Valley Vision Clinic

22 W Main St

Walla Walla, WA 99362

509-529-2020 (phone/text)

509-529-2115 (fax)

Open Monday thru Friday at 8am





Voted Walla Walla's

Best Vision Center 


Eye Health Management

Q: What is the purpose of dilation?

A: When the pupil is functioning normally, shining a bright light into a person's eyes causes the pupil to constrict. Using dilating drops allows the optometrist to use the instruments necessary to evaluate the posterior portion of the eye, including the retina and optic nerve, without the pupil becoming smaller. In fact, the large, dilated pupil allows a much better view all the way to the "far corners" of the retina.

Eye Conditions

Q: What is Conjunctivitis?
A: Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent layer covering the surface of the inner eyelid and a portion of the front of the eye. This condition appears in many forms, including an infection, and affects people of all ages.

Q: What causes spots, floaters and "fireworks" in an eye?
A: The spots and floaters, as we generally refer to them, may be associated with migraines. But they are usually caused by a shrinkage of the jelly that fills the back two-thirds of the eye. As this jelly (vitreous) shrinks two things occur. As light goes through the shrunken jelly, a shadow is formed on the back of the eye. This is what is commonly perceived as a floater. Secondly, as the jelly shrinks, it can pull or tug on the retina causing flashing lights. A thorough evaluation by your family optometrist including a dilated examination is suggested. This examination rules out any serious conditions that also can cause spots and floaters.

Q: When someone says that you have 20/200 vision, is that very bad or very good? In other words, is it what you see at 20 feet, they see at 200 ft or vice versa?
A: This is a common question. 20/200 vision although significantly less than the standard 20/20, is not real bad. It is moderate. 20/200 vision is certainly reduced enough that it should be corrected with glasses or contacts. This may also depend on the patient's visual needs, but most people would feel that this is blurry (poor) vision if uncorrected. The 20/200 visual measurement means that at 20 feet away you see a size 200 letter. The first number is the distance away that the vision is checked and the second number is the size of the letter that you can read. The larger the number the larger the letter size. If you are 20/200, it means that what you see at 20 ft. is what a person 20/20 can see at 200 ft.

Q: What, if any, treatment is available for lazy eye?
A: Corrective lenses, prisms and/or contact lenses are often used to treat lazy eye, or amblyopia. Covering (such as patching) or occluding the better eye, for periods during the day, may be used to stimulate vision in the amblyopic eye. In addition, a program of vision therapy may be prescribed to help improve vision function.

Q: What is an astigmatism?
A: Astigmatism is a vision condition in which light entering the eye is unable to be brought to a single focus, resulting in vision being blurred at all distances. Astigmatism is not a disease, but rather, a vision condition that is quite common. It often occurs in conjunction with other refractive errors like nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Q: What causes crossed-eyes?
A: Coordination of your eyes and their ability to work together as a team develops in early childhood. Failure of your eyes (or more precisely, your eye muscles) to coordinate together properly can lead to crossed-eyes. Excessive eye focusing effort in children who are farsighted can also result in crossed-eyes. Crossed-eyes also have a tendency to be hereditary.

Q: What is nearsightedness?
A: Nearsightedness (myopia) is a vision condition in which you can usually see close or near objects clearly, but cannot see distant ones as clearly.

Q: What is farsightedness?
A: Farsightedness (hyperopia) is a vision condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but close ones appear blurred.

Q: What is presbyopia?
A: Presbyopia is an aging vision condition in which the crystalline lens of your eye loses its flexibility. This results in progressive difficulty in focusing on close objects. Your eye stops growing in your early teens. The lens, however, continues to grow and produce more and more cells. This continued growth eventually causes the lens to harden and lose some of its elasticity and therefore some focusing ability.

Q: What is color deficiency?
A: Color deficiency occurs when your ability to distinguish certain colors and shades is less than normal. The term "color blind" is often used, but usually incorrectly. Only a very small number of people are completely unable to identify any colors. There are two major types. Red-green deficiency is by far the most common and results in the inability to distinguish certain shades of red and green. Blue-yellow deficiency is less common and affects the perception of blue and yellow colors. In very rare cases, color deficiency exists to an extent that no colors can be detected. This person sees all things in shades of black, white and gray.

