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How Can You Tell If Your Baby Has a Vision Problem?

Eye Care & Optical | Laguna Eyes Optometry

Eye Care & Optical | Laguna Eyes Optometry

Babies heavily rely on their vision to explore and learn about the world around them. But what many don’t realize is that vision is a learned skill, just like walking and talking. Without a healthy vision, babies who grow into toddlers may not be able to reach some developmental milestones on time or may find ordinary activities very challenging.

That’s why it’s so critical to check that your child’s eyes and vision are developing as they should. Below are some warning signs that parents and caregivers should keep an eye out for, as it may signal the need to visit an optometrist.

To schedule an eye exam for your baby, toddler or anyone else in your family, Laguna Eyes Optometry in Laguna Beach is here for you.

Signs That May Indicate a Vision Problem In Infants

If your baby displays any of the following signs and symptoms, consult with your pediatrician or your eye doctor.

  • Eye turn, when one eye turns inward, outward, up or down
  • Excessive tearing or watery eyes
  • White or grayish coloring in the pupil
  • Crustiness or pus around either eye
  • Persistent eye redness
  • Extreme light-sensitivity
  • Very droopy eyelids
  • Eyes that rapidly move from side to side or up and down
  • Eye pain or discomfort that doesn’t resolve
  • Squinting or head tilting
  • Difficulty maintaining eye contact

Visual Milestones to Keep in Mind

Below are a few examples of visual milestones that are important to achieve as your baby develops into a toddler within the first 2 years of life.

0-4 Months

When babies are born, they are usually able to focus on objects that are about 9 inches away (the distance between their eyes and their parent’s face while being held or during breastfeeding).

Within a few months, vision rapidly improves, allowing them to track moving objects with their eyes and develop the beginnings of hand-eye coordination.

If you notice that your newborn’s eyes appear to be crossed or if one eye turns outward at times, this is usually no cause for concern and will likely resolve as their visual system strengthens. However, just to be sure, consider scheduling an exam with your pediatrician or eye doctor.

After 3 to 4 months, babies should be able to track moving objects and reach for things.

5-8 Months

Babies begin to see the world in 3 dimensions at around 5 months. Depth and color perception are new visual skills that evolve during these months.

This is also the stage when most babies learn to crawl. Crawling supports a baby’s hand-foot-body coordination and may help strengthen their visual system. As babies crawl, they look up into the distance and then back at their hands, and up again. Constantly shifting their points of focus in coordination with their own movement helps develop their binocular vision and hand-eye coordination.

9-12 Months

By this stage, a baby should be able to pick up small objects with their thumb and forefinger.

Most babies will also try to pull themselves up to a standing position and may try to walk. Encourage your baby to crawl as much as possible, as this bolsters their hand-eye coordination and binocular vision.

A baby this age should be able to judge distances pretty well.

12-24 Months

Hand-eye coordination is well developed by the age of 2. Toddlers this age are able to recognize faces and point out objects in a picture book.

What Can Parents Do For Their Baby’s Visual Health?

Babies need visual stimulation in order to develop a healthy visual system. Parents and caregivers should engage in age-appropriate activities that will boost their visual development.

For example, provide the baby with plenty of free time to play with toys on the floor. Talk to your baby as you walk around the room to help develop their visual tracking skills. Read books and point to objects. Give your child building blocks and balls that support visual-spatial skills and fine motor skills.

Of course, all babies develop at their own speed — and that’s fine. Some healthy babies may not reach every milestone right on the mark. The best way to learn whether your child’s visual system is developing normally is to have them assessed by an optometrist.

If you suspect that your baby may have a visual problem, bring them in for an evaluation with Dr. Alicia Harrison. Generally, the earlier visual problems are diagnosed, the better the outcome. Whether you suspect a visual problem or not, all babies should have their eyes examined when they reach 6 months.

To schedule your baby’s eye exam, contact Laguna Eyes Optometry in Laguna Beach today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How often should babies and children have their eyes checked?

  • A: All babies should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age, even if no visual problems are suspected. During the eye exam, the eye doctor will check for things like farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, eye alignment, and eye movement ability. If no problem is detected, and your child’s eyes continue to be healthy, your optometrist will let you know when is the best time for their next eye exam.

Q: What are the most common vision problems in babies and toddlers?

