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Progressive Myopia: When Your Child’s Vision Keeps Getting Worse

What Is Progressive Myopia?

Nearsightedness or myopia is one of the most prevalent eye disorders worldwide and its incidence is increasing. In fact by 2050, myopia is projected to affect half of the world’s population!

Many children diagnosed with nearsightedness (myopia) experience a consistent worsening of their vision as they grow into adolescence. This condition can be so aggressive that for some, each time they take their child to the eye doctor for a vision checkup, their prescription gets higher.

This is called progressive myopia and can be a serious condition for many children now and in the future. Not only is there a financial burden and inconvenience associated with having to replace eyeglasses on a regular basis, but high myopia is a risk factor for many eye diseases later in life such as retinal detachment, early onset cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

What Causes Progressive Myopia?

Myopia is a refractive error that happens when the eye focuses incoming light in front of the retina, rather than directly on it, resulting in blurred distance vision. While an exact cause of progressive myopia is not known, most research indicates that a combination of environmental and genetic factors trigger the condition.

First of all, there is evidence that a family history of nearsightedness is a contributing factor. Additionally, spending a lot of time indoors may play a role in myopia development, as studies show that children who spend more time outside have less incidence of myopia. Lastly, near point stress, which can be caused from looking at a near object for an extended period of time, can prompt the eye to grow longer and result in myopia. Several eye doctors recommend following the 20-20-20 rule when using digital devices (stopping every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds) to reduce near point stress caused by computer use.

What Can Be Done To Prevent or Treat Myopia?

There are several treatments that have been shown to slow the progression of myopia.

Orthokeratology (ortho-k):

Also known as corneal reshaping, this treatment uses rigid gas permeable contact lenses that are worn while the patient sleeps to reshape the cornea, which is the clear, front part of the eye. During the day, the patient is usually able to see clearly, glasses-free. In addition to allowing glasses-free vision during the day, this treatment has been shown to reduce the progression of myopia in many children.

Distance Center Multifocal Contact Lenses:

This treatment uses distance center (which means the area for seeing at a distance is in the center of the lens) multifocal soft contact lenses to provide clear vision and slow the progression of myopia. The lenses are worn as normal contact lenses during the day.

Additional Myopia Treatments:

While these treatments are available in all of North America, some countries offer additional options that are approved for myopia control. For example, in Canada, ZeissTM MyoVision glasses that have an innovative lens curvature design are available to help reduce the rate of myopia progression. Additionally some doctors in Canada offer Coopervision MiSight® lenses, which are 1-day contact lenses that are worn during the daytime. These contacts have a multifocal lens design with distance centre and near surround that is specifically designed for children.

Myopia & Your Child

If your child’s vision keeps getting worse, it’s more than an annoyance – it can be a serious risk factor for their eye health and vision in the future. The best strategy for myopia control depends on the child and the severity of the case, and requires consultation with an experienced eye doctor in order to determine the best solution. If your child wears glasses, make his or her vision a priority; schedule an eye exam to ensure stable vision and healthy eyes.

 

Eye Dangers in the Dorm – Eye Health for College Students

It’s almost back to school time for college students and whether this is your first time away from home or you are already a pro, you want to be prepared with as much knowledge as possible to live safely on your own. This knowledge includes eye and vision safety, as failing to take care of your eyes today could cause damage to your eyes and vision now and in the future. 

So put down your text books for a second and learn these four simple lessons about protecting your precious eyes:

Blue Light Protection

College students spend a LOT of time in front of screens. From each class, homework assignment, and research project, to texting, social media, netflix and gaming – life is largely digital. This comes with a slew of potential side effects known as computer vision syndrome, including sore and tired eyes, headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain, dry eyes and blurred vision, largely due to the effect of the blue light emitted from the screens. Research shows that blue light can also impact your sleep quality and may possibly be connected to the development of retinal damage and macular degeneration later in life.

There are a few ways to protect your eyes and vision from blue light and computer vision syndrome:

  1. Use computer glasses or blue-light blocking coated lenses or contact lenses when working on a screen for long periods of time. These lenses are made to allow optimal visual comfort for the distance and unique pixelation of working on a computer or mobile screen, by reducing glare and eye strain. They also block potentially harmful blue-light radiation from entering your eyes. 
  2. Prescription glasses may be considered as well. Many students who never needed glasses previously experience eyestrain with extensive hours studying in university. A minor prescription can make a big difference in reducing eye fatigue and helping to improve concentration.
  3. Implement the 20-20-20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows your eyes to pause from the intensity of the computer screen. 
  4. Depending on your environment, eye drops prescribed from the eye doctor may be helpful. Your blink rate often goes down substantially when you are concentrating on reading or computer work, which can cause dry eyes. Using eye drops and remembering to blink frequently can help reduce these uncomfortable symptoms. 
  5. Install bluelight filters on your digital devices to reduce the amount of blue light exposure. There are a number of free apps available to download on your phone or computer. 

