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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 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 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 or visit us in person at , 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.

Bloodshot Eyes – Should You Be Concerned?

You wake up in the morning ready to start your day, only to discover that your eyes are bloodshot. That might not be surprising if you stayed up late to finish a project, had too many drinks at a party or spent time in a smoke-filled room.

But bloodshot eyes can also signal an underlying eye problem. If your eyes appear red or bloodshot, make an appointment with an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause and to receive effective treatment.

Why Do I Have Bloodshot Eyes?

When blood rushes to the front of the eye, the tiny red blood vessels on the white of the eye dilate and become visible. This makes the eyes appear red and irritated.

So why do these blood vessels dilate, causing your eyes to look bloodshot?

Bloodshot eyes tend to be caused by:

  • Dry eyes
  • Irritants such as smoke, pollen and perfume
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Spending too much time in front of the computer

Bloodshot eyes due to lifestyle and environmental irritants may disappear on their own, or you can try to relieve them with over-the-counter eye drops or liquid tears. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, cutting down on alcohol intake and limiting screen time can often be helpful. If allergies are the culprit, oral antihistamines and antihistamine eye drops may relieve symptoms.

At other times, underlying problems requiring prompt medical attention can cause your eye’s blood vessels to dilate. The following are some of these medical conditions:

Conjunctivitis

You’ve probably heard of “pink eye.” It’s another name for infectious conjunctivitis – an infection of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the eyelid and the front surface of the eye.

There are two types of infectious conjunctivitis – bacterial and viral.

If your child has conjunctivitis, they’re not alone. About 12% of kids get bacterial conjunctivitis every year. This highly contagious condition affects children and adults. In addition to reddish eyes, the following symptoms are associated with conjunctivitis:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis – irritated eyes, swollen eyelids, eye discharge, crusty eyelids and excessive tearing
  • Viral conjunctivitis – cold or flu-like symptoms, runny nose, fever, itchy eyes, excessive tearing

If you or your child are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to schedule a prompt appointment with an eye doctor, who can diagnose whether the conjunctivitis is viral, bacterial or due to allergies.

Depending on the diagnosis, your eye doctor will prescribe antibiotic eye drops or creams to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. The viral form may run its course after a few days, but cold compresses and non-prescription eye drops may provide relief.

Dry Eye Syndrome

If your eyes are chronically bloodshot you may have dry eye syndrome (DES). Signs of DES include:

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • A feeling you have something stuck in your eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes

Dry eye syndrome is most commonly caused by a blockage of the tiny meibomian glands in the eyelids. These glands secrete oil that keeps eye moisture from evaporating too quickly. Without the oil, tears dry fast, leaving your eyes feeling dry, itchy and with a bloodshot appearance.

Too much screen time, aging, certain medications such as antihistamines, and medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dry eye syndrome.

In addition to any medications or in-office treatments your eye doctor recommends, make sure to get plenty of hydration, take frequent breaks from digital screens and use a humidifier in your home.

Uveitis

In addition to bloodshot eyes, if you also experience blurred vision, see floaters or your eyes feel painful, you may have an eye inflammation called uveitis. The causes of uveitis include:

  • Autoimmune or inflammatory condition
  • Infection
  • Medication side effects
  • Cancer (in rare cases)

Unfortunately, uveitis symptoms can often be mistaken for something less serious. That’s the reason it’s important to get an eye exam if your eyes are bloodshot. Left untreated, uveitis can lead to serious conditions such as retinal scarring, cataracts and vision loss.

Depending on the cause and severity, your eye doctor may treat uveitis with prescription eye drops, steroid pills, injections or eye implants.

Eye Injury

It’s vital that all eye injuries receive immediate eye care from an eye doctor.

Even a minor eye injury can cause a big red blotch to form on the white part of the eye (sclera). The cause is a broken blood vessel or a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

Although the appearance of this blood looks severe, and can make the entire white part of the eye appear bright red, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually painless and doesn’t cause vision loss. Any time you notice excessive blood on the eye following an eye injury, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor to assess the health of your eye.

