What options are available for my eyeglasses.

June 27th, 2011

Whether you are shopping for eyeglasses in Boise, ID or anywhere else for that matter, you should be aware of the different options available to you. This post will not discuss different optical designs such as progressives vs single vision but rather the options available to any lenses.

The first consideration is what type of material you want your glasses to be made of. In the old days glasses were made of…well…glass. While it is true that you can still get glass lenses, I don’t recommend them. First any foremost, glass can shatter. For that reason alone I feel they present an undue risk otherwise not present in other materials. Also, they will be much heavier than their resin counterparts. Keep in mind that glass is still the most scratch resistant material available, but we’ll discuss some coatings that can help with that later. The most basic “resin” type of material is called CR 39 (aka “plastic” lenses). This is the cheapest lens type, but you do get what you pay for. These lenses are easily scratched and have no UV or scratch protection inherent in the lens. However, you can add those via coating if you wish. My favorite type of material for people with low to moderate prescription power is polycarbonate. Polycarbonate costs only a little more that CR-39 but includes a basic scratch protection as well as UV protection. More importantly polycarbonate is very impact resistant and will be thinner and lighter than CR-39. A very similar lens to polycarbonate is called trivex, which is touted to be a bit more impact resistant than standard polycarbonate, is also a little more expensive than polycarbonate. We recommend polycarbonate to any patient under the age of 18 for safety considerations.

The next class of lenses is called high index lenses. This name relates to the “index of refraction” of the lens. This property defines how thick or thin a lens can be made in a given prescription. Basically, the higher the number, the thinner the lens. Also, the higher the number, the higher the price as well. The index values are defined as ,1.6, 1.67, 1.70, and 1.74. There are higher index lenses available but cost becomes a limiting factor. The primary benefit of these lenses is the ability to thin and lighten the lenses as much as possible for those who have higher prescriptions. I, myself wear the 1.74 index lenses and I love them.

Another option available from the polycarbonate level and above is called the aspheric cut. Aspheric is a different way of making the lenses which reduces some distortions in the lenses and allows the lenses to be thinner in the center. However, we really only recommend this on a case by case basis, as not everyone will notice improvement from a non-aspheric lens to an aspheric one.

Coatings are varied and can function to add scratch resistance, UV protection, or tinting to a lens. I personally love an anti-reflection coating. The coatings (AKA A.R., or glare coatings) basically improve the efficiency of light travel through the lenses hence decrease the amount of scatter on the lens surface. This causes much less glare. This coating is especially useful for those who work on computers, in office environments, or those who are distracted by oncoming headlights while night driving. They also help reduce a phenomenon known a “total internal reflection” which occurs on high prescription lenses. AR coating are priced at different levels. The thing to remember is that the more you pay for the coating, the better the scratch resistance (and the warranty), the more smudge protection, and water resistance. Besides tinting a lens darker, you can alternatively opt to have a polarized lens. A polarized lens filters light differently than a tinted one and hence with polarized lenses you get vastly better glare reduction than a tint, however, it is more expenses as well.

My last topic concerns transition lenses (aka photochromics). These lenses are designed to darken when you go outside, and clear when you come indoors. They are useful in some, but not all cases. The biggest downfall of these lenses is that the require direct UV light in order to transition. Since most car windshields contain UV blocker, then these lenses don’t function well for driving. They do however work very well for those who work outside or enjoy outdoor activities.

I hope you’ve learned something from this post. If you are shopping for eyeglasses in Boise, ID, why not swing by.

Clearview Family Eyecare has an optical in Boise Idaho.

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Are “discount” eye glasses really a discount?

