Veronica’s Vision Therapy Success
Congratulations to Veronica! Veronica is 8-years-old and a recent graduate of vision therapy at our Center for Vision Development. We were so pleased to help Veronica improve her focus and do better in school. Her mother, Anne Schutte, a developmental psychologist, shared her story with us. Veronica also filled us in on her experience as well.
Anne Schutte, mother of Vision Therapy graduate Veronica
When our daughter came home from school complaining about her eyes being blurry when she looked from the board to her paper and vice versa, we were skeptical. I thought that she just wanted to have glasses like her friends. When we went to see Dr. Rachel Smith and went through the various evaluations, we found out that there actually was something wrong. Looking back, we realized that there were other signs of vision issues that we had not attributed to her vision. We realized her eyes, rather than her allergies, were causing her nightly headaches. We also learned that her vision problems explained her struggles with learning to read, as well as her “clumsiness,” and balance issues. After less than two months of therapy, her nightly headaches disappeared completely. This alone made therapy worth it. After about 4 and a half months of therapy, her reading improved (she went from reading simple readers to chapter books), and she started to enjoy reading. We no longer had to force her to read! After finishing therapy, she also appeared more coordinated and had fewer bruises!
I am a development psychologist, so I know how important sensory input is for the development of a multitude of systems. A seemingly minor vision issue can have a cascading effect on many areas of development, including cognition and perception, motor control, and even social development. I am incredibly thankful to Dr. Smith and the vision therapists for the work they do. Success depends on the commitment of the therapists, the child, and the parents. It isn’t easy, but it can be successful, and lead to many positive changes.
Vision therapy was a very fun thing. I liked having Ms. Kim as my vision therapist. I liked having it as an experience in my life. Vision therapy helped me to be able to cross and straighten my eyes, and have my eyes work together. Vision therapy helped me when I was in school, because when I looked from the board to the paper it would be blurry sometimes. When I went to the eye doctor I found out I needed vision therapy. Some of the activities were not very fun and some were very fun. One of my favorites was all the games I got to play in between the difficult activities. Vision therapy helped me a lot. It helped me with my ability to focus on things. It helped me in school. Now I can do tests, see the board, and do better in school. Thanks vision therapy!
The Science of Tears: Do I Have Dry Eye?
Do you experience eye dryness, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or discomfort in windy or dry conditions? What about difficulty performing visual tasks, difficulty wearing contact lenses, frequent use of eye drops, or amplified symptoms later in the day? These are all signs that you may be experiencing a common condition called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), and commonly referred to as Dry Eye Syndrome.
While tears are necessary for your overall eye health, dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage is not in balance. Without proper treatment, inadequate tears can make daily activities frustrating, affecting your personal and professional life. Everyday tasks like reading, watching TV, driving, or working on the computer can be more difficult when you are experiencing Dry Eye.
The most common form of Dry Eye is Evaporative Dry Eye, which represents 86% of all Dry Eye cases. Evaporative Dry Eye results from a shortage of oil in your tears caused by a blockage in your eyelid (Meibomian) glands, leading to tears that evaporate faster than normal. Dry Eye can be caused by the natural aging process, medications, certain medical conditions like diabetes and thyroid issues, environmental factors, and more.
LipiFlow is a procedure designed to treat the root cause of Evaporative Dry Eye, blocked Meibomian glands. LipiFlow works by applying directed energy to the eyelid near the affected glands — precisely targeted warmth from the back of the eyelid, and slight pressure from the front. The LipiFlow treatment can unblock glands, interrupt physical deterioration and, in most cases, provide symptom relief.
Lipiflow is a drug-free procedure that improves your gland function. Over 86% of patients with a single Lipiflow procedure showed an improvement in meibomian gland function and dry eye symptoms. We use the LipiFlow System to treat patients right in our office with confidence and efficiency.
If you are suffering from dry, red, irritated eyes, talk to your optometrist about what treatment options would work best for you. To find out more about LipiFlow, check out our Videos page or the LipiFlow page.
Eyesight is Acuity and Vision
Your eyesight is comprised of the performance of the all the components involved in your visual system. Acuity and vision are two important elements of your total eyesight, and each can have unique issues and challenges.