Glaucoma

In rare cases, bloodshot eyes may signal the presence of glaucoma – a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.

While some types of glaucoma don’t show symptoms in the early phases, bloodshot eyes can indicate the type of glaucoma that requires immediate medical care. This disease causes damage to the optic nerve due to excessive pressure within the eye. When this pressure suddenly rises, the eye’s blood vessels become dilated and visible, making the eye appear red.

If you have bloodshot eyes and/or have the following risk factors for glaucoma, immediately schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Aged 60+
  • African American, Asian or Hispanic
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Bloodshot Eyes Won’t Go Away?

Talk to Us Any time you notice bloodshot eyes or blood on the front of the eye, don’t wait. Schedule your eye exam with Dr. Denise Smith at The Center for Vision Development in Austin today.

Q&A With Your Local Optometrist

Can I get bloodshot eyes after LASIK surgery?

LASIK surgery is highly effective minimally invasive laser eye surgery that can correct refractive errors, but like all surgical procedures, it can have side effects. Your eyes may be bloodshot or you could see halos from a few days to three weeks after surgery. Additionally, you may experience other dry eye symptoms. Eye drops and liquid tears can alleviate these symptoms, but if you have any concerns about your eyes following LASIK surgery contact your eye surgeon.

What Should I Expect from a Glaucoma Exam?

If you have a family history and/or other risk factors for glaucoma, and if your eyes look bloodshot, consider scheduling a glaucoma exam. Your eye doctor may perform the following tests:

  • Tonometry – eye pressure test
  • Gonioscopy – to see how fluid is draining out of your eye
  • Vision field test – to examine the functioning of the optic nerve
  • Dilated pupil exam – to detect any damage to the optic nerve
  • Retinal photo or OCT – digital examination of the retina and optic nerve health

Are Myopic Parents More Likely to Have Myopic Children?

Myopic Parents 640×350If you have myopia (nearsightedness), can you pass nearsightedness on to your children? Yes, you can. Having myopic parents greatly increases a child’s risk of developing myopia.

Due to heredity and other risk factors, myopia is reaching epidemic proportions – with more than 50% of the population expected to be myopic by 2050. That’s worrying, as having moderate to severe myopia greatly increases the risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration later in life.

What Is Myopia?

If you have myopia, distant objects will appear blurred. This happens when your cornea or eye lens is oval-shaped and excessively curved. As a result, the light entering your eye focuses images in front of your retina instead of directly on it, causing blurred vision.

Can Myopia Be Inherited? What the Stats Say

The answer is yes, myopia can be passed on from parents to children. There are 40 genes that influence the eye’s development and shape, and these could be responsible for nearsightedness.

Children with one myopic parent are 1.5x more likely to develop the condition, and the risk is tripled if both parents have myopia. This makes getting a comprehensive eye exam a must for any child of nearsighted parents.

Other risk factors include spending less than two hours a day outdoors and engaging in “near work” activities like reading and spending time on an electronic device, such as a computer or cell phone. Fortunately, there are ways to manage, slow and sometimes halt myopia progression.

What’s Myopia Management?

Myopia management is a systematic approach to preventing the progression of myopia. It includes lifestyle changes and treatments that help keep your child’s myopia from progressing.

​​We use the latest technology to ensure your child’s vision remains stable and healthy for years to come.

Protect Your Child’s Vision With Myopia Management

Let us help your child diminish the risk of developing ocular disease and vision loss with our effective myopia management program. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Denise Smith at Myopia Management Center At The Center for Vision Development in Austin. We’ll use the latest technology to ensure your child’s vision remains stable and healthy for years to come.

Our practice serves patients from Austin, Waco, Round Rock, and Buda/Kyle, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Denise Smith

Q: What are some ways I can reduce my child’s screen time?

  • A: It isn’t easy to change habits, but as a family, you can work together to reduce screen time. Try the following:- Set limits on total amount of screen time per day
    – Create routines around screen use–such as after homework and chores
    – Model healthy screen use for your child
    – Talk to your children about why it is important to limit screen time
    – Engage in physical activity and outdoor sports as a family

Q: When Does Myopia Typically Develop?

