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Eye Facts

Your Child’s Eye Exam and Vision Problems Why catching vision problems early is important

By | Blog, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News

What Parents Should Know Before They Bring Their Child to an Eye Exam

As children enter kindergarten and elementary school, good vision will become an important part of learning. Here are some key facts parents should know about pediatric eye exams, and the important role they play in a child’s overall health and development.

  1. Vision screening for kids isn’t one and done. Because kids’ vision can change over time, child vision screenings should be done at least once a year. Some vision problems, such as nearsightedness, may not emerge until kids are older, around age 8 or 9, and growth spurts can also contribute to a rapid change in vision.
  2. Many parents may not even be aware that their child is experiencing vision problems until a problem is detected by a vision screening.Vision screenings are important because young children often don’t realize what is or isn’t normal, and are not likely to speak up if they’re not seeing as well as they should.
    1. The signs that your child may be experiencing vision problems can be subtle and can include squinting; tilting or turning the head to see something; eye misalignment (strabismus); complaining of headaches when doing visual tasks; inability to see things that are far away as well as peers/parents; trouble concentrating or fatigue in school; and having a persistent, unusual spot in his eyes in photos taken with a flash (a white spot, for example, instead of the common red eyes), which can indicate nearsightedness or in some cases, a more serious eye disease.
    2. Sitting close to the TV or holding things such as books very close to the face could also indicate a vision problem, but since these are common kid behaviors in all kids, parents should look for these symptoms in combination with the other signs that their child is having trouble seeing well, says Mae Millicent W. Peterseim, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Storm Eye Institute/Medical University of South Carolina.
  1. It is very important to catch vision problems early. Some conditions, such as amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” are most treatable when caught at a young age, and are difficult to fix if it’s diagnosed when a child is older, around age 7 or more. For instance, a child may have poor vision in one eye but see well enough with both so that the problem isn’t detected; only a vision screening that tests a child’s vision one eye at a time would detect such a problem. (Amblyopia is usually treated with glasses and sometimes patching.) “It’s heartbreaking to hear a child say, ‘I thought everyone could see better with one eye,” says Dr. Peterseim.
  2. Once a problem is detected, a child should undergo a comprehensive eye exam. If a screening exam indicates a vision problem, a child will be referred to an ophthalmologist or optometrist for a complete eye exam. “At an eye exam, at the eye doctor’s office, the technician will check vision and should do a test of depth perception,” says Dr. Peterseim. The doctor will check to see how well the eyes track something and how well they move and focus on objects (looking at each eye independently by covering one first and then the other). She will also examine the retina and optic nerve and check the eyes for any signs of infection or disease.
  1. There are exciting new screening tests for children. “Newer instrument-based screening works well and can pick up problems in children earlier,” says Dr. Peterseim. “A child looks at the device with a twinkling light and the machine detects abnormalities in a moment, like a camera, so minimal cooperation is needed.” This method is a bit more expensive, but it’s fast, easy, and effective. New AAP policy is recommending instrument-based screenings for children as young as 12 months old, says Dr. Peterseim.
  2. Eye exams are particularly important for school-age children. Children learn a lot visually in the classroom, and poor vision can have a negative effect on how a child does in school. That’s why it’s particularly important for school-age children to continue to get regular vision screenings, whether at school or at the doctor’s office.
  3. Parents play an important role in protecting kids’ vision. Follow up on screening test results and/or if you spot any signs your child may have a vision problem. Look for a pediatric ophthalmologist or optometrist, or a doctor who is comfortable with children and is experienced in caring for kids’ eyes. For instance, kids tend to peek when asked to cover one eye, so a doctor should know to use a patch or cover an eye well during the exam. Doctors should also dilate pupils during an eye exam. “It is important that the child have drops to dilate the pupils to determine if he really needs glasses,” says Dr. Peterseim. “Some doctors skip this step. If your child’s eye doctor doesn’t do this, a parent should ask, or go somewhere else.”

