Halloween is a fun day!  Kids get to stay up late, hang out with their friends, eat lots of candy and pick the perfect costume.  Adults often get to do the same things.  

Choosing a Halloween costume often includes choosing a wig, mask, face paint and even creepy cosmetic contact lenses.  

The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) recommends choosing a wig that fits well and does not fall in front of your eyes.  They recommend a very well fitted mask with large eye openings that do not impair vision.  Commercial face paints very often contain heavy metals including lead, nickel, cobalt, chromium, cadmium and even arsenic.  Therefore the CAO recommends using homemade face paints.  Good recipes for these can be found online.

Contact lenses that change your eyes to zombie white, or avatar yellow, or blood red, are a great addition to your costume.  

HOWEVER, these contact lenses MUST be fit by an eye care professional to minimize the risk of infections that can lead to vision loss.  All of these contact lenses have the potential to prevent oxygen transmission to the eye.  These lenses may not fit properly and can trap debris and viruses between the lens and the eye.  These lenses can cause blurry vision, redness or swelling.  Contact lenses are NOT ‘one size fits all’.  If cosmetic contact lenses are purchased from and fit by your optometrist, these risks are minimized.

Never share cosmetic coloured contact lenses.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!

YES!!!!  We have seen MANY patients in our clinic with preventable eye injuries.  The list of damaging agents includes, but is not limited to: fish hooks, pencil points, raspberry canes, ceiling tile particles, insects, paper, exfoliating beads, tree branches, hockey pucks, chemicals, drywall and fingernails.

For people who wear glasses, wearing protective eyewear is relatively easy.  Most injuries from day to day activities can be avoided with just regular glasses.  Even contact lenses can also be quite effective in protecting against eye injuries in many cases.  

If you do not wear glasses, you should consider wearing clear safety glasses or sunglasses for activities like gardening, home renovations, and many sports.

Of course many employers require workers to wear approved safety glasses.  We have very strict CSA Standards (Z94.3) for these glasses.  However, a big problem is that workers don’t always wear their protective eyewear.  In fact, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind reports that over 700 workers sustain eye injuries EVERY DAY in Canada.  Ninety percent of the injuries are preventable.

Some eye injuries are just an inconvenience, but some are blinding.  PLEASE remember to wear protective eyewear!

The most likely answer to that question is a stye.  The medical term for a stye is a hordeolum.

Almost all of us will get at least one hordeolum in our lifetime.  Some of us will get them regularly.

A stye is not really an infection, it is just a plugged meibomian gland.  A meibomian gland is an oil gland and each of our eyelashes has one of these oil glands next to it.  These oil glands are a great place for bacteria to live because it is warm, dark, and the oil is a good food source.  There are always a tiny amount of bacteria in those glands.  However, if we are fatigued, dehydrated, under immune stress, or FOR NO REASON AT ALL, those bacteria can become too plentiful.  The excess bacteria cause the oil gland to become clogged and swollen.  The oil in the gland becomes like butter instead of oil and the result is a stye! 

The most important part of the treatment for a stye is warm compresses.  The warm compress really just melts the ‘butter’ back into oil.  To supplement the warm compresses, we often add lid scrubs to clean the eyelash margins after the warm compresses and then complete the treatment with some antibiotic ointment to the lid margins.  The antibiotic ointment is the least important part of the treatment.

The stye may have a pimple like appearance and it can be tempting to pick at it or pop it.  DON’T do that.  Popping it can cause the gland to break inside your lid and those few bacteria can cause a real infection in your lid that require oral antibiotics to treat.

Very rarely, a hordeolum does not resolve with this treatment and surgical removal is required.  This usually only happens when treatment is not initiated quickly enough or the warm compresses are not applied frequently enough or for long enough.

Well, golf season just might finally be here!  I heard Dr. Dame talking about opening day today at lunch.  Let’s hope for a warm, only rain overnight, and smoke free season!

Golfers spend a lot of time booking tee times and finding perfect courses.  Golfers spend a lot of money on all the best gear for making sure their game is as good as it can be.  