June 8th, 2011

Lets face it, in this world the old adage almost always proves true…”you get what you pay for”. And in the world of eyeglasses, it is equally as true. We advise our clients that you don’t need to purchase the most expensive pair of eyeglasses in order to get a high quality, durable pair with excellent optical quality. However, you do need to spend a minimum amount of your hard earned cash to ensure that you’re not buying a piece of junk. “How much should I be spending?” you might ask. Well, we advise that you should first figure out what you need them for. If strictly a “spare pair” of glasses that you will likely not wear except in an emergency or when you remove your contacts, then maybe you can get away with the cheap stuff available at most “big box” retailers or on discount online opticals. One note about those ultra cheap online retailers; the vast majority of them are operating overseas in places like China and India, outside of the jurisdiction of the US. Keep in mind that the same quality controls will not apply to these sorts of places, however they can be purchased at amazingly cheap prices. If you will be needing a “main pair” for day in/ day out use, then we recommend spending a little more on something that will last longer and scratch less. We’ll cover add-ons and options in another post but for now please be aware that there is a multitude of different options you can add on to improve durability, increase scratch resistance, tint, or thin your lenses. These should be approached with a cost-benefit mentality. In other words, do your specific needs justify the expense of the additional option. On a different note, you should always ask specific questions regarding the warranty of your eyewear. Different shops and even different options will affect whether there is, or the specifics of, the warranty of your glasses. In my opinion, if there is no warranty then you should walk away, unless the price is so cheap that you could get multiple pairs in case of problems. Often it is a wise investment to spend a little more up front to prevent major expenses down the road. As long as you are taking good care of your good quality eyewear, you can expect a life of your glasses to range from 2-10 years. Keep in mind that your prescription may change long before that. This brings up one more point. If your vision has been changing rapidly over the past year or so, then you could get away with a lower quality pair, as they will need replacement sooner than later. But if your prescription has been stable for years then I advise to spend a little more and get a pair that will hold up over time.

My next post will cover the multitude of options available for eyeglasses.

Dr. N

If my contact lenses still feel comfortable, can I wear them longer than recommended?

August 14th, 2009

No. After recommended wear time, contact lenses can deteriorate in quality and are no longer safe for your eyes. You’re putting your eyes at risk for serious eye infections due to lack of oxygen to your eyes from deteriorated lenses and accumulation of bacteria. We also recommend not sleeping with your contacts. Recent studies have shown increased risk of infection in those sleeping in lenses. The risk increases with number of nights worn. We also recommend that all contact wearers have current prescription eyeglasses as backup in case of infections or to use when your contacts are out of date.

Check out ClearView Family Eyecare for the best in Boise Eyecare.

What to expect with new eyeglasses.

June 16th, 2009

Here is the education that we typically give when we dispense a pair of eyeglasses.

First, ANY change in prescription will mean that you will need to adapt to the new glasses for a period of about 2 weeks. For at least the first 2 weeks, don’t switch back and fourth between new and old glasses. Wear only the new glasses and wear them as much as possible.

It is normal for you to experience a strange sensation when you are adapting to new glasses. This is called the swim effect. You may perceive it as things moving in a strange way near the edges of the lenses especially when you get up or move around. This is a common part of adapting to new lenses and will fade away over the first 2 weeks if you wear your glasses frequently.

Many times people will accidentally scratch their lenses by cleaning them improperly. On order to avoid that, please follow these steps when cleaning.
1) Only use 100% cotton cloth OR the micro-fiber lens cloth to clean the lens. Do NOT use paper towel, Kleenex, tissue paper, toilet tissues, or shirts to clean you lenses. Do not use towels or shammys used for cars.
2) Make sure there is no dirt on your lens or lens cloth. Dirt will act like sandpaper when trapped between a lens and cloth.
3) You may wash you eyeglasses with soap and water. The type od soap is important. Use only CLEAR LIQUID HAND SOAP. Do not use dish washing soap. DO NOT use any soap that has color to it. For example white, pink, or blue hand soaps are colored due to the abrasive hand cleaner. Those are great for getting grease of your hands but will scratch your lenses.
4) DO NOT USE WINDEX, GLASS CLEANER, AMMONIA, or ALCOHOL on your lenses. You will damage your lenses and void the warranty. If you need to spray you lenses use only eyeglass lens spray available at a pharmacy. It must say “safe for all lenses” or “safe for lens coatings” to be acceptable.
5) Every month or two, you may want to wash your lens cloth. You may use liquid soap for that. Don’t use very much. 1-2 drops will do. Hand wash the cloth with hot water and rinse until no more soap comes out of it. Hang it on a towel rack and it will be as good as new.

Also, don’t ever lay your glasses face down on the lenses. You will leave scuff marks in the center of the lenses. It is also damaging to lenses to hook them on your shirt, wear them around your neck on a string, or put them on top of your head. For some reason, lenses get scratched up a lot more quickly in those cases. You should keep them in the case when not in use.

If you follow these simple guidelines, your lenses should last a very long time.

Dr. Nicholson is an optometrist in the Boise and Meridian Idaho area.

Can high blood pressure affect my eyes?

