Alamo Optometry Blog

August 6, 2010

School and our Children’s Vision

Filed under: Blog,Educational — gkblog @ 10:42 pm

School and our Children’s Vision

(As appeared in Alamo Today, August 2010, pg. 24) 

            It is hard to believe that most of summer vacation is behind us and school will be starting up soon.  August is usually the month where most parents prep their children for the school year.  The list usually includes school supplies, clothes, backpacks, etc. and yearly physicals are done with their pediatrician to ensure a healthy start to the year.  Even though most of you realize the importance of vision and eye health, it is vitally important for your child to be able to see well at all distances and have good eye-teaming skills to be able to learn and prosper at school.  I will cover some of the main eye issues related to difficulty at school.

            I would say the most common diagnosis I find at the office is myopia, or near-sighted.  For students that sit far away from the board or in the back of a large lecture hall, having uncorrected or under-corrected myopia will lead to blurry vision and an inability to see the material on the board, screen, or overhead.  I have found it common for younger children with this situation to have classroom issues in addition to lower grades due to the fact that they tend to be disruptive in class because they can’t see clearly more than a few feet in front of them.  I am obviously not saying that all classroom issues are visually related, but that in some students a simple pair of glasses makes a large difference.

            At the opposite end of myopia is hyperopia, or far-sighted.  These students are in a constant state of focusing to allow clear vision.  The closer the point of focus the more work that is necessary to clear the image.  That is why distance objects are easier than near ones.  A low amount of hyperopia is actually desirable, since near-sightedness tends to evolve as the child enters adolescence, so it gives them a little head start.  However, in larger prescriptions, hyperopia can cause near avoidance, headaches, fatigue, eye turns, and an overall indifference to sustained up-close tasks.  This can easily be diagnosed in the office as part of a comprehensive examination.

            The last prescription issue that can be a hindrance to vision is astigmatism.  This is caused by the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, not being completely round.  An easy analogy is that it is shaped more like an egg than a ball.  It is important to note that this is not a disease; it is just the way the eye is shaped and can be treated with glasses or contact lenses just like myopia and hyperopia.

            In addition to having a prescription, all patients including children should have their binocular vision status evaluated.  It is quite possible to not have any of the above-mentioned prescription issues, but have poor eye teaming skills.  If the eyes are not aligned properly and do not work well as a team, there will be learning and reading issues.  These tend to present themselves more for reading than distance, but can definitely affect both.  When the eyes do not work as a unit, a child might experience double vision, “stretching” or “ghost images” of letters, skipping of letters or lines of text, eyestrain, headaches, near avoidance, or any combination of these.  Depending on the exact diagnosis, the condition can be treated with glasses or vision therapy.

            I recommend having your child’s vision checked by an eye care professional instead of just relying on a school or pediatrician screening.  Most children that need to be evaluated are generally picked up by these screenings, but the comprehensive evaluation I give at the office not only encompasses vision and binocular vision, but also includes neurological testing, color vision, peripheral vision, and an ocular health examination of both the front and back portions of the eye.  We look forward to seeing your students in the office soon.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear.  He can be reached at 820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo.  Visit our website at: and become a fan on our Alamo Optometry Facebook page.

July 1, 2010

UV Protection

Filed under: Blog,Educational,U.V. Light,Vision Care Tips — gkblog @ 8:32 am

Ultraviolet (UV) Light

(As appeared in Alamo Today, July 2010, pg. 24)

             Summer is finally here and the rain is done (hopefully).  Now that we will be heading out into the sun, it is time to discuss UV protection.  The harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun can have several ocular consequences in addition to all of the other body and skin conditions.  I will address some of the potential eye issues here.

            First of all, ocular UV protection should be a priority year round.  Even though we receive more ultraviolet in the summer months than in winter, we are exposed every day, regardless of weather and temperature.  Ultraviolet exposure is cumulative throughout life, and approximately 75% is accumulated by the age of 18.

            Exposure to UV has ocular complications such as cataracts and pingueculas.  Everyone knows that cataracts form later in life and are a normal part of the aging process.  However, long-term UV exposure can expedite the process.  Studies have shown that people that live on or near the equator generally get cataracts about 10 years earlier than people who live closer to the poles.  This is due to the fact that those people receive the most daily UV radiation throughout the year.  A pinguecula is the common yellow-looking bump and the white part of the eye.  Many people have these and they are completely benign.  Over time these tend to become red and irritated in dry and/or allergic conditions and prolonged contact lens wear can cause more irritation.  The more inflamed the eye gets, the quicker these pingueculas tend to grow.  Keeping the eye lubricated and having UV lenses are your best defense against further complications.

