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Why Do Most Practices Prefer Ortho-K for Myopia Management?

girl sleeping on bed 1359554Your child does not answer, and you can feel the tension in their body rising as they squint their eyes. They honestly can’t read the chart! The optometrist remains calm and assures your child that it’s okay. For you, however, this may be a very distressing moment.

Next, the optometrist explains to you that your child belongs to the 40% of North Americans with myopia – nearsightedness. To prevent the condition from rapidly progressing, the doctor suggests a treatment called orthokeratology. You’ve likely never heard of such treatment and wonder whatever happened to traditional eyeglasses.

Ortho-K Has High Success Rates in Slowing Down Myopia

Today it is commonly agreed that correcting nearsighted vision is not enough. Myopia progresses during childhood, and young adults may find themselves with high levels of myopia, and at risk of developing severe eye diseases. Among them are retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, and glaucoma, conditions that can lead to vision loss or even blindness later in life.

Fortunately, modern optometry offers a variety of treatments to manage myopia and keep it from progressing to dangerous levels. Orthokeratology (ortho-k) has proven highly successful and is convenient for the wearer. Studies show a 36-56% slower progression of myopia in children treated with ortho-k compared to other options that have some to marginal success rates.

What Makes Ortho-K Unique?

Ortho-k is often referred to as corneal reshaping therapy. It utilizes a therapeutic contact lens rather than corrective lenses. Children as young as 6 can wear the ortho-k lens overnight to provide them with perfect vision during the day. The concept is similar to how dentists use braces, only that braces gradually induce permanent changes, while ortho-k lenses induce temporary changes that last through the following day. This is why Ortho-K is reversible & safe for nearly any age.

Reshaping is accomplished by wearing custom-made rigid contact lenses overnight, while your child is asleep. In the morning, your child removes the lenses, and the cornea maintains its new shape for up to 72 hours. Clear vision is achieved through an altered corneal shape rather than a visual aid.

Ortho-K Is Becoming the Standard for Myopia Management

Ortho-k has been available for more than half a century and has been gaining popularity in recent years thanks to advanced technologies, higher efficiency, and easier handling. Optometrists, such as Dr. Shane Clark have a digital corneal topographer—a device that measures and maps the corneal surface—in their practice. This allows them to carry out all necessary examinations for precise custom-shaped lenses, designed to meet your child’s prescription requirements with high accuracy.

Another reason ortho-k lenses are popular: they’re extremely convenient. Eyeglasses have never been popular among children, and regular contact lenses can move around in the eye and even get lost during play. Because children wear ortho-k lenses only when they sleep, and don’t need lenses or glasses during the day, they can go about their day unencumbered.

Ways to Manage Myopia

Four main treatments can slow down the progression of myopia. Each has its advantages and is suitable for different circumstances.

  • Orthokeratology – overnight contact lenses that reshape the cornea and provide clear vision during the day have proven to slow down myopia progression. Because the lenses are worn only at night, the child is free of glasses or contacts throughout the day.
  • Atropine eye drops – applying low-dose atropine eye drops once a day has been shown to slow down myopia progression. There are few side-effects of this medication, and the eye drops can be used in combination with corrective lenses.
  • Contact Lenses – a specific type of contact lens, called a distance center multifocal soft contact lens, can slow down myopia progression.
  • Multifocal lenses – both multifocal glasses and conventional multifocal soft contact lenses can slow down myopia progression to some extent.

Several factors need to be taken into consideration when determining whether ortho-k is a suitable option for your child. These include age, myopia level, and general eye health. Many optometrists prefer ortho-k; however, they may recommend any of the methods mentioned above after assessing the best way to manage your child’s myopia. At The Myopia Management Center At Infinity Eye Care we will help you find the best possible option for your child. Schedule an eye exam with Dr. Shane Clark to evaluate how to best prevent myopia from progressing and be comfortable at the same time.

Resources:

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03465748

https://www.myopiainstitute.com/types-of-myopia-control/

 

Does Glaucoma Prevent Cataract Surgery?

Lively Older Man Riding His Bicycle, Laughs And Enjoys Life. SenFor those with clouded or hazy vision, cataract surgery can work wonders in restoring crisp and clear vision. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma, you might be wondering whether cataract surgery is a safe option. Below, we’ll discuss glaucoma and explain why it doesn’t prevent cataract surgery.

