top of page
Rivertown Eye Care eyechart logo

"What Are Floaters?" And All the Questions You Really Want to Ask Your Eye Doctor

Ever had a question pop into your mind during an eye exam, but you held it back, thinking it might sound silly? Or perhaps you didn't want to bother your eye doctor with "obvious" queries.

From mysterious floaters dancing in your field of vision to the nuances of dry eyes, the world of optometry is fascinating yet often overlooked.

Close up of human iris and pupil

Sit tight and prep those peepers! We're here to answer some of the most burning questions about your eyes. Our goal at Rivertown Eye Care is to provide every patient who walks through our doors with the best there is in eye health. So, consider this your comprehensive guide to all things ocular.

1. What's the difference between an optician, optometrist, and ophthalmologist?

It's a common mix-up, but each of these roles has distinct responsibilities:

  • Optician: They are skilled in fitting and adjusting eyeglasses and might help you pick the perfect frame for your face shape. Browsing the vast range of designer eyewear on our shelves can be a bit daunting- our opticians help make the process enjoyable and flattering!

  • Optometrist: Now, here's your go-to for a comprehensive eye exam. An optometrist examines eyes for vision problems, prescribes corrective lenses, and can diagnose and treat many eye diseases.

  • Ophthalmologist: Ophthalmologists have gone to medical school and perform major surgical procedures and often specialize in retina, glaucoma, oculoplastics, anterior segment disease, cataract and refractive surgery.

Comprehensive eye exam
Jill, an optometric technician at Rivertown Eye Care, uses the phorotopter on a patient during an eye exam.

2. Why do I have dry eyes, and what can I do to relieve them?

Dry eyes can result from multiple factors: prolonged screen time, aging, different environmental conditions, certain medications, or even systemic diseases.

A visit to Rivertown Eye Care can provide soothing remedies and specialized treatments such as LipiFlow, which we offer in our clinic.

Other common treatments include eye drops and lifestyle changes. We are happy to discuss the approach that suits your eyes and lifestyle best!

3. Do blue light-blocking lenses really help? How do they work, and what can I expect?

Absolutely! With the rise in digital devices, blue light-blocking lenses have gained in popularity and necessity. These lenses have a specialized coating that filters the harmful blue light emitted by screens. By blocking this blue light, the lenses help reduce eye strain and might even improve sleep quality.

At Rivertown Eye Care, we partner with leading lens labs, providing the most advanced technology to empower our patients with the gift of clear eyesight. You can rest assured that you enjoy the comfort that top-quality brings!

If you're curious about their benefits, ask your doctor during your next comprehensive exam.

4. What is the structure of the retina responsible for sharp vision?

This would be the macula. The macula is a part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision, which helps in activities like reading, driving, and recognizing faces.

One reason why annual eye exams are so important is to catch issues early on. Early stages of Age-related Macular Degeneration may have no signs or symptoms, so people may not suspect they have it.

Some of the first signs of macular degeneration can include:

  • Blurry or fuzzy vision

  • Difficulty recognizing familiar faces

  • Straight lines appear wavy

  • A dark, empty area or blind spot appears in the center of your vision

  • Loss of central vision (which is necessary for driving, reading, recognizing faces, and performing close-up work)

vision with Macular degeneration
Eye sight affected by macular degeneration.

5. What is the difference between farsightedness and nearsightedness?

  • Farsightedness (Hyperopia): If distant objects are clear, but close-up items appear blurry, you're likely farsighted. This happens when the light entering the eye focuses behind the retina.

  • Nearsightedness (Myopia): If you can read a book comfortably but strain to see the road signs, you're probably nearsighted. In this case, the light focuses in front of the retina. You can learn more about the spectrum of human vision in our in-depth look at the ways we see the world!

6. What does 20/20 vision mean?

In the simplest terms, 20/20 vision means you can see at 20 feet what an average person can see at that distance. However, this doesn't imply perfect vision. There are other important vision skills, including peripheral vision, eye coordination, depth perception, and more.

7. Why does my eye twitch sometimes?

Eye twitching, a common and usually harmless condition, can result from several factors. Stress, fatigue, caffeine intake, or even eye strain can make your eyelid twitch. While annoying, these twitches are typically transient and resolve without intervention. If persistent, visit us at Rivertown Eye Care for a closer look.

8. If I have dry eye syndrome, why are my eyes so watery?

Ironically, dry eye syndrome can lead to watery eyes. When the eyes are dry, they send a distress signal to your body to produce more tears. However, these are usually not the thick, lubricating kind but rather watery and ineffectual at soothing the eye. It's a bit like your eyes crying out for help – literally! An optometrist can recommend tailored treatments to address the underlying dryness.

9. Why do I need to get an eye exam every year, even if my vision seems fine?

Annual eye exams are about more than just updating your prescription. The optometrists at Rivertown Eye Care conduct a comprehensive eye exam to check the overall health of your eyes, screen for conditions like glaucoma or macular degeneration, and even spot signs of systemic diseases like diabetes. It's a small investment of time for a wealth of health insights.

10. Does your right eye connect to the brain's left hemisphere and vice versa?

Yes, that's correct! The optic nerves from each eye cross at a point called the optic chiasm. This means that the right half of each retina (which sees the left field of vision) connects to the left hemisphere of the brain and vice versa. It's a wonderful example of how intricately our bodies are wired!

Our eye are truly amazing, complex organs that we must take care of to preserve the health of our vision.

Diagram of binocular vision and the optical chiasm

11. What are your eyeballs made out of?

Our eyeballs are intricate structures made up of several layers and components:

  • Sclera: The white, tough outer layer of the eye.

  • Cornea: The clear front surface that focuses light into the eye.

  • Iris: The colored part of the eye, controlling light entry.

  • Lens: Positioned behind the iris, it further focuses light onto the retina.

  • Retina: The light-sensitive inner layer where images are converted to nerve signals.

  • Vitreous Gel: A jelly-like substance filling the majority of the eyeball, helping it maintain its shape.

Each part plays a crucial role in allowing us to see and interpret the world around us.

Diagram of the human eye.
Anatomy of the human eye.

12. What are Floaters?

Ever noticed tiny specks, lines, or cobweb-like shapes drifting through your field of vision? Those are floaters! Floaters are small, shadowy objects that can appear to drift, dart, or float across your vision. They originate within the eye’s vitreous gel – a jelly-like substance that helps maintain the eye’s shape.

Floaters are often caused by the natural aging process. As we age, the vitreous gel in our eyes starts to shrink and can form clumps or strands. When light enters your eye, these clumps and strands cast shadows on the retina, creating the appearance of floaters.

While they can be annoying, most floaters are harmless and a common part of aging. However, a sudden increase in floaters, especially if accompanied by flashes of light or loss of peripheral vision, can be a sign of a retinal detachment, which is a medical emergency. If you experience these symptoms, reach out to your optometrist or eye doctor immediately.

At this point, you must feel inspired to schedule your comprehensive eye exam with the team at Rivertown Eye Care!

After all, our eyes are the windows to the world, and a little knowledge ensures they remain clear and healthy.

Experience the difference for yourself. We are an independent total eye health provider servicing the Hastings and Twin Cities communities. Family-owned and operated since 1974, we are dedicated to delivering the best quality eye exams to all who walk through our doors.


bottom of page