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Eye Conditions

When objects close to you appear clear and objects far away are blurry, you likely have myopia. Myopia is a refractive error of the eye, and is commonly referred to as nearsightedness.  Approximately 1 in 3 Canadians will develop this eye condition.

The way our eye bends (refracts) light determines how we perceive objects near and far. Patients with myopia have optical imperfections in their eyes that prevent the light that enters from being focused properly on to the retina.   This is known as a refractive error of the eye.

Myopia optical imperfections refer to the cornea being curved too much and/or the length of our eyeball being too long.   This results in light being focussed in front of the retina instead of right on the retina like it should be.   The result is blurry distance vision.

Myopia Symptoms

Common symptoms of myopia include:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty seeing distant objects
  • Eye strain, resulting from squinting to see distant objects

Myopia Treatment

Treating myopia is easy and can be non-invasive. Effective treatment is provided with prescribed eyeglasses and contact lenses. The severity of your myopia will dictate if you need to wear your prescription eyewear all of the time or only when you need clear distance vision, such as driving.

Unlike presbyopia, patients with myopia have the potential to eliminate the need for eyeglasses and contact lenses completely with refractive (laser) surgery. To find out if you are a viable candidate for this procedure we recommend booking an eye exam with one of our Optometrists to help you to determine this.

 
In the event you are not a good candidate for refractive surgery, there is a non-surgical treatment option. This treatment is known as orthokeratology. Special rigid (breathable) contact lenses are worn while you are sleeping and removed in the morning.  Their purpose is to reshape your cornea to properly refract light, allowing you to see distant objects. The results are only temporary but will typically last throughout the day.

Approximately 25% of Canadians will develop hyperopia in their lifetime.  It is usually referred to as farsightedness and is one of the most common vision problems among Canadians.  Hyperopic patients are able to see distant objects without issue but struggle to focus on objects up close.

Hyperopia is a refractive error of the eye, just as myopia (nearsightedness) is.   It is the result of the cornea of the eye not being curved enough and/or the length of the eye being too short causing objects to focus behind the retina.     The closer the object is to our eye, the further the image focusses behind the retina and thus the blurrier it appears.

Hyperopia Symptoms

Common symptoms of hyperopia are:

  • Headaches
  • Close objects appear blurred
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye strain as a result of squinting

Hyperopia treatment

Hyperopia is an eye condition that is easily treated with eyeglasses and contact lenses.  Just like myopia, the degree of your hyperopia will dictate if you need to wear your prescribed eyewear all the time or just situationally.

Refractive (laser) surgery is usually not a great option for treating hyperopia due to the complexity of the surgery but this depends on several factors.      

 

Surgery may reduce or completely eliminate the need to wear eyeglasses and contacts.  To find out if you would be a good refractive surgery candidate for your hyperopia we recommend booking an eye exam with one of our Optometrists.

Astigmatism is a common eye condition caused by a refractive error of the eye, much like myopia and hyperopia. This eye condition results from your cornea (surface of your eye) or the lens inside the eye being irregularly shaped.

When our lens or cornea is a normal shape, it presents as round. Patients with astigmatism will have more of a stretched out football shape, caused by small differences in growth and alignment of the eye. This causes everything you see to be distorted or blurred, regardless of distance and lighting.

Astigmatism tends to be from birth.    If it is detected and treated early on in childhood, the progression of this vision problem is more likely to be prevented.

Astigmatism Symptoms

The following are common symptoms associated with astigmatism:

  • Headaches
  • Distorted vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye strain
  • Eye fatigue
  • Difficulty with night time driving

Astigmatism Treatment

Astigmatism is another eye condition that is easily treated via eyeglasses and contact lenses.

To correct the astigmatism, eyeglasses and contact lenses counteract the uneven irregular shape of your eyes cornea and lens.

For the right candidates, refractive (laser) surgery is an option for correcting their astigmatism.

 

If you are looking for a non-invasive form of correction for your astigmatism, there is also a form of treatment called orthokeratology.  Rigid lenses that allow your eyes to breathe are worn overnight as you sleep. They are then taken out in the morning and allow the eye to hold a more round shape throughout the day, allowing for clear vision.

Strabismus is an eye condition commonly referred to as cross-eyes, typically occurring in early childhood.  Physical trauma to your head or eyes can also cause strabismus.  Patients with this eye condition cannot align both of their eyes to focus on the same object.

Strabismus is caused when the six muscles around your eye are not working in unison. This results in the brain receiving a different image from each eye. This causes your brain to be confused, so it chooses to focus on and process the images from only one of your eyes.

If strabismus is not treated, the eye that is ignored by your brain will weaken over time, leading to permanent damage to your vision.  When this happens it is diagnosed as Amblyopia (lazy eye).

