What is Presbyopia? What is a Cataract? What about Macular Degeneration or Dermatochalasis? What do they mean and how do they affect my eye or the eyes of my loved ones? These are all characteristics of the aging process and they can all be treated, and in some cases prevented.

At some point around 35 years old, the lens of the eye, responsible for focusing, starts losing that ability. It catches up with us visually in our early 40s through the symptoms of losing ability to see fine print. It is why the reading glasses business is a multimillion dollar business! This condition is called Presbyopia (Latin for “old eyes”). Presbyopia is treated through a variety of ways: reading glasses, bifocal glasses and contact lenses, and surgery. Presbyopia cannot be prevented but in some cases Macular Degeneration can be.

Macular Degeneration affects the back surface of the eye called the retina. The central processing center of vision takes place there. Small deposits of lipid and protein (called Drusen) build up causing a loss of central vision. The early symptoms are a need for more light when reading, then wavy lines occur which should be straight, then finally blind spots or scotomas centrally. Macular degeneration can be treated if caught early with medication and laser treatment. A dilated eye examination with your eye care practitioner yearly can detect this early so that intervention can lead to prevention of blindness. Smoking, sun exposure, and high cholesterol are factors that exacerbate the condition. However, eating certain foods such as broccoli, kale, and green leafy vegetables can give you the lutein that is required to prevent this condition. Lutein and antioxidants can be prescribed in a vitamin.

Dermatochalasis is lid drooping that causes the eyelid to cover a portion of the eye. It affects peripheral vision and is the natural sagging caused by loss of collagen elasticity in the skin. An eye lid surgery can remove the extra tissue and restore normal visual function again to the eyelid, and in some cases make you look younger!

Cataracts can be present at any age, even newborns. The most typical cataracts are seen after age 60. A cataract is a natural hardening of the lens of the eye which causes symptoms of glare at night, a need for more light when reading, and fuzzy or blurry vision that won’t clear with new glasses. Cataracts can be treated with surgery that restores visual function by way of an implant. Newer techniques can even restore reading vision and turn back the clock on your eyes by 20 years or more. Cataracts can be slowed by taking vitamins, especially Vitamin C and antioxidants, wearing sunglasses, and smoking cessation.

It is important to understand the aging eye and all the treatments and preventative care that can be implemented to save one of the most precious gifts you have: your vision.

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What are conditions that can affect a child’s vision and the potential for learning? What is Amblyopia? What is Strabismus? What about Convergence Insufficiency? These are serious conditions of a child’s eye that need addressed. Did you know that 80% of learning comes through vision? The proverb that states, ”A picture is worth a thousand words” is true! But what if a child cannot visually see or process those words?

Let’s explore Amblyopia , or “lazy eye”. It affects 3-5% of the population, enough that the federal government funded children’s yearly eye exams into the Accountable Care Act or ObamaCare health initiative. Amblyopia occurs when the anatomical structure of the eye is normal, but the “brain -eye connection” is malfunctioning. In other words, it is like plugging in your computer to the outlet and the power never gets to the computer all the way.

Amblyopia need to be caught early in life, in fact if it is not caught and treated early (before age 8) it can lead to permanent vision impairment. Correction with glasses or contacts and patching the good eye daily are ways it is treated. Most eye doctors agree that the first exam should take place in the first year of life. Early detection is a key.

Strabismus is a condition that causes an eye to turn in (esotropia), out (exotropia), or vertically. It can be treated with glasses or contacts, and if needed surgery. Vision therapy or strategic eye exercises prescribed by a doctor can also improve this condition. In fact, vision therapy is the treatment of choice for Convergence Insufficiency.

When we read, our brain tells our eyes to turn in to a comfortable reading posture. In Convergence Insufficiency, the brain tells the eyes to turn in, but they instead turn out, causing tremendous strain on that child’s eye for reading. Another tell tale sign of this condition is the inability to cross your eyes when a target approaches. The practitioner will see instead, that one of the eyes kicks out as the near target approaches. This condition can be treated with reading glasses or contacts, and eye exercises that teach the muscles of the eye to align properly during reading.

It is important to understand the pediatric eye and all the treatments that can be implemented to augment the learning process. Preventative care in the form of early eye examinations can mean the difference between reading properly or struggling badly in a child’s learning. Remember, a young child can’t tell you if they have a vision impairment or not. For the success of the child: be proactive in encouraging exams in the first year of life and beyond.

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