What should I know about my child’s vision?
Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism: what   does it all mean?
I have diabetes.  What should I know about my vision and eye health?
Help!  I’m seeing floating spots in front of my eyes.  What should I do?
I am over 50.  What are the risks to my eye health?
I have a red eye(s).  Should I see my optometrist?
What does 20/20 vision mean?
I’m over 40 and I’m having trouble reading small print.  What’s going on?
I can see just fine.  Why do I need to see my optometrist?


What should I know about my child’s vision?

Eye careWhen should my child have his or her first eye exam?

The Ontario Association of Optometrists recommends infants have their first eye health screening at 6 months of age, then yearly examinations starting when they are 3 years old.  If you have any concerns with your child’s eyes, you can bring them in for an exam even sooner.

Why are routine eye examinations important for my child?

  • 1 in 6 children have a vision problem
  • Children born with poor vision do not know what “normal vision” is like
  • Over 80% of learning involves vision

The earlier you have your child’s eyes checked, the sooner you may discover a vision problem that might be interfering with his or her development or good grades.  After age 7, eyes become hard-wired in terms of their visual connection to the brain.  If something is preventing a clear image to an eye and is not corrected before then, this vision loss becomes permanent, and can mean legal blindness for some children.

 Have you ever noticed your child:

  • squint or tilt his or her head to one side
  • rub his or her eyes frequently
  • have one eye turned in, out, up or down
  • complain of headaches, dizziness or chronic nausea
  • avoid close work
  • show a “white” reflection from the usually black pupil
  • frequently lose his or her place while reading

If the answer is YES to any of these questions, please call and book your child for an eye examination today


 Myth #1:  “My child will tell me if he or she can’t see well”

Fact: Young children don’t always know that they see differently than other children because they have nothing to compare to. If they have one eye with poor vision, the other, stronger eye will take over and mimic “good vision”.  The visually damaged eye may be at risk of permanent vision loss.

 Myth #2: “My child is doing fine in school, so he doesn’t need an eye exam”

Fact: Many children find ways to work extra hard to overcome vision problems. They may do even better if an undetected problem is found.

 Myth #3:  “I will have to wait until my child can read letters before she can have an eye examination”

Fact: An infant as young as six months of age can have his or her eyes examined. Tests check their eye coordination, focusing ability and screen for serious childhood eye disease that may otherwise go undetected.

How do you test an infant’s eyes? 

Even though your infant cannot tell you if he or she is having trouble seeing, your optometrist is able to provide an accurate and complete eye examination.  Using special lighted instruments, your baby’s eyes will be tested for excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, eye movement ability, as well as other health problems, all in a way that will put you both at ease.

Is there anything I can do as a parent to make my child’s first visit an easy one?

There are a few ways to make this first visit most enjoyable:

  • Work around your baby’s fussy times.  You know your baby best; schedule your appointment at a time when your baby is generally relaxed and happy
  • Fill out any required paperwork before the appointment (you can print out the forms under the “Patient Forms” tab on our website)
  • Bring along a familiar toy to calm your baby if he or she starts getting fussy
  • Bring a bottle.  This will help keep your baby relaxed during the exam


Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism: what does it all mean?

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a vision condition in which near objects are seen clearly, but distant objects do not come into focus.  When your eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature, light entering the eye is not focused properly.  Nearsightedness is very common, and affects nearly 30% of the Canadian population.  It normally occurs in school age children.  Since the eyes continue to grow during childhood, nearsightedness usually occurs before an individual reaches the age of 20.  If you are nearsighted, you may need glasses or contact lenses part-time (just for watching TV, to see the board during class, and to drive a car) or full-time to enable you to see more clearly.

Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is a vision condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but close ones are not brought into proper focus.  If the length of your eyeball is too short or the cornea has too little curvature, near objects cannot be brought into a sharp and clearly focused image.  In people with high amounts of farsightedness, both distant and near objects will appear blurry.  If you are farsighted, you involuntarily exert extra effort to maintain clear distance vision and even greater effort to see clearly at close range.  This extra effort can cause fatigue, tension, and discomfort.  Common signs and symptoms of farsightedness include difficulty concentrating and maintaining a clear focus on near objects, blurred vision, eye strain, fatigue and/or headaches after close work, aching or burning eyes, and poor reading ability.  In mild cases, your eyes may be able to compensate adequately without the need for corrective lenses.  In more severe cases, your optometrist may recommend glasses or contact lenses.

Astigmatism occurs when the front surface of your eye (cornea) or the lens inside the eye is slightly irregular in shape, resulting in vision being blurred at all distances.  Astigmatism occurs in almost every person to some degree.  For small amounts of astigmatism, corrective lenses may not be needed.  If the amount of astigmatism is higher and occurs with farsightedness or nearsightedness, glasses or contact lenses may be the solution for you.



I have diabetes.  What should I know about my vision and eye health?

