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Does your Child Have a Vision Problem? Here are 20 Signs to Look Out For

Does your Child Have a Vision Problem640x350A vision problem may directly impact a child’s performance in the classroom and on the sports field, negatively affecting self-esteem and confidence levels. Given that an estimated 80% of learning is visual, good vision can be the difference between making the game-winning catch and watching the opposing team score runs.

An estimated 25% of children have an undetected vision problem holding them back from succeeding in school and sports. If your child is struggling to keep up with their peers in the classroom or on the sports field, they may have certain lagging visual skills. Any of the following 20 signs may indicate that your child has a vision problem.

20 Signs of Child May Have a Vision Problem

  1. Blurred vision
  2. Double vision
  3. Headaches
  4. Eye strain or fatigue
  5. Sensitivity to bright light
  6. Excessive blinking or squinting
  7. Drifting or turning of one eye
  8. Poor eye-hand coordination
  9. Misjudging distances while moving in space
  10. Frequently falling or bumping into objects
  11. Difficulty maintaining attention
  12. Closing one eye while reading
  13. Turning or tilting head while reading
  14. Reduced reading speed or fluency
  15. Difficulty with reading comprehension
  16. Skipping words or lines of text while reading
  17. Losing place while reading
  18. Seeing words floating on the page
  19. Bringing text close to or far away from eyes to improve clarity
  20. Difficulty copying text

Keeping your eye out for telltale behaviors and symptoms is the first step in identifying a vision problem. The next step is to visit your [eye-doctor], who will assess your child’s functional vision. If any lagging visual skills are identified, your child may greatly benefit from vision therapy.

How Can Vision Therapy Help?

Vision therapy is a specialized program designed to improve the eye-brain connections in order to strengthen the visual skills necessary for academic and athletic success.

Each vision therapy program is customized to the individual needs of the patient and may include the use of lenses, prisms, occluders, filters and other equipment.

 

Is your child is showing signs of a vision problem? Call Dr. Monte Harrel in Harrel Vision Therapy Center to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive vision evaluation.

Harrel Vision Therapy Center serves patients from Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma City, and Fort Smith, AK, all throughout Oklahoma.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Monte Harrel

Q: Isn’t 20/20 Vision Good Enough?

  • A: Vision involves a lot more than just how clearly you can see from a distance of 20 feet. There are 17 visual skills that are absolutely essential for success in reading, writing, math, and even athletics. A problem with any of these visual skills can cause poor academic and athletic performance.A comprehensive eye exam is the best way to rule out any vision problems that may be getting in the way of your child’s success.

Q: Why Are Comprehensive Eye Exams Important?

  • A: Basic vision screenings conducted at schools or by pediatricians may detect a distance vision problem, but they cannot detect other vision problems that can interfere with learning. During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will not only determine your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses but will also check your eyes for common eye diseases, assess how your eyes work together as a team, and evaluate your eyes as an indicator of your overall health.


 

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Did You Know Pandemic Stress Can Affect Eyesight?

The past months have wreaked havoc with most people’s lives, no matter what you do or where you live. It’s become the norm to feel overwhelmed by anxiety, stress, and fear. What you may not realize is the impact this kind of stress can have on your eyes. The benefits of managing stress are therefore far-reaching, helping to preserve not only your body health – but eye health, too. Read some helpful tips from our eye doctor near you on how to prevent vision complications as a result of pandemic stress.

Fight or Flight

You’ve probably experienced the “fight or flight” response at some point. It’s when you hear bad news or confront a powerful negative, and your body goes into protection mode. Adrenaline courses through your veins. In response, your heart may pump faster, your breathing becomes more shallow, and the pupils of your eyes dilate to improve your ability to see danger.

These automatic responses are your body’s way of preparing for a physical threat, even if the stress is coming from a nonphysical source, such as a challenging project at work or a fight with your spouse. These effects can stress the eyes either mildly or seriously, depending on your individual health condition.

Impact of Stress on Eye Health

When your eyes suffer undue stress, a range of symptoms can occur – some of which will resolve on their own, and others of which require eye care near you. Common symptoms include:

    • Light sensitivity it can feel like you need to shut your eyes when exposed to light.
    • Tunnel vision your peripheral vision becomes blurred, leaving only your central vision clear.
    • Dry eyes your eyes will feel dry and irritated
    • Eye twitching random spasms occur in one or two eyelids.
    • Eye strain visual fatigue can be experienced (this may also be the result of too much screen time, an unfortunate outcome of the pandemic too).
    • Blurred vision generally, only a mild symptom when caused by stress.
    • Loss of vision cortisol, the “stress hormone,” can damage the eyes and the brain. Extreme stress is also linked with diseases such as glaucoma, which can lead to vision loss.

Most people only experience mild effects of stress on their eyes, but if any of these symptoms persist or detract from your quality of life, contact our eye doctor near you for treatment.

Tips to Help Relax Your Eyes

      • Don’t overdo screen time, give your eye muscles a break by following the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look into the distance 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
      • Exercise regularly
      • Practice meditation
      • Take outdoor walks
      • Eat healthy foods
      • Get enough sleep

The benefits of daily stress management will help keep your body and eyes in top shape, functioning at their best!

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Tulsa eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Harrel Eyecare eye clinic near you in Tulsa, Oklahoma to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 918-582-2020

Harrel Eyecare, your Tulsa eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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      • How do I tell that I am developing glaucoma?

