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.’
When it comes to the prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness), the statistics are staggering. By 2050, nearly half of the world’s population—about 5 billion people—will be myopic. Below are a few useful tips to help you prevent your child from being part of that statistic.
What Is Myopia?
Myopia occurs when the eye elongates, causing light rays to focus in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it, while looking at something far away. So, people with nearsightedness perceive distant objects as blurred while close-up objects can remain clear.
Myopia tends to develop during childhood, when the eyeballs rapidly grow (along with the rest of the body), mainly between the ages of 8-18. It can worsen slowly or quickly, but it is not simply an inconvenience. People with progressive myopia are more likely to develop serious eye diseases like cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma later in life—conditions which may lead to permanent loss of vision and even blindness.
How To Know Whether Your Child Is Myopic
Below are some telltale signs to watch for:
- Blurred distance vision – Objects in the distance are blurred; kids may complain that they can’t see the board
- Headaches – When myopia isn’t corrected, it can cause eye strain and headaches.
- Head tilting or squinting – If your child squints or tilts his or her head while watching TV, for example, it may be a symptom of myopia.
- Looking at objects too closely – If you notice your child moving closer to the TV or squinting as they try to see the writing on the board, it may indicate myopia.
What Parents Can Do to Slow Their Child’s Myopia Progression
- Encourage your child to go outdoors for at least 90 minutes a day, preferably in the sunshine. Studies show that playing outdoors reduces the risk of developing myopia and slows its progression.
- Limit the amount of time your child spends staring at a screen, reading and doing close work such as homework.
- When your child uses a digital screen, make sure that it isn’t too close to the face.
- Teach the 20-20-20 rule: During screen time, take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object across the room or out the window about 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
How We Can Help
Certain eye doctors offer treatment methods known as myopia control or myopia management. These include orthokeratology, bifocal or multifocal contact lenses, and eye drops like low dose atropine. Regular eyeglasses and contact lenses don’t prevent its progression but do correct myopia so the child can see and function normally.
If your child shows signs of myopia, schedule an eye exam with Harrel Eyecare in Tulsa as soon as possible.
How is myopia diagnosed?
Your child’s eye doctor will perform a thorough pediatric eye exam to diagnose myopia, which often includes a visual acuity test, where the eye doctor will use an eye chart made up of letters of varied sizes. If the test results indicate myopia, then the optometrist may shine a light into their eyes and evaluate the reflection off the retina to determine the degree of refractive error for their prescription.
Can myopia lead to blindness?
High myopia may increase your child’s risk of developing more serious eye conditions later in life, such as cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma. Left untreated, high myopia complications can sometimes lead to blindness—which is why routine eye exams are critical.
If you don’t see well while driving at night, there’s a chance you have night blindness. Night blindness, or nyctalopia, is the inability to see well at night or in dim lighting. It’s not considered an eye disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem.
Our eye doctor can help diagnose, manage and treat your night blindness so that you can enjoy being out at night again.
Here are 4 things you should know about night blindness:
Causes of Night Blindness
The inability to see well at night can be the result of a condition such as:
Vitamin A Deficiency — Vitamin A helps keep your cornea, the layer at the front of your eye, clear; it’s also an important component of rhodopsin, a protein that enables you to see in low light conditions. Although uncommon in North America, deficiency of this vitamin can induce night blindness.
Cataracts — A buildup of protein clouds the eye’s lens, leading to impaired vision, especially at night and in poor lighting conditions.
Diabetic Retinopathy — Damage to the eyes’ blood vessels and nerves can result in vision loss, including difficulty seeing at night.
Glaucoma — This group of eye diseases is associated with pressure build-up in the eye that damages the optic nerve. Both glaucoma and the medications used to treat it can cause night blindness.
Myopia — Also called nearsightedness, myopia makes distant objects appear blurry, and patients with it describe a starburst effect around lights at night.
Keratoconus — An irregularly shaped cornea causes blurred vision and may involve sensitivity to light and glare which tend to be worse at night.
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) — A progressive genetic eye disease which can be associated with other diseases, RP leads to night blindness and peripheral vision loss.
Usher Syndrome — This genetic condition causes both hearing loss and vision loss, including night blindness and RP, mentioned above.
Symptoms of Nyctalopia
Since night blindness is a symptom of some serious vision problems, it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly to ensure that everything is in good working order. Contact your eye doctor as soon as possible if you notice that you don’t see as well in dim light as you used to, such as when driving at night or when adjusting from being outdoors in the sunshine to being indoors.
Symptoms of Night Blindness Include:
- Reduced contrast sensitivity
- Difficulty seeing people outdoors at night
- Difficulty seeing in places with dim lighting, like a movie theater
- Trouble adapting to the dark while driving
- Excessive squinting at night
- Trouble adjusting from bright areas to darker ones
Treatments for Night Blindness
Your eye doctor will want to diagnose the cause of your night blindness in order to treat it. For example, in the rare case of vitamin A deficiency, it can be treated with vitamin supplements and vitamin-A rich foods; myopia can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Other conditions may require medications or surgery.
If night blindness is caused by a birth defect, Usher syndrome, or retinitis pigmentosa, low vision aids and devices can help you make the most of your remaining vision.
While there is no proven way to prevent night blindness resulting from genetic conditions or birth defects, consuming healthy, nourishing foods and taking certain vitamin supplements may prevent or slow the onset of some eye conditions that cause night blindness.
If you experience poor vision at night or in dim lighting, we can help. Contact Harrel Eyecare in Tulsa to schedule your appointment today.
At Harrel Eyecare, we help children like yours achieve clear and comfortable vision, so they can succeed at the important things in life.
Methods of Myopia Correction
Contacts can be a great choice, especially for physically active children or teens who don’t want to worry about breaking or misplacing their eyeglasses. In some cases of very high myopia, contact lenses can offer clearer vision than glasses.
Corrective contact lenses are usually placed in the eyes upon waking and removed at night before bedtime. There are several types, including: soft contacts, daily disposables, extended wear, and rigid gas permeable (hard) lenses. Navigating through the differences between them can be daunting. Fortunately, if you’re located in Tulsa our eye doctor will be happy to guide you. Speak with Dr. Monte Harrel to determine whether your child is ready for contact lenses.
Glasses are a popular choice among our younger patients. Choosing from an array of styles makes the process fun and exciting! Allowing the children to be active participants in selecting their eyewear increases the likelihood that they’ll actually wear them. There are strong, flexible and resilient frames which look great and are comfortable too.
The optician can customize the lenses with additions and upgrades like impact-resistant or shatter-proof materials, scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coatings, UV filters, and transition lenses that darken in the sun. For those requiring vision correction for distance and near, we also offer bifocal or multifocal lens prescriptions.
We Can Help Correct Your Child’s Myopia
If you’re located near Tulsa, Oklahoma, an eye exam with our optometrist can determine your child’s exact prescription, and give you the opportunity to receive answers to any questions you may have about your child’s eye health and vision. Progressive myopia, where a growing child’s prescription continues to worsen, is why it’s important for myopic children to undergo eye exams at least once a year.
At Harrel Eyecare, our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to recommend the most suitable method of correcting your child’s myopia to meet his or her individual needs. Thanks to the wide range options available, your child will walk away with eyewear that will not only enhance his or her style but will also be a boost of confidence.
Let us help your child see the world in a whole new light. To schedule your child’s annual eye exam or if you have any further questions, contact Harrel Eyecare at 918-302-2120 today.