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Should I have my children’s eyes checked?

McRay Denton Vision Center eye care Chickasha,Oklahoma

McRay Denton Vision Center Helps Kids Reach the Top of the Class

There’s a strong association between sharp eyesight and successful classroom learning.

According to education experts, the bulk of education in school is taught with the help of visual tools. A child who cannot see well is therefore at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to absorbing and processing information. Regular pediatric eye exams are the best way to ensure that your child’s vision makes the grade!

At McRay Denton Vision Center, in Chickasha, OK, we’ll perform a thorough kids eye exam to assess all parts of your child’s visual system.

We invite you warmly to come in with your child to meet Dr. McRay, our friendly and experienced optometrist.

Using advanced diagnostic tools and a pleasant, gentle manner, Dr. McRay will evaluate your kid’s eyes, including checking visual acuity (near and far vision), eye teaming, peripheral eyesight, eye mobility and eye-hand coordination. If you have any specific questions about your child’s eyesight, we encourage you to share them with us.

We’ll gladly take the time to address your concerns.

To prepare you for your pediatric eye exam appointment at McRay Denton Vision Center, here’s some helpful information about what to expect:

When is the right time for a kids eye exam?

  • 1. Babies should have their first vision check-up at 6 months of age
  • 2. 3 years old is recommended for the second complete pediatric eye examination
  • 3. A total eye exam should be done before starting school, at 5-6 years old
  • 4. Yearly eye exams are advised for kids who wear eyeglasses. If no vision correction is required, regular check-ups can be performed every 2 years.

What tests are done?

Every child is unique, and we personalize our kids eye exams to suit your child. We will determine which tests and procedures to perform in our Chickasha, OK, office, depending upon your child’s age, developmental stage and personal vision condition.

The following explanations are provided as a basic guideline:

  • Infants By three months of age, infants should be able to fixate on an object and track it visually. We’ll assess the development of this skill. We’ll also shine a light into your baby’s eyes to observe how their pupils open and shut in reaction. An additional evaluation that we may conduct is a test called “preferential looking”, in which we show images to your infant and inspect how his or her gaze responds.
  • Pre-school children Have no fear if your child isn’t yet confident reading the ABC’s! We can still check visual acuity. Retinoscopy is one useful procedure that we perform; it evaluates how light reflects off the retina. LEA symbols, used in place of a standard letter and number chart, also enable us to assess vision quality by having your child look at graphic images of various shapes, such as an apple or a house. Eye teaming is checked with random dot stereopsis, a method based on showing dot patterns to your kid.
  • School-aged kids We will evaluate visual acuity comprehensively to determine if your child needs vision correction, such as prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Eye alignment will also be assessed, to verify that the whole visual system is functioning together well. Using a high powered lens, we’ll also inspect your kid’s ocular health for any signs of abnormalities.

What are some common diagnoses made during pediatric eye exams?

:
Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are the most typical diagnoses that Dr. McRay makes when examining kids in our Chickasha, OK, optometric clinic. Other usual problems include:

  • Amblyopia (lazy eye) – generally treated by patching the dominant eye
  • Strabismus – due to weak, misaligned eye muscles, surgery is often recommended, or eye exercises are done to strengthen ocular muscles
  • Convergence insufficiency – an inability to keep eyes aligned well for reading, vision therapy is often successful treatment
  • Binocularity problems – causes difficulty with coordination and depth perception
  • Accommodation Problems – Trouble focusing between near and far, vision therapy is usually prescribed

If we detect any of these eyesight problems in your child, we’ll consult with you to discuss what we find – and we’ll work with you to identify the best treatment or therapy for your child’s visual needs, age, health condition and lifestyle.

Call McRay Denton Vision Center on (405) 276-4451 in Chickasha, Oklahoma to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist, Dr. McRay.

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Is Your Teen Ready for Contacts?

Many teens who wear glasses are eager to try out contact lenses for convenience, fashion or to just provide another option for vision correction. For teens who feel self-conscious in their glasses, contact lenses can be a way to improve self-esteem. Young athletes and swimmers find that contacts are an excellent option for sports, especially as younger kids are becoming involved in travel sports and club teams outside of school.

