Category Archives: Vision


There are many eye disorders that adults and children have that are widely understood and discussed. Most of us understand the concept of being nearsighted and farsighted. Astigmatism, however, is probably one of the more confusing and misunderstood eye problems.  Not only is the vision problem commonly mispronounced but its origin and type of problem is widely misconstrued.  Let’s examine the eye problem astigmatism, what it is and how eye doctors treat it.

What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a fairly common refractive error occurring in about 28% of the population. Refractive errors often are the main reason a person seeks the services of an optometrist or ophthalmologist. What a refractive error means is that the person is seeing blurry because optical imperfections are preventing the eye from properly focusing/bending (refracting) light. The primary refractive errors are nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

The Cause of Astigmatism –

The eye’s ability to focus/bend light sharply on the retina primarily is based on three eye anatomy features: 1) the overall length of the eye, 2) the curvature of the cornea and 3) the curvature of the lens inside the eye. Astigmatism occurs when he cornea is not perfectly spherical, then the image is refracted or focused irregularly on the retina. A person can be nearsighted or farsighted with or without astigmatism.

Treatment for Astigmatism

An eye specialist can determine the extent of your refraction problem by using a computerized instrument (automated refraction) or with a mechanical instrument called a phoropter. These methods allow the doctor to show you one lens at a time to find the right refraction for your eye.  Your eye doctor will use the results of your refraction to determine your eyeglasses prescription which can mean eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you prefer contact lenses a special fitting can also help find the right prescription for your eye.  There is also refractive surgery that can assist in these types of cases.  Talk to your eye doctor about what is right for your unique eyes.

Contact Independent Eye Care in Danvers, Beverly or Topsfield.

Danvers: 978-774-4500     Beverly: 978-921-5000     Topsfield: 978-887-0068

Optometrist vs Opthamologist

What is the difference between an Optometrist and an Opthamologist? We get this question quite a bit and the terms seem to confuse many people.  So we thought our blog might be a great place to explain the differences. Ophthalmologists and optometrists each play an important role in providing eye care to patients. Let’s look at the different jobs and services each eye care professional can offer.  

A Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)  is a medical professional but not a physician.  Most optometrists spend four or more years after getting their college degree getting an advanced degree in optometry.  Still other optometrists undergo additional clinical training after optometry school. They focus on regular vision care and prescribe eyeglasses and contacts. Optometrists are trained to diagnose and treat vision conditions like farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism, as well as fit and prescribe contact lenses and prescription eyeglass lenses. In the past couple of decades optometry has become much more than just eye exams and rather more medically oriented. Optometrists now receive rigorous and comprehensive training in not just optics and refractions, but also the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease, as well as other systemic conditions that can affect vision and eye health.

Opthamologists are M.D.s are physicians. After medical school Ophthalmologists did an internship and residency in the eye field for three or more years.  This type of medical doctor provides complete eye care including: vision services, eye surgery for diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma, medical care for disease such as iritis, and other eye disorders. They can also perform surgery for drooping eyelids, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

When it is time to get your eyes checked make sure you are seeing someone you feel comfortable with and trust.  Independent Eye Care can help you with your eye care needs and find you the right doctor for the job.

Foods that Promote Healthy Vision

Remember when your mom nagged you to eat all of the carrots on your dinner plate because they “helped keep your eyes healthy?”  My mom also told me that if I made funny faces that it might freeze that way.  Well, while she may have been wrong about the frozen ugly face she was definitely right about certain food promoting a healthy body and ultimately healthy vision.  I know you hate to hear it, but, your mom was right about those carrots at dinner.  The Beta-carotene (a type of vitamin A) in carrots and other orange veggies promotes good eye health specifically aiding the retina and other parts of the eye to function smoothly.  But eating for good eye sight is not just about orange veggies or Beta-carotene.  Let’s look at some of the other foods that help promote good eye health.

  • Oranges. Oranges and all of their citrus cousins — grapefruit, tangerines, and lemons — are high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that is critical to eye health. Scientists have found that your eyes need relatively high levels of vitamin C to function properly, and antioxidants can prevent or at least delay cataracts and AMD. (Source: Eye Smart)
  • Kale and Spinach – One cup of either of these cooked veggies is packed with more than 20 milligrams of lutein and zeaxanthin—two nutrients that do wonders for your eyes. These nutrients have been shown to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. (Source:  US News and World Report)
  • Nuts and Seeds – Just one ounce of sunflower seeds or almonds could get you 1/3 the daily allowance of vitamin E that can protect the cells in our eyes from free radicals and slows the progression of cataracts and age-related macular generation.
  • Fish – Salmon, tuna, mackerel or anchovies are filled with essential fatty acids that do your whole body good, including your eyes, Some studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acid from cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and halibut reduce the risk of developing eye disease later in life. A 2010 study from Johns Hopkins found that people who had a diet high in omega-3 fatty acid were much less likely to develop AMD. (Source: Eye Smart)
  • Olive Oil– A diet that is low in trans and saturated fat helps prevent retina diseases.  Several studies suggest that a Mediterranean-style diet (fish, plant-based foods, and healthy fats) is recommended for healthy vision. Not only is olive oil free of trans fats and is low in saturated fat. (Source: Cooking Light)


Importance of Sunglasses

Sure, sunglasses make you look pretty cool and sophisticated during these hot summer months.  With all the new styles and fashions, wearing a slick pair of shades has never been so “in” before. But, did you know that “looking good”  merely scratches the surface of the benefits and importance of wearing UV protected sunglasses?  Let’s look at the top reasons why every child and adult should make a practice of wearing sunglasses regularly.

