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Eye Exams: How Important are They?

Eyes are our gateway to the world we live in. Our eyes allow us to observe everyday life and allow us to recognize, respond, and relate to others. However, vision impairment is one of the highest feared disabilities known to man. While loss of vision, or vision impairment is not uncommon, there are ways that it can be prevent.

The first and most important step in catching any vision problems early-on and preventing sight loss in the future is receiving regular eye examinations by a local and professional optometrist. Regular eye appointments are not just important for those who think they are beginning to develop signs of vision problems, but it is recommended that children should receive their first eye appointment before the age of 3. If, however, problems with vision runs in the family, it is encouraged to check your children’s vision on a routine basis.

Whether there have been any vision problems or not, young people from the ages of 20 to 30 should have their eyes examined once every two years. Once a person reaches their 30’s, their appointments should become more frequent and at an annual basis. While some may not notice any immediate warning signs of vision impairments, it is just as important for them to receive regular care and examinations.

The second step to preventing sight loss is recognizing and understanding what will specifically cause problems in vision. Certain types of diseases such as, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy all have potential of causing complications in vision.

While vision loss is not always a result of a third party disease, it is vitally important to be aware of the effects they could have on vision. Being aware of changes or abnormalities in vision is fundamental to protecting your vision.

Even non-threatening problems can and should be treated to keep the eyes satisfied and sharp. These problems can manifest themselves through, crossed eyes, dark spots in your vision, trouble focusing, double or blurred vision, eye pain, adjusting to light, redness in the eyes, or a sensitivity to glares, just to name a few.

Remember, eyes are not immune to the pains of aging. Like the rest of the body, the eyes are very important and should be examined and cared for regularly.

Picking the Perfect Glasses for your kids

Anyone who wears glasses will understand the confusion that often comes with looking for that perfect pair. Now, imagine having to pick out a pair for a child. Wearing prescription glasses is not uncommon among young children and parents need to know how to find the perfect pair of glasses. Fortunately, choosing glasses for your child can be simplified into three easy steps:

1. Style

It is important to remember that children are very concerned with their looks and what others may think about them. Therefore, choose a style that compliments your child’s appearance. Square glasses go with a rounder face, while a rounder style frame goes with a narrow face.

Eye color is also an important factor when it comes to picking your child’s glasses. Light or medium colored eyes go well with brown, olive, or rust colored frames, while dark eyes go well with navy or purple frames; these colors will emphasize your child’s eyes and make them pop. Most importantly, stay away from frames that are too big and are disproportional to your child’s face.

2. Function

By nature, children are audacious and carefree. Because of this, safety and function are important influences when it comes to picking out your child’s glasses. Polycarbonate or Trivex lenses offer more protection for your child’s eyes over regular glass. These materials are more impact-resistant, scratch proof, and provide UV (ultraviolet) protection.

Currently, plastic or metal are the available options for children’s frame, and while plastic has been considered the preferred frame for children, metal frames are being made more durable, easier to maintain, and less expensive. This ensures that your child’s glasses are less likely to become broken in their everyday activities. The spring hinges in the frames will also help the glasses maintain their shape and functionality.

3. Wearability

While style and function are an important part of the glasses picking process, wearing glasses would be far less effective if they fell off your child’s face. When picking out glasses, understanding bridge sizes and styles is crucial. Children do not have fully developed noses, therefore you must find glasses that fit comfortably and stay on your child’s nose. Checking to make sure the glasses reach comfortably to your child’s ears and fit snuggly to their temples are easy way to make sure the glasses will stay locked in place while they go about their busy day.

Knowing what to look for in glasses can easily make the process of picking them out much less confusing and will leave your child feeling bold and confident in their brand new glasses.

Are you protecting your child’s eyes this summer?

These days moms and dads know the importance of slathering on the sunscreen before letting the kids go to the pool, lake or beach, or anywhere in the sun. But, did you know that 25% of the damage to your eyes from UV rays happens by the time your child turns eight? Ultra Violet light can cause damage to the eyes which will affect your child’s vision for their lifetime.

