Skip to main content
Home » Patient FAQ’s

Patient FAQ’s

We want to make sure that you receive all of the information that you need to make educated decisions about your eye health.

Our optometrist, Dr. Sarah DiPonio-Tulchinsky, is always available to answer your questions. Please feel free to send us your eye care questions at:


Q: Why does allergy season affect my eyes?
A: It’s that time of the year for allergies, and for those who suffer, it’s more than just sneezing. It can mean months of itchy, watery, and puffy eyes. Because many of the allergens are in the air, they easily get into the eyes and cause problems. For many people, a sudden case of red and watery eyes can feel like an infection when really it’s just allergies. Eye allergies, known as “allergic conjunctivitis”, can often be treated with over the counter medication, but for some, it is not enough. Let us help you manage your allergies this season.

Q: Why am I having difficulties reading up close?

A: Presbyopia is a condition where, with age, the eye exhibits a progressively diminished ability to focus on near objects. Presbyopia’s exact mechanisms are not known with certainty; the research evidence most strongly supports a loss of elasticity of the crystalline lens, although changes in the lens’ curvature from continual growth have also been a probable cause.

Like gray hair and wrinkles, presbyopia is a symptom caused by the natural course of aging. The first signs of presbyopia – eyestrain, headaches, watering eyes, difficulty seeing in dim light, problems focusing on small objects and/or fine print – are usually first noticed late 30’s to early 40’s. The ability to focus on near objects declines throughout life, from an accommodation of about 20 dioptres (ability to focus at 2 inches away) in a child, to 10 diopters at age 25 (4 inches), and levels off at 0.5 to 1 diopter at age 60 (ability to focus down to 1–2 yards only).

Corrective lenses provide a range of vision correction, some as high as +4.0 diopter. Some with presbyopia choose progressive or bifocal lenses to eliminate the need for a separate pair of reading glasses; specialized preparations of progressive or bifocals usually require the services of an optometrist. Some newer bifocal or progressive spectacle lenses attempt to correct both near and far vision with the same lens.

Contact lenses can also be used to correct the focusing loss that comes along with presbyopia. Some people choose contact lenses to correct one eye for near and one eye for far with a method called monovision, which can interfere with depth perception due to loss of focusing ability in the other eye. Multifocal contact lens uses simultaneous near and far vision in both eyes. There is a period of neuro-adaptation with multifocal contact lenses that can be difficult and lead to disappointing results. However, 80% of presbyopes do have an acceptable level of vision compared to only 60% of mono-vision patients.

Q: What is astigmatism?

A: Astigmatism is an optical defect in which vision is blurred due to the inability of the optics of the eye to focus a point object into a sharp focused image on the retina. This may be due to an irregular or toric curvature of the cornea or lens.

The eye may be described as no perfectly round but shaped more like an egg. The two types of astigmatism are regular and irregular. Irregular astigmatism is often caused by a corneal scar or scattering in the crystalline lens, and cannot be corrected by standard spectacle lenses, but can be corrected by contact lenses. The more common regular astigmatism arising from either the cornea or crystalline lens can be corrected by eyeglasses or toric lenses.

The refractive error of the astigmatic eye stems from a difference in degree of curvature refraction of the two different meridians (i.e., the eye has different focal points in different planes). For example, the image may be clearly focused on the retina in the horizontal plane, but not in the vertical plane. Astigmatism causes difficulties in seeing fine detail resulting in blurred vision. Three options exist for the treatment of astigmatism: spectacles, contact lenses (either hard contact lenses or toric contact lenses), and refractive surgery

Q: What is a cataract?

A: A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye which leads to a decrease in vision. It is the most common cause of blindness and is conventionally treated with surgery. Visual loss occurs because opacification of the lens obstructs light from passing and being focused on the retina at the back of the eye. It is most commonly due to aging, but there are many other causes.

Over time, yellow-brown pigment is deposited in the lens and this, together with disruption of the lens fibers, reduces the transmission of light and leads to visual problems. Signs and symptoms vary depending on the type of cataract, though there is considerable overlap.

People with nuclear sclerotic or brunescent cataracts often notice a reduction of vision. Those with posterior subcapsular cataracts usually complain of glare as their major symptom. These type of cataracts typically grow the fastest and or most devastating to vision.

Q: What are Transitions lenses and what is the benefit of wearing them?

A: Photochromic lenses are lenses that darken on exposure to specific types of light, most commonly ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Once the light source is removed (for example by walking indoors), the lenses will gradually return to their clear state. These lenses protect you from 100% UVA and UVB radiation.

Photochromics may be made single vision, bifocal or progressive lenses and a wide variety of materials including Trivex and Hi-index. Photochromatic lenses contain millions of molecules of "Chroma 7" embedded within them. These molecules are transparent to visible light in the absence of ultraviolet rays, which is normal for artificial lighting.