  • A: Myopia begins in children as young as 6 and tends to progress until roughly the age of 20. The more it progresses, and the higher the prescription, the greater your child’s risk of developing potentially sight-threatening eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal detachment later in life.

Martial Arts: Improve Your Reflexes With Sports Vision Training

Martial Arts Improve Your Reflexes With Sports Vision Training 640×350As a martial artist, you want to show your hard-earned skills at every match. While martial artists know the importance of being physically fit, many don’t realize that their visual skills also play a central role in their performance.

Your eyes’ ability to focus, react instantaneously to another’s moves, and see movement from the edge of your visual field are all critical skills to succeed in martial arts. That’s where sports vision training comes in. Regardless of your age or level of ability, sports vision training can boost your visual skills to help you up your game.

What is Sports Vision Training?

Sports vision training is a customized program designed to enhance the communication between your eyes, brain, and body. Athletes who receive sports vision training are able to process visual information faster and react more precisely to what they see on the mat, field or track.

Sports vision training employs a unique set of strategies and exercises that enhances eye-brain communication so the body can respond more quickly, effectively and accurately. Visual skills such as depth perception, hand-eye coordination, dynamic visual acuity and peripheral awareness are all [emphasized] during sports vision training.

Visual Skills for Martial Arts

Visual skills allow the brain to quickly process the images received by the eyes and then relay this information to the body. People who do judo, karate, kung fu, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido among other forms of martial arts rely heavily on these and other visual skills to succeed:

Dynamic Visual Acuity

This is at times referred to as “vision in motion,” or the capacity to see, understand and respond quickly to moving objects. In martial arts, fighters need dynamic visual acuity to accurately follow their opponents’ sudden kicks, throws or punches.

Eye-Hand Coordination

There is a three-way information pathway between our limbs, eye and brain. Any miscommunication between these three can impact eye-hand coordination. If the information is not conveyed quickly and accurately enough, the body may not be able to react in time to fend off an opponent.

From parrying a punch in boxing to grappling in Jiu-Jitsu, hand-eye coordination is required for a wide range of maneuvers and situations. It’s also important for enhancing your general timing in offensive and defensive reactions.

Peripheral Awareness

Your ability to recognize what’s going on at the edge of your vision is known as peripheral awareness. A fighter with a well-developed peripheral field will be able to see everything at once and perceive the battle’s flow.

Combatants of all levels, amateur and professional, can benefit from improving their visual abilities. Giving martial artists the ability to develop their sports vision skills has been shown to help them perform at a higher level.

Contact us at Sports Vision Center at The Center for Vision Development to schedule your appointment with one of our sports vision experts and discover how sports vision training can help you excel in martial arts.

Our practice serves patients from Austin, Waco, Round Rock, and Buda/Kyle, Texas and surrounding communities.

Does Your Child Have 20/20 Vision Yet Still Struggles In School?

teacher with kids needing vision therapyYour child aced their school’s vision screening test with 20/20 eyesight. That means perfect vision, right?

Actually, no. 20/20 simply means that your child can clearly see things that are 20 feet away. While that’s good news, clear eyesight doesn’t mean a student has strong visual skills.

There are 17 crucial visual skills that can impact your child’s success in school and on the sports field. Fortunately, most children are able to improve their visual skills with vision therapy.

What Are Visual Skills?

A healthy visual system relies not only on healthy vision, but on the eyes’ ability to move correctly, send the correct information to the brain, and the brain’s ability to interpret this information. If any one of these visual skills is sub-par, it can impact a child’s reading, writing and learning. This, in turn, can harm their motivation and self-confidence.