  • A: The most common vision problems in babies and toddlers are refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism), strabismus (eye turn), amblyopia (lazy eye), congenital abnormalities, genetic eye diseases, pediatric ptosis, and nystagmus.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit Laguna Eyes Optometry for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


What Are Eye Allergies?

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Laguna Eyes Optometry

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Laguna Eyes Optometry

Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, are caused by environmental allergens and irritants. While their symptoms range in severity from uncomfortable to incapacitating, it’s often possible to attain relief.

What Causes Eye Allergies?

Allergies occur when the immune system becomes hypersensitive to certain allergens, such as dust mites or pollen. Histamines are released into the bloodstream when allergens are introduced to the body, causing swelling and inflammation.

Some airborne allergens that can cause eye allergies to include:

  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Mold
  • Trees
  • Pollen
  • Weeds

Non-airborne allergens include:

  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Preservatives in multi-use eye drops
  • Contact lens solutions
  • Perfume
  • Makeup
  • Skin-care products

What Are Common Symptoms of Eye Allergies?

When your eyes come in contact with an allergen you may start to have symptoms almost immediately, or hours or days later. Eye allergy symptoms include:

  • Burning or painful eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Irritated or itchy eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sneezing
  • Swollen eyelids

How To Treat Eye Allergies

Once your eye doctor has thoroughly examined your eyes and ruled out other causes of your symptoms, they can advise you on how best to treat your symptoms.

Decongestants or Antihistamines

Decongestants can help you breathe easier by shrinking swollen nasal pathways that might become inflamed due to allergies. Decongestants can also shrink the blood vessels in the whites of the eyes, relieving red eyes.

Antihistamines work by blocking the attachment of the histamine to the body’s cells that produce an allergic reaction, reducing or eliminating symptoms.

Limit Allergen Exposure

A good way to reduce allergy flare-ups is to avoid allergens or at least reduce exposure to them. If pollen causes your eyes to become itchy and red, try limiting your time outdoors and driving with the windows closed. In addition, wearing wrap-around glasses can protect your eyes from allergens and irritants.

Temporarily Remove Your Contact Lenses

Allergens can accumulate on the surface of contact lenses, which makes it difficult to get rid of symptoms while wearing them. If you suffer from eye allergies, try temporarily switching to glasses and see if your symptoms continue. For many people, the best contact lenses for those with eye allergies are daily disposables, which are discarded at the end of each day.

Try Eye Drops

Over-the-counter antihistamine and lubricating eye drops can help soothe itchy, irritated, and red eyes. There are many brands and types of drops that will offer the best relief. Your eye doctor may even prescribe a more powerful eye drop than the ones available at your local drugstore.

Aside from soothing irritated eyes, artificial tears and lubricating eye drops can help remove any foreign substances and flush the eye of allergens.

Scheduling an eye exam at Laguna Eyes Optometry in Laguna Beach is the best way to rule out other possible eye conditions and determine the cause of your symptoms. If you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are eye allergies dangerous?

  • A: Most eye allergies are more irritating than dangerous. They can, however, cause scarring of the cornea due to all the eye rubbing.

Q: How can I tell whether it’s an eye allergy or eye infection?

  • A: If you experience eye pain and ocular discharge (excluding tears), there’s a strong chance you might have an infection. Viral eye infections usually clear up on their own, but bacterial eye infections can only be treated with medication. If you suspect you have an eye infection, make sure to visit your eye doctor as soon as possible.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit Laguna Eyes Optometry for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


Can Vision Therapy Help Myopia?

Can Vision Therapy Help Myopia 640You may have heard of vision therapy in the context of helping adults and children with a lazy eye, eye turn, or learning difficulties.

But did you know that in some cases, vision therapy may also be effective in preventing, reducing, or slowing myopia (nearsightedness)?

While it’s true that scientists haven’t yet found a cure for myopia, vision therapy may help by targeting certain contributing factors of myopia.

To assess whether vision therapy is right for your child, call Laguna Eyes Vision Therapy Center in Laguna Beach today.

But First, How Does Vision Therapy Work?

To give you a better sense of what vision therapy is, here are some facts. Vision therapy:

  • Is a non-invasive set of visual exercises tailored to your specific needs
  • May involve the use of specialized prisms or filters, computerized aids, balance beams, and other therapeutic tools
  • Trains the brain and eyes to work as a team
  • Develops visual skills like eye tracking, teaming, accommodation, convergence, visual processing, visual memory, focusing, and depth perception
  • May involve an at-home component, like daily visual exercises
  • Is evidence-based. Published data has shown that it can be an effective program to improve reading, learning, overall school and sports performance

How Does Vision Therapy Relate To Myopia?