The solution is to make sure your children have a quality pair of sunglasses that provide UV protection. Not all sunglasses provide UV protection. You need to read the label or ask your eyecare professional which sunglasses provide full protection. Buying cheap sunglasses may not provide the protection from the sun’s damaging rays. Your skin gets sunburned from sun damage, but damage to the eyes will not be visible except to the eye doctor. Damage is cumulative over a person’s lifetime.

Sunglasses are popular nowadays, so as long as your child has some say in the style, it shouldn’t be a problem getting them to wear the glasses when they go out in the sun. Remember that frames that are fitted and adjusted properly will feel better throughout the day. Also, think about a strap to keep the glasses from falling off during active sports. Remember, sunscreen, a hat, AND a great pair of sunglasses for each member of the family before your next vacation. Have fun!

Train Like an Olympian–Protect Your Eyes

athletics and eyewear

If you watched the summer Olympics, or even the recent Little League World Series, you probably noticed athletes donning their protective eyewear for competition. From baseball to basketball, beach volleyball to swimming and rowing, these athletes know the importance of protecting their eyes.

Thousands of people, adults and children alike, suffer sports-related eye injuries each year, and most of these injuries can be prevented by simply wearing the proper eye protection. Protective eyewear can include safety goggles, face shields, sunglasses, and should be made of an impact resistant material like polycarbonate plastic, which is 20 times stronger than regular glasses. Also look for protection that meets the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for your particular sport. An eye care professional can recommend appropriate forms of sports eye protection for your specific activity, and make sure it fits properly. A general guide can be found here.

Eye injuries can occur in any sport and at any age, but are most frequent in baseball, basketball and racquet sports. Children are especially vulnerable, since they often have underdeveloped depth perception and may have difficulty judging the position of a flying ball. A wild pitch, a thrown bat, a stray poke from a finger, an errant elbow, sand, wind, and the glare from the sun can all result in injury or damage to the eye.

Injuries can include mild scrapes and scratches of the cornea, cuts or tears to the eyelid, black eye, penetration of the eye, detached retina, bleeding in the eye, and fracture of the eye socket, and can result in temporary or permanent loss of vision. Click here for signs of an eye injury.

If you suffer a sports-related eye injury, cover the eye with a protective shield (in a pinch, you can tape a paper or styrofoam cup over the eye), and see an ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room immediately. Don’t touch, rub, or press on the eye, as this can cause more damage. Even if the injury seems minor, always follow up with an eye doctor to make sure there isn’t a more severe underlying injury.

Follow the lead of the Olympians and make proper protective eyewear a part of your game plan. Properly fitted protective lenses will not impair your performance, and may even give you an edge. A comprehensive guide to sports eye safety can be found here.

What steps have you and your child, and your child’s coach, taken to protect their eyes during athletic activities?

human eye healthDr. Ronald J. Martin of VisionHealth Optometry focuses on quality eye care services to family members of all ages. Services include eye exams, contact lens fittings, retinal photography, pre- and post-operative care, and glasses frames and lens selection. Dr. Martin’s office is located at 1440 Medical Center Dr. Suite 2, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. He can be reached at 707-206-0290 or email him at questions@vision-health.com.  Visit VisionHealth Optometry online at  http://www.vision-health.com or the Facebook site at VisionHealth Optometry.

Dr. Martin is a member of the California Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, the Redwood Empire Optometric Society, and the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California.

Children’s Vision Health: How Your Child’s Vision Affects Learning

vision health

If your child is struggling in school, is uncoordinated and has trouble riding a bike or catching a ball, he may have an undetected, but easily correctable, vision health problem.

With the start of the new school year, August has been declared Children’s Vision and Learning Month, the goal of which is to educate parents and teachers about the critical link between vision and learning. Most of what school-aged children learn is presented visually, and if a child has problems with eye-tracking, eye-teaming, visual perception, binocular vision or visual-motor integration, he may struggle academically and socially.

