When to Start Visiting the Eye Doctor

Young girl smiling while undergoing eye test with phoropterChildren’s eye care should begin as soon as birth, and should then continue regularly throughout childhood. Just as you take your child to the pediatrician for check-ups, you need to have his or her eyes routinely checked for signs of potential problems. Early eye health and vision checks will be done at your pediatrician or family doctor, but any concerns should immediately be taken to a certified eye doctor. Here’s a general guideline for taking care of your children’s eye care needs.

Infants and Toddlers

Newborn babies are generally checked for eye health while still in the hospital, soon after birth. From that point, professionals recommend all infants be routinely screened for eye health during the first year of life. These screenings are done during regular check-ups by the baby’s primary care physician. Additionally, the American Optometric Association (AOA) states that infants should receive their first comprehensive eye exam when they reach six months of age.

Beginning around the age of three, children should start receiving visual acuity tests, which measure vision sharpness, in addition to general eye health screenings.

School-Aged Children

The next eye exam a child should have is around the age of five or six, before entering the first grade. From that point on, the AOA recommends a comprehensive eye exam every two years if there are no vision problems present in your child. However, if correction is needed through glasses or contact lenses, then your child should see an eye doctor once a year, or as determined by the optomologist.

Signs of Eye Trouble

In addition to the above schedule, children should see an eye doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Constant rubbing of the eyes;
  • Sensitivity to light;
  • Problems focusing;
  • Trouble visually tracking objects;
  • Chronic eye redness;
  • Chronic eye tearing;
  • White pupils.

Maintaining regular children’s eye care is important not only to their eye health, but also to their ability to do well in school. Childhood eye exams set your child up for a lifetime of success by detecting and preventing problems early. For more information or to schedule an eye exam for your child, contact Valley EyeCare Center in Phoenix today.

How Does Swimming Affect Your Eye Health?

Activities at the pool, children swimming and playing in water, happiness and summertimeEveryone enjoys a dip in a nice, cool pool during the sweltering summer months – especially in Arizona. But what does swimming do to your eye health? Does exposure to chlorine cause permanent damage to your eyes? What are the effects of swimming while wearing contact lenses? Keep reading for answers to these questions and more.

What Chlorine Does to Your Eyes

While there’s no evidence of long-term damage to eye health due to chlorine exposure, there are dangers associated with it. Contrary to popular belief, though, these dangers aren’t simply a result of your eyes coming in contact with the chemical. In actuality, the redness and discomfort that sometimes accompany swimming are caused by bacteria that lingers in the water. This is because, when submerged in chlorine-treated water, your eyes lose the tear film that protects against infection.

Even though the purpose of chlorine in pools is to reduce the amount of harmful bugs, some contaminants are resistant to the chlorine that is used. This means the health of your eyes can be compromised with infections caused by bugs still lingering in the water. The most common infection swimmers experience is pink eye.

Concerns for Contact Lens-Wearers

When you wear contact lenses while swimming, those lenses trap chemically-treated water, meaning your tear film has no chance of repairing itself and your eyes remain exposed to harmful bacteria. If you must swim in your lenses, eye health experts recommend rinsing them immediately after you swim, and avoiding sleeping in them. Failing to do so could lead to a serious eye condition called acanthamoebic keratitis, which has been known to cause blindness in serious cases.

Protecting Your Eye Health This Summer

It’s not all bad news – you don’t have to completely avoid the pool this summer in order to maintain your eye health. Just be smart and take these precautions:

  • Wear goggles. Swimming goggles reduce your eyes’ exposure to chlorine, meaning your tear film stays in tact and helps prevent any issues.
  • Use eye drops. Use lubricating drops to flush away any remaining chlorine and allow your tear film to get back to its job of protecting your eyes.
  • Take care of your contact lenses. As mentioned above, rinsing your contact lenses after swimming is crucial to avoid infection.

Don’t miss out on the fun this summer. Take steps to protect your eyes, and contact us for more information.

Children’s Eye Safety and Sports

Portrait of happy boy riding bicycle in the park with his parents behindApril is Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month. For this reason, we’d like to focus on how you can keep your child’s eyes safe during recreational activities. The safety of your child’s eyes is not something to be taken lightly. Protecting your child’s vision is important now in order to set her up for fewer problems later in life.

When it comes to kids eye care, there is one sure-fire way to provide protection during sports: utilizing the proper protective eyewear. While you certainly don’t want to keep your kids from enjoying their favorite sports due to a high risk of eye injury, you should take every measure necessary to ensure their safety.

