Fortunately, there are only a few true ocular emergencies. However, it is sometimes difficult for individuals to know if their condition needs immediate evaluation or not.
If you experience any of the events listed below, you need additional evaluation and should contact our office or your eye care specialist immediately.

1. Flashes, floaters, or sudden change in the quality of vision.

2. Pain or redness in an eye which has recently undergone a surgical procedure, such as cataract removal or LASIK Surgery.

3. Direct exposure of the eye to chemicals such as acids, bases, or other caustic substances.

4. Severe injury or direct trauma to the eye.

5. Acute pain immediately upon removal of your contact lenses which does not subside within a few minutes after removal.

In its early stages, glaucoma is a symptomless disease of the optic nerve. Most cases of glaucoma have a genetic origin, but there are several other possible causes. Even people with normal eye pressure can develop glaucoma. Medically, the exact biological mechanism for glaucoma is still not fully understood. However, it is known that optic nerve damage progresses faster in the presence of elevated intraocular pressure. Treating the eye pressure with medical eye drops or surgery can slow or halt the progression of this disease. A healthy life style which includes regular exercise can also be a factor in maintaining optimal eye pressure.

Glaucoma still remains the number one cause of blindness in America; because people with glaucoma have no way to appreciate the severity of their condition until the disease has robbed them of much of their functional peripheral vision.Only a comprehensive eye exam, with a dilated evaluation of the optic nerve and imaging with peripheral visual field testing can confirm the presence of this eye disease.

Open angle glaucoma does not cause acute pain or sudden vision loss. In fact, the functional decline is so gradual that people can adapt to the changes as the disease progresses. They may not notice until they have an accident or until the disease affects their central vision. Unfortunately, by then there is no way to regain what vision is lost and additional damage is more likely.

Nerve cupping

Peripheral Vision Loss

If you are found to be at risk for Glaucoma

  • You may be told you have one or more risks factors for developing glaucoma. These could include the following:
    Elevated intraocular pressure (typically above 20)
  • Optic nerves that show a large amount of “cupping”
  • High Amounts of Nearsightedness or Farsightedness
  • Race or Ethnicity – glaucoma is more common in people of African descent as well as people from Asia.
  • Other family members with glaucoma (specifically a sibling but multiple family members including mother and father is significant)

The more risk factors one has the more likely they will need a glaucoma specific evaluation.

The Glaucoma Evaluation

It is important to know definitively if a patient has the disease before treatment is started, because glaucoma treatment tends to be lifelong once started.
Patients will have to be monitored more frequently and have at least one visual field test and one image of their optic nerve every year. With regular follow up visits, we can detect the signs of glaucoma sooner and better monitor any progression of the disease.

Glaucoma Treatment

Each case of glaucoma is unique, and each person must have the treatment of their disease tailored to the severity of their condition and how that treatment interacts with their other systemic health issues. When patients have exceptionally complex cases or conventional therapy seems to be ineffective, other specialists may be employed who can perform surgery on the eye to lower the pressure beyond what topical therapy can achieve.

At Optometric Associates, we take the time to keep you informed of you condition and your options. Our state-of the-art technology can detect glaucoma at its early stages, and accurately detect any changes in your condition. We have years of experience in treating glaucoma, and we value your eye health as much as our own.

Dry eye is a chronic condition in which the body does not produce enough tears, or poor quality tears that don’t sufficiently lubricate the eye. Without proper tear lubrication, our eyes can become very irritated. Common symptoms include:

  • Burning or stinging
  • Unstable or blurry vision
  • Redness
  • A “gritty” sensation
  • Contact lens intolerance
  • Tired, fatigued eyes
  • Bouts of excessive watering

Patients with severe cases of dry eyes may actually experience vision impairments caused by damage to the surface of the eye. Fortunately, dry eye treatments are available to help the eye produce more of its own natural tears and also manage inflammation. Unfortunately, our long Maine winters contribute significantly to the symptoms of dry eye disease.

Did you know…

that dry eye is a very common condition among residents over age 50? The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that nearly 4.9 million Americans over age 50 are suffering from dry eye, with women outnumbering men nearly 2 to 1. There are many reasons why people develop dry eye, including environmental conditions, the use of certain medications, and the long-term use of contact lenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I be treated for dry eye?

The only way of knowing whether you need treatment for dry eye is by visiting your eye doctor for a diagnostic exam. Your eye doctor may recommend treatment if you are found to have abnormal tear production or other factors that are contributing to dryness on the surface of your eyes.

What things can make dry eye disease worse?