While contacts might appear to be the perfect solution for teens that need corrective eyewear, they are a convenience that comes with a lot of responsibility so it’s not a decision to take lightly. Improper use of contact lenses can cause severe discomfort, infections, irritation and, in the worst cases, eye damage or even permanent vision loss.

“With Privilege Comes Responsibility”

Contact lenses are a medical device and should always be treated as such. They should never be obtained without a valid contact lens prescription from an eye doctor, and always purchased from an authorized seller. Among other issues, poor fitting contact lenses bought from illegitimate sources have been known to cause micro-abrasions to the eyes that can increase the risk of eye infection and corneal ulcers in worst case scenarios.

Particularly when it comes to kids and teens, it is best to purchase contact lenses from an eye doctor as they possess the expertise to properly fit contact lenses based on the shape of the eye, the prescription, the lifestyle of the child and other factors that may influence the comfort, health and convenience of contact lens use.

There is some debate over the recommended age for kids to start considering contact lenses. While some experts will say the ideal age is between 11 and 14, there are many responsible children as young as 8 or even younger who have begun to successfully use them. When children are motivated and responsible, and parents are able to ensure follow-up to the daily regimen, earlier contact lens use can be a success. A good measure of whether your child is responsible enough to use contacts is whether they are able to keep their room clean, or maintain basic hygiene like brushing teeth regularly and effectively.

When you think your child might be ready, you should schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for a contact lens exam and fitting. The process will take a few visits to perform the exam, complete a training session on how to insert, remove and care for lenses, then to try out the lenses at home and finally reassess the comfort and fit of the contacts. You may try out a few varieties before you find the best fit.

What Kind of Contact Lens Is Best for My Teen?

The good news is that contact lens use has become easier than ever, with safety, health and convenience being more accessible as technology improves. There are a number of options including the material used to make the lenses (soft or rigid gas permeable), the replacement schedule (if disposable, how often you replace the pair – daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly) and the wear schedule (daily or extended overnight wear).

Single use, daily disposable lenses have become very popular, particularly with younger users, because they are easy to use, requiring no cleaning or storing, and therefore they reduce the risk of infection and misuse. You simply throw out the lenses at night and open a new one in the morning. Your eye doctor will be able to help you and your teen determine the best option.

Tips for Contact Lens Wearers

Following are some basic contact lens safety tips. If your teen is responsible enough to follow these guidelines, he or she may be ready for contact lens use:

  1. Always follow the wearing schedule prescribed by your doctor.
  2. Always wash your hands with soap before applying or removing contact lenses.
  3. Never use any substance other than contact lens rinse or solution to clean contacts (even tap water is a no-no).
  4. Never reuse contact lens solution
  5. Follow the eye doctor’s advice about swimming or showering in your lenses
  6. Always remove your lenses if they are bothering you or causing irritation.
  7. Never sleep in your lenses unless they are extended wear.
  8. Never use any contact lenses that were not acquired with a prescription at an authorized source. Never purchase cosmetic lenses without a prescription!

Contact lens use is an ongoing process. As a child grows, the lens fit may change as well, so it is important to have annual contact lens assessments. Plus, new technology is always being developed to improve comfort and quality of contact lenses.

Contact lenses are a wonderful invention but they must be used with proper care. Before you let your teen take the plunge into contact lens use, make sure you review the dangers and safety guidelines.

Are You Missing Your Child’s Hidden Vision Problem?

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Your toddler may show every sign of good eyesight including the ability to see objects in the distance, however that doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she doesn’t have a vision problem.

Amblyopia is one common eye condition that is often hidden behind the appearance of good eyesight.

Also known as “lazy eye” it usually occurs when the brain begins to ignore the signals sent by one eye, often because that eye is weaker and doesn’t focus properly. Sometimes it can occur in both eyes, in which case it’s called bilateral amblyopia. This eye condition is especially common in preemies, and tends to run in families as well, so it’s important to provide your eye doctor with a complete medical and family history.

