Many of our children in the region have been away from school for a super extended March break. The COVID 19 pandemic has shifted student's learning environment online and onto digital devices. Between ZOOM video chats, staying indoors, and virtual learning, studies show children are logging twice as much screen time as they did before COVID 19.
This September is full of unknowns for students returning to school either full time or part time. One thing we can be sure of is that increased screen times from March to September will require your students to get their eyes tested. Too much screen time makes the eyes work harder, which can lead to vision problems like "digital eye strain."
Symptoms of digital eye strain include: headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes.
Since 80% of our learning is visual, it's important to start kids off back to school with a full eye exam. A change in vision can effect how your child learns. Academic difficulties for school-aged children are often linked to vision problems, but eye exams go frequently overlooked when diagnosing a child's learning discrepancies.
So many things are out of our control during this uncertain time, but being proactive and staying on top of your child’s eye health is one thing parents can do to make sure their student is ready for school in the Fall.
Book your eye exam with Dr. Kar today!
Vision care is something you should think about long before you struggle to read the fine print. It should be part of your overall health regimen to ensure that any issues are identified and treated early. Here’s what to look for at every stage:
Toddlers and kids. Vision plays a crucial role in how children learn about the world. But don’t rely on your little ones to speak up about vision challenges – they don’t have anything to compare their sight to and they might not realize they have a problem. Make sure your kids have their eyes checked at least once by the age of three and continue to see an eye care professional annually.
20s and 30s. Noticing a decline in your vision? Most people think blurry vision is a sign they need vision correction like contact lenses or glasses, but it is also a symptom of dry eye. According to a survey by Alcon Canada, 85 per cent of us have experienced at least one dry eye symptom. Don’t put up with poor vision, talk to your eye care professional about your symptoms. The solution could be as simple as an over-the-counter all-in-one eye drop like Systane Complete.
40s. Did your arms suddenly get too short to read your smartphone newsfeed? You’re not alone – more than 7.5 million Canadians are living with presbyopia, the gradual loss in the eye’s ability to focus on close objects. Talk to your eye care professional to go readers-free and see everything near, far and in-between with multifocal contact lenses.
50s and beyond. Reminiscing about the days when cloudy vision, light sensitivity and muted colour didn’t get in your way? More than 2.5 million Canadians are living with cataracts, a natural condition that forms when protein builds up and clouds the lens in your eye. To restore clear vision, talk to your eye care professional about cataract surgery and the lens replacement options available to treat multiple eye conditions at once. The right lens could mean seeing the world in vivid colour or not having to wear reading glasses.
It is important to teach your children about eye health and safety from a young age. This includes awareness about how your overall health habits affect your eyes and vision as well as how to keep your eyes safe from injury and infection.
Starting off with good eye habits at a young age will help to create a lifestyle that will promote eye and vision health for a lifetime.
10 Eye Health Tips:
Eat right. Eating a balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables (especially green leafies such as kale, spinach and broccoli) as well as omega-3s found in fish, such as salmon, tuna and halibut, help your eyes get the proper nutrients they need to function at their best.
Exercise. An active lifestyle has been shown to reduce the risk of developing a number of eye diseases as well as diabetes – a disease which which can result in blindness.
Don’t Smoke. Smoking has been linked to increased risk of a number of vision threatening eye diseases.
Use Eye Protection. Protect your eyes when engaging in activities such as sports (especially those that are high impact or involve flying objects), using chemicals or power tools or gardening. Speak to your eye doctor about the best protection for your hobbies to prevent serious eye injuries.
Wear Your Sunglasses! Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses and a hat with a brim when you go outside. Never look directly at the sun.
Be Aware: If you notice any changes in your vision, always get it checked out. Tell a parent or teacher if your eyes hurt or if your vision is blurry, jumping, double or if you see spots or anything out of the ordinary. Parents, keep an eye on your child. Children don’t always complain about problems seeing because they don’t know when their vision is not normal vision. Signs of excessive linking, rubbing, unusual head tilt, or excessively close viewing distance are worth a visit to the eye doctor.
Don’t Rub! If you feel something in your eye, don’t rub it – it could make it worse or scratch your eyeball. Ask an adult to help you wash the object out of your eye.
Give Your Eyes a Break. With the digital age, a new concern is kids’ posture when looking at screens such as tablets or mobile phones. Prevent your child from holding these digital devices too close to their eyes. The Harmon distance is a comfortable viewing distance and posture – it is the distance from your chin to your elbow. There is concern that poor postural habits may warp a child’s growing body. Also, when looking at a tv, mobile or computer screen for long periods of time, follow the 20-20-20 rule; take a break every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, by looking at something 20 feet away.
