Why eye exams are more than 20/20 – a perfect vision for 2020

At the end of the year, our waitlist for appointments can get long… filled with patients wanting to use insurance benefits and medical savings dollars before they expire. We called a waitlist patient near the end of 2019 – and he was delighted an earlier appointment time came available. He came in to use up his benefits for an annual eye exam and had no specific complaints, just needed more contacts. What started as a routine exam turned into a surgical procedure at a specialist office the same afternoon. We are all very thankful the patient was able to come in sooner than his scheduled appointment.

The patient had not noticed any vision changes, flashes or floaters in his vision and had not experienced any pain but when Dr. McEathron dilated his eyes he saw a slight blood leakage on the patient’s retina. Dr. McEathron sent him directly to Bellingham Retinal Specialists for further evaluation. The same day, the ophthalmologist at the office performed a laser procedure to the patient’s eye to stop the retina hemorrhage and prevent permanent vision loss.

Optometrists can uncover asymptomatic eye problems with potential to become large problems and when they do- it’s quite memorable. Dr. LeClaire recalls a similar event to the one described above when she was practicing in Seattle. “Many people mention in the exam room they do not want to be dilated,” she reflects. “I make sure they understand the benefits of us being able to really see what’s happening in the back of their eyes.”

dilation eye exam
Dr. McEathron using a the binocular indirect ophthalmoscope to look through at the back of Melissa’s eye through her dilated pupil

Routine Physical for your Eyeballs

Dr. LeClaire likes to think of an eye exam as a routine physical for your eyeballs. The doctors discuss eye health and family history to make personalized recommendations to promote long term eye health. Key to creating a great understanding of your eye health is talking about if you experience eye strain and headaches and your daily exposure to electronic devices and computer screens.

Before getting into the physical exam, the doctors will test your vision using the Snellen Chart. See this last blog post for more detail on reading 20/20 and visual acuity measurement.

Your eye movement is studied throughout the exam- how your eyes track and work together. Sometimes a patient who has 20/20 vision but is experiencing headaches, might have delayed focusing or a tracking problem contributing to eye fatigue and strain.

The doctors test your peripheral vision to look for any defects that need further attention. They will also look at your eyelids, eyelashes, tear ducts, blood vessels and iris appearance. When you have this “eyeball physical” done regularly the doctor will record observations and note any variations and the first sign of any issues that could present a long term problem are caught early!

Anatomy of the eye

What about the part of the eye you can’t see?

I’ve described the study of how the eyes are moving and the examination of the outside of the eye, but as you can see in the image above- there’s a lot going on under the surface. Two thirds of your eyeball lie below the skin and the best way for the doctor to take a peek at the back of the eye is through that little black hole- your pupil. When the pupil is dilated by the special drops- the doctors can get a much better picture of the back of the eye- the blood vessels and optic nerve.

No, the doctors are not just trying to torture your vision for a few hours- they look at what the back of your eye looks like and create a record of the appearance. Then year after year they will note any changes to these key parts of the eye that work to make you see.

What kind of changes might they be looking for? Well, like for the patient discussed above, blood leakage or tears in the retina can be asymptomatic but when they grow they could lead to permanent vision loss. Abnormal optic nerves could be a sign of glaucoma, which also can lead to permanent vision loss when not treated. Unusual pigmentation on the macula could be an indication of macular degeneration, another eye problem with irreversible vision loss. A brief overview of common eye conditions can be found here.

20/20 Vision for Life!

As you can see, the optometrists performing detailed eye exams do more than measure your ability to read the 20/20 line. The doctors look for any signs of issues that could cause future vision loss. When you schedule an eye exam you will definitely be reading the eye chart, but you’re also taking care of your ability to SEE the eye chart throughout your life. This year of perfect vision we urge you to make eye exams a part of your routine maintenance. Schedule the annual eyeball physical to keep 20/20 vision a reality throughout your life!

patient getting eyes checked
Click the image to go to our online appointment scheduler

Holiday Hours and End of the Year Pep Talk!

The end of the year is a busy season and we’re here to help make sure you’ve got clarity going into the new year in more ways than one!

First order of business – our office will be open our regular office hours of Monday – Friday 8:30 – 5:30, closed for lunch 12:30 – 1:30 except for the following days: Thanksgiving and the day after, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Our office will be closed those dates.

ohh la la party glasses
Face a Face frames can help you ring in 2020 right!

Next – let’s talk about vision insurance and flexible spending accounts.  Are you familiar with the details of your insurance plan?  Many benefits expire at the end of the year- let us help you find out more details about yours!

Calendar year vision benefits

Many plans are on a calendar year cycle. This means they renew on January 1st no matter when you used them last.  A common plan in our area that has this benefit is the Uniform/Regence plan. This plan is an option for employees at Western Washington University.  Patients can use this benefit to their advantage by using the hardware allowance for glasses in December of 2019 and contacts or a second pair of glasses in January 2020.  That means the hardware would not be available again until January 2022, but it’s a fun way to maximize your benefits if they are still available.

