Category Archives: eye disorders

Signs Your Child Needs Glasses

When your child is of a very young age, it can be difficult to tell if they are having difficulty with their vision or are simply developing strange habits. It can be especially difficult to tell if your child is having vision difficulty if they have yet to learn how to speak. Because of this, we have gathered some common vision impairment signs.

  1.     Getting too close to objects. This is usually a more common concern for parents. If your child is sitting too close to the T.V. or holding objects close up to their face in order to see, they could be near sighted.
  2.     Are constantly squinting or closing an eye. These are other common signs of vision impairment. If your child is doing this, it can be because they are trying to reduce blurred vision or they are trying to cover the poorer vision. These are signs of amblyopia, strabismus or cataract.
  3.     Tilt their head to see. When children constantly tilt their heads when looking at object, it could be to help reduce double vision. If this is the case, they could have an eye muscle imbalance, also known as strabismus.
  4.     Are constantly rubbing eyes. This can be a sign of tiredness or eye fatigue. If this is constantly occurring, it could be a sign of allergic conjunctivitis.
  5.     Teary eyes. This is common for children whose eyelids don’t completely close when they’re asleep. This can cause dry eyes and vision impairment.

If any of these signs are common or visible in your child, schedule an eye exam to help correct their vision and help them see more clearly!


What Your Prescription Means

If you are one of the estimated 11 million Americans that has a common vision problem such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, then you probably have a prescription for corrective eyewear such as glasses or contact lenses. Do you understand what your script is for and what it means about your vision?

The common eye disorders mentioned above are known as refractive errors and they occur when the eye doesn’t correctly bend, or refract, light as it enters the eye. Let’s take a look at each of these and what it means about your prescription.

The first step to understanding your eyeglass prescription is knowing what “OD” and OS” mean. They are abbreviations for oculus dexter and oculus sinister, which are Latin terms for right eye and left eye. Your eyeglass prescription also may have a column labeled “OU.” This is the abbreviation for the Latin term oculus uterque, which means “both eyes.”

  • Nearsightedness or myopia is when light enters the cornea and is refracted, or “sent” to a spot in the eye before reaching the retina. For people who are nearsighted, the light waves are sent to the wrong place on the retina. Nearsighted is a condition where objects up close appear clearly, while objects far away appear blurry. The extent or amount that a patient is will be denoted in the number on the prescription. If the number appearing under the heading sphere has a minus sign (–), you are nearsighted.
  • Farsightedness or hyperopia means that the light is refracted to a place beyond the retina. Farsightedness means that items far away are clear, but activities like reading and knitting are difficult, because nearby objects appear fuzzy or unfocused. Some people may not notice any problems with their vision, especially when they are young. If the number appearing under the heading sphere on your prescription has a plus sign, you are farsighted.
  • Astigmatism is another refractive error, distorting objects both near and far, so that everything appears out of focus and skewed.

Call Independent Eye Care to have your annual exam and find out more about your prescription.

Signs Your Need an Eye Exam

When should you go to the eye doctor? Once a year, twice a year, every other year? Well, the answer is different for each individual. Typically evaluations every two years should allow for proper vision assessment. However, there are some medical conditions, like diabetes, eye traumas, certain prescriptions or a family history of eye disorders that require more frequent visits. What are some common signs that you should make an eye appointment soon?  If you experience any of these signs, don’t chalk it up to age or exhaustion, call your doctor and arrange for an eye exam as soon as possible.

  • Sudden Change of Vision – Sudden blurry vision or focus problems can be a sign of a larger health issue and should always be taken seriously. If the blurry vision comes and goes, or is limited to one eye, you should schedule an exam as soon as possible.
  • Eye Pain – Eye pain can be caused by seasonal allergies, a cold, or lack of sleep. If the pain is ongoing or increases in strength, call your eye doctor immediately.
  • Light Sensitivity –  Light sensitivity can be a symptom of a number of disorders or eye diseases (as well as an eye infection.) If you find yourself shying away from fluorescent light or sunlight consider making an appointment to get it looked at.
  • Headaches – While headaches could mean any number of medical conditions, frequent headaches could indicate a vision problem.  It is a good idea to rule out eye issues as a cause of the headaches. An eye exam can rule out any serious eye conditions.
  • Floaters or Flashes – Seeing dots floating may be fairly common, but if they increase in frequency or are accompanied by flashes or obstruction of vision call your doctor or head to the emergency room immediately.  This is a sign of a retinal problem that may be serious.
  • Last Eye Exam – if you can not remember the last time you had an eye exam then maybe it is time to set up an appointment.

When to Visit the Eye Doctor

Coming up with excuses of why not to get a regular eye exam is easy: too busy, no insurance, need to find a new doctor, and the list goes on and on. But there are many reasons why getting a regular exam is a good idea. The eyes are more than just a window to the soul, they also are a good place to look for signs of trouble brewing in your body such as diabetes or high blood pressure. So when should you see an eye doctor to get a check up and complete vision exam?

Ideally, one eye exam every year should help you to stay on top of your eye health, but some people might need to schedule more than one exam in a year. Vision can change quite a bit over the course of a year, especially for those over the age of 50, and it is important to know when you need to schedule an exam.

Signs you need an eye exam soon:

  • Your eyes are red, dry, itchy, or you are seeing spots, flashes of light, or floaters.
  • You have diabetes or another health condition, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, that affects your eyes.
  • Your family has a history of conditions like diabetes or glaucoma (you may need exams more often).
  • You can’t remember when you last had an eye exam. If it’s been longer than a year, you’re overdue. Yearly exams are a must for most people.
  • You have difficulty driving at night and seeing street signs in the dark.
  • You experience eye strain, headaches and/or blurred vision after spending an extended amount of time in front of a computer screen.
  • You get motion sick, dizzy, or have trouble following a moving target.
  • You hold books or the newspaper further away from your face and squint or close one eye to read them clearly.
  • You notice changes in your vision, especially after an incident of head trauma.

