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A Letter to Parents: What to Expect at your Child’s Eye Exam

If you’ve never had your child’s eyes examined or it’s been a while, EYEcenter’s own Dr. Meagan Herring wrote a letter to let you know what you can expect at your child’s next (or first) eye exam…

Dear Parent,

I know you are curious about your child’s first eye exam. Here is what will take place:

I will introduce myself as Dr. Herring, then welcome you and your child into my exam room. I’ll ask if you have any concerns regarding their eyes or vision that you’d like addressed today and we’ll chat about it for a few minutes.

I will ask about their eye and overall health history, including any medications, allergies. family medical and eye histories, so bring any old pairs of glasses they’ve worn in the past.

Then, we will discuss their developmental and educational milestones, as well as any daily habits including digital device use and amount of time spent doing near work.

I will also ask you whether they get enough water, sleep and outdoor play time, in addition to their nutritional patterns. It is my job as a primary care provider to inquire and discuss these aspects of your child’s health as they can each affect their visual system and overall eye health.

I will then begin with my assessment of their visual system by checking both near and far acuities and perform a few preliminary tests. These “games” include assessment of their eye movements, tracking patterns and natural postures, ability to focus, peripheral vision, pupillary assessment, color vision and depth perception.

I may then perform what’s called an ‘objective refraction’ behind the phoropter depending on their age. You know the piece of equipment I’m referring to – the bulky, outer space-like contraption? The phoropter will be placed in front of your child’s face to determine whether a refractive error exists.

I will do this by shining a light from a black, rod-like instrument called a retinoscope in their eyes while turning dials on the phoropter, all the while encouraging your child to sit still and stare at a large letter on a screen across the room.

Your child can sit still, right?

That’s when the fun begins. Depending on how active your child is, my time is limited or I will lose their attention and focus. I also get to decode what your child’s responses mean as I present lens options to them, while encouraging them further down the eye chart to the 20/20 line, (which, by the way, refers to what an average person sees at 20 feet as being the same size object that your child can see at 20 feet.)

By then, I will have a pretty good idea of whether or not your child may need glasses.

Up next, I will assess their binocular vision status, (how well their eyes work together), through the phoropter. Did you know that some children’s difficulties in school can be attributed to poor vision or eye teaming skills?

I will then move on to the health evaluation part of the exam and look at their eyes under a giant microscope called a slit lamp. I can tell identify any ocular allergies, blepharitis or dry eyes. I may need your help holding their head firmly in place and can even show you their eyes through the slit lamp if you are interested.

Dilation of their pupils comes next, and I will do this by gently instilling drops into their eyes. Don’t worry, I have a few tricks up my sleeve, including ‘magic drops’ and the ‘closed eye’ method. They don’t hurt but will make their eyes feel numb for a few minutes and blurry for a few hours after the exam.

Oh, and please don’t ask if this is necessary because they have soccer practice right after the exam or you will probably have to bring them back to finish their exam. Although I am a fan of the retinal photos you had taken at the beginning of the exam, they do not substitute the dilation, in your child’s case. This is because I perform a stronger dilation (aka cycloplegic dilation) necessary for me to fully assess their visual system and finalize their prescription.

You may choose to wait in the waiting area, or try on frames while your child’s eyes dilate. I will call him or her back in 15-20 minutes.

After your child’s eyes are blurry and the pupils are the size of dimes, it’s time for part 2 of the exam, where I will repeat the “better 1, or 2?” test.

I will then have the data I need to recommend or not to recommend glasses, patching or vision therapy.

Onto the final health assessment, where I will take one last look through the giant microscope at the back of their eyes with a small lens. I am not expecting to find anything, but am trained to look for congenital abnormalities, retinal holes or tears and cancerous tumors. I finalize this part with a larger lens and a science-y looking contraption on my head. Very fancy.

And that will conclude your child’s total eye check. I will go over any treatment recommendations and we will discuss any questions you have before making their personalized eye care plan.

Of course, we save the best for last as your child will receive a pair of ever-fashionable, disposable dark-out shades as you leave. And maybe a sticker 😉

Thank you for entrusting me in the care of your child’s eye health.

Sincerely,

Dr. Meagan

Reproduced with permission originally published in https://www.mindfuloptometrist.com/post/a-letter-to-parents-what-to-expect-at-your-child-s-eye-exam

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Herring

Q: Can you request lenses made from glass? Is glass still used for lenses?

