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What is Convergence Insufficiency?

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So often, we see clever kids who adore camp and extracurricular activities, but just don't feel the same way about school. He or she may have a hidden vision problem that impacts learning, called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

CI is a near vision problem that impacts your capacity to see things at close distances. This means, a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even when it's something sitting right on the desk in front of them. A person with CI has a hard time, or is simply not able to coordinate his or her eyes at close distances, which makes necessary tasks, like reading, very difficult. And to prevent subsequent double vision, they make an effort to make their eyes converge, or turn back in. This additional strain can often cause a number of prohibitive side effects including headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, tiredness and decreased concentration, and the inability to comprehend during relatively brief reading periods. With bad instances of CI, the eyes will turn outwards. This is called strabismus.

You may have also noticed that your child often loses the place in a book, tends to shut one eye to better see, has trouble remembering what was read, or describes how the words they look at appear to move, jump, swim or float. And if your son or daughter is tired or overworked, it's common for their symptoms to become worse.

CI is frequently misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, or an anxiety disorder. Additionally, this condition is easily missed when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart. Your child may have 20/20 eyesight, but also have CI, and the subsequent difficulties associated with reading.

Despite all this, the fact is that CI can be expected to respond positively to treatment. Treatments generally involve vision therapy performed by an eye care professional with reinforcing practice sessions at home, or the use of prism glasses, which can minimize some symptoms. The unfortunate news is that because of persistent lack of testing for CI, many sufferers aren't getting the treatment they need early in life. So if your child is battling to read and concentrate, speak to us to discuss having that loved one tested for CI.

Women’s Vision and Eye Health

It's April, which is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month.

The many stages of a woman's life can have an impact on her vision. Eye disease in women is increasingly common, especially in older women. Actually, studies show that the majority of women going through middle age exhibit some sort of eyesight impairment, and may be in danger of developing conditions including but not limited to cataracts, dry eye, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. It's worth noting that the risk of women being diagnosed with vision loss has increased as a result of the female population's increasing lifespan.

For women, the first step to take to ensure good vision is to make a thorough eye examination part of your regular health routine. Be sure to go get a full eye exam before you turn 40, and that you adhere to the advice your eye care professional suggests. Secondly, know your family medical history, as your genetics are a key part of understanding, diagnosing and stopping eye diseases. Don't forget to examine your family's eye and health history and alert your eye doctor of any illnesses present themselves.

When it comes to nutrition, maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and make sure to include foods rich in zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, which all help prevent eyesight loss from eye disease. If possible, you should also buy vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A tablets, which are all good starting points to keeping up optimal eye health.

For smokers, make a decision to stop, because even second-hand smoke can raise the danger of eye disease and is a proven cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also be a party to the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are very harmful to your eyes. When you go outside, and during the summer AND winter, be sure to wear 100% UV protective sunglasses as well as a wide brimmed hat that will shield your eyes from harsh rays.

Hormonal changes like what might take place due to pregnancy or menopause, can also influence your sight. Often, these changes can even make the use of contact lenses ineffective or slightly painful. During pregnancy, you might want to decrease contact lens wearing time and alter your eyeglass prescription as needed. It's recommended to make an appointment with your eye doctor at some point during your pregnancy to address any eyesight or vision changes you may be experiencing.

There are also several measures to take to shield your eyes from risks at home, such as domestic cleaners. Be sure that domestic chemicals, including cleaning agents, paints and fertilizers are kept safely and are out of reach of small children. Scrub your hands well after touching all chemicals and use eye protection if using toxic chemicals. Use proper safety goggles when repairing things at home, especially when working with wood, metal or power tools.

As a woman, it is important to be educated about the risks and options when it comes to caring for your eyes. And of course, it can't hurt to educate the women you know, such as daughters and friends, about how to look after their eye and vision health.

Our Amazing Ability to See in the Dark

Something wakes you up in the middle of the night, or you’re trying to find a light switch or door handle or phone in the dark. We’ve all found ourselves in the dark before. It takes a couple of minutes for your vision to return. This remarkable process is ”dark adaptation”.