  • Low humidity environments
  • Some oral medicines, such as antihistamines, birth control pills, and some high blood pressure medications
  • Extended screen time on computers, phones, and tablets
  • Advancing age
  • Some glaucoma medicines, and also drops that “get the red out,” such as Visine
  • Blepharitis, which is an infection of the eyelids that affects tear production and causes eye irritation
  • Some contact lenses and lens solutions

The best way to start improving your dry eye symptoms is to visit our dry eye treatment center. We can perform a complete analysis of your dry eye profile and recommend a targeted strategy to improve your discomfort.

What should I expect during treatment for dry eye?

There are several ways of treating dry eye. Together with your optometrist, you will decide upon the treatment that best fits your needs. At Optometric Associates we are a Dry Eye Treatment Center of Excellence. Our state-of-the-art dry diagnostic testing can help determine what type of dry eye disease you have and effectively target your personal treatment strategy. This may include:

  • Supplementing your natural tears with artificial tears
  • Prescription medicines designed to increase natural tear production and/or treat the inflamed ocular surface
  • Improving natural tear quality with omega-3 supplements, such as Nordic Naturals
  • In-office treatments to enhance natural tear production and quality, such as Lipiflow
  • At-home treatments, such as a Bruder mask, or lid therapies like Hypochlor and Avenova
  • In-office and at-home treatments for blepharitis
  • Punctal Plugs, which conserve your natural tears by blocking tear drainage

What is Lipiflow? I’ve never heard of it-

Lipiflow is our most innovative and exciting new dry eye treatment. This has provided significant relief to many of our patients who only experienced very temporary relief from artificial tears, or suffered from significant discomfort from their contact lenses. Lipiflow provides precise thermal pulsation to the meibomian tear glands to enhance tear quality and ocular discomfort. This system is approved by the FDA for treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction and evaporative dry eye. To learn more about Lipiflow, visit dryeyeandmgd.com

A retinal exam – also referred to as an ophthalmoscopy – is an in-office screening used to examine the back of your eye. Checking the retina is important because a simple examination can reveal the presence of a number of underlying conditions, including diabetes, retinal detachment, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cancer. Early diagnosis of these disorders is important for minimizing the risk of vision loss and other health complications.

Did you know?

It is important that you share information about your health history with your eye doctor prior to your examination. This is especially true if you are visiting a new eye doctor or you have had changes in your health since your last screening. Bring a list of your medications and allergies, and be sure to discuss any recent or chronic illnesses you have had.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I get a retinal exam?

You should have a retinal exam on a regular basis – preferably every year at your periodic eye check-up. Because retinal exams can reveal so many disorders and diseases, patients of all ages – including school-age children – should have a retinal exam each year.

What should I expect during my retinal exam?

Prior to your exam, your eye doctor will put drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. He or she will then peer into the back of your eye using a special instrument called an ophthalmoscope. Through this device, your eye doctor will be able to view the blood vessels and tissues that surround the retina.

What happens after my retinal exam is over?

Following your exam, you may experience some vision blurring or sensitivity to light due to your dilated pupil. Side effects are only temporary, however, and you should be able to return to your normal routine soon after leaving the office. If your eye doctor finds anything unusual or abnormal during your retinal exam, you may need additional screenings.

LASIK is a laser eye surgery used to correct refractive errors of the eye. Patients usually opt for LASIK when they tire of wearing corrective lenses, such as contacts or glasses. Although there are no guarantees for treatment, the vast majority of LASIK patients report monumental improvements in their vision – many with 20/20. LASIK eye surgery has a tremendous success rate, with approximately 97 percent of patients reporting satisfactory results.

Did you know…

that in 2001, LASIK refractive eye surgery became the most common elective surgery in America? Since that time, millions of people have had their vision corrected with LASIK in more than 1,000 LASIK eye centers across the country. LASIK’s excellent track record has made it a popular choice for vision correction in the U.S. It is so safe, that there has never been a single instance of blindness reported as a result of LASIK treatment!

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate for LASIK?

You could be a candidate for LASIK if you are at least 18 years of age and suffer from a refractive error that impairs your vision. You must have had stable vision for a minimum of 1 year prior to your treatment date, and your eyes must be healthy and free of diseases and infections. To find out more about LASIK and whether you are a candidate for the procedure, contact your eye doctor today.

What should I expect during LASIK surgery?

Your eye doctor will numb your eyes using anesthetic eye drops. Once your eye is numb, your doctor will create a flap on your eye and lift it to expose the cornea. Your vision may become very blurry, but that is normal. A cool laser will reshape your corneal tissue, and the flap will be placed gently back over your eye. It is normal to experience some irritation in your eye in the hours immediately following your surgery, but this should subside by the morning after your procedure.

Will I need to follow any special instructions after my treatment?