            For eye protection, the best thing you can do is have UV-blocking lenses in your glasses.  Fortunately, there are several ways this can be accomplished.  The first thing to remember is that your lenses do not have to be tinted to be UV-protected.  Conversely, all tinted lenses do not block ultraviolet light.  Simply having tinted plastic lenses in your glasses will not block any of the harmful rays from the sun; plastic lenses do not inherently have any UV protection.  To obtain the necessary protection, a UV filter must be present in the lenses.  This is a clear filter and it does not alter the appearance or color of the lenses in any way.  For those of you who enjoy wearing sunglasses, the most common way to get this is to have polarized lenses.  In addition to blocking the sun’s harmful rays, these lenses eliminate glare, which make vision sharper and more comfortable.  The effects are especially noticeable in high-glare situations such as driving, skiing, and water sports.  For those that want tinted lenses and clear lenses without two separate glasses, then transitions lenses might be an option.  These lenses come inherent with UV protection and are clear indoors and dark outdoors.  Like polarized lenses, transitions lenses are available in single vision, bifocals, and progressive lenses.

            Some people just don’t like to wear sunglasses.  As was mentioned before, the lenses do not need to be tinted to block UV.  Patients that are uncomfortable with tinted lenses can have their clear glasses made out of polycarbonate lenses.  These lenses have a UV filter and are thinner, lighter, and are impact-resistant compared to plastic lenses.  Lastly, there are contact lenses that come with UV protection.  Even though that is very important, only the area covered by the contact lenses is protected; the rest of the eye, eyelids, and surrounding area are therefore left exposed.

            Patients of all ages should wear some form of UV protection outdoors.  Whether they are inexpensive over-the-counter sunglasses for your children or higher quality polarized lenses for the adults, this protection is like “suntan lotion for the eyes” and will definitely reduce the ocular consequences of UV radiation.  You are welcome to come into the office anytime if you have any questions and we can demonstrate the improved vision and contrast with our Maui Jim polarized sunglasses.

 Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear.  He can be reached at 820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo.  Visit our website at: and become a fan on our Alamo Optometry Facebook page.

June 7, 2010

Three O’s (Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, Optician)…What’s the Difference?

Filed under: Blog,Educational — Tags: , , — gkblog @ 11:53 am

The Three O’s (Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, Optician)…What’s the Difference?

(As appeared in Alamo Today, June 2010, pg.  29)

I am consistently asked what the difference is between an optometrist, an ophthalmologist, and an optician, and which one I am.  There are a lot of differences between us, but also much in common.  I will delve into the training and professional services each one provides.

An optometrist (O.D.) tends to be the primary health care professional for the eyes.  An optometrist must complete a college degree, and then attend a 4-year optometry program.  To be licensed, there are several national exams that are administered to ensure proper training and competency.  Optometrists can examine, diagnose, and treat disorders of the eye and the surrounding structures.  When you schedule an exam at our office you will receive a comprehensive evaluation which will test and evaluate vision and necessary prescription glasses and/or contact lenses, binocular vision status, glaucoma screening, neurological status as it relates to the eyes, and eye health evaluation of the front part of the eye and retinal evaluation through dilation.  For vision enhancement, an optometrist can prescribe glasses, contact lenses, low visions aids, or have a LASIK consultation.

As state laws do vary, what medical conditions optometrists can treat does change from state to state.  Eye conditions such as allergies, conjunctivitis (pink eye), floaters, and styes are treated often and are seen in the office regularly.  Even some more difficult conditions such as foreign body removal, corneal ulcers, and retinal co-management of diabetes and hypertension are done often. Since optometrists do not do surgery, there are some conditions that require an ophthalmology consultation.  Some of these include cataract and retinal surgery, and those are made after careful examination and patient education.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has specialized in the eyes.  They have graduated from medical school and then completed residencies in their chosen specialty like retina, glaucoma, and cornea.  As in optometry, there are national examinations that must be passed to practice and to specialize in a chosen field.  Most ophthalmologists do not do primary care exams.  As a majority, they conduct specialized care like and surgery for LASIK, cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal disease.  Most ophthalmologist offices that conduct primary care exams are done by optometrists.  Of course that does vary from office to office, but is the case most of the time.  A comprehensive examination conducted by an ophthalmologist and optometrist are very similar.  The same tests are conducted and an eye health evaluation will be conducted.  Obviously, if a patient is being referred for a particular condition (e.g. glaucoma) specialized tests will be run that would not normally be done on the routine patient.

