Alamo Optometry Blog

February 3, 2010

Eye Terms

Filed under: Educational — Tags: , — admin @ 11:43 pm

Eye Terms
(As appeared in Alamo Today, February 2010, pg. 29)

When I have patients in my office and I am explaining to them the results of my examination, I try to explain terms and conditions in a manner that is easy to understand. At times that is difficult, but I believe my patients need to leave the exam understanding what went on and why my recommendations were given. To help assist, I will give some straight-forward definitions of everyday conditions I see in the office.

Myopia: “near-sighted”, this means that without any type of correction on, it is easier to see close than far. Depending on how high the prescription, it might even be very difficult to read since you will have to hold reading material extremely close to have it in focus.

Hyperopia: “far-sighted”, it is easier to see farther away than up close. Far-sighted people are always working to keep objects in focus and the closer the point of focus, the more power and work needed. Patients with a high prescription generally will have sustained near-point issues like fatigue, headaches, avoidance, etc. Keep in mind this only refers to your distance vision, not up close difficulty (see next).

Presbyopia: “short-arm syndrome”. This diagnosis is given when your ability to focus up close starts to decline. Keep in mind this is a completely normal process that starts in your 40’s and stops somewhere in your mid 50’s. Remember this does not mean you are far-sighted, that defines your distance vision only.

Astigmatism: This occurs when your cornea is not completely round. A simple analogy is that it is shaped more like a football or egg. It is not a disease; it is just how your eye was formed and developed. This can be corrected with glasses, most contact lenses, and LASIK (also depending on other factors.)

Cornea: This is the clear front portion of the eye that is in front of the iris (colored part of the eye). This structure is where contact lenses are placed and what is operated on in LASIK. The cornea has no blood vessels so it only receives oxygen from the air and your tears.

Cataracts: This is another age-related finding in which the lens, which is inside your eye, becomes harder and denser. This eye structure continues to grow throughout life, so as you mature, if becomes a barrier to clear vision and needs to be removed. The three main contributors besides age are UV exposure, diabetes, and therapeutic steroid use. Surgery to do this is simple with a relatively quick recovery.

Macular Degeneration: Everyone seems to be concerned about this condition, including myself. This is a disease that degrades your sharp, central vision along with color vision. The macula is the very small area in your central retina that gives you 20/20-corrected vision and color vision. Once this vision is lost, you do not get it back. As of now, there is no cure. There are many treatments, but they are aimed at treating the bleeding blood vessels in the retina, which hopefully halt or slow down the progression. There is a genetic link to this disease, but currently the best thing you can do to improve your chances besides annual exams is to not smoke. Everything else equal, there is a 4-6 fold increase risk for any person who currently smokes or smoked a considerable amount in the past, but has since quit.

Retina: This structure has 10 layers and of all the organs in the body, it uses the third most amount of oxygen (behind the heart and brain). The retina interprets the light images it receives and changes it into an electrical signal that is sent to your brain to process via the optic nerve.

Optic Nerve: The optic nerve is the wiring connection between the eye and the brain. The optic nerve does not contain photoreceptors, so it does not interpret any images you see; hence this is your blind spot when you look out into the world. Glaucoma is a disease that slowly kills the optic nerve, so end-stage of the disease is blindness since no signal is sent to your brain from the affected eye(s).

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. Visit our website at: ww.alamooptometry.com.

November 4, 2009

Adult Vision Over 60 Years of Age

Filed under: Educational — Tags: — admin @ 11:38 pm

Adult Vision Over 60 Years of Age

(As appeared in <a href=”http://yourmonthlypaper.com”>Alamo Today</a>, November 2009, pg. 34)

