ANGELA COOPER: Common Optometric terms

I realize when you go to the doctor he or she uses a lot of terms that sound like a foreign language. I thought I would discuss some common terms optometrists and ophthalmologists use. Most people come to the optometrist because their vision is blurry. The optometrist will evaluate your eyes and determine the prescription you need to see clearly. If your distance vision is blurry, we call this myopia. Myopia also is commonly known as nearsighted, since you can see near objects. Hyperopia is commonly known as farsighted. This is a misnomer because people who are farsighted can see in the distance and up close. If you have hyperopia you might not need glasses, or need them to decrease the amount of strain on your eyes. Many times an optometrist will give a child glasses for reading only, this is because the child is hyperopic. The child still can see all the words he is reading, but his eyes are working harder than normal to focus on the words. Astigmatism is an eye problem that needs correction. Astigmatism is caused by an irregular shaped cornea or lens. Your cornea is the clear circle on the front of your eye. The lens is inside your eye and helps you to focus. If either of these surfaces is not smooth it will cause the image you are trying to see to be distorted. Toric contact lenses are used to correct for astigmatism. When you hit the age of 40, your eyes will begin to have trouble focusing. When your focusing system can no longer focus on near objects we call this presbyopia. Amblyopia is another term that is not well known. If you have a lazy eye the medical term for this is Amblyopia. Amblyopia is diagnosed when one eye does not develop properly. This underdevelopment is cause by either uncorrected refractive error (not wearing glasses) or from an eye turn. Exophoria is a term we use when the eyes diverge instead of looking straight ahead. Esophoria is when the eyes converge, instead of looking straight ahead. I also am going to discuss some different terms for glasses. Most terms are very basic and people are familiar with them. Here are some that cause some confusion. Pupillary distance is the distance between your pupils. Progressive lenses have a gradual increase in power to help you see at varying distances. Progressive lenses give you these different powers with out having to look through lines, which is why many people call them a no line bifocal. Transition lenses change from sunglasses while you are outside to clear lenses when you are inside. Antireflective coating is a coating placed on the lens to decrease glare. These are the most common terms we use that might be unfamiliar to the general public. If you have any questions about other optometric terms you have heard before, please feel free to ask.Angela Cooper is an optometrist at Poteau Eye Care. She can be reached by phone at (918) 647-2153 or e-mail at, or visit her website at