Vision Development and Children

Childhood is a critical time for vision development. Nearly 80% of what a child learns in school is presented visually. Arguably making vision the most important of the five senses. Visual skills start developing during pregnancy and continue to evolve and develop as a child grows. Undetected vision problems can cause developmental and educational delays in children.

Infant Vision Development

Your infant’s vision starts developing during pregnancy. It is crucial that toxins are not consumed during pregnancy as they can cause serious vision problems. At birth, babies only see black, white, and shades of gray. Infants are unable to focus on objects for several months and can only see the outline of objects.

As infants grow, they can distinguish between high contrast colors. By six months your child can see color, has sharper vision, and has begun developing hand-eye coordination skills. Schedule your child’s first eye exam at six months to make sure their eyes are healthy and on the right developmental track. Detection of eye health issues and vision problems at this stage in development can help to ensure your child does not experience setbacks in learning and growth.

When your infant begins to crawl and potentially walk they are learning to coordinate their body movements and their vision. Over time, your child will become better at judging distances. However, this is also a time when your child may grow more injury prone because they are exploring their environment. Bumps, bruises, eye injuries, and other injuries can occur which is why it is so vital to ensure that your infant’s vision is on track to prevent these injuries as much as possible.

Early Childhood Vision Development

During these years your child will be growing, developing, and improving their visual skills. It is recommended to schedule your child eye exam at three years old. Even if you don’t think your child has vision problems, your child is growing and changing. A comprehensive eye exam before your child enters school provides enough time to catch and correct any vision problems.

They are discovering how to integrate their vision and body position to complete new tasks. They learn this through playing games, throwing a ball, and riding a bike. Children are also working on developing their fine motor skills. The primary way preschool age children are learning this is through writing their name and the alphabet.

Between the ages of 3 to 6 is when you, as a parent, may begin to notice signs of a vision problem. If your child complains about headaches or tired eyes, this could potentially be due to a vision problem. Signs of vision problems include squinting, tilting the head, frequently rubbing eyes, and closing one eye to see. Additionally, look for sitting too close to a tv, holding a book too close, or avoiding activities that require near or distance vision. Some of these activities include coloring, reading, playing ball, or tag if you notice these signs in your child schedule an eye exam as soon as possible. Correct their vision before any learning is delayed!

Toys and Eye Safety

Playing with a toy stimulates a child’s vision at a young age and grows their imagination as they get older. As a parent, it is important to consider toy eye safety before purchasing for the children in your life. Typically, toys are deemed unsafe because they are not age-appropriate for the child. Here are some common toy-related injuries and tips for choosing eye safe toys!

Toy-Related Eye Injuries

Each year more than a quarter of a million children were seen in emergency rooms due to toy-related injuries. Nearly half of these injuries were to the head and face. In a survey conducted by AllAboutVision.com, 41% of parents say they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ considered eye safety when choosing toys. When asked if any of the toys their children own could cause harm to their eyes 54% of parents responded ‘definitely,’ and 22% said ‘possibly.’

We encourage you to consider eye safety everytime you purchase a toy. Toys that pose a higher risk for eye injuries include:

  • Toy Guns
  • Water Balloon Launchers
  • Toy Fishing Poles
  • Toy Wands, Swords, Sabers
  • Aerosol String
  • Laser Pointers and Bright Flashlights

 

Tips for Choosing Eye Safe Toys

Anytime you are purchasing toys for someone else’s child, be sure to discuss with the parent if the toy sounds fitting for their child. Parent’s know the maturity and personality of their child which plays a huge factor into whether a toy would be suitable or not suitable for their child. Check the recommended age range for the toy. This is usually a good way to determine the safety of the toy. However, don’t be afraid to trust your gut and use your common sense to assess the safety of a toy! We also recommend shopping in a store rather than online. When shopping in a store, you can see the features of the toy and make better judgments to the safety of the toy.

Toy eye safety is an important consideration for all parents. If you have more questions please reach out to our office, we want to help you protect your child’s eyes.

Screen Time and Children

Screen time is the amount of time a person spends staring at digital displays including computers, tablets, smartphones, and TVs. In our modern and technology-focused world children are spending time on digital displays for educational and recreational purposes. Children who spend several hours on digital devices are at risk of developing vision-related problems.

Average Time Children Spend On Digital Devices

According to the Vision Council, 72% of American parents report their children regularly spend more than two hours on screens per day. It is likely that children spend significantly more time on screens than their parents think. Common Sense Media reports that children under age eight spend more than two hours a day with screen media. For 8 to 10-year-olds screen time triples to six hours per day. Kids in middle school and high school spend up to nine hours per day looking at digital displays.