As many as one in four children in grades K-6 may have a vision problem serious enough to lead to academic and/or behavioral problems. Even though they may have trouble reading  text, they don’t complain because they think everyone sees the same way they do. Often, these children have excellent verbal skills, and understand a lesson when it is read to them, yet they struggle to read. It is difficult to focus, so they may do everything they can to avoid reading, including acting fidgety and talking to kids next to them. As a result, they are often labeled as “lazy,” or misdiagnosed with a learning disability or a behavioral problem such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Just as it is impossible to diagnose cataracts during a DMV eye test, a vision screening by a child’s pediatrician or at school can’t identify a learning-related vision problem. These screenings test for visual acuity (how clearly you see), but a child can have 20/20 vision and still have an underlying functional vision problem.

Children should have a comprehensive eye exam, performed by an optometrist, at the age of six months, three years, five years, and at least every other year after that. A comprehensive exam can check all of the components of eye health, such as visual acuity, focusing ability, and eye teaming and eye tracking skills, which are essential for success in reading.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your child, contact your eye doctor for a full eye exam: Squinting; holding a hand over one eye; head tilting; headaches when reading; avoidance of reading; blurry vision; strained eyes; crossed eyes; short attention span; losing their place when reading; poor reading comprehension; sloppy handwriting; and skipping or rereading lines. A more in-depth symptoms checklist is available here.

Common diagnoses that could affect your child’s learning include: refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism); blurred vision caused by an irregularly-shaped cornea or lens; amblyopia (lazy eye); convergence insufficiency (keeping both eyes coordinated and focused when reading); and strabismus (crossed eyes).

Most of the time, a pair of glasses or contact lenses is all that is necessary to correct the problem. For more severe difficulties, a vision therapy program may be recommended to help the eyes to focus accurately and work together efficiently.

Early diagnosis and treatment of vision problems can help your child succeed in school. A comprehensive eye exam is essential for all children, but is particularly important if your child is having difficulties in school.

For more information on children’s learning and vision, check out the College of Optometrists in Vision Development website, or VisionHelp.com.

Have you scheduled your child’s back-to-school eye exam?

vision health

Dr. Ronald J. Martin of VisionHealth Optometry focuses on quality eye care services to family members of all ages. Services include eye exams, contact lens fittings, retinal photography, pre- and post-operative care, and glasses frames and lens selection. Dr. Martin’s office is located at 1440 Medical Center Dr. Suite 2, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. He can be reached at 707-206-0290 or email him at questions@vision-health.com.  Visit VisionHealth Optometry online at  http://www.vision-health.com or the Facebook site at VisionHealth Optometry.

Dr. Martin is a member of the California Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, the Redwood Empire Optometric Society, and the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California.

Vision Corrections Options for Teens

vision health issues

School is fixing to start.  Moms are bringing their kids and teens to get their eyes checked before school starts. I think some kids are tweeting, “Oh No, My Mom Dragged Me to the Optometrist.”

You don’t know how many times I see teens in here who have been friends of mine for years, but suddenly act like they don’t know me and can’t wait to get out of the office. Others are new, but the feeling is the same. As kids become teens a lot of them are developing nearsightedness, which can slow down their text messaging. So they complain to their moms, but hate the doctor visit.

One of the first things I tell them is that there are certain kinds of contact lenses that may slow down nearsightedness. Really. Plus we can find out what type of contacts will suit you best, whether you have astigmatism, participate in sports or are super busy. Your life isn’t over if you are nearsighted.

If you do go for glasses, we will help you make that choice with great care. I don’t know how many kids out there “forget” to wear their glasses because they are ugly. We know about style, face shape and coloring to make sure that the glasses you get are ones you don’t want to forget.

Don’t forget sunglasses either. Until you are in your twenties, your eyes let in more damaging light than when you get older. Ultraviolet light is the main enemy and where do you get that the most? From the sun, reflected sunlight, like water, sand and snow and tanning lamps. You know you look good in shades. We can add your prescription if you wear regular glasses or just help you find cool ones if you wear contacts.

