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The Education of an Ophthalmologist

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Doctors are notorious for having one of the most intense educations out of all professionals. Starting with an undergraduate degree in pre-medicine or science, they are required to not only complete hard pre-requisite courses, but complete them with extremely high grades. During their undergraduate degree they also have to complete a certain amount of volunteer hours working with a doctor, complete a test (the MCAT) in order to apply to medical school, and a bunch of other extracurricular activities. After they apply to a medical school, they will go on many interviews to find out which med school they get into. Once they start medical school, they will have two years of more intense science courses and two years of shadowing physicians in many different fields, including ophthalmology.

After graduating from medical school, they will finish taking their boards (a series of three tests that determine these doctors’ ability to practice medicine). Once they pass their boards, these almost doctors will go to an internship (a half year or a year) and then proceed to a residency option of their choice, lasting 3 years for an ophthalmology program. Once in their residency, they will practice treating and diagnosing ailments with the help of doctors who have worked in ophthalmology for many years. They will also learn about surgeries for certain eye illnesses and injuries. After they finish their residency, they can start working as an official ophthalmologist, whether in a hospital, an office, or in their own practice.

What Kind of Diseases Can Negatively Affect Your Vision?

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Vision is one of our most important assets. We use it to walk, eat, drink, play, and work, not to mention see our loved ones, watch movies, and read. Much of what is beautiful in the world can only be seen through our eyes, and we use them more than we know. Therefore, one of the biggest concerns to our health and vision are eye diseases that negatively affect our vision. If you are wondering about just a few of the types of diseases or conditions that negatively affect your vision, here are just a few of them.

Nearsightedness

One of the most common eye conditions is nearsightedness or myopia. This is an eye condition where faraway objects appear blurry, but can be treated easily, through glasses, contacts, or laser eye surgery. Most often this condition is due to genetics, therefore, if your parents have nearsightedness, you are likely to have it as well.

Farsightedness

Farsightedness is the opposite of nearsightedness in that you can see things far away, but close-up vision is blurry. This is referred to as hyperopia and only affects 5 to 10 percent of people. Often, this condition happens as you age and is fairly easy to diagnose and treat.

Cataracts

Cataracts are also a common condition that happens with age, and is the clouding of a normally clear lens of the eye. Usually this condition occurs with too much time in the sun, smoking, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, steroid medications, hormone replacement therapy, or taking statins.

Night Blindness

Night blindness is another type of vision impairment that makes it difficult to see in the dark. If you have nearsightedness or farsightedness or cataracts, you may experience night blindness.

What Tests Are Administered to Measure Visual Acuity?

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Visual acuity testing refers to how well you are able to correctly identify letters on a chart, cards, or screen. The most commonly used is a Snellen chart. For younger patients that don’t read yet, we sometimes use charts or cards with shapes to test for visual acuity.

The charts and cards are standardized in order to accurately measure individual performance. You will be asked to take off your glasses or take out your contact lenses (if you wear either) before we administer the test. If you are doing an annual exam, sometimes the doctor will want you to try reading the chart with your glasses or contacts, as well, in order to see how well you can perform with your current prescription.

Typically, the chart or cards are displayed at a distance of 20 feet. There are specialized charts made for spaces where the test must be given at shorter distances.

The most common chart will have rows of letters. The top row will have big print. The following rows will have smaller and smaller print. You will be asked to read the letters in each row as far down as you can go until you can no longer identify the small print. If you can read the smallest print at the bottom of the chart without issue, it’s a good indication that you have decent visual acuity.

5 Uncommon Eye Diseases

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Your eyes are among the most important organs in your body. Without eyes, you wouldn’t be able to see your children’s faces or enjoy a sunset. Many different diseases and illnesses can impact your ability to see. Here are a few uncommon yet serious eye diseases that can occur:

  • Microphthalmia. This disease occurs when one or both eyes are smaller than they should be. Usually, this disorder develops in a fetus during pregnancy and can accompany other birth defects as well.
  • Behcet’s Disease. An autoimmune disease, Behcet’s disease can affect the blood vessels throughout the entire body. The disease can affect each person differently, but normally causes inflammation inside of the eye. This results in blurred vision, pain, and redness. Other symptoms include mouth sores, skin problems, and blood clots.
  • Retinoblastoma. This disease is actually a life-threatening form of cancer. It normally occurs in children younger than 5 year of age. It forms in the retina and, in some cases, is hereditary.
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa. Retinitis pigmentosa is a hereditary disorder that comes from the breakdown or loss of cells in the retinal area. This can make it difficult to see at night and decrease peripheral vision.
  • Stargardt Disease. Another hereditary disease, this disorder affects the retina. It basically causes a gradual loss of vision in both eyes. Usually it hits during childhood or early adolescence and can cause an increased sensitivity to light. Over time, a gray or hazy spot may be noticeable in the center of the vision. While vision will be impacted, it’s rare that the sufferer will become completely blind.

When it comes to caring for your eyes, it’s best to see your optometrist regularly. Through careful examinations and tests, they will be able to diagnose and treat any signs of disease and disorders early on.

At What Age Should Your Child’s Eyes Be Checked?

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Did you know that 10% of preschoolers and 25% of school-age children have vision problems? The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that all children receive regular eye exams to detect issues that are treatable when caught early. Read our following guide to learn when your child’s eyes should be checked.

