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Why Children Need A Comprehensive Eye Exam

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Child and Pediatric Care, Eye Health

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What comes to mind when you think of a Comprehensive Eye Exam?

We’re guessing your list probably includes vinyl recovery beds, jars full of wooden tongue depressors, and the big E eye chart. For over a century and a half, that big E chart (officially called the Snellen chart) has been an excellent diagnostic tool for identifying nearsightedness…but not much else. There are many other ways a child’s vision might not be working properly, which is why it’s so important for children to get a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist!

The Link Between Vision and Learning

Being able to see clearly and perform visual tasks well is hugely important to a child’s education, social development, and even athletic performance. Up to 80% of learning is visual, with all those whiteboards and textbooks and writing assignments to look at, among many other things.

The Less Obvious Vision Problems

What does the Snellen eye chart miss? Basically any vision problem that isn’t nearsightedness. A comprehensive eye exam, on the other hand, will also test for farsightedness, astigmatism, color blindness, visual perception, hand-eye coordination, and important binocular vision skills like focusing, tracking, and teaming. Any of these problems can negatively impact learning if they go untreated.

When a Vision Problem Remains Undiagnosed

Unlike adults, children don’t have the vocabulary or understanding to recognize what “good eyesight” is supposed to be like. They only have their own experience to go off of, so if it hurts to focus on close-up work for long, they probably won’t know why. Children might believe they’re not smart enough for school. In fact, children display a lot of the symptoms common in learning disorders, and without a comprehensive eye exam, there’s a good chance they’ll be misdiagnosed with one.

Recognize the Symptoms of Eye Problems

Some eye problems are easy to spot, such as an eye that points the wrong direction. However,Other symptoms are more subtle.

These include: 

  • Reading comprehension problems
  • Difficulty completing schoolwork
  • Short attention span (particularly for close-up tasks)
  • Frequent headaches
  • Covering one eye
  • Frequent blinking and eye rubbing
  • Fidgeting

Give Your Child a Good Start with an Comprehensive Eye Exam

Every child should have a comprehensive eye exam early in their schooling so that any eye problems can be caught and treated quickly. With the new school year starting, this is a great time to schedule an eye exam for your child. We can either rule out or identify any vision problems, even the less obvious ones, and determine the best steps to take next!

We look forward to seeing you and helping you see well!

Dry Eyes: Causes and Treatment

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Uncategorized

Dry Eye levin eye care center

Tears play a vital role in the health and function of our eyes. That’s what makes dry eye such a serious problem.

Tears serve as our eyes’ first line of defense against irritants like dust and germs, washing them away with every blink. They also enable our eyes to turn and swivel comfortably. When the tears run dry, our eyes are left itchy, irritated, red, and sometimes swollen. Millions of adults in the US alone suffer from dry eye. So why does this happen and what can we do about it?

Causes Of Dry Eye

The tear film in our eyes has a specific composition, consisting of an outer oily layer, a watery layer, and a mucous layer. There are several ways it can be disrupted, each resulting in dry eye. The overall tear production can decrease, tear evaporation can increase due to a disruption of the oily layer, or the composition can become imbalanced. These problems can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Medications like antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, birth control pills, and others
  • Advancing age
  • Autoimmunie disorders
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy and after menopause
  • Dry, windy, or smoky environments
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Long periods spent staring at a screen, which can reduce blinking frequency

Relief For Dry Eyes

Whatever the cause is behind dry eye, it’s important to treat it so that it doesn’t have a chance to get worse. Dry eyes are more vulnerable to getting scratched and infected, and without enough tears, vision can become blurred. If your dry eye is the result of too much screentime, try to take frequent breaks and remember to blink normally. For other causes, artificial tears (eye drops) are a great solution.

You can also incorporate more foods rich in Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, such as liver, carrots, broccoli, fish, and walnuts. These are important nutrients for eye health and tear production. You might also want to switch from contact lenses to glasses.

Make an appointment today and come See us!

