2151 South Neil Street • Champaign, IL 61820

2 E Main Street, Suite 116A • Danville, IL 61832

Eye Care FAQ

We understand that your vision is one of the most important things you can care for. That’s why we want to offer you information that many other people are interested in, from how contact lens feel to how extended computer use affects the aging of your eyes. Of course, if you have more questions that you don’t see in our forums, feel free to contact us through email at info@theeyecenter.com or schedule an appointment to see one of our specialists at 217.352.2020. Remember, your vision is very sensitive and should not be taken for granted; see a speicialist at any time of serious pain.

Eye questions (and some answers)

Seeing the light. How does my eye work?

This is a fun question that people are often interested in. One of the most common analogies used is that of a camera. A camera can be thought of as having a focusing system (lens), a screen or sensor (film or digital sensor) and a storage component (film or digital sensor/memory). Similarly the eye has a focusing system (the cornea AND the lens), a sensor which is called the retina, and a system to transmit, process and store the images. This last component comprises a significant portion of the brain! Despite the amazing progress of digital cameras, your brain is still far ahead and is likely to remain ahead for some time.

Do eye doctors ask questions?

Obviously many eye professionals are interested in their patients well being. Some also are interested in advancing the state of the art to a level where future eye care will become more accessible and more effective. One of my favorite meetings is that of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) which is held in Fort Lauderdale every Spring. The beach is stunning but the quality and atmosphere of the meeting are also exceptional. One of the secrets to this meeting effectiveness is that it brings scientists and clinicians from many related fields, including optics, ophthalmology, neuroscience and other vision research areas. So the focus is truly on any field that can improve vision. This year ARVO included a very wide variety of presentations. For example one study from Boston showed the significant negative impact of dry eye on the quality of every day’s life, including reading, driving, using a computer or even watching TV. A study from Japan showed the negative impact of secondary smoking on the surface of the eye. In the area of treatment of macular degeneration, a lot of the newer injectable agents were presented with studies showing their relative advantages. New methods and lenses for cataract surgery were also discussed.

So yes, it appears that eye doctors ask questions, and make some progress each year, to hopefully benefit their patients. We will spend part of the rest of the year discussing some more of the useful innovations in eye care.

Doctor, will I go blind?

Clearly, this is one of the hardest questions to answer. A number of eye conditions are potentially blinding. These include glaucoma, diabetes, macular degeneration and cataracts. It is important to realize many important points.

  1. Legal blindness in the US is defined as a vision of 20/200 or worse (20/200 means 10 times worse than 20/20) or a very narrow field.
  2. Some forms of blindness are reversible. Some usual examples are refractive errors (need for glasses) and cataracts, which can be cured by appropriate glasses prescriptions or by an outpatient surgical intervention.
  3. Early detection and early intervention may be key. Examples include early intervention for glaucoma and diabetes but also for the prevention of the development of lazy eye (amblyopia) in children.

So in short the chances of blindness or permanent poor vision can be drastically reduced by early intervention.

Should I see my eye doctor?

As pointed out above the general concept of prevention is key. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. If you experience a visual disturbance, a change in vision, a change in eye appearance (example red eye) or eye pain, you should seek professional help.
  2. If you suffer from a medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid condition, rheumatoid arthritis or are on certain medications such as Plaquenil you should be seen regularly (the exact frequency will depend on the assessment of your eyes at your first visit).
  3. Be aware that you have TWO eyes. Sometimes vision appears “fine” but you may be relying mostly on just one of your two eyes, while the other may be much weaker and may need some attention. This is sometimes true for children who can develop a lazy eye that needs to be corrected at the earliest possible opportunity to avoid irreversible damage.
  4. Be aware that some conditions (including cataracts and glaucoma) are progressive. This means you may be simply adapting to your visual disability (decreased vision, shrinking peripheral fields) rather than “seeing fine.”
  5. Family history is important. If you have family members who are/were affected by an eye condition you may be much more likely to develop a similar condition. Checking early may be sight saving.
  6. Many conditions, including curable conditions, appear in the later stages of our lives. So starting at age 40 (and earlier if you have family history, medical conditions or any eye signs or symptoms) it is a good idea to get checked.
  7. Finally and as a last resort, here is advice I often give my patients: If you can’t see me, come see me!

Glasses and Vision. What is 20/20?

More than 50% of people need glasses to see well.  Some people are near-sighted while others are far sighted.  In either case, past the age of 40, everyone has at least a need for reading or close-range glasses.  Once the proper glasses are prescribed and if there is no other disease in the eyes, people see well with their glasses.   20/20 vision is very good vision and it means that from a distance of 20 feet from a target, a person sees as well as a “normal” person would see at 20 feet.  20/40 vision is worse and means that the person needs to be at 20 feet from the target in order to see what a normal person would see from as far as 40 feet. 20/40 vision or better is what is required for driving a car (in addition to good peripheral vision). 20/200 vision means that the person needs to be at 20 feet to see what a normal person can see from as far away as 200 feet.  20/200 vision or worse constitutes legal blindness (very narrow peripheral vision also can constitute legal blindness).

The need for glasses may vary from year to year for many reasons, including the development of mild cataract.  It is important therefore to get the vision checked periodically to make sure that the vision is the best it can be and at least good enough for safe driving.  Glasses, contact lenses and laser surgery are some of the available options to correct your vision.

Why is it important to wear sunglasses?

The most common cancer in humans is called basal cell carcinoma.   It often affects the face or the eyelids.  One of its main causes is prolonged unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation such as in sun exposure.  Therefore protection from prolonged sun exposure with proper sunglasses and appropriate wearing of hats is highly recommended.  Similarly suspicious facial lesions or lid lesions should be checked with your general doctor, dermatologist or ophthalmologist.