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Parent’s Guide To Newborn Vision Development

Thursday, April 6, 2017 @ 03:04 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

Having a healthy newborn child can be the happiest and most fulfilling moment of your life, but soon after that many new parents start to worry about their baby’s development and health. Since the baby can’t speak or think for itself yet, it can be difficult to know what’s normal and what isn’t. We wrote this guide to help you be aware of the major milestones and things to look for in the development of your newborn’s vision.

pediatric eye doctor

After Birth

After being born, your baby sees everything in grey and cannot see any color yet because the cells in their eyes and their brains are not finished developing. They’re also unable to focus on near objects, which includes your face. So if it looks like they aren’t focusing on anything at this stage you don’t need to worry, they aren’t supposed to yet.

You might also notice that their eyes look very large, but that’s only because a baby’s head is more developed so the eyes will look big relative to the rest of their body. The doctor will conduct a quick examination of your baby’s eyes for signs of congenital cataracts or other eye problems and apply an ointment to prevent any infection caused by bacteria in the birth canal.

First Month

In the first month of your newborn’s life, their eyes are not nearly as able to detect light as a fully developed adult. This means you can leave some lights on while they sleep and it will not affect them. Within a week of their new life on earth they will start developing the ability to see some colors — red, green, yellow and orange. It will take them a bit longer to see other colors. At this stage they might also appear to be cross-eyed, but this is also normal as long as it is only sometimes. If they look to be cross-eyed for a long period of time with constant frequency, you should take your baby to an eye doctor quickly.

Second & Third Months

Most of a newborn’s vision development takes place in the second and third months of their lives. They will quickly start to use their eyes together so they can focus on objects, even as they move. They’re also able to better move their focus from object to object without having to completely move their head and body. At this point they’ll also be able to see light so you should start dimming the lights more for them to sleep. Eyecare professionals recommend that you stimulate their vision by changing the objects in their crib frequently to give them new things to focus on.

Four to Six Months

From the start of the fourth to the end of the sixth month, your baby will develop the ability to see all colors, more details in objects, and to better track fast moving objects. They’ll also start to significantly develop their hand-eye coordination, which means now is the time you’ll see your baby picking up everything they can get their hands on and putting them in their mouth! By the end of six months, you should also take your child to have their first eye exam so an eye doctor can test their basic vision functions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, eye coordination, and eye alignment.

Seven to Twelve Months

At this point you might see the color of your baby’s eyes change, but this is completely normal. It is most common for a baby’s eye color to turn darker, as the darker colors take more time to develop than lighter colors. By now your baby will be crawling around, which means they can act according to what they see. They can start accurately focusing on objects and surfaces of all distances, which means they can start interacting with everything you don’t want them to! If you want to encourage their hand-eye coordination development, you can get down on your hands and knees and crawl around with them. They’ll follow and interact with things that you do, which teaches them to look at and touch things they see you do.

If your eyes are red, itchy, and/or watery you might be wondering if it’s something simple such as lack of sleep, allergies, or something more serious. We wrote this guide to help you figure out if you might have one of the more common disorders and issues causing those symptoms. If you aren’t sure, you should make an appointment with your eye doctor to assess the health of your eyes and provide a firm diagnosis.

eye specialist

Pink Eye

Redness, itchiness, and watery eyes are all symptoms for pink eye, which can be caused either by allergies or by bacterial or viral infection that are contagious. Aside from those three symptoms, there are other signs you might have pink eye:

  • Your eyes have a burning or stinging sensation
  • Your eyes are swollen and puffy
  • Your eyes have a sort of discharge that isn’t just from watering

Make sure you wash your hands frequently to avoid catching or spreading the infectious form of pink eye. Even if you’re unsure if you have pink eye or something else, we advise that you don’t rub or scratch your eyes. You can get better relief using cold, wet compression on the outside of your eyelids. The cold will help reduce the swelling and soothe the burning.

Eye Trauma

If your eye, or eyes, are red but they do not also feel itchy or watery, it can be a sign of trauma to the eye. If you recently had something scratch or impact against your head or face around your eyes, that trauma can cause red eyes. Here are other symptoms that might mean the trauma might be more serious:

  • Pain in, around, or behind your eyes
  • Blurred or spotty vision
  • Swelling and pressure in or around your eyes

Such trauma could mean there is unseen damage to your eyes and could lead to a detached retina, which can cause blindness if not treated. If you suffer trauma to your eyes you should have it checked by an eye doctor right away. Use ice or cold cloths against the impacted area to reduce any pain and swelling.

Broken Blood Vessels

If your eyes are red, it can be the result of burst or broken blood vessels in the whites of your eye. That might sound very bad, but it’s almost always because of fatigue, rubbing, straining, or even no real reason at all. There is no other pain, watering, itchiness and you won’t notice it unless you look in the mirror or someone tells you.

