When should I get my eyes checked?
You should have your eyes checked every year or two. This may happen in school or during a regular health care appointment. Also, you should have your eyes checked if you find yourself squinting to see more clearly. Your health professional will look at your eyes and into your eyes using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope
. An ophthalmoscope lets your health professional look through your pupil
to the back of each eye. This is done to be sure that your eyes are growing and developing properly. back to top
What does the eye chart test?
The Snellen eye chart is the most common way to check your vision or ability to see. You stand a certain distance from the chart and try to read the letters on the chart. Each line has smaller and smaller letters. Next to the letters is the measurement of your vision. The measurement is written in very tiny type that you can't see from across the room.
If you have 20/20 vision, you can read at 20 feet what a normal person can read at 20 feet. Therefore your vision is normal. On the other hand, if your vision is 20/100, what a normal eye can read at 100 feet must be brought 20 feet in front of you before you can read it. In that case, you would be considered nearsighted since words need to be near you for you to read them. back to top
Who takes care of eyes?
There are three different types of health professionals who specialize in eyes.
- An optometrist is a person with special training in caring for eyes and checking vision.
- An optician makes glasses.
- An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who can treat eye diseases and perform eye surgery.
Most girls don't need to see a specialist. Your regular health professional can check your eyes and vision. If there is a problem, she or he will recommend a visit to an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. back to top
How can I tell if I need glasses?
In between visits to your health professional you may notice that you no longer see as well as before. Maybe you're having trouble seeing the board in school or seeing the ball during a softball game. If so, you'll want to make an appointment with an optometrist or an ophthalmologist to have your vision checked. You may need glasses.
If you already wear glasses or contact lenses, have your vision checked every year. Your prescription may change as you grow. back to top
Are all glasses the same?
There are different kinds of vision problems and different lenses to go with them. All of the following eye conditions can be corrected with glasses:
How do glasses work?
- Nearsightedness, or myopia, is the most common problem. Nearsightedness often starts when you are a teen. Nearsightedness means that you can see things properly only if you are near them.
- Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is the opposite problem. You can see things that are far away better than you can see things close to you. You may have trouble reading a book. Farsightedness is much more common in adults who are more than 40 years old. That's why so many adults have reading glasses.
- Strabismus is an imbalance of the eye muscles that can lead to double vision.
- Astigmatism is a difference in vision in different parts of the eye due to the curve of the cornea and lens. back to top
Despite the name, most glasses are not made of glass. That's because glass is heavy and can break. Usually, a pair of glasses is made of plastic. Girls should choose glasses made of polycarbonate, a light-weight material that won't shatter if you drop or sit on your glasses or get hit by a ball.
A pair of glasses contains lenses, one for each eye. The shape and thickness of each lens determine how it adjusts your vision. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will prescribe glasses that properly correct the vision in each eye. It is not unusual to need a different strength correction for each eye.
The shape and thickness of the lens determines where it focuses light. The aim is to focus light on your retina, the surface at the back of the eye that actually "sees" an image. Ideally, glasses should correct your vision to 20/20. back to top
What are contact lenses?
Contact lenses are tiny plastic lenses that are worn directly on the eye. They come in three types: soft, hard, and rigid gas-permeable. Each type has advantages and disadvantages depending on your vision problem. Most people wear soft contact lenses for nearsightedness, the most common vision problem.
Some girls prefer contact lenses because they don't like the way they look in glasses. If you think contact lenses are for you, remember that they require much more care than glasses. You must put contacts in and take them out each day. When you take them out, you have to use a special solution that cleans them and sterilizes
them overnight. This is very important to prevent eye infections, such as conjunctivitis. You can buy extended-wear lenses that are designed to be worn for days at a time. Keep in mind that extended-wear lenses can cause problems that can sometimes affect your vision. back to top
Can't surgery give you 20/20 vision?
LASIK is a surgical procedure to correct vision, usually nearsightedness. LASIK stands for laser in situ keratomileusis. An ophthalmologist uses a laser
to cut your cornea
into a slightly different shape to fix nearsightedness. LASIK is done in a doctor's office with local anesthesia. It can only be done on people who have mild or moderate nearsightedness. If you think LASIK is for you, keep in mind that most ophthalmologists recommend that you wait until you are done growing and your eyes are done changing. For most girls, that means waiting until after high school. back to top
What other problems could I have with my eyes?
Vision problems are not the only eye problems. Other problems include eye injuries and eye infections such as conjunctivitis. See an ophthalmologist if your eye is injured playing sports or in any kind of accident. Most health professionals can diagnose and treat common eye infections. back to top