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases where the loss of vision is due to optic nerve damage due to a buildup of pressure inside your eye. This condition generally displays no early warning signs, and can only be detected with a comprehensive eye exam. If not treated early, glaucoma will first lead to peripheral vision loss and ultimately permanent central vision loss.

Glaucoma, like cataracts, affects mostly the elderly. Therefore, many patients with glaucoma over the age of 50 or 60 may also be concerned with developing cataracts.

How Does Glaucoma Affect Cataract Surgery?

In short, it doesn’t.

In fact, cataract surgery may (at times) even lower high intraocular pressure, making it a great option for those with glaucoma.

Furthermore, it may be possible for the eye surgeon to perform a minimally-invasive glaucoma surgery during cataract surgery.

If a patient with glaucoma undergoes cataract surgery, it is vital to closely adhere to the post-surgical instructions for optimal safety. Internal eye pressure can rise during or in the hours following cataract surgery.

Does glaucoma prevent cataract surgery? from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

If you have glaucoma and are interested in undergoing cataract surgery, schedule an appointment with today. will offer you a comprehensive eye health evaluation to identify any risks (such as glaucoma) that could rule out surgery.

Can Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Help Stroke Patients With Vision Problems?

senior woman with middle aged woman blog imgIf a loved one recently suffered a stroke and is still struggling with the after-effects, you will want to do everything in your power to help them quickly recover. Unfortunately, it can be painstaking to find the right treatment for their specific needs.

The first thing to keep in mind is this: a single treatment is not going to cure everything. Instead, combining a set of complementary therapies promises optimal results. Read on to find out how neuro-optometric rehabilitation plays an important role in the recovery process from a stroke.

How Does a Stroke Affect Vision

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain (or a section of it) is interrupted. In other types of strokes, a blood vessel in the brain bursts causing major damage in the area. Depending on where in the brain the stroke occurs, it affects different body functions.

Because visual information is processed through the visual cortex of the brain, any brain damage may also affect vision-related processes and quality of vision. Such visual defects are not always obvious and frequently overlooked in initial evaluations following a stroke.

Try to help the stroke victim identify any of the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision (even over short periods)
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Reduction or loss of visual field
  • Headaches when engaged in visual tasks
  • Reading difficulty
  • Difficulties with eye movements

If any of these symptoms are present, a thorough assessment by a neuro-optometrist is needed.

Why Consult a Neuro-Optometrist?

A regular eye exam by an optometrist checks for eye diseases and visual acuity. A functional eye exam by a neuro-optometrist takes a completely different approach. The goal is to identify neurological vision-related issues and address the types of vision loss caused by a stroke.

About one-third of post-stroke patients experience one or more of these conditions:

  • Loss of visual field – Part of the person’s visual field disappears. In many cases, they will see only the right or the left half of it.
  • Lack of control over eye movements – When the eye nerves are damaged, the eyes may not move as desired or move involuntarily, causing eye turn (strabismus), double vision (diplopia), or other similar issues.
  • Constant, unsteady eye movement (nystagmus) – A continuous fidgety jiggle of the eye, which can move up and down, sideways or in a circle.
  • Visual neglect – When the person is not aware of or does not respond to something he/she sees. There is nothing wrong with the eyes themselves, but the brain does not interpret the images it receives.
  • Agnosia – Often people have trouble recognizing familiar objects and even faces. The cause is similar to visual neglect.

It is easy to see how these affect the overall behavior of a person. At the same time, many may mistake their lack of orientation, bumping into things and/or ignoring people for a problem unrelated to vision.

cataracts awareness 640x350

Choosing the Right Neuro-Optometrist for a Stroke Patient

An exam by qualified professionals will provide clarity into the situation, so make sure to choose an optometry practice that includes a neuro optometrist with extensive training and experience in neuro-optometric rehabilitation such as Vision Therapy Center.

The therapy may include prism lenses to shift images into the visual field or join the images in case of double vision. Exercises to train the brain to manage vision and compensate for vision loss are also part of the therapy.

Your loved one deserves optimal healing, and to ensure this, rehabilitative vision therapy should be part of the overall treatment plan. If he or she is already undergoing physical or occupational therapy, consider adding neuro-optometric rehabilitation for a more holistic approach and better results.

How Successful Is Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Therapy?

