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July 19, 2019
Is making an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam for your children on your back-to-school checklist? It needs to be. No amount of new clothes, backpacks or supplies will help your child succeed...

Back to School Eye Exams

Is making an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam for your children on your back-to-school checklist? It needs to be.

No amount of new clothes, backpacks or supplies will help your child succeed in school if they have an undetected vision problem. 

The difference between eye exams and vision screenings

An annual exam done by an eye doctor is more focused than a visual screening done at school. School screenings are simply "pass-fail tests" that are often limited to measuring a child’s sight clarity and visual acuity up to a distance of 20 feet. But this can provide a false sense of security.

There are important differences between a screening and a comprehensive eye exam.

Where a screening tests only for visual acuity, comprehensive exams will test for acuity, chronic diseases, color vision and eye tracking. This means a child may pass a vision screening at school because they are able to see the board, but they may not be able to see the words in the textbook in front of them.

Why back-to-school eye exams matter

Did you know that 1 out of 4 children has an undiagnosed vision problem because changes in their eyesight go unrecognized? 

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common condition in children and often develops around the ages of 6 or 7. And nearsightedness can change very quickly, especially between the ages of 11 and 13, which means that an eye prescription can change rapidly over a short period of time. That’s why annual checkups are important.

Comprehensive eye exams can detect other eye conditions. Some children may have good distance vision but may struggle when reading up close. This is known as hyperopia or farsightedness. Other eye issues such as strabismus (misaligned eyes), astigmatism or amblyopia (lazy eye) are also detectable. 

Kids may not tell you they're having visions issues because they might not even realize it. They may simply think everyone sees the same way they do. Kids often give indirect clues, such as holding books or device screens close to their face, having problems recalling what they've read, or avoiding reading altogether. Other signs could include a short attention span, frequent headaches, seeing double, rubbing their eyes or tilting their head to the side.

What to expect at your child's eye exam

Before the exam, explain that eye exams aren’t scary, and can be fun. A kid-friendly eye exam is quick for your child. After the doctor tests how she sees colors and letters using charts with pictures, shapes, and patterns, we will give you our assessment of your child’s eyes. 

If your child needs to wear glasses, we can even recommend frames and lenses best for their needs.

Set your child up for success

Staying consistent with eye exams is important because it can help your kids see their best in the classroom and when playing sports. Better vision can also mean better confidence because they are able to see well. 

Because learning is so visual, making an eye examination a priority every year is an important investment you can make in your child's education. You should also be aware that your health insurance might cover pediatric eye exams.

Set your child up for success and schedule an exam today!

Is My Eye Bleeding?

We commonly see patients who come in saying that their eye is bleeding.

The patients are usually referring to the white part of their eye which, has turned bright red. The conjunctiva is the outermost layer of the eye and contains very fine blood vessels.  If one of these blood vessels breaks, then the blood spreads out underneath the conjunctiva. This is called a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage doesn't cause any eye pain or affect your vision in any way. Most of the time, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is asymptomatic.  It is only noticed when looking at the mirror or when someone else notices the redness of the eye.  There should not be any discharge or crusting of your lashes.  If any of these symptoms are present, then you may have another eye condition that may need treatment.  

What causes a subconjunctival hemorrhage?  The most common cause is a spontaneous rupture of a blood vessel.  Sometimes vigorous coughing, sneezing, or bearing down can break a blood vessel.  Eye trauma and eye surgery are other causes of subconjunctival hemorrhage.  Aspirin and anticoagulant medication may make patients more susceptible to a subconjunctival hemorrhage but there is usually no need to stop these medications.  

There is no treatment needed for subconjunctival hemorrhage.  Sometimes there may be mild irritation and artificial tears can be used.  The redness usually increases in size in the first 24 hours and then will slowly get smaller and fade in color.  It often takes one to two weeks for the subconjunctival hemorrhage to be absorbed.  The larger the size of the hemorrhage then the longer it takes for it to fade.

Having a subconjunctival hemorrhage may be scary initially but it will get better in a couple of weeks without any treatment.

Article contributed by Dr. Jane Pan

Lyme Disease and Your Eyes

Lyme disease is an infection that is caused by a spirochete (a type of microorganism) called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans by the bite of a deer tick.

The disease has a strong geographical incidence, being highly concentrated in the Northeast United States and now also has a high incidence in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Lyme disease was first discovered in Old Lyme Connecticut in 1975. It can start with a characteristic “bull’s eye” rash, in which there is a central spot that is surrounded by clear skin that is then ringed by an expanding rash. It can also appear just as an expanding rash.

