Why do my glasses hurt?

We've been there. You've ordered new glasses and you're excited to wear them and finally see clearly again. When you put them on things look amazingly clear and wonderful and you're happy... that is until a few hours later when you have a headache and you have to take them off. What a disappointment!

So how can we avoid this? What can we do to make sure you not only see perfectly with your glasses but that they're comfortable too? There are a few steps and unsurprisingly it starts with your frame.

This is not how you should feel when you're wearing your glasses.

This is not how you should feel when you're wearing your glasses.

Picking the right frame

Frames come in all different shapes, sizes and materials. Partly this is for fashion reasons but also because people come in different shapes and sizes too! A frame that is too narrow will pinch on the sides of your head. A frame that is too wide will slide down. We also want to make sure we pick a frame with long enough arms. If the arms are too short your glasses will constantly slide down your nose. If the arms are too long we have to curl them around your ear! You may also have noticed that some frames are made of metal and have nose pads on them while other frames are made of plastic. Frames with nose pads can be adjusted to fit the bridge of your nose perfectly and also allow us to make the frame sit a little higher or lower. Plastic frames cannot be adjusted to fit your nose. Either they fit you, or they don't. That's part of why it's so important to try on frames before you buy them!

Picking the right lenses

Lens selection is very important for having comfortable glasses, especially if you have a higher prescription. You can pick a frame that fits really well and is light as air but if you get the wrong lens material it can end up still being heavy. This doesn't have to be complicated but it's something people sometimes overlook.

Having your frames adjusted

One of the best parts of getting your frame from a professional is making sure they're properly adjusted for you. A frame that is the right size and shape with the right lenses can still be uncomfortable if it's not fitting well! It might pinch behind your ears, slide down your nose, sit crooked on your face or sometimes your vision might even be blurry or distorted if the glasses aren't adjusted properly! Our opticians are experts at making sure that your frames are properly adjusted to avoid having problems.

So what do you do if you know you have the right frame with the right lens and it's been adjusted and it's still bothering you? Come on back in and have the adjustment tweaked! Sometimes what looks and feels great when we adjust them ends up pressing on a pressure point. The area behind our ears can be very sensitive and if your glasses are lightly pressing in just the wrong spot it can cause a lot of discomfort! The problem is it often takes a few hours for that to be something you notice. Obviously we try to anticipate problems like that but sometimes there's no way to know what will work until we try. The good news is that adjustments are always free at our clinic so if your glasses are bothering you stop in and let us help!

Still having issues? Things look distorted, blurred or something else isn't quite right? Come back soon for a new blog post about what to do if your vision is blurry with your new glasses.

Not sure if your glasses need adjusting? Feel free to contact us on TwitterFacebookGoogle +, via our website or phone us at (403) 474-6744. 

So if I come in for an eye exam, what are you going to do to me?

If you’ve been reading my blog you know there are a lot of reasons to come in for an eye exam even if you feel that your vision is perfect and that you don’t need glasses. You already understand that there’s the health and muscle function side of an eye exam that is just as important as how well you see. For many people who have never had an eye exam though they wonder what is involved. Anything new can be uncomfortable and if you feel like everything is fine people hesitate to come in. So let’s go over what an eye exam is all about.

When you first come for a visit we’re going to have you fill in a nice form with a lot of your personal medical information. We need this to rule in  or out certain eye problems and to know a bit more about your health. All of this information is kept strictly private and cannot be released to anyone or any group without your consent (this is true of ALL medical and personal information we obtain).

Once you’re all checked in there are some preliminary tests done by our optician. At Eye Spy Optometry we first get an estimate of how well your eyes are focusing using a machine called an auto-refractor. These results are what I use as a starting point to narrow down an exact prescription. Next, we take pictures of the back of your eye as well as scans of both your optic nerves and your maculae. The optic nerve is what sends the information back to your brain and is affected in many disorders including glaucoma. The macula is the part of your eye used for fine central detail. There are many things that could go wrong here too but one of the most common is macular degeneration. These scans give us the ability to detect changes that may be related to an eye condition much earlier than just looking inside of the eye.

