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Is Crying Good For You And Good For Your Eyes?

Sometimes, you just need a good cry. This is true for your emotional wellbeing, but did you know it can also benefit your overall body and eye health as well?

Why Do People Cry?

There are many reasons why our eyes water, whether it’s crying or not. Sometimes it’s simply from being overwhelmed with emotions, whether it’s happiness, sadness or stress. Other times it’s just from cutting onions.

There are three different types of tears we produce, with each being triggered in a different way:

  • Basal tears constantly coat your eyes, protecting them, keeping them free from bacteria and protecting your eyes from debris such as dirt.
  • Reflex tears are triggered by irritants in the air, like smoke, onion fumes or chemicals such as bleach or other cleaning products. They wash out the irritants to ensure that your eyes don’t get scratched and your vision isn’t compromised.
  • Emotional tears are triggered by emotions, such as sadness or extreme happiness. These contain certain proteins and hormones that are thought to help you feel more relaxed after emotional crying.

What are the benefits of watery eyes and crying?

So, are there specific benefits to crying? Interestingly, shedding a few tears has been found to have both social and physiological benefits. Studies show that crying promotes social bonding, and that those who cry while receiving comfort from friends and family end up feeling better than those who don’t shed any tears, but are comforted anyway.

Tears also help prevent damage to the eyes including:

  • Eye infection
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Corneal ulcer

In terms of infection, the highest risk comes from debris such as dirt, pollen or chemicals. When tears wash away these irritants, the risk of infection plummets.

In the end, tears are good for us for many reasons. A good cry, or at least a good watering of the eyes, contributes to preventing dry eye syndrome, flushing out potential infection risks, and releasing endorphins to help us feel better.

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 Clifton 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 Clifton 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 703-830-3977 or visit us in person at New Era Eyecare, 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.

Why is my vision dimming?

Savoring the vivid colors of a rainbow or the deep yellows, reds and oranges of a sunset is one of life’s true pleasures. If these colors seem muted and the world around you seems dimmer, it could be a sign that you have a sight-threatening eye condition.

Common causes of dimming vision include:

Macular Degeneration

There are two main types of macular degeneration — dry and wet. If you begin to notice a slow fading or blurring of your vision, dry macular degeneration may be to blame. In dry macular degeneration, small lipid deposits known as drusen form under the macula, eventually leading to vision loss. In wet macular degeneration, the more serious form of MD, abnormal blood vessels leak blood or fluid into the macula. Wet MD can cause sudden changes to your vision and requires urgent eye care.

Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis occurs when the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting visual information to your brain from your retina (the light-sensing layer at the back of your eye), becomes inflamed. This causes a gradual dimming of vision, as the optic nerve struggles to send visual information to the brain. This is usually a temporary condition, with vision returning to normal within 6 months. However, your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive analysis of your optic nerve to determine the best way to manage and treat the condition.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when inner-eye pressure becomes dangerously high, potentially damaging the optic nerve. By the time symptoms like dim vision become noticeable, the patient may have already suffered permanent vision loss.

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment occurs when the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye, known as the retina, becomes detached from the underlying structures and blood vessels that nourish it. The dislocation hinders the retina’s ability to detect light and send signals to the brain, causing a shadow-like effect to slowly spread across your vision.

Cataracts

A cataract occurs when proteins in the lens of the eye begin to harden, blocking light from passing through the lens and causing vision to become cloudy. This results in images suddenly appearing dim, blurry or less colorful.

If you notice your vision becoming dimmer and less vibrant, it could be an eye emergency that requires immediate treatment to prevent vision loss and even blindness. Our eye doctors in and will thoroughly examine your eyes and assess your vision. Once they have diagnosed the problem, our doctors will discuss the best course of treatment, based on your specific condition and health. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment could include medication, therapeutic procedures or surgery.

At New Era Eyecare, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 703-830-3977 or book an appointment online to see one of our Clifton eye doctors.

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Q&A

Are there non eye-related reasons that could cause my vision to dim?

Depending on where in the brain it’s located, a brain tumor can also cause noticeable dimming of your sight. Other ways you may be affected include changes in smell or hearing, seizures and muscle twitches or paralysis in parts of your body. Sudden (rather than gradual) dimming of vision may also indicate a stroke. If you suspect you’re experiencing a stroke, immediately go to the nearest emergency room.

Can my vision dim in only one eye?

Yes. Most of the conditions discussed above tend to affect only one eye at a time, or one eye more severely than the other. This can result in dimming in only one eye, or different levels of dimming in each eye.

9 Signs Your Child Might Need Glasses

It can sometimes be hard to tell if your child is having trouble seeing. That’s because children are often unaware of their own vision problems, and in many cases may not even have the words to describe what they’re seeing.

Though eye and vision problems are very common in school-age children, the signs are often subtle and easy to miss. When these issues go undiagnosed and untreated, a child may have difficulty learning in the classroom and playing sports, among other things. Fortunately, some vision issues can be easily solved with a simple pair of eyeglasses.

Here are 9 subtle signs that your child may need glasses:

1. They struggle with intense near vision activities like homework, computer use, taking exams or reading. They may also avoid distance vision activities such as sports.

2. They have a hard time keeping their place while reading

3. They tilt their head or squint when watching TV or in class

4. They have problems with unusually teary eyes or frequently rub or squint their eyes

5. They complain about eye fatigue and headaches, especially after reading or other vision-intensive activities

6. They may close one eye while reading or watching TV in order to see better

7. They hold books unusually close to their face in order to read

8. They sit very close to TVs or computer screens in order to see better

9. They use their finger to guide their eyes along the page as they read.

If you notice these or any other signs that your child may be experiencing poor vision, it is important to bring them in for a pediatric eye exam as soon as possible.

Pediatric Eye Exams and Eyeglasses

During your child’s eye exam our eye doctor will test for signs of refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. If your child has a refractive error, our eye doctor will prescribe prescription glasses to correct their vision and help them thrive at school and at home.

School aged students may be prescribed eyeglasses if their eyes have difficulty focusing. The glasses allow the eyes to function better and remove eye strain. These eyeglasses are often only worn when in class, when reading, using a digital screen or during examinations.

Once the optometrist determines your child’s prescription, our friendly and professional optical team can help you and your child choose just the right frames. Our wide selection of designer frames includes designs and materials to fit every need and sense of style. From versatile metal or polycarbonate frames that can stand up to the rigors of sports, to lightweight frames that are comfortable to wear during