The Importance of Pediatric Eye Exams

When it comes to pediatric care, parents are usually concerned with finding the best pediatrician and following their medical advice exactly, but what about pediatric eye care? Eye care for kids is sometimes an area parents overlook because they aren’t always aware of the importance of eye health for children. Many don’t seek eye exams for their children until either the child reports having difficulty seeing at school, or the child’s grades begin to slip and parents take a closer look at why their child isn’t developing academically.

Experts recommend that children receive several eye exams before starting school. Infants should receive their first comprehensive eye exam around six months of age. Children should have an eye exam around age three, and again when they reach age five or six. Before reaching first grade, parents are strongly encouraged to have their children receive a full eye exam to make sure the child has no visual problems as they start elementary school.

Eye exams for young children are important because vision problems can negatively affect a child’s performance in school long before you are aware of the issue. The American Optometric Association reports that 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-age children are diagnosed with vision problems once they receive proper eye care. Experts are always stressing the significance of appropriate early education and full participation from youngsters in programs and learning that will become a foundation for critical skills. Children risk not being able to fully participate if they are experiencing undiagnosed visual impairments. An early eye exam and regular eye care for children can alleviate this potential problem.

Identifying eye problems early is crucial to the child’s learning and development in school. A child with poor vision may have difficulty with seeing text and comprehending words causing difficulty in reading. No parent wants their child to be frustrated with reading, especially when most vision problems are easily fixed with glasses. Unable to explain problems in a group, children may choose not to volunteer for reading in class out of embarrassment, or opt out of picking a library book because it’s hard to see. This will negatively affect academic achievement and the enjoyment that comes with reading for many children.

Other symptoms of learning-related vision problems include headaches or eyestrain, short attention span for visual tasks, difficulty identifying or reproducing shapes, poor hand-eye coordination, and developmental delay. Talk to your family eye care professional about scheduling eye care visits for your children. They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about your child’s eye health, and let you know when is a good time to start doing regular check-ups.

April Showers Bring May (and More) Allergies

Spring has arrived! The birds are chirping, the days are getting longer, and suddenly you’re experiencing itchy and watery eyes. Seasonal allergies affect an estimated 50 million people in the United States, making the spring season a little (or a lot) less pleasant for many Americans. Up to 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children report having problems with seasonal allergies. That’s no small amount of people with itchy eyes and runny noses!

Spring is what comes to mind when most people think of seasonal allergies, but allergies are not limited to April, May, and June alone. Seasonal allergies can be a disruption almost any time of year, depending on what causes your allergies and where you live. Learning how to cope with seasonal allergies and treat the symptoms can improve your daily life and make nice weather more enjoyable.

How do you combat seasonal allergies? There are some tips you can use to fight seasonal allergies. First, know what triggers them. You’re not going to frolick in a field of goldenrod if you know that it causes an allergic reaction. Ask your physician if he or she can help you narrow down what is causing your discomfort.

The most common seasonal allergens are grass, pollen, and mold. For an allergy sufferer, avoiding these allergens is the first approach to minimize symptoms. It can be difficult to avoid them, however, because they are very common in most parts of the country. Unless you’re able to move somewhere without allergens (or maybe you can live in a bubble), you’ll have to consider some additional options.

Make sure to protect your eyes. Sunglasses can help keep pollen and allergens from entering the eye to an extent, but they also minimize strain on your eyes that can be worsened during allergy season. Protection can also come in the form of wearing a protective mask while doing things like gardening or yard work.

If you must go outside to work or exercise, try to do it early in the morning or later in the evening. These are times when pollen counts are typically lower than during the middle hours of the day. Also, check pollen counts. Many weather apps and sites offer pollen counts as a way to inform allergy sufferers of the worst days for allergies, and other days when it might not be so bad.

Talk to your doctor about an over-the-counter remedy. Not a lot of people report mowing the lawn as their favorite thing to do, but gardening can be very satisfying, and a fun way to get dirty, make your yard more beautiful, or even save money by growing your own food. Seasonal allergies make rustling around in the weeds nearly impossible, however. No one wants to spend their time in nature rubbing their eyes! Your physician can give you advice on medical treatments for allergies and medication that may be available to help you keep your routine and pursue your hobbies without too much disruption.

On days when the pollen count is high, sufferers may choose to stay inside. Itchy eyes can be painful, making it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks like working on a computer screen, watching TV, or even just focusing on small details for a prolonged period of time. With many people working behind a computer for their job, just imagine the productivity that could be gained if eye-related allergies were eliminated! Thankfully, you can help keep indoor air quality clear so you can live comfortably and get your work done indoors. Simply try an air purifier. They help to reduce allergens from the air, and keep those pesky particles out of your nose and eyes. Also, make sure the air filters on your heating and cooling units are changed or cleaned regularly. Special filters exist for allergy sufferers, and they can help improve indoor air quality when changed regularly.

In addition to cleaning the air, wash the dog, your hair, and your clothes. Pollen and other allergens can easily stick to clothes, pets, and even you. A regular wash will prevent allergens from sticking around this allergy season.

