Vitamins For Your Kids’ Eye Health

Kids_Eye_CareFor decades, Phoenix parents have known that vitamins help children thrive with fewer health problems, but can vitamins also protect your kids’ eye health?

Very possibly!

Currently, the scientific research that’s been conducted has shown good reason to believe that a regimen of vitamins early in childhood may prolong eyesight into adulthood. They appear to slow down the development of progressive problems like myopia or macular degeneration.

While the evidence is not yet entirely conclusive, there’s a lot of reason to think that vitamins can help your kids’ eye health!

The Benefits Of Vitamins And Minerals To The Eyes

Vitamin C: Typically found in citrus fruits, Vitamin C is vital for our immune systems. Vitamin C appears to slow the development of cataracts, as a lack of Vitamin C directly harms the eye.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is well-known as an antioxidant, preventing breakdown of the body’s cells as we age. The beta-keratin in carrots, which is necessary for our night vision, is actually a form of Vitamin A.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is another anti-oxidant, like Vitamin A. While necessary for ocular health and immune system strength, supplements are rarely required.

Zinc: We require the metal zinc in small quantities, and it helps create the melanin pigment which protects our eyes. (Warning: A few people have zinc allergies and can become dangerously ill from zinc supplements.)

Copper: In some rare cases, copper deficiency can degrade the eyesight. However, supplements are usually not needed.

Vitamins Do The Body Good

Of course, keep in mind that there’s really no reason not to protect your child’s health with multivitamins. There are already plenty of arguments to be made for children’s vitamin regimens.

There is strong evidence that vitamins probably protect your kids’ eye health – just one more reason to use them!

What Phoenix Parents should know about Contact lenses

Phoenix_Contact_LensesIf your child needs corrective lenses, there are a lot of reasons they might want contacts rather than glasses. Even today, glasses can still cause self-esteem issues. Or, if your child is in sports, they may worry about accidentally breaking their glasses.

In fact, one of the most common questions we hear at Valley Eyecare Center, “When will my child be ready for contacts?” The basic answer is “any time,” but of course, it’s a little more complex than that.

Frequent Questions About Childhood Contact Lenses

1.  What ages can use contact lenses?

There’s actually no minimum age, because our eyes don’t grow over time. In rare cases, infants have even been fitted with contact lenses.

Usually, the “right age” for contacts is simply whenever the child is capable and responsible enough to use them properly, including cleaning and storage.

2. Hard or soft lenses?

There are two types of contact lenses: soft, and “Rigid Gas Permeable” hard lenses. Each has its advantages. The short version is that soft lenses are generally more comfortable, but RGPs can sometimes slow down the progress of myopic vision loss by maintaining the eye’s proper shape.

3. Are childhood contact lenses more expensive than glasses?

Given the variability of lens and frame pricing, it’s hard to say. Much of the cost depends on the level of vision correction needed. Or, if you’re interested in disposable lenses -which are great for teenagers- the costs usually only come to about $1 a day.

4. Are contact lenses safe for sports?

Yes! Even hard-frame sports lenses are vulnerable to breaking on impact, causing cuts or worse. While the chances of serious injury are quite low in either case, the odds are even further reduced if your child is wearing contacts while they play.

Do Cold Temperatures Affect Your Eyes?

This winter has been particularly brutal in many regions of the country, turning many people into shut-ins to avoid the bitter cold. For those that choose to brave the elements for the sake of escaping cabin fever, you may wonder how extreme cold impacts your eye health.

Eye_HealthVision Issues

Very cold temperatures will constrict the blood vessels in your eyes or freeze your cornea, both painful and compromising to visual clarity. Double vision, blurred vision, and/or loss of vision are likely. Treatment may be as simple as allowing the eye to return to warmer temperatures, but sometimes medication is necessary to add moisture back into the eye’s environment.

Pain & Inflammation

In addition to the pain caused by corneal freeze, general pain related to the cold or wind is common. Cold weather and breezy conditions cause dry eye, a very uncomfortable condition. Another frequent problem for winter eye health occurs when you might attempt to open your unprotected eyes during sports like skiing, snowmobiling, or snowboarding. Your eyes may become red and swollen, feel gritty and painful, and could even suffer permanent damage. Always wear protective goggles or glasses when going outside in low temperatures or winter wind, especially if you’ll be participating in outdoor sports.

Sunburn

Winter does not negate the need for UV protection, and this goes for your eye health too. Don’t be misled by cold temperatures and overcast days. UV can actually be more prevalent in the winter due to the reflection of the sun’s rays off of snow and ice. Always wear UV-blocking sunglasses or goggles during the day to prevent a painful case of Photokeratitis—sunburn on your eye.

Escape the indoors as much as possible this winter, but consider your eye health. Ask your optometrist for more information on cold weather eye safety.

Children’s Eye Care Tips

With a new year beginning, it’s a great time to think about how to better care for yourself and your family. Children have a unique set of eye care needs, and caring for those needs is very important to keep them on track for learning and socialization. Here are some great eye care tips to help your little one see clearly.

