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Everything You Need To Know About Keratoconus

Everything You Need To Know About Keratoconus 640×350If you’ve been diagnosed with keratoconus, our Murrysville eye doctors understand your challenge and are here to help you see clearly and comfortably.

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions to help you gain a better understanding of what keratoconus is and how it can be treated.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus affects about 1 in every 2,000 people. This progressive eye disease impacts the shape of the cornea, weakening it and causing it to thin and bulge outward into a cone shape.

The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped outer covering of the eye. It’s responsible for focusing incoming light onto the retina at the back of the eye to enable clear vision. So, when keratoconus develops, the change in the cornea’s shape directly impacts the way light is focused.

Keratoconus often results in nearsightedness and high levels of astigmatism — two refractive errors that cause blurry and distorted vision.

If left untreated, keratoconus can lead to permanent corneal damage and even loss of vision.

What Typically Causes Keratoconus?

Keratoconus develops when the collagen fibers that support the cornea begin to weaken. While having a family member with the disease is a significant risk factor, the following conditions can also lead to keratoconus:

  • Eye trauma
  • Eye allergies
  • Excessive eye rubbing
  • Certain eye diseases
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Down syndrome
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Addison’s disease
  • Leber’s congenital amaurosis

The Signs & Symptoms of Keratoconus

The symptoms of keratoconus include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Distorted vision, with straight lines appearing bent or wavy
  • Sensitivity to bright light and glare
  • Red and irritated eyes
  • Increasing difficulty wearing standard contact lenses

Keratoconus tends to be initially detected in teens or young adults in their 20s, but symptoms can develop at any age.

Keratoconus symptoms usually start out mild but grow progressively worse over time — often over a decade or two — until the condition plateaus.

Both eyes are usually affected, and it’s common to have a difference in optical prescriptions between each eye.

Can Keratoconus Cause Vision Loss?

Keratoconus progression causes nearsightedness, astigmatism and visual distortions to worsen.

Eventually, corneal swelling can lead to scarring of the corneal tissue, which diminishes its transparency and increases your risk of vision loss.

Early detection and treatment of this condition are therefore critical for preventing permanent vision loss.

Can Keratoconus Be Corrected?

Initially, blurry and distorted vision can be corrected with custom-fit soft contact lenses or eyeglasses. However, as the condition progresses and your cornea becomes increasingly cone-shaped, these standard methods of vision correction become less effective.

At this point, many patients with mild to moderate keratoconus opt for scleral lenses, an effective, non-surgical method of achieving clear vision.

Severe keratoconus may require a corneal transplant procedure to replace your damaged cornea with a healthy donor cornea.

Scleral Lenses for Keratoconus

Custom designed scleral lenses help patients with corneal irregularities achieve dramatic improvements in visual acuity and comfort. Scleral lenses vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera while avoiding the diseased cornea. This creates a new optical surface instead of the damaged cornea and prevents discomfort by resting on the sclera of the eye. Moreover, the reservoir of pure saline solution between the back surface of the lens and the front of the cornea ensures that the eye is always in a liquid environment – making it optimal for healing.

Don’t let keratoconus impact your quality of life. We can help you achieve clear, comfortable vision with scleral contact lenses.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with keratoconus, call Ives Eyecare Center today to schedule a scleral lens consultation.

Our practice serves patients from Murrysville, West Newton, Delmont, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Paul Ives

Q: What Are the Advantages of Wearing Scleral Lenses?

A: Below are the main benefits of wearing scleral lenses:

  • Scleral lenses are made of high-quality materials, which means they’ll last for the long haul.
  • Their large [size] enables them to stay centered and stable on your eye.
  • The vaulted lens holds hydrating saline solution which creates optimal conditions for ultimate comfort and healing of dry eyes.
  • Because the scleral lenses cover more surface of the eye than traditional lenses, they also help shield the eyes from external irritants.

Q: Are scleral lenses covered by insurance?

A: When it comes to scleral lenses, every insurance company is different. We recommend contacting us or checking with your insurance provider to find out if scleral lenses are covered under your plan.

Request A Scleral Lens Appointment
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? 724-733-1918

Can Cataract Surgery Prevent Dementia?

Cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure that removes cataracts, the cloudy formations on the eye’s lens that impair vision.