The best way to combat the change in seasons is to avoid the allergen as much as possible, refrain from itching your eyes, and use artificial tears to wash away airborne allergens when necessary. Talk to your physician and eye care professional if seasonal allergies are getting in your way.

Preventing Computer Vision Syndrome

It’s the end of the week and you’ve only got a few hours left before the weekend. As you try to finish the last of your tasks, you find yourself unable to focus—not just mentally, but physically. You have trouble seeing the screen in front of you. Maybe your vision is blurry or your eyes start to burn. These are symptoms of computer vision syndrome.

Computer vision syndrome is simply the name given to a group of symptoms and problems associated with overuse of computers and strained eyes from excessive computer use. It’s becoming a more common problem as more people work in offices behind computers, and rely on tablets or smartphones instead of paper. These devices have helped make us more productive with faster communication and easier recordkeeping, but the reliance on electronic screens in front of our faces can also be a problem for our eyes.

There are many things you can do to prevent or relieve the symptoms of computer vision syndrome. If you wear glasses, make sure your prescription is up to date. If you do not wear glasses (or if you wear contact lenses that you’re sure are an appropriate prescription for you) yet still experience discomfort while on a computer, computer glasses may be what you’re looking for.

Computer glasses are different than traditional eyeglasses or reading glasses. Due to such a short distance between your eyes and the computer screen, distance eyeglasses and reading eyeglasses may not be as effective for your eyes. They’re not necessarily meant for focusing for longer periods on the intermediate zone of vision. Made specially for viewing a computer screen, computer glasses help you focus on this very zone where your monitor sits, making daily use much more comfortable.

Without a proper prescription or an aid like computer glasses, those experiencing blurred vision may end up leaning forward in order to see. This can negatively affect posture and cause even more strain on your body. In addition to eye health, it’s very important to have a healthy workspace and comfortable posture.

Because computer glasses have a modified lens, they give you the most comfortable view of your computer screen. For maximum viewing quality, the lenses should include anti-reflective coating. Tinted computer lenses are also recommended in order to block out blue light that is emitted from computer screens.

With a decrease in eyestrain, and no more blurred vision or headaches, it’s obvious how much computer glasses can help make you feel better and more productive. Ask your eye care professional if you’re interested in learning more about computer glasses and how they can help prevent computer vision syndrome.

Why is my eye twitching?

Probably everyone has had that feeling: ahh, my eye is twitching. You never know how to make it stop, how long it will keep going, or why it’s happening. The truth is that eyelid and eye twitching and spasms are pretty common, and no cause for alarm, but still somewhat of a mystery!

Usually it’s the bottom lid of your eye that twitches when you get that weird feeling. Most people report that a random eye twitch will come and go, but some cases have been reported as lasting weeks or even months! The medical term for it is myokymia.

What triggers eye twitches?

• Stress
• Being tired
• Strained eyes
• Caffeine
• Alcohol
• Dry eyes
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Allergies

Generally the condition is not serious, and is not an indication of any greater issues. The problem is that it’s not easy to treat when you don’t know the cause. The afflicted person usually needs to investigate their habits and get to the root cause so that they can avoid that trigger.

If you find that your trigger is strained eyes, make sure to see an eye care professional as soon as possible so that you can update your prescription. If your prescription is up to date or you don’t need one, it could be strain from looking at a computer screen for extended periods. In this case, you can still benefit from seeing an eye care professional and discussing special computer glasses to help you relieve the stress on your eyes.

Of course, if you’re stressed or tired in general, an eye care professional probably can’t do much for you. Make sure that you’re getting enough restful sleep, take an afternoon nap if you find that you hit the afternoon slump hard, and go to bed early to get more sleep. Talk to your physician if you’re getting enough sleep on a good bed and still feeling fatigued.

Drinking too much caffeine every day? It might be another facet of your stressed-out life that can exacerbate your eye-twitching problem. It’s tempting to partake in another caffeinated beverage mid-afternoon when you’re busy and can’t nap to perk back up. Building up more and more caffeine, however, can be a real problem and can lead to eye spasms that will hurt your productivity and be a big annoyance.

How can allergies make your eyes twitchy? Well, some experts think that the histamine that is released into your eye tissues when you rub your eyes can actually cause the lid to twitch. Since allergies make your eyes itchy and you rub them, that might be causing your eyelids to twitch as well.

Cramping and muscle spasms in all parts of your body can be caused by electrolyte imbalances. It’s one of the reasons that athletes opt for sports drinks over water. Sweat carries electrolytes out of your body, so they need to be replaced to make sure your brain and muscles function properly. If you have been sweating heavily or have a nutritional or other health issue, you may be low on electrolytes. See your physician if you think you may have a condition causing you to have low electrolytes.

The takeaway from this is that there’s no cause for concern, but that doesn’t mean it’s not annoying! The occasional eye twitch is nothing to investigate, but persistent twitches will certainly be irritating enough to warrant a look at your habits and possibly making some healthy changes.