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Testimonials

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    Finibus Bonorum
    Acount executive I Communication
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    Acount executive I Communication
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Our Values

Ambition
We are creating something worth creating, that will endure the test of time. We do this by relentlessly focusing on the success of our employees and customers. We’re grounded by humility and driven by ambition and expect our employees to be too.
a
Make It Fun
We believe in celebrating our successes, milestones and hard work, through recognition, appreciation and rewards
m
Passion For Learning
We want to be at the forefront of change and growth; there is always something we can learn.
p
Live The Golden Rule
We are empathetic and respectful of each other, customers and the communities we serve. We value, encourage and celebrate the gifts in one another and respect the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.
l
Integrity
We believe in honesty, openness, trust, respect and reliability in all that we do.
i
Focused Teams
Working together on a project is more important than who gets credit. We put trust in our teams and watch the incredible accomplishments happen when ego takes a backseat.
f
You Are Unique
We know it takes people with different ideas, strengths, interests, and cultural backgrounds to help us succeed.
y
Investing In Our Employees
“We train our people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to” (Richard Branson)
i
Transparency
We are honest about the actions we are taking, being upfront and visible.
t

our values

  • a

    Ambition

    We are creating something worth creating, that will endure the test of time. We do this by relentlessly focusing on the success of our employees and customers. We’re grounded by humility and driven by ambition and expect our employees to be too.
  • m

    Make It Fun

    We believe in celebrating our successes, milestones and hard work, through recognition, appreciation and rewards
  • p

    Passion For Learning

    We want to be at the forefront of change and growth; there is always something we can learn.
  • l

    Live The Golden Rule

    We are empathetic and respectful of each other, customers and the communities we serve. We value, encourage and celebrate the gifts in one another and respect the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.
  • i

    Integrity

    We believe in honesty, openness, trust, respect and reliability in all that we do.
  • f

    Focused Teams

    Working together on a project is more important than who gets credit. We put trust in our teams and watch the incredible accomplishments happen when ego takes a backseat.
  • y

    You Are Unique

    We know it takes people with different ideas, strengths, interests, and cultural backgrounds to help us succeed.
  • i

    Investing In Our Employees

    “We train our people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to” (Richard Branson)
  • t

    Transparency

    We are honest about the actions we are taking, being upfront and visible.

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Atkinson Hyperlegible Font
Named after Braille Institute founder, J. Robert Atkinson, Atkinson Hyperlegible font is great for low vision readers.  In contrast to traditional typography design, it emphasizes letterform distinction in order to increase character recognition, thus improving readability.  Anyone with low vision is welcome to use it for free!

What is low vision?

It is a loss of vision that cannot be treated with medical or surgical treatments or with conventional eyeglasses or contact lenses. Low vision is a condition that makes doing everyday tasks difficult. People with low vision must learn to adapt to their condition and can be helped with a variety of low vision devices and tools.

What makes Atkinson hyperlegible font so unique

There are times when it may be difficult for people with low vision to distinguish letters and numbers while reading. The Atkinson Hyperlegible font offers a variety of design techniques to differentiate commonly misinterpreted letters and numbers.
  • Recognizable footprints: Character boundaries are clearly defined, making understanding possible across the visual-ability spectrum
  • Differentiated letterforms: Letter pairs are differentiated from one another to dramatically increase legibility
  • Unambiguous characters: Designed to improve readability and distinguishability
  • Exaggerated forms: Letter shapes are exaggerated to improve clarity
  • Opened counterspace: Some of the open areas on certain letters are enlarged to provide more distinction
  • Angled spurs and differentiated tails: enhance recognition and define distinct style
  • Circular details: Links to the history of Braille Institute and braille dots

Characteristics of Atkinson hyperlegible font

  • Four fonts, including two weights (regular, bold, italics, italics bold)
  • 1,340 total glyphs across all fonts, 335 per font
  • Accent characters supporting 27 languages
  • For designers and anyone interested in making written materials easier to read across the entire visual-ability spectrum
  • Improve legibility and readability for low vision readers

Downloading and installing it

Click here to download the Atkinson hyperlegible font for free Instructions for installing the font Download the .zip file linked above. Extract the file to reveal additional folders inside. Find the Open Type Format (.otf) files for the four Atkinson Hyperlegible fonts (regular, italic, bold, bold italic) inside the “Print Fonts” folder. *Note that only the Open Type files are needed to install the font on a computer. There are five additional font formats in the “Web Fonts” folder for use on the web. On Windows 10: Double-click the font file, then click the “Install” button in the font preview window that opens. The font will be installed. Alternatively, right-click on the file and choose “Install” from the pop-up menu that appears. On Mac: Double-click the font file in the Finder, then click “Install Font” in the font preview window that opens. After your Mac validates the font and opens the Font Book app, the font is installed and available for use.

