Surviving Allergy Season

Spring has officially arrived which means allergy season is here – or quickly approaching. If you’re amongst the 8 million Canadians (one-quarter of the country) that has seasonal allergies, you’ve probably experienced some form of itchy, red, dry, or watery eyes.

Seasonal allergies are caused by the high pollen released by trees, grass, outdoor moulds, and ragweed. They begin in the spring, peak in the summer, and can last as late as fall.

Most of us know when seasonal allergies strike because we start to experience mild to extreme discomfort in our eyes, but have you ever wondered what’s actually causing our eyes to react? Dr. Harleen Takhar explains:

"Allergens in the air bind to receptors (called mast cells). We have approximately 50 million of these receptors on the surface of our eyes.

When the mast cells come in contact with the allergens, they release a chemical called histamine, which is what ultimately causes our eyes to feel itchy and watery. It also causes the blood vessels on the surface of our eyes dilate, which makes our eyes look red."

Most allergens are seasonal, which in most cases last between four to six weeks.

Here are the best -and safest- ways to manage your eyes this allergy season:

  • Get in the habit of checking your local pollen forecast, which provides you with a daily outlook on the types and severity of pollen in the air.
  • Speak with us about over-the-counter or prescription eye drops if discomfort persists.
  • Place cold compresses on your eyes, this can help relieve the itching sensation.
  • Despite temptation, DO NOT RUB YOUR EYES, as this will only make your eyes worse and can potentially cause long-term damage.

If you’re experiencing persistent eye discomfort as a result of seasonal allergies, be sure to book an appointment with us to discuss your options.



2016 Young Optometrist of the Year!

Congratulations to our very own, Dr. Harbir Sian for being named the BC Doctors of Optometry 2016 Young Optometrist of the Year!
The award recognizes Optometrists who have been in practice for 10 years or less and have shown dedication to their profession and their desire to help their community.

Dr. Sian has been an active member of the BC Association of Optometrists from the time he graduated from Optometry school in 2010. He also volunteers his time to mentorship via the Association of South Asian Professionals. In 2015, Dr. Sian journeyed to South America to help set up a temporary eye clinic in an underdeveloped part of Colombia. The group managed to perform eye exams for over 2000 people of all ages during their week long campaign.

You may also find Dr. Sian on YouTube where he posts short, entertaining videos about eyes and certain eye conditions in his video blog series called FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.


10 Fascinating Facts About Your Eyes

They've been called the window to the soul. But your eyes are also one of the most unique parts of your body, with over 2 million individual components, making them the second most complex organ... after the human brain.

Here are 10 other strange-but-true facts about your eyes.

1. You See the World Upside Down & Split in Half
When you first view an object, the image is actually processed by your eyes upside down (not unlike how the mirror in an old fashioned camera works). What's more, the image is split in half and distorted. Your retina flips the image, matches the two pieces together and clears up the distortion before sending the visual signal to your brain—with all of this occurring in nano seconds.

2. You Blink 9 Million Times a Year
On average you blink 17 times each minute. That works out to nearly 25,000 blinks a day and over 9 million blinks a year. Your eye also happens to be the fastest muscle in your body, which is how a single blink can happen in less than four-tenthsof a second—all of which may explain the old saying "in the blink of an eye."

3. Your Retinas Can't See Red
The receptors in your retina that process colours are actually only capable of detecting yellow-green and blue-green combinations. Your brain combines these different signals and identifies colours that are missing as being red. 

4. Different Things Produce Different Tears
While the main purpose of tears is to remove dirt and harmful bacteria from the eyes, research has found that our tears are actually chemically different depending on the situation. Scientists have found that "reflex tears" (such as those caused by allergies or getting something in your eye) were dramatically different than "emotional tears" (such as those caused by pain or feelings of sadness and joy). In fact, scientists don't really know why we produce tears when we're upset.

5. Your Eyes Are the Same Size Now as When You Were Born
Unlike other parts of your body (such as your nose and ears) your eyes stay basically the same size throughout your life. Scientists speculate that this is because your eyes are so complex that even subtle changes in growth could affect your overall vision. In fact, babies' eyes start to develop in the womb just two weeks after conception takes place.

