Back to School Means More Than Backpacks and Lunch Boxes – Don’t Forget the Eye Exam!

While to some it may feel as though summer has just begun, others are already feeling the pressures of checking off every item on their back to school lists.  With all the hassle of stocking up on school supplies or finding the perfect pair of shoes, there is often one important item that gets left off every parent’s list – a comprehensive eye exam.  Although schools generally do some basic testing of children’s vision, there is no doctor to perform a comprehensive exam or diagnose problems with your child’s eyesight.  According to experts, nearly 90 percent of what is taught in school is done so visually, therefore without excellent vision, children are left at a disadvantage.  Those with poor eyesight may struggle with school and learning, leaving them unable to reach their maximum potential.  A yearly comprehensive eye exam can not only ensure your child’s vision is healthy or corrected, but also rule out diseases that can potentially lead to vision loss.

Just as their bodies are rapidly growing, children’s eye are also changing. The slightest change in vision can cause eye strain, headaches or blurred vision which can be very distracting in school.  Myopia and hyperopia, also known as near or farsightedness, are both common conditions in young children, with the ability to worsen rapidly during the growing years until later stabilizing in teenage years and into their early twenties.

Additionally, with recent increases in digital technology, both at home and in schools, it is important to monitor the face time children and teens have with their digital devices such as laptops, tablets and cell phones.  Many individuals suffer from physical eye discomfort after screen use for more than two hours, reflecting collective symptoms know as digital eye strain.  According to The Vision Council, 72 percent of Americans report their children and teens get more than two hours of screen time per day while 30 percent of this group report they experience at least one of the following symptoms after being exposed for more than two hours:

  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behavior
  • Irritability

With a growing number of schools implementing iPads, tablets or laptops in the classroom, it is even more important to ensure your children’s eye health with routine comprehensive eye exams and identifying any symptoms of digital eye strain in addition to any headaches, eye strain or blurred vision.

Adding comprehensive eye exams to your yearly back to school routines will help ensure a successful school year as well as protect your children’s eye health and future.  Speak to your doctor about including optomap® as part of the exam – it is a non-invasive option for your child and takes only seconds to get a highly-detailed view of the retina, which is critical for early disease detection.

http://yoursightmatters.com/make-eye-exams-back-school-tradition/
https://www.allaboutvision.com/parents/learning.htm
https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/content/digital-eye-strain/teens

 

optomap Screening Reveals Cataract in Unsuspecting Doctor

While the exact causes of cataracts are still not entirely understood, annual eye exams are still important for the diagnoses and treatment of their formation.  Even with precautions and regular exams, by the year 2020, more than 30 million Americans are expected to develop cataracts.

Most cataracts occur gradually as we age and don’t become bothersome until after age 55. However, cataracts can also be present at birth (congenital cataracts) or occur at any age as the result of an injury to the eye (traumatic cataracts). Cataracts can also be caused by diseases such as diabetes or can occur as the result of long-term use of certain medications.  While typically forming in both eyes, cataracts may not grow at the same rate. They can develop slowly or quickly, or progress to a certain point, then not get any worse. As a result, one may not notice substantial changes in their sight. Sometimes they can significantly precede symptoms and can be so subtle as to go unnoticed without a comprehensive eye exam.

Read Dr. Young’s full testimonial by clicking on the image above.

When Vince Young, OD introduced Daytona, into his practice, he volunteered to be the imaging guinea pig while his staff trained on the device.  He was unnerved when he reviewed his images and somewhat uncertain about what he was seeing.  He knew what a posterior subcapsular cataract (PSC) looked like through the slit lamp but was surprised by what the optomap image revealed. Concerned, Young sent the image to his wife, Lindsey Brewer Young, OD. When she reviewed the image on her phone she immediately responded, questioning whose eye she was reviewing.  Learning it was her husband’s image she returned to the clinic, conducted a dilated exam, and confirmed that it was indeed a PSC that had been revealed in the optomap image.

At 40 years old, Dr. Young had no reason to suspect he would have cataracts as they are more typically associated with the elderly population. He also exhibited no symptoms or clouded vision.  A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens and can be caused by a variety of circumstances such as systemic issues and some forms of medication. PSCs are also more difficult to remove due to adhesion of the cataract to the lens capsule as well as an increased risk of capsule rupture during removal. However, Young’s cataract surgery on both eyes was successful and today his vision is fine.