Now, researchers are discovering that vision loss may be linked to a higher rate of dementia and suggest that restoring clear vision (through cataract surgery, for example) may reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Is There a Correlation Between Cataracts and Dementia?

More than half of those 80 or older have had at least one cataract. Many people in this age range also have dementia, a decline in cognitive functioning.

But is there a connection between these two seemingly unrelated conditions?

Recent studies suggest that, yes, there could be a link. One 15-year study found that patients with age-related vision problems, including cataracts, had a higher incidence of dementia.

The 2021 study, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, followed 12,000 subjects aged 55-73. When compared to patients with healthy vision, cataract patients had an 11% higher incidence of dementia.

Can Cataract Surgery Prevent Dementia?

Can sight-saving cataract surgery reduce your risk of dementia? It certainly looks promising!

A 2022 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that removing cataracts was “significantly associated with a lower risk of dementia development.” In fact, patients who had undergone cataract surgery had a 29% lower rate of dementia.

In addition, MRI scans have shown greater brain activity following cataract surgery.

How Can Vision Loss Cause Dementia?

Scientists studying the link between vision loss and dementia suspect that vision loss negatively impacts the brain. They theorize that the more visual information we receive, the more active our brains are, and brain activity may be able to fend off dementia.

For this reason, by restoring clear vision, cataract surgery may stimulate the brain and prevent cognitive decline.

There could be an emotional and social dimension to cognitive decline as well. People who suffer from significant vision loss often feel isolated. They may feel discouraged by their inability to recognize faces or perform everyday tasks, and may avoid social interactions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, social isolation raises the risk of developing dementia by 50%.

If you have cataracts and you feel your quality of life is affected, schedule an appointment with Ives Eyecare Center in Murrysville without delay. We’ll answer your questions about cataract surgery and ensure you receive optimal treatment.

Q&A With Our Optometrist

How is cataract surgery performed?

Cataract surgery is a short 30-40 minute procedure that replaces your cloudy, natural lens with a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL). First, the eye surgeon makes a hole in the cloudy lens and breaks it into tiny pieces. Next, the eye surgeon places the new clear lens onto the eye. You’ll be conscious throughout the surgery. The surgery is safe, effective and painless.

Is cataract surgery always successful?

Cataract surgery is highly successful, with a 99% success rate. Complications from cataract surgery are very rare.

June 27 Is National Sunglasses Day!

Monday, Jun 27, 2022 is National Sunglasses Day, so grab your favorite pair of sunnies and celebrate!

Many people think sunglasses are little more than a fashion accessory or a way to minimize glare while driving.

But the truth is that wearing sunglasses is vital if you want to safeguard your eye health and vision.

Why Sunglasses are Important

The number one reason to wear sunglasses is that they prevent ultraviolet (UV) light from entering your eyes.

UV light has been shown to age every part of the eye, from the delicate outer eye tissue to the tiny structures within the eye itself. Chronic UV exposure raises your risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and corneal damage.

The skin on your eyelids is the thinnest skin of your body, and UV light exposure can further thin eyelid skin, leading to premature aging and the appearance of dark circles and under-eye bags. Additionally, wearing sunglasses can help prevent wrinkles because you’ll squint less in the sunshine. Who knew sunglasses can be a key player in your anti-aging routine?

Moreover, UV light has been shown to slow the cornea’s ability to heal itself, making sunglasses a medical necessity for people who’ve recently had eye surgery like LASIK, or those who frequently wear contacts (overwearing contacts can irritate the cornea).

Finally, sunglasses are a fun way to show the world your personality and accessorize any outfit.

Activities for National Sunglasses Day

Not sure how to celebrate National Sunglasses Day? Here are a few ideas you may enjoy.

Sport your favorite pair of sunglasses during an outdoor activity, whether it’s a barbecue with friends, a concert at a stadium or time spent in the park.

You can also celebrate National Sunglasses Day by gifting a pair of quality sunglasses to a friend, spouse or child!

No matter how you choose to celebrate National Sunglasses Day, we hope you enjoy and keep your eyes protected.

For all matters related to eye health, ​​Ives Eyecare Center in Murrysville is here for you. Contact our eye doctor today!

FAQ With Our Optometrist

Should kids wear sunglasses?