Vision therapy will help improve the condition of your family member or friend. The speed and extent at which the patient will recover depend on the severity of the condition. Having said that, keep in mind each person is unique and reacts differently to the same treatment.

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is not a cure, but it will enhance visual skills and quality of life for the person you care for.

When vision is dysfunctional, so is everything else. Getting one’s vision back on track can greatly enhance daily function and quality of life. Help your loved one get his/her life back, contact Vision Therapy Center today.

Serving patients in Rapid City, Western South Dakota, Western Nebraska, Eastern Wyoming, and throughout South Dakota.

Resources:

https://noravisionrehab.org/patients-caregivers/about-brain-injuries-vision/stroke-and-vision

https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/effects-of-stroke/physical-effects-of-stroke/physical-impact/visual-disturbances

https://noravisionrehab.org/patients-caregivers/conditions-treated-by-neuro-optometric-rehabilitation

https://noravisionrehab.org/patients-caregivers/what-is-neuro-optometric-rehabilitation

https://strokefoundation.org.au/About-Stroke/Help-after-stroke/Stroke-resources-and-fact-sheets/Vision-loss-after-stroke-fact-sheet

3 Reasons Why You Should Kickstart the New Year With Vision Therapy

holidays mug blog imageIt’s that time of year again when we sit down with a pumpkin spice latte in hand and think of a resolution we can take upon ourselves for the new year. Here at Vision Therapy Center, we believe that the best resolutions are the ones that positively impact other areas of our lives and enhance our overall quality of life. Vision therapy offers just that! This therapy is made up of a series of customized visual exercises designed to develop or regain visual processing skills.

Vision Therapy is highly effective in treating:

  • Amblyopia, (or “lazy eye”)
  • Strabismus, (or “eye-turn”)
  • Eye movement disorders
  • Focusing disorders
  • Binocular vision problems
  • Vision, balance, and memory problems associated with brain injury

Even those with 20/20 eyesight can benefit from vision therapy because perfect eyesight doesn’t mean perfect vision. Below are the ways in which vision therapy will help you kick-off the new year.

Improve Existing Vision Skills

You’re good at what you do, be it at work, school or sports. But can you do better? By training the eyes and brain to work in unison, you increase your potential for greater performance. Not only will you be more efficient, but performing tasks will become more enjoyable. This especially applies to school-aged children, as their brains are still in rapid development. Vision therapy effectively enables the brain to correctly process information for optimal academic success.

Learn New Skills With Ease

Many people make it their resolution to learn a new skill in the upcoming year but an underlying vision problem can interfere with that. Since learning is 80% visual, vision therapy offers an excellent opportunity to gear up for success! Undiagnosed or untreated vision problems related to convergence and focus can cause memory and reading problems and hinder learning. Dr. Shane Clark will use an array of tools, such as prisms, specialized lenses, filters, balance beams, and computerized visual activities to train the eye-brain connection and help you learn more efficiently in almost any area that requires vision.

Gain The Confidence You Crave

Whether you’re a pro-athlete or a 4th grader struggling to read, improved vision skills will boost your confidence. This confidence will surely trickle into other areas of your life leading to increased self-esteem.

Start 2020 by empowering yourself or your child with vision therapy. Call Vision Therapy Center to book your appointment today.

Vision Therapy Center serves patients in Rapid City, Western South Dakota, Western Nebraska, and Eastern Wyoming, and throughout South Dakota.

Is My Child Too Young for Vision Therapy?

Preschool Children Vision TherapyThe first years of a child’s life are crucial in ensuring the healthy and normal development of various body parts, especially the visual system. As a child’s body grows, so do the eyes. This can cause changes in vision. Keeping a close eye on, well, your child’s eyes, can help ensure that they are developing in a healthy way.

It’s important for parents and teachers to be on the lookout for problems with visual processing, as they can interfere with a child’s academics, social life, and extracurricular endeavors. This is especially evident during the school years when reading, writing, homework, and after-school activities become a part of their normal daily routine.

Even if a child has no refractive errors (such as nearsightedness or farsightedness) and has 20/20 vision, he or she may still have difficulties with visual processing or focus. These types of visual complications are often more difficult to detect, but may still impact various aspects of a child’s development.

When a child’s visual difficulties hinder their learning or social interactions, it may be time to try vision therapy.

