As we navigate the challenges of our current crisis, we must continue to remember the importance maintaining healthy eyes by having an annual, comprehensive eye examination. Not only can our eyes reveal a lot about us as an individual in terms of our overall health but the eyes are our “windows” to the world. In fact, 80% of what we learn is achieved through our vision. As our students of all ages prepare for the upcoming academic year, this is a perfect time for everyone to consider having an annual, comprehensive eye examination. This is even more critical this year as some of us prepare for digital learning and its impact on eye health. We are available for eye examinations and have an outline on our website detailing the protocol that we have in place to provide a safe eye exam experience. We look forward to seeing you for your annual eye examination.
We are living in an era in which extensive daily computer use is an unavoidable part of life for both children and adults. Previously, a screen was only a small component of work. However now, many are finding that their 8-hour work day or school day is dominated by tasks which can only be completed on a computer monitor. This has given rise to the common patient concern: “My eyes are so tired every day.”
Your eye doctor may be able to help you to alleviate those symptoms, potentially easing your workday significantly. There are several components of the visual system which can be evaluated in order to narrow down the cause of a patient’s eyestrain. Here are a few of those components:
- Tear film: If your eyes are dry, they will often let you know it. This may manifest as a feeling of ocular fatigue, as a burning sensation, as blurry vision, or in other ways. Dry eye may be helped with artificial tears or other treatments.
- Alignment: When looking at an object, the muscles which control your eyes must work together to line up- enabling depth perception and preventing double vision. This posture must be maintained throughout the day, and often a pair of eyes must work harder to target a near object. Optimizing a patient’s glasses or contact prescription is an important part of easing this mechanical burden on the eyes.
- Accommodation: There is a lens inside the eye which changes shape to bring near objects into focus. Similar to ocular alignment, this function is controlled by a muscular structure, and in many cases this system can be overburdened by long periods of computer use. Again, an optimal glasses/contact prescription is an essential part of reducing this burden on the eyes.
If you, like most of us, spend hours on the computer each day, do not hesitate to discuss the matter with your eye doctor. He or she may not be able to completely cure the symptoms of digital eye strain, but there are various plans that may be implemented to assist the comfort of your eyes throughout your busy work week.
Amblyopia, commonly referred to as “Lazy Eye,” is a condition that affects about 3% of children. Amblyopia occurs when there is an imbalance between the eyes, meaning one eye sees well and the other does not. This can occur for different reasons, including when an eye turns out of alignment or when one eye needs a stronger prescription than the other.
If this happens, then the brain chooses to focus with the “good-seeing” eye and begins to ignore the worst seeing, or “lazy”, eye. Once the brain starts ignoring the “lazy” eye, it stops developing a strong connection with that eye. This lack of connection leads to vision loss. If amblyopia is not treated early, the vision loss will become irreversible. Usually, parents or family members notice when a child’s eye is turning and seek treatment for the child.
Another, more silent, type of amblyopia is when both eyes are aligned but one eye needs a stronger prescription than the other eye. This is called Refractive Amblyopia. It can go undetected because the child can see well enough without glasses. The child might even pass many vision screenings if proper care is not taken to specifically rule out Refractive Amblyopia. However, if caught early, Refractive Amblyopia can be treated. With treatment, many children can regain vision. This is one reason I recommend all children get annual eye exams, even if they do not express blurry vision or concerns.
At Dr. Skeete & Associates, P.C., we are passionate about preserving vision and seek to catch visual problems such as amblyopia. This is why you can be confident that your child will only receive the best care when you schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your child with our team.
It amazes our team to see the amount of patients who come to our practice for their first visit and have never had a retinal evaluation. The retinal examination is an integral part of the annual, comprehensive eye examination where the eye doctor evaluates the health of the retina — the back wall of the inside of the eye. One way that a retinal evaluation can be performed is by a dilated fundus exam where the eye doctor and the team instill eye drops to open the pupil of the eye thus allowing for a wider view of the back of the eye. The newer way to evaluate the health of the retina is to take a digital photograph of the back of the eye through innovative technology such as the Optomap Digital Retinal Photography. Our practice is proud to offer this technology in both of our offices. The Optomap technology allows for a documented photograph of the patients’ eyes which the patient can view with the doctor in the exam room. In addition to providing a document photo record of the back of the eye which can be used for comparison in the future, our doctors can get a comprehensive view of the back of the eye without having to use any eye drops as we do when we dilate the pupils.
When scheduling your annual eye examination with our team, be confident that our comprehensive eye examination will include an evaluation of the health of the back of the eye — either by dilated fundus examination or Optomap digital retinal photography.
In our commitment to check the complete health of the eyes, a comprehensive eye health exam must include an evaluation of the retina. The retina is the thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye on the inside. The retina converts the light that we see into electrical impulses which are carried by the optic nerve to the brain for processing. Many diseases can adversely affect the health of the retina. There are two ways that we can “check the health of the back of your eyes.” We can either put dilating eye drops in your eyes to enlarge the pupil or preferably, our practice offers the Optomap digital retinal photography exam. The Optomap is new technology that allows the doctor and patient to examine the health of the back of eye together without any eye drops or side effects. It is the most efficient way to annually manage the health of the back of the eye. We are proud to offer this technology in both of the offices and in our next blog, we will go into greater length why we encourage every patient to have this done at their yearly eye exam.