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Eye Exams: All You Need to Know

As we grow older, it can get easier and easier to let things like your regular eye exams slip through the cracks. We wanted to re-visit this topic because there are so many reasons to have your eye’s examined regularly. There are implications of other health concerns that can be caught in an eye exam. It can be easy to think your vision doesn’t need any correction, until you get an exam and realize you haven’t been seeing the world as clearly as you could have been!

Why You Need to See a Doctor

Eye diseases are can go unnoticed with no symptoms for a long time before they cause harm. If you are regularly seeing a doctor, they can notice changes in your eye before symptoms occur. If caught early enough some diseases can be treated to prevent vision loss later on.

We actually offer a specific service not all eye doctors have, the Optomap Prime, which allows our doctors to do a comprehensive eye exam without having to dilate your eyes. This new technology takes away the invasive process of dilation that can deter some people from their regular eye exam. Make sure to ask us about this at your next visit.

An eye doctor is going to examine a few different things in your eye exam such as:

  • visual acuity (sharpness)
  • depth perception
  • eye alignment
  • eye movement

In addition to catching eye issues early, an eye exam may also be able to catch other health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. They can let you know what they find so you can follow up with your primary care doctor.

Regular Eye Exams Save Vision

Like we were saying, if some eye conditions are caught early enough, there are treatments that can help to save your vision. An eye exam can catch some common eye diseases. Some common eye diseases that can lead to permanent vision loss are:

  • Cataracts – this is a clouding of the eye lens and is the leading cause of vision loss in the US.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy – this causes damage to blood vessels int he back of the eye.
  • Glaucoma – this describes a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve.
  • Age Related Macular Degeration – this is a gradual breakdown of the light sensitive tissue in the eye.

We have published blogs on each of these conditions, if you are looking for a deeper dive into them check out the other blogs on our website.

How Often Should You Have an Eye Exam?

It is very important for children to have their eyes examined frequently as they are growing. There are some learning disabilities that can be misdiagnosed vision problems, and you won’t know until your child has an exam. It is recommended that children get at least one exam between the ages of 3 and 5. Ideally school aged children should be examined every year, especially if you are noticing any issues with focusing at school.

People with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam every year and people who are at higher risk for glaucoma should have a dilated exam every two years.

If you can’t remember when your last exam was, it is probably a good idea to schedule one!

Don’t Forget Your Sunglasses!

Since we are entering summer vacation this week in the tri-county area, we thought it would be a good time to re-visit the importance of wearing sunglasses when spending time out in the sun.

Our area offers so many amazing outdoor activities, it makes it hard to stay indoors when it’s sunny outside! Between the relaxing beaches, the many rivers and neighborhood pools, there are so many ways to cool off during the summer.

When you are out in the sun most people don’t forget to put their sunscreen on. Next time you are getting ready to lather up, make sure you remember the sun protection for your eyes!

Why can the Sun be Harmful?

Many of us have experienced a sunburn at least once in our lives. A sunburn is a more immediate example of the damage sun can cause on your body, but the same sun can also damage your eyes if you don’t protect them.

The sun gives off Ultraviolet radiation, and this type of radiation is what causes sunburns. It can also cause a type of sunburn to your eyes called Photokeratitis. This condition damages your corneal epithelial cells and this can lead to various degrees of discomfort. It can be mild irritation or severe pain.

Prolonged exposure to UV radiation from sunlight can increase your chances or developing more serious eye problems later in life. UV radiation exposure has been linked to:

  • Cataracts
  • Age Related Macular Degeneration

Another, lesser known, threat to your eye health are reflective surfaces such as water, road surfaces, snow, or windshields. If enough light is being reflected off of these surfaces it can damage your eyes with extended exposure.

How to Protect Your Eyes

The best way to protect your eyes from UV radiation from the sun is to always wear sunglasses! Anytime you are outdoors make sure you have a pair with you. It is also important to make sure your sunglasses have the correct UV protection you need.

We have so many different styles and brands of sunglasses. Come see us to find the perfect pair for your face!