 At last we reach the final article in our series.  Here we tackle the vision and eye health issues over age 60.   As your body and eyes age, vision changes do occur; some are natural and some are not.  Conditions such as presbyopia (decreased ability to read) and cataracts are a normal part of the aging process.  Other issues such as glaucoma and macular degeneration are more likely as you age, but are not a normal age-related finding.
 Even though cataracts are considered an age-related finding, they are so common that it is almost considered normal.  According to some studies, half of all people over 65 have some degree of cataract formation, and that increases with age.  A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside your eye.  Cataracts cause a slow decrease in vision, a dulling of colors, and increased glare.  The procedure to remove cataracts is extremely simple and is the most widely performed procedure in the United States.  
 Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of decreased vision among our seniors.  The macula is in the center part of your retina, where light comes to a focus.  Your macula is responsible for giving you good acuity and color vision.  All detail work whether it is driving, reading, or recognizing faces is controlled by the macula.  It is important to keep it mind that from macular degeneration alone one will never go “blind.”  You will always have your peripheral or side vision intact; however, the periphery of your retina does not allow sharp vision.  Your likelihood for AMD increases as you age; generally 1 in 5 over 70 and 1 in 3 over the age of 85 are affected.  There are many new treatments available that we did not have even a few years ago.  However, these are targeted to halt the progression, not to regain what has been lost. 
 Glaucoma is a disease that causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve.  The optic nerve carries the visual information it receives from the retina to your brain.  Unfortunately, at this time, there is no cure for glaucoma; we are only able to slow the process down.  Glaucoma is also a problem because it does not bring you into the office, i.e. it does not blur your vision, make your eyes red, give you a headache, etc.  I tell my patients that by the time they can functionally see a decrease in their vision and peripheral vision, the disease has progressed about 75%. Early detection and treatment is paramount for this condition.
 The above-mentioned eye conditions generally take a long time to progress.  These following conditions result in rapid progression and should be addressed as soon as possible:
– You experience a sudden increase in floaters and/or flashes of light, or a dark curtain comes across your field of view.  This can be a sign of a retinal detachment and requires a dilated examination as soon as possible.
– Sudden eye pain, redness, headache with nausea.  This is likely an acute attack of glaucoma caused by rapid increase in the pressure within the eye.
– Sudden double vision.  There can be many causes for this including a binocular vision disorder (eye-teaming) or diabetes.  However, it could also indicate an underlying health condition such as a stroke.

 Even though I have only touched the surface of potential vision issues that affect humans as they age, it is important to understand that early diagnosis and treatment is key.  Generally speaking, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.  Annual dilated examinations for these patients should be mandatory.  As stated above, some issues can begin to affect your eyes without any tangible signs for you to notice.  We have a great network of retina, glaucoma, and cataract surgeons at our disposal that we can refer to if needed. 

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.  Visit our website at: ww.alamooptometry.com.

October 1, 2009

Adult Vision Ages 41-60

Filed under: Educational — Tags: — admin @ 11:37 pm

Adult Vision: Ages 41-60

(As appeared in Alamo Today, October 2009, pg. 27)