Yes, children of all ages should wear sunglasses whenever they’re outdoors. In fact, it’s crucial because a child’s crystalline lens within the eye is much more clear than an adult’s, letting more light through. Contact us to learn more about kids’ eye health or to schedule an eye exam.

Can sunglasses block blue light?

Sunglasses with lenses that have a yellowish tint offer the most amount of blue light protection, from the sun and other sources. If you’re interested in blocking the blue light that’s emitted from your digital devices, speak with us to determine if computer glasses are right for you.

What’s The Connection Between Dry Eye And Asthma?

Woman with Dry Eye And AsthmaResearchers have already established several known risk factors for developing dry eye syndrome: the quality of your tears, excessive screen time, air pollution, hormonal fluctuations, aging, certain medications and medical conditions, and even one’s gender (females are more prone).

Here’s another risk factor that’s recently been added to the list: having asthma.

Asthma is a disease of the lungs that affects about 300 million people around the globe. Symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and breathlessness.

Fortunately, asthmatic patients are usually able to do the activities they enjoy by taking prescription medications that facilitate easier breathing.

But medical professionals have noticed that individuals taking these medicines, and sometimes even asthmatic patients who don’t, have a higher incidence of dry eye syndrome.

If you have asthma or any other risk factors for dry eye syndrome, let your eye doctor know. The eye care professionals at Ives Eyecare Center can identify the underlying cause of your dry eye symptoms and provide you with lasting dry eye relief.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes consistently lack proper lubrication, either due to insufficient tears or tears that lack essential oils.

Here’s a list of the common dry eye symptoms:

  • Burning, gritty or itchy eyes
  • Eye dryness
  • Red or painful eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Stringy mucus around the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty or inability to wear contact lenses
  • Feeling that something is stuck in your eye

What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

Most cases of dry eye syndrome result from the dysfunction of the meibomian glands in the eyelids, which produce the vital oils needed for healthy tears, and which reduce tear evaporation. But dry eyes can also be caused by some autoimmune diseases, hormone replacement therapy, certain medications and, it appears, asthma or the medications that treat it.

Environmental factors that can bring on dry eye syndrome include exposure to wind or airborne irritants, pollution, infrequent or incomplete blinking (people blink less when they use digital devices), heating, air conditioning and dry weather. Certain makeup products, including mascara, and application methods such as applying makeup on the eyelid margin, can block the glands that lubricate the eyes.

Can Dry Eye Syndrome Be Cured?

There is now a wide range of treatment options that can successfully manage your dry eyes. The key is to allow us to find and target the underlying cause of your condition, so we can create a plan to minimize and sometimes eliminate your dry eye symptoms.

What’s the Link Between Asthma and Dry Eye Syndrome?

Several studies have examined the relationship between asthma and dry eye syndrome and found that although a link exists, researchers aren’t sure exactly why.

One study, published in BMJ Open (2019), found that asthmatic people of Australian, Caucasian and Asian descent have higher rates of dry eye syndrome than those without asthma.

Another study, published in Medicine (2020), established a significant link between asthma and dry eye syndrome, and found that children with asthma tend to have an unstable tear film — a common cause of dry eyes.

One hypothesis is that asthma medications, like inhaled corticosteroids, oral antihistamines and leukotriene receptor antagonists may contribute to eye dryness by inhibiting tear production, but further research is needed.

Could asthma itself be the culprit? Possibly, but more research is needed for a better understanding. What is known, however, is that having low blood oxygen levels caused by severe asthma can deprive the front section of the eye (the cornea) of oxygen, potentially leading to dry eye syndrome.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Research shows that having asthma may increase your risk of experiencing dry eye symptoms.

If you have asthma, speak with your optometrist about lowering your risk of developing dry eye syndrome and make sure to bring all of your asthma medications to your next eye exam.

If you already have certain symptoms of dry eye syndrome, promptly contact Ives Eyecare Center to schedule a dry eye consultation. We’ll create a personalized treatment plan so you can enjoy long-term relief.

Our practice serves patients from Murrysville, West Newton, Delmont, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Paul Ives

Q: What at-home remedies can relieve dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Make sure to stay hydrated and wear sunglasses whenever outdoors. If you use an indoor heater or air conditioner, direct the airflow away from your face. Use a humidifier at home and at work. You can also try using a warm eye compress. Ask your eye doctor for instructions on how to do so. But keep in mind that trying to manage dry eye syndrome without seeing a dry eye optometrist won’t be as effective.