Acuity is the clearness of your vision and the most common measurement of your eyesight. Acuity is measured by the ability to identify symbols of varied sizes at a specific distance. You’ve probably had many eye exams to test the acuity of your eyes. The acuity of your eyesight is the smallest size that you can clearly identify. For example, an acuity of 20/20 generally means that from 20 feet away you can see as clearly as a person with normal eyesight would see from 20 feet away. An acuity of 20/40 means that from 20 feet away you can see the same as a person with normal eyesight would see from 40 feet away. The maximum acuity of the human eye is generally thought to be around 20/10, which means you can see with more acuity than is thought to be normal.
Vision, on the other hand, refers to a dynamic thought process that creates your comprehension of what you see using your senses to create perception of the world around you. While your acuity will help you read signs clearly at a distance when driving down the road, vision will help you perceive distances between those signs, judge the speed of the car you are passing, merge safely, and notice a pedestrian in the road suddenly.
Each attribute can have specific issues. For example, problems with your eyesight might be an astigmatism where an irregularly shaped cornea or lens makes it difficult for light to focus properly on the retina and vision becomes blurred at any distance. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is another common problem where you cannot see distant objects as clearly as objects that are near. Problems with your vision may include color blindness or amblyopia, where the vision in one eye suffers because the brain and eye are not working properly together.
At EyeCare Specialties, we have specialists that can help you to see your best no matter what element of your eyesight is challenging to you. From Vision Therapy to corrective lenses, we will help you see with your best eyesight possible.
Sources: National Eye Institute (NEI) and American Optometric Association
Winter and Your Eyes
Winter sports, cozy fires, and bright white landscapes can all take their toll on your eyes over the coldest season of the year. Don’t let good vision go bad! Take a few precautions to ensure safe and healthy eyes this season.
The sun is out
Winter can be even more damaging for your eyes than the summer since the brightness of the snow can actually double ultraviolet (UV) ray damage to your eyes when the sun’s rays reflect from the snow. These UV rays can put you at greater risk for cataracts and other eye conditions, and UV rays reflected from the snow can actually burn your eyes.
Don’t forget to use sunglasses that block UV light, and consider a visor for extended activities on particularly bright days.
The heat is up
It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but as temperatures drop the air holds less humidity. The hot air from a cozy fire can also both irritate and dry your eyes, especially if you suffer from Dry Eye Disease, a chronic condition that impacts the production of tears.
When enjoying a fire, or even a heater, take breaks from direct heat, sit further away, and use eye drops to keep our eyes moist.
Winter allergies and irritants
Unfortunately, irritants from pet dander to mold are amplified in the winter months when you’re shut indoors, especially in milder years before frosts and freezes kill off the pollen. Allergy sufferers can find themselves with dry, itchy eyes over the winter months.
Consider using dust free, artificial decorations or electric fires to avoid natural irritants. You may also use a humidifier/dehumidifier to keep the air inside your home between 30% – 50% humidity.
Winter’s outdoor activities can expose you to slush, ice, and other debris. Sporting activities like skiing, snowboarding, and sledding expose your eyes to particles that can irritate and scratch your eyes, not to mention put you at risk for a crash with trees and branches that can damage your eyes. Use goggles with built in UV protection during winter sports for maximum protection.
If you are experiencing particularly uncomfortable, dry eyes this winter, contact your eye doctor about your symptoms. Seek treatment immediately if you feel as though your eyes have been damaged.
Healthy Eye Development in Infants
Newborn babies can see up to 12 inches away, which is usually just about to the face of anyone holding baby. Beyond that, a newborn can detect shapes, light, and movement. Babies are drawn to high contrast patterns and faces at this stage because nearly everything else is a blur. Many newborns struggle to use their eyes in tandem, so they may even appear crosseyed or to have a wandering eye at times.
By this stage, babies have improved their ability to use both eyes together, somewhat. At the first month marker, many babies can now focus both eyes on a moving object to track it. A baby will likely still prefer high-contrast patterns at this stage, but is developing a more nuanced sense of color.
At two months, babies’ brains begin working to learn how to distinguish colors and they may now focus on bright, primary colors and more intricate designs. Babies also begin to develop more advanced abilities to track objects and distinguishing various tones in color.
A baby will begin distinguishing size and shapes of objects, as well as their position in the world. As your baby’s eyes and brain work together to solidify their sense of objects and their proximity, they will begin getting the message to grab ahold of objects in front of their faces. They may still lack to the motor development to truly coordinate this task, but a baby’s skills will improve very quickly with practice.