Schedule a low vision evaluation at [mbv name="practice-name"]

At [mbv name="practice-name"] we offer advanced low vision optometric eyecare. Our low vision optometrist spends time with each patient to understand their visual capabilities and what goals they have for improving their vision. After a full evaluation our low vision optometrist will help guide the patient through the various options available such as handheld and wearable devices that provide additional magnification, color contrast, and field of view. Furthermore our low vision optometrist will guide the patient on the resources available through different organizations and tools that can help them in their activities of daily living. Call our office at [mbv name="token-practice-phone"] to schedule a low vision evaluation. 
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Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD)
[embed]https://youtu.be/SvDj2jgTdwk[/embed] Binocular vision refers to the ability of the eyes to work together. The term binocular vision dysfunction describes a misalignment between the lines of sight of each eye.Those with good binocular vision have the ability to point both eyes at the same point in space and to combine the images that their right eye sees with what their left eye sees into a single image. However, with someone who has binocular vision dysfunction, the eyes are misaligned, and the brain is unable to put together an accurate picture of the combined image from both eyes. There are many different causes and symptoms of BVD.

What are the symptoms of binocular vision dysfunction?

Binocular vision dysfunction has a lot of different symptoms that include: 
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches 
  • Vertigo 
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems 
  • Nasuea 
  • Brain fog
  • Double vision
  • Problems with 3d vision or depth perception.
  • Problems with eye alignment 
When the eyes don't work together well, the brain will also often adapt by suppressing or filtering out some of the vision in one eye. While this keeps you from seeing double, it can also reduce your ability to perceive depth or 3D vision. Many people with binocular vision problems have trouble aligning their eyes. The misalignment may be from the eyes crossing inward or drifting apart. It can also be because one eye is aiming higher or lower than the other.

What are the causes of binocular vision dysfunction?

Binocular vision dysfunction can be caused by a wide range of factors. Many people believe it's due to weak eye muscles, but this is almost never the case. The causes of binocular vision dysfunction include:
  • Neurodevelopmental delays 
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Brain injuries from car accidents or concussions
  • Resulting from neurodegenerative conditions, such as Parkinson's disease. 
  • In rare cases, it can be caused by brain tumors

What is Vertical Heterophoria? 

Vertical heteropopia is a condition in which the line of sight is higher from one eye than it is from the other. The misalignment (either vertical or horizontal) makes it difficult for the brain to combine the two images taken in by our eyes. This creates difficulties with 3D vision, tracking and much more.

How is binocular vision dysfunction treated?

The treatment options differ depending on the severity of the case. Treatment options may include one or more of the following:
  • Vision therapy, which is one of the primary ways to learn how to manage binocular vision dysfunction more effectively. 
  • Prisms are used in glasses to get the double images to align more easily. Often times prisms are used in combination with vision therapy. 
  • Eye surgery is generally a last resort for extremely severe cases. Even for those that do require surgery, since the problem is in the brain and not in the eye itself, fixing the eye will still require either therapy or prisms. 
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Contact Lens Discomfort Caused by Dry Eyes
https://youtu.be/Febwlp54hjs Dry eye symptoms are the main reason that most people stop wearing contact lenses. There are many causes and reasons why someone may start to experience dry eye symptoms and begin to have difficulties wearing contact lenses, although it is more common as you get older. Your eyes can tolerate almost anything when you are young.  After the age of 40, you may start experiencing more dry eye symptoms. This is why many people tend to wear their glasses a lot more. While there is nothing wrong with wearing glasses, if you want to wear your contact lenses more frequently and are experiencing dry eye or discomfort, then you must address the issue.  

Why do contact lenses cause dry eye?

 

Oxygen & dry eye

The cornea, the front part of your eye, receives oxygen directly from the air. When contact lenses partially block oxygen from reaching your eyes, your eyes can feel dry and itchy. Despite the fact that modern contact lenses are designed to let as much oxygen through as possible, this can still be an issue, especially after prolonged use.

Contact lens friction and dry eye

Our eye is covered by a layer of lipids and water called tear film, when someone has dry eye they may have a deficiency in their tear film. When a person with a deficiency in their tear film wears contact lenses it causes friction, this friction causes feelings of discomfort, dryness, and pain.   

What are the symptoms of contact-lens induced dry eye?

Symptoms of contact lens-induced dry eye can vary in severity, but they tend to start out mild. They include:
  • Dry, itchy, or sore eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Red eyes
  • Eye soreness
  • Stinging eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Watery eyes
 

How is contact lens-induced dry eye treated?

There are several ways to treat contact lens-induced dry eye.   

Eye drops 

For moderate dry eye you can start with using over-the-counter eye drops, eyelid treatments, and good hygiene.    