Childrens_Eye_ExamAnnual Check-Up

Just as the yearly child wellness medical exam is important, so too is a kid’s eye exam. This allows the optometrist to monitor for any issues that may be developing, plus ensures that your child is seeing both nearby and distant objects clearly. A child who can’t see the board or who can’t make out the words on the screen or page is a child at a learning disadvantage.

Teaching Hygiene 

Children are exposed to a monumental amount of germs on a daily basis. This includes pink eye and other bacteria that are likely to cause a bad eye health situation. Take the time to teach children to wash their hands regularly, especially after playing with community toys. Also help them build a habit of not touching or rubbing their eyes unless their hands are clean, to prevent introduction of harmful germs into the eye’s vulnerable environment.

Eye Protection

A great way to protect your child’s vision is to teach them good habits and lead by example. For instance, when working on a home project involving autos or power tools, make a game or routine out of “gearing up” and putting on protective eyewear. During sporting activities, do the same. By making it fun or normal, your child won’t second guess the need for protective eyewear. Your optometrist can help fit your child for the correct sports goggles or safety glasses during a kid’s eye exam.

Your child’s vision can be stolen in a fraction of a second, but protecting them is simple and quick. Talk to your Phoenix eye care provider today for other pediatric eye care tips.

Best Ways to Protect your Children’s Eyes from the Winter Sun

Winter fun is great for the whole family. Quality time, exercise, and fresh air are just a few of the wonderful things about wintertime. Do you know that the winter sun is just as dangerous as the summer sun where your vision is concerned? Your kids are especially at risk, so here are some children’s eye care tips to protect your little ones.

Kids_Eye_HealthProtective Eyewear

The sun’s rays are warming and delightful, but the UV rays emitted are dangerous. Winter does not lessen the problem, and may actually make it worse under certain conditions. Reflections of UV rays off snow or water amplify the hazard since it then comes from multiple directions. Eyes are vulnerable to these rays and can suffer a sunburn-like condition called Photokeratitis. Incredibly painful, photokeratitis is easy to prevent. Ensuring that your child wears quality UV-blocking sunglasses is the first line of defense. If participating in winter sports, be sure that safety goggles (also UV-rated) are worn. Your children’s eye car specialist can help you select the right eyewear for the activity.

Hats 

An extra layer of protection or an alternate plan is always a good thing. A brimmed or floppy hat serves well in blocking the sun and the UV rays that may sneak around your child’s sunglasses. It’s also usually easier to get a small child to wear a hat than sunglasses.

Indoor Time

At times, it may make sense to limit a child’s outdoor time during peak sunshine hours if other options aren’t feasible. Plan lots of indoor activities in advance should you need to move the fun inside.

Help protect your kids from painful sunburns and future problems by working with your children’s eye care provider. He or she can lead you to the right options for your children’s good eye health.

Start Your New Year Off with an Eye Exam

The hustle and bustle of the holidays leaves most of us in a frenzy. Starting the new year usually means making resolutions you may or may not keep. This year, make one to take better care of your vision, and that means scheduling your eye exam. Here are some great reasons you should!

Prevent Disease

Did you know that your annual eye exam is the best chance for you to fight dangerous eye health conditions? No matter what your age, certain lifestyle choices and health conditions leave you at high risk for eye issues that could potentially leave you blind without warning or symptoms. Your eye doctor has sophisticated equipment that can see the innermost parts of the eye and detect trouble at the very start. This helps prevent further progression of the disease and keeps your vision intact. Some patients may not know they’ve got medical health issues until their eye doctor spots a sign and refers them to their M.D. for further testing, potentially saving the patient’s life.

Eye_HealthVision Correction

Many people think it’s no big deal to wear the same glasses for years, or wear contacts for longer than they are designed. An annual eye exam is an absolute must to keep your vision crisp, clear, and correct. Wearing old glasses or contacts that are past their prime is very likely to cause eye strain, headaches, fatigue, and irritation. As you grow older, your vision needs are likely to change and your eye doctor is your first line of defense to ensure you can still drive safely and read or do close-up tasks in comfort.

Start 2014 off right — happy, healthy, and with clear vision. If you’ve got vision insurance, the new year typically means refreshed benefits so be sure to schedule your annual eye exam today.

Safe Toys and Gifts month

Eye_HealthAs the holidays come and go and the children play with their new treasures, in the blink of an eye, a toy can cause tragedy if in the wrong hands. December is Safe Toys and Gifts month, so please take the time to learn from past children’s eye care mishaps to protect your loved ones.

Adequate Supervision

The best tactic you can take to save your child from vision accidents is to supervise their play with a new toy until you are confident that he or she is using the toy appropriately and find it to not pose as a hazard to them. When kids of mixed age groups are together, keep an eye on them to make sure that playtime doesn’t get out of hand.

Age Appropriate

One of the biggest problems when it comes to children’s eye care is that children often receive and play with toys that are for older age groups. This might seem harmless enough, but small children do not have the logic and reasoning ability to know that sharp corners or thrown objects have the capability to hurt them, even so drastically as stealing their vision permanently. Avoid giving children gifts that are marked for an older age group, and stay away from items that shoot projectiles.

