Astigmatism is a type of refractive error that results in blurred vision. Nearsightedness and farsightedness are also refractive errors and a diagnosis of astigmatism should not cause you great concern. The condition is quite common and if you have astigmatism, you will likely not experience it much differently than you would poor vision caused by near or farsightedness. However, there is a distinction in that the irregular shaped cornea causes light rays to form two distorted images in the back of the eye, rather than a single one. Causes of Astigmatism The cause of astigmatism is unknown but it is often accompanied by near or farsightedness. You may have been born with astigmatism or it may have developed in childhood. Studies at the Ohio State University School of Optometry found that more than 28% of children have astigmatism. Unfortunately, it is often undetected in children who do not receive eye exams. Astigmatism can also develop after an eye injury that causes scars on the cornea, from certain types of eye surgery and from keratoconus, a disease of the cornea. Astigmatisms are due to an abnormally shaped curve of the cornea (clear tissue that covers the front of the eye) where the cornea appears more egg-shaped than its natural round shape. It can also be the result of an irregular-shaped lens inside the eye. Types of Astigmatism
  • Myopic astigmatism. One or both eyes are nearsighted.
  • Hyperopic astigmatism. One or both eyes are farsighted.
  • Mixed astigmatism. One eye is nearsighted and the other farsighted.
Signs and Symptoms
  • Blurred vision
  • Distorted vision especially images at a distance
  • Eye fatigue and strain
  • Headaches
Treatment Options Astigmatism can be diagnosed with a retinoscopy test as part of a comprehensive eye examination. In most cases, the condition can be fully corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Toric soft lenses are usually the best correction solution for astigmatism. These lenses have a greater light bending power that facilitates correction of the egg-shaped cornea. Rigid gas permeable contact lenses are another option. Your ideal prescription will be determined after your eyes are examined and tested. In extreme cases, you may want to consider Lasik surgery. We provid...

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia, commonly called lazy eye is the most common vision problem in children but can also be found in adults. Lazy eye is the inability to see clear details in one eye. In children, it is a developmental problem that occurs in the womb or in early childhood where the nerve pathway from one eye to the brain fails to develop properly. The weaker or underdeveloped eye sends a blurred image to the brain. The eye may be perfectly healthy, however, over time the brain learns to ignore the imperfect image and use of the eye diminishes. Amblyopia will not go away on its own and a child will not outgrow it. It will instead result in permanent visual problems and poor depth perception. Early treatment is imperative. Studies indicate that if a child receives the proper treatment for amblyopia before the age of 10, they will likely overcome the condition and develop normal vision in the afflicted eye. Treatment is required and should never be delayed. Amblyopia can be diagnosed during an eye examination. Extensive testing is not required. Causes of Amblyopia
  • A difference in the refractive errors in the two eyes where one eye is significantly more nearsighted or farsighted or where astigmatism is present.
  • Childhood cataracts.
  • The most common cause of amblyopia is a misalignment of the eyes known as is strabismus, commonly called crossed eyes. Strabismus is inherited so if it runs in your family, you should have your child tested for amblyopia early in life and annually even if you don’t notice problems.
Signs and Symptoms Children are often unable to communicate or understand vision problems. Observation is a critical tool in determining if your child suffers from amblyopa. Pay close attention to the following signs and symptoms.
  • Squinting even in low light when looking at objects and people.
  • Completely closing one eye in order to see more clearly.
  • Complaints of eyestrain or frequent eye rubbing.
  • Complaints of headaches especially after focusing.
  • Eyes that appear to turn in or out.
  • Eyes that seem to focus individually instead of together.
  • Inability to judge depth correctly.
  • Poor vision in one eye.
  • Learning difficulties due to decreased visual acuity.
Treatment Options Amblyopic can be treated through visio...