  • A: Yes. Opticians still sometimes use glass for lenses. However, glass is not used very often because they aren’t as safe. If these glass lenses breaks, they can shatters into many pieces and can injure the eye. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, so they can make your eyeglasses less comfortable to wear.

Q: Can a coating be added to eyeglasses to protect them from further scratches?

  • A: A protective coating can’t be added to a lens after it’s scratched. The coating is applied when the lens is manufactured and can’t be put on later.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Sacramento, California. Visit EYEcenter optometric for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Is Online Learning Impacting Your Child’s Vision?

Students all over the world are spending more time in front of screens due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. Online learning has helped children keep up with their curriculum while staying safe during the pandemic.

But research has found that near-work, including being on a computer or digital device, comes at a price. Eye doctors everywhere are reporting an increase in the number of children who come in for glasses, either to strengthen their prescription or to get eyeglasses for the first time.

So, if your child has been learning in a virtual setting and you notice that they’ve been squinting more or complaining that their vision isn’t clear — know you are not alone.

At EYEcenter Optometric, we help children just like yours in all matters of ocular and visual health. Call today to schedule your child’s myopia consultation.

Why Does Myopia Matter?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, occurs when the eye grows too long and focuses the light in front of the retina instead of on the retina itself. This causes distant objects to appear blurry.

Myopia is more than just a matter of clear vision — it can significantly increase your child’s risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, and retinal detachment — in the future. In fact, children who have rapidly progressing or high levels of myopia are even more at risk.

That’s why it’s important to stop or slow the progression of myopia in children as early as possible.

How Can Online Learning Affect Myopia?

The exact cause of myopia isn’t yet known, but we do know that excessive near work contributes to the onset and progression of myopia. Online learning using a tablet, smartphone, or computer is considered near work since these devices are usually held or placed close to the face.

When researchers studied the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on about 120,000 Chinese children, they discovered that children aged 6-8 experienced significant visual changes. Their myopia had worsened rapidly over the course of a few months while in lockdown. This was attributed to the increase in near activities like online learning, but also to a lack of outdoor activities.

Previous studies have found that children who spend significant time outdoors playing in the sunshine experience less myopia progression than children who are homebodies.

Is Myopia Treatable?

Here’s the good news: your child’s myopia can be treated! We can halt or slow your child’s myopia progression and minimize their risk of future eye disease.

Advanced EyeCare offers the latest and most effective myopia management treatments that can help preserve your child’s vision for the long term.

To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, call one of our five conveniently located Sacramento area locations today!

For more information on myopic progression in children and to download our free guide to myopia control, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Herring

Q: Can you request lenses made from glass? Is glass still used for lenses?

  • A: Yes. Opticians still sometimes use glass for lenses. However, glass is not used very often because they aren’t as safe. If these glass lenses breaks, they can shatters into many pieces and can injure the eye. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, so they can make your eyeglasses less comfortable to wear.

Q: Can a coating be added to eyeglasses to protect them from further scratches?

  • A: A protective coating can’t be added to a lens after it’s scratched. The coating is applied when the lens is manufactured and can’t be put on later.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Sacramento, California. Visit EYEcenter optometric for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Our Key to Growth: Cultivating an Attitude of Care

From about the fourth or fifth grade, I knew I wanted to be an optometrist. Being nearsighted, I was at the optometrist’s office often, and I always loved the warm and welcoming staff. Today, replicating that experience for our patients is how we differentiate our five practices, and why after 60 years, we continue to flourish and grow.

When COVID-19 hit, three of our practices stayed partially open for emergency care. After about five weeks, we were able to ramp up again and, following guidelines from the AOA (American Optometric Association), and the COA (California Optometric Association), have been seeing more patients than ever. Because the larger practice locations have several exam rooms, we can accommodate an increased patient flow, providing the same high standard of care while adhering to heightened safety and sanitation protocols.

The ability to help so many patients during this time reflects the guiding principle of our practice – we truly care about our patients as people. We take pride in being heartfelt with our patients, letting them know we truly care about them, and plan to be here for them for many years to come.

These are lifelong relationships, with generations of family members coming into our practice. We listen, have empathy, share in their triumphs and sorrows, and they become part of our extended family.

