Q: How will I know if my child is getting better from Amblyopia? Is it too late to help my child if the problem is undetected 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 of getting 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 vision.
Q: What exactly is astigmatism?
A: Usually it is related to the shape factor of the front surface of the eye called the cornea. Instead of being shaped spherically like a ball bearing or a marble, it is shaped like a football, being more curved in one direction than the other. This brings light to focus at more than 1 point. The root word stigma means point and the prefix A means without a point focus in the eye.
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, it is relatively common. There are three types of refractive error, myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. The former two are more regularly referred to as nearsighted (cannot see far away) and farsighted (cannot see up close). Astigmatism is simply the third category; it affects both the near and far vision at the same time. 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. This will require a more specialized contact lens and a more in depth fitting procedure. Nonetheless your eye care provider can, and will, correct your astigmatism with glasses and/or contacts.
Q: I have heard about blue light being a concern as well. Can you talk a little bit about this and what it means for protecting your eyes?
A: Recently, the optical community has found that blue light can also cause long term damage to the eye. It has been found that overexposure to blue light over time can lead to macular degeneration. To help protect our eyes from these rays, a new coating has been found to block out this blue light. Anti-reflective or anti-glare coating could be a term that is familiar to you. Labs have found a way for these features to block the blue rays coming from our handheld devices, computers and fluorescent bulbs. This coating has several benefits and protecting our eyes from these harmful rays is one of them.
Q: What is blue light and why is it dangerous?
A: Blue light is part of visible light and close to UV on the light spectrum. It is naturally produced by the sun, used in fluorescent light bulbs and emitted by LED screens on computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones. The eyes’ natural filters do not block blue light and chronic exposure can cause age – related macular degeneration. Evidence also shows that blue light exposure can lead to sleep problems.
Q: Does reading my smart phone or tablet in the dark damage my eyes?
A: Reading from a tablet or smart phone in the dark is okay for your eyes, as long as this is not for a long period of time. There is good lighting from these devices, with good contrast. There is, however, blue light emitted from these devices. Blue light is a short wavelength light, with high energy that may cause damage to the structures of the eye if exposed for a long period of time. As well, studies have shown this blue light can disrupt melatonin production which is required for a healthy sleep cycle. Doctors of Optometry recommend limiting screen use 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. Vision controls eighty percent of learning so include a thorough eye exam in your child's Back-to-School list.
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, thus making it hard for your child to concentrate and focus. There may also binocular issues, which is how well the two eyes work together, and focusing issues, that may affect a child's schoolwork. When working with your child, we will evaluate the child's visual system including their binocular systems and accommodative systems to determine if his/her vision may be playing a role in their academic performance or sports performance.
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: 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 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. All the doctors at Eye Vision Associates are trained in the diagnosis of vision related learning problems.
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 seen some children with focusing problems for many years, there is a huge increase in accommodative(focusing) problems with children today. Our eye doctor has helped many children make reading easier and more enjoyable. Words shouldn’t move in and out of focus or move around when you are reading. Either with spec lenses with extra power for reading or multifocal contacts, we can make reading more comfortable for many children. There is no reason to make school and reading more difficult by straining and having the eyes work harder to see.
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. Having clear vision is only one aspect of 17 visual skills that are required for reading and learning. In certain vision disorders, some of the visual skills required for efficient learning are mal-developed. Vision therapy is a treatment program that can remediate mal-developed visual skills, and help children reach their maximum learning and reading potential.