Retinal Tears and Detachment

The retina is the light sensitive inner portion of the back of the eye. Its separation, either partial or completely, from the underlying tissue is a serious condition that can result in permanent vision loss. Re-attachment is possible but immediate treatment is required. Causes of Retinal Detachment Nearsighted people are more prone to detachment of the retina because the eyes are thinner and more elongated. Routine eye exams cannot detect retinal detachment but they can reveal symptoms that indicate a susceptibility to the condition. Additional causes of retinal detachment include:
  • Trauma to the eye or face
  • Eye tumors
  • Eye or systemic diseases including diabetes and sickle cell
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Cataract surgery
  • Lasik surgery especially in nearsighted people
 Signs and Symptoms Although floater, spots and flashes don’t cause retina detachment, they are signs that one is occurring. If you have a sudden change in floaters or spots or experience flashes of light, seek immediate treatment. Additional signs and symptoms include:
  • Blurry vision
  • Decreased vision
  • Shadows at the top or sides of the eyes
Except in the case of flashes, there is no pain associated with retinal detachment. However, without immediate treatment, vision loss is certain and blindness is possible. Treatment Options Surgery is required to repair a torn or detached retina. The procedure used is dependent upon the severity and location of the tear or detachment. With immediate treatment, retina reattachments are extremely effective and vision changes may be very minor. Vision loss increases depending upon length of treatment delay. Laser Surgery or Photocoagulation This procedure is most commonly used for tears in the retina. The heat from the laser beam seals the damaged retina back to the underlying tissue. Cryopexy or Freezing Cryopexy is also used for retinal tears. A freezing probe applied to the surface of the eye at the tear produces a scar that reconnects the retina to the supportive tissue. Pneumatic Retinopexy This procedure is most commonly used when a tear or detachment occurs in the upper half of the retina. Either an expandable gas bubble is positioned over the tear or detachment or silicone oil is inje...

Contact Lenses: What You Need to Know

If you are thinking about buying contact lenses, there are some things you need to know about proper selection. At Kirkland Vision Center, our optometrists specialize in comprehensive contact lens examinations with an emphasis on fitting problem and hard-to-fit contact lens wearers. Your eye exam and personal consultation will help determine which lens is right for your vision. We take many factors into consideration in evaluating which contact lenses are best for your eyes. Some things our eye doctors will evaluate and discuss with you are:
  • Lifestyle and how active you are
  • Your general health and any health problems
  • Eye conditions such as astigmatism
  • The curvature of your eyes
  • Allergies and dry eye problems
  • Current and previous corrective eye wear
We dispense the best hard and soft prescription contact lens brands including"
  • Acuvue Oasys and Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism
  • Air Optix Night and Day
  • Bausch & Lomb
  • Biofinity and Biofinity Toric
  • Focus
  • Proclear and Proclear Multifocals
Hard Contact Lenses Hard lenses were once made from hard plastics such as Plexiglas or Lucite. These materials have been replaced with a porous material that lets oxygen flow to the eyes. Known as rigid gas-permeable, gas-permeable, RGP or GP lenses, the construction is highly durable while still promoting eye health. Unlike soft lenses, RGP lenses will not tear and because of their solid structure, cleaning is easier. The rigid but porous material allows for a more comfortable fit and decrease in eye irritation. Gas-permeable lenses correct farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism. They are also recommended for the age-related vision condition known as presbyopia.  For some patients, hard lenses are more effective than soft lenses at correcting all such vision problems. GP lenses should be replaced after approximately one year. Soft Contact Lenses Soft contact lenses’ gel-like material results in a lens that is thin, flexible and more adhering to the eye. If you have sensitive eyes and been unable to wear hard lenses due to comfort issues, soft lenses may be the answer. Soft lenses mold to the eye so that slippage is rarely a problem. They are an especially good choice for younger patients and those w...

Eye Frames Selection

Eye glasses are the newest fashion trend. Celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Lisa Loeb, Justin Timberlake and Hayden Panettiere have all opted for frames over contact lenses. If you want to make a fashion statement with frames, follow these simple rules from design specialists. Face Shape Matters When Selecting Eye Glasses
  • Your frame shape should complement but not duplicate your facial shape.
  • To determine your facial shape, pull your hair back, stand in front of a mirror and outline your face with a felt-tip pen. Stand back and you will clearly see if your face is oval, round, square, oblong, diamond or triangle.
  • While your eye frames should contrast your face shape, they should be the same scale as your face size. Otherwise, your eyeglasses will appear out of balance with your features.
Coordinate Your Frames with Your Skin, Eyes and Hair Undertones
  • Skin, eyes and hair have either cool or warm undertones. By determining if your undertones are primarily warm or cool, you can select the eye frame color that enhances rather than distracts from your good looks.
  • Your skin is cool if it has blue, pink or olive undertones. Peach, cream or yellow undertones are warm.
  • Eye color does not matter as much as eye tone. Blue eyes generally have cool undertones but with a grayish cast, will be warm. Most brown eyes have warm undertones but if quite dark, will be cool.
  • Likewise, hair color does not indicate whether it has warm or cool undertones. Ash brown is warm while chestnut brown is cool and strawberry blond is cool while golden blond is warm.
We can help you clear the confusion about which frame style, color and fit are best for you. Roxana Williams is a fashion eyewear consultant and has the training and natural talent to help you bring out your own star quality. Call us today for an appointment.

