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What Exactly is an Eye Chart?

If there’s one aspect of optometry that everyone recognizes, it’s the traditional eye chart, with its rows of big letters on top, which gradually become smaller the farther down you go. This chart is usually known as the Snellen chart.

Yet how much do you really know about this eye chart? Are all eye charts the same? How are these eye charts used? And when were they invented?

Here’s everything you need to know about eye charts and more!

What is an Eye Chart?

An eye chart is one of the tools your eye doctor uses to assess your eyesight. Based on how well you can see various letters on the chart, your optometrist will determine whether you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) or astigmatism, and will measure the prescription that will give you the clearest, most comfortable vision.

Are All Eye Charts The Same?

There are a number of variations to the standard Snellen eye chart. The one an eye doctor uses depends on the personal needs and abilities of the patient. For example, eye doctors will use charts with pictures or patterns for younger children who may not have learned to read or identify letters and numbers.

There are also certain charts that specifically measure distance vision, while others are better for measuring near vision.

History of the Snellen Eye Chart

The Snellen eye chart was developed by Dutch eye doctor Hermann Snellen in the 1860s. Before this standardized eye chart was developed, each eye doctor had their own chart that they preferred to use.

Having so many different eye charts made it impossible to standardize the vision correction available to patients. Eyeglass makers didn’t receive the defined measurements they needed to accurately design, manufacture and measure the optical prescriptions their patients needed.

For the first time, the Snellen eye chart allowed a person to provide a standardized prescription from any eye care provider they chose to any eyeglass maker, and get the same optical lenses to accurately correct their vision.

How The Snellen Chart Is Used in Eye Exams

The standard Snellen chart displays 11 rows of capital letters, with the first row consisting of a single large letter. The farther down the chart you go, the smaller the letters become.

Your St. Albert eye doctor will ask you to look through a phoropter – an instrument used to test individual lenses on each eye during an eye exam – and look at the Snellen chart placed 20 feet away. Your eye doctor will prescribe the lenses that provide you with the clearest and most comfortable vision.

In many offices, where 20 feet of space may not be available, you’ll be asked to view the chart through a mirror. This provides the same visual experience as if you were standing 20 feet away.

If you have 20/20 vision, it means you can see what an average person can see on an eye chart from a distance of 20 feet. On the other hand, if you have 20/40 vision, it means you can only see clearly from 20 feet away what a person with perfect vision can see clearly from 40 feet away.

If you have 20/200 vision, the legal definition of blindness, this means what a person with perfect vision can see from 200 feet away, you can see from 20 feet away.

Does 20/20 Visual Acuity Mean Perfect Vision?

No. While eye chart tests identify refractive errors, they can’t detect signs of visual skill deficiencies or diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. These are diagnosed using advanced equipment as part of a comprehensive eye exam with your local St. Albert eye doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions are essential to ensuring long-term vision and eye health.

For more information, give us a call at 780-419-7000 or visit us in person at Eye Health Centre, today!

Q&A With Your Local Optometrist

How do you keep your eyes healthy?

You only have one set of eyes – don’t take them for granted!

Make sure to implement the following habits for healthy eyes (and body). These include:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking plenty of water to hydrate your body and eyes
  • Not smoking, and avoiding 2nd-hand smoke
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Maintaining normal BMI with regular exercise
  • Regular visits to your eye doctor as recommended

What health conditions can an eye exam detect?

A comprehensive eye exam can often detect certain underlying diseases that can threaten your sight and eye health, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumors, autoimmune conditions and thyroid disorders. This is why having your eyes checked regularly is key. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome and the higher your quality of life.

Why is State-of-the-Art Optometric Technology Important for You?

Technology advances continuously; whoever doesn’t keep up will naturally fall behind. This golden rule applies to every field, including professional eye care. That’s why choosing an eye doctor with top-tier updated technology matters. Nowadays, digital eye exams have upgraded eye care significantly, enabling high-precision results. To provide all our patients with detailed diagnoses and personalised treatments, we’re always on top of the latest innovative technologies for advanced eye exams in St. Albert.

