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September 2, 2020
What do Amblyopia, Strabismus, and Convergence Insufficiency all have in common? These are all serious and relatively common eye conditions that children can have. Did you know that 80% of learning c...
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Why Get an Early Eye Exam for Your Young Child?

What do Amblyopia, Strabismus, and Convergence Insufficiency all have in common? These are all serious and relatively common eye conditions that children can have.

Did you know that 80% of learning comes through vision? The proverb that states ”A picture is worth a thousand words” is true!  If a child has a hard time seeing, it stand to reason that she will have a hard time learning.

Let’s explore Amblyopia, or “lazy eye”. It affects 3-5% of the population, enough that the federal government funded children’s yearly eye exams into the Accountable Care Act or ObamaCare health initiative. Amblyopia occurs when the anatomical structure of the eye is normal but the “brain-eye connection” is malfunctioning. In other words, it is like plugging your computer into the outlet but the power cord is faulty.

Amblyopia need to be caught early in life--in fact if it is not caught and treated early (before age 8) it can lead to permanent vision impairment. Correction with glasses or contacts and patching the good eye are ways it is treated. Most eye doctors agree that the first exam should take place in the first year of life. Early detection is a key.

Strabismus is a condition that causes an eye to turn in (esotropia), out (exotropia), or vertically. It can be treated with glasses or contacts, and surgery, if needed. Vision therapy or strategic eye exercises prescribed by a doctor can also improve this condition.

When we read, our brain tells our eyes to turn in to a comfortable reading posture. In Convergence Insufficiency, the brain tells the eyes to turn in, but they instead turn out, causing tremendous strain on that child’s eye for reading. Another tell tale sign of this condition is the inability to cross your eyes when a target approaches. The practitioner will see instead, that one of the eyes kicks out as the near target approaches. This condition can be treated with reading glasses or contacts, and eye exercises that teach the muscles of the eye to align properly during reading. Vision therapy is the treatment of choice for Convergence Insufficiency.

It is important to understand the pediatric eye and all the treatments that can be implemented to augment the learning process. Preventative care in the form of early eye examinations can mean the difference between learning normall or struggling badly. Remember, a young child can’t tell you if he hasa vision impairment. For the success of the child, be proactive by scheduling an early vision exam.

 

Pregnancy and Your Eyes

We all know that during pregnancy, a woman's body goes through a great deal of change hormonally and physiologically.  But did you know her eyes change as well?  Below are some of the most common effects pregnancy can have on the eye.

  • Corneal changes. In some cases, pregnancy can cause the cornea, the front window of the eye, to change curvature and even swell, leading to shifts in glasses and contact lens prescriptions. In addition, changes in the chemistry of the tear film can lead to dry eyes and contact lens intolerance. It is for these reasons that it is generally not recommended to have any new contact lens fitting or new glasses prescription checks until several months postpartum. We want to get the most accurate measurements possible.
  • Retinal changes.  Many different conditions can affect the retina during pregnancy. If the pregnant woman has diabetes, diabetic eye disease can progress by 50%. In women with preeclampsia, a condition where blood pressure rises significantly, over 40% of women can show changes in the retinal blood vessels, and 25% to 50% complain of changes to their vision.
  • Eye Pressure Fluctuation.  Intraocular pressure (IOP) usually decreases during pregnancy. The exact mechanism causing this is unknown, but it is usually attributed to an increase of flow of intraocular fluid out of the eye. This is good news for pregnant women with glaucoma or high IOP. In fact, the drop in IOP is larger when you start with a high IOP compared to one in the normal range.

There are many more effects that pregnancy can have on the eye, but these are the most common. One other thing to keep in mind is that though the likelihood of any adverse effect is extremely low, we try not to use any diagnostic eye drops on pregnant patients during the eye exam. Unless there is a medical necessity to dilate the pupils or check IOP, it is a good rule of thumb to put off using drops until after the patient has given birth in order to protect the developing baby.

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