Our staff is ready and waiting to help with any questions you might have!

Mental Health and Vision

May is mental health awareness month. We wanted to shed some light on how vision loss can affect your Mental Health and then offer tips to cope with major vision impairment or loss.

There has been a close link found between eye health and mental health. It is more likely that someone who has vision loss or impairment will suffer from mental health issues. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 adults with vision loss report experiencing anxiety and depression.

Which Vision Problems Impact Mental Health the Most?

Any vision problem that leads to or results in vision loss are most likely to cause mental health issues. These vision problems can include:

  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinitis pigmentosa

Three of those four problems are some of the most common in the US.

Mental Health Disorders that Impact Eye Health

While vision problems can cause mental health decline, mental health disorders can also impact eye health. People who suffer from a mental health condition are more likely to develop vision issues.

Its not known yet what the link is between mental illness and vision issues but there are some theories:

  • Stress is a big factor in the development of eye conditions so depending on what mental health disorder someone suffers from, the stress from it could play a part in deteriorating eye health
  • There are also some researchers who think that there re neurological roots shared between certain mental health issues and vision issues.

How to Cope with Vision Issues

There are a few ways to cope with vision loss that can help to improve your mental health. If you are suffering from vision loss or severe vision impairment make sure you try to learn as much as you can about your condition. It can also be helpful to meet with a counselor who can help you navigate the feelings your experiencing. Lastly make sure you are utilizing any assistance devices that can help you maintain your quality of life.(ie. text to speech software, hand magnifiers, smartwatches with speech capabilities).

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we hope we have made it clear how important your mental health can be. It can affect all aspects of your health, including you vision.

As always, make sure to make an appointment with us if you are experiencing any vision problems!


Stress is a big factor in our society today. So many outside stressors can cause a lot of damage to your health. Did you know that in addition to your overall health, constant stress can also cause issues for your eyes?

Types of Stress

There are two main types of stress.

Acute Stress – This type of stress is short term and can go away quickly. It helps you to manage dangerous situations, like when you slam on your breaks or ski down a steep slope. This type of stress can also occur when you do something exciting or new. Everyone encounters this type of stress at some point in their lives.

Chronic Stress – Chronic stress lasts for a longer period of time. Chronic stress can be caused by finances, work or relationships. This kind of stress can last weeks or months. This is the kind of stress that can cause long term health problems.

What Stress Can Do To Your Eyes

If you have chronic stressors in your life but you are not doing anything to manage that stress you may see many health problems start to show up. Some health issues linked to chronic stress are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Skin problems

Of course, vision problems are on the list as well. One of the biggest links from stress to vison is the stress hormone cortisone. This hormone is gradually released by the body as a reaction to stress. It can increase your heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and muscle tension. Cortisol also helps to regulate the digestive and reproductive systems during a stress crisis.

If you are experiencing chronic anxious moments it can result in a dangerous increase in cortisol levels. When cortisol levels will disrupt the blood flow from the eye to the brain which can cause vision problems.

The majority of stress related vision problems are usually temporary but if you have a consistent issue it could be related to stress. Some stress related vision issues are:

  • Light Sensitivity
  • Tunnel Vision
  • Eye Twitching
  • Extremely dry or wet eyes
  • Blurry Vision
  • Eye Strain
  • Eye Floaters
  • Double Vision
  • Vision Distortions

Ways to Manage Stress

If you feel like you could be experiencing some of the above issues and think it could be related to chronic stress here are some tips to help you learn to manage your stress.

  • Take breaks from the news and social media – disconnecting from screens and traumatic news stories can help lower your stress levels.
  • Take care of yourself – eat healthy, get regular exercise and make sure to get enough sleep.
  • Schedule time to unwind – make sure to make time for activities you really enjoy.
  • Talk to your family and friends – it can help to get your troubles off your chest. Talk to someone you trust about what you’re feeling.
  • Connect with your community – having a good support system around you can help you to make the time to relieve stress.

We are always thinking of ways to give our patients the knowledge they need in order to take care of themselves. If you have any vision issues that you are concerned about make an appointment with us!