Night vision involves a combination of biochemical, physical and neural mechanisms – for granted. So how does this work? The retina is a layer of cells at the back of the eye. The section of the retina behind the pupil that is responsible for the point of focus is called the fovea. The retina is made up of rod-shaped and cone-shaped cells. The rod cells are able to function even in low light conditions. Those cells are absent from the fovea. You may have learned that the details and colors we see are sensed by the cones, and rod cells help us visualize black and white, and are light sensitive and detect movement.

So, if you want to see something in the dark, like a small star in a dark sky, it’s better to look at something off to the side of it. That way, you’re avoiding the use of the fovea, which only has cells that are less sensitive to low light.

The pupils also dilate in low light. It takes less than a minute for the pupil to fully enlarge; however, dark adaptation keeps enhacing your vision for the next half hour and, as everyone has experienced, during this time, your ability to see despite the darkness will increase remarkably.

Here’s an example of dark adaptation: when you first enter a dark cinema from a bright lobby and have a hard time locating a seat. But after a couple of minutes, you adapt to the situation and before you know it, you can see. This same thing occurs when you’re looking at stars at night. At the beginning, you can’t see very many. As you keep staring, your eyes will dark adapt and millions of stars will gradually appear. Despite the fact that you need a few noticeable moments to get used to the darker conditions, you will immediately be able to re-adapt upon returning to bright light, but if you return to the darker setting, your eyes will need time to adjust again.

This is actually why many people have difficulty driving at night. When you look at the headlights of a car heading toward you, you are momentarily blinded, until that car passes and you once again adjust to the night light. To prevent this, try not to look directly at the car’s lights, and instead, use peripheral vision in those situations.

If you’re beginning to find it challenging to see at night or in the dark, book an appointment with your eye doctor who will make sure your prescription is up to date, and eliminate other and perhaps more severe causes for poor night vision, like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Astigmatism: All You Should Know About This Common Condition

The cornea that surrounds your iris and pupil is, under perfect circumstances, round. When light enters the eye, the cornea's role is to help project that light, directing it toward your retina, right in the back of your eye. But what does it mean when the cornea is not exactly spherical? The eye is not able to focus the light correctly on one focal point on your retina's surface, and will blur your vision. Such a condition is called astigmatism.

Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition usually comes with other vision issues that require vision correction. Astigmatism frequently occurs early in life and can cause eye strain, painful headaches and squinting when left untreated. In children, it may cause challenges in school, particularly with reading or other visual tasks. People working with fine details or at a computer for extended lengths of time might find that it can be a problem.

Diagnosis of astigmatism starts with a routine eye exam with an eye care professional. Once detected, an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test is performed to check the amount of astigmatism. Astigmatism is easily fixed by contact lenses or glasses, or refractive surgery, which changes how that light hits the eye, letting the retina receive the light correctly.

Toric lenses are commonly prescribed for astigmatism because they control the way the light bends when it enters the eye. Regular contact lenses generally shift when you blink. But with astigmatism, the slightest movement can completely blur your vision. After you blink, toric lenses return to the same place on your eye to avoid this problem. You can find toric contact lenses as soft or rigid varieties, to be chosen depending on what is more comfortable for you.

In some cases, astigmatism may also be rectified with laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative that involves the use of hard contact lenses to slowly reshape the cornea. You should explore options with your eye care professional in order to decide what the best choice might be.

When demonstrating the effects of astigmatism to children, show them the backside of two teaspoons – one circular and one oval. In the circular one, an mirror image appears normal. In the oval teaspoon, their face will be skewed. This is what astigmatism means for your sight; you end up seeing the world stretched out a little.

A person's astigmatism changes gradually, so be sure that you're regularly visiting your eye care professional for a proper test. Also, make sure your 'back-to-school' list includes taking your kids to an eye care professional. The majority of your child's schooling (and playing) is predominantly visual. You'll allow your child make the best of his or her year with a thorough eye exam, which will help pick up any visual abnormalities before they begin to affect education, sports, or other activities.