Create Eye Safe Habits. Always carry pointed objects such as scissors, knives or pencils with the sharp end pointing down. Never shoot objects (including toys) or spray things at others, especially in the direction of the head. Be careful when using sprays that they are pointed away from the eyes.
Keep Them Clean. Always wash your hands before you touch your eyes and follow your eye doctors instructions carefully for proper contact lens hygiene. If you wear makeup, make sure to throw away any old makeup and don’t share with others.
By teaching your children basic eye care and safety habits you are instilling in them the importance of taking care of their precious eye sight. As a parent, always encourage and remind your children to follow these tips and set a good example by doing them yourself.
Of course don’t forget the most important tip of all – get each member of your family’s eyes checked regularly by a qualified eye doctor! Remember, school eye screenings and screenings at a pediatrician’s office are NOT eye exams. They are only checking visual acuity but could miss health problems, focusing issues and binocularity issues that are causing health and vision problems.
Book an eye exam today with our Optometrist
The development of the visual system is continuous. Often eye glass prescriptions don’t stabilize until the age of about 18. Until that time, children may struggle with symptoms of blurry vision, trouble focusing or poor binocular vision, which is the ability for the two eyes to work together.
Since children are still learning how to see, and are so adaptable to visual disabilities, many children’s visual problems can go undetected if not checked.
There are a few signs that may indicate a child needs glasses. For example, squinting the eyes when trying to focus, tilting of the head, rubbing the eyes or covering one eye while reading or watching television may be signs of an uncorrected refractive error and the need for glasses.
Children may also complain of blurry vision at a particular distance, or they may have trouble in school. If the two eyes are not working well together, a lazy eye can develop and may cause double vision. If caught early, this can be managed and treated with eyeglasses.
An optometrist can use a variety of tests to help determine if there is any need for glasses or if there are any signs that glasses may be needed in the future. It is especially important for a child to be seen before starting school and yearly afterwards to ensure that they have optimal vision for learning.
If you haven't booked your back-to-school eye exam yet, there is no time better than the present!
Give our office a call and we'll be happy to help you arrange a day that works.
Newborns have all the ocular structures necessary to see, although these are not yet fully developed. At birth, your baby can see blurred patterns of light and dark.
During the first four months, their visual horizon will expand from a few centimetres to many metres. Their vision will become clearer and colour vision will begin to develop. Their two eyes will start working together. By four months of age, an infant’s colour vision is similar to an adult’s, and by the sixth month, your baby will acquire eye movement control and develop eye-hand coordination skills.
For the first six months, an infant’s eyes can appear slightly crossed or out of alignment, but this is usually normal. But if your infant’s eyes appear significantly crossed or remain misaligned after six months of age, contact your Doctor of Optometry right away. Your child may have strabismus, commonly known as crossed eyes, a condition that needs to be treated with eyeglasses, contact lenses, prisms and/or vision therapy and, in some cases, surgery. In time, if not corrected, the ignored eye will become unable to function normally and will become largely unused. This may result in the development of lazy eye.
Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is another condition that becomes apparent within the first six months of your baby’s life. This condition describes weak vision or vision loss in one eye as a result of an uncorrected prescription. If detected or treated before eight years of age, it will often resolve completely. It’s important to treat amblyopia early – with vision therapy, eyeglasses and/or contact lenses, or patching – as treatment becomes very difficult later on. Untreated, amblyopia can lead to blindness in the affected eye.
Visual abilities play a big role in early development. doctors of optometry recommend infants have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age. Children should have at least one eye exam between the ages of two and five, and yearly after starting school. An optometrist can complete an eye exam even if your child doesn’t know their ABCs. A doctor of optometry can use shapes, pictures and other child-friendly ways to evaluate vision and eye health.
Between ages one and two, it’s important for a child to develop good hand-eye coordination and depth perception.
There are activities that can help improve these essential visual skills, such as playing with building blocks or balls of any shape and size.
Children at age two enjoy listening to and telling stories. It helps them develop visualization skills and prepares them for learning to read. At this stage of their development, toddlers also like to paint, draw and colour, sort shapes and sizes, and fit or assemble pieces. These activities are all integral to their visual development.
A preschooler’s eyes are not ready for prolonged or intense concentration at short distances, but they do enjoy TV. To make TV viewing easier on the eyes, the room should be softly lit, the television placed to avoid glare, and the child should sit further away than five times the screen’s width, taking periodic breaks from staring at the screen.
Be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a visual problem:
A school-age child’s eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play.