Your best chance of getting your tears flowing again is to come see us so that we can determine the cause of your dry eye and find the treatment that will give you the best results. We can also make sure that the dryness hasn’t led to additional complications.

We love having you as our patient!

What Causes People To Have Two Different Colored Eyes Aka Heterochromia?

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

two different colored eyes Heterochromia levin eye care

Eye color is one of the first traits we notice when we meet someone new.

If you’ve ever met someone with two different colored eyes, then you’ve seen what heterochromia looks like. Only three out of every five hundred people have it, though, so it’s not that common (but you might have seen an odd-eyed cat or dog). Heterochromia happens in a few different ways and has a few different causes.

Genetic Versus Traumatic Heterochromia

In most cases, heterochromia is the simple result of unusual genetics, a harmless mutation changing the way the pigment develops in one or part of one iris. There are a few famous examples in movies and TV, such as Dominic Sherwood and Anthony Head, who both have blue eyes with a brown patch in one, and Josh Henderson and Alice Eve, who each have one blue eye and one green.

Even people who aren’t born with heterochromia can still develop it as the side effect of injury or disease. Surgery or trauma can cause a change in the appearance of one eye. David Bowie was a famous example of this due to his one permanently dilated pupil. Diseases like diabetes, eye tumors, or glaucoma can also affect the appearance of one eye differently than the other. This is the case for Mila Kunis, who suffered eye inflammation in one iris for years.

The Types of Heterochromia

Heterochromia comes in a few varieties, as we’ve already hinted at with our celebrity examples. It can be complete heterochromia, segmental, or central. Complete heterochromia (or heterochromia iridum) is where each iris is a different color. Segmental heterochromia (heterochromia iridis) is where a patch of a different color appears in one iris.

The most common form of heterochromia, central heterochromia, is where the two irises match each other but have rings of a different color around the pupils — such as when someone has green eyes but a thin ring of hazel around the middle. The results aren’t quite as instantly striking as mismatched eyes, but they still look pretty cool.

Mismatched Eyes in Culture

Different cultures have interpreted heterochromia in different ways throughout the ages. Eastern European pagans believed that being born with different colored eyes meant they had witch eyes. Some Native American cultures, meanwhile, believed it meant the person had “ghost eyes” with the ability to see into heaven and earth.

Whatever Their Color(s), Let Us Take a Look at Your Eyes!

If you weren’t born with heterochromia but have noticed a change in the color of one or both of your eyes, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment so that we can take a look and find out the cause. If it’s an untreated side-effect from an injury or a symptom of a health condition, we can help!

Our patients have beautiful, unique eyes!

Three Common Vision Problems

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Child and Pediatric Care, Eye Health

common vision problems Levin Eye Care Center

Most people who start needing glasses or contacts while they’re young have at least one of three common vision problems : myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.

These common vision problems are all refractive errors, which means they’re problems with the way the eyes focus light, rather than an eye disease. Refractive errors have to do with the physical shape of our eyes, so let’s take a closer look!

Myopia: What’s Right In Front Of You

Myopia is the technical term for nearsightedness, meaning that you can see clearly up close but distant objects are blurred. This happens when the eyeball itself is too long, or when the cornea is too curved. That additional curvature or length causes light to focus in front of the retina instead of on it, which makes the resulting images look fuzzy.

The way glasses or contacts correct myopia is by compensating for this error to extend the light’s focus onto the retina where it belongs. These lenses are concave (thinner in the middle), and always have a negative prescription.

Hyperopia: Gazing Into The Distance 

Hyperopia, better known as farsightedness, means that you can see distant objects clearly, but everything up close is blurry. This common vision problem happens for the opposite reasons that myopia does. Instead of being too long, the eyeball is too short, or else the cornea is too flat. This causes light to focus behind the retina, making near images fuzzy.

In order to correct hyperopia, corrective lenses must be convex (thicker in the middle) and have a positive prescription. The larger the number, the stronger the prescription.