All About Conjunctivitis

Pink eye, otherwise known as conjunctivitis, is one of the most frequently encountered eye diseases, particularly when it comes to children. Pink eye can be caused by a virus, bacteria or allergies to chlorine in pools, pollen, and ingredients found in cosmetics, or other substances, which touch the eyes. Some kinds of pink eye might be fairly contagious and quickly go around in schools and at the home.

This type of infection ensues when the thin clear layer of tissue protecting the white part of the eye, or conjunctiva, becomes inflamed. A sign that you have conjunctivitis is if you notice redness, itching, discharge, or swollen eyelids and eyes that are crusty early in the day. Symptoms of pink eye may occur in one or both eyes. The three main types of pink eye are: bacterial, allergic and viral conjunctivitis.

The viral manifestation is often caused by a similar virus to that which produces the recognizable watery and red eyes, runny nose and sore throat of the common cold. Symptoms of the viral form of conjunctivitis can last from seven to fourteen days and then will clear up on their own. To ease uncomfortable symptoms, compresses applied to the eyes will give you some relief. The viral form of pink eye is transmittable until it's gone, so in the meantime wipe away any discharge and avoid using communal towels or pillowcases. If your child has viral pink eye, he or she will have to be kept home from school for three days to a week until it clears up.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a common bacterial infection that gets into the eye typically from an external source such as a finger, makeup or lotion. This form of infection is most often treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. One should notice the symptoms disappearing within just a few days of antibiotic drops, but be sure to finish the entire course of antibiotics to stop pink eye from coming back.

Pink eye caused by allergies is not transmittable. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as pollen, pet dander or smoke that sets off an allergic reaction in their eyes. First of all, when treating allergic pink eye, you have to eliminate the allergen. Use cool compresses and artificial tears to alleviate discomfort in mild cases. When the infection is more severe, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. In cases of persistent allergic infections, topical steroid eye drops may be tried.

With any form conjunctivitis, making sure to practice sanitary habits is the best way to keep it from spreading. Clean your hands thoroughly and frequently and don't touch your eyes with your hands.

Even though pink eye is usually a highly treatable condition, there is sometimes a chance it could deteriorate into a more severe problem. If you think you have pink eye, be sure to schedule an appointment with your optometrist so he or she can see how to best to treat it.

Don’t Let Winter Dry Eyes Get You Down

Tears are necessary to keep your eyes healthy. Tears flush out any small particles that may be in the eye and maintain moisture. Certain enzymes found in tears protect the eyes from microorganisms that can be present in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes do not produce sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as persistent dryness, burning, scratchiness or the feeling of something in your eye. Ironically, dry eyes often cause watery eyes if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to compensate for dryness.

Several causes can contribute to dry eye syndrome. The first factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, and often women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also result from certain medications. Dry or dusty air, and dry heat or air circulation can also be factors. In addition, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, extended sitting in front of a computer screen which can limit blinking, or contact lens wear can result in dry eyes.

The first treatment option is usually artificial tears which work by adding moisture. It’s a good idea to speak with your eye doctor to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If non-prescription drops aren’t helpful you may need prescription drops that actually enhance tear production.

If eye drops don’t relieve your discomfort, your optometrist might want to try Lacrisert, which is inserted into the eyelid and continually lets out lubricants during the day. You might also want to try lacrimal plugs which help the eye maintain moisture by inhibiting tear flow. Some optometrists might recommend ways for you to modify your environment or your diet to lessen discomfort.

For the majority of individuals, dry eye syndrome does not damage your vision permanently but can be an annoyance. Nevertheless, severe dry eyes could make you more susceptible to infection so it is a good idea to speak to your optometrist.

It’s not necessary to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes – visit your optometrist right away!

Prevent Children’s Eye Injuries with Protective Glasses

Did you know that each year sports-related eye injuries account for 40,000 visits to the hospital? This is an trauma every 780 seconds! Eye Care professionals report that the vast majority of the injuries would have been simply prevented by using proper eye protection. More often than not eye damaging accidents occur when playing recreational activities or during household chores. Children are particularly at risk for eye accidents, which often occur during active play.

Being strict about ensuring your kids use protective glasses when participating in contact sports will guard them from potential eye dangers. Safety glasses can be found in a size-able variety of styles and colors so encourage your child to choose a pair they love to enhance the chances they will use them.

