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10% of Children Have Undetected Vision Problems

10% of Children Have Undetected Vision Problems 640×350Almost every classroom has children who struggle more than their peers, whether academically, socially or [behaviorally].

What many parents and teachers don’t realize is that these kids may have a visual skill deficit that’s triggering their struggles.

Experts estimate that 1 in 10 children will go through early childhood with an undiagnosed visual problem that can lead to learning and behavioral problems.

That’s why it’s crucial to have a struggling child evaluated by a developmental optometrist to rule out, identify and treat any visual dysfunction with vision therapy.

At Aspire Vision Care, we believe that educating parents and teachers about the warning signs of visual dysfunction is the first step toward ensuring that every child with a visual deficit is given the treatment they need to thrive.

Why Are Vision Problems So Commonly Overlooked?

Children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, often lack the verbal skills necessary to communicate a visual problem.

And even if they’re able to communicate, most kids may simply assume that their vision is fine, and that they see the world the way everybody else does.

School vision screenings also play a role here.

These basic screenings really only test a child’s eyesight, or visual acuity — how clearly they see distant objects. What the screenings fail to test are the rest of the 16 visual skills necessary for healthy development and learning. Some examples are eye tracking, focusing, convergence and eye teaming.

In other words, a child can pass the school’s vision screening with flying colors and still have a visual skills deficit that can negatively affect learning and behavior.

Telltale Signs of Visual Dysfunction In Children

So, how do you know if your child or student has a visual problem?

While the only way to know for sure is through a functional visual evaluation, there are some signs and symptoms to watch for that may warrant a call to Aspire Vision Care.

A child with visual skills deficits may experience any of the following medical symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Poor hand-eye coordination or clumsiness
Behavioral/academic problems that can arise due to vision problems include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Inattentiveness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Refusal or hesitation to do homework
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Skips lines or words when reading
  • Frequent eye rubbing and head tilting

If a child displays any of the above symptoms, call ​​Aspire Vision Care in Round Rock to schedule a functional visual evaluation.

How Does Vision Therapy Work

If a visual deficit is detected, we may recommend vision therapy as the best treatment option.

Vision therapy is a customized treatment program that trains the eyes and brain to communicate seamlessly. When the eyes don’t send a unified message to the brain, or the brain has difficulty processing incoming visual information, vision therapy works by correcting those pathways at the source.

During a vision therapy session, your child will be shown and instructed to do several eye exercises to strengthen the visual system. Vision therapy sessions are done in-office, but certain eye exercises should be [practiced] at home, in-between visits.

Vision therapy has been clinically shown to effectively treat eye misalignment disorders, lazy eye (amblyopia), focusing problems, convergence insufficiencies and ocular motor dysfunctions.

Our skilled and friendly optometric team has lots of experience working with children of all ages and helping them feel safe and comfortable during the entire process.

Make sure that your child isn’t part of the 10% of kids with undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, visual skills deficits. To schedule your child’s functional visual evaluation, contact Aspire Vision Care in Round Rock today!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nancy Guenthner

Q: How can visual dysfunction affect learning and development?

  • A: An estimated 80% of classroom learning is dependent on vision. Subpar visual skills can impede learning by making it unnecessarily difficult for a child to see the board from their seat, read, write, play sports and interact confidently with their peers. Ultimately, this can lead to reduced self-esteem. Making sure your child’s vision is healthy will set them up for academic, social and overall success.

Q: How long does vision therapy take?

  • A: The length depends on each patient’s individual condition and needs. A vision therapy program can last anywhere from several weeks to a few months. Speak with your eye doctor about how long your vision therapy program is expected to take.

Meet Our Vision Therapy Doctor
Can Vision Therapy Can Help You! 512-399-4626

What Exactly is an Eye Chart?

If there’s one aspect of optometry that everyone recognizes, it’s the traditional eye chart, with its rows of big letters on top, which gradually become smaller the farther down you go. This chart is usually known as the Snellen chart.

Yet how much do you really know about this eye chart? Are all eye charts the same? How are these eye charts used? And when were they invented?

Here’s everything you need to know about eye charts and more!

What is an Eye Chart?

An eye chart is one of the tools your eye doctor uses to assess your eyesight. Based on how well you can see various letters on the chart, your optometrist will determine whether you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) or astigmatism, and will measure the prescription that will give you the clearest, most comfortable vision.

Are All Eye Charts The Same?

There are a number of variations to the standard Snellen eye chart. The one an eye doctor uses depends on the personal needs and abilities of the patient. For example, eye doctors will use charts with pictures or patterns for younger children who may not have learned to read or identify letters and numbers.