Relationship Between Glaucoma and Poor Sleep

By | Eye Care, Eye Facts, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News

Eye-Opening Study: Relationship Between Glaucoma and Poor Sleep

Written By: Kierstan Boyd
Apr. 10, 2019

A study of more than 6,700 people in the United States over age 40 who answered a survey about their sleep revealed possible connections between glaucoma and sleep problems.

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. Damage to this nerve—which is responsible for sending signals from the eye to the brain so you can see—often goes unnoticed until an eye exam reveals the nerve damage and related vision loss caused by glaucoma.

The study examined data from the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study participants were glaucoma patients with evidence of optic nerve damage and vision loss in some portions of their visual field. Participants were examined using fundus photography to see the optic nerve and automated visual field testing to check for areas of vision loss.

Respondents to the sleep questions of the survey reported their experiences with the following:

  • Amount of time slept
  • Difficulties falling asleep
  • Sleep disturbances (waking up during sleep)
  • Having diagnosed sleep disorders, including sleep apnea
  • Use of sleep medication
  • Problems with sleepiness during the day

The study found an association between having glaucoma and having various sleep problems. Among the findings:

  • People who slept for 10 or more hours a night were three times more likely to have glaucoma-related optic nerve damage than those who slept 7 hours a night.
  • People who fell asleep in 9 minutes or less, or those who needed 30 minutes or more to fall asleep, were twice as likely to have glaucoma than those who took 10-29 minutes to fall asleep.
  • The odds of having missing vision were three times higher among people who got 3 or fewer or 10 or more hours of sleep per night, compared with those who got 7 hours a night.
  • People who said they had trouble remembering things because of daytime sleepiness were twice as likely to have visual field loss than those who said they were not sleepy during the day and did not notice memory problems.
  • People who said they had difficulty working on a hobby because they were sleepy during the day were three times more likely to have vision loss than people who reported no problems working on hobbies and no daytime sleepiness.

“This study is interesting in that it adds to other research looking at the association between glaucoma and sleep problems,” says Michael Boland, MD, PhD, one of the study’s authors and a glaucoma specialist at the Wilmer Eye Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD.

“We already know that doctors should talk with their patients about the importance of healthy sleep for good overall health. With studies like this, we can add that glaucoma may be related to sleep health issues,” says Dr. Boland.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone should see an ophthalmologist for a baseline medical eye exam at age 40. This is the age when early signs of eye disease (like glaucoma) and vision changes can begin.

Seniors who are worried about the cost of an exam can visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeCare America program page to see if they are eligible for a no-cost eye exam.

Vision Facts and Myths

By | Blog, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Latest Heritage News

Vision Facts and Myths

Reviewed by: Jonathan H. Salvin, MD

 

Old wives’ tales abound about the eyes. From watching TV to eating carrots, here’s the lowdown on some vision facts and fiction.

Myth: If you cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way.

Fact: Contrary to the old saying, eyes will not stay that way if you cross them. If your child is crossing one eye constantly, schedule an evaluation by an ophthalmologist.

 

Myth: Sitting too close to the TV is bad for the eyes.

Fact: Although parents have been saying this ever since TVs first found their way into our homes, there’s no evidence that plunking down right in front of the TV set damages someone’s eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says that kids can actually focus up close without eyestrain better than adults, so they often develop the habit of sitting right in front of the television or holding reading material close to their eyes. However, sitting close to a TV may be a sign of nearsightedness.

 

Myth: If parents have poor eyesight, their kids will inherit that trait.

Fact: Unfortunately, this one is sometimes true. If you need glasses for good vision or have developed an eye condition (such as cataracts), your kids might inherit that same trait. Discuss your family’s visual history with your doctor.

 

Myth: Eating carrots can improve vision.

Fact: Although it’s true that carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is essential for sight, so are many other foods (asparagus, apricots, nectarines, and milk, for example). A well-balanced diet can provide the vitamin A needed for good vision, says the AAO.