Since this week was tax due date week, we thought it would be great time to focus on Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts. These type of accounts can be offered by your employer and can be used on vision expenses throughout the year.

What is the difference between an HSA and FSA?

HSA – Health Savings Account

  • You or your employer contribute pre tax dollars
  • Unused contributions roll over year after year
  • HSAs must accompany a high deductible health plan (individual or through employer
  • Withdrawals are allowed with 10% penalty
  • HSAs have higher contribution maximum than FSAs

FSA – Flexible Spending Account

  • Typically FSA funds must be used by the end of the plan or calendar year
  • Account cannot be used after you leave the employer
  • FSAs must accompany group insurance through employer
  • Withdrawals are not allowed

What Can you use your HSA or FSA funds on?

Your vision insurance is probably going to cover on set of glasses or give you an allowance on what you can spend. If you contribute to a FSA or HSA you can use those funds to purchase the more expensive frames you want, or more than one pair of glasses to switch out your frames form time to time. In general you can use your funds for:

  • Reading glasses
  • Progressives
  • Prescription blue light glasses
  • Prescription anti-fatigue glasses
  • Prescription glasses
  • Prescription sunglasses

You can also choose to use your funds on contacts if they are medically necessary!

There are other things you can use the funds on as well aside form hardware. Other approved expenses would be eye exams, LASIK, copays and deductibles, eyeglass cleaning supplies and eye drops! It is important to check with your individual FSA or HSA provider to make sure anything that might fall into a grey area is covered.

What is NOT Eligible?

While there are so many things you can use these funds on there are still some things you shouldn’t use it on.

  • Non-prescription glasses
  • Non-prescription sunglasses
  • Non-prescription contacts
  • Insurance premiums

How to use your funds

This is going to depend on your specific plan. Some proivders will send you a debit card that you can use on the approved expenses. Other plans will require you to pay out of pocket but get reimbursed so it is important to hang on to receipts.

Bottom Line

FSA and HSA accounts can be a great way for you to set aside pre-taxed funds to spend on health expenses throughout the year. When enrolling in your employers benefits, make sure to take a look at the average expenses your family has each year to determine how much to contribute to your plan. Make sure to make the most of the benefits your employer offers!

Reasons to see the Eye Doctor:

Even if your vision is fine!

We believe it is important to arm our patients with knowledge. It is important to highlight what some eye symptoms could mean so you know what to look out for. We also know that it can be easy to forget about your eye health if you don’t have any current issues with it.

If you have always had 20/20 vision, or never experienced any recurring headaches or spots in your eyes, you may not remember to make a yearly eye appointment.

Even if you have no current vision problems, it is still a great idea to visit the eye doctor yearly. We wanted to highlight a few reasons today on our blog.


  1. Blood Pressure – a routine eye exam can identify if your blood pressure is consistently high. High blood pressure leads to many other health problems and if caught early, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help combat it.
  2. Vitamin Deficiencies – an eye doctor can identify vitamin deficiencies from an eye exam. This can help you combat any symptoms you may not be able to identify on your own.
  3. Macular Degeneration – this incurable eye disease is the leading cause of vision loss. The sooner it is diagnosed the better change you have of combatting its effects. It is still unknown the exact cause, but it is believed to be linked to age and genetics.
  4. Diabetes – this disease may seem unrelated, but people with diabetes have a higher risk of losing their eye sight. A yearly eye exam can help identify symptoms that might not be apparent to the untrained eye.
  5. Vasculitis – this causes inflammation of your blood vessels and can affect several organs at once. Your eye doctor may be able to catch it before your family practitioner if it is showing signs in your eye. This can cause organ damage and vision loss so its very important to catch early.

Make an appointment today!

In addition to the reasons detailed above, there are many other underlying conditions that can be caught by routine yearly eye exams. TriCounty Eye Associates cares about your overall health. We hope you now know that an eye exam is just as important for preventative care as it is for vision problems.

Continuing to bring awareness to our patients is an important part of what we do. We are always here to answer any questions you may have! Don’t forget to make your yearly eye appointment!

