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Be on the Lookout for Vision Problems this Summer Break

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Summer vacation is well under way, but did you know that even when your child is out of the classroom, vision problems can have an impact on his/her daily activities? Look out for these 4 warning signs during the summer months – they could be a sign of vision difficulties that require follow up with an eye care professional.

  1. Headaches / eyestrain. Is your child complaining about headaches? Perhaps accompanied with watery eyes, particularly during periods of concentration such as reading, computer use or during a movie? This can indicate eyestrain, which can develop as your child tries to keep up with the words or images on the screen, causing visual overload.  Keep an eye out also when your child is watching 3D since an inability to see 3D pictures can point to a lack of depth perception. A child may not know that he or she does not see the 3D effects the same way other people do, but might say after the movie that his or her eyes are tired or sore.
  2. Clumsiness on the playground. Does your child seem clumsy and uncoordinated when playing on the playground? This could be due to a lazy eye, otherwise known as amblyopia. Amblyopia is when one eye is favored over the other, resulting in impaired binocular vision. This in turn impacts depth perception, which makes it difficult for a child to assess objects in space and can cause difficulties with coordination.
  3. Lack of interest in reading: Does your child show a lack of interest in reading books? It is possible that he or she is having difficulty seeing the text as a result of a vision problem. It's worth asking the child if the text seems blurry, if he/she has a headache or simply has difficulty distinguishing the words or letters on the page to determine if there may be an underlying vision problem. Also watch for unusual signs such as eye rubbing, excessive blinking, head tilt and unusual reading distance.
  4. Difficulty hitting or catching a ball. Hand eye coordination, which helps track an object as it moves through space, is one of the key components to playing ball. If your child is consistently missing catches, fumbling kicks or missing hits while playing sports, it is worth following up with an eye exam.

Although all of the above issues can present themselves in school, the summer vacation is an ideal time to check out any possible vision issues ahead of the new school year. Dealing with vision problems during the summer will help your child start off the year right. 

Should You Be Worried About Eye Floaters?

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Eye floaters are actually more common that you may think. Many people notice specks or cobweb-like images moving around in their line of vision, at some point. Some even report experiencing a "snow globe effect" as if they are swatting at many imaginary bugs. Floaters may be an annoyance, but in most cases, they are harmless and merely a part of aging.  Here are some answers to questions you may have about eye floaters including warning signs that something may be seriously wrong and requires immediate treatment by an eye care professional.

What are eye floaters?

Eye floaters are collagen deposits inside the vitreous humor that fills the space between the lens and retina of your eye. As you age, the vitreous, which is made up of this gel-like protein substance, begins to dissolve and liquefy, creating a more watery consistency. Floaters appear when the collagen fibrils and vitreous membrane become disturbed and go into your line of sight.  A posterior vitreous detachment is a common age related change that causes a sudden large floater to occur.   Floaters can range in size, shape and consistency and are often more visible when looking at a white screen or clear blue sky.

What is the vitreous?

The vitreous functions to maintain the round shape of your eyeball. It assists with light refraction and acts as a shock absorber for the retina.

How do floaters develop?

As mentioned above, aging of the vitreous can cause it to liquefy, shrink and become stringy or strand-like. As the vitreous is normally transparent, when strands develop they cast a shadow on your retina, which in turn causes floaters to appear in your vision.

What will I see if I have floaters?

Eye floaters can appear in your vision as threads, fragments of cobwebs or spots which float slowly in front of your eyes. You'll also notice that these specks never seem to stay still when you try to focus on them. Floaters and spots create the impression that they are drifting and they seem to move when your eye moves.

Who is at risk for developing floaters?

Floaters are quite common particularly in individuals that are elderly, diabetic, near-sighted or anyone who has had cataract surgery.

Are floaters dangerous and do they need treatment?

In many cases, floaters are simply an annoyance and can be left alone. Sometimes they will improve over time. In some cases though, floaters can be so distracting that they can block vision and consequently interfere with daily activities and functioning. If you experience a sudden onset of floaters, if they are accompanied by flashes of light or vision loss, if you have pain or you have just experienced eye surgery or trauma, floaters could indicate a serious eye problem that requires immediate medical attention.  There are a number of eye disorders associated with eye floaters including retinal detachment, retinal tear, vitreous bleeding, vitreous and retinal inflammation or eye tumors, all of which require medical treatment to avoid vision loss.  If you have sudden onset of new floaters, do not wait to book an appointment with your eye doctor to confirm if the floaters are benign or need immediate surgical treatment.

A Look Behind Sleeping Eyes

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Have you ever wondered what your eyes do when you finally close them after a long day of visual processing and stimulation? Let's take a closer look at what happens behind your closed lids when your head hits the pillow.

Firstly, once your eyes are closed, they do continue to function in a limited fashion with the ability to sense light. This explains why a bright light being switched on or the sun rising in the morning can wake you up, while lying in a dark room will help you sleep.