Risks of Screen Time

Too much screen time can be dangerous for anyone’s eyes, children included. Screens emit a broad spectrum of visible light. While most of these light rays are harmless, blue light is a high-energy visible light that can cause damage to your eyes. Blue light has shorter wavelengths and higher energy causing harm to the retina over time. Overexposure to blue light can cause:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Eye strain
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behavior
  • Irritability

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome is a condition caused by visual stress. Symptoms include tired eyes, dry eyes, headache, and fatigue.

Unhealthy Posture

Your body naturally slouches inwards when on digital devices. Your back and shoulders round, your head tilts back, and your chin justs forward. This reaction to digital devices is called “turtling” and can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain.

How To Protect Your Child’s Eyes

It is clear digital devices will not be going away anytime soon. Therefore it is essential to ensure you are doing everything you can to protect your children’s eyes from digital screens. One way you can do this is by limiting screen time for your children while at home. You can also apply blue light filters or download blue light filtering apps to all digital devices. If your child wears prescription glasses, ask us about add blue light blocking to their lenses during your next appointment.

Nighttime Use

The largest source of blue light is our sun, which tells our brain when to be awake or sleep. The high use of digital devices emitting blue light may disrupt your natural circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) by miscommunicating the time of day and if you should be awake or asleep. Stop digital device time two hours before usual bedtime to ensure your child’s sleep schedule affected by blue light.

Do you have more questions about screen time and blue light? Stop by our office or give our office a call and we would be happy to answer your questions!

Eye Exams 101

Regular comprehensive eye exams are key to early detection of eye-related diseases to keep you seeing your best every day. Adults should have a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years. Children should have an eye exam as early as 6 months, before they start school, and then every 1-2 years. If you or your family need a comprehensive eye exam, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

We often get questions about what an eye exam is like, so we’ve created an overview of a typical eye exam in our office.

Eye Exam Basics

What does an eye exam test for? Eye exams test your visual acuity and the overall health of your eye.

Why is an eye exam important? Eye exams check for early signs of serious eye and health problems; some of which may not present with any symptoms.

Who gives an eye exam? Your eye exam is performed by a licensed eye doctor.

Terms to know:

  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in eye care. Ophthalmologists can prescribe eyeglasses and contacts but commonly specialize in treating medical conditions of the eye and performing eye surgery
  • Optometrist: Optometrists are eye doctors who prescribe glasses, contacts, vision therapy, and medication to treat eye diseases. Optometrists are not trained or licensed to perform eye related surgery.
  • Optician: An optician is not an eye doctor, but is an eye care professional who fits, adjusts, and repairs your eyeglasses. They can also help patients learn to apply, remove, and care for contact lenses.

What to prepare for your appointment?

Before your comprehensive eye exam, there are several materials you can prepare. First, create a list of all your prescription and non-prescription medications you take along with the dosage. This will help your eye doctor determine any vision risks you may have. Bring your most recent pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses, if you have them. Don’t forget to have a copy of your vision insurance card and other medical insurance cards with you. To learn more about the insurance providers our office accepts and other payment options, please call our office directly. Finally, bring a list of questions or concerns you may have about your eyesight to discuss with your eye doctor.

What to expect during your appointment?

Prepare for your eye exam to take an hour or more depending on the number of tests your eye doctor needs to evaluate your vision and eye health. A typical comprehensive exam is a series of visual tests to inform your eye doctor about your vision.

These tests help determine:

  • Sharpness of near and distance vision
  • Color blindness
  • Lazy eye
  • Ability to follow moving object and/or move between two separate fixed objects
  • Depth perception
  • Determine your eyeglass prescription
  • Structures of the eye
  • Glaucoma test
  • Eye drop test to look inside your eyes
  • Blind spots

What to do after the exam?

Following your exam, you will have the opportunity to explore the various frames and lenses found in our optical space. An optician will be available to assist you in selecting a pair of eyewear that best fits your lifestyle needs. If you choose to wear contact lenses, you will need to schedule a contact lens fitting appointment.

Once your new eyewear is ready to be picked-up, an optician will adjust your frame to fit you best and make it comfortable for everyday wear.

Finally, schedule your follow-up appointment for the next year. Regular comprehensive eye exams are essential in maintaining healthy vision. If you ever experience any sudden vision changes or eye injuries be sure to contact our office.

Eye Color & Genetics

Ever wonder why your eyes are blue, green, brown, or somewhere in between? The colored part of your eye, the Iris, contains pigmentation which determines our eye color. Your parents pass on chromosomes which combine to customize your eye color.