Young reports that while this initial training episode was distressing, the image itself has become an excellent tool in communicating the importance of optomap and comprehensive exams to his patients.  The image hangs in the exam room and Young and his staff frequently share the story. “If the doctor didn’t know he had a cataract, how would anyone else know?” they say, underscoring the value of retinal screening. The unusual story has assisted with the elevated level of acceptance the optomap imaging has had in Young’s office.

Young stresses that the exam experience has changed with optomap in an extremely valuable way when it comes to patient education. optomap enables him to help his patients understand exactly what is occurring in their eye, or even just to provide reassurance that all is well. “Even if there is no pathology, patients want me to take the images every year. They want to see what I see.”

Dr. Young’s story demonstrates that it is not only possible for practitioners to image themselves and discover retinal pathology but also discover if significant opacities reside in the media as well.  The importance of regular, annual comprehensive eye exams cannot be expressed enough in the discussion of eye and systemic health. Visit our website to learn more about the benefits of optomap in protecting your eye health and to find an eyecare provider who used optomap technology in their practice.

 

May is UV Awareness Month – Be Wise and Protect Your Eyes!

As summer draws near, most of us long for the glorious warmth of the sun and we dream about, and plan for, the recreation we will enjoy. Unfortunately, while awareness of the importance of sunscreen and UV protective clothing has increased, the impacts of all that fun-in-the-sun on the eyes is still often overlooked.  Most people do not realize that 20% of all cataracts are the result of UV ray exposure, and that number has been dramatically increasing in recent years.

But what is this invisible threat exactly?  And how does it impact us? Ultraviolet radiation is measured in nanometers (nm). It is categorized in three basic terms and classified by the strength of the UV ray:

  • UVC: These rays are below 280 nm. The upper atmosphere absorbs these so they do not reach us, therefore protection from these rays is not overly necessary.
  • UVB: These are between 315 – 380 nm. These manage to make it to the earth’s surface and are notorious for damaging sight. They can cause snow blindness, but are notably responsible for sunburn and several types of skin cancer. Research has shown that these rays are strongest during the summer and at higher altitudes.
  • UVA: These are the most dangerous being 315 – 380 nm. They are known for causing chronic eye damage. Studies have indicated that these rays get absorbed by the lenses of our eyes leading to damage of the retina. They contribute to the occurrence of cataracts, are also a major cause of aging and unfortunately can pass through clouds, glass, water and clothing.

source: http://mommymandy.com/uv-safety-for-young-eyes/

But what about Vitamin D?  A little sun exposure is healthy for us, right?  Vitamin D is essential to help your body absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Vitamin D is also beneficial for other important body functions and it has been shown to be essential to a healthy immune system.  However, just 5-15 minutes in the sun is enough to help stimulate the production of Vitamin D.

Prolonged UV exposure has numerous immediate and deleterious negative impacts. Many skin cancers can occur on the eyelids and external features of the eye.  Additionally, while ocular melanoma is rare it is the most common eye cancer in adults. Because of the increasing number of UV related cataracts and eye cancers; Prevent Blindness, and many other organizations, strongly recommend that everyone utilize UV Protection eyewear, not only those who engage in outdoor disciplines and recreation. It is recommended that sunglasses and UV treated daily wear should be 100% UV absorbing for UVA and UVB light.

When we are caught up in the delightful pursuits of summer – particularly exuberant children – we tend to overlook the simple proactive measures that we can take to protect against vision loss and UV related eye damage and even life threatening ocular cancers.  In addition to taking a few extra moments to protect yourself and your loved ones before rushing out into the sunshine, it is imperative that people take the time for annual eye exams. An optomap screening is an excellent, expedient way to get a comprehensive view of the retina and to gain essential information about ones ocular health. optomap is the only proven, clinically-validated, ultra-widefield retinal image that can capture 82% or 200⁰ of the retina, which can reveal incredibly subtle changes from the central pole to the far periphery of the retina in a single capture – and in a fraction of a second – so you can get out there (well-protected, of course) and enjoy that summer sun.

Visit our website to learn how optomap can assist your local eyecare professional in protecting your sight and general health.