Patient Education

Sport Vision | Senior Vision | Kids Vision | Vision Conditions | Common Diseases | Dry Eyes | Key Terms

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Your vision changes throughout your lifetime. To learn more about what effects your vision please read our helpful Patient Education topics.

Sport Vision

Like speed and strength, vision is an important component in how well you play your sport.

And there is much more to vision than just seeing clearly. Your vision is composed of many interrelated skills that can affect how well you play your sport. However, just as exercise and practice can increase your speed and strength, it can also improve your visual fitness and accuracy.

Because all sports have different visual demands, an optometrist with expertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper eyeglasses or contact lenses, or design a vision therapy program to maximize your visual skills for your specific sport. Remember, a thorough eye examination by your doctor of optometry is a great place to begin “getting the winning edge.”

Eye protection should also be a major concern to all athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports. Thousands of children and adults suffer sports-related eye injuries each year, and nearly all can be prevented by using the proper protective eyewear. Especially for sports played outdoors, appropriate sunglasses are a must, and some sport-specific designs may even help you improve your game. Ask your optometrist which type is best suitedfor your favorite sport.

Senior Vision

For many people, the age of 40 marks a slow decline in vision to the point where we might need glasses for reading and end up having a pair of “readers” in every room.

This is a normal part of aging that usually doesn’t reduce our enjoyment of life or our independence. Unfortunately there are other conditions that can affect our senior’s eyesight even to the point of blindness as they age that are best treated if caught early. Everyone is at greater risk of eye disease as they age. Therefore, we want to highlight a few of these as we celebrate National Vision Month.

  • Macular Degeneration – common among people aged 60 years and older and the leading cause of vision loss at this age, this condition affects the part of the eye that help see objects clearly. There are two forms: dry and wet. Treatment will slow the loss of vision but will not fully restore it.
  • Cataracts – a clouding of the lens of the eyes, it is very common in older adults. Usually this vision impairment can be restored with surgery for lens implants.
  • Diabetic retinopathy – this is common in people who have diabetes and is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina, it can be helped with good blood sugar control or if more advanced, treated with laser surgery
  • Low vision-vision impairment that even with correction of eyeglasses, surgery, contact lenses or medications everyday tasks are very difficult to accomplish. This lost vision cannot be restored but can be treated by a specialist.
  • Glaucoma – a condition where the optic nerve becomes damaged causing difficulty transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain often a result of increased pressure in the eye, this is the second leading cause of blindness in the US, treatment focuses on reducing the pressure in the eye with medications or surgery

Everyone over 50 years should get a dilated eye exam and have annual exams from an eye care specialist. A dilated exam will allow your doctor to identify any conditions early so that your senior can get the treatment he or she needs to maintain their vision as long as possible.

Childrens Vision

Current research shows that about 20% of school-aged children have undetected vision problems which are hindering their school performance.

Many of these children have passed their school’s vision screening, which is only designed to check children’s distance vision as measured by the 20/20 line on the eye chart. Unfortunately, school screenings don’t check to see if children can coordinate both their eyes as a team, track print across a written page without losing their place, or comfortably adjust focus when looking from near to far away. Children can have 20/20 eyesight, meaning normal distance vision, and still have vision problems in other areas. This makes it critically important to have your child’s eyes checked by a professional every year.

Vision Conditions

Normal Vision: With normal vision everything you see is clear and in focus, as in this picture.

You might hear this called 20/20 vision. That means that you can see clearly at 20 feet what most people with normal vision can see.

Nearsighted (Myopia): Nearsighted people’s vision is blurry at a distance. They might see something like this picture when they look at things far away.
Nearsightedness occurs when the eye has too much “plus power” and the eye focuses the light in front of the retina.

Farsighted (Hyperopia): Farsighted people’s vision is blurry close up. They might see something like this picture when they try to read or do close-up work.
Farsightedness occurs because the eye does not have enough power to focus light on the retina.

Astigmatism: People with an astigmatism don’t see clearly at any distance. Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is not spherical. This causes the light that enters the eye to be focused at two different focal points in the eye.

Information courtesy of the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Common Eye Diseases

Age-related Macular Degeneration: Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the US. It is caused by changes in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for clear vision. As this condition advances, a distorted, dark or empty space appears in the center of view, as in the image to the right. Contact your eye doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms. After age 60 the American Optometric Association recommends an annual comprehensive eye examination.

