Pregnancy And Eye Health

Should an eye exam be part of your prenatal care schedule?

Eye_ExamsA lot of people don’t realize this, but along with all the other changes it brings, pregnancy can also affect your eyesight. The tendency of a pregnant woman’s body to retain water and increase blood circulation can cause small – but noticeable – changes in the shape of her eye.

Since the eyes are so delicate, even tiny physical changes can end up causing new vision problems or eye health issues.

Common Eye Health Issues During Pregnancy

1. Myopia

Many women who are pregnant tend to become a bit more myopic (nearsighted) during their term, due to swelling of the eyeball.

Usually the changes don’t require new prescriptions, but occasionally significant vision issues come up. If this happens, just remember that it’s normal, and at worst you have to wear slightly stronger glasses during your pregnancy.

2. Contact Lenses

Another side-effect of pregnancy on vision is it can make contact lenses hard to use. That same swelling of the eyeballs can either

A – Reduce the effectiveness of your lenses, or

B – Make the lenses painful to wear.

In most cases, the answer here is simply to go back to wearing glasses during your pregnancy. You’ll have fewer issues. However, going to the doctor for an eye exam and a new lens prescription isn’t entirely out of the question, if you have a need for them.

3. Discuss Your Glaucoma Medications

An important warning here: Most glaucoma medications may have adverse effects during pregnancy and lactation. If you are treating glaucoma while pregnant, it’s vital to discuss this with your OB or optometrist to ensure no harm is done to your child.

On the positive side, glaucoma tends to lessen during pregnancy, so you may not need the medications anyway.

Serious Vision Issues Need Immediate Attention

Finally, you should see an expert immediately if you experience any of the following during pregnancy:

  • Double or blurry vision
  • Bright spots or lights
  • High sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Vision loss

These are all early-warning symptoms of preeclampsia, a dangerous -but treatable- condition that develops in about 5% of pregnant women. If you experience any of these for more than a few minutes during pregnancy, please contact your OB immediately.

Need a prenatal or postnatal eye exam? Contact your Phoenix Optometrist today for an appointment!

Vision And Nighttime Driving

Driving at night is one of the most dangerous things you can do with your eyes.

Eye_DoctorsIn fact, according to government statistics, you are three times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident when driving at night. While there are multiple reasons for this, including a higher instance of drunk-driving, nighttime vision problems are one of the major contributing factors!

Common Vision Problems Affecting Nighttime Driving

1 – Blurred or Double Vision

As a person ages, their eyes’ ability to adjust to low-light conditions will slowly degrade. This often results in two eyes that react differently to the same light levels, or whose pupils don’t dilate to the same size. This will cause one eye to see better than the other, creating blurred vision.

Astigmatism is another contribution, as the ability to distinguish parallel lines is necessary for low-light vision. Either way, corrective lenses from certified eye doctors can fix these issues.

2 – Glare or Halos  

At the other end of the spectrum, damage to the iris or cornea can result in eyes that overreact to light at night, creating distracting halos or even painful glare. This also can sometimes happen after LASIK corrective procedures. Worse, sufficient damage to one eye can create glare that affects vision in both eyes.

Treatment is complicated, depending on the nature of the damage. In some cases, corrective lenses can help. In others, surgery may be required to reshape the eye.

3 – Poor Low-Light Reception

In extreme forms, this can be called “night blindness,” and it means what it says. It could even render someone unable to safely drive at night, at all.

In the best-case scenario, it’s caused by vitamin deficiencies. This can be corrected with eating more carrots or spinach. The other most common cause is glaucoma, which is 100% treatable with medication.

Unfortunately, this may also be caused by retinitis pigmentosa, or other degenerative diseases which cannot be entirely halted. Only a consultation with a trained optometrist will tell you for certain.

Don’t Risk Nighttime Vision Problems 

Driving at night is dangerous even under the best conditions, and it can easily become deadly when your vision is impaired. If you experience any visual problems while driving in low-light, we strongly recommend you contact your Phoenix Optometrist for an appointment immediately.

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!