During sleep your eyes don't send visual data or information about images to your brain. In fact, it takes almost 30 seconds for the connection between your eyes and your brain to reboot when you wake up. This is why it's often difficult to see complete and clear images when you first wake up.

Our bodies pass through five phases of sleep known as stages 1, 2, 3, 4, (which together are called Non-REM) and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During a typical sleep cycle, you progress from stage 1 to 4 then REM and then start over.  Almost 50 percent of our total sleep time is spent in stage 2 sleep, while 20 percent is spent in REM sleep, and the remaining 30 percent in the other stages. During stage 1, your eyes roll slowly, opening and closing slightly; however the eyes are then still from stages 2-4 when sleep is deeper.

During REM sleep, your eyes move around rapidly in a range of directions, but don’t send any visual information to your brain. Scientists have discovered that during REM sleep the visual cortex of the brain, which is responsible for processing visual data, is active. However, this activity serves part of a memory forming or reinforcing function which aims to consolidate your memory with experiences from the day, as opposed to processing visual information that you see. This is also the time when most people dream.

As for your eyelids, they cover your eyes and function as a shield protecting them from light. They also help preserve moisture on the cornea and prevent your eyes from drying out while your body is resting.

In short, while your eyes do move around during sleep, they are not actively processing visual imagery. Closing your eyelids and sleeping essentially gives your eyes a break. Shut-eye helps recharge your eyes, preparing them to help you see the next day. 

6 Things You Should Know about UV Radiation, Blue Light Damage and Your Eyes

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The heat of long summer days is nearly upon us. As the sun's rays intensify and people spend more time outdoors in the sunshine it is very important to be aware of the potential damage exposure to the sun can have on your eyes. May is UV Awareness month. Here are 6 things you should know about ultraviolet and blue light rays and how important it is to protect your eyes from the sun year round.

  1. Exposing your eyes to UV and blue light can harm your vision and cause a number of eye issues such as cataracts, corneal sunburn, macular degeneration, pterygium and skin cancer around the eyelids.
  2. Everyone, including children, is at risk for eye damage from UV radiation and blue light exposure. Those who work or play in the sun, or are exposed to the sun for extended amounts of time are at the highest risk for damage to their eyes or vision from UV/blue light rays. It is estimated at 20 years of age, the average person has received a major part of their life’s UV/blue light exposure. Children have more transparent lenses in their eyes and more sensitive skin on their bodies. As a result, they are at great risk of experiencing adverse effects of over-exposure to UV and blue light. The effects of overexposure at a younger age may not show up until later in life with higher risk of cataracts and age related macular degeneration. This is why it is critical to effectively protect our eyes from the sun.
  3. UV and blue light rays come from the sun but also reflect off other surfaces such as water, snow, sand and the ground. They are generally at their highest and most dangerous levels during peak sun hours, usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  4. There are 2 types of UV rays that can harm your sight:

    • UV-A rays can cause damage to your central vision.
    • UV-B rays can damage the cornea and lens on the front of your eye.
    • Blue light can impact the central vision area by damaging the macula.
  5. The best way to protect your eyes from the sun is by wearing sunglasses or eyewear that absorbs both blue light and UV rays, together with a wide brimmed hat.
  6. UV protection along with blue light protection are both important when purchasing sunglasses. Here's what you should look for:

    • Eyewear that filters 100% UV-A and UV-B rays, providing you with maximum protection.
    • Proper filtration from the higher energy blue rays.
    • Eyewear that reduces glare and does not distort color.
    • Important to know: UV/blue light protection is available in both clear lenses as well as sunglasses. Blue light protection is needed for indoor use as welll.  The choice can be confusing if you do not have accuarate background information. Not all lenses are equal in terms of UV and blue light protection. For example, cheaply made UV400 sunglasses have a spray-on coating that will wear off with cleaning and give you a false sense of security. 

 

Don't take any shortcuts when it comes to protecting your eyes from the sun. Stay indoors during peak sun hours and if you have to go out, be sure that your eyewear blocks both type of light so that you can protect your eyes and your vision.  Remember again, proper blue light filtering lenses are also a must for indoor protection as well.

Dealing with Your Tween’s and Teen’s Eyesight

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It can be devastating for a tween or teen to be told he or she needs to wear glasses, especially if it is sudden. Many tweens and teenagers are concerned about how glasses will affect their appearance, whether they will be made fun of (which unfortunately is a legitimate concern – kids can be mean!), how they will manage with a new responsibility and what the implications will be for sports and other activities. Many tend to overlook the miracle of clear vision for the perceived negative impact the glasses may have.

If your child would rather suffer with blurred vision, headaches and even trouble with schoolwork than wear glasses, the good news is that there are options that even the “coolest” preteen or teen might find acceptable.