Astigmatism: A Warped Perspective

The third common refractive error people experience is astigmatism, and it’s a little different from the other two. A normal cornea is uniformly curved so that there is a single focal point. A cornea with astigmatism is more football shaped, creating multiple focal points, which makes things appear blurry at any distance and bends their images.

Astigmatism is often paired with one of the other refractive errors, and it requires more complex lenses to correct than they do. Typically, the lens will be somewhat cylindrical rather than spherical.

Keep Your Prescription Updated!

All three types of refractive error can worsen over time. This is which is why most people don’t keep the same prescription forever. If it’s been a while since your last eye exam, or if you’re noticing blurriness where there used to be clarity, having sharp vision again is just one appointment away!

Thank you for always putting your trust in us!  Ask your Doctors at Levin Eye Care Center with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Smoking Can Lead to Vision Loss

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

smoking can lead to vision loss Levin eye care center

The most common health effects that come to mind when we think of smoking are lung cancer and bad teeth, but it doesn’t stop there because smoking can lead to vision loss and blindness.

Smoking is harmful to every system in the body, and it’s also harmful to our vision. A smoking habit can do more damage to our eyesight than disease can, in a few different ways. In a recent Rutgers Study researchers found that smoking can damage vision and your ability to see color.

Smoking: a Risk Factor for Every Age-Related Eye Disease

Studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and even Dry Eye Syndrome. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

AMD is the deterioration of the macula (the central part of the retina where we see the sharpest detail), causing irreversible blindness. Compared to nonsmokers, smokers have triple the risk of developing AMD, and they’re more likely to begin developing it up to ten years earlier than nonsmokers do on average.

Cataracts

Smoking doubles the risk of cataracts, the world’s leading cause of blindness. For heavy smokers, it triples the risk! Cataract symptoms begin with blurred or double vision, light sensitivity, faded colors, and reduced night vision. Fortunately, cataract surgeries are extremely common and safe, so this type of vision loss usually isn’t irreversible.

Retinopathy

Retinopathy is an eye disease closely associated with diabetes, but smoking increases a person’s chances of developing diabetes by up to 40 percent, thereby increasing the risk of retinopathy as well. Poorly controlled blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to leak blood into the eye. If the damage is severe enough, it can eventually starve the retina of oxygen and lead to blindness.

Smokers Aren’t Always the Only Ones Affected

Secondhand smoke combines the smoke from the end of the cigarette with what the smoker exhales. In addition to harming the vision of the smoker, it can put the eyesight of others at risk too, along with many other health effects. The most vulnerable are young children and infants.

Vaping: Not a Safe Alternative

Vaping is often touted as the “healthy” alternative to smoking, but many of the chemicals in e-cigarette liquid have been linked to increased risks of these same vision-threatening diseases we’ve discussed. If vaping is healthier than regular cigarettes, it isn’t by much. 

Break the Habit to Save Your Vision

Smoking can lead to vision loss but the most preventable because we can control whether or not we do it. It’s never too late to quit, either. Quitting reduces the risk of macular degeneration by six percent after just one year, and it also reduces the risk of developing cataracts! We, as your eye care specialists, care deeply about your health. If you need resources to help quit smoking, we would be happy to offer our suggestions.

Good overall health promotes good eye health!

Tips Every Parent Should Know For Healthy Vision Development In Children

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Child and Pediatric Care, Eye Health

Healthy Vision Development In Children Levin Eye Care Center

Did you know that babies have to learn how to see, just as much as they have to learn how to walk and talk?

That’s right, learning how to use their eyes and understand what they’re seeing is a process and critical to healthy vision development in children. There’s a lot we can do as parents to help them develop essential visual skills — everything from choosing the right toys for their age to knowing when it’s time to move on from playing peek-a-boo with them.

