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Serving the Kootenays.
Located In Trail, BC.

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Located In Trail, BC.

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6 Things You Should Know about UV Radiation and Your Eyes

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The heat of long summer days is nearly upon us. As the sun's rays intensify and people spend more time outdoors in the sunshine it is very important to be aware of the potential damage exposure to the sun can have on your eyes. May is UV Awareness month. Here are 6 things you should know about ultraviolet rays and how important it is to protect your eyes from the sun year round.

  1. Exposing your eyes to UV rays can harm your vision and cause a number of eye issues such as cataracts, corneal sunburn, macular degeneration, pterygium and skin cancer around the eyelids.
  2. Everyone, including children, is at risk for eye damage from UV radiation. Those who work or play in the sun, or are exposed to the sun for extended amounts of time are at the highest risk for damage to their eyes or vision from UV rays. At 20 years of age, the average person has received 80% of their life’s UV exposure. Children have more transparent lenses in their eyes and more sensitive skin on their bodies. As a result, they are at great risk of experiencing adverse effects of over-exposure to UV light. The effects of overexposure to UV light at a younger age may not show up until later in life with higher risk of cataracts and age related macular degeneration. This is why it is critical to effectively protect our eyes from the sun.
  3. UV rays come from the sun but also reflect off other surfaces such as water, snow, sand and the ground. They are generally at their highest and most dangerous levels during peak sun hours, usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  4. There are 2 types of UV rays that can harm your sight:
    • UV-A rays can cause damage to your central vision.
    • UV-B rays can damage the cornea and lens on the front of your eye.
  5. The best way to protect your eyes from the sun is by wearing sunglasses or eyewear that absorbs UV rays, together with a wide brimmed hat.
  6. UV protection is the most important factor when purchasing sunglasses. Here's what you should look for: 
    • Eyewear that filters 100% UV-A and UV-B rays, providing you with maximum protection.
    • Eyewear that reduces glare and does not distort color.
    • Important to know: UV protection is available in some clear lenses as well as sunglasses. The choice can be confusing if you do not have some background information. Not all lenses are equal in terms of UV protection. For example, cheaply made UV400 sunglasses have a spray-on coating that will wear off with cleaning and give you a false sense of security. 

 

Don't take any shortcuts when it comes to protecting your eyes from the sun. Stay indoors during peak sun hours and if you have to go out, be sure that your eyewear blocks UV rays so that you can protect your eyes and your vision.  

Dealing with Your Tween’s and Teen’s Eyesight

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It can be devastating for a tween or teen to be told he or she needs to wear glasses, especially if it is sudden. Many tweens and teenagers are concerned about how glasses will affect their appearance, whether they will be made fun of (which unfortunately is a legitimate concern – kids can be mean!), how they will manage with a new responsibility and what the implications will be for sports and other activities. Many tend to overlook the miracle of clear vision for the perceived negative impact the glasses may have.

If your child would rather suffer with blurred vision, headaches and even trouble with schoolwork than wear glasses, the good news is that there are options that even the “coolest” preteen or teen might find acceptable.

  1. Fashion eyewear: It has never been more fashionable to wear glasses than it is today – just take a look at Hollywood's red carpet.  Encourage your child to seek out a look or a celebrity style they like and have your optician help to find that.  The optician and optometrist can recommend what shapes and materials are available for the lens Rx, while your teen can have fun with the color and style.  Or just browse around at the plethora of fun styles available for teens these days.   "Make it fun and encourage your preteen to be excited about their new purchase. If it is within your budget you may even want to consider purchasing two pairs so he or she can have a choice depending on mood and wardrobe.
  2. Consider contacts: If your child feels self conscious or inhibited, particularly in sports, by wearing glasses, look into contact lenses. Contact lenses are a great solution particularly for athletes because they provide safety and a full field of view as opposed to glasses or sports goggles. Before you can take the plunge into contacts you need to consider the following:

    • Is his or her prescription and eye health suitable for contact lenses? There are a number of conditions which prohibit contact lens use or require special lenses. Check with your optometrist to find out what options exist for your teen or tween.
    • Is he or she responsible enough to care properly for contact lenses? Improper care of contact lenses can cause irritation, infection and damage to the eyes. Your teen must understand the risks and be responsible enough to follow the optometrists instructions when it comes to use and care. How do you know if your teen or tween is ready for contacts?  Look at his or her bedroom.  How clean and tidy is it usually?  This is a good indicator if he or she is ready to wear contacts on a daily basis
    • Does he or she have any preexisting conditions that would make contact lens wear uncomfortable? Individuals that have chronic eye conditions such as dry eyes, allergies or frequent infections may find contact use uncomfortable or irritating.

