• Everything You Need to Know about Contact Lenses

    Are you tired of your glasses fogging up or getting in the way of the activities you love? If so, it could be time to try contact lenses, a vision correction option that millions of people utilize today. Learn more about contact lenses before you make the switch.

    Brief History of Contact Lenses

    In the 1500s, Leonardo da Vinci became the first person to conceptualize wearing corrective lenses directly on the eye. However, it wasn’t until 1887 that the first glass contact lenses were manufactured.

    Drastic advancements have been made in the field of contact lenses over the last 80 years. The materials used have evolved from glass to plastic to acrylate to silicone-hydrogel, and the structure has changed from covering the entire eye to just the cornea. Contacts are more comfortable and breathable today than ever before.

    Types of Contact Lenses

    • Soft lenses range from daily disposables to two- and four-week lenses that require cleaning and storage between each use.
    • Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses are harder and smaller than soft lenses. You get crisp, clear vision from lenses that last a year or two, but they may be uncomfortable at first.
    • Scleral lenses cover more of the eye. They are suggested for people with irregular corneas or severe dry eye.
    • Toric lenses are available in soft and RGP form. They are shaped to correct astigmatism, which is when the cornea is pointed rather than spherical.

    Contact Lens Eye Exams

    The exams for prescribing contact lenses are more in-depth than regular eye exams. In addition to checking your vision to determine your prescription, the exam also assesses the shape and health of your eyes to ensure you’re a good candidate for contact lenses.

    If you’re new to contacts, your eye doctor will select trial lenses for you to test out. You’ll receive instructions for putting them in and taking them out, and you’ll wear these contacts home to see how you like them. You may need a follow-up exam to discuss any discomfort and try other styles and brands. When you’re ready, your eye doctor will help you order a one-year supply of the contacts you prefer.

    Contact Lens Tips

    • Wash and dry your hands before putting contacts in or taking them out.
    • Put in your contacts before applying eye makeup.
    • Don’t sleep, swim or shower while wearing contact lenses.
    • Store your contacts in fresh contact lens solution every night.
    • Replace your contacts as often as your eye doctor recommends.

    Contact lenses are the right solution for many people who require vision correction. If you’re interested in trying out contacts for the first time, call Gerstein Eye Institute at 773.596.9545. We’ll set up an eye exam for you at our Chicago, IL office, where our eye doctor will fit you with the proper lenses and teach you how to insert and remove them correctly. We’ll also explain how to clean and store contact lenses to help keep your eyes healthy.

  • What are cataracts?

    How much do you know about cataracts? Cataracts are extremely common, affecting more than 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In fact, by age 65, it’s estimated that more than 90% of people in the United States will develop cataracts, and by the time they’re 75, those cataracts will have a major impact on their vision. Knowing those statistics, it’s a good idea to know a little bit about cataracts.

    • What is a cataract? Typically found in people over age 55, a cataract is an opaque or cloudy area in the lens of the eye. Cataracts can be found in one or both eyes, but don’t spread from one eye to the other. They interfere with vision because they cause the light entering the eye to be scattered, rather than properly focused.
    • What are the symptoms of cataracts? Cataracts form slowly and cause blurred or hazy vision, reduced intensity of colors, increased sensitivity to glare, and increased difficulty seeing at night.
    • Are there different types of cataracts? Nuclear cataracts are located in the center of the iris, while cortical cataracts affect the layer of the lens that surrounds the nucleus, and posterior cataracts are on the back outer layer of the lens. Posterior cataracts develop most rapidly.
    • How can cataracts be prevented? You can’t really prevent cataracts, but you can reduce your risk of developing cataracts by eating a nutrient-dense diet, not smoking, and keeping diabetes under control. Limiting alcohol consumption, protecting your eyes from the sun, and seeing your eye doctor regularly are also good steps toward cataract prevention.
    • What’s the best treatment for cataracts? If a cataract doesn’t affect your vision, it may not require treatment. Even if it does, you can often just treat the symptoms of a cataract, by wearing eyeglasses, using brighter lighting, wearing anti-glare sunglasses, or using magnifying lenses. The only way to treat a cataract itself, though, is through surgery.
    • What’s involved in cataract surgery? Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Cataract surgery is one of the most common, and safest, surgeries performed in the United States. Your eye doctor will be able to help you determine whether it’s right for you.