Newborn Eyesight: the First Six Months

An infant sees a world of light, shadows, and blurry shapes. They can only focus on objects 8-15 inches away — the perfect distance for looking at the face of the person holding them! Over time, their eyesight grows clearer and sharper, and there are a few things you can do to help foster healthy vision development In Children.

  • Encourage them to learn how to track movement with their eyes by moving objects in front of them
  • Give them plenty of color to look at. Their color vision will take a few weeks to begin developing, and then they won’t be able to get enough of those bright colors, which is why they love to look at mobiles so much.
  • Play peek-a-boo! This doesn’t just get them to laugh and make adorable surprised faces; it’s helping them learn to focus their eyes.

Quick Learners: 6-12 Months

By this point, your baby will begin developing hand-eye coordination, and you can help them along by giving them plenty of colorful objects to grab and play with. Crawling helps develop their coordination too, but it might take a couple of bumps on their cute noggins before they remember that their heads don’t stop at their eyes!

Around this age, you’ll probably notice that your baby isn’t so entertained by peek-a-boo anymore. This is because they’ve learned object permanence. They understand that Mommy and Daddy didn’t just blink out of existence like wizards when they went behind their hands. A good new game to play at this point is hide-and-seek, hiding a toy under a blanket and challenging them to find it.

Toddlerhood and Advanced Visual Skills

Around the time your baby learns to walk, they will be able to further improve their hand-eye coordination by throwing, bouncing, and chasing balls. Their visual skills in this area are tied to other important skills like comprehension and balance. As their vocabularies develop, they’ll be able to start putting names to objects.

By about age two, they’ll begin to discover their burgeoning artistic abilities, so make sure to provide them with drawing materials. Wooden blocks or interlocking blocks will be excellent toys for them at this age as well.

The Role of Eye Exams in Baby Eye Health

On top of providing your children with the right types of toys to encourage their developing visual skills, it’s also important to bring them in for eye exams. Unlike older children, who have the words and understanding to tell you when something’s wrong with their vision, babies and toddlers are fully dependent on adults to figure out when there’s a problem. This is why scheduling their first eye exam for around six months old is so important!

Your child’s healthy lifelong vision is one of our highest priorities!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Recognize the Signs of Retinal Detachment

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

retinal detachment levin eye care center

Our eyes are amazing, complex organs, but there are a lot of ways for things to go wrong.

One that we want to educate our patients on today is retinal detachment. This is a serious, sight-threatening condition that affects 1 in every 300 people at some point in their lives, but it can be treated with early enough action. Before that can happen, patients have to be able to recognize the signs.

How the Retina Works

The retina is the part of the eye that converts light into signals that go to the brain so that we can see. It consists of a network of specialized photoreceptor cells called rods and cones, and it’s made up of two layers. The inner layer is where all the rods and cones are, and the outer layer, called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), is a kind of filter that supports and nourishes the rods and cones and holds them in place on the back of the eye.

What Is Retinal Detachment?

Retinal detachment is pretty much what it sounds like. The layer of rods and cones peels away from the RPE. The most common cause is when a hole develops in the retina and fluid from the eye creeps between the two layers, but it can also happen as a complication of trauma, infection, or eye surgery. Retinal detachment needs to be treated immediately, because it leads to permanent vision loss in the affected eye.

Retinal Detachment Risk Factors

Some people are more likely than others to develop retinal detachment. The biggest risk factor is age, because as we grow older, the fluid in our eyes shrinks, and 10-15 percent of the time, this causes a tear in the retina. Other risk factors include:

  • Extreme near-sightedness
  • Cataract removal, especially if the lens is not replaced
  • Previous retinal detachment in one eye
  • Marfan’s syndrome
  • Injuries in contact sports and activities like paintball

Symptoms of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is usually not painful, but be on the watch for the following symptoms and get to an eye doctor quickly if you notice them — particularly if you notice more than one:

  • Sudden flashes of light, particularly when moving the eye
  • A sudden increase in the number of floaters in your vision
  • A heavy feeling in the eye
  • A shadow spreading from the peripheral vision towards the central vision
  • A sensation like a transparent curtain is coming down over the field of vision
  • Straight lines beginning to appear curved

Keep Up with Your Regular Eye Exams

Regular visits to the eye doctor aren’t just important for keeping your glasses prescription up-to-date. We can also check for early signs of retinal detachment and get it treated before it gets worse and causes permanent vision loss. In the meantime, make sure to protect your eyes with the right eyewear and help them stay strong by eating healthy foods and staying active!

