Vision Development and Children

Childhood is a critical time for vision development. Nearly 80% of what a child learns in school is presented visually. Arguably making vision the most important of the five senses. Visual skills start developing during pregnancy and continue to evolve and develop as a child grows. Undetected vision problems can cause developmental and educational delays in children.

Infant Vision Development

Your infant’s vision starts developing during pregnancy. It is crucial that toxins are not consumed during pregnancy as they can cause serious vision problems. At birth, babies only see black, white, and shades of gray. Infants are unable to focus on objects for several months and can only see the outline of objects.

As infants grow, they can distinguish between high contrast colors. By six months your child can see color, has sharper vision, and has begun developing hand-eye coordination skills. Schedule your child’s first eye exam at six months to make sure their eyes are healthy and on the right developmental track. Detection of eye health issues and vision problems at this stage in development can help to ensure your child does not experience setbacks in learning and growth.

When your infant begins to crawl and potentially walk they are learning to coordinate their body movements and their vision. Over time, your child will become better at judging distances. However, this is also a time when your child may grow more injury prone because they are exploring their environment. Bumps, bruises, eye injuries, and other injuries can occur which is why it is so vital to ensure that your infant’s vision is on track to prevent these injuries as much as possible.

Early Childhood Vision Development

During these years your child will be growing, developing, and improving their visual skills. It is recommended to schedule your child eye exam at three years old. Even if you don’t think your child has vision problems, your child is growing and changing. A comprehensive eye exam before your child enters school provides enough time to catch and correct any vision problems.

They are discovering how to integrate their vision and body position to complete new tasks. They learn this through playing games, throwing a ball, and riding a bike. Children are also working on developing their fine motor skills. The primary way preschool age children are learning this is through writing their name and the alphabet.

Between the ages of 3 to 6 is when you, as a parent, may begin to notice signs of a vision problem. If your child complains about headaches or tired eyes, this could potentially be due to a vision problem. Signs of vision problems include squinting, tilting the head, frequently rubbing eyes, and closing one eye to see. Additionally, look for sitting too close to a tv, holding a book too close, or avoiding activities that require near or distance vision. Some of these activities include coloring, reading, playing ball, or tag if you notice these signs in your child schedule an eye exam as soon as possible. Correct their vision before any learning is delayed!

Are online eye tests any good?

Have you considered getting online eye tests? The idea of being able to get an eyeglass prescription and buy glasses without a trip to the eye doctor may sound appealing. Before ditching the traditional eye exams, there are a few things you need to know!

Online Eye Tests

The most important thing to know about online eye tests is they do not evaluate the health of your eyes. Even if they are called “online eye exams,” these exams only measure your visual acuity and refractive error. Some online eye tests can check for contrast sensitivity and color blindness. However, none of this can tell the health of your eyes.

The only way to know the complete health of your eyes is through eye exams with your doctor. During an eye exam, your doctor can detect vision-threatening conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration. Early detection of these conditions can prevent vision loss and blindness.

Know The Risks:

  • Online eye exams cannot detect eye diseases
  • Improper testing can occur due to error or misreading instructions
  • Higher chance of getting incorrect prescription due to self-administered the eye test
  • If you think the prescription is incorrect, your only option is to pay again and retake the test
  • An eyecare professional is not present to answer questions or concerns

Validation of Online Eye Tests

The results of online eye tests have not been guaranteed to be accurate measures of your prescription. Due to this being relatively new technology, there have not been enough studies to determine the reliability and validity of online eye tests.

Additionally, many online eye tests say their technology is suitable only for people between the ages 18 and 40 who are in good health. The limitations of the eye test raise concerns to the overall validity of the test. For these reasons, we do not recommend them as your sole option for your receiving your prescription.

The best way to ensure your eyes are healthy, you receive the correct prescription, and get answers to all your questions is through face-to-face eye exams with your eye doctor. Our staff of trained eyecare professionals will help you through every step of the process. Our office is here to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Eye Safety In The Home

Have you thought about eye safety in your home? Over 2.4 million eye injuries each year in the United States. Experts say wearing safety glasses and taking a few common-sense precautions can prevent or reduce the severity of eye injuries.

Common causes of eye injury in the home:

  • Household cleaners and chemicals
    Tip: Keep out of reach of children, high shelves in cupboards or childproof cupboards.
  • Toys and games (hard or sharp edges)
    Tip: Always check the age recommendation to ensure toys are appropriate for your child.
  • Eye makeup and applicators
    Tip: Throw out old or damaged products to avoid potential eye hazards.
  • Lawn, garden, and hand tools
    Tip: Wear protective eyewear when completing house or yard work.
  • Champagne Corks
    Tip: Never face the cork towards anyone’s face, including your own.
  • Fireworks
    Tip: Attend a professional firework show, avoid the risks associated with at home fireworks.