Strabismus Symptoms

Those with strabismus may experience symptoms intermittently or all the time. Typical symptoms include:

  • Eyes that are not looking in the same direction
  • Uncoordinated eye movements separate of each other
  • Loss of vision
  • Double vision
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Eye fatigue

Strabismus Treatment

If left untreated,  permanent decreased vision occurs to the eye that is being ignored.

Since strabismus typically presents in early childhood, the first form of treatment is eyeglasses for the affected child.  Depending on severity and frequency, vision therapy may also be used to treat strabismus and strengthen the eye muscles.     In addition to this, sometimes patching therapy is needed to train the brain to use the weaker eye by patching the better eye.  It is a great non-invasive option for young patients.

 

For those experiencing a more severe case of strabismus (constant eye turn), there is an option for eye muscle surgery to repair the affected muscles.

Amblyopia is when there is decreased vision in one or both eyes (bilateral amblyopia) and is commonly referred to as lazy eye. This eye condition presents itself in approximately 3% of Canadians.

It is possible for amblyopia to occur in adults, though it typically develops in infancy or early childhood.

When you are born you don’t have 20/20 vision yet. Your eyesight still needs to develop and does so from birth through to 6-9 years of age. If one eye does not develop properly as you grow up, the brain begins to favor the eye that is stronger and images being received from the weaker eye are ignored.

Amblyopia Symptoms

As amblyopia presents in infancy and early childhood, it can often be difficult to detect. This is because the symptoms are not always visually obvious to a child’s parents. Since young children are typically not able to, or don’t know they need to, tell us what they are experiencing with their vision, amblyopia often goes undetected.

Those with mild forms of amblyopia may not be aware they have the condition until they are tested later in life. The easily recognizable symptom of amblyopia – misaligned eyes – does not always present itself.

The symptoms of amblyopia are:

  • Decreased vision in one or both eyes
  • Poor depth perception
  • Crossed or misaligned eyes (Strabismus)

Amblyopia Treatment

Like many eye conditions, early detection is key to prevent amblyopia vision problems from progressing. Catching amblyopia early in a child’s life (before age 4) with regular eye exams  will usually allow the eye doctor the best chance to fully correct the weaker eye.   After age 4, there is an increasing likelihood of some type of permanent vision loss.

Some cases of amblyopia can be treated through the use of only eyeglasses and contact lenses.

If the poorly developed eye is not responding well, your eye doctor may recommend vision therapy. This form of treatment forces the brain to use the weakened eye by having the child  wear an eye patch on the strong eye. New pathways are developed over time in the brain to the weak eye; strengthening the poor seeing eye.

In the case of strabismus, there is a chance that corrective eye surgery on the poorly developed eye may be required prior to vision therapy with an eye patch.

 
If you are concerned that you or your child may have amblyopia, we recommend booking an eye exam with one of our Optometrists. They will investigate your case in great detail and walk you through the available treatment options to determine the best course of action in taking care of your vision.

The Silent Thief of Sight

Glaucoma is a group of chronic progressive eye diseases that affect the optic nerve of the eye.   It has been referred to as the “silent thief of sight” due to its lack of symptoms until the damage to your vision has already occurred. Vision loss and eventual blindness in one or both eyes is a reality of patients with glaucoma.

The fluid inside our eyes, known as aqueous humor, flows out of the eye via a mesh-like channel. Glaucoma is the result of this channel becoming blocked. The fluids builds up in the eye, increasing the pressure inside. The optic nerve is not meant to handle pressure of this magnitude and ends up damaged, leading to vision loss.

If you are experiencing high pressure in your eyes, don’t panic. It is not always a sign of glaucoma, though you should schedule an eye exam as you may be at risk.   With today’s medical advances, glaucoma is now a very treatable condition but early detection is the key.

Risk Factors For Developing Glaucoma

The following increase your risk factor for developing glaucoma:

  • Family medical history
  • Diabetes
  • Myopia
  • Certain ethnicities
  • Previous asthma or migraine headaches
  • Previous significant blood loss
  • If you are 40 years and older, with risk increasing significantly after the age of 60

Glaucoma Symptoms

As the silent thief of sight, glaucoma can steal your vision gradually without any warning signs.

The symptoms of glaucoma are:

  • Gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision
  • Possibly a sore eye
  • Tunnel vision

Central vision loss only occurs during the late stages of disease, and if left untreated, will likely result in a complete loss of vision.

Glaucoma Treatment

Like most conditions that can affect your eyes, early detection of glaucoma is key to preventing or slowing down vision loss. After glaucoma is detected, ongoing and effective management of the disease can extend how long you can enjoy your good vision.