How eye color develops

Eye color is not as simple as other genetic traits. Three different genes contribute to your eye color. Due to dominant gene types, darker colors like brown overpower lighter colors like blue and green. Colors such as gray, hazel, and multiple combinations are not as common and are not yet completely understood.

Most babies are born with blue eyes, but did you know their eyes can darken for three years? Melanin is a pigment not present at birth, which develops with age and causes eyes to darken. The more melanin someone has, the darker their eyes will be.

Facts About Common Eye Colors:

  • Brown: Most common eye color worldwide. This varies between dark brown, light brown, and honey brown eyes.
  • Blue: People with blue eyes have less melanin in their eyes than any other color. Blue eyes are thought to come from a genetic mutation of one individual.
  • Green: Thought to be the most attractive and one of the rarest eye colors.
  • Hazel: The hue of hazel eyes changes based on what you are wearing and the type of lighting you are in. Hazel eyes host a variety of colors.

Changes in eye color

When your pupil changes size, the pigments in the iris of your eye compress or spread apart causing the color of your eyes to change. Your pupils change size for a variety of reasons including changes in light and the distance of the object you are focusing on. Emotions can also change the pupil size and iris color.

Heterochromia

Heterochromia is a condition in which a person’s eyes are different colors, caused by one eye having more melanin than the other. Typically, present at birth and is not considered an eye disease as it does not commonly cause vision problems.

Enhancing your eye color

  • Wear eyeglass frames to compliment your eye color and skin tone.

Example: Determine if you are “warm” or “cool” toned skin and eye color then match your frames with a complementary color.

  • Use eye makeup to bring out the color of your eyes.

Example: Pinks, purples, and silvers bring out the warmth in brown eyes.

  • Wear clothing which compliments or contrasts your eye color.

Example: Orange, red, and gold highlight the natural hue of blue eyes.

  • Choose hairstyles and colors to accentuate your eyes.

Example: Bangs and layers which frame the face draw more attention to your eyes.

  • Colored contact lenses give you the opportunity to try out a new look.

Combating Dry Eye Syndrome

Do you experience itchy, burning, or dry eyes? You may be suffering from dry eye syndrome. Tears are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision, when there is insufficient moisture on the surface of the eye it can cause discomfort. Let’s looks at some common causes of dry eye syndrome, symptoms, and risk factors.

What are the causes of dry eye syndrome?

Tears keep the eyes surfaces moist and wash away dust, debris, and other microorganisms. Without constant, adequate moisture, dry eye will occur. Not enough oil in the tears causes them to evaporate too quickly, and without sufficient water production, eyes cannot maintain proper moisture.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome:

  • Scratchy or gritty feeling
  • Red eyes
  • Blurriness
  • Irritation from windy conditions
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Problems with contacts
  • Excessive tearing
  • Heavy eyes
  • Sore eyes

Contact lenses and dry eyes

One of the most common complaints from contact lens wearers is their contacts make their eyes feel dry. If you experience dry eye symptoms while wearing your contacts or immediately after removing your contacts, talk with your eye doctor, as it is irregular to feel discomfort.

If discomfort occurs, it is possible you are using the incorrect solution with your contact lenses; not all solutions are made equally. Your eye doctor may also recommend you use eye drops to help temporarily relieve dry eye symptoms.

Another means to relieve symptoms is to change your contact lens type to a more breathable or moisture-focused lens, which is specially made to help retain moisture. You may also want to discuss with your eye doctor the option to switch from reusable contact lenses to single-use lenses. Single-use lenses will help prevent your lens from drying out and work to maintain moisture in your eyes.

Factors that Increase Risk of Dry Eyes

Dry eye symptoms stem from multiple risk factors, including health conditions, environments, and eyewear choice. If you are suffering from dry eye try some of the tips below to help reduce your symptoms.  

  • Computer use. Humans blink less frequently when working at computers, allowing for more evaporated tears. When working on a computer for an extended period of time, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a rest.
  • Contact lens. Dry eye discomfort is a primary reason for wearers to stop using contacts. Use rewetting drops daily or talk with your eye doctor about contact lens types that work best for your eyes.
  • Indoor environment. Air conditioning, fans, and air heating systems can decrease the humidity indoors and cause symptoms of dry eye. Try using a humidifier in your house if you notice the air getting dryer.
  • Outdoor environment. If you are outdoors in dry or windy conditions, wear a pair of sunglasses or hat to reduce your exposure to the elements which can cause dry eyes.
  • Smoking. Can cause eyes to dry over time and is the root of various other eye problems.
  • Aging. Dry eye syndrome is more common after the age of 50.
  • Menopause. Women who have completed menopause are at a greater risk for dry eye than men the same age.
  • Health conditions. Certain diseases have a higher risk of contributing to dry eye- such as diabetes or thyroid diseases.
  • Medications. Prescription and nonprescription medications can have dry eye as a side effect.

