Focus on Low Vision in February

    Posted by Emily Martin on 2/3/14 8:00 AM

    February is Low Vision Awareness Month and the perfect time to learn how to reduce your risks and keep your eyes healthy. Approximately 14 million Americans are affected by low vision - a visual impairment that cannot be corrected with standard eyeglasses, medicine, or surgery. Often resulting from an eye disease or injury, low vision interferes with everyday tasks like reading, watching television, or driving a car.

    The most important thing you can do for your eyes is to have a yearly comprehensive eye exam. Many eye diseases, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, have no symptoms in the early stages and can only be detected through an exam. Learning your risk factors for various eye disease is another step you can take to ensure healthy vision. You are at an increased risk for glaucoma or cataracts if you are African American, have diabetes, or are over the age of 60. Macular degeneration is more prevalent in Caucasians, smokers, and people with a family history of the disease.

    You can reduce your risk for low vision by protecting your eyes from external factors with the use of safety glasses and sunglasses. Eye injuries can cause various impairments from cloudy or distorted vision to complete blindness. Always wear safety glasses when handling chemicals, performing tasks that involve flying debris (trimming hedges or woodworking), or playing sports. Low vision may also be caused from damage from harmful UV rays. Overexposure has been linked to the development of cataracts and may increase your risk for macular degeneration. Since UV damage is cumulative, it is most beneficial to make wearing sunglasses a habit as early as possible. Look for sunglasses that have large frames to protect the area around the eyes and lenses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays.

    Signs of low vision can include central vision loss, peripheral (side) vision loss, night blindness, hazy/blurred vision, and even loss of ability to distinguish colors. Low vision is not a normal symptom of aging. If you experience any changes in your vision, a visit to your eye doctor will distinguish normal changes in your eyes from an eye disease.

    While treatments for low vision have come a long way in recent years, an ounce of prevention is still worth more than a pound of cure. Vision aids are available to help manage low vision by magnifying objects and filtering light but nothing will restore sight once it is lost.

    Topics: Eye Health, Eye Exam, Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma

    4 Tips Every Parent Should Read

    Posted by Emily Martin on 8/30/13 3:00 PM

    It’s that time of year again…bus stops, backpacks, sports practice, and the dreaded homework! It is said that 80% of what we learn is through our eyes. Whether it’s on the chalkboard, reading a book, or on the computer or TV screen, good vision is vital to the learning process.

    Ensure your child’s success this school year with these healthy vision tips:

    1. Monitor their headaches: Sure, we all get headaches from time to time but frequent headaches can be a sign of poor vision. If your child is farsighted – meaning that can see clearly at a distance but not up close – they may have trouble reading textbooks and completing homework.
    1. Pay attention to squinting: Have you noticed your child squinting to see things or sitting closer than usual to the TV or computer? They may be nearsighted – meaning that they can see objects clearly in close range but distance vision is poor. This will certainly affect their ability to the see the chalkboard in the classroom and even their performance in sports they play.
    1. Have them read to you: Being distracted easily while doing homework or losing their place while reading is often labeled as hyperactivity but it can also be a clear symptom of a vision problem. Astigmatism – a condition that causes objects to appear blurry and distorted – may be the reason behind your child avoiding doing their homework.
    1. Be aware of new behaviors: Often a child will compensate for poor vision by tilting their head to one side or closing one eye. This can be a warning sign of strabismus – an eye muscle imbalance that causes double vision. It may also be a symptom of a more serious medical problem, such as a cataract.

    If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms make an appointment for a comprehensive exam with your eye care provider.

    Topics: Kids, Eye Health, Eye Exam