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Frequently Asked Questions

We are here to help. See our Frequently Asked Questions below.

When should I bring my child in for an eye exam?

We recommend bringing your child in for an exam when they are 6 months old, 3 years old, 5 years old, and every year thereafter while they are in school. The reason for this is that there are various stages in a child’s development where we want to be certain your child’s eyes are developing as they should. We also want to make sure there are no serious health issues affecting the eyes, no eye alignment issues, and to ensure that if the child needs help to see clearly so their vision can continue to develop normally, they receive an appropriate glasses prescription. The doctor will check carefully to make sure that your child’s eyes are moving and tracking objects in an age-appropriate manner. She will also make sure that your child is seeing clearly enough out of both eyes to allow their 3D and “small detail” vision to develop normally, even though young children cannot answer our favorite question, “Which is better, one or two”. Finally, we will also give your child a thorough eyeball “health checkup.”

I see just fine without glasses. Why do I need an annual eye exam?

The most important part of the exam is the health evaluation. By looking carefully at the front and the inside of your eye, an eye doctor can evaluate the structures of the eyes such as blood vessels, the eye lids, and even the fluid inside the eye for anything from allergies to vision-threatening conditions such as diabetes, untreated high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, and even cancer.
There are no pain receptors in the tissue in the inside of the eye, called the retina, making it very important to have a dilated eye exam every year to rule out both vision and life threatening conditions which may have no apparent symptoms.

My child is having a hard time reading or focusing in school. They complain of headaches or tired eyes. Are their eyes causing the problem?

Headaches can be caused by many different things. If you suspect that your headaches may be vision-related, or may be affecting your vision, it is important to discuss your symptoms with your eye doctor.
Pay special attention to when your headaches occur. Do they happen right when you get up, or at the end of the day? Are they more frequent during days you work, or on your days off? Do they seem to be related to any particular activity, such as reading or staring at a computer screen for a long time? Is the headache located behind the eyes, in your forehead, or around the whole head? Do words black out, blur, go double or move around on the page?
Doctor Darnell specializes in vision-related headaches, both in children and adults.

Is it true that you can tell if I have certain health conditions by looking at my eyes?

Though your eye doctor will often not diagnose with 100% certainty any medical conditions by looking at the eye, damage to certain structures in the eye often do warrant further testing to determine a cause. For example, bleeding in the back of the eye (the retina) can indicate damage from diabetes, high blood pressure, or even anemia, depending on the location, appearance, and size of the bleed(s). A swollen or otherwise inflamed optic nerve can indicate optic neuritis – a common early symptom of MS, increased brain fluid pressure, or even dangerously high blood pressure – all of which warrant further urgent testing. If the front of the eye is irritated, that can indicate allergies, ocular dryness, or even an autoimmune condition such as Sjogren’s. For this reason, it is very important to provide a thorough medical history for your eye doctor, along with any specific visual symptoms you may be having.

I’m told I have astigmatism. What does that mean?

Astigmatism, while a scary-sounding word, basically means that the eye in question is more oval-shaped than round. Most people have astigmatism in one or both eyes, to one degree or another, since no one has a perfectly round eye. Fortunately, most types of astigmatism are easily corrected by both glasses and contact lenses, so usually having astigmatism is not a very big concern.
Just like our body can change shape from year to year, so can the front of the eye. Thus, it is not uncommon for astigmatism to change slightly from year to year, just like our nearsightedness or farsightedness can change a little. If you are concerned that you may be changing more than expected, ask your eye doctor at your next eye exam if your prescription is changing more than expected.