        The real tragedy behind vision-stealing glaucoma is that most people afflicted with this eye disease do not even realize they have it. As a result, the condition goes undiagnosed and untreated, which too often leads to unnecessary blindness. Of the 2.7 million people in the United States with glaucoma, half are undiagnosed. Most are lulled into a false sense of confidence because glaucoma often displays no symptoms in its early stages. By the time it begins to affect vision, any lost sight is impossible to regain. The risk of developing glaucoma begins to increase dramatically at midlife, which is why everyone should have a baseline exam by age 40. The most important concern is protecting your sight. Doctors look at many factors before making decisions about your treatment. If your condition is particularly difficult to diagnose or treat, you may be referred to a glaucoma specialist. While glaucoma is most common in middle-aged individuals, the disease can strike at any age, with those having a family history of the disease being especially vulnerable.

      • What exactly is pink eye?

        Pink eye is really anything that makes the eye pink. The official term is conjunctivitis, meaning an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mostly transparent, skinnish like covering over the white of the eye. When the eye is irritated, the conjunctiva swells and blood vessels in it dilate, giving the eye a pink or reddish appearance. Many different agents can lead to this, including bacteria, viruses, allergens, and toxic or mechanical irritants. Treatment and contagion protection depend on the specific cause. Often the cause can be determined based on history, eye appearance with specialized instruments, and symptoms. Viral pinkeye, for example, is typically associated with increased light sensitivity, whereas itching is a key sign in allergic pink eye. There is a good deal of overlap with all kinds, however. Bacterial and viral pinkeye are both contagious, and fairly common. With any pink eye, particularly if it is getting worse, or not getting any better within a day, it’s best to be seen by an eye care practitioner. She or he will have the experience, knowledge and instrumentation to provide the most efficient treatment and recommendations.

      • Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?

        Yes. Generally those that suffer with allergies, or have systemic inflammatory diseases like arthritis and sjogrens’, or those who use the computer or digital devices often and even contact lens wearers tend to be more susceptible to dry eye symptoms.

      • Are electronic devices really unhealthy for my eyes or is it all hype?

        Our heavy use of electronic devices is causing Digital Eye Strain for people of all ages. Hoya research shows that 61% of adults experience eye strain due to prolonged use of electronic devices. Nearly 25% of children are on digital devices 3 or more hours per day and 40% of Millennials spend 9 or more hours per day on digital devices. The benefits of technology have a downside, especially fatigue brought on by stress to the accommodative (focusing) system. This stress can lead to headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and difficulty when focusing from distance to near.

5 Common Keratoconus Questions, Answered

5 Common Keratoconus Questions, Answered 640If you’re reading this, you or someone you care about may have been recently diagnosed with keratoconus. We’ve compiled a few commonly asked questions about keratoconus to help you understand what it is, what causes it, and how your eye doctor can help.

1. What Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive, non-inflammatory disease that causes the cornea to thin and bulge, resulting in a cone-shaped cornea. Over time, this bulge leads to myopia and irregular astigmatism, and vision becomes progressively distorted. Ongoing treatment is crucial to prevent significant vision loss.

2. What Are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?

Many patients aren’t aware that they have keratoconus, which typically begins during the teenage years.

Symptoms of keratoconus include:

  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Blurry vision
  • Halos and glare around lights
  • Increased sensitivity to bright light
  • Headaches or eye irritation associated with eye pain
  • Progressively worsening vision that’s not easily corrected

3. What Causes Keratoconus?

While there is no one cause of keratoconus, a paper published in Biomed Research International (2015) identified these risk factors:

  • Genetics. About one in 10 people with keratoconus also has a family member with the condition.
  • Inflammation. Irritation and inflammation from allergies, asthma and other atopic eye diseases can lend to the development of keratoconus.
  • Frequent eye rubbing. Intense and frequent eye rubbing is thought to thin out the cornea and can worsen the condition.
  • Underlying disorders. Keratoconus has been associated with several conditions, including Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Leber congenital amaurosis, Marfan syndrome and Osteogenesis imperfecta.
  • UV light. UV light can cause oxidative stress, which weakens the corneas in predisposed eyes.
  • Weak collagen. In a healthy eye, small protein fibers called collagen help keep the cornea in a dome-like shape and free from bulges. In the case of keratoconus, the collagen fibers become weak and therefore can’t maintain the shape of the eye, which causes the cornea to bulge.

4. How Is Keratoconus Treated?

Scleral lenses are the most common and successful treatment for patients with keratoconus. These are specialized rigid, gas permeable contact lenses that have a very wide [diameter] and vault over the entire corneal surface, making them effective and comfortable for people with keratoconus.

5. Is There a Cure for Keratoconus?

Currently, there is no cure for keratoconus. However, in most cases, it can be successfully managed.

For mild to moderate keratoconus, scleral contact lenses are typically the treatment of choice, as they provide clear, comfortable vision.

A relatively non-invasive procedure called corneal cross-linking (CXL) can stabilize and strengthen a thinning and irregularly shaped cornea.

At Harrel Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center, we can recommend the best treatment options for your keratoconus, to help preserve your vision, and ensure the highest level of comfort and visual acuity. Call to schedule an appointment to start discussing your keratoconus treatment options.

Harrel Scleral Lens and Keratoconus Center serves patients from Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma City, and Fort Smith, AK, all throughout Oklahoma.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Monte Harrel

Q: Can You Go Blind If You Have Keratoconus?