May 15th, 2009

Yes. High blood pressure can affect your eyes if uncontrolled or untreated. If you are under observation for high blood pressure, it is important to follow your doctor’s orders and take your medication. High blood pressure can cause sight threatening eye disease. The retinal vessels within the eye can develop local closures leading to bleeding or lack of oxygen to the eye. It is important to have your eyes examined and dilated regularly to detect early signs of hypertensive retinal disease. If your eye doctor discovers signs of high blood pressure, don’t delay. Seek care from your medical doctor.

Dr. Nicholson is an optometrist in Boise / Meridian Idaho.

I was told that the pressures of my eyes were high and that I may have glaucoma. What does that mean?

May 11th, 2009

High pressures in the eye can damage the inside of your eyes and cause permanent vision loss. Risk factors of glaucoma, aka “sneak thief of sight”, includes being 40 years or older, having a high prescription, diabetes, or family history of glaucoma. The most common type of glaucoma develops slowly and painlessly. A rarer type occurs rapidly and can cause pain, redness, and blurred vision. Treatments include eye drops, medicines, laser treatment, or surgery to lower the pressures. Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but if found and treated early with a comprehensive eye exam, further vision loss can be prevented or slowed.

Dr. Nicholson is an optometrist in the Boise/ Meridian Idaho area. He urges you to get your eyes checked regularly regardless of vision changes.

Is it true that wearing glasses will make your eyes worse and lazy?

April 30th, 2009

Generally no. If you’ve never worn glasses, you’re used to seeing blurry and perceive it as normal. However, once vision is corrected with glasses, you see things clearer. If you remove your glasses after few months of wearing them, you see blurry again. It’s not that your vision became worse. It’s that your perception that has changed and your visual expectations are higher. Now that you know the difference between clear and blurry vision, it’s more difficult to accept the blurry environment. Also, over time, it is common to experience gradual vision changes, whether you wear glasses or not. There is one exception however. For younger children with still developing visual systems, inappropriate eyeglasses may influence proper vision development. The best advice is always seek comprehensive, routine eye care from a trusted practitioner.

Dr. Nicholson is an optometrist in the Boise, Meridian Idaho area.

I work at the computer all day and by the end of the day my eyes are blurry and tired, what can I do?

April 27th, 2009

Computer vision syndrome can cause eye strain, fatigue, burning, and headaches. Computers do not, however, damage the visual system. First, you should have a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your vision. This could find that you simply have an uncorrected refractive error (need for glasses). You may need computer glasses that would alleviate the strain on your eyes. Special occupational lenses, anti-reflection lens coatings, or glare free computer screens may help. Also, it is helpful to take 3-5 minutes out of every hour to rest your eyes, looking at objects more than 20 feet from you. As always , I recommend regular comprehensive eye health and vision exams, regardless of vision status to rule out any eye health issues.

Dr. Nicholson is a optometrist (vision and eye health doctor) practicing in the Boise / Meridian Idaho area.

Why do I need reading glasses after age 40?

April 21st, 2009

This is a natural part of the aging process in which the previously flexible lens inside your eye loses its flexibility, making it difficult for you to focus on close objects. It is not a disease and it cannot be prevented. First symptoms usually become noticeable in the early 40’s and progress until 55-60 years of age. Signs include the tendency to hold reading materials at arm’s length, blurred vision, and eye fatigue or headaches at near, reading, or computer distances. To correct this, your eye doctor can prescribe reading glasses, bifocals, progressive (no-line) lenses or possibly contacts.

Dr. Nicholson is the proprietor of ClearView Family Eyecare in Boise ID. He focuses on complete eyecare, prescribing accurate eyeglasses, and performing ocular health exams for all patients.

Is a vision screening at my yearly physical, health fairs, school nurse, or DMV the same as a “comprehensive eye examination”?

April 15th, 2009

No. A comprehensive eye examination consists of several components. First is a series of “pre-tests”. These can include visual acuity, color vision, eye muscle function, depth-perception testing, and others. Next a refraction is performed, where the doctor evaluates your need for glasses or contact lenses. The last component is monitoring the eye health by testing the pupils, vision field, and eye pressures, followed by evaluating the internal structures of the eye. We recommend dilation of the eyes a minimum of every 1-2 years for adults and every year for school aged children.

Dr. Nicholson in an optometrist who believes in the importance of routine eye heath examinations regardless of vision. He practices full scope optometry in Boise ID.