6. "Red Eye" is Caused by Blood Vessels
Red eye may be the bane of photographers everywhere, but there's actually a fairly simple explanation behind this well-known phenomenon. Red eye occurs because light from the flash of the camera bounces off the back of your eye, hitting the choroid, a layer of tissue located directly behind the retina. The choroid also happens to contain a lot of blood vessels that are captured by the camera and why your eyes end up appearing red on film.

7. Your Eyes Are More Unique Than Your Fingerprints
We often assume that our eyes are similar to other people because we have the same prescription or the same eye colour. In fact, your eyes are incredibly unique. To put this into perspective, your fingerprints have only 40 unique identifying characteristics. Your eyes, on the other hand, have over 256 identifiable characteristics just in your irises alone. This may explain why governments and banks around the world are now looking towards biometric eye scans as a new form of identification. 

8. Only 1/6 of Your Eyeball is Exposed
It turns out that only a small portion of your eyeball is exposed at any given time. That's because a lot of what happens with your vision occurs inside your eyeball and involves millions of sensitive nerves and blood vessels. In fact, human skulls have evolved over the years to offer a maximum amount of protection to the part of your eyes that are unexposed.

9. Your Eyes Process 36,000 Bits of Information Per Hour
It turns out that your eyes are constantly taking in information that's then analyzed by your brain. In fact, researchers estimate that your eye will focus on about 50 objects per second. That's roughly comparable to the amount of data that's processed by a powerful computer.

10. Shark Corneas Are Used in Eye Surgery
It turns out that some of the most successful corneal transplants haven't come from human donors, but rather from sharks. That's because scientists have discovered that shark corneas have thick reinforcing fibres that function much like rebar does in concrete buildings. These fibres strengthen the cornea and prevent it from swelling and turning cloudy, like human corneas can do. In addition to transplanting shark corneas into human patients, scientists have continued to research sharks to understand human eye diseases.

To learn more about your eyes, check out our blog!.

For more information please call us at 604.852.0164 or book an appointment online at




UV Radiation and Your Eyes

Summer is officially upon us and Canadians across the country are excited to get outside and enjoy the sun. While most Canucks recognize the importance of sunscreen to prevent sunburns and skin cancer, many are unaware that UV light can cause serious eye damage. In fact, overexposure to UV rays has been linked to a variety of eye problems, one of which is cataracts, a condition where the normally clear lens of the eye become cloudy and opaque.

June is Cataract Awareness Month, and with an estimated 3.2 million Canadians living with the eye condition, Doctors of Optometry are urging residents to book an annual eye exam with an optometrist and take the necessary precautions to protect your vision from the sun’s harmful rays.  What can you do?

  • Avoid sources for UV radiation. Don’t stare directly at the sun and be aware of reflections from snow, water, sand and pavement. If you’re a welder, hairdresser, lighting technician, paint and resin worker, or work outdoors, be sure you’re in the know about potential risks and how to avoid UV exposure.
  • Protect your peepers. Wear sunglasses that are 100% UV blocking against both UVA and UVB rays, and are close-fitting with a wrap-around style frame to help keep light out. If you wear corrective contact lenses, consider wearing UV-blocking contact lenses for an added layer of UV protection. In addition to cataracts, these steps help protect against:
    • Age-related macular degeneration
    • Eyelid skin cancer
    • Corneal sunburn
    • Age spots
    • Tissue growths on the surface of the eye
  • Stay informed. Get regular eye exams to monitor eye health, maintain good vision and keep up-to-date on the latest in UV protection (Check out the UV Canada smartphone app for up-to-date info on UV radiation in your location).
  • 10-4. Keep out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Children are at high risk. It’s estimated that 50% of lifetime exposure to UV happens before the age of 18. Keep children younger than six months out of direct sunlight, ensure children of all ages wear sunglasses and sun hats when outside and consider using a canopy or umbrella as a sun-shield when at the beach or in the back yard.
  • Recognize the symptoms. If you’re experiencing immediate pain, an inflamed cornea, or an aversion to light, see your Doctor of Optometry right away.

Your Doctor of Optometry can make specific recommendations to ensure your eyes are well-protected and to fit you with your perfect pair of sunglasses. Booking a comprehensive eye exam can identify early onset of eye-health conditions related to UV that may not have apparent symptoms.