There are also certain charts that specifically measure distance vision, while others are better for measuring near vision.

History of the Snellen Eye Chart

The Snellen eye chart was developed by Dutch eye doctor Hermann Snellen in the 1860s. Before this standardized eye chart was developed, each eye doctor had their own chart that they preferred to use.

Having so many different eye charts made it impossible to standardize the vision correction available to patients. Eyeglass makers didn’t receive the defined measurements they needed to accurately design, manufacture and measure the optical prescriptions their patients needed.

For the first time, the Snellen eye chart allowed a person to provide a standardized prescription from any eye care provider they chose to any eyeglass maker, and get the same optical lenses to accurately correct their vision.

How The Snellen Chart Is Used in Eye Exams

The standard Snellen chart displays 11 rows of capital letters, with the first row consisting of a single large letter. The farther down the chart you go, the smaller the letters become.

Your Round Rock eye doctor will ask you to look through a phoropter – an instrument used to test individual lenses on each eye during an eye exam – and look at the Snellen chart placed 20 feet away. Your eye doctor will prescribe the lenses that provide you with the clearest and most comfortable vision.

In many offices, where 20 feet of space may not be available, you’ll be asked to view the chart through a mirror. This provides the same visual experience as if you were standing 20 feet away.

If you have 20/20 vision, it means you can see what an average person can see on an eye chart from a distance of 20 feet. On the other hand, if you have 20/40 vision, it means you can only see clearly from 20 feet away what a person with perfect vision can see clearly from 40 feet away.

If you have 20/200 vision, the legal definition of blindness, this means what a person with perfect vision can see from 200 feet away, you can see from 20 feet away.

Does 20/20 Visual Acuity Mean Perfect Vision?

No. While eye chart tests identify refractive errors, they can’t detect signs of visual skill deficiencies or diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. These are diagnosed using advanced equipment as part of a comprehensive eye exam with your local Round Rock eye doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions are essential to ensuring long-term vision and eye health.

For more information, give us a call at 512-360-8969 or visit us in person at Aspire Vision Care, today!

Q&A With Your Local Optometrist

How do you keep your eyes healthy?

You only have one set of eyes – don’t take them for granted!

Make sure to implement the following habits for healthy eyes (and body). These include:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking plenty of water to hydrate your body and eyes
  • Not smoking, and avoiding 2nd-hand smoke
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Maintaining normal BMI with regular exercise
  • Regular visits to your eye doctor as recommended

What health conditions can an eye exam detect?

A comprehensive eye exam can often detect certain underlying diseases that can threaten your sight and eye health, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumors, autoimmune conditions and thyroid disorders. This is why having your eyes checked regularly is key. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome and the higher your quality of life.

The Link Between Dry Eyes and Depression

The Link Between Dry Eyes and DepressionDepression is a serious illness that impacts a person’s mood and emotional well-being. It creeps into all areas of a person’s life, and can become life-threatening if left untreated.

Not only does depression impact mental health; it can manifest as physical symptoms, too, like insomnia, chronic pain and inflammation, weight loss or gain and heart problems, among others. These physical problems can worsen depressive thoughts — sometimes leading to a vicious cycle.

Interestingly, many patients with depression also suffer from severe dry eye symptoms. The question is, how are these two conditions related?

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome, also known as dry eye disease, is a chronic condition that results from inadequate lubrication of the eyes. Ocular hydration is crucial when it comes to keeping your eyes healthy and your vision clear. Your tears are responsible for maintaining this necessary hydration, and in healthy eyes fulfill their unique mission each time you blink.

Your tear film is made up of three layers, consisting of oil, water and mucus. If any of these layers become compromised, inadequate tear quality or insufficient tear quantity can result and lead to a host of uncomfortable dry eye symptoms.

The most common dry eye symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Gritty eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision

Can Depression Cause Dry Eye (or Vice-Versa)?

This is what researchers are trying to find out.

In a March 2022 study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers examined the link between depression and severe dry eye symptoms. The study followed 535 dry eye patients for an entire year.

After a year, the patients who tested positive for depression had more severe dry eye symptoms than the patients who didn’t have depression. Their symptoms were measured based on the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), Brief Ocular Discomfort Index and composite dry eye disease sign score.

Additionally, severe depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms at baseline, six months, and one year.

The study concluded that depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms, which suggests that among patients with moderate to severe dry eye syndrome, those with depression may be likely to have more severe dry eye symptoms.

The researchers said further research is needed to learn exactly why people with depression have more severe dry eye symptoms than those without depression.

Could the sometimes debilitating symptoms of dry eye syndrome actually cause depression and anxiety?