Scheduling Eye Exams

Routine vision screenings should be scheduled for children at the following ages:

  • Newborns: All babies should receive an eye exam by a pediatrician in the hospital nursery to check for general eye health. High-risk newborns should be examined by an eye doctor.
  • First year: During the first year of life, all babies should have regular vision screenings during checkups with their pediatrician.
  • 3 years old: Around the age of 3 years old, children should have a visual acuity test from their pediatrician to measure the sharpness of their vision.
  • 5 years old: Before entering kindergarten, all children should have their vision and eye alignment checked by their pediatrician. Children who fail the exam should be referred to an eye doctor.
  • School age: All school age children should receive yearly routine eye screenings at school and at their pediatrician’s office.

Spotting Eye Problems

In addition to regular vision screenings, parents should schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor when noticing any of the following symptoms of eye problems:

  • Persistent eye rubbing
  • Poor focusing
  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Poor visual tracking
  • Abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes
  • White pupil
  • Having trouble reading the blackboard
  • Squinting
  • Difficulty reading
  • Sitting too close to the TV

Frequently Asked Questions about Low Vision

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Did you know that approximately 135 million people worldwide suffer from low vision? This type of vision loss cannot be corrected and can make everyday tasks such as reading, writing, or driving a car difficult. Read our following guide to get the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about low vision.

What Is Low Vision?

Low vision is a term used to describe a vision loss that cannot be corrected through glasses, contacts, medications, or surgery. It is commonly characterized by blurred vision, partial sight, blind spots, or tunnel vision. Low vision can occur at any age, but is most commonly found among older individuals.

What Are the Causes of Low Vision?

Low vision is most commonly caused by a genetic propensity for certain vision impairments including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, or retinitis pigmentosa. Low vision can also be caused by trauma or other factors including traumatic brain injury and stroke.

What Are the Treatment Options for Low Vision?

Although this type of vision loss cannot be restored, treatment for low vision focuses on preventing further vision loss and maximizing remaining vision to help patients improve their quality of life. Our trained optometrists and other loss vision professionals can help treat low vision with prescription glasses, specialized optical systems, video magnification, therapeutic filters, and medical rehabilitative therapy to enable patients to keep their independence and live fulfilling lives.

6 Common Causes of Eyelid Twitching

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twitching, also known as blepharospasm, is a repetitive and uncontrollable spasm of the eyelid. Most people will develop this minor, irritating twitch at some point in their lives. Eyelid twitching is usually harmless and resolves on its own without medical treatment. Read our following guide to learn the 6 most common causes of eyelid twitching.

Stress

Everyone reacts differently to stress. A twitching eyelid can be a sign that the body is stressed. Reducing stress is key to stopping this type of eyelid twitching.

Tiredness

A lack of sleep can trigger the eyelid to begin twitching. Whether you are tired from stress or work, catching up on sleep can help resolve this problem.

Eye Strain

Overuse, computer screens, or an outdated eyeglass prescription can all result in eye strain. If eyelid twitching becomes persistent, it may be time to update your prescription or get special computer glasses.

Caffeine and Alcohol

Many experts believe that excess amounts of caffeine and/or alcohol can cause eyelid twitching. If your caffeine or alcohol levels have recently increased, consider cutting back.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can be caused by aging, certain medications, computer use, contact lenses, and excess amounts of caffeine and alcohol. This condition can also cause eyelid twitching. Consult your optometrist for dry eye treatments.

Allergies

Many people with seasonal allergies experience watery eyes, swelling, and eyelid spasms. Recent studies have shown that histamine may trigger eyelid twitching. The use of eye drops and antihistamines may help correct this problem.

Is Poor Vision Inherited?

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A lot of things about your eyes are based on genetics, from their overall health to their color. But one thing that people often wonder is whether or not general poor vision is inherited. We’re often told that nearsightedness and farsightedness are caused by certain activities. How many times were you told that sitting too close to the television or reading in low light was bad for your eyes?

So which is the true cause of poor vision—environment or genetics? Keep reading to find out the answer. Read the rest of this entry »

Home Remedies to Improve Your Eyesight

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Good eyesight can make a world of difference. Many day-to-day activities can be enhanced by improved vision. There are a lot of people with diminished eyesight that may benefit from simple home remedies to improve eyesight. Here are a few home remedies that can potentially improve eyesight and can help with eye health.

Diet

Many foods can benefit your eyes, which can improve your eyesight. These foods include almonds, carrots, oranges, and green leafy vegetables. Incorporating these foods into your diet is a good way to boost your eyesight. Read the rest of this entry »

Glasses Trends for 2016

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Optometrists know that glasses aren’t just for helping people see better. They also help people express themselves, match with clothing and accessories, and accentuate their personal style. The right pair of glasses can help put an entire look together. Obviously it’s important that everyone has the right prescription, but isn’t it always better when the right prescription comes with the right chicness?

When we’re looking for what to stock and how to help you match your new seasonal ensemble, it’s not a bad idea to look at what’s happening in the world of fashion. We’ve noticed that modern cat eye sunglasses are just as much a staple as ever. Big, bold, cute and saucy, cat eye glasses can make a genuine smile look even more expressive. We’re also seeing darker shaded sunglasses. For anyone who looks best with a deeper, darker color palate this is sure to please. If you’re prone to using driving glasses for practical purposes, this can blend in with your everyday look for maximum exposure. Read the rest of this entry »