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The Advantages of Multiple Pairs of Eyewear

Most people pick either one pair of glasses or one set of contacts, but often find situations where they wish they had an alternative option to their main eyewear. After all, why dress your face in the same outfit every day? Just like having a few pairs of shoes for different uses, or a special purse for evenings out, having multiple pairs of eyewear can be very fun and superbly functional.

There are many reasons why owning multiple pairs of eyeglasses is beneficial. Clumsy or not, you never know what could happen that would cause you to break or lose a pair. Unlike ripping a pair of pants or losing a shoelace, not being able to see is quite a problem! Although some eye care providers may be able to create glasses in a very short amount of time, you don’t want to be stuck either unable to see, or in an old prescription that will hurt your eyes while you wait for your new eyewear to be created.

Maybe you know in advance that you’ll need a different type of eyewear for a specific activity and want to get fit for your specialty eyewear. Eyeglass wearers need at least one pair of regular glasses, but many also have a backup pair of glasses and may opt for a pair of sunglasses, too. Contacts tend to be the go-to for sporting enthusiasts who need varied functionality for their sport, but there are also prescription options for eyewear used in watersports, winter sports, driving, outdoors, and other activities.

Other specialty types of glasses that you may need are computer glasses or specialty eyewear for work or hobbies. Those that work long hours on a computer could benefit from investing in a pair of computer glasses. These glasses aid in preventing eyestrain, as they are designed specifically for the distance at which you view a computer monitor. They can cut down on glare and blue light, too. There are many options available for safety prescription glasses for work, and your employer may cover them if you need them for your job.

Occupational lenses can be helpful for those who wear bifocals because holding your reading material out far away from your face is not exactly practical nor comfortable. For those whose hobbies include close up work, reading glasses may be helpful for magnification.

Of course, the fashion-forward will also enjoy having multiple pairs of glasses to go with different looks. It is tempting to pick up a very colorful pair of funky frames to give yourself a signature look, but you may wonder if the bold look would feel awkward in other settings, like a serious family function or job interview. If you get more than one pair, you can be more creative with one of the frames and a little more conservative with the second pair. Unless you have a certain kind of prescription, the option of contacts is also great. They’re very practical and versatile. Some contact lenses even offer color-changing ability to give your eyes a totally new look.

Just like the way different accessories make you feel fancy, professional, or casual, glasses and contacts can do the same. Check your vision benefits to see what coverage is offered for additional eyewear, or ask your eye care professional about price breaks on ordering multiple glasses and contact lenses.

Health Insurance vs. Vision Insurance

Insurance benefits and healthcare coverage can be very confusing. The language isn’t always clear, and sometimes you need to speak with a benefits specialist or human resources representative through your employer just to navigate what is covered and what isn’t. In general, there are a few things you should know about vision benefits vs. health insurance and how they may help cover your eye care needs.

There are many options for vision insurance providers including EyeMed, Humana, VSP and more. Of course they all have their own specific coverage benefits and amounts, but in general they cover routine care like getting an annual exam and getting glasses or contact lenses. They will pay all or part of the cost of your exam and eyewear and give you a timeline of how often you are allowed to get a covered exam or eyewear allowance. You are certainly allowed to order additional contact lenses or glasses, or to get exams more frequently, but the insurance provider will only cover a predetermined amount based on their annual or bi-annual timeline. Usually covered individuals pay a co-pay or a percentage of the cost of an exam and any associated eyewear.

The difference between this and health insurance is that health insurance generally covers only eye care in relation to a medical condition. For instance, if you need an eye exam because of cataracts, dry eyes, complications from diabetes, or in relation to diagnosed high blood pressure, then your health insurance will usually cover the eye care. You don’t need vision insurance for this coverage, but you may be able to use your health insurance to cover your medical eye condition or eye care needs and then use your vision insurance to cover your glasses or contact lenses.

In addition to covering eye care for medical conditions, health insurance will typically cover care if you experience an eye injury or develop an eye disease.

The benefits of having optional vision insurance are that you can save a lot on eye care, and the plans are usually pretty inexpensive—typically just $12–$30 per month. Even if your employer doesn’t help cover part of your premium, many people like to buy the coverage to use for annual exams and new eyewear at a greatly reduced cost. Also, if you find that you’re not visiting your eye doctor regularly, paying for coverage is a nice way to make yourself accountable and schedule your visit to use your vision benefits.