Preventing Snow Blindness, Sunburn for Your Eyes

We take many precautions to avoid sunburn on our skin, face, and lips, but have you ever thought about your eyes? Many are surprised to learn our eyes can also acquire sunburn. This condition is known as photokeratitis or snow blindness.

What causes Snow Blindness?

Snow Blindness occurs when your eyes are exposed to ultraviolet light for an extended period of time, causing sunburn. It most commonly occurs in snowy areas because snow reflects 80% of UV rays.* Snow blindness can also occur in highly reflective environments with water or white sand.

In addition to natural UV rays, man-made sources of ultraviolet radiation can cause snow blindness. Typically, man-made UV rays only damage your eyes when the proper eyewear is not being worn. This can happen when working with a welder’s torch or using tanning booths or sunlamps.

Can I lose my vision completely?

No, Snow Blindness is temporary and doesn’t cause actual blindness, it typically impairs your vision for 24 to 48 hours.

Symptoms of Snow Blindness

  • Eye pain
  • Burning, red, or watery eyes
  • Gritty sensation
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • Swollen eyes or eyelids
  • A headache
  • Glare and halos around lights

Risk factors for snow blindness?

You and your family are at an increased risk for snow blindness when involved in sports with highly reflective surfaces. When skiing, snowboarding, and snow sledding, you should ensure everybody’s eyes are protected with snow goggles that provide 100% UV protection.

Altitude plays a big role in the risk for snow blindness. At higher altitudes, UV rays are stronger. Therefore, when high altitudes, such as mountains, are combined with snow, the risk of Snow Blindness doubles.

Don’t forget, water sports such as water skiing, knee boarding, and surfing require protective eyewear as well. A great option is wraparound sunglasses that block out 100% of UV rays and remain on your head throughout the duration of the activity.

How do I prevent snow blindness?

  1. Anytime you are outside, you should wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays.
  2. Remember, UV rays can penetrate clouds, so sunglasses are required even on cloudy days.
  3. Always wear snow goggles when skiing, snowboarding, and mountain climbing.
  4. Wear wraparound sunglasses when you plan to be on or near water for extended periods of time.
  5. Ensure you have eye shields to wear in tanning beds and booths. Never tan without eye shields.
  6. Use the recommended safety eyewear for your job if you are working with harmful light.

 

*The United States Environmental Protection Agency

Reasons Not to Compromise on Price

Have you ever been tempted to buy cheap glasses you see online or the reading glasses you found at a discount store? They look just as good as the prescription eyeglasses you paid full price for, right?

The hard truth is they are not the same as the high-quality prescription eyewear provided by our office. Unreliable eyeglasses are more likely to break, scratch, and discolor over time. Your goal should be to buy glasses that will last and will not need frequent replacement. The cost of replacing cheap glasses can add up to the same cost as purchasing a more expensive, quality pair, originally.

Know what you lose

When comparing costs, there is always a compromise to be made. One of the biggest elements lost when buying cheap eyeglasses is individual care. Opticians recommend eyewear based on your daily routine, provide professional fittings, and ensure the quality of your eyewear is examined.

Same top quality?

Online glasses retailers often state that they offer the “same top quality” as eyecare practices. How do you know what their definition or range of top quality is? Cheap price often means cheaper materials.

Try before you buy

Usually, when buying glasses from an online retailer, you sacrifice the opportunity to try the glasses on and see how they fit your face. A virtual try-on does not allow for an accurate representation of how glasses look and fit on your face.

You cannot receive a proper fitting

If you choose to purchase eyeglasses from an online supplier, you forfeit a proper fitting. As a result, you may purchase a pair of glasses that are too tight or loose for your face.

Cheap frames

A downside to cheaper frames is they are more likely to cause skin irritation. Cheaper metal frames can discolor your skin or even cause a skin rash due to allergy. With prolonged wear, cheap plastic frames will discolor in sunlight and the smooth finish will diminish.

Durability

Another inevitable loss with cheaper eyeglasses is durability. Frames made with inexpensive materials are not designed to withstand extended use as well as eyeglasses sold by eye practitioners are able to.

Reading glasses

A wide-spread myth: all reading glasses are the same whether you purchase them at a discount store or at an eye practitioner. The truth is, your eye practitioner is able to customize the lenses to fit your exact eye and lifestyle needs. Read more about progressive lenses available at our office here.