If you want to be safe, or if your eyes stay bloodshot for another day or two, you can see your eye doctor to make sure there is no other disorder or trauma behind the redness. Otherwise, just wait for it to pass.

Blepharitis

If your eyes—particularly your eyelids—are red, watering, and itchy, it can also be a sign of a disorder caused Blepharitis. This is a common issue where your eyelids get inflamed. It can be caused by bacterial or fungal infection, dryness, parasites, or a few other sources. You can help determine if you have Blepharitis if you have these other symptoms:

  • Your eyes are burning or stinging eyes
  • There is a debris like dandruff in your eyelashes
  • Your eyelids feel very irritated and itchy
  • You start losing some of your eyelashes

You can have only some or all of these symptoms depending on the exact cause or severity. There are effective treatments for it, but you will need to get a diagnosis from an eye doctor as the treatments are usually in a clinic.

5 Tips For First-Time Contact Lens Users

Monday, January 9, 2017 @ 03:01 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

If you’re a first time contact lens user, you might be a bit uncertain about how to use them properly. It can be awkward trying to use them initially, either because you’re squeamish about your eyes or because you’re worried you might damage them. We wrote a quick guide with five tips to keep in mind when starting out.

first-time-contact-lens-user-tips

Don’t forget to take them out before you sleep!

It’s worth setting a reminder alarm on your phone or your clock for around the time you go to bed, so you get into the habit of always remembering to remove your contact lenses. There are a few reasons why you should always remember to remove them:

  • Your eyes need oxygen and not all lenses breathe, and lack of oxygen for too long causes swelling, blurry vision, and potential eye damage
  • While sleeping your eyes don’t produce tears to wash away bacteria, so if your lenses have any you’re more likely to get an eye infection
  • Your eyes also won’t clear away debris while sleeping, and if too much builds up you can cause eye damage

Some contact lenses are made so you don’t have to remove them before sleeping, but if you don’t have them it’s important to remember to remove them for your own eye health.

Make sure the lens isn’t inside out

Before you put a contact lens in your eye, check to make sure it isn’t inside out — wearing them while they’re inside out does not cause any damage but will be uncomfortable. To check, place the lens on your finger and hold it up in good light in front of you.

Some contact lens manufacturers laser mark the edge with their brand name, so if the marking is backwards you know the lens is inside out. Otherwise, if the lens is inside out it will look saggy and flaring out at the edges; whereas if the lens is fine it will look like a perfect bowl.

Wash your hands before using them

Before you put in your contact lenses or take them out, wash your hands first. You don’t want any debris or residue getting on either your lens or in your eye, especially before you put your contacts in. Having any residue smudging the lenses would compromise your ability to see through them, and having debris between your lens and your eye can be both uncomfortable and potentially damage your eye.

When washing your hands, make sure you use unscented and non-oily soaps, otherwise you might still have the soaps residue in your fingers. Also make sure to dry your hands with a lint-free towel, so you don’t get any fibers or debris on the lenses.

Practice, practice, practice!

The first few times you try to put in contact lenses will likely be awkward and frustrating, and can take a long time before you get it right. So when you first get your contact lenses, you might want to take any downtime that day to just practice putting them in and taking them out. That way, when you actually want to use them one day it won’t take you so long and you’re more likely to do it correctly. Plus, if you’re squeamish about touching your eyes, it can help you adjust to the feeling.

Keep your fingernails short

When you start out with contact lenses, it’s a good idea to keep your fingernails trimmed short to start with. Until you’re comfortable with handling and using the lenses, you don’t want to accidentally scratch your own eye with longer nails while trying to put them in or remove them. You can also ask your eye doctor for special devices to remove contact lenses called plungers that can help.

 

Guide to Glaucoma: How to Prevent It, Spot It, and Treat It

Monday, December 19, 2016 @ 11:12 PM
Author: Amit Mathur

Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that cause optic nerve damage and permanent loss of vision if left untreated. It is one of the more common eye diseases and is directly caused by a buildup of excess fluid, which puts increased pressure on your optic nerves and can cause irreparable damage and blindness. It develops slowly and is painless, so while it can be difficult to notice right away it can be spotted with regular eye exams. Here is a quick guide to prevent, spot, and treat glaucoma.

glaucoma-prevention

Signs & Symptoms

The first overt symptoms of Glaucoma is the deterioration of your peripheral vision before central vision loss. The next step is your other eye has trying to make up the difference of your loss of peripheral vision, so you or someone who sees your eyes might notice that one of your eyes seems to be angled inwards. Here are other common symptoms:

  • Cloudy vision
  • Severe eye pain in either eye
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Having red eye
  • Experiencing a headache centralized over the eyebrow

It is important to realize that by the time these symptoms appear, your glaucoma is already is in its advanced stage. You probably were showing signs of it for a while before it gets to that stage, which is why it is so important to have regular eye exams as they can spot the early signs ahead of time.