Advantages of Our Digital Eye Exams

By equipping our office with the latest eye exam technologies, we give our patients the following benefits:

  • Evaluation of visual acuity, eye health and overall body health, all at the same time – digital eye exams can help diagnose common vision conditions and eye diseases, as well as detect other health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, tumors and high cholesterol
  • No more tedious guesswork (making you answer “Which is better, A or B?”) when determining your vision prescription
  • Superior accuracy for vision prescriptions and eye health checks
  • Kid-friendly digital eye exams that are comfortable and streamlined for efficiency, so even the most active, impatient children are happy to visit the eye doctor
  • Improved contact lenses eye exams, allowing more precise measurements of your lens power, eye shape and size; studies show contact lenses are fit properly 95% of the time when digital eye exams are used
  • Daytime and nighttime vision are evaluated; vision changes depending on the light conditions, and digital eye exam can enable a simulation of vision during all times of day so we can issue more comprehensive vision correction
  • Rapid eye exam results leave more time during your visit for us to answer your questions and address any individual concerns

Holistic Patient Care with Advanced Eye Exam Technology

The digital eye exam experience is immersive and personalised. As we assess your vision and eye health, precise information about your visual capabilities and ocular condition comes to light.

In line with our holistic approach, we combine your eye exam results with the unique information you share about your lifestyle and visual needs. Altogether, our St. Albert team takes what we know about you and your eyes and uses it to help ensure your vision correction and/or treatments are a perfect fit.

At Eye Health Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 780-419-7000 or book an appointment online to see one of our St. Albert eye doctors.

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Blepharitis and BlephEx™ – Your St. Albert Eye Doctor Explains All You Need to Know

Dry eye? Irritated eyes and crusty eyelids? If you visited your eye doctor for an eye exam near you, and were given a diagnosis of blepharitis, you’re probably familiar with these uncomfortable symptoms – and BlephEx may have been recommended as an effective treatment to alleviate your pain. What is blepharitis, and how can BlephEx treat it?

What is blepharitis?

This chronic, inflammatory condition affects your eyelids. Generally, it results from an overgrowth of the bacteria that live normally along your lash line. While anyone can get blepharitis, it occurs most commonly as people age, because that’s when less natural antibodies are present in tears.

The abundance of bacteria leads to a biofilm that traps debris and flaky skin deposits along the eyelashes. This biofilm enables bacterial exotoxins to accumulate along your lid margin, penetrating eyelid tissue and causing a low-grade infection. In turn, the infection disrupts healthy tear production. Fewer tears with less antibodies are made by your tear glands, which then allows even more bacteria to accumulate. It’s a vicious cycle, typically causing eye irritation and dry eye syndrome that prompt people to seek treatment from an eye doctor.

When left untreated, blepharitis can lead to a variety of painful conditions, such as:

  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Styes
  • Outward or inward turning of the lower eyelid
  • Extra row of eyelashes that can irritate the cornea
  • Inward turning of eyelashes that can scratch the corneal surface

Fortunately, your eye doctor can use BlephEx™ to treat blepharitis by cleaning and exfoliating your lids and lashes. BlephEx removes the biofilm along the edges of your eyelids, helping you to avoid lasting damage to your tear glands and preventing dry eye syndrome.

What is BlephEx?

This breakthrough treatment is the first and only clinician treatment for blepharitis. BlephEx involves the use of a specialised hand piece that safely and precisely spins a micro-sponge along the edge of your lash line, removing buildup of debris and unclogging the meibomian glands.

Your eye doctor performs BlephEx as an in-office procedure that takes only 6 -8 minutes. Prior to the procedure, a numbing eye drop is usually inserted into each eye to make it more comfortable. The micro-sponge is disposable and switched in between each eyelid to prevent the spread of bacteria. Afterwards, your eyes will be rinsed well.

At home, you’ll be instructed to clean your eyelids with regular nightly hygiene. Depending on your individual condition, BlephEx will likely be repeated every 4-6 months.

