Seeing vs. Seeing As Well As You Can

Google Glasses are in the news. These are eyeglasses with a smart pad embedded in the frame. They’re clever, expensive and available to select trendsetters.  But I think that  what should be in the news is that there are millions of Americans who go to school, work or drive with sub-optimal vision.

The saddest moments in my practice occur when I examine people no longer capable of clear vision because of eye disease or injury. The happiest moments occur when a patient picks up new glasses or contact lenses and sees clearer than they have in a long, long time.

But in between the people who may never be able to see clearly again and the people who are thrilled with their amazing  new vision correction, are a whole lot of people who are “seeing” — but not “seeing as well as they can”. This can include people who:

1. Have not had an eye exam in a long time

2. Have their eye exam performed by a doctor who makes minimal effort to fine tune the prescription or discuss current lens technology

3. People who increase the font, purchase over the counter reading glasses, or get bigger tv’s. Seeing magnified images may enable them to do a task like work on a computer or watch tv. But it does not provide the same comfort level as seeing a properly focused image through the best possible vision prescription. It’s amazing how much vision compromise people put up with because they just don’t realize how much clearer their world can be!

4. People who have had Lasik or Cataract Surgery several years ago. Their vision may have gradually changed but they have gotten out of the habit of seeing an eye doctor.

Passing a DMV or school screening means the person simply has MINIMUM required vision. Now wouldn’t you rather share the roads with people who see 20/20 and not just the minimum that DMV requires? And wouldn’t you rather have your doctors, plumbers, accountants, teachers, bus drivers or anyone else whose services you or your family use have perfect vision rather than “minimum” clarity? If an attorney is charging by the hour, I sure hope his or her vision is as efficient as possible. And if a contractor is reading a blueprint, I sure hope he is seeing all that tiny print really well.

I recently had the disconcerting experience of being in a doctor’s office where it was evident the doctor made an error because his vision was not as clear as it should be. When I mentioned he needed an eye exam, he just sort of said that he was ok because he has one eye that sees well at distance and the other eye works for reading and close vision. This doctor was confusing “seeing” with “seeing as well as he can”. He should have known better – but after many years as an eye doctor, I know how often I see people who have spent years not seeing as well as they can.

Vision is precious. Enjoy clear vision by having regular eye exams and utilizing today’s amazing frame, lens and contact lens technology. Be the best that you can be by seeing the best that you can see!

Dr. Ally Stoeger provides annual eye examinations, medical eye care, contact lens examinations and Lasik/refractive surgery co-management in the Gainesville-Haymarket area of Virginia.  GH Eye also has a superb collection of   high tech lenses and the latest in fashion frames.


Eyes and Weddings

If you are planning a Spring or Fall wedding, now is the time to think about……your Eyes! Here’s some suggestions for making sure you’re seeing clearly on your big day:

  • Schedule your eye examination at least three months before your wedding. That will give you time to decide if you want to get new glasses, contact lenses or consider Lasik surgery. It will also give your eye doctor a chance to make sure your eyes are healthy.
  • If you wear eyeglasses, consider a classic or rimless frame in a size proportional to your face. That type of frame will be less distracting in photos and will look less dated when you look at the photos years from now.
  • Avoid glasses with Transitions.  If some of your photos will be taken outdoors or near windows, your lenses will tint and you may not like how that  looks in your wedding photos.
  • Make sure your lenses have a high quality anti-glare / anti-reflection treatment.  Lesser quality lenses scratch and smudge too easily.
  • Consider using 1 day disposable contact lenses.  These types of lenses tend to be more comfortable and  are less likely to cause your eyes to be red and irritated.  Plus they are a lot easier to travel with since they don’t require solutions.
  • Suggest to family members who will be in your photos that they get  eyeglass frames adjusted a few days before the big event.  That way no one’s glasses look crooked in the photos!

Dr. Ally Stoeger provides annual eye examinations for all age groups, medical eye care, contact lens examinations and Lasik surgery co-management in the Gainesville-Haymarket area of Virginia. Her practice at GH Eye has a superb collection of  basic and high tech lenses and the latest in fashion frames for adults and children.   




Pregnancy and Eye Exams

Almost every pregnant woman has read somewhere that pregnancy hormones can affect her glasses or contact lens prescription. Because of this a pregnant woman may delay necessary eye care.

I have found pregnancy usually does not affect glasses or contact lens prescriptions. In fact, pregnant women who delay their eye exam until after delivery, or after they finish nursing, may be putting themselves at risk for the following reasons:

1. Outdated eyeglass prescriptions can reduce driving safety

2. They may end up trying to squeeze an extra few weeks out of their last box of contact lenses. Wearing contact lenses longer than approved  can cause eye infections, changes in the delicate tissue under the eyelids that will make future lens wear less comfortable, and can even cause corneal damage.

3. Pregnant women should have eye exams to check the optic nerve and retina. At GH Eye we generally do not perform dilated eye examinations for pregnant patients. Instead, we use Optomap technology to get a wide angle panoramic view of the retina. This technology does not use any x-rays.  And, because their eyes are usually not dilated, pregnant patients feel safe driving home after their eye exam at GH Eye.

Comfortable eyeglasses with a current prescription are important because pregnant women are not permitted to wear contact lenses during delivery. Also, I recommend wearing glasses and not extended wear contact lenses during night feedings.

The good news is that unlike clothes or  shoes — the eyeglass frames that a pregnant woman purchases will still fit after delivery. So have fun with eyeglass fashion — buying eyeglass frames is like buying purses — won’t matter if you have added a size or two!

Dr. Ally Stoeger provides annual eye examinations, medical eye care, contact lens examinations and Lasik surgery co-management in the Gainesville-Haymarket area of Virginia. Her practice at GH Eye has a superb collection of  basic and hi-tech lenses and the latest in fashion frames.