 

Myth: Computer use can damage the eyes.

Fact: According to the AAO, computer use won’t harm the eyes. However, when using a computer for long periods of time, the eyes blink less than normal (like they do when reading or performing other close work). This makes the eyes dry, which may lead to a feeling of eyestrain or fatigue. So encourage your kids to take frequent breaks from Internet surfing or video games.

 

Myth: Two blue-eyed parents can’t produce a child with brown eyes.

Fact: Two blue-eyed parents can have a child with brown eyes, although it’s very rare. Likewise, two brown-eyed parents can have a child with blue eyes, although this is also uncommon.

 

Myth: Only boys can be color-blind.

Fact: It’s estimated that up to 8% of boys have some degree of color blindness, whereas less than 1% of girls do.

 

Myth: The eye is full size at birth.

Fact: The eye is NOT full size at birth but continues to grow with your child. This growth partially accounts for refractive (glasses) changes that occur during childhood.

 

Myth: Wearing glasses too much will make the eyes “dependent” on them.

Fact: Refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness, or astigmatism) change as kids get older. Many variables come into play, but most of this change is likely due to genetics and continues despite wearing glasses earlier or later or more or less. Wearing glasses does not make the eyes get worse.

One Reason Myopia (Nearsightedness) is on the Rise!

By | Community Outreach, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Eye Safety

An incredible 1.6 billion people worldwide suffer from some form of nearsightedness (myopia), which can vary from being mild to severe.

Myopia is the world’s most common eyesight problem, but in the last two decades there has been a significant increase in the number of children being diagnosed with the condition.

Recent research suggests that a quarter of children now need glasses to correct blurred distance vision caused by myopia.

A study carried out has found that a lack of outdoor activity (less than 45 minutes a day) and a general increase in the amount of time (more than 2 hours a day) spent using near vision (video games, computers) can affect eye development in children.

Reducing the risk of myopia
There is a genetic link to the development of myopia, with those who have a familial history of the eye condition being more likely to suffer from it too.

For children who are predisposed to developing myopia, it was suggested that they spend at least 15 hours a week outside and minimize the amount of time doing long stints of activities that require near vision.

Simple changes, such as increasing the amount of time outdoors and limiting the use of liquid crystal monitors at close range (laptops, computer games etc) can help reduce the risk of developing myopia.

March: Workplace Eye Wellness Month

By | Blog, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Eye Safety, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News, Uncategorized

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are nearly 800,000 work-related eye injuries each year. Every day, approximately 2,000 U.S. workers receive medical treatment for eye injuries related to or sustained at work. While vision loss is one of the 10 most common disabilities, 90 percent of eye injuries are preventable.

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Eye Anatomy: Parts of the Eye

By | Eye Facts, Health and Nutrition, Latest Heritage News

By Liz Segre; eye illustration by Stephen Bagi

The human eye has been called the most complex organ in our body. It’s amazing that something so small can have so many working parts. But when you consider how difficult the task of providing vision really is, perhaps it’s no wonder after all.

How the Eye Works

In a number of ways, the human eye works much like a digital camera:

Light is focused primarily by the cornea — the clear front surface of the eye, which acts like a camera lens.

The iris of the eye functions like the diaphragm of a camera, controlling the amount of light reaching the back of the eye by automatically adjusting the size of the pupil (aperture).

The eye’s crystalline lens is located directly behind the pupil and further focuses light. Through a process called accommodation, this lens helps the eye automatically focus on near and approaching objects, like an autofocus camera lens.

Light focused by the cornea and crystalline lens (and limited by the iris and pupil) then reaches the retina — the light-sensitive inner lining of the back of the eye. The retina acts like an electronic image sensor of a digital camera, converting optical images into electronic signals. The optic nerve then transmits these signals to the visual cortex — the part of the brain that controls our sense of sight.

Eye anatomy

Other parts of the human eye play a supporting role in the main activity of sight:

Some carry fluids (such as tears and blood) to lubricate or nourish the eye.

