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Prevention in perspective
The best way to protect vision is through good general health. A balanced diet includes all the essential nutrients needed by the eyes for each vision mechanism. Examination by a specialist is critical to identify eye problems, and personal hygiene and awareness of our own health and body is the best way to keep our eyes healthy. Safety and correction of vision defects complete the picture of a person who is alive to the world they see around them.
Your child's first eye exam
Your children should have their first vision examination by no later than three or four years of age. Of course, children with any signs of eye problems should be examined immediately, regardless of age. Modern technology makes It possible for a doctor of optometry to examine a child who is too young to read, talk or answer questions. it is also important to remember that an annual school vision screening DOES NOT constitute a thorough visual exam.
Computer Vision Syndrome
The fatigue and pain of CVS shows up after long-term computer use and leads to physical stress including eyestrain. Videogames require extreme focus at a short distant range which brings forth the same effects as with CVS. Constant strain due to problems related to lighting, posture, and the physical placement of screen, keyboard, mouse and work material can cause CVS. The syndrome is preventable. An additional critical component of CVS discussed in this article is the ultraviolet radiation emitted by computer screens. This UV “noise” can be avoided by a filter placed directly in front of the screen, by a low-UV monitor or with appropriate eyewear (specially coated glasses or contact lenses). Over 16 million North Americans have or are at risk for CVS.
As we age, the eye’s lens may become cloudy and changes from crystal blue to dull yellow. The cloudy lens is called a cataract. As the cataract develop, vision becomes blurry and dim, as less light passes into the eye. Cataracts may eventually cause temporary vision loss. In the early stages, low-vision aids can compensate for these problems. Fortunately, the cloudy lens can be removed and replaced by clear plastic lenses or other devices that restore vision.
What are spots, floaters and flashes?
Spots, floaters and flashes are all integral parts of the miracle of the inner eye and its life cycle. Spots and floaters are semi-transparent, thread-like strands, specks or brilliant crystals that float inside the eye. When we see spots and floaters, we may have the impression that foreign objects are in front of our eyes, but find that the objects dart away when we try to look at them directly.
Spots and floaters come in many shapes and sizes. They may appear as tiny dots, round circles, long, thread-like strands, cobwebs or fuzzy clouds. We usually notice them when looking at a bright, blue sky or a blank, white wall. People of all ages see spots and floaters. Nearsighted people and people with eye injuries or inflammation see them more frequently. But in most cases, even though they may be bothersome, spots and floaters are harmless and fade away with time.
Flashes are experienced by most everyone in late adulthood. Some flashes are caused by blood vessel spasms and can occur at any age. In either case, they may appear as straight or jagged vertical lightning streaks, shooting stars, fleeting white pin-points or brilliant blasts of light.
Shadows and lightshows inside our eyes
Spots and floaters are found in the tear layer in front of the eye, in the iris (the colored part of our eye that controls its exposure to light) and in the vitreous (the white, gel-like substance that maintains the shape of the eye). They are a normal part of the process of growth and degeneration our eyes are destined to undergo.
In childhood and early adulthood, the spots and floaters most people see are pieces of blood vessels that were left suspended inside the vitreous of the eye when it was forming before birth. They may also be specks of pigment on the muscle fibers attached to the iris or particles caught in the tear layer in front of the eye. These tiny objects drift freely in the eye and cross our line of vision.
By the mid-forties, the vitreous starts to become more liquid. As this change takes place, a combination of liquid and clumps is present. The shadows cast by these crystal-like clumps are floaters. At this point in life, eyesight may also become hazier than in younger years.
By the time we reach our sixties and seventies, the vitreous usually begins to separate from the retina (where we “see”), at the back of the eye. At this point, a series of flashes may be seen. The most fascinating thing about these flashes is that they are all in our head! They are produced by the nerves in the retina as the vitreous pulls away from it and rubs against it. The brain is registering “light” because its light receptors are being stimulated, but no light is actually present. Although this process may be a little disturbing at first, it is perfectly normal and should subside after a few weeks or months. See “Protecting your eyesight” for details on how long flashes should last.
