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Back-To-School: Why [Eye_Exams] Are More Important Than Ever

Since the onset of COVID-19, many children have been learning remotely through distance learning programs. While parents are concerned about their children falling behind academically, eye doctors are concerned that undiagnosed vision problems may impact the child’s school performance.

Undetected vision problems may hinder a child’s ability to learn. That’s why eye doctors strongly recommend that children undergo a thorough eye exam before the new school year begins.

While it’s tempting to rely on vision screenings provided by schools, these superficial visual acuity tests can identify only a limited number of eyesight problems. Only a comprehensive eye exam conducted by an eye doctor can accurately diagnose and address a wide range of problems related to vision and eye health.

Why Are Eye Exams Important?

Up to 80% of children’s learning is visual, so even the slightest vision problem can have a negative impact on their academic achievement. Taking a child in for an eye exam once a year will allow your eye doctor to detect and correct refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism, and check their visual skills, such as convergence insufficiency, binocular vision, focusing and more.

Comprehensive eye exams are the best way to detect mild and serious eye health conditions. Routine eye exams are especially important for children with a family history of eye health problems.

How Is Vision Affected By Online Learning?

The amount of time children spend looking at digital screens was already a concern in the pre-pandemic era—but the COVID pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. According to the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, children spent twice as much time on screens during COVID-related closures than they did prior to the pandemic.

For one thing, spending prolonged periods of time on digital devices forces the eyes to work harder, making children (and adults) more susceptible to digital eye strain, one of the hallmark symptoms of computer vision syndrome. People who spend 2 or more consecutive hours staring at a screen are at higher risk of developing this condition.

Some computer vision syndrome symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

These symptoms can be caused by a combination of the following factors:

  • Glare and reflections from the screen
  • Excessive time looking at a screen
  • Poor lighting
  • Poor posture
  • Screen brightness
  • Undetected vision problems

In addition to digital eye strain, several studies have found that children who spend many hours indoors doing “near work” — writing, reading and looking at computers and other digital devices — have a higher rate of myopia progression.

A study published in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s professional journal, Ophthalmology, found that first-graders who spent at least 11 hours per week playing outside in the sunshine experienced slower myopia progression. Some researchers think that exposure to sunlight and looking at distant objects while playing outdoors might help decrease myopia progression.

While regular eye exams are essential for every member of the family, they’re especially important for those who spend a good portion of their day in front of a screen.

Don’t put off your child’s annual eye exam. Schedule an appointment with Browz Eyeware in Calgary today!

Q&A

1. At what age should a child have an eye exam?

According to the American and Canadian Optometric Associations, it’s recommended for a child to have their first eye exam between 6-12 months of age.

Before a child starts school, they should undergo an eye exam, and every one to two years after that, based on their eye doctor‘s recommendation.

2. Does my child need an eye exam if they passed the school vision screening?

Yes! School vision screenings are superficial eye evaluations designed to diagnose a limited number of vision problems like myopia. They do not check for visual skills and other problems that may hinder your child’s academic success.

Your eye doctor will evaluate your child’s vision and eye health, along with visual abilities, including depth perception and eye tracking, to let you know whether your child’s eyes are “school-ready.”

 

Does Your Child Really Have Vision Issues?

Pediatric Eye Exam in Calgary

Pediatric Eye Exam in Calgary

Most kids don’t suspect that something is wrong with their eyesight and are thus unlikely to seek help with their vision. If you witness your child tilting his or her head too often, frequently squinting, or holding books or other objects unusually close or far away from his or her eyes, it may be time for an eye exam.

Book an appointment with Dr. Fung at Browz Eyeware today. We will provide a comprehensive eye exam that will detect whether your child has any vision aberrations.

It’s up to parents to recognize the signs of compromised eyesight and to take the necessary precautions against it. Read on to learn the basics of keeping your children’s vision sharp and healthy.

Why Are Vision Screenings Not Enough?

School or pediatric vision screenings often offer superficial eye exams that cannot detect underlying vision issues that get in the way of your child’s success in school and life. In fact, it is estimated that up to 10 million kids suffer from vision issues, despite having passed a school vision screening. Therefore, it is critical to have your child’s eyes examined by an eye doctor in order to assess their overall eye health. The earlier they do it, the better.

Does Your Child Really Hate to Read?

If your child dislikes or avoids reading, it might indicate a vision problem.

Does your child…

  • Use a finger or pencil to guide the eyes while reading?
  • Incessantly rub his or her eyes?
  • Cover one eye while reading?
  • Frequently tilt his or her head?

Reading with undiagnosed vision problems can result in headaches, fatigue and eye strain, which could explain why your child shies away from engaging in this activity.

Should your child need glasses for vision correction, Browz Eyeware has a wide variety of age-appropriate options, made of comfortable, durable, and kid-friendly materials.

Should Eye Exams be on the Back-to-School To-Do List?

By the age of 6, every child should have undergone three eye exams. Make sure to prioritize eye exams by adding it to the back-to-school to-do list. No matter how wonderful the pencils and markers are, if the vision isn’t there, your child will struggle through school, sports, and in life.