Others are muscles that allow the eye to move.

Some parts protect the eye from injury (such as the lids and the epithelium of the cornea).

And some are messengers, sending sensory information to the brain (such as the pain-sensing nerves in the cornea and the optic nerve behind the retina).

Protect Your Eyes During The Solar Eclipse

By | Blog, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Latest Heritage News
Protect Your Eyes During This Rare Event
 
The buzz has begun. People are planning how they can best view the solar eclipse that will make its way across the United States on Aug. 21, 2017.
It’s a rare occasion. And it requires preparation so that you don’t damage your eyes while viewing the moon as it covers the sun.
But first, let’s talk about eclipse. During the Aug. 21 event, a partial eclipse can be seen anywhere in North America.
The total solar eclipse, where the moon fully covers the sun, will only be seen in a few states, starting in Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PDT (10:05 a.m. MDT). Over the next hour and a half, the total eclipse will then cross a 70-mile wide path through the states of Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North and South Carolina.
Because of its rarity, some people are making plans to travel to these lucky states to see the total solar eclipse, when the moon completely obscures the sun for just a few short minutes – the only time when eye protection is not needed.
While we enjoy all the excitement surrounding this thrilling occurrence, it can’t be said enough: It is never safe to look directly at the sun.
Special eclipse glasses or an alternate indirect method must be used if you want to face the sun (except for that roughly 2-minute period when the moon completely obscures the sun in those select states). Homemade filters and dark sunglasses do not qualify.
To protect your eyes, governmental agencies, including NASA, suggest using eclipse viewing glasses and/or handheld solar viewers that have:
* Certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard, and
* The manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product.
They also warn not to use protective devices if they are older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses.
According to the American Astronomical Society, the following companies have been verified as making eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers that meet the required ISO 12312-2 international standard: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.
To be safe, search any of the above manufacturers to purchase your qualified glasses or viewers now so that you have them in plenty of time.
 
You don’t want to miss the excitement. According to the University of Colorado’s Fiske Planetarium, the next solar eclipse to occur in the country will be in April 2024, but it will only cross the Eastern United States. There will be another eclipse in August 2045, which will pass directly over our home state of Colorado.

Does My Child Really Need Sunglasses?

By | Blog, Eye Care, Eye Facts, Latest Heritage News

Children’s Sunglasses: Choosing the Best Sun Protection for Kids’ Eyes

Do children really need sunglasses? According to most eye doctors and researchers, the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation and blue light (also called high-energy visible, or HEV, light) from sunlight appear to increase the risk of multiple age-related eye problems, including cataracts and macular degeneration. Researchers say the more exposure you’ve had to the sun’s harmful UV and HEV rays during your lifetime, the more at risk you may be for these sight-threatening conditions.


The best children’s sunglasses block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays and have impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses.

Because children tend to spend more time outdoors than most adults, some experts say nearly half of a person’s lifetime exposure to ultraviolet radiation can take place by age 18. (Other research cited by The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests the amount of lifetime exposure to UV radiation sustained by age 18 is less than 25 percent.)

Also, children are more susceptible to damage to the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye from UV rays because the lens inside a child’s eye is less capable of blocking UV than an adult lens, enabling more of this harmful radiation to penetrate deep into the eye.

And nearly all high-energy blue light reaches the retinas of children and adults alike, because the corneaand lens of the human eye are not capable of absorbing these rays, which have been shown to damage photosensitive cells of the retina in laboratory studies.

These factors make it very important for all children, even infants, to wear UV- and HEV-blocking sunglasses anytime they are outdoors in daylight hours. This is true even on cloudy and overcast days, because most UV rays (which are invisible) and some HEV rays can penetrate cloud cover.

By investing in quality children’s sunglasses, you are helping your kids enjoy a lifetime of good vision.

Children’s Sunglasses and UV Protection

According to Prevent Blindness America, children’s sunglasses should block 99 to 100 percent of both types of untraviolet rays: UVA and UVB.