Depending on the type of glaucoma you are diagnosed with, and the severity of its progression, there are a few different treatment and management options. They include:

  • Daily prescription eye drops or oral medication (most common)
  • Trabeculoplasty (Laser Eye Surgery)  –  Trabeculoplasty allows fluid to drain out of the eye, reducing pressure on the optic nerve. This is typically an effective form of pressure relief for many patients, but the effects of this surgery wear off over time.
  • Trabeculectomy (Conventional Eye Surgery ) – Trabeculectomy creates a new opening in the eye, allowing allow fluid to leave, reducing pressure on the optic nerve.

 

If you are worried that you may be experiencing symptoms of glaucoma, or have not had an eye exam in over two years, book an appointment with us.

Conjunctivitis is commonly referred to as pink eye or red eye.  True “pink eye”  is an aggressive bacterial infection of the front surface of the eye.   This is extremely contagious and needs to be treated as soon as possible to prevent further spreading of the condition.   

Luckily, most red eyes are not “pink eye” but still require medical treatment to provide relief.    There is an increased likelihood of exposure to the contagious versions for those who work in close proximity with others. This includes classroom settings, daycares, and all levels of school through to universities.

Conjunctivitis is the result of the front surface of our eye being inflamed – the thin, clear tissue that covers the white part of our eyes and lines inside the eyelid.

Conjunctivitis Symptoms

The symptoms of conjunctivitis  may present in one or both eyes. They are:

  • Itching sensation of the eyes
  • Burning sensation of the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Redness on the  white of the eye or inner eyelid
  • Excess amount of tears
  • Thick, yellow discharge that crusts over the eyelashes (especially after a night of sleep)
  • Green or white discharge from the eye

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please book in with one of our Optometrists.

Conjunctivitis Treatment

Treatments for conjunctivitis vary depending on the cause and the symptoms that are presenting. To ensure effective treatment of your conjunctivitis, a proper diagnosis is needed  from one of our Optometrists.

Possible Causes of Conjunctivitis and Their Treatments

  • Bacteria (Bacterial Conjunctivitis) – The typical course of action our Optometrists will take for treating bacterial conjunctivitis will be a specific regimen consisting of one or more of the following:
  • Antibiotic Eye drops
  • Oral medication
  • Medicated ointment.
  • Lid hygiene
  • Viruses (Viral Conjunctivitis) – Antibiotics will not have any effect on viral conjunctivitis, however prescription anti-inflammatory drops can work wonders at decreasing the symptoms and shortening the duration of the infection.     As viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious, good personal hygiene and avoiding contact with others is recommended.
  • Irritants – If your conjunctivitis is the result of less harmful irritants like shampoos, dirt, smoke, or chlorine from pools, your eyes will need to be rinsed thoroughly for several minutes. If the irritation is the result of an acid or alkaline substance, like cleaning chemicals, immediate medical attention will be required.    After rinsing, if your eye is still bothering you, please see one of Optometrists as soon as possible.

 

Allergies (Allergic Conjunctivitis) –  For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, dust mite allergens, and pet allergens,  there are now excellent prescription allergy eye drops that our Optometrists can prescribe to immediately curb your symptoms and relieve your eye discomfort.     

 

Please avoid over the counter eye drops such as Visine which affects the blood vessels on the surface of the eye.

Cataracts are one of the most common causes for vision loss in men and women over the age of 40.    As our body’s natural aging process progresses, the crystalline lens in our eye begins to cloud, diminishing eyesight. This is known as a cataract and can present in one or both eyes.

After 40 years of age, the lens in our eye begins to increase in thickness, decreasing transparency, flexibility, and ultimately reducing vision. This is the result of a gradual breakdown in the tissues within the lens.  As they breakdown, they begin to clump together and cloud the lens.

The following factors increase your risk of developing cataracts or may directly cause them:

  • Diabetes
  • Trauma
  • Smoking tobacco products
  • Alcohol
  • Prolonged exposure to the sun without UV protection
  • Certain prescription medications

Cataract Symptoms

You may experience any combination of the following symptoms, depending on the type of cataracts you have. They include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Clouded vision
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Difficulty seeing at night

If you experience any of the above symptoms our Optometrists recommend booking in for an eye exam as soon as possible.  Cataracts are treatable and vision loss can be treated effectively.

Cataract Treatment

During the early stages of cataracts, treatment is non-invasive and typically quite effective in bringing  your eyesight to an acceptable level.   Like many other eye conditions, this is done with the use of eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Delaying the need for cataract surgery for as long as possible is ideal, since cataracts progress with your natural ageing process.    Early detection is key to delaying surgery.   If your cataracts have progressed beyond the point of correction via eyeglasses and contact lenses, surgery may be an option for you.  

Not everyone is a surgical candidate. Your candidacy is determined during a cataract eye exam.

Since cataract surgery has been extensively studied and improved upon, it offers excellent results with a high success rate of 90% vision correction in post-op patients.

 
If you are worried that you are developing cataracts, or have general concerns about your vision, book an appointment to see our Optometrists.

AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration) is a disease of the eye that causes the gradual loss of sight as the patient ages. It is the leading cause of vision loss among Canadian men and women aged 60 years and older.

AMD is a chronic disease with no available cure at this time. For most patients, their sight is not likely to be restored after it is lost.

Early detection is crucial to potentially slowing the spread of this disease and its harmful effects on your vision.

How Macular Degeneration Works

Macular degeneration involves the retina. The retina is located inside the back layer of your eye and its responsibility is to record the images we see and relay them via the optic nerve to our brain.

The central portion of the retina is known as the macula; its purpose is to control our ability to see objects in fine detail and gives us colour vision.    A healthy macula collects high definition images and transmits them to our brain.

Central vision loss occurs due to our body’s natural ageing process, as the cells of the macula deteriorate over time and your brain receives the images incorrectly from the retina.  

Risk Factors for AMD

  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • Age – Largest risk, can start as early as 40
  • Ethnicity – Caucasians have the highest risk for developing AMD
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise

Types of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is broken down into two types, dry (atrophic) and wet (exudative).   Those with AMD may have one or both types, with approximately 90% of AMD cases being dry and the remaining 10% being wet. Not everyone with AMD will develop advanced-stage AMD.

  • Dry (Atrophic) AMD – Yellow deposits (drusen) in the macula are typical for this dry form of macular degeneration.    As the drusen develop and grow in size and quantity, vision becomes increasingly distorted and dim.   This will be especially noticeable when reading or doing detailed tasks.

    When dry AMD reaches the advanced stages,  the light-sensitive layers of your eye begin to thin. This ultimately leads to atrophy (tissue death) and central vision is likely to be completely lost.
  • Wet (Exudative) AMD – Wet macular degeneration is characterized by the formation of abnormal blood vessels underneath the macula.   Inevitably, blood and other fluids leak from these poorly formed vessels, creating distorted vision and blind spots.

    Advanced stages of wet macular degeneration presents with complete loss of central vision, a result of the abnormal vessels forming scar tissue.

AMD Symptoms

The symptoms of AMD vary as they depend on the stage that the macular degeneration has reached.

Early Stage AMD Symptoms – The only way to detect the early stages of macular degeneration is through regular eye exams. Vision is not noticeably affected. This is because AMD symptoms do not appear early on, and the disease usually progresses unnoticed.

Intermediate Stage AMD Symptoms – This stage of AMD is when vision loss issues begin. They include:

    • Center of vision distorted
    • Straight lines appear distorted
    • Dark areas or complete white outs appear in center of vision
    • Blurred vision
    • Changes to colour vision

Advanced Stage AMD Symptoms – Those who are diagnosed with advanced stage macular degeneration are likely experiencing near to complete central vision loss.

AMD Treatment

Like many eye conditions, early detection via an eye exam is imperative to maintaining clear vision or delaying vision loss from macular degeneration.

As mentioned above, there is no cure for AMD.   Prevention/management is the best course of action and can be influenced through lifestyle changes. These changes include:

  • Cessation of smoking
  • More exercise
  • Healthy and nutritious diet including special eye vitamins to improve the retinal circulation
  • Protecting your eyes from the harmful UV sun rays
  • Continued regular eye exams
Eye Health Articles

If you normally suffer from dry eye then you’ll have noticed how much worse it can be in the winter. For those who aren’t plagued all year round, you may have developed dry eye symptoms over the winter without even realising what they were!

Despite being situated in a fairly humid part of the province, winters in Central Alberta are still dryer than the rest of the year. The cold and wind are both factors in why dry eye is worse in winter; let’s take a detailed look at one of winter’s most irritating health problems.

Mandatory plug: we offer dry eye therapy out of both our locations. Over the last almost-20 years we have helped thousands of people from Bonnyville, St. Paul, and rural Alberta enjoy relief from dry eye.

The Main Culprit: The Weather

Our eyes need a good deal of moisture and lubrication to keep rotating around our heads like they do. While the air isn’t as arid as much of North America, the cold wind still whips a lot of the moisture from our eyes.

Without this lubrication, your eye rubs against its socket whenever it moves. Even blinking can be painful and you can’t simply sit without blinking all day: the wind will dry them out even more!

Cool The AC In Your Car

When it’s cold outside, the temptation is to whack on the heating. At home, this will usually come from your furnace and isn’t a problem. In the car (or if you use air-conditioned heating at home) try to:

  • Avoid directing the airflow toward your face, and
  • Heat the car or room slowly.

These steps will help you get warm without further drying out your eyes.

Office Life Can Get You Down

After the cold journey into work, you’d think the warm and dry office would be a safe place to hide from dry eye. Sadly not.