For school-age children, several different visual skills must work together so they can see and understand clearly. If any of these visual skills are lacking or impaired, your child will need to work harder and may develop headaches or fatigue.
Often the increased visual demands of schoolwork can make greater demands on a child’s visual skills, pointing out a vision problem that was not apparent before school. The child may not realize they have a vision problem – they may simply assume everyone sees the way they do.
A vision-related problem may cause some of the symptoms described below:
Protect your child’s vision. If you notice any of these symptoms, book an eye exam with an optometrist. Your child should have at least one eye exam between the ages of two and five, and yearly after starting school.
When kids return to school, it usually comes with the routine of extracurricular activities and many school assignments. Parents can set up their kids for success by buying new school supplies and replacing outgrown sports equipment. However, in the busy mornings of packing lunches and school drop offs, some parents may have overlooked a key component of their child's performance both in the classroom and on the field — their eyes.
Vision is key to a child's success, as your child might have trouble seeing the board and computer screen clearly or focusing on the ball. Parents should get their child's eyes tested every year because a child might not realize they can't see clearly and assume everyone sees the same way they do.
Cost is often a barrier to a child seeing correctly, however many provincial programs cover an annual eye exam for children up to 18 years of age.
A regular eye exam can often be the difference between success and failure for a child. Don't wait to get your child's eyes tested.
Book your eye exam today with Dr. Kar and Associates at Insight Eyeworks.
An eye exam may be the last thing on your mind in the rush to get your children ready to go back to school. But in reality, no amount of new clothes, binders, backpacks or pencils will help your child succeed in school if they have an undetected problem with their vision.
Did you know that one out of four children has vision problems? And yet only 50% of parents with children under the age of 12 have taken their children to an eye care professional.
Many children struggle needlessly with vision problems simply because they don’t know they have one. For a child in school, vision correction can make all the difference in their academic performance as well as their ability to play sports and interact with others. Eye exams ensure that children are seeing and feeling their best.
You may be wondering why eye care professionals recommend a back-to-school eye exam when many children receive a vision screening at school. There are, however, important differences between a screening and a comprehensive eye exam. Where a screening tests only for visual acuity, comprehensive exams will test for visual acuity, chronic diseases, color vision and make sure the eyes are working together properly.
A standard school vision screening mostly checks distance vision but does not check for near vision issues, meaning farsightedness is often missed. Amblyopia, or lazy eye, and eye coordination issues are also frequently missed during screenings. That means that a child may pass a vision screening because they are able to see the board, but they may not even be able to see the textbook in front of them!
Children’s bodies are rapidly growing and changing. Their eyes are as well. Regular eye exams will ensure early detection and treatment of any problems!
Having good eyesight is an important part of completing day to day activities. Vision is used to gather information, trigger motor responses, and estimate distances. While adults may be able to detect a changes in their vision, it is often difficult for children to identify and express.
Children are required to have annual eye exams to not only evaluate children's visual acuity (clarity of vision) but also to have developmental eye movements assessed.
Developmental eye movements include saccades, tracking/pursuits, and convergence.
Saccadic eye movements are quick movements of the eyes between two points in various directions (left and right, diagonally, up and down). These movements should be a short, quick movement between the targets, and the child should be able to do it without moving his or her head. These eye movements are important for tasks such as spatial awareness and reading.
Pursuits, or tracking, are eye movements that follow a moving object in various directions. The children's eyes should be moving together, and they should not lose the target object. If the child's eyes are jumping, or they are required to move their head to track, the child may be experiencing a visual impairment.
Convergence is defined as the inward movement of both eyes. This means that the eyes are coming together to focus on a target object. A child's eyes should move inwards together, in a smooth movement. If one or both of the child's eyes are not converging or if the convergence is delayed, the child will have difficulty focusing on objects and will have more difficulty participating in activities.
If a child is experiencing visual issues, it can have a huge impact on their performance during daily activities.
Children with visual impairment often experience increased difficulty with academic activities - often struggling with handwriting, math, reading and attention. In addition to academic activities, children may also struggle with dressing tasks such as tying shoes and fastening buttons or zippers, which limits overall independence.
Vision also plays an important role in motor components of activities such as hand-eye coordination, balance and manipulating small pieces, which are all skills needed to engage in daily activities.
Having your children's eyes tested annually is the only way to monitor changes in their vision and developmental eye movements. It will give us the ability to diagnose and treat (or refer for treatment to a vision therapist).
With over 30 years experience licensed optician Joe Bushara and his highly experienced team, bring you the latest trends in frames and technologies in lenses from around the world.