Sports and Kids Eye Care

Sports present many opportunities for injury in children, even more so than adults, since children’s bodies aren’t yet fully developed. The eyes are no exception to this rule. According to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, each year more than 40 percent of eye injuries occur as a result of sports or other recreational activities. The organization also reports that of the injuries noted, 78 percent happened to people not using protective eyewear.

Preventative Measures for Kids Eye Care

Such a simple thing makes such a huge impact in the health of your child’s eyes. Just as you would never think of letting your kid ride a bike without a helmet, so should you never let him play sports without protective eyewear. Will he mumble and complain? Sure, but it’s your job as his parent to secure the future of his eye health.

If you think your child may have already suffered an eye injury or is at high risk, call to schedule an appointment today. Don’t let another minute pass without taking your kid’s eye health seriously.

 

Low Vision Awareness Month

Phoenix OptometristFebruary is the time to observe Low Vision Awareness Month. Here is some information to help you better understand this condition.

What Is Low Vision?

The term “low vision” refers to sight that cannot be corrected with glasses, surgery or medication. This condition makes even everyday activities such as cooking, shopping or watching TV a serious challenge.

What Causes Low Vision?

A major cause of low vision is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As many as 15 million people over the age of 50 suffer from this condition which affects the macula, the part of your eye responsible for sharp detail. Other cases of low vision result from glaucoma, cataracts or diabetic retinopathy. Some individuals are born with low vision due to optic nerve damage.

It’s important to emphasize that low vision does not mean the normal changes in eyesight that come with aging. Low vision can affect people of any age. If you have a hard time seeing clearly even with glasses or contact lenses, you should be tested.

How Is Low Vision Detected?

Your Phoenix optometrist can conduct a low vision examination. This procedure takes into account your daily functions and whether or not your vision is at a level to comfortably accommodate those activities. A yearly exam increases the chances of early detection, which is key to successful treatment. Thanks to medical advances, people with low vision are able to lead full, productive lives. Schedule an appointment with your Phoenix optometrist to learn more about low vision and proper care of your eyes.

Is My Child Ready For Contacts?

Many children reach the point when they ask, “Can I get contacts?” As a parent, you may wonder whether to let your child try them. Here’s what you need to consider:

Contacts_PhoenixMotivation

Some children are happy to wear glasses, but others are dissatisfied. If your child complains about their glasses, you may want to talk to your eye-care professional about contact lenses.

Activities

If your child plays sports, contact lenses may offer an advantage. They won’t break like frames and lenses of glasses can. Your child will also be able to have clearer peripheral vision and won’t have to deal with frames that can get sweaty and uncomfortable.

Vision

In some cases, such as when a child is very nearsighted, he or she may be able to see better with contact lenses than with glasses.

Self-esteem

If your child has poor self-esteem, contacts may help give them a boost. A three-year study conducted by the Ohio State University College of Optometry concluded that a child’s self-perception improved when wearing contact lenses. This is especially true of girls.

Seasonal allergies

Contact lenses can cause increased itching and burning in the eyes of contact wearers who have seasonal allergies, so if you child suffers from these, he or she may want to stick with glasses.

Dexterity and comfort level

Is your child able to take his or her contact lenses out and put them back in? It may take some practice, but he or she should be able to handle the daily maintenance on their own after some initial help. Age isn’t the only determining factor, because some young children are more at ease putting in and removing their contacts than adults are.

Maturity

This is perhaps the most important factor. Will your child follow proper hygiene practices, or will he or she leave the contacts in for too long, possibly risking an infection? It’s important that he or she be able to follow the proper procedures, because contacts are a medical device that can cause serious damage if they’re misused.

Ultimately, letting your child wear contact lenses isn’t an all-or-nothing, lifelong decision. If you let them try it and it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, your child can always go back to wearing glasses and perhaps try again when circumstances change.

3 Things You Should Know About Children’s Eye Health

Childrens_Eye_HealthChildren’s eye health is a complicated topic as kids often cannot express when something is wrong with their vision. Childhood eye issues can have a permanent impact on a person’s life and should be handled with urgency and expert care. Here is what you should know about kids’ eye care.