While vision therapy may not be able to fully reverse or treat myopia, some nearsighted people appear to benefit from it.

Some vision therapists have reported patients’ myopia improvement during or after the vision therapy process. This may be due to a strengthened visual skill called accommodation—the eyes’ ability to maintain clear focus on objects. Poor focusing skills have been linked to myopia. In fact, research shows that having an accommodation lag (when the eyes can’t pull the focus inwards enough to clearly see a very close object) could be a risk factor for myopia development and progression. That said, it’s worth noting that research findings are still mixed on this matter.

Accommodative spasm, also known as “pseudo-myopia,” occurs when the eyes lock their focus on a near object and then have difficulty releasing the focus to view distant objects. The reason this is considered a false myopia is because it has to do with the focusing mechanism of the lens rather than the elongation of the eye, the main characteristic of myopia.

Pseudo-myopia can be treated with vision therapy, assuming the accommodation spasm is the only culprit for blurred distance vision. In this case, the patient may no longer need to wear prescription lenses for vision correction following a successful vision therapy program,

So what’s the bottom line?

In some cases, vision therapy may be able to improve a person’s blurry vision—but research on the subject is ongoing.

If you or your child has myopia and you’re curious as to whether vision therapy can help, schedule a functional visual assessment for your child.

To schedule your appointment with Dr. Alicia Harrison, call Laguna Eyes Vision Therapy Center today.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Alicia Harrison

 

Q: #1: Who can benefit from vision therapy?

  • A: Children and adults with visual dysfunction can benefit from a personalized program of vision therapy. Visual dysfunction can manifest in many ways, including—but not limited to—behavioral and learning problems, coordination difficulties, headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and attention deficits.

Q: #2: Do all optometrists offer vision therapy?

  • A: No. You should only seek vision therapy from a qualified optometrist experienced in offering vision therapy for a variety of visual disorders. Other types of therapists sometimes claim to offer vision therapy, but only an eye doctor can prescribe the necessary visual treatments for optimal results.
  • Laguna Eyes Vision Therapy Center serves patients from Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, San Clemente, and throughout California .

Book An Appointment
Call 949-528-8005

What’s the Link Between Dry Eye and Menopause?

Dry Eye and Menopause 640Around 61% of perimenopausal and menopausal women are affected by dry eye syndrome.

During menopause, the body produces less estrogen, progesterone, and androgen, causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms such as sweating, insomnia, and hot flashes.

Among these physical symptoms is dry eyes, characterized by dry, itchy and burning eyes.

If you’re experiencing dry eyes, contact Laguna Eyes Dry Eye Center today for effective and lasting dry eye treatment.

Biological Changes That Affect Your Eyes

During menopause, the androgen hormone decreases, affecting the meibomian and lacrimal glands in the eyelids. The meibomian glands produce the essential oils for the tears, so the reduction in oil results in increased tear evaporation and drier eyes.

When these fluid and oil-producing glands are affected, the eyelids can become inflamed, reducing tear quality and production, resulting in dry eye syndrome.

Some researchers believe that dry eye is connected to changes in estrogen levels. This explains why many women experience dry eye symptoms during certain times of a woman’s monthly cycle, or while taking birth control pills.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome

  • Red eyes
  • Burning in the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Gritty feeling in the eyes
  • The feeling something is caught in your eye. Excessive tearing

How Is Hormone-Related Dry Eye Treated?

Because reduced hormones during and after menopause can cause meibomian gland dysfunction, treatment should be focused on reducing dry eye symptoms.

Dry eye treatments can include:

  • Artificial tears
  • Lubricating eye drops
  • Eyelid hygiene
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Corticosteroid eye drops
  • Medications that reduce eyelid inflammation
  • Punctal plugs – to reduce tear flow away from the eyes

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Alicia Harrison

Q: Are there home remedies to treat dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Yes. Here are a few things you can do at home to reduce dry eye symptoms.

