Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you diagnose diabetes with an eye exam?
A person's glasses or contact prescription can change with the onset of diabetes or as a sign of poorly controlled diabetes. Often, signs of diabetes can be seen in the retina (back of the eye) as well.

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a vision condition that causes blurred vision due to either the irregular shape of the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye), or sometimes the curvature of the lens inside the eye.  It is often described as the cornea being oval.  As a result, vision becomes blurred at any distance. Slight amounts of astigmatism usually don't affect vision and don't require treatment. However, larger amounts cause distorted or blurred vision, eye discomfort, and headaches.  Astigmatism is a very common vision condition, and it is easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Why can't I read fine print anymore? I've always had 20/20 vision.

When you enter your 40's, the lens in your eye starts to lose its flexibility, which makes it difficult for you to focus on close objects. This condition is called presbyopia, and it is a natural part of the aging process of the eye. It is not a disease, and it cannot be prevented. Presbyopic patients require an additional prescription to use for reading and other near-point work.

Do you fit bifocal contacts?

The doctors at Northwest Eyecare fit all types of contact lenses, including multifocal lenses.

What can you tell me about bifocal post-cataract implants?

This is an exciting field, and our doctors work closely with our affiliated surgeons to find the right post-cataract implant, including bifocal designs, for each patient.

Will wearing my glasses make my eyes worse?

No. Wearing glasses or contacts does not make a person's prescription worse.

What is glaucoma? What are the symptoms and risk factors?
Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders leading to progressive damage to the optic nerve, and is characterized by loss of nerve tissue resulting in loss of vision. The most common form of glaucoma is associated with an increase in the fluid pressure inside the eye. Not everyone with high eye pressure will develop glaucoma, and some people with normal eye pressure will develop glaucoma. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to significant loss of vision, and may even lead to blindness. Most people have no symptoms of glaucoma until there has already been significant vision loss. Risk factors include family history, race, and age. Glaucoma cannot currently be prevented, but if diagnosed and treated early, it can usually be controlled. Medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss; however, vision already lost to glaucoma cannot be restored.

Are high blood pressure and high eye pressure related?

Not necessarily. It is important to have regular eye pressure checks regardless of blood pressure. When patients have high blood pressure, they are more at risk for narrowing of their blood vessels, which can be seen in the retina (back layer of the eye). Optometrists look for this narrowing of the blood vessels, as well as blood vessels blocked with cholesterol, plaques, or fatty acids. Vessels that have high pressure also tend to be more tortuous (full of twists and turns) and cross each other a little differently. Sometimes those high-pressure blood vessels leak fluids, causing swelling of areas in the retina. Also, blood vessels can break, causing localized bleeding in the retina. Furthermore, high pressure and/or debris in the vessels can cause a larger vessel to be fully blocked which causes bleeding in the eye and loss of vision.

What is Macular Degeneration and what are the risk factors?

This eye disease occurs when there are changes to the macula, a small portion of the retina (back layer of the eye). Macular Degeneration is a loss of central vision that can occur in two forms: "dry" or atrophic and "wet" or exudative. Some common symptoms are: a gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly, distorted vision, a gradual loss of color vision, and a dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision. Central vision that is lost to macular degeneration cannot be restored. However, low vision devices, such as telescopic and microscopic lenses, can be prescribed to maximize remaining vision. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients such as lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases including macular degeneration.

What are floaters?
Floaters are small, semi-transparent or cloudy specks or particles within the vitreous, which is the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eyes. They appear as specks of various shapes and sizes, threadlike strands or cobwebs. Because they are within your eyes, they move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly. They often result from aging of the vitreous fluid. Most spots are not harmful and rarely limit vision. But, spots can be indications of more serious problems with the retina (back of the eye), and you should see your optometrist for a comprehensive examination when you notice changes of your floaters or see increases in them.