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Showing posts from July, 2020

Computer Vision Syndrome: Potential Causes

Happy Friday, y'all!
Guys, like it or not, thanks to COVID-19, it's the work from home era.  If you weren't using screens most of your waking hours before quarantine began, there's a solid chance that you are now.
And, if you're like 90% of computer users, it's probably taken a bit of a toll on you.
Think back: how many times since March have you experienced
eyestraineye fatigueheadaches (especially around the eyes)dry or watery eyesdouble visionblurred visionafter spending time on a screen?
If you're anything like me, it's probably a daily occurrence - one that can cut productivity while exacerbating the high stress environment that seems to characterize this unique time.
Have you ever wondered what causes the symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome?

Then you've come to the right spot!  Let's get started!
Computer Vision Syndrome: Potential CausesBinocular Vision ProblemsFirst up: Binocular vision, or the vision that you have when you're …

Blue Light: The Conversation Begins

First things first: shout out to my older brother for posing the question responsible for today's post - and the playlist that I'm blogging to! Now, onto the actual discussion. Blue Light
Blue light is a topic that's received a lot of attention in (relatively) recent years. I briefly mentioned blue light in my post Specs: Do I Really Need... For a more complete discussion on this topic though, we need to do a quick physics/optics review.
First things first: light functions as a wave... and a particle.  Which is admittedly a bit confusing - until you think about the two ways that light can be defined: by how it travels (in a wave), and the energy that it carries (as a particle).

As a wave, it falls in the electromagnetic spectrum - along with a lot of other familiar things like:
gamma raysx-raysultravioletinfraredmicrowavesradio wavesCollectively, these are all types of radiation.
Which can be a scary term.  I mean, it's easy to think of radiation in the context of cancer…

Pediatric Eye Exams: How Does My Doctor... Part 2

Last week, in Part 1 of this series, I introduced a couple basic components of a pediatric eye exam - namely communication and visual acuities. Though these are both huge concepts, they barely scratch the surface of everything that occurs in an infant eye exam.
Ready for Part 2? Let's go.
Additional TestingSo, whether you realize it or not, there are a lot of little components to any eye exam that it may be easy to sweep under the rug.  In today's post, I'll dive into each of those, and how they vary in a kiddo's exam!
Ocular AlignmentSo, in adults, this is often tested by what's called a cover test. I won't get into all the details because the specifics aren't really necessary in the context of this discussion.  The basic concept though, is that I, as the doctor, cover each of your eyes individually in a specific pattern while you focus on either a distance or near target.  If one eye wasn't initially on the target, covering the other allows it to take up…

Decoding the Numbers: Astigmatism

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Welcome to Part 3 of my series Decoding the Numbers!
In the previous two posts we discussed myopia (near-sightedness) and hyperopia (far-sightedness).  Today, we're diving into the mildly confusing topic of astigmatism.

Astigmatism*not "a stigmatism", not "stigmatism", not "stigmata"*
What is astigmatism?*Insert football analogy here*Just kidding.  Your eye really isn't shaped like a football in astigmatism.  Rather, astigmatism occurs when there is more than one power in either the cornea or the lens, as a result of different amounts of curvature. These differences in curvature are generally located 90 degrees away from each other.Here's a picture to try to help explain:In this picture, the red is the steeper, or more curved part (think tennis ball).  The blue is the flatter, or less curved part (think bowling ball).
Because there are different powers, the light focuses in two different spots in relation to the retina, with one closer (either in …

Why Does My Eye Doctor... Part 3

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Hello, and welcome to Part 3 of my "Why Does My Eye Doctor..." series!
*Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2 of the series*

Today we'll be discussing the importance of the dreaded "eye puff" test.
Ready? Let's get started with a quick lesson on ocular anatomy!

Ocular AnatomyOkay, so before we can really discuss the ins and outs of the "air puff" test, it's important to know a little bit of anatomy.
I think this picture will do!