A 2016 dry eye study published in Nature concluded that chronic discomfort and pain from dry eye symptoms can negatively affect the cognitive processes, sleep, mood and mental health. The researchers urged eye doctors to be aware of the higher incidence of dry eye syndrome in people with depression, whatever the underlying cause.

Can Antidepressants Cause Dry Eye Symptoms?

Yes. Antidepressants have been shown to increase dryness in the body, including the eyes. These medications work by blocking signals between nerve cells, which can result in insufficient tear production and dry eye syndrome.

If you’re taking an antidepressant, be sure to inform your eye doctor during your consultation.

How We Can Help

At Aspire Vision Care in Round Rock, we recognize that some of our patients that come in with dry eye symptoms may be suffering from depression.

We’ll diagnose the cause of your dry eye symptoms and offer the most effective dry eye treatments to give you the relief you’re searching for.

Contact us today to schedule a dry eye assessment and take the first step towards regaining your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nancy Guenthner

Q: Who is affected by dry eye syndrome?

  • A: While dry eye syndrome is most common in adults over 50, it can occur at any age. The following factors can increase your risk of dry eye:
    – Aging
    – Hormonal changes
    – Medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis
    – Prolonged screen time
    – Living in a dry, dusty or windy environment
    – Eye allergies
    – Blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction
    – Certain medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy
    – Vitamin A deficiency

Q: How can you reduce your risk of dry eye?

  • A: While some dry eye risk factors can’t be avoided completely, making some lifestyle changes can help. Practice these recommended tips:
    – Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
    – Wear wraparound sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes from harsh winds
    – Take frequent screen breaks and blink often while using your digital device.
    – Quit smoking
    – Use lubricating eye drops
    – Consume a healthy diet including omega 3 and drink plenty of water.
    – Have regular eye exams

Dry Eye Appointment
You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-399-4626

Bloodshot Eyes – Should You Be Concerned?

You wake up in the morning ready to start your day, only to discover that your eyes are bloodshot. That might not be surprising if you stayed up late to finish a project, had too many drinks at a party or spent time in a smoke-filled room.

But bloodshot eyes can also signal an underlying eye problem. If your eyes appear red or bloodshot, make an appointment with an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause and to receive effective treatment.

Why Do I Have Bloodshot Eyes?

When blood rushes to the front of the eye, the tiny red blood vessels on the white of the eye dilate and become visible. This makes the eyes appear red and irritated.

So why do these blood vessels dilate, causing your eyes to look bloodshot?

Bloodshot eyes tend to be caused by:

  • Dry eyes
  • Irritants such as smoke, pollen and perfume
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Spending too much time in front of the computer

Bloodshot eyes due to lifestyle and environmental irritants may disappear on their own, or you can try to relieve them with over-the-counter eye drops or liquid tears. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, cutting down on alcohol intake and limiting screen time can often be helpful. If allergies are the culprit, oral antihistamines and antihistamine eye drops may relieve symptoms.

At other times, underlying problems requiring prompt medical attention can cause your eye’s blood vessels to dilate. The following are some of these medical conditions:

Conjunctivitis

You’ve probably heard of “pink eye.” It’s another name for infectious conjunctivitis – an infection of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the eyelid and the front surface of the eye.

There are two types of infectious conjunctivitis – bacterial and viral.

If your child has conjunctivitis, they’re not alone. About 12% of kids get bacterial conjunctivitis every year. This highly contagious condition affects children and adults. In addition to reddish eyes, the following symptoms are associated with conjunctivitis:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis – irritated eyes, swollen eyelids, eye discharge, crusty eyelids and excessive tearing
  • Viral conjunctivitis – cold or flu-like symptoms, runny nose, fever, itchy eyes, excessive tearing

If you or your child are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to schedule a prompt appointment with an eye doctor, who can diagnose whether the conjunctivitis is viral, bacterial or due to allergies.

Depending on the diagnosis, your eye doctor will prescribe antibiotic eye drops or creams to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. The viral form may run its course after a few days, but cold compresses and non-prescription eye drops may provide relief.

Dry Eye Syndrome

If your eyes are chronically bloodshot you may have dry eye syndrome (DES). Signs of DES include:

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • A feeling you have something stuck in your eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes

Dry eye syndrome is most commonly caused by a blockage of the tiny meibomian glands in the eyelids. These glands secrete oil that keeps eye moisture from evaporating too quickly. Without the oil, tears dry fast, leaving your eyes feeling dry, itchy and with a bloodshot appearance.

Too much screen time, aging, certain medications such as antihistamines, and medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dry eye syndrome.