    Limit your screen time. People who work at a computer all day blink less, which harms the tear film. Remember to take frequent breaks and to blink.
    Protect your eyes. Sunglasses that wrap around your face can block dry air and wind.
    Avoid triggers. Irritants like pollen and smoke can make your symptoms more severe.
    Try a humidifier. Keeping the air around you moist may help.
    Eat right. A diet rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids can encourage healthy tear production.
    Warm Compress. A warm compress will improve oil flow through your eyelid glands and clean your eyelids.

Q:Can dry eye syndrome damage your eyes?

  • A: Yes. Without sufficient tears, your eyes are not protected from the outside world, leading to an increased risk of eye infections. Severe dry eye syndrome can lead to abrasions or inflammation on the cornea, the front surface of the eye. This can cause pain, a corneal ulcer, and long-lasting vision problems.

    Menopause causes many changes throughout your body. If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms due to hormonal changes, contact Laguna Eyes Dry Eye Center to find out what dry eye treatments are available to give your eyes relief.



Laguna Eyes Dry Eye Center serves patients from Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, and San Clemente, all throughout California .

Book An Appointment
Call 949-528-8005

What Can I Do to Prevent Glaucoma?

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Laguna Eyes Optometry

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Laguna Eyes Optometry

Glaucoma affects approximately 3.5 million North Americans aged 40 and older. It is a primary cause of preventable vision loss and blindness among adults on this continent and around the world.

Glaucoma is three to four times more common, and 15x more likely to cause blindness in African Americans than in Caucasians. The prevalence of glaucoma rises rapidly in Hispanics over the age of 65.

While there is currently no cure, early detection with an annual comprehensive eye exam can slow or prevent vision loss. So get your eyes checked at Laguna Eyes Optometry in Laguna Beach before it’s too late.

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve. This nerve is the only neural communication between the eyes and the brain, so any damage in that area causes permanent and irreparable vision loss.

The main risk factor is increased pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP). IOP usually increases due to the buildup of excess fluid inside the eye, which damages the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and even blindness.

While glaucoma is most common in those aged 40 and over, it can occur at any age. Early detection and treatment can often prevent glaucoma-related damage. This is why it is absolutely crucial to undergo routine comprehensive eye exams that include glaucoma testing.

What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Open-angle glaucoma (OAG) is the most common type of glaucoma, accounting for over 90% of all glaucoma patients. This type of glaucoma has no obvious symptoms until irreparable damage to the optic nerve has occurred. This condition is often called the ‘Silent Thief of Sight’ and results in vision loss known as ‘tunnel vision.’

Normal-tension glaucoma, also called low-tension glaucoma, affects up to 30-40% of all glaucoma patients with OAG. In these cases, the optic nerve is damaged even though the pressure in the eye is within normal limits. People with this kind of glaucoma may experience:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Low blood pressure

A far less common form of the disease is closed-angle glaucoma (CAG), affecting up to 10% of all patients. In this sight-threatening eye disease, the IOP can suddenly spike to over 50mmHg — more than double the normal range. This condition requires immediate emergency medical care as vision loss can be more dramatic and occurs quickly. Closed-angle glaucoma often presents with some or all of these symptoms:

  • Blind spots in the peripheral vision
  • Sudden severe pain in the eye or forehead
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Eye redness
  • Decreased or blurred vision

How to Manage Your Glaucoma

Although there is no cure for glaucoma, the good news is that if it is detected early, the condition can be treated and controlled to prevent vision loss. Most glaucoma patients can successfully manage their condition with eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or surgery. All of these help to reduce the pressure on the eye by lessening the production and inflow of aqueous fluid into the eye or increasing the outflow pathways for more effective drainage from the eye.

It’s important to remember that having regular eye exams is vital, as glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss before you are even aware of any signs. Irreparable vision loss and blindness can be prevented if the disease is recognized in its early stages. Contact Laguna Eyes Optometry in Laguna Beach to book your comprehensive eye exam today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can Glaucoma be treated?

  • A: While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are several treatments that can help slow down or prevent damage to your eyes. Treatments include eye drops, oral medication, surgeries and therapies such as filtering surgery, Laser therapy, drainage tubes, and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS)

Q: Can glaucoma be prevented?

  • A: The only way to prevent glaucoma is to undergo regular eye exams as significant vision loss or blindness can be prevented if glaucoma is diagnosed and treated in its early stages.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit Laguna Eyes Optometry for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


The Importance of Binocular Vision in Sports

The Importance of Binocular Vision in Sports 640Binocular vision is the ability to create a single image with both eyes while maintaining visual focus on an object. Sometimes our eyes fail to integrate visual information into one coherent image. This integration is important, as it allows athletes to perceive three-dimensional depth and relationships between people or objects, such as another player or a ball.