The visual skills needed to succeed in school (and life) include:

  • Eye movement – the ability to accurately control the eye’s movements
  • Eye teaming – the ability of both eyes to work together
  • Focusing – the ability to maintain clear vision at all distances
  • Peripheral vision – seeing objects at the sides of our vision
  • Saccades – the ability for vision to jump between focal points

When 20/20 Vision Doesn’t Measure Up

When a child scores 20/20 on a simple vision test, problems with visual skills often go unnoticed because basic screenings rarely assess beyond eyesight. It’s no wonder that 1 out of 4 schoolchildren has an undiagnosed vision problem! That’s a lot of children struggling unnecessarily, and well into adulthood.

Only a functional eye exam performed by an eye doctor can detect subpar visual skills.

Signs Your Child Has a Visual Problem

Schedule a functional eye exam if your child:

  • Has learning difficulties
  • Reads below grade level
  • Exhibits behavioral problems
  • Has difficulty paying attention
  • Frequently rubs their eyes or blinks frequently
  • Squints or covers one eye when reading
  • Has poor hand-eye coordination

How Do You Improve Visual Skills in Children?

If your child is diagnosed with any visual skills deficits, their eye doctor may recommend vision therapy. This form of therapy involves the use of specialized eye exercises, prisms, therapeutic lenses and even fun computer-based games that recalibrate how the brain and eyes work together. Vision therapy involves a customized program to meet the individual needs of each child. The therapy is performed in-office and at home between office sessions.

Vision therapy is ideal for kids because their brains are still developing and have greater neuroplasticity (meaning, their brains are more adaptable to change through the strengthening of neural connections).

While the vision therapy program can range from a few weeks to several months, the results last a lifetime.

If your child is struggling to keep up in school or when playing sports, don’t delay and schedule an appointment with Dr. Denise Smith at The Center for Vision Development.

Our practice serves patients from Austin, Waco, Round Rock, and Buda/Kyle, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Denise Smith

Q: What is the success rate of vision therapy?

  • A: Vision therapy is a proven method to boost deficient visual skills and treat the visual system. In a multi-center National Eye Institute-funded study, 75% of patients with convergence insufficiency (problems with eye teaming), experienced normal vision or significantly improved symptoms following office-based vision therapy.

Q: Can vision therapy treat strabismus?

  • A: Yes. Vision therapy is the most effective and non-invasive treatment for strabismus— when the eyes don’t fixate or focus on the same place or visual target simultaneously. Eye exercises that train the brain and the eyes to work together can correct the eye turn and may even result in vision improvements, such as 3D vision and binocular depth perception.

References

Request A Functional Visual Exam
Find Out How We Can Help You! 512-329-8900

Can Your Vision Change After a Concussion?

women rubbing her head from neuro vision problemsIf you’ve hit your head in a fall while playing sports or in any other type of accident, your vision may have been impacted.

Between 69% and 82% of people who’ve experienced concussions report visual problems, such as eyestrain and double or blurred vision.

Head trauma causes the brain to move within the skull. The movement can stretch the fragile cranial nerves and can even damage brain cells. Since vision relies on efficient communication between the eyes and the brain, a concussion can disrupt these neural pathways, affecting your vision.

The resulting condition is called post-trauma vision syndrome (PTVS).

How Does a Concussion Affect Vision?

Our vision depends on our brain’s ability to accurately receive and interpret the images sent by our eyes. Therefore, anything that impacts the brain can severely affect our ability to see clearly. When we suffer head injuries caused by a traffic accident or a serious fall, the resulting head injury can impact the communication between our eyes and brain.

Although your eyes may be healthy, your vision may be blurred, or you might start seeing double or experience eye strain due to post-trauma vision syndrome.

What Is Post Trauma Vision Syndrome?

Post-trauma vision syndrome refers to a number of visual problems that tend to occur following a severe head injury. If you have PTVS, you may have trouble with:

  • Focusing – changing focus from close to far or keeping your vision clear
  • Eye teaming or binocular vision – your eyes’ ability to coordinate
  • Depth perception – judging distance or the relationship of one object to another
  • Eye-tracking – visually following an object or text on a screen or page
  • Peripheral vision – seeing things from the side of the eyes
  • Eye alignment – the eyes aren’t aligned correctly or point in different directions

Any one of these visual problems can negatively affect your ability to perform day-to-day tasks and significantly lower your quality of life. Driving, reading, watching TV, participating in sports, enjoying hobbies and even socializing can become difficult.

