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Back-To-School: Why [Eye_Exams] Are More Important Than Ever

Since the onset of COVID-19, many children have been learning remotely through distance learning programs. While parents are concerned about their children falling behind academically, eye doctors are concerned that undiagnosed vision problems may impact the child’s school performance.

Undetected vision problems may hinder a child’s ability to learn. That’s why eye doctors strongly recommend that children undergo a thorough eye exam before the new school year begins.

While it’s tempting to rely on vision screenings provided by schools, these superficial visual acuity tests can identify only a limited number of eyesight problems. Only a comprehensive eye exam conducted by an eye doctor can accurately diagnose and address a wide range of problems related to vision and eye health. 

Why Are Eye Exams Important?

Up to 80% of children’s learning is visual, so even the slightest vision problem can have a negative impact on their academic achievement. Taking a child in for an eye exam once a year will allow your eye doctor to detect and correct refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism, and check their visual skills, such as convergence insufficiency, binocular vision, focusing and more.

Comprehensive eye exams are the best way to detect mild and serious eye health conditions. Routine eye exams are especially important for children with a family history of eye health problems.  

How Is Vision Affected By Online Learning?

The amount of time children spend looking at digital screens was already a concern in the pre-pandemic era—but the COVID pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. According to the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, children spent twice as much time on screens during COVID-related closures than they did prior to the pandemic.

For one thing, spending prolonged periods of time on digital devices forces the eyes to work harder, making children (and adults) more susceptible to digital eye strain, one of the hallmark symptoms of computer vision syndrome. People who spend 2 or more consecutive hours staring at a screen are at higher risk of developing this condition. 

Some computer vision syndrome symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

These symptoms can be caused by a combination of the following factors:

  • Glare and reflections from the screen
  • Excessive time looking at a screen
  • Poor lighting
  • Poor posture
  • Screen brightness
  • Undetected vision problems 

In addition to digital eye strain, several studies have found that children who spend many hours indoors doing “near work” — writing, reading and looking at computers and other digital devices — have a higher rate of myopia progression. 

A study published in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s professional journal, Ophthalmology, found that first-graders who spent at least 11 hours per week playing outside in the sunshine experienced slower myopia progression. Some researchers think that exposure to sunlight and looking at distant objects while playing outdoors might help decrease myopia progression.   

While regular eye exams are essential for every member of the family, they’re especially important for those who spend a good portion of their day in front of a screen. 

Don’t put off your child’s annual eye exam. Schedule an appointment with Bright Eyes Family Eye Care in Meridian today!

 

Q&A

1. At what age should a child have an eye exam?

According to the American and Canadian Optometric Associations, it’s recommended for a child to have their first eye exam between 6-12 months of age.

Before a child starts school, they should undergo an eye exam, and every one to two years after that, based on their eye doctor‘s recommendation.

2. Does my child need an eye exam if they passed the school vision screening?

Yes! School vision screenings are superficial eye evaluations designed to diagnose a limited number of vision problems like myopia. They do not check for visual skills and other problems that may hinder your child’s academic success.

Your eye doctor will evaluate your child’s vision and eye health, along with visual abilities, including depth perception and eye tracking, to let you know whether your child’s eyes are “school-ready.”

 

Childhood Myopia Is in Crisis Mode on a Global Scale

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 Bright Eyes Family Eye Care in Meridian as soon as possible.

Q&A

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.

Exercise Helps Keep Your Eyes in Shape Too!

Bright Eyes Family Eye Care An Active Body is Linked to Healthy Eyes near you in Meridian, Mississippi

You know all about how regular exercise strengthens your heart and lungs, as well as boosts your energy. Did you also know it can promote healthy vision? Remember, your body is one interconnected unit, and every organ benefits from getting a workout. Our Eye doctor near you in Meridian, Mississippi explains how physical activity helps to preserve your quality vision.

The Importance of Preventive Health Care near you in Meridian, Mississippi

A variety of scientific studies have confirmed that regular exercise can reduce the risks of common eye diseases, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration. The effects of exercise on your quality of life are therefore far-reaching, helping to prevent visual impairment and blindness. Sharp vision is intricately connected to your physical and mental health, enabling you to work and enjoy all the activities you love to do.

When assessing risk factors for ocular disease, eye care providers focus on a holistic view of the person. Eye health can be related to your overall health, with conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes being risk factors for vision loss.

