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Archive for February, 2015

Vision Therapy: 8 Signs Your Child Needs It

Monday, February 23, 2015 @ 10:02 PM
Author: Amit Mathur

 

Vision_Therapy

Vision therapy is a doctor-supervised, non-surgical and customized program of visual activities designed to correct vision problems and/or improve visual skills. Over time, it has evolved as quite a controversial form of treatment. Some doctors are completely in favor of it, especially when it comes to vision correction in children. However, there are others who strongly oppose it and call for other conventional methods. Regardless of what choice you make, it is important to keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms that may help you identify if your child needs vision therapy.

The Importance of Vision Therapy

Parents who react favorably towards the advice of their optometrist believe that prevention is better than cure. Indeed, this is what vision therapy is all about. It is non-surgical, and thus involves a combination of eye exercises, sight-enhancing methods and state-of-the-art optometric devices. These aim to relieve your child from any vision problems. If the requisite vision therapy sessions are begun promptly, they will have a large impact in reducing the rate of progression of the vision problem. Moreover, they may also provide an ultimate cure in the long-run, thereby eliminating the need for invasive surgery.

Recent research has emphatically stated that reading difficulties exhibited in young children are often a result of undiagnosed or untreated sight-related problems. A startling discovery has been that of convergence insufficiency, also known as improper eye alignment. Statistics reveal that this problem shows up in 1 out of 20 school going children, whereas undiagnosed vision problems affect over 60% of them. This certainly points towards the need to rectify sight-related learning problems in youngsters from an early age.

What Vision Therapy Can Provide

Vision therapy offers innumerable benefits and can effectively eradicate common vision problems that your child may have, without requiring surgery. Some of the common vision problems that children often have, and can be treated by vision therapy are:

-Strabismus (irregular eye alignment)

-Convergence insufficiency

-Crossed eyes

-Double vision

-Amblyopia (“lazy eye”)

-Reading and learning disabilities

Signs and Symptoms

Parents should be mindful of how their children interact visually with their surroundings at home and during school. While participating in activities during work and play, it is possible that children may exhibit subtle signs of visual discomfort. These can then be treated appropriately with vision therapy.

The common signs of such visual problems include:

1. Abnormal mood swings. Your child may generally have an easy-going temperament, but may have started getting snappy and irritable at the playground or be refusing to listen to you at home. This can be indicative of a problem in visualizing and interpreting external stimuli.

2. Blurriness and headaches. A healthy child may start to complain of heaviness in the head, or portray an inability to read lettering properly from the blackboard. Regular headaches are also common in children with vision problems.

3. Poor reading, writing or spelling ability. This can easily be discerned since young children are continuously engaged in learning. Therefore, any problems while reading text or making sense of pictures should be brought to attention immediately.

4. Short attention spans. While this can also occur because some children are naturally impatient, it may also point towards a vision problem. Your child may be prevented from focusing on schoolwork because of it and hence may show disinterest in that particular activity.

5. Taking excessive time to do schoolwork. A child with a vision problem may be genuinely struggling to make sense while reading. He or she may be having a problem perceiving numbers or reading words from textbooks.

6. Misinterpreting letters. Your child may be mistaking one letter for another, for example,‘d’ for ‘b’ or vice versa. This symptom points to a vision problem with regard to making sense of basic alphabets, and therefore reading overall.

7. Re-reading or skipping lines. While reciting from a book, your child may not be able to continue from the subsequent line or may go over the same line again. This highlights a problem in viewing text in its entirety.

8. Frustration with work. Your child may have been performing well and have been deemed bright by teachers, but over time may have started to display irritation and aggressiveness when doing schoolwork.

The Bottom Line

Accurate vision is essential for your child’s development, and as a responsible parent, it is your duty to ensure that this is so. It is essential that parents seek an early optometric diagnosis as soon as they notice these signs in their child. A thorough evaluation of the symptoms by a specialist will confirm if your child needs vision therapy.The proper treatment can then be administered and the vision problems can be rectified for good.

