Focus Eyecare Wilmington NC | Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions

What insurances do you accept?

We gladly accept assignment for BCBS, UHC, VSP, Medcost, and Medicare. Of course, coverage and eligibility is dependent upon your plan and is not guaranteed.

How often should I have an Eye Exam?

We recommend that you have your eyes checked once every year, but this may vary depending upon your ocular and systemic health. Should you wear contact lenses, a more frequent interval may be advised. These recommended intervals assume that you are not experiencing any symptoms of visual change or discomfort.

Will my sight worsen if I start wearing specs or contact lenses?

Wearing a prescription does not make your vision worse. Often when someone gets spectacles for the first time the visual improvement is so amazing that vision without them seems much worse, especially as time goes by. However, this is simply because the brain can now compare two images directly: one with specs and one without. Prior to this, your eyes had nothing to make a comparison with. Therefore, the vision did not seem quite so fuzzy, when in fact it was. Both nature (your genes) and nurture (life’s influence on you) have their roles to play and their interaction will decide the way your eyes will change with time.

How long will the eye exam take?

This should not take longer than 30 minutes assuming no extra tests or contact lens fittings are required. We endeavourer to have completed our service to you within an hour.

What does the eye exam involve?

  • An Eye Exam allows the optometrist to:
  • Determine any relevant prescription for your eyes (far or near-sighted, astigmatic, presbyopic)
  • Check that the muscles of the eyes work together
  • Check your Eye Health through dilated pupils and screen for any associated general health problems

At every visit to Focus Eye Care we will assess the health of your eyes from front to back. The tests performed may include but are not limited to: depth perception, color vision, visual fields, interocular pressure, biomicroscopy and ophthalmoscopy. A patient’s systemic health will influence what tests are performed. Patients may be asked to return for additional testing to rule out ocular disease. For more information, please see the eye exam section of our web site

What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist?

Ophthalmologists are sometimes known as eye surgeons or eye specialists as they concentrate on surgical treatment of eye diseases. They are essentially medical doctors that specialize in eyes and may perform surgery and prescribe medication as they see fit. Some also undertake the prescription of spectacles, contact lenses and recommend eye exercises, although this is quite rare. Optometrists can prescribe medicines, diagnose and treat most eye diseases but will refer to ophthalmologists if necessary or if surgery is recommended. Optometrists are more experienced in writing spectacle and contact lens prescriptions than ophtalmologists. Some also specialize in eye exercises to improve eye muscle conditions.

What is LASIK surgery?

LASIK stands for Laser In Situ Keratomileusis. It is a form of refractive surgery, which corrects near or far-sightedness and astigmatism. It cannot correct presbyopia, but treatment is sometimes aimed at leaving one eye slightly short-sighted in order to account for this condition. For more information on presbyopia, see our Optical Terms section. LASIK can only be performed by an eye surgeon. Use is made of a microsurgical instrument to create a flap through the cornea (front part of the eye). Once the flap is moved out of the way, the exposed tissue is reshaped using a laser. This reshaping is what corrects the vision. The flap is then replaced over the cornea and the eye is allowed to heal. To find out if you are suitable for LASIK you would need to attend a pre-operative assessment at which your corneal thickness will be measured and your prescription verified for stability. If your cornea is too thin or your prescription is still changing, you will probably be advised against LASIK. Dr. Brimer co-manages LASIK with several ophthalmic surgeons in the area. She has had 2 years experience working at a LASIK surgery center and can answer many questions patients may have about if they are a good candidate and what to expect after the surgery.

Do I still need specs if I wear contact lenses?

Absolutely YES! The key to successful contact lens wear is to allow your eyes a rest without them, at least one day per week. This is why no contact lens wearer should be without a pair of spectacles. Furthermore, an average of 12 hours wear per day is recommended. There will always be times when you cannot wear contact lenses. Examples include: when you have Hay fever causing the eyes to itch; if you have a bad cold or flu; if you have a mild conjunctivitis; if you are taking a course of medication which is not compatible with lens wear or if you are about to take a trip in an airplane. Perhaps you simply need to see your way to the kitchen in the middle of the night in order to grab a glass of water. As a parent of a newborn infant, you will understand the demands placed upon you throughout the night – no time for contact lenses when your baby needs you. Your spectacles should also be updated so that the prescription matches that of your contact lenses. All too often contact lens wearers have spectacles that they cannot see with, as the prescription is so old. In order to overcome any dislike for your spectacles also ensure that you are aesthetically happy with the frames. Look good, see good and feel good!

Is it possible to get contact lenses for occasional use only?

Yes. Many spectacle wearers are happy using their glasses but want the option of contact lenses for certain occasions. Examples include partaking in a sporting activity once or twice per week or weekend or holiday use. At Focus Eye Care, your optometrist will help you decide on the best contact lens system to meet your requirements. Generally, daily disposable soft lenses are the best type for occasional wear as they are so easy to use. The responsibility of cleaning them is removed since they are discarded immediately after use.