 

What to do in case of eye injury

If you or your child has an eye injury contact your eye doctor immediately. If it is after regular work hours, try an emergency contact number or call 911. It is always better to be over cautious when it comes to your eyes.

The next steps after your phone call vary greatly depending on the eye injury. Typically, we either recommend you come to our office or go to the emergency room. Depending on the situation your eye doctor may also ask you to flush your eye, remove your contact lenses, or cover your eye.

When in doubt treat all eye injuries as potential emergencies. You only have one pair of eyes, and we want to ensure they are taken care of.

What to look for in safety glasses

Safety glasses should be worn when doing any house repairs/renovations, yard work, or sports activities. This is the best way to protect your eyes from potential harm. When looking for safety glasses, it is important to have impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses and safety rated frame.

If you have additional questions about eye safety in the home, ask our staff. We want to help you keep your eyes safe and healthy!

Screen Time and Children

Screen time is the amount of time a person spends staring at digital displays including computers, tablets, smartphones, and TVs. In our modern and technology-focused world children are spending time on digital displays for educational and recreational purposes. Children who spend several hours on digital devices are at risk of developing vision-related problems.

Average Time Children Spend On Digital Devices

According to the Vision Council, 72% of American parents report their children regularly spend more than two hours on screens per day. It is likely that children spend significantly more time on screens than their parents think. Common Sense Media reports that children under age eight spend more than two hours a day with screen media. For 8 to 10-year-olds screen time triples to six hours per day. Kids in middle school and high school spend up to nine hours per day looking at digital displays.

Risks of Screen Time

Too much screen time can be dangerous for anyone’s eyes, children included. Screens emit a broad spectrum of visible light. While most of these light rays are harmless, blue light is a high-energy visible light that can cause damage to your eyes. Blue light has shorter wavelengths and higher energy causing harm to the retina over time. Overexposure to blue light can cause:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Eye strain
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behavior
  • Irritability

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome is a condition caused by visual stress. Symptoms include tired eyes, dry eyes, headache, and fatigue.

Unhealthy Posture

Your body naturally slouches inwards when on digital devices. Your back and shoulders round, your head tilts back, and your chin justs forward. This reaction to digital devices is called “turtling” and can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain.

How To Protect Your Child’s Eyes

It is clear digital devices will not be going away anytime soon. Therefore it is essential to ensure you are doing everything you can to protect your children’s eyes from digital screens. One way you can do this is by limiting screen time for your children while at home. You can also apply blue light filters or download blue light filtering apps to all digital devices. If your child wears prescription glasses, ask us about add blue light blocking to their lenses during your next appointment.

Nighttime Use

The largest source of blue light is our sun, which tells our brain when to be awake or sleep. The high use of digital devices emitting blue light may disrupt your natural circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) by miscommunicating the time of day and if you should be awake or asleep. Stop digital device time two hours before usual bedtime to ensure your child’s sleep schedule affected by blue light.

Do you have more questions about screen time and blue light? Stop by our office or give our office a call and we would be happy to answer your questions!

Why You Need Multiple Pairs

Thanks to our busy lives, multiple hobbies, and all the activities in between, having multiple pairs of eyewear handy is a necessity. Even contact lens wearers should have alternative pairs of eyewear. But some of us still haven’t jumped on that bandwagon. If you’re still on the fence, here are a few reasons why it’s a great idea to have at least two pairs of eyewear:

Misplacement

We’ve all been there, searching for missing glasses just when we need them the most. An additional pair of eyewear can’t guarantee they won’t keep slipping through the cracks, but it will significantly reduce the chances of having to go without. Lost a contact lens and don’t have a replacement? Backup glasses can hold you over until your new contact lenses come in!

Style

Think about it: a night out on the town is going to call for more stylish eyewear than the amber-tinted lenses you wear at your computer desk. Funky frames may better showcase your personality, but a more neutral pair may be needed for professional situations. Having different styles of glasses removes this dilemma by giving you situation-specific options.

Protection

Chances are, your standard glasses aren’t going to adapt and darken in reaction to sunlight (unless you have photochromic lenses), so it only makes sense to invest in a pair of prescription sunglasses to protect your eyes. Polarized lenses are a good option, especially since the tint can be tailored to your specific sport or hobby.