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is a personalized regimen of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions. Each patient has unique needs and different degrees of visual health, which is why Dr. Shane Clark and the team at Vision Therapy Center create a customized vision therapy program to get the best results for your child.

Vision therapy is compared to physical therapy, only for the eyes instead of the entire body. The techniques and exercises can teach the eyes to improve specific areas of vision, such as focus, eye teaming, hand-eye coordination, and visual tracking, among other skills. The doctor may include prisms or special eyeglasses to boost the therapy program.

Most children’s vision therapy takes place in our office and usually once a week. You’ll be instructed to continue some of the exercises at home for 15-20 minutes daily, which will support the in-office treatment.

At What Age Can Children Begin Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is offered to children as young as 6 years of age. Kids can develop problems with visual perception and clarity that aren’t always detected with a standard vision exam or school screening. Of course, every child is different, and the best way to know if they’re ready for vision therapy is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Shane Clark.

Does Vision Therapy Really Work?

Vision therapy has been proven to improve visual skills and functions in both children and adults. It is an approved treatment by recognized organizations in the medical community, such as the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

Keep in mind that it can take several months to notice significant improvement. Consistency is key. Young children, especially in the toddler years, need a steady routine to achieve the best possible results.

It’s important to note that vision therapy does not fix your child’s learning abilities or correct any refractive errors. The goal is to improve their visual function so that their skills in reading, writing, schoolwork, and social activities are strengthened for a better quality of life.

Contact Dr. Shane Clark and the knowledgeable staff at Vision Therapy Center to schedule a consultation and see whether vision therapy is right for your child.

Dr. Shane Clark serves patients in Rapid City, Western South Dakota, Western Nebraska, and Eastern Wyoming, and throughout South Dakota.

 

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.

April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month

Hey women! Did you know that women are more likely to suffer from vision problems and are at higher risk of permanent vision loss than men? Well 91% of the women surveyed recently didn’t know that, which means that many of them aren’t taking the necessary precautions to prevent eye damage and vision loss.  

According to a recent study, the statistics for many of the major vision problems show that women have a higher percentage of incidence than men. These include:

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration 65%
  • Cataracts 61%
  • Glaucoma 61%
  • Refractive Error 56%
  • Vision Impairment 63%

Women are also more susceptible to develop chronic dry eye, partially because it is often associated with other health issues that are more common in women such as ocular rosacea which is three times more prevalent in women.  Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can also contribute to dry eye.  

It’s important for women to know the risks for eye-related diseases and vision impairment and the steps they can take to prevent eventual vision loss.  Here are some ways that you can help to protect your eyes and save your eyesight:

  • Find out about family history of eye diseases and conditions.
  • Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses when outdoors.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Consume a healthy diet with proper nutrition and special eye health supplements as prescribed by an eye doctor.
  • Adhere to contact lens hygiene and safety.  
  • Adhere to cosmetic hygiene and safety precautions. 
  • Protect your eyes against extended exposure to blue light from computers, smartphones and LED lamps. 
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and have diabetes, see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. In women who have diabetes, diabetic retinopathy can accelerate quickly during pregnancy and can present a risk for the baby as well. 

Mothers are often charged with caring for the eye health of the entire family, but too often their own eye health needs fall to the wayside. It is critical that mothers take care of their eyes and overall health so that they can be in the best condition to care for their families. 

Speak to your eye care professional about your personal eye health and vision risks and the precautions and measures you should take to protect your eyes.  Encourage the other women in your life to do so as well.  Once vision is lost, it often can’t be regained and there are many steps you can take to prevent it with proper knowledge and awareness.  

The most important way to prevent vision loss is to ensure you schedule regular eye exams. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear as many eye issues are painless and symptomless, and sometimes by the time you notice symptoms, vision loss is untreatable. 

Understanding Eye Color

eyes green close up woman

Eye color is a hereditary trait that depends on the genes of both parents, as well as a little bit of mystery. The color of the eye is based on the pigments in the iris, which is a colored ring of muscle located at the center of the eye (around the pupil) that helps to control the amount of light that comes into your eye. Eye color falls on a spectrum of color that can range from dark brown, to gray, to green, to blue, with a whole lot of variation in between. 

