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!

Eye Care Concerns In Babies

Eye_CareProper children’s eye care is a common concern among parents.  However, the good news is that in most cases, there’s not that much a parent has to do in terms of their child’s vision in the first year.  While there are a few issues to watch for, generally speaking, a child’s eyes take care of themselves for the first year.

In fact, many of the eye care concerns new parents have aren’t really issues at all.

Problems And Non-Problems During Early Vision Development

It’s important to think of a child’s vision in terms of milestones.  Like every other part of their body, their eyes are still developing and their brains are still figuring out how to use their eyes.

The First Few Months

For the first three months of a baby’s life, their eyes will have very limited ability to focus.  Babies can only focus about 8-10 inches from their face.  Likewise, they’ll have trouble getting their eyes to coordinate.  It’s not at all uncommon for a baby to go cross-eyed or wall-eyed every now and then.

By about 4-5 months, a baby should be able to focus on objects a few feet away, as well as following moving objects with their eyes.  Parents who want to encourage good vision development should focus on moving objects around for babies to look at.

Five To Eight Months

This is when a child should develop 3-dimensional vision and begin being able to accurately reach out and grab for things.  Grabbing will start around 3-4 months, but will be initially unfocused and uncontrolled.  Again, this is totally normal:  Their brains still have to sort out the 3D world around them.

Then, by 8-12 months, they should be displaying decent hand-eye coordination and -in particular- will start becoming skilled at throwing objects.  This is the big clue that their 3D sight is working properly.

Warning Signs

There are a few symptoms a parent should beware of, which aren’t part of normal eye development:

  • Consistently red/splotchy eyes can indicate infection.
  • Excess tears, especially when not truly crying.
  • Frequent or constantly misaimed eyes past 3-4 months.
  • High sensitivity to light past 6 months.
  • Cysts or styes on eyelids.
  • White pupils, or yellow “whites.”

Whether you find these symptoms or not, your child’s first eye care appointment should happen around 10-12 months.  Once their eyes have had time to develop, it’s time to contact your Phoenix Optometrist for their first checkup!

Genetics And Your Eye Health

Eye_HealthCan your family’s medical history have an influence over your own eye health, or that of your children? Unfortunately, it is so.

There are several known eye-related medical problems that have strong genetic factors. If these are in your family’s history, you and the rest of your family are going to have a higher chances of seeing those same problems. Knowing your own medical lineage is important, because you can tell an optometrist what to look for.

Common Eye Health Disorders With A Genetic Basis

1 – Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is one of the most common causes of blindness in people as they age. The macula is a circular region at the center-back of your eyeballs, which contains the most dense collection of light-sensing rods and cones in your eye. The macula is necessary for all types of vision, day and night.

AMD is the slow and steady breakdown of this region, leading to reduced vision and eventually blindness. It currently cannot be halted or reversed, but it can be slowed significantly if caught early. It’s also very strongly influenced by genetic factors.

2 – Glaucoma

Glaucoma is one of the other major forms of adult blindness, and it’s also been definitively linked to several genetic markets. Glaucoma is caused by damage to the ocular nerve itself, coming out the back of the eyeball, usually due to increased vascular (blood) pressure.

Unlike AMD, Glaucoma is 100% treatable with medication.

3 – Strabismus (Ocular Misalignment)

Strabismus covers nearly any situation where two eyes are misaligned, or cannot move together. Roughly 40% of children who are “cross-eyed” or “wall-eyed” or have other misalignments are carrying genetic traits for this.

Strabismus is usually obvious from birth, and can be corrected in a number of ways during childhood.

4 – Other Indicators

Eye issues can also indicate non-ocular genetic conditions. For example:

  • Yellow eyes indicate jaundice, or other serious liver disorders.
  • Dislocated lenses can confirm Marfan syndrome.
  • A bright red ‘blood’ spot in the eye is a telltale sign of Tay-Sachs.
  • Retinopathy, a symptom of diabetes, involves blood vessels hemorrhaging into the eye.

Know Your History!

If you have never inquired into your family’s eye health history, now may be a good time. Knowing your genetic background makes it easier for your Phoenix Optometrist to spot vision problems in time for treatment.

Eye Safety In The Summer!

Eye_SafetyIt probably comes as no surprise, but eye injuries are most common in the summer, especially among children. Eye safety is always an important concern, but special care should be taken during summer activities. It’s all too easy for a small accident to turn into an ocular emergency.

Whether it’s for you or your child, here are a few great tips for protecting your eyesight during summertime fun!

Eye Safety In The Summer: Four Hot Tips

1. Wear Goggles In Any Sports

A pair of sports goggles is a good investment for anyone who plays outdoor sports and needs corrective lenses. Glasses and contacts can both be shattered in the case of an impact, such as from a baseball or basketball. This makes an accidental head shot far more likely to cause eye damage.

Sports goggles, however, are reinforced to resist shattering, even in high-speed collisions. They’re the only safe option when flying objects are part of the game.

2. Immediately Flush Eyes Of Foreign Objects  

If someone ends up in the dirt and foreign materials get in their eye, the most important thing is to not rub them. We have an instinct to do so, but this can easily damage our corneas with scratching or tearing. Simply flush the eye with water (or saline eye-drops) while blinking rapidly until the particles are cleared.

3. Use Masks In The Water

One of the most common sources of eye infections is from swimming, especially with eyes open underwater. A properly Ph-balanced pool should be germ-free, but the chemicals in the water can still irritate the eye – remember, you’re pouring acid in that pool. And, of course, exposing your eyes directly to untreated water, like lakes or oceans, is an incredibly bad idea.

Swim masks or (non-corrective) goggles can prevent a lot of needless eye infections among swimmers.

