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Amblyopia: Causes & Treatments

GirlCoveringEye

Amblyopia, often called “lazy eye,” is a treatable disorder of vision development that begins during infancy and early childhood. With amblyopia, an otherwise healthy eye is unable to achieve normal visual acuity (20/20) even with glasses or contact lenses. In addition to poor visual acuity, people with amblyopia are more likely to have difficulties with eye-hand coordination, clumsiness, reading, depth perception and understanding what is seen.

BabySideEyeIn most cases, only one eye is affected but it may occur in both eyes. According to the National Institute of Health, amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment among children in the United States and is estimated to affect 3.5% of the US Population, despite being preventable with early diagnosis.

Clues that your child may have amblyopia include crying or fussing when an eye is covered or if the child constantly turns their head to the right or left.

WHAT CAUSES AMBLYOPIA?

There are three types of amblyopia, based on the underlying cause:

  • Strabismic amblyopia: This is the most common cause of amblyopia. Strabismus is also known as an eye turn. To avoid double vision caused by poorly aligned eyes, the brain ignores the visual input from the misaligned eye and vision fails to develop properly. If you notice your baby or young child has crossed eyes or some other apparent eye misalignment, schedule a comprehensive eye exam immediately.
  • Refractive amblyopia: Amblyopia may be caused by unequal refractive errors in the two eyes, despite perfect eye alignment. For example, one eye may have a significant prescription while the other does not. The brain relies on the eye that has better vision and “tunes out” the blurred vision from the other eye. It can also occur in both eyes when they each have a high uncorrected prescription.
  • Deprivation amblyopia: This is caused by something that obstructs light from entering a baby’s eye, such as a congenital cataract or droopy eyelid (ptosis). Prompt treatment of the obstruction is necessary to allow normal visual development to occur.

AmblyopiaTextYoung children with amblyopia rarely have any symptoms. Comprehensive eye examinations are the best way to identify patients with amblyopia or those who are at risk for developing amblyopia. According to the American Optometric Association, children should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age.

AMBLYOPIA TREATMENT

In some cases of refractive amblyopia, normal vision may be achieved simply by wearing prescribed glasses or contact lenses. Usually additional treatment is required to stimulate the brain to use the amblyopic eye and enable proper visual development.

Vision therapy is a structured program of activities prescribed to improve visual abilities and acuity. It trains the eyes and brain to work together more effectively and reinforces the connection to the amblyopic eye. During certain activities, the better seeing eye will need to be blurred in order to encourage the brain to pay more attention to the amblyopic eye. This may be done with special fogging patches.

The latest research demonstrates that binocular vision therapy is the most effective long-term solution for amblyopia. Full time patching is rarely the best option for treatment of mild to moderate amblyopia. If patching is indicated, most cases of amblyopia will show improvement with just 2 hours of fogged patching per day in combination with specific visually stimulating activities. For additional resources, please visit www.amblyopiaproject.com.

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CHILDREN WILL NOT “OUTGROW” AMBLYOPIA

Amblyopia will not go away if left untreated and can lead to permanent visual problems. An injury or disease in the better seeing eye in the future will leave the person depending on the poor vision in their amblyopic eye, so it is best to treat amblyopia as early as possible.

Modern amblyopia treatments may improve vision in older children and adults, but early detection and treatment is the best chance for normal visual development and optimal visual outcomes.

In addition, best corrected visual acuity of worse than 20/40 in the better eye may require a person to have a restricted driver’s license in Colorado. This could mean a number of restrictions, including no driving at night or during rush hour, no freeway driving, a restricted geographical area the person must stay within and requiring the addition of extra mirrors to the vehicle.

Protect your vision for life! Call Highline Vision Center to schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.

Vision Therapy Triumph: Elliot

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Elliot, like many students, thought that his classroom struggles could be overcome by hard work alone. As a senior in high school he received a Vision and Learning Screening as recommended by Dr. Doyle, his Highline optometrist. He was then able to understand just how adversely his visual skills affected his learning. The screening revealed his reading comprehension was just 30 percent.

Reading is one of the most challenging aspects of education for school-aged children. It’s also one of the most important considering some amount of reading is required in nearly all subjects. Add a vision deficiency and reading can become an extremely anxiety-inducing part of the school equation.

For Elliot, reading was a struggle for most of his school life. When he read, Elliot would find himself going back over the same lines of text multiple times.