When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays, as in direct sunlight or indirect, the molecules undergo a chemical process that causes them to change shape and absorb portions of the visible light, causing the lenses to darken. This process is reversible; once the lens is removed from sources of UV rays. The Chroma 7 compounds return to a state which allows all light to transmit through the lens.

There are many different types of Transitions Lenses to choose from. There is an Eyeglass Guide link on our homepage that can assist you in the selection of the right family of Transitions brand lenses. Sarah from our Optical is happy to walk you through the different lenses available.

Q:  What is involved in wearing contact lenses for the first time?

A: For many people, contact lenses provide greater convenience and more satisfying vision correction than eyeglasses. Here's what's involved in a typical contact lens exam and fitting: Before being fit with contact lenses, a comprehensive eye exam is performed. In this exam, your eye doctor determines your prescription for corrective lenses (just a glasses prescription at this point) and checks for any eye health problems or other issues that may interfere with successful contact lens wear. If all looks good during your eye exam, the next step is a contact lens consultation and fitting.

Q. What is Lasik Surgery?

A: LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis) is a surgical procedure that uses a laser beam to reshape the cornea. Patients who are nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatic may benefit from this type of procedure. While millions of patients have seen successful results from LASIK, the procedure is not right for everyone. Your optometrist will need to thoroughly examine your eyes to determine which type of vision correction best fits your needs. We help our many patients from Plymouth and Northville in making the best decision for their needs, and we work closely with many Lasik Eye Doctors in the area.

Q. What is "Pink Eye"?

A: Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva – the thin, protective membrane that covers the surface of the eyeball and inner surface of the eyelids. Caused by bacteria, viruses, allergens and other irritants like smoke and dust, pink eye is highly contagious and is usually accompanied by redness in the white of the eye and increased tearing and/or discharge.

Q. How often should I have my eyes examined?

A: You should have an experienced optometrist examine your eyes at least once every 2 years. As you age you may need to be seen more frequently as some eye conditions may develop gradually and sometimes signs and symptoms go unnoticed. If you wear contacts, then you should be examined every 12 months to ensure that the lenses are still fitting correctly.

Q. Is the eye examination covered under Medicare?

A: Yes. However there may be further testing that may not be billable on Medicare. We will let you know the cost prior to any further consultations.

Q. I have an irritation on my inner eyelid. What can be done to treat this?

A: This is a condition called allergic conjunctivitis  which is an inflammation or irritation of the clear mucous membrane lining the inner eyelids and sclera. This lining is called the conjunctiva. Allergic conjunctivitis can be seasonal or year-long, is caused by external allergens, and is not contagious.

The seasonal form of allergic conjunctivitis is more common and is associated with seasonal allergies that usually occur during the spring and summer months due to exposure to pollen, grass and other airborne allergens. The perennial form persists throughout the year and is generally triggered by indoor allergens such as animal dander, dust and mold spores. Common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include itchy eyes and eyelids, watery discharge from the eye, burning or foreign body sensation, redness, swollen eyelids and blurred vision. These eye symptoms are often accompanied by nasal symptoms.

Treatment might include cold compresses, artificial tears and a variety of topical medications. Some patients may require ointments used in the treatment of eczema. Sometimes, medications by mouth may be needed in patients with severe involvement that includes the cornea.

Q. My eyelids are swollen and really uncomfortable. What is this?

A: You have Blepharitis which is a common inflammatory condition that typically affects the eyelids, but can secondarily involve the cornea and conjunctiva. Symptoms include a foreign body sensation or a burning sensation, excessive tearing, itching, sensitivity to light, red and swollen eyelids, blurred vision, discharge, flaky skin on the eyelids and dry eyes. Patients with blepharitis sometimes have an underlying rosacea (or acne rosacea), which is a skin condition characterized with redness of the cheeks and telangiectasis of facial skin.

A slit-lamp examination can diagnose blepharitis in the clinic. Blepharitis is usually a chronic problem that can often be managed with extra attention to eyelid care, but may require medication in some instances. Topical medications such as eyedrops, ointments, or antibiotics by mouth can be used to treat blepharitis.

Q. Why is my child having trouble reading and concentrating on school work?

A: Often times difficulties with reading and concentration in school are due to an underlying vision problem. 85% of how we learn is through visual processing. If a child is having trouble with vision, reading, concentration, and school performance are likely to suffer.

Even if a child passes vision screening and seems like he/she can see just fine, there could be a binocular vision of eye teaming problem, which makes reading and other visual tasks very difficult and the child is likely to lose focus very quickly.

All children should have a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist prior to staring kindergarten and at least yearly after that so that we can ensure optimal learning and school performance. In the event that your child needs eyeglasses Sarah from our optical will assist you in choosing the right glasses for your child.

Q: From what age should a parent be bringing in their children for an eye exam?

A: I like to see children for a comprehensive eye examination around age 4 or 5. Children should have a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist before starting kindergarten in order to identify any problems that could affect reading and/or the child’s ability to learn.