4. Fireworks Are Always Dangerous

Please take caution when using any sort of fireworks. Even common sparklers can cause eye damage, if a spark makes a direct hit. Anyone working with any sort of fireworks should be wearing protective eyewear. Even wearing your glasses, rather than contacts, will help a lot here.

Stay Safe This Summer!

Your eye safety should be paramount in any summer activities.  In the case of any eye emergency that can’t be fixed with water, your next step should be to call your Phoenix Optometrist immediately for further advice.

 

Students With Visual Impairments

Eye_ExamDid you know that taking your child to an eye exam at Valley Eyecare Center may help with behavioral problems in school?

A lot of parents don’t realize it, but some behavioral issues may be caused by vision problems! There are several early warning signs that can indicate a child is having trouble seeing correctly.

Only around 30% of students have an eye exam before entering school, making it very easy for vision problems to go undetected in the classroom.

Childhood Behaviors That Suggest Vision Problems

1 – Reluctance Reading Out Loud

There are many factors that can contribute to delayed reading development, but vision problems are among the most common.

A student who’s near-sighted will often desperately avoid being called on to read from the front whiteboard. Similarly, far-sighted students will avoid reading from the book, or -more obviously- start holding it at arm’s length when they read.

2 – Headaches Leading To Disruption

When a student is doing close-up work, like homework or arts, see if they show signs of a headache, such as rubbing their eyes or temples. Students with vision problems often have chronic headaches. They may not think to mention it because, to them, close-up work simply brings pain and “always” has.

However, they’re then more likely to misbehave from the pain, rather than doing the assigned work. If you see behavior like this, ask them if their eyes or head hurts rather than immediately reprimanding. If there’s pain, vision problems are likely.

3 – A Strong Preference For Auditory Learning

Most learning in school is either sight- or sound-based. If a student shows a wide variation in their ability to learn from visuals versus audio, that’s another strong suggestion that they are having vision problems.

For example: A student who cannot understand a math “word problem” from looking at the book, but immediately comprehends it when the paragraph is read aloud.

Have Your Child’s Eyes Been Checked?

In many cases, an examination and a pair of glasses can make a big difference to a student’s behavior. If they haven’t had an eye exam, contact your Phoenix optometrist for an appointment!

What is Retinoblastoma?

Eye_ExamWe tend to think of cancer as a disease that strikes older people, but even children can be susceptible.

Retinoblastoma is a rare form of eye cancer that is most commonly found in children, but it can be detected easily with an eye exam. In many cases, the child is born with the condition, due to problems with the eye’s development while in the womb.

The good news is, retinoblastoma is one of the most commonly-treated and survivable of childhood cancers. While it can present a serious threat to the child, the survival rates are upwards of 95% with treatment.

When caught early, it doesn’t have to threaten a child’s life.

Symptoms Of Retinoblastoma

The most common symptom of retinoblastoma is unusual reflections in a child’s pupils. When photographed, an infected eye will often seem to have the same “eyeshine” you sometimes see in cats, owls, or other night-sighted creatures. Or, one eye may show “red eye” in flash photographs when the other does not.

Runny or bloodshot eyes, squints, or even crossed eyes can also indicate retinoblastoma. However, these symptoms are common to many eye disorders – only a proper eye exam will be able to tell for sure.

Treatment Of Retinoblastoma

Today, there are a wide variety of techniques for treating tumors in the eyes. In cases of smaller tumors, there are options for using either lasers or cryotherapy (freezing) to remove the tumor without disturbing the eye. Chemotherapy is another option, although preferably avoided due to its side effects.

In advanced cases, where the blastoma was not caught early on, removal of the eye may be required. While eye doctors certainly want to preserve the child’s eyes, when possible, advanced tumors may not allow for it.

Early Childhood Screenings Are Vital

In most areas, retinoblastoma screenings are part of a child’s first-year health care schedule. However, if you have a young child who has not had a professional eye evaluation yet, we strongly recommend a screening with your Phoenix optometrist.

Retinoblastoma is only one of many childhood eye diseases that can be caught in time for treatment, with an early eye exam.

What Are Visual Acuity Tests?

Phoenix_OptometristVisual acuity tests are one of the most basic and universal tools an optometrist has at their disposal. Out of all the tests, Phoenix eye doctors can run on your eyes, this is the most fundamental in determining how well you can see.

Visual Acuity Tests: How They Work

Most of the time, the test is based on common eye charts you see everywhere: The ones with the big “E” at the top followed by rows of smaller letters. By carefully stepping down the font size for every line, it’s calibrated so that an optometrist can quickly tell how well a person’s eyes can focus.

The results they get are expressed in the form of a fraction, based on how far from the chart a person is standing, which is usually 20 feet. Someone with 20/20 vision can accurately see something 20 feet away.

This can go both ways. If someone is myopic (short-sighted), his or her vision might be 20/60. That is, without corrective lenses, they see an object 20 feet away as though it were 60 feet.

Or, some lucky people are born with superior eyesight. The famous pilot Chuck Yeager, for example, reportedly tested at 20/10 during his military days, meaning his eyesight was far more clear and detailed than the average eyes.

Another thing people often wonder about is whether they have to perfectly read every letter for it to “count,” especially on the smaller lines. The answer is “no.” While it’s up to the optometrist’s judgment, as long as you can read most letters on a line, you have that level of vision.

That said, these visual acuity tests can also check for astigmatism – your eyes’ ability to distinguish parallel lines. Certain mix-ups between similarly shaped letters, like A and H can give a trained Phoenix eye doctor more insight into your eyesight.

When Was Your Last Checkup?

Because your eyesight will change over time, it’s recommended you have an eye exam annually. If it’s been more than a year, contact your Valley EyeCare Optometrist for an appointment!