We look forward to seeing you!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Is It Time For An Annual Eye Exam? Your eyes will thank you

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

Annual Eye Exam Child Levin Eye Care Center

Read why it is so important to have an annual eye exam

If you don’t need a new glasses prescription, it might not seem necessary to schedule an annual eye exam, but eyes are very complicated organs with a lot of ways for things to go wrong. That’s why it’s important to make sure they’re working the way they should on a regular basis. Annual eye exams do more than test your vision for glasses. They also help alert you to potential eye diseases like glaucoma and other health problems.

What Is A Regular Eye Exam?

Different genetics and personal habits, as well as age, will result in different risk factors related to vision. Your risk factors determine how frequently you should have an eye exam. A good age to bring a child in for their first eye exam is around six months old, then bring them back close to their third birthday, then again before first grade. These early childhood eye exams are crucial for catching vision problems that could interfere with learning.

Patients age six to sixty who don’t have risk factors typically only need an eye exam once every years. Past age sixty, patients should schedule yearly eye exams, but cases for patients of all ages will vary on an individual basis. The optometrist will help at-risk patients determine their ideal schedule.

Vision Risk Factors

How do you know whether you have “at-risk” vision? There are a few things that can increase a person’s chances of developing chronic eye diseases, such as a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration, or more general diseases like diabetes and hypertension (both of which can negatively affect vision).

Certain prescription medications also cause eye-related side effects like dry eye. This is important to monitor so that it doesn’t result in eye infections. Wearing contacts also increases the risk of eye infection. Another major risk factor is smoking, which greatly increases the risk of developing cataracts, AMD, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

Reasons Not To Wait For A Regular Eye Exam

If you stick to your schedule of regular eye exams based on your personal risk factors (or lack thereof), this will usually be enough, but sometimes a problem may crop up between appointments. You definitely shouldn’t wait until the next one comes along to come see us.

  • If your vision is getting blurrier, it probably means you’re due for a new glasses prescription. Don’t put it off!
  • Frequent headaches may be caused by eye problems like digital eye strain, and we can help!
  • A large number of floaters or bright flashes in your vision are symptoms of retinal detachment, which can cause permanent blindness if not treated immediately. Loss of peripheral vision is another symptom.
  • Sudden, strong sensitivity to light may indicate an eye infection.
  • Loss of night vision, such as increased difficulty with driving at night, could be a sign of vision loss. It might just require a stronger prescription to fix, but it may also be a symptom of an eye disease.

We Look Forward To Seeing You!

It can be easy to forget about something that typically only comes around once every two years, but we strongly urge you not to forget about your eye exams. If you aren’t sure when your last one was, go ahead and schedule the next now and start a new exam calendar. Your eyes will thank you!

Take a look at what our patients are saying about us!

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5 Reasons Why Childrens Glasses Are Awesome

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health, Promo

childrens glasses levin eye care center

Wearing glasses for the first time can be a difficult adjustment for any child.

Being able to see clearly might not always seem worth it to them compared to how strange the glasses feel on their nose and ears or what their peers think, so what can you do as a parent to help them get in the habit and really love their glasses? We’ve come up with five good approaches you can use to make childrens glasses cool.

1. Make Sure Their Glasses Fit

Ill-fitting glasses, no matter how perfectly they correct your child’s vision, are not going to be fun to wear, and they will be taking them off every chance they get. Whether they fall too easily or pinch too hard, we have tools at our practice to correct the fit of glasses. If your childrens glasses don’t fit properly, come see us so we can adjust them.

