Frequently Asked Questions – Clarity Eye Group
Orange County, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Fountain Valley, Seal Beach
It is natural for people considering laser vision correction surgery to have lots of questions. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions along with general answers. For more detailed answers to your specific questions, please contact Clarity Eye Group today.
General Eye Questions
- What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist?
- At what age should a child’s eyes be examined?
- How often should I have an eye exam?
- Will poor lighting hurt my eyes?
- Is reading, watching television or using my computer too long harmful to my eyes?
- Will wearing an outdated prescription damage my eyes?
- Is it safe to use drugstore reading glasses?
- Is UV protection in your glasses important?
- What does it mean to have 20/20 vision?
- What is legal blindness?
- Are eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration genetic?
- Is there anything I can do myself to help prevent eye disease or loss of eyesight?
- At what age can a child start wearing contact lenses?
Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration and Other Disorders Questions
- What is glaucoma?
- Is glaucoma treatable?
- What is glaucoma surgery?
- What is macular degeneration?
- How does diabetes affect the eyes?
- How serious are dry eyes, tearing, eye allergies, and other relatively minor problems?
- What is LASIK?
- Am I candidate for LASIK laser vision correction surgery?
- Are LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures safe?
- Will I still need to wear glasses or contacts after the procedure?
- Does laser vision correction surgery hurt?
- Is there a chance I’ll go blind because of the surgery?
- How long will it take after surgery for me to see more clearly?
- I’ve heard about different laser vision correction procedures – LASIK, LASEK, Custom LASIK, PRK – but which one is best?
- What if I flinch, blink or move my eye during the surgery?
- Will I have any scars from the surgery?
- Is it best to do surgery on both eyes during the same appointment or separately?
What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist?
An ophthalmologist is a licensed medical physician. Following 4 years of college, he/she attends 4 years of medical school, at least 1 year of internship and 3 years of residency training in medicine and surgery of the eye.
An ophthalmologist can examine, prescribe eye glasses and contact lenses,
diagnose and treat eye diseases and disorders as well as performing
intricate surgical procedures on the eye and eyelids.
Optometrists have a degree in optometry and are not medical doctors. They may or may not have completed 4 years of college, then 4 more years of optometry school training on the visual system.
Optometrists perform exams, prescribe glasses and contacts, diagnose and manage some eye conditions and diseases of the eye. Some optometrists specialize in low vision patients or complex contact lens patients. Optometrists typically do not prescribe medication or perform surgery.
At what age should a child’s eyes be examined?
A child can be examined by an ophthalmologist at any age. It is recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology for a baby to be screened by a pediatrician from birth to age 4 and referred to an ophthalmologist if any eye problems are suspected by the pediatrician or the parents. Our recommendation is for a child to have an eye exam by an ophthalmologist at age 5 before entering kindergarten.
If a child of any age is favoring one eye, he or she should be seen by an ophthalmologist as soon as possible to rule out a disease including amblyopia that could result in permanent sight loss in one eye.
How often should I have an eye exam?
If there are no symptoms present, it is recommended by the AAO that young healthy adults ages 20-39 (with no risk factors) should be examined at least once during that period: those between ages 40-64 every 2-4 years, and those 65 or older, every 1-2 years.
Will poor lighting hurt my eyes?
No, reading or working with poor lighting will not hurt or damage your eyes. However, proper lighting will be more comfortable and lessen the strain on your eyes.
Is reading, watching television or using my computer too long harmful to my eyes?
No, using your eyes for extended periods of time may cause eye strain or fatigue, but it is not harmful. There are devices that might make your eyes more comfortable such as screens that minimize glare on the computer monitor, special lighting or lighting filters, or just taking a rest periodically.
Will wearing an outdated prescription damage my eyes?
No, you cannot cause damage to your eyes by wearing an outdated prescription in your glasses. Furthermore, wearing any prescription that is not yours may only cause eye strain, headaches or distort your vision but it will not damage your eyes.
Is it safe to use drugstore reading glasses?
Drugstore reading glasses give an approximation of ones prescription for reading glasses. While they are not nearly as accurate as prescription glasses, if the same correction is needed for both eyes and you don’t have much astigmatism they can be recommended for occasional use.
Is UV protection in your glasses important?
UV protection is recommended to help prevent eye conditions such as cataracts, pterygia and pinqueculae due to prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet rays. In sunglasses you should look for lenses that block at least 98% of UVA and UVB rays. Dark glasses without this protection may actually expose the eye to more harmful rays as the pupil dilates behind the dark lens.