Talk to your employer if you have questions about any employer-provided health care coverage or vision benefits. See an eye care professional to find out if your vision benefits are accepted, and how you can use benefits to save on your next eye exam or eyewear purchase.

Take Advantage of Savings and Flexibility

Navigating healthcare benefits and wellness perks can be tricky. Often the details are quite specific and involve websites or pamphlets than need to be studied to know what’s available to you. Flex Spending is one area that is often asked about, but under-utilized. It’s a great of an opportunity to save on necessary healthcare services and items.

Flex Spending Accounts (FSA) are a popular feature with many healthcare plans. How an FSA works is that money from each paycheck gets deposited automatically into your flex account. This money is then saved for you and you are able to use it to pay for healthcare expenses not covered by your medical plan. You pick what amount of money you want diverted into the account, and the advantage is that the funds you add to this account come out of your paycheck tax-free.

Your FSA can help pay for necessary eye care. Use flex spending money for prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, or contact lenses. FSAs can cover things like routine eye exams, co-payments, deductibles, and more.

Employers often encourage employees to take advantage of these accounts because of the tax savings, and because it promotes thoughtful spending on health and wellness products and services to improve your quality of life. The downside? These accounts are on a “use it or lose it” basis and don’t usually roll over after a year. Don’t wait until the last minute to take advantage of flex spending!

So how do you take advantage of your FSA? First, read any literature you may have from your employer regarding the terms of flex spending, guidelines and suggestions for how to use it. Make sure you know how much you are putting into your account and consider price-checking to see what you will spend during the year so that you know how much to divert into the FSA each month. Once you know how to use your flex spending, make an appointment to see your eye care professional and get a yearly exam and eyewear. You may also want to discuss pricing with the provider so that you know what to expect for payment. Once you’ve had your exam and received your eyewear, keep your receipts and any necessary paperwork either to submit for coverage or to have for your records.

Some other things to know: there are accounts similar to FSAs that are a little different. Health Savings Accounts for example are similar to an FSA in that you divert tax-free money from your paycheck into the account and use it on healthcare purchases, but these funds are not lost year-to-year. HSA funds accrue over time. They apply to the same sorts of purchases including prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses and contact lenses, so check to see what options are available to you.

Speak to an eye care professional today to learn more about how to use flex spending on necessary eye care.

Healthy Vision is More than 20/20

Taking care of your eyes includes more than going to a yearly exam and wearing an up-to-date prescription. Although both are certainly important, there are many more things you can (and should) do to make sure you’re preventing eye problems and protecting your vision.

Diet and nutrition play an important role in the long-term health of your eyes. Certain vitamins and minerals have proven necessary for good vision while also protecting against eye diseases. A diet high in dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens provides us with lutein, bioflavonoids, and beta-carotene. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for those who suffer from dry eyes. Omega-3s can be found in fish, fish oil supplements, flaxseed, and walnuts. Vitamin A, C, D, E and zinc can be consumed through foods such as eggs, sweet peppers, milk, almonds, and beef. Consumption of these foods high in vitamins may reduce the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, blindness, and dry eyes, among others.

Full-body physical exams are also important. Physicals check for diabetes and high blood pressure. These conditions can lead to diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and ocular hypertension if left untreated.

Shielding your eyes from the sun is important, but many people believe it is just the tint of sunglasses that offers protection. In actuality it’s the UV-blocking abilities of sunglasses that guard your eyes from damage. Make sure that your eyewear is dark enough to keep you from squinting into the sun when you’re outdoors, but also check that your glasses have a UV coating. Some sunglasses have an inexpensive UV coating that rubs off over time, so your best bet is to purchase a reputable brand that offers a durable coating or is manufactured into the lens itself and will block 99–100% of UVA and UVB rays.

The number of people in the United States who smoke has been declining for several years, and now just 18% of people in the US smoke. Unfortunately, smoking still accounts for 480,000 deaths each year, and smoking increases several risk factors for poor eye health. Smoking doubles your chance of developing cataracts, a clouding of the eye that is the leading cause of blindness. Also, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes blind spots and impairs vision, and smokers have a three-fold increase in their risk of developing AMD. So quitting smoking is crucial for your overall health, but also to protect your eyesight.