In addition to any medications or in-office treatments your eye doctor recommends, make sure to get plenty of hydration, take frequent breaks from digital screens and use a humidifier in your home.

Uveitis

In addition to bloodshot eyes, if you also experience blurred vision, see floaters or your eyes feel painful, you may have an eye inflammation called uveitis. The causes of uveitis include:

  • Autoimmune or inflammatory condition
  • Infection
  • Medication side effects
  • Cancer (in rare cases)

Unfortunately, uveitis symptoms can often be mistaken for something less serious. That’s the reason it’s important to get an eye exam if your eyes are bloodshot. Left untreated, uveitis can lead to serious conditions such as retinal scarring, cataracts and vision loss.

Depending on the cause and severity, your eye doctor may treat uveitis with prescription eye drops, steroid pills, injections or eye implants.

Eye Injury

It’s vital that all eye injuries receive immediate eye care from an eye doctor.

Even a minor eye injury can cause a big red blotch to form on the white part of the eye (sclera). The cause is a broken blood vessel or a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

Although the appearance of this blood looks severe, and can make the entire white part of the eye appear bright red, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually painless and doesn’t cause vision loss. Any time you notice excessive blood on the eye following an eye injury, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor to assess the health of your eye.

Glaucoma

In rare cases, bloodshot eyes may signal the presence of glaucoma – a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.

While some types of glaucoma don’t show symptoms in the early phases, bloodshot eyes can indicate the type of glaucoma that requires immediate medical care. This disease causes damage to the optic nerve due to excessive pressure within the eye. When this pressure suddenly rises, the eye’s blood vessels become dilated and visible, making the eye appear red.

If you have bloodshot eyes and/or have the following risk factors for glaucoma, immediately schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Aged 60+
  • African American, Asian or Hispanic
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Bloodshot Eyes Won’t Go Away?

Talk to Us Any time you notice bloodshot eyes or blood on the front of the eye, don’t wait. Schedule your eye exam with Dr. Nancy Guenthner at Aspire Vision Care in Round Rock today.

Q&A With Your Local Optometrist

Can I get bloodshot eyes after LASIK surgery?

LASIK surgery is highly effective minimally invasive laser eye surgery that can correct refractive errors, but like all surgical procedures, it can have side effects. Your eyes may be bloodshot or you could see halos from a few days to three weeks after surgery. Additionally, you may experience other dry eye symptoms. Eye drops and liquid tears can alleviate these symptoms, but if you have any concerns about your eyes following LASIK surgery contact your eye surgeon.

What Should I Expect from a Glaucoma Exam?

If you have a family history and/or other risk factors for glaucoma, and if your eyes look bloodshot, consider scheduling a glaucoma exam. Your eye doctor may perform the following tests:

  • Tonometry – eye pressure test
  • Gonioscopy – to see how fluid is draining out of your eye
  • Vision field test – to examine the functioning of the optic nerve
  • Dilated pupil exam – to detect any damage to the optic nerve
  • Retinal photo or OCT – digital examination of the retina and optic nerve health

Are Myopic Parents More Likely to Have Myopic Children?

Myopic Parents 640×350If you have myopia (nearsightedness), can you pass nearsightedness on to your children? Yes, you can. Having myopic parents greatly increases a child’s risk of developing myopia.

Due to heredity and other risk factors, myopia is reaching epidemic proportions – with more than 50% of the population expected to be myopic by 2050. That’s worrying, as having moderate to severe myopia greatly increases the risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration later in life.

What Is Myopia?

If you have myopia, distant objects will appear blurred. This happens when your cornea or eye lens is oval-shaped and excessively curved. As a result, the light entering your eye focuses images in front of your retina instead of directly on it, causing blurred vision.

Can Myopia Be Inherited? What the Stats Say

The answer is yes, myopia can be passed on from parents to children. There are 40 genes that influence the eye’s development and shape, and these could be responsible for nearsightedness.

Children with one myopic parent are 1.5x more likely to develop the condition, and the risk is tripled if both parents have myopia. This makes getting a comprehensive eye exam a must for any child of nearsighted parents.

Other risk factors include spending less than two hours a day outdoors and engaging in “near work” activities like reading and spending time on an electronic device, such as a computer or cell phone. Fortunately, there are ways to manage, slow and sometimes halt myopia progression.

What’s Myopia Management?

Myopia management is a systematic approach to preventing the progression of myopia. It includes lifestyle changes and treatments that help keep your child’s myopia from progressing.

​​We use the latest technology to ensure your child’s vision remains stable and healthy for years to come.