In our next-to-last installment in our series, we will address vision and eye health issues after ago 40. The most noticeable condition at this point is presbyopia. As those of you in this age range can attest, it is the need for reading and up-close help. In addition, systemic issues like diabetes and hypertension, medications including anti-depressants and antihistamines, and a family history of eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration come into play.
Presbyopia or the “short-arm syndrome”, affects everyone at this time. It may affect some sooner than others, but there will be a point in time when through your distance correction (or no correction if your distance vision is fine), where you will need to address your up-close vision. The key thing to remember is this a completely normal part of the aging process. The decrease in focusing ability is the result of your lens in the middle part of your eye becoming less flexible. This flexibility allows the eye to change focus from near to far objects. For those of you that have never had to wear glasses, it tends to be a little more of a shock, because for the first time in over 40 years, you are having difficulty with vision. For the rest, it is simply a necessary change to your current vision correction. Keep in mind that there are many options for correction including progressive lenses, bifocals, and near-vision only glasses. In contact lens wearers, depending on your correction, bifocal contacts and monovision are always viable possibilities.
Many systemic ailments including diabetes, hypertension, auto-immune diseases, and high cholesterol affect the eyes. A dilated evaluation of the retina allows the only view of the blood vessels without an invasive procedure. Being able to observe the size and appearance of the blood vessels can go a long way in telling whether you might have the disease in question. If you do have a condition, it is a good way to determine how well it is being controlled. The best thing you can do is follow-up with your treating doctor to ensure your treatment plan is successful and to have your eyes checked annually.
Patients do not realize that certain conditions and medications can have a large impact on the eyes. Medications such as antihistamines, any hormone therapy including birth control, and diuretics for high blood pressure can have a drying effect, which can cause blurred and fluctuating vision, and decrease contact lens comfort and wearing time. Some antidepressants can affect focusing ability, and these patients might notice a difficult time reading. Steroids like prednisone, when taken for long periods of time can increase the pressure in the eyes (a possible sign of glaucoma) and lead to premature cataracts. It is paramount that your eye doctor knows all of your medical history including all prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Even though you might not think it is relevant to your eyes, it is very likely that it does.
Lastly, it is around this age that patients’ parents are developing eye issues like glaucoma and macular degeneration. Our patients are obviously concerned for their loved ones, but are also concerned for themselves. These diseases do have a genetic component; however, it is not absolute. It does not mean that you will also be afflicted, but it does mean that you need to be more vigilant in your overall health and eye care to help ensure if something does develop, it will be caught early and treated aggressively.
Patients in this age group have both visual and health issues to be addressed. Whether it is presbyopia, dry eyes, or diabetes management and detection, your eye doctor should be a major part of your overall care. Our office is well-equipped to assess and recommend options for all of your vision and medical needs; and when a referral to a specialist is required, we have a local network of qualified doctors to help.

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. Visit our website at: ww.alamooptometry.com.

September 4, 2009

Adult Vision Ages 19-40

Filed under: Educational — Tags: , — admin @ 11:35 pm

Adult Vision Ages 19-40

(As appeared in Alamo Today, September 2009, pg. 29)

In this installment of our series, we will tackle what to expect from your eyes and how to take care of them from after high school until age 40. For most adults, this is the time of healthy eyes and good correctable vision. The two main issues for this age group are visual stress from heavy computer use, fatigue, poor lighting, etc., and injuries from sports and work. For a majority of patients, simple vision issues like near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and astigmatism can be well-corrected with glasses and contact lenses without having to deal with presbyopia or other eye diseases which will be discussed in later articles.
As you start out in the world after school, your eyes and vision are integral to your success. Whether you need them for long hours studying pursuing a college or post-graduate degree, beginning your career in your chosen field, or enjoy sports, your vision will be paramount in your endeavors.
The first thing to remember is that healthy eyes and good vision go together; if you don’t take good care of your eyes, they will not help you in your daily life. A healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables will only help your overall health, including the eyes. Supplemental vitamins are also recommended if your diet is lacking in some of these areas. In addition, hydration is very important. Dryness is a big problem with heavy computer use, and staying hydrated can help alleviate some end-of-day redness and discomfort. Exercise helps improve blood circulation throughout the body and helps remove toxins in the bloodstream away from the eyes. Smoking cessation can be extremely beneficial to your overall health. Besides the heart, lung, and other systemic diseases that smoking can lead to, the risk for macular degeneration later in life in increased about 4-6 fold. As always, routine eye care in conjunction with the above suggestions will help maintain your overall vision and ocular health.
Now that we have addressed the health issues with the eye, we need to discuss how to deal with the visual stress that is present in our daily world. The most common causes are computer use and long hours reading documents and contracts. Even though computer use has become a major part of society, most people compound the problem by not having the correct eyeglass prescription, having improper lighting and incorrect viewing angles and working distances. As the day progresses, eyestrain and visual fatigue manifest themselves as tired eyes, red eyes, dry, stinging, burning, and focusing difficulties. Making some adjustments like keeping your eyes above the level of the computer monitor, taking a break from the monitor every 30 minutes and let your eyes rest, blinking, staying properly hydrated, and reducing a lot of artificial light and glare can go a long way in relieving visual fatigue and stress.
In addition to taking care of your eyes at work and college, the eyes need the proper care for sports and at-home activities. Sports such as basketball, football, baseball, and racquetball require the safety from protective eyewear or goggles that regular eyeglasses and contact lenses do not provide. Frames and goggles for adults and kids at our office made by Liberty provide both a fashionable and functional option for vision and eye protection. The lenses can be made in most prescriptions and made out of polycarbonate, which offers both UV protection and shatter-resistance.
At home, some of the everyday activities that we do can pose a danger to the eyes. Things such as mowing the lawn, woodworking, and using strong household chemicals require safety goggles. Non-prescription safety goggles can be found in some hardware stores and depending on the type of glasses, prescription lenses can be put into them.
Even though a majority of patients in this age range are healthy and have good correctable vision, there are always issues and pitfalls are present at work and home that can lead to vision loss. Staying healthy with routine medical care in conjunction with coordinated eye care will help you optimize your vision and eye health.