Most people know that they should be getting twenty minutes of exercise three times a week, but eye health is yet another reason that you should get moving. Regular exercise is linked to retina health. Plus, sufficient exercise along with a balanced diet can help prevent other medical conditions that put your eyes at risk.

Aside from these things, being aware of your family’s health history is another big factor in eye health. Your physician and eye care professionals can help you check for symptoms that may be signs of known health problems common to your family, and can suggest prevention tips as well as early intervention if you discover there is a problem.

If you notice any changes in your vision—things like haziness, cloudiness, double vision, difficulty seeing at night—see your eye doctor right away. A healthy lifestyle, regular checkups, knowing your risk factors, and basic protective measures will help you keep your eyesight clear for as long as possible.

Preventing Computer Vision Syndrome

It’s the end of the week and you’ve only got a few hours left before the weekend. As you try to finish the last of your tasks, you find yourself unable to focus—not just mentally, but physically. You have trouble seeing the screen in front of you. Maybe your vision is blurry or your eyes start to burn. These are symptoms of computer vision syndrome.

Computer vision syndrome is simply the name given to a group of symptoms and problems associated with overuse of computers and strained eyes from excessive computer use. It’s becoming a more common problem as more people work in offices behind computers, and rely on tablets or smartphones instead of paper. These devices have helped make us more productive with faster communication and easier recordkeeping, but the reliance on electronic screens in front of our faces can also be a problem for our eyes.

There are many things you can do to prevent or relieve the symptoms of computer vision syndrome. If you wear glasses, make sure your prescription is up to date. If you do not wear glasses (or if you wear contact lenses that you’re sure are an appropriate prescription for you) yet still experience discomfort while on a computer, computer glasses may be what you’re looking for.

Computer glasses are different than traditional eyeglasses or reading glasses. Due to such a short distance between your eyes and the computer screen, distance eyeglasses and reading eyeglasses may not be as effective for your eyes. They’re not necessarily meant for focusing for longer periods on the intermediate zone of vision. Made specially for viewing a computer screen, computer glasses help you focus on this very zone where your monitor sits, making daily use much more comfortable.

Without a proper prescription or an aid like computer glasses, those experiencing blurred vision may end up leaning forward in order to see. This can negatively affect posture and cause even more strain on your body. In addition to eye health, it’s very important to have a healthy workspace and comfortable posture.

Because computer glasses have a modified lens, they give you the most comfortable view of your computer screen. For maximum viewing quality, the lenses should include anti-reflective coating. Tinted computer lenses are also recommended in order to block out blue light that is emitted from computer screens.

With a decrease in eyestrain, and no more blurred vision or headaches, it’s obvious how much computer glasses can help make you feel better and more productive. Ask your eye care professional if you’re interested in learning more about computer glasses and how they can help prevent computer vision syndrome.

Children and Computer Vision Syndrome

People are always touting the benefits and the risks of social media, videogames, television, and other screen activities. It’s common to hear about someone giving up social media for a period of time just to see if they are able to kick what they consider an ‘addiction.’ New Year’s resolutions are often to read more and spend less time at a computer or on a smartphone. These may seem like grown-up problems, but adults and teens aren’t the only demographics spending a large part of their daily routine behind a screen. Children barely old enough to move a mouse are using computers and devices for recreation and learning every day.

In 2009, kids in grades 7–12 reported spending an average of more than 90 minutes a day just sending or receiving texts on cell phones. In 2011, 50% of children under eight-years-old reported having access to a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. Children under two watch 53 minutes a day of television.

Should all screen time and computer usage be cause for concern? Not quite. Consider this: studies have found that children who use a computer at school and at home perform better on tests of school readiness, visual motor skills, gross motor, and cognitive development. This positive effect seems to diminish if you look at children’s screen time beyond physician-recommended daily limits, however. Excessive screen time does not help children learn, and overuse has been shown to put children at risk for vision problems.