Is my prescription the same for both specs and contact lenses?

No. A contact lens prescription is only 100% complete when the details of their fit are included. This means that although the powers may seem similar to your spectacle prescription, the powers alone are not sufficient when specifying a contact lens prescription. Additional parameters like lens type, diameter and base curve must also be included.


Mr. Smith’s Spectacle prescription is:
R) – 6.50
L) – 6.00/-0.25 x 180

However his contact lens prescription is:
R) 8.70/14.20/-6.00/B&L FW
L) 8.70/14.20/-5.50/B&L FW
Ms. Gardner’s Spectacle prescription is:
R) +4.50
L)+2.50/-1.00 x 90

Her contact lens prescription is:
R)8.80/14.20/+4.75/B&L FW
L)8.70/14.40/+2.50/-0.75 x 90/Toric

Can my contact lenses get ‘lost’ behind my eyeball?

No, this can NEVER happen as the eyeball has a ‘safety net’ situated underneath both eyelids. This ‘safety net’ is a membrane called the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a continuous membrane enveloping the outer portion of the eyeball as well.

Can I use any contact lens solutions or fluids for my lenses?

No. Always discuss your solutions with your optometrist if you are thinking of changing types. It is quite possible to change from one brand of multipurpose solution to another, however, it is not wise to change from a multipurpose solution to a peroxide type where neutralization is required. Many contact lens wearers have made the mistake of using 3% hydrogen peroxide as a multipurpose solution.

How soon can I get contact lenses?

At Focus Eye Care, our stock range allows us to fit most established contact lens wearers that day. If you are new to contact lenses then more time is required in order to teach you how to insert, remove and take care of the contact lenses. Our patient contact lens fitters will spend all day with you if necessary, so do not feel pressured and take your time as you are introduced to the new world of contact lenses.

Is it okay to sleep with my contact lenses in?

Unless your optometrist has specifically said that you can, sleeping with your contact lenses in is a no-no. Our optometrists generally allow overnight wear only if you are using a silicone-hydrogel type of lens.

Is it okay to use saliva or tap water to clean or re-wet my contact lenses?

Absolutely not! Always carry a travel-size solution pack with you if you can. If you are not able to do this then pop a few strips of contact lens comfort drops or your contact lens container filled with fresh solution into your back pocket. Tap water and saliva are extremely unhygienic sources of fluid and many dangerous bugs can find their way to your corneas if they are used with your lenses. Don’t forget to wash your hands before handling your contact lenses.

What should I do if my contact lenses feel dry?

It is always wise to carry contact lens comfort drops in your handbag or back pocket. The preservative-free single use drops are best recommended and may be used as and when required for extra comfort. Environments to watch out for are smoky and dusty places, gyms, where working out causes your body temperature to rise and eyes to dry out as a result, air-conditioned and heated offices, especially when coupled with staring at a computer all day and long-distance driving. Take care to only use drops specified for use with contact lenses and ask your optometrist if you are unsure.

Can I wear contact lenses?

Yes – in most cases you will be able to use contact lenses. Certain individuals with unusual prescriptions or poor eye health may not be suitable. Ask your optometrist to advise on the options available.

How long can I wear my contact lenses in a day?

You should never exceed an average of 12 hours of lens wear per day. If you require longer wearing times because of your lifestyle, speak to your optometrist about lenses that allow more oxygen to your eyes. Some individuals mistakenly believe that it is okay to wear one pair of lenses for some of the day and then change over to another pair for the rest of the day and so extend their wearing time. The suggested 12 hour wearing period is not specific to one pair of lenses. It means that in a day your eyes should never have more than 12 hours of lens wear irrespective of how many pairs you choose to wear!

How quickly can you make my glasses?

Your spectacles can be ready in 2 days in most cases. Because we don’t have the expenses of a one hour processing lab, those expenses are not passed on to you and your cost is lowered. Lenses and frames that need to be ordered will take a little longer. Your Crystal Vision dispenser will be able to advise you on the length of the wait.

How thick will my spectacle lenses be?

This depends on your prescription, the type of lenses you choose, and your frame. The higher the prescription the thicker the lenses, but this can be minimized with high index lenses. In the lower prescription ranges, the type of lens does not matter as much. Ultra-thin Hi index plastics are now available which make plastic lenses much more feasible in more moderate prescriptions. As a general rule, the smaller the frame the thinner the edges of a lens for short-sighted individuals. Smaller frames always mean less lens, so significant weight advantages are gained when opting for something smaller. Ask your dispenser about smaller diameter lenses. This means that the original lens size is smaller and the overall thickness is therefore less. Long-sighted individuals can have thickness reductions by asking to have their lenses “metzed” (Minimum Edge Thickness reduction).