Signs of a Vision Problem

When a child begins developing a vision problem, he or she may not be able to tell you what is happening. Parents and educators must be vigilant for signs of trouble. These red flags include more obvious signs like squinting and holding books very close to the face but also may present as learning delays or social issues. Kids may avoid participating in activities that require good close-up or distant vision. They may complain of headaches or rub their eyes a lot. Colorblind children may choose the wrong colors when drawing and coloring pictures of familiar objects.

Vision-Related Learning Problems

Children’s eye health issues could very quickly translate into learning difficulties. Challenges with long distance sight may mean that the child can’t see lessons written on the board at the front of the classroom. Trouble with close objects will result in reading challenges that may be misdiagnosed as learning delays.  Colorblind kids can have problems reading letters printed on certain colors. While schools often have vision screening sessions, they are not comprehensive tests and may miss an important diagnosis.

The Need for Eye Exams

The best way to prevent a children’s eye health issue from becoming a permanent problem is to see an eye doctor on the prescribed schedule based on the child’s age. These important exams help identify issues at their earliest stage and formulate the right plan for correction. Most vision problems can be aided with the right prescription eyewear or use of vision therapy. Your eye doctor can also recommend adapted teaching techniques to overcome issues such as colorblindness.

Children’s eye health is complex and requires attention from infancy onward. If your child shows any of the symptoms mentioned above, schedule an eye exam today to discuss these and their potential solutions.

Eye Care During Safe Toys and Gifts Month

Eye CareWith the holidays upon us, it’s a great time to focus on eye care! As gift-giving opportunities abound, putting some thought into vision safety this season may help save a child’s sight for a lifetime. December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, and a great time for some reminders.

Age-Appropriate Gifts

Purchasing toys should be done with the child’s age range in mind. Toys that shoot projectiles, for example, should never be given to young children. Check any gifts your child receives from other family members to be sure they are appropriate for their age group as well. If kids are playing in mixed age groups monitor play so it doesn’t become too rough for smaller tots, and ensure toys aren’t misused in dangerous ways.

Pre-Play Check

Before giving a child a new toy, be sure to inspect it thoroughly. Moving parts should be securely fastened, there should be no chipping paint or questionably loose surfaces. Eye care professionals warn that defective products pose great danger to children’s vision. Help your child understand how to play with the toy, and supervise for a period of time to ensure they are playing safely and appropriately.

Non-Toxic Chemicals

While it may seem fun to look for unique toys and gifts on the internet, be very aware of where toys are coming from. Products from overseas do not have the same stringent safety requirements as in the U.S. Internationally sold products have been known to use lead paint or other potentially dangerous chemicals that children should not be exposed to. Look for the label “non-toxic” anytime you purchase toys or art supplies for a child, especially for those of younger ages. In addition, be aware of the hazard that vintage toys may present because of poor design or unsafe and chipping paint.

Keep an eye on vision safety when giving to children this holiday season! For more advice on eye health this Safe Toys and Gifts Month, please consult your eye care professional.

 

Young People Can Get Glaucoma Too

Doctor Examining Child's Eyes In Doctor's OfficeGlaucoma is a common condition of the eye. It is caused by damage to the ocular nerve, which is located in the back of the eyeball. Although there can be several causes, increased fluid pressure within the eye is the most common.

It can strike people of any age, so it’s important to know about this critical vision problem.

Glaucoma: A Vision Threat To All Ages

Because it is associated with “old age” conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, there’s a common misconception that glaucoma only affects the elderly. Unfortunately, this is not true.

While glaucoma is more likely to affect older people, it can happen at any age. In fact, roughly 1 in 10,000 babies are born with it congenitally.

Glaucoma is also one of the most common forms of blindness, and it’s largely treatable. The problem is that without regular eye checkups, it can go undetected for years. By the time a person’s glaucoma gets bad enough to begin causing noticeable vision problems, their vision is permanently damaged.

Caught early on, glaucoma can be treated with medication at a near-perfect success rate. However, according to research, half of people with glaucoma don’t know it.

This is just one of the reasons that getting a vision screening for your children is so important, even at a young age. Eye disorders can usually be detected at 12-18 months, and corrected before they cause permanent problems.

Additionally, there may be a higher risk of glaucoma in:

  • Those with a family history of the disease
  • Children with diabetes
  • Severely nearsighted children
  • African Americans (who are 8-10 times more likely to be affected)

Anyone in these groups will be at elevated risk of glaucoma throughout their lives.

Glaucoma Is Preventable With Regular Eye Checkups

It is truly important to remember that in many cases glaucoma shows no symptoms for years, or even decades. It is crucial to catch it before enough damage is done to the optic nerve that it harms vision. Only regular eye exams can ensure it’s caught early enough to treat.