Since each eye is in a different position relative to any object, the eyes convey slightly different spatial information and send these varying images to the brain. The brain then uses the differences between the signals from the two eyes to accurately judge depth, speed, and distance.

When binocular vision isn’t operating at peak capacity, it impacts an athlete’s reaction time and the speed and accuracy of their movements.

Reduced binocular vision doesn’t mean that athletes are constantly falling over or fumbling. What it does mean, however, is that they may misjudge the velocity or direction of a ball, or collide more with other players.

How Does Reduced Binocular Vision Affect Athletes?

When our brain and eyes don’t work efficiently as a team, especially while playing sports, it can affect timing, depth perception, reactions, accuracy, and speed.

Visual deficits hinder how an athlete responds to what they see. If there is an issue with a player’s vision, there will most likely be an issue with their balance and body awareness.

Visual Skills Needed For Sports

There are many visual skills athletes need to perform their best during a game.

Accommodation – is the eyes’ ability to change their focus from distant to near objects and vice versa. For example, when a football player looks at other players coming toward them, then shifts focus to the ball on the field.

Binocular Vision – is the ability to maintain visual focus on an object, creating a single visual image with both eyes. Without binocular vision athletes cannot accurately measure distance and depth.

Depth Perception – is the ability to distinguish the distance to, or between, objects. This is important for athletes when they need to hit or interact with moving objects.

Dynamic Visual Acuity – the ability to see a moving object when a player is stationary, or when the object is still and the athlete is in motion. It’s the eyes’ ability to visually discern detail in a moving object, such as a player’s number on a jersey.

Peripheral Vision – is the ability to see objects and movement outside of your direct line of vision. This is important for athletes, especially when they need to run down a field and be able to see other players coming at them from all directions.

Saccades – quick, rapid, simultaneous eye movements between two or more stationary objects in the same direction. For athletes it’s important to be able to see stationary objects, such as a hoop at the end of the court.

Smooth Pursuits – reflexive eye movements that are required when tracking an object through an environment, such as a flying ball. Instead of the eye moving in jumps, it moves smoothly.

Sports Vision Training

Sports vision training can improve all the visual skills an athlete needs to succeed at their game. Even if an athlete has ‘20/20 eyesight’ they may still have reduced binocular vision, and sports vision can help improve any lagging visual skills. Sports vision is an individualized training program that focus on improving visual skills so that athletes can improve their performance.

The ability to enhance an athlete’s sports vision skills is a proven way to improve performance. To learn more about how sports vision training can help you reach your goals, contact us at Laguna Beach Sports Vision Center today.

Laguna Beach Sports Vision Center serves patients from Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, and San Clemente, all throughout California .

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Alicia Harrison

 

Q: What is sports vision training?

  • A: Sports vision training is a customized program that improves the communication between your brain, eyes, and body. It helps athletes process information more accurately and react faster to what they see on the field.

Q: Why is sports vision training important?

  • A: Athletes in visually demanding sports need to have exceptional visual skills. This is true for all sports, where the ability to focus, react quickly, and move fast can mean the difference not only between winning and losing, but between incurring an injury and staying safe.


Book An Appointment
Call Us 949-528-8005

4 Common Myopia Myths Debunked

4 Common Myopia Myths Debunked 640Myopia (nearsightedness) occurs when the eye elongates and rays of light entering the eye are focused in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it.

It’s by far the most common refractive error among children and young adults.

To help understand and learn more about what myopia means for your child’s vision, we’ve debunked 4 common myopia myths.

Myth: Myopia only develops in childhood

Fact: While it’s true that in most cases nearsightedness develops in childhood, it can also develop during one’s young adult years.

Myth: Wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses cause myopia to worsen

Fact: Prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses in no way exacerbate myopia. Optical corrections help you see comfortably and clearly. Another common misconception is that it’s better to use a weaker lens power than the one prescribed by your eye doctor. This is simply not true. By wearing a weaker lens you are contradicting the purpose of using corrective eyewear, which is to comfortably correct your vision.