What are the advantages of glass lenses over plastic lenses?

Plastic lenses are lighter and have 3 x the impact resistance of glass while glass lenses are thinner.

Does the price on the frame include the lenses?

No, the price on the frame relates only to the frame. Lens prices vary depending on the material and design of the lenses required. Ask your optometrist or dispenser to advise on the most suitable lens type for your prescription.

How difficult is it to adapt to multifocals?

The first time any spectacles are worn some adjustment time is required mainly because the new, clear vision needs to be accepted by your brain. Once it has learnt to recognize the images seen through the spectacles and become familiar with them, the initial “WOW” effect should have worn off. Multifocals are slightly trickier than single focal specs since they change in power as the eyes look from the top to the bottom of the lenses. Your eyes need to learn which parts of the lens to use when looking either close-up, far-away or in-between. Your optometrist can advise you on tricks to help you get started and in no time you should be well on your way to successful multifocal wear. A few individuals may struggle with these type of lenses simply because they cannot tolerate the changes in power which is inherent in the design of these. We advise that a period of 4 weeks be allowed before deciding that multifocals are not for you.

My new specs make me feel slightly odd even though my vision is clearer – why does this happen?

The brain is amazing. When your vision was blurry before getting your specs, you may not have been 100% happy with it, but you were comfortable. Your brain adjusts to cope with any visual situation to the best of its ability. Suddenly when new spectacles are worn, the brain is ‘surprised’ by this new, clearer way of seeing and it takes a few days to learn to recognize the new image. Certain individuals who are prone to vertigo, motion-sickness or are simply highly sensitive may take longer to adjust. Often you feel that the floor is either nearer or farther than before. This is because prescriptions produce changes in magnification and magnification is associated with the perception of distance. This means that even if the distance of the floor is the same, if it is seen as smaller, it will be understood to be further away. Likewise, something larger will be perceived to be closer. The best advice is to persist with your new spectacles and ‘wear them in’. If you are still feeling odd after 3 weeks of wear then please let us know. Steps to take in this instance are outlined below. See Something is definitely not right about my new specs what do I do?

I feel odd in my new spectacles even though they are made to the same prescription as my old ones – is this normal?

A change in your prescription is not all that causes a new pair of specs to feel weird. The frame change requires adaptation as you may be looking through a smaller or larger viewing area and the lenses may be closer or farther from your eyes compared with before. The lenses may also be tilted at a different angle in the new frame and perhaps the frame does not wrap your face as much or as little as it did previously. The type of lens design in the new specs will also influence your vision. For example, thinner, flatter, aspheric high index lenses often seem less clear when looking through the extreme periphery of the lens. Perhaps the centers of the lenses are higher or lower than before. This can also influence your initial comfort. Perseverance is the key to adaptation, but after 3 weeks without improvement, please see our spectacle collections team for further assistance.

Something is definitely not right about my new specs – what do I do?

Perhaps you are aware that your specs are not right even after trying them for 3 weeks. Before booking a retest with the optometrist, you should do the following:

Step One: Visit our Spectacle Collections team bringing in your new specs as well as any old specs if you feel that they seem better.

Step Two: Our team will check your new spectacles to ensure that all the measurements required are correct and as per the optometrist’s specification. Any errors found will be rectified instantly, if this is possible.

Step Three: Assuming the measurements are correct, our team will then recheck your frame adjustment to ensure that they fit your face in a visually optimal way.

Step Four: At this stage you may already feel better and simply need to readapt to the new fitting. If you still feel uncertain and suspect the prescription to be at fault, then you would be advised to see your optometrist for a reassessment. It is generally better to see the same optometrist that consulted you initially, so an appointment may be required should that optometrist not be present on that day.

Do you stock children’s’ frames?

Yes. Ask about our Tough Kids designer children frames. Remember to buy your child a frame that fits snugly, but has room for lengthening of its temples and is not too narrow. This way the frame can be readjusted to match your child’s facial growth.

What are polarized lenses?

These are special tinted lenses that polarize light as it passes through. This means that light from only certain planes is allowed to pass through while the rest is eliminated. Visually, the effect would be to get rid of unwanted stray light. This can be quite useful for the avid fisherman, for example, who wants to see just beneath the surface of the water without having to worry about distracting reflections from the surface. They can be made with or without prescription, but may take slightly longer to put together as they need to be ordered. Ask your dispenser for more information on these lenses.

What is the difference between a squint and astigmatism?

A squint is when one eye is turned either up, down, in or out relative to the other eye. The term ‘lazy eye’ is sometimes used when the turn is not detected at an early age and left uncorrected. It is essential that any parents noting a turn in their child’s eye have them assessed by an optometrist or eye doctor as soon as possible. The sooner it is treated the better the prognosis for use of this eye in later years. By the time the child has reached 9 years of age, it may already be too late.