“I would read the first three words or so and then go back,” he recalls. “I was having to read words over and over in order for them to make sense.”

Elliot

In 2012, when Elliot was in the 8th grade, his Highline eye doctor prescribed Vision Therapy but, at the time, he and his parents were not convinced his problems learning were related to his vision. Most tasks would take him considerably longer than they should. He was also performing poorly on tests.

“It was frustrating because I would study for tests and my mom would quiz me and I would do great,” he says. “I understood the material but when it came time to take the test, the questions I was reading wouldn’t make sense.”

It wasn’t until the beginning of his senior year, in 2018, that Elliot and his mom decided it was time to do something about his vision to address the problems he was having with reading and comprehension. At that time he had developed headaches when reading.

TAKING ACTION

Elliot’s optometrist, Dr. Nick Doyle, prescribed glasses and a course of Vision Therapy. Vision Therapy works to enhance the eye/brain connection. When visual efficiency and comfort are optimal, students can comprehend information faster and work on tasks longer and more comfortably.

In Elliot’s case, a Vision and Learning Screening from Highline Center for Vision Performance revealed that his eyes were not converging properly. Because of poor convergence, also referred to as eye teaming or binocular vision, his reading comprehension was adversely impacted. Convergence is just one of the 20 vision skills that can impact overall vision performance.

When Elliot first began Vision Therapy, his reading speed was 216 words per minute. But after just eight weeks of his prescribed therapy, that jumped to 400 words per minute.

Upon completion of 14 weeks of vision therapy, Elliot had made major improvements in his reading speed and comprehension and his headaches resolved.

ElliotNancy

Nancy Stevens worked with Elliot as his vision therapist.

Eliot’s reading comprehension jumped to upwards of 80 percent within his first eight weeks of therapy. In addition to weekly sessions, where he would work with a Highline Center for Vision Performance therapist, Elliot would also have at-home assignments to reinforce the therapeutic benefits and make skills automatic.

Nancy Stevens, Elliot’s vision therapist says, “I was so impressed by how committed Elliot was to his home Vision Therapy practice. At only eight weeks, his visagraph tests revealed his reading speed had jumped from severely reduced to 12th grade level! These dramatic changes can only come when the patient, parent and vision therapist work as a team.”

BUILDING CONFIDENCE

Ultimately, Elliot says Vision Therapy has had a major positive impact on his level of confidence, thanks to a higher level of classroom success and improved grades in all of his courses. Whereas homework and test taking were once a source of anxiety, he says he’s now back to enjoying learning and setting his sights on college.

“Before I felt stressed out about how fast I finished the test, but now it doesn’t take me more than one try to read the questions,” he says. “I feel more calm during tests because I can read a question and understand and comprehend it.”

What’s more is that Elliot says Vision Therapy also helped him excel at the sports he loves. He’s been involved in both football and basketball since he was in grade school.

“Overall, I feel more confident in basketball and football — my eye/hand coordination has definitely improved,” he says. “This is real, and it helped change my life.”

“We are so proud of Elliot and his success,” Nancy says. “He has already reaped the rewards of his hard work by recently being accepted to CSU. He even wrote a college essay about how Vision Therapy had helped him. His story brings me so much joy and I know his future is brighter now that he can learn more easily!”

If your child is struggling in academics or sports contact Highline Center for Vision Performance today for a complimentary Vision and Learning Screening.

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.

What is Vision Therapy

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Vision is much more than just seeing 20/20. If there is a vision disorder unrelated to clarity, it may make working, learning, sports and hobbies significantly more difficult. Struggling students and hardworking adults may fall behind if their visual demands are overwhelming.

Vision therapy is appropriate for treatment of tracking and reading fluency problems, poor focus and/ or attention, visual processing issues, convergence insufficiency, traumatic brain injury, strabismus, amblyopia, and many more vision conditions that can be present at any age.

Vision therapy is also very valuable training for enhancement of sports performance. A customized visual training program will improve visual abilities and train the eyes and brain to work together more effectively.

SYMPTOMS OF VISUAL SYSTEM STRESS

GirlDeniseThere are many signs of a visual system not working optimally. Inefficient visual skills or those that have not properly developed may result in:

  • Headaches: Pain or discomfort, often concentrated around the eyes or across the forehead, but also may occur in the back of the head.
  • Discomfort or fatigue: Tension, stress or weariness (especially concentrated around the eyes) after visually demanding work.
  • Double vision: Seeing two images when there should only be one.
  • Suppression: The brain will ignore or “turn off” the signal from one eye in order to avoid confusing information.
  • Poor coordination: Deficient eye-hand coordination often reveals itself through poor handwriting, general clumsiness, or poor sports performance.
  • Performance below expectations: In school, work, hobbies or sports.