Anyone who suffers from any of the following symptoms may have blepharitis and be helped by BlephEx:

  • Dry eye
  • Redness/Inflammation
  • Tearing
  • Crusting
  • Itching or scratchy eyes
  • Eye rubbing
  • Foreign body sensation

Can BlephEx help you? To find out, contact our St. Albert, Alberta, eye doctor for a consultation and eye exam near you.

At Eye Health Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 780-419-7000 or book an appointment online to see one of our St. Albert eye doctors.

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Common Vision Problems that Kids Face

When kids sit in a classroom and can’t see their desk or computer or board clearly, it can be hard to learn. Teachers and parents often mistake the child’s problems with learning to read or write or even to sit still, as either a behavioural problem or a cognitive disability. In reality, a vision problem could be at the root of these challenges. Your St. Albert optometrist near me explains.

What are some typical signs that a kid is dealing with a vision problem?

  • Confusion: When children are never quite sure what’s happening in the classroom, it’s a red warning light that often means they can’t see the cues. For example, they can’t read the teacher’s facial expressions or hand motions, so the classroom becomes very confusing. In response, these kids will often get frustrated, lose concentration and act confused – such as by speaking out of turn and always responding, “I didn’t know that was what I was supposed to do!”
  • Clumsiness: Some kids are constantly knocking things over or stumbling through the room. If a child does this regularly, it’s a good idea to book an eye exam at an eye care centre near me.
  • Falling behind in school: As vision problems remain undetected year after year, a child’s grades and behaviour will generally worsen. Clear signs of a problem are a kid’s need to constantly mark the place with a finger or pencil while reading, or always coming very close in order to read charts and screens.
  • Poor concentration skills: Children who can’t see also can’t hold their attention. Think about it, if you can’t see the board – how can you concentrate on what the words are saying?
  • Frequent headaches: Many young students with untreated vision problems will complain of headaches and need to visit the school nurse. A telling sign is if they often rest their head on a table or floor throughout the day.
  • Burying their nose in a book: While many parents are proud to see their little ones so absorbed in reading, kids who always hold books up to their face when reading may actually be doing that in order to see – and not because they’re deeply immersed in the story. Bringing objects closer may be the child’s way of telling you they can’t see them any other way.
  • Poor sports performance: Vision problems can compromise performance both in the classroom and on the sports field. Hand-eye coordination, which is essential for playing sports, depends on a properly functioning visual system. It can even be dangerous for some children with vision loss to play sports, because they are at a higher risk of injury.
  • Socialising suffers: To make friends, kids need to read the facial expressions and body language of the other kids – using vision is a large part of developing social skills. When children seem to be loners and have trouble making friends, it could be caused by an undetected vision condition.

To help your child or student cope well with all the challenges posed by school and growing up, make sure their vision is strong! Book an eye exam near me. Our friendly optometrist welcomes patients of all ages at our St. Albert, Alberta, eye care centre.

At Eye Health Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 780-419-7000 or book an appointment online to see one of our St. Albert eye doctors.

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Vision Therapy – Not Just for Kids

Vision therapy is often thought of as a treatment especially for children. But adults can often benefit from these eye exercises just as much as kids do! When children can’t focus for long periods of time without eye strain or headaches, the problem doesn’t simply go away – and they often grow up into adults who still suffer from problems with their visual system. At Eye Health Centre, our optometrist has seen many patients who visit our St. Albert, Alberta, eye doctor’s office with eye conditions that were never treated during childhood and can be helped by vision therapy.

What are signs that an adult may need vision therapy?

If you regularly suffer from trouble with focusing for extended time, fluctuating vision, headaches, losing your place when reading, eye fatigue or headaches (especially when doing close work, such as using a computer or reading), you may have a vision problem that could benefit from vision therapy. Book a consultation and eye exam near you with our experienced eye doctor in St. Albert, Alberta.

How effective is vision therapy for adults?

Vision therapy is often very successful for adults, because adults are highly motivated to improve their visual skills and reduce any disturbing eye symptoms. Also, adults usually demonstrate more self-discipline and maturity, which keeps them committed to doing the necessary eye exercises.

While it can be more challenging to treat adults, studies have shown that vision therapy can lead to noticeable improvements in depth perception, acuity and convergence. Although kids certainly have more adaptable brains, significant plasticity can still be coaxed with the right vision therapy program for adults.