Strabismus: What It Is, Its Symptoms, and How to Treat It

Monday, February 16, 2015 @ 10:02 PM
Author: Amit Mathur

Strabismus

Vision problems are one of the common issues that people are facing nowadays. One of these is the ailment of strabismus, and is quite a cause of concern.

What is Strabismus?

Strabismusis a vision problem which is popularly known as walleye, squint, or ‘crossed eyes’. It occurs when both eyes cannot focus on the same point at the same time. One or both eyes may look inwards or outwards, or turn up or down. In most cases, strabismus arises in the early years of childhood. This is known as congenital strabismus, and can therefore be detected and treated early.

This condition arises when the muscles in the eye fail to coordinate and move both eyes in the same way simultaneously. Strabismus is therefore the inability of the eye to perform this normal function for the provision of accurate vision. When this occurs, the pictures that the eyes send to the brain are misaligned and therefore cannot combine to produce a singular image.

Children rarely outgrow strabismus once they have been diagnosed with it. Undetected and untreated, it can cause worsening of vision and impair daily activity. If a child is continuously relying on one eye to see, this can turn into poor vision in that particular eye (also known as lazy eye or amblyopia). Moreover, it will certainly affect a child’s self-esteem. An inability to see properly will not only cause sight issues but will affect his or her appearance. This may lead other children to bully the child. In adults, the condition often manifests itself alongside double vision. This can often be the initial sign of a stroke in a person who did not have strabismus as a child. In both cases, medical assistance should be sought immediately.

How Does Strabismus Arise?

Strabismus that develops in childhood has no known cause, although it has been found to be an inherited trait. Sometimes, the condition may occur when the eyes are trying to rectify any other vision condition such as cataracts or farsightedness. The chances of coming up with strabismus can be increased if a child has Down syndrome, any disease affecting muscles or nerves, premature birth or head injury. In adults, however, strabismus may also develop from eye tumors, brain tumor, vision loss, Graves’ disease, stroke, or various muscle or nerve disorders.

What are the Symptoms of Strabismus?

The common signs of having developed this problem are:

  1. Bumping into things due to limited depth perception.
  2. Eyes that don’t move in unison.
  3. Closing one eye in sunlight or squinting unnecessarily.
  4. Peripheral vision, which crops up upon needing to turn the head or substantially tilting it to view an object.
  5. Eyes that look in different directions.

How Can Strabismus Be Treated?

A pediatric ophthalmologist needs to be referred to for treatment of this condition. Initially, he may suggest non-surgical methods such as the use of optimal glasses. These will ensure that neither eye becomes amblyopiac (lazy). If that tendency exists, then the usage of a patch or similar measures will be undertaken until normal vision is restored. If the misalignment of the eye is due to farsightedness, it can easily be corrected by using eye glasses. In children, vision therapy (including the use of optical devices) will ensure that the lazy eye gets exercised before the age of 8. Moreover, amblyopia needs to be treated in childhood to avoid permanent blindness.

Surgery can be performed to correct strabismus by strengthening or weakening the muscles in one eye that affect movement. This procedure should ideally be performed during childhood by an experienced ophthalmologist.

In adults, surgery can be done using local anesthesia. The surgeon will begin by slitting open the outer layer of the eyeball in order to reach the muscle that has to be altered. Strengthening it would entail removing a small section from one end and re-attaching it at the same site. This will make it shorter and will allow the eye to turn towards that particular side. Weakening would require slackening the eye muscle by moving it back or making a partial cut across it. If any double vision occurs post-surgery, it will go away after a few weeks after the brain has adjusted to the restored sense of sight.

In all, strabismus is a worrying concern that impacts the lives of children and their parents alike. Care should be taken in case any of these symptoms exhibits themselves, and haste should be made to consult specialists before the problem becomes worse.

Blepharitis

Unlike most eye conditions, Blepharitis will not affect the patient’s eyesight, though it will make the eyes itchy and very uncomfortable. Blepharitis is actually the inflammation of an individual’s eyelids, and this condition mostly affects the area where eyelashes grow. Individuals suffering with this condition complain of the gritty and sore feeling associated with the inflammation, in addition to the discomfort and the unsightly appearance of the affected area.