Sunglasses lose UV protection

It’s tempting to buy cheap sunglasses because you are worried you might misplace or scratch them. However, it is crucial to protect your eyes from UV radiation damage. Don’t give up 100% UV protection for a cheap sticker price.

Choosing the Right Eye Doctor

As is true with any health care, it’s important to find a doctor who is qualified to treat you. With eye care, you may be able to get an eye exam from a large number of practitioners. If you need to confirm a diagnosis, treat an eye disease, or have other unique needs like a pediatric or geriatric specialty, you will have to spend more time choosing the right eye doctor. No matter what your current vision situation is, it’s crucial to choose the right eye doctor for you and your family.

What is an Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, or Optician?
Many people use the term “eye doctor” to refer to the qualified individual who administers your eye exam and writes you a prescription for lenses to correct your refractive error. We know just how many distinctions there are between eye care professionals, however!

Most people who want to see an eye doctor will seek an optometrist. An optometrist holds a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree and can examine eyes for vision or health ailments, visual acuity or refractive errors, and can prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses. Some optometrists also provide additional services, like vision therapy and care plans for people with low vision.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor or osteopathic doctor who specializes in the eye. They can also perform eye exams, but they are more often used to diagnose and treat eye diseases, prescribe medications, and perform eye surgery. They are able to write prescriptions for eyeglasses and contacts, too.

Another term that people sometimes hear and may not know what the occupation entails is “optician.” An optician is not a doctor. These professionals are qualified to use prescriptions written by an eye doctor to help fit you for eyewear and explain use, care, and features of your glasses or contacts.

What kind of doctor should I see?
This depends on your vision and eye health. If you have not had problems with your eyes beyond typical blurriness at certain distances, and if you’re not concerned about risks of eye disease or more serious symptoms, generally you are fine to see an optometrist. If you aren’t sure and you see an optometrist, he or she will let you know if you need to seek treatment from an ophthalmologist.

How do I pick a good eye doctor?
This is up to you! Some people like to look at social media pages to see what is the personality of the practice. You may seek reviews from others online, or ask friends for suggestions. Others go based on convenience factors like when the office is open, how easily you can schedule an appointment, and proximity to your home or office. Some factors may require a visit. If you’re planning on getting new eyeglasses, most offices allow you to walk in any time that they are open to browse their selection of frames, and even to speak with an optician about specialty products and upgrades. This also gives you an idea of their customer service, friendliness, and general feel of the office.

Once you decide, you’re ready to make an appointment and get busy seeing your best!

Optometry Giving Sight

Optometry Giving Sight is “the only global fundraising initiative specifically targeting the elimination of blindness and impaired vision due to ‘uncorrected refractive error.’” Their goal is to provide basic eyecare and eyewear to help millions of people around the world who live with vision problems and blindness that could be cured with relatively simple procedures or appropriate eyewear.

Many people in the developed world don’t realize that people around the globe are unable to receive basic health care. We don’t think about it, but how many people do you know who would barely be able to function if they did not have eyeglasses to correct a strong refractive error? Optometry Giving Sight aims to solve this problem by providing eye exams and eyewear, which can sometimes be provided for as little as $5.

Here are some of the facts that Optometry Giving Sight states about their mission:

• Uncorrected vision is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world, but it is treatable!
• 670 million people are blind or vision impaired because they don’t have access to basic eyecare or eyewear.
• According to the World Health Organization (WHO), correcting vision with eyewear and working toward blindness prevention are some of the most cost-effective of all health interventions.
• In addition to being cost-effective, providing better sight can alleviate poverty. Blindness makes it nearly impossible for people in the developing world to work, creates great difficulty in finding or providing shelter for themselves or their families, and can be isolating and devastating to education and development (especially for those who are blind as children).
• Optometry Giving Sight has programs where it can cost as little as $5 to provide an eye examination and a pair of glasses to individuals in need. Without supplies and infrastructure to deliver these things, many people around the world will be left blind.
• Optometry Giving Sight is a partner in Our Children’s Vision. “Our Children’s Vision is an initiative working to ensure that effective, inclusive, sustainable eye health initiatives are available to children around the world, regardless of their economic status or geographical location.”

Read more about this program, their success stories, and how to help at Optometry Giving Sight! Here is more information from the World Health Organization (WHO):

• 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision.
• About 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income settings.
• 82% of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above.
• Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of moderate and severe visual impairment;
• 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured.

It’s very important for eye care professionals to know about these programs and to help spread the word. There is a lot of good that can be done for relatively little money, and many of us are able to make a difference if we work together.