Next you get to see me. I’ll review your medication and health information with you and then we jump right in. I check to see how you’re seeing with glasses if you have them, without if you don’t. I also check to see how well the eyes are working together and check pupils for signs of any neurological concerns. What comes next is the stereotypical part of the exam. I put a machine called a phoropter in front of your face and show you a variety of lenses, asking you which makes the image at the end of the room better. This is the part of the exam that causes people the most stress. Don’t worry though! My job is to help you through it and make sure we don’t come out with the wrong prescription. You can’t fail the test, I promise, because it isn’t a pass/fail sort of test! I will also have a look at the health of your eyes, inside and out, and finally I’ll check the pressure in your eyes, but not with that puff of air test!

This is a traditional phoropter (used in the 'Which is better, one or two?' test). At Eye Spy Optometry we have a more modern, digital phoropter.

This is a traditional phoropter (used in the 'Which is better, one or two?' test). At Eye Spy Optometry we have a more modern, digital phoropter.

The final step to your eye exam is to review everything. I’ll show you the photos and scans and explain what they mean, discuss any health concerns and review your prescription, if there is one. I’ll make any recommendations about how to help keep your eyes healthy or improve your vision that make sense based off of your results. Most importantly though, I’ll answer your questions. I do my very best to make sure everything we review together is clear but sometimes jargon slips in. Always feel comfortable asking questions and I’ll do my best to make sure it all makes sense.

If you do happen to need glasses there is ONE more thing that happens. You get to pick out frames! That’s the fun part of the exam. There are so many different colours, shapes and styles to pick from and wide range of prices to suit every budget that finding something that works for you is fun and stress free.

So book an appointment today! You know you should get everything checked out even if your vision is great. Now that you know what we do when you come to see us there’s no excuse not to give us a call at (403) 474-6744 or book online here.

As always, any questions feel free to contact us on Twitter, Facebook, Google + or via our website.

Hyperopia - A frustrating lack of focus

Much like myopia (or nearsightedness), hyperopia isn't a word you hear very often. If you've heard the term if was likely in your optometrists' office and you probably have it. Your doctor of optometry might have taken the easier route though and called it by it's common, though misleading, name 'farsightedness'.

I don't know about you but when I see the word farsighted it implies that you can see far away but not up close. That simply isn't true. A farsighted person may see clearly at all distances, may have trouble at near or may have trouble seeing at all distances! To understand why we need to understand what hyperopia really is.

Hyperopia occurs when the eye is 'too weak' and light focuses behind the retina. This generally is because either the cornea (the front of the eye) is too flat OR the eye is too short (it may be a combination of both). We are all born somewhat farsighted and as we age our eyes get bigger and the farsightedness decreases. In some people the farsightedness never fully goes away. Depending on how much farsightedness there is it can cause problems like amblyopia, only cause headaches and strain while reading or even go completely unnoticed for many years. How is this possible!?

Being able to see clearly without glasses while being farsighted is all thanks to the lens inside of the eye. Its job is to flex and change shape so we can see all distances clearly without needing reading glasses. One way of thinking is that when we are reading our eyes, without the lens, would be 'too weak'. The lens changing shape gives us more focusing power so we can see. People with hyperopia have eyes that are 'too weak' at all distances, not just looking up close. The natural lens in the eye compensates for the eye being too weak both far away and up close. If they have a mild amount of farsightedness this usually doesn't cause problems but as the prescription goes up the eye and lens have a harder and harder time compensating for the uncorrected hyperopia! This can lead headaches, eyestrain or blurred vision which in children can cause amblyopia.