Squints are sometimes confused with Astigmatism. Astigmatism is a condition where the shape of the eye is like an egg, whilst a squint refers to a turn in the eye. See Sight Conditions for more information on Astigmatism.

What are near-sightedness, far-sightedness and presbyopia?

Please see the Optical Terms page, which explains all of these in detail.

Why do we become more “far-sighted” as we grow older?

This is due to a progressive change that occurs within the natural lens of the eye and is called presbyopia. Although similar to far-sightedness in its effect, these two conditions are not identical. Please see far-sightedness and presbyopia for more information.

My close-up vision is not as good as it used to be – is this normal?

Yes – this change in your near vision focus happens to everyone and is called presbyopia. The effect of presbyopia is similar to that of longsightedness, but they are not the same. See Lingo for more information.

I see black spots floating around in my vision especially when the sun is out – what are these and should I be worried?

These are called floaters. As the eye ages, more of these are seen and they are due to the changes in the vitreous jelly of the eye. The vitreous is simply a clear jelly that fills up the internal space of the eyeball between the lens and the retina. Changes may occur which cause the very fine fibrils contained in the jelly to clump together and become visible as floaters. As long as these are longstanding and not associated with any flashing lights, they are generally okay and all you would need to do is notify your optometrist and keep a watchful eye on them. If however you have not seen them before and they have only recently appeared, a thorough check with your optometrist or better still, an ophthalmologist (eye doctor), is advised. Floaters are most easily seen against a white or bright background. This is why they are more visible in the sunshine, against white walls or whilst flying and looking out at the clouds. Sometimes floaters are an indication of retinal tears and possible detachment of the retina. Although this does not happen all that often it is wiser to be safe rather than sorry so if in doubt, please find out!

Sometimes I see flashing lights, my vision goes ‘watery’ and I get a headache. Is this an eye problem?

No. You have probably experienced a migraine attack. Your GP would be the best person to advise you on what to do. Flashing lights that seem fairly constant are more serious as this may indicate a problem with your retina. Fairly urgent assessment of your eyes is then required and you should see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

What is a cataract?

A cataract refers to any cloudiness within the natural lens of the eye. Most often, this is age-related, but accelerated risk of cataract is now caused by over-exposure to ultra-violet light. This is worsened by the fact that the Ozone Layer is constantly thinning. Our advice is to take care when in the sun and always don a hat and a good pair of UV-blocking sunglasses. Ask your optometrist for more information. If you develop or are developing a cataract, don’t worry unnecessarily. The sky does not fall down even though it might be slightly smeary to look at. A simple operation can be performed by an ophthalmologist whereby the cataractous lens of the eye is removed and replaced by a new implant. You will probably be sent home the same day!

What is glaucoma?

There are two types of adult-onset glaucoma and both refer to an increased abnormal pressure within the eyeball. The rarer form is when an acute attack occurs. Symptoms include a painful, red eye and possible light sensitivity and nausea. The most common form of Glaucoma is the preventable chronic type. Sight is adversely affected if it is not picked up early, the long-term effect being progressively worsening tunnel vision. It is essential to have your eyes screened for glaucoma once you are over the age of 40 years as the relative risk increases from this point. Other factors increasing the risk of glaucoma are diabetes, high levels of short-sightedness, age and family history.

At the start of spring I can’t wear my contact lenses comfortably as my eyes itch – why is this?

You are probably suffering from an eye allergy. Spring often brings about more sneezing and increased pollen counts along with all the daffodils. Certain susceptible individuals will experience a reaction in the eyes and an allergic conjunctivitis results. The itching is usually confined to the upper and/or lower lids and possibly the corner of the eye closest to your nose. If you wear contact lenses, the best thing to do is switch to spectacles for the duration of the allergy and buy a small supply of daily disposable lenses so that you can use them for a few hours out in the evening if you are desperate. Daily disposables would be the best lens type if your allergies are fairly chronic and you refuse to wear glasses. For relief from the itching certain anti-histamine containing drops can be bought from your local pharmacy. Most cannot be used in conjunction with contact lenses. Other types of drops can be used over a sustained period of time to strengthen the membranes of the cells that cause the symptoms of allergy. These drops have a longer-term effect and are called mast-cell stabilizers. The active ingredient is usually sodium cromoglycate. Ask your optometrist or pharmacist for more information.

Why is it more difficult for me to see at night?

When it gets dark, our pupils dilate and this makes everyone more short-sighted. This is usually why night-time vision is worse than during the day even if you are wearing your up-to-date prescription. Should you be driving at night, more care should be taken on the roads, as oncoming headlamp glare can be quite distracting. Any prescription found for general use should obviously be worn in these conditions. Some inherited conditions of the eye like retinitis pigmentosa also cause problems with night vision.