Why You Need a Neuro-Optometrist

A neuro-optometrist is trained to diagnose and treat visual problems related to the nervous system caused by head injuries, strokes and neurological diseases. After assessing your visual system for any aberrations, your neuro-optometrist will prescribe a customized treatment plan to strengthen your visual system and improve your quality of life.

What Treatments Improve Vision Following a Concussion?

A neuro-optometrist may prescribe any of the following to relieve symptoms after a concussion and help you see and feel better:

  • Prescription lenses – especially for blurry vision
  • Prism lenses
  • Syntonic phototherapy – the use of light to create balance in the autonomous nervous system and restore vision
  • Neuro-optometric therapy – a customized eye exercise program designed to rehabilitate your visual skills

How Long Do Visual Problems Last After a Concussion?

Typically, visual problems caused by a concussion don’t become noticeable for some time. Symptoms of visual problems can appear or remain for weeks, months or even years after the original incident. Any person who has had a concussion should be assessed by a neuro-optometrist, even if they’re not experiencing any obvious visual problems.

If you’re still experiencing any visual symptoms of post-traumatic vision syndrome, even weeks or months after your head injury, it’s essential to see a neuro-optometrist for diagnosis and treatment. If this is your case, we invite you to schedule your appointment with Dr. Denise Smith at today.

Our practice serves patients from Austin, Waco, Round Rock, and Buda/Kyle, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Denise Smith

Q: Can a concussion permanently change your vision?

  • A: In some cases, a concussion can permanently impact your vision, especially if your visual system or optic nerve has been damaged. The good news is that most visual problems caused by a head injury respond well to neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

Q: Why can it take time for concussion-related vision problems to be diagnosed?

  • A: Diagnosis can depend on several factors. If someone has been in a serious accident, their physicians are focused on life-threatening injuries. As a result, all but the most obvious visual symptoms, such as vision loss, may be missed. In other cases, the signs of PTVS can be very subtle and undetectable in a routine eye exam. That’s why anyone who has experienced a concussion should have their vision thoroughly examined by a neuro-optometrist.

    Request A Functional Visual Exam
    Find Out How We Can Help You! 512-329-8900

    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. Denise Smith at Myopia Management Center At The Center for Vision Development can help reduce or slow down myopia progression so they can live their best life.

    Our practice serves patients from Austin, Waco, Round Rock, and Buda/Kyle, Texas and surrounding communities.

    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Denise Smith

    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

    Can Vision Be Trained to Improve Sports Performance?

    Runner stretching on bridgeTo detect the exact angle of a tennis ball in midday glare, observe the subtle movements of a goalie or focus accurately on a target, you need great visual skills.

    How Vision Affects the Performance of an Athlete

    Many athletes find that in spite of consistent exercise and hard work, something is preventing them from reaching their goals. Often, it’s their visual system.

    In those with a healthy visual system, the eyes accurately relay images to the brain, which quickly turns these messages into actions, such as positioning your arm and hands to catch a ball. This eye-brain-body communication is dependent on the following visual skills:

    • Eye focusing: smoothly changing the focus from object to object
    • Depth perception: detecting the speed and distance of objects
    • Eye-hand or eye-body coordination: the ability to react efficiently to what one sees
    • Eye-tracking: tracking a moving object
    • Dynamic visual acuity: seeing moving objects clearly
    • Peripheral awareness: detecting things in the corner of your eye

    Good depth perception helps you gauge the distance between you and the basket, while poor peripheral awareness makes it harder to see players approaching from the side. Proper eye tracking and dynamic visual acuity help you follow the action on the field and hit a target.

    Yet even the best visual skills won’t help an athlete if their eyesight isn’t clear. That’s where glasses and contact lenses come into play.

    What Glasses and Contact Lenses Are Best for Sports?