Your eye will heal quickly, but it is important to avoid rubbing it or applying pressure to it in the days following your procedure. After resting the day of your procedure, you may be capable of returning to work as soon as the following day. As a precaution, you may be advised to avoid wearing eye make-up or applying any topical products to the area around your eyes in the first 14 days following LASIK surgery.

Eyeglasses are removable lenses used to correct vision impairments. Some, such as reading glasses, can be purchased over the counter at local drug stores. Others, such as those used to treat refractive errors like myopia and hyperopia, are available only by prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist. In cities around the world, including, eyeglasses are not only a solution for vision impairments but also fashionable accessories for people of all ages. In most cases, vision patients select a frame – usually made of metal or plastic, and then an eyeglass technician sculpts prescriptive lenses to fit it.

Did you know…

that eye glasses have been used to treat refractive errors for more than 700 years? They were once hand-held but eventually evolved into the wearable lenses we have today. Of the 143 million Americans who wear prescriptive eyewear, more than 90 million of them choose eyeglasses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to wear eyeglasses?

You may need to wear corrective lenses, such as eyeglasses, if you experience difficulty seeing clearly at a distance, up close, or while reading a book. The only way of knowing the type of glasses you may need is by scheduling an eye examination with your eye doctor.

What should I expect when wearing eyeglasses?

If you need to wear eyeglasses, they will be adjusted and customized to comfortably fit your face at the time of purchase. You’ll need to wear them according to the recommendations of your eye doctor, such as for driving or while reading a book. Keep in mind that it may take some time to adjust to eyeglasses, as some patients experience mild vision distortion during the first few days or hours of initial wear.

Do I need to follow any special instructions while wearing eyeglasses?

You will need to keep your eyeglasses clean in order to reap the maximum benefits from your corrective lenses. If possible, only clean your lenses using a microfiber cloth and eyeglass solution. Using paper towels or other cleaning materials can cause abrasions to the lens.

Eye exams are professional screenings used to evaluate the health of the eye and diagnose vision impairments and disease. Each is comprised of a series of several tests that analyze various functions of the eye, such as color differentiation, distance vision, and peripheral awareness. A comprehensive eye exam can identify vision complications during their earliest stages, providing eye doctors the opportunity to treat them more easily. A comprehensive eye exam will consist of:

Did you know…

that a periodic eye exam can reveal underlying health issues long before other symptoms are present? In addition to identifying vision complications and eye disease, a comprehensive eye examination can also reveal conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or even a brain tumor. The American Optometric Association recommends that adults under age 60 undergo an eye exam at least once every two years. At-risk patients and patients over age 60 should get an eye exam annually.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m healthy and can see clearly. Do I need an eye exam?

Yes. Eye examinations can reveal much more than vision impairments – they can save lives. If you haven’t had an eye exam in the past 12 to 24 months, contact your eye doctor to schedule an appointment.

What should I expect during my eye examination?

Your eye exam will take approximately half an hour and will include a series of tests using advanced optometric machinery. You will also be asked about your medical history and any vision complications you may be experiencing. Eye exams typically do not hurt, but you can expect to look into bright lights or have air blown into your eyes during your visit.

What should I expect following my appointment?

If you are given a clean bill of health with no vision impairments, you can return to your normal activities and plan to visit your eye doctor again in one to two year. If you are found to have refractive errors, you may be given a prescription for corrective lenses. In cases where a disease is present, you may be referred to a vision or medical specialist for further treatment.

Cataracts are common, age-related clouding of the clear lens that covers the eye. Though they are not dangerous or threatening to the health of the eye, cataracts can be an inconvenience when performing seemingly routine tasks, such as reading, driving, cooking, or watching TV. Cataracts often start small and evolve into larger vision obstructions. Some of the most common symptoms of cataracts include clouded and blurred vision, as well as impaired night vision, light sensitivity, or seeing halos around lights. Treatment for cataracts usually begins conservatively using eyeglasses or simply turning on brighter lights. But as cataracts progress, they may require vision restoration surgery.

Did you know…

that more than 50 percent of Americans age 80 or older either have at least one eye cataract or otherwise have already had one or more cataracts removed? The risk of getting cataracts increases with age, but that doesn’t mean that younger people in their 40’s and 50’s can’t get them too. In order to lower your risk of getting cataracts, the National Eye Institute recommends protecting your eyes with brimmed hats and a nutritious diet full of leafy green vegetables and antioxidant-rich foods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I see an eye doctor about cataracts?

Although you should be seeing your eye doctor regularly for eye exams, it is important to make an appointment at the first sign of vision changes. If you have not had any vision changes, but your are age 60 or older, you should be getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam and the minimum of one time every two years.