  1. Fashion eyewear: It has never been more fashionable to wear glasses than it is today – just take a look at Hollywood's red carpet.  Encourage your child to seek out a look or a celebrity style they like and have your optician help to find that.  The optician and optometrist can recommend what shapes and materials are available for the lens Rx, while your teen can have fun with the color and style.  Or just browse around at the plethora of fun styles available for teens these days.   "Make it fun and encourage your preteen to be excited about their new purchase. If it is within your budget you may even want to consider purchasing two pairs so he or she can have a choice depending on mood and wardrobe.
  2. Consider contacts: If your child feels self conscious or inhibited, particularly in sports, by wearing glasses, look into contact lenses. Contact lenses are a great solution particularly for athletes because they provide safety and a full field of view as opposed to glasses or sports goggles. Before you can take the plunge into contacts you need to consider the following:

    • Is his or her prescription and eye health suitable for contact lenses? There are a number of conditions which prohibit contact lens use or require special lenses. Check with your optometrist to find out what options exist for your teen or tween.
    • Is he or she responsible enough to care properly for contact lenses? Improper care of contact lenses can cause irritation, infection and damage to the eyes. Your teen must understand the risks and be responsible enough to follow the optometrists instructions when it comes to use and care. How do you know if your teen or tween is ready for contacts?  Look at his or her bedroom.  How clean and tidy is it usually?  This is a good indicator if he or she is ready to wear contacts on a daily basis
    • Does he or she have any preexisting conditions that would make contact lens wear uncomfortable? Individuals that have chronic eye conditions such as dry eyes, allergies or frequent infections may find contact use uncomfortable or irritating.

    If your teen or tween would like to consider contacts, you should schedule a consultation with your eye doctor and try a pair for a few days to see how it goes.

  3. Alternative options: In some situations there may be other options such as vision therapy or Ortho-K (where you are prescribed special contacts to wear at night that shape the cornea for clear vision during the day) which could result in improvements in vision. Speak to your optometrist about what alternatives might exist for your teen or tween.

Online Patient Registration Forms

You can now request your next appointment online. 

Visit the Contact Us section of our web site and complete the Patient Registration Form.  The form is secure and our office will be notified once the form is complete.  When you walk in for your next appointment, we'll already  have the information entered into our computers.  We're always looking for ways to serve our patients better.

Pink, Stinging Eyes? It Could Be Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis, also called pink eye, is one of the most frequently seen eye diseases, especially in kids. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria or even allergies to pollen, chlorine in swimming pools, and ingredients in cosmetics, or other irritants, which touch the eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis might be quite transmittable and quickly spread in school and at the office.

Conjunctivitis is seen when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue covering the white part of the eye, becomes inflamed. You can identify conjunctivitis if you notice eye redness, discharge, itching or swollen eyelids and a crusty discharge surrounding the eyes early in the day. Pink eye infections can be divided into three main types: viral, allergic and bacterial conjunctivitis.

The viral type is usually a result of a similar virus to that which produces the recognizable red, watery eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. The red, itchy, watery eyes caused by viral pink eye are likely to last from a week to two and then will clear up on their own. You may however, be able to reduce some of the discomfort by using soothing drops or compresses. Viral pink eye is transmittable until it is completely cleared up, so in the meantime maintain excellent hygiene, remove eye discharge and try to avoid using communal pillowcases or towels. If your son or daughter has viral conjunctivitis, he or she will have to be kept home from school for three days to a week until symptoms disappear.

A bacterial infection such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. One should notice an improvement within just a few days of antibiotic drops, but be sure to adhere to the full prescription dosage to prevent pink eye from recurring.

Allergic pink eye is not contagious. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as hay fever or pet allergies that sets off an allergic reaction in their eyes. First of all, to treat allergic pink eye, you should eliminate the irritant. Use cool compresses and artificial tears to relieve discomfort in mild cases. When the infection is more severe, your eye doctor might prescribe a medication such as an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine. In cases of chronic allergic pink eye, topical steroid eye drops could be used.

Pink eye should always be diagnosed by a qualified eye doctor in order to identify the type and best course of treatment. Never treat yourself! Keep in mind the sooner you begin treatment, the lower chance you have of giving pink eye to loved ones or prolonging your discomfort.

Eyeglasses – Plenty of Great Choices

Eyeglasses Are Back!

Picking out new eyeglasses can be a daunting task, whether you're getting your very first pair or you've worn them nearly all your life. The sheer volume of eyeglass choices can be torture to work your way through if you don't have any idea what you're looking for.

Not only are there many different shapes and colors in eyeglass frames, but advances in technology have also brought us a variety of new materials, for both the frames and the lenses, which makes eyeglasses more durable, lightweight and user-friendly. Eyeglass frames are now created from high-tech materials such as titanium and "memory metal" for the ultimate in strength and style, while the lenses are now thinner and lighter than ever before, even in high prescriptions.

Lens options, such as anti-reflective coating, light-changing tints, progressive lenses and new high-tech, light weight materials such as Trivex(TM) and polycarbonate, let you choose a pair of eyeglasses that enhances your vision, no matter what you like to do.