Some clear lenses such a polycarbonate naturally block UV light. Additional UV lens coating is also available. Eye glasses with Blue Light Blocking ability may be useful for patients with Macular Degeneration.
What does it mean to have 20/20 vision?
When you can see from a distance of 20 feet what a normal eye can see from 20 feet, you have 20/20 vision. If your vision is 20/200, this means what a normal eye can see from 200 feet, you have to stand much closer at 20 feet to see. This is referred to as visual acuity.
What is legal blindness?
To be legally blind does not mean you cannot see. The technical definition of legal blindness relies on two factors: Visual acuity and peripheral vision. By federal regulation, someone with best-corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or less in both eyes, or peripheral vision limited to a central 20 degree circle in both eyes is considered legally blind and are entitled to certain tax benefits.
Are eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration genetic?
Certain eye diseases can be genetic diseases (inherited). Studies have proven that congenital (present at birth) cataracts and macular degeneration rank high on the genetic list. As far as glaucoma, the most common type “open angle glaucoma” can be genetic and other types may be as well. If your parents or grandparents have a history of any eye disease it is important that you are examined as recommended to rule out or treat your eyes if necessary.
Is there anything I can do myself to help prevent eye disease or loss of eyesight?
Yes, you can use lenses that protect your eyes against UV rays. Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in fruits and green leafy vegetables lower the risks of developing age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness is people over 65. You can also take special vitamin supplements that contain the antioxidants and zinc that significantly reduce your risk of developing (AMD).
Don’t smoke, get enough exercise, keep your cholesterol and blood pressure under control, use your eye medications as prescribed and visit your ophthalmologist as recommended. These are all ways to lower your chances for eye disease.
At what age can a child start wearing contact lenses?
There are several factors to determine if and when a child is ready for contact lenses. If the child is responsible, motivated and has good hygiene habits he or she may be ready to try contact lenses as early as 11 or 12. If you are not sure your child is ready to try contacts, a visit with your eye doctor can be beneficial.
What is a cataract?
A cataract occurs when protein and dead cells build up on the eye’s lens, clouding the lens and making it difficult for light to pass through. As vision gradually becomes foggy, most cataracts Orange County patients require replacement of their natural lenses through cataract surgery.
How is cataract surgery performed?
Patients seeking treatment for cataracts have two surgical options: extra-capsular cataract eye surgery and intracapsular cataract eye surgery. In extra-capsular cataract eye surgery, the doctor removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a silicone or plastic lens implant, such as Crystalens, ReStor or Tecnis Multifocal IOL. The capsule that holds the lens in place is left in place to anchor the lens implant. Intracapsular cataract eye surgery, on the other hand, involves removing both the clouded lens and its capsule, and replacing both with artificial devices. Both cataract surgery procedures can typically be performed in less than an hour, often without a hospital stay.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that can affect people of all ages. It is caused by a buildup of natural fluids in the eye that causes sustained pressure on the nerve. Over time, this pressure can damage the optic nerve and eventually lead to severe vision loss or blindness if left untreated.
Is glaucoma treatable?
There are treatments available to slow or temporarily halt the progression of glaucoma. The first approach is typically to take medications – usually eye drops – that reduce intraocular pressure. If this isn’t effective, glaucoma surgery is the next step.
What is glaucoma surgery?
There are several types of glaucoma surgery, all of which aim to improve drainage of ocular fluids. Conventional glaucoma surgery, or trabeculectomy, involves removing eye tissue to create a new drainage path for the eye fluids. There are also laser surgery options, including trabeculoplasty, iridotomy, and cyclophotocoagulation. In trabeculoplasty, the doctor uses a laser to burn the ciliary tissue (the part of the eye that controls the flow of ocular fluid), which improves the eye’s internal drainage. Iridotomy is most useful for cases in which the iris is blocking eye fluids from drainage; this procedure creates a small hole in the iris to allow drainage. Finally, cyclophotocoagulation is similar to trabeculoplasty in that it burns ciliary tissue. This technique is often used for patients for whom other glaucoma surgeries have failed.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the eye tissues caused by waste from the retinal cells accumulated below the retina. These cells, called drusen, block nutrients from reaching the retina, which causes the cells to deteriorate. In its early stages, known as “dry macular degeneration”, the condition can usually be contained. However, if it progresses into “wet degeneration”, treatment is more difficult. In wet degeneration, the body attempts to replace lost nutrients to the retina by creating new but abnormal blood vessels under the retina. When these blood vessels leak blood or fluid into the eye, rapid, severe vision loss can occur.
How does diabetes affect the eyes?