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, 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 Meridian eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

How Much Exercise Is Recommended?

At our eye clinic near you in Meridian, Mississippi, patients constantly ask about the bottom line: how much is enough exercise to reap the eye health benefits? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you don’t need to run a marathon. Leading an active lifestyle, such as taking brisk walks, climbing up the stairs instead of using the elevator, and dancing can have a positive impact on eye health. In many cases, these types of exercise are enough to help lower blood pressure and keep blood sugars in control, which in turn helps prevent vision damage.

The Importance of Preventive Health Care

  • Along with exercising and maintaining a healthy, nutritious diet, the team at our eye care center near you encourages everyone to follow these preventive tips to keep your vision healthy:
    Get routine eye exams so your eye doctor can inspect for any early signs of disease, which will allow you to receive treatment as early as possible. Early detection is essential for effective treatments to slow or prevent damage to your vision.
  • Know your family eye history and share the facts with your eye doctor.
  • Wear sunglasses whenever you’re outdoors, regardless of the season. Dangerous UV rays are always out there.
  • Don’t smoke; smoking increases your chances of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • Eat nutritiously, including fruits and vegetables and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon.

Book an eye exam at an eye clinic near you to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you.

Bright Eyes Family Eye Care, your Meridian eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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I see fine. Why do I need to see an Eye Doctor?

Regular eye exams are the only way to catch “silent” diseases such as diabetes, glaucoma, and other conditions in their early stages when they’re more easily managed or treated. Many conditions can be discovered in a carefully planned eye exam. Those who consider mass-produced, over-the-counter reading glasses are truly doing themselves a disservice, both financially and medically. One-size-fits-all reading glasses not only do not work well for most people who have a different prescription in each eye, and/or astigmatism, or whose lens and frame parameters are not measured correctly, they bypass the opportunity to have their eyes checked for early detection of many manageable diseases or conditions. For those insisting on selecting glasses not measured specifically for their eyes, headache and eye fatigue are common symptoms.

What are cataracts and how can they be treated?

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens inside the eye. They are common with age, certain medications, and medical conditions. Patients usually feel like they are looking through a dirty window, cannot see colors the way they used to, or have increased difficulty with glare. Currently, the treatment is surgery to remove the cloudy lens. Stay tuned for medical advances in cataract treatment in the future!

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.

Is it possible to prevent Macular Degeneration?

Regular eye exams are the only way to catch “silent” diseases such as diabetes, glaucoma, and other conditions in their early stages when they’re more easily managed or treated. Many conditions can be discovered in a carefully planned eye exam. Those who consider mass-produced, over-the-counter reading glasses are truly doing themselves a disservice, both financially and medically. One-size-fits-all reading glasses not only do not work well for most people who have a different prescription in each eye, and/or astigmatism, or whose lens and frame parameters are not measured correctly, they bypass the opportunity to have their eyes checked for early detection of many manageable diseases or conditions. For those insisting on s

Why Does Your Eye Doctor Dilate Your Pupils for an Eye Exam?

If you’ve been following the guideline to have regular eye exams, then you’re probably familiar with having your pupils dilated. Why does your eye doctor do this?

By dilating your pupils, the eye doctor can get a better view of your inner eye structures – so the eye exam is more comprehensive and more detailed. While the back of your eye can be seen through an undilated pupil, it cannot be examined as fully.

A full evaluation of your macula, retina and optic nerve is possible through dilated pupils. In many common eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, these are the parts of the eye that exhibit signs of a problem. Also, health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can often be detected on these parts of the eye.

What happens when the eye doctor dilates your pupils?

Your eye doctor or a technician will insert eye drops into your eyes; it takes 20 – 30 minutes for them to take full effect. Then, your eye doctor will use a lighted microscope to inspect your eyes.

Initially, you may feel a slight stinging when the drops are first inserted, but the discomfort is typically minor and short-lived. For a few hours afterwards, your eyes will be extra-sensitive to light and vision may be slightly blurred. Wearing sunglasses can help manage this sensitivity. Dilation usually wears off within four to six hours.

Even though getting your pupils dilated for an eye exam may feel like a nuisance, it enables your eye doctor to check your ocular health and overall body health with much more accuracy. So the benefits are clear! Contact an expert eye doctor near you to schedule an eye exam.

At Bright Eyes Family Eye Care, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 601-693-0176 or book an appointment online to see one of our Meridian eye doctors.

