Q: Why is my child having trouble reading and concentrating on schoolwork?
A: Your child may have an underlying refractive issue, such as farsightedness, nearsightedness or an astigmatism that maybe be causing blurred vision, making it hard for your child to concentrate and focus. There may also binocularity issues, which is how well the two eyes work together, or focusing issues that can affect a child's schoolwork. When working with your child, we will evaluate the visual system including binocular and accommodative systems to determine if his/her vision may be interfering with academic success.
Q: What is blue light and why is it dangerous?
A: Blue light is part of visible light and has a wavelength close to UV rays on the light spectrum. It is naturally produced by the sun, given off by fluorescent light bulbs, and emitted by LED screens on computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones. The eye's natural filters do not block blue light and chronic exposure may increase your risk for age-related macular degeneration. Evidence also shows that blue light exposure can lead to sleep problems.
Q: What causes myopia?
A: Myopia is caused by a combination of environmental factors and heredity. Studies show that if we can move the focal point in front of the mid peripheral retina we can slow the progression of myopia. The increased use of cell phones and computers, as well as less time outdoors is probably a contributing factor.
Q: How will I know if my child's amblyopia is getting better? Is it too late to help if the problem is detected after age 6?
A: Lazy eye will not go away on its own. We have what is called electrodiagnostic testing which can determine the effectiveness of amblyopia treatment without relying on the response of the child to "tell" us how well they are seeing. Oftentimes, parents worry that the eye exam is not accurate if their child is not old enough to read the chart or is uncooperative due to anxiety surrounding an eye exam. This test is non-invasive and fast (30 minutes) and can be done right here in our office for patients of all ages, starting in infancy. We can track over time how the therapy is working and the prognosis of their vision.
Q: What is Amblyopia?
A: Sometimes called Lazy eye, it is the underdevelopment of central vision in one or sometimes both eyes; it also prevents both eyes from working together.
Q: What exactly is astigmatism?
A: Astigmatism is usually caused by an irregularly shaped cornea, the front surface of the eye. Instead of being a perfect sphere, like a ball bearing or a marble, it can become a little more like a football, being more curved in one direction than the other. This brings light into focus at more than one point on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in blurry or distorted vision.
Q: My previous eye doctor told me I have “stigma!” Am I going to go blind?
A: Stigma is actually referring to a type of refractive error known properly as astigmatism, and no, you will not go blind from having astigmatism; it is not a disease. In fact, this condition is relatively common. There are three types of refractive errors: myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. The former two are also known to as nearsighted (cannot see far away) and farsighted (cannot see up close). Astigmatism is simply the third category; it can affect both the near and far vision. Much like nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism is corrected using glasses or contacts. Technically speaking an eye with astigmatism requires two different prescriptions to correct vision in one eye, due to the more oval shape of the cornea. For contact lens wearers, this will require a more specialized contact lens and a more in-depth fitting procedure.
Q: I've heard that blue light is dangerous, like UV radiation. Do I need to protect my eyes from it and, if so, how?
A: We all know about ultraviolet (UV) sun damage, but recently, the optical community has found that high-energy visible light (HEV) or "blue light" from digital screens may cause long term damage to the eye, too. Over time, exposure can increase the risk of macular degeneration, and other problems. Similar to anti-reflective and UV-protective coatings, a new lens coating has been developed to protect our eyes by blocking out blue light rays coming from our handheld devices, computers and fluorescent bulbs.
Q: Does reading my smartphone or tablet in the dark damage my eyes?
A: Reading from a tablet or smartphone in the dark is okay for your eyes, as long as it's not for a long period of time. These devices have decent lighting and good contrast. However, they give off blue light, and long-term exposure may cause damage to the structures of the eye. As well, studies have shown that blue light at night disrupts melatonin production and interferes with healthy sleep cycles. Optometrists recommend wearing blue light blocking eyewear for extended digital device use, and limiting screen time during the last hour before bedtime.