Q: How is dry eye syndrome treated?

  • A: The type of treatment depends on what’s causing the symptoms. For example, if premature tear evaporation is the problem, your optometrist may prescribe eye drops. Or if your meibomian glands aren’t functioning as they should, unclogging the glands may do the trick. Medicated eye ointment or drops may be prescribed, or we may recommend certain in-office dry eye treatments. Each treatment plan is carefully formulated with your eyes and lifestyle in mind.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 724-733-1918

4 Facts You Should Know About Scleral Lenses

Woman wearing Scleral Lenses scenic viewDo you have keratoconus or another type of corneal irregularity due to a medical condition or post-surgical complications? Are you considering giving up conventional contacts due to dry eye syndrome?

Consider scleral contact lenses! Contact Ives Eyecare Center in Murrysville to learn more and to discover a new sense of freedom with sclerals!

What Are Scleral Contact Lenses?

Sclerals are customized rigid gas permeable lenses that are wider than conventional lenses. Their name reflects the fact that they vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye.

Scleral contact lenses are 14-24 mm in diameter, while regular contacts are 9mm. This gives sclerals room to accommodate irregularly shaped corneas and provides a reservoir of moisture to soothe dry eyes.

4 Essential Facts About Scleral Contact Lenses

1. Sclerals Are the Right Fit for Irregularly Shaped Corneas

Keratoconus, astigmatism and complications from eye surgery can all result in an irregular-shaped cornea, and wearing contact lenses when your eyes are hard to fit can be challenging. Because sclerals are larger than regular contacts and don’t sit on the sensitive cornea, they provide lots of space and a comfortable fit.

2. Scleral Contact Lenses Can Reduce Dry Eye Symptoms

If you have dry eye syndrome, you may be tempted to give up on wearing contacts altogether. Scleral lenses are ideal for people with dry, itchy and irritated eyes. A lubricating pool of saline solution inside each scleral lens can reduce or even eliminate dry eye discomfort.

3. Sclerals Create a Wider Field of Vision

The width of sclerals not only makes them more comfortable but can extend your field of vision. Their diameter can expand your optic zone and make your peripheral vision sharper and clearer.

4. Sclerals Are Durable and Long-Lasting

Rigid gas permeable contact lenses, including scleral lenses, last longer than conventional soft contacts. Their durable materials are designed to resist wear and tear, which is also why scleral lenses don’t require frequent replacements.

Enjoy the convenience and clear vision scleral lenses by scheduling an appointment with Ives Eyecare Center and discover whether scleral lenses are the right choice for you.

Our practice serves patients from Murrysville, West Newton, Delmont, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Paul Ives

Q: Can I exercise with scleral lenses?

  • A: Scleral lenses are ideal for people who lead active lives—whether you’re a professional athlete or just like to pass a ball around with friends at the park. Thanks to their greater width, scleral lenses stay in place on the eye more than standard lenses while simultaneously providing clear crisp vision. That said, scleral lenses aren’t recommended for martial arts and other sports with a higher-than-usual rate of facial injuries.

Q: If I have keratoconus, can I avoid corneal surgery with scleral lenses?

  • A: A study published in the Journal of Ophthalmology (2018) that examined 51 patients with advanced keratoconus found that 40 of them didn’t need surgery after wearing scleral lenses. In fact, wearing them reduced the need for corneal transplant or keratoplasty by half during a 5-year period.

Request A Scleral Lens Appointment
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? 724-733-1918

Could Working From Home Be Hurting Your Vision?

Working at home is a great way to ditch your commute and enjoy more flexible hours, but there can be an unexpected consequence—digital eye strain. If you’re like many workers, you probably spend most of your day on a computer or other digital device, and likely experience the headache, blurred vision, sore eyes or achy back so common with digital (computer) eye strain.

In contrast to being in the office, where workers take coffee breaks and socialize, working solo at home often translates into spending more time on the computer without breaks, and often beyond the typical 9 to 5 schedule. This can increase the likelihood of developing digital eye strain.

What Is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain, also called computer vision syndrome (CVS), affects an estimated 70% of adults, especially those between the ages of 18 and 34.The eye strain results from extended hours focusing on a computer screen, and may be worsened by hours of exposure to blue light, high-energy visible light emitted by digital screens.