Children aged 8–18 reported in 2009 that they spent more than seven hours a day devoted to “entertainment media” including computers and videogames. That makes screen time a full-time job! Pediatric eye doctors are warning parents that this sort of heavy screen time is putting children at risk for early nearsightedness, among other possible issues.

According to the National Eye Institute, over the past 30 years the prevalence of nearsightedness has increased from 25 percent to over 41 percent. This is an increase of more than 66 percent. No one can be certain if this increase is caused by screen time, but many professionals are concerned that there may be a connection.

The longer children are exposed to a computer screen, the greater their risk is for developing computer vision syndrome. Computer vision syndrome is the term used to describe problems associated with focusing on an electronic display for excessive, uninterrupted amounts of time. The risk is increased because children’s eyes are not as well-developed as adults. It’s easier for children to experience these problems because they often lose track of time, are assigned lots of homework to do on the computer, or may not realize that they should be taking frequent breaks. Additionally, children are notorious for sitting very close to screens even if they have perfect vision—a position that strains the eyes and the rest of the body.

Parents should pay careful attention to how long a child spends with electronics. Set limits and help them develop good habits for how to use their devices. Talk to your eye care professional to discuss your child’s media habits and determine if you should change how they interact with electronics for optimal eye health.

The Importance of Pediatric Eye Exams

When it comes to pediatric care, parents are usually concerned with finding the best pediatrician and following their medical advice exactly, but what about pediatric eye care? Eye care for kids is sometimes an area parents overlook because they aren’t always aware of the importance of eye health for children. Many don’t seek eye exams for their children until either the child reports having difficulty seeing at school, or the child’s grades begin to slip and parents take a closer look at why their child isn’t developing academically.

Experts recommend that children receive several eye exams before starting school. Infants should receive their first comprehensive eye exam around six months of age. Children should have an eye exam around age three, and again when they reach age five or six. Before reaching first grade, parents are strongly encouraged to have their children receive a full eye exam to make sure the child has no visual problems as they start elementary school.

Eye exams for young children are important because vision problems can negatively affect a child’s performance in school long before you are aware of the issue. The American Optometric Association reports that 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-age children are diagnosed with vision problems once they receive proper eye care. Experts are always stressing the significance of appropriate early education and full participation from youngsters in programs and learning that will become a foundation for critical skills. Children risk not being able to fully participate if they are experiencing undiagnosed visual impairments. An early eye exam and regular eye care for children can alleviate this potential problem.

Identifying eye problems early is crucial to the child’s learning and development in school. A child with poor vision may have difficulty with seeing text and comprehending words causing difficulty in reading. No parent wants their child to be frustrated with reading, especially when most vision problems are easily fixed with glasses. Unable to explain problems in a group, children may choose not to volunteer for reading in class out of embarrassment, or opt out of picking a library book because it’s hard to see. This will negatively affect academic achievement and the enjoyment that comes with reading for many children.

Other symptoms of learning-related vision problems include headaches or eyestrain, short attention span for visual tasks, difficulty identifying or reproducing shapes, poor hand-eye coordination, and developmental delay. Talk to your family eye care professional about scheduling eye care visits for your children. They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about your child’s eye health, and let you know when is a good time to start doing regular check-ups.

Golfing, Fishing, Winter Sports, and More

Just as sports officials are becoming more concerned with overall physical safety for athletes, more people are wearing specialized eyewear to protect their eyes and give them protection and sharp vision while performing their sport. Specialty eyewear options are available and tailored to just about every sport. All you have to do is know your sporting needs and talk to an eye care professional to discuss your options. It’s nice to know what to expect and what you can get other than just wearing contact lenses.

Here are some of the most common options and things to consider for glasses, goggles, or other specialty eyewear with unique capabilities to increase your sporting performance.

Darkened/tinted or photochromic lenses. Is your sport outdoors? Protection from bright sunlight and UV rays is crucial! Watersports and winter sports involve glare coming up from the snow or water. The bright light is damaging to your eyes and very uncomfortable if you’re not protected. Certain color tints can also help make sports glasses more functional. Golf glasses, for example, often use a copper or amber color that improves the contrast of grass and sky so you can read the course better. Make sure that you invest in glasses that will fit your outdoor setting.