Is it Clumsiness or a Vision Problem?

If your child frequently bumps into desks, knocks things over, and trips, it may not be just clumsiness. Contact Browz Eyeware for an eye exam today.

Spending Too Much Time on Computer/Digital Screens?

Too Much Screen Time is Linked To Myopia

The use of digital devices is on the rise, and so is myopia (nearsightedness).

Research has shown that prolonged use of computers and digital devices among children can result in myopia. Focusing on images or words on the screen for extended periods of time can result in eye strain, and over time, can even change the shape of a child’s eye. As a parent, we recommend you limit your child’s computer or phone screen time and incorporate the 20/20/20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds).

Blue Light Blocking Glasses or Lenses for Digital Screens

Another problem with using digital devices has to do with the blue light these devices emit. Smartphones expose us to the most blue light, since we hold them very close to our eyes. Long hours of blue light exposure can harm the eyes and disrupt sleep quality.

However, the harm caused by blue light can be reduced by wearing special Blue Light lenses.

At Browz Eyeware, we offer blue light filters for lenses, which block blue light from reaching one’s eyes and protect your vision when using digital devices. Ask us about adding blue-light filters to your or your child’s glasses, or about getting a full pair of blue light eyeglasses.

Why Opt for Polycarbonate Lenses?

When it comes to kids, the lenses you pick a matter. Browz Eyeware recommends opting for polycarbonate lenses when buying glasses. They are more lightweight, impact-resistant and scratch-resistant than traditional plastic lenses. Furthermore, the UV protection can protect your child’s eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

If you want your kids to ace their classes this year, remember to prioritize a visit to the eye doctor as part of your back-to-school checklist.

Prepare for Back to School with Blue Light Glasses | Browz Eyeware



Comprehensive Pediatric Eye Exams

At Browz Eyeware, we offer comprehensive pediatric eye exams, as well as a wide array of glasses and lenses for our young patients. Browz Eyeware serves patients from in and around Calgary in the state of Alberta.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My child saw 20/20 at their school physical. That’s perfect vision for back to school, right?

  • A: Maybe! 20/20 only tells us what size letter can be seen 20 feet away. People with significant farsightedness or eye muscle imbalances may see 20/20, but experience enough visual strain to make reading difficult. Vision controls eighty percent of learning so include a thorough eye exam in your child’s Back-to-School list.

Q: My child passed the screening test at school, isn’t that enough?

  • A: Distance and reading are two different things. Someone with perfect distance vision can still have focusing problems up close. Doctors need to check for both, many children have undiagnosed accommodative (focusing) problems because no one ever looked for it before. We always check the distance and near vision on all ages because it is so important. Other areas that need to be checked is eye muscle alignment, color vision, depth perception, and overall health of the eyes.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit Browz Eyeware for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


Childhood Myopia Is in Crisis Mode on a Global Scale

When it comes to the prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness), the statistics are staggering. By 2050, nearly half of the world’s population—about 5 billion people—will be myopic. Below are a few useful tips to help you prevent your child from being part of that statistic.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia occurs when the eye elongates, causing light rays to focus in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it, while looking at something far away. So, people with nearsightedness perceive distant objects as blurred while close-up objects can remain clear.

Myopia tends to develop during childhood, when the eyeballs rapidly grow (along with the rest of the body), mainly between the ages of 8-18. It can worsen slowly or quickly, but it is not simply an inconvenience. People with progressive myopia are more likely to develop serious eye diseases like cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma later in life—conditions which may lead to permanent loss of vision and even blindness.

How To Know Whether Your Child Is Myopic

Below are some telltale signs to watch for:

  • Blurred distance vision – Objects in the distance are blurred; kids may complain that they can’t see the board
  • Headaches – When myopia isn’t corrected, it can cause eye strain and headaches.
  • Head tilting or squinting – If your child squints or tilts his or her head while watching TV, for example, it may be a symptom of myopia.
  • Looking at objects too closely – If you notice your child moving closer to the TV or squinting as they try to see the writing on the board, it may indicate myopia.

What Parents Can Do to Slow Their Child’s Myopia Progression

  • Encourage your child to go outdoors for at least 90 minutes a day, preferably in the sunshine. Studies show that playing outdoors reduces the risk of developing myopia and slows its progression.
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends staring at a screen, reading and doing close work such as homework.
  • When your child uses a digital screen, make sure that it isn’t too close to the face.
  • Teach the 20-20-20 rule: During screen time, take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object across the room or out the window about 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. George Fung, BSc (Hons.), OD

Q: How is myopia diagnosed?

  • A: Your child’s eye doctor will perform a thorough pediatric eye exam to diagnose myopia, which often includes a visual acuity test, where the eye doctor will use an eye chart made up of letters of varied sizes. If the test results indicate myopia, then the optometrist may shine a light into their eyes and evaluate the reflection off the retina to determine the degree of refractive error for their prescription.

Q: Can myopia lead to blindness?

