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Two IRIS Optometrists Answer Frequently Asked Questions

Being an Optometrist also means receiving many questions every day. At IRIS, our mission is to help our patients experience better vision and, in order to do this thoroughly, we get to know you and take the time to answer all of your questions. We asked two Optometrists, from the great IRIS family, to answer some frequently asked questions they receive from their patients. 

Dr Paul Di Nardo, Optometrist at IRIS Midland, Ontario

Will wearing glasses make my eyes weaker?

Absolutely not! In fact, in growing children, wearing an up-to-date prescription can slow down or reduce further prescription changes. This question is most commonly asked by people who are beginning to need help with their reading vision, but the answer is the same. As we age, the focusing ability of our eyes is diminished, and this process happens just the same, whether you struggle through it without reading glasses or give your eyes the break they are asking for. Yes, wearing the glasses shows you how clear your vision could be, so when you remove them things might feel blurrier than they were before. But this 'blurriness' is temporary; within minutes you get used to your vision again and you're back to normal. Wearing your prescription glasses will not permanently make your vision worse or your eyes weaker, but it will relax your eyes and relieve the strain, so feel free to use them as much as you feel you need, without worrying about harming your eyes.

Why are my eyes always watering?

Excessive tearing, or epiphora, can happen for several reasons. With red eyes, it may indicate an infection (such as viral conjunctivitis, or 'pink eye'); with itchiness, it may be a sign of allergies; and with burning, stinging, or grittiness, it may be a sign of dry eyes. Counter-intuitively, when the tear layer on the eyes evaporates due to dryness, your body's reflex is to produce tears, but it often overreacts, leading to weepy eyes. To precisely diagnose what is causing the wateriness, you'll need an eye examination under the slit-lamp, where microscopic signs will reveal the cause of your symptoms, and help your optometrist determine the best solution for you.

Dr Marie-France Duguay, Optometrist at IRIS Saint-Jerome and IRIS Centropolis

How do you examine the eyes of babies?

A parent cannot be sure whether their baby’s vision is good or not. Some visual defects, such as amblyopia of one eye or congenital cataract, are invisible. Retinoscopy is a technique that allows the optometrist to measure visual defects such as myopia, astigmatism or hyperopia. Ophthalmoscopy allows you to explore eye health. These two techniques require no verbal response from the baby. If an eye is less effective than the other, the development of the child may be compromised in terms of motor skills. Everything happens before they turn 6!

Do children with learning disabilities need a more specific eye exam?

Children with learning disabilities should have a thorough eye examination of their ocular coordination and refraction, under cycloplegia (drops that dilate the pupils and place the lens in a resting condition). It is especially important since even a small visual defect can influence the comfort of the child during their learning process. In some cases, a visual-perceptual-motor test will be recommended. This type of examination is a battery of tests which makes it possible to detect the problems of saccades and of visual memory, to name a few. The Optometrist can therefore work in collaboration with the education specialist, the occupational therapist or any other person who works with the child. It will therefore be an interdisciplinary partnership to improve the child's academic capacity!

Is it possible for a person suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder to have a visual examination?

Any type of visual examination is possible when the healthcare professional is willing to follow the rhythm of the person presenting an autism spectrum disorder. It is extremely important that the optometrist understands the importance of respecting the patient’s limits, fears, tactile defences, etc. If the patient suffering from ASD is a child, the visual examination can be started in the playroom. In some cases, the door of the examination room must remain open. The key point is to never underestimate the abilities of these patients. A thorough examination for ocular coordination and refraction under cycloplegia must be done at some point to ensure the best optical correction and visual exercises personalized to this condition will be prescribed. Several visits may be necessary to achieve a full examination. This is necessary so that anyone can experience better vision, no matter how tough it may be!

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