Flexible Spending Accounts

Some employers offer their employees to defer part of their salary to a tax-free savings account. This can be used towards medical expenses.  These are “use-it-or-lose-it” plans. These plans will expire with the funds going away either at the end of the year- or in some cases on March 15th.  Talk with your employers or the manager of your FSA fund to make sure you understand the balance in your account and when it might expire.

Money saved into flexible spending accounts can be used for medical expenses that are not covered by insurance- but must be medically related.  In our world that means – eye exams, copays, glasses, contact lenses and prescription sunglasses.

colorful glasses

There might be no better time to update your glasses or stock up on contact lenses!

Please give us a call to check on your vision benefits or to answer any questions on how you could maximize the money you’ve saved in your FSA account!

Some of the frames in our “Red-Dot” sale!

Also, we have a large number of frames in our “red-dot” sale section right now- all 30% off!  We look forward to seeing you this year! We would love to help you see 2020 going into the year 2020!

Photos by Katheryn Moran Photography. See more of her excellent work here!

2018 Lafont Trunk Show June 5th!

You Are Invited to the 2018 Lafont Trunk Show!

Lafont Trunk Show at Binyon Vision Center

Please join us for a special opportunity to see the entire Lafont Paris line of frames at our Lafont Trunk Show. There will be every frame, every color, and over 500 additional frames in the store!

Lafont Trunk Show at Binyon Vision Center

In addition to frames, we will have great refreshments, a photobooth, and raffle prizes from some of our favorite downtown shops.

Lafont Trunk Show at Binyon Vision Center

When? Tuesday June 5th – 10am – 4pm

Where? Binyon Vision Center 411 E. Magnolia Street

Why? Because we love Lafont and you will too!

No RSVP necessary – please come by!  We look forward to seeing you!

See the Facebook event here and say you’re going or interested to get a notification reminder on the day of the event!

Lucy’s First Glasses

Survey says! Parents talk about back-to-school eyecare

VSP (Vision Service Plan) Vision Care released the results of a survey (see full article here) sent to 1,000 US parents on the topic of children’s eye exams this month with interesting results:

  • 80% of parents say “back to school eye exams are important for my kids” … yet only 50% of parents actually do it
  • One third of parents think that annual eye exams are unnecessary
  • Half of parents don’t know that 1 out of 4 kids have some kind of vision problem
  • 83% of parents take their kids to the dentist every year, but only 56% of parents take their kids to the optometrist every year

When as much as 80% of a child’s learning is visual- we would love to see these survey numbers grow to show a more proactive approach to children’s vision and eye health in Whatcom County.

I told our friend Lucy’s mom Carly about these survey results and she was kind enough to share her story about Lucy’s experience with getting her first pair of glasses at five years old:

Lucy’s First Glasses

“I knew something was up. She was always saying that she could see just fine, but it was in the little things, like inching closer to the tv and complaining about bright lights. The thing was, it didn’t stop my feisty five-year-old from turning cartwheels, hitting baseballs or even reading. And even when I brought up my concern at her yearly checkup, it wasn’t clear if Lucy’s vision was  impaired or if it was just her age. And so I put it off.

children's first glasses photographed by Carly Navarette
But after getting a recommendation from Lucy’s kindergarten class, I finally made an appointment to see an optometrist. My suspicions were right and actually much worse than I would’ve guess. She’s near-sighted, far-sighted and her vision was warped from astigmatism. As I understood it, if she were an adult, this would make her legally blind. BUT since we caught this early enough, we are working towards improving and reversing this.
The fun part was picking out new frames. We headed over to see Caitlin at Binyon Vision. She and the staff were incredibly helpful and patient. Likewise, they helped us find and fit the perfect pair for Lucy. She loves her red frames!
children's first glasses photographed by Carly Navarette
I remember when she first put them on how she started pointing to her brothers moles on his face that she had never seen before. She was silent (a rarity) the whole way home while looking out the car window. It’s opened up a new world of clarity and detail.
children's first glasses photographed by Carly Navarette
Her steadily improving vision is the best part about getting started with glasses now. Over these past nine months, her prescriptions have incrementally corrected her eyesight. They have helped her eyes develop and become stronger on their own.
80% of learning is visual for kids, and 50% of parents choose to skip annual eye exams. I hope Lucy’s story encourages other parents to have their kids’ eyesight tested early and regularly.”
children's first glasses photographed by Carly Navarette
photographer: Carly Navarette (lifestyle photographer in the Pacific Northwest – learn more here)

Lafont Paris Trunk Show Coming June 6, 2017

You’re Invited to the 2017 Lafont Paris Trunk Show!

What?  Every spring, our wonderful Lafont Paris sales rep Michael brings all his bags – every frame from every Lafont collection in every color.  Yes, that’s a LOT of wonderful, handmade, unique and colorful frames.

Lafont Paris Trunk Show

In addition to frames, we have great refreshments, a photobooth, raffle prizes from some of our favorite downtown shops and this year! a special guest.  Marlene from Lipsense will be in the office during the trunk show with her collection of amazing products – smudge-proof lip color in a wide variety of colors.  How fun will it be to pick out a great pair of glasses and the perfect shade of lipstick to go with them?