Protect Your Child’s Vision With Myopia Management

Let us help your child diminish the risk of developing ocular disease and vision loss with our effective myopia management program. Schedule an appointment with our optometric team at Aspire Vision Care in Round Rock. We’ll use the latest technology to ensure your child’s vision remains stable and healthy for years to come.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nancy Guenthner

Q: What are some ways I can reduce my child’s screen time?

  • A: It isn’t easy to change habits, but as a family, you can work together to reduce screen time. Try the following:- Set limits on total amount of screen time per day
    – Create routines around screen use–such as after homework and chores
    – Model healthy screen use for your child
    – Talk to your children about why it is important to limit screen time
    – Engage in physical activity and outdoor sports as a family

Q: When Does Myopia Typically Develop?

  • A: Myopia begins in children as young as 6 and tends to progress until roughly the age of 20. The more it progresses, and the higher the prescription, the greater your child’s risk of developing potentially sight-threatening eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal detachment later in life.

Meet Our Myopia Management Doctor
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 512-399-4626

Does Your Child Have 20/20 Vision Yet Still Struggles In School?

teacher with kids needing vision therapyYour child aced their school’s vision screening test with 20/20 eyesight. That means perfect vision, right?

Actually, no. 20/20 simply means that your child can clearly see things that are 20 feet away. While that’s good news, clear eyesight doesn’t mean a student has strong visual skills.

There are 17 crucial visual skills that can impact your child’s success in school and on the sports field. Fortunately, most children are able to improve their visual skills with vision therapy.

What Are Visual Skills?

A healthy visual system relies not only on healthy vision, but on the eyes’ ability to move correctly, send the correct information to the brain, and the brain’s ability to interpret this information. If any one of these visual skills is sub-par, it can impact a child’s reading, writing and learning. This, in turn, can harm their motivation and self-confidence.

The visual skills needed to succeed in school (and life) include:

  • Eye movement – the ability to accurately control the eye’s movements
  • Eye teaming – the ability of both eyes to work together
  • Focusing – the ability to maintain clear vision at all distances
  • Peripheral vision – seeing objects at the sides of our vision
  • Saccades – the ability for vision to jump between focal points

When 20/20 Vision Doesn’t Measure Up

When a child scores 20/20 on a simple vision test, problems with visual skills often go unnoticed because basic screenings rarely assess beyond eyesight. It’s no wonder that 1 out of 4 schoolchildren has an undiagnosed vision problem! That’s a lot of children struggling unnecessarily, and well into adulthood.

Only a functional eye exam performed by an eye doctor can detect subpar visual skills.

Signs Your Child Has a Visual Problem

Schedule a functional eye exam if your child:

  • Has learning difficulties
  • Reads below grade level
  • Exhibits behavioral problems
  • Has difficulty paying attention
  • Frequently rubs their eyes or blinks frequently
  • Squints or covers one eye when reading
  • Has poor hand-eye coordination

How Do You Improve Visual Skills in Children?

If your child is diagnosed with any visual skills deficits, their eye doctor may recommend vision therapy. This form of therapy involves the use of specialized eye exercises, prisms, therapeutic lenses and even fun computer-based games that recalibrate how the brain and eyes work together. Vision therapy involves a customized program to meet the individual needs of each child. The therapy is performed in-office and at home between office sessions.

Vision therapy is ideal for kids because their brains are still developing and have greater neuroplasticity (meaning, their brains are more adaptable to change through the strengthening of neural connections).

While the vision therapy program can range from a few weeks to several months, the results last a lifetime.

If your child is struggling to keep up in school or when playing sports, don’t delay and schedule an appointment with our optometric team at Aspire Vision Care.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nancy Guenthner

Q: What is the success rate of vision therapy?

  • A: Vision therapy is a proven method to boost deficient visual skills and treat the visual system. In a multi-center National Eye Institute-funded study, 75% of patients with convergence insufficiency (problems with eye teaming), experienced normal vision or significantly improved symptoms following office-based vision therapy.

Q: Can vision therapy treat strabismus?

  • A: Yes. Vision therapy is the most effective and non-invasive treatment for strabismus— when the eyes don’t fixate or focus on the same place or visual target simultaneously. Eye exercises that train the brain and the eyes to work together can correct the eye turn and may even result in vision improvements, such as 3D vision and binocular depth perception.

References

Meet Our Vision Therapy Doctor
Can Vision Therapy Can Help You! 512-399-4626

5 Ways to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time

Girl sitting in front of tv screenMany of us are spending more time in front of screens, and kids are no exception. Kids socialize on their phones and play video games, and may have spent a large part of the covid pandemic learning online.

However, research has shown that too much screen time is unhealthy for adults and kids. For this reason, it’s important to teach children to adopt healthy screen-time habits.