To ensure you get a great fit and the optimal measure of protection, speak to an experienced eye care professional for recommendations. Our staff members are happy to assist you in finding the right pair of goggles for your child, based on the way they will be used. If your child wears glasses, safety glasses can be purchased with prescription lenses from your eye care provider. Trivex or polylcarbonate lenses are optimal for a child that plays contact sports . They are not only more shatter-resistant, but also lighter than plastic lenses, which tends to be less bothersome during active play.

Be informed when investing in safety eyewear. It's a simple step to safeguard your child's sight!

A Guide to Summer Eye Care

Now that the summertime is officially here it’s time to ensure you protect your eyes from summertime hazards.

Here are some pointers on remaining safe in the sun:

  1. Buy sunglasses that block 100% of UV – and wear them! If your shades don’t protect against 100% of UV rays, they may be resulting in more harm than good.  Not to fear, 100% UV protection doesn’t mean a higher price – many reasonably priced brands provide full UV defense.

  2. Choose sunglasses that provide more surface area. In the realm of sun protection, think big. It’s advised to find shades with wide lenses and wraparound frames.

  3. Wear a large sun hat. While sunglasses are a good first defense, a large hat will provide the extra protection you need to shade your eyes from UV.

  4. Sport sunglasses on cloudy days. Even when the sun doesn’t seem to be shining, UV can still reach your eyes and do harm. Don’t let a cloudy day deceive you.

  5. Keep an emergency pair on hand. It’s always good to be prepared for the occasional break or loss. Better to be safe than sorry.

  6. Stay hydrated. It’s important to keep your eyes hydrated. Consume a minimum of 8 cups of water each day to prevent dehydrated eyes and skin.

  7. Avoid the afternoon sun. Stay indoors as much as possible particularly in the late morning and afternoon when the sun is at its most powerful and the highest levels of UV are in the air.

  8. Consider polarized lenses. Since they reduce glare from reflective surfaces, polarized lenses are great for water-based activities and driving.

  9. Wear swimming goggles to protect your eyes from bacteria in the water or swimming pool chemicals. Make sure the goggles provide UV defense UV resistant as well, since the sun’s rays reflect off water and can double exposure to UV.

  10. Be careful with sunscreen. If applied too close to the eyes there is a chance it will enter the eye and cause discomfort.

How High-Tech toys aid low vision!

Tech toys aid low vision:

Reading on a Kindle or an I-Pad can help people with low vision. These devises allow the user to magnify the text on the screen while improving contrast so the print is clear and easy to see.

There is an app available for many smart phones that will tell you when you are approaching key landmarks or traffic lights. So, if you worry about reading street signs while walking or want to take the worry out of public transportation, check with your local cell phone service provider.

Text-enlarging computer software, such as ZoomText makes text on your monitor larger than those enlarged by built-in software systems. ZoomText with speech and Jaws read onscreen text aloud.


Why We All Should Schedule a Routine Eye Exam

When we have eyes that are in good condition, it's common to forget about the importance of taking preemptive steps namely, an optical examination. Nevertheless, early diagnosis of any eye or vision problems is critical to maintaining healthy vision and eyes. This can easily be done with an annual eye test.

Many optical diseases are a-symptomatic. Therefore, individuals are often unaware that problems exist. You can book a complete optical exam at our Bronx, NY office, with our highly-trained optometry staff. Our Bronx vision center employs the latest technology ensuring a complete eye exam.

Unfortunately, more than three million Americans have glaucoma, the main cause of blindness but only half of them realize this. Frequently called ''the sneak thief of sight'', glaucoma can cause significant damage absent of signs. Almost two-thirds of adults in America fail to use corrective lenses and don't schedule comprehensive eye exams, thus leaving their eyes at greater risk.

The unfortunate fact is that the majority of Americans are not informed that vision threatening conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration often have no early symptoms and without a comprehensive exam are often diagnoses only after it's too late.

Regular eye and vision exams to screen for eye and vision problems should be on your check list. Make sure to schedule regular eye exams with your local optometrist in order to maintain healthy eyes for many long years.