  • A: Keratoconus does not typically cause total blindness. However, as keratoconus progresses it can cause visual impairment including blurred distance vision, distortion, glare, astigmatism, extreme light sensitivity and even vision loss that can be classified as “legal blindness.

Q: Does keratoconus affect both eyes?

  • A: Yes, in approximately 90% of keratoconus cases, the disease will manifest in both eyes. However, the rate of progression and the timing of the onset of the disease is different for each eye.



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How Eye Disease And Cataracts Affected The Work Of Famous Artists

For many art enthusiasts, analyzing the differences in color choices and techniques that an artist employed over the course of their career offers a window into the artist’s soul.

But to eye doctors, these changes in color and style offer a glimpse into the artist’s eye health.

When comparing the paintings from an artist’s youth to their older years, the changes suggest that eye disease may have affected their vision — and, consequently, their artwork.

Did Eye Conditions Affect the Work of Famous Artists?

Cataracts

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s crystalline lens and a natural part of the aging process. People with cataracts eventually develop blurred vision and perceive colors as faded or yellow-toned.

Claude Monet struggled with cataracts in his 60’s. Upon noticing that his eyesight was changing, he wrote the following to an eye doctor in Paris:

“I no longer perceived colors with the same intensity… I no longer painted light with the same accuracy. Reds appeared muddy to me, pinks insipid, and the intermediate and lower tones escaped me.”

monet paintings2.jpegMonet’s early and well-known paintings of water lilies are full of vibrant blue and purple tones, with clear and sharp lines. As his vision deteriorated, his portrayal of nature became more abstract, and increasingly infused with yellow and red tones.

When Monet’s cataracts became very advanced, he could no longer rely on his eyes to select the correct paint colors; he had to read the labels on the paint bottles to know which color was inside. This is because cataracts caused light to scatter within his eye, blurring his vision.

Monet eventually had cataract surgery, which allowed him to see blue and purple again. However, he wrote to his eye doctor complaining that he couldn’t see yellows and reds anymore, which frustrated him. In those days, cataract surgery was fairly new and couldn’t fully perfect vision.

Eventually, he wore tinted lenses to help correct his color vision problem.

Degas retinal diseaseRetinal Disease

Macular degeneration affects the central portion of the retina, called the macula. The main symptoms of macular degeneration are poor central vision, perceiving straight lines as distorted, and blurred vision.

Medical experts believe that Edgar Degas suffered from retinal disease. Furthermore, he frequently complained about his declining eyesight in letters.

When comparing Degas’ paintings from his 40s to the ones from his 60s, the lack of shading and less-refined lines are glaring and may have been due to the deterioration of his retina.

Strabismus

image 01

Strabismus, or an eye-turn, is a misalignment of the eyes. The most obvious symptom of strabismus is that the two eyes don’t point in the same direction. This condition can also cause double vision, lazy eye and poor depth perception.

Rembrandt, whose eyes appear to be misaligned in his self-portraits, was thought to have strabismus. It is speculated that he needed to close one eye to avoid double vision, allowing him to accurately replicate what he saw onto the canvas. This would have affected how he painted his own eyes.

Don’t Let Eye Disease Change Your View of the World

Whether or not you are an artist, vision is one of your most precious senses and affects how you interact with the world around you.

Eye diseases and conditions that interfere with the way you see can significantly impact your quality of life. That’s why it’s our goal to help our patients maintain crisp and clear vision for a lifetime.

At , we diagnose, treat and manage a wide range of eye diseases and conditions using the latest in diagnostic technology. Our experienced and knowledgeable staff will answer all of your questions and make your visit as pleasant as possible.

To schedule your appointment, contact today.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Monte Harrel

Q: #1: How often should I have my eyes checked for eye disease?

  • A: Having your eyes tested on an annual basis is recommended for all adults, especially those over age 40. Early detection of ocular disease offers the best chance of effective treatment and vision preservation.

Q: #2: Can vision loss be prevented?

  • A: Certain conditions can be treated or managed to prevent vision loss. If you are at risk of any eye conditions, speak with your eye doctor about the best prevention plan for keeping your eyes healthy.


serves patients from Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma City, and Fort Smith, AK, all throughout Oklahoma.

 

9 Eye-Healthy Habits for Computer Users

As Covid-19 kept all of us homebound for long periods, the gaming industry grew by leaps and bounds. Then, even when countries began to reopen and jumpstart their economy, nobody abandoned their video games. In fact, sales of video games experienced a 35% jump.

Impact of Gaming on Eye Health

What are some of the effects of this rising role of gaming in our lifestyle? It translates directly into increased screen time, which our optometrist near you points out is linked to a variety of negative effects on eye health. For some of us, the digital era has turned our days into an endless view of screens. As a result, many people suffer the symptoms of computer vision syndrome, such as:

  • Less blinking, leading to dry eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye irritation, burning
  • Eye fatigue and strain
  • Headaches

While it’s unlikely that excessive screen time can cause irreversible damage to your eyes, dry eye syndrome and eye strain can worsen gradually – leading to painful vision and a decreased quality of life.