This condition usually affects both eyes and its presence result from malfunctioning oil glands on the eyelids where eyelashes grow. Since different conditions and diseases can cause Blepharitis, getting rid of the inflammation completely can at times prove annoying.

Types of Blepharitis

This condition can manifest itself in an individual’s eyes in three different ways, namely:

  1. Meibomian Blepharitis – This form of the eye condition affects the way the meibomian gland functions. The fluid that an infected eye produces is usually a sign of problems with the meibomian glands and its fluid.
  2. Staphylococcal Blepharitis – This form of the eye condition gets its name from the germ that is responsible for it, the staphylococcus bacterium. The presence of this bacterium causes Blepharitis in some people, since in others it is harmless.
  3. Seborrhoeic Blepharitis – This form of the eye condition has a close relationship with seborrhoeic dermatitis, a condition that affects skin, causing it to be scaly and eventually leading to an inflammation.

The signs and symptoms of Blepharitis

Being an eye condition, the signs and symptoms will affect the eyes. Many of these symptoms can appear for a while and disappear, only to reappear again.

  • Eye lashes might start to fall off
  • An individual will develop sore eyelids with an appearance of inflammation or grease
  • The eyes might become watery, turn red, and the eyelids begin to swell
  • Both eyes will feel itchy and gritty, where most patients relate with a feeling of burning
  • The eyes will produce sticky discharge, small flakes that appear like dandruff, and the base of the eyelashes may develop a crust
  • A sensitivity to light can develop, and a patient will tend to blink excessively
  • The small glands at the eyelids are likely to block and hold an oily fluid
  • The condition can have accompanying eye conditions such as seborrhoeic dermatitis, dry eyes, and rosacea

When you discover any of the following symptoms persisting even with the normal eye care and hygiene practices, make sure to visit the doctor as soon as possible. Early detection makes it easy to treat this and most other diseases, and a patient gets to suffer less with the condition.

When people ignore the above symptoms, Blepharitis can develop a few complications. Although the complications might be rare, they can include:

  1. Meibomian cyst – This is where the inside of the eyelid can develop a painless swelling that is often very unsightly. The cyst can become painful if it gets an infection.
  2. Stye – This is where the outside of the eyelid begins to swell, owing to the root of the eyelash getting an infection.
  3. The eyelashes can begin to fall off, lose their color or start growing towards as opposed to away from the eye.
  4. The front part of the eye can develop an inflammation which will cause red eye or sores with watery discharge
  5. The corneal inflammation can be accompanied by scarring and ulcerations

Possible causes of Blepharitis

Although the main cause of the condition is not very clear, there are some factors associated with its development that play a major role in its presence in the eyes. If an individual has dandruff (Seborrhoeic dermatitis), rosacea, a bacterial infection, or eye allergies then he or she has high chances of acquiring this condition. In addition, if an individual’s eyelid oil glands tend to malfunction, or if he or she has eyelash lice or mites, he or she is likely to develop the condition.

Treatment

The treatment for Blepharitis relies on long-term care and hygiene, meaning that it is a continuous process. It is common for the condition to recur even after an individual has been going through the treatment; however, with proper care every other occurrence will tend from mild to none. The treatment of this condition is geared towards controlling and managing it, since curing it is not possible at this time. Doctors will help a patient manage the condition through:

Prescription eye drops – These eye drops contain antibiotics which battle any bacterial infections in the eye. Other eye drops can contain steroids which help to keep the inflammation in the eyes in check. The antibiotics and steroids can also take the form of ointments, pills or even creams.

Treating the underlying conditions – Since Blepharitis can be caused by a number of other conditions such as rosacea, or Seborrhoeic dermatitis, treating these conditions can bring a lot of relief and ease of control.

Proper hygiene If an individual cleans his or her eyelids every day with warm water, he or she will keep this condition under control. At times, this is the most effective form of treatment when it comes to the different types of Blepharitis.