VISUAL SKILLS

VisagraphGirlCleanBoardSkills we develop through vision therapy include:

  • Visual acuity: The ability of an eye to see clearly, both at distance and near. Vision is much more than being able to see 20/20.
  • Binocularity: The ability of both eyes to work seamlessly together and send identical visual information to the brain simultaneously.
  • Tracking: The ability to efficiently and accurately track along a line of print. This is a crucial skill for reading fluency.
  • Focus/near visual acuity: The ability to keep print clear for near work. This skill includes the ability to change focus between distance and near quickly, efficiently and without experiencing blur.
  • Attention: The ability to mentally maintain focus on a task with ease for an extended period of time.
  • Depth perception: 3D vision, or the ability to judge the distance between objects in three dimensional space.
  • Visual information processing: This includes a number of skills, all of which influence whether a person can make sense of what they’ve seen. Visual memory is one important example of these skills. It is essential for accurate spelling and remembering what one has read.
  • Visualization: Being able to create a mental image.

A few examples include forming a picture in your mind of what you are reading or imagining yourself performing well in an upcoming race. This skill is crucial for enjoyment of reading, efficient learning and sports performance.

CUSTOMIZED THERAPY

Our behavioral optometrists focus on each person as a whole and the various stressors that may affect their visual system. Through a structured program of vision therapy, we work with patients to develop the crucial visual skills necessary to reach academic, athletic and professional goals.

Vision therapy programs typically consist of 45 minutes of in-office therapy per week with assignment of additional home practice activities. Specific visual activities will be prescribed for the patient depending on the skills needing improvement. This allows for specialized care to meet each patient’s needs and constant modification to support achievement of desired goals.

If you have any questions regarding vision therapy, please feel free to reach out to us. We are dedicated to developing visual skills to allow everyone to reach their potential. Highline Center for Vision Performance stands ready to offer additional information and solutions.

Brain Injury: Vision & Rehabilitation

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Addressing damaged visual processing after an acquired brain injury can enhance your rehabilitation.

ABI AND HIDDEN VISUAL PROBLEMS

Vision is your body’s most important source of sensory information. If you’ve experienced a brain injury, the vital connection between your brain and your vision may be interrupted or damaged. While that alone would be cause for treatment, consider the fact that all of your other rehabilitation activities rely on accurate vision for success.

WHAT IS NEURO-OPTOMETRIC REHABILITATION?

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation is based upon the core principle that vision, when functioning well enhances and stabilizes. When it is not, it interferes. After an injury, vision can be reintegrated and relearned leading to rehabilitation. Highline’s Optometrists and Vision Therapists have extensive experience treating the visual consequences of brain injury.

HIDDEN VISUAL PROBLEMS

An acquired brain Injury may disrupt eye teaming skills, tracking, and visual focus. Often, visual problems resulting from a brain injury are overlooked during initial treatment of the injury.

Symptoms indicating a vision problem are:

  • Intolerance of visually crowded spaces
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Reading difficulties: words appear to move
  • Reduced Comprehension
  • Attention or concentration difficulty
  • Memory difficulty
  • Double vision
  • Aching eyes / eye strain
  • Headaches with visual tasks
  • Loss of visual field
  • Navigation difficulty
  • Dizziness
  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Changes in posture

Think About It: Everything you do in rehabilitation after an acquired brain injury requires visual function. If your visual processing is damaged, your rehabilitation process can be more difficult because your brain is working with distorted information.

BrainInjuryRehabilitation1ROADBLOCK TO REHABILITATION

When visual problems go undetected and untreated after a brain injury, patients and their families often experience terrible frustration because other rehabilitation methods are proving less effective than hoped. If the visual system is inefficient, every task can seem difficult.

Visual skills affected by acquired brain injury include:

  • Tracking – the ability of the eyes to move smoothly across a printed page or while following a moving object
  • Fixation – the ability to maintain steady gaze on an object
  • Focus change – looking quickly far to near and back without blur
  • Depth perception – judging relative distances of objects
  • Peripheral vision – monitoring and interpreting what is happening in the surrounding field of vision
  • Binocularity – using both eyes together as a team
  • Maintaining attention – keeping focused on a particular activity while interference, such as noise, is present
  • Visualization – accurately picturing images in the “mind’s eye”
  • Near vision acuity – clearly seeing, inspecting, and identifying objects when viewed within arm’s length
  • Distance acuity – clearly seeing, inspecting, and identifying objects when viewed at a distance
  • Visual perception – understanding what is seen

WHAT IS ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY?

