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Month: August 2016

10 Tips to Teach Children About Eye Safety

It is important to teach your children about eye health and safety from a young age. This includes awareness about how your overall health habits affect your eyes and vision as well as how to keep your eyes safe from injury and infection. Starting off with good eye habits at a young age will help to create a lifestyle that will promote eye and vision health for a lifetime.

10 Eye Health Tips for All:

  1. Eat right. Eating a balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables (especially green leafies such as kale, spinach and broccoli) as well as omega-3s found in fish, such as salmon, tuna and halibut, help your eyes get the proper nutrients they need to function at their best.
  2. Exercise. An active lifestyle has been shown to reduce the risk of developing a number of eye diseases as well as diabetes – a disease which which can result in blindness.
  3. Don’t Smoke. Smoking has been linked to increased risk of a number of vision threatening eye diseases.
  4. Use Eye Protection. Protect your eyes when engaging in activities such as sports (especially those that are high impact or involve flying objects), using chemicals or power tools or gardening. Speak to your eye doctor about the best protection for your hobbies to prevent serious eye injuries.
  5. Wear Shades. Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses and a hat with a brim when you go outside. Never look directly at the sun.
  6. Be Aware: If you notice any changes in your vision, always get it checked out. Tell a parent or teacher if your eyes hurt or if your vision is blurry, jumping, double or if you see spots or anything out of the ordinary. Parents, keep an eye on your child. Children don’t always complain about problems seeing because they don’t know when their vision is not normal vision. Signs of excessive linking, rubbing, unusual head tilt, or excessively close viewing distance are worth a visit to the eye doctor.
  7. Don’t Rub! If you feel something in your eye, don’t rub it – it could make it worse or scratch your eyeball. Ask an adult to help you wash the object out of your eye.
  8. Give Your Eyes a Break. With the digital age, a new concern is kids’ posture when looking at screens such as tablets or mobile phones. Prevent your child from holding these digital devices too close to their eyes. The Harmon distance is a comfortable viewing distance and posture – it is the distance from your chin to your elbow. There is concern that poor postural habits may warp a child’s growing body. Also, when looking at a tv, mobile or computer screen for long periods of time, follow the 20-20-20 rule; take a break every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, by looking at something 20 feet away.
  9. Create Eye Safe Habits. Always carry pointed objects such as scissors, knives or pencils with the sharp end pointing down. Never shoot objects (including toys) or spray things at others, especially in the direction of the head. Be careful when using sprays that they are pointed away from the eyes.
  10. Keep Them Clean. Always wash your hands before you touch your eyes and follow your eye doctors instructions carefully for proper contact lens hygiene. If you wear makeup, make sure to throw away any old makeup and don’t share with others.

By teaching your children basic eye care and safety habits you are instilling in them the importance of taking care of their precious eye sight. As a parent, always encourage and remind your children to follow these tips and set a good example by doing them yourself.

Of course don’t forget the most important tip of all – get each member of your family’s eyes checked regularly by a qualified eye doctor! Remember, school eye screenings and screenings at a pediatrician’s office are NOT eye exams. They are only checking visual acuity but could miss health problems, focusing issues and binocularity issues that are causing health and vision problems.

When 20/20 Vision isn’t Enough For Your Child

Since studies show that learning is 80% visual, children with untreated vision problems can really suffer when it comes to school. Most people think that good “vision” means 20/20 acuity but in reality, vision is much more complex. Your brain is actually what completes the processing of the visual world around you and visual processing disorders can be present even when there is no evidence of a so-called “vision problem”.

The American Optometric Association reports that 2 out of 5 children have a vision condition that affects learning and estimates that 10 million American children have undiagnosed and untreated vision problems. In Canada, it’s reported that one in 4 school age children have undiagnosed vision problems, many with no obvious symptoms.

A major reason for this is that when parents and teachers see issues in school, they often run to learning or behavioral issues first. In reality, difficulty in reading, understanding, focusing, paying attention and even disruptive behavior can all be symptoms of an underlying vision disorder.

There are a number of skills that we need in order to successfully see and process the outside world. These include, eye teaming (being able to use the eyes together as a team), focusing, tracking, recognition and comprehension. When these skills are delayed or insufficient, learning, reading, understanding and motor skills can all be affected. Most of these visual processing issues cannot be treated by corrective glasses or contact lenses alone. Sometimes a regime of vision therapy exercises may be prescribed to teach the brain how to properly process the information that is coming in through the eyes.