Prescription_Lenses

Prescription lenses in the form of glasses, contact lenses, and even sunglasses have played a huge role in providing affordable and effective management of numerous eye conditions. These lenses are undoubtedly some of the best inventions in the world of eye care. However, prescription lenses are not the only solution to eye problems out there. The most common eye conditions that demand prescription lenses include shortsightedness, farsightedness, eye-focusing problems related with age and irregular eye curvature.

Other eye complications will therefore require additional treatment if not a completely different way of dealing with them. Here are five eye complications that will require more than just wearing prescription lenses.

Night blindness (Nyctalopia)

This is a condition that is evident in patients when they are in poorly lit environments especially at night. Night blindness is usually an indication of an underlying eye disorder, and the condition will disappear as soon as the eye recovers from the disorder. The most common eye conditions whose symptoms include night blindness are glaucoma, Vitamin A deficiency, and cataracts.

  • Some glaucoma medicine might cause night blindness in some people; therefore, switching the medicine will reduce the condition
  • Nutritional Vitamin A supplements will effectively deal with Vitamin A deficiency. Getting this treatment early enough will save a patient from suffering permanent blindness
  • Cataracts require surgery to get rid of

It is extremely important for an individual with night blindness to visit the eye specialist as soon as possible, since a patient can injure him or herself as well as other people especially at night.

Light sensitivity (Photophobia)

An individual with the above condition will experience headaches and start to strain with exposure to bright light. This condition is however not a disease of the eye, but a symptom of another disease in the eye. Usually, people with inflammation in the eyes tend to develop a lot of sensitivity to light.

  • The best way to deal with light sensitivity is to find treatment for the inflammation or the underlying eye condition.
  • Some medication can also be the cause of the condition, and requesting your doctor to prescribe different medication will help to improve the situation.

Visiting an eye specialist as soon as you discover that you are developing the condition will help to correct the complication faster.

Color Blindness (Color Deficiency)

As the name suggests, an individual suffering from this condition will have a hard time telling colors apart. Most patients seem to have a problem differentiating especially between green and red. The main cause of this condition is a defect in the X chromosome, and the course of treatment is therefore supposed to be along the lines of gene therapy.

The color filtering lenses available in the market are supposed to correct this condition, though many patients who use these lenses claim that they only add to the color confusion they have. The hard truth is that this condition has no cure, especially if someone is born with the condition. However, if the condition has a strong relationship with external factors, the eye professionals are able to identify the damage and possibly lead the eye back to normal.

However, there is hope in the future for the development and adoption of gene technology to aid in rectifying this condition. The treatment will demand the injection of genetic material in an individual’s eye, materials that will have the ability to repair the defective chromosomes.

Lazy eye (Amblyopia)

Lazy eye is a condition that develops early in life, and it results from an individual having one weak eye and one strong eye. Several complications including hereditary factors can lead to the development of this problem, and it is possible to correct this condition depending on the causes. If you do not correct lazy eye early enough, the nerves in the weaker eye responsible for sending messages to the brain continue to weaken and the eye might end up losing its functionality.

Wearing an eye patch is the least demanding of all corrective measures here. When you cover the stronger eye for a few hours in a day, the weaker eye will become stronger with time and the brain will start to depend on the weaker eye for visual input.

If the eye patch is proving to be problematic, a doctor can prescribe eye drops for the good eye. These drops blur vision in the good eye and help the weaker eye to develop, as is the case when wearing an eye patch.

Crossed eyes (Strabismus)

‘Crossed eyes’ is the condition where the eyes do not always move together in the same direction, resulting from problems related to the muscles responsible for eye movement. Since each eye is collecting its own information at the same time, this can be quite confusing for the brain.

If the cause for this problem is related to farsightedness in one eye, then prescription lenses are a solution. However, if the problems are because of one eye developing weakness and tending towards lazy eye, then an eye patch or eye drops are sufficient.

Surgery is another effective treatment for this condition, where the main objective here is to strengthen the weaker eye. The best time to perform this surgery is as early in life as possible, though even in adults the surgery will correct the condition.