Glasses 101 – All You Need To Know

When you think of the eye doctor, the first thing you think of is probably eye glasses. We have focused on reading glasses. sun glasses. blue light blocking glasses and contacts on our blog before. We thought it would be beneficial to bring a deeper dive into the world of Glasses since that is, after all, our specialty!

It can be so overwhelming once you know you need corrective lenses. There are so many factors that go in to choosing the correct frames and lenses for you. Luckily, you have TriCounty Eye on your side, and we are dedicated to making sure you have the right prescription and frame style for you!

Type of lenses

There are two types of lenses that are the main type used in eye glasses:

Single Vision Glasses – These type of lenses are most widely used because they can help people with various types of focusing issues. These lenses can also be used in the form of reading glasses. People who need reading glasses have good distance vison but have lost some near sighted vision with age. Readers can be purchased at drugs stores or online, but its really always best to get a profesional opinion.

Multifocal Glasses – These type of lenses are used to correct distance vision as well as nearsightedness. Depending on the severity of your diagnosis , the eye doctor will decide what kind of multifocal glasses will work best for you.

Bifocal – these lenses have correction in the top half for seeing at a distance as well as correction in the bottom half to help with reading. Some bifocal lenses can have a portion of the top of the lens specialized for glancing up at objects in the intermediate or near range.

Trifocals – these lenses have three different lens corrections, one for distance, one for intermediate and another for near vison. All in one lens. Pretty impressive!

Progressive lenses – these lenses function the same way as bifocals and trifocals but they do not have any clear division lines between the different types of lens. While these lenses typically do look better than the regular trifocal and bifocal lenses, they do have area that is lost due to lens transition so you may not have as big of a space for each portion as you need or would like.

Computer glasses – these are glasses specifically designed based off of your individual prescrption and your amount of time using a computer screen. They are usually multifocal lenses that will help to reduce eye strain while using a computer for long hours. They also help you to transition from a computer screen, to white boards to printed pages seamlessly.

Lens Material Options

There are four different materials that your eyeglass lenses can be made out of:

  • Plastic – these are lighter, more flexible, and less likely to shatter than glass
  • Polycarbonate – these are for high impact, usually worn by athletes
  • Trivex – a newer plastic material that meets the same standards as polycarbonate
  • High Index – this are thin, lightweight and usually recommended for people who need high vision correction.

There are pros and cons to all of them, and its something you can absolutely discuss with your doctor when you have your next exam.

Once you have your eye exam, the doctor will decide which lens is right for you. Its important to understand where your eyes are lacking so you know how to use the glasses that end up getting prescribed to you.

We also offer so many different brands of eye glass frames to choose from. We love to help our customers pick out the best frame for their face shape and for what they will be using the glasses for!

Call us today to get your eye exam scheduled and enjoy the personal attention we give to each and every customer to make sure they end up with the best vision correction option for them!

Sunglasses: What you need to know!

We have mentioned many times how important it is to wear sunglasses every day. We want to make sure your eyes are protected from UV rays, just like your skin, your eyes can be damaged by too much sunlight.  If you do not protect your eyes from damaging UV rays, over time it can lead to macular degeneration, cataracts, and damage to your cornea and lens.


When choosing sunglasses it is important to realize that not all sunglasses are created equal. Some things to keep a lookout for when shopping for sunglasses are:

  • A sticker or tag that says the glasses provide 100% UV protection from all UV light.
  • The darkest lens does not equate to the most protection. Without a sticker or tag saying it, it doesn’t protect against UV rays.
  • Polarized lenses do not protect against UV rays. They are designed to reduce glare that bounces off reflective surfaces. There are polarized lenses that have UV blocking substances in them, but not all polarized lenses do.
  • When picking glasses for protective purposes, the bigger the lens the better. Them more of your face the sunglasses cover, the more protection they offer.
  • It doesn’t matter what color the lenses are. Regardless of the mirror finish or the color of the lens, its not going to make a difference when it comes to UV protection.