As we continue to care for patients in need, we are busier than ever and have needed to supplement our staff with additional doctors. Because of the business support we’ve received during our long-standing relationship with VSP Global businesses and the Premier Program, we engaged their OD recruitment and matching service, Premier Pathways, to support our hiring efforts. We work with every VSP line of business, from Marchon to VSPOne labs, and those relationships have been very helpful to us while growing our practices. Premier Pathways was able to increase our exposure to highly qualified candidates, give us credibility due to the affiliation with VSP, and secure candidates who met our specific requirements. Instead of having to navigate and pay for more generalized online employment services, we were able to choose from a list of highly qualified ODs, recommended by a company who knows us, our business, and how to recruit professionals. With the help of Premier Pathways, we selected and hired two optometrists who are highly skilled and share our devotion to patients as people.

In all of our practices, we strive to build relationships with our patients and provide that warmth that I felt as a ten-year-old boy at the optometrist’s office. As I see it, genuinely caring about patients and cultivating an attitude of care throughout the practice is of utmost importance, and hiring staff that share those same values is key to that continuity. Because we feel and demonstrate that genuine care for our patients, they trust us, keep coming back, and together we flourish.

Authored by Dr. John Coen and originally published at https://newsroom.vspglobal.com/aseyeseeit/our-key-to-growth-cultivating-an-attitude-of-care?utm_source=News%20Alert&utm_medium=EyeCarePro.com&utm_campaign=Pathways

The Nearsighted Epidemic – How Digital Device Addiction is Changing our World

dr fuerst

Randall Fuerst O.D., F.A.A.O.

Being nearsighted—otherwise known as myopia, is a growing concern in the eye health industry. It's effects are lifelong, and it's rates of occurrence are increasing drastically. Further, suggested links to digital device use have us looking to the future as more and more kids find focusing up close on a phone or laptop a significant part of daily life.

Earlier this month, the American Academy of Ophthalmology issued a statement regarding a global initiative to address the myopia epidemic. EYEcenter joins the eye health community in heightened concern that the coronavirus pandemic may worsen the epidemic of children at risk of nearsightedness. EYEcenter’s Dr. Randall Fuerst weighs in on the subject below, including suggestions to help your children avoid increased risk.

Last year, the CDC issued a report that stated the average US adult is using digital devices approximately eleven hours per day.  I ask my adult patients how many hours they are using a computer, smartphone, or tablet—and these numbers are certainly borne out. Research is starting to show a strong causative impact between screen time and eye and vision changes for the worse. Newer research is now showing strong links to sight-threatening diseases—macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachments—all of which can lead to blindness.

A recent 2020 report out of South Korea, where military service is compulsory, stated that 95.1% of 19-year-old males in South Korea measured as nearsighted (myopic). On November 11, 2020, the Academy of Ophthalmology in a joint statement with the American Academy of Optometry noted that in the US the number of nearsighted Americans has doubled in the past 50 years—to about 41.6% of our population. In Asia, the numbers are now at between 80-90% nearsighted.

So Why is This a Problem?

The trends suggest that by 2050, half the world’s population will be nearsighted. The bigger problem is not more people needing glasses or contact lenses. It is that those who genetically are destined to be myopic are starting earlier—and ending up significantly more myopic—a condition called high myopia, or pathologic myopia.

“Myopia needs our focus now”, states Richard Abbott, MD, leader of the Academy of Ophthalmology’s Myopia Task Force. “Kids who develop myopia early in life and progress to high myopia face an uncertain future. They have 50% greater risk of glaucoma, they are 17% more likely to need cataract surgery, and have 6 times greater risk of retinal detachment and retinal tears.”

In a study out of Finland that followed myopic progression for 22 years, researchers found that ‘over 80% of those getting their first myopic spectacles at age 9 become highly myopic.’

“Right now, the world’s myopia rates are expected to be closer to Asia’s by 2050. It’s possible—but not inevitable,” said Donald Tan, MD, a director of the Myopia Task Force. “ Public health officials need to recognize that high myopia is a disease and promote interventions to reduce its overall incidence and slow progression. Action now can change the future.”

The challenge with myopia is that in the early years, you don’t need to wear your glasses all the time due to your vision only being minimally challenged. In fact, it is called nearsighted for a very descriptive reason—you can see well at near—possibly better than with glasses. But, as the months slip into years, and the vision loss progresses, we miss an important window for intervention. Like the age-old adage states, the earlier, the better. There have been hundreds of millions of dollars spent researching how we can slow and possibly even stop the progression of myopia. “There are a number of treatments available, which slow myopia progression. They include drops, special contact lenses, and glasses.  Many of these treatments have been around for decades, and some have undergone rigorous clinical trials.  The future for newer and better methods is bright with some newer methods already approved in Europe,” states Jeffrey Cooper, OD, MS, FAAO, professor emeritus, SUNY College of Optometry, and one of the foremost myopia treatment experts.