This rash usually starts within days of the tick bite. Eye problems can occur along with this rash in the first phase of the disease. This includes red eyes that can look like full-blown pink eye with eyelid swelling. It also can produce sensitivity to light and inflammation inside the eye called iritis or uveitis.

The second phase of the disease usually starts within a few weeks of the tick bite and this occurs because the spirochete gets into the blood stream. This stage often has rashes starting away from the original bite site. It can also produce joint pain, weakness, and inflammation in several organs including the heart, spleen, liver and kidneys.  

There are also several ways it can affect your eyes. It can cause inflammation in your cornea (keratitis), retina (retinitis), optic nerve (optic neuritis), uveitis, inflammation in the jelly like substance that fills the back of the eye called vitreous (vitritis) and the muscles that move your eye around (orbital myositis). It can also affect the eye if it causes problems with the nerve that controls your eyelid muscles so that your eye will not close properly (Bell’s palsy).

There is a third phase of the disease that is caused by long-term persistent infection.  This phase can create multiple neurologic problems and can appear very similar to the presentation of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The eyes can show any of the same signs as phase two, but the most common presentation is persistent keratitis.

The diagnosis is made by observing the presenting symptoms, being in an area where there are significant number of the disease-carrying ticks, and a blood test that can confirm the diagnosis.  

The symptoms and signs of Lyme Disease can mimic many other problems so it is important to keep Lyme Disease in mind if you are having multiple problems involving different organs and you know or have any suspicion that you may have had a tick bite while you were in areas where the disease is prevalent.

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

Eye Safety on the 4th of July

Fireworks Eye Injuries Have More Than Doubled in Recent Years

Fireworks sales will be blazing across the country from now through the Fourth of July. As retailers begin their promotions, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is shining a light on this explosive fact: The number of eye injuries caused by fireworks has more than doubled in recent years.

Fireworks injuries cause approximately 10,000 emergency room visits each year, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The injuries largely occurred in the weeks before and after the Fourth of July. The CPSC’s most recent fireworks report showed that about 1,300 eye injuries related to fireworks were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2014, up from 600 reported in 2011.

To help prevent these injuries, the Academy is addressing four important things about consumer fireworks risks:

  1. Small doesn’t equal safe. A common culprit of injuries are the fireworks often handed to small children – the classic sparkler. Many people mistakenly believe sparklers are harmless due to their size and the fact they don’t explode. However, they can reach temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt certain metals. 
  2. Even though it looks like a dud, it may not act like one. At age 16, Jameson Lamb was hit square in the eye with a Roman candle that he thought had been extinguished. Now 20, Lamb has gone through multiple surgeries, including a corneal transplant and a stem cell transplant. 
  3. Just because you’re not lighting or throwing it doesn’t mean you’re out of the firing line. An international study of fireworks-related eye injuries showed that half of those hurt were bystanders. The researchers also found that one in six of these injuries caused severe vision loss. 
  4. The Fourth can be complete without using consumer fireworks. The Academy advises that the safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show where experts are controlling the displays.

If you experience a fireworks eye injury:

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Avoid rubbing or rinsing the eyes or applying pressure.
  • Do not remove any object from the eye, apply ointments, or take any pain medications before seeking medical help.

Watch the AAO’s animated public service announcement titled “Fireworks: The Blinding Truth.”

 

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

UV Damage in Childhood

The Sixties.............War, peace, expressing yourself, the Civil Rights movement, and the Beatles. One of the biggest hits of the era was “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. 

In the health care world, the sun plays a balancing role in delivering its rays to our bodies to help produce Vitamin D. Many people who work indoors are directed to take Vitamin D supplements because of lack of exposure to the sunshine, Conversely, people who are outside a lot have a risk of overexposure causing skin cancer.

The eyes are at risk as well. If sunglasses are not worn, there is a greater risk for cataracts or skin cancers of the eyelids. It is important to know that not all sunglasses are made alike. UV A, B, and C rays are the harmful rays that sunglasses need to protect us from.

However, many over the counter sunglasses do not have UV protection built into the lenses, which can actually cause more damage especially in children. 80% of sun exposure in our lives comes in childhood. Without UV protection in sunglasses, the pupil which dilates more behind a sun lens, allows more of the harmful rays of the sun in.

The whole point is for the consumer to be aware that it is vital to buy sunwear that has UV protection built into the lenses. Polarized lenses protect the eyes from the sun as well as from glare from the road and water.

Fisherman love polarized lenses because you can see the fish right through the water. People who boat also claim their vision is better because glare off the water is reduced.

So next time you hear the famous Beatles hit, remember to be educated on the best products for your eyes, to keep you healthy and prevent cataracts and cancer. Remember, UV protection in sunglasses is the way to go.

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