For more information please call us at 604.852.0164 or book an appointment online at



Glaucoma - The Invisible Threat to Vision

March 8th – 14th is World Glaucoma Awareness Week and since glaucoma is the second most common cause of preventable vision loss in seniors, Optometrists are urging Canadians to get their eyes examined. After all, early detection can help control the disease.

What are the symptoms?

Unfortunately, there aren't any! Glaucoma often develops gradually and painlessly without noticeable symptoms until vision loss begins and, once symptoms of vision loss are present, they are irreversible.

What causes glaucoma?

While the exact cause is not completely understood, glaucoma is commonly caused by the overproduction of fluid and/or a decrease in fluid being drained from the eye, which damages the optic nerve.  As the fibers that make up the optic nerve are damaged due to increased pressure on the nerve, the amount and quality of information sent to the brain decreases and a loss of vision occurs. In some cases, glaucoma can occur when eye pressure is normal; this is called normal pressure or normal tension glaucoma.

Who is at risk?

Though cases are more frequent in those over 40 years old, anyone can be diagnosed with glaucoma. Pay attention if glaucoma runs in your family, you’re diabetic, have high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or a history of eye injury – you may be at greater risk.

How is glaucoma detected?

A comprehensive eye health examination is the only way to check and is the key to preserving vision. At Highstreet Eyecare, we use a variety of instruments such as our visual field analyzer and digital retinal camera to help detect signs of glaucoma and many other eye conditions.


For more information please call us at 604.852.0164 or book an appointment online at


Not All Solutions Are Made Equal

A large percentage of contact lens wearers cannot recall the brand name of the solution they use to disinfect their contacts. The problem with a random product selection is that all solutions react differently on the contact lens material, leaving the patient susceptible to eye irritation or, in rare cases, corneal ulcers.

All the contact lens solutions on the market today are very effective at killing bacteria and other pathogens on contact lenses. However, some brands of solutions are much better suited for a particular type of contact lens. Contact lens solutions are not considered dangerous but it is the combination of the solution with the contact lens material that may cause the problems if the correct ones are not used together.

A Doctor of Optometry will assess the compatibility of a contact lens on a patient’s eye by examining the corneal staining pattern with a biomicroscope. If a patient has a high percentage of corneal staining, then they typically would experience an increase in lens awareness and irritation. The chance of developing a corneal ulcer also increases. Research has shown that some contact lens solutions can yield varying degrees of corneal staining depending on the contact lens brand. These findings stress the importance of using the correct brand of contact lens solution recommended by your Doctor of Optometry. Of particular concern is the use of private label solutions supplied by larger Big Box chain stores. They typically have more compatibility issues.

The incompatibility of contact lenses with solutions could potentially lead to a toxic reaction that is commonly caused by the preservative in the solution. When this occurs, alternative contact lens solutions or even daily disposable contact lenses should be considered. Toxic reactions can also occur by using expired contact lens solution.

It is always best to consult with your Doctor of Optometry to ensure that your contact lens solution is suitable for use with your contact lens brand.

For more information please call us at 604.852.0164 or visit us online


Highstreet Eyecare Awarded a Bronze Medal

We're very proud to be awarded a Bronze medal for our participation in the 2014 Optometry Giving Sight World Sight Day Challenge.

There are over 600 million people in the world who are visually impaired simply because they do not have access to basic eye care. We are proud to know that we (and our wonderful patients) have helped to provide some of them with an opportunity to SEE!

Thank you to all of our patients who participated in our fundraising efforts!

Colour Deficiency

What is colour deficiency?

Colour deficiency occurs when your ability to distinguish colours and shades is different than normal. The term “colour blind” is often used, but usually incorrectly. Only a very small number of people are completely unable to identify any colours, a condition called achromatopsia. Colour deficiency is more common in males than females, with one in 10 males having a colour deficiency.

What causes colour deficiency?

Colour deficiency is usually an inherited condition, passed from mother to son, but it can also result from certain diseases, trauma or as a side effect of certain medications. Colour deficiency is the result of an imbalance in the three kinds of cones in the retina that allow us to perceive colour.

What types of colour deficiency exist?

There are three types of colour deficiency: two different kinds of red-green deficiency and one called blue-yellow deficiency. The red-green deficiencies are by far the most common and are usually inherited, resulting in the inability to distinguish between certain shades of reds, browns, pinks and oranges, or greens and blues. Blue-yellow deficiency is very rare and is usually acquired secondary to damage to the optic nerve and results in the inability to distinguish between certain shades of blue, as well as shades of yellow. People with complete colour blindness see objects in shades of black, white and grey.

