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5 Ways to Protect and Improve Your Child’s Eyesight

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5 Ways to Protect and Improve Your Child’s Eyesight

Your child’s vision is their primary window into the world around them. Keeping their eyesight healthy is an important part of allowing them to experience life to the fullest.

Here are 5 tips on how to protect and improve your child’s eye health:

1. Take them to the eye doctor for routine eye exams

One of the most important take-aways from any article you read on the subject of keeping your child’s vision and eyes healthy, is the need to keep up with routine comprehensive eye exams.

Although your kid’s school may perform vision screenings, these tests can only detect the most basic issues, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or severe amblyopia. They are not equipped to check for eye diseases that can affect your child’s long-term ocular health, or binocular vision disorders that can hinder their ability to learn.

Our Livonia eye doctor will be able to perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for the presence of these and other conditions. If ocular diseases or vision disorders are detected, your eye doctor will have the equipment and expertise to properly treat them.

2. Limit their screen time

Screens are an ever-present part of our lives. Children can spend hours every day texting, playing video games, watching television, and more. It is all-too-easy to spend way too much time on these digital devices, causing symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eye
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain

Excessive blue light, like the kind that comes from these screens, interferes with sleep and is also thought to increase the risk of macular degeneration later in life.

To prevent symptoms and protect your child’s long-term vision health, limit their screen time, when possible, to approximately one hour, and devices should be turned off a few hours before bedtime to allow your child to wind down.

3. Encourage them to eat healthy foods and get exercise

As with every part of the body, a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring the long-term health of your child’s eyes.

Eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to promote eye health. Good sources include fish such as salmon and herring. For vegans and others who don’t eat fish, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also a great option. 

Leafy greens and fruits are also important, as they’re high in vitamins A, C and E, which are all important for the development and maintenance of healthy vision.

Along with a healthy diet, you should encourage your child to get up and exercise. Physical activity is good for the whole body, and that includes the eyes.

Bonus points if you can get your child outside, as sunlight and outdoor play have been shown to slow or even prevent the development of myopia. Just make sure your child wears sunglasses and a sun hat — UV rays have a cumulative effect that could lead to eye diseases like macular degeneration later in life.

4. Help them avoid eye injuries

Eye injuries are an all-too-common occurrence, especially among children.

If you have little ones at home, make sure that paints, cleaners and other dangerous chemicals and irritants are put away somewhere safe. If these ever get into their eyes, they can cause severe damage to your child’s visual system, including permanent loss of vision.

For contact and ball/puck sports, ensure your child wears the right eyewear to protect their eyes from accidental impacts or pokes. Helmets should also be worn where the sport warrants it, to prevent concussions and other head injuries that can have an effect on vision.

5. Reduce eye infections

Even small, common infections such as pink eye can have an impact on your child’s vision.

Hands are some of the most bacteria-filled parts of our bodies. Your child should learn not to touch their eyes with their unwashed hands, as this is the primary way of introducing germs to the eye that may result in infection. 

On a similar note, if you have contact lens wearers, be sure to teach them to wash their hands each and every time they put in or take out their contact lenses. They should also learn to store and clean their lenses strictly according to their eye doctor‘s instructions and should change lenses according to their intended schedule. Daily contacts should be changed daily, monthly contacts, monthly.

For more information on how best to protect and improve your child’s eyesight, contact Suburban Eye Care in Livonia today.

Q&A

Can I rely on the vision screenings at my child’s school to catch vision and eye health issues?

No. School-based vision screenings check for basic visual acuity. Even if your child has perfect 20/20 vision, there may still be issues with visual skills or undetected eye diseases that these types of screenings are not equipped to catch.

It is important not to rely on school vision screenings as a replacement for an annual comprehensive eye exam with your local optometrist. During these visits, your eye doctor will be able to assess your child for vision skills such as:

  • Eye teaming ability
  • Convergence and divergence skills
  • Tracking and focusing
  • Visual accommodation

They will also be able to diagnose and treat conditions such as:

  • Amblyopia
  • Strabismus
  • (Rarely) pediatric glaucoma or cataracts

These and other conditions can only be diagnosed and treated by a trained optometrist as part of a comprehensive eye exam.

Can vision problems be misdiagnosed as ADHD/ADD?

It is unfortunately common for learning-related vision problems to go undetected. These vision problems can often mimic the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, leading to misdiagnosis and mistaken treatment.

As many as 1 out of every 4 school-age children suffers from some form of visual dysfunction. If not properly treated, a child may struggle throughout their entire school career, harming their learning and possibly their long-term self-confidence.

Can I do Vision Therapy instead of surgery???

The short answer is…YES YES YES.