    If you wear prescription glasses, you should also have a pair of sports glasses to use while you train or participate in a game or a race. Eyewear designed for sports:

    • Maximize vision so you can see clearly for your best performance
    • Prevents eye injuries due to a fast-moving ball or even an errant finger from an opposing player, potentially leading to vision loss
    • Reduces glare all year round

    Glasses with silicone padding can keep debris from making contact with your eyes. Choose polarized glasses to reduce glare from reflected light, such as off water, snow or a road surface, or photochromic lenses that will automatically darken as your surroundings get brighter. Impact-resistant lenses can add to the durability and strength of your sports glasses, which are often recommended for intense activity.

    Which Contacts Are Best for Sports?

    Some contact lenses can be more versatile and comfortable than eyeglasses for sports. They don’t slip, as glasses sometimes do, and may improve your peripheral vision. To protect your eyes from debris, glare or impact, you may need to wear additional protective eyewear or sunglasses along with contact lenses.

    Soft contact lenses are often used for sports since they move less on the eye, but some athletes prefer gas-permeable lenses because they may provide clearer vision and offer improved eye health for some patients. Check with your eye doctor which type of contact lenses are best for you based on your vision correction needs and the sports you play.

    For less glare and greater color contrast, you may want to consider custom-tinted soft contact lenses. These lenses filter light rays in a way similar to certain tinted optical lenses that may help you see a ball or a target more accurately.

    For example, amber tints can be helpful for people who play tennis, soccer, and baseball, while gray-green are sometimes recommended for golf, biking and running.

    Can Sports Vision Training Improve Athletic Performance?

    Just as you lift weights, run hills and do calisthenics to build your strength, endurance and flexibility, you can get your eyes into shape with sports vision training. A sports vision optometrist can help you improve your visual skills by prescribing exercises to hone your ability to focus, track objects, perceive objects in motion and at the periphery.

    How Does Sports Vision Training Work?

    A customized sports vision training program helps athletes of all ages and abilities boost the visual skills they need to excel at their chosen sports. During a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will assess both your eyesight and your visual skills. Your eye doctor will then prescribe a personalized program of eye exercises to sharpen your skills based on the exam results, the sports you play as well as your goals.

    Studies have shown that sports vision training enhances an athlete’s ability to react faster and more efficiently by improving visual skills. In fact, it’s now an integral part of many sports programs.

    Discover ways to boost your visual system so you’re in top shape for the next big game or race. To learn more or speak with a sports vision training eye care professional, contact Sports Vision Center at The Center for Vision Development today!

    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Denise Smith

    Q: What are the most common eye injuries sustained in sports?

    • A: Among the most common eye injuries in sports are:
      – Eyelid bruises
      – Eye punctures
      – Eye scratches. These injuries can result from an impact, or debris getting into or penetrating the eye. Some can lead to permanent vision loss while others may only need superficial treatment. Either way, an eye doctor should assess all eye injuries.
    • According to a study done by the University of Cincinnati Division of Sports Medicine, football players who had undergone sports vision training to improve their peripheral vision sustained fewer injuries than those who did not do it.
    • This is because sports vision training helps the eyes and brain react more quickly to changes in the environment, resulting in more successes and fewer accidents.

    Q: Is Sports Vision Training exclusively for professional athletes?

    • A: The best thing about sports vision training is that it can help both amateur and professional athletes take their game to the next level. This includes children, teens as well as adults.

    References

    Do You See Better When You Tilt or Turn Your Head?

    blue eye tilted head to see betterDo you find that you need to tilt or turn your head to see better? This is known as an anomalous and compensatory gesture. Many people – including children – don’t even realize they’re doing this until their neck begins to feel really sore. Naturally, it’s hard to imagine that the source of their problem is their eyes or the optic nerves.

    Why Does My Vision Improve When I Tilt or Turn My Head?

    You may turn or tilt your head for any of the following reasons:

    Eye Misalignment (Strabismus)

    When your two eyes are misaligned or “crossed” (strabismus), they aren’t able to point in the same direction. The result: each eye sends a different image to your brain, which then struggles to merge the images to create one clear, unified 3D image. Moving your head compensates for this and may enable your brain to more comfortably combine the images to see more clearly.