    If your teen or tween would like to consider contacts, you should schedule a consultation with your eye doctor and try a pair for a few days to see how it goes.

  3. Alternative options: In some situations there may be other options such as vision therapy or Ortho-K (where you are prescribed special contacts to wear at night that shape the cornea for clear vision during the day) which could result in improvements in vision. Speak to your optometrist about what alternatives might exist for your teen or tween.

Back to School Time!

The new school year is coming up fast, and parents and students are getting ready to embark on new adventures and experiences. But this is also a reminder to parents that good eyesight is possibly the most important school supply your child may not have. A good education for children doesn’t just mean good schools, good teachers and good friends. Good vision is just as important. Your child’s eyes are his/her gateway into the world of learning. When your child’s vision is not functioning properly, learning and participation in recreational activities will suffer. Children are not likely to recognize vision problems or report them, and it is therefore the responsibility of parents and teachers to recognize signs of visual problems in their children.
There is a basic set of vision skills that are needed for school. The first is near vision. This is the ability to see clearly at a distance of about 10-13 inches. This is obviously important for reading, writing and close work at your child’s desk. Distance vision, the ability to see clearly and comfortably beyond arm’s reach, is also important in order to see the board in the classroom, and Binocular coordination, or the ability to use both eyes together, is important for extra-curricular activities. Both are vision skills needed to be successful in school. Additionally, focusing skills, peripheral awareness and eye-hand coordination are also important. As a parent, it is your job to be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision or visual processing problem. A few examples of common conditions that may effect your child’s ability to learn are below:
If your child gets headaches while trying to read or do other close work, exhibits a short attention span during visual tasks, and/or has to use a finger to guide reading, it is possible your child may have a condition called convergence insufficiency. This is a condition in which the eyes have a hard time converging on a certain point close up. This may also cause the words to “jump” or “blur” when your child attempts to read.
You may also find that your child’s eyes do not seem to move together, that the eyes do not face the same direction, and/or that your child tilts his/her head or squints in order to see better. This could indicate a condition called Strabismus. This results from muscles in one or both eyes being misaligned or underdeveloped. This can cause severe difficulty for your child, and may cause more significant problems, including loss of depth perception, if not treated promptly. Other symptoms to look out for that may signal vision related problems are difficulty remembering or identifying shapes, difficulty remembering what was read, excessive blinking or rubbing of his/her eyes, or placing his/her head very close to the book or desk when reading or writing.
Because changes in your child’s vision can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the eye doctor every year or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist. Remember, school vision or pediatrician’s screenings are good, but they are not a substitute for a thorough eye exam.
To learn more, contact your eye doctor today.

The Importance of Good Sunglasses

Finding the right pair of sunglasses to fit your personal style is often an important part of making your summer outfit picture perfect. But beyond “picture perfect,” a carefully chosen pair of sunglasses can grant you great health advantages and help safeguard your eyes against the elements.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a familiar concept to many and the damage it can cause to your skin is well known as well. Much less well known, however, is the damage that UV radiation can do to your eyes. Too much UV radiation can give your eyes a kind of ‘sunburn of the eye,’ called photokeratitis, and excessive UV exposure over your lifetime can significantly increase your chances of developing serious problems with your eyes later in life, such as age related macular degeneration and cataracts. Expert studies suggest that high quality sunglasses can significantly reduce the amount of UV rays entering your eyes, reducing your risk of photokeratitis and long term damage. Furthermore, since they protect the sensitive skin around the eyes from receiving too much direct UV radiation, wearing sunglasses may also help to reduce wrinkles.