    If you are looking for an eye doctor, the Gerstein Eye Institute in Chicago can help. Since 1968, the Gerstein Eye Institute has been providing exceptional ophthalmologic care to patients in the Chicago area. With decades of experience in ophthalmology, our certified professional staff members have together performed over 30,000 procedures. To schedule a consultation, call us at 773.596.9545 or contact us through our website.


  • How to Strengthen your Vision and Keep it Strong

    Your vision is precious, and protecting it as you age is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your quality of life. Since sight-threatening eye problems affect one in six adults over the age of 45, it’s extremely important to take steps to keep your eyes healthy and your vision strong. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to care for your eyes.

    • Know your risk. Some health conditions can raise your risk of developing eye diseases If you have high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, or diabetes, for example, you’re at risk for eye problems. Even if you don’t have a medical condition yourself, your family’s health history can have an impact on your eye health.
    • Be proactive. Take charge of your health, seeing your doctor regularly and following medical advice to the letter. Manage medical conditions, particularly those that cause chronic inflammation, to protect your eyes. Pay attention to your vision, and report any changes to your eye doctor immediately. Some symptoms that warrant prompt attention include double vision, hazy vision, difficulty seeing in low light, red eyes, frequent flashes of light, floaters, eye pain, and swelling.
    • Eat your veggies. A healthy, balanced diet is important for your eyes, and that diet should include Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as zinc, carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, and Omega-3 fatty acids. You can get these nutrients by eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, eggs, salmon, and flaxseed.
    • Stay active. Studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by as much as 70 percent.
    • Be protective. Wear protective eyewear when you’re doing anything that could injure your eye. This means protecting your eyes from anything that could cause damage or injury, including chemicals, sharp objects, and UV rays.
    • Stop smoking. It’s best if you never smoke at all because smoking can raise your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, uveitis, and other eye problems. Even if you have been a smoker, stopping now can improve your eye health.
    • See your doctor. At least every two years, have a comprehensive eye exam to determine your risk for major eye diseases. It’s also important to see your eye doctor regularly to make sure your prescription for eyeglasses or contacts is up to date.

    If you are looking for an eye doctor, the Gerstein Eye Institute in Chicago can help. Since 1968, the Gerstein Eye Institute has been providing exceptional ophthalmologic care to patients in the Chicago area. With decades of experience in ophthalmology, our certified professional staff members work hard to provide the kind of personalized care that keeps patients coming back year after year, eventually entrusting the eye health of their children and grandchildren to us as well. To schedule an appointment, call us at 773.596.9545 or contact us through our website.


  • How to Properly Care for your Glasses

    If you have prescription eyeglasses, no one has to tell you that they’re a big investment. You spend time and money on these lenses to improve your vision, and it’s important to make sure they’re sparkling clean so that you can really see through them. What’s more, you’ll want to make sure you’re caring for them properly, to avoid damaging those precious specs.

    Proper cleaning of eyeglasses:

    • If you’re out and about, use a cloth specifically made to clean eyeglasses. A microfiber cloth is a good choice, and so are pre-moistened cloths especially formulated for glasses.
    • When you’re home, spend a little more time cleaning them. Spray the lens with cleaning solution and wipe with a microfiber cloth. Never wipe them with a paper towel or article of clothing, because these materials can be abrasive and scratch the lenses. Let them air dry before putting them back on.
    • For deep cleaning, use tap water, and cleaning solution. First, rinse the eyeglasses in lukewarm to warm tap water, and then use a gentle cleaning solution, free of lotion, to wash the lenses, using only a few drops so that you don’t leave soap residue on the lenses. Rinse, looking for missed spots, and if the glasses still look dirty, repeat the process. Once they’re clean, use a lint-free towel to remove most of the water, and then allow them to air dry.