Babies have begin developing object permanence at this stage, and their ability to track small objects is much improved. A baby can also distinguish between bold, primary colors at this point, and may begin developing a preference for lighter, pastel shades.
At this point, your baby has developed vision very similar to an adult in depth and clarity, but their brains need more time to learn how to process what it is they are actually seeing and their motor skills need lots of fine-tuning. At eight months, the color of a baby’s eyes have also liked reached their final color.
Healthy Vision for Infants
Sources: American Optometric Association, American Academy of Ophthalmology
Current Eyewear Trends
On-trend tortoiseshell patterned eyewear is updated with complimentary tones varying from blonde to brunette hues. We’ll also see new variations of tortoise coupled with metallic bridge pieces in a variety of colors.
Thin Metal is in. Look for lightweight sculpted lines from rounded to aviator shapes. Many high-end brands are also adding geometric shapes and rimless eyewear to their collections this season.
All that Glitters is Gold
Look for arresting gold accents to add sparkle to traditional patterns and shapes. Gold temple details and bridges add interest to acetate and geometric wire styles.
The World is Flat Again
From flat lenses to flat matte, smooth is trending. Top brands have launched flat lenses and translucent frames with superflat metals or versatile neutral toned acetate for a contemporary take on classics, ideal for daily wear.
Look for sunglasses with colorful lenses to match your mood. Coordinate or contrast with frames for a colorful combination, or choose ombre lenses for a stylish impact.
Aviators, aviators, and more aviators – you will find this classic sunglass shape updated with a pop of colored lenses, frames, double rims, and ombre shades.
Double bridge and double wire sunglasses are hot. The extra support lends a dose of durability and extra support, and come in a variety of hues and shapes.
Forces of Darkness
Blackout shades add mystery and intrigue to classic sunglass shapes. From super dark to super ultra mega dark, protecting your eyes never looked so good.
Focus & Go – Lincoln Marathon Profiles: Steve
Steve has been a pastor in Lincoln for the past nine years. In addition to having ministered at UNL, he is currently a pastor at Grace Chapel. Steve has been married for 14 years to Jen, and they have three children. Jen is also a runner and will be running the half-marathon. They enjoy running together when they can.
1. How long have you been running?
I’ve been running since high school, however most of my running was through sports that only required short distances. I vowed to never run again until a friend was looking for a running partner in grad school. I’m not sure how my friend coaxed me into it, but somehow he convinced me to come out and run in the park with him. That first run was 5.5 miles, and it was horrible. But my friend was such a great influence that I tried again and started to get hooked. I blame a great friendship. We could talk, think and enjoy the park and the miles started increasing. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon and then focused on training.
2. Is this your first marathon?
This is not my first. I’ve done the Chicago Marathon twice and I trained for the MarineCorps Marathon but got a fracture at the very last minute.
3. What has your training been like?
This time around, it’s been pretty good. With my wife training for the half, it’s been very nice to be able to support each other. Running is such a time commitment to train, so having a partner that supports you is incredibly important. I feel strong, but I definitely notice the difference in how my body feels this time around. My short runs are good to work on time but my body definitely feels older.
4. What do you run for? What motivates you?
On the surface, I need a goal to be able to become healthy. If I don’t have monetary investment or a goal it’s hard to just exercise.
A deeper motivation is my nine-year old daughter Amelia. She was diagnosed with cancer when she was a baby and had many complications with the chemotherapy. She developed meningitis and experienced brain trauma. She now suffers limited mobility and is in a wheelchair. She can’t walk or run or dance. There are lots of things she can do, but there are limitations. I watch her struggle through the day with her physical limitations and I keep that in mind when I run. She tests her limits every day. I think about that when I’m hitting the 17th or 18th mile about how I’m just scratching the surface of what she has to experience on a daily basis. It encourages me to push myself even further.
5. Do you have a running mantra?
My running mantra is “Mind over Matter.” It’s what I see every day in Amelia, how she hangs in there. It’s amazing to see what can happen. “Mind over Matter” originally came to me as part of our wrestling practices in high school. Our coach would push us during practice and then have us run at the end. Encouraging us to use our minds to convince our bodies to do more.
6. What gear is important to you when running a marathon?
Moisture wicking clothes are very important. The sun can be very bright and changes throughout the marathon, so having a good pair of SMITH sunglasses is very important so you can keep your mind on your race. Great socks and of course, a great pair of shoes are super important too.