How to Preserve Healthy Vision with Computer Use

To help keep your vision healthy, despite all the long periods spent at a computer, the eye doctor near you recommends the following habits:

  1. The 20-20-20 Rule Instead of staring for hours on end at a computer screen, take regular breaks to rest your eyes. Follow this rule – every 20 minutes, move your eyes to look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Set Up Good Lighting Glare and other visual disturbances can make it harder to read text, which can lead to eye strain. By angling your monitor away from light sources and windows, you can eliminate glare from the screen.
  3. Adjust Screen Brightness When adjusting the lighting in your office or home is too tricky, change the monitor’s brightness instead. Rule of thumb – make it as bright as the room you are in.
  4. Take Eye Health Vitamins Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids are a great addition to your eye care routine, helping to fortify your eyes against problems.
  5. Block Blue Light You can wear specialized blue light glasses to shield your eyes from harmful blue light emitted by digital devices, or install a blue light filter on your digital screen. Not only will these protective devices help promote quality eye health, but they can also help you sleep better at night.
  6. Eat Nutritiously A healthy, balanced diet will keep your body at its peak and improve vision to boot. Some good food choices include cold-water fish, like salmon, tuna and sardines, nuts, eggs, legumes, whole grains, berries, leafy greens, and citrus fruits.
  7. Increase Font Size A small font size can cause you to squint and hunch over to see the screen clearly. By enlarging the font, you can avoid the discomfort caused by this position.
  8. Sleep Enough Not getting enough sleep can lead to eye fatigue, which interferes with your everyday life and productivity.
  9. Visit Our Eye Clinic Near You for Regular Eye Exams Getting your eyes checked is essential for proper eye health. It’s the only reliable way to detect or rule out an eye disease or condition that requires early treatment.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Tulsa eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Harrel Eyecare eye clinic near you in Tulsa, Oklahoma to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 918-582-2020

Harrel Eyecare, your Tulsa eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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  • Why do I need to have my eyes examined by an Optometrist if the nurse at my last physical exam says I can see 20/20?

    The nurse performed a “sight test”, when you come to see your Optometrist we perform an “Eye Exam”. A “sight test” only measures if you can see 20/20. An “Eye Exam” measures all aspects of visual function: sight (or visual acuity), binocular vision function (the ability of the eyes to work together), visual pathway integrity, and the overall health of your eyes. Seeing 20/20 is an important part of the overall function of your eyes; however, just because you can see 20/20 does not necessarily mean your eyes are 100% healthy. There are many conditions that exist in which someone can still see 20/20. To name just a few examples: Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma, and even Retinal tears or detachments (if the macula is unaffected). I recommend having a full eye exam every 1-2 years, even if you are in good health and feel like you don’t need glasses.

  • Does reading my smartphone or tablet in the dark damage my eyes?

    Reading from a tablet or smartphone in the dark is okay for your eyes, as long as this is not for a long period of time. There is good lighting from these devices, with good contrast. There is, however, the blue light emitted from these devices. Blue light is a short wavelength light, with high energy that may cause damage to the structures of the eye if exposed for a long period of time. As well, studies have shown this blue light can disrupt melatonin production which is required for a healthy sleep cycle. Doctors of Optometry recommend limiting screen use during the last hour before bedtime.

  • What is blue light and why is it dangerous?

    Blue light is part of visible light and close to UV on the light spectrum. It is naturally produced by the sun, used in fluorescent light bulbs and emitted by LED screens on computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones. The eyes’ natural filters do not block blue light and chronic exposure can cause age-related macular degeneration. Evidence also shows that blue light exposure can lead to sleep problems.’

  • My eyes are always burning and tired, what is causing this and what can I do about it?

    These are often signs of dry eye syndrome, a very common condition that affects many people over time. Women are generally more prone to developing these symptoms and aging is often a cause as well. Dryness of our eyes is often due to a decrease in the oil production in our eyelid glands which causes the surface of the eye to become irritated. Certain medications and health issues can also contribute to dryness. There is no true cure for dryness but many treatments are available such as the use of artificial tears, nutritional supplements incorporating Omega 3, prescription medications such as Restasis, and eyelid hygiene. No single treatment works for every individual so we customize treatments for each person and their specific condition.

Why is My Dry Eye More Severe in the Mornings?

sleepy mornings 640Waking up in the morning is hard enough, but waking up with stinging, burning eyes is even worse! If your eyes feel itchy and scratchy, this miserable morning sensation may be caused by dry eye syndrome. Your tear glands may be clogged or producing insufficient tears and oils to retain moisture.

But why do certain people experience more acute dry eye symptoms in the mornings? Here are some reasons:

What Causes Red, Itchy or Painful Eyes Upon Waking?

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is the inability to close one’s eyelids completely during sleep. Since the surface of your eye is exposed at night, it becomes dry. Left untreated, this condition can damage your cornea.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition of the eyes caused by bacterial overgrowth. These bacteria are active at night, causing dry eye-related symptoms of redness, soreness and irritation upon waking.

Environment

A gritty sensation in your eyes can also be caused by the environment. For example, sleeping directly in front of or under an air vent, heating units, or ceiling fans can dry out your eyes. In addition, sensitivity to allergens like dust that accumulate in the bedroom can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated.

Medications

Some types of over-the-counter and prescription medication can dehydrate the eyes. These include:

  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Hypertension drugs
  • Hormones
  • Drugs for gastrointestinal problems
  • Pain relievers
  • Skin medications
  • Chemotherapy medications

In the majority of cases, medication-related dry eye symptoms will resolve once you discontinue the meds. However, it may take several weeks or months for symptoms to completely disappear.

Age

Many people develop dry eye symptoms with age, as tear production tends to decrease and becomes less efficient as we grow older.

How to Treat Morning Dry Eye

Depending on the cause, morning dry eye can be treated with sleeping masks, lubricating eye drops and ointment applied right before bed. To ensure that you sleep in a moisture-rich environment, consider using a humidifier. In severe cases of nocturnal lagophthalmos, eyelid surgery may be necessary.

