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5 Important Eye Care Tips For Kids

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5 Important Eye Care Tips For Kids

Your child’s ability to see the world relies on healthy eyes. By teaching them how to care for their eyes, you help protect them from injury and ensure their eyes and vision remain healthy in the long run. Here are our 5 top eye care tips for kids. 

Good Eye Care Habits for Children

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet and Drink Plenty of Water

A nutritious diet and healthy eyes go hand in hand. Encourage your child to eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, and prioritize foods rich in vitamin A found in green leafy and yellow vegetables. Eggs are also rich in important nutrients, containing vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc, all vital for eye health. 

Another thing to look out for is hydration. Proper hydration plays a key role in maintaining healthy eyes and a healthy body, so make sure your child drinks plenty of water (the appropriate amount will vary according to your child’s age, level of physical activity and weather conditions). 

2. Wear Eye Protection

Physical activity is enjoyable and healthy, but make sure your child is wearing the right protective eyewear, like safety goggles, anytime they participate in sports or activities that could cause an eye injury (i.e. playing ball, hockey, carpentry). Wearing a helmet for sports like riding a bicycle protects against concussions, which can result in lingering vision problems, and are usually preventable. 

Furthermore, provide your child with good UV-blocking sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s UV radiation. Staring directly at the sun, or the light rays reflecting off water and snow, can potentially cause retinal burns, in addition to long term damage.

3. Give The Eyes a Rest

Staring at the school board and school books all day, followed by playing video games or watching TV in the evening can cause eye strain. Be sure your child gets sufficient sleep to allow their eyes to rest. Replace evening activities with those that don’t require intense eye focusing: going to the park, playing outdoors with friends, or simply lying down with their eyes closed while listening to music or an audiobook. 

4. Reduce Time Spent on Digital Devices

Spending time on digital devices and staring at screens is an integral part of our lives. Playing video games, watching videos on their smartphones and playing computer games, all require the eyes to fixate for extended periods of time, which can lead to digital eye strain, headaches and even dry eyes.

Try to reduce the amount of time your child spends on the screen by getting your child to participate in other activities, such as sports. And when using digital devices or screens for long periods of time, get them into the habit of taking frequent breaks and give their eyes a rest by looking into the distance every few minutes.

5. Get Their Eyes Checked Regularly

School-aged children’s vision can change often, and unexpectedly, until the late teenage years. Left uncorrected, poor eyesight can interfere with learning, and cause behavioral and attention issues. 

Getting a routine eye exam is important as it can uncover vision problems, detect eye conditions early on, and significantly increase the odds of preserving long-term eye health. For those who wear glasses or contacts, it’s important to check for any changes and update the prescription as needed. 

Ensure  your child’s eyes are being cared for properly by scheduling an eye exam with Suburban Eye Care in Livonia today. Your child’s eye doctor can further educate them on eye safety and answer any questions you or your child may have. 

 

Q&A

My kid frequently rubs their eyes. Is that bad?

Kids often rub their eyes, especially if they have allergies, irritated eyes, or they feel like something is stuck in their peepers. Rubbing can scratch the cornea, and transfer bacteria from the child’s hands to their eyes, causing an eye infection. 

Instead of rubbing, have them wash their eyes with cool water to flush out any foreign body or irritant, and ease inflammation. If the problem persists, contact your child’s optometrist.

Other than reducing screen time, is there anything else I can do to maintain eye health & safety? 

When you’re at home, keep an eye on your children’s playtime and make sure that none of their toys — or the toys at their friends’ homes — are sharp. Sharp plastic swords and toys with jagged edges can cause serious eye injuries. 

Are Contact Lenses Safe For Young Children?

Here’s a question we often get at our practice: ‘Is my child too young for contact lenses?’ This is an important question, and the answer may surprise you. 

For children with myopia (nearsightedness), contact lenses can be a convenient method of vision correction. It allows kids to go about their day without having to worry about breaking or misplacing their glasses, and enables them to freely participate in sports and other physical activities. 

Some children and young teens may ask their parents for contact lenses because they feel self-conscious wearing glasses. Contact lenses may even provide children with the confidence boost they need to come out of their shell. Moreover, these days, it is very popular for children to wear single-use one-day disposable soft contacts, since there is no cleaning or maintenance involved. 

Some parents may deny their child’s request for contacts due to concerns about eye health and safety. There’s no reason to worry: contact lenses are just as safe for children as they are for anyone else. 

At Suburban Eye Care, we provide children, teens, and patients of all ages with a wide variety of contact lenses. If you’re concerned about the safety of contacts for your child, we’ll be happy to explain and explore ways to ensure maximum safety, optimal eye health and comfort. To learn more or to schedule a pediatric eye exam for contact lenses, contact us today. 

What Are the Risks of Having My Child Wear Contact Lenses?

A study published in the January 2021 issue of The Journal of Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics found that kids aren’t at a higher risk of experiencing contact lens complications. 

