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eye health

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My child is near-sighted, what can I do about it?

The warmer weather is upon us and it’s no better time to get in the habit of choosing outdoor play versus staring at our digital screens. There is no denying that our children are becoming more near-sightedness these days compared to decades ago. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported “myopia and high myopia are increasing globally at an alarming rate, with significant increases in the risks of vision impairment from pathologic conditions associated with high myopia, including retinal damage, cataract, and glaucoma.” Following a recent study, the WHO estimated myopia affects 29.8% of the general population and that by the year 2050, more than 60% of the general population will be near-sighted. This statistic is staggering. 

So what is causing this sharp increase in near-sightedness? Part of the reason can be attributed to our genes. Some may say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. However, if it was all based on genetics, we shouldn’t be seeing such a dramatic spike in prevalence. The myopic epidemic has grown far too quickly to be solely based on evolution. In fact, we are learning that our environment plays a large role in determine whether we becoming near-sighted or not. The amount of time we spend indoors and on close work, such as reading, and digital devices seems to be associated with myopia. 

Just last month, the American Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (AAOMC) held their annual conference in Orlando, where world-renowned experts, practitioners, academics, and manufacturers discussed the latest developments, innovations and research in corneal reshaping, myopia control and specialty contact lenses. As an AAOMC member and attendee at the conference, Oakville Eye Care’s lead optometrist, Dr. Yeung, is excited to bring back the latest research and technology to Oakville in helping the children in our community fight myopia. “Our goal at Oakville Eye Care is to slow down or halt myopic progression in children and, hopefully one day, successfully prevent the development of myopia.” There are currently a few methods to help slow down near-sightedness, each with varying degrees of success. “Each time we diagnosis a child with myopia, we discuss with parents their options of intervention in hopes that their child will not experience an increase in their near-sightedness and not have to get thicker and thicker eyeglasses year after year. Some of these methods include daytime speciality contact lenses, over-night speciality contact lenses (orthokeratology), and nightly use of prescription (low dose atropine) eye drops.” Dr. Yeung also offers free consultations at her Myopia Control Center to those interested in learning the latest research and deciding which option is best for their myopic child.  

Aside from intervention, one good habit that children can develop that may reduce their likelihood of developing near-sightedness is as simple as playing outside. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors (approximately 3 hours per day) appears to be protective factor for myopia development and disease progression. “We often see children and teens come into our clinic holding a smart phone or tablet, and we often remind them the benefits of putting down their digital devices and going to play outside.” “It’s a good reminder for myself as well,” says Dr. Yeung. “As clinicians and parents, it’s also important to practice what we preach. We hope one day to beat the statistics and help children lead healthier lives with better vision.”

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The other side

Today I was with my mother as she had her cataract surgery. Having been in the eye care field and being immersed in everything about vision and the eyes for the last 10 years, it was very interesting to be on "the other side" this time. To experience this from the patient's perspective. Though a procedure I often tell my patients are routine, I found myself a little nervous as my mother awaited to be brought in to the operating room. I think I was more anxious than she was. But she did extremely well. Everything went smoothly and she actually walked out sooner than scheduled. What was suppose to be a 90 minute process only took 50 minutes. When I walked to the recovery room to visit her, she was smiling and couldn't wait to tell me how easy it all was. Besides being a little light sensitive, as her operated eye was still dilated, she had no other symptoms. I want to Thank Dr. Tayfour and his team at Crystal Clear Vision for taking such great care for my mother. We will be returning tomorrow for her one-day post-op visit.

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World Glaucoma Week

Glaucoma is considered to be the second most common cause of blindness and we are committed to proactively screen for it every time we assess a patient's eyes. It's the best way to defend against the disease. Although there is currently no cure for glaucoma, the best management is early detection to prevent further progression. Patients who are at risk include those with a family history; are diabetic; those of African-American, Hispanic, and Asian descent; those who suffer from nearsightedness, hypertension, extreme high or low blood pressure; those who have experienced traumatic eye injuries; and those who are on steroid medications.Glaucoma is a serious disease, but it doesn't have to be frightening. Help us spread the word on glaucoma and ensure your family and friends are being properly and routinely screened for it.

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Sunny winter days

It's sunny winter days like today, where I am reminded to ask my patients if they wear their sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays; and they often admit they are only wearing them in the summer months. I think there is a misconception that if it isn't a clear sunny day, we aren't being exposed to the dangers of UV damage. Unfortunately, this is false. Even during overcast weather, more than 90% of UV rays still penetrate through the clouds.  For those of us who drive or sail, extra precaution should be taken as up to 80% of UV rays also reflect off snow and water to reach our eyes. And it's not only eyewear we should remember to wear; as the sun rises and sets, the angle at which we are exposed to UV rays, highlights the benefit of wearing a baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat to shade our eyes too.So next time you leave the house, don't forget your sunglasses and a hat. Protect your eyes.

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