How Does Screen Time Affect the Eyes?

The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health study (2019), found that excessive screen time was linked to higher obesity rates, and a tendency to eat more junk foods and exercise less.

The eyes, in particular, are adversely affected by hours spent in front of the screen. This is because screens emit blue light, which has shorter wavelengths and more energy than regular light, and the intensity of the light strains the eyes. There are also questions concerning the damage it can cause to the retina.

Screen time has also been linked to higher levels of myopia in young people, according to an Anglia Ruskin University study (2021). Extensive time spent texting or watching videos on a phone led to a 30% higher risk of myopia, or nearsightedness, in young people, and combined with excessive computer use, the risk rose to 80%.

Another worrying factor is excessive exposure to blue light on the circadian rhythm, an internal clock that indicates when we should be asleep or awake. Hours of blue light exposure prior to going to bed can throw off these patterns and interfere with sleep.

How to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time

Now the question is how should you implement these new rules? Here are 5 tips to help your child develop healthy habits while they’re still young, and help them preserve their mental and physical well-being, as well as their vision.

Set Limits

Set rules that are clear and easy to adhere to. Think about the number of hours per day you’re willing to allow your children to use the screen either for fun or for homework—factoring in a bit extra for holidays and weekends. For instance, one 1 hour per day during the week and 2-3 on the weekends. Also consider times that should be screen-free, such as during meals, before completing homework or chores, or an hour or two before bedtime.

Get Into a Routine

Once you’ve determined how much screen time should be permitted, create a routine that is manageable and easy to stick to. Setting a structure will reduce disagreements because everyone will know what’s expected of them. We recommend writing up the rules and posting them near the computer or in the family room.

For instance, assign each child an hour of screen time a day and ask them to sign up for specific slots. Leave the dinner hour vacant so no one is using screens at the time.

Set An Example

Setting rules specifying when screen time is allowed and for how long is fairly simple, but following them is a whole other thing! Modeling behavior can positively influence your kids, as they are more likely to abide by the rules if they see you setting limits on your screen time as well. Working together to limit screen time can engender a feeling of cooperation and shared goals. Instead of texting or scrolling or watching videos, spend more time together as a family doing things everyone enjoys.

Discuss WHY Screen Time Should Be Limited

Kids should not only know what the rules are but the reasons behind them. Discuss why it’s important to reduce screen time, including health issues that can arise, and explain how too much blue light can affect their eyes. Understanding the reasons behind rules can make them easier to follow.

Encourage Physical Activity, Particularly Outdoors

Your child might forget about screen time when engaged in fun activities that get the body moving. In fact, several studies have shown that children who spend a significant amount of time playing outdoors lower their risk of developing myopia (nearsightedness). Other studies have linked “near work,” such as reading and spending too much time on digital devices, to the development and progression of myopia. Myopia is more than simply an inconvenient eye condition that requires frequent correction—it can have serious sight-threatening consequences in adulthood. Namely, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, glaucoma, and even cataracts. The faster the progression, and the younger the child, the greater the risk!

So encourage your child to play outdoors for at least 30-60 minutes each day, with siblings, friends or as part of a sports team. Perhaps you can take a walk or a bike ride with them after work, or throw a Frisbee — essentially helping them get into the habit of having fun without depending on screens.

If your child has already developed myopia and you want to limit its progression, contact us today. our optometric team at Aspire Vision Care can help reduce or slow down myopia progression so they can live their best life.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nancy Guenthner

Q: Does blue light affect myopia?

  • A: A study in the International Journal of Ophthalmology (2018) has shown a link between extended exposure to blue light and nearsightedness or myopia. That’s because blue light has a shorter wavelength and its high frequency penetrates the front of the retina, and can potentially lead to nearsightedness. That said, there’s still more research to be done on the link between the two.

Q: What is myopia management necessary?

  • A: Myopia management helps slow myopia progression using specific proven treatments methods. This also involves making lifestyle changes, such as reducing screen time and spending more time outdoors. The goal is to keep the level of myopia as low as possible in order to reduce your child’s risk of developing vision-threatening eye diseases later in life.
  • References

5 Ways to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

Dry Eye Air Travel Tips 640×350While traveling can be taxing on the entire body, the eyes are especially vulnerable — particularly when wearing a mask to protect from COVID. When traveling by plane, the dry air can cause your eyes to become red, parched and irritated. While you can’t control all variables during your travels, eye specialists have discovered a number of ways to reduce the chances of experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of “travelers’ dry eye.”

Here are five suggestions for preventing dry eye from affecting your vision.