Contact Lens Wearers

Plano sunwear is a must have for all contact lens users. Contact lenses do not protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun. We recommend plano sunwear that blocks 100% of UV rays for anyone who wears contacts.

Schedule an appointment with our office if you’re interested in investing in a second pair of glasses! We will help you find the best frames and lenses for your lifestyle!

Know the Facts About Cataracts

Did you know, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world? Cataracts affect nearly 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older.* If you are over the age of 50, you should have a yearly comprehensive eye exam to detect cataracts as they develop.

A cataract is the clouding of the lens in your eye. Many people describe the feeling as if you are looking through a foggy or frosted window.

What causes cataracts?

Clouding of the natural lens in your eye is caused by proteins clumping together within the lens. It is unknown why the eye changes as the body ages, but these changes may cause cataracts to grow larger over time, resulting in an increased difficulty to see clearly.

Some factors that have been linked to cataract development are diabetes, obesity, smoking, ultraviolet radiation, and family history.

Symptoms

Symptoms associated with cataracts can vary from person to person. However, there are a few key symptoms associated with most cases of cataract development. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, schedule a visit with your eye doctor to discuss your risk or development of cataracts.

  • Slight blur in vision
  • Vision is cloudy
  • Sunlight or lamps feel too bright
  • Headlights have more glare and/or a halo around them
  • Colors no longer appear as bright as they once did

Types of cataracts

Subcapsular

Subcapsular cataracts typically occur in the back of the lens and are most common in individuals with diabetes or those taking a high dose of steroid medication.

Nuclear

Nuclear cataracts are associated with aging and occur in the central zone of the lens.

Cortical

Cortical cataracts occur in the lens cortex and are associated with streaks which interfere with light passage through the eye.

Congenital

Congenital cataracts are present at birth and may be due to genetics or intrauterine infection.

Are cataracts preventable?

No studies have shown a way to prevent cataracts, however, there are recommended practices to help maintain eye health and lower your risk of developing cataracts.

  • Yearly comprehensive eye exams help maintain eye health and detect the development of cataracts at an early stage.
  • Smoking has been linked to the development of cataracts. Quitting smoking provides a variety of health benefits lowering your risk for further cataract development.
  • Keeping up with treatment if you have diabetes or other medical conditions will help minimize your risk.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables, provides increased overall eye health.
  • Wearing sunglasses to prevent ultraviolet radiation will decrease your risk of UV damage which has been linked to the development of cataracts.

 

*National Eye Institute (https://nei.nih.gov)

How to Read Your Prescription

Have you ever received your prescription at the end of your exam but were unsure how to interpret it? Below are some common questions and terms explained to help you better understand what each part of your prescription means. If you have any questions about your prescription, please reach out to our office.

What does it mean to be nearsighted?

Nearsightedness (myopia) is the most commonly diagnosed refractive error. Nearsighted individuals have difficulty reading road signs and clearly seeing distant objects. This refractive error typically begins in childhood and stabilizes in early adulthood. Symptoms of myopia include squinting, eye strain, and headaches.

What does it mean to be farsighted?

Farsightedness (hyperopia) affects about one-fourth of the population.* Farsighted individuals will have difficulty focusing on objects up close but can clearly see objects at a distance. The eye shape of someone who is farsighted is shorter than normal. For this reason, many children are born farsighted and outgrow it as their eyeball grows.

I have astigmatism, what does that mean?

Individuals with astigmatism usually experience some degree of blur or distortion at all distances. In astigmatism, light comes into the retina at multiple focus points because of an irregular shaped cornea, which causes blurring. With astigmatism, one or both eyes can be farsighted, one or both eyes can be nearsighted, or one eye can be nearsighted while the other is farsighted.

Reading the Prescription

Your prescription is an outline of corrections your eyes need in order to see as precisely as possible. Every prescription will look different based on the patient’s eyes. If you have questions or do not understand a section of your exam or prescription, be sure to ask your doctor.

OD and OS

Doctors use the abbreviations OD, OS, and OU when writing a prescription for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and eye medicines. OD and OS are abbreviations for the latin words oculus dexter (right eye) and oculus sinister (left eye). The latin term oculus uterque is used for describing both eyes.

Other terms on your prescription:

  • Sphere (SPH): Indicates the lens power needed to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness. If you have a minus sign (-) you are nearsighted; if you have a plus sign (+) or no sign you are farsighted.
  • Cylinder (CYL): Indicates the amount of lens power for astigmatism. If nothing appears in this column you do not have astigmatism. The minus sign is for nearsighted astigmatism and a plus sign for farsighted astigmatism.
  • Axis: Indicates the direction of astigmatism. For example, if the axis is 180 degrees the astigmatism is horizontal.
  • Add: Indicates the magnifying power applied to the bottom of multifocal lenses to correct presbyopia. The number is typically a plus power and will be the same for both eyes.
  • Prism: This is to compensate for eye alignment problems, a very small percentage of prescriptions contain a prismatic power. Abbreviations used for prism direction: BU- base up, BD- base down, BI- base in, BO- base out.