    This misalignment can be caused by a malfunction of the nerve that controls the muscles surrounding the eyes. Depending on which nerves and muscles are affected, the head turn or tilt is essentially an adjustment to enhance the comfort and clarity of vision.

    Duane Syndrome

    Duane syndrome is a specific type of strabismus. It is a congenital disorder of the 6th cranial nerve that controls the lateral rectus muscle. As a result, the eyes may rotate inward and outward and can lead to compensatory head movements.

    Nystagmus

    Nystagmus, involuntary jerky or shaky eye movements, can cause you to tilt your head in a specific position when the nystagmus is slow or stops. This is called a “null point.” Nystagmus can have a neurological basis, as in cases of:

    • Stroke
    • Trauma to the head
    • Brain tumor
    • Central nervous system diseases, such as multiple sclerosis

    Ptosis

    Ptosis is often called “droopy eyelid,” and can be caused by an injury to the muscles surrounding the eyelid or to the nerves controlling these muscles. People with ptosis will compensate by looking upward to see objects as if trying to see past the eyelid.

    Refractive Errors

    Refractive errors occur when the eye is either too long or the corneal focusing power is too high or too low. They aren’t a result of a neurological problem. However, refractive errors often cause a child or adult to tilt or move their head to compensate for their blurry vision.

    These are the refractive errors that affect eyesight:

    • Astigmatism
    • Myopia (nearsightedness)
    • Hyperopia (farsightedness)
    • Presbyopia (age-related farsightedness)

    In the event of a refractive error, you or your child may also squint your eyes in an attempt to see better. Having an eye exam can determine the type of refractive error and the best way to correct the problem.

    How Can I Stop By Head From Tilting or Turning to See Better?

    If you find that you’re tilting or turning your head to see objects or read better, it’s important to schedule an eye exam to identify the cause of the problem.

    Patients with ocular neurological problems may be experiencing some of these symptoms:

    • Eye strain, headaches or migraines
    • Eye turn or blurry vision
    • Reading or attention problems
    • Difficulty moving the eyes
    • Involuntary eye movements
    • Pressure in the eyes or head
    • Uneven pupils
    • Double vision
    • Droopy eyelids
    • Facial distortion

    If your eye doctor suspects that your eye condition may be rooted in the nerves or the brain, they may recommend an appointment with a neuro-ophthalmologist, who is trained to diagnose and treat eye irregularities with a neurological cause.

    Do you want to get rid of your head tilt and treat your eye problem? Schedule an appointment at The Center for Vision Development today.

    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Denise Smith

    Q: What are some causes of neurological problems that affect the eyes?

    • A: – Inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis)
      – Swelling of the optic nerve (papilledema) – commonly caused by increased pressure inside the brain
      – Nerve damage leading to paralysis of eye muscles – this leads to strabismus or misaligned eyes
      – Optic neuropathy – can be caused by toxic substances such as alcohol, tobacco or B12 deficiency
      – Stroke or brain tumor

    Q: How is strabismus treated?

    • A: Strabismus, characterized by crossed or misaligned eyes, is treated by:- Eyeglasses for milder cases
      – An eye patch placed over the stronger eye to help the weaker eye become stronger
      – Orthoptics – eye exercises
      – Botox – can temporarily weaken the overactive muscle
      – Surgery on the eye muscles

    References

    Request A Functional Visual Exam
    Find Out How We Can Help You! 512-329-8900

    Should My Child Have Vision Therapy?

    Should My Child Have Vision Therapy 640×350Children may fail to recognize that they’re having difficulty reading, or that their eyes are struggling to focus, so it’s up to parents and teachers to be aware of the many visual problems that are common in children of all ages.

    About one in four school-aged children has a visual problem, but school vision screenings aren’t equipped to diagnose the majority of visual deficits.

    This is concerning, given that visual dysfunction is strongly linked to behavioral problems and poor academic performance. Only a comprehensive eye exam can examine your child’s eyesight, determine whether they have visual deficits and assess whether they can be treated with vision therapy.