People with strabismus (also known as an eye turn, or “lazy eye”) are often told they will need surgery to correct the problem. While some more extreme cases may in fact require surgery, many eye turns can be cured with a great vision therapy program; designed by a developmental optometrist and implemented by a vision therapist. In those extreme cases where someone does need surgery to correct the problem, they will also almost certainly need vision therapy in order to teach the eyes and the brain to work together correctly. Often times, we see children who have gone through eye surgery…only to have their eye turn return, or their vision continue to be impeded; even if they look “normal” cosmetically. This is because cutting the muscles in eye surgery does not TEACH the eyes and the BRAIN to work together, as is done in vision therapy. It is important to be seen by a developmental optometrist to determine what is needed for the individual patient.

Here is a great article written by a woman who went through quite an ordeal with strabismus. She describes her difficulties in school and work, less than desirable experiences with some doctors, as well as how vision therapy changed her life.

http://www.betsyyaros.com/the-cost-of-eye-surgery-vs-vision-therapy

Contributed by Amanda Timbre, COVT

Congratulations Fernie!

Congratulations Fernie

Fernie was 4 years old when she started our Vision Therapy Program 9 months ago.

She was scheduled for surgery for her eye turn, but when her parents found our website and information about vision therapy, they brought her in to see Dr. Jacobi one week before the surgery was scheduled to be performed. She was prescribed 9 months of vision therapy. Fernie came every week to see her vision therapist and worked hard at home with mom and dad. Surgery was cancelled and today we are celebrating her graduation!

Fernie has successfully learned how to control her eyes so that they do not turn out and are able to work well together to give her great vision! As she has said, she is now able to control whether she sees 1 of her dad, or 2! Her parents report that she is much happier and has grown so much. She is ready to start school in the Fall!

Congratulations Fernie, we are so proud of you!

Contributed by Amanda Timbre, COVT

Eye Exam VS Vision Screening…Tomato Tomahto?

Eye Exam VS Vision Screening…Tomato Tomahto

Is a vision screening the same as an eye exam…. or a “online eye exam?” This is a common question. Many schools and pediatricians perform vision screenings…does your child still need an eye exam in-person with an optometrist?

The answer is 100% YES, because a vision screening is not the same as a comprehensive eye exam, and neither is an eye exam done online. Vision screenings at the school or pediatrician’s office are designed to detect obvious problems with SIGHT. As you have learned from our previous blog posts, sight is only one component of vision. Children who pass vision screenings often have vision problems that affect their learning. It is better to have an optometrist examine your child, and BEST to have a developmental optometrist perform the exam. This is because developmental optometrists, like our very own Dr. Jacobi, are certified in vision and learning development and test for vision issues that vision screenings as well as other optometrists often miss.

Another important thing to mention, is that vision screenings do not check the health of a person’s eyes. A vision screening is the first step to detecting an issue, but a comprehensive eye exam with a developmental optometrist will provide you with much more information in regards to the performance and health of your child’s eyes.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that children have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months old, and (providing that there are no issues), again at age 3, just before starting Kindergarten, and annually thereafter. Because we believe in the importance of this, we offer free comprehensive eye exams for children who are entering Kindergarten.

Summer is a great time to schedule an eye exam for your family! Make sure that your children begin the school year ready to learn. Should your child need to begin vision therapy, getting a head start over the summer is very helpful! And don’t forget about yourself – whether you have a family history of eye disease, dry eyes, allergies, need specialty contacts or vision therapy – we are your friendly and knowledgeable eye care professionals.

Contributed by Amanda Timbre, COVT

What if you saw letters like this?

What if you saw letters like this

Today we discovered that our patient sees any print within arms reach as though it is overlapped. And no one ever knew. She has had eye exams before, but her specific difficulties and diagnoses were not discovered until she came to see Dr. Jacobi for a comprehensive eye exam with a developmental optometrist. She sees 20/20 and her sight is fine, which is why other eye doctors did not diagnose her with any vision difficulties. But when she reads she has to pick which word makes more sense in the context and not surprisingly she HATES writing. I realized this when she couldn’t read anything with both eyes open within 12 inches of her face. With one eye covered, she can read the letters, but with both eyes open she would squint her eyes, tilt her head, close an eye…She said it looked blurry like black blobs… so I had her draw exactly what she saw. This is what she drew.

Can you imagine being a young child in a classroom trying to keep up when this is how things look?? And these kids are often labeled as lazy, ADD, etc. These are the kids who are quick to give up and say they can’t, who tell me they just want to be smart, who cry when we tell they they are smart-we just need to help their eyes work better together. These are the moms that cry in the therapy room because they feel so bad they never knew. These are also the kids who learn during vision therapy that they can achieve great things- who gain confidence and success. The kids who make me fight back tears on their VT graduation day while mom cries and we discuss how far they’ve come. The good news is we can definitely change her life. This is why we work so hard and this is why we are so passionate about what we do!Vision Therapy is truly life-changing. Kids often don’t know how to describe what they see, and they often think everyone sees that way. This is why it is so important to take your child to a developmental optometrist. If you are not in our area, go to covd.org and search for a board certified optometrist who is a fellow at the college of optometry in vision development.
Contributed by Amanda Timbre, COVT