Sitting facing a computer screen all day has been proven to dry out your eyes and is a common cause of dry eye all year round. When combined with the recycled air from your air-conditioned heating, your eyes could be in serious trouble. Take regular breaks away from any screens to moisten up your eyes.

The Accomplice: Diet

Ever heard of a dehydrated eye? When we think of dehydration, it’s usually with thoughts of dry throats, coughs and light-headedness. In fact, when your body lacks fluid it can affect the amount of moisture available to lubricate your eyes as well.

During winter, your body’s thirst triggers are dulled, meaning that you are less compelled to take on fluids than in warmer months. It’s important to keep drinking water even if you don’t feel thirsty; having a bottle of water by your desk is a great solution.

Want the good news? You can eat your symptoms away! Warm soup or fresh fruit are both excellent ways to hydrate the body, so eat properly and you may notice an improvement in your condition.

Unlike trips to the dentist or health checks with your doctor which we attend quite vigorously, annual eye exams are frequently overlooked as unimportant. “There’s nothing wrong with my eyesight” is a common reaction.

In reality, there are many eye diseases and problems which do not show any early symptoms and will only become apparent once the condition is quite advanced. By this stage, permanent vision impairment may be unavoidable.

This is especially true for children, who are unlikely to complain even when symptoms of vision impairment are showing! Let’s examine four reasons why your child should have an annual eye exam.

Children Will Not Complain

I know it goes against everything you’ve learnt as a parent, but most children will either be unaware that their vision is compromised or will choose not to speak out about the problem. Infants should always be tested at 6 months, age 3, then annually thereafter to make sure their vision is ready to cope with the demands of learning.

When problems do develop for school children, it’s not uncommon for the child to carry on life as usual. They may not even notice there’s a problem, and are much less likely to vocalise it than an adult would. Instead, they may find a compromise like holding an object closer to their face to see it better.

You Probably Won’t Notice

We’re not suggesting you’re an inattentive parent, but spotting a vision problem from a distance is incredibly difficult. Some issues like pediatric strabismus (misaligned eyes) can be observed, but usually only when the child is very tired or concentrating particularly hard.

Learning and Behavioural Difficulties

Reduced or impaired vision in the classroom can cause all sorts of problems for your child. The hustle and bustle of school can become confusing and indistinct, while critical skills such as reading and writing become laborious, if not impossible.

Like we said, most kids aren’t going to vocalize their problems. Instead, once they realise that reading and writing are so difficult, they can retreat within themselves and become less sociable, unhappy and rebellious. Unsurprisingly, this behaviour is not usually linked to a vision impairment, so it’s difficult for the child to receive the help they truly need.

The Sooner, The Better

When it comes to your eyes, early detection can be hugely beneficial and is often the difference between permanent impairment and complete recovery. By having an exam, the majority of issues which are almost impossible to spot from an outside perspective would be recorded immediately.

This gives our optometrists the maximum amount of time to help your child recover or adjust to their vision impairment. Give us a call and our team will help you secure an appointment to make sure your child gets their annual checkup.

We understand that as parents, especially new parents with their first child, it is easy to overthink and overreact when it comes to our children. Parenthood is full of constant new experiences, and we are bombarded by articles, videos, and other media telling us the importance of this check-up or that exam.

We get it.

This article will provide some clarity regarding your child’s eyesight. Assess your child for the three areas below and bring them in for an eye exam6 if they are showing signs of a developing eye problem.

Young Eyes

It is good that you are being proactive regarding your baby’s eye health. Babies learn to see as they experience new things (much like walking and talking). As such, they must learn the ability to focus their eyes, move them accurately, and use them together as a team.

That’s why it is difficult for parents to determine whether or not their baby has trouble seeing. Of course, a baby cannot tell you if they have a vision problem, making it important for you to look for these three signs:

Minimal Interest in Their Surroundings

As a baby, we are curious and want to explore, feel, taste and see everything. A major alert for parents is if their child has little interest in their surroundings.

A young baby should be especially interested in your face, giving you precious smiles quite frequently. An eye problem could cause a child to lose interest in their environment.

More specifically, refractive errors such as nearsightedness or farsightedness could be the cause for lack of interest. Refractive errors can be present at any age and can be treated with corrective lenses (glasses or contacts).

Strabismus and Amblyopia

Around the age of three months old your baby’s eyes will begin to work as a team and provide three-dimensional vision. At this age, a child with strabismus may have misaligned eyes most of the time.

Although it is normal for eyes to appear crossed when looking at things close-up, a baby’s eyes should not appear to be misaligned for distant objects. For more common signs and symptoms of strabismus, click here.

Over time the brain begins to ignore the input from the eye that is not straight. This can develop into reduced vision in that eye, known as amblyopia.

White and Yellow Spots in The Pupils

Although extremely rare, parents may notice white or yellow spots in the pupils of their baby’s eye. If noticed, our optometrist should be notified immediately.