Cataract: A cataract is the clouding of all or part of your eye’s lens. Your lens is normally clear. See your eye doctor if you think you may have cataracts. This condition is most often found in people over 55 but can occur in younger individuals. The cause of cataracts is not known but the cloudy lens is a result of a chemical change in the eye. This may be due to age, heredity, injury or disease. If you have cataracts, your eye doctor will be able to discuss treatment options with you. Cataracts can be removed by an eye surgeon by replacing your eye’s lens with an artificial lens.

Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is one of many health problems that can be caused by diabetes. This eye disease is caused by the leaking, swelling or branching of the small blood vessels in the retina. As diabetic retinopathy progresses, you may notice your vision is cloudy and you might develop blind spots or floaters. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness. Have your eyes examined regularly, especially if you or a family member has diabetes. Laser and other eye surgery can slow the progress of the disease and decrease the risk of blindness. However, early treatment is important. If you have diabetes, follow your doctors advice and get regular eye examinations.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma is caused by an increase in the internal pressure of the eye. The increase in pressure can damage the fibers in your optic nerve. This pressure occurs when the passages in your eye that normally drain fluid become blocked or clogged. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the US. Glaucoma can not be prevented but it can be controlled through treatment if it is diagnosed early. The American Optometric Association recommends that you have yearly examinations if you are at risk of glaucoma.

Retinitis Pigmentosa: Retinitis pigmentosa is a condition of the retina where the cells called rods degenerate over time. This is a condition that is inherited from your parents. As the disease progresses, individuals lose their ability to see in low light conditions and over time they may lose their peripheral vision. See your eye doctor if you think you have retinitis pigmentosa or if you have a family history of this disease.

Information courtesy of the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

Key Terms

Cornea: The cornea is a clear, dome shaped covering and it serves as the eye’s main lens.
Fovea: The fovea is located in the center of the macula, it is where vision is the most acute.
Iris: The iris controls the amount of light entering the eye. The color of the eye depends on the color of the iris.
Lens: The lens is secondary to the cornea and is used for fine tuning the focus.
Macula: The macula is a small, sensitive area of the central retina used for fine visual skills such as reading.
Optic Nerve: The optic nerve carries the signals from the retina to your brain. The brain translates this visual information into images that you see.
Retina: The eye focuses light on the retina. The retina is where light receptor cells translate light into signals that go to the brain.
Cones and Rods are specialized light-sensitive cells (photoreceptors) in the retina. Cones provide sharp central vision and color vision. Rods handle side vision and vision in dim lighting conditions.

Sclera: The sclera is the thick, white outer layer of the eyeball and it serves as protection along with the cornea.

What is Dry Eyes Syndrome?

Dry eyes syndrome is caused when the tears produced by the eyes are insufficient in moisture, lubrication, and other features that help keep the eyes remain protected. Dry eyes may also be stimulated by environmental aspects such as weather that irritate the eye and dry up tears. People with dry eyes often feel discomfort in a variety of forms including irritation, inflammation, or the feeling of something in the eye. People with dry eyes tend to have the uncomfortable feelings and symptoms for a longer period of time where as dry eyes for a person who works on a computer frequently maybe more short term. Treatments for minor degrees of dry eyes may not be as efficacious for chronic dry eyes because of the deviating causes.

How Do Tears Prevent Dry Eyes?

Tears are a major protective agent for the eyes. Tears not only wash away dust from the eyes, but also soothe the eyes, provide oxygen and nutrients to the cornea, as well as help defend against eye infections by removing microorganisms that can colonize in the eyes. Tears are of composed of three distinctive layers. The outer lipid section consists of an oily film that counters evaporation and keeps the eye moistened. The middle region is made of mostly water that moisturizes the eyes and some nutrients and proteins that assist in limiting eye infections. The inner coating contains mucous that allows the tear film to spread and reduces evaporation from the eye. The importance of tears is also shown by all the over the counter medication that uses eye drops, ointments, or oral capsules designed to either keep the eye moisturized or copy the role of tears.

Visit our eye doctor to learn what may be the best treatment for your dry eyes.