So you are going in for sports this year? That’s great. We have special protective sports eyewear that can help you excel in your sport and avoid sports-related eye injuries. We have different kinds for different activities.

And yes, it’s not just an old wives’ tale that eating carrots is good for your eyes. They really are and so are lots of other good foods as well and some of them are yummier than carrots.

For more information:

–Eyewear and Eye Care for Teens

–Glasses or contacts for your teen? http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/824405/glasses-or-contacts-for-your-teen

vision correction issues

Dr. Ronald J. Martin of VisionHealth Optometry focuses on quality eye care services to family members of all ages. Services include eye exams, contact lens fittings, retinal photography, pre- and post-operative care, and glasses frames and lens selection. Dr. Martin’s office is located at 1440 Medical Center Dr. Suite 2, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. He can be reached at 707-206-0290 or email him at questions@vision-health.com.  Visit VisionHealth Optometry online at  http://www.vision-health.com or the Facebook site at VisionHealth Optometry.

Dr. Martin is a member of the California Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, the Redwood Empire Optometric Society, and the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California.

Focus on Children’s Eye Health and Safety

children's eye health

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, and with the start of a new school year right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to schedule annual eye exams for you and your children.

Millions of children have some form of vision problem, some of which could result in permanent vision loss if left untreated. The good news is that most of these issues can be corrected with early detection and treatment. The most common eye problems in children range from refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism), to potentially more serious conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes). Eye focusing, tracking and coordination problems may also affect performance in school.

Children often don’t know they have a vision problem, because they assume everyone sees the same way they do. They may have a hard time concentrating if they can’t see well enough to follow along, and often deal with the problem by becoming frustrated and acting out, prompting teachers to label them “lazy.” Many children are misdiagnosed as having a learning disability or behavioral problem like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder when they actually have an undiagnosed vision problem. This is why all children should have a professional eye exam shortly after birth, at six months of age, at three years of age, at five or six year of age (usually prior to starting first grade), and then annually until age 18.

Signs that your child may have a vision problem include: Frequent eye rubbing or blinking; frequent headaches; covering one eye; squinting; difficulty with reading retention or losing his/her place when reading; avoiding reading assignments or holding reading materials close to the face; difficulty copying from the board at school; wandering or crossed eyes; double or blurred vision; short attention span; unexplainable burning, itching, watering or redness in the eyes.

Now is also a good time to talk to your child about the importance of eye safety, especially when playing sports or other recreational activities. Eye injuries, many of which are sports-related, are the leading cause of blindness in children in the U.S. Parents should insist that children wear protective eyewear such as safety glasses or goggles made with polycarbonate lenses, which can help prevent 90 percent of these injuries. Ask your eye doctor to recommend appropriate eyewear for your child’s sport. Remember that ordinary prescription glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses do not protect against eye injuries, and in fact, may shatter into dangerous pieces if they are struck by a flying object. Also, make sure that toys are age appropriate, and avoid those with sharp or protruding parts like paint or pellet guns, rifles or darts.

The following websites also have detailed information about children’s eye health:

http://www.netwellness.org/healthtopics/eye/children.cfm

http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/children.cfm

All children need proper vision screenings to ensure that they can see properly to learn effectively. Undetected vision problems can affect a child’s physical ability, readiness to learn and self-esteem.

Have you scheduled an eye exam for your child? How do you plan to talk to your children about eye health and safety?

children's eye healthDr. Ronald J. Martin of VisionHealth Optometry focuses on quality eye care services to family members of all ages. Services include eye exams, contact lens fittings, retinal photography, pre- and post-operative care, and glasses frames and lens selection. Dr. Martin’s office is located at 1440 Medical Center Dr. Suite 2, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. He can be reached at 707-206-0290 or email him at questions@vision-health.com.  Visit VisionHealth Optometry online at  http://www.vision-health.com or the Facebook site at VisionHealth Optometry.