When? June 6, 2017 from 10am – 4pm

Where? Binyon Vision Center – 411 East Magnolia Street

Why? Because we love Lafont and you will too!

No RSVP necessary – please come by!  We look forward to seeing you!

See photos of last year’s event here!

See the Facebook event here and say you’re interested to be reminded on the day of!

Use it- Don’t Lose it – Benefits expire December 31st!

<< our series on why to NOT buy online glasses will continue in the next post!>>

Have you been paying for vision insurance or into a flexible spending account all year?  Are you familiar with the details of your insurance plan?  Many benefits expire at the end of the year- let us help you find out more details about yours!

Calendar year vision benefits

Many plans are on a calendar year cycle. This means they renew on January 1st no matter when you used them last.  A common plan in our area that has this benefit is the Uniform/Regence plan. This plan is an option for employees at Western Washington University.  Patients can use this benefit to their advantage by using the hardware allowance for glasses in December of 2016 and contacts or a second pair of glasses in January 2017.  That means the hardware would not be available again until January 2018, but it’s a fun way to maximize your benefits if they are still available.

Flexible Spending Accounts

Some employers offer their employees to defer part of their salary to a tax-free savings account. This can be used towards medical expenses.  These are “use-it-or-lose-it” plans. These plans will expire with the funds going away either at the end of the year- or in some cases on March 15th.  Talk with your employers or the manager of your FSA fund to make sure you understand the balance in your account and when it might expire.

Money saved into flexible spending accounts can be used for medical expenses that are not covered by insurance- but must be medically related.  In our world that means – eye exams, copays, glasses, contact lenses and prescription sunglasses.

There might be no better time to update your glasses or stock up on contact lenses!

Please give us a call to check on your vision benefits or to answer any questions on how you could maximize the money you’ve saved in your FSA account!

Also, we have a large number of frames in our “red-dot” sale section right now- all 30% off!  We look forward to seeing you this year!

vision insurance benefits

vision insurance benefitsvision insurance benefits

Digital Eye Strain – Problems and Solutions!

Digital Eye Strain Exposed

Do your eyes feel tired, uncomfortable, achy or strained after at least two hours on a digital device?  A few facts on digital eye strain from the Vision Council:

  • Nearly 90% of American adults use a digital device for more than 2 hours per day.relieving digital eye strain
  • Over 60% of American adults use a digital device for more than 5 hours per day.
  • 65% of Americans report symptoms of digital eye strain including neck and back pain, eye fatigue, blurry vision, headaches and dry eyes.
  • 90% of Americans do not discuss their digital device usage with their optometrist.
  • 27% of Americans do not realize that computer eyewear can help protect against digital eye strain.

 

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms after extended digital screen time?

  1. Eye strain
  2. Headaches
  3. Neck and/or back pain
  4. Blurry vision
  5. Dry eyes

Relief is here!

A conversation with the optometrist is the best way to start the process to relieving your digital eye strain.  The doctor can write a prescription if necessary that will relieve the strain on your eyes while working at a particular distance.

If you are presbyopic (the age-related inability to see up close) there are some specialized progressive lenses that can provide optomized for vision at multiple distances. These take into consideration keeping your head in an ergonomically correct position.  A great example is the Shamir Autograph II Office Lens- specifically designed to provide a comfortable field of view between 15′ (seeing the wall clock) and looking at the computer or phone screen.  Many of our patients wear these lenses throughout their workday with much appreciation. They report rested eyes and greater energy at the end of the day.

A good option for a younger patient who is in front of the computer all day but strictly farsighted or nearsighted is a single vision computer prescription.  Our patient Zac reports:

After purchasing my first pair of computer glasses, I’ve noticed a tremendous difference in my energy and clarity.

Digital Eye Strain-Lenses

In addition to specific lens styles, there are also lens options that are designed to relieve digital eye strain.  These two products discussed below specifically target filtering out high energy blue light from device screens.  Blue light has a very short wavelength. Therefore it produces a higher amount of energy. Studies suggest that exposure to the blue end of the light spectrum could cause short term and potentially serious long-term damage to your eyes.

BluTech irelieving digital eye strains a subtly colored lens filter available in specific lens designed  to filter out blue light.

 

Similarly, Crizal Prevencia anti-reflective coating combined a non-glare coating with a high-tech filter to significantly reduce the amount of blue light getting into the eye.

There are many more details to discuss with one of our opticians on which lens options might be best for you and your workspace.  Stop by soon to talk to us about getting the relief your eyes need today. Look forward to less strain and more energy!

Cataract, Not Cadillac

“Do you see a Cadillac in there?” asked a patient. I smile and say, “no Cadillac, but yes you have a cataract.” With enough birthdays we all get them, but not all progress enough to remove. It is a haziness to the lens that may get dense enough to decrease vision and make glare problems. Can’t stop them, but can be slowed down with UV protection sunglasses and keeping your circulation system in top shape.

– – Dr. McEathron