There are several factors that can cause amblyopia to develop. These include:

  • astigmatism,
  • high nearsightedness or farsightedness,
  • uneven eye development as an infant,
  • congenital cataract (clouding of the lens of the eye),
  • strabismus (where the eyes are misaligned or “cross-eyed”)

However in many cases of amblyopia there may be no obvious visible structural differences in the eye. In addition to the fact that the eyes may look normal, vision often appears fine as the brain is able to compensate for the weaker eye by favoring the stronger one. Because of this, many children live with their eye condition for years before it is diagnosed. Unfortunately, as a person ages, the brain loses some of its plasticity (how easy it is to train the brain to develop new skills), making it much harder – if not impossible – to treat amblyopia in older children and adults. That’s why it’s so important for infants and young children to have a thorough eye exam.

Are There Any Signs of Amblyopia?

If you notice your child appears cross-eyed, that would be an indication that it’s time for a comprehensive eye exam to screen for strabismus and amblyopia development.

Preschoolers with amblyopia sometimes show signs of unusual posture when playing, such as head tilting, clumsiness or viewing things abnormally close.

However, often there are no signs or symptoms. The child typically does not complain, as he or she does not know what normal vision should look like. Sometimes the condition is picked up once children begin reading if have difficulty focusing on the close text. The school nurse may suggest an eye exam to confirm or rule out amblyopia following a standard vision test on each eye, though it might be possible to pass a vision screening test and still have amblyopia. Only an eye doctor can make a definitive diagnosis of the eye condition.

So How Do You Know If or When To Book a Pediatric Eye Exam?

Comprehensive eye and vision exams should be performed on children at an early age. That way, hidden eye conditions would be diagnosed while they’re still more easily treatable. An eye exam is recommended at 6 months of age and then again at 3 years old and before entering first grade. The eye doctor may need to use eye drops to dilate the pupils to confirm a child’s true refractive error and diagnose an eye condition such as amblyopia.

Treatment for Amblyopia

Glasses alone will not completely correct vision with amblyopia in most cases, because the brain has learned to process images from the weak eye or eyes as blurred images, and ignore them. There are several non-surgical treatment options for amblyopia. While your child may never achieve 20/20 vision as an outcome of the treatment and may need some prescription glasses or contact lenses, there are options that can significantly improve visual acuity.

Patch or Drops

In order to improve vision, one needs to retrain the brain to receive a clear image from the weak eye or eyes. In the case of unilateral amblyopia (one eye is weaker than the other), this usually involves treating the normal eye with a patch or drops to force the brain to depend on the weak eye. This re-establishes the eye-brain connection with the weaker one and strengthens vision in that eye. If a child has bilateral amblyopia, treatment involves a regimen of constantly wearing glasses and/or contact lenses with continual observation over time.

Your eye doctor will prescribe the number of waking hours that patching is needed based on the visual acuity in your child’s weak eye; however, the periods of time that you chose to enforce wearing the patch may be flexible. During patching the child typically does a fun activity requiring hand eye coordination to stimulate visual development (such as a favorite video game, puzzle, maze etc) as passive activity is not as effective.

The earlier treatment starts, the better the chances are of stopping or reversing the negative patterns formed in the brain that harm vision. Amblyopia treatment with patches or drops may be minimally effective in improving vision as late as the early teen years (up to age 14) but better results are seen in younger patients.

Vision Therapy

Many optometrists recommend vision therapy to train the eyes using exercises that strengthen the eye-brain connection. While success rates tend to be better in children, optometrists have also seen improvements using this occupational therapy type program to treat amblyopia in adults.

The key to improvement through any non-surgical treatment for amblyopia is compliance. Vision therapy exercises must be practiced on a regular basis. Children that are using glasses or contact lenses for treatment, must wear them consistently. Your eye doctor will recommend the schedule of the patching, drops, or vision therapy eye exercise and the best course of treatment.

Amblyopia: Take-home Message

Even if your child is not showing any signs of vision problems, and especially if they are, it is important to have an eye examination with an eye doctor as soon as possible, and on a regular basis. While the eyes are still young and developing, diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions such as amblyopia are greatly improved.