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Year: 2020

Why You Should Avoid Online Eye Tests

An online eye exam is an automated and interactive vision test that claims to measure mainly visual acuity. It may seem like a convenient way to evaluate your vision or get an eyeglass or contact lens prescription, as these tests can be administered using your computer, tablet, or smartphone from the comfort of your home. 

But these tests — which should not be confused with telehealth visits — are performed by a computer program, not a professional eye care practitioner, and they cannot and should not replace a comprehensive, in-person eye exam. 

Online eye tests, which are impersonal and superficial by nature, can cause you to miss out on some important, even life-saving, information about your eye health and vision. 

What Do Online Eye Tests Evaluate? 

First off, it’s important to recognize that an online eye test does not evaluate the health of your eyes. It’s more of a vision test than an eye test, as it’s designed as an attempt to measure your visual acuity and refractive error, and, in some cases, contrast sensitivity and color blindness. Furthermore, the accuracy of the prescriptions provided by online vision tests is questionable. Providing the correct optical prescription requires the eye doctor’s direct and open communication with the patient. The right prescription needs subjective input and experienced analysis from an eye doctor — professional skills that can never be replicated accurately through an online program.

While the technology promises convenience, the American Optometric Association (AOA) advises caution, as these exams can offer misleading information and may contribute to a patient believing—incorrectly—that his or her eye health needs have been met. The online eye test measurements provide little-to-no information on the health of your eyes, and cannot determine whether you may have a sight-threatening condition such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or other eye diseases. Nor do online exams address problems like dry eye, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, or functional vision problems — such as difficulty with eye teaming or convergence insufficiency. 

The Importance of a Comprehensive Eye Exam

Optometrists undergo years of study and specialized training. They develop a comprehensive understanding of how to evaluate your eyes not only for sight, but for any underlying conditions. In fact, vision and health are closely linked. Comprehensive eye exams enable Dr. Shiroz Virani to detect signs of diseases that may affect your entire body, but which show early signs in your eyes. 

These include:

  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Strokes
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or a brain tumor

Is a Virtual Eye Exam Cost-Saving? 

Some people erroneously believe that an online eye test can save them not only time but also money, compared with a comprehensive eye exam performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. It’s important to note that these virtual tests offer only a sliver of the services you’d normally receive from your eye doctor during a thorough ocular exam. 

Carrying out a professional eye exam requires training, precision, and the proper equipment. Anything less can put your eyes and vision at serious risk. 

Safeguard Your Eyes and Sight 

A comprehensive in-person eye exam is the only way to determine whether your eyes are healthy and free from sight-threatening conditions. Early detection and treatment of these problems can potentially prevent vision loss. Eye care practitioners frequently discover an infection, chronic illness or eye disease during what patients would have expected to be a simple, routine ocular exam. These scenarios are far more common than we’d like to imagine.

To safeguard the health of your eyes and sight, have a comprehensive, in-person eye exam with Dr. Shiroz Virani on a regular basis. Your health may depend on it.

TSO Northwest in Houston provides comprehensive eye exams using the most advanced equipment available. Schedule an exam with us today.

 

What Will Optometry Practices Look Like Post-COVID?

COVID-19’s rapid sweep across the country has forced optical practices to make rapid clinical management decisions. Some optometrists temporarily shuttered their businesses due to the pandemic, while others began to offer emergency appointment services and telehealth. 

As mandatory restrictions begin to lift in many locations, optometrists are beginning to open their doors for routine care. But this time around they will implement strict social distancing guidelines and take unprecedented precautions to limit the spread of infection. 

Some of the Changes You Should Expect to See

1) Signage throughout the office spelling out new steps and protocols to ensure maximum safety for staff and patients alike.

 

2) Social distancing will be the new norm. Packed waiting rooms will be a thing of the past. Instead, clinics will be spacing out seating to reduce capacity and scheduling in longer intervals to minimize patient interactions. Some clinics may ask patients to wait in their cars until they receive a text message from the office stating that they can come in.

 

3) Certain practices will require appointments for individuals to see and try on the array of frames and sunglasses at the dispensary. Bookings will be in 15-20 minute increments, accessed by one individual at a time.

 

4) Methods will be introduced to decrease the number of surfaces a patient touches. This will include leaving the clinic’s front door open (or replacing it with a motion-activated door), facilitating cashless payments, and encouraging patients to fill out registration forms online.

 

5) Patients who aren’t feeling well or who have been in contact with someone who is ill will be asked to reschedule their appointment two to three weeks in the future.