Dr. Martin is a member of the California Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, the Redwood Empire Optometric Society, and the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California.

What is a Cataract and How Does It Affect My Vision?

cataract

If lately it seems like you’ve been looking at life through a dirty or fogged-up windshield, if your vision has become hazy or blurred, you might have a cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye and the most common cause of vision loss in people over the age of 40.

Similar to a camera lens, the lens in your eye focuses light onto the back of the eye, and adjusts the eye’s focus. As we age, tissue in the eye begins to break down and clump together, clouding the normally clear lens and reducing the light that reaches the back of the eye with what is known as a cataract.

Although they can occur in younger people and those who have suffered trauma, most cataracts are age-related, and are particularly common in people over the age of 55. In fact, most people will develop cataracts at some point if they live long enough.

The older you are, the greater your risk for cataracts, but other factors include: diseases such as diabetes; smoking or excessive alcohol use; prolonged exposure to sunlight; high blood pressure; previous eye surgery or eye injury; and a family history of cataracts.

A cataract, which can occur in one or both eyes, can only be detected through a comprehensive eye exam that includes a visual acuity test, a dilated eye exam, and a tonometry, which measures pressure inside the eye. Often, there are no symptoms in the early stages, so you may have a cataract and not know it. Regular visits to your eye doctor can catch cataracts and other eye diseases when they are easily treatable.

As the disease progresses, common symptoms include: Cloudy, dim, hazy or blurry vision; difficulty seeing in low light or at night; sensitivity to light and glare; seeing halos around lights; fading or yellowing of colors; double vision; nearsightedness, and frequent changes to your eyewear prescription. Call your eye care professional if you experience any of these symptoms, or if you have sudden vision changes.

In the early stages of the disease, treatment may consist of simply changing your eyewear prescription, and using brighter light, anti-glare sunglasses and/or magnifying lenses. Of course, you’ll need periodic eye exams to check the progression of the disease. While you can delay surgery (usually with no long-term damage), it is the only effective treatment once the disease progresses to the point where it interferes with your daily activities. Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgery in the U.S., with millions undergoing the procedure each year. It is generally safe and effective, and consists of removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Talk to your eye doctor about the risks, benefits, alternatives and expected results of cataract surgery.

The best prevention is early detection, which means regular eye exams. Get a baseline exam at age 40, and follow your eye care professional’s recommendations for follow-up exams. Other ways to reduce your risk are to wear sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of UV rays (along with a wide-brim hat for the best protection), quit smoking, and maintain a healthy weight by exercising and eating healthy, including lots of leafy green vegetables and fruits. Keep other health problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure in check, and if you have a family history of eye disease, be sure to let your eye doctor know.

Have you noticed any subtle changes in your vision? Have you had a recent eye exam to check for early signs of eye disease?

For more information:

–http://www.medicinenet.com/cataract_surgery/article.htm

–http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001996/

cataracts

Dr. Ronald J. Martin of VisionHealth Optometry focuses on quality eye care services to family members of all ages. Services include eye exams, contact lens fittings, retinal photography, pre- and post-operative care, and glasses frames and lens selection. Dr. Martin’s office is located at 1440 Medical Center Dr. Suite 2, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. He can be reached at 707-206-0290 or email him at questions@vision-health.com.  Visit VisionHealth Optometry online at  http://www.vision-health.com or the Facebook site at VisionHealth Optometry.

Dr. Martin is a member of the California Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, the Redwood Empire Optometric Society, and the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California.

Facts about the Human Eye

facts about the human eye

He may have figured out evolution, but Charles Darwin was stumped by the human eye.

He admitted that the eye, so powerful and intricate, left him scratching his head, so to speak.

Darwin declared: “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” (Origin of Species, CHAPTER VI – DIFFICULTIES OF THE THEORY)

And, on this issue, he’s absolutely right–even though he refuted this “absurdity” later in the same chapter.

