Although complications with an infant’s eyes are rare, it is important for parents to be aware of the warning signs. According to the American Optometric Association, the following symptoms may indicate a problem with an infant’s vision:
- Excessive tearing, which can indicate a blocked tear duct;
- Red or “crusty” eyelids, which may be a sign of an infection;
- A white pupil, which occurs in some cancers of the eye;
- Constant turning of the eyes, which may indicate trouble with muscle control;
- Extreme light sensitivity, which could mean the infant has increased pressure in the eye.
Some of these issues – like blocked tear ducts – are common and usually temporary. Others, like some rare forms of cancer, are more serious and require specialized treatment. Regardless, it is important to talk to your pediatrician or an optometrist on your vision plan if you notice any of the above symptoms. The American Optometric Association recommends children see the eye doctor for the first time at the age of 6 months, even if there appears to be no vision problems.
At that appointment, the optometrist will test the infant’s eye movement and look for signs of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Any other problems with the eyes will also be addressed. Although most babies have normal vision, it is important to identify any issues as soon as possible – the earlier correction begins, the more easily the child will be able to adapt to his or her surroundings and develop at an age-appropriate pace.
It’s no secret that severely dry or irritated eyes can be very uncomfortable. In many cases, an eye doctor will prescribe eye drops to help soothe a patient’s eyes and relieve any pain or discomfort. Before your eyes can heal, however, you must know the proper way to apply these drops. The Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Remove the cap without touching the dropper tip.
- Tilting your head back slightly, use your index finger to gently pull your lower eye lid away from your eye to form a pocket.
- With your other hand, tilt the dropper over the pocket.
- While glancing upward, squeeze the bottle and release the correct number of drops into the pocket. Do not allow the bottle to touch either your eye or eyelid to avoid contamination.
- Once drops are in place, close your eyes without blinking.
- Apply pressure to “the point where your lids meet your nose” and hold for approximately two to three minutes, or as instructed by your eye doctor.
- Before opening your eyes, wipe any extraneous drops from your eye lid with a tissue.
- Open your eyes. If using more than one prescription, wait at least five minutes before applying the second dose.
The most important thing to remember is to follow your eye doctor’s instructions precisely. Ask an ophthalmologist on your vision plan if you have any questions regarding your use of eye drops or their possible side effects.
The popularity of contact lenses has skyrocketed over the last decade. It is not unusual to be unaware that someone you work with – or even one of your friends – has corrective lenses. But contacts are not for everyone. Many factors go into the decision to wear contacts, so be sure to talk to an eye doctor on your discount vision plan about your individual situation. In general, the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests that people who have the following issues may not be a good candidate for contact lenses:
• Severe allergies
•Frequent eye infections
• A dusty work environment
• Dry eyes that are resistant to treatment
• An inability to handle or properly care for the lenses
If you do get contacts, it is important to learn the proper method of cleaning and disinfecting the lenses. Dirty contacts can increase your chance of getting an eye infection, so make sure to thoroughly clean both the lenses and their cases. Also, anytime a lens is removed from the eye, it should be cleaned again before being reinserted. If your eyes become irritated while wearing contacts, talk to your eye doctor and find a way to alter your routine. The fix could be something as simple as changing your wetting drops or, in some cases, it might be best to stick to wearing glasses. Your doctor will let you know which option is healthier for your eyes.
You might have grown up hearing that eating carrots is a good way to sharpen your vision, but research is showing another excellent way to boost your eye health: Vitamin C. According to the American Optometric Association, nearly all cells in the body rely on Vitamin C to stay healthy, particularly those in the eyes. Research shows that Vitamin C is critical to the health of ocular blood vessels and can reduce the risk of cataracts by more than 50 percent. In addition, studies show Vitamin C, when taken in combination with other nutrients, and can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness for people over 55. Unfortunately, the body does not produce Vitamin C on its own, so people need to make a conscious effort to get enough of this valuable antioxidant.
The FDA suggests that males need 90 mg/day, while females need 75 mg/day. To give you a frame of reference, one medium orange is approximately 70 mg. Other great sources of Vitamin C include fruits such as grapefruits, tomatoes, bananas, apples and peaches. The most concentrated doses of Vitamin C come from the juices of such fruits as oranges and grapefruits – one cup of orange juice has a whopping 124 mg! An optometrist on your True Dental Discounts vision plan can give you more detailed information about sharpening your vision with Vitamin C. It’s easy to integrate antioxidants like Vitamin C into your diet if you have a little help and encouragement, so be sure to ask about it at your next appointment.
Eye exams can include many different vision tests that measure the health and functioning of your eyes. One of these tests is a retinal examination, which looks at the retina, optic disk, and blood vessels in the back of your eye. According to the Mayo Clinic, eye doctors may use one of three techniques to look at the back of your eye. First, however, he will likely need to dilate your pupils with eye drops that may give you a slight stinging sensation. After the drops are in place, he may conduct a direct examination, an indirect examination, or a slit-lamp examination. In a direct examination, a beam of light is shined through the pupil so that the doctor can view the back of the eye with an ophthalmoscope. This exam may cause you to temporarily see afterimages once the light is gone.
For an indirect examination, the patient usually lies down on a chair while the doctor shines a light strapped to his head into the patient’s eye. This technique allows the doctor to see the eye in three dimensions and is also likely to result in temporary afterimages. Finally, the slit-lamp examination has the ability to show the doctor the most detail about the back of the eye. In this exam, the doctor uses the slit lamp as well as a condensing or contact lens. Each of these three exams takes only about five to 10 minutes, but depending on the use of eye drops, your vision will likely be blurry for several hours. Before your appointment at your True Dental Discounts vision plan doctor, ask someone to drive you home and make any necessary arrangements at work.