Sample Prescription:

how to read your prescription

*All About Vision

Get the Facts About Lazy Eye

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, occurs when one eye fails to reach normal visual acuity, even with prescription lenses. In most cases, this begins in infancy and early childhood. If left untreated, lazy eye can result in blindness, loss of vision, or the abnormal development of a child’s eyes.

What causes lazy eye?

Lazy eye occurs when one eye experiences fewer visual signals from the brain in comparison to the other eye. In prolonged cases, the eyes may stop working together and eventually the brain may completely ignore the input coming from the “lazy” eye.

Strabismus

Strabismus, the most common cause of lazy eye, is when an individual has a crossed or turned eye. Due to poor alignment, the brain begins to ignore the input from the poorly aligned eye resulting in strabismic amblyopia.

Refractive

Refractive amblyopia is caused by unequal refractive errors in the eyes. For example, if one eye has an uncorrected nearsighted RX and the other does not, an individual will experience blurred vision in only one eye. In this example, the brain will eventually neglect the blurred vision and causes amblyopia from lack of use.

Deprivation

Deprivation amblyopia is caused by articles on the eye, such as a cataract, preventing light from entering the eye.

Signs and symptoms to look for:

Because lazy eye begins at such a young age, it is difficult to pinpoint exact symptoms. However, as a parent, there are signs you should look for to determine if your child may have a visual disability. These include:

  • Crossed eyes or misalignment
  • If a child cries or fusses when you cover one eye
  • Trouble reading
  • An eye which wanders inward or outward
  • Poor depth perception
  • Squinting or shutting an eye

Importance of early detection

Lazy eye will not subside on its own and can worsen over time. If left completely untreated, lazy eye could lead to permanent visual problems. It is important to have your child’s eyes examined at an early age to catch any signs of lazy eye and seek treatment if needed.

Children should have their first eye exam at 6 months old, another at 3 years old, and again before starting school. Regular comprehensive eye exams help ensure your child’s eyes are developing normally and allow for early detection and treatment of eye-related conditions.

Myth or Fact

Bangs cause lazy eye. MYTH. Lazy eye cannot be caused by bangs or other cosmetic modifications unless it causes the eye’s line of sight to be blocked all day and night.

Patching is a common way to treat lazy eye. FACT.

Older children and adults with lazy eye cannot receive treatment. MYTH. An individual can receive treatment for lazy eye at any time. The effectiveness of treatment depends on a variety of factors including development stage and early detection.

The eye becomes “lazy” because the brain has decided not to process visual information from the eye. FACT.

Treatment is most effective if lazy eye is detected before age 7. FACT.

Flashes, Floaters, and Spots: What’s in my Vision?

Have you noticed tiny shadows cast upon objects you are looking at? Do you see small spots in your vision when looking at a clear or overcast sky? You may be seeing floaters and spots in your field of vision.

What is the spot in my vision?

It is completely normal to see spots or floaters in your vision. As you age the gel-like consistency in your eyes begins to dissolve creating floaters in the watery center of your eye. While you cannot see the particle floating in your eye, a shadow of these particles can be seen reflected in the objects you are viewing.

Do I need treatment for my floaters?

No, most of the time treatment is not required for floaters in the eye. The floaters and spots are harmless, and most will fade over time. If your vision is inhibited by large floaters, give our office a call to discuss options available to reduce these symptoms.

Why is there a flash in my vision?

When light enters your eye it sends a message to the retina, the retina then produces an electrical impulse which is sent to the brain. The brain interprets this impulse as an image. If the retina is tugged, torn, or detached from the back of the eye it is common to see a flicker of light. The flashes or flickers of light can be temporary or continue indefinitely depending on the severity of the retinal issue.

Is this ever a medical emergency?

Seeing a few new floaters is not an emergency, however, if you suddenly see a shower of floaters or spots this may be cause for concern. The sudden appearance of flashes of light could mean that damage is occurring to your retina. If any of these symptoms suddenly appear, call our office immediately to discuss with your eye doctor.

Conditions associated with eye floaters and flashes:

  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Inflammation of the interior of the eye
  • Nearsightedness
  • Cataract surgery
  • Laser eye surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Eye infections

FAQs: About My Symptoms

An overview and explanation of common eye symptoms.

