Healthy Eyes for Peak Performance

English_Brochure_1Good eye health and optimal vision are critical factors for better performance at school, at work, and at play.

To provide parents with a better understanding of how to foster and maintain their children’s healthy vision for peak performance, the American Optometric Association Sports Vision Section and Safe Kids Worldwide® developed a free educational brochure, titled Healthy Eyes for Peak Performance. SJEA has obtained copies of this brochure, in both English and Spanish, for our patients to download right here from our website.

Healthy Eyes for Peak Performance offers practical advice on how to maintain children’s healthy vision, including information on the importance of regular eye exams, the harmful effects of extended exposure to the sun, and the necessity of protective eyewear during sports activities. It also highlights a growing body of research that demonstrates the quality-of-life benefits of contact lens wear beyond correcting vision.

Can Your Child See Well?

If you have doubts about your child’s vision, here are some signs to look for.

How do his eyes look to you? Are they red-rimmed or encrusted? Are her eyelids swollen? Does he complain that his eyes itch or burn or feel scratchy? When she’s reading or watching television for a long time, does she complain of headaches? Do things look blurry to him sometimes?

Blinking and squinting are also signs of vision problems. So is becoming irritable or short-tempered from a headache or eye strain after studying for a long time.

You may think your child is clumsy when he or she stumbles over objects occasionally, things that any normal youngster would see and avoid. But the problem may be an issue with the eyes, not clumsiness.

Your child’s eyes are an important part of his life and health. They deserve a regular check-up too. If your child needs help, only a complete eye examination will tell you.

Signs of Dyslexia

If you know a child who has dyslexia, one of the things he has in common with other children who have this problem is poor reading ability. This can be true in spite of good intelligence, supportive parents, and strong motivation. If a child has dyslexia he may find it difficult to understand what others see or hear or to distinguish one letter or word from another. Words and letters confuse them. They confuse b with d, saw with was, 12 with 21, etc. When they try to draw geometric figures, squares become rounded, oblique lines become vertical or horizontal or vice versa. Sometimes the frustrations in learning cause serious emotional problems.

These are just some of the problems associated with dyslexia. It is a serious handicap and no one knows exactly what causes it. Fortunately, the majority of children are born without this problem. If your child experiences difficulty in learning how to read because of a vision problem, help is available from your eye doctor to correct it.

Aging and Eye Changes

If you’re over the age of 40, chances are you now use reading glasses or bifocals to improve the clarity of your vision. This is a natural consequence of aging as the eyes’ focusing muscles become weaker and other changes occur in the eyes. With advancing age, however, a person’s vision can also be subject to serious diseases that may cause visual loss if not treated early enough.

One of these eye diseases is senile macular degeneration or SMD. SMD attacks a part of the eye known as the macula, located in the retina at the back of the eye. The macula is a light-sensing nerve tissue that lines the inside of the eyes. It makes it possible for you to see an object in detail. One of the symptoms of SMD is loss of the ability to read and see objects clearly.

The need to detect eye problems and diseases as early as possible is one of the best reasons why you should have regular eye exams. If you haven’t had an eye exam recently, make an appointment with your eye doctor now.

Do I Need Glasses?

If you’ve never worn glasses before but are experiencing symptoms that suggest you might need them, you should have your eyes examined. Your eyes are always changing, and when you have a vision problem these changes become quite noticeable. For instance, if you’ve been suffering from headaches associated with eye strain, that’s a warning signal.

Other warning signs include blurred vision, a pain of any kind in the eye, distorted vision, and the habit of squinting when you have difficulty seeing something. Other signs that indicate you should waste no time in having your eyes examined are irritation and fatigue. Whatever your job happens to be, your ability to see well is important. So is your ability to see clearly when you’re relaxing or working at home or enjoying some of your favorite recreations.

Sight is precious, and the ability to see well should be protected. If you have any symptoms that suggest you should have your eyes examined to find out if you need glasses, make an appointment with your eye doctor now.

The Importance of Vision Balance

Sometimes the information coming in through the eyes does not get through quickly enough, or is unreliable when it reaches the brain. It happens in offices, in factories, in schools, at home. It has been known to cause accidents, dangerous mistakes, and even learning difficulties in school children.

Your optometrist, after a thorough examination, can provide proper lenses to balance the convergence and focusing mechanisms and to rearrange the brain’s matching process. Thus, your intelligence actually becomes greater, because the experience becomes accurate, and learning easier, since the incoming information is more reliable.

These lenses also, through reflex action, can affect other bodily functions. Sometimes patients complain, “These lenses I’ve been wearing make me sick to my stomach.”

On the other hand, many patients are amazed that “just a pair of glasses” often relieves nervous tension and other seemingly unrelated ailments.

Age Related Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is fairly common among the elderly. The macula is the portion of the retina responsible for clear, sharp, central vision. Occasionally, the waste products of some of the cells in the macula are not removed as they normally are. Instead, they just clump together, so that when you look directly at an object, you can’t see it clearly.

It’s as though you had a piece of dirt on a camera film. Light just can’t reach the film through the dirt to give a clear picture. However, your side (peripheral) vision is not affected. It doesn’t matter how strong a lens we put in front of these eyes. If the light can’t reach the macula, you’re not going to see what you’re looking at very clearly.

So, if you see a dark spot in the center of your visual field, it would be wise to have a thorough eye examination. If caught early enough, those dead cells in the macula can be treated with a laser beam and vision often improved.

Color Vision Explained

The sky is blue, the grass is green, the sun a burning yellow, but why? We know that white light is really a composite of the colors orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The retina, which receives the light, contains three types of color sensors called red, green and blue cones. The red cones respond to the longer wave-lengths of light, the green cones to the middle range, and the blue cones to the short wave-lengths.

The brain has to juggle all of this different wave-length information and funnel it through the retina’s 5 million cones before we get a precisely painted picture of what our eyes have seen. This constantly changing stream of images from the world to our mind gives patterns of color at speed of light.

This amazing visual system works reliably in all but a tiny percent of the American population. When it does not, the result is color blindness.

High Risk for Eye Cancer

The National Cancer Institute states that exposure to strong sunlight, particularly in early childhood, may increase the risk of intraocular malignant melanoma (eye cancer). This disease affects about 2,000 people each year and can be fatal if left untreated.

Being born in the south, having blue eyes, indulging in sun bathing and not wearing sunglasses all appear to increase the risk. Being born in the south increases the risk three-fold. Blue-eyed people had the highest risk. Brown-eyed people were 60% less likely to develop the disease.

Some practical advice: Always shield your youngster’s eyes from the sun with hat or sunglasses. By filtering out the ultra-violet light rays, they also help prevent night blindness. As we get older, the crystalline lens of the eye helps in filtering out these harmful rays. Heed the advice of these experts and avoid undue exposure to sunlight unless you have adequate eye protection.