A regular exam can determine if you have nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or any of the other eye disorders. Cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration can also be determined with regular eye exams.

Vision and Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an amazing experience full of new feelings and the excitement of the arrival of a beautiful baby.  Unfortunately, pregnancy can also throw more than its fair share of curve-balls.  Swollen feet and ankles, back pain, mood swings and, of course, the dreaded “morning sickness” are just the start of the potential side effects of pregnancy. Many pregnant women are surprised when their vision changes. The fact is that hormonal and physical changes that accompany pregnancy can affect eyesight. Let’s examine the vision issues that can accompany pregnancy.

  • Blurry Vision – Water retention (common during pregnancy) may cause the thickness and curvature of the cornea of your eye to increase slightly. It’s a small change, but it could affect how well your glasses or contacts correct your vision. It’s also why laser eye surgery isn’t recommended during pregnancy and why it’s not a good time to be fitted for new contact lenses.
  • Dry Eyes – During pregnancy, some women may notice that their eyes are drier than usual. Dry eyes can make wearing contacts irritating and uncomfortable. Using artificial tears to lubricate eyes may ease dryness.
  • Vision Changes due to Preeclampsia – High blood pressure occurs in 5-8% of pregnancies. Vision changes due to this condition can include: a temporary loss of vision, light sensitivity, blurry vision, auras, and the appearance of flashing lights. Preeclampsia can be a serious condition.  If these symptoms are noticed, contact a doctor or head to an emergency room immediately.
  • Gestational Diabetes and Vision – Pregnancy can also bring about changes in existing eye conditions – for better or for worse. If you have diabetes, see an ophthalmologist before you get pregnant and again in early pregnancy to get screened for damage to the blood vessels in your retina. This condition, called diabetic retinopathy, often worsens during pregnancy, so you’ll need more frequent eye exams while you’re pregnant and in the postpartum period. (Source- The Baby  Center)

Stye Issues

Have you ever had a red bump that formed on or in your eyelid? It can be painful and unsightly. Chances are that this bump is the result of a blocked gland and is called a stye. Let’s take a closer look at this eye issue, what causes it, and what treatment techniques you can use to get relief from the pain.

What Causes a Stye to Form?

Styes occur when a gland in or on the eyelid becomes plugged or blocked.  A hordeolum stye is a blockage of one of the sweat glands found in the skin of the lid and base of the eyelashes. A chalazion sty is a blockage of a meibomian gland which forms a single row on each lid. Items that could block either gland includes: makeup, scar tissue, dust, or any foreign substance.

Symptoms of a Stye

While you may not recognize the initial symptoms the first time you get a stye, they include:  redness, tenderness, and pain in the affected area. You may think you are getting a pimple on your eyelid. Later signs and symptoms of a stye may include: swelling, discomfort during blinking of the eye, watering of the eye and sensitivity to light. Many times a sty has a small, yellowish spot at the center of the bump that represents pus rising to the surface. For the most part, styes do not cause vision issues but rather physical issues to the eyelid itself.

Treatment or Relief from Styes

Most styes heal on their own after a few days. To get relief from the tenderness and pain, you may want to try a warm compress that you hold up to your eye for 10-15 minutes at a time. Doing this three to four times a day may give you some relief and make the stye begin to drain after the “pimple-like” head ruptures. Be sure to allow the stye to rupture on its own. If the stye continues, your eye doctor may want to see it and rupture in the office and prescribe an antibiotic ointment that will prevent recurrence.

If you find that you commonly have stye issues talk to your eye doctor. Call us at Independent Eye Care at Danvers: 978-774-4500     Beverly: 978-921-5000     Topsfield: 978-887-0068



Crusty, Goopy, Itchy

Those are three ways that people commonly describe conjunctivitis or “pink eye.” If you have ever had this type of eye infection, you know how much of a nuisance it can be and how the symptoms can be both icky and painful.  In short, conjunctivitis is the infection of the conjunctiva which is the layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. A resulting infection causes a build up of crusty goopy discharge coming from one or both eyes. Let’s look at conjunctivitis and find out its causes, types and treatments.

Common Symptoms of Conjunctivitis – The first step to treating this eye disease is to look at the symptoms to be sure that there is not another underlying eye disorder that is causing the crusty build up on the eyelid of your eye – like a blocked tear duct or different infection.  Consult with your doctor to confirm your suspicions.

  • A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
  • Itching or burning sensation in one or both eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Discharge coming from one or both eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Pink discoloration to the whites of one or both eyes
  • Sensitivity to bright lights

Types and Treatments  of Conjunctivitis – Causes of conjunctivitis range from environmental irritants like shampoos, smoke, pool chlorine and dirt to allergens like pollen and dust and even viral or bacterial infections.  There are three main classifications of of this particular eye disorder including: bacterial, viral, and allergen.

  • Bacterial Conjunctivitis – Pink Eye that is caused by a bacteria can be treated with eye drops or ointments applied directly to the eye usually for several days, several times a day.  The infection, if it is bacterial in nature should clear up within the week.
  • Viral Conjunctivitis – Pink Eye that is caused by a virus in the eye may be similar to a virus that causes the common cold. This type of pink eye tends to be very contagious.  To avoid contaminating others wash hands frequently, throw out used make up and possibly used contacts.  Infected patients should also avoid contact with others.
  • Allergen Conjunctivitis – Allergy-associated conjunctivitis should improve once the allergy is treated and the allergen removed. See your doctor if you have conjunctivitis that is linked to an allergy.