The study followed nearly 1000 children aged 8-16 over the course of 1.5-3 years to determine how contact lenses affected their eye health. 

The results indicate that age doesn’t have an effect on contact lens safety. In fact, the researchers found that the risk of developing infections or other adverse reactions was less than 1% per year of wear — which is comparable to contact lens wearers of other ages.

But before you decide that contact lenses are right for your child, you may want to consider whether your child is ready to wear them. During his or her eye doctor’s appointment, the optometrist may ask about your child’s level of maturity, responsibility, and personal hygiene. Since many children are highly motivated to wear contacts, they tend to display real maturity in caring for their lenses. That said, in the initial stages, parents may need to play an active role, as their child gets used to inserting and removing the new contact lenses.  

It’s important to note that just as with any other medical device, contact lenses are not risk-free. Anyone who wears contact lenses has a chance of developing eye infections or other complications with contact lenses. However, when worn and cared for according to your eye doctor’s instructions, contact lenses are low-risk and perfectly safe for children and teenagers.

So, go ahead and bring your child in for a contact lens consultation! We’ll help determine if your child is ready for contacts and answer any questions you or your child may have. To schedule your child’s contact lens fitting or eye exam, contact Suburban Eye Care in Livonia today.  

Sports-Related Eye Injuries

September Is Sports Eye Safety Month!

Ocular sports trauma is among the leading causes of permanent vision loss in North America. Tens of thousands of people get treated for sports-related eye injuries a year, with the most common injuries occurring during water sports and basketball. Infections, corneal abrasions, eye socket fractures, and detached retinas are just a few of the typical cases eye doctors encounter on a regular basis.

Sports Eye Safety Month is sponsored by Prevent Blindness America (PBA) to remind people to protect their eyes when playing sports. Though young children are usually the most vulnerable to eye injuries, it should be noted that professional athletes can also suffer eye injuries while on the job. 

Eye accidents can happen in a split second – the effects can last a lifetime…

By wearing protective eyewear, you can safeguard your eyesight without compromising on your favorite sports activities. Athletes who wear contact lenses still need additional eye protection for relevant sports.

At Suburban Eye Care, our eye doctor is experienced and trained to treat sports-induced eye injuries sustained by our active patients. Dr. John Jacobi and our dedicated staff are committed to providing the most comprehensive eye care to help get you back on the field again. Furthermore, we provide consultations on a wide array of protective eyewear for all your sporting needs. 

What Eye Injuries Can Be Caused by Sports?

Corneal Abrasion

A corneal abrasion, also known as a scratched cornea, is the most common sports-related eye injury. When someone gets poked in the eye, the eye’s surface can get scratched. Symptoms may include acute pain and a gritty or foreign body sensation in the eyes, as well as redness, tearing, light sensitivity, headaches, blurry or decreased vision. Medical care includes prevention or treatment of infection, and pain management. If you suspect that you have suffered a corneal abrasion, make sure to see an eye doctor right away. 

Traumatic Iritis

Iritis is an inflammation of the iris, the colored part of the eye. The condition rapidly develops and typically affects only one eye. Symptoms include pain in the eye or brow region, blurred vision, a small or oddly-shaped pupil, and sensitivity to bright lights. 

Hyphema

Hyphema is among the more common sports-related eye injuries, with racquet sports, baseball and softball accounting for more than 50% of all hyphema injuries in athletics. 

A hyphema is a broken blood vessel inside the eye which causes blood to collect in the space between the cornea and iris, also known as the “anterior chamber”. Although the main symptom is blood in the eye, it can be accompanied by blurry or distorted vision, light sensitivity or eye pain.  

If you recognize the signs and symptoms of hyphema, make sure to seek immediate medical attention in order to avoid secondary complications. 

Angle recession

Angle recession can develop from an eye injury or bruising of the eye, caused by getting punched, elbowed, or hit with a ball. The trauma damages the fluid drainage system of the eye, which causes it to back up, increasing the pressure in the eye. In 20% of people with angle recession, this pressure can become so severe that it damages the optic nerve, and causes glaucoma (known as “angle-recession glaucoma”). 

You may not notice any symptoms at first, and it may take years before you experience any signs of vision loss. Therefore, it’s critical to visit the eye doctor as soon as possible for a complete eye exam and make sure that you follow-up with routine screenings. 

Retinal tear or detachment

Retinal detachment is a condition in which the retina gets lifted or pulled away from its normal position at the back of the eye. If not treated immediately, retinal detachment can develop permanent vision loss.

Symptoms include seeing flashing lights, floaters or little black spots in your vision. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency and requires an eye doctor’s immediate attention – surgical intervention may be necessary.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage 

This happens when a blood vessel breaks on the white part of the eye. In addition to a sport-related injury, it can be induced by rubbing the eye, heavy lifting, sneezing or coughing. For those with subconjunctival hemorrhage, the eye appears intensely red – though this minor condition will often clear up within a couple weeks on its own without treatment.