Switching to daily lenses

Another way to treat dry eyes is to switch from monthly contact lenses to daily replacement lenses. They only need to last a day and they are typically a lot thinner. This allows for more frequent replacements, which helps with dry eyes. Dr. Levi Zurcher recommends Alcon's daily total 1s and precision 1s. Their outer layer contains high levels of water content and they're extremely slippery. They are designed in such a way that you barely notice you're wearing them. If you are thinking about stopping wearing contact lenses altogether, it is certainly worth trying these.  

Medication

There are two main prescription drops used to treat dry eye called restasis and xiidra.  

Check for Ocular Allergies  

Contact lens discomfort is often caused by allergies. Anti allergy antihistamine eye drops can alleviate this discomfort.  

Change your contact lens solution

Sometimes changing the solution of your contact lenses is all you need to treat dry eyes. Using a high quality brand instead of a generic store brand, especially clear care’s peroxide based solution, can help with dry eye issues.   

Switching to Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses are customized contact lenses that have a unique vaulted shape. This shape creates a pocket between the lens and the cornea. This pocket is filled with saline solution, which can make scleral lenses a solution for someone who wants to wear contact lenses but experiences dry eye.   

More advanced dry eye treatments

There are a variety of more advanced dry eye treatments that should be discussed with your eye doctor after a full dry eye examination. During the dry eye examination the eye doctor is looking at the underlying causes for your symptoms in order to offer the best treatment.  These may include: 

Punctal Plugs

A few studies have examined punctal occlusion and how it affects contact lens comfort. According to one study, the amount of comfortable time spent wearing contact lenses in the eye where the plug had been placed greatly increased three weeks after it was placed.  

Meibomian Gland treatments

There are a variety of specialized treatments that heat and express the glands in our eyes that are often the cause of poor tear film.   

Amniotic Membranes

For more severe corneal problems patients have experienced significant improvements with dry eye symptoms after having amniotic membranes used to heal their eye.
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Contact Lenses for Astigmatism
[embed]https://youtu.be/KB4DkKWttHc[/embed] There is a relatively common eye condition known as astigmatism, which historically has been corrected primarily by eyeglasses. Contact lenses now exist that can correct nearly all types of astigmatism, so they may be a better option for you, depending on your needs and preferences.

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a treatable imperfection in the curvature of the eye, more specifically either the cornea or the lens has mismatched curves.  Astigmatism leads to blurry vision in both the distance and near range. Astigmatism is typically inherited, so most people suffering from it were born with it. It can also happen as a result of an eye disease, pressure put on the eye, injury, or surgery.

What contact lenses are used to correct astigmatism?

One of the contact lenses used to correct astigmatism are toric lenses. These lenses must rotate to work correctly. Everyone's astigmatism has an angle, so the contact lenses must rotate accordingly. If they are out of alignment, the vision is distorted. These kinds of contact lenses, though, are generally very effective for most people these days. When considering these contact lenses, you should keep your expectations in check. While you may not get crystal clear vision like with glasses, it should still be good vision. That mainly is due to the fact that there are about a million different combinations of powers, such as astigmatism power, nearsightedness power, or farsightedness power, and the angle, so these companies can't make every combination, but if one has a low or medium amount of astigmatism, one can get these contact lenses to work well.

Are Toric Contact Lenses Good for High Astigmatism?

The treatment of high amounts of astigmatism can be challenging with Toric contact lenses and in general Toric lenses are more suitable for lower levels of Astigmatism. In some cases, extended parameters lenses can be used to treat high amounts of astigmatism. Although the vision tends to be less consistent with those just because if it even spins just a little bit, it can throw things off when you blink for instance. 

What contact lenses are a good option for high astigmatism? 

Patients with higher levels of astigmatism will usually perform better in hard contact lenses such as rigid gas permeable lenses and scleral lenses. These lenses do better due to the hardness and the fact that they cover up the surface of the eye.  Scleral lenses in particular provide better vision and more comfort as they are more customized to the eye, sit on the white part of the eye that is less sensitive, and have a reservoir for saline to ensure comfort. 

Further Questions, Schedule a Contact Lens Exam Today!

You can get additional information or more detailed information about astigmatism contact lenses from our optometrist, who has extensive experience in fitting contact lenses for astigmatism. During a full contact lens examination, our eye doctor will be able to determine what contact lenses for astigmatism are the best option for you.
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What are colored contact lenses?
[embed]https://youtu.be/J_g8YW8MbJM[/embed] Colored contact lenses mimic the natural appearance of the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. Since the iris is composed of shapes and lines, some colored contact lenses mimic this for an even more realistic appearance. As the center of the lens, which covers the pupil, is clear, the wearer is able to see through it. Quite a few people actually wear them every day. 

Why do Air Optix colored contact lenses stand out?

The most popular colored contact lens today is the Air Optix colored contact lens. These colored contact lenses are made from a more breathable silicone hydrogel material, making them healthier for your cornea than some older colored contact lenses you might still be able to find. One of the best things about these lenses is that they come in a semi-opaque color pattern. Another benefit of these is that the natural eye color blends in with the color of contact lenses, making them appear more realistic and less fake. In addition, they can be interchanged with regular Air Optix contact lenses. During the course of the day, you can wear your clear contact lenses and on special occasions you can wear your colored contacts. This can be done within the same prescription.