    Wearing your eyeglasses properly:

    • Don’t wear your glasses on top of your head. Instead, take them off and put them in their case. Wearing them on the top of your head can stretch them out because that area is typically wider than your face.
    • Put your glasses on and take them off with both hands. Using only one hand can throw off their alignment and change the way they fit.
    • Never push on the nose piece. If your glasses slip down your nose, push them up on either side rather than pushing on the nose piece. If you’re wearing wire glasses, pressure on the nose piece can distort it.

    Storing your eyeglasses:

    • Keep your glasses in a hard case that’s the right size for them. Get into the habit of putting them in the case each time you take them off.
    • Have a backup case. It’s important to have a case with you if you forget your primary case, or if it is damaged.
    • Use a glasses cord instead of a pocket. Putting your glasses in your pocket or hanging them from the neck of your shirt can warp them. Invest in a cord, to keep them safely around your neck.
    • Never put your glasses anywhere hazardous. Don’t put them into a bag without first putting them in their case, don’t leave them in a hot car, and never put them close to a sink or vanity where they could get splashed with something corrosive.
    • Store your glasses lenses up. If the lenses face down in the case, the glasses are likely to become scratched.
    • Mind the screws. Keep an eye on the little screws that hold your frame together, tightening them if they become loose.

    If you are looking for an eye doctor, the Gerstein Eye Institute in Chicago can help. Since 1968, the Gerstein Eye Institute has been providing exceptional ophthalmologic care to patients in the Chicago area. With decades of experience in ophthalmology, our certified professional staff members have together performed over 30,000 procedures. To schedule a consultation, call us at 773.596.9545 or contact us through our website.

  • How to clean your contacts correctly

    The basic method for caring for contact lenses is to clean, rinse, and disinfect. This is a pretty straightforward process. First, make sure your hands are scrupulously clean, with no residue from moisturizer or moisturizing soaps. Dry them with a lint-free towel. Place a contact lens in the palm of your hand, apply a generous amount of multipurpose contact lens solution, and rub the lens gently against your palm with your index finger, with a back and forth motion. Rinse the lens again and place it into your clean lens case, filling the case with fresh solution. Repeat the process with the other lens.

    Sometimes, you’ll need to go further than just cleaning, rinsing, and disinfecting. It’s important to understand the products used in caring for lenses so that you can make the right choices for your eyes.

    • Saline solution: Used for rinsing and storing contact lenses when you’re using a heat or UV disinfection system, it may also be needed with enzymatic cleaning tablets or disinfecting devices. Saline products should never be used for cleaning or disinfection.
    • Daily Cleaner: This can be placed into the palm of your hand to clean your lenses, rubbing each side of the lens with your finger for at least 20 seconds. Other products are better for rinsing and disinfecting.
    • Multipurpose Solution: This solution can be used for cleaning, rinsing, and disinfecting. It can also be used in the lenses case.
    • Hydrogen Peroxide Solution: Used for cleaning, disinfecting, rinsing, and storing contact lenses, it’s good for users who are sensitive to the preservatives in multipurpose solution. It’s important, though, to disinfect and neutralize before putting lenses back into the eyes.
    • Enzymatic Cleaner: Used to remove protein from your contact lenses, this typically involves tablets used with a saline or disinfecting solution. Always follow the instructions on the enzymatic cleaner package.
    • Daily Protein Remover: Is a liquid, used during disinfection with a multipurpose solution, to remove protein from your lenses.

    There are a few points to remember when cleaning contacts. First, be careful never to touch the solution bottle tip to any surface, including any part of your body. Don’t get tap water on your contact lenses or accessories, because it can carry a microorganism and lead to eye infections. Clean your contact lens accessories as directed, and throw out your contact lens case every three months to reduce the risk of infection. Don’t substitute water or any other liquid for lens solution, and make sure to clean and disinfect your lenses once a day. Follow your eye doctor’s instructions for caring for your contact lenses, and don’t switch products without consulting your doctor.