Spotting Early Signs Of Vision Problems

Children's Eye Care Children’s eye care is, of course, a large concern for many parents, especially because there are many vision problems that can manifest early in a child’s life. If your child does have vision problems at an early age, it’s vital to discover this as quickly as possible.

Uncorrected childhood vision problems can quickly lead to problems in school, social issues, and numerous other problems in day-to-day life.

Here are some of the top symptoms to watch for.

Children’s Eye Care Tips: Spotting Early Signs Of Vision Problems

1 – Crossed, wandering or otherwise “lazy” eyes.

Around 5% of children have a hard time properly moving their eyes together and focusing on the same thing. If your child has a wandering eye, it’s vital to get them to an eye doctor for treatment. If left untreated, a lazy eye will become weaker over time, making correction continually harder to achieve.

2 – Reading or identifying things below their grade level.

There are many problems, visual and neurological, that may contribute to delayed reading ability. However, undiagnosed vision problems are actually one of the TOP causes for this! Simply getting your child a pair of glasses may radically improve their school performance.

3 – Squinting in one or both eyes.

Squinting has always been one of the main symptoms of myopia (short-sightedness), and that’s also true for children. Be especially aware if they’re developing a squint in one eye. This could indicate their eyes’ focal abilities are significantly different, such as one eye being 20/20 and the other 20/80.

4 – Constant headaches or eye pain.

If your child often complains of headaches or eye pain when reading, doing homework, playing portable video games, or other close-up activities, that’s a big red flag for vision problems. If their eyes can’t focus correctly, their brain will be doing “double duty” trying to make sense of unfocused images.

Remember: Children have no way of knowing they have vision problems, because they only know what they see. Keeping an eye out for these symptoms will help ensure good children’s eye care for years to come!

Men’s Health Month and Eye Care

Phoenix OptometryGood eye care leads to good body care, and that’s important to remember during Men’s Health Month!

When you’re thinking about protecting your body, don’t forget about your eyes.  They’re critical for your overall health.  You only get one pair, so ocular health should be a top priority.

Eye Care Tips For Men’s Health Month

1 – Update your prescription.

If it’s been more than a year since your last eye exam, it’s time to make an appointment.  Here are two major reasons to do so:

A – Most people’s eyesight, unfortunately, gets worse over time.  While new glasses may not be needed every year, it’s important to periodically re-check your eyes to ensure you remain 20/20.

B – There are a range of diseases, including diabetes and even some brain disorders, which leave telltale early-warning signs in the eye that a trained optometrist can detect.

2 – Invest in better sunglasses.

If you’re still using cheap drugstore sunglasses, you leave your eyes open to damage from the sun’s UV rays.  Proper sunglasses are UV-treated, polarized, or tint-correcting to ensure optimal visibility while protecting your eyes from damage.

If you’re into outdoor sports, we highly recommend sports goggles as a preventative measure to protect your eyes from unexpected impact and debris.

3 – Always follow the instructions on your contacts.

If you wear contacts, it’s critical to follow the instructions:

  • Don’t leave lenses in overnight, unless designed for 24-hour wear.
  • Don’t use disposable lenses for longer than recommended, as their edges can quickly wear down and become sharp.
  • Always follow proper cleaning procedures, with fresh cleaner every time, to prevent the buildup of infectious microbes.
  • If your eyes burn or feel sharp stabs, immediately remove your lenses, clean both the lens and your eye, and leave them out until the pain goes away.

Need more eye care tips?  Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have!


New Prescription Eyewear: How to Adjust

One question Phoenix eyecare professionals hear very frequently is, “My new glasses/contacts are giving me headaches.  Is my prescription wrong?”

In most cases, the answer to this is no.  Usually, all it takes is a little time for your eyes to adjust.

Eyecare_PhoenixProtecting The Muscle That People Forget

It’s easy to forget, but your eyes are controlled by muscles, just like every other part of your body. And like all your other body’s muscles, too much overwork can cause them to hurt.

Eye strain is the straining of the muscles surrounding your eyes.  Since these muscles   surround your face and head, it can cause pain that turns into a headache.

Every time you change your prescription, it causes tiny changes to how your eyes react to everything.  Every attempt to refocus, at first, is “wrong” and requires correction, because your eyes are still trying to focus through your old lenses.  This causes your eyes to become strained.