2. Set Goals For Your Childs Glasses

For a child who isn’t willing to wear their glasses full-time from the start, a gradual ramp-up might be a good idea. You can begin small by expecting them to wear their glasses for just a half-hour, then increase to an hour, then two, and ultimately they’ll be wearing them all day. You could offer small prizes for achieving these milestones to give them more motivation.

3. Find Bespectacled Role Models

A great way to combat your child’s worries that they’ll be made fun of for wearing glasses is to remind them that some pretty awesome people wear glasses too. Show them pictures of some of their favorite actors or inspirational figures wearing glasses, and point out that characters like Harry Potter, Superman, and Supergirl wear glasses (even if the latter two only wear them as their mild-mannered disguises).

4. Let Them Choose Their Glasses

Another essential for helping your child feel confident in their glasses is to let them pick out their own frames! Glasses are like a customizable facial feature, and that makes them a wonderful expression of personal style. So forget about your own ideas of color coordination and fashion, because your child has their own idea of what cool glasses look like.

A similar factor to think about is how the glasses make your child look for their age. A toddler should wear glasses made for toddlers, but older children will feel embarrassed to wear “baby glasses.” They want adults and other kids to respect them for how grown-up they seem, and their glasses are part of that.

5. Stand Firm And Enlist Help

Perhaps the most important thing to do is to remain firm in your expectations. Even with the perfect, well-fitting glasses and good role models to look up to, if you aren’t a stickler about making sure your child meets their glasses goals, it might not matter. And for the times and places when you aren’t around to check that the glasses are on, you might be able to recruit other adults, like their teachers, to help.

We Can Help Too!

Another group of adults who can help your child grow to love wearing glasses is the team at our practice! We’re the biggest fans of childrens glasses you’ll meet, and we’re happy to share our enthusiasm and success stories. We’d love to hear from you, whether these five tips did the trick or if you need a few other ideas to try.

We can’t wait to see your child looking happy and confident in their glasses!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

3 Tips to Protect Your Eyes at Work

Written by Levin Eye Care on . Posted in Eye Health

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, and we want to make sure our patients have all the information they need to protect their eyes at work!

The type of job you have will determine what kinds of risks your eyes may be in for injury or health issues, so we’re going to break them up into two main categories: jobs that mainly involve physical labor and office jobs.

Preventing Workplace Eye Injuries

Jobs such as construction or manufacturing work, mining, carpentry, auto repair, electrical work, plumbing, welding, and maintenance are all high risk jobs when it comes to eye injury. More than two thousand workers in these fields have to seek medical attention for an eye injury every day.

That may sound alarming, but the good news is that 90 percent of these injuries can be prevented or at least reduced in severity through the use of proper safety equipment. If you work in one of these fields, make sure you wear your safety glasses, goggles, face shield, welding helmet, or full-face respirator as needed.

Office Jobs And Eye Safety

If you have an office job, you likely don’t face the same risks of eye injuries, but your work conditions could still be hazardous to your eye health. The most common eye problem for office workers is computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain.

Constantly staring at your computer screen might not cause permanent damage to your eyesight, but it can make your eyes tired and irritated and negatively impact your work, with symptoms including headaches, neck pain, inattentiveness, back strain, and dry eye.

A few ways you can fight back against that eye strain include repositioning your screen, following the 20-20-20 rule, making an effort to blink more often, using artificial tears, drinking plenty of water, using an anti-glare screen or wearing computer glasses, and, finally, scheduling regular eye exams!

If you don’t know what the 20-20-20 rule is, just watch this short video

Bring Us Your Questions About Workplace Eye Safety

If you’ve been experiencing eye strain symptoms or think you might not be doing everything you can to protect your eyes from injury at work, just call us or stop by. We’d love to answer any questions you have, because we want all of our patients to be able to do their best work without having to fear for their eyes’ safety!

Make sure you’re showing your eyes some love!