Choco Grape sunglasses for girls, by Eyes Cream Shades.
You don’t have to spend a lot to get high-quality sunglasses for your kids. Shown here is the Choco Grape style in the Bling Collection by Eyes Cream Shades.

UVA is lower-energy ultraviolet radiation that can penetrate skin and eyes more deeply. UVA rays tan your skin, but they also cause your skin to wrinkle and show other signs of “photo-aging.” And because UVA rays can penetrate the eye, they have been implicated in the development of both cataracts and macular degeneration.

UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of solar UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

UVB is high-energy ultraviolet radiation that causes your skin to burn. The cornea blocks most UVB rays from entering the eye, protecting internal eye tissues from these high-energy rays. But overexposure to UV light can cause a serious and painful “sunburn” of the cornea called photokeratitis, which can cause a temporary loss of vision that is commonly called “snow blindness.”

SEE ALSO: Should Your Teen Wear Contacts? Click here to learn more >

In addition to causing eye problems, both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer of the face, including the delicate skin of the eyelids and the area around the eyes. UV exposure also has been associated with growths on the surface of the eye called pingueculae and pterygia.

Be wary of children’s sunglasses with labels that say the lenses, “block UV rays,” but don’t specify the actual percentage of UV radiation the lenses absorb. In some cases, your eye care practitioner can use an optical instrument to determine the exact level of UV protection your child’s sunglasses provide.

Also, be aware that UV radiation penetrates clouds. Encourage your kids to wear their sunglasses even on overcast days to protect their eyes.

Recommended Features of Children’s Sunglasses

In addition to having lenses that block 100 percent of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays and a significant amount of potentially harmful blue light, most eye doctors recommend children’s sunglasses also have these desirable features:

  • Impact-resistant lenses. The best lenses for children’s sunglasses are made of polycarbonate. Polycarbonate lenses are up to 10 times more impact-resistant than standard plastic lenses for superior eye protection during sports and other play. Polycarbonate lenses also are lighter than glass or standard plastic lenses for greater wearing comfort.
  • Large, close-fitting frame. For the best protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and to keep dust and other debris from getting in your child’s eyes, a relatively large yet close-fitting frame is the best design for children’s sunglasses.
  • “Unbreakable” frame material. Look for children’s sunglasses that have flexible frames to avoid breakage and potential eye or facial injury from a frame that snaps upon impact.
  • Spring hinges. Hinges that extend beyond 90 degrees and have a spring action to keep the fit of the frame snug will decrease the risk of your child’s sunglasses falling off or getting damaged during sports and other play.
  • An elastic band. An elastic band that attaches to the end of each of the frame’s earpieces can help prevent loss or damage to children’s sunglasses. Choices include a close-fitting band to keep the frame snugly attached to the head during active sports or a looser-fitting strap to allow your child to remove his or her sunglasses yet keep them hanging from the neck for easy on-and-off use. However, avoid the use of a band or cord that might pose a choking risk for an unattended infant or toddler.

For superior UV protection, it’s a good idea for kids to wear a wide-brimmed hat as well as sunglasses when spending a lot of time outdoors on sunny days. Researchers say a hat that shades the eyes and face can cut the amount of UV exposure in half. And don’t forget the sunscreen, too!

Beware of Cheap Sunglasses for Children

Many inexpensive children’s sunglasses provide excellent UV protection. This is especially true if they include polycarbonate lenses, because the polycarbonate lens material blocks 100 percent of UV rays without the need for added lens filters or coatings.

But cheap sunglasses for kids can pose other risks. In the recent past, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has required the recall of several brands of cheap sunglasses for children that had surface paint containing unacceptable levels of lead. And the frames, hinges and lenses of cheap children’s sunglasses often are not as durable as the components of quality sunglasses for children.

For your child’s safety and to get the best quality children’s eyewear with the best warranty, visit us at Heritage Eye, Skin & Laser Center.