To get through this critical period, most eyecare professionals suggest:

1 – Put them on first thing in the morning.  If your eyes wake up to the new lenses, they’ll be less likely to hold onto the old ways of focusing.

2 – Take short breaks.  If you get a headache, it’s fine to remove your glasses/contacts for an hour or so, but it’s better (as with athletic training) to “push through” the pain when possible, as it will shorten your transition period.

3 – Use standard painkillers.  The same over-the-counter NSAID medicines, like Advil or Aleve, that work on other muscle pains will work on your eyes.  In most cases, these eliminate the transition problems.

When should I contact a Phoenix optometrist?

If it’s been more than two weeks and you’re still getting headaches, it’s time to talk to your optometrist about the prescription.  Actual prescription problems are rare, but they do occasionally occur.  Sometimes they can point towards other, undiagnosed issues.

Otherwise, if the headaches are minor, there is probably no reason to contact your Phoenix eyecare provider.

Healthy Vision Month

Phoenix Optometrists want people to know: May is Healthy Vision Month! You only get one pair of eyes, so we’re taking this opportunity to spread the word about simple ways to protect your vision.

Phenix_optometryFive Ways To Observe Healthy Vision Month

1 – Know your family history.

At least 1/3 of common eye diseases have a hereditary component – that is, they’re passed on genetically. If older members of your family have experienced issues like glaucoma or macular degeneration, you should tell your optometrist to check for them.

2 – Use protective eyewear.

Physical damage to your eyes can be even worse than disease, because most physical harm will leave permanent vision damage. Always wear protective glasses when working in situations where small debris could fly into your eye.

3 – Wear sunglasses.

Damage done by the ultraviolet light from our sun can accumulate over the years, reducing vision later in life. Wearing sunglasses with UV treatment shields your eyes and prevents unnecessary damage.

4 – Have an eye exam.

Your eye is an amazing window into your body’s health, giving an optometrist an opportunity to observe your arteries, muscles, and nerve endings in action. A yearly eye exam doesn’t just measure your visual acuity – it can spot the early warning signs of dozens of diseases, before they threaten your vision.

5 – Eat eye-friendly foods.

Vegetables that are orange, yellow, or dark green (like spinach) are loaded with the vitamins and minerals our eyes need for proper vision, especially at night. A diet rich in these veggies will help keep your eyes working working better, and for longer.

We only get two eyes in life, and it’s vital to keep them healthy for a lifetime. If it’s been a year or more since your last eye exam, you should contact your Phoenix Optometrist for an appointment.

What is Optomap Ultra-Wide Digital Retinal Imaging?

Eyesight chartPoets like to say the eyes are a window into the soul, but to an optometrist, they’re also a window into your health!

The interior of your eye is the only place on your body where a doctor can directly observe blood vessels, muscles, and nerve bundles. So, an optometrist looking deeply enough into your eyes can detect early warning signs of a wide range of diseases, from diabetes to neurological conditions.

Unfortunately, your eye’s pupil is rather small, and hard to look into. Previous methods of photographing the interior of the eye could only capture around 10% of it in a single shot, requiring multiple photos. This made retinal examinations lengthy and uncomfortable, especially since it required pupil dilation.

That’s changed with the Optomap ultra-wide digital retinal imaging system.

How Optomap Retinal Imagining Makes Eye Exams Easy

The Optomap system uses a tiny panoramic camera that can capture 80% of your eye’s interior in a single snapshot, with crystal-clear high-resolution imaging. The entire process only takes seconds and, in most cases, you don’t need to have your pupils dilated.

Besides making a trip to your optometrist faster than ever, it brings another benefit: The images it produces can be archived, creating an evolving picture of your eyes over time. Medical conditions can be detected even earlier, when your vision specialist can see exactly how your eyes looked in past years.

Through this collection of images, Optomap provides insights into the future of your eyesight as well as other medical conditions. That makes Optomap an important part of your overall body health, not just your eye health.

If it’s been more than a year since your last eye exam, we recommend contacting an optometrist with the Optomap retinal imaging system to get the best in modern preventative eye care.