Blepharitis (Inflammation)

Blepharitis is a chronic inflammation of the eyelids and is common in both children and adults.  It is not only uncomfortable, if left untreated, it can cause long term vision problems and damage to the cornea. Blepharitis occurs in two forms
  • Anterior Blepharitis
The condition is found on the front of the eyelids and the eyelid margins (at the eyelashes).
  • Posterior Blepharitis
The condition is found on the inner surface of the eyelid (area in contact with the eye). Causes of Blepharitis
  • Bacterial Infections
Staphylococcus aureus is a dangerous bacterium that can be recurring and problematic to treat. You may notice this disorder in the morning with difficulty first opening your eyes. Severe cases can cause bleeding and oozing. Left untreated, the condition may cause scarring on the cornea.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis.
Also known as eczema, this red, itchy, flaky, greasy and waxy skin disorder is an inflammatory reaction. Seborrheic blepharitis occurs when the eyelid produces too much tear film.
  • Rosacea
A chronic skin condition that causes facial redness, swelling or sores that resemble acne.
  • Meibomian Glands Dysfunction
There are about 50 oil glands on the upper eyelid that are necessary to lubricate the eye. Complications occur when too much oil is produced. This can lead to inflammation and bacterial contamination.
  • Allergies
Seasonal allergies may make you more susceptible to blepharitis in the spring or summer months. Allergy medication may relieve the condition.
  • Lice
If your child has lice, examine the eye area and ask he/she if the eyes are bothersome. If blepharitis is suspected, use the home treatments recommended below but do not delay scheduling an appointment if the condition continues for more than a couple of days. Signs and Symptoms
  • Matted and crusty debris especially near the lashes and corners of the eye
  • Eye irritation
  • Eyelid tenderness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sties
  • Tearing
  • Burning
  • Dryness
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Broken eyelashes
Treatment Options Even if your symptoms are very minimal, it is important to take immediate action. The first step is maintaining clean eyelids by washing with a solution of water and mild baby s...


Myopia, commonly called nearsightedness, is a common refractive disorder where light rays do not bent (refract) properly. This occurs because when light enters the eye, it is focused in front rather than directly on the surface of the retina (the layer in the back of the inner eye). Nearsightedness affects an estimated 30-40% of people in the United States. It prevents clear distant vision but does not affect close up vision. It is a prevalent disease in children that either stabilizes or progresses. Severe myopia can cause a form of retinal degeneration. Causes of Myopia Myopia is the result of the eye being slightly longer than usual from front to back. The actual physical length of the eye is greater than the optical length the eye can accommodate. Myopia often runs in families. Signs and Symptoms
  • Blurred vision of far objects
  • Squinting to improve focus
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Eye fatigue
 Treatment Options Nearsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) This procedure uses a laser to remove a layer of corneal tissue, which flattens the cornea and allows light rays to focus on or near the retina. LASIK (Laser Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis) LASIK is non-heat productive laser surgery where the ophthalmologist cuts and removes some of the corneal tissue to flatten the area. It is the most common surgery used to correct nearsightedness. Corneal Rings Plastic rings (Intacs) are implanted into the eye to alter the shape of the cornea. One advantage of the rings is that although they are a permanents solution, they may be removed in case of problems or when a prescription change is necessary. Orthokeratology This is a non-surgical procedure where special rigid gas permeable (GP) contact lenses slowly reshape the cornea over time. The cornea temporarily retains the new shape. These lenses are normally worn during sleep so daytime vision is clear. Risks of any eye surgery include:
  • Under or over correction of the vision
  • Side effects such as halos or starbursts
  • Dry eye
  • Infections
  • In rare cases, vision loss
If you are experiencing problems with nearsightedness or have questions or concerns about your vision corre...