7. Favorite running songs on your playlist?
I do not run to any recorded music, but when I get to around Mile 20, I sing songs in my head to alleviate the loneliness. “Eye of the Tiger” is one that I hear in my head. Also my friend, Hannah Huston is on the Voice, so “House of the Rising Sun” has been running through my head a lot lately.
8. Why do you love the Lincoln Marathon?
What I love about the Lincoln Marathon is the same thing that I love about Nebraska. Nebraska is a loyal place which can sometimes be hard to understand to outsiders. People come out. They cheer you on. We have a great crowd that wants to be about something bigger than themselves, and the marathon is glimpse of that. Nebraskans like to rally around something that is outside of ourselves. Here, you have communal support.
Meet the Frame Expert: Ashley
Hola, Ashley! Ashley loves working at EyeCare Specialties so much that she recently returned after spending a year in Spain teaching English. She enjoys taking what she learned in Europe and helping patients explore fashion and a new sense of style. Ashley has a way of helping people step out of their comfort zone and try something new.
She feels it’s important to get to know each frame line that ECS carries so she can give each patient as much information as they need to make the right decision.
Ashley looks forward to another great year with ECS, “I like working for a company that prides itself on taking care of its patients as well as its employees.” She’s also looking forward to being able to spend the holidays here with her family in Nebraska.
4 Must-Dos for Taking Care of Your Contacts
Whether you’re new to wearing contact lenses or you’ve been wearing them since the old hard lenses days, it’s important to make sure that you are following the correct cleaning and handling procedures as well as the wearing schedule recommended by your doctor. There are lots of different contact lenses out there, and your doctor has recommended the correct type of lens, solution and wearing schedule for your particular eyes and for your lifestyle. With that in mind, there are a few rules that all contact lens wearers should keep in mind.
1. Keep it clean. Specifically your hands. You should always make sure to wash your hands before handling your contact lenses. It’s equally important to make sure your hands are dry as well, using a lint-free towel to dry them off. If your hands have lotion or other creams on them, these chemicals can transfer to your contacts and then into your eyes allowing for irritation or infection.
2. Follow your schedule. Seriously. The schedule recommended by your doctor is not a mass conspiracy by manufacturers to get you to buy more contacts. The longer your wear your contacts means more protein build up and the higher likelihood of infection. Also, the lack of oxygen can disturb your eyes even further. Each type of contact lens is designed to be worn for specific time periods based on the materials it is made out of and the liquid content.
3. The Solution solution. We highly recommend that you use the contact lens solution that your doctor recommends. There are of course different types of solution; some solutions disinfect, some are good for storing and some do both. Some contact lens solutions are made specifically for people with sensitive or dry eyes. At EyeCare Specialties, we offer several different kinds of solution that will help keep your contacts as clean, fresh and bacteria-free as possible.
NEVER CLEAN OR STORE YOUR CONTACTS WITH SALIVA OR TAP WATER. Bacteria breeds in both and can cause infection and other problems easily. Also make sure to never reuse your solution. A good idea is to make sure you stock up or buy several bottles to store in different locations (one at home, one at work, maybe a travel size for the purse) so that you’ve always got one available.
4. Take the case. And clean it every once in a while. It’s a good idea to switch out your contact lens case every one to three months or so to make sure you have one that is free of contaminates. We recommend using the case that comes from your doctor, but if you do use a decorative one that you’ve picked up at the pharmacy or another retailer, make sure to thoroughly wash and dry it before you store your contacts.
Of course, the main objective with the proper care, handling and storage of your contacts is to make sure you have the healthiest eyes possible. If you have any questions at all, please contact your doctor or any of the EyeCare Specialties contact lens experts.
Meet the Frame Expert: Amber
Amber’s jovial personality is apparent when she works with patients. Her background in child development gives her a light-hearted attitude when helping both children and adults find the perfect frames. She loves knowing she’s done a great job helping someone find the right solution and looks forward to building ongoing relationships with patients for years to come.
She’s also proud of the “Share the Love” campaign from Taylor Madison frames and EyeCare Specialties; every time a pair of Taylor Madison frames are purchased another pair is donated to Shared Vision International to be distributed to those in need.
“I like how they donate a pair if you buy a pair,” Amber says. Knowing that she can be a part of making a difference in so many lives is important to Amber and one of the reasons she is proud to be a part of the ECS family.