Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sponsored: Tips from VSP Vision Care optometrist, Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford

For many insurance companies, this is the time of year that open enrollment has begun, so if you have not done so already, you should sign up for vision insurance coverage. Regular vision screenings are very important for anyone, but especially in children. Did you know that ision screenings in school are simply not enough to ensure proper eye health? And in reality, children should begin to have their eye exams as early as age three!

For more information about children’s eye health, visit

We had the opportunity to interview a VSP Vision Care optometrist regarding pediatric visual screenings, vision therapy, glasses and contact wear. We're excited to share those answers with you all, as we even learned some interesting things, as well!

Are vision screenings in school enough?
No, vision screenings in school are not enough. Comprehensive eye exams detect what school vision screenings cannot. While in-school screenings do help identify some vision problems, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, they do not test for all of the problems that a comprehensive eye exam can detect like diabetes and hypertension – both growing health concerns for children. Two of the most common vision problems a screening can miss are eye coordination and lazy eye.

Standard School Screening

Comprehensive Eye Exam
ü  Visual acuity
ü  Visual acuity
ü  Refractive status
ü  Color vision
ü  Eye alignment
ü  Eye health
ü  Chronic diseases

What are some signs that your child might have poor vision?
There are several common signs that may indicate that a child is having trouble with his or her vision. Parents should discuss these signs with their child’s optometrist to ensure their children do not have underlying vision issues:
·         Squinting eyes or closing one eye
·         Tilting or turning his or her head to see more clearly
·         Holding things very close to read
·         Any eye turn or “lazy” eye
·         Not being able to see the depth of a 3D movie    
·         Difficulty completing assignments
·         Headaches after or during reading
·         Skipping/rereading lines of print
·         Double vision, words overlapping
·         Falling asleep while reading/avoidance of near work

At what age should a child get their first comprehensive eye exam?
After the first infant eye exam, children should receive a comprehensive eye exam when they’re 3 years old, or before entering preschool; at 5 years old, or before entering kindergarten; and then every year after that. A child’s eyes will continue to develop until he or she reaches about 7 years of age. At this point, the eyes have reached full maturity, and it is much more difficult to correct permanent vision problems that could have been avoided.

Why are annual vision exams important – especially for kids who may have had no issues previously?
Two reasons: 1) children’s vision and visual needs change so quickly, so as a result, we recommend annual exams because you don’t want to let things go if there’s a problem; 2) children are unlikely to tell you if there is a problem because they don’t have a standard of comparison. When you do a comprehensive eye exam, you can see things changing earlier and take a proactive approach.

Can the use of electronic devices such as televisions, computers, tablets and phones cause damage to vision? 
Many effects of digital use on vision are short term. In general, the eyes function best when looking at something in the distance, like a house or a tree on the horizon. When the eyes look at something close up, they have to change focus and position, and this takes a small amount of effort. Over time, this effort adds up, leading to blurry vision, eye strain or headaches. Also, the eyes blink less when looking at screens and tend to dry out, which can result in blurriness, burning and discomfort.
In addition, digital devices radiate blue light, which is the most harmful light that penetrates all the way to the back of the eye. It causes increasing damage over time and can lead to macular degeneration. Thankfully, there are special lenses for your glasses that block harmful blue light and UV radiation. Talk to your eye doctor, and take precaution to minimize your kids’ exposure to blue light.

How would you recommend getting small children adjusted to glasses?
One thing that may help when trying to get a child to wear his or her glasses: demonstrate the difference in how they see objects – such as an airplane or leaves on a tree – when they wear their glasses versus when they don’t. Give them that “things are so much clearer!” moment. Planting the seed that these glasses make a huge difference actually helps them to believe that this is important and helpful, not just some random rule they have to listen to.
The other element to making sure they wear their glasses is to ensure that they actually like the style. When your child is looking for glasses, let them be in control as much as possible. If they have a say in the selection process, it makes them more likely to wear them.

What are your thoughts on vision therapy? Is it beneficial?
I’m a huge advocate for vision therapy and think it is absolutely beneficial. There are many types of visual problems where there are no other options; glasses, contacts, medicine and surgery aren’t solving a problem and vision therapy can. Many times, those are conditions that create problems that interfere with really fundamental things such as reading, writing and other activities. For the right patient it is not only beneficial, but essential.
What is the purpose of an eye patch when children receive vision therapy?
The eye patch is one way to help children who favor one eye to develop the use of the other eye so that each eye can see equally well. It doesn’t inherently teach the eyes to work together well, so oftentimes vision therapy is recommended to improve binocular vision (the eyes working together).
What types of exercises can parents do for their children to help strengthen their ocular muscles?
For almost all children, it’s not an issue that the muscles aren’t strong enough – it’s more that they’re not coordinated enough. Activities that help general coordination also help eye coordination, such as: ball sports, playing outside, any games that involve movement and hand-eye coordination, balance, etc. There can be much more sophisticated ways to handle those situations, which is why an evaluation with an optometrist familiar with children’s vision is essential.

What is the youngest age that contacts are recommended?
For certain patients, such as ones who were born with cataracts, they can be fit in infancy. The youngest patient I have ever fit was 13 months old, but those are special circumstances.Most commonly, and it depends on the maturity of the child, 8 or 9 years old is a typical age to start wearing contacts.

What are the pros and cons of wearing contacts?
The big pro is that you don’t have to deal with something specifically on your face, just on your eyes, and in some cases vision can be superior in contacts rather than glasses. For example, if you have a very high prescription, contacts may be the right fit for you.
The biggest cons are that they require more attention, consistency and maintenance. Additionally, there are more medical risks than wearing glasses because they are physically on your eyes, and they may be less comfortable depending on the situation.
Are there any conditions that would not allow for the wearing of contacts?
You should reconsider wearing contacts if you have any condition where the eyes’ health is compromised. This could mean infections, injuries, extreme allergies or conditions where the eyes are dry and don’t allow for contacts. Furthermore, there are certain prescriptions where contacts might not work or they might need to be specialized, like rigid contacts, because there wouldn’t be sufficiently corrected vision in soft contacts.
Other times where contacts may not be the best idea include situations where a person can’t take care of the contacts from a hygiene, daily routine perspective, or even cognitive deficits. 

Thank you again for your time doctor, we appreciate you sharing your knowledge with our readers!!!

Make sure you check out VSP's website, they have many great resources for parents of children who wear glasses, Computer Vision Syndrome, and even a Parent's guide for children in athletics!

So mamas, does this change your plans for back to school checkups? Are you adding a vision examination into the mix this year?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, questions were written by The Nurse Mommy team, but answered by VSP Vision Care optometrist. We were compensated to share the information above. However, The Nurse Mommy blog will always provide honest opinions, beliefs or experiences on products reviewed. We will only recommend products or services that we feel are of benefit to our readers. This post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice. Please check with your physician, ophthalmologist or optometrist if you have any questions pertaining to your health or vision. If you have any questions or would like your product or company featured on The Nurse Mommy, please contact Paige from The Nurse Mommy at nursemommypaige at yahoo dot com

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing vision information. I found it very helpful.