Acquired brain injury is any insult to the brain. It can result from trauma, an illness, an operation, or a vascular accident. A brain injury may result in impairment of cognitive abilities, sensory processing and/or physical function. Types of acquired brain injury include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Open or closed head injury
  • Concussion
  • Whiplash
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Brain tumor
  • Anoxia (lack of oxygen)
  • Chemical trauma (chemotherapy, radiation, alcohol or drug abuse)
  • Infection (encephalitis or meningitis)

OPTOMETRY AND REHABILITATION

Your rehabilitation process should include an evaluation of your visual system and treatment of any detected visual problems. Vision problems related to brain injuries can be radically reduced or successfully eliminated. This can help the rest of your rehabilitation go more smoothly to allow you to move forward with your life.

Behavioral optometrists and therapists specifically trained in rehabilitation can help you to improve the flow and processing of information between your eyes and your brain. Improvement is gained through therapy, lenses, prisms, and occlusion (patching or partial patching).


Call Highline Vision Center today to schedule your visual evaluation: 303-325-2014.

Twice Exceptional: Gifted & Talented Kids Who Struggle

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Children whose academic performance is significantly advanced compared to others their age are categorized as gifted. Yet, educators who work with children and teens identified as Gifted and Talented understand that though these students may be exceptional in some academic work, they may struggle to learn in other areas of study. It can be extremely hard to identify these kids as their giftedness can allow them to compensate in the areas in which they struggle. They are also most likely to work extra hard to compensate for a learning dysfunction they are intuitively aware of but struggle to express to parents or teachers. These kids are often referred to as Twice Exceptional.

MEET MITCH

Mitch was identified as Gifted and Talented as early as First Grade. This isn’t surprising considering he was reading by the age of two. But by middle school, he began acting out at school and at home. His pediatrician diagnosed him with ADD/ADHD and prescribed medication.

Mitch’s mom, Denise, says, “As parents, we resisted medicating Mitch. But by 6th grade, we felt out of options. We just needed something to help us get through social situations, school, and the acting out.”

However, Denise, still didn’t feel right about the ADD diagnosis. When he advanced to his Freshman year, his struggles seemed to grow.

HITTING THE WALL

“He could verbally answer homework questions with me just fine,” Denise says, “but he would break into tears when I asked him to write it down. It seemed like a temper tantrum.”

She says his eye doctor gave Mitch proper prescription lenses but never picked up on any vision issues. School testing continued to give no answers.

“I always felt like something just wasn’t right but couldn’t put my finger on it,” says Denise. Mitch, a self-professed math and science geek, went to one 3D movie and never wanted to go see another. He got motion sickness all the time. He expressed no interest in wanting to learn to drive. They had to find as many of his schoolbooks as possible as audio downloads because he could learn by listening.

But these cues are difficult to connect if you don’t know that visual performance skills are different than 20/20 sight. Kids who suffer don’t realize that they are seeing things differently than everyone else. They don’t know how to express the problem with how their eyes are functioning.

CRITICAL REFERRAL

Finally, after a friend heard Denise’s concerns, she referred her to Highline Center for Vision Performance (HCVP). They quickly made an appointment to take advantage of the complimentary Vision + Learning Screening.

“Mitch lit up when they began asking him questions,” says Denise of the initial consultation with HCVP. “I could see his relief that someone finally understood. His self-esteem improved almost immediately just knowing that he could be helped.”

Tests went on to reveal that Mitch’s reading efficiency were at a 3rd grade level. His tracking speed (one of 20 measurable visual skills) was higher – at an 8th grade speed – but at only 50% comprehension. In order to achieve “quality” comprehension, he dropped down to a 5th grade speed. It’s no wonder he struggled with his high school studies!

Denise was thrilled with her visit to Highline and with Mitch’s response. However, the family pediatrician thought Vision Therapy was fake and discouraged them from participating. Regardless, Denise was certain they were on the right track and moved forward with Vision Therapy anyway.