Eye Injuries

Over one million people in the United States suffer injuries to their eyes every year. Most of those injuries can be prevented. Home Eye Injuries Nearly half of all eye injuries occur in the home. Studies done by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy) and the American Society of Ocular Trauma (ASOT) determined that over 40% of injuries occurred while doing activities such as:
  • Cooking
  • Yard work
  • Home repairs
  • Do-it-yourself projects
  • Using high velocity tools
  • Working with chemicals in the home or yard
In incidents involving home eye injuries, 78% of the injured persons were not wearing protective eyewear. Additionally, many children suffer injuries because they are eager to watch the activities and/or participate in them. It is recommended that every household have a pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear, commonly referred to as safety glasses. The average cost of protective eyewear sufficient to save your sight is as little as $3.00. Do not assume that your regular prescription eyewear can protect against hazards as the lenses are not designed for impact performance or to keep dust and debris from entering the eye. Work Related Eye Injuries According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, thousands of people are blinded each year from work related eye injuries at a cost of over $300 million. Most eye injuries can be prevented with the proper selection and use of eye and face protection. The American Optometric Association has made the following recommends to prevent work related eye injuries:
  • Know the hazards that could lead to eye injuries in your workplace
  • Use machine guards, work screens or other engineering controls
  • Use appropriate eye protection
  • Keep your eye protection in good condition and replace it if it becomes damaged
Recreational Eye Injuries Tens of thousands of sports and recreational eye injuries occur every year and the majority are preventable. Always use protective goggles, helmets and face protectors. Very high risk sports include all opponent contact ones such as boxing, wrestling and martial arts. High risk sports include ones that require the use of potentially dangerous equipment such as in baseball, football, tennis, fencing, fishing, biking and racketb...

Children Eye Exams

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that children receive their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Subsequent exams should be scheduled at ages 3 and 5 or 6 years of age. Thereafter, exams should be every two years unless vision problems are determined. Vision disorders in children are now more common than previously known. Studies show that between 5 and 10% of pre-schoolers have vision problems and a surprising 25% of school-aged children suffer some vision disorder or deficiency. Early detection of vision problems is crucial as conditions left untreated can result in greater vision problems and, in some cases, cause permanent vision loss. Additionally, studies indicate that many previously labeled learning disabilities are actually poor vision that has restricted learning.  Experts say that 80% of learning by school children is visual.  Types of Childhood Vision Problems Since children cannot communicate or even understand their vision issues, eye exams are critical to avoid vision and learning problems. Your child’s examination will include tests for the following:
  • Near vision
  • Distance vision
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Strabismus (cross eye)
  • Convergence insufficiency (inability to keep the eye aligned)
  • Eye teaming (binocularity) skills
  • Eye movement
  • Focusing
  • Peripheral awareness
  • Eye and hand coordination
Preparing for the Exam Eye examinations are painless and you should assure your child that they will not feel any discomfort during the appointment.
  • Schedule the exam during the day when your child is fully awake and alert.
  • Before the appointment, prepare a history with any birth or developmental issues including:
    • Perinatal history including birth weight, pregnancy term and any pregnancy or delivery complications
    • Prematurity
    • Delayed motor skills
    • Problems with fixation or tracking
    • Inability to maintain eye contact
    • Frequent eye rubbing
    • Tearing when not upset or crying
    • Excessive blinking
    • Past or present allergies
    • List of all current medications
    • Any information provided by your pediatrician regarding the child’s vision or motor skills
    • Any pre-school vision screening tests
Exams for Children Infants It is very important ...

Eye Allergies

An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to foreign substances it perceives as harmful. Your eyes are just another part of the body that may respond to this perceived threat. Eye allergies can make wearing contacts difficult and can trigger conjunctivitis (pink eye), which is an swelling or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids. Causes of Eye Allergies Airborne allergens such as pollen, dust and pet dander are the most common triggers of allergies with foods being the second. Cosmetics, toiletries, and medications may also trigger an immune system reaction. However the actual cause of allergies is an exaggerated reaction by the immune system and may be the result of hereditary or a weakened or misguided immune system. In response to harmless but perceived harmful substances, the body produces gamma E globulin (IgE) the allergy antibody. An overproduction of IgE irritates cells causing the release of various chemicals including histamine. These chemicals cause irritation and inflammation and the resulting allergy symptoms. Signs and Symptoms
  • Excess tear production
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye redness
  • Eye swelling
  • Eye itchiness
  • Normal allergy symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, coughing and congestion
Treatment Options Identifying your triggers is the first step to alleviating your suffering. The best treatment for your allergies can only be determined once the triggers are understood and your ability to deal with their interference in your life considered. These are some methods to control your triggers once determined:
  • If indoor substances such as dust and pet dander are at issue, use air purifiers at home and work and change the filters often.
  • Avoid outdoor triggers by staying indoors especially when your triggers are higher and avoid certain plants, trees and grasses.
  • Wear wrap around eyeglasses or sunglasses to avoid allergen exposure.
  • Remove the offending substances with showers, eye washes and eye drops.
  • Use eye drops that include antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers. Mast cell stabilizers are similar to antihistamines with longer lasting relief.
  • Over-the-counter antihistamine tablets can help relieve many eye symptoms.
  • Decongestant eye drops, which c...