60 Minutes, Luxottica and GH Eye Pricing

60 Minutes reporters love to showcase businesses that may operate in a way that hurts the consumer. So it’s no surprise that we’ve had several patients mention the recent 60 Minutes story about Luxottica and eyeglass pricing. For those who are not aware – Luxottica owns LensCrafters, Pearle and optical locations in Target, Sears and JC Penney.

Since we are in an election season, the words “Fact-Check” have gotten a lot of press. So here’s my fact-check for the first point Leslie Stahl makes. Here’s the transcript:

“Have you bought a pair of glasses lately? Bet your eyes popped when you saw the price tag. If you don’t go to places like Walmart or Costco, you could easily be spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a pair that cost $30 ten years ago.”

1. Frames for the past 10, 20 and even 30 years have almost never been priced anywhere near the $30 range. My estimate is that the vast majority of frames in the past three decades–at Luxottica, at independent optometrists, and at most commercial retailers– were sold for $90 to $180 or higher.
2. Yes Walmart or similar big box stores carry some $30 frames. (In fact at GH Eye we have some frames at or below $30 as well). But most frames at Walmart and other big box stares are quite a bit higher than $30.
Bottom line – Leslie Stahl substantially underestimated what frames cost 10 years ago and substantially underestimated what frames now cost at Walmart and Costco.

GH Eye is an independent office not affiliated with any big box or shopping center retailers. We are, however, affiliated with a progressive network of 1500 optometrists nationwide who share clinical information and purchasing power. Unlike big box stores and other retailers we don’t have the overhead expense of district managers, regional supervisors, national headquarters, national advertising and shopping center rent.

In fact, should you purchase eyeglasses from our office and then find the identical product at a lower price within 30 days of purchase–as long as we can verify this as being in-stock pricing at an optical retail establishment within 30 miles of our office — we will refund the difference to you. And we’ll even get you a cup of Starbucks on us!

At GH Eye we have a great deal of technical expertise and a lot of fun in our optical department….but we want you to know we take your eyes very seriously. Whether you are here for an eye exam, eyeglasses or contact lenses, we have your back (and your eyes!).

Dr. Ally Stoeger provides annual eye examinations, medical eye care, contact lens examinations and Lasik surgery co-management. Her practice at GH Eye has a superb collection of both basic and hi-tech lenses and latest fashion frames.

Understanding Eye & Vision Insurance

There’s almost nothing more important to your well-being than clear vision and healthy eyes. And there’s almost nothing more important to your budget than making sure that you use your health insurance benefits correctly. Unfortunately, patients rarely understand how their eye and vision insurance works.  Here’s a quick two question quiz on this topic:

1.  Jessica is in pain because something got in her eye while she was out running.  She has medical insurance but because she doesn’t wear glasses or contacts, she elected not to take the vision plan addition to her medical insurance.  Which of the following is correct:

A.  Since Jessica does not have a vision plan, she does not have insurance coverage to see an eye doctor to remove the particle in her eye.

B.  She has eye coverage if she sees an eye doctor on her medical insurance plan.

Correct answer:   B

Vision Insurance generally provides for a once a year visit for a routine annual eye examination. It does NOT cover medical eye emergencies or treatment for eye disease.  However, your medical insurance — even if you do not have vision insurance-will typically cover a medical eye condition (assuming you have met your deductible).  

2.  Jeremy has a vision plan and a medical health insurance plan. His vision has gotten blurry  and  his eyes are frequently red and irritated. He had to stop wearing his contact lenses but wants a prescription for new contacts and glasses. Jeremy is concerned that he has recently started seeing floaters in his vision. Which of the following is correct:

A. Jeremy’s Vision Plan will cover his examination for irritated eyes, blurry vision, new contact lens prescription, eye glasses and floaters.

B.   Jeremy’s new glasses and contact lenses will  be covered by his vision plan.

C.  Because he has a vision plan he will not have any  charges for contact lens fitting services.

D.  None of the above.

Correct answer:  D  None of the Above.  

Jeremy has multiple medical eye problems (eye irritation and floaters) and multiple vision needs (eyeglasses and contact lens fitting). He may need two or three visits.  He would probably use his Vision Plan for one visit and  his medical insurance plan to cover additional visits related to the red eye irritation and floaters.  

If Jeremy uses his Vision Plan to purchase eyeglasses, he may have additional fees for glasses if he upgrades from the basic frame and lens choices provided by his vision plan.  And, if he used his VIsion Plan to purchase eyeglasses, in most cases he  would need to pay out of pocket for contact lens fitting / evaluation and for his contact lenses. If he uses his Vision Plan for contact lens fitting, he will need to pay out of pocket for eyeglasses.

Even though contact lenses are not covered under medical eye insurance, if you have a contact lens related complication that causes infection or eye pain, it may be covered under your medical insurance and not your vision plan.

And there are a few medical insurance plans that do cover an annual eye examination, even if you do not have a Vision Plan, and even if you do not have a medical eye problem.

GH Eye accepts VSP, EyeMed, Anthem, Care First, United Health Care, Aetna and other plans.  As part of our service to the community, we will help you research your eye and vision care benefits coverage.

For patients who do not have vision plans, or who want to fill in the gaps of their vision plan coverage, we offer our exciting GH Eye Club program.

Perhaps the most important aspect of care at GH Eye is that we co-ordinate your vision and medical eye care — both in terms of the examination services you need to protect and preserve your vision, and in terms of your insurance.   We care for your eyes AND your vision.

GH Eye is conveniently located for patients who live in Gainesville, Haymarket, Warrenton, Manassas and surrounding areas.  We have morning appointments available as early as 7 AM for early birds; late afternoon appointments and Saturday appointments.  Come visit!