Migraine flashes are brought about by blood vessel spasms in the brain called migraines. Flashes appear as straight or jagged streaks of lightning and give the impression of a heat wave. Although they may be bothersome, migraine flashes are usually temporary occurrences. They may or may not occur just before a migraine headache is about to begin.
Treatment of spots, floaters and flashes
If your floaters or flashes come from a retinal tear or detachment, laser surgery may be performed to repair damage as soon as possible. However, most spots, floaters and flashes are simply a fact of life, and there is no safe, reliable treatment to control or eliminate them.
Protecting your eyesite
On rare occasion during the natural process of the separation of the vitreous from the retina, blood vessels in the eye may leak, and the retina may be torn or may detach from the inner lining of the eye. Damage to the retina may also occur due to injury, disease, inflammation of the eye, macular degeneration or other health conditions.
When the retina is detached or seriously damaged, a rush of sparks or lightning flashes and showers of floaters may be seen, and part of the field of vision may become dim or black, as if a curtain has been partially drawn. No matter what the cause, if a sudden increase in spots, floaters and flashes lasts more than 20 to 40 minutes, it should be considered an emergency, and immediate medical attention sought. Left untreated, retinal damage or detachment may result in permanent loss of vision.
Did you know that red eyes can be allergic, viral, bacterial, toxic, or just plain dryness. Optometrists like Dr. Marra and Dr. Tucker are experts in determining the cause and treatment plan. The most common causes are allergic and/or dryness. We know have some extremely effective new anti-allergy drops by prescription with the proper diagnosis. Many tear regulation problems can be treated with punctual occlusion which plugs the drainage hole of the eye and allows tears to pool. We can demonstrate the effectiveness with a temporary plug before proceeding with a long lasting solution. See your optometrists for diagnosis and treatment of red eyes.
What are some early signs of vision problems in children?
School performance that is consistently below individual ability
Unusually short attention span and a tendency to avoid close work.
Blurred or double vision at any time.
Eyes that often itch or burn
A tendency to blink or rub eyes often.
Eyes that cross, turn in, out or move Independently of each other.
Why can I no longer focus on objects up close?
Vision changes occur naturally as you age. When you reach your 40’s, focusing at close range becomes difficult. This is a natural part of the aging process caused by a gradual hardening of the eye’s crystalline lens, reducing its ability to change shape and focus. This condition is called Presbyopia.
What are progressive addition lenses?
Progressive addition lenses feature a continuous, clear field of vision from distance, through the intermediate ranges, to near without the use of annoying bifocal lines. Bifocal lenses use very old technology. Abrupt and awkward changes between distance and near prescriptions are separated by annoying lines that can be frustrating to wear.
Who would be a candidate for Progressive Lenses?
Anyone who has presbyopia, including current bifocal and trifocal wearers.
Is there an adaptation period with Progressive lenses?
Most individuals will learn to use their Progressive lenses right away. Others may take a bit longer to become completely comfortable. Your eye care professional should be made aware of any extended adaptation period. A “fine-tuning” frame adjustment may be all that is necessary to assist in this initial period.
How can I reduce the thickness of my eyeglass lenses?
Progressive lenses are available in a variety of different materials that will reduce both thickness and weight. Smaller frames also reduce lens thickness and weight. Your eye care professional will consider prescription, frame size, and your individual lifestyle as factors in helping you decide which lens material will be best for you.
Do Progressive lenses have scratch and ultraviolet protection?
Yes, ask your eye care professional for details.
How can I learn more about Progressive lenses?
In addition to the information provided here, and elsewhere on this web site, your eye care professional is an excellent source of information about Progressive lenses and their specific applications to your individual prescription and lifestyle.