Excessive UV radiation is not the only risk sunglasses can help you reduce. Everyday reflective surfaces, such as snow, water, road surfaces and car windshields, reflect a great deal of light and can do significant damage to your eyes with extended exposure. Good sunglasses can do a great deal to protect your eyes against this glare. Furthermore, sunglasses can help prevent potentially life threatening situations by reducing the chances that bright glare may momentarily blind you while driving or biking.

Quality sunglasses are also very important for reducing eyestrain, headaches and fatigue. The opening at the front of the eye, called the pupil, controls the amount of light that enters your eye. In conditions in which a great deal of light is present, such as when you walk outside on a very sunny day, the pupil may be unable to constrict enough to keep light to a comfortable level, causing you to squint in order to further limit the amount of incoming light. Muscle fatigue associated with constant squinting and the continued constriction of the pupil can cause headaches, fatigue and eyestrain.

As a general rule, any time you step outside, you should wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. However, there are certain times when this is particularly true: In the summer UV radiation is at least 3 times higher than it is in the winter, and at the beach, no matter the season, reflection from the water can be quite intense. In these situations, sunglasses are an absolute must for proper eye health. This is also true if you’ve just had any kind of surgery or are taking medicine that makes your eyes extra sensitive to light.

For more information, contact your eye doctor today.

October is…

October is ‘Eye Injury Prevention Month‘ in the USA and ‘Eye Health Month‘ in Canada. There are about 285 million people living with blindness and low vision all around the world. Children account for some 19 million of them. The vast majority of visual impairment is readily treatable and/or preventable. Unfortunately, help is hard to access for 90% of blind people, who live in low-income countries.

In addition to raising awareness about the global impact of eye health and eye injury prevention, here are several things you should know about keeping your own eyes healthy:

  • Protective eyewear is key!
    • You might think we’re only talking to the construction workers and lab technicians, but nearly half of all eye injuries occur at home during activities such as yard work, home repair, cooking and cleaning.
      • For Example, chemical splash is very common, as often it happens at home suddenly. Eye protection is important as acid and alkali burns can penetrate eye tissues quickly. If this does occur, flush the eyes with water or saline for 15 minutes before attempting to see your eye doctor
    • Almost 40% of eye injuries in North America are sports related or caused during recreational activities.
    • What kind of protection do you need? Well, damage to the eyes can be caused by:
      • Projectile or falling objects
      • Sticks (think hockey sticks) or other pointy rods
      • Chemicals – whether corrosive or hot
      • Dust
      • Sun exposure
    • So, the right eyewear depends on the activity.
  • Keep kids toys age appropriate and safe
    • When parents think of toy safety, they are usually most concerned about whether it is a choking hazard.
    • Yet, toys cause thousands of eye injuries in children each year.
    • Check age recommendations on toys, and use common sense.
    • Children should play under adult supervision to prevent dangerous activities.
    • If your kid plays sports, make sure he or she has the right eyewear to prevent avoidable injury. Got glasses? Talk to your eye doctor about customizing your child’s gear with prescription goggles, or consider contact lenses.
  • See your eye doctor every year
    • Comprehensive eye exams are crucial to eye health. At your eye check-up, your optometrist will examine your vision and eyes.
    • Prevent vision loss by catching a developing eye condition in its early stages. Your eye doctor will monitor its progression and intervene as early as necessary. Early intervention is associated with better prognosis and usually requires less aggressive treatment.

Your optometrist is here for you, if you have any questions about eye health and eye injury prevention.

Protect Children’s Eyes During Sports

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The new school year has kicked off and you can tick off purchasing all that back to school equipment. Now, it’s time to think about what your child will need for after school sports and hobby activities.

Making sure they have the right protective eyewear for their sporting or athletic activities should be one of the top priorities on your list. Here’s why: according to new data from Prevent Blindness America, approximately 25,000 people sought treatment for sports-related eye injuries in 2013, and around 10,000 were children under the age of 14.

Wearing protective eyewear when playing sports can help prevent serious eye injuries. Here are some tips on how to go about choosing the most apt protective eyewear for your child:

  1. Consult with your eye doctor and the child’s coach to find out what type of protective eyewear is best for the athletic activity your child is involved in. The kind of eyewear your child will need depends on the sport they are playing.
  2. Know the sports and its dangers: Across all age groups, sports-related eye injuries occur most frequently in water sports, basketball, and baseball or softball. Safety standards are met using shatter-resistant polycarbonate or trivex lenses.
  3. Protect and correct: If your child already wears glasses, find out what options are available for adding their prescription to protective eyewear they will need. Or consider contact lenses.
  4. Ensure sufficient UV protection: If your child’s activity takes place outside, make sure that the protective eyewear you choose includes sufficient protection from harmful UV rays.
  5. Set an example: Wear protective eyewear yourself. This will help to show your child it is possible to protect your vision and enjoy a sporting activity at the same time.