When trying on non-prescription sunglasses there are a couple tricks you can use to determine how well the lenses are made.

-Start by looking at something that has some straight lines, like a tile ceiling or floor.

-Hold the glasses away from your face and cover one of your eyes. Move the glasses up and down, and side to side while looking through the lenses with your uncovered eye.

-If the lines stay straight, they are most likely quality lenses, if the lines appear wavy they are probably not the best quality.

As always, if you come in to see us, we will make sure to fit you with the highest quality sunglasses whether you need a prescription or not.  We pride ourselves on our customer service and making sure each client gets the attention they need!

Can Make Up Cause Eye Problems?

Make up is as routine in some women’s lives as waking up and eating breakfast. Make up helps you feel confident in your appearance and can be fun to use!  We wanted to take a minute to detail some safety tips regarding your make up to keep you from potentially hurting yourself while getting ready for the day.

Main Makeup Issues for Eyes

There are a few main issues that come up regularly when it comes to make up around the eyes:

Allergic Reactions – it is important to pay attention to how your skin, eyes and face feel after applying makeup, especially if you are trying a new brand or type. Some ingredients in makeup can irritate your skin if you are allergic to it.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) can be passed through make up or make up brushes and applicators if the bacteria has started to grow in the make up or on the applicators.

Cornea Scratch – If you have ever applied eyeliner, eyeshadow or mascara we would be willing to bet you have missed once in a while. We have all been there but accidentally scratching your eye with an eyeliner pencil can cause cornea scratches which can cause pain and even infection

Eyeliner and Eye Shadow

The two types of eye make up that cause the most risk are eyeliner and eye shadow.

Eyeliner – If worn too close to your eye, pieces of eyeliner can get into your eye. These pieces can cause a build up in the eye and create issues like irritation, infections and blurry vision.

Eye Shadow – the biggest danger with this makeup could be the ingredients. Generally most eye shadows are safe. There are some that contain ingredients like Formaldehyde, Aluminum, Parabens and Coal Tar. These ingredients can be harmful to your skin. It is important to check the ingredients in your eye makeup.

Tips for Safe Eye Make up Use

  • Use clean makeup applicators
  • Apply eyeliner on the outside of the lash line
  • Remove your eye make up at the end of each day
  • Don’t hang on to make up too long
  • Rinse eye’s thoroughly if makeup gets in them
  • Don’t apply makeup while driving or in a car
  • Replace your make up after an eye infection

All in all the risks of using makeup outweigh the benefits in most cases. We just always like to educate our patients to create good habits to start with so they can avoid bigger issues in the long run.

Thyroid Eye Disease

Thyroid Eye Disease

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. With that in mind we thought it could be a great time to shed some light on thyroid eye disease. This is a disease that is correlated with your thyroid.

What is Thyroid Eye Disease? (or TED)

TED is when the eye muscles, eyelids, tear glands, and fatty tissues behind your eyes become inflamed. It can also be referred to as Graves Orbitopathy or Ophthalmopathy. At its core it is an autoimmune decision, which means the immune system attacks the tissue surrounding the eye.

The same autoimmune system condition that causes TED also affects the thyroid gland. This can result in Graves Disease. Graves Disease causes thyroid over or under activity. It is more common that it will cause thyroid overactivity. TED can occur in people with overactive, underactive or a normal functioning thyroid. People who have TED usually need to be seen by both an ophthalmologist and a thyroid specialist.


  • Red eyes
  • Swollen Eyes
  • Uncomfortable eyes
  • Bulging Eyes
  • Water eyes
  • Feeling grittiness in the eye
  • dry eyes
  • blurred or double vision

What are the chances you could get TED?

Usually about a quarter of people with Graves disease end up developing TED. Your chances of developing TED increases by eight times if you smoke cigarettes’.

TED can be managed once diagnosed. There are many things you can do to relieve the symptoms ranging from artificial teardrops to surgery.

Our goal is to bring more awareness to this condition so our patients know what to look out for. We want to be able to help our patients with their overall health starting with their eyes!


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