Are colored contact lenses safe for you?

It is important to determine whether or not you have astigmatism or an irregular cornea shape before trying out colored contact lenses. If you do, you may have difficulty finding colored contact lenses. We urge everyone to always schedule a contact lens exam before purchasing or using colored contact lenses. Contact lenses are regulated as Class II or Class III medical devices by the FDA. Even if you do not have a prescription and are buying contact lenses to change the color of the eye, always schedule a contact lens exam. Improper fitting contact lenses can cause eye infections and potentially serious eye conditions. Avoid purchasing these types of lenses from sites offering them without a prescription. This may suggest that the health and safety of the wearer isn't a priority for the retailer, and the quality of their lenses is lower. Additionally, this is illegal. Saving a bit on cheaper lenses for a costume isn’t worth potentially damaging your eyes.

Why should you consult a professional before using colored contact lenses?

As with anything related to your eyes, it is always best to consult your eye care provider beforehand, this is equally as true before using colored contact lenses. It can help you determine what brands are best for you, find contact lenses that fit the unique shape of your eye, and alert you to any risks to your eyes.
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What is Behavioral Optometry?
Behavioral optometry employs an integrated approach to treatment that views the individual as more than a refractive error, a patient, or visual issue. Extending traditional eyecare beyond 20/20 vision.

What is Behavioral Optometry?

We are more than just our eyes. However, some of us may experience vision based problems. When most people think of eye-related errors they think of issues with acuity. Acuity is our ability to see clearly at near and at distance. For some, this is where their visual journey ends and for others, where it begins. For those with an acuity issue, an eye exam with a refraction and they are on their way to better vision. But what about those who don’t have a problem with acuity, yet they still are unable to see? There happens to be an entirely different side of the same visual coin that people tend to overlook or be wholly unaware of.   

The Two Sides of Vision

The visual equation is two fold. First, as we discussed, is our ability to see clearly. Second, and very importantly, is the manner in which our eyes operate together as a team. A deficiency in this area can lead to a myriad of visual, physical, and behavioral problems. Before we dismiss the implications of that last statement let's talk briefly about perception. Let us consider this: about 80-90% of the sensory input that reaches our brain is visual data. With that type of staggering statistic it’s easy to consider this next statement. How we see largely makes up who we are. This isn’t to invalidate other sensory input or pathways but to emphasize how important this one is.  

The Broader Impact of Binocular Dysfunction

If how we see is who we are then what does that mean for someone deficient in the visual system? The answer brings us full circle to the scope of the first question on Behavioral Optometry. The inability to use our binocular system effectively not only presents as an issue in its own right but will tend to cascade into other areas of our development and our lives.  The inability to perceive the world as it really is, whether it is through double vision or a lack of depth perception, will affect psychological and behavioral development. If the mind and body cannot course correct in an effective and healthy manner then, as wonderfully evolved as it is, the mind will develop another means in which to address the crisis. This is everything from shutting down the relay of visual information from the eye to the brain to hyperactivity and the inability to stay attentive when attention is required. This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the implications of undiagnosed or unaddressed binocular dysfunction.   

Behavioral Optometry

Behavioral Optometry is the field in which the very nature of these issues, from the neurological to the psychological, are addressed. Optometrists who specialize in this field are focused on preventing, diagnosing, and treating these disorders and the compounded issues while improving the overall quality of life for those afflicted. Behavioral Optometrists typically employ an integrated approach to treatment meaning it’s well-rounded with their interdisciplinary point of view. One of the hallmarks of Behavioral Optometry is viewing the individual as more than a refractive error, a patient, or visual issue. The patient is considered, first and foremost, a human being and from that foundational perspective, the effectiveness of treatment has already changed for the better. Along with the humanistic view, the Doctor will also consider biopsychosocial factors when diagnosing and treating patients. Considering all possible causes, affected areas, medical histories, and behavioral adaptations when treating an individual. These traits of Behavioral Optometry are typically what sets it apart from standard practice. 
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Common vision problems caused by traumatic brain injuries
[embed]https://youtu.be/50WVCXSlAKI[/embed] Many people understand what traumatic brain injuries are, even if they don't know it by that term. These injuries are caused by some type of trauma to the brain, whether it be from an accident or a stroke. Common causes of a traumatic brain injury include sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, strokes, whiplash, being struck by a hard object and falls. Most people are not aware that these types of injuries are closely related to vision problems. It is sometimes difficult for people with traumatic brain injuries to describe the symptoms they are experiencing, or they worry the doctor will think they are exaggerating.