Having diabetes (either Type I or Type II) puts you at an increased risk of developing sight threatening retinal disease (diabetic retinopathy) and developing cataracts and glaucoma earlier in life.  The most severe and damaging stages of diabetic eye disease can develop with NO symptoms.  These changes could be irreversible and lead to blindness.  Your optometrist screens you independently and plans your visits according to your personal risk.


Help!  I’m seeing floating spots in front of my eyes.  What should I do?

Eye floatersFloaters are small, semi-transparent particles within the eye that become noticeable when they fall within the line of sight.  They may also appear with flashes of light.  Almost everyone sees a few floaters at one time or another.  They can occur more frequently and become more noticeable as you grow older.

The inner part of your eye is made up of a clear, jelly-like fluid known as the vitreous.  Occasionally, small flecks of protein and other matter become trapped in the vitreous during the formation of the eye before birth and remain in the vitreous body.  Floaters and spots may also be caused by the deterioration of the eye fluid or its surrounding parts, or by certain injuries or eye diseases.

Floaters are generally translucent specks of various shapes and sizes.  They may also appear as bugs, threadlike strands or cobwebs within the eye.  Since they are inside the eye, floaters move as the eye moves and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly.

Most floaters are normal and rarely cause blindness.  But floaters can be indications of more serious problems, such as a retinal hole, tear, or detachment, so if you see them you should have a comprehensive eye examination to determine the cause.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should call your optometrist for an appointment right away:

  • a sudden change in the number or size of floaters
  • flashes of light in your vision
  • a “veil” or “curtain” waving over your vision

As part of a comprehensive eye examination, your optometrist will thoroughly evaluate your vitreous and retina using special lighted instruments.  This is done after the doctor puts drops (called dilating drops) in your eyes to make your pupils larger to allow a fuller view of the inside of your eyes.  If a retinal tear, hole, or detachment is detected, your optometrist will arrange an emergency referral to an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon).


I’m over 50.  What are the risks to my eye health?

The following are the most common eye health issues in people over 50 years of age:


Eye CataractWhen the normally clear lens within your eye becomes cloudy and opaque, it is called a cataract.  Cataracts vary from extremely small areas of cloudiness to large opaque areas that cause a noticeable loss of vision.  Cataracts are most often found in persons over the age of 60, but they are also occasionally found in younger people, including newborns.  Some symptoms of cataracts include blurred or hazy vision, the appearance of spots in front of the eyes, or the feeling of having a film over the eyes.  A temporary improvement in near vision may also occur and increased sensitivity to glare, especially at night, may be experienced.  Cataracts may develop slowly over many years or they may form rapidly in a matter of months.  Some cataracts never progress to the point that they need to be removed.  When a change of glasses can no longer provide functional vision, your optometrist will arrange a consultation with a cataract surgeon.


The macula is the central most part of the retina that is responsible for detailed sharp vision. It is used for reading, driving, recognizing people’s faces and fine work.  Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition that causes the centre of your vision to blur while the side or peripheral vision is unaffected.  It is the leading cause of blindness in North America in adults over the age of 55.

Initially, the most common symptom is slightly blurred vision when performing tasks that require seeing detail.   A blurred spot or sense that there is dirt in the way of clear vision may develop.  Over time, the blurred spot may increase in size and interfere with reading and recognizing faces.

There are two types of AMD: dry and wet.  The classification of “wet” or “dry” refers to how the condition appears clinically to your doctor, not on how it feels to the person suffering from macular degeneration.  The dry form is more common.  This is the milder form where there is a gradual degeneration of the tissue cells that make up the macula and symptoms generally develop slowly over time.  The wet form is a severe leakage, or even bleeding, from weak blood vessels under the macula and symptoms progress rapidly.  Wet AMD accounts for approximately 10 percent of all cases, but the dry form can develop into the wet form over time.

The risk of developing AMD increases with age.  High risk groups include smokers and people who have had extensive UV exposure.  AMD is also associated with conditions such as high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, and those with a family history of AMD.

Lifelong UV protection and general nutrition are believed to play a key role in preventing AMD.  Living a healthy lifestyle by keeping your blood pressure down, reducing your intake of fatty foods and not smoking are all recommended.  A diet high in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and selenium can also help prevent AMD.  Most of these antioxidants are found in fruits and leafy green vegetables.  Regular eye examinations are also important in the early detection of AMD.


Eye glaucomaGlaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which there is damage to the optic nerve inside the eye over time, leading to vision loss and blindness.  Sometimes this damage occurs as a result of high pressure inside the eye, but glaucoma can also occur in eyes with normal internal pressure.  The exact cause of glaucoma is not known.  Glaucoma occurs most frequently in individuals over the age of 40 and there is a hereditary tendency for the development of the disease in some families.  There is also a greater risk of developing glaucoma when you have diabetes, high blood pressure, and eye injuries.  In the early stages, glaucoma causes no noticeable symptoms, so regular optometric examinations are important for all ages to assess your risk for glaucoma.