Proper Contact Lens Use

Many college students opt for contact lenses as they are convenient and great for the appearance, but they come along with responsibility. The busy days and late nights can sometimes make contact lens care difficult so make sure to plan ahead. If you wear contact lenses you need to make sure that you always get them from an authorized lens distributor and that you follow your eye doctor’s instructions for proper care.

Always follow the wearing schedule and never sleep in lenses that are not designed for extended wear. Clean and disinfect as needed, and don’t rinse them with anything other than contact lens solution. Failing to follow the proper use and hygiene for contact lenses can result in irritation, infections and even corneal scarring which can result in vision loss.

One-day disposable lenses can be a great option especially for college students as they offer ultimate convenience (no cleaning and storing) and optimal eye health. 

Further, if you enjoy wearing contact lenses, then remember to get a proper fit from your eye doctor. Many “exclusive” contact lenses available online may actually be poorly fit and made from inferior materials. One size does not fit all.

UV Protection

Ultraviolet rays from the sun are known to cause long term eye damage and lead to vision threatening eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Additionally in extreme cases of unprotected UV exposure you can get sunburned eyes, known as photokeratitis, which can cause a gritty, dry feeling, burning, swelling, light sensitivity, vision changes and sometimes serious pain. These symptoms typically go away within a day or two. Wearing 100% UV reflective sunglasses whenever you are outside – rain or shine – is a first step to eye protection. A large brimmed hat to protect the eyes from exposure from the top and sides is also a recommended addition for sunny days.

Get a regular eye exam

To start off college with the right foot forward, it’s recommended to get a comprehensive eye exam prior to the start of the the school year, especially if you haven’t had one recently. This way you can ensure that your eyes and vision are in top shape and, if you wear glasses, that your prescription is still accurate. The last thing you want to worry about when getting adjusted to college is problems with your eyes and vision. 

It’s also recommended for students that are going away to another city to get a recommendation for a local eye doctor in case of an emergency. Most eye doctors know of colleagues located in other cities who they could recommend.

Just remember to think about your eyes because the better you take care of them now, the healthier eyes and vision you will have down the line. 

When was your last eye exam?

skipping comprehensive eye exams image

Based on statistics alone, there’s a pretty big chance that you or your child haven’t had a comprehensive eye exam in over a year. A mid-2017 report by VisionWatch showed that just 45.4% of the U.S. adult population received an eye exam in the last year. And according to ThinkAboutYourEyes.com, 60% of parents don’t feel a pediatric eye exam is a necessary part of a child’s healthy checkup routine. So even if YOU regularly visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist, you probably have a relative, friend or neighbor who doesn’t. Why is that?

A Healthy Mindset

A 2018 study by the American Heart Association showed that 90% of Americans have the mindset to improve their health. While guidelines exist, the exact “what” included on the list for improving health can vary from person to person.

Your list might already include:

  • Eating colorful and healthier foods
  • Moving or exercising more
  • Getting regular physicals
  • Dental checkups every six months
  • An annual mammogram

But where does a comprehensive eye exam fit into your health routine?

As children, we’re taught health care regimens that most of us continue throughout our lives. Our parents teach us to brush our teeth twice-a-day and to floss regularly. Vaccinations and annual check-ups at the pediatrician are the norm. Adults are advised to receive certain screenings and exams based on their age or family history. The health and medical communities have worked tirelessly over decades to evaluate and educate patients about the benefits of preventative habits.

Why People Skip Eye Exams

So, why is it that such a high percentage of people choose to skip comprehensive eye exams? We’re here to help educate our Long Grove friends and neighbors about the importance of these exams for their vision and overall health. Let’s look at some common reasons people often skip eye exams.

No Obvious Vision Problems

Samuel T. from Buffalo Grove has always had 20/20 vision, so he didn’t think he needed to have his eyes checked. Or, patients say that because they have not been noticing any issues or their quality of vision hasn’t changed, they assumed everything was fine. This misconception is a huge concern for Dr. Cohan and Dr. Pott because it can lead to serious health and vision issues for patients.

The public is really undereducated about how certain optical diseases can lead to permanent vision loss or even blindness. Many optical conditions (glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy) don’t have any noticeable symptoms in the early stages. But having an eye exam allows an optometrist or ophthalmologist to diagnose a condition and provide early intervention which can slow or even stop the progression of some diseases.

Cost

The rising cost of healthcare in the U.S. is impacting us all. The fear of how much an eye appointment will cost can influence the decision to schedule an exam. But we hope the value of what’s learned at that appointment will greatly outweigh the cost.

Patients with vision insurance (e.g. VSP, Eyemed) should be taking advantage of the benefits included in their plan. If an annual exam is covered, don’t ignore the benefit. That’s like flushing money down the drain. And certain medical conditions related to vision are actually covered by health insurance plans, often reducing the out-of-pocket costs.

