The famous glasses of Christmas movies, past and present….

Holiday GlassesAll of us have our favorite holiday movies- mine happens to be Elf with Will Ferrell.  And the elves in Santa’s workshop just so happen to wear small triangular reading glasses down on their noses.  Surprising, I did not even notice their glasses until I started to think about it! Glasses on characters in our favorite movies are often the defining characteristic of the character.  If you think about “Ralphie” in A Christmas Story you probably can picture him with brown thick glasses and at the same time recall his mom cautioning him: “You’ll shoot your eye out!.” Or how about Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” with small reading glasses down on his nose, holding a candle in the dark?

Some other famous Christmas movie characters that wear glasses are Clark Griswold in “Christmas Vacation”, Marcie in “Charlie Brown Christmas”, Arthur in “Arthur’s Christmas” The Conductor in “Polar Express” and of course Santa/Kris Kringle in “A Miracle on 34th Street- just to name a few.

So while you sit back and enjoy your favorite holiday movies this year, notice that sometimes, what adds to our favorite movie character’s charm and distinguishing personality, actually just happens to be their glasses!

~ Lisa M. Weiss, O.D.
California Optometric Association

Vitamin D and the eye

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Many of my patients take an assortment of supplements such as Calcium, Omega-3, Multi-Vitamins with Minerals, and Vitamin D on a daily basis. Are you one of those individuals taking vitamins regularly? And if so, are you taking Vitamin D?

It is a known fact that those that reside high up in the northern hemisphere require taking supplemental Vitamin D because they are not exposed to enough sunlight. You see, just being under the sun for about 15 minutes a day will help your skin convert sunlight into usable Vitamin D for your body to use. You can also get Vitamin D through a diet of fish (herring, mackerel, sardines, tuna) and fortified dairy products.

Nowadays, people are unfortunately becoming more deficient in Vitamin D levels for two reasons: diligent use of sunscreen, which on one hand aids in the prevention of skin cancer, but on the other hand it blocks the skin from producing enough Vitamin D for your body; and a diet lacking in foods rich in Vitamin D.

Vitamin D was originally believed to strengthen our bones. Through the Fall Risk studies, Vitamin D has proven that it goes beyond prevention of osteoporosis. It is involved in the prevention or reduction of symptoms in Alzheimer disease, asthma, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, dental caries, depression, diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy, eczema, hypertension, inflammatory bowel disease, influenza, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis and Optic Neuritis, pneumonia/respiratory infections, and tuberculosis.

With the eye in particular, research has revealed that individuals with diabetes had little to no presentation of diabetic retinopathy while taking supplemental Vitamin D. Furthermore, clinical research has shown that individuals recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and subsequently placed on high dose Vitamin D had both their neurologic signs and symptoms improve. Continued studies are proving that sufficient levels of Vitamin D may ward off episodes of inflammation of the optic nerve in the eye (Optic Neuritis).

From all the known benefits of taking Vitamin D, wouldn’t it be a good idea to check the status of Vitamin D level in your blood? Taking supplemental vitamins can be a controversial subject. If you do decide to jump on the band wagon, it is always a good idea to talk to your primary care physician before you start taking Vitamin D or any other supplements. Let’s bone up (no pun intended) on Vitamin D!

~ Judy Tong, O.D., F.A.A.O.
California Optometric Association

Proper care of contact lenses

contact pictureNext week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is sponsoring its first Contact Lens Health Week. Since more than 34 million Americans wear contact lenses, this topic is absolutely important and definitely a little late in coming.

While I would love to say that all of my patients have perfect hygiene habits, many of them do not. I have heard of patients sleeping in their contacts for months on end, using tap water to store them, and cleaning them in their mouths after falling out. Yes, the last one is true

So, after listening to my patients, here is my top ten list for caring for your contacts and your eyes:

  1. Wash your hands before handling your lenses.
  2. Keep your contact lens case clean and let it air dry.
  3. Change your case with every new bottle of solution.
  4. Use name brand solution and never top off your solution (always use new solution!).
  5. Throw your lenses out at the doctor prescribed interval.
  6. Even if your lenses are approved for overnight wear, it is a whole lot safer if you don’t.
  7. The solution may say no rub, rub anyway.
  8. Saline solution is not disinfecting, you need to use a proper solution.
  9. Contact lens solution is not a good rewetting drop. Ask your doctor for a good choice.
  10. Daily disposable contacts are the safest choice for those who swim. Open water and hot tubs are especially dangerous pathogens love these conditions.

The bottom line is that if you follow the rules, contacts can be a very safe and effective way to see better. Just remember to see your doctor every year to make sure that your contacts are still the best choice for your eyes. Your optometrist can be a great resource so make sure to ask questions during your exam and let them know if you are experiencing any difficulties with your lenses.

~ David C. Ardaya, O.D.
California Optometric Association

Top five vision myths

Courtesy of riekhavoc (caughtup?) on Flickr

Courtesy of riekhavoc (caughtup?) on Flickr

As a doctor of optometry, I hear it all. And with Dr. Google serving as an impromptu family physician these days, myths regarding eye health are bound to circulate. Here are the top vision myths debunked:

  1. Wearing eyeglasses that are too strong or have the wrong prescription will damage the eyes.
    Prescription lenses in eyeglasses alter light rays into the eye. The prescription lenses do not change any part of the eye. In an adult, wearing glasses that are too strong or an incorrect prescription cannot harm the eye, although it may result in eyestrain or a temporary headache. With an incorrect prescription, vision will be blurry, but not harmful to the eye.
  2. Wearing eyeglasses will cause you to become dependent on them.
    Eyeglasses are used to correct blurry vision. Since clear vision with eyeglasses is preferable to blurry vision, one may want to wear eyeglasses more often. With glasses, it may feel that you are becoming dependent on them. However, you are actually just getting used to seeing clearly.
  3. Wearing eyeglasses will weaken the eyes
    Eyeglasses worn to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia will not weaken the eyes. In addition, glasses will not permanently “cure” these types of vision problems. Wearing glasses will enable clear vision caused by these refractive errors. (There are exceptions – glasses for children with crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia). These glasses are used to help straighten the eyes or improve vision. Not wearing glasses may permanently impair vision).
  4. Using the eyes too much will “wear them out.”
    Eyes are made for seeing and cannot be used too much. We would not lose our sense of hearing by using our ears excessively.
  5. Holding a book too close or sitting too close is harmful to the eyes.
    Many children like to hold books very close to their eyes. Children have excellent focusing ability, so sitting close is normal and safe. Also, both children and adults who are nearsighted may get close to a book to see it clearly. This does not cause or worsen any type of eye problem.

~ Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association