White and yellow spots in the pupils may be a sign of a cataract or cancer of the eye. The earlier it is detected, the better.

Your Baby’s First Eye Exam

Your child should have their first eye exam when they are around six months old, and another eye exam before they enter preschool.

If you notice any of the signs listed above, especially white or yellow spots in the pupil, schedule your baby for an eye examination. Our optometrists are equipped and trained to provide outstanding service for both you, and your child, in a friendly manner.

Locations

With locations in Bonnyville and St. Paul, Lakeland Family Eyecare has been serving the Alberta population since 1998 with world class eye care. Stop by to ensure both you, and your family, are seeing the beautiful Albertan landscape as best you can.

Procedures

Lasik (laser eye surgery) is a type of refractive surgery performed by an Ophthalmologist. It stands for laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis. This form of treatment is well studied and has proven to be an effective treatment option for patients with Myopia, Hyperopia, and Astigmatism.

Lasik can be a permanent alternative to eyeglasses and contact lenses, depending on the type of eye condition being corrected. It is an excellent option for those who struggle with allergies or hate dealing with contacts lenses.

Reading eyeglasses may be required by some patients, especially after the age of 40 (due to the natural ageing process).

How Does Lasik Work?

Lasik surgery is performed by a specially trained eye surgeon, known as an Ophthalmologist. Patients are awake for this procedure and will receive numbing eye drops. Most patients are unable to sense the device used to keep their eyelids open, and do not usually feel any pain during the procedure itself.

For the procedure, a laser is used to create a precise and thin corneal flap (blurring your vision during the procedure only). The surgeon pulls this flap back to expose the cornea and then uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea tissue (stroma).

The eye flap is put in place with special instruments, and the healing process begins immediately. If you are having lasik surgery, you can expect the procedure to be less than half an hour.

What Happens After Lasik?

After the procedure is completed, you can expect your eyes to feel a bit irritated or have a burning sensation. They may also water. Eye drops (antibiotic and steroidal) will be prescribed and are applied for about one week.

Most patients can expect to have improved vision within 24 hours.

Is Lasik Surgery Right for Me?

A myriad of factors will be considered by our Optometrist when determining if you are a good surgery candidate for lasik. Lasik is typically not an option for those that find their eyeglasses and contact lens prescription still changing.

Patients that have thin corneas or certain medical and eye conditions, like dry eyes, may not be ideal surgery candidates either.

 

If you would like to know if you are an ideal lasik candidate, book an eye exam to find out.

Vision Health Concerns

The name Presbyopia is Greek in origin, translating to “old man eye”, though we prefer to call it “ageing eye”.    

As we age our ability to focus on near objects gradually declines, resulting in presbyopia. It is a naturally occurring process that will affect every person’s vision in their later years. Both men and women can expect to see the early signs of presbyopia around 40 years of age.

When you are born, and for the first few decades of your life, your eye’s natural crystalline lens is soft and flexible. This flexibility allows you to focus quickly and accurately  on objects near and far. As mentioned above, the natural ageing process of our eye’s crystalline lens means a gradual reduction in flexibility. The more the lens hardens, the more difficult it becomes  to focus on objects especially at near.  

Presbyopia is not the same as farsightedness- they are separate eye conditions. To read more about farsightedness, head to our page on Hyperopia (Farsightedness).

Presbyopia Symptoms

The following symptoms present gradually, typically beginning near the age of 40. Presbyopia symptoms include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Eye strain
  • Eye fatigue after reading for long periods
  • Headaches

Presbyopia will also present as blurry vision when you transition from looking at an object close to you to an object further away and vice versus.

Presbyopia Treatment

Presbyopia is not a life sentence of blurry vision once you hit 40 years old. It is one of the easiest eye conditions to treat.  The common treatment for presbyopia is prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses.   Your prescription will need to be increased as you age, though, since the crystalline lens in your eyes will continue to harden.

For the right candidates, corrective eye surgery may be a viable treatment option for their presbyopia. Patients will find they will not need their eyeglasses or contacts for a considerable amount of time post-op.

 
Unfortunately, due to the natural ageing process continuing onwards after your surgery, the amount of time the correction lasts will vary. Corrective surgery is not a permanent solution for presbyopia.

Diabetic eye disease is a group of disorders that can cause partial or total loss of vision. These 3 types of eye diseases are usually associated with periods of high blood sugar levels  with high blood pressure a contributing factor.

Eye Diseases Associated With Diabetes

Diabetic Retinopathy

Retinopathy means “disease of the retina”. This particular type of retinopathy is associated with diabetes.  Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease that diabetics are at risk for.

Diabetes disrupts your body’s ability to store and regulate the blood sugar levels. When there are excessive amounts of sugar in the blood, the small blood vessels in your eye are at risk for damage.