Remember to have your child’s vision checked at least once a year. It’s quick, easy, painless and can help them avoid a lifetime of vision problems. Make your appointment with your Phoenix Optometrist today!

Back To School Eye Exams For Kids

Eye_ExamsIf you’ve got little ones going back to school this fall, it’s time for an eye exam!

In the back-to-school rush, this is easy to forget about, but it’s absolutely vital to ensure your child remains fully able to keep up in class. To a child, what they see is “normal.” A child’s vision could be wildly out-of-focus, and they’d never know because what they see is literally all they have ever seen.

So a child is unlikely to complain about eye problems in the same way they would about a toothache, or a flu.

That’s why it’s important to take children for a yearly eye exam, before the start of a new school year. It can prevent numerous problems that can arise over the course of a school year.

What You’re Preventing With Yearly Summertime Eye Exams

1 – Poorer Grades

Reading is, of course, one of the true cornerstones of our educational system. A student who is unable to focus their eyes on both a book at their desk and the whiteboard up front is going to be at significantly higher risk of falling behind during classroom work. If left unnoticed long enough, vision problems can even create serious deficiencies in a child’s reading ability.

2 – Behavioral Issues

Poor vision is also linked to behavioral problems. There are several causes for this, but they can all add up to a child “getting in trouble” when it’s really their eyes that are the problem.

  • Boredom. If they can’t see/follow what’s happening at the front of the class, they’re more likely to create disruptions to keep themselves occupied.
  • Avoidance. Kids often don’t understand the difference between “can’t read” as in illiterate and “can’t read” because of physical vision problems. So a student with vision trouble may create distractions specifically to “change the subject” away from reading to avoid admitting a seemingly-shameful deficiency.
  • Pain. It’s surprising, but a lot of kids with vision problems experience frequent headaches and still accept them as normal without comment… but it still puts them under stress, and makes them more likely to act out.

Children’s Eye Exams Are Easy!

Vision checkups today are quick, simple, cheap, and totally painless. Some computerized systems can do them in just a few moments. Eye exams are an easy addition to your back-to-school schedule, and can pay off across an entire school year. Schedule your eye check up with your Phoenix Optometrist today!

Children’s Eye Health And Safety Month

Childrens_Eye_HealthAre you staying on top of your children’s eye health?

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, just in time for back-to-school activities.  If your child is more than a year old, this is an excellent time to take them in for an eye exam!  After all, vision trouble is one of the leading causes of unnecessary behavioral problems in school, and can even contribute to poor grades.

Besides that, what other activities can a parent engage in to help protect their child’s eyesight?  We’ve got some suggestions!

Four Ways To Protect Your Children’s Eye Health

1 – Talk to your child about eye safety.

This is one of the basic things, but commonly overlooked.  You can’t protect your child’s eyes 24/7.  It’s vital to teach them how precious their vision is, especially in terms of using protective eyewear whenever their eyes might be at risk

2 – Model good behavior.

Those talks go down better if the child’s parents are showing how things should be done.  Make sure you and your spouse are always using protective goggles, such as when working with fireworks or around machinery.

3 – Require sports goggles for physical outdoor play.

Broadly speaking, we wish every child playing baseball or hockey -or any other sport with small flying objects- were using goggles.  A single accidental impact can ruin an eye, or an eye socket.

And no one has the reflexes to reliably duck a 100mph flying object.  That’s why goalies and catchers wear full facemasks.

However, this is especially relevant if your child already wears corrective lenses.  Damage from flying objects can be made worse by traditional glasses or contacts.  Prescription sports goggles truly are the only safe option here.

4 – Watch for the following warning signs.

Generally speaking, a child’s eyes should develop “by themselves” without the need for parental intervention.  After all, we’ve been doing it for a very long time.   However, if you see any of the following in your child, you should contact an eye doctor:

  • Pink or bloodshot eyes
  • Yellow-tinted “whites” of their eyes
  • Mismatched coloration
  • Miscolored or mirror-like pupils
  • Visible cysts or lesions around the eyelid
  • Consistently mis-aimed or uncoordinated eyes
  • Excessive tearing, especially when not truly crying
  • Moving nearer/further from objects to read them

Remember, children’s eye health is crucial because they only get one set of eyes.  Don’t hesitate to contact your Phoenix Optometrist if you have any concerns!