Prevention

Thankfully, glaucoma is an eye disease that can be prevented. The first way is to have regular eye exams so your optometrist can spot it and treat it before it gets to the advanced stage. While some people are genetically more likely to get glaucoma, there are things you can do to prevent it. Common risk factors for glaucoma include:

  • Eye pressure — the most important risk factor for glaucoma
  • High blood pressure — affects the blood flow to the eye which can affect eye pressure
  • Migraines — people with glaucoma often also have migraines but there is no direct cause
  • Obesity — diabetic retinopathy restricts blood flow to the eye and is caused by diabetes, and people who are obese are higher risks to be diabetic

So if you want to prevent glaucoma or at least lower your risk for getting it, you can start by being healthier. If you are obese or have high blood pressure, consult your doctor and start eating better and exercising to get your weight and blood pressure under control. If you feel pressure in your eyes or experience migraines with any frequency, see your doctor and make sure you get eye exams.

Treatment

Treatment of glaucoma depends on the severity of the disease. An ophthalmologist can prescribe liquid eye drops to help relieve your eye pressure and reduce your risk of contracting it. However, depending on how advanced your glaucoma is surgery might be necessary to correct it. Surgery is useful for improving the flow of fluid in the eye and getting rid of the pressure that causes the problem, but it can’t reverse any loss of vision that’s already happened.

If you are someone who is more at risk for glaucoma, either because of your genetics or blood pressure, it cannot be stressed enough that you should schedule regular eye exams to spot early signs of glaucoma so you can get treatment before you experience any permanent vision loss.

Color Blindness: Guide to Diagnosis and Potential Treatments

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 @ 01:12 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

Color blindness is something that is often misunderstood. Despite what most people think, being color blind does not mean you are completely unable to see any color or you only see in black, white and grey. Almost every person who is color blind simply has trouble distinguishing between certain colors—most commonly they can’t tell the difference between reds, greens and blues.

For example, if a person can’t see red colors and tones they might have trouble distinguishing between purple and blue. This is because without the red tint in purple, it will look blue to them. It is very rare that a person would not be able to see any colors at all.

color-blindness

What Causes Color Blindness?

In 99% of cases of color blindness the cause is genetics. There are cells called ‘cone cells’ inside your retinas that are what allow you to sense red, green and blue light, and the strength of these cells are passed down through your mother’s X Chromosomes. Your mother might have genes that are deficient in producing these cells, or just producing them as strongly, even if she is not herself colorblind.

This is also why men are colorblind far more often than women—around 1 in 12 men have the condition as opposed to 1 in 200 women. This is because women have two X Chromosomes whereas men only have one, so they are more likely to receive the gene that passes on the deficient cone cells.

There are other causes of color blindness, but they only account for around 1% of all cases. Here are some of the more common non-genetic causes that can cause it:

  • Diseases & health conditions such as Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis
  • Eye conditions such as Glaucoma, age-related Macular Degeneration, and cataracts
  • Eye and brain injuries
  • Aging and some medication side effects

Depending on your specific case, there might be some cures or treatment for color blindness that can partially restore your ability to distinguish colors.

How Is Color Blindness Diagnosed?

Because color blindness is not so obvious, it can be difficult to detect. Why would you ever ask to be tested if colors look normal to you? You still see colors, but it might take a while for you to realize that you see different colors than most people and it is because you are seeing them incorrectly.

If you want to be tested, you can ask your doctor or optometrist to test your color vision. There are several tests that can be performed, but here are the more common ones:

  • Ishihara test—you are shown plates with dots in two different colors and one color forms a number
  • Farnsworth-Munsell hue test—you are given various colored plates and you must arrange them in a given order
  • Color Arrangement test—you are given one colored tile and asked to arrange other colored tiles in order of similarity to the original

In all three of these tests, and in most basic color blindness tests, it is a simple way of showing whether the person can distinguish between certain colors and hues. They will reveal if a person confuses certain colors or if they are unable of seeing some of them.

There are also more advanced tests that are usually done to screen people from certain careers that rely on your ability to see all colors accurately, such as pilots or train conductors.

Are There Any Treatments Or Cures For Color Blindness?

Color blindness caused by genetics does not improve over time, which is why it is important for parents to have their children tested early in their lives, as it is easier to reduce its impact or correct the condition with special lenses that can filter light for them. Certain injuries, diseases or medication side effects that cause color blindness might be able to be reversed or corrected, and again it is easier to manage if you are diagnosed early.

There is no common cure for color blindness, but there are some new studies and research that shows there might be one day in the not too distant future. Things like Gene Therapy have been used successfully on color-blind monkeys to cure the condition, but human trials have not been approved yet. There is another potential cure in the form of a single Adeno-associated virus injection that has shown similar promise and might soon begin human trials in 2017.

Such cures are not likely to become common or easily accessible to people any time soon, and when they do they will undoubtedly be expensive to begin with. But there is hope that it could happen in our lifetime.

To learn more about color blindness, treatments and diagnosis or to book an eye exam, contact your local eye doctor today.