Tips For Coping With Vision Loss

As we age it’s quite normal to experience our ability to see things as clearly as we once did. The pupil of the eye does not open as widely as it once did to allow as much light to reach the retina where vision processing occurs.

Taking steps to increase illumination improves the ability to see better in those dark spaces. Installing under cabinet lighting or increasing lighting in the sewing room, garage or other work areas will help. Consider asking your employer to improve lighting if it’s needed there is well.

For some people age related diseases including glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are more serious. Many low vision devices are available to assist those with permanent vision loss that are helpful with daily living challenges.

Some of these devices are:

  • Strong magnification lenses with extra illumination for reading and other near vision work
  • Audio tapes, specifically adapted computer or television screens and telescopes
  • Lens filter shields to reduce glare

Reading materials such as books, magazines and newspapers are also available in large print format enabling those with severe vision loss to continue something they enjoy.

For those experiencing permanent vision loss it can feel as if they are losing their independence. But don’t be discouraged it is very possible to lead an active and fulfilling life. There are organizations that provide low vision devices for example and support for anyone experiencing vision loss. Taking extra precautions to be sure surroundings are safe by checking for obstacles on outdoor pathways lessens chances of a fall. Indoors furniture placement can make a difference to easily move about their home.

Something that can’t be mentioned enough is making sure you have an eye exam for older eyes to rule out any age related diseases that may affect your vision. For those residing in the Calgary area, contact us today to book an appointment.

Protecting Your Childs Eyes During Spring Sports

Anytime a person especially children take part in a Spring or Summer sport such as baseball it presents a risk of injury to their eyes. A fast moving baseball can injure the bones around the eye or even the eyeball itself causing temporary or even permanent vision problems. Other players hands or gloves can scratch the eye and cause damage to the eye’s surface. Even a misguided bat can cause head injuries and lead to vision problems. The long term emotional cost is immeasurable when weighed against a relatively inexpensive piece of protective eyewear.

Protective eyewear like sports goggles can be either prescription or nonprescription and made of non breakable materials. Helmets and headgear can also play an important role in protecting head injuries that could lead to vision problems. If an eye injury occurs while taking part in a sport young people should be seen by their eye doctor or primary care physician as soon as the injury happens. If not properly treated vision problems can persist and lead to lifelong difficulties playing sports, driving a car or even maintaining certain jobs.

Eye doctors and Optometrists recommend taking young people who participate in sports have an eye exam if there is any indication of vision problems. Nearsightedness, farsightedness or an astigmatism if undetected can lead to a variety of physical injuries during sports including eye injuries.

Parents and coaches should watch for various signs on the field that may signal poor depth perception or other vision problems.

  • Always swinging the bat too fast or too slow
  • Missing often while trying to catch the ball
  • Squinting to see the ball or other players

Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children and the largest percentage are sports related the majority of which can be avoided by wearing protective eyewear. If your child requires prescription eyewear for sports or if you’re not certain scheduling an appointment with your eye doctor might be a good first step. Parents in Calgary trust Dr. Alex Wilson & Associates to provide a comprehensive eye exam for their children, to determine if there are any vision problems that need attention.

Differences Between Optometrist, Optician, and Ophthalmologist

The health of your eyesight significantly depends on working with the correct eye doctor in Calgary. If you need your eyes checked, ensure to have the proper eye doctor for your needs.

There are three types of eye specialists, namely optometrists, opticians, and ophthalmologists. However, the degree of knowledge and skills that each of them possesses do greatly vary from one another. To make you well-informed, we created a brief description of each eye specialist below:

Optometrist

To be a Doctor of Optometry, one must finish a 3-4 year Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) and a 4-year Doctor of Optometry degree (O.D.). When that is finished, they must successfully pass the Canadian National Optometry Board Exam.

Optometrists provide the vast majority of primary vision care services in Alberta. They:

  • Examine, assess, measure and diagnose disorders and diseases of the human visual system, the eye and its associated structures.
  • Conduct research and promote education in the vision sciences.
  • Prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses and low vision devices.
  • Diagnose, treat and manage binocular and perceptual vision disorders.
  • Treat, manage and correct disorders and diseases of the human visual system, the eye and its associated structures.
  • Recognize and detect related systemic conditions.
  • Must maintain their skill set and level of competency by completing the requirements of the Continuing Competence Program through continuing education courses, participating in an on-site practice review on a regular basis and practicing a minimum number of days in each 3-year competency period.