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. Visit our website at: ww.alamooptometry.com.

August 11, 2009

School-Aged Vision

Filed under: Vision Care Tips — Tags: , — admin @ 11:34 pm

School-Aged Vision

(As appeared in Alamo Today, August 2009, pg. 30)

In our second installment of vision and eye health throughout our lifetime, this month we will discuss the needs of a school-aged child. In contrast to preschool kids, school-age children are required to use their eyes and vision not only learning, but for comprehension, extended times of visual attention, and sports. From learning to read in the early years to taking notes and transitioning quickly between the board to your paperwork in junior high and high school the visual demands placed on a student are many and varied.
To be able to succeed in school, good vision is paramount. According to the American Optometric Association, it has been estimated that nearly 80% of learning occurs through the eyes. However, about 20% of school-aged children struggle to read. Some of these children suffer from learning disabilities that inhibit their ability to read. And some children are labeled as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), because an undetected vision problem can have the same signs and symptoms as ADHD. Obviously these children will have problems with learning, but sadly a large portion of children have vision difficulties that are interfering with reading.
The major thing to know as parents is that vision is more than just seeing 20/20. Obviously that is important, but you also need the ability to understand and respond to what is seen. Every child needs to have the following skills to effective read and learn: visual acuity, eye focusing, eye tracking, eye teaming, eye-hand coordination, and visual perception. If any or all of these necessary skills are lacking, your child will have to work harder to compensate. This can lead to headaches, fatigue, and inattention to detail.
As children progress in school, they face increasing demands on their visual abilities. The size of print in schoolbooks becomes smaller and the amount of time spent reading and studying increases significantly. When the visual abilities of the child are unable to keep up, learning becomes difficult and frustrating. When this occurs, children will start to avoid reading and other near work or attempt to do the work with lower efficiency, and experience discomfort, fatigue, and a short attention span.
Keep in mind that a child might not always tell their parents that they have a vision problem because they assume that is the way everyone sees or struggles to see. Some signs to look for that your child might have a vision problem include: frequent eye rubbing or blinking, avoiding reading, headaches, covering or favoring one eye, tilting the head to read, seeing double, consistently losing place when reading, and lower reading comprehension.
In addition to the vision requirements for school and learning, sports and recreation activities also come with their own vision issues. Besides good vision, depth perception, wide peripheral vision, and effective eye-hand coordination are essential for success in any sport. If appropriate, contact lenses offer an effective means of correcting any vision issues while allowing for the freedom of running and exercising without the hassle of glasses. For those who are not interested in contacts, sports goggles are also a great option. These are becoming more fashion-forward and are impact resistant. The lenses should be made in polycarbonate, which are shatter-proof. In addition, they can be tinted for day games, or have transitions lenses (which turn from clear to dark) for more versatility. Regardless of the type of glasses or sunglasses, your child should have UV protection. Children receive about 75% of their entire UV exposure for their lifetime by the time they are 18. More children should be wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and have UV protection in their everyday glasses.
Vision changes can occur without your child or you noticing them. We recommend a comprehensive eye exam at the latest before entering Kindergarten, and then every 1-2 years thereafter, unless otherwise directed. Keep in mind, the earlier a problem is found and treated, the higher the success rate and improvement in your child’s education and well-being.

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. Visit our website at: ww.alamooptometry.com.