Golfers should also spend a bit of time and money making sure they have great vision. That little white ball soars fast and far through the air and even the smallest changes in your prescription can really affect your ability to track that ball and see where it lands.

Sunglasses, or prescription sunglasses are essential for the bright sunny days. Although the color of the tint is partly the golfers personal preference, we generally recommend the Maui Jim HT green lens.  This lens lets enough light through that you can still see to putt and you won’t have to take them off when the sun rolls behind a cloud (like a lot of typical Alberta days).  If you are golfing in the desert, then a darker lens, like a brown lens is often better. Be careful about getting too dark a lens.

One of the big questions we get asked is “Can I golf with my progressives?”  There is not a hard and fast answer to this.  Most people can, but a few people can’t golf with their progressives.  Generally the longer you have had progressives, the less you notice them while golfing.  Often people that are in the first couple of years of wearing progressives prefer to wear just distance lenses for golfing.  

If you have progressive lenses in your glasses that you use primarily for golfing, then often we will lower the height of the reading power addition, so that it does not easily get in the way when hitting the ball.  If you wear these glasses all the time, lowering the height might make it harder to read and see your computer.  This strategy is usually best when done with sunglasses, not clear lenses.

Good luck this season, have fun!

Red, Itchy, Watery Eyes 

Spring is here, or at least will be here soon.  This is my favourite time of year.  The birds return, the grass and trees turn bright, fresh green and carefree summer will soon follow.  However, I also dread this time of year just a little bit because my eyes get red, itchy and watery, my nose gets runny and itchy and my throat gets scratchy.  I have hayfever.

For a lot of people, taking an over the counter antihistamine really helps alleviate all of these symptoms.  For a few people, the over the counter antihistamines do not help alleviate the eye symptoms.  If that is the case for you, please make an appointment to see us.  There are some very good anti-allergy eye drops that we can prescribe.  The most commonly prescribed drop is pataday, and it is generally very effective.  If you wear contact lenses, hylo dual, is the only approved medication to be used with contact lenses.

Often switching to single use, daily contact lenses helps reduce symptoms.  This is because the allergens (particles causing the allergies) get thrown away every night and don’t have a chance to build up in the contact lenses and cause even more problems.

In addition to prescription eye drops, some other strategies can really help.  Simple artificial tears can help flush the eyes and flush away the allergens.  Cold compresses can really help.  When we learned about cold compresses in school, I remember thinking “I am not going to use that, I can give people a real solution, I can give them medicine!”  However, when my allergies are really bad, cold compresses are my best friend!  

Good luck!

I get asked this question almost daily, and the short answer is no! I get asked this question almost daily, and the short answer is no!

At the end of an eye exam, I always ask if the person has any questions. A couple of years ago, for the first time, someone asked: “what is the most important thing I should do to keep my eyes healthy?” Without even thinking, I said, “wear good sunglasses.”

If you have been coming to Downtown Vision Care for eye exams, you know that we have taken a retinal photograph of the back of your eye for more than 25 years.

This retinal photograph is so important for monitoring changes in pigment spots/freckles/nevi, monitoring changes in the optic nerve (for glaucoma) or macula (for macular degeneration). These retinal photographs have captured an area about 40 degrees wide. This has been good because most of the worrisome changes in the back of our eye happen in this area.

However, new technology now allows us to capture a retinal photograph of 200 degrees. This is so amazing! This camera is able to capture this wide field of view without dilating a persons pupil which is also so amazing! The camera is made by Zeiss, the company that makes some of the best camera and astronomical and microscope lenses.

This allows us to detect and monitor more nevi, to catch earlier changes in diabetes and to detect retinal degenerations before they cause problems like retinal detachments. We are so thrilled with this advantage. There are also very good color filters in the camera that allow us to see changes in different layers of the retina. This is very good for detecting early changes in macular degeneration.

Because this camera is taking a picture with such a wide field of view, it must illuminate that much bigger area of the retina. This makes it seem that the flash is brighter. The flash is not brighter, and your eye recovers just as fast from the flash. Most people see a purple after image. One lady told me ‘it does seem brighter, but softer too, it wasn’t too bad at all’.