The back to school season is a new and unfamiliar one for everyone this year. Don’t forget eye exams to support your child’s learning.
With summer fully here and everyone itching for a break outdoors, swimming and other water related activities are popular choices.
Avoiding too much screen time may seem particularly challenging right now — we know that screen time has gone through the roof under the current pandemic. Don’t despair, there are things you can do to avoid unnecessary eye strain.
If you think about the good things you can do for healthy eyes, eating well is a pretty appealing option. In popular culture we often associate carrots with good vision, but the truth is there are delicious superfood choices for all tastes, and each stand to benefit your eyes:
Orange foods – Carrots are indeed good for your eyes, but so are yams and sweet potatoes. All three are chock full of beta carotene, an anti-oxidant known for cutting risk associated with macular degeneration and cataracts.
Leafy greens – More anti-oxidant power here in the form of lutein and zeaxanthin! These are found in spinach and kale and they protect against UV damage from sun exposure.
Vitamin C rich fruits and veggies – It’s always a smart choice to add strawberries, grapefruit, bell peppers and broccoli to your menu. Vitamin C is also a strong contender in counteracting harmful UV rays.
Chickpeas and other legumes – Grab the hummus and dig in with cut up peppers and carrots for an extra dose of goodness for your eyes. In this case Zinc is the magic ingredient which your liver needs in order to create and drive Vitamin A to the retina to produce melanin (a key protector against ultraviolet light).
Turkey – Zinc and Niacin, a B vitamin, are found in abundance in this lean meat. This combo delivers UV protection and can help prevent cataracts.
Making smart food choices can also help with maintaining a healthy weight, so it’s really a win-win.
Did you know? Overweight and obese individuals are at an increased risk for a number of eye diseases and conditions including diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
With the March Break approaching it’s a good time to review some basic winter sport rules. Your winter sport may just be a long walk with the dog, or you may be hitting the slopes, but the same broad rules apply.
There is a great deal of awareness around many aspects of living with Alzheimer’s disease, but did you know that eye health and visual acuity can also be affected?
The number of Canadians affected by glaucoma is quite startling – are you affected by this group of eye diseases that cause progressive damage to the optic nerve?
Building our awareness of risk factors as we age is a natural process, though we sometimes forget simple things that might help us.
November is actually Fall Prevention Month, and it’s a great time for seniors to book an eye exam. Sudden or gradual vision loss can greatly compromise independence as we age, including through the risk of frequent falls.
“By age 65, one in three Ontarians will have an eye disease that leads to changes in vision, and one in nine seniors experience irreversible vision loss.”
Source: The Ontario Association of Optometrists
For many seniors, a complicating factor comes in the form of medications, many of which can cause dry eye which in turn can lead to impaired vision. Advancing vision problems can intensify the difficulty of common daily tasks, increase the risk of depression, increase medication errors, and lead to double the risk of falls as well as quadruple the risk of hip fractures.
While changes in vision are a very natural part of aging, loss of vision can be avoided through regular eye exams and care under a qualified optometrist. If you or an aging parent has been putting off that eye exam, here’s an important reminder for sticking to regular appointments.
Photo by Atanas Dzhingarov on Unsplash
Hallowe’en is fast approaching and it’s a good time to remember some key eye safety points.
Cosmetic Contact Lenses – Be Safe, Not Sorry!
Cosmetic contact lenses are particularly popular at Halloween. Like contact lenses for visual correction, cosmetic contact lenses are classified as medical devices and can pose a risk of harm due to improper fit, use, or care. Complications can be serious, including vision loss.
If you can’t resist the allure of colourful contact lenses, be sure to purchase them from a licensed eye care professional. A prescription and proper instructions will help to minimize the risks associated with these medical devices. A licensed eye care professional can also ensure that the lenses are obtained from a licensed manufacturer.
If blurred vision, redness, discomfort, swelling or discharge occurs, stop using the lenses immediately and see your doctor of optometry. (You can contact our Almonte clinic or our Gloucester clinic if you are in the Ottawa area.)
Ensure Make-up Is Safe
Use products that are hypo-allergenic and make sure that any additives to the face paint are approved (check the recalls list at Health Canada if you are unsure).
When applying make-up near or around the eye, stay away from the lid, or lash line—the area where you would normally apply eye liner. If you are applying make-up very close to the eye, use only products approved for use in that area such as an eye-liner or eye shadow.
Don’t use blush or lip-liner to create a “red” effect, as some ingredients may not be approved for use in the eye and bacteria from the mouth can be transmitted to the eye.
Keep Costumes Safe
Avoid sharp or pointy objects such as swords in costumes. If your child must carry a sword, makes sure it is secured to the outfit. If your child does get poked in the eye, thoroughly inspect it for any signs of redness, decreased vision or pain.
Eye injuries may be more serious than they appear. If your child reports pain or blurred vision in the eye or if the eye is discoloured or bloodshot, you should take your child to see a doctor of optometry as soon as possible. Ensure masks don’t obstruct vision.
Be Seen After Dark
Use reflective tape and stickers on costumes and treat bags to increase visibility. Take a flashlight or wearable LED light so you can see and been seen.
Many vision problems can be treated if caught early, but not all parents realize that regular exams at an early age are important. This October, remember that undiagnosed vision problems can impact a child’s learning and development.
Last month we underscored how vital vision is in the process of learning at school: 80% of classroom learning is visual. Vision problems can affect babies and children of all ages, making early and regular eye exams by a qualified optometrist essential.
In the youngest children, eye rubbing can be a sign of a vision problem. If we see a young child rubbing their eyes we might assume an irritant is present, as with allergies, but it may be their vision is bothering them.
Common problems that can occur, sometimes together, include:
- strabismus (misaligned eyes)
- myopia (nearsightedness)
- hyperopia (farsightedness)
- astigmatism (causing distorted / blurred vision)
Glasses may be prescribed to treat these types of conditions successfully.
In addition, it’s possible that an eye disorder or disease may be present that needs to be addressed differently. One such example is Keratoconus, a progressive condition which causes thinning of the cornea at the front of the eye.
And not just any eye test will help to identify these conditions. Without the expertise of an optometrist and a comprehensive eye exam, your child’s vision problem could go undetected.
Regular Eye Exams
Children should have their first routine eye examination between two and three years of age. However, if there are concerns such as a misaligned eye, frequent rubbing and blinking, infections, or failure to meet developmental milestones, infants as young as 6 months of age can be examined by our eye doctors.
Your child does not need to be able to read or to identify letters to have an eye examination.
The good news is that OHIP covers an annual comprehensive eye exam up to and including the age of 19.
Start a great yearly tradition with a visit to have your child’s eyes checked.