July 1, 2009

Preschool Vision

Filed under: Educational — Tags: — admin @ 11:33 pm

Preschool Vision

(As appeared in Alamo Today, July 2009, pg. 30)

Over the next few months, I will be addressing vision and eye health needs by age group. Each age group has its own needs and challenges. Whether it is dealing with crossed eyes as a youngster, presbyopia (needing reading help) in your 40’s, or macular degeneration in your later years, everyone needs to maximize and preserve their vision and eye health. This month we will start young and discuss preschoolers between 2 to 5 years of age.
During the preschool years, your child will be fine-tuning the vision they have already developed during the infant and toddler years. Young preschoolers pedal, steer and watch where they’re going at the same time. Older preschoolers are learning how to use more sophisticated sports equipment such as baseball bats and baseballs and working on the fine motor skills needed to write their names. Preschoolers depend on their vision to learn tasks that will prepare them for school. They are developing eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, and visual perceptual abilities necessary to learn to read and write.
Approximately 10% of preschoolers have eye or vision problems, but rarely complain because they assume that the world is blurry or distorted because they have nothing else to compare it to. This is generally the time when parents need to be on the look out for vision problems like crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye. Strabismus involves one or both eyes turning inward or outward. Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a lack of clear vision in one eye, which cannot be fully corrected with glasses. Amblyopia can be caused by many things including strabismus, a very high prescription, having a large difference in prescription between the eyes, disease, and trauma. If not treated early enough, the amblyopic eye does not develop normally and good vision may be permanently lost.
Parents also need to look for refractive errors like farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism in their preschoolers by watching for any of these warning signs: consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close, squinting, tilting the head to see better, frequent eye rubbing when your child is not sleepy, sensitivity to light, excessive tearing, closing one eye to read, and avoiding activities which require near vision, such as coloring or reading, or distance vision, such as playing ball or tag.
Make sure your child receives a comprehensive eye exam from an eye care practitioner, not just screenings from school nurses or pediatricians. Screenings may help spot problems, but they can easily miss them, too, because they are not complete tests. Passing a vision screening can give parents a false sense of security. Many screenings only assess one or two areas of vision. Generally they do not evaluate color vision, eye health, and how well the eyes work and focus together. In addition, screenings are typically administered by people who don’t have enough eye-specific training in order to catch all vision and eye health problems.
If your child exhibits no symptoms of a refractive error or other visual problems, he or she should have an eye exam by the age of 6 months, then again at age 3, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). Having a complete eye exam before the child enters school allows enough time to catch and correct any problems while the visual system retains its flexibility.
We believe an eye exam in necessary for the social and academic growth of your child. An exam should definitely be done in their preschool years, but absolutely before entering Kindergarten. We recommend scheduling the eye exam at a time that’s good for your child. Some kids are more focused early in the day, while others come to life after lunch or an afternoon nap. Our office and staff are very child and family-centered. We have a toy box, books, and coloring books to help occupy your child and other siblings during the examination.

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., #165 in Alamo. Visit our website at: www.alamooptometry.com.

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 www.alamooptometry.com, 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.

March 2, 2009

Conjunctivitis

Filed under: Vision Care Tips — Tags: — admin @ 11:28 pm

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

(As appeared in Alamo Today, March 2009, pg. 35)