Myth: Taking vitamins can cure myopia

Fact: Vitamins have been proven to slow the progression of or prevent some eye conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or cataracts. However, no vitamin has been shown to prevent or cure myopia. All vitamins and supplements should only be taken under the advice of your healthcare professional.

Myth: There is no way to slow the progression of myopia.

Fact: There are a few ways to slow down the progression of myopia:

Get more sunlight. Studies have shown that children who spend more time playing outdoors in the sunlight have slower myopia progression than children who are homebodies.

Take a break. Doing close work, such as spending an excessive amount of time looking at a digital screen, reading, and doing homework has been linked to myopia. Encouraging your child to take frequent breaks to focus on objects farther away can help. One well-known eye exercise is the 20-20-20 rule, where you take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.

Other options to slow myopia progression include:

  • Orthokeratology/Ortho-k. These are specialized custom-fit contact lenses shown to decrease the rate of myopia progression through the gentle reshaping of the cornea when worn overnight.
  • Multifocal lenses offer clear vision at various focal distances. Studies show that wearing multifocal soft contact lenses or multifocal eyeglasses during the day can limit the progression of myopia compared to conventional single vision glasses or contact lenses.
  • Atropine drops. 1.0% atropine eye drops applied daily in one eye over a period of 2 years has shown to significantly reduce the progression of myopia

Prevent or slow the progression of your child’s myopia with myopia management. Contact Laguna Beach Myopia Control Center to book your child’s consultation today!

Laguna Beach Myopia Control Center serves patients from Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, and San Clemente, all throughout California .

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Alicia Harrison

Q: Can myopia be cured?

  • A: Currently, there is no cure for myopia. However, various myopia management methods can slow its progression.

Q: How much time should my child spend outdoors to reduce the risk of myopia?

  • A: Make sure your child spends at least 90 minutes a day outdoors.


Laguna Beach Myopia Control Center serves patients from Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, and San Clemente, all throughout California .

 

Book An Appointment
Call 949-528-8005

Macular Degeneration – What Is It?

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Laguna Eyes Optometry

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Laguna Eyes Optometry

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 60. An estimated 11 million people in the United States and 1.4 million Canadians have some form of macular degeneration.

The risk of suffering from AMD increases from 2% for ages 50-59, to nearly 30% for those over the age of 75.

Currently, there is no cure for macular degeneration. However, with lasers and injections, Laguna Eyes Optometry can help you manage the condition and occasionally even restore some lost vision.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the central part of the retina, called the macula. It’s responsible for central vision, making it an extremely important part of our eyes. A large part of our ability to see fine detail and color comes from our central vision. Clear central vision is vital to our quality of life as it allows us to drive a car, recognize faces, read, watch TV and so much more.

The retina is the back layer of the eye that consists of nerves to record images and send them back to the brain. When functioning properly, the macula collects extremely detailed images at the center of our vision. It then sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain. When the macula deteriorates, the retina sends distorted and blurred images to the brain.

One way to understand the impact of AMD: When you look at a loved one, the image of their face is focused onto your macula. The deterioration of the macula makes it difficult, sometimes impossible to see clearly, impacting our enjoyment of life.

Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two main types of macular degeneration: “wet” and “dry.” Between 85% to 90% of people with macular degeneration have dry form. The dry form can eventually lead to the wet form.

Stargardt disease is another form of macular degeneration, which occurs in young people. Caused by a defective gene, it affects 1 in 10,000 people.

Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration

  • Wet (exudative) macular degeneration – this occurs when very fragile new blood vessels form in the retina. These abnormal blood vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina, causing vision to become distorted, resulting in lines that appear wavy instead of straight, or black spots in your vision. As the blood vessels continue to bleed, they form a scar, potentially leading to full or partial loss of central vision.
  • Dry (atrophic) macular degeneration – this occurs when yellow deposits of proteins called drusen build up under the retina and cause retinal distortion. While a few small drusen may not change your vision, when they grow bigger they may start to distort or dim your vision, particularly while reading. As the condition worsens, light-sensitive cells in your macula can deteriorate and eventually die. In your central vision, you may also notice large blind spots.

Stages of Dry Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration happens in three stages.

