ulcers. Also, lens technologies change over time; so, there may be something better for the patient’s needs than was available the previous year. Contact lenses are controlled medical devices that need regular care and inspection. To insure many years of safe wear it is important to have them looked at annually or more often if the need arises.

Why must my eyes be dilated?

Dilating the eyes makes it possible for the doctor to see the entire inner lining of the eye. Without dilation, only a small portion of the retina can be viewed. It is important to view the retina with lenses in three dimensions. This is why photos of the back of the eye are not a substitute for a dilated exam. Photos should be used in conjunction with dilation and not in place of it. Most pathology in the peripheral retina such as retinal tears or ocular melanoma can only be viewed properly through a dilated pupil. These conditions generally do not cause any symptoms in the early stages and can be more easily treated if caught sooner than later. Generally, the drops last a few hours and cause problems reading while they are taking effect. As long as the patient can see well far away without the drops, the use of sunglasses usually makes it possible for people to drive after the test is complete.

My eyes are very dry. What can I do about it?

Dry eye is a very common problem for adults and some young people. People can also have dry eye symptoms from the poor quality of our air during the summer. Dry eye can also exacerbate allergy symptoms because there are not enough natural tears to wash the allergens away. Some people have given up wearing contact lenses or been told that they cannot wear them anymore because of dry eye. There are a number of ways to attack the problem. It is all right to use over–the–counter tears for relief, but sometimes that is not enough. The most important part in treating dry eye is figuring out what the source of the problem is. It can come from something systemic such as birth control pill use or thyroid disease or from chronic eyelid disease. There are simple tests that can be performed to find out what the problem is, and speaking about it to your eye care professional is imperative to treatment.Treatments include artificial tear drops, prescription eye drops, oral medication, dietary supplementation, and physically blocking the tear ducts so tears cannot leave the eye. You do not have to suffer with dry, gritty, burning eyes. There is a solution for you. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding how to treat your dry eye.