FAQ

  1. How does the eye work?
  2. What is legal blindness?
  3. What is low vision?
  4. What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist?
  5. Why should I choose an ophthalmologist over an optometrist?
  6. When should my child’s eyes be examined?
  7. When should an adult’s eyes be examined?
  8. Is poor vision hereditary?
  9. Will sitting too close to the television hurt my child’s eyes?
  10. Will working at a computer screen hurt my eyes?
  11. Will reading in dim light hurt my eyes?
  12. Is pink-eye contagious?
  13. Can eyes be transplanted?
  14. Are sunglasses good for my eyes?
  15. What materials are available for glasses?
  16. What does an eye doctor do during an eye exam?
  17. Will carrots help maintain good vision?
  18. What do I do if I injure my eye?

1. How does the eye work?

It is analogous to taking a picture with a camera, the lens (i.e. cornea and lens) in the front of the camera allows light to pass through and focus that light on the film (i.e. retina) that covers the back side of the camera. A picture is taken when the light hits the film. Our eyes work in a very similar way. The front of the eye, the cornea and lens of the eye, focuses the light while the pupil regulates the amount of light received by the back wall of the eye called the retina. Like the camera film, the retina is the “seeing” tissue of the eye, converting light energy into chemical energy then sending it to the brain through the optic nerve which results in perceiving the image.

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2. What is legal blindness?

Perfect vision is 20/20. A person is legally blind when their better eye’s best corrected visual acuity is less than 20/200. Best correct visual acuity is the vision obtained by an eye doctor using a special vision device (e.g. refractor). A person can also be legally blind if their side vision in their better eye is narrowed to 20 degrees or less. Legal blindness does not mean useless vision. There can still be functional vision for everyday life, but legal blindness restricts people from operating heavy machinery or driving.

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3. What is low vision?

Low vision is not blindness, but it is a level of vision below normal which cannot be corrected. Low vision can interfere with a person’s performance of daily activities, including reading or driving. Low vision aids and specialists including occupational therapists can help people with low vision problems.

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4. What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist?

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who provide comprehensive eye care, including medical, surgical and optical care. They must complete four years of premedical college, four years of medical school, one year of internship and three years of medical and surgical training in eye care.

Optometrists are different from ophthalmologists. Optometrists are specifically educated in an accredited optometry college for four years, but they are not medical doctors and do not attend medical school. Optometrists may diagnose eye conditions; however, they are not trained or licensed to perform eye surgery.

See above for a more detailed explanation.

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5. Why should I choose an ophthalmologist over an optometrist?

The choice is simple. If you do not have any significant medical conditions such as diabetes, and if you do not have any medical diseases of the eyes, then seeing an optometrist for routine eye care for glasses or contacts is more than sufficient. However, if you have conditions such as diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eyes, etc., then seeing a medical specialists, an ophthalmologist, is reasonable. This is because, if you need more advanced care, you can be cared for by that same doctor. Since your optometrist may not be able to treat your problem, you will require a referral to a new ophthalmologist. Sometimes optometrists will insist on referring you elsewhere and far from home. There is no need for this considering there are top rated ophthalmologists right here at Professional Eye Associates.  Remember, these are your eyes so you should be informed and you should have a choice.

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6. When should my child’s eyes be examined?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that the first vision screening be conducted for a newborn prior to being discharged from the hospital. Visual function will be monitored by your child’s pediatrician during well-child exams (usually at two, four and six months of age). If there are any signs of an eye condition, your child may be referred to an ophthalmologist. Beginning at three years of age (and yearly after five years of age), amblyopia ("lazy eye"), strabismus (crossed or wall eyes) and refractive error screenings should take place to prevent permanent vision loss. If you notice any signs of poor vision or crossed or walled-eyes, please contact your ophthalmologist for a complete eye examination.

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7. When should an adult’s eyes be examined?

We recommend adult examinations of the eyes be performed on a regular basis. Below is a chart with a recommended time line of how often an adult should receive an eye examination.

Ages 20-39
Ages 40-65
Ages 65 and older

Every three to five years.
Every two to four years.
Every one to two years.

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8. Is poor vision hereditary?

Yes, poor vision can be directly related to your family’s history of eye health. It is important to see an ophthalmologist at the first sign of poor vision.

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9. Will sitting too close to the television hurt my child’s eyes?

No. Although it can cause eye strain, it will not cause permanent harm to the eyes.

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10. Will working at a computer screen hurt my eyes?

No, there is no evidence that working at a computer can damage the eyes; however, low light, glare on the monitor, or staring at a computer screen too long can cause the eyes to become strained. It is recommended to take frequent breaks to allow your eyes to rest.

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11. Will reading in dim light hurt my eyes?

No, it cannot harm the eye permanently, but it can cause eye strain.

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12. Is pink-eye contagious?

Yes. But realize that the term pink-eye is used very loosely by people, and the only way to know you have it is by an eye doctor's examination. Pink-eye, i.e. viral conjunctivitis, is a highly contagious viral infection involving the white part of the eye. Contrary to popular belief, there is no treatment for pink eye. Antibiotic drops or pills do not treat viruses. They only treat bacterial infections. Thus, pink eye treatment, just like the common cold virus, is focused on preventing the spread to others. Avoid touching the eyes with your hands, wash your hands frequently, do not share towels, and avoid work, school or daycare activities for at least 5 days. The infection will resolve on its own. But if you are having severe symptoms, something may be amiss, so seek the help of an eye doctor.

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13. Can eyes be transplanted?

Whole eyes cannot be transplanted, but corneas can. We have the region's only corneal transplant specialist, Dr. Brian Kim. He performs corneal transplants using all the latest techniques, DSAEK (Descemet's Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty), PKP (Penetrating Keratoplasty), and DALK (Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty).

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14. Are sunglasses good for my eyes?

Wearing UV protective lenses can shield your eyes from cataract formation and macular damage. Interestingly, clear UV coated lenses may offer more protection than darker lenses because they allow the eyes to be exposed to more light causing the pupil to constrict more, which ultimately prevents more light from entering into the eye.

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15. What materials are available for glasses?

With the advancement in today’s technology, there are many new materials available for glasses that have helped make them virtually indestructible. Titanium frames and polycarbonate frames are two of the newest materials used. Polycarbonate materials, glass and various types of lightweight plastics are used to make the lenses. There are several types of coatings available for lenses, including UV protection (which is highly recommended for all types of lenses), polarization, anti-glare and scratch-resistant just to name a few.

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16. What does an eye doctor do during an eye exam?

Eye exams may vary from person to person, but here are a few common things we may do during a routine exam:

  • Fully review your family history of eye health
  • Determine your visual acuity
  • Confirm your intraocular pressure
  • Examine your pupils’ response to light
  • Dilate your eyes to properly examine the structures behind the pupil. Remember, if your eye doctor has never or rarely dilates your eyes, you are missing 80% of the eye examination and may be missing potential diseases.

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17. Will carrots help maintain good vision?

Research has shown that eating carrots will provide you with vitamin A through beta-caroteine, which is beneficial for good vision. Vitamin A is also in other food items including milk, cheese, egg yolk and broccoli.

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18. What do I do if I injure my eye?

It is important to seek immediate medical assistance from an ophthalmologist. If you cannot see an ophthalmologist immediately, go to your nearest hospital emergency department. This will help reduce the risk of any permanent damage. To view some general guidelines for properly treating eye injuries, visit our Common Problems page.

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