If a child is having trouble reading, itâ€™s only logical for parents to bring them in for a vision check. And if the child shows 20/20 vision, itâ€™s logical to conclude the problem might originate somewhere besides the eyes. But that may not be the case, according to a recent study of Canadian children published in the Journal of Optometry.
Dr. Lisa Christian from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues performed a retrospective review of these children who had all had complete eye exams. These children also had Individual Education Plans (IEP) specifically directed at improving their reading abilities.
The authors found that while most of the children had good eyesight, a substantial proportion had binocular vision that was below the normal limits on testing, so the children may have experienced blurred images, poor depth perception, or double vision among other problems when they read.
Such problems can result from a variety of conditions, such as misaligned eyes, or poor functioning of the oculomotor muscles. A person with such problems will typically have difficulty reading â€” they may lose their place easily and develop eyestrain.
So when there is an issue with a child’s learning to read, it could be important to determine whether eye problems other than myopia are the cause.
Blue light, also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light, is a type of light with short wavelengths emitting a higher energy. The sun is the biggest source of blue light, but we also get exposure from TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets. And a large majority of children and adults are staring at those screens for more than 2 hours every day.
Blue light penetrates deep into the eye, and studies suggest a connection between exposure to blue light and retinal damage, macular degeneration and cataracts. Blue light can also suppress the natural release of melatonin, disrupting sleep.
Fighting back against blue light
In addition to blue light exposure, those screens are causing a few other pains for the digitally bedazzled. An increase in eyestrain, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision and neck and shoulder pain have all been attributed to our screen addiction.
Eyewear is available with lenses featuring blue light-filtering capabilities that reduce the negative effects of blue light as well as anti-reflective or anti-glare properties. This technology can help minimize the negative effects blue light has on the bodyâ€™s circadian rhythm, which can hinder a good nightâ€™s sleep as well as reduce the symptoms of digital eyestrain.
Regular breaks from the screen and limiting the amount of time spent eyeballing a smartphone can help, too. And itâ€™s probably a good idea to put the screens away at least an hour before bedtime, to help ensure a good nightâ€™s sleep.
Spring is in the air and that means pollen is, too. So begins the season of red and itchy eyes for many sufferers of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC). Typical symptoms of SAC include, burning, itching, redness, and/or watery discharge. Chronic dark circles under the eyes, known as allergic shiners, may show up. Eyelids may be puffy, and bright lights bothersome.
SAC symptoms often accompany the runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion associated with hay fever and other seasonal allergies. The itching may be so bothersome that patients rub their eyes frequently, making symptoms worse and potentially causing infection. The first approach in managing seasonal eye allergies is avoiding the allergens that trigger symptoms. When pollen counts are high, avoid the outdoors. Avoid window fans that can draw allergens into the home. Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to minimize the amount of pollen getting into your eyes and consider goggles when mowing the lawn or performing other yard work.
Usually, SAC can be treated with over the counter medication and eye drops, but in same cases prescription medication may be called for.
After a cruel winter, most of us are looking forward to spending warm spring days soaking up the sun. Just try to avoid soaking up the allergens as well.
Could a simple eye exam replace the brain scan needed to detect Alzheimerâ€™s disease? Currently, doctors must perform a PET scan of patients’ brains for a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Itâ€™s expensive and requires the injection of radioactive tracers. But soon, a simple eye scan may be all that’s needed. And it could catch the disease sooner.
Plaques made up of a protein known as beta-amyloid form in Alzheimerâ€™s victims’ brains, where they damage and destroy brain cells. The PET scans can identify these plaques. But a team from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center discovered that these same protein deposits also occur on the retina. And the amount of plaque found on the retina correlates with the amount of plaque in specific areas of the brain.
In a clinical trial, 16 Alzheimer’s disease patients underwent a non-invasive eye exam after first drinking a solution containing curcumin. The curcumin caused the amyloid plaque in their retinas to light up, so it could be detected. When their scans were compared to those of a healthy control group, the connection between plaques in the retina and the brain was established.
The hope is that eye scans will be able to detect the condition years before patients experience any actual symptoms.
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal JCI Insight.
Skating fast, jumping into the air, spinning two, three or even four times and landing on a virtual knife blade seems like a recipe for disaster for most of us. For those of us who strap on the skates only a few times a year, the result of attempting such acrobatics would probably result in multiple broken bones and an extended bout of traction. But Olympic level skaters seemingly make such jumps with ease, and if they don’t stick the landing, they usually bounce right back up and continue the routine.
So what’s the secret to the sorcery? Hundreds of hours of practice have helped elite skaters to rewire their brains to suppress the reflexes that result when we tilt our bodies at unusual angles. Reflexes that could result in flailing arms and falls for most of us are canceled out and the skater’s brain expects only delicate pirouettes and smooth landings.
And if you wonder how skaters don’t dizzy from all the spinning, their brains have learned to subdue a reflex, this time in the eyes. Normally, our eyes move to compensate for head movements so we can stare at the same point in space. If we twirl around and suddenly stop, we feel like we’re still moving because the fluid in the inner ear responsible for detecting movement continues to spin, making your brain think it’s still in motion. And because your eyes continue moving to correct your view, you feel dizzy. A skater’s brain learns to ignore the sense of motion and greatly reduce that eye reflex.
Thereâ€™s a reason your patient list may include more women than men. Worldwide, women account for two-thirds of all people with blindness or visual impairment. Cataracts are more likely to occur in women than in men, and in developing countries, women are less likely than men to receive cataract surgery.
Dry eye disease, which interferes with routine activities such as reading, working on a computer, or driving a car affects twice as many women as men. More women suffer from age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma than men. And, women experience about 25 percent more uncorrected visual impairment due to refractive error compared to men.
More information and data related to womenâ€™s vision health at every life stage can be found at SeeJaneSee.org.