    If you are looking for an eye doctor, the Gerstein Eye Institute in Chicago can help. Since 1968, the Gerstein Eye Institute has been providing exceptional ophthalmologic care to patients in the Chicago area. With decades of experience in ophthalmology, our certified professional staff members have together performed over 30,000 procedures. To schedule a consultation, call us at 773.596.9545 or contact us through our website.

  • How to Maintain Healthy Eyes as You Age

    The older you get, the more your doctor emphasizes the importance of eating well and exercising to stay healthy. Good nutrition and physical activity certainly benefit your body, but making specific lifestyle changes can also help delay or prevent age-related eye diseases. Follow these tips to maintain healthy eyes as you age.

    Schedule Regular Eye Exams

    Annual visits to the eye doctor are recommended for everyone, but once you hit 40, regular eye exams become even more crucial. Yearly visits can help catch glaucoma, macular degeneration and other eye diseases in their early stages, making them easier to treat. Your eye doctor can also detect other non-sight related illnesses during a comprehensive eye exam, including hypertension, diabetes, STDs and some forms of cancer.

    Visit the Eye Doctor if You Injure Your Eyes

    It isn’t enough to rinse your injured eye under cool water and hope it gets better. If you experience vision problems or eye discomfort at any time, call your eye doctor right away. Receiving professional medical attention is the best way to safeguard your vision.

    Protect Your Eyes from Bright Light

    Chronic exposure to UV rays and sources of high-energy “blue light” can damage the macula, cornea and lens. To shield your eyes, try these suggestions:

    • Wear dark-tinted sunglasses while outside.
    • Turn on your computer’s “night light” feature to decrease the amount of blue light the screen emits.
    • Wear blue-blocking computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses.
    • Illuminate your home with CFLs and LEDs that emit “warm” light.

    Adopt a Healthy Diet

    The food you eat doesn’t just affect your waistline – it also contributes to healthy eyes. If you eat a diet high in saturated fat and sugar, you increase your risk of eye disease. On the other hand, eating natural, healthy food can help prevent vision problems. Here’s what to include in your diet to improve eye health as you age:

    • Dark green and brightly colored fruits and vegetables for vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin
    • Fish, nuts and plant-based oil for omega-3 essential fatty acids
    • Lean meat, legumes, fish and eggs for protein
    • Whole grains to avoid the sugars in refined white flour
    • Water and other sugar-free, caffeine-free drinks to stay hydrated

    Quit Smoking

    Smoking increases the amount of oxidative stress in your body, which can increase your chances of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and glaucoma. Give up smoking, and you’ll improve nearly every aspect of your health, including your vision.

    Get Enough Sleep

    Maintaining a healthy sleeping pattern improves your overall well-being. It’s also a chance to rest your eyes and help them rejuvenate for the following day. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night. Avoid looking at your Smartphone right before bed, as the blue light of the LED screen can keep you awake.

    For more tips to maintain healthy eyes as you age, or to schedule an eye exam in Chicago, IL, please contact Gerstein Eye Institute at 773.596.9545.

  • How Does Bright Light Affect Your Vision?

    The iris serves as your eye’s main defense against bright light. This is the colored part of your eye responsible for reducing and enlarging the size of your pupil. When intense light rays reach your eye, the iris responds by constricting the pupil, thus protecting the retina and helping it process the incoming image better. The opposite occurs in low light when the iris dilates the pupil to allow as much light in as possible.

    Can Bright Light Damage Your Vision?

    In short, yes, staring at bright lights can damage your eyes. When the retina’s light-sensing cells become over-stimulated from looking at a bright light, they release massive amounts of signaling chemicals, injuring the back of the eye as a result.

    The sun shines with such intensity that staring directly at it for just a few seconds can cause permanent retinal damage. Chronic exposure to UV rays over many weeks, months or years can also harm the macula, cornea and lens. A damaged macula leads to macular degeneration. A “sunburned” cornea can cause blurry vision and loss of eyesight. A damaged lens may develop a cataract, or clouding of the lens that blurs vision.