No matter which way you look at it, the eye is awesome. Yes, that pun was intentional.

In fact, the eye is the only organ in the body more complex than the brain, has amazing attributes, and can do an astounding number of things.

Let’s just look at 10 interesting eye facts:

  1. The cornea is the only part of the human body that has no blood supply.
  2. The average adult blinks at a rate of 10 to 20 times per minute. With an average of 4,200,000 blinks a year.
  3. Human’s are the only animal on the planet to show the white of their eyes.
  4. Vastly more men suffer color blindness than women. All babies are color blind when they are born.
  5. The primary cause of blindness in adults in the United States is diabetes.
  6. The human eye can distinguish 500 shades of the gray and can detect over 10 million colors.
  7. Involuntary eye muscle spasms are a symptom of those suffering with blepharospasms.
  8. An average adult eye weighs approximately 1 oz.
  9. A fingerprint has 40 different unique characteristics an iris has 256, hence the growing use of iris scans for security purposes.
  10. People with blue eyes are better able to see in the dark than people with darker ones.

What do you know about the human eye?

For more information:

facts about the human eye

Dr. Ronald J. Martin of VisionHealth Optometry focuses on quality eye care services to family members of all ages. Services include eye exams, contact lens fittings, retinal photography, pre- and post-operative care, and glasses frames and lens selection. Dr. Martin’s office is located at 1440 Medical Center Dr. Suite 2, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. He can be reached at 707-206-0290 or email him at questions@vision-health.com.  Visit VisionHealth Optometry online at  http://www.vision-health.com or the Facebook site at VisionHealth Optometry.

Dr. Martin is a member of the California Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, the Redwood Empire Optometric Society, and the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California.

Info on Eye Floaters

eye floatersGazing up at the bright blue sky, you notice a tiny dark spot drifting around in your field of vision. No matter how much you blink or rub your eye to get rid of the offending particle, it floats right back into view. Chances are, you’ve got a common, run-of-the-mill eye floater.

Floaters occur when the gel-like substance that fills the eye begins to liquefy and shrink, usually as part of the normal aging process. As it shrinks, tiny pieces can break off and float in front of the retina, blocking some of the light passing through the eye and casting shadows that we see as floaters.

While aging is the number one culprit, others can also be caused by inflammation in the back of the eye, bleeding in the eye, or a torn retina. If you are very nearsighted, have diabetes, or have had cataract surgery, you have an increased risk .

Floaters appear in your vision as small, dark spots, clumps, strands or squiggly lines. They are more noticeable when you look at a plain, bright background, such as the blue sky or a white wall, and since they move when your eye moves, they may appear to “float” in your field of vision. They are generally harmless, but it’s always a good idea to schedule an exam with your eye doctor to make sure they aren’t a sign of something more serious.

Contact an eye care professional immediately if you notice a sudden increase of floaters, especially if you also see flashes of light, lose your peripheral (side) vision, or experience other visual disturbances. This may be a sign of a retinal detachment, a sight-threatening condition that requires prompt attention.

Floaters are annoying, but most are harmless and don’t require treatment. Because there are significant risks of complications, surgery to remove floaters is only considered in rare cases, such as when the spots grow large or numerous enough to impair vision.

When was the last time you had your vision checked?

For more information on eye floaters, check out the following websites:

–http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/floaters/floaters.asp

–http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/spotsfloats.htm

–http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/floaters-flashes.cfm#

eye floatersDr. Ronald J. Martin of VisionHealth Optometry focuses on quality eye care services to family members of all ages. Services include eye exams, contact lens fittings, retinal photography, pre- and post-operative care, and glasses frames and lens selection. Dr. Martin’s office is located at 1440 Medical Center Dr. Suite 2, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. He can be reached at 707-206-0290 or email him at questions@vision-health.com.  Visit VisionHealth Optometry online at  http://www.vision-health.com or the Facebook site at VisionHealth Optometry.

Dr. Martin is a member of the California Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, the Redwood Empire Optometric Society, and the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California.