  • A: High myopia may increase your child’s risk of developing more serious eye conditions later in life, such as cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma. Left untreated, high myopia complications can sometimes lead to blindness—which is why routine eye exams are critical.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Calgary, Alberta. Visit Browz Eyeware for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

The Most Common Eye Diseases in Children & Adults

Regardless of our age, over time our eyes keep changing, and this affects our vision. Your eye doctor can detect these changes and identify eye conditions or diseases early enough to treat them and prevent vision loss. Read on to learn more about common eye conditions and diseases one may encounter.

Eye Conditions and Diseases in Adults

Cataracts

If your vision is starting to get blurry, you may be developing cataracts. Protein buildup on the once-clear crystalline lens, a small transparent disc inside your eye, creates cloudy patches. Over time these patches become bigger and, if left untreated, can eventually lead to blindness.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among seniors. This happens when the small central portion of your retina, called the macula, no longer functions effectively as the retinal nerves and blood vessels start to deteriorate. The sooner AMD is diagnosed, the higher the chances of maintaining your clear vision.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. This damage is usually permanent and often caused by abnormally high pressure in your eye. It can lead to significant vision loss, including blindness. Early intervention can often prevent or limit vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak into the back of your eye. Left untreated, this can rapidly lead to vision loss, even blindness. Keeping blood sugar levels under control and careful monitoring by your eye doctor can prevent or limit the damage.

Eye Conditions and Diseases in Children

Refractive errors

Refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) cause blurry vision. Prescription glasses and contact lenses can correct your child’s refractive error.

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia, also called lazy eye, can occur when one eye does not develop the same level of visual acuity, depth perception, or visual skills as the other eye. Children can develop amblyopia if they do not get treated early for problems like refractive errors, strabismus (misaligned eyes), droopy eyelids, or cataracts.

Strabismus

Strabismus occurs when there is a misalignment between the two eyes and they point in different directions, This occurs in about 4% of children. One eye may look straight ahead while the other turns in, out, up or down. Strabismus needs to be treated as soon as possible. Without treatment, the brain may ignore the crossed eye to avoid double vision, potentially leading to vision loss in that eye.

Cataracts

This is when the eye’s normally clear lens gets cloudy. Older people mostly get cataracts, but some children are born with them or acquire them following an eye injury. Most need surgery to remove a cataract and see clearly again.

Regular comprehensive eye exams are essential to keeping your eyes healthy and identify problems as early as possible. To schedule your appointment, contact Calgary today.

At Browz Eyeware, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 587-600-0644 or book an appointment online to see one of our Calgary eye doctors.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. George Fung

Q: Can you request lenses made from glass? Is glass still used for lenses?

  • A: Yes. Opticians still sometimes use glass for lenses. However, glass is not used very often because they aren’t as safe. If these glass lenses breaks, they can shatters into many pieces and can injure the eye. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, so they can make your eyeglasses less comfortable to wear.

Q: Can a coating be added to eyeglasses to protect them from further scratches?

  • A: A protective coating can’t be added to a lens after it’s scratched. The coating is applied when the lens is manufactured and can’t be put on later.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Calgary, Alberta. Visit Browz Eyeware for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

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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 Browz Eyeware, 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 Browz Eyeware in Calgary today.

Kids Can Wear Scleral Lenses Too!

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), about 14.5 percent of all kids under age 17 wear contact lenses. While it’s most common to prescribe daily disposable contacts for kids, they’re not suitable for all eye and vision conditions.

At our eye care centres in Calgary, Bridgeland and Macleod Trail, we regularly perform pediatric eye exams to fit kids with contact lenses, including scleral lenses. Many of our young patients who couldn’t achieve crisp, comfortable vision with regular contacts have been thrilled with their scleral lenses!

What are scleral lenses?

Custom-fit scleral lenses vault over the cornea, coming to rest on the whites of the eye (sclera), and forming a new optical surface. Sclerals also create a reservoir of saline between the contact and the eye surface, perfect for soothing sore eyes.

When do kids need scleral lenses?

Very young children, as small as toddlers, who have a serious ocular surface disease are recommended to wear full scleral lenses because they provide protection over as much of the eye as possible.

When kids have a normal cornea and high refractive errors, or have a corneal condition such as keratoconus, mini-scleral lenses may be worn. These specialty pediatric lenses range from 15 to 18 mm in diameter.

Sclerals can also be helpful for kids with disorders such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, congenital corneal anesthesia syndromes and corneal scarring after trauma.

What are the benefits of scleral lenses for kids?

Due to their oversized shape, sclerals rest on the eye with more stability than conventional contacts, so they’re less likely to be dislodged. The stability also promotes higher comfort, especially for sensitive eyes. Since they have high oxygen permeability, scleral lenses are healthy for the eyes too.

To find out if your child is a candidate for scleral lenses, book a pediatric eye exam with our eye doctor in Calgary, Bridgeland or Macleod Trail.
At Browz Eyeware, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 587-600-0644 or book an appointment online to see one of our Calgary eye doctors.

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