A vision therapist can help diminish eye strain associated with doing near work, as well as address a range of other visual disorders. Eye exercises can make a significant improvement in an adult’s ability to function at work or play sports. To find out how vision therapy can help you, schedule an eye exam in St. Albert.

How long does vision therapy for adults take?

It tends to take a longer time for adults to see improvements than younger vision therapy patients. Children have a highly flexible visual system that enables problems such as amblyopia, strabismus and other binocularity disorders to be corrected quickly when treated early. In contrast, adults don’t share the same high level of neuroplasticity and will require more time and effort to overcome a problem with the visual system. Typically, patients come in for customised vision therapy sessions on a weekly basis, and it can take several months to achieve optimal results.

What conditions can vision therapy treat in adults?

Vision therapy is personalized and can treat a range of vision conditions:

  • Convergence insufficiency (eye teaming)
  • Strabismus (eye turn)
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Eye strain
  • Saccadic dysfunction (eye tracking)
  • Traumatic brain injury (concussion)

It’s never too late to address problems with your visual system! Find out how you can enhance your vision and ease visual discomfort – book a consultation with our St. Albert eye doctor.

At Eye Health Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 780-419-7000 or book an appointment online to see one of our St. Albert eye doctors.

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Did You Pass the 40 Year Mark? Learn About Adult Vision from 41 to 60 Years Old

Our St. Albert, Alberta, eye doctor explains all about presbyopia and macular degeneration

Just as your body changes with age, so do your eyes and vision. While the types of changes you experience are individual, there are some common vision symptoms that many people notice between the ages of 41 to 60. Presbyopia and the onset of macular degeneration are both typical age-related conditions that our St. Albert eye doctor can diagnose during your eye exam.


It’s so common, this refractive error is considered a natural part of aging. Know anyone with reading glasses or bifocals middle aged or older? They probably have it.

What are the signs of presbyopia?

Beginning around your early to mid-40s, you may start having difficulty seeing objects and print up close, such as when working at the computer or reading. Called presbyopia, this normal change in your eyes’ focusing ability progresses over time.

If you find it necessary to hold reading materials farther away or to remove your eyeglasses in order to see better up close, it’s likely presbyopia – which means it’s time to schedule an eye checkup near you.

How is presbyopia treated?

Your eye doctor will check your vision at a range of distances during your St. Albert eye exam. To determine the precise prescription you need for near vision, you’ll be asked to read from a card held close to your face. This measurement will be used to determine your vision prescription for reading glasses, bifocal eyeglasses or multifocal contact lenses. Nowadays, there’s an array of treatment options to give crisp vision with presbyopia.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

This eye disease is quite serious, and, unlike presbyopia, vision loss due to AMD can’t be corrected simply with glasses or contacts. Treatments can help; early detection is key.

What are the signs of macular degeneration?

In general, adults over 40 are at a higher risk of eye disease, especially if there’s a family history. In particular, macular degeneration is one of the more common age-related diseases that can lead to blindness, with estimates from the National Eye Institute putting the number of Americans with this condition at more than two million.

You may not notice the early signs of macular degeneration, which is why the disease often remains undetected until it gets worse or affects both eyes. The early symptoms can include:

  • Blurred or poorer quality vision, with trouble reading fine print or driving
  • Straight lines appear wavy or distorted
  • An empty area – a blind spot – in your central field of vision
  • Changes in colour perception (rare)

There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, but treatments can slow the progression of the disease and help prevent vision loss. If you are diagnosed with macular degeneration during an eye exam, we’ll discuss the possible treatment options to start managing your condition as early as possible.

How can you keep your vision healthy as you age?

To help protect your eyes, schedule regular comprehensive eye exams with our eye doctor in St. Albert, Alberta. If you don’t have any vision complaints or a family history of eye disease, it’s recommended to get an eye checkup near you at least every two years, between the ages of 40 – 61. However, if you have any additional risk factors, eye doctors recommend having a yearly eye checkup.

At Eye Health Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 780-419-7000 or book an appointment online to see one of our St. Albert eye doctors.

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