Eye Care FAQ’s

Eye Care FAQ’s

As eye care professionals, we love educating people about their eyes. We hear a lot of the same questions from our patients, so this week we’re giving you answers to the most frequently eye care questions. 

  1. What does 20/20 mean?

20/20 is a measurement of visual acuity or visual clarity. When a person is said to have 20/20 vision, it means that they can see an image from 20 feet away that should be visible from that distance. If someone has 20/50 vision, this means that they can see from 20 feet away what a person with “normal” vision can see from 50 feet away. 20/20 vision does not necessarily indicate perfect vision or healthy eyes. There are many factors that affect a person’s vision and eye health, and some may not have symptoms until damage has occurred. That is why it is important for everyone to have an annual eye exam, even if they do not have trouble with their eyesight.

  1. Why does my glasses prescription change? 

If you get an eye exam every year, your doctor may give you a new glasses prescription at each visit. You will likely notice that your vision is sharper and more clear with your new glasses. There are several reasons why your prescription might change over the years. In younger patients, the eye’s ability to focus images changes as it grows. Just like shoes, the eye will “outgrow” a glasses prescription as it gets bigger. The eye typically reaches its full growth at age 18-21. But vision changes may continue to occur after this. Some common factors that cause vision to change after age 21 include hormonal changes, underlying health problems such as diabetes, and loss of elasticity of the crystalline lens known as presbyopia. To learn more about how your eyes change as you age, read our blog Aging and Your Eyes.

  1. What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism may sound like a scary problem, but it is actually one of the most common refractive errors. If a person has astigmatism, it simply means that the front surface of the eye (the cornea) or the crystalline lens has an irregular shape. This causes light rays to be focused on more than one point at the back of the eye. Many people with astigmatism may not know that they have this condition until they see an eye doctor. The most common symptoms of astigmatism are blurry or distorted vision. People who have mild astigmatism may not notice a significant effect on their eyesight. For those with a greater degree of astigmatism, glasses or contact lenses will be used to correct their vision. To learn more about common eye problems, read our blog How Do Your Eyes Work?

  1. Do I need to wait until my cataracts are “ripe” to have surgery?

No. In the days before modern cataract surgery techniques, doctors would often advise their patients to wait until cataracts were severe to have them removed. Today, cataracts can be removed whenever they interfere with a person’s ability to see clearly. Modern advancements allow your surgeon to improve your eyesight with use of extremely precise surgical equipment and intraocular lens implants (IOLs). Your ophthalmologist will help you to determine whether or not you are ready for cataract surgery. To learn more about cataract surgery and when you should have your cataracts removed, read our blog When Should I Have Cataract Surgery?.

  1. Is it OK to sleep in my contact lenses?

No. Falling asleep in your contact lenses once probably won’t do any harm, but repeatedly sleeping in contact lenses is not a good idea. Overwearing contact lenses can significantly increase your risk of eye infection, and may lead to corneal ulcers, surface damage, and even blindness. Some contact lenses are approved by the FDA for extended wear, but it is still unadvisable to sleep in these lenses. Always store contacts in the appropriate contact lens solution and case, and replace the solution daily.

  1. Do I really need an eye exam if I don’t need glasses?

Yes! Everyone needs routine eye exams. These exams are a diagnostic tool that allows your doctor to monitor not just the health of your eyes, but your overall health. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) lists 20 conditions that can be diagnosed with an eye exam, including stroke, cancers, diabetes, and Lyme disease. These diseases may be present without symptoms, and early detection may prevent serious complications. The back of the eye is the only place where doctors can view blood vessels without skin cover. This gives your eye doctor a unique view into your ocular and overall health. To learn more about the importance of eye exams, read our blog Why Everyone Needs an Eye Exam.

  1. When does my child need an eye exam?

According to the AAO, your child should have an eye screening when they are a newborn, then again at 6-12 months, 12-36 months, and 3-5 years. These early screenings ensure proper development of the eyes and vision, and screen for eye diseases and other ocular problems. After age 5, your child should have a routine exam yearly, or as indicated by your eye doctor. Many children receive screenings at school, however these are not a replacement for routine eye exams, as only an eye doctor can diagnose eye disease. To learn more about eye exams for kids, read our blog Children’s Eye Health and Safety.

  1. What is the difference between an optician, an optometrist, and an ophthalmologist?

An optician is an eye care professional who is responsible for fitting and dispensing ophthalmic eyewear. An optometrist is an eye doctor (O.D.) who performs routine eye exams, and diagnoses and treats eye diseases. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D. or D.O) who diagnoses and treats eye diseases, and performs medical procedures such as surgery. To learn more about the different types of eye care professionals at Mountain View Eye Center, read our blog Opticians, Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, And Occupational Therapists.

  1. Will eating carrots really make my eyesight better?

Not exactly. Eating carrots won’t improve your eyesight, but they are a good source of Vitamin A (Beta Carotene) which may help to protect your eyes from problems such as Dry Eye Disease (DED) and Macular Degeneration (ARMD). To learn more about how the food you eat affects your ocular health, read our blog Diet and Nutrition for Eye Health.

  1. Should I use Visine when my eyes feel dry?

No. Eye doctors generally do not recommend using Visine. While redness relievers are effective at improving the appearance of red eyes, they do very little to relieve dry eyes. Additionally, using these drops too frequently will cause a rebound effect and eventually make symptoms worse. If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye, our doctors recommend using preservative free artificial tears. These are available over the counter at most grocery and drug stores. If your symptoms are persistent, consult your eye doctor for treatment. To learn more about the best eye drops for your needs, read our blog Choosing the Right Eye Drops.

Your best resource for eye care questions and concerns is your eye doctor. To schedule an eye exam, call or text (907) 328-2920. Have a question that wasn’t answered in this blog? Email us at [email protected] and your question could be featured in our blog!


American Academy of Ophthalmology, “20 Surprising Health Problems an Eye Exam Can Catch” written by Reena Mukamal, 2020, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/surprising-health-conditions-eye-exam-detects

American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Eye Screening for Children” written by Dan Gudgel, 2020, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/children-eye-screening

Written By: Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC

Posted in: Eye Doctor in Alaska, Eye Health Guide, Eye Health Research, Patient Education

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2555 Phillips Field Rd – Fairbanks, AK 99709
Fax: 907-456-2914

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