  • Early AMD – At this point most people have no loss of vision. This is when medium-sized drusen deposits accumulate under the retina and there are no pigment changes or deterioration of vision.
  • Intermediate AMD – Most people don’t experience any problems with daily tasks; however, there may be mild vision loss. This is when large drusen deposits accumulate and/or pigment changes occur, indicating that macula cells are starting to die.
  • Late AMD – Noticeable vision loss has occurred due to extensive damage to the macula.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

You might not have any noticeable symptoms in the early stages of AMD. Irreversible damage may occur by the time significant symptoms reveal themselves. Wet AMD may cause the sudden appearance of these symptoms.

The first symptoms that you may experience of macular degeneration can include:

  • Blind or dark spots in the center of your vision
  • Decreased or blurry vision
  • Different color perception, in rare cases
  • Lines appearing wavy

What Eye Exams Can Help Detect AMD?

Your eye doctor will perform an eye exam to check for macular degeneration. This will include:

  • Dilated Eye Exam – Your eye doctor will need to dilate your pupils using eye drops. This will allow the doctor to see a magnified view of the drusen and macula, and detect any abnormal blood vessels.
  • Fluorescein Angiography – A dye is injected into the bloodstream to detect any leakage in the blood vessels in the retina.
  • Digital Retinal Image – This non-invasive, diagnostic tool produces high-resolution digital colored images of your retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels in the back of your eye, allowing your eye doctor to see more details of your eye.
  • Ophthalmoscopy – Your doctor will use a hand-held light to detect any changes or damage in the macula and retina.
  • Amsler Grid – This is used by a patient at home and allows for self-examination of your vision. It will help you notice any sudden appearance of blank or blurry spots in your field of vision. Immediately report any changes of vision to your eye doctor. This should not replace your yearly comprehensive eye exam.
  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) – This test allows eye doctors to see a cross-section of the retina and examine the blood vessels and layers beneath the surface of the retina. This includes the retina, optic nerve, macula, and choroid. The OCT provides 3D and full-color images.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma Related?

  • A: While macular degeneration does not affect glaucoma, it can contribute to decreased vision along with glaucoma. The vision loss that may occur in macular degeneration tends to affect central vision, whereas glaucoma usually affects side vision. If both conditions arise, they do not actively affect one another. However, the visual impairment that may result will affect a larger area of vision than glaucoma alone.

Q: Can my vision improve if I am treated for AMD?

  • A: While there is no cure, certain treatment options can help improve your vision. For those with advanced dry macular degeneration in both eyes, one option to improve vision may be surgery to implant a telescopic lens in one eye. A telescopic lens looks like a tiny plastic tube that has lenses that magnify your field of vision.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit Laguna Eyes Optometry for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


What’s the Connection Between Sleep Apnea, Concussion, and Your Vision?

Sleep Apnea 640A recent comprehensive sleep study on people with post-concussion syndrome showed that 78% were diagnosed with sleep apnea.

What came first: the concussion or sleep apnea? Determining the answer can be difficult. People who don’t get enough sleep already exhibit some of the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome even when they haven’t had one.

What we do know is that there is a connection between sleep apnea and concussion. Sleep apnea affects the recovery from a concussion, and at the same time, the condition may result from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Where does vision come in?

Sleep Apnea and Concussions

For those having sustained a concussion, sleep is very important for a speedy and thorough recovery. A poor night’s sleep, as in the case of sleep apnea, may lead to impaired decision-making, cognitive loss, and symptoms of depression—all of which can interrupt the recovery process.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep apnea, is caused by a physical collapse or blockage of the upper airway that interrupts breathing during sleep. This also reduces blood and oxygen flow to the brain, making it difficult for those with a concussion to recover.

A lesser known type of apnea is central sleep apnea. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, this type is caused by a dysfunction in the brain that regulates breathing and sleep, which could also be affected by a TBI.

Sleep Apnea and Vision

As we all know, getting a good night’s sleep is essential to good health. There are a number of eye conditions that are exacerbated by poor sleep patterns and therefore may be associated with sleep apnea.

These include:

  • Floppy eyelid syndrome
  • Nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy
  • Papilledema
  • Glaucoma
  • Swelling of the optic nerve
  • Retinal conditions

Getting your eyes checked regularly is important as it allows your eye doctor to rule out any eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss. This is all the more important if you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Concussions and Vision

Concussions can have a significant impact on the functioning of the visual system. Post-trauma vision syndrome is a group of symptoms that cause eye coordination problems, dizziness, and blurred vision after a concussion.

