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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 Kirkland 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 Optical Images in Kirkland 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.

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.

Experts believe that the number of hours spent on screens is the driving force behind the myopia pandemic. 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. If you are worried about the hours your child is spending on a screen myopia management can mitigate their risk of developing future eye problems.

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 Optical Images in Kirkland 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 Optical Images, 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 Optical Images in Kirkland 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 Optical Images, our eye doctor is experienced and trained to treat sports-induced eye injuries sustained by our active patients. Dr. Ross Cusic 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. Ross Cusic, 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. Ross Cusic 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. Ross Cusic 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. Ross Cusic at Optical Images about getting the right sports-related protective eyewear to ensure healthy eyes and clear vision. Our eye care clinic serves patients from Kirkland and the surrounding areas. 

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