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Your Eyes Are the Windows to Your Health

Your eyes aren’t just the windows to your soul — they can also reveal valuable information about your general health beyond whether you need glasses, including: diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It is not unusual for people to come in for an eye exam just to check their eyesight and then have certain health issues or predispositions picked up by the optometrist.

Eye Exams and Your Health

Eye examinations can help doctors detect general health conditions early enough to intervene. Advanced screenings enable eye doctors to better predict cardiovascular incidents like stroke, and possibly detect signs of mental changes such as Alzheimer’s. Read below to learn how eye exams can unveil a whole lot more than just eye health.

Brain Cancer & Stroke

Because of the similarities between the blood vessels in the eye and brain, an eye doctor can occasionally detect an issue taking place in the brain by examining the blood vessels in the eyes. If swelling or shadows in the eye is observed, it may indicate a serious condition in the brain, like a tumor, or clots that might result in a stroke.

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). If an optometrist detects leaky blood vessels in the eye, the patient would be advised to see a doctor to help control their blood sugar. Changes are gradual, and they start before visual symptoms are noticed. The earlier diabetic eye disease is managed, the better the chances are of preserving eyesight.

Hypertension

High blood pressure, characterized by having too much pressure in the blood vessels, can be detected during an eye exam, sometimes even before it’s diagnosed by your regular doctor. The damaged blood vessels lead to swelling, hemorrhages, and leaking — all of which can be observed in the eyes. According to the CDC, hypertension “the silent killer” affects nearly 1 in 3 adults, and up to a whopping 20% of those don’t even know they have it. So early detection at an eye doctor’s evaluation can be truly life-saving.

High Cholesterol

Eye exams can also detect a buildup of cholesterol. High cholesterol is among the easiest conditions to spot during a complete eye exam, as the cholesterol deposits manifest on the front of the eye, appearing as a thin, gray rim around the cornea. It can also be detected in the retina by assessing artery and vein patterns.

These deposits may indicate the current or future development of Retinal Blood Vessel Occlusion, a condition where blockages restrict blood flow to the back of the eye, causing temporary or permanent vision loss.

Heart Conditions

In some cases, heart conditions associated with a buildup of plaque in the carotid artery in the heart can also lead to deposits that clog the ocular arteries in the eye. If an optometrist detects such changes to the vascular structure at the back of the eye, he or she will typically recommend going to a specialist.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Sudden vision loss may be attributed to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While the optometrist can recognize signs indicating the presence of MS, such as the color and appearance of the optic nerve, such cases will be referred for further testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Thyroid

Thyroid disease can make itself apparent through the eyes in several ways. The thyroid gland controls the hormones that regulate tear production so some thyroid disorders can cause dry eye disease. Additionally, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can make the extraocular muscles enlarge and stiffen, causing bulging eyes — an indicator of Graves’ disease.

Inflammation

Systemic conditions that are associated with inflammation in the body can have an inflammatory effect on the eyes. Uveitis, for example, causes eye inflammation, redness, and blurred vision, and tends to occur in people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.

Cancer

Breast cancer, leukemia, and other metastatic cancers are occasionally discovered during an eye evaluation. In addition to brain cancer mentioned above, melanoma and basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) can be detected, and eye doctors can also diagnose lymphoma and other eye tumors. Eye exams save lives.

What the Future Holds

Alzheimer’s

Recent studies show that a non-invasive and precise imaging device called Octa (optical coherence tomography angiography) can signal the presence of eye changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Because the retina is in many ways an extension of the brain, the altered blood vessels at the back of the eye offer a glimpse into the changes taking place within the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease can often be misdiagnosed as its early symptoms are characteristic of other conditions. Research has shown that subtle eye tremors, an early Parkinson’s marker, could be detectable using advanced eye exam technology. One day soon, practitioners may send patients to an eye doctor to test for this and other diseases.

Your Eye Doctor’s Appointment Could Change Your Life

So the next time you visit Dr. Phillips at Bright Eyes Family Eye Care in Meridian, remember that a comprehensive eye exam can do more than determine your eyeglasses or contacts prescription. Dr. Phillips can evaluate your eyes for existing or potential health issues, and communicate them to your primary care physician for the best possible care. By knowing that you’re at risk for a certain disease, you can take precautions early on and manage the condition as needed. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.