What Do You Mean My Kid Needs Glasses??!!

pexels-photo-914931.jpegThe other day the cutest little girl came in for her first eye exam. She was starting third grade and was an excellent student reading above grade level. Her parents were sure she didn’t need glasses but thought it was time for her to start having routine eye exams. She was articulate and outspoken and wanted to be done with her visit so she could get on with her day. She read the eye chart in her right eye all the way down to the tiniest letter and was eager to do the same on the left eye. To everyone’s surprise she struggled, barely getting down to the second to last line, guessing and growing frustrated as she realized something wasn’t right. She also had some trouble seeing in 3D which indicated that her two eyes were not working together. At the end of the exam I told her parents that although her right eye was perfect she was hyperopic, or farsighted in her left eye and the large discrepancy between the two eyes had created amblyopia (lazy eye) in that left eye. She left with a new pair of glasses and a follow-up appointment in three months.

80% of learning is visual – if your child does not see well he or she will not do well in school. Sometimes kids are unable to realize or articulate that something is wrong – either they will think that whatever they are experiencing is normal or they just won’t complain. Vision screenings at the pediatrician are not a substitute for a full and comprehensive eye exam. Eye exams are recommended at the age of six months (by specialized infantsee providers) and subsequently yearly after the age of three. Early use of iPads and other digital devices creates a new challenge for children’s developing visual systems and seeing well involves more than just seeing 20/20 on an eye chart. Evaluation of tracking, eye teaming and convergence are crucial to ensuring optimal ocular performance and subsequent academic success.

kids-girl-pencil-drawing-159823.jpegThis little girl and her family were lucky that she was doing so well in school despite her amblyopia and suboptimal visual system. Don’t wait until your child complains or you get a note sent home from the school nurse or your child’s teacher – book your childs yearly exam now before the school year gets underway.

Are video games bad for your eyes?

person holding game pads
Photo by EVG photos on Pexels.com

The president of China, Xi Jinping, seems to think so. The Xinhua News Agency came out with an article this past week that stated that since the “vision health of our country’s young people has always been a great concern” to Xi Jinping, the country is going to start limiting the number of new online video games available for sale. A recent study found that there was a 12% prevalence of myopia (or nearsightedness) in first grade children, a number that jumped to 67.4% by seventh grade. Excessive reading and/or prolonged near point work has long been a contender in the lineup of reasons for why nearsightedness develops, and the Chinese have glommed onto the specific near point activity of gaming as an activity to limit in order to curtail the myopic epidemic.

There are many theories as to why myopia develops, and there is no one culprit to blame. Genetics play a role as does lack of spending time outdoors and near point stress from prolonged reading as well as the digital world that we now inhabit. Doctors are reluctant to blame any one thing for the development of myopia and many do not agree with China’s video game restriction. Instead of totally banning video games, parents should rather limit screen time and encourage their children to play outside. Kids (and adults) should also be encouraged to follow the 20/20/20 rule – every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds. As you can imagine gaming industry stock dropped in response to China’s announcement….

focus photo of super mario luigi and yoshi figurines
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Contact Lens Health Week

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Although we have talked about good contact lens hygiene in the past (remember the underwear analogy?) in honor of Contact Lens Health Week (August 20-24) I will reiterate some of the dos and don’ts of proper contact lens usage.

  • Don’t sleep or nap in your contacts. Ever. This kind of risky behavior increases the chances of contact lens related eye infection by 6-8 times. These types of eye infections can lead to using drops hourly, vision loss, and surgery. Just Don’t Do It.
  • Wash your hands before putting your fingers in your eyes to touch your contacts.
  • Daily disposables are the healthiest modality of contact lens wear. If you do wear bi-weekly or monthly contacts make sure you are using fresh solution in your clean case every day and don’t wear your contacts beyond the recommended wear schedule. Yuk. An old dirty contact lens can also cause infections.
  • No swimming or showering with contact lenses. Microbes in water can adhere to contacts and cause…you guessed it – terrible eye infections.
  • If your eye hurts or looks red or weird don’t put your contact lenses in your eye and hope for the best – make an appointment ASAP with your optometrist.
  • Make an appointment yearly to see your optometrist. Not all contact lens related complications are visible to the naked eye and a thorough professional evaluation is necessary to ensure your eyes are getting enough oxygen and have no corneal defects.

#onepairtakecare – you only get one pair of eyes – treat them well!

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Orange You Glad You Ate An Orange?

orange fruit

Eating just one orange a day can slash your risk of developing macular degeneration by 60%. A recent study in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition followed 2,000 patients over the age of 50 for 15 years and found that the patients who ate an orange a day had a significantly decreased risk of AMD (age related macular degeneration) compared to those patients who ate no oranges at all. Usually research involving oranges concentrates on the effects of the vitamin C, E, and A the oranges contain, but this study put an emphasis on theflavonoids found in oranges. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that have immune and anti-inflammatory effects and are found in most fruits and vegetables. sliced orange fruits on round white ceramic plateThe study examined other foods that have flavonoids such as tea, apples and red wine (yes please) but for some reason oranges were the only food that aided in the prevention of AMD. The authors of the study acknowledge that more research has to be done before doctors can definitely prescribe an orange a day to keep AMD away.

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ajcn/nqy114/5049680?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Dry Eye Syndrome

drop-1237410-1279x613As a dry eye patient myself I empathize with my fellow dry eye sufferers. For many of us, dry eye is a chronic condition that waxes and wanes for myriads of reasons. Dry eye sounds innocuous but anyone who has experienced it knows it can severely affect the ability to see both clearly and comfortably. Dry eye is a condition in which a person does not have enough “quality” tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. I give the example of driving with a dirty windshield – in order to see clearly to drive you need the wipers and the washer fluid in tandem to make the window clear and allow you to see well. So too if the tears and the eyelids are not working well together the vision will be impaired – like driving with a filthy windshield.

One reason for having dry eye is inadequate production of tears. This can be caused by age, gender (females), medications (such as antihistamines) and certain medical conditions. A dry and windy climate will also contribute to dry eye. Winter in New Jersey is tough on dry eye – the low humidity combined with artificial heating systems, especially the forced air types, wreak havoc on an already dry eye. Another reason for dry eye can be poor quality tears. I will address this more in length in another blog.

So how do we treat dry eye once it is diagnosed? Treatments are tailored specifically for each patient depending on the underlying cause for the dry eye. Ocular lubricants (fancy term for eye drops) are the mainstay of treatment and there are both over the counter and prescription options. If blepharitis (inflamed and irritated eyelids) is the culprit then lid hygiene is initiated as well.

In future blogs we will talk about more specific dry eye situations such as dry eye in contact lens wearers, dry eye in patients with underlying autoimmune diseases, and even dry eye in children.