There are a lot of misconceptions about eyes and vision out there.  Here is my list of the top 10 truths that I think everyone should know:

1)  No taxes apply to eye exams or prescription eyewear.  That’s right – as long as they are prescription, there is no tax on glasses, sunglasses or contact lenses!  Items like pre-made reading glasses or non-prescription sunglasses are charged HST, though.

2)  “Vision screenings” are not the same as “eye exams”.  Quickly reading an eye chart at a school screening or at the driver’s license bureau does not check for health problems or if there is prescription that could be causing blur, headaches or eye turns.

3)  No knowledge of your “ABCs” is needed at an eye exam.  Eye exams are recommended at 6 months of age, with no feedback from your baby required!  I’ve done eye check-ups on babies, non-English speaking persons, and even one lady who was asleep the entire time – all using techniques that need no responses and little co-operation from the patient.  

4)  Eye exams are necessary - even if all seems well.  A tiny portion of the eye gives you most of your vision, so vision threatening problems often have no symptoms; I have sent people to the ER after a routine check-up because of something I found.  Exams should be done every 2 years for healthy adults and every year for kids & seniors – or more often if eye problems are being treated or monitored.

5)  One lens is not necessarily the same as all others.  Lenses may all look sort of alike, but there can be great differences in the quality of the material and of the vision they provide, so buy your eyewear from somebody you can trust.

6)  Contacts can be comfortable – even for wearing 30 days straight.  Materials and cleaning solutions are better than ever and with the right combination of these, even people who gave up contacts years ago are often able to wear their lenses for long periods of time.

7)  Contact lenses for astigmatism and/or bifocals are available and often work well.  Glasses often give the best vision in these cases, though, but contacts are a great option, too.

8)  Buying prescription glasses and contacts online is illegal.  Studies found that 50 to 90+% of glasses purchased from web sources failed industry standards on proper manufacturing and there is nobody to fit, adjust or troubleshoot problems with your glasses or contacts.

9)  Laser eye surgery rarely causes glare or dry eyes.  Those issues were fairly common years ago, but modern techniques make them an infrequent problem these days.

10)  UV Protection is important. Exposure to UV radiation can cause cancers in & around the eyes, early cataracts, macular degeneration (a permanently blinding condition) and even unsightly bumps and redness on your eyeballs. Sunglasses can be prescription, non-prescription, clip-on, fit-over, automatically darkening (e.g. Transitions), polarized, any colour or any darkness - there are many options available, so pick whatever works the best for you. 

I hope that "clears things up" a bit! 

This article is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for individual patient care from a licensed eye care professional. 

Copyright 2014 Dr. Sonya Frank
Originally published in the November 2014 Baden Outlook
, page 7