  •  Safe From Debris  – Sunglasses can help shield eyes from flying debris whether it is sand at the beach or dust and dirt around the yard.  Physical damage to eyes can mean a loss of sight or damage to the outer covering of the eye called the cornea.
  • Less Eye Strain – The sun makes us naturally squint to block the suns rays.  Squinting and straining to see can be detrimental to your eyes as well as the skin around the eyes.  Think crows feet!
  • Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer – According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “The eyelid region is one of the most common sites for nonmelanoma skin cancers.”  10% of all skin cancers are found on the eyelid.  Sunglasses with a protective coating that can block the harmful rays of the sun and can help reduce that percentage.
  • Protect the Structures of the Eye – Ultraviolet rays from sun exposure can cause a number of eye health problems including cataracts and macular degeneration. Long-term exposure to UV rays without any eye protection may lead to these problems. Just like you would not go out without sunscreen on your skin, don’t go out without eye protection.
  • Reduce Sun Glare – As drivers, we have all had the occasion when the sun gets in our eyes and momentarily blinds us from properly seeing the road.  Sunglasses can cut down on that glare and keep our vision safe while taking part in a high risk activity like driving.

Dry Eye Syndrome

According to the American Optometrist Association, “Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.” Let’s look at causes, symptoms and potential treatments.

Persistent dryness, scratchiness, red eyes and a burning sensation are common symptoms of dry eyes. Many of us experience these symptoms at some point or other in our lives but certain characteristics such as age, gender and use of medications may make some people more susceptible to dry eye.

  • Age– Dry eye is an unfortunate part of the aging process for many people.  Seniors over 65 experience dry eyes at some point or another.  Persistent and continued problems with dry eye should be looked at by your eye doctor.
  • Gender – Due to hormonal changes women tend to experience dry eye more often then men. Menopause seems to be a key time for the initial symptoms to appear in women.
  • Medications – Certain medications can reduce the amount of tear production such as: antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants.

There are also environmental factors that may cause dry eye.  These include:

  • Living in a dry, dusty or windy climate.
  • Working or living in an environment with dry air conditioning and or heating.
  • Long-term contact lens wear – in fact it is the most common complaint of contact lens users.
  • Insufficient blinking, such as when you’re staring at a computer screen all day is also an environmental factor.

Treatment – Depending upon the severity of the dry eye your doctor will try several treatments to reduce the symptoms. One of the primary approaches used to manage and treat mild cases of dry eyes is adding tears using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. Tear duct plugs are an alternative treatment to help conserve tears. Prescription eye drops that help to increase production of tears can be recommended by your optometrist, as well as omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplements. Be sure to visit your eye doctor if any of these symptoms occur regularly to discuss an appropriate course of treatment.





Healthy Habits for Good Vision

Most of us know that to maintain good health we need to get regular exercise, eat the right amount of fruits and veggies, drink plenty of water and get an appropriate amount of sleep each night.  What a lot of of us overlook is our precious eye health.   Don’t take your eyes for granted.  Protect your sight with these simple healthy habits to maintain good vision.

  • Quit Smoking – Smoking makes you more likely to get cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration. If you’ve tried to quit smoking before and started smoking again, keep trying. Enlist the help of friends, coworkers and, of course your doctor. The more times you try to quit smoking, the more likely you are to succeed.
  • Wear Eye Protection – The right kind of sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Look for blocking protection at 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
    Too much exposure to the sun’s damaging rays can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration. If you work in conditions that could be hazardous or with airborne materials then wear safety goggle every time.  If you play sports such as basketball, hockey, lacrosse or practically any other, you are at a higher risk for an eye injury.  Wear sport protective glasses.
  • Eat Vision Healthy Foods – Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help ward off age related vision problems.  Try these food to maintain good vision: Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards, Salmon, tuna, and other oily fish, Eggs, nuts, beans, and other non-meat protein sources, Oranges and other citrus fruits or juices.
  • Take Eye Breaks – People who stare at a computer screen all day can suffer from eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes and headaches to name a few problems. Take frequent and regular breaks by looking away from the screen.
  • Regular Eye Exams – Children and adults alike need regular eye exams to catch any eye problems early.  Diseases tat are caught early on are easier to treat.  Get regular annual check-ups. Contact Independent Eye Care for your next visit!

Digital Eye Strain

In today’s technology driven world, people of all ages interact with digital equipment everyday. Smartphones, tablets, laptop computers, and gaming systems all generate small images that are often positioned too close to the eye and are being used for extended periods of time resulting in digital eye strain or computer vision syndromeMost of today’s youth have never known a time without these devices, making them susceptible as well, if not more so. Symptoms include red, dry or irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and soreness in the back, neck and shoulders.

Using the 20-20-20 break method will help reduce the negative effects of using these electronic components. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, and shift your gaze to something 20 feet away. Also remember to blink more often. Intent concentration and staring at a digital screen can reduce the number of times you blink, making your eyes dry. Take a break, and blink!


Focus on Good Vision

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to focus on good vision. Having a complete comprehensive eye examination with our professional Optometrists is the first step to evaluating the overall health of your eyes and ensuring better vision. With three locations and Saturday appointments, we strive to provide the personal service associated with a private eye care facility.

After receiving a thorough exam, patients can immediately visit our onsite optical showroom. There our licensed opticians and staff take the time to work one on one with patients, ask questions, create a more personable experience and obtain better understand each patient’s individual needs.  Each location boasts a wide variety of eyeglass frames, including many popular brand names.

Your vision is our number one priority and it is our mission to help you see the world clearer with a precise prescription and custom-fit eyewear.