The key, however, is early intervention – a time when most kids and parents look at nearsightedness as a minor irritation.

There are several common-sense recommendations that we make to parents.

What Has Shown to Be Effective
  1. Limit screen time.
  2. Read and work in good lighting. Lower light levels are adapted to visually by increasing your pupil size. Larger pupils, like camera lenses with larger aperture settings, decrease depth of focus. This, in turn, increases the load on the patient’s focusing system, called accommodation.
  3. Maintain a good working distance from the eyes to the digital device. This should be at least 12”, and preferably, 14-16” away.
  4. 20/20 Rule – it is easy to spend hours working on near tasks. For hours then, the accommodative system is engaged and active. This ‘rule’ suggests that whenever possible, every twenty minutes, take a 20-second break, look at least 20 feet away to relax your eyes focusing muscles, and blink 10-20 times (extended computer use has been shown to decrease blinking).
  5. Go outdoors! There are a number of good studies that show that by being outside in the sunlight, there is a decrease in the progression of myopia.
  6. MiSight Soft Contact lenses—These FDA approved soft contact lenses have been demonstrated to slow the rate of myopic progression by nearly 50%.
  7. Orthokeratology gas permeable contacts. These FDA approved contact lenses are worn during sleep, flattening the corneal and slowing the increase in axial length- the factors that change in myopia.
  8. Low dose atropine—an eye drop that has been shown to be surprisingly effective with slowing nearsighted progression. Atropine is one of the world’s oldest drugs known to man. Eye doctors don’t argue as to whether or not atropine works or not, rather, the argument is on what strength is most effective.

Who would have thought, twenty years ago or so, that we would be so incredibly involved with our digital devices? In the past month, I have had several patients reporting that they are on their devices 16-18 hours a day! Twelve to 14 hours daily is not uncommon. When I asked about sleep and eating and how that factors in, patients just shake their heads.

Optometrists and ophthalmologists are being encouraged to push for greater intervention earlier in children’s lives. The concern is that, by waiting and missing the window when a child has low levels of myopia, you allow the more devasting vision loss causing diseases to, in essence, take root. Noel Brennan, MScOptom, PhD, FAAO, and Clinical Research Fellow at Johnson and Johnson Vision Care wrote recently, Our ability to isolate those myopic children who will not become highly myopic later in life is poor.  And suppose you did identify a child who has progressed by, say, a diopter or a diopter and a half a year—that’s progression you now cannot take back. And every diopter reduction in progression lessens the risk of myopic macular degeneration (MMD) by about 40%. The risks associated with, say, increasing outdoor time and use of daily disposable myopia control contact lenses are minimal compared to those risks associated with myopia-related complications later in life. 

Be sure and ask your EYEcenter doctor about your child’s risks regarding nearsightedness (myopia) and screen time. Our dedication to keeping you and your family seeing and enjoying the world around us to the fullest is our absolute drive and motivation!

Fit & Fog: A Guide for Glasses and Mask Wear

As we all don masks amidst the pandemic, more than just your nose and mouth can be obstructed. Fog caused by your breath escaping your mask causes unwanted fog on your eyewear too. The AARP offers these tips to avoid this annoying side effect.

As more Americans don face masks to venture outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those who wear glasses are finding that their lenses fog up. It’s a problem that bespectacled surgeons, as well as goggle-wearing skiers, have long experienced.

Why does it happen? In a 1996 article in Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, Tom Margrain, a professor at Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, explained that in general “when a spectacle wearer enters a warm environment after having been in a cooler one, his/her spectacles may ‘mist up’ due to the formation of condensation on the lens surface.” He went on to say that polycarbonate lenses demisted more rapidly than those made of glass.

With that in mind, if your eyeglasses are fogging when you put on a face mask, it’s because warm, moist air you exhale is being directed up to your glasses. To stop the fogging, you need to block your breath from reaching the surfaces of your lenses.

The Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England published an article in 2011 that offered a simple method to prevent fogging, suggesting that, just before wearing a face mask, people wash their spectacles with soapy water, shake off the excess and then allow the lenses to air-dry.