If diagnosed at an early stage, glaucoma can be controlled using prescription eye drops or surgery.  If left untreated, side (peripheral) vision and central vision will be destroyed and almost complete blindness may occur.

A comprehensive eye health examination is often the only way to detect glaucoma.  Your optometrist will perform a simple and painless procedure called tonometry, which measures the internal pressure of your eye.  Your optometrist will also look into your eyes to observe the health of the optic nerve.  He or she may also measure your field of vision to make sure it is full.


The tears your eyes normally produce are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision.  Dry eye occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears or produce tears that do not have the proper chemical composition.

Dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process, hormonal changes, exposure to environmental conditions, problems with normal blinking or from medications such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives, or antidepressants.

The most common signs and symptoms include stinging, itchy, scratchy and uncomfortable eyes.  You may also have a burning feeling or feel like you have something in your eyes.  You may experience increased dry eye symptoms upon waking.

Dry eye usually cannot be cured, but your eyes’ comfort can be improved and eye health maintained through the use of artificial tears.  For more severe dry eye, gels and ointments can be used, especially at bedtime.  In some cases, small plugs may be inserted into the corner of the eyelids to slow drainage and loss of tears.  Treating any underlying disease or a change of diet can also be helpful at times.


I have a red eye(s).  Should I see my optometrist?

Red eyeYes!  A red eye can have many different causes, and your optometrist has the special equipment needed to help diagnose what that cause might be.

Pink eye or conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent layer covering the surface of the inner eyelid and the white of the eye.  The three main types of conjunctivitis are infectious, allergic, and chemical.  The infectious form is caused by a virus or bacteria.  Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by your body’s allergies to pollen, cosmetics, animals, or fabrics.  Chemical conjunctivitis is caused by irritants like air pollution, noxious fumes, and chlorine in swimming pools.

Common signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis are red eyes, inflamed inner lids, watering, blurred vision, and a sandy or itchy feeling in the eyes.  With the infectious form, there may be a pus-like or watery discharge around the eyelids.  Your eye might even be stuck shut when you wake up in the morning.

Your optometrist will thoroughly evaluate the front surface of your eyes to determine the most likely cause of your red eye and the appropriate treatment.


What does 20/20 vision mean?

20/20 vision is a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet.  If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance.  If you have 20/100 vision, for example, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.

But remember, even with 20/20 vision you can still have eye health issues, so routine eye exams are still important!


I’m over 40, and I’m having trouble reading small print.  What is going on?

Eye chartPresbyopia!  This is a condition that occurs in everyone in their early-to-mid forties.  Presbyopia is a vision condition in which the crystalline lens inside the eye loses its flexibility over time.  This results in difficulty focusing on close objects.

Some signs and symptoms of presbyopia include the tendency to hold reading material at arms length, blurred vision at normal reading distances and eye fatigue along with headaches when attempting to do close work.

To compensate for presbyopia, your optometrist will prescribe reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals, no-line multifocals (progressives) or contact lenses.

The effects of presbyopia constantly change the ability of the crystalline lens to focus properly.  As a result, approximately every 2-3 years, changes in your eyewear are necessary to maintain correct vision between ages 40-60.

Remember, presbyopia is a natural part of the aging process, and it affects absolutely everyone!  Your optometrist will help you determine what type of vision correction (whether glasses or contact lenses or both) is right for your lifestyle.


I see just fine.  Why do I need to see my optometrist regularly?

In addition to the many eye diseases that can occur in the presence of excellent vision, the inside of your eye is the only place in the body where your arteries and veins can be directly seen. This means that cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol could first be suspected from an eye health evaluation. Very often people have no symptoms in the early stages of eye disease or general health diseases that can directly affect the eye. If you do not get regular physical examinations from your general practitioner as recommended, you may not be aware of such diseases starting.  As there may be no eye symptoms involved, do not wait to lose the vision you have before you know for certain!  Any health condition that affects the blood vessels and nerve cells of your body can affect your eyes and your sight, making regular eye care an extremely important part of your overall health and well-being.

A routine eye exam evaluates both vision and health. For many people this involves the use of eye drops to dilate the pupil.  Sometimes it very difficult to see all the structures inside the eye through a pupil without using these drops. As lights are used to examine the eye, the pupil gets smaller in reaction to this light. For some people, this limits the thoroughness of the checkup; similar to trying to see an entire room through a small keyhole. As we age, the pupil also gets increasingly smaller. For these reasons, this is an extremely important part of a regular eye health examination.

Pupil dilation is a very common and safe procedure, but your pupil will be enlarged for a few hours. This may cause some glare and mild discomfort on a bright day and your vision may seem a little blurred. Some people may therefore feel more comfortable arranging alternate transportation home from their eye examination.

If you have never had an eye examination before or you are long overdue, these are all good reasons to call and book with us today!

Source: The Canadian Association of Optometrists (opto.ca/openyoureyes)