Vision problems following a traumatic brain injury

  • Sensitivity to light - Optometrists encounter patients with traumatic brain injuries who tend to be very sensitive to light. These patients wear dark glasses and hats whenever they are outdoors, as well as inside.
  • Decreased peripheral vision - Traumatic brain injury patients are sensitive to movement, especially in their peripheral vision. These people can’t go to the grocery store and walk down the aisle because it makes them uncomfortable. This can cause them to become disoriented and limit their ability to get out and do what they have to do.
  • Binocular vision problems - Traumatic brain injuries can also cause binocular vision problems. It is difficult for them to use both eyes as a team. Various manifestations of this problem exist. A person who hits their head hard can damage a particular nerve, the fourth nerve. Damage to the fourth nerve will cause one eye to aim higher than the other and they may experience double vision.
  • Double vision - They may have difficulty aligning their eyes horizontally, which can lead to double vision, especially when they are concentrating on close-up tasks. Severe double vision does not always occur, and some people just get exhausted really fast or feel a pulling sensation around their eyes when they try to do near work such as reading.
  • Difficulty reading - Patients have trouble making accurate eye movements when reading. After traumatic brain injuries, saccadic eye movements may become less accurate, causing them to skip lines or lose their place when reading.
  • Visual midline shifts - Traumatic brain injuries can also cause visual midline shifts. In this case, their perception of  the center is actually offset to the right or to the left. As they walk, these patients will lean sideways or veer to the right or left or they may need to hold on to the side of the wall in order to stay upright. One indication of a visual midline shift is a change in posture after a traumatic brain injury.

How are vision problems caused by traumatic brain injuries treated?

In the case of horizontal or vertical double vision, prisms are used in the glasses. In order to treat visual midline shifts, yoked prisms may be used. These prisms shift the whole world off the other way which changes the sense of center and helps them walk more upright. The usage of tinted glasses has become very common among light sensitive people. Vision therapy is done to try to rehabilitate the visual skills that are lost as a result of brain injury. Usually, a combination of these treatments is done to achieve the best results.
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Why is it important to take care of your contact lenses?
[embed]https://youtu.be/l3bOph5HbGY[/embed] If your contact lenses are not properly maintained, they can become harder to see through, thus defeating their purpose, and they will not last as long. Also, if they are not properly cleaned and disinfected, they can scratch your eyes and you could contract a potentially serious eye infection.

How should you take care of your daily disposable contact Lenses?

Nowadays, it is very easy to take care of your contact lenses. The easiest ones to take care of are daily lenses. All a person has to do is wash their hands before putting them in and then throw them away when they are done using them. 

How do you take care of your bi-weekly and monthly replacement contact lenses?

Taking care of lenses that need less frequent replacement is also quite easy. They need to be soaked in the solution overnight, and then used. Clear Care’s peroxide based solution is recommended by many optometrists. The solution is ideal for anyone who doesn't want too many chemicals in their products. Clear Care's box includes a solution and a special container with a metal disc at the bottom. The metal disc neutralizes the peroxide over time. This solution is only to be used for soaking the contact lenses in. Using it directly in the eyes can cause severe discomfort or worse. The container is filled with solution up to the line, and the contact lenses are placed into the baskets beneath the metal disc. Next, the contact lenses are left in the solution for five to six hours, depending on the brand. After that, one can simply wear them; there is no need to rinse them off since the solution was saline. Optometrists prefer Clear Care's peroxide-based solution because it has fewer chemicals than competing brands.

What is a multipurpose solution?

Multipurpose solution is an all-in-one care solution that allows you to clean, rinse, disinfect, and store soft contact lenses. Soft contact lens wearers commonly use this solution as a care system. For example Opti Free's Puremoist solution is recommended due to its gentleness, however most of the brands have good solutions. However, optometrists do recommend avoiding store-brand products. Store-brand solutions have older formulas and can cause compatibility issues with newer contact lenses made today.

Keep your contact lens clean and free of bacteria

Here are a few tips to ensure proper hygiene when cleaning your contact lenses. 
  • Having clean hands is the most basic and most important part of contact lens care. When possible stay away from oil or lotion based soaps as they can make your contact lenses cloudy. 
  • Use fresh contact lens solution every time you clean your contacts. 
  • Do not use any other liquid to clean contact lenses, water, saline solution, eye drops do not clean or disinfect your contact lenses. 
  • Don’t scratch your lenses with your nails, your nails may scratch the lens or transfer bacteria to your lens. 
  • Do not swim, shower, or do anything that will expose your contact lenses to water.
  • Do not sleep in daily wear lenses, and don’t wear lenses longer than the time that they are intended for. 
  • Replace your contact lens case at least every three months. 
  • It is recommended that you stop wearing your contact lenses and call your eye care provider if your eyes are itchy, red, pussy, or you are noticing blurred vision. This could be a sign of an infection.