Blue light can cause short-term eye strain and discomfort, and scientists are researching whether it could also be linked to serious eye conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.

Moreover, staring at a screen, or even a printed book, causes people to blink up to 66% less often. Blinking is essential as it hydrates your eyes and stimulates the release of oil from the tiny glands in your eyelids. This oil also prevents tears from evaporating too quickly, thus drying out the eyes. Dry eyes can cause blurry vision, which further exacerbates eye strain.

What Are the Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain?

The following are common symptoms of digital eye strain:

  • Blurry vision
  • Eye soreness
  • Headaches Dry eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Neck, back and shoulder pain

How Can I Prevent Digital Eye Strain?

No need to ditch your job in order to avoid eye strain. There are other, more practical, ways to lessen the negative impact of screen time on our eyes. Below are some helpful tips.

Take Breaks

Even if you aren’t at the office and may not have co-workers to hang out with at the coffee machine or water cooler, make sure to take frequent breaks that don’t require screen time. Perhaps take a walk or reward yourself with a short nap. These breaks not only give your eyes a rest, but can rest your mind for a few minutes so you can work more efficiently.

Consider adopting the 20/20/20 habit. For every 20 minutes you spend in front of a screen, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. This will prevent you from overstraining your eyes and will encourage you to blink more, providing your eyes with much-needed hydration.

Adjust Screen Brightness

Bright screens can place a significant burden on your eyes. Simply adjusting your screen’s brightness can help rest your eyes.

See Your Eye Doctor

If you spend prolonged periods in front of the screen, it’s important to schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor to discuss whether you would benefit from lubricating eye drops or a pair of computer glasses. These computer glasses (or blue light glasses) allow your eyes to relax and make you feel as if you’re focusing on faraway objects. They also reduce glare and filter out blue light.

Whether you’re suffering from any of the symptoms related to digital eye strain or simply want to prevent it, we invite you to book an appointment with Ives Eyecare Center in Murrysville. With the right eye care and work habits, you should be able to successfully and quickly reduce and prevent eye strain.

Q&A With Our Optometrist

How long does it take to recover from computer eye strain?

If you don’t have an underlying eye condition, symptoms of digital eye strain can sometimes disappear within a few hours or days. But if you have recurrent eye strain, speak with your eye doctor, as the right eye drops or computer glasses could improve your visual comfort and quality of life.

Can digital eye strain affect my work productivity?

You may think spending hours in front of a computer screen will improve your productivity, when in reality, it may have the opposite effect. According to a study at the University of Alabama/Birmingham School of Optometry, even minor vision problems, such as eye strain, disrupt worker productivity by at least 20%.

So make sure to take steps to control lighting and glare on the device screen and establish proper working distances and posture for screen viewing. To learn more and to alleviate or prevent eye strain, contact Ives Eyecare Center today.

What Exactly is an Eye Chart?

If there’s one aspect of optometry that everyone recognizes, it’s the traditional eye chart, with its rows of big letters on top, which gradually become smaller the farther down you go. This chart is usually known as the Snellen chart.

Yet how much do you really know about this eye chart? Are all eye charts the same? How are these eye charts used? And when were they invented?

Here’s everything you need to know about eye charts and more!

What is an Eye Chart?

An eye chart is one of the tools your eye doctor uses to assess your eyesight. Based on how well you can see various letters on the chart, your optometrist will determine whether you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) or astigmatism, and will measure the prescription that will give you the clearest, most comfortable vision.

Are All Eye Charts The Same?

There are a number of variations to the standard Snellen eye chart. The one an eye doctor uses depends on the personal needs and abilities of the patient. For example, eye doctors will use charts with pictures or patterns for younger children who may not have learned to read or identify letters and numbers.

There are also certain charts that specifically measure distance vision, while others are better for measuring near vision.

History of the Snellen Eye Chart

The Snellen eye chart was developed by Dutch eye doctor Hermann Snellen in the 1860s. Before this standardized eye chart was developed, each eye doctor had their own chart that they preferred to use.

Having so many different eye charts made it impossible to standardize the vision correction available to patients. Eyeglass makers didn’t receive the defined measurements they needed to accurately design, manufacture and measure the optical prescriptions their patients needed.