 

6) Measuring one’s temperature at the entrance will become commonplace — this goes for both staff and patients. Though not the most reliable screening tool, as those who are asymptomatic can still spread the virus, it will identify some people who aren’t well.  Anyone registering 100.4° or above will be sent home.

 

7) There will be more time between appointments, to allow the staff to thoroughly clean and disinfect before and after each patient’s visit.

 

8) Many eye practitioners will be wearing safety goggles and face masks, particularly during any up-close contact with the patient. Patients may also be asked to wear masks.

 

9) Individuals with suspected ocular infections will be put in a special containment area.

 

10) Practices will frequently wipe down any patient area, including chairs, counters and doorknobs. Every exam room will be completely disinfected between appointments. In the dispensary, frames will be promptly disinfected after patients touch them.

 

11) Patients will be requested to wash or disinfect their hands upon entering the office and when entering different rooms. TSO Northwest in Houston has strict hygiene and sterilization protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infections. 

 

If you’re dealing with a vision or eye health issue and need to visit TSO Northwest, or if you would like some more information on how we have adapted our practice due to COVID-19, please don’t hesitate in contacting us. We’ll be happy to assist you however we can.

 

TSO Northwest serves patients from Houston, Texas.

Why You Shouldn’t Visit the ER for Eye Emergencies During COVID-19

On April 22, the American Optometric Association (AOA) urged patients with emergency eye care needs to get in touch with their local optometrist prior to seeking treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Doing so not only eases the burden on emergency departments but also helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

What Is Considered an Eye Emergency?

Most eye-related conditions can be treated in an outpatient optometry office or clinic. Emergency eye care includes, but is not limited to, urgent clinical advice or intervention for eye injuries and conditions that entail a foreign object in the eye, chemical burns, a sudden change in vision, flashes and floaters (which might suggest a retinal detachment), contact lens discomfort, red eyes and any other problems or symptoms that may impact or interfere with daily activities. 

Prioritizing Your Eye Care Needs During COVID-19

During the coronavirus outbreak, we have been going above and beyond to ensure that people are receiving the emergency eye care they need. 

 

Patients should first contact TSO Northwest for guidance and potential treatment prior to heading to an overwhelmed hospital emergency room. Dr. Shiroz Virani can assess the level of care the patient needs—whether it’s telehealth or urgent care that requires a visit to the eye clinic or, in severe cases, even the emergency room. 

 

This will ensure that patients get prompt treatment while allowing hospitals to conserve their resources for the current pandemic. In fact, research has shown that treating eye emergencies at eye doctors’ offices can potentially divert 1.4 million patients away from emergency rooms per year.

 

While we have closed our store for routine appointments, TSO Northwest at Houston continues to provide emergency care for those who need it. We’d like to reassure our patients that we are here to help with anyone’s emergency eye care requirements – for both for new and existing patients.

 

 

References:

 

https://www.visionmonday.com/eyecare/coronavirus-briefing/crisis-response-tactics/article/aoa-cautions-patients-against-avoidable-er-visits-for-primary-eyecare-services-during-covid19-pandemic/

What Services Can I Get Using Tele-Optometry?

Tele-optometry is a branch of telemedicine that can cover a wide range of problems and treatments related to vision and ocular health. Tele-medicine delivers medical care through digital medical equipment and telecommunications technology, such as online videos accessible through smart phones and tablets. This allows patients to easily receive screenings, diagnoses, prescriptions and monitoring from the comfort and safety of their home. 

Optometrists can provide virtual medical eye consultations for a variety of eye problems, including:

  • Eye infections (i.e.conjunctivitis/pink eye)
  • Itchy eyes and allergies
  • Eye pain and redness
  • Scratched eye (i.e. corneal abrasion) 
  • Flashers & floaters
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Distorted vision 
  • Dry eye syndrome 
  • Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid) 
  • Dermatitis

Other services:

  • General Consultations
  • Refractive Surgery Follow-Ups
  • New Prescriptions 
  • Prescription Refills

Which Digital Devices Can I Use For a Virtual Eye Evaluation? 

Laptop/Desktop:

You can easily do your tele-optometric visit from any laptop or desktop that’s equipped with a camera and a microphone. Having a strong internet connection will help ensure high-definition video calls.  

Smartphones/ Tablets/ iPads: 

Many smartphones, tablets, and iPads now have very high-resolution cameras, which are great for taking quality pictures and videos that doctors can use to provide a diagnosis.

How Can an Eye Doctor Diagnose Through a Digital Platform? 