This is the time of the year when we are all fighting the winter colds and flus. The same bacteria and viruses that cause these illnesses also cause conjunctivitis. It is very common for different family members or co-workers to either have the upper respiratory infection or the conjunctivitis, or both.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis, often called “pink eye,” is a common eye disease, especially in children. It may affect one or both eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis can be highly contagious and easily spread in schools and at home. While conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, sometimes it can develop into a more serious problem.
Conjunctivitis may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. It can also occur due to an allergic reaction to irritants in the air like pollen and smoke, chlorine in swimming pools, and ingredients in cosmetics or other products that come in contact with the eyes. Bacterial conjunctivitis is an infection most often caused by staph. or strep. bacteria from your own skin or respiratory system. Infection can also occur by transmittal from insects, physical contact with other people, poor hygiene (touching the eye with unclean hands), or by use of contaminated eye makeup and facial lotions.
Viral conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by contagious viruses associated with the common cold. The primary means of contracting this is through exposure to coughing or sneezing by persons with upper respiratory tract infections. It can also occur as the virus spreads along the body’s own mucous membranes.
Practicing good hygiene is the best way to control the spread of conjunctivitis. Once an infection has been diagnosed, follow these steps:
Don’t touch your eyes with your hands.
Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
Change your towel and washcloth daily, and don’t share them with others.
Discard eye cosmetics, particularly mascara.
Don’t use anyone else’s eye cosmetics or personal eye-care items.
Follow your eye doctor’s instructions on proper contact lens care.
For allergic conjunctivitis, avoid rubbing your eyes. Instead of warm compresses, use cool compresses to soothe your eyes. Over the counter eye drops are available. Antihistamine eye drops should help to alleviate the symptoms, and lubricating eye drops help to rinse the allergen off of the surface of the eye.
At our office, conjunctivitis can be diagnosed through a focused office visit. Testing, with special emphasis on evaluation of the conjunctiva and surrounding tissues, will include:
Patient history to determine the symptoms the patient is experiencing, when the symptoms began, and the presence of any general health or environmental conditions that may be contributing to the problem.
Visual acuity measurements to determine the extent to which vision may be affected.
Evaluation of the conjunctiva and external eye tissue using an optometric microscope.
Evaluation of the inner structures of the eye to ensure that no other tissues are affected by the condition.

Even though the diagnosis of conjunctivitis is relatively straightforward, the cause of the condition is often more difficult. Depending on the exact signs and symptoms, several different kinds of causes can overlap. In addition, other more serious issues such as a foreign body in the eye or a corneal infection can initially cause some of the symptoms of conjunctivitis, but needs to be treated in a different manner. We are able to diagnose, treat, and manage all forms of conjunctivitis due to our extensive training and equipment that allows us to see very clearly the structures of the eye. We have same-day appointments for any type of emergency visit.

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.

January 14, 2009

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

Filed under: Vision Care Tips — Tags: — admin @ 11:22 pm

(As appeared in Alamo Today January 2008 edition, pg.34)

Computer eyestrain affects more than 70 percent of the approximately 143 million Americans who work on a computer on a daily basis, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). Eyestrain and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome don’t occur only in adults. Millions of children work at a computer and/or play video games every day, either at home or in school. Prolonged computer and gaming device viewing can stress a child’s eyes and may affect normal vision.

Computer eyestrain and computer vision syndrome are caused by our eyes and brain reacting differently to characters on a computer screen than they do to printed characters. Our eyes have little problem focusing on printed material that has dense black characters with well-defined edges. But characters on a computer screen don’t have the same degree of contrast and definition. CVS is caused by our eyes and brain reacting differently to characters on a computer screen than they do to printed characters. Words on a computer screen are created by combinations of tiny points of light (pixels), which are brightest at the center and diminish in intensity toward their edges. This makes it more difficult for our eyes to maintain focus on these images. If you or your child spend more than two hours per day in front of a computer screen, it’s likely you will experience some degree of computer vision syndrome. Symptoms of CVS include: headaches, burning and tired eyes, blurred vision, double vision, and neck and shoulder pain.

There are several things you can do to help with the symptoms of CVS. First, attempt to cut down on the glare at your screen by altering the lighting near your desk. Next, keep your head above the level of your monitor. This will allow you to be more ergonomically situated and reduce neck and shoulder strain. Permit yourself to take breaks from the monitor. Allow for a short 1-minute period of rest about every 30 minutes; look out a window, down the hall, get a drink of water, or just close your eyes to allow you to defocus from the monitor. Lastly, stay hydrated. We recommend drinking plenty of water, and using lubricating drops as needed. It is also recommended to reduce your caffeine intake, as it is a diuretic and dries your eyes out further.