How is colour deficiency detected?

Children who are colour deficient are generally unaware of their condition. They assume that everyone sees things the way they do. As a result, a complete optometric examination, including a test for colour vision, is recommended for every child. The test for colour deficiency is a relatively simple one, typically involving the viewing of a series of coloured plates with numbers or designs. The plates have been created in such a way that a person with normal colour vision can see certain figures in the designs. A person with a colour deficiency will either see a different number of designs or will be unable to distinguish the figures.

When should a person be tested for colour deficiency?

Every child should be checked for colour deficiency by at least age five. It is important to detect colour deficiency early because colour coded learning materials are used extensively in the primary grades. In addition, colour deficiency may affect the career path of an individual, since the ability to distinguish colours is an important aspect of some jobs, such as pilots, electricians, some military personnel, police officers and others.

Can colour deficiency be cured?

Unfortunately, a cure for colour deficiency has not yet been discovered. A person with a colour deficiency can, however, be taught proper colour naming and to accurately distinguish colours. For example, you can be taught to recognize the brightness and location of a traffic light rather than the colour itself. It is sometimes possible to increase the ability to distinguish colours with the use of special filters. For example, a special red tinted contact lens can be used in one eye, to aid people with certain colour deficiencies.

For more information please call us at 604.852.0164 or visit us online at


All About Glaucoma

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease in which elevated pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve. This can lead to serious vision loss of not detected and treated early. The optic nerve is the nerve that takes all of the information the eye sees and transmits that information to the brain. The elevated pressure is due to either an increase in the production, or a decrease in the drainage, of fluid normally produced inside your eye. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada.

What causes glaucoma?

The exact cause and mechanism of glaucoma is not known. For some reason, there is an overproduction of fluid and/or a decrease in fluid being drained from the eye. This results in fluid building up within your eye and increasing pressure on the optic nerve. This pressure can easily damage the nerve fibers and blood vessels in the optic nerve. An injury, infection or tumor in or around the eye can also cause the pressure to rise. These situations are referred to as secondary glaucoma because their cause is a result of something else.

Who gets glaucoma?

Glaucoma most frequently occurs in individuals over the age of 40 and there is a hereditary tendency for the development of the disease in some families. There is also a greater risk of developing glaucoma when you have diabetes, high blood pressure and a history of eye injuries. Regular optometric examinations are important for people of all ages to assess the presence of, or your risk for glaucoma. Glaucoma cannot be detected without an eye exam.

Why is glaucoma harmful to vision?

The optic nerve, at the back of the eye, carries visual information to the brain. As the fibers that make up the optic nerve are damaged due to increased pressure on the nerve, the amount and quality of information sent to the brain decreases and a loss of vision occurs. Usually peripheral vision is affected first, followed by central vision during the later stages of the disease.

Will I go blind from glaucoma?

If diagnosed at an early stage, eye drops and laser treatment can control glaucoma and little or no further vision loss should occur. If left untreated, peripheral vision is affected first, followed by central vision loss during late stages of the disease. Complete blindness may occur.

How can I tell if I have glaucoma?

Primary open-angle glaucoma often develops painlessly and gradually. There are no early warning signs. It can gradually destroy your vision without you knowing it. Regular eye exams are important for people of all ages to assess the presence of, or your risk for, glaucoma. Glaucoma cannot be detected without an eye examination. Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a more sudden type of glaucoma and may have warning signs and symptoms such as nausea, eye pain, red eyes, blurred vision and haloes around lights.

How is glaucoma detected?

A comprehensive eye examination is often the only way to detect glaucoma. Our doctors here at Highstreet Eyecare will perform a simple and painless procedure called tonometry during your routine eye exam, which measures the internal pressure of your eye.

Every adult routine eye exam also includes retinal imaging to help assess the health of the optic nerve and a visual field test to help check your peripheral vision.

How is glaucoma treated?

Treatment with daily eye drops and laser surgery is usually effective at maintaining your remaining vision. But once vision is lost due to glaucoma, it cannot be restored. This is why regular preventive eye exams with your Doctor of Optometry are so important.

For more information please call us at 604.852.0164 or visit us online at