The optometrist will provide a diagnosis based both on the images and the information you supply, and if the eye doctor believes that your issues require emergency care, you will be referred to a specialist to better help treat your condition. With tele-optometry, you can feel confident that you are receiving care from a licensed, practicing eye doctor from the comfort of your home. 

Will Insurance Cover My Virtual Eye Care Visit? 

In most cases insurance plans will cover telehealth visits, but to be on the safe side, we ask that you double-check with your insurance provider prior to the visit.

If you’re experiencing certain eye concerns, including red eyes, pink eye, itchy eyes, flashes, floating spots, or double vision, contact us today to receive a diagnosis and effective treatment plan. 

Make a tele-optometry appointment before going to the emergency room or urgent care clinic to avoid the wait and any potential exposure to COVID-19. Contact us at  TSO Northwest at Houston to schedule your in-home eye evaluation today! 

COVID-19: Protect Your Eyes From Too Much Screen Time

You and your children are likely spending more time on mobile devices and computer screens than ever before. Too much time spent staring at screens can cause computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain, in certain people. While not serious, this condition can be very uncomfortable, potentially causing:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Insomnia
  • Tiredness

Below are some useful tips to help you and your children avoid computer vision syndrome:

Blink more! 

Staring at a screen strains the eyes more than reading printed material because people tend to blink 30-50% less. This can also cause your eyes to dry out. Be mindful of blinking and make it a habit when focusing on a screen, as it will keep your eyes healthy and lubricated.

Follow the 20-20-20 Rule 

Give your eyes a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object located 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Doing so will allow your eyes to relax and will give both you and your eyes some rest.

Keep your distance

Your eyes work harder to see close up than at a distance. Try keeping your monitor or screen at arm’s length, or about 25 inches away.

Lighting matters

Make sure that your surrounding light is similar in strength to the light emanating from your screen. Contrasting levels of light, such as looking at a bright screen in a dark room, can strain the eyes.

Take breaks from the screen

You may want to stipulate ‘screen free’ time for yourself and/or your children, such as during meal times or for several hours throughout the day. Engage in hobbies that don’t require a screen, such as drawing, reading books, doing puzzles, playing an instrument or cooking (among many others).

Don’t use devices before bed

Studies show that blue light may affect your body’s circadian rhythm, also known as the natural wake and sleep cycle. Stop using screens one to two hours before bedtime or use nighttime settings to minimize blue light exposure.

Although it may require a bit of planning to protect your family’s eyes during this stressful time, ultimately, it’s all about balance — and what works for you and your family may differ from others.

From all of us at TSO Northwest at Houston, we wish you good health and please stay safe.

Sunburned Eyes? Beware of Snow Blindness!

Playing outside in a snowy winter wonderland can be magical. Under clear skies in the sunshine, the soft white landscape becomes just about irresistible, whether at home or travelling on a winter-weather get-away. 

Before you let your children run outside to build the most adorable snowman or fling themselves onto the ski slopes, make sure their eyes are well protected. Sun and snow can be a dangerous combination for both the eyes and skin. 

Sunlight Reflected in the Snow

We all know why we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Winter, however, can be deceiving. It’s an illusion to assume that we are safe from sunburns during the colder season. 

Snow acts as a powerful mirror for sunlight and magnifies the effects of UV rays which would otherwise be absorbed by the ground. As a result, the eyes are exposed to both the UV radiation bouncing back from the snowy carpet and the rays shining down directly from the sun. 

If your family is skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, you need to be even more careful! UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Another important factor to remember is that ultraviolet radiation penetrates through clouds, so even if the sun is hidden behind them, it can still damage your eyes.

Can I Get Sunburned Eyes?

As you may have already guessed, yes —it is possible to get sunburned eyes. The condition is called snow blindness, or photokeratitis. Although most people do not actually experience permanent vision loss, photokeratitis is usually painful, causes extreme sensitivity to light, and can take up to two weeks to fully heal. 

A single day of playing outside in the snow and being exposed to intensive sun glare can be enough to cause snow blindness— though usually with a delay of several hours following sun exposure. What’s worse, if the eyes are repeatedly sunburned there is a risk of long-term damage. 

Symptoms of Snow Blindness

Just like a typical skin sunburn appears only after having been exposed to the sun’s rays, the same is true for the eyes. One sign of overexposure to UV is a stinging or burning sensation in the eyes, or a feeling of having sand in your eyes after a day spent in the snow. 

When eyes are sunburned, they become highly sensitive to light, making it difficult to be outside. Other symptoms include blurred vision, watery eyes, and swollen eyelids. In rare cases, photokeratitis can even cause temporary vision loss, but it doesn’t usually last longer than a day or two.