Having diabetes increases an individual’s likelihood of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye conditions. Diabetics may also develop diabetic retinopathy, a disease that affects the retina’s circulatory system and can eventually cause blindness if left untreated. Diabetic retinopathy is treatable by laser photocoagulation, which seals abnormal retinal blood vessels to prevent leakage and further retinal damage.
How serious are dry eyes, tearing, eye allergies, and other relatively minor problems?
These relatively minor eye problems are typically not an immediate threat, they may be symptomatic of a more serious malfunction. They may also develop into serious complications if left untreated. If you are suffering from dry eyes, tearing, eye allergies, or other eye problems, you should contact our office to schedule an appointment.
What is LASIK?
Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is a refractive procedure performed by ophthalmologists to correct myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism. The surgeon uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea so that light will focus properly on the retina.
LASIK is an elective surgery for patients who want to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism without eyeglasses or contact lenses. The goal for most patients is to be free of any type of corrective lenses. Some patients may find wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses interferes with their careers or hobbies. Many professional athletes have chosen LASIK to improve their performance.
LASIK is commonly performed on myopes. For myopia, the surgeon flattens the cornea; for hyperopia, the surgeon steepens the cornea. Surgeons correct astigmatism by creating a normally shaped cornea with the excimer laser.
A new type of LASIK also can treat contrast sensitivity as will as refractive error. Custom LASIK incorporates new eye mapping technology into standard LASIK. The surgeon measures the eye from front to back creating a three dimensional corneal map. This much more detailed map gives surgeons more specific information for the excimer laser and enables them to correct other abnormalities besides refractive error.
Am I candidate for LASIK laser vision correction surgery?
While LASIK is one of the most popular surgeries performed today, not everyone is able to have the surgery. People under age 18 whose eyes are still adjusting, patients who have not had a stable eye prescription for at least one year, and women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding and experiencing hormonal changes affecting their vision should not have the surgery. Our surgeons can evaluate your individual condition and advise you on whether or not you are a suitable candidate.
Are LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures safe?
While the technology used in LASIK and similar laser-assisted eye surgeries was developed in the last decade and therefore is relatively new, when performed by a qualified surgeon, the procedures carry a very low rate of complications. And it is important to note that many complications are minor and can be treated with eye drops or additional surgical procedures, if the patient chooses.
Will I still need to wear glasses or contacts after the procedure?
There is a good chance that you will no longer need eye glasses or contact lenses after your laser vision correction surgery. Most LASIK patients see well enough after the procedure without glasses or contacts to pass a DMV eye test, ending up with 20/25 or better vision. For most people, a major advantage to having laser vision correction surgery is the reduced dependency on glasses and contacts.
Does laser vision correction surgery hurt?
Most patients report feeling only mild discomfort during the procedure and in the days following treatment. In fact, many people say that they feared the pain would be worse than it actually was.
Is there a chance I’ll go blind because of the surgery?
Since our eyes are such an important part of our lives, it is understandable that people are concerned about losing their eyesight as a result of undergoing laser vision correction surgery. However, it is extremely rare for blindness to occur during or after surgery, and in many cases, temporarily blindness can be reversed and full vision can be restored through additional surgeries.
How long will it take after surgery for me to see more clearly?
While every patient is different, most enjoy dramatically improved and clear vision either immediately after or within a day of having LASIK or other laser vision correction procedure.
I’ve heard about different laser vision correction procedures – LASIK, LASEK, Custom LASIK, PRK – but which one is best?
There are different procedures for different patients, and while no one procedure is better than others, there are some surgeries and techniques that are more suitable for the special needs of particular patients. Our surgeons can counsel you about which procedure would be best, given your individual situation. Schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable surgeons today.
What if I flinch, blink or move my eye during the surgery?
Not to worry. The laser can track and follow the movements of the eye while adjusting for those movements. And, while the laser is computer guided, the surgeon can stop the laser at any point if it becomes necessary. Also, during the short procedure, the eyelids are held open by a retractor, eliminating the chance of blinking.
Will I have any scars from the surgery?
The only scars from laser vision correction are inside your eyes and are microscopic, visible only under intense magnification. They do not affect your vision.
Is it best to do surgery on both eyes during the same appointment or separately?
It is entirely up to the patient in deciding how to schedule the surgical appointments. While most patients do have both eyes treated in a single appointment to accommodate their schedules, you can choose to have them treated separately at your convenience.
Contact Our Surgeons for More Information
For more information about how LASIK and other laser-assisted vision-correction procedures can immediately improve your vision and your life, call one of our qualified eye surgeons today.