Q: My child saw 20/20 at their school physical. That's perfect vision for back to school, right?
A: Maybe! 20/20 only tells us what size letter can be seen 20 feet away. People with significant farsightedness or eye muscle imbalances may see "20/20", but experience enough visual strain to make reading difficult. Eighty percent of learning is visual so include a thorough eye exam in your child's Back-to-School list.
Q: One of the greatest tasks of a school-aged child is learning to read and in older children, the amount of reading required. What should parents be on the lookout for concerning their child’s reading and potential vision problems?
A: We often discuss vision problems as they relate to sitting in a classroom, but what about the playground or vision acuity’s effect on socialization and play?
Q: Today it seems that many children are very quickly diagnosed as learning disabled or dyslexic. Does vision play a role?
A: In some cases a large undetected prescription (farsightedness or astigmatism) or an eye muscle imbalance (binocular vision problem) can make reading and learning a challenge. Once properly diagnosed and treated, reading and learning tasks can become much more comfortable, visually.
Q: My child is struggling in school. Does he / she need an eye exam?
A: A comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist can often determine if there are visual issues interfering with a child’s ability to perform well in school. Many visual symptoms, some obvious, others less so, can contribute to a child’s poor academic achievement. The most common symptoms to watch out for: blur at distance or near, skipping or re-reading lines or words, reduced reading comprehension, difficulty shifting focus from near to far or far to near, difficulty copying from the smart board, double vision, closing or covering an eye when working at near, headaches -- especially in the forehead, temple, or eyebrow regions, difficulty attending to near work or an avoidance of reading, poor spelling, misaligning numbers in math, unusual head or body posture when working at near. Some of these issues can be alleviated with a good pair of eyeglasses while others may require vision therapy. Vision therapy, like occupational therapy or physical therapy, is a systematic program where the body, in this case the visual system, can be retrained and strengthened to improve it’s ability to function.
Q: How can a child's learning in school be affected by their vision?
A: A child's ability to learn is strongly dependent on having a normal visual system. Visual acuity (being able to see the letters on the chart with the big E) is only one aspect of about 17 visual skills that are required for reading and learning. Vision therapy is a treatment program that can remediate mal-developed visual skills and certain vision disorders, helping children reach their maximum learning and reading potential.
Q: My child says it gets blurry when looking from his paper to the board at school, and getting him to read is difficult. Is there anything I can do to help?
A: Your child is not alone. While we have been seeing children with focusing problems for many years, there is a huge increase in accommodative (focusing) problems with children today. Our eye doctor works with children to make reading easier and more enjoyable. Words shouldn’t move in and out of focus or move around when you are reading. For example, spec lenses with extra power for reading or multifocal contacts, can make reading more comfortable for many children. School is challenging enough as it is, without the added difficulty of eyestrain and the eyes working hard just to see.
Q: My child is struggling in school. Should I have his/her eyes examined?
A: A comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist can often determine if there are visual issues interfering with a child's ability to perform in school. Many visual symptoms, some obvious, others less so, can contribute to a child's poor academic achievement. Some of these issues can be alleviated with a good pair of eyeglasses while others may require vision therapy. The doctors at our eye clinic are trained in the diagnosis of vision related learning problems.
Q: What are some of the learning difficulties a child may encounter if they have vision issues?
A: Children may have difficulty reading if their near vision is blurry or the words jump around the page. Older children may have difficulty copying from the board at the front of the class or may struggle with math homework that has multiple questions on the page.
Q: My child passed the screening test at school, isn’t that enough?
A: Distance and reading are two different things. Someone with perfect distance vision can still have focusing problems up close. Eye doctors check for both. Many children have undiagnosed accommodative (focusing) problems because no one ever looked for it before. We always check the distance and near vision of our patients of all ages because it is so important. Other areas that need to be checked include: eye muscle alignment, color vision, depth perception, and overall health of the eyes.
