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.
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?
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.
Did you know that 80% of classroom learning is visual? That alone is a great reason to make sure an eye exam is top of your back to school shopping list. But there are other reasons to make regular eye exams a priority.
Summer hours at both of our clinics mean early closures on Fridays (2pm) starting this Friday, 28 June and running throughout July and August. We wish you and yours a fun and safe Canada Day and a great summer ahead.
We’re always closed for statutory holidays, including:
Canada Day (July 1st), the August Civic Holiday (August 5th) and Labour Day (September 2nd)
Almonte Saturday Openings
There are no Saturday openings in the summer. After a break in July and August, Saturday openings will resume on the following schedule in Almonte (8am to 2pm):
Sept 7, 21 | Oct 5, 19 | Nov 9, 16 | Dec 7, 21
We’ve talked about Age-related Macular Degeneration here before and it’s a great time to raise awareness again of this particular vision problem.
A condition that causes blurring in your central vision, macular degeneration is not usually noticeable in the early stages, but your eye doctor can detect it during a routine exam. This makes regular exams all the more important.
Optometrists use several tests, including Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and dilated retinal evaluation, to assess a patient’s central vision during an eye examination. If you are at particular risk of macular degeneration or other eye disease, you may find it helpful to monitor your vision at home with an Amsler Grid. Self-monitoring should, however, never replace having regular, comprehensive examinations by your eye doctor.
For many students, January can mean culminating activities and exams as the term comes to an end. Spending a lot of time looking at books and computer screens can lead to eye strain. Follow these tips to look after your eyes, or to help your kids to remember what they can do.
Books & Screens
It used to be that cramming and studying involved paper, books and blackboards, but students today are met with information to absorb across multi-media. Studying very often involves a lot of time on digital screens, which can lead to computer vision syndrome.
As the Canadian Association of Optometrists notes:
Having uncorrected hyperopia or myopia ,astigmatism or presbyopia can all make computer use less comfortable and efficient. Depending on your condition, your eyes could be exerting extra effort or be forced to work harder to maintain a clear image when viewing the screen. Even people with perfect vision may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches with prolonged computer use.
Good habits around prolonged screen use can go a long way to helping to reduce strain, including:
- using good habits around how you’re positioned in relation to your screen (for PC screens, this means at least arm’s length, and it’s a good idea to try the same with your phone)
- taking 20-20-20 breaks, which means looking away from your screen at something at least 20 feet away from you for a minimum of 20 seconds every 20 minutes (it’s a great chance to have a stretch and take a body break at the same time)
- finding other ways to chill during mini breaks that don’t involve yet more screen use so you really give your eyes a rest
Easing the Strain
If long days and evenings of study are taking a toll, you can give eyes a break by making an eye mask – this can be as simple as a cool, damp facecloth placed on your eyes, or chilled tea bags or cucumber slices. Saline eye drops can be helpful if dry eye is a real problem.
If you wear contacts, remember not to over wear them – if you’re pulling really long hours, stick to your routines for when you normally remove your contact lenses and instead use your backup glasses for a change.
See an Eye Doctor About Any Ongoing Issues
Don’t suffer in silence if ongoing headaches or visual problems are present during or after study periods. You or your child may be experiencing a genuine issue that should be explored with your eye doctor.
In the fall many of us, adults and children included, are involved in our favourite sports and activities. It’s easy to forget how vulnerable our eyes can be when we engage in sports, particularly higher risk ones.
It’s worth considering that appropriate protective eyewear is a smart choice when you choose to enjoy sports with a higher risk factor to your eyes. (Not to be confused with your regular glasses or contact lenses, both of which can increase risk in certain situations.)
Friends for Sight notes the following levels of danger to eyes for a number of popular activities:
High-risk sports include: hockey, ringette, paintball, basketball, and racquetball.
Moderate-risk sports include: tennis, soccer, and golf.
Low-risk sports do not involve high-speed balls, swinging clubs or bats, or close aggressive play, and include swimming and cycling.
Safe sports include track and field and gymnastics.
And, of course, sports that put us in contact with higher levels of UVA and UVB exposure from the sun can also make sun protection a smart choice (both skiing and snowboarding are good examples).
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind notes that 35% of eye injuries happen to children, and more than half of these occur when they are playing or engaged in sports. Boys are generally at higher risk, accounting for 73% of injuries. This makes it even more important to make sure your child(ren) understand the need to protect their eyes.
Earlier this year we wrote about Eye Safety at Home and the fall is a good time to remind ourselves of the risks we can mitigate and avoid. We can take our eyes for granted, and changes in season and activities are good times to remind ourselves of all they do for us.
If you have concerns about an eye injury or appropriate protection for a certain activity, please feel free to contact either our Almonte clinic or our Gloucester Clinic.