Take Advantage of at Least One and Elevate Your Visual Lifestyle Today
Remember back when scientific calculators were all the rage? Back then rumor had it that we were using only a small percentage of our calculator’s functions, and the ones we weren’t using were just going to waste. I admit I didn’t care back then; I just wanted to know enough functions to pass my classes. But that isn’t the best approach when you find out your visual lifestyle isn’t all it could be.
I Didn’t Know That Was Possible, Doc
I talked with a patient last week who was pretty happy with his Transitions lenses. But he admitted he was so light sensitive there were times when they weren’t dark enough for him. I explained a simple solution: polarized sunglasses made with his prescription, so that he would have maximum sun protection on the brightest days. As soon as I said this, his face went blank. He seemed confused, and admitted as much. I explained again how we would simply grind his prescription using polarized lenses instead of clear lenses. Once it dawned on him, he said, “I didn’t know that was possible, doc!”
Do You Know What’s Possible With Your Vision?
The conversation got me thinking: what are the most common things I do for patients’ vision that consistently amazes them? What are the things I do that seem so obvious to me, and yet surprise and delight people time and again? This is by no means a complete list, but read on and see if you recognize your own visual lifestyle in any of them:
- Prescription Polarized Sunwear. There are many people who don’t realize this is an option for them. This is especially true for people with strong prescriptions. For some reason they perceive they can’t have this luxury. But it isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. UV rays have been proven harmful to the eyes and skin in countless studies. Nearly all prescriptions can be made clear, with Transitions, or as polarized sunwear. One gardening grandmother told me I saved her summer by prescribing polarized sunwear for her.
- Prescription Reading Glasses. This is another concept that escapes the general public, perhaps because many have tried on “cheater readers” at their local bookstore or pharmacy without success. Yet prescription reading glasses can be very useful for people with strong prescriptions. This is true whether a person is old enough to wear progressive lenses or not. I often explain one pair of glasses will not solve all your visual challenges, so I prescribe prescription readers for nearly all my patients. This concept can be expanded to include prescription computer glasses, especially when made with lenses that block harmful high energy blue light.
- Prescription Specialty Glasses. As I mentioned, no pair of glasses can do everything. When my patients have visually demanding hobbies, I always include a specialty prescription. This can take many forms, including custom tinted golf glasses focused to the end of the club, eyewear focused specifically for sewing or other near tasks and hobbies, and variable tint lenses for sports. One of our optometrists is currently designing glasses for a sharpshooter who can shoot through the hole of a mint candy at 300 yards! If you have a specific task, chances are your vision could be enhanced for it.
- Contact Lenses. Of all the ways vision can be corrected, this seems to be the most overlooked. Many people know contact lenses exist, but only about one percent of the U.S. population wears them. I think it has to do with the history of contacts, and the fact that many people have tried them in the past with poor results. But like many health and technology products, contact lenses have advanced quickly in the past few years. Our doctors and staff often fit many patients in contact lenses who believed they couldn’t wear them. Granted, some are specialty fits, but for those patients the results are even more impressive. I recently fit specialty contact lenses to a patient who has scarring from a previous eye disease. She was clearly seeing 20/20 after the fitting.
- Alternative Vision Correction. This is a broad category that includes different types of LASIK and laser surgery as well as corneal molding. Corneal molding applies to minors, where surgery does not. I have a number of patients who wonder whether these techniques are appropriate for them, and getting the answer is as simple as asking the question. My own daughter started using corneal molding lenses at age nine, and has been free of glasses and daytime contact lenses for several years. The bonus? If she decides to have LASIK as an adult, her prescription won’t be as bad as it might have been if she relied on glasses and mainstream contact lenses through her teenage years. So, LASIK will be a simpler procedure for her, with a much higher chance of success.
I love prescribing alternative means of visual correction for my patients, because the results can be dramatic. It’s common for patients to tell me their specialty vision correction has made a great difference in their visual lifestyles. But what most patients lack in this area isn’t necessarily the solution, but lack of awareness that the solution exists. Just remember if your eyes and your vision could use a custom solution, it’s out there waiting for you. Simply see your trusted eye doctor to discover it.