Can & When...

Can My Optometrist Tell If I am Diabetic?
This is a question that patients ask us all the time. The best and simplest answer is that we can only tell if someone is diabetic if the diabetes is affecting their eyes. Of course the best way of knowing if you are diabetic is having your blood sugar monitored. However, frequently we will see a patient that has had diabetic changes to the back of their eyes but they do not yet know that they are diabetic. Diabetic retinopathy is the term given to changes in the blood vessels and subsequent leaking and bleeding of these blood vessels into the retina, the area at the back of the eye that is responsible for your vision. These leakages can wreak havoc on the health of your eyes and potentially your vision. Mild diabetic changes may not affect your sight initially. If there is progression, the goal is to have you referred to an ophthalmologist for treatment before the diabetic changes affect the vision. Therefore, monitoring your eye health is very important even when your vision seems to be doing well. As a diabetic, the best way to ensure that you don’t develop vision loss due to diabetic changes to the back of the eye is to keep your blood sugar in control and to have your eyes examined regularly.

Can my child harm their eyes by playing video games for too long?
Especially after Christmas, and the increase in popularity of game systems and everything ipod related, children and adults alike are spending an abundance of time staring at screens. Although playing video games will not create a prescription, it can result in strain and headaches if you are not wearing the proper glasses or maintaining a proper distance from the screen. Your blink rate also decreases significantly when focusing on a screen for too long. This intent concentration can lead to dry, burning or irritated eyes. To minimize these effects make sure the room is “eye-friendly” by reducing sources of glare on the screen and use soft lighting. Encourage periodic breaks to give the eyes a much needed rest and balance video game time with other activities. Drink water to keep yourself and your eyes hydrated, and always remember the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and focus 20 feet away. Your eyes will thank you! If you are having difficulty staying focused on your screen please contact our office and we will be happy to help to discuss treatment options.

Can my headaches vision related?
Most headaches are due to causes such as tension, poor neck posture, sinus trouble, high blood pressure, or a spasm of the blood vessels, as in a migraine. When headaches are actually caused by the eyes, they tend to be related to use of the eyes and are relieved by resting them. Headaches that regularly follow prolonged reading or other close work, working at a computer screen, or watching television or a movie are probably eye-related. Sometimes uncorrected astigmatism or farsightedness can cause an eyestrain type of headache and signify a need for glasses. Similarly, eye muscles that are not working together properly can result in eye-pulling or forehead headaches. Although these problems may exist for many years without causing any problems, later in life one’s tolerance may lessen. Very rarely, glaucoma (pressure in the eyes) of the narrow angle type can cause headaches. Some eye diseases and conditions cause a sensation of actual eye-ache, the same as you might have on coming out of a dark theatre into the bright sunlight. An eye-ache in only one eye, especially, should be brought to the attention of an eye specialist.

When should my child have his/her eyes examined?
Children should be seen by the age of 3 or as early as 6 months if there is concern or family history of eye conditions. Examinations can be performed at any age, even before a child can speak. Vision, alignment, depth perception, colour vision and ocular health are assessed during a comprehensive examination. Vision screenings are not a replacement for eye examinations and even 43% of children with a vision problem may pass a vision screening. Since 80% of learning is done through the eyes, it is important to detect ocular and visual conditions at a young age. Don’t assume your child will tell you if they are having visual problems. Children often do not know what is normal for their vision or assume everyone sees the way they do. In fact, they can often work their eyes too hard to compensate and result in headaches. One in six children has a visual problem severe enough to impair their ability to learn. However, children with poor vision who have difficulties staying focused may be misdiagnosed with a learning disability or behavioural issues. Be proactive by having your child’s eyes examined to be certain they are ready to succeed. Eye examinations are covered by OHIP for children up to the age of 19 and are recommended every 12 months. Your eyes are your most important school supplies!