TORONTO – August 2007 – With parents heading to the mall for back to school basics, Ontario’s optometrists want to remind them that an annual eye examination is a fundamental part of academic success, an an item all to often overlooked.
“Troubling statistics show that despite the fact that one in six children has an eye or vision problem significant enough to impair their ability to learn, only about seven percent of children under the age of four have ever had a comprehensive eye examination,” said Dr. Cantrup, optometrist. “There are a number of common misconceptions creating this disconnect.”
Myth: Children should have their eyes examined only when they say they are having problems seeing well.
Fact: Before the age of 9, children do not have the experience necessary to know what is normal as far as their vision is concerned; they often assume that everyone sees things the way they do. There are signs a parent can watch for, such as trouble reading signs in the distance, squinting or tilting the head frequently, and complaining of headaches, dizziness or nausea; however, just as often, there are no signs that a child needs eyeglasses, making regular eye examinations very important!
Myth: If a child is struggling in school they must have a learning disability.
Fact: Children with poor vision may find it difficult to focus on their work and may be misdiagnosed as having a learning or behavioural disability. With more than 80 per cent of learning done through visual means, children rely heavily on their vision to help them develop a number of skills including reading, copying, hand-eye coordination, and social skills.
Myth: A child must be able to read and verbalize well before they can have an eye examination.
Fact: With many child-friendly techniques, optometrists can perform comprehensive eye examinations long before a child knows their alphabet or is able to verbalize well. Children should be examined at six months of age, three years of age and annually, or as recommended by their eye professional, once they begin school.
Myth: When my child had an annual physical with the pediatrician or our family physician, they had my child look at an eye chart. Do they still need an examination?
Fact: Reading the eye chart is only one test. A comprehensive eye examination has multiple components including assessment of eye health, eye coordination and depth perception. A comprehensive eye examination will provide you with critical information on the health of you child’s eyes and visual system. Parents should ask their family physician or pediatrician if they are performing a full eye examination; if not, they should take their child to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
“A child’s vision changes from year to year, and should be monitored through annual eye examinations – a service still covered by OHIP for children 19 years of age and under”, said Dr. Cantrup. “This is especially critical for conditions such as lazy eye (amblyopia) and turned eye (strabismus), which can often be treated successfully if they are diagnosed early enough by an optometrist, ophthalmologist or family physician.”
Today there is a wide selection of frames and lenses available that are both stylish and durable, making them capable of standing up to the rigours of an active childhood. Contact lenses are also an option for children mature enough to care for and handle them properly.
Eye Diseases and Conditions
What Causes Eye Disease? What Can I do To prevent It?
There are a lot of different conditions and diseases that affect the eye – some are genetic or hereditary; while others can be brought on by age, injury or exposure to certain environmental conditions.
While the causes of these conditions are complex and varied, the key to retaining your eye sight is amazingly simple – live a healthy lifestyle and visit your Optometrist regularly! The ability to fully and successfully treat eye conditions is directly related to an early diagnosis. When detected early, most eye diseases or eye problems can be corrected or mitigated to avoid future health problems and/or irreversible eye damage. Other life threatening diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes can be recognized from an eye exam – without a blood analysis!
Not all conditions or diseases are untreatable; new innovative treatments are being discovered all the time that correct, enhance or increase a person’s quality of life. This section only outlines some of the major conditions and their effects and is intended for informational purposes only. Generally a decrease in vision that is brought on gradually and is noticed more and more with the passage of time needs to be addressed as soon as possible; and you should schedule an appointment with your optometrist at your earliest convenience.
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Retinitis Pigmentosa
- Eye Injuries
Hey! Something is “Floating” In My Eye!
Floaters are small, semi-transparent specks or particles within the eye that become noticeable when they fall within the line of sight. To the patient they seem like dots or thread-like strands drifting across their field of vision that “dart away” when they try to look at them. They may also appear with flashes of light.
What causes Floaters?
The inner part of your eye is made up of a clear, jelly-like fluid known as the vitreous. Occasionally, small flecks of protein and other matter become trapped during the formation of the eye before birth and remain in the eyes’ vitreous body, resulting in the floaters. When flashes of light occur, causing floaters to become noticeable, it can be a result of the jelly-like vitreous shrinking and pulling on the retina. This tugging action stimulates the retinal receptor cells to “fire,” causing the perception of light flashes and can lead to the separation of the vitreous from the retinal surface. This can appear as a cloudy veil that drifts in and out of your vision.
Can Floaters cause blindness?
Most floaters are normal and rarely cause blindness. But floaters can indicate more serious problems. If you notice a change in the number and size of floaters, a comprehensive eye examination is in order to determine the cause. On rare occasions, vitreous detachment can cause small tears or holes in the retina. If untreated, retinal tears or holes can continue to worsen and severe vision loss can result if the retina becomes detached. Diagnosis In a comprehensive eye examination, Dr. Petra Cantrup will look into your eyes with special instruments that allow an examination of the health of the inside of your eyes and possible observation of the floaters. This is done after our technician puts special drops in your eyes to make the pupils larger (called dilation) to allow a complete view of the inside of your eyes. These procedures provide Dr. Petra Cantrup with relevant information to detect and evaluate floaters.
While flashes and floaters are usually not serious or treated, they can be symptoms or signs of either vitreous or retinal detachment. In either of these cases, treatment with lasers and/or surgical intervention may be necessary to preserve your vision. If you have been bothered by a significant floater which has persisted for at least six months, surgical removal can be considered. If you notice a sudden increase or change in the number and type of spots and floaters, contact Dr. Petra Cantrup’s office immediately.
Contact Dr. Petra Cantrup in Thorold, (905) 227-3937 for details.