These damaged vessels have the potential to seep blood and other fluids into the eye. These leakages cause the retinal tissue to swell, leading to the clouding of that patient’s vision.  Eventually scar tissue forms where the blood vessel was leaking.  Then the patient loses vision in this area.

If left untreated, patients with diabetic retinopathy can expect to suffer from complete vision loss.

The Four Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

 

  • Background or Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) (mild/moderate/severe) – This form of diabetic retinopathy is the most common and progresses in stages of severity. The small blood vessels of the retinal tissue begin to swell, balloon, and leak small droplets of  blood and other fluids.

    As nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy progresses through its stages, you will experience increasingly blurry vision, and sometimes a change in color perception.
  • Proliferative Retinopathy (PDR) – New, fragile blood vessels begin to form and grow over top your retina, attempting to replace the damaged vessels that have now closed off.

    Unfortunately, these new blood vessels are often quite weak and are likely to leak blood and other fluids into the vitreous (the eye’s interior, gel-like substance). This leakage causes cloudy vision. Retinal scarring can occur due to these newly formed blood vessels. If this happens, there is a risk of the retina being pulled on and eventually detaching, leading to a complete loss of vision.

    If the detachment of the retina is caught and treated early enough, vision can often be returned to the patient. If not, the vision loss will likely be irreversible.

 

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, the symptoms usually go undetected. This is known as a silent disease, it progresses slowly and quietly until there is already damage to your vision. Symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Spots or floaters in the field of vision
  • Dark or empty spot in the center of the field of vision

Common treatments include medication, vitrectomy (removal of the excess blood in the eye), and laser treatments to seall the leaking blood vessels.   The type of treatment right for your diabetic retinopathy will depend on its type and rate of progression.

Cataracts

A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens in your eye. Typically, cataracts are associated with ageing and begin to present after the age of 60. This is not the case for diabetics. They are are at risk of developing cataracts much earlier in life and are likely to experience a faster progression.

Learn more about cataracts.

Glaucoma

Those with diabetes typically face a certain type of Glaucoma known as Open-Angle Glaucoma. This type of Glaucoma is the direct result of an increase in the eyes fluid pressure. As this pressure rises, the optic nerve is damaged, resulting in loss of vision. Adults with diabetes have double the risk for developing Glaucoma.

Learn more about glaucoma.

Early Detection is Key

If caught early, the risk of complete vision loss from diabetic eye disease can be reduced by almost 95%. Those without diabetes, or other conditions with an increased risk for eye disease, are usually recommended to have an eye exam performed every 1 to 2 years.

 

Due to the increased risk of developing eye disease, we recommend that those with diabetes have a comprehensive eye wellness exam yearly.  This allows our Optometrist to monitor your eye health and catch changes you may not have been able to perceive.

Eye floaters and flashers are two separate eye conditions, with the latter typically being more serious than the former.   Should either of these two conditions occur, they should be investigated by one of our Optometrists urgently to make sure your eye health is not in jeopardy.

Potential Causes of Eye Flashes and Floaters

  • Infection/inflammation of your eye
  • Retinal tears
  • Recent eye surgery
  • Trauma to your eye or head
  • Normal aging

Eye Floaters

At some point in our lives we can expect to have eye floaters. They are usually harmless and are ignored by most.

For the first few decades of your life, your eyes vitreous (what fills the interior of the eyeball) has a gel-like consistency. Over time, the natural ageing process begins to dissolve the vitreous, detaching it from our retina and creating a watery center. When some of these undissolved particles float around in the more liquid center of the vitreous, we see what is referred to as eye floaters.

Eye floaters usually present as small specks or squiggles that you see floating around in your vision, but can never focus on. When you try to look at them directly they seem to dart away.

You should be concerned about eye floaters if you find that they increase in frequency or size from what you typically experience. We recommend being assessed as soon as possible by one of our Optometrists if you feel this is the case.

Prompt treatment may be critical, especially if the underlying cause is a retinal tear, which can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated in time.

Eye Flashes

As mentioned above, a part of our natural ageing process is the vitreous separating from the retina. By the age of 50, most people go through this without noticing anything. Eye flashes occur when the vitreous gel of our eye pulls on the retina, causing what look like flashing lights or lightning streaks.
Eye flashes can indicate a retinal detachment or tear and should be treated with urgency.

If you are experiencing eye flashes we recommend coming in for an eye exam as soon as possible. If you have a retinal tear or it has detached, you are at risk for complete vision loss.

Approximately 1 in 6 Canadians suffer from eye allergies, with the major cause being seasonal allergens. There are 3 separate groups of causes for eye allergies, though the majority of Canadians have seasonal allergies.

Eye allergies are not the same as pink eye/red eye (Conjunctivitis), though they may display similar symptoms.