Schedule a contact lens exam at American Family Vision Clinic in Olympia Washington

We welcome new patients to schedule for a contact lens exam at our office in Olympia Washington. Dr. Zurcher and our team of eyecare professionals will assist you in finding the right contact lenses for your needs. We take time with each patient to ensure that they are given the information and lenses that will ensure comfortable and healthy eyes and great vision. 
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What are multifocal and bifocal contact lenses?
[embed]https://youtu.be/oEugQG8L244[/embed] Multifocal contact lenses enable you to focus on distant and near objects simultaneously with both eyes. Different manufacturers design multifocal contact lenses differently to achieve this. Bifocal contact lenses have two separate prescriptions within the same lens, while multifocal contact lenses have a range of prescription powers in each lens (similar to that of progressive eyeglasses.) “Multifocal contacts” is also often used as a catch-all term for all types of contact lenses with more than one prescription power, including bifocal lenses.

Who needs multifocal or bifocal contact lenses?

Generally, people over the age of 40 find it increasingly difficult to perform close-up tasks, such as using their phone, computer, or reading a book.  As we age, our eyes gradually lose the ability to focus on nearby objects, which is called presbyopia. It is a normal but annoying condition. In most cases, presbyopia becomes noticeable in your early to mid-40s and continues to worsen until you are 65. Multifocal and bifocal contact lenses can help to alleviate this problem.

Are multifocal contact lenses better than reading glasses?

It is important to keep your expectations reasonable when evaluating these options. The best way to get clear vision is by simply wearing reading glasses over top of contact lenses. This is not the most convenient option, particularly if you need to switch your focus between near and far distances frequently and if you don't like wearing glasses. Listed below are a few options for contact lenses.

What bifocal and multifocal contact lenses are the best?

It is possible that not all patients will benefit from multifocal contacts manufactured by one company, they may need to try multifocal contacts manufactured by other companies. In some cases, it may take more than one visit to find the right contacts for the patient by adjusting the powers or trying out different brands. While these contact lenses may not be able to provide high definition vision at all distances, they are helpful in providing decent enough vision at both far and close distance without using reading glasses. Since dry eyes are more common as people age, daily replacement multifocal contacts are usually the most convenient. There are three main designs of multifocal contact lenses:
  • Concentric multifocal contacts: Multifocal contact lenses composed of two concentric rings of near and distance power are often referred to as concentric multifocal lenses. The power for distant vision is usually located in the center of the lens, which is surrounded by rings of both near and distance power as determined by the wearer's prescription.
  • Aspheric multifocal contact lenses: In the same way that progressive eyeglass lenses change in power gradually from far to near, aspheric multifocal contact lenses also share this characteristic.
  • Segmented Multifocal contact lenses The design acts like a bifocal or trifocal eyeglass lens. The central and upper portions of the lens are designed to provide distance viewing while the lower portion focuses on viewing close objects.

Are monovision contact lenses a good option?

Monovision involves setting one eye to look in the distance while the other is for close-up viewing. One downside of this option is that it reduces the ability to use both eyes simultaneously, which does affect depth perception to some degree. Depth perception is the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions, coupled with the ability to gauge how far away an object is. In general reducing depth perception is not the best option, however some people find monovision contacts comfortable and have used it for years.

Where should I get multifocal or bifocal contact lenses?

It is important to visit an optometrist that fits multifocal contacts to ensure that you can achieve the best vision from these lenses. It is usually a good idea to go to an optometrist that will spend the time finding the right brand and design and will spend the time needed to ensure that your prescription is giving you the clearest vision at both near and far distances.
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Amazing Optical Illusions, and How They Work

Optical illusions work by exploiting the disparity between what the eyes see and how the brain perceives that visual input. In doing so, they demonstrate that our visual systems “edit” what we see without us even being aware of it, as it decides what is worth paying attention to.

Even before humans understood the visual system as we do today, they created and were fascinated by optical illusions. Even today, we don’t know enough to explain how some of these fascinating illusions work. Below are a few of these eye-twisting, and brain-fooling, illusions.

Lilac Chaser

[embed]https://youtu.be/a4fw3bmJwDs[/embed] Focus on the crosshairs in the center of the image. After around 10-20 seconds, the lilac colored dots will start fading away to gray, while the dot that had previously been hopping around the lilac chain becomes a green dot, rotating in a circle. This illusion is called Troxler’s fading, or Troxler’s effect, and it was discovered by Swiss polymath Ignaz Paul Troxler in 1804. Troxler’s effect is a result of the ability of our visual neurons to turn off their awareness of things which aren’t changing, and to heighten their perception of things which are. Since, in the animated image, the lilac dots are stationary while the empty spot moves, after a short processing period, our visual system transitions to focusing solely on the moving blank dot. Due to a second illusion at play, the moving blank dot turns green. That is due to the retinas of the eyes becoming oversaturated with the lilac color from the dots we saw moments ago.When the lilac color is removed, what you see is its complementary color (a light green) in its place. Essentially, the green color is the result of white light with the lilac color subtracted.