If you are tired of waking up to red, burning eyes, visit your eye doctor for long-lasting relief. Contact Harrel Dry Eye Care Centers to determine the cause of your morning dry eye and receive an effective treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Monte Harrel

Q: What causes dry eye?

  • A: Dry eye can occur if the glands in your eyelids don’t produce enough oil to keep your tears from evaporating, or if you don’t produce enough water for healthy tears. No matter the cause, it’s important to have your condition diagnosed and treated to protect your vision and ensure good eye health.

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: Dry eye is a chronic condition, so there’s is no cure for it. However, many treatment methods can help you manage this condition for long-term relief. If you have dry eye syndrome, we invite you to contact us to discover the best treatment for your needs.


 

Harrel Dry Eye Care Centers serves patients from Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma City and Fort Smith, AK, all throughout Oklahoma.

 

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What’s The Link Between Obesity And Eye Disease?

People who are obese are at higher risk of developing some sight-threatening eye conditions and diseases. Read on to discover why, and how we can help.

It is well documented that obesity impacts health in numerous ways, from a higher incidence of diabetes to cardiovascular disease. What many people don’t know is obesity’s negative effect on vision and eye health. Speak with our Eye care professionals at Harrel Eyecare about any concerns you may have about your eye health or vision.

There is increasing evidence that obese individuals have a greater risk of developing serious, sight-threatening eye diseases.

Researchers at the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Center found a consistent link between obesity and the development of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

The researchers noted that the public is largely unaware of this link, despite the evidence. If more people knew about the risk, they said, it might motivate them to try to shed some extra weight.

How Does Obesity Impact The Eyes?

A body mass index (BMI) of 25-30 is considered overweight and any BMI over 30 is considered obese. Recent studies indicate that a handful of ocular diseases can now be added to the list of medical conditions associated with an elevated BMI.

Diabetic retinopathy, floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, stroke-related vision loss, and age-related macular degeneration are all risk factors of obesity.

While the cause is not yet certain, researchers believe this may be due to the peripheral artery disease prevalent among people who are obese. When the tiny blood vessels around the eyes are compromised, they may have trouble delivering oxygen and other nutrients to the eye area.

Obesity is also a risk factor for developing cataracts (the clouding of the eye’s natural lens). Poor nutrition or high blood sugar levels, which are commonly found in people with obesity, may contribute to the cloudiness.

Although obesity may contribute to cataract formation, losing weight may not significantly reduce the risk of developing them, partly because cataracts are also a common consequence of aging, whatever one’s weight.

Additionally, morbid obesity is associated with higher inner eye pressure, which may increase one’s risk of glaucoma and glaucomatous optic neuropathy — leading causes of vision loss and blindness. Morbid obesity is defined as having a BMI of 40 or above, or 35 and above with health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.

Stay Active, Healthy, and Have Regular Eye Exams

An active lifestyle and a nutritious diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve overall physical and eye health. Try to include several key nutrients into your diets, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega-3, zinc, and lutein, as they may help delay or prevent certain eye diseases.

While a balanced diet and regular exercise significantly increase your chance of living a healthy life, it’s also crucial to have regular eye exams. A comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Monte Harrel can help detect the onset of ocular disease and ensure the earliest and most effective treatment to preserve your gift of sight.

Don’t hesitate to call Harrel Eyecare in Tulsa with any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health — we’re here for you.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Tulsa eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Harrel Eyecare eye clinic near you in Tulsa, Oklahoma to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 918-582-2020

Harrel Eyecare, your Tulsa eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

FOLLOW US

  • Is it possible to prevent Macular Degeneration?

    Doctors aren’t sure how to prevent macular degeneration. Research suggests that ultraviolet light (and possibly blue light) factors into the problem, so sunglasses could be very beneficial.

  • My doctor says I have a cataract, but he wants to wait a while before removing it. Why?

    A cataract usually starts very small and practically unnoticeable but grows gradually larger and cloudier. Your doctor is probably waiting until the cataract interferes significantly with your vision and your lifestyle. You need to continue to visit your eye doctor regularly so the cataract’s progress is monitored. Some cataracts never really reach the stage where they should be removed. If your cataract is interfering with your vision to the point where it is unsafe to drive, or doing everyday tasks is difficult, then it’s time to discuss surgery with your doctor.

  • What exactly is glaucoma?

    Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye’s intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high. This means that your eye has too much aqueous humor in it, either because it produced too much, or because it’s not draining properly. Other symptoms are optic nerve damage and vision loss. Glaucoma is a silent disease that robs the patient of their peripheral vision. Early detection is very important.

  • What is diabetic retinopathy?

    Doctors aren’t sure how to prevent macular degeneration. Research suggests that ultraviolet light (and possibly blue light) factors into the problem, so sunglasses could be very beneficial.

Computer learning and vision problems

Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we’re seeing a lot of our kids spend an enormous amount of time in front of a computer.

This has bad consequences not just for adults that have eye fatigue and strain, but especially in younger children who are still developing their vision. Our visual system needs to be actively involved in using all our space. Not just our close distances like reading and computers, but also moving outside in an infinite space setting like a playground.

Our visual system uses being outdoors to kind of recalibrate, and have good functional focusing ability. Studies show that children who are indoors a lot like in China tend to have higher degrees of myopia or nearsightedness.

The ability to be outside, to play, and have sports is very important for the visual system.