Optician

They work in a retail optical dispensary. A Optician can design, fit and dispense eyeglasses and contact lenses prescribed by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.

Ophthalmologist

Their training includes a medical degree specializing in eye surgery and secondary vision care consultations the scope of their education requires obtaining a Bachelor of Science (BSc) a 4 year medical degree and an additional 5 year residency. Typically they do not provide primary vision care services although they can prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses.

We hope we have educated you on the differences between an Optometrist, Optician and a Ophthalmologist. If you require a Optometrist, contact us for more information or to book an appointment online.

10 Warnings Signs Of Eye Trouble

In our last blog post we talked about seven bad habits that can age your eyes. Today, our Calgary optometrists are going to discuss 10 warning signs of eye trouble. Read these warning signs over and be sure to take care of your eyes.

  1. Transient Vision Loss A greying over of vision in one eye that may last seconds or minutes which could signal a risk for Stroke or other types blood vessel blockage disease.
  2. Double Vision This may be as simple as your eye teaming or binocular vision which is very common or rarely could be a sign of a more serious health problem such a stroke or tumour.
  3. Sudden Blurry Vision If it improves by blinking or using tear supplements it is probably related to dry eyes.
  4. Gradual Blurry Vision Could just mean you need a new prescription for glasses (most likely) Cataracts are another common cause.
  5. Painful, Sudden Blurry Vision When accompanied by nausea  and vomiting it may be caused by an eye disease called “ Narrow Angle Glaucoma “ the pressure may rise acutely in one eye causing the symptoms, this is an urgent situation, go immediately to your Optometrist’s office or Emergency Ward at the Hospital if after hours.
  6. Flashing Lights/ Floaters Extremely common symptom for Physician referrals to Optometrists, could however signify a change in the gel inside the eye and carries a very small risk for a tear in the Retina.
  7. Curtain Or Veil Across One Side Of Your vision Even though it is painless if it is often ignored for weeks which is unfortunate as it may signal a retinal detachment. It must be diagnosed and treated immediately to prevent permanent vision loss.
  8. Distorted Vision In One Eye If you are over 50 years old it could be due to Macular Degeneration, under 50 they look at different diseases of the Macula.
  9. Unequal Pupil Size Usually not a serious symptom, if accompanied by blurred vision or droopy eyelid or double vision seek immediate Medical care.
  10. Scratchy Irritated Eyes Usually due to dryness but could have a more serious cause, an annual eye exam is the best way to ensure the health of your eyes. If you’re experiencing the more urgent symptoms don’t delay in consulting with your Calgary optometrist.

If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, contact us today to book an appointment for an eye exam in Calgary.

Seven Bad Habits That Will Age Your Eyes

Here at Dr. Alex G. Wilson and Associates are all about eye care. After all, without your eyes you wouldn’t be able to watch the Flames or Stampeders play. You wouldn’t be able to take in the sights of the Stampede either.

We want you to take care of your eyes. Today’s blog is on seven bad habits that will age your eyes. Read on and make sure you stop with these bad habits.

  1. Not wearing sunglasses Ultraviolet light breaks down the collagen fibers on the skin on the eyelids. The result makes your eyes look older and ultraviolet light can lead to cataract development, macular degeneration, skin cancer and growths on the surface of the eye that can be difficult to remove surgically.
  2. Inadequate hydration  Our bodily cells are made up of at least 55 to 60% water and we may not realize how much our eyes need hydration as well.  Failing to keep hydrated throughout the day can leave the eyes dry, bloodshot and unable to produce enough tears.
  3. Not sleeping enough Poor sleep habits can accelerate the aging process, studies have shown a lack of sleep can make it harder for the body to repair skin damage.
  4. Rubbing your eyes If you find yourself frequently rubbing your eyes the mechanical pressure can damage the connective tissue around the eyelids. Rubbing and stretching of the eyelid muscle similarly can cause drooping of the eyelid and possibly other symptoms such as watering of the eyes.
  5. Smoking If you need another reason to quit smoking add your eye health to the list of it’s harmful effects on your body. Smoking can increase the risk by four to sixfold of blindness as well as age related eye diseases such as Macular Degeneration.
  6. Poor diet Nutrients in dark, leafy green vegetables, berries and cold water fish actually have preventative benefits for diseases of the eyes such as Cataracts and Macular Degeneration.
  7. Failure to get regular eye exams An eye exam is the best way to be sure your eyes are healthy and well corrected for your daily vision needs. Excess eye strain happens from computer work as we tend to blink as much as 50% less while staring at the computer screen, so wearing corrective glasses if you require them provides a moisture barrier.  Even if you have no symptoms an annual visit  to your Optometrist will detect any problems and early treatment can be started and vision loss prevented.