    Blue light, even at moderate intensity levels, can damage your retinas slowly over time. Blue light has shorter wavelengths than warmer light, so it has more energy. Prolonged exposure may increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Sunlight is the most prominent source of blue light, but other examples include fluorescent lights, LEDs, TVs, computer monitors and Smartphone screens.

    How to Treat and Prevent Eye Problems from Bright Light

    Protect your vision with these tips:

    • Choose glasses with anti-reflective lenses to reduce glare from bright lights.
    • Wear dark-tinted sunglasses and a brimmed hat while outside. Polarized sunglasses with UV protection further shield your eyes from the effects of blue light and ultraviolet rays.
    • Decrease daily screen time and take frequent breaks to rest your eyes.
    • Turn on your computer’s “night light” feature to decrease the amount of blue light the screen emits.
    • Wear blue-blocking computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses that ease digital eyestrain.
    • Choose CFLs and LEDs that emit “warm” light.
    • If you require cataract surgery, seek blue-blocking intraocular lens (IOL) implants to protect your retinas the same way sunglasses do.

    If you’re experiencing any vision problems or discomfort after exposure to bright light, visit Gerstein Eye Institute in Chicago, IL for an evaluation. Our commitment to helping patients protect their vision dates back to 1968. For more information, or to schedule an eye appointment, please contact us at 773.596.9545 today.

  • How Often Should You Get Your Eyes Checked?

    When it comes to your health, prevention is the best medicine. That’s why regular eye doctor visits are invaluable for maintaining your vision. When you get your eyes checked, the ophthalmologist makes sure your prescription hasn’t changed and tests for various conditions that could affect your eyesight. When caught and treated early, it’s possible to keep your vision crisp and clear.

    The question many people have is how often should you get your eyes checked? Consider these recommendations.

    Vision Correction Eye Exam

    If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you should visit the eye doctor for a vision checkup every one to two years. Your prescription expires after this length of time, so it’s important to make sure your eyes haven’t changed before you buy new glasses or order more contacts.

    Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam

    During more thorough eye exams, the ophthalmologist administers special eye drops that make your pupils dilate, or open wide so the doctor can take a closer look at the inside of your eyes. This is useful for detecting eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.

    Preventblindness.org advises having a comprehensive eye exam as often as recommended by your eye doctor. Here are the general guidelines for how frequently you should have comprehensive dilated eye exams:

    • 20 to 39 years old: Schedule a dilated eye exam every two to four years if you’re African-American, or every three to five years if you’re Caucasian.
    • 40 to 64 years old: Schedule a dilated eye exam every two to four years.
    • 65 years and older: Schedule a dilated eye exam every one to two years.
    • People with special needs: If you’re at risk for eye problems because you have diabetes, a previous eye trauma or surgery, or family history of eye disease, talk to your eye doctor about how often you should get your eyes checked.

    Signs You Should Schedule an Eye Exam

    Having a vision checkup once a year and following the above-recommended schedule for comprehensive dilated eye exams should keep your vision in good shape. However, if you experience symptoms of eye trouble, you should visit an ophthalmologist right away, no matter when your last eye exam was. Here are the signs you should schedule an eye exam:

    • Your eyes are itchy, red and dry.
    • You see spots, excessive floaters or flashes of light.
    • You have difficulty reading street signs while driving at night.
    • You get headaches or experience blurred vision or eye strain after working at a computer for a long time.
    • You have trouble following moving targets or get dizzy and nauseated when you try.
    • You have to squint to read books or newspapers up close.
    • You notice sudden changes in your vision, especially after experiencing head
    • You can’t remember the last time you had an eye exam.

    Get your eyes checked today – call Gerstein Eye Institute in Chicago, IL at 773.596.9545 to schedule your next appointment!

  • Common Eye Allergies and Solutions

    If you suffer with seasonal allergies, you’re not alone. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, up to 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children experience allergies each year.