Gradient Illusion

850ec66d5851678dfba9632c011616fa (1) The bar in the center of the image above appears gradated, changing from light to dark gray in the opposite direction as the background gradient. Have you guessed the illusion yet? Perhaps you have. This is a case of your brain fooling itself. If you cover everything in the image apart from the bar, you’ll confirm that it is actually monochrome. This illusion is caused by the brain interpreting the ends of the bar as being in different lighting, and from that determines what it thinks the bar would look like if evenly lit. Through this process, it decides that the left end of the bar is a light gray object in dim lighting, while the right is a darker gray that is well lit.

Disappearing Dots

[embed]https://youtu.be/KK1hg5-xUm8[/embed] For this illusion, start by staring at the blinking green light in the center of the video for several seconds. You’ll notice that as you continue staring, the yellow dots around the light. One of them might disappear, only to reappear moments later, or first one fades, then the other two, only for all 3 to come back after another few moments. As long as you keep focusing on the blinking light, the yellow dots continually disappear and reappear at random. This illusion is called motion induced blindness, and it was first discovered in 1965, but it wasn’t until 2001, when it was rediscovered and named, that it gained significant attention. While similar to Troxler’s fading, which we touched on above, it is considered a separate phenomenon due to the requirement of a moving background for it to work.  There is still debate regarding the cause of motion induced blindness, with at least 5 theories being proposed.  One recent theory, known as the perceptual scotoma, proposes that this illusion is another attempt by the brain to provide us with clear and accurate perception. Since the 3 dots don’t change as the background spins, the visual system takes them out of our awareness, since they seem to be in contradiction with how the visual system understands things to work in real life. So, it essentially treats those spots like blind spots in the visual field.

The Hering Illusion

(Image credit: Fibonacci | Creative Commons) This mind-bending illusion, first discovered in 1861 by German physiologist Ewald Hering, makes it look like the two straight red lines in fact bow outward. According to Hering, the reason for this illusion is that when we see the red lines crossing over the blue ones that radiate outward, our brains overestimate the angle made at the points where the red lines intersect the radiating ones. Current research hypothesizes that the reason for this miscalculation is that since there is a delay between the time light hits the retina to when the brain perceives it, we evolved to compensate by generating images of what we think will occur one-tenth of a second in the future. So in this case, that predicting leads to the overestimation of the angles, which makes the red lines look bent when they are truly straight. (And if you don’t believe it, cover up the blue lines and take another look at either of the red ones!)

The Checker Shadow Illusion

On this checkerboard, the squares labeled A & B appear to be very different shades of gray, right? However, when we look at the board again, this time with solid gray lines running along both squares, we can see that they were the same shade all along! This illusion, published by Edward H. Adelson, Professor of Vision Science at MIT in 1995, demonstrates how our visual system deals with shadows. When we try to determine the precise color of something, our brain knows that shadows can be misleading, in that they can make a surface look darker than it truly is. So the brain compensates by interpreting the shadowed surfaces as being lighter, even though it’s the exact same color as an unshadowed object which appears, at first glance, to be much darker.

Illusory Motion

(Image credit: Akiyoshi Kitaoka) As hard as it might be to believe, nothing in this image is moving. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much more we can tell you about this mind-boggling illusion. To this day, there is no solid explanation for illusory motion. Some experts think it is linked to something called fixation jitter, involuntary eye movements which present the illusion that objects close to something you’re fixated on are moving. Others believe that as you glance around the image, the motion detectors in your visual cortex get “confused” by dynamical changes in neurons, and thus believe that you are, in fact, seeing movement. Illusions like this one serve to illustrate to us that while we know much, much more about vision than we did in the past, there is always more to learn! These are just a few of the many fascinating optical illusions out there; demonstrations of just how fascinating our visual systems truly are.

 

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How Do Optical Illusions Work?
We’ve all encountered optical illusions at one point or another; but the thing you’ve likely wondered is: How do they work? How do they trick us into seeing something different from what is actually in front of us? While nearly all optical illusions take advantage of the way our minds have learned to interpret the world around us, different types of illusions demonstrate different things about our visual system. However, here we’ll just be going a bit deeper into the general idea of how our brain can be fooled by visual input. optical_illusion_brain

The Brain-Eye Connection

As smart as our brain is (and it is smarter than many give it credit for), it cannot see on its own, relying on visual input from the eyes. However, the eyes function more like cameras, and aren’t capable of always effectively conveying complex visuals to the brain. So, at times, the brain gets confused. This confusion can lead the brain to making mistakes like thinking something is moving when it is not, or “seeing” colors or shapes which aren’t actually there. For one example, look at the image below.  file-20191021-56194-ntcpji The two squares marked A and B are the same shade of gray, despite how it may appear. This is due to our brain trying to determine the color by looking at the other squares around them. optical_illusion_eye_brain

Filling in the Blanks

Because of the simple means of communication between the eyes and the brain, sometimes there is information that can’t get accurately communicated, so the brain makes its best guess based on what information it has received from the eyes. Most of the time, it’s correct. But sometimes those guesses are wrong, due to the imperfect communication.