For the first time, the Snellen eye chart allowed a person to provide a standardized prescription from any eye care provider they chose to any eyeglass maker, and get the same optical lenses to accurately correct their vision.

How The Snellen Chart Is Used in Eye Exams

The standard Snellen chart displays 11 rows of capital letters, with the first row consisting of a single large letter. The farther down the chart you go, the smaller the letters become.

Your Murrysville eye doctor will ask you to look through a phoropter – an instrument used to test individual lenses on each eye during an eye exam – and look at the Snellen chart placed 20 feet away. Your eye doctor will prescribe the lenses that provide you with the clearest and most comfortable vision.

In many offices, where 20 feet of space may not be available, you’ll be asked to view the chart through a mirror. This provides the same visual experience as if you were standing 20 feet away.

If you have 20/20 vision, it means you can see what an average person can see on an eye chart from a distance of 20 feet. On the other hand, if you have 20/40 vision, it means you can only see clearly from 20 feet away what a person with perfect vision can see clearly from 40 feet away.

If you have 20/200 vision, the legal definition of blindness, this means what a person with perfect vision can see from 200 feet away, you can see from 20 feet away.

Does 20/20 Visual Acuity Mean Perfect Vision?

No. While eye chart tests identify refractive errors, they can’t detect signs of visual skill deficiencies or diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. These are diagnosed using advanced equipment as part of a comprehensive eye exam with your local Murrysville eye doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions are essential to ensuring long-term vision and eye health.

For more information, give us a call at 724-733-1918 or visit us in person at Ives Eyecare Center, today!

Q&A With Your Local Optometrist

How do you keep your eyes healthy?

You only have one set of eyes – don’t take them for granted!

Make sure to implement the following habits for healthy eyes (and body). These include:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking plenty of water to hydrate your body and eyes
  • Not smoking, and avoiding 2nd-hand smoke
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Maintaining normal BMI with regular exercise
  • Regular visits to your eye doctor as recommended

What health conditions can an eye exam detect?

A comprehensive eye exam can often detect certain underlying diseases that can threaten your sight and eye health, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumors, autoimmune conditions and thyroid disorders. This is why having your eyes checked regularly is key. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome and the higher your quality of life.

5 Ways to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time

Girl sitting in front of tv screenMany of us are spending more time in front of screens, and kids are no exception. Kids socialize on their phones and play video games, and may have spent a large part of the covid pandemic learning online.

However, research has shown that too much screen time is unhealthy for adults and kids. For this reason, it’s important to teach children to adopt healthy screen-time habits.

How Does Screen Time Affect the Eyes?

The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health study (2019), found that excessive screen time was linked to higher obesity rates, and a tendency to eat more junk foods and exercise less.

The eyes, in particular, are adversely affected by hours spent in front of the screen. This is because screens emit blue light, which has shorter wavelengths and more energy than regular light, and the intensity of the light strains the eyes. There are also questions concerning the damage it can cause to the retina.

Screen time has also been linked to higher levels of myopia in young people, according to an Anglia Ruskin University study (2021). Extensive time spent texting or watching videos on a phone led to a 30% higher risk of myopia, or nearsightedness, in young people, and combined with excessive computer use, the risk rose to 80%.

Another worrying factor is excessive exposure to blue light on the circadian rhythm, an internal clock that indicates when we should be asleep or awake. Hours of blue light exposure prior to going to bed can throw off these patterns and interfere with sleep.

How to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time

Now the question is how should you implement these new rules? Here are 5 tips to help your child develop healthy habits while they’re still young, and help them preserve their mental and physical well-being, as well as their vision.

Set Limits

Set rules that are clear and easy to adhere to. Think about the number of hours per day you’re willing to allow your children to use the screen either for fun or for homework—factoring in a bit extra for holidays and weekends. For instance, one 1 hour per day during the week and 2-3 on the weekends. Also consider times that should be screen-free, such as during meals, before completing homework or chores, or an hour or two before bedtime.

Get Into a Routine

Once you’ve determined how much screen time should be permitted, create a routine that is manageable and easy to stick to. Setting a structure will reduce disagreements because everyone will know what’s expected of them. We recommend writing up the rules and posting them near the computer or in the family room.

For instance, assign each child an hour of screen time a day and ask them to sign up for specific slots. Leave the dinner hour vacant so no one is using screens at the time.