Q: I sit in front of a computer screen all day. Can this affect my eyesight in any way? What can I do to prevent possible problems?
A: Many individuals who work at a computer experience eye-related discomfort and/or visual problems. However, based on current evidence it is unlikely that the use of computers causes permanent changes or damage to the eyes or visual system. Many of the potential eye and/or vision problems relating to computer use can be reduced or eliminated by appropriate adjustment and placement of the computer, proper workplace design and lighting control, good preventive vision care habits and regular professional eye care.

Q: What causes dry eye?
A: Dry eye occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears or produce tears which do not have the proper chemical composition. Dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process, exposure to environmental conditions, problems with normal blinking or from medications such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives or antidepressants. Dry eye can also be symptomatic of general health problems or can result from chemical or thermal burns to the eye. Always schedule regular appointments with your optometrist, but if you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, call your optometrist immediately.

Q: What is the seriousness of vitreous detachment?
A: A vitreous detachment, often noticed by the appearance of "floaters" in one's vision is usually a benign (non-serious) condition. However, it is important to note that floaters often precede a retinal detachment, a more serious sight-threatening problem. You should check with your optometrist if or when you notice an increase in the number of spots or floaters present, or you experience the sensation of flashing lights. You should also schedule regular examinations with your optometrist so that your pupils may be dilated to allow better diagnosis of retinal conditions.

Q: Is "pink eye" contagious?
A: True "pink eye" is caused by infectious organisms, such as virus, bacteria or fungus that is contagious. However, "pink eye" is just one of many types of conjunctivitis that are similar. In any case, if you have any type of conjunctivitis, it is best to use good hygiene by washing hands regularly, not sharing towels, and trying not to touch or rub the eyes.


Q: What should I look for when choosing a pair of sunglasses?
A: No matter what sunglass styles or options you choose, you should insist that your sunglasses:

  • Block out 99-100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
  • Screen out 75-90 percent of visible light (fashion tinted lenses usually do not meet this level);
  • Are perfectly matched in color and are free of distortion and imperfection;
  • Have lenses that are gray, green, or brown (gray is recommended).

Q: Why is it that even if you wear glasses or contacts, when you get below the water's surface (wearing goggles) you can see almost normal?
A: Because of the higher refractive index of water, light travels more slowly and is bent more in water than in air. The effect is that nearsighted persons wearing goggles underwater can see more clearly than in air.

Q: Are glass lenses with a greater "base curve" likely to give sharper vision when I look through my glasses near the edges?
A: There are a number of factors which reduce the sharpness of vision of glass or plastic spectacle lenses. There are five specific problems, known as aberrations, which can be present with any wavelength or color of light. The base curve of lenses are chosen to reduce the two most important of these aberrations-oblique astigmatism and curvature of field. Changing the base curve of the lenses, either steeper or flatter, away from the ideal curve (or "corrected curve") will increase these aberrations. In order to make lenses thinner, a flatter base curve is sometimes selected, but an aspheric surface is used to control the aberrations.

Q: How do I know if I need bifocals?
A: The most common use of bifocals is for the treatment of presbyopia in individuals aged 40 and over. Whether or not a person has needed vision correction when younger, by the early to mid-forties, the ability to accommodate or focus the eyes has diminished. Bifocals allow the wearer to see clearly both at distance and near despite the reduced focusing ability. Bifocals may also be used to help align the eyes if a person tends to over-cross his or her eyes at near. If you are over 40 or have any difficulty performing tasks at near, ask your optometrist whether bifocals, or no-line progressive addition lenses, could be right for you.

Q: How can I tell if my child needs glasses?
A: Many children who need vision correction will have signs or symptoms that a parent or teacher may notice. However, there are many cases where there will be no signs or symptoms. The only way these cases will be uncovered is by a comprehensive eye and vision examination by an optometrist. The AOA recommends a complete examination of children at age 6 months, 3 years, before starting school and every 2 years thereafter.


Q: How does vision affect learning?
A: Vision problems can and often do interfere with learning. People at risk for learning-related vision problems should be evaluated by an optometrist who provides diagnostic and management services in this area. The goal of optometric intervention is to improve visual function and alleviate associated signs and symptoms. Prompt remediation of learning- related vision problems enhances the ability of children and adults to perform to their full potential. People with learning problems require help from many disciplines to meet the learning challenges they face. Optometric involvement constitutes one aspect of the multidisciplinary management approach required to prepare the individual for lifelong learning.

Q: How soon should I take my child for his/her first eye examination?
A: An infant should have his/her first eye exam at six months of age. Another exam should be scheduled at age three, and then again prior to your child entering first grade.