The majority of eye injuries can be prevented. Newer safety eyewear models often have wraparound styles to improve peripheral vision and style appeal. Kids can have fashion and function in today’s safety eyewear. Make sure that your child’s eyes are protected while they strive to reach the top of their game!

World Sight Day Challenge – No More Avoidable Blindness

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The World Sight Day Challenge, slated to take place on October 9, 2014 is an annual awareness day that aims to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment worldwide.

The day aims to create awareness that blindness can be avoided if there is universal access to quality vision and eye care services for all those in need.  Worldwide, many cases of vision impairment are simply due to the lack of a pair of eye glasses that would help correct a refractive error. The underlying vision of the campaign is to ensure that the quality-of-life and future livelihood of children and adults is not impacted because they do not have sufficient eye care.

According to Optometry Giving Sight, the organization overseeing the campaign, over 600 million people around the globe do not have access to the eye care and eyewear they need. As the ability to see well impacts every aspect of life and empowers adults and children alike to succeed at school or work, eye care from trained eye care professionals not only allows for the detection of vision problems, but can also help to identify early signs of serious health conditions such as diabetes, which can also lead to blindness.

What Can You Do?

Getting involved in the event is easy and involves making a donation on or before October 9.  The funds raised from the World Sight Day Challenge are used to sponsor projects that enable training, establishing vision centers and delivering eye care services to people who are vision impaired and could benefit from an eye exam and a pair of glasses.

The call to action for World Sight Day 2014 is "No More Avoidable Blindness". Help make your contribution for better eye health worldwide. Donate Here

http://www.givingsight.org/wsdc-donate

$25 could provide 5 people with vision through eye exams and glasses

$100 can help provide vision screenings for school aged children in developing communities

The Day is coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness under the VISION 2020 Global Initiative. It is supported by eye health organizations around the world, such as Optometry Giving Sight, and is included on the official World Health Organization (WHO) calendar.

Cutting Edge Glaucoma Technology

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Some 2.5 million North Americans struggle with glaucoma, a progressive eye disease that robs its sufferers of their vision, if unmanaged. Associated with high eye pressure and damage to the optic nerve, the main method of preventing blindness and low vision from glaucoma is by maintaining low levels of IOP (intraocular pressure). Unstable glaucoma may require frequent visits to an eye doctor for glaucoma monitoring to keep it under control.

In recent years a parallel disorder, high blood pressure, has become widely known for producing results that vary significantly, even from hour to hour. Both blood pressure and eye pressure can be affected by such a wide range of environmental and other factors – from the way you stand to the weather – that taking a single reading on a given day may not provide a good indication of patient health.

The need for more accurate diagnostic tools has prompted researchers at Stanford University and Bar Ilan University to collaborate in the development of a 24-hour a day IOP monitor for glaucoma patients. The device, which eye doctors hope will be available within a few years, is actually an eye implant!

It is so tiny, it’s designed to fit inside a standard intraocular lens – the kind used in cataract surgery – and, according to tests conducted by the U.S. Air Force, it will not distort vision.

The implanted glaucoma monitor is based on simple physics, using fluid levels in a tiny tube to precisely measure IOP. When available to the public, it may be paired with a custom smartphone app or wearable technology like Google glass to record eye pressure all the time, and the data can be shared with the patient’s ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Recent studies indicated that round-the-clock IOP monitoring would result in modified treatment for up to 80% of patients. Prevention of intraocular pressure spikes by measuring IOP throughout a 24 hour cycle would enable eye doctors to optimize a treatment plan. Since peripheral vision loss from optic nerve damage is not reversible, treatment is aimed at preventing vision loss from glaucoma. 