GRADUATION

Mitch was highly motivated to do his Vision Therapy homework and graduated within five months at which point his reading efficiency was at grade level 13.6 (a freshman in college) and his reading comprehension went up to 90%.

Denise says, “About ¾ of the way through Vision Therapy, he was able to complete schoolwork in the classroom so he was bringing home less work. It was amazing! His eye muscles were keeping up with his intelligence. Everything in school is easier now. There are no more meltdowns.”

Now, Mitch is a typical teenager eager to drive and loves seeing movies in 3D. His writing has improved dramatically and he continues successfully in his school’s Gifted and Talented program.

IN REVIEW

Currently, Mitch’s pediatrician still believes Vision Therapy is a hoax and that Mitch just outgrew his ADD.

Denise believes that Mitch’s behavioral issues were related to his undiagnosed vision disorders. They are currently considering taking him off his medication.

“His medication is a non-stimulant and is short lived in his system,” says Denise. “Before Vision Therapy, we could always tell at the end of the day that it was wearing off because that’s when his behavior would change. However now, we don’t have the meltdowns anymore and Mitch has confessed that he often doesn’t take it over the weekends anymore and we don’t even notice.”

Highline, often sees students who have vision disorders and are misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD. In Mitch’s case, Dr. Jeri Schneebeck is convinced that Mitch’s acting out was from his frustration.

“You have this incredibly intelligent person who is trying so hard to keep up with his peers and failing – it’s no surprise that he had outbursts,” says Dr. Jeri. “Once we begin improving vision skills by teaching the eyes and brain to coordinate, it’s like a weight is removed and he can finally move forward. It’s a joy to see.”

“The frustration and inability to communicate that there is a problem is simply overwhelming to these kids,” adds Nancy Stevens, Vision Therapist at HCVP. “But we find, time and time again, that once they successfully complete Vision Therapy, they are happier in every facet of their lives. The ability to successfully learn opens up their future in incredible ways.”

Mitch’s mom, Denise, continues to be a vocal advocate for Vision Therapy and shares her story frequently with other parents who have smart kids that struggle in school.

April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month

Hey women! Did you know that women are more likely to suffer from vision problems and are at higher risk of permanent vision loss than men? Well 91% of the women surveyed recently didn’t know that, which means that many of them aren’t taking the necessary precautions to prevent eye damage and vision loss.  

According to a recent study, the statistics for many of the major vision problems show that women have a higher percentage of incidence than men. These include:

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration 65%
  • Cataracts 61%
  • Glaucoma 61%
  • Refractive Error 56%
  • Vision Impairment 63%

Women are also more susceptible to develop chronic dry eye, partially because it is often associated with other health issues that are more common in women such as ocular rosacea which is three times more prevalent in women.  Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can also contribute to dry eye.  

It’s important for women to know the risks for eye-related diseases and vision impairment and the steps they can take to prevent eventual vision loss.  Here are some ways that you can help to protect your eyes and save your eyesight:

  • Find out about family history of eye diseases and conditions.
  • Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses when outdoors.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Consume a healthy diet with proper nutrition and special eye health supplements as prescribed by an eye doctor.
  • Adhere to contact lens hygiene and safety.  
  • Adhere to cosmetic hygiene and safety precautions. 
  • Protect your eyes against extended exposure to blue light from computers, smartphones and LED lamps. 
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and have diabetes, see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. In women who have diabetes, diabetic retinopathy can accelerate quickly during pregnancy and can present a risk for the baby as well. 

Mothers are often charged with caring for the eye health of the entire family, but too often their own eye health needs fall to the wayside. It is critical that mothers take care of their eyes and overall health so that they can be in the best condition to care for their families. 

Speak to your eye care professional about your personal eye health and vision risks and the precautions and measures you should take to protect your eyes.  Encourage the other women in your life to do so as well.  Once vision is lost, it often can’t be regained and there are many steps you can take to prevent it with proper knowledge and awareness.  

The most important way to prevent vision loss is to ensure you schedule regular eye exams. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear as many eye issues are painless and symptomless, and sometimes by the time you notice symptoms, vision loss is untreatable. 

Understanding Eye Color

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Eye color is a hereditary trait that depends on the genes of both parents, as well as a little bit of mystery. The color of the eye is based on the pigments in the iris, which is a colored ring of muscle located at the center of the eye (around the pupil) that helps to control the amount of light that comes into your eye. Eye color falls on a spectrum of color that can range from dark brown, to gray, to green, to blue, with a whole lot of variation in between. 