Light focuses behind the retina in hyperopia

One of the very frustrating things about hyperopia is that in many people it doesn't become an issue until they are in their 40's. Hyperopia is different from presbyopia (the need for reading glasses) but the same thing that causes us to need reading glasses also causes distance vision to become blurrier in farsighted people. Remember how I mentioned that the lens in the eye compensates for the eye being too weak? Eventually, in all of us, that lens doesn't work as well as it once did. That will usually start with trouble reading but in farsighted people they also eventually have blurred distance vision as well. Going from never needing glasses to needing them to see at all distances is immensely frustrating to my farsighted patients and is sometimes difficult to adapt to.

So how do we deal with farsightedness? Glasses and contact lenses are the most common and easiest forms of treatment. Both glasses and contacts refocus the light coming into the eye allowing it to focus on the back of the eye clearly. You can also consider surgery, like LASIK or PRK though they don't work as well for hyperopia as they do myopia. I'll talk about surgical options more in another blog.

If you have any questions about this or anything else feel free to contact us on TwitterFacebookGoogle +, via our website or phone us at (403) 474-6744.

Myopia? What's myopia?

Myopia is one of the most common eye conditions out there. I bet many of you reading this blog have myopia! So what is it? Myopia is the official, technical term for nearsightedness. Myopia affects approximately 40% of the North American population making it one of the most common vision problems. Despite that, many people don't really understand what myopia is! Let's shed some light on this important topic.

Myopia occurs when the eye is 'too strong' and light focuses too soon. This generally is because either the cornea (the front of the eye) is too steep OR the eye is too long (more commonly it's a combination of both). Most of us, including me, start becoming nearsighted in childhood and our vision gets progressively worse until early adulthood (around 25) at which point it stabilizes. In some cases myopia still gets worse even once we're in adulthood. It's important to remember that 'stable' vision really just means it isn't changing as much or as quickly. There are always some small changes year to year so the term stable is a bit misleading.

Luckily, myopia is very easy to treat. Glasses and contact lenses are the most common and easiest forms of treatment. Both glasses and contacts refocus the light coming into the eye allowing it to focus on the back of the eye clearly. You can also consider surgery, like LASIK or PRK which I'll talk about more in another blog.

The most common question I get from people about nearsightedness is how they can prevent it from getting worse. There are a few techniques that may help reduce how quickly a person becomes nearsighted or reduce how nearsighted they become and I'll discuss them all in more detail in a future blog. Current options to control myopia include multifocal contact lenses, Ortho-K lenses, progressives/bifocal glasses and atropine drops. The two that have shown the most success have been multifocal contacts and Ortho-K lenses and are believed to work by reducing defocus in the peripheral retina (meaning the outer edge of your eye isn't as out of focus as it might be with traditional lenses).

The biggest challenge facing us with myopia is that we still do not fully understand it. Your genetics play a role in whether you end up nearsighted or not but it isn't the whole story. Some recent research has found that people who spend more time outside have lower nearsighted prescriptions than those that spend more time indoors. The jury is still out on whether this is related to lower vitamin D levels, due to things just being further away or something else we haven't thought of yet.

If you have any questions about this or anything else feel free to contact us on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, via our website or phone us at (403) 474-6744.


Snap! - what to do when your glasses break

If you wear glasses chances are you've been in the nasty situation of having your glasses break. It's possible you stepped on them, they fell onto something hard, the dog ate them or they were just getting old and snapped. No matter how it happened you have an issue because you need those things to see. I always recommend that people have a back up or spare pair of glasses for situations like this but I know from personal experience that glasses seem to break at the worst possible time and usually when you don't have a spare pair.

The first question everyone asks is "Can this be fixed?" The answer is frustrating because it really depends on what type of damage has happened. We generally need to see the frame to know if we can do a quick repair, whether we need to order in parts or if the glasses are a lost cause.

Before I mention some common breaks and what we can and cannot do about them here are some things we cannot do and some things you shouldn't do.