    Along with sneezing, runny nose and congestion, many seasonal allergy sufferers experience red, itchy, swollen or watery eyes. With more information about what causes common eye allergies, you can learn to avoid them and find solutions for your symptoms.

    Most Common Eye Allergies

    An allergy is when your body reacts negatively to a usually harmless substance. There are all sorts of sensitivities, but the most common culprits of eye allergies include:

    • Pollen
    • Mold
    • Dust
    • Pet dander
    • Cosmetics
    • Eye drops

    Avoiding Eye Allergens

    The first step is to figure out what you’re sensitive to with allergy testing or through simple observation. Then, you can take necessary precautions to prevent exposure to them.

    For instance:

    • If your eyes itch and swell after petting animals and then touching your eyes, you should keep pets out of your bedroom and wash your hands immediately after handling dogs or cats.
    • If outdoor allergens are to blame, stay inside on days when pollen counts are high, and wear wraparound sunglasses to shield your eyes from pollen.
    • If dust sets you off, wash your bedding weekly in hot water and replace wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors.
    • If cosmetics or eye drops make your eyes swell, look for all-natural products to prevent this.

    It may also be helpful to switch from contact lenses to glasses during allergy season. Contacts can accumulate airborne allergens, which irritate your eyes and worsen your symptoms. Glasses, on the other hand, actually help keep irritants out of your eyes.

    Solutions for Eye Allergies

    If you need relief from your symptoms, try these tips:

    • Apply eye drops. Over-the-counter varieties should work for relatively mild symptoms, while you may need a prescription to treat more severe eye allergies.
    • Take antihistamines and decongestants to reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction, including red, itchy eyes.
    • Apply a cool washcloth to your eyes to relieve puffiness. Cumber slices are also effective.
    • Apply cold, damp tea bags to your eyelids. After steeping tea, save the bags. Keep them in the fridge until your next allergy flare-up. Then, place them on your closed eyes for two to five minutes.
    • Flush away irritants with saline solution. Stand over a sink and rinse your eyes with sterile saline or artificial tears.

    Eye allergies are just one consideration in your overall eye health. To ensure your vision stays crisp and clear, make it a priority to visit Gerstein Eye Institute in Chicago, IL for preventative eye care. We have been helping patients take care of their vision since 1968, and we’re committed to helping you find the right treatment for you! For more information, or to schedule an eye exam, please contact us at 773.596.9545 today.

  • What Are Cataracts?

    Cataracts are quite common in older people, but if you haven’t experienced them you may not know much about what they are. A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens that negatively affects your vision. By the age of 80, at least half of the population will have a cataract or have undergone cataract surgery.

    Cataracts can happen in both of your eyes or in just one of them. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms you may have a cataract:

    • Blurred vision
    • Faded colors
    • Glare from sunlight, headlights, etc. or a halo around lights
    • Difficult seeing at night
    • Double vision
    • Frequent changes in prescription for eyewear

    Cataracts typically develop slowly and at first they can be helped by getting new glasses, using anti-glare sunglasses or magnifying lenses, and using brighter lighting. If you haven’t experienced a cataract, it can be compared to looking through a foggy or frosty window.

    If you notice any of the previously mentioned symptoms, you should make an appointment for an eye exam. See your doctor right away if you experience sudden eye pain, sudden vision changes, or sudden headaches.

    If you haven’t experienced cataracts, it might not be too late to help prevent them from forming. Regular eye examinations can lead to early detection of cataracts. Unhealthy activities like smoking or drinking too much can increase your risk of cataracts. Managing health conditions like diabetes and eating fruits and vegetables with antioxidants can also help prevent cataracts.

    Cataract surgery is very common and is a relatively simple and painless procedure to help regain vision. More than three million Americans undergo the procedure each year and 90% of them regain very good vision, from 20/20 to 20/40. You will likely still need reading glasses and may require progressive lenses.

    To learn more or schedule an appointment with Gerstein Eye Institute, give us a call today at 773-596-9545.