So, where we're focusing in this picture is the big open space between the clear front surface (the cornea) and the colored part of the eye (the iris).  This space is called the anterior chamber (anterior = front).  This chamber - or big space - is filled with a fluid called aqueous humor (aqueous = watery, humor = substance within the body).
Keep looking at the picture.  You should notice that the cornea and the iris come together at an angle.  This angle is called the anterior chamber angle (makes sense, right?).  C…

But, why blogging?

Last Friday, for a fun change of pace, I wrote a short introductory post about myself (check it out here).  As I've been having a hard time deciding what to write about on this dreary Saturday morning (thanks, Hurricane Hanna), I think I'll switch it up again with a discussion on why I'm here in the first place.  Enjoy!
Why Blog?If none of you have wondered yet, I'm sure at some point the thought would cross your mind - Hannah, you're an optometrist.  Why in the world are you spending your days blogging?
In all reality, it's a great question.  I just spent 5 years, including residency, learning how to treat patients in a clinic setting, and now I'm... writing?  What's with that?
The answer?  Well, there's a lot to it.
WritingAnyone who has been with me - be it in life or online - for any length of time knows that I am an avid writer, and have been for essentially my whole life.  I vividly remember writing (and illustrating) short stories in Kindergarten…

Specs v. Contacts

It's an age old question (well, not literally) - which are better - glasses or contact lenses?  And how do I know which option is right for me?
First things first, it's important to know that there are many factors that go into determining whether glasses or contacts may suit you better.  I probably won't be able to cover every specific example in this post, so if you have further questions, please contact me - I'd love to hear from you!  From there though, I'll try to cover the pros and cons of both options and give a few final thoughts.
Ready?  Let's go!
Specs/GlassesProsFashion: A cute pair of specs can add a lot to your look, bringing out the color of your eyes, highlighting your skin tones, or accentuating your outfit!Protection: This is one of optometrists top reasons for encouraging glasses wear.  If you're functionally monocular, or have reduced vision in one eye, it's vital to wear glasses to protect your good eye!  Even if you're fully sighte…

Pediatric Eye Exams: How Does My Doctor...

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One of my absolute favorite questions in the realm of optometry is: How are you able to do an eye exam on an infant?! They can't even talk!
As a pediatric optometrist, I often quip back: Exactly! Think of how much faster an exam would go without all the talking!
Okay, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there were definitely days during residency when I would get thrown off by my patients actually being able to talk to me.
So, how does this process work?  Come with me and find out!

Pediatric Eye Exams 101First things first: communication.
As adults, it's easy to think of communication being the spoken or written word, but there's so much more to it than that.
If you're a parent, think back to the first years of your child's life.  For quite a while, they probably weren't able to speak - at least not coherently - but that didn't mean that you couldn't communicate.  Rather, you paid attention to their actions.  By observing and interacting, you could tel…

So You Need An Eye Exam...

It's that time of year again.. You've started noticing changes in your vision.  At first they were pretty minimal, but now, it's getting pretty bad.  You know you need to go to the eye doctor, but where do you go?
Maybe you've moved. Maybe your insurance changed. Maybe you weren't a fan of that last optometrist. Or maybe you've never seen an eye doctor before.
The stories are all different, but the question is the same: how do you decide which optometrist to see (pun intended)?
I was reminded of this conundrum a couple of days ago when, out of curiosity, I decided to see how many eye doctors there were near my hometown (which doesn't have a stoplight to put things into perspective).
I was shocked.  I knew of, probably 4 off the top of my head, but between four towns that are within a 20 minute radius of my house, there were somewhere around 12 different practices, many with multiple doctors each!
Retrospectively, what shocked me the most wasn't the number of doc…

Why Does My Eye Doctor... Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my series "Why Does My Eye Doctor..."! Today, let's go into the topic of what all optometrists are known for - which is better, one or two?
*Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 3!

Refraction in FocusFirst things first, what in the world is the eye doctor doing when they ask this annoying question?