Whether you or someone you know is suffering from a common eye-related condition, we know that you want the facts! Here are some of the most common questions and eye-related disorders we see in our office every day. If you are experiencing any of these eye symptoms or have questions about your eye health, give us a call to schedule your next appointment today.

Why are my eyes red?

Red or bloodshot eyes are a common problem caused by swollen or dilated blood vessels on the outer surface of the eye. Sometimes red eyes bother people because they are in pain, but that’s not always the case.

Potential causes of red eye include:

  • Allergies
  • Pink eye
  • Eye trauma

Why are my eyes itching?

Itchy eyes are one of the most common eye-related condition that patients experience. When an allergen (irritating substance) enters the eyes, your immune system responds with a natural defense mechanism by releasing a chemical causing the itching sensation.

Potential causes of itchy eyes include:

  • Allergies
  • Prolonged use of digital devices
  • Contact lens usage

How do I reduce my symptoms of itchy eyes?

To reduce your allergy symptoms try using eye drops to help lubricate your eyes. While rubbing can provide temporary relief it puts you at risk for damaging your cornea or adding even more allergens and bacteria into your eye.

Why are my eyes puffy?

Swelling around the eyes is due to excessive fluids in the skin tissue. As this fatty tissue gains fluid it begins to push forward and “bags” form under the eye.

Excessive fluid and puffy eyes can be caused by:

  • Allergies
  • Sinus problems
  • Dehydration
  • Overconsumption of salt
  • Fatigue or lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Aging
  • Crying  

What is causing my burning, itchy eyes?

The sensation of burning eyes can be caused by a variety of everyday environments. For example, exposure to products such as makeup, facial cleansers, or shampoo may cause burning or itchy symptoms. Other factors like allergies, wind, and environmental irritants can also cause burning in your eyes. Keep track of what surroundings or products are causing these symptoms and try to reduce your exposure. If you live in a high wind or sandy environment, try wearing a pair of wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from the elements when outdoors.

I’m seeing spots and floaters, why?

Spots and floaters are a shadow in your vision caused by bits of protein and tissue in the gel-like matter in your eyes. It is normal to occasionally see spots or floaters in your vision and will become more common with age as the gel-like material in your eye begins to dissolve and liquefy.

I am experiencing eye pain, what should I do?

If you are experiencing prolonged eye pain or have a foreign object enter your eye, call our office immediately. It is important not to rub your eyes or try to remove the object yourself as this may irritate your eye further.

Describing Your Symptoms

Being able to describe the type of pain you are experiencing will help your eye doctor diagnose the problem. For example, pain behind the eye can be attributed to migraines or sinus infections.

Use descriptor from the list below to help describe the pain to your eye doctor.

  • sharp or dull
  • internal or external
  • constant or inconsistent
  • stabbing or throbbing
We are happy to be back seeing routine eye care! When you come in for your next appointment you will see we have made several changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19,  including the following: 

1)  The number of patients we see in a day will initially be reduced.  Both the number of available exam appointments and optical encounters will be kept to a minimum to allow for appropriate social distancing and limit the number of patients in our clinic at any given time.

2) When you arrive for your appointment, we kindly ask you please call our office (651-457-2020) to let us know you have arrived.  Our doors will remain locked for the time being. When we are ready for your appointment, we will meet you at the front door and screen for temperature.  If you have a mask of your own, please bring it along to your appointment.  Otherwise, we will provide a mask if you do not already have one. It will be required that you wear a mask for the entirety of your visit within the clinic. 

3) We will continue curbside dispenses glasses, contact lens and eye vitamins.  If you need to pick up any of these items, please call our front desk and a staff member will bring them directly to your car.

4) We require that patients arrive for their exams alone.  Patients can only be accompanied by one other person if they are either a) a minor or b) have mental/physical disabilities.  Again, any patient or caretaker entering the building must wear a mask.  Any accompanied person will be screened for temperature as well.

5) In addition, all of our staff and doctors will have their temperature checked prior to beginning their work day.  All staff will have proper PPE compliant with new regulations.  Although it may seem impersonal, we at Dakota Eye Care are working and will continue to work tirelessly to ensure the safety of both our staff and patients.  Our new policies in regards to social distancing, clinic hygiene, etc. will be posted for you to review.

We have spent the several weeks ensuring we're in compliance with every CDC hygiene guideline for safety of our doctors, staff and patients.  We are excited to get back to work, but in the safest environment possible.  If you have any questions on our new protocols, do not hesitate to ask.  We hope to see you soon and please stay safe!