Set An Example

Setting rules specifying when screen time is allowed and for how long is fairly simple, but following them is a whole other thing! Modeling behavior can positively influence your kids, as they are more likely to abide by the rules if they see you setting limits on your screen time as well. Working together to limit screen time can engender a feeling of cooperation and shared goals. Instead of texting or scrolling or watching videos, spend more time together as a family doing things everyone enjoys.

Discuss WHY Screen Time Should Be Limited

Kids should not only know what the rules are but the reasons behind them. Discuss why it’s important to reduce screen time, including health issues that can arise, and explain how too much blue light can affect their eyes. Understanding the reasons behind rules can make them easier to follow.

Encourage Physical Activity, Particularly Outdoors

Your child might forget about screen time when engaged in fun activities that get the body moving. In fact, several studies have shown that children who spend a significant amount of time playing outdoors lower their risk of developing myopia (nearsightedness). Other studies have linked “near work,” such as reading and spending too much time on digital devices, to the development and progression of myopia. Myopia is more than simply an inconvenient eye condition that requires frequent correction—it can have serious sight-threatening consequences in adulthood. Namely, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, glaucoma, and even cataracts. The faster the progression, and the younger the child, the greater the risk!

So encourage your child to play outdoors for at least 30-60 minutes each day, with siblings, friends or as part of a sports team. Perhaps you can take a walk or a bike ride with them after work, or throw a Frisbee — essentially helping them get into the habit of having fun without depending on screens.

If your child has already developed myopia and you want to limit its progression, contact us today. Dr. Paul Ives, Dr. Alexa Ives, and Dr. Tessa Ives at Ives Eyecare Center can help reduce or slow down myopia progression so they can live their best life.

Our practice serves patients from Murrysville, West Newton, Delmont, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Paul Ives

Q: Does blue light affect myopia?

  • A: A study in the International Journal of Ophthalmology (2018) has shown a link between extended exposure to blue light and nearsightedness or myopia. That’s because blue light has a shorter wavelength and its high frequency penetrates the front of the retina, and can potentially lead to nearsightedness. That said, there’s still more research to be done on the link between the two.

Q: What is myopia management necessary?

  • A: Myopia management helps slow myopia progression using specific proven treatments methods. This also involves making lifestyle changes, such as reducing screen time and spending more time outdoors. The goal is to keep the level of myopia as low as possible in order to reduce your child’s risk of developing vision-threatening eye diseases later in life.
  • References

5 Ways to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

Dry Eye Air Travel Tips 640×350While traveling can be taxing on the entire body, the eyes are especially vulnerable — particularly when wearing a mask to protect from COVID. When traveling by plane, the dry air can cause your eyes to become red, parched and irritated. While you can’t control all variables during your travels, eye specialists have discovered a number of ways to reduce the chances of experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of “travelers’ dry eye.”

Here are five suggestions for preventing dry eye from affecting your vision.

Drink plenty of water. If your body isn’t properly hydrated, it will have a tougher time increasing tear production in a dry atmosphere. Humidity levels on planes are typically below 20%, which is lower than the Sahara Desert! Keep your eyes moist and comfortable by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your flight.

Wear your glasses. Since contact lenses remove moisture from your eye’s surface tear film, they can contribute to dry eye. Wearing your glasses can help keep your eyes moist.

Wear a sleep mask. Even when your eyelids are closed, your eyes might lose moisture, which happens frequently when you sleep. On a plane, a sleep mask can help prevent additional dryness.

Use hydrating eye drops. When you’re in a dry environment, a good hydrating eye drop can provide a brief respite.

Make sure your face mask fits snugly. When a person’s breath rises upward it can dry out their eyes. A face mask that fits securely around the bridge of the nose can prevent air from reaching the eyes.

Is dry eye making you miserable, especially when traveling? Put an end to the discomfort and struggle by contacting Ives Eyecare Center. Our dedicated eye doctors will get to the bottom of your dry eye and provide effective, lasting treatment.

Our practice serves patients from Murrysville, West Newton, Delmont, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Paul Ives

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: In some cases, yes. A range of successful treatment options can help manage dry eye for long-term relief. Your eye doctor can also provide in-office treatments for more advanced forms of dry eye disease.

Q: What type of treatments are available for dry eye?