“Washing the spectacles with soapy water leaves behind a thin surfactant film that reduces this surface tension and causes the water molecules to spread out evenly into a transparent layer,” the article reveals. “This ‘surfactant effect’ is widely utilised to prevent misting of surfaces in many everyday situations.” Antifogging solutions used for scuba masks or ski goggles also accomplish this.

Another tactic is to consider the fit of your face mask, to prevent your exhaled breath from reaching your glasses. An easy hack is to place a folded tissue between your mouth and the mask. The tissue will absorb the warm, moist air, preventing it from reaching your glasses. Also, make sure the top of your mask is tight and the bottom looser, to help direct your exhaled breath away from your eyes.

If you are using a surgical mask with ties, a 2014 article in the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England advises going against your instincts. Tie the mask crisscross so that the top ties come below your ears and the bottom ties go above. It will make for a tighter fit.

shutterstock 1812597541

Don’t touch your face! Wiping fog from glasses with your fingers could lead to more dirt, germs, and smudges on your lenses. Read the tips below to keep fog away.

Click here for more information or you can read the full article at https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/eyewear-face-masks.html?cmp=SNO-ICM-FB-HLTH&socialid=3674304838.

Diabetes in the era of COVID-19

In a recent research article published in the Journal, Metabolism-Clinical and Experimental, a group of researchers from the UK reviewed nearly 338,000 diabetic patients. They evaluated the percentages who had contracted Covid-19, and compared this to their glycemic control measure, known as hemoglobin A1c. This percentage of glucose in the bloodstream , known as glycosolated hemoglobin, gives a more longer term measure of diabetic control, versus the up and down dynamics experienced on a day to day basis.

Normal A1c is between 5.3% and 5.7%. If a patient’s measure falls between 5.8% and 5.99%, the patient is classified as pre-diabetic. At 6.0% and higher, diabetes is diagnosed. The higher the percentage, the more ‘out of control’ the patient’s diabetes is, and the sooner the destructive impact of the disease will be manifested.

This study found that between March 16, 2020 and April 26, 2020, there were 649 cases of Covid-19 serious enough to warrant hospitalization.

Here is from the study’s abstract:

  • Multivariable adjusted analyses demonstrated an increased risk of COVID-19 in persons who had undiagnosed diabetes at baseline (defined as A1C ≥6.5%) and in those with poorly controlled diabetes (defined as A1C ≥8.6%). Relative risk was 2.68 in those with undiagnosed diabetes at baseline and 1.91 in those with poorly controlled diabetes.
  • With increasing A1c—even within the normal range—the risk of COVID-19 increased progressively. Regulation of blood glucose may have a significant role in immune response to COVID-19.

Put in very simplistic terms, the higher the A1c, the greater the risk of not only contracting COVID-19, but experiencing more and more severe complications. So, the take home message for our patients with diabetes is this: Anything you can do to maintain control, and, hopefully in lowering your A1c is worth the effort! Thanks for everything you do to maintain your diet, exercise, sleep and medications in the face of this destructive disease!

Dr. Fuerst on dry eye and blepharitis: causes and treatment

“Most people have no idea they have glands in their eyelids” says Randall Fuerst, OD FAAO of EyeCenter Optometric. “ These tiny glands are implicated in more than 86% of patients suffering from dry eye disease. Called meibomian glands, a typical person has between 70-80 glands in their upper and lower eyelids. We are alarmed at the substantial increase of meibomian gland disease , also known as blepharitis brought on by a host of factors. Among them are allergies, makeup, extended digital device use (which drops the blink rate by approximately 30%), dry environments, skin mites, rosacea, and a host of other contributing factors. I have been stunned at how many people have lost more than 50% of their glands, never to return.”In a recent post in the health care online magazine, Healio, they write:

Healio Highlights Blepharitis As A Common Condition That Needs More Attention

Healio Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/5, Yu) reports on blepharitis, also known as eyelid margin disease, which “is a common condition that affects all ages, ethnicities and genders.” Healio suggests that people need to take eyelid hygiene more seriously in order to decrease “the incidence of eyelid margin disease.” According to Healio, “Lid hygiene should be advocated as an essential part of the daily skin care routine, especially in the female demographic.”

“I am so pleased to see more attention being brought to this disease of blepharitis. Like almost all diseases, early detection and treatment can save a lot of pain and suffering if left untreated,” insists Dr. Fuerst.