Drink plenty of water. If your body isn’t properly hydrated, it will have a tougher time increasing tear production in a dry atmosphere. Humidity levels on planes are typically below 20%, which is lower than the Sahara Desert! Keep your eyes moist and comfortable by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your flight.

Wear your glasses. Since contact lenses remove moisture from your eye’s surface tear film, they can contribute to dry eye. Wearing your glasses can help keep your eyes moist.

Wear a sleep mask. Even when your eyelids are closed, your eyes might lose moisture, which happens frequently when you sleep. On a plane, a sleep mask can help prevent additional dryness.

Use hydrating eye drops. When you’re in a dry environment, a good hydrating eye drop can provide a brief respite.

Make sure your face mask fits snugly. When a person’s breath rises upward it can dry out their eyes. A face mask that fits securely around the bridge of the nose can prevent air from reaching the eyes.

Is dry eye making you miserable, especially when traveling? Put an end to the discomfort and struggle by contacting Aspire Vision Care. Our dedicated eye doctors will get to the bottom of your dry eye and provide effective, lasting treatment.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nancy Guenthner

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: In some cases, yes. A range of successful treatment options can help manage dry eye for long-term relief. Your eye doctor can also provide in-office treatments for more advanced forms of dry eye disease.

Q: What type of treatments are available for dry eye?

  • A: Depending on the cause of the dry eye, treatment options include:
    – Lubricants
    – Punctal plugs
    – Topical steroids
    – Warm compresses
    – Protective eyewear
    – Intense pulse light
    – Switching to medications that don’t cause dry eye symptoms

Looking for dry eye treatment? Contact Aspire Vision Care today!

Dry Eye Appointment
You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-399-4626

Should My Child Have Vision Therapy?

Should My Child Have Vision Therapy 640×350Children may fail to recognize that they’re having difficulty reading, or that their eyes are struggling to focus, so it’s up to parents and teachers to be aware of the many visual problems that are common in children of all ages.

About one in four school-aged children has a visual problem, but school vision screenings aren’t equipped to diagnose the majority of visual deficits.

This is concerning, given that visual dysfunction is strongly linked to behavioral problems and poor academic performance. Only a comprehensive eye exam can examine your child’s eyesight, determine whether they have visual deficits and assess whether they can be treated with vision therapy.

What Is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is an evidence-based treatment program developed over decades that has undergone extensive research and clinical trials to prove its effectiveness.

Vision therapy works by strengthening the communication between the visual system and the brain through a customized program of eye [exercises] prescribed by an eye doctor. Just as physical therapy trains your muscles to function normally, vision therapy applies the same principle to strengthen eye-brain communication. Even children with 20/20 vision can have visual problems, such as eye-tracking, focusing, and eye teaming.

Can Children Undergo Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is ideal for children as it can correct problems early on, while their brains are still developing. Furthermore, vision therapy doesn’t involve invasive procedures or medications, so it’s an appropriate treatment method—even for young children. It’s also engaging for children, as many of the activities and exercises use objects such as prisms, special lenses and computerized exercises.

VT Works Wonders for the Following Vision Conditions:

Vision Therapy for Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)

Strabismus, also known as crossed eye or eye turn, is a condition where the eyes are turned in different directions from each other. One eye might be looking straight while the other is turned in or out. The eye turn might be constant or intermittent.

Vision Therapy for Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia is more commonly known as lazy eye and occurs when one eye doesn’t develop the same level of visual acuity as the other eye. Lazy eye results when the brain develops a stronger connection with the clearer eye and fails to process the images sent from the weaker eye. This can eventually lead to permanent vision loss in the weaker eye. Vision therapy works by strengthening the weaker eye to “balance” vision.

Vision Therapy for Accommodative (Focusing) Disorders

Many children struggle to maintain focus for hours on end, impacting their school performance. These eye disorders affect a child’s ability to maintain focus or switch focus between various objects or distances, causing blurred vision and attention difficulties.

Vision Therapy for Eye Movement Disorders

Vision therapy can treat many eye movement disorders, such as eye-tracking problems and more complex eye movement problems characterized by involuntary eye movements, such as nystagmus. Eye movement problems can hamper reading fluency and cause double or blurred vision.

Vision therapy is commonly used to treat a form of eye movement disorder called convergence insufficiency, characterized by the inability to maintain focus on close objects or while reading. This can result in eye strain and reduced concentration, significantly affecting a child’s reading grades and even sports performance.

How Can I Tell Whether My Child Has Vision Problems?

To determine whether your child has a vision problem and can benefit from vision therapy, our Round Rock eye doctor will carry out a comprehensive eye exam, including an assessment of their functional visual skills, lazy eye and more. This test, known as a functional eye exam, goes beyond the standard “20/20” sight test and is performed by eye doctors with experience and years of training in vision therapy.