  • A: Depending on the cause of the dry eye, treatment options include:
    – Lubricants
    – Punctal plugs
    – Topical steroids
    – Warm compresses
    – Protective eyewear
    – Intense pulse light
    – Switching to medications that don’t cause dry eye symptoms

Looking for dry eye treatment? Contact Ives Eyecare Center today!

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 724-733-1918

6 Things To Know About Keratoconus

happy couple in winterKeratoconus is an eye disease that causes the cornea, the clear dome-shaped front surface of the eye, to become misshapen and bulge. This progressive disease usually occurs in both eyes and affects approximately 50-200 in every 100,000 individuals.

People who have keratoconus often experience problems like blurred vision, distorted vision, night blindness and sensitivity to light. Clear vision correction for keratoconus can be challenging to achieve because the irregular corneal shape makes it difficult or impossible for standard eyeglasses or contact lenses to provide you with sharp vision.

Thankfully, there are ways for people with keratoconus to achieve clear and comfortable vision, something we explore below, along with several other key points about keratoconus.

1. Everyone has different risk factors for developing keratoconus

Some risk factors for developing keratoconus include:

  • Hereditary predisposition
  • Eye rubbing
  • Other medical conditions like Down syndrome, allergic dermatitis and connective tissue disorders
  • Eye inflammation

2. Keratoconus can develop at any age

Although most cases of keratoconus are first diagnosed in adolescence or young adulthood, it can appear during any stage of life. That’s why regular eye exams are crucial, even if your vision seems clear and your eyes appear to be healthy.

3. Early diagnosis is key

This rings true for almost every eye disease, especially keratoconus. Catching it early in its tracks can allow the eye doctor to implement various treatments to slow down its progression during the initial stages, when this condition tends to worsen more rapidly.

4. Keratoconus progresses at different rates throughout life

Keratoconus progression varies from person to person, and one person can experience varying degrees of progression in each eye. Some patients live with mild keratoconus their entire lives, while other patients develop severe keratoconus early on.

Often, optometrists will recommend that patients undergo certain procedures to strengthen the cornea and prevent or slow down further progression.

5. Keratoconus can be treated with surgery or scleral contact lenses

Corneal cross-linking surgery is an effective option to provide enhanced strength to the cornea and is the only FDA-approved method of stopping or slowing keratoconus progression. However, if the condition develops into severe keratoconus, a corneal transplant may be the best option for treating the condition and restoring clear vision.

Scleral contact lenses offer another option to surgery. They are ideal for patients with early or moderate levels of keratoconus because they safely and effectively correct vision without irritating the misshapen cornea. In fact, studies have shown that patients with keratoconus who wear scleral contact lenses greatly reduce their risk of needing keratoplasty (corneal transplant surgery).

The large diameter of scleral contact lenses allows them to vault over the sensitive corneal tissue and then also coat the cornea in a nourishing reservoir of fluid for optimal comfort and visual clarity. Because eye rubbing and corneal irritation are significant risk factors for the progression of keratoconus, the protective qualities of scleral lenses can help to minimize keratoconus progression.

6. You can live a normal life with keratoconus

With the proper care and treatment from your optometrist, keratoconus shouldn’t stop you from living your life to the fullest. Although it can be discouraging to experience vision problems that can’t be resolved with standard lenses or glasses, know that there are other options available.

At Ives Eyecare Center, we help patients with keratoconus and other corneal abnormalities achieve crisp and comfortable vision using scleral contact lenses and other specialty lenses.

Our practice provides scleral lenses to patients from Murrysville, West Newton, Delmont, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Paul Ives

Q: Who else can benefit from wearing scleral contact lenses?

  • A: Scleral contact lenses are ideal for patients with any of the following conditions: corneal abnormalities, severe dry eye syndrome, post-LASIK or corneal transplant, eye allergies, high refractive error or corneal trauma. Speak with your optometrist to find out if scleral lenses are right for you.

Q: Do all optometrists fit specialty contact lenses like sclerals?

  • A: No. If you are interested in scleral contact lenses, be sure to choose an optometric practice that has years of experience fitting specialty lenses. At Ives Eyecare Center, we have the knowledge, skill and experience necessary to provide you with the best lenses for your eyes. Call us to learn more or schedule your scleral lens fitting.

Request A Scleral Lens Appointment
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? 724-733-1918