For more information on Blephex, please see: https://www.eyecenteroptometric.com/eye-care-services/dry-eye-optometrist/blephex-for-blepharitis/

Here is the link to the article Dr. Fuerst references in full:

https://www.healio.com/news/aesthetics/20200805/eyelid-hygiene-requires-more-attention

Dr. Fuerst reviews study on links between allergies and humidity

Study Reveals Relationship Between Allergic Conjunctivitis Risk, Sudden Change In Temperature

Healio (7/13, Cimberle) reports, “A retrospective study” evaluating “the effect of temperature change on allergic conjunctivitis for patient visits at all U.S. Veterans Affairs clinic from January 2010 to December 2013” revealed “a statistically significant relationship between allergic conjunctivitis risk and sudden change in temperature, which can be compounded with a decline in humidity.” The findings were presented at an association meeting.

This study, as noted below, looked at why, when temperature changes occur, do we see increased itchy, red, irritated eyes. Let me give you some background.

Allergieshumidity

The human eye is a remarkable engineering marvel. We blink at an average rate of roughly every 3-5 seconds—meaning about 15 blinks per minute. Doing the math, this runs to between 14,000-17,000 blinks a day. As long as your eyelids are gliding on a layer of tears, this process is largely frictionless. Further, we have the lacrimal gland that secretes the majority of your tears located over the temporal, outermost region of your eye, producing tears at the rate of between 3 and 4 microliters per hour. Towards the nasal region of your eye are located the upper and lower tear drainage ducts, which empties tears into your nasal sinuses. As your tears drain, it draws your tear film across the eye—in essence, creating a ‘streaming current’ of tears flowing across the surface of your eyes. Any pollens, dust, or other tear film debris is brought across the eyes’ surface and dropped into your sinuses, effectively protecting and maintaining the optical clarity of your eye.

Dry eye and ocular (eye) allergies are closely related. Both are mild inflammatory response mechanisms. When humidity drops, your tears can begin to evaporate. Now, when you are blinking, the lid gently rubs against the surface of your eye (called the cornea). After a while, this rubbing begins to trigger inflammation —redness, itching, burning, along with the eye’s attempt to resolve this irritation through increased tearing. At the same time, evaporation can disrupt the flowing of your tears into the sinuses. Now, instead of washing out the pollens and dust, they stagnate in the eye, irritating the eye and eyelids.

Mast cells are part of your immune system. Their primary responsibility is to act as an early warning system to alert your immune system of an imminent attack. We have approximately one million mast cells around each eye! One of the signaling chemicals these mast cells release is histamine. What do we take for allergies? Antihistamines!

So, if your tear film is adequately thick, not evaporating too quickly, and maintaining the flow across the eye— you are symptom-free! Throw in evaporation, and suddenly allergies and /or dry eye show up! The study below documents this link. Decrease humidity, and suddenly patients go from asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic to full-blown symptoms!

What can we do?

We have a host of treatments—from glasses with protective cupping behind the frame to reduce evaporation to prescription and non-Rx drops. We also have treatments that effectively combat evaporation by increasing the lipid layer of your tear film. I will discuss these in a future article.

Randall Fuerst, OD FAAO

View the full article here

Vision and Learning: A Guide for Parents During Back to School Season

Not sure how to navigate distance learning for your student? An effective tool to prepare them for self-motivated attention to their studies is having their visual system checked to make sure their functional vision skills are strong.

1 in 4 kids has a vision issue significant enough to impact learning. During back to school season, it's typically our goal to educate parents on the importance of a complete visual system exam instead of relying on the vision screenings provided at school--and now with distance learning in place, their annual eye exam becomes even more vital. Give your students the tools to reach their full potential--read on and click above or call us to schedule them a comprehensive vision exam for your student today.

Three vision issues unrelated to glasses that could be affecting your child’s ability to learn

We all know vision and learning are linked. Our eyes give you about 80 percent of the information we need to process new information. So while kids are in school, checking their eyesight becomes especially important.

A similar method is used in many school vision screenings. Typically a Gant chart (the lettered poster with the big ‘E’) is used to see if a child has issues making out objects from a distance.