    What Is Vision Therapy?

    Vision therapy is an evidence-based treatment program developed over decades that has undergone extensive research and clinical trials to prove its effectiveness.

    Vision therapy works by strengthening the communication between the visual system and the brain through a customized program of eye [exercises] prescribed by an eye doctor. Just as physical therapy trains your muscles to function normally, vision therapy applies the same principle to strengthen eye-brain communication. Even children with 20/20 vision can have visual problems, such as eye-tracking, focusing, and eye teaming.

    Can Children Undergo Vision Therapy?

    Vision therapy is ideal for children as it can correct problems early on, while their brains are still developing. Furthermore, vision therapy doesn’t involve invasive procedures or medications, so it’s an appropriate treatment method—even for young children. It’s also engaging for children, as many of the activities and exercises use objects such as prisms, special lenses and computerized exercises.

    VT Works Wonders for the Following Vision Conditions:

    Vision Therapy for Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)

    Strabismus, also known as crossed eye or eye turn, is a condition where the eyes are turned in different directions from each other. One eye might be looking straight while the other is turned in or out. The eye turn might be constant or intermittent.

    Vision Therapy for Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

    Amblyopia is more commonly known as lazy eye and occurs when one eye doesn’t develop the same level of visual acuity as the other eye. Lazy eye results when the brain develops a stronger connection with the clearer eye and fails to process the images sent from the weaker eye. This can eventually lead to permanent vision loss in the weaker eye. Vision therapy works by strengthening the weaker eye to “balance” vision.

    Vision Therapy for Accommodative (Focusing) Disorders

    Many children struggle to maintain focus for hours on end, impacting their school performance. These eye disorders affect a child’s ability to maintain focus or switch focus between various objects or distances, causing blurred vision and attention difficulties.

    Vision Therapy for Eye Movement Disorders

    Vision therapy can treat many eye movement disorders, such as eye-tracking problems and more complex eye movement problems characterized by involuntary eye movements, such as nystagmus. Eye movement problems can hamper reading fluency and cause double or blurred vision.

    Vision therapy is commonly used to treat a form of eye movement disorder called convergence insufficiency, characterized by the inability to maintain focus on close objects or while reading. This can result in eye strain and reduced concentration, significantly affecting a child’s reading grades and even sports performance.

    How Can I Tell Whether My Child Has Vision Problems?

    To determine whether your child has a vision problem and can benefit from vision therapy, our Austin eye doctor will carry out a comprehensive eye exam, including an assessment of their functional visual skills, lazy eye and more. This test, known as a functional eye exam, goes beyond the standard “20/20” sight test and is performed by eye doctors with experience and years of training in vision therapy.

    Once your optometrist determines that vision therapy is the suitable treatment, he or she will create a personalized plan of exercises and eye activities based on the patient’s condition, age and other factors. The therapy typically includes any of the following:

    • Prisms
    • Lenses
    • Filters
    • Balance boards
    • Metronomes
    • Computer-based activities

    Sessions last between 45 to 60 minutes and take place once or twice a week, or for less serious conditions, every two weeks. Vision therapy typically lasts a few months.

    To find out whether your child has any vision problems or to learn more about vision therapy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Denise Smith at The Center for Vision Development today!

    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Denise Smith

    Q: Does vision therapy mean my child will no longer need glasses or contact lenses?

    • A: No. Vision therapy performed under the guidance of an optometrist should not be confused with [unauthorized] programs that promise patients they will no longer need glasses or contacts. Vision therapy doesn’t treat refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism that eyewear is often prescribed to correct.

    Q: How long will it take before my child sees results from vision therapy?

    • A: Some children experience results from vision therapy in the first week, but it typically takes about six to eight weeks to notice a dramatic change. This, of course, hinges on how consistent the child is with performing exercises during the week.

    Our practice serves patients from Austin, Waco, Round Rock, and Buda/Kyle, Texas and surrounding communities.

    References

    Request A Functional Visual Exam
    Find Out How We Can Help You! 512-329-8900