Children’s Ocular Health

Why is it so important to have your child’s vision checked?

It is extremely important to check your child’s vision from a very young age! Vision is a huge part of a child’s development, and it is best to catch any problems early on and find a solution quickly. Vision problems can hurt a child’s school performance, as much of what they learn there is presented visually. Children don’t know how their vision “should be”, so having your child’s eyes checked is the best way to catch any potential problems. It is better to get a full eye exam than to rely on the results of the simple vision check that children receive at a regular doctor’s appointment.

When should you have your child’s vision checked?

Doctors recommend that children get their eyes checked first at the age of 6 months. While this may seem young, it is around this time when a child has sharper and more accurate color vision. It is also the time when vision problems begin to manifest themselves. If there are no problems, children should get their eyes checked again at age 3 years, and then again right before they start school. These are formative times when vision problems appear. If your child does have some sort of vision problem, it is important to take corrective measures immediately. It is also important to schedule appointments at the times of day your child is most focused. You don’t want to take them to get their eyes checked when they are tired, cranky, or hungry if you want to get accurate results.

What are common vision problems in children, and how do you correct them?

Some of the most common vision problems children experience are nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, lazy eyes, and crossed eyes. The first three are caused refractive errors and can be easily corrected with glasses or contacts, and in serious cases, surgery. Lazy eyes, while sometimes initially caused by refractive issues, can require more extensive correction. These issues occur when one eye has better vision than the other, or the eyes are crossed. The brain begins to only acknowledge input from the stronger eye, and the weaker eye is ignored. If it is not corrected, the brain will ignore the weaker eye to the point of it shutting down, potentially causing permanent vision loss. Lazy eye can be fixed with patching the stronger eye to force the weaker one to grow stronger. If a child constantly removes the patch, there are other options, including special eye drops and contacts that block light. Crossed eyes occur when the eyes fail to align and work together. This can be caused by extreme farsightedness, a problem in the muscles of the eye, or issues in the nerves or vision centers of the brain. This can lead to double vision, or in severe cases, to a lazy eye as discussed above. Crossed eyes can be treated with prescription lenses, vision therapy, or surgery, depending on the seriousness of the issue.

While excessive reading as a child is not a scientifically proven cause of nearsightedness, studies have shown that having children simply go outside can greatly reduce the chance of nearsightedness and other vision problems, or at least slow their progression. It is important for kids to take a break from electronic devices especially, and to rest their eyes after extensive time reading. Getting outside allows them to do just that, encourages exercise, and helps with overall health. It’s important that they wear sunglasses while outside, though, to protect their vision from harmful UV.

Signs that there may be a problem:

Common symptoms of vision problems or vision-related learning disabilities are headaches, eye strain, blurred or double vision, crossed eyes, short attention spans during reading, turning or tilting of the head to only use one eye when reading, reading with head very close to the book, excessive blinking and rubbing of the eyes, losing place frequently when reading, poor comprehension or retention, omitting or repeating words while reading, and poor hand-eye coordination. These do not always mean that there is a problem, but they are an indication that your child should get their eyes checked. Just remember, a vision problem does not mean your child has a learning disability. Color blindness, difficulty focusing the eyes when reading, refractive errors, and perception problems can slow learning, but with the proper treatment, your child should be fine!

Picking children’s eyewear:

There are lots of options now in children’s eyewear that are both durable and cute, and will appeal to children. Getting your child to wear the glasses can be a big battle, though. If your child needs eyeglasses, involve them in the process of choosing them. If your child helps to pick the frames, he or she will be much more motivated to actually wear the glasses. You can encourage them during the process by reminding them of how these glasses will make things better, for example: “You’ll be able to see the ball so much better when you play with your friends.” Make sure the glasses are comfortable!

Good Looks Eyewear in Pittsburgh and Cranberry offers comprehensive and routine eye exams, eye care, and collections of children’s eyewear. Come by for an eye exam and check out our selections of frames!

The Danger of UV

Most of us have heard about how UV, which stands for ultraviolet radiation, is dangerous. It is invisible light, and only some of it is blocked by the ozone layer. It can cause sunburn and skin cancer. But UV isn’t just bad for your skin. It’s also harmful to your eyes. UV can be linked to plenty of eye problems, from eye strain and temporary vision loss (often called “Snow Blindness”) to cataracts. It can also cause macular degeneration, which is damage of the retina that can lead to permanent vision loss, through prolonged exposure to UV and blue light. As you head outside this summer (and during the rest of the year), it is important to be aware of the effects UV can have on your eyes, and to protect them.

We experience high risk of UV exposure in the great outdoors. Open spaces with sand, snow, or water are higher risk areas, as more UV is reflected off the light surfaces. You’ll find these conditions at the beach, ski slopes, or a lake. It is important to wear sunglasses when you are outside, especially in these settings. UV is also most intense around midday, when the sun is high in the sky. That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t need to wear eye protection on cloudy days. Cloud cover does not block UV rays, and you are still at risk even when you can’t see the sun.

Because of the damaging effects of UV rays, and our high risk of exposure outside, it is important to purchase good sunglasses. When you choose sunglasses, keep UV in mind. Sunglass lenses have different levels of UV protection, and it’s important to choose a pair that is 100% UV blocking. It’s ideal to purchase a pair that have UV protection on both the front and back of the lenses, and styles that wrap around your face a bit protect your peripheral vision as well. Polarized lenses go a step further and block even more intense glare. Come by Good Looks Eyewear’s Cranberry or Pittsburgh locations to browse our selection of UV-blocking sunwear.

Maintaining Good Ocular Health

What Is Ocular Health?
Ocular health is, simply, the health of our eyes. Our eyes capture light and then work with our brains to help us see. Good ocular health is defined as having vision that is 20/20 or better with or without correction, and disease free eyes.
What Threatens Ocular Health?
Unfortunately, our eyes are constantly being exposed to things that can harm our vision. Whether it is UV from the sun or blue light from our extensive use of digital devices, we are constantly jeopardizing our ocular health. Blue light especially is a huge concern, as we spend a lot of time looking at our phones, computers, televisions, and tablets. This can cause digital eye strain and hurt our retinas. We can also strain our eyes by reading in bad lighting.
What Can You Do To Maintain Ocular Health?
It is very important to get your eyes checked frequently! Whether you are an adult or a child, regular check-ups are vital to maintaining good ocular health. Eye exams catch eye diseases early on so that they can be treated and controlled. They also look for refractive errors, which affect your vision by causing nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatisms. These sorts of issues can be corrected by prescription lenses, contacts, or in some cases, surgery. Along those lines, eye exams help you make sure that your prescriptions are up to date and correcting your vision, instead of harming you with the wrong ones! We can protect our eyes from UV by wearing good sunglasses and we can filter out the blue light with special blue light blocking lenses.
Why Is Getting Your Eyes Checked Now So Important?
It is important for people, especially students, to get their eyes checked at this time of year! If you are about to go back to school for the fall, you want to make sure your vision is where you thought it was, and that you have the right prescription. Many people think that they have 20/20 vision, but an eye exam reveals that they actually need some sort of prescription! Your current prescription could also be out of date, and you might need a new one to best correct your vision. Get your eyes checked to make sure you can catch any problems early on and get the right glasses, contacts, or surgery to correct your vision and maintain good ocular health!