Q: What can I do about Digital Eye Strain?
A: We can help! There are various eyeglass lenses and lens coatings for people of all ages to relieve digital eye strain and ease fatigue after extended reading or computer use. Lens treatments, such as anti-reflective and blue light blocking coatings, protect your eyes and increase comfort. We also prescribe many different types of contact lenses to reduce reading discomfort and make it easier to switch focus from near to far.
Q: I work all day on my computer. How can I reduce the strain to my eyes?
A: Usually we recommend that the height of the monitor should be level with the tip of your nose. The screen should be 26 - 30 inches away from your eyes. You can prevent glare from the screen and the harmful effects of blue light by wearing anti-glare lenses and blue light protection. In addition you should follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of computer use, you should take a break for 20 seconds by looking at an object that is 20 feet away from you. If you feel that your eyes are suffering from computer use, please call to make an appointment so we can evaluate your condition.
Q: Is too much computer or hand-held device use bad for my child’s eyes?
A: The last few years have seen a radical shift in how our children use their vision. More and more time is spent looking at an electronic screen; TV, computer, cell phone, game device, and so on. Vision scientists have long pointed out that excessive near point tasks can lead to increased myopia (nearsightedness) in children, eyestrain, and headaches. Combined with the potentially damaging effect of the blue light these screens emit, you have the possibility of a dangerous situation. We recommend a common-sense approach. First, limit the time your child has to electronic media. Psychologists, educators, and doctors all agree: too much is not good. Second, practice the 20/20/20 rule. For every twenty minutes of near point tasks, take twenty seconds and look at something twenty feet or more away. In short, take frequent rest breaks. Third, use lenses that are designed for your particular activity. Having the correct eyeglass or contact lens prescription is always the place to start. There are lenses and coatings that not only provide the proper focus, but also block unwanted glare and limit the amount of damaging blue light.
Q: What Is Convergence Insufficiency?
A: Convergence Insufficiency (CI) is a visual condition where the eyes are not able to comfortably focus on near-vision tasks, which makes reading difficult or impossible. The condition tends to make kids see double, lose their place, read slowly, and get tired after a short time reading. Many children with CI avoid books, struggle in school, take very long to do their homework, and may even be misdiagnosed as having ADD/ADHD. Convergence Insufficiency patients are also more prone to dizziness and vertigo. The best treatment for CI is vision therapy. These exercises help the person have better control of their eyes, allowing them to enjoy reading and do well at school.
Q: What are CRT contact lenses?
A: Paragon CRT® Contact Lenses are therapeutic contact lenses that gently remold the cornea while you sleep to temporarily correct nearsightedness up to -6.00 diopters, and mild amounts of astigmatism. If you or your child have been diagnosed with nearsightedness (or myopia), Paragon CRT® Contact Lenses offers a non-invasive and non-surgical treatment.
Q: How does the Ortho-K assist in treating nearsightedness, and astigmatism.
A: The way to have clear vision is for light rays that travel through your eye to focus on your retina, orthokeratology does this by gently reshaping the cornea. It's a similar philosophy (changing corneal curvature) as LASIK but orthokeratology does no permanent damage or removal of corneal tissue as with LASIK.
Q: How does the Ortho-K slow the progression of childhood myopia.
A: It has been concluded in many studies that orthokeratology will halt or slow down the increase of axial length of the eye which is directly correlated to halting or slowing down progression of myopia.
Q: What are the benefits of Ortho-k for kids?
A: Ortho-k can be an excellent option for children. Does your child’s prescription for myopia worsen progressively each year? Corrective refractive therapy may offer a solution to constant deteriorating vision. Studies have demonstrated that when children wear ortho-k lenses, myopia progression slows down. In addition, laser surgery is not available for kids under 18, so ortho-k is a great alternative to eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Q: What is it about this particular technology that you find most exciting, or the component that made you feel you need to use in this for your practice?