Eye Protection

For kids receiving sports equipment for the holiday gift giving season, be sure that they also receive the correct protective gear they’ll need to stay safe during their playtime. Sports goggles or glasses should be worn during most sports. Consult your children’s eye care specialist for guidance on the styles and criteria to look for when selecting this type of eyewear.

Keep the holidays safe and your kids out of harm’s way by considering these tips, and talk to your Phoenix eye doctor with any eye safety questions before giving questionable gifts to your child.

News for Children with Amblyopia

Childrens_Eye_Exam

Children’s eye care can be a challenge since kids cannot always verbalize a problem with their vision. Your child’s yearly eye exam is your best chance to diagnose vision issues, including one known as Amblyopia.

What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia is a condition where a physically healthy eye is not adequately used by the brain, resulting in incorrect focus and blurry or double vision. Eventually the brain may stop using information from the weaker eye altogether. Amblyopia may result from a misshapen cornea (called an astigmatism) or strabismus, where the eyes are misaligned and may appear crossed.

Patching

One way that children’s eye care specialists can improve amblyopia in a child is through the use of eyepatches. Wearing a patch over the stronger eye for a few hours daily forces the weaker eye to compensate, resulting in the eye growing stronger and improving the communication between the eye and brain until proper focus is learned. Studies have shown that resistant cases of amblyopia may require using the eyepatch for longer lengths of time each day, possibly up to six hours.

Eye Drops

In some cases where patching doesn’t work or cannot be used, a medicine called Atropine can be used via eyedrops. This makes the good eye see a blurred image, and then the bad eye must pick up the slack. As with patching, the bad eye becomes stronger through consistent practice using this method.

Surgery

Cases of amblyopia that result from strabismus may require surgical correction to fix the alignment of the eyes. Surgical fixes are for more extreme cases, since Amblyopia can normally be fixed through the use of glasses or the above methods.

Amblyopia is a painless condition that typically requires brain training to correct. Talk to your children’s eye care specialist today if you suspect your child has a vision issue.

 

Children’s Eye Injury Prevention Tips

Kids are curious, eager to experience, and love to do all the same things that their parents are doing. That can make children’s eye care an important topic, since they can get involved in things that could potentially hinder their vision. Here are a few ways to help prevent eye injuries to your little ones.

Eye_ExamsProper Playtime

When mixing age groups during playtime, there is a risk that toys for older children may be used by younger ones. This can be dangerous, since younger children lack the ability to reason and haven’t developed their reflexes and defense mechanisms yet. Supervise kids at playtime and be sure toys are used appropriately. Anything can become a projectile that could potentially cause injury to the eye.

Sports Protection

Whether or not your child requires vision correction, your children’s eye care provider can help you find the perfect protective eyewear for whichever sports your child enjoys. Sports involving contact or flying objects make protective goggles or glasses a must. Very quickly a game can turn into a tragedy that steals a child’s sight for a lifetime.

Set an Example

Your child wants to be just like you! Set the stage for good vision decisions by always wearing your protective eyewear when working on the car, home project, or using power tools. The same goes for the sports you participate in. Make it a great habit and even a fun part of the experience to do the pre-game or pre-project “Gear up” where you put on any personal protective equipment that is required for the activity, and teach your child why doing this is so important. You’ll help your child learn good habits from the start!

There are so many easy ways to protect your child from eye injuries. Talk to your children’s eye care provider for additional tips.

 

3 Signs My Child May be Colorblind

Small and school-aged children who have vision issues are often hard to diagnose without professional help. What may appear to day care providers, teachers, and parents to be a learning disability or problem might be something as simple as a vision issue. Colorblindness can be even more difficult to detect than near or farsightedness, so these signs should be a trigger to schedule your kid’s eye exam.

Child_VisionLearning Via Color Coordination

Possibly the most obvious sign that you may have a child who is colorblind is when he or she is learning their colors and shapes. If asked to choose a green item and instead the child selects the red item, the child may be seeing both shades identically. When color identification is used as a learning tool for principles, a colorblind child may suffer frustration and embarrassment when they’re unable to isolate the right color. Colorblind children often need significantly different learning methods, so if you’re seeing these signs, get a kid’s eye exam for your child right away to start discussing educational needs.

Trouble with Sports or Activities

Imagine an orange line painted on the field to indicate out-of-bounds. A colorblind child may not be able to see that line, and keep heading out of bounds without explanation. Jersey colors might be hard for your child to differentiate, so he or she may be confused as to who their team members are as well.

Avoidance

Many colorblind children become frustrated by the fact that they can’t see how they are expected to see, or experience bullying as a result of their colorblindness. The result can be a withdrawn child who tries to avoid participating in activities, especially if they involve heavy reliance on color use or the need for color differentiation. They may not want to use a coloring book, or avoid certain subjects in school.

The symptoms of colorblindness in a child can be very subtle. If you notice any of the above signs, take your child for their kid’s eye exam right away to prevent learning and social delays that may potentially result from this condition.