The symptoms of post-trauma vision syndrome can include:

  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Focusing problems
  • Problems with walking and stride

Severe concussions can cause double vision and blindness, while mild concussions can affect vision and cause visual dysfunction.

How a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

Neuro-optometrists can help post-TBI patients in ways that other health care providers may not be able to.

Neuro-optometry deals with how the visual system impacts daily functioning. By training the brain to control and communicate with the eyes more effectively, symptoms like headaches and dizziness can be significantly reduced or disappear altogether.

If you have experienced a concussion or suspect you may have sleep apnea, contact Laguna Eyes Vision Therapy Center to follow up on a diagnosis and treatment for any vision problems you may be having due to either condition.

Laguna Eyes Vision Therapy Center serves patients from Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, and San Clemente, all throughout California .

Q&A

What’s the connection between sleep apnea, concussion, and your vision?

After sustaining a concussion, you may begin to experience sleep apnea. This not only affects the healing process but your vision as well.

Is there a way to treat vision problems due to a concussion?

Yes. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can retrain the brain to relieve dizziness, headaches, double vision, and other TBI-related problems.

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Common Visual Symptoms to Watch for in Children

kid playing outside 640People often believe that if a child has 20/20 vision, they have perfect eyesight. This isn’t always the case. Having 20/20 eyesight refers to the ability to see clearly from 20 feet away. This doesn’t guarantee that a child has the visual skills needed to read properly, pay attention in class, writing, and other tasks required for academic success.

It may surprise you that many students who show signs of a learning difficulty actually have a vision problem. According to the National PTA, approximately 10 million school-age children suffer from vision problems that make it more difficult for them to learn in a classroom setting.

If your child is struggling in school, Dr. Alicia Harrison can determine whether the problem is related to their vision and provide a vision therapy program to help them succeed.

Vision Screenings vs Comprehensive Eye Exam

While school vision screenings might detect significant lazy eye or myopia, they miss many other vision problems, such as issues with focusing, depth perception, or eye tracking.

A comprehensive eye exam, on the other hand, checks for farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, eye focusing abilities, eye tracking, eye focusing, visual skills, binocular eye coordination, and visual processing.

What Signs Should Parents and Teachers Look For?

Below is a list of signs and symptoms indicating that a child may be experiencing vision difficulties:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Complains of frequent headaches
  • Difficulty with comprehension
  • Complains of double or blurry vision
  • Makes errors when copying from the board
  • Reads below grade level
  • Holds reading material close to the face
  • Reverses words or letters while reading or writing
  • Loses place or skips words when reading
  • Confuses or omits small words while reading
  • Rubs eyes
  • Slow to finish written assignments
  • Frequently squints
  • Tilts head or covers one eye
  • Spelling difficulties
  • Uses finger pointing when reading

How Does Vision Therapy Help?

Vision therapy is a personalized treatment program designed to strengthen and improve your child’s visual skills.

Each vision therapy program is customized to your child’s needs and may include specialized lenses, filters, or prisms, alongside personalized eye exercises to help retrain the brain-eye connection and improve your child’s school performance.

If you think a vision problem may be affecting your child’s academic performance, vision therapy may provide them with the necessary visual skills to succeed in school.

Frequently Asked Questions with Our Vision Therapist in Laguna Beach, California

Q: How do vision problems impact learning?

  • A: A child’s vision problem can impact all aspects of learning. Often, children with vision problems are told they have a learning difficulty, when in fact, their brain isn’t properly processing what their eyes see. Vision problems can affect a child’s reading skills and comprehension, handwriting, spelling, classroom performance, concentration and attention, and visual skills.

Q: Does my child have a vision problem?

  • A: Discovering a vision problem in children can be difficult, as they may lack the verbal skills to describe what they’re experiencing or may not realize that they have a vision problem.Common indicators that your child may have a vision problem include:
    – Covering one eye
    – Behavioral problems
    – Reading avoidance
    – Difficulties with reading comprehension
    – Frequent blinking
    – Excessive fidgeting
    – Limited attention span
    – Reading below school grade level
    – Tilting head to one side



If your child displays any of these signs, make sure you set up a visit to an eye doctor at Laguna Eyes Vision Therapy Center to evaluate their visual skills and find out whether your child could benefit from vision therapy.

Laguna Eyes Vision Therapy Center serves patients from Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, and San Clemente, all throughout California .

Book An Appointment
Call 949-528-8005