Genetics

The genetics of eye color are anything but straightforward. In fact children are often born with a different eye color than either of their parents. For some time the belief was that two blue-eyed parents could not have a brown-eyed child, however, while it’s not common, this combination can and does occur. Genetic research in regards to eye color is an ongoing pursuit and while they have identified certain genes that play a role, researchers still do not know exactly how many genes are involved and to what extent each gene affects the final eye color.

The Iris

Looking at it simply, the color of the eye is based on the amount of the pigment melanin located in the iris. Large amounts of melanin result in brown eyes, while blue eyes result from smaller amounts of the pigment. This is why babies that are born with blue eyes (who often have smaller amounts of melanin until they are about a year old) often experience a darkening of their eye color as they grow and develop more melanin in the iris. In adults across the globe, the most common eye color worldwide is brown, while lighter colors such as blue, green and hazel are found predominantly in the Caucasian population. 

Abnormal Eye Color

Sometimes the color of a person’s eyes are not normal. Here are some interesting causes of this phenomenon.

Heterochromia, for example, is a condition in which the two eyes are different colors, or part of one eye is a different color. This can be caused by genetic inconsistencies, issues that occur during the development of the eye, or acquired later in life due to an injury or disease. 

Ocular albinism is a condition in which the eye is a very light color due to low levels of pigmentation in the iris, which is the result of a genetic mutation. It is usually accompanied by serious vision problems. Oculocutaneous albinism is a similar mutation in the body’s ability to produce and store melanin that affects skin and hair color in addition to the eyes.

Eye color can also be affected by certain medications. For example, a certain glaucoma eye drop is known to darken light irises to brown, as well as lengthen and darken eyelashes.

Eye Color – It’s More Than Meets the Eye

It is known that light eyes are more sensitive to light, which is why it might be hard for someone with blue or green eyes to go out into the sun without sunglasses. Light eyes have also shown to be a risk factor for certain conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  

Color Contact Lenses

While we can’t pick our eye color, we can always play around with different looks using colored contact lenses. Just be sure that you get a proper prescription for any contact lenses, including cosmetic colored lenses, from an eye doctor! Wearing contact lenses that were obtained without a prescription could be dangerous to your eyes and your vision.  

 

 

 

Holiday Season Shopping: Are Nerf Guns Safe for the Eyes?

Nerf guns or blasters come in a remarkable number of shapes and sizes and have become incredibly popular for use in the home and even in large scale “Nerf Wars”. However publicity surrounding the toy has not been all positive. Many parents out there are questioning the safety of the toy foam guns, particularly to the eyes, before making the purchase.

The question of safety ultimately comes down to the user. Nerf darts are relatively soft, foamy and not inherently dangerous, but if shot in the wrong way, they could cause pain or even serious injury. This is particularly true of the eyes because they are a vulnerable organ that can be damaged easily upon impact. Injuries from even a soft projectile could include corneal abrasions (surface scratches), bleeding, cataracts and even retinal detachment which can lead to permanent vision loss.

Nevertheless, Nerf guns are fun and can even be used to help motor development and other skills, so with the right guidelines, children can learn to use them safely and benefit from the enjoyment they provide.

Want surefire eye safety? Wear safety glasses!

The best defense for your eyes is safety glasses. This is the one way you can be sure that you or your child’s eyes are truly safe during Nerf shooting. We strongly recommend safety glasses be worn during any play that involves projectile objects, particularly for small children or during serious games such as Nerf Wars.

General rules of Nerf Gun play:

  1. Never shoot at the face.
  2. Never look into the barrel of the nerf gun, even if you think it isn’t loaded.
  3. Avoid walking around with your finger on the trigger until you are ready to point and aim at the proper target.
  4. Only shoot others that are “playing” and are aware that you are aiming at them.
  5. Don’t shoot from a moving vehicle (including a bicycle, skateboard, rollerblades, etc.).
  6. Don’t shoot at a moving vehicle.
  7. Never shoot at a close range.
  8. Never leave loaded gun in reach of a child or individual that is not able to use the toy properly and safely.

To be safe, all toy guns that shoot projectiles should be treated as a dangerous toy in order to ensure proper usage and precautions. Yes, Nerf guns can cause serious eye damage and even vision loss, but these type of injuries can be caused by many “harmless” objects as well. Before you purchase a toy like this for your child, ask yourself whether the child is old enough and mature enough to understand the safety issues involved and to be able to use it responsibly.