But a simple distance vision test doesn’t give any information about other visual skills that could be affecting the way a child’s brain gets information

Failing to evaluate the entire visual system of a child could leave them at a disadvantage in the classroom. Here are three visual skills that should also be assessed, to ensure your child has the tools for successful learning: shutterstock 369842096

  1. Eye teaming: Also known as binocular fusion, is the eyes’ ability to stay aligned at the same point, at the same time. When eyes have trouble working together, this can cause double vision and loss of depth perception.
  2. Tracking: Otherwise known as ocular motor control. Troubles in this area cause eyes to jump around when we’re trying to move them in a straight line—like while we’re reading. This often caused readers’ eyes to skip around, missing words and even entire lines. They can also lose their place easily while reading.
  3. Focusing: Also known as accommodation, is the eyes’ ability to see clearly. Sometimes objects appear blurred only at certain distances or are a struggle to remain in focus. Headaches can also be caused by a struggle to keep objects clear in our sight.

When these skills are functioning properly and smoothly, this offers higher levels of processing visual information.  In other words, concepts are more easily understood by the learner.

EYEcenter will evaluate your child’s complete visual system. We’ll be able to tell you if your child has difficulties with any of the above skills, and if one is found, help you plan treatment options.

Click here or call us to schedule their back to school appointment today.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Click here to take our free functional vision assessment

What does a functional vision issue look like? The symptoms above stem from issues with the following:

  • Eye focusing – Blurred vision or ability to shift focus between objects between near and far distances may be compromised.
    Accommodation blur2
  • Eye teaming - Your eyes may not work together properly as a team even to the point of experiencing double or very blurry vision.Double vision 2
  • Eye movements – You may experience difficulty with eye movements when reading or trying to follow a moving object (like a ball being thrown). Losing your place while reading is a common complaint.
    Tracking text2 1

Learn more about functional vision here

More information on comprehensive vision tests and school vision screenings.

The Alarming Increase and Incidence of Myopia

As this author has stated during numerous personal interactions and is almost universally accepted by experts, the numbers of myopia patients, and especially among young people, has been experiencing a near-epidemic rise world-wide. To wit, myopia is now one of the leading causes of vision loss in the world. Dr. Fuerst often says that “myopia is approaching epidemic proportions, having increased nearly 70% in the US in the last century” and it is estimated to affect 50 percent of the worlFd’s population by 2050. Obviously, the concern with the increasing prevalence of myopia as a global health concern is due to the potentially sight-threatening pathologies such as myopic macular degeneration, choroidal neovascularization, cataract, and glaucoma associated with high myopia. While these ocular diseases are generally associated with older patients, often the seeds that ultimately cause the eye diseases mentioned above, are sown decades earlier. Indeed, Dr. Fuerst often cautions “it’s important for parents to understand that myopia, left untreated, can cause serious vision problems later in life including retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.”

While the exact mechanisms causing myopia and its progression, particularly in the juvenile population, remain unknown, a number of strong theories exist. One theory that we at EYEcenter subscribe to relates to the fact that the human eye is focused on drastically different stimuli than it historically has been. Whereas hunter-gatherer societies relied upon their eyes for primarily distance vision, the modern eye is increasingly and continuously adapting to the modern (often, near) environment. The high prevalence of myopia among populations that spend a lot of time doing near vision tasks (school children, people working with computers) further support this hypothesis.

One very popular innovation that may deserve some of the blame is technology, such as computers, television and particularly smartphones. Concomitant with the stark increase in the incidences of myopia, a number of significant technological leaps have been developed and are now commonplace. For example, the number of smartphone users has doubled in the last 15 years and there are more cellphone plans in the world than there are people! People are using technology and watching and sharing media in a way that was only made possible in the relatively recent past – whether entertainment video, sharing photos, social media, surfing the Internet, or work-related uses and all this can be done on a smartphone screen that may only be a few inches large.

Regular Eye Exams With Your Family Eye Doctor

Articles are replete with statistics regarding the median age when a child gets his or her first smartphone. This ‘rite of passage’ is happening at younger and younger ages. Couple the young and immature smartphone user with a general lack of boundaries, and the result is that some children as young as 8 years old can spend between 4 and 6 hours a day on a mobile device. Dr. Fuerst often laments that “of particular concern is the increase in incidences of myopia in children. Treatment comes in two parts, prevention and intervention. Parents can take steps to limit close work like screen time and consult with their optometrist about ways to manage the impacts of nearsightedness on their kids’ lives.” The fact that our relatively recent technological advancements coincided with higher and increasingly higher myopia rates while the screens that people are watching are getting smaller and smaller and thus the necessity for keeping the device closer to your eyes does seem to indicate a connection. In all, the question must be pondered, can these changes that are occurring in our lifetimes be causing, at least in part, the worldwide myopia epidemic?

 

 

 

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