Comfortable Vision for Back-to-school Reading

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School is starting: Do you know how to set up your child’s homework and reading spot? Reading and writing are some of the most fundamental skills that your child to facilitate learning in school, so it is important to make sure that your child's eyes are comfortable when they are working at near distances.  How they sit, the length at which they hold a book or even a digital device, and their posture all play an integral part in ensuring that the visual system is at ease, enabling the mind to absorb and integrate what they are reading.  Here are some tips to help your child feel comfortable while reading.

  1. Make sure your child is working at the appropriate distance for near work – the Harmon Distance

When you read or do near work, there is a specific distance that enables your visual system to work most efficiently without experiencing any stress. This distance is known as the Harmon distance and it can be determined by holding your fist to your cheek. The location of your elbow from your fist is now at the Harmon distance, the most comfortable distance for your visual system to read and absorb information.

Looking out for whether your child is working at the Harmon distance when he/she reads will allow you as a parent to understand a number of things about how their eyes are functioning:

  • When your child holds reading material too close to their eyes, their eyes will converge or turn inwards. This can cause unnecessary eye strain which will impact their reading ability.
  • Holding reading material too close also means your eyes need to focus more than usual as the print is too close. This also causes you to strain your eyes which in turn can lead to tiredness, headaches and even myopia (nearsightedness).

Note: A child with healthy eyesight will naturally hold reading material at the correct distance. If a child is holding books too close or too far away, it may be an indication of a vision problem, or it may be because the child is sitting in a way that is not optimal. Read on to find out how to arrange your child’s reading space.

  1. Your child's body and posture is involved in the whole process of vision.
    Ensure that your child sits at a desk with a proper desk and chair height, so that his feet are flat on the floor and the table is the correct distance from his face. This will enable your child to sit upright. If you notice your child slouching or standing to get a glimpse of the words on the page, it might be an indication that he is experiencing difficulty seeing the text.
  2. Make sure there is good lighting.
     Too much glare or not enough light in a room will force your child's eyes to work harder to see.  Make sure that lighting in the room is sufficient for the task whether it is reading or writing.
  3. Concerned? You can call us.
    If you have questions about your child’s reading habits, are concerned about your child’s vision, or if it has been over a year or two since his or her last eye exam, speak to the eye doctor.

Follow the tips above and set your child up for success. Wishing everyone happy reading and writing during the school year ahead!

Be on the Lookout for Vision Problems this Summer Break

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Summer vacation is well under way, but did you know that even when your child is out of the classroom, vision problems can have an impact on his/her daily activities? Look out for these 4 warning signs during the summer months – they could be a sign of vision difficulties that require follow up with an eye care professional.

  1. Headaches / eyestrain. Is your child complaining about headaches? Perhaps accompanied with watery eyes, particularly during periods of concentration such as reading, computer use or during a movie? This can indicate eyestrain, which can develop as your child tries to keep up with the words or images on the screen, causing visual overload.  Keep an eye out also when your child is watching 3D since an inability to see 3D pictures can point to a lack of depth perception. A child may not know that he or she does not see the 3D effects the same way other people do, but might say after the movie that his or her eyes are tired or sore.
  2. Clumsiness on the playground. Does your child seem clumsy and uncoordinated when playing on the playground? This could be due to a lazy eye, otherwise known as amblyopia. Amblyopia is when one eye is favored over the other, resulting in impaired binocular vision. This in turn impacts depth perception, which makes it difficult for a child to assess objects in space and can cause difficulties with coordination.
  3. Lack of interest in reading: Does your child show a lack of interest in reading books? It is possible that he or she is having difficulty seeing the text as a result of a vision problem. It's worth asking the child if the text seems blurry, if he/she has a headache or simply has difficulty distinguishing the words or letters on the page to determine if there may be an underlying vision problem. Also watch for unusual signs such as eye rubbing, excessive blinking, head tilt and unusual reading distance.
  4. Difficulty hitting or catching a ball. Hand eye coordination, which helps track an object as it moves through space, is one of the key components to playing ball. If your child is consistently missing catches, fumbling kicks or missing hits while playing sports, it is worth following up with an eye exam.

Although all of the above issues can present themselves in school, the summer vacation is an ideal time to check out any possible vision issues ahead of the new school year. Dealing with vision problems during the summer will help your child start off the year right.