However, the most important thing is to make sure you have computer prescription glasses, either single vision or progressives. Having an up-to-date prescription can definitely reduce the amount of strain and focusing necessary for continued monitor work. In addition, lenses with a good antiglare coating will not only make your lenses cosmetically look better, but will reduce about 95% of the glare from your monitor. Finally, studies are showing that low tints on the lenses will filter out some of the unnecessary light entering the eye, therefore making vision a little bit easier.

Since computer vision syndrome and playing video games is a mainstay in today’s society, we are introducing Gunnar Optiks glasses to the office. These specialized glasses are made with computer-specific tints and coatings to help reduce much of the symptoms of CVS. They can have no prescription (if you currently wear contact lenses), or can be made with your specific prescription in either single vision lenses or progressives. In addition to the prescription, coatings, and yellow tint, the frames have a high wrap, which helps control against airflow near the eyes, and allows the eyes to remain moist. Our display has most of the frames to try on with a computer screen so you can see the results for yourself.

We are finding more and more that CVS is not a condition for adults only. Children, with an increased amount of computer and video game use, are just as likely to have symptoms as adults. CVS requires a multi-factorial approach; ergonomics, current eyewear with coatings, staying hydrated, and taking breaks will all help to alleviate these problems. We are more than happy to discuss your optical and ocular health options and what would work best for you at your exam.

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.

December 1, 2008

Insurance and Flexible Spending Accounts

Filed under: Educational — Tags: — admin @ 11:20 pm

(As appeared in Alamo Today Dec 2008 edition, pg.28)

People are often confused when it comes to insurance. Sometimes with your medical insurance comes a vision reimbursement plan; you are allowed a certain amount every year and you get reimbursed from your insurance company. However, most patients have separate medical and vision coverage. There are many companies offering vision insurance, the most common is Vision Service Plan (VSP). In addition, if you have Kaiser for your medical coverage, you might have VSP for vision coverage, so you can go to any private office for your eye care. The nice thing about vision insurance is that it tends to be simpler than medical insurance. No referrals are needed; regardless of what type of insurance you have from VSP to Medicare, you can visit the doctor of your choice with no prior authorization required.

Our office only directly bills VSP and Medicare; however, if you have another insurance, we are happy to have you as a patient. At the end of your visit, we will give you an itemized receipt to submit for possible reimbursement. As for VSP, annual exams are covered with a small office co-pay. In addition, an allowance and discounts for glasses or contact lenses are usually permitted annually, depending on the individual plan. With VSP, you use your benefits or you lose it, you can’t go back and utilize unused benefits from the past. Also, full VSP benefits can only be used at private offices, not at commercial stores like Costco and Lenscrafters, or online for contacts. If we are unable to help you find the glasses for you, we recommend at least you find an office where your benefits can be fully utilized.

As for Medicare, it will cover the medical portion of the exam, not the refraction (the determination of your eyeglass prescription). Medicare only has benefits for glasses after cataract surgery. If you have already met your annual deductible, Medicare will cover a good portion of the exam.

There are many instances where a medical eye problem would bring you to the office. When the visit involves a medical condition (red eye, infection, foreign body, allergies), a majority of the time the bill can be submitted to the medical plan for reimbursement. Since optometrists can treat most ocular medical conditions, patients can be seen at our office instead of going to their primary care doctor or emergency room. In addition, some VSP plans also contain a provision called Primary Eye Care, which covers medical visits for only a $5 co-pay. Since we have the necessary equipment and training to handle most eye conditions, you can feel comfortable using our office for your medical visits as well as for your annual exams.

Finally, it is that time of year where Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) need to be used before the end of the calendar year, or the benefits will be lost. A FSA plan allows employees to take out money pre-tax to help pay for qualifying medical bills. These include doctor visits, office co-pays, prescription drugs, surgery, and dental bills. In addition, all glasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses are controlled by federal regulations and are considered medical devices. Any purchase of these materials can be used using your FSA. We will give you a detailed receipt for you to submit to your Human Resources Department for reimbursement.

It is our job to help explain your benefits to you and how to best utilize your coverage. If you have any questions regarding your insurance or FSA reimbursement, we would be more than happy to assist you.

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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