Fitting with other gear. Eyewear for activities like motorsports, cycling, or football will need to fit with headgear. Be sure to test your eyewear with your uniform or additional gear, and talk to your eye care professional about the other items you’ll be wearing along with your eyewear.

Durability. In sports like racquetball, or really any sport with objects that are swung or flung around, you face the risk of getting hit and injuring your eyes if they’re not protected. This also means that your glasses or goggles are likely to take a beating while protecting your eyes. Scratch-resistance and high-impact polycarbonate materials are often used in sports eyewear to be sure that they will have a long life and will be able to shield your eyes from harm.

Considerations for contact lenses. Those who wear contact lenses and will be doing their sport in the elements can benefit greatly from glasses that wrap around the face. Protection from wind and debris will ensure that no irritants enter the eye and affect your contact lenses.

Protection from other substances. Watersports may come to mind when you think of goggles that protect your eyes from liquid, but there are other sports like paintball that could greatly damage the eyes if not protected. Specialty masks with breathable vents that allow air in will be sure to keep paint out. Goggles for watersports have similar features to keep water out of your eyes so you can see clearly under the water or above.

Polarized lenses. Probably the most important aspect of eyewear for fishing is polarization. Polarized lenses make it possible to see under the surface of the water because the lenses are specially made to cut down refracted light. Once the sunlight bouncing off the water is minimized, it’s far easier to see into the water and read important fishing features like vegetation, depth, underwater landscape, and even fish! Other water and winter sports can benefit from polarization as well to prevent the eyes from glaring sunlight.

Make sure that you’re prepared for your sport with protective gear and the right eyewear to keep your eyes on the prize. See an eye care professional to give your eyes a sporting chance!

What’s in a Prescription?

It seems like contact lenses and glasses would use the same prescription. After all, the idea is that your eyes don’t see quite right, so you use a lens to change the view, and then you see clearly, right? Well, the two prescriptions are quite different. Few patients check the numbers or notice any change during the exam process, but the prescriptions are not the same because of where the lens sits in relation to your eye.

The lens of your glasses rests about twelve millimeters from your eye. Contact lenses, on the other hand, are placed directly on the surface of your eye. Why would this make your prescription different? Well, think about holding a magnifying glass out in your hand. When you hold it far away and look through, the view you see is much different than if you try to hold the magnifying lens up close to your eye. The same principle is in play when you consider glasses in contrast to contact lenses.

If you’re still imagining the magnifying glass held out in your hand, think about how grass would look if you’re sitting on the ground and have the magnifying glass down near the grass. You’d be able to see the blades clearly, right? If you held the magnifying glass up close to your eye, the refraction would be so strong that you wouldn’t be able to see anything other than a blur. The power of the glass would need to be reduced for you to see clearly. This is the reason why your contact lens prescription is weaker than your glasses, but you get the same crisp, clear vision with each. Neat, right?

Not all contact lens prescription powers are drastically less than the glasses prescription for the same person, but usually the power used for contact lenses is reduced. In addition to the powers being different, your eye care professional will need some additional measurements to fit you for contact lenses because there are specifications needed to fit contact lenses appropriately that aren’t needed for glasses.

Some things that need to be measured to receive an accurate contact lens prescription are the size of the cornea, the curve and overall size of the lens, and the suggested brand of lenses that will work best for you. Eye care professionals usually have an idea of which contact lenses work best with different eye conditions, so they will suggest a particular toric lens for your astigmatism, or a type of disposal lens based on your needs, for example.

Some aspects of the lens prescriptions are included for both kinds of eyewear. The lens power is included in both prescriptions. Lens power is the measurement used to correct your “refractive error,” or the nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism that you have. It wouldn’t be identical because of the magnifying glass analogy, but it is included in both prescriptions. They’re also laid out per eye—right vs. left—because very few people have the same prescription in both eyes, so they are measured individually regardless of what type of eyewear you’re getting. More technical aspects of your prescription (the power and axis determined to correct astigmatism, for instance) may also be included in both the contact lens and glasses versions of your prescription.

Hopefully that makes the difference between your contact lens and glasses prescriptions clearer. Talk to your eye care professional if you have any questions about your prescription or are curious about getting contact lenses or glasses.

Bloomington Office

Mitchell Office