What should I expect if I need cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is a very safe procedure performed every day across the U.S. If you require surgery on both eyes, note that only one eye will be operated on at a time. During the surgery, your eye will be numbed and you may be placed under sedation to help you relax during the procedure. Using a special instrument – often a laser – your eye doctor will carefully remove the clouded lens from your eye and replace it with an artificial one made of silicone, plastic, or acrylic. Because cataract removal is an outpatient procedure, you should be able to return home the same day as your surgery.

Will I need to follow-up with my eye doctor or follow any post-operative instructions?

Cataract surgery is successful in about 98 percent of all cases. Following the post-operative instructions of your eye doctor can help improve your chances of a positive outcome. You will experience some mild itching following your surgery, as well as some sensitivity to light. Be sure to use the eye drops prescribed to you in the days following your procedure and avoid lifting heavy objects or putting pressure on the eyes during the healing period.

Children’s vision care should begin at birth and continue throughout childhood at regular intervals. At birth, babies do not have a fully developed visual system. Birth history, including prematurity and a low APGAR score is an early warning that a child may be at risk for visual issues. A family history of amblyopia, or “lazy eye” is very important, since many of these issues are genetic in nature.

Did you know…

It takes a full year for the visual system to reach full maturity after birth. Without a clear retinal image, the retinal will never develop properly. This can inhibit depth perception as well as visual potential.
An estimated one in every four children suffers from some kind of vision problem.
Often these problems go undetected throughout childhood. This stems from screenings that are not capable of detecting certain vision issues, and children not being able to vocalize what they are not seeing.
In fact, it is estimated that as many as 11 percent of all U.S. teenagers have visual problems/inefficiencies that have not been diagnosed or treated.
With our increasing use of electronic devices and higher rates of reading at younger ages, many studies have shown increasing rates of nearsightedness children. Our future generations cannot afford to go without proper eye care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I have my child’s eyes examined?

Yes. Your child’s first eye exam should occur before he/ she turns 12 months of age. If their first assessment is normal; then the next exam can come around 3 years of age and again just prior to entering Kindergarten.
However, you know your child best. If you detect changes in behavior such as squinting, frequent blinking, or eye misalignment, be sure to schedule an appointment for your child to be evaluated.

What should I expect during my child’s eye examination?

At the Home of Healthier eyes we love kids and try to make the first exam fun for them, and informative for parents. We use kid-friendly eye charts and toys to gain their attention. When it comes to the retinal exam, we do recommend dilation at the first appointment. We have a very effective “eye mist” that gets the job done without tears. However, do expect that your child’s first exam may take longer, so budget for at least an hour in the office.

What should I be doing between examinations to protect my child’s eyes?

Make sure that you communicate with your child’s teachers to verify that school performance or behavior does not seem to be related to your child’s vision. Have them report on any signs of fatigue at the end of the day or avoidance of near activity during class activity.
With rapid growth, vision in a child can change sometimes in as little as 6 months. We are here for you and your kids should you need us.

Contact lenses are a discreet way of managing vision impairments without being tied to a pair of glasses. Many optometric patients choose contacts over eyeglasses because they are convenient, comfortable, and capable of correcting vision without affecting appearance. There are two classifications of contacts – soft and hard. Soft lenses are the most popular and are most commonly used to treat people with age-related vision loss, astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness. They form to the shape of the eye and tend to stay in place for the duration of wear. Hard lenses, on the other hand, can also be used to treat most vision impairments, but are less versatile and more likely to move out of place. Patients who choose hard lenses typically do so in favor of the crisper and clearer vision they achieve with them.

Did you know…

that more than 30 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses? The majority of those people are females over the age of 25 who wear soft lenses. However, children as young as 10 years old could be candidates for contacts so long as they are capable of following all wear and care instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate for contact lenses?

You may be a candidate for contact lenses if you require vision correction lenses and are looking for a non-surgical alternative to eyeglasses. To find out if contacts are right for you, schedule an appointment with you eye doctor.

What should I expect when I am fitted for contact lenses?

Your eye doctor will conduct a thorough eye exam and prescribe a contact lens brand and power based on the results of your eye exam and your frequency of wear. You’ll be fitted with a trial pair of lenses before you leave the office and asked to return for a follow-up visit several days or weeks later.

How should I care for my eyes and contacts after my appointment?

You will be given instructions designed to help you protect your new contacts, as well as your eyes. If you fail to follow these instructions, you risk getting a corneal infection that could threaten your sight. Most importantly, you’ll be instructed to wash your hands prior to handling your contacts. Depending on the type of lenses you wear, you may also need to remove your contacts at night before bed.

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