If you need an eye exam, please contact us for more or to schedule an appointment.

What Are Those Specks I See In My Vision?

It is not out-of-the-ordinary to begin to see dark specks in your vision as you get older. These specks are called eye floaters and they can affect your ability to read, but they do not have to be a cause for concern if you learn more about them and the options available for treatment.

Eye floaters are fibres that travel in your vitreous humor

The vitreous humor is a fluid that is located between your retina and your lens, and the fibres that move around in them can become visible to you in the form of dark spots. This is due to their ability to cast a shadow on your retina, creating the phenomenon of eye floaters.

No medications yet exist to treat milder forms of eye floaters

If the specks in your vision are currently not a major concern for your ability to see properly, you can try out some natural remedies or wait for your brain to adjust to the change in your vision.

In terms of natural remedies, no methods have been scientifically proven to be effective but some people have found improvement by cutting back on caffeine, participating in stress-relieving activities (such as yoga), or increasing the amount of magnesium they receive from their diet.

Something to keep in mind if these specks are not yet majorly interfering with your vision is that your brain may adjust so you do not notice the specks. As well, the specks could go away on their own. For as long as they appear to remain a minor problem, you can retain some assurance that the specks could decrease. However, large increases to the number of specks or to the impact that they have on your vision can be a sign that you should see an optometrist.

Surgery is possible, but risks are involved

You can opt to have the eye floaters surgically removed. This can be done through either laser treatment, to vaporize the specks, or a Vitrectomy, which will rid your eye of the current vitreous fluid and replace it. Each of these procedures has benefits and potential risks, which your optometrist in Calgary can discuss with you.

Please contact us at Dr. Alex Wilson & Associates to schedule an eye exam or to learn more about our eye care treatments.

Visual Acuity and How Eyesight is Measured

When your optometrist asks you to read the Snellen Chart, that chart with lines of letters of increasingly smaller size, what they are testing is the clarity of your vision–also known as your visual acuity. This can be impacted by several factors including how sensitive your brain’s interpretive faculty is, the functionality of the retina, and how sharp is the retinal focus of the eye.

How your eyesight is measured is important for determining whether you have vision concerns currently or may develop any in the future. Here’s more on what you need to know about the measurement of your eyesight.

 

You may have to identify optotypes in order to have your visual acuity measured

As in the above mentioned Snellen Chart, the use of black symbols on a white background is effective for determining the clarity of your vision. The symbols are known as optotypes, and they can include the following: letters that have been stylized, Landolt broken rings (rings that have a gap in them–the person being tested must state on what side the gap is located) and other symbols used for those who are illiterate. The symbols will typically be placed on a printed chart, though other formats are also used.

 

Charts with optotypes must be placed at a specific distance away depending on the type of test

Your optometrist can test your near visual acuity, by placing the chart at a reading distance, as well as your acuity for how far away you can see.

 

The measurement of your eyesight is a psychophysical procedure

The results of a test on your visual acuity is ultimately determined by your perception of the physical characteristics of the symbols and the resulting responses that you make.

It is essential that various factors in the room are controlled to ensure the most accurate results. This means that the chart and room must have the right lighting, the person being tested must be given an appropriate amount of time for responding, and an allowance should be made for error.

Please contact us to book an eye exam with our Dr. Alex G. Wilson & Associates today.

5 Tips on Computer Eye Strain Relief

At least half of people who use their computers on a regular basis at work end up experiencing eye strain, studies have shown. This can cause everything from red eyes and eye twitches to decreased productivity, a feeling of physical fatigue, and an increased number of on-the-job errors. Follow these 5 tips to get the computer eye strain relief you need.

#1: Adjust the lighting in the room

Both exterior and interior lighting can play a part in causing eye strain. Excessive light from outdoors may occur in your office if windows are not covered by blinds, drapes, or curtains. If possible, you should try to position your desk so nearby windows are to the side of you, rather than in front of your computer or behind you.