Things we can't do

Sometimes when a frame breaks people wonder if they can use their same lenses in a new frame. Generally this is a really bad idea. Lenses are set into your frame in a very specific way so that the optical centre of the lens lines up with your pupil. In the process of cutting a lens down and putting it into a new frame this is unlikely to line up properly and will lead to poor vision and eye strain. The frame chosen also needs to be the same size and shape or smaller in order to insert the lenses and this often restricts you to frames that don't actually fit you well. For a progressive (no line bifocal) it's essentially impossible to reuse the lens without cutting off the reading portion and having the lenses sit at the wrong height, angle and distance between the eyes resulting in terrible vision at all distances, distortion and eye strain.

Things you shouldn't do

Never, ever, ever super glue your frame. If you have a warranty on your frame and you use super glue the warranty will be void. Please don't do this. I would much rather you didn't have to pay for your repair and I bet you'd rather not pay either.

Never, EVER use superglue on your glasses. Never.

And now for those common breaks and what we can and cannot do.

The temple or 'arm' of the frame has broken off

If the arm of the glasses has come off it might just be a missing screw. If that's all it is we can fix that very easily for you and at no charge! If it looks like the picture below where the screw is still in place and the metal itself has snapped we would have to order in a new arm to fix it. If the frame is older and has been discontinued then unfortunately there isn't anything we can order. In a case like this we do have special shrink wrap that can be used to solidly hold the arm in place (it's much, much better than tape, I promise) but you won't be able to bend the arm anymore and it will be obvious that there's shrink wrap on your glasses. It's not perfect but it is a solution that allows you to still wear your glasses until you are able to get new glasses.

Sometimes when a temple or 'arm' breaks off it's an easy fix. Sometimes we have to order in a new part. In this picture we would need to get a new part to fix this break.

The arm has snapped in half or the frame has broken in the middle or around the lens

This is a nasty one. If the frame is metal, but not titanium, it can be soldered back together but the break remains a weak point and may break again. If the frame is plastic or titanium there is no way to repair it and a new part needs to be ordered. If the break is right in the middle over the nose we can use shrink wrap to temporarily hold it together but there is a good chance you will look like you starred in the Revenge of the Nerds. If the frame is older it again may have been discontinued and the part may not be available.

This kind of break is the worst and a new part almost always has to be ordered.

The nose pads have broken off or are missing

If the nose pad itself (the clear plastic oval) is missing or has broken off that's an easy repair. We have lots of nose pads and even the tiny nose pad screws in our office so there's no need to suffer by having the metal part dig into your skin. We don't charge for this type of repair so there's no reason not to get it fixed! If the metal part is broken (that's the upside down U shaped part that connects the nose pad to the rest of the frame) it can be soldered if it's metal but not titanium though this is difficult. For most metal frames and all titanium frames a new piece needs to be ordered assuming the frame has not been discontinued.

Nose pads are great at keeping your frames sitting in the right place and staying comfortable... unless they're broken and then it feels like you have a knife stabbing into your nose.

At our office we really, really hate it when a frame breaks and we can't get parts anymore because it's been discontinued. We don't carry discontinued frames and all of our frames come with at least a one year warranty for manufacturer's defects (meaning don't run it over with your car and expect the manufacturer to replace everything at no charge but anything reasonable is covered). It's also important to keep in mind that 'old' is relative. Often a frame that is only 1 or 2 years old is 'old' in the frame world and may have been discontinued (much like if you bought a sweater you really liked and two years later it ripped. If you went to get same sweater there would be a good chance it's not made anymore).

There are going to be situations where you might come in with a frame you bought elsewhere or even one you got from us that cannot be repaired because the parts are no longer made. We will always work with you to find a solution no matter what the situation is and no matter where you bought the frame. We don't want to leave you high and dry (and visually impaired)!

If you have a broken frame and want to know if it can be fixed feel free to bring your frame to us or contact us on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, via our website or phone us at (403) 474-6744.

More questions? Book now and speak with one of our doctors!