Mary (who doesn’t have vision insurance) is a newer patient at the practice, with young kids active in sports at their Buffalo Grove middle school. Regardless of the need for glasses or contacts, her family should still budget for and make comprehensive eye exams a priority because it impacts each person’s overall health and quality of life. Choosing to skip eye exams can lead to catastrophic results physically and even financially. Is that a gamble you’re willing to take for you or your child?

Inconvenient and Uncomfortable

Time and comfort are valuable to everyone. We’ve probably all had a below average experience at some point—waiting endlessly for an appointment we barely had time to schedule in the first place. And who really loves visiting the doctor?

At Forsight Vision, we strive for you to have the best patient experience you’ve ever had. We make it easy to schedule appointments, with early and extended hours and convenient online appointment requests so you can do it right from your phone—no matter the time of day or where you are. We have a comfy waiting area with coffee and cookies and even a room just for kids—with toys, movies, and an Xbox, so the kiddos have something to do while waiting for parents or siblings. Our staff is super friendly, offering thorough explanations of tests, guidance through insurance questions and assistance selecting frames and lenses appropriate for your needs. Our optometrists are knowledgeable, approachable and available.

Have we convinced you?

We hope we’ve shed some light on some of the misconceptions related to eye health. And we hope you’ve learned a thing or two that will change the way you think about annual eye exams. If you don’t know the last time you visited an eye doctor—the time is now. Call us at 847-955-9393 or visit us at ForsightVisionCare.com to learn more about our office of optometry and schedule online.

Do I have eye allergies or dry eye syndrome?

dry eye syndrome versus allergies image

You’ve been treating your burning, itching, irritated eyes with over-the-counter eye drops for longer than you can remember. You already know you’re allergic to pollen, mold and pet dander which can make you have watery eyes. So, it’s fair to say that when your eyes are red and uncomfortable, it’s probably because you’ve been exposed to something and the allergy drops you grabbed on your latest trip to Target will do the trick—right? We wish it were that simple, but the answer isn’t that concrete.

The same, but different

It’s easy to confuse dry eye syndrome with eye allergies or even conjunctivitis (pink eye). While some of the physical symptoms can be similar, the reason for those symptoms and the proper treatment are quite different for each case.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye symptoms can include:

  • Stinging, burning, redness and irritation
  • Scratchy or gritty sensation in the eye
  • Excessive tearing or watery eyes
  • The feeling that something is “in your eye”
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye fatigue
  • Glare issues at night and when driving
  • Trouble wearing contact lenses

These symptoms can be caused by various factors like age, menopause, medications, health conditions and controllable situations like environment and electronic device usage. Symptoms can lessen at times, but are typically chronic and worsen over time.

Eye Allergies

Symptoms of eye allergies include:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Stinging, burning or painful eyes
  • Watery discharge from the eyes accompanied by a runny nose
  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Other allergy symptoms like a scratchy throat

Allergy symptoms appear more suddenly and usually happen directly following exposure to an allergen. You may notice irritation after spending time at a nearby forest preserve or after visiting a friend that owns a cat or dog.

The right diagnosis and treatment

Our eye doctors encourage you to seek help when you begin noticing symptoms. Trying to self-diagnose or treat your symptoms using over-the-counter remedies won’t work. It’s critical to find out WHY you have dry eyes, before seeking treatment. Chronic dry eye syndrome can even cause permanent damage, so we stress the importance of seeking medical advice first.

During a comprehensive eye exam or dry eye evaluation, our optometrists will listen to you and perform the necessary tests to properly evaluate all of your symptoms.

With the help of the latest diagnostic tools and decades of experience treating patients with both conditions, our optometrists can help determine the cause of your eye irritation and provide the most effective treatment plan for you.

To focus exclusively on dry eye disease management, we recently opened the Midwest Dry Eye Center, a specialty center located within the Forsight Vision office.

Ready to visit an optometrist?

If you need an appointment, call us at 847-955-9393 or schedule online.

Find out even more about dry eye syndrome, advanced diagnostic technology and the state-of-the-art treatments we offer at the Midwest Dry Eye Center by visiting MidwestDryEyeCenter.com or call 847-383-5852.

Forsight Vision Care logo

At Forsight Vision and Midwest Dry Eye Center, it is our highest priority to provide the best quality eye care and to ensure the health and safety of our patients, staff and our entire community. We are happy to announce that we will be reopening the office for routine eyecare starting Saturday, May 2, 2020.

We are making great efforts to keep you and your family safe and have made the following changes to address the challenges regarding COVID-19 following the CDC and AOA (American Optometric Association) guidelines.

In order to prevent any further spread of the COVID-19 (Corona Virus) we ask that you please reschedule your appointment if any of the following applies to you:

Seek medical advice if you develop symptoms, or have been in contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

As a local, family-owned business, we SINCERELY appreciate each and every one of you for trusting us with your eye care. Please keep yourself and your loved ones safe during these difficult times.

We look forward to welcoming you back for your next visit.

Thank you!

Dr. Cohan, Dr. Cozzone, and the entire staff at Forsight Vision and Midwest Dry Eye Center.