When it comes to interior lighting, install lower intensity light bulbs or fluorescent tubes in your office or reduce the number or bulbs or tubes that are in use. If there are fluorescent lights directly above where you work, try moving away from that spot or turning off the lights to see if this makes a difference–many people find that this type of lighting causes eye strain. Floor lamps that use halogen or incandescent lighting can be a good alternative.

#2: Get an eye exam

The best way to catch common eye problems before they get the chance to develop is to go in for an eye exam. Before you go in, measure how far away from the screen you usually sit–the optometrist can then test your eyes from this distance.

#3: Reduce the amount of glare on the screen

As glare can impact eye strain, consider installing an anti-glare screen on your desktop and, if you wear glasses, getting lenses that have anti-reflective coating.

#4: Use the 20-20-20 rule

Focusing for too long on your screen can cause fatigue. To prevent this, every 20 minutes spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away. This will relax the focusing muscle in your eye.

#5: Get computer glasses

If you currently have a prescription for your eyes and are experiencing eye strain, ask Dr. Alex G. Wilson if a modified prescription for computer use would benefit you. Contact us to learn more.

When your child should first get an eye exam

As many as one out of ten preschool age kids and one out of four school age kids are likely to have a vision problem, but the only way to know for sure is to bring your child in for an eye exam.

Many parents wonder when they should first make an appointment with an Dr. Alex G. Wilson. This is an important matter to consider because some vision problems that can begin to develop in childhood can lead to vision loss, especially if they are not treated. The good news is that we can recommend the ideal ages when you should have your children’s eyes examined, starting from under the age of one up until the school-age years when regularly scheduled eye exams are possible.

The first eye exam should take place at six months of age

Six months may seem young, but detecting and preventing some eye conditions is possible at this age. After this initial exam, your child should next come in when they are three years old, and then once more when they are five or six years old.

If after these initial exams your child does not require any vision correction, an eye exam is only necessary for once every two years moving forward. If glasses or contact lenses are determined to be necessary, an annual exam may be recommended by your optometrist.

Eye exams are an essential part of ensuring your child can learn

In school, you child could become discouraged and unable to learn fully if they have difficulties focusing their eyes, seeing up close or far away, or using their peripheral vision. Hand-eye coordination and eye movement skills are also necessary for your child’s development.

Unfortunately, kids often cannot understand for themselves when they have limitations in these areas, and the concerns can be left unnoticed by adults and even by school vision tests. These are all aspects of your child’s vision that an optometrist will examine, ensuring that your child can get the vision assistance that they need.

Please contact us to book an appointment with our full family eye care in Calgary to get started.

The Most Common Eye Problems

Eye problems can begin to develop at a young age or they may show up later in the aging process. To help you to become aware of their causes and symptoms, here are a few of the most common eye problems.

Diabetic Retinopathy

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you could be at risk of developing this eye problem, due to the continual high blood pressure and high blood sugar that diabetes causes. Diabetic retinopathy comes in different forms that can damage separate parts of the eye. Most commonly, the tiny vessels in the eye can rupture or become blocked, which can cause intraocular bleeding among other issues.

Refractive Errors

Farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism fall in this category of eye conditions, which are widely known to be the most common of all conditions concerning the eyes. From a young age, people who will later show the symptoms of one of these problems will likely inherently have the condition present in their eyes to some extent.

The causes of refractive errors include aging lenses, eyeballs that are too long or too short, and the occurrence of a change in the shape of the cornea. Presbyopia is one condition in particular that can occur after the age of 40, due to a hardening of the lenses.

Glaucoma

With this condition, the eye becomes less able to rid itself of old fluids because of blockages, which can cause excessive intraocular pressure. This can lead to optic nerve damage. It is more likely to develop in older people and in people with diabetes.

Cataracts

There are a couple of main reasons why cataracts can develop, and most of the time only in older people does the condition become severe enough to affect one’s vision. Cataracts is the result of one’s lenses becoming clouded, likely due to an injury (which may have occurred years before symptoms arise) or the long-term deterioration of proteins in the eyes. Unlike many other conditions, it can be cured through surgery. Dr. Alex G. Wilson and our optometrists can determine the appropriate treatment.

Please contact us to access our eye care services, whether you have the beginnings of one of these conditions or require an annual eye exam.