A: I love practicing orthokeratology because of the myopia control aspect. It's great to keep a child's nearsightedness from increasing exponentially and by doing that it will decrease the child's risk of developing retinal detachment or glaucoma in the future.
Q: What is Orthokeratolgy (Ortho-K)?
A: Did you ever wish you could wake up in the morning being able to see perfectly? By wearing Ortho-K lenses nightly, you can correct your vision if you are nearsighted to close to perfect vision. Your eye doctor will fit you with GP lenses that gently correct the shape of the front of your eye when you sleep. The correction remains for a day or two, so you must continue to use the contacts nightly if you want to maintain good vision during the day. Interested in trying Ortho-K lenses? Book a consultation today.
Q: At what age should my child have his/her eyes examined?
A: Eye exams for children should start between 6mos-1 year old. There is a nationwide program called InfantSee (http://www.infantsee.org/) where participating providers offer a FREE eye exam to children in this age group to make sure the eyes are developing properly. If there are no issues detected, an exam at 3 and 5 years old is sufficient to make sure the eyes are still developing properly for preschool and kindergarten. Since babies and toddlers have no way of knowing if what they see is "normal" and "clear" or not, having a comprehensive eye exam is the best way to ensure their eyes and vision is developing properly. Any ocular issues are best addressed sooner rather than later because 80% of learning takes place through vision in kids!
Q: My child had a vision exam at my Pediatrician, why do I need to come to the eye doctor?
A: Vision screening programs are intended to help identify children or adults who may have undetected vision problems and refer them for further evaluation. However, they can't be relied on to provide the same results as a comprehensive eye and vision examination. Vision screening programs are intended to help identify children or adults who may have undetected vision problems and refer them for further evaluation. Screenings can take many forms. Often schools provide periodic vision screenings for their students. A pediatrician or other primary care physician may do a vision screening as part of a school physical. When applying for a driver's license, chances are your vision will be screened. Many times vision screenings are part of local health fairs put on by hospitals, social service agencies or fraternal groups like the Lions and Elks Clubs. While vision screenings can uncover some individuals with vision problems, they can miss more than they find. This is a major concern about vision screening programs. Current vision screening methods cannot be relied upon to effectively identify individuals in need of vision care. In some cases, vision screening may actually serve as an unnecessary barrier to an early diagnosis of vision problems. They can create a false sense of security for those individuals who "pass" the screening, but who actually have a vision problem, thereby delaying further examination and treatment. Undetected and untreated vision problems can interfere with a child's ability to learn in school and participation in sports or with an adult's ability to do their job or to drive safely. The earlier a vision problem is diagnosed and treated, the less it will impact an individual's quality of life.
Q: How do I know Vision Therapy is right for my child?
A: If your child displays symptoms of strabismus (eye turn), amblyopia (“lazy eye”), skipping words or lines while reading, using a finger while reading, blurry near vision, double vision, eyestrain and/or eye fatigue, it is suggested your child has a complete eye exam from a Doctor of Optometry. If symptoms persist or the Doctor of Optometry recommends Vision Therapy, then a Vision Therapy assessment is the next step. The doctor will perform a thorough one-on-one assessment and will determine which conditions are present, whether Vision Therapy is suitable, the type of eye exercises required and the number of sessions needed.
Q: What is Vision Therapy?
A: Vision therapy is an individualized treatment plan prescribed by a Doctor of Optometry. It is used to treat eye conditions, such as strabismus (eye turn) or amblyopia (“lazy eye”). Through Vision Therapy, a Doctor of Optometry also teaches, improves and/or reinforces important visual skills, such as eye tracking, eye focusing and eye teaming abilities. Without these visual skills, simple tasks like reading or copying notes from the board become difficult. Skipping words or lines while reading, using a finger while reading, blurry near vision, double vision, eyestrain and/or eye fatigue are also common symptoms.