An Ongoing Mystery

Despite a great deal of research by many scientists into exactly how these illusions work, for many, we don’t know how the brain-eye link creates them. We do know now that the path the information from our eyes takes to get to the brain is rather long and complex, so confusion can arise at any stage of that journey. Generally, illusions in which the confusion arises later in that journey, the less we know about exactly why and how it happens. However, more research is being done all the time, so maybe one day someone--perhaps even you!--will finally solve the mystery.  
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More Eye-Bending Optical Illusions
There are always more fascinating optical illusions for us to puzzle over. Here are several more worth exploring.

The Spinning Dancer

Spinning_Dancer Chances are you’ve seen this one somewhere online. In this illusion, you see the silhouette of a dancer, spinning in place. The illusion involves the direction in which you see it spins. Sometimes it appears to rotate in a clockwise direction, and at other times, in a counterclockwise direction. The director in which the dancer spins can potentially be changed at will by the viewer, or it may appear to change direction on its own. The spinning dancer illusion, created by Nobuyuki Kayahara in 2003, has since become one of the more well known optical illusions. The reason for the illusion is that the lack of visual depth in the animation, and ambiguity regarding the dancer’s anatomy are too ambiguous for our visual systems to process properly, so we can perceive the spinning dancer in differing, even conflicting states.

Rubin’s Vase

face_vase_illusion_resize_md Another optical illusion you are likely to have run into before, the Rubin’s vase illusion, created by Edgar Rubin in 1915, is among the most famous optical illusions in the world. In the image, we see what can alternatively be a vase or two faces in profile, facing each other. This illusion is explained through the concept of figure-ground organization. This lets us perceive objects both as figures and backgrounds. In this illusion, however, what we see alters with a change of perspective. If the black area is seen as the background, the vase becomes the figure. Conversely, when we see the white area as the background, the faces become the figure.

The Müller-Lyer Illusion

M__ller-Lyer_illusion_resize_md Yet another illusion you’re likely to have run into before, this was created by Franz Carl Müller in 1889, and has become extremely recognizable. In this illusion, you see three horizontal lines, each with differently configured arrowheads on the ends of the line. While the lines may look to be all of different lengths, they are, in fact, all equally long. Interestingly, some studies show that Western individuals are more susceptible to this illusion, since they are more used to “carpentered” surroundings, meaning that they live and work in areas where straight lines and right angles are commonplace. One explanation for how this illusion works is that the differently aligned arrows make the lines look to be of different lengths. Inward pointing arrows make an object appear closer, while outward facing arrows appear further away. Since the lines are presented side by side, we perceive the “further away” line as longer.

The Ebbinghaus Illusion

Ebbinghaus_Illusion_resize_md Another illusion which plays with our understanding of perspective, the Ebbinghaus illusion, also known as the Titchener Circles, was discovered by Hermann Ebbinhaus in the 19th century. This illusion challenges your perception of size. In the more common version of the illusion, created by Edward B. Titchener, we see two equally sized circles, one of which is surrounded by larger circles, and another surrounded by a ring of smaller circles. Even though the circles are the same size, the one surrounded by bigger circles appears smaller than the one surrounded by smaller circles. The reason for this is believed to be related to how we perceive size, specifically, on the context involved. With the changed context in which we see the circles, our perception of their size also changes.

Kanizsa’s Triangle

Kanizsa_triangle_resize_md This optical illusion is a famous example of the concept of illusory contours. That refers to our perception of an edge or an outline where there isn’t one. This perception is created by different shapes and edges being presented together and arranged in a way that implies the presence of defined contours or edges. In Kanizsa’s Triangle itself, the three incomplete black circles and open angles generate the illusion of a white triangle. As is usually the case with this type of illusion, the illusory shape appears both closer to the viewer, and brighter. It works because the incomplete circles trigger our depth perception, causing our visual system to believe the dark shapes are further away and darker than the apparent triangle.

The Duck and Rabbit Illusion

Duck-Rabbit_resize_md This illusion was first made in 1892, and has been fascinating people to this day. The image we see can be alternatively viewed as a duck facing left, or a rabbit facing right, and the illusion operates on the concepts of how our visual system perceives ambiguous images, and the process of mid-level vision. Mid-level vision is how our brains organize visual information based on the perceived edges of the image. With ambiguous images, the edges are unclear, and so we can perceive two contradictory versions of the same image depending on how we look at it. There are many more fascinating optical illusions out there which can help us gain a better understanding of our visual system. And, of course, they’re just plain cool to look at.
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