Here are a couple of things we can recommend for your child or young adult that might be spending a lot of time in front of the screen.

First of all, I would suggest the 20-20-20 rule.

Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen, hopefully, 20 feet or more.

Looking outside a window is ideal. Relax your eyes for about 20 seconds. This will be a visual break. If your teacher doesn’t like it, tell them your eye doctor is recommending this. You can still listen to what your teacher is saying, however, you should relax your focus periodically.

Also, make sure that when you are reading or writing that you are no closer than the Harmon distance. The Harmon distance is between knuckle and elbow. If you see your child getting closer and closer to their work, check their Harmon distance and move them back. This is very effective when dealing with younger children. I did this with my daughter when she was 4, and she would check her Harmon distance by putting her elbow on the desk and backing her head up to her knuckles. If you see the children are still doing this a lot, have them checked by a developmental optometrist because, very often, a low plus lens can help the child relax their focus.

You can also make sure that if your child is experiencing eye pain, strain, discomfort, double vision or blur, that you get them in to see their developmental optometrist. We can prescribe glasses for their best comfort at near. We want to preserve our vision & our children’s vision & keep our nation strong despite this pandemic.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Tulsa eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Harrel Eyecare eye clinic near you in Tulsa, Oklahoma to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 918-582-2020

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  • My child had a vision exam at my Paediatrician, why do I need to come to the eye doctor?

    Vision screening programs are intended to help identify children or adults who may have undetected vision problems and refer them for further evaluation. However, they can’t be relied on to provide the same results as a comprehensive eye and vision examination. Vision screening programs are intended to help identify children or adults who may have undetected vision problems and refer them for further evaluation. Screenings can take many forms. Often schools provide periodic vision screenings for their students. A pediatrician or other primary care physician may do a vision screening as part of a school physical. When applying for a driver’s license, chances are your vision will be screened. Many times vision screenings are part of local health fairs put on by hospitals, social service agencies or fraternal groups like the Lions and Elks Clubs. While vision screenings can uncover some individuals with vision problems, they can miss more than they find. This is a major concern about vision screening programs. Current vision screening methods cannot be relied upon to effectively identify individuals in need of vision care. In some cases, vision screening may actually serve as an unnecessary barrier to an early diagnosis of vision problems. They can create a false sense of security for those individuals who “pass” the screening, but who actually have a vision problem, thereby delaying further examination and treatment. Undetected and untreated vision problems can interfere with a child’s ability to learn in school and participation in sports or with an adult’s ability to do their job or to drive safely. The earlier a vision problem is diagnosed and treated, the less it will impact an individual’s quality of life.

  • I have heard about blue light being a concern as well. Can you talk a little bit about this and what it means for protecting your eyes?

    Recently, the optical community has found that blue light can also cause long-term damage to the eye. It has been found that overexposure to blue light over time can lead to macular degeneration. To help protect our eyes from these rays, a new coating has been found to block out this blue light. Anti-reflective or anti-glare coating could be a term that is familiar to you. Labs have found a way for these features to block the blue rays coming from our handheld devices, computers, and fluorescent bulbs. This coating has several benefits and protecting our eyes from these harmful rays is one of them.

  • What causes myopia?

    Myopia is caused by a combination of heredity and environmental factors. Studies show that if we can move the focal point in front of the mid-peripheral retina we can slow the progression of myopia. The increased use of cell phones and computers, as well as less time outdoors, is probably a contributing factor.

  • Do I need an optometrist or an ophthalmologist?

    Both are eye doctors that diagnose and treat many of the same eye conditions. The American Optometric Association defines Doctors of Optometry as: primary health care professionals who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions. They prescribe glasses, contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy and medications as well as perform certain surgical procedures. The main difference between the two, is that ophthalmologists perform surgery, where an optometrist would not, preferring to specialize in eye examinations, as well as eyeglass and contact lens-related services. Optometrists would be involved in all of the pre-and post-operative care of these surgical patients; collecting accurate data, educating the patient, and insuring proper healing after the procedure. An ophthalmologist is more of a medical-related specialist, who would need only to be involved if some kind of surgery were being considered. An optometrist can treat most any eye conditions, including the use of topical or oral medications if needed. This might include the treatment of glaucoma, eye infections, allergic eye conditions, dry eyes and others, to name just a few. A third “O” that often is overlooked is the optician. An optician is not a doctor, and they cannot examine your eye under their own license. However, a highly trained optician plays an indispensable role in the most successful eye doctor’s offices. An optician most often handles the optical, contact lens, and glasses side of things. Based on their vast knowledge of lenses, lens technology and frames, they manufacture eyeglasses, as well as assist in the selection of eyewear based on the requirements of each individual patient.’

Could a Low-Carb Diet Reduce Your Risk of Glaucoma?

A recent eye care study points to a possible connection between carbs and preventing glaucoma.

Recently, an eye doctor at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai (NYEE) conducted a unique research study exploring the potential link between long-term dietary changes and preventing primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). The study’s results indicated that if people at a high risk of developing glaucoma eat a diet that’s low in carbohydrates and high in fat and vegetable protein, they may lower their risk of this sight-threatening ocular disease by 20 percent. These results were published in Eye-Nature (July 22 issue).

Why are these results so significant?

Currently, glaucoma is the #1 cause of blindness in the United States, and primary open angle glaucoma is the most common type of this dangerous eye disease. Due mainly to elevated pressure levels inside the eye, POAG leads to optic nerve degeneration – causing vision loss.