Orbital Fracture 

This occurs when one or more of the bones around the eyeball break, often caused by a hard blow to the face – such as by a baseball or a fist. This is a major injury and should be assessed by an eye doctor, like Dr. John Jacobi, along with X-Rays or CT scan imaging to help confirm the diagnosis.

Black Eye or Periorbital Hematoma

A “shiner” can occur when a blunt object such as a fist or ball strikes the eye-area of the face and causes bruising. Typically, this kind of injury affects the face more than the eye. Blurry vision may be a temporary symptom, but it’s a good idea to get a black eye checked out by an optometrist in any case, because sometimes there is accompanying damage to the eye which could impact vision.

How Does One Prevent Sports-Related Eye Injuries?

One of the most important things one can do in order to prevent eye injuries is to wear protective eyewear. In fact, wearing eye protection should be part of any athlete’s routine, and should be prioritized just like wearing shin guards or a helmet. 

Below are a few tips to prevent sports-related eye injuries: 

  • Wear safety goggles (with polycarbonate lenses) for racquet sports or basketball. For the best possible protection, the eye guard or sports protective eyewear should be labeled “ASTM F803 approved” – which means it is performance tested.
  • Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for baseball.
  • If you wear prescription eyewear, speak with Dr. John Jacobi about fitting you for prescription protective eyewear.
  • Sports eye protection should be comfortably padded along the brow and bridge of the nose, to prevent the eye guards from cutting into the skin.
  • Try on protective eyewear to assess whether it’s the right fit and size for you and adjust the straps as needed. For athletic children who are still growing, make sure that last-year’s pair still fits before the new sports season begins. Consult Dr. John Jacobi to determine whether the comfort and safety levels are adequate. 
  • Keep in mind that regular glasses don’t provide nearly enough eye protection when playing sports. 

For athletes, whether amateur or pro, there is so much more at stake than just losing the game. Fortunately, by wearing high-quality protective eyewear, you can prevent 90% of all sports-related eye injuries. 

Speak with Dr. John Jacobi at Suburban Eye Care about getting the right sports-related protective eyewear to ensure healthy eyes and clear vision. Our eye care clinic serves patients from Livonia and the surrounding areas. 

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

What’s the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist?

What’s the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MDs) who specialize in the health of the eye. When they assess vision, it is a confirmation that the eye is healthy and there is no disease. Their main focus is on surgery.

Optometrists are vision specialists (ODs, optometric doctors) who help people maximize the functional aspects of vision. When they assess the medical aspects of eyecare, it is because healthy eyes allow for better vision (with each eye and with both eyes as a team). Their training usually addresses the art of providing comfortable lenses for seeing with two eyes. They are also trained in the diagnosis and management of eye conditions and diseases as well as systemic diseases impacting the eye. It is a broad scope of training, and depends on the specific doctor and his or her specialties.

Pediatric ophthalmologists do conduct surgery related to eye-teaming. Unfortunately, vision rehabilitation and visual processing skills are not part of their training, and their opinion of vision therapy varies from doctor to doctor. Opthamologists are generally surgery focused, as they are surgeons. Unfortunately, surgery only corrects the cosmetic issue with eyes, and not the neurological issues of vision disorders. This is why generally vision therapy is the best treatment for an eye turn, or in some cases of a very large turn, a combination of surgery and vision therapy.

Developmental optometrists who specialize in vision therapy (“VTODs” such as Dr. Jacobi) undergo a considerable amount of post-doctoral training to enhance their understanding of vision development, visual information processing, visual rehabilitation concepts and techniques. Certifications for this include university-accredited residency programs and Fellowships attained with various post-doc organizations such as the COVD (College of Optometry and Vision Development), where Dr. Jacobi received his certification. Continuing education is also an important aspect of such certification.

If you or your child are in need of a comprehensive eye and vision assessment, I suggest beginning with a developmental optometrist, especially when there are problems which interfere with the ability to read, learn, comprehend, or even to pay attention. Sometimes, a person can have a vision disorder without realizing it, and a developmental optometrist can implement things to correct it before it becomes a bigger problem for the patient. Most optometrists assess sight at distance and don’t test vision, eye teaming and sight and vision at near (where kids spend most of their day looking). When managing strabismus (eye turns) or amblyopia (lazy eye), I again suggest a VTOD for a more complete rehabilitative approach. In cases where the turn is so large that surgery is needed in addition to vision therapy, Dr. Jacobi will refer a patient to a trusted ophthalmologist for collaborative care.

I hope this information is helpful to you! We understand that when you or your child is experiencing any difficulty, all of the information out there can be overwhelming and it is difficult to determine where to start. As with any profession, levels of expertise and competency will always vary based on individual experience and inspiration. At our office we specialize in contact lenses, dry eye, low vision and vision therapy. Dr. Jacobi is board certified with the COVD and has been working with children and adults with vision disorders for decades. We are passionate about what we do, and who we serve, and we would love to help more patients achieve the success they aspire to.
Contributed by Amanda Timbre, COVT