In comparison to an optometrist and ophthalmologist, an optician is not a doctor.  Opticians attend school to learn about optics, glasses, lenses, etc. and are then tested by their licensing board.    Most opticians are certified, but some are not.  Opticians are trained in frame selection, dispensing, adjusting, and repairing.  They are also valuable for optimal lens selection and measurements depending on the prescription and type of frame.  If an office has a lab on site, they can edge, tint, and finish the lenses to fit your frame.  Training and experience can vary for opticians.  The more training and experience an optician has, the better the quality and accuracy of the prescription glasses made.  Our certified optician does most of these tasks in our office.

Even though all optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians are associated with vision, their function within that field varies widely.   Hopefully these definitions will help you understand who we all are and what we do.  Our full-service optometry office conducts comprehensive exams for all ages and looks forward to helping you with all of your eye care and vision needs.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear.  He can be reached at 820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo.  Visit our website at: and become a fan on our Alamo Optometry Facebook page.

May 11, 2009

Alamo Optometry

Filed under: Blog — Tags: — admin @ 11:31 pm

Alamo Optometry

(As appeared in Alamo Today, May 2009, pg. 25)

We have had such a great response to our monthly columns so I thought it would be nice to give the residents of Alamo an idea of who we are and what we do. My articles to date have focused on conditions and issues that I see daily in my practice, but what I am finding is that our patients are interested in forming long-lasting relationships in addition to receiving quality eye care and products.
Alamo Optometry is in the Alamo Commons building (next to the old Yardbirds), and has been here since 1992. It was formerly known as Diablo Optometry when Dr. Kirschbaum started the practice. Our office is and always has been a small and professional practice that values patient care and service over commercialism. We do comprehensive eye exams, LASIK pre- and post-exams, all types of contact lens fittings, including daily disposables and multifocal lenses, and medical eye care which include diagnosing and treating eye infections, allergies, and dry eyes. Patients of all ages are welcome to our office. All of our staff, including myself, has children; so we are comfortable with even our youngest patients. We are committed to serving the community and making sure everyone has an enjoyable experience. To that extent, we follow-up with our patients after they receive their glasses to see how they are doing, and remind them that free lifetime adjustments and on-site repairs are welcome on any of their glasses.
I have now owned the practice for almost 2 years. I truly enjoy the office, my staff, and the residents of Alamo. Since I graduated 9 years ago, I have gained a lot of clinical knowledge to apply to my school work to offer a well-rounded doctor-patient relationship. I believe patients should be in control of their care in conjunction with their doctor. I offer solutions and recommendation to your vision problems; your vision and ocular health are my main concerns.
Our optician Robert has years of clinical experience in frame and lens selection, along with frame adjustments and repairs. He can adjust and repair most frames in the office. Robert and I work together to make sure you have a frame that is both fashionable and functional in that it will accommodate your prescription and type of lens that you need. I am fortunate to be able to work with an optician that is very knowledgeable and skilled like Robert.
Debbie is our front-desk receptionist and optometric assistant. She is very personable and eager to help anyone who needs an appointment, frame adjustment and selection, and ordering and dispensing glasses and contacts. Debbie has been with the office for over 1 year and patients appreciate her demeanor in assisting patients in the office or on the phone. Her goal is to make sure every patient has a good experience and their vision needs are successfully fulfilled.
Our new website, has information about the staff and office. We have a blog that is updated monthly with all of our articles in Alamo Today. There is information about the services we provide and some of the frames brands we carry in the office. In addition, we recently added a link on the website to enable our patients with a valid prescription to order contacts at your convenience instead of having to call the office. We have late office hours on Thursdays and are available on select Saturdays by appointment to accommodate our patients’ busy schedules. We all look forward to continuing to serve the vision and eye care needs of the local community by upholding our reputation of outstanding service and vision care.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 925-820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo.

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