The procedure itself is called refraction.  If you jump back to your physics days, remember that refraction is the bending of light as it passes through different mediums (ie air to glass).  It's this property that we use with spectacles (or contacts) to make light focus directly on the retina, rather than in front, such as in near-sighted cases, or behind, as in far-sighted cases.
During refraction, most of the time, you as the patient are seated behind a phoropter.  This machine essentially has a bunch of lenses built in to easily allow us to find the perfect prescription for your eyes!
I hate that test... I never know what the right answer is!This is …

Decoding the Numbers: Hyperopia

Welcome to Part 2 of Decoding the Numbers!
In the last post of this series, I discussed near-sightedness, or myopia.  This time we're switching gears and talking about hyperopia! 

*Note: From my experience, far-sightedness is a bit harder for people to grasp (unless, of course, they are hyperopic) than near-sightedness.  I'll do my best to make it easy to understand, but bear with me, and don't be afraid to ask questions if something is confusing!*
HyperopiaPatients with hyperopia, or hypermetropia, are commonly referred to as being “far-sighted”.  This is because they are able to see more clearly at distance than at near.  This becomes more pronounced as patients age. What causes hyperopia?All refractive errors (essentially the reason for needing glasses) are caused by a mismatch of power in the eyes.  In the case of hyperopia, the power (created by the cornea/clear surface and intraocular lens) is too little for the length of the eye, or, conversely, the length of the e…

Why does my eye doctor... Part 1

Have you ever gone to the eye doctor and wondered "why do they do that"?
I know I have.
Before optometry school, despite my strong biology background, I honestly had very little understanding of the questions asked, the procedures done, and the outcomes discovered - let alone the actual workings of the eye!  And I'm guessing I'm not alone.
As optometrists, we can get push-back for asking questions or wanting to do procedures - which is totally understandable!  In a world where we're taught to be skeptical of everyone and everything, it's only natural to be on the lookout for someone trying to take advantage of you - making an extra buck by doing extra testing, etc.
This skeptisim is where I come in.
My goal in this series is to simply demystify the eye exam.     -not to make all of you optometrists     -not to try to be Dr. Google and help you diagnose all your problems. Only to educate.
First up?  Everyone's favorite: Dilation. Understanding DilationOkay, let'…

Introductions: Hannah Vollmer, OD

Happy Friday, y'all!
For a change of pace on this Friday morning, I've decided to do a (fun?) introduction post in the ever popular interview format.  Enjoy!


I: Easy question - what's your name, and what do patients call you? OD: I'm Hannah Vollmer.  Immediately after graduation I had considered having my patients call me Dr. Hannah since it felt less formal, but at this point I've pretty solidly adapted to Dr. Vollmer.

I: Where did you go to school, Dr. Vollmer? OD: I attended The Ohio State University College of Optometry, and graduated in May of 2019.
I: May 2019 - that's over a year ago now. What have you been doing over the past year? OD: I decided early on in my optometric career that I wanted to pursue a residency after graduation to become further specialized.  In March of 2019, I matched with University of Houston College of Optometry as their Brain Injury Vision Rehabilitation resident for the 2019-2020 academic year.  So, in June of 2019, I moved down to T…

Specs: Do I Really Need...

When it comes to buying glasses, there are a TON of options.  Whether you're new to buying specs, or an old pro, it can be difficult to determine what you really need.  Sometimes your doctor or the optician will may make suggestions, but what if they don't?
In this post, I'll dive into some common glasses options and try to provide some doctoral advice on what you do (and don't) need.  Let's get started!
TransitionsI pretty vividly remember a speaker coming in during optometry school and lecturing on the benefits of transitions and why we need to promote them to every patient.  At the end, as with all such lectures, we were polled on our likelihood to suggest these lenses at the end of an exam.  My vote? Not at all likely.
Why?
I don't believe in promoting products that I personally will not wear.
But, for the sake of discussion in a spirit of fairness, here are the pros and cons:
Pro: You've got built in sunglasses, which are supposed to protect the eyes.  Hello…