Usually, patients experience no symptoms of POAG until the disease progresses, and visual problems motivate them to visit a nearby eye clinic for an eye exam. Regular eye exams by a qualified optometrist can detect the early signs of POAG way before vision loss occurs, but unfortunately, many people don’t visit an eye care provider until they notice a problem. In addition to routine eye exams, following a low carb diet may fortify people with another way to help prevent devastating vision loss.

How does the low carb diet affect eye health?

Eating foods that are low in carbohydrates and higher in fats and proteins causes the production of metabolites that are favorable for the optic nerve head, which is the specific site of damage in primary open angle glaucoma. Previous scientific studies have already linked this type of diet with positive effects on epilepsy, along with some promising results for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

While the low-carb diet cannot stop glaucoma progression in a patient who already has the disease, it may be a helpful way to prevent glaucoma in high-risk groups, such as people with a family history. Subsequently, the rate of vision loss due to glaucoma would be reduced.

Does a low-carb diet have the same effects as a ketogenic diet?

In the past, studies have demonstrated the protective effects that a ketogenic diet can have against neurologic disorders. (Ketogenic diets = extremely low-carb and higher-fat.). That’s because ketone bodies (energy compounds made by the body as it metabolizes fats) are used by the brain as a major energy source instead of glucose, and using more of these may enhance neurologic function and slow down neuronal degeneration. However, additional studies have shown that following a low-carb diet, not specifically ketogenic, may have similar properties for protecting against neurologic problems. And because a moderately low-carb diet is easier for most people to follow and doesn’t cause the same possible side effects of a ketogenic diet (e.g. headaches, abdominal issues, weakness, and irritability), it has been lauded as a more practical alternative.

How was the study on low-carb diets conducted?

The goal of the research study was to determine if following a low-carbohydrate diet for the long-term could have a positive impact on the optic nerve.

Your optic nerve transfers visual information from the retina to your brain, and it is located at the back of the eye. There is a large concentration of mitochondria (the major source of a cell’s energy supply) in the optic nerve. Because glaucoma is associated with dysfunctional mitochondria, researchers aimed to discover if substituting fat and proteins for carbohydrates would improve mitochondrial activity, preserve the function of the optic nerve, and prevent optic nerve degeneration in POAG (specifically, in a subtype of POAG with paracentral vision loss).

A large-scale study was formulated, involving 185,000 adults – female nurses and male health professionals between the ages of 40 – 75, between 1976 – 2017. Every two to four years, participants filled out questionnaires about what they ate and drank, as well as supplied information about their health condition. If they said they had glaucoma, the researchers followed up with their eye doctors to determine if they had POAG.

Data about the study’s participants was classified into three groups, based on how they achieved a low-carb diet:

  • Group 1 – Substituting animal-based fats and proteins instead of carbs
  • Group 2 – Substituting plant-based fats and proteins instead of carbs
  • Group 3 – Replacing carbs with high fats and proteins, regardless of the source

In the end, the results showed that people in Group 2 (increased plant-based fat and protein) were linked to a 20% lower risk of developing POAG compared to people who followed a high-carb diet. These findings suggest that vegetable sources may be beneficial than animal sources for a low-carb diet, with respect to lowering the risk of this subtype of open-angle glaucoma with paracentral vision loss.

What’s the take-home from this study?

First of all, eye doctors caution to remember that this was an observational study and not a clinical trial – so additional studies are needed to investigate the connection between dietary patterns and preventing POAG. Other issues, such as genetics, may also play a significant role. While it’s too early for optometrists to hang signs banning carbohydrates in their eye clinics, early findings do point to the eye care benefits of following a low-carb, plant-based diet. It’s time to stock up on legumes, avocados, nuts and tofu!

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Do I need Blue light lenses? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Tulsa eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Harrel Eyecare eye clinic near you in Tulsa, Oklahoma to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 918-582-2020

Harrel Eyecare, your Tulsa eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

FOLLOW US

    • What exactly is glaucoma?

      Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye’s intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high. This means that your eye has too much aqueous humor in it, either because it produced too much, or because it’s not draining properly. Other symptoms are optic nerve damage and vision loss. Glaucoma is a silent disease that robs the patient of their peripheral vision. Early detection is very important.

    • How do I tell that I am developing glaucoma?

      The real tragedy behind vision-stealing glaucoma is that most people afflicted with this eye disease do not even realize they have it. As a result, the condition goes undiagnosed and untreated, which too often leads to unnecessary blindness. Of the 2.7 million people in the United States with glaucoma, half are undiagnosed. Most are lulled into a false sense of confidence because glaucoma often displays no symptoms in its early stages. By the time it begins to affect vision, any lost sight is impossible to regain. The risk of developing glaucoma begins to increase dramatically at midlife, which is why everyone should have a baseline exam by age 40. The most important concern is protecting your sight. Doctors look at many factors before making decisions about your treatment. If your condition is particularly difficult to diagnose or treat, you may be referred to a glaucoma specialist. While glaucoma is most common in middle-aged individuals, the disease can strike at any age, with those having a family history of the disease is especially vulnerable.

    • If one of my parents has glaucoma, does that mean I will develop it as well at some point?

      Having a parent with glaucoma does not mean that the child will automatically develop the condition too. However, those people with an immediate family history (parents, siblings) of glaucoma are at more risk to develop this disease. Patients should have a comprehensive eye examination each year to evaluate the health of the eyes and to look for signs of glaucoma. Some of these signs can be an increase in the pressure of the eyes as well as changes to the appearance of the optic nerve. Many times there are no symptoms noticed by the patient. If there is suspicion of glaucoma, more frequent visits to the eye doctor along with additional nerve testing are often required.