Genetics

The genetics of eye color are anything but straightforward. In fact children are often born with a different eye color than either of their parents. For some time the belief was that two blue-eyed parents could not have a brown-eyed child, however, while it’s not common, this combination can and does occur. Genetic research in regards to eye color is an ongoing pursuit and while they have identified certain genes that play a role, researchers still do not know exactly how many genes are involved and to what extent each gene affects the final eye color.

The Iris

Looking at it simply, the color of the eye is based on the amount of the pigment melanin located in the iris. Large amounts of melanin result in brown eyes, while blue eyes result from smaller amounts of the pigment. This is why babies that are born with blue eyes (who often have smaller amounts of melanin until they are about a year old) often experience a darkening of their eye color as they grow and develop more melanin in the iris. In adults across the globe, the most common eye color worldwide is brown, while lighter colors such as blue, green and hazel are found predominantly in the Caucasian population. 

Abnormal Eye Color

Sometimes the color of a person’s eyes are not normal. Here are some interesting causes of this phenomenon.

Heterochromia, for example, is a condition in which the two eyes are different colors, or part of one eye is a different color. This can be caused by genetic inconsistencies, issues that occur during the development of the eye, or acquired later in life due to an injury or disease. 

Ocular albinism is a condition in which the eye is a very light color due to low levels of pigmentation in the iris, which is the result of a genetic mutation. It is usually accompanied by serious vision problems. Oculocutaneous albinism is a similar mutation in the body’s ability to produce and store melanin that affects skin and hair color in addition to the eyes.

Eye color can also be affected by certain medications. For example, a certain glaucoma eye drop is known to darken light irises to brown, as well as lengthen and darken eyelashes.

Eye Color – It’s More Than Meets the Eye

It is known that light eyes are more sensitive to light, which is why it might be hard for someone with blue or green eyes to go out into the sun without sunglasses. Light eyes have also shown to be a risk factor for certain conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  

Color Contact Lenses

While we can’t pick our eye color, we can always play around with different looks using colored contact lenses. Just be sure that you get a proper prescription for any contact lenses, including cosmetic colored lenses, from an eye doctor! Wearing contact lenses that were obtained without a prescription could be dangerous to your eyes and your vision.  

 

 

 

Holiday Season Shopping: Are Nerf Guns Safe for the Eyes?

Nerf guns or blasters come in a remarkable number of shapes and sizes and have become incredibly popular for use in the home and even in large scale “Nerf Wars”. However publicity surrounding the toy has not been all positive. Many parents out there are questioning the safety of the toy foam guns, particularly to the eyes, before making the purchase.

The question of safety ultimately comes down to the user. Nerf darts are relatively soft, foamy and not inherently dangerous, but if shot in the wrong way, they could cause pain or even serious injury. This is particularly true of the eyes because they are a vulnerable organ that can be damaged easily upon impact. Injuries from even a soft projectile could include corneal abrasions (surface scratches), bleeding, cataracts and even retinal detachment which can lead to permanent vision loss.

Nevertheless, Nerf guns are fun and can even be used to help motor development and other skills, so with the right guidelines, children can learn to use them safely and benefit from the enjoyment they provide.

Want surefire eye safety? Wear safety glasses!

The best defense for your eyes is safety glasses. This is the one way you can be sure that you or your child’s eyes are truly safe during Nerf shooting. We strongly recommend safety glasses be worn during any play that involves projectile objects, particularly for small children or during serious games such as Nerf Wars.

General rules of Nerf Gun play:

  1. Never shoot at the face.
  2. Never look into the barrel of the nerf gun, even if you think it isn’t loaded.
  3. Avoid walking around with your finger on the trigger until you are ready to point and aim at the proper target.
  4. Only shoot others that are “playing” and are aware that you are aiming at them.
  5. Don’t shoot from a moving vehicle (including a bicycle, skateboard, rollerblades, etc.).
  6. Don’t shoot at a moving vehicle.
  7. Never shoot at a close range.
  8. Never leave loaded gun in reach of a child or individual that is not able to use the toy properly and safely.

To be safe, all toy guns that shoot projectiles should be treated as a dangerous toy in order to ensure proper usage and precautions. Yes, Nerf guns can cause serious eye damage and even vision loss, but these type of injuries can be caused by many “harmless” objects as well. Before you purchase a toy like this for your child, ask yourself whether the child is old enough and mature enough to understand the safety issues involved and to be able to use it responsibly.

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