When allergens come in contact with your body, they attach themselves to your antibodies. Your immune system identifies them as dangerous invaders and a response is set in place. The mast cells in your eyes, loaded with histamine, begin to release their contents in an attempt to ‘fight’ these invaders.

Essentially, this is a huge overreaction of the immune system to typically harmless allergens.

Common Eye Allergy Triggers

  • Outdoor Allergens – Pollen, grass, trees, or weeds
  • Indoor Allergens – Feathers in bedding, pet dander, dust mites or mold
  • Irritants – Cigarette smoke, perfume, eye makeup, or vehicle exhaust

Symptoms of Eye Allergies

The following symptoms may be experienced in any combination:

  • Burning sensation
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Excessive tearing (runny eyes)
  • Whites of the eyes are red, eyelids may be too
  • Itchy eyes

These symptoms may also be accompanied by a stuffy nose and sneezing.

Managing and Treating Eye Allergies

The cause of your eye allergies will dictate how we approach treatment and management of your symptoms.

The best course of action is typically not feasible, requiring the eradication of the allergen causing your reaction. This can be exceptionally difficult for seasonal allergy sufferers, as you can’t stay cooped up in your house for several months- it just isn’t realistic.

Managing Eye Allergies

We have put together a list of options to help you manage your allergy symptoms, depending on your lifestyle and the cause of your eye allergies.

    • Reduce Exposure to Allergens
      • Reduce dust in your home
      • Invest in high quality air filters for your furnace and air conditioner
      • Wash your bedding often
      • Stay indoors during peak allergy season (when possible)

    • Resist Rubbing Your Eyes! – We know this is a tough one, but rubbing your eyes will only aggravate and possibly worsen your symptoms.

    • Antihistamines – Antihistamines work to prevent your immune system’s reaction of releasing histamine from your eyes mast cells. They can be purchased over the counter and come in the form of oral medication, prescription eye drops, and patches.

    • Prescription Medication – If traditional allergy medications do not alleviate your allergies, our Optometrist may prescribe a more aggressive form of allergy medication.

 

  • Protect Your Eyes – To reduce pollen and other environmental allergens from getting into your eyes, we recommend wearing eyeglasses and sunglasses.  

 

 

Dry eye occurs when your body is unable to create tears, or is creating the wrong type of tears that end up evaporating too quickly.  There are a myriad of different causes for dry eye and the severity of the condition varies amongst each patient.

Dry Eye Syndrome (Keratoconjunctivitis or KCS) is the chronic and progressive variant of dry eye. Unfortunately, it is not typically curable but it can be managed successfully in most cases. Through proper management, KCS sufferers will likely experience less symptoms and increased eye comfort.

Potential Causes of Dry Eye

  • Not Enough Tears
    • Certain medical conditions, such as:
      • Lupus
      • Diabetes
      • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Certain medications, such as:
      • Antihistamines
      • Decongestants
      • Antidepressants
      • Birth control
      • High blood pressure medications
      • Hormone replacement therapy drugs
  • Evaporating Tears
    • Environmental factors:
      • Wind
      • Smoke
      • Dry air
      • Low humidity climates
      • Age
      • Hormonal changes
    • Not blinking enough (typically during prolonged periods of concentration, like reading or watching the TV)

Dry Eye Symptoms

Dry eye typically affects both eyes and the symptoms may present as any of the following:

  • Eye fatigue, lowered tolerance of reading or working on computers
  • Episodes of excess tears preceded by periods of very dry eyes or burning eyes
  • Feeling as if sand or grit is in the eye
  • Painful, red eyes
  • Stringy mucus discharge produced and noticeable around the eyes
  • Stinging or burning sensation
  • Episodes of blurry vision
  • Contact lenses become uncomfortable to wear

Dry Eye Treatment

The treatments our Optometrist may recommend will vary depending on the cause of your dry eye, and may be a combination of the following:

  • Artificial Tears – Artificial tears, and other lubricating eye drops, often used to treat mild cases of dry eye. Usually these are situations where prolonged focus is required, such as reading or computer use. Artificial tears can be purchased over the counter and come in many different forms and ingredients.
  • Steroid Eye Drops – Steroid eye drops prescribed to treat the inflammation that results from certain cases of dry eye or is the cause of certain dry eye conditions.   They are typically used on a short-term basis alongside the use of artificial tears.
  • Restasis – These particular eye drops, prescription only, may be used in conjunction with artificial tears. Their purpose goes beyond the lubrication of your eyes. Restasis eye drops contain an agent that reduces the inflammation in your eye and promotes natural tear production.
  • Punctal Plugs –  If you are not producing enough tears, these tiny plugs are inserted into the tear drainage holes to prevent the tears from leaving the surface of your eye.   Thus, the tears stay in contact with your eye longer.

If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms and are unsure of the cause or how to properly manage them, please book an appointment with our Optometrist.