    • How often should I have my glasses prescription checked?

      Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye’s intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high. This means that your eye has too much aqueous humor in it, either because it produced too much, or because it’s not draining properly. Other symptoms are optic nerve damage and vision loss. Glaucoma is a silent disease that robs the patient of their peripheral vision. Early detection is very important.

3 Causes of Lazy Eye in Children

3 Causes of Lazy Eye in Children 640Amblyopia, commonly known as ‘lazy eye,’ is a neuro-developmental vision condition that begins in early childhood, usually before the age of 8.

Lazy eye develops when one eye is unable to achieve normal visual acuity, causing blurry vision in the affected eye—even when wearing glasses. Left untreated, amblyopia can lead to permanent vision loss in one eye.

It’s important to understand that a lazy eye isn’t actually lazy. Rather, the brain doesn’t process the visual signals from the ‘lazy’ eye. Eventually, the communication between the brain and the weaker eye deteriorates further, potentially leading to permanently reduced vision in that eye. Fortunately, vision therapy can improve the condition by training the brain to work with both eyes equally.

What Causes Lazy Eye?

When the neural connections between the eyes and the brain are healthy, each eye sends a visual signal to the brain. The brain combines these two signals into one clear image, allowing us to properly see what we are looking at.

In the case of amblyopia, the brain doesn’t recognize the weaker eye’s signals. Instead, it relies only on the visual input from the stronger eye.

Amblyopia can be caused by strabismus, anisometropia and deprivation.

Strabismus

Strabismus occurs when the eyes are misaligned and point in different directions. The most common cause of amblyopia is eye misalignment, which causes the brain to receive two images that cannot be combined into one single, clear image.

A child’s developing brain cannot process images when both eyes are not aligned in the same direction, so it ‘turns off’ the images sent by the weaker eye. This is the brain’s defense mechanism against confusion and double vision.

As the brain ‘turns off’ the weaker eye, this eye will eventually become ‘lazy’—unless treatment is provided.

Anisometropia

Anisometropia is when the refractive powers (visual acuity) of your eyes differ markedly, causing your eyes to focus unevenly – rendering the visual signal from one eye to be much clearer than the other. The brain is unable to reconcile the different images each eye sends and chooses to process the visual signal from the eye sending the clearer image. The brain begins to overlook the eye sending the blurrier image, further weakening the eye-brain connection of the weaker eye. If not treated, this results in permanent poor vision in that eye.

Deprivation

Deprivation refers to a blockage or cloudiness of the eye. When an eye becomes cloudy, it directly impacts the eyes’ ability to send a clear image to the retina, harming the child’s ability to see images clearly from that eye. When clear images can’t reach the retina, it causes poor vision in that eye, resulting in amblyopia. Deprivation is by far the most serious kind of amblyopia, but it is also incredibly rare.

There are several types of deprivation: cataracts, cloudy corneas, cloudy lenses and eyelid tumors. Each of these can affect a child’s vision, resulting in amblyopia. Because these are also difficult to notice from a child’s behavior, it’s crucial to have your child tested for eye-related problems so that treatment can begin right away.

How To Treat Amblyopia

The goal of most amblyopia treatments is to naturally strengthen the weaker eye so that your child’s eyes can work and team with the brain more effectively. Amblyopia treatment will be determined by the cause and severity of their condition.

Common types of treatment include:

  • Corrective eyewear
  • Eye drops
  • Patching
  • Vision Therapy

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is the most effective treatment for amblyopia, which may be used in conjunction with other treatments.

A vision therapy program is customized to the specific needs of the patient. It may include the use of lenses, prisms, filters, occluders, and other specialized equipment designed to actively make the lazy eye work to develop stronger communication between the eye and the brain.

Vision therapy is highly successful for the improvement of binocular vision, visual acuity, visual processing abilities, depth perception and reading fluency.

Vision therapy programs for amblyopia may include eye exercises to improve these visual skills:

  • Accommodation (focusing)
  • Binocular vision (the eyes working together)
  • Fixation (visual gaze)
  • Pursuits (eye-tracking)
  • Saccades (eye jumps)
  • Spatial skills (eye-hand coordination)
  • Stereopsis (3-D vision)

Contact Harrel Vision Therapy Center to make an appointment and discover how vision therapy can help improve your child’s vision. Our eye doctor will ask about your child’s vision history, conduct a thorough evaluation, and take your child on the path to effective and lasting treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Monte Harrel

Q: How do I know if my child has lazy eye?

  • A: It’s difficult to recognize lazy eye because the condition usually develops in one eye, and may not present with a noticeable eye turn. As such, children generally learn how to ignore the lazy eye and compensate by mainly relying on the sight from the ‘good’ eye. Some symptoms of lazy eye include:
  • – Closing one eye or squinting
    – Difficulty with fine eye movements
    – Poor depth perception
    – Poor eye-hand coordination
    – Reduced reading speed and comprehension
    – Rubbing eyes often

Q: How is lazy eye diagnosed?

  • A: Your child’s eye doctor will conduct specific tests during their eye exam, to assess the visual acuity, depth perception and visual skills of each eye.


Harrel Vision Therapy Center serves patients from Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma City, and Fort Smith, AK, all throughout Oklahoma.

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