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy often involves a combination of glasses, to optimize visual acuity if needed, and therapeutic exercises designed to train eye coordination and comfortable focusing ability. Typically, there is a comprehensive in-office assessment, then half-hour in-office sessions once every 1-3 weeks. The patient is given home eye exercises to be done 15-20 minutes per day, often with help from the parent.

Vision therapy is a process that can take up to several months before improvement or goals are met. In addition, going through vision therapy does not ensure that your child will get better grades, we are simply trying to give them all the proper learning tools so they can achieve to their fullest potential.

Identifying Vision Disorders

One example of a visual processing disorder is Convergence Insufficiency (CI), a common eye coordination disorder in which the eyes have problems viewing near tasks due to convergence problems. This is when the eyes have difficulty working together and focusing as a team, resulting in eyestrain, headaches and double vision. Children with CI often report that words appear to be “moving across the page”, making reading and comprehensive impossibly difficult.

As with many vision problems, children often don’t realize that their experience is abnormal so they often don’t report the difficulties they are having. Here are some indications that your child might have a vision problem:

  • Headaches
  • Avoiding close tasks such as reading or playing certain games
  • Frequent Blinking and Eye Rubbing
  • Difficulty reading – losing place frequently
  • Covering one eye when trying to focus
  • Double vision
  • Poor memory or reading comprehension
  • Short attention span
  • Clumsiness or poor hand-eye coordination

If your child is having difficulty in school, particularly with tasks involving reading, it is worth getting an eye and vision exam. The sooner a visual processing issue is diagnosed and treated, the greater chance your child with have to thrive and enjoy the school years.

Common Eye Conditions in School-Aged Children

by Caroline Cauchi, OD

Vision problems are commonplace in school, so much so that every 1 in 4 school-aged child will have some sort of vision problem according to a statistic from Prevent Blindness America.

If these conditions go untreated, it may make it more difficult for the child to learn, interact with his or her peers and participate in after-school activities. Because of the big role vision plays in your child’s ability to learn, regular exams with an optometrist in the La Mesa, CA area are a must. The following eye conditions are common in children who are between 5 to 17 years old:

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors, which may include nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, can affect anyone no matter their age. Often, these errors become more obvious around the time your child enters school. Most refractive errors can be combatted with a proper eyeglass prescription. You may notice a few symptoms:

  • Regular headaches
  • Tired eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Holding books close to face
  • Eye rubbing
  • Squinting
  • Closing one eye to see better
  • Avoiding activities, such as reading, watching TV or using the computer, which require near vision
  • Avoiding activities, such as playing sports, which require distance vision
  • Excessive tearing

These are just a few clues that your child may be suffering from some sort of refractive error. If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to take your child to see a trusted eye care specialist.

Regular Eye Exams

Taking your child in for regular eye exams may help keep certain eye conditions under control. Your local eye doctor needs to have an understanding of what is normal in your child’s eyes. That is why you should take your school-aged child to the eye doctor every other year. Children who were born premature or are at risk for certain diseases may need to see the doctor even more frequently. It is important to remember that vision screenings at school should not replace a comprehensive eye exam. Talk with your local optometrist to find out more about what you can do to keep your child’s eyes healthy.

5 Reasons You Should See the Optometrist Annually

by Jamie Peters

Most people should see the optometrist in the Mesa, CA area once every two years. However, there are certain patients who would do better to see the eye doctor more frequently. Read on to learn five reasons you may need to see the doctor once a year.

  1. Eye Injury: Have you recently injured your eye? Maybe you had to have eye surgery. Either way, this incident could be enough to require a more frequent trip to the optometrist. These regular visits may help ensure your eyes continue to function well.
  2. Health Issues: Certain health issues, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, may put you at higher risk for having eye health issues. You may need to start seeing your eye doctor more frequently in order to give your doctor a good reference point.
  3. Family History: Always tell your doctor about family medical history regarding glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration or corneal diseases. The more your doctor knows, the better glaucoma or cataract treatment you will be able to receive.
  4. Occupational Hazard: Some jobs put more stress on eyes than others. Construction workers may be at risk for foreign bodies getting lodged in their eye, but those who work on the computer are at risk for dry eye disease.
  5. Medications: Did you know some medications may lead to vision complications? Always keep your Vision Solutions eye care specialist up to date on the medications you take.

It may be hard to know how often you should see the doctor. Your vision and eye health may be stellar now, but you might be missing small warning signs of a bigger issue. If you are at a higher risk for developing vision problems, be sure to see your optometrist in the Lemon Grove, CA area on a regular basis. Talk with your eye doctor to find out how often you should have your comprehensive eye exam.