Once your optometrist determines that vision therapy is the suitable treatment, he or she will create a personalized plan of exercises and eye activities based on the patient’s condition, age and other factors. The therapy typically includes any of the following:

  • Prisms
  • Lenses
  • Filters
  • Balance boards
  • Metronomes
  • Computer-based activities

Sessions last between 45 to 60 minutes and take place once or twice a week, or for less serious conditions, every two weeks. Vision therapy typically lasts a few months.

To find out whether your child has any vision problems or to learn more about vision therapy, schedule an appointment with our optometric team at Aspire Vision Care today!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nancy Guenthner

Q: Does vision therapy mean my child will no longer need glasses or contact lenses?

  • A: No. Vision therapy performed under the guidance of an optometrist should not be confused with [unauthorized] programs that promise patients they will no longer need glasses or contacts. Vision therapy doesn’t treat refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism that eyewear is often prescribed to correct.

Q: How long will it take before my child sees results from vision therapy?

  • A: Some children experience results from vision therapy in the first week, but it typically takes about six to eight weeks to notice a dramatic change. This, of course, hinges on how consistent the child is with performing exercises during the week.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.

References

Meet Our Vision Therapy Doctor
Can Vision Therapy Can Help You! 512-399-4626

Toys and Games to Help Your Child Succeed in School

Adult and Child Playing Games

If your child is showing signs of a learning difficulty, it is important to rule out an underlying vision problem that may be hindering their ability to successfully complete the tasks required for academic achievement.

Early detection of a vision problem is crucial for preventing years of learning difficulties and feelings of frustration and reduced self-esteem. Contact Aspire Vision Care to book a comprehensive eye exam and assess whether any underperforming visual skills may be interfering with your child’s academic achievement.

Below are a few ideas of toys and games that promote children’s visual skills.

Building Toys

Building toys fuels the imagination develops spatial awareness and spatial organization skills. These skills are useful in understanding maps, geography and geometry, and solving math problems. Spatial awareness is also essential for sports and dancing.

When children build with toys, they also develop hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills and visualization skills.

Popular building toys include Legos, Lincoln Logs, Duplos, Mega Bloks, Magnatiles and Clics.

Games for Visual Processing

Children develop visual processing and reasoning by playing checkers, chess, dominoes and Rush Hour.

Memory games require players to identify pairs from memorized pictures, develop cognitive and visual skills. Puzzles and games strengthen visual skills [utilized] in geometry, math problems and reading comprehension.

Visual processing skills are essential not only in school but in life. They help us navigate using written directions, detect visual patterns, gather clues from the world around us and notice essential details.

Spatial Awareness Games

Spatial awareness is the process by which people become aware of themselves and other objects in the space around them. This is important for developing peripheral vision and a range of visual skills. Playing “ball” sports such as baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball and ping pong develops space perception and hand-eye coordination. These games require a fast reaction and an exact perception of the location of any object around you and how far or close the object is.

In addition to sports, marbles and pick-up sticks also encourage three-dimensional depth perception, which can also improve visual skills such as eye-tracking, eye muscle coordination and focusing.

A Child’s Vision Is Vital for Fun and Learning

Vision involves more than just seeing clearly. It gives children the confidence to join in games and participate in school. Often what appears to be a lack of interest in studies or behavior difficulties can be caused by underdeveloped visual skills.

School vision screenings are rudimentary and aren’t designed to assess a child’s visual skills. Even a child with 20/20 vision can have visual skills deficits.

If you suspect your child is struggling in school, bring them to Aspire Vision Care for a functional vision evaluation.

If an issue with visual functioning is detected, your eye doctor can map out a personalized therapeutic program to suit your child’s needs. Research supports vision therapy as an effective treatment for a wide range of functional vision problems. Vision therapy is like a gym that trains the brain and the eyes to work together and improve eye-brain-body coordination.

For more information or to schedule a functional vision evaluation, call Aspire Vision Care today.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Nancy Guenthner

Q: How common are vision problems in children?

  • A: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2 out of every 1,000 people under the age of 25 have a vision impairment and 5.6% of children with learning disabilities have poor visual skills.

Q: What eye conditions can vision therapy treat?

  • A: Vision therapy is a non-surgical, personalized program that corrects vision problems in children and adults. The following conditions are commonly treated using vision therapy:
    – Amblyopia or lazy eye
    – Strabismus or irregular eye alignment
    – Binocular vision problems
    – Focusing problems

Meet Our Vision Therapy Doctor
Can Vision Therapy Can Help You! 512-399-4626