How Do I Protect My Eyes From Sunburn?

Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet radiation when you go outside, no matter what time of year it is. An even more effective solution for winter activities is to strap on a pair of well-fitting UV protective sports eyewear, such as ski goggles. Wrap-around styles are ideal because they stay on even when you’re active, and block the sun’s rays from entering your eyes from the sides too. 

For winter sports lovers, there are plenty of good reasons to wear protective eyewear, and what works well in sports can be good for play as well. 

How Can I Treat Sunburned Eyes?

It’s after the fact, and you’re suffering from photokeratitis… now what? Give your eyes a rest. 

  • Stay out of the sun for a few days until the symptoms die down. 
  • You may find it comforting to wear sunglasses even when indoors. 
  • For additional relief, place a cool, damp cloth over the closed eyelids while resting.
  • Don’t wear contact lenses until the eyes return to normal. 
  • Artificial tears can help keep the eyes moistened, soothe discomfort and promote healing. However, it’s important to consult an eye doctor before running to the pharmacy, since some eye drops are not well-suited for this condition. You can give us a call at (713) 690-2020.

Now that you know the risks and precautions to take, you’re all set to enjoy the winter wonderland! Dr. Shiroz Virani at TSO Northwest is happy to help you protect yourself and your family from snow blindness, and offers expert treatment for sunburned eyes. 

3 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision and Eyes

Did you know that people with diabetes are 20 times more likely to get eye diseases than those without it? There are three major eye conditions that diabetics are at risk for developing: cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. To prevent these sight-threatening diseases, it’s important to control your blood sugar level and have your eyes checked at least once a year by an eye doctor. 

But First, What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that is associated with high blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps our cells get energy from the sugars we eat. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce or respond to insulin effectively, leaving too much sugar in the blood stream instead. Over time, diabetes can lead to potentially irreversible ocular damage and poor eyesight. However, by taking care of your blood sugar levels and your eyes, you can prevent vision loss.

Annual eye exams are recommended for everyone, but routine screenings are even more important for diabetics. Eye doctors may send diabetic eye health reports to a patient’s primary care physician or internist to adjust medication as needed to prevent complications.

What’s the Link Between Vision and Diabetes? 

Blurred vision or fluctuating eyesight clarity is often one of the first noticeable signs that diabetes has begun to affect your eyes. Sometimes, fluid leaking into the eye causes the lens to swell and change shape. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, resulting in fuzzy vision. Such symptoms can indicate that an eye disease is developing, or may simply be due to imbalanced blood sugar levels which can be rectified by getting your blood sugar back to healthy levels. 

If you start to notice blurry vision, make an appointment with Dr. Shiroz Virani as soon as possible.

The 3 Ways Diabetes Impacts Vision 

Cataracts

While cataracts are extremely common and a part of the natural aging process, those with diabetes tend to develop cataracts earlier in life. Characterized by a clouding or fogging of the lens within the eye, cataracts impede light from entering the eye, causing blurred vision and glares. The best treatment is cataract surgery, which is very safe and effective. 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases characterized by optic nerve damage. Since it tends to impact peripheral vision first, glaucoma often goes unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. However, routine glaucoma screenings can detect warning signs; early treatment can prevent disease progression and vision loss. 

Although there is no true cure for glaucoma, most glaucoma patients successfully manage it with special eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or other surgery. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed and managed, the better the outcome.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels on your retina (capillaries) become weakened and then balloon (microaneurysm) due to poorly controlled blood sugar levels. The resulting poor blood circulation in the back of the eye causes more abnormal blood vessels to grow, which also bleed or leak fluid, and can lead to scar tissue, retinal detachment and even blindness, over time.

Often there are no symptoms until the advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, where patients may begin to see spots and missing patches in their vision. Retinopathy can be treated through surgery and eye injections, but the best way to prevent this disease from progressing is to regularly have your eyes screened.

The good news is that diabetic eye disease can often be prevented with early detection, proper management of your diabetes and regular diabetic eye exams. Contact TSO Northwest in Houston to set up your eye doctor’s appointment today. 


We are OPEN for you!

Our top priority has always and continues to be the health and safety of our patients and staff. We are extremely committed to providing you with the safest and most dependable eye care service possible, even during this challenging time.

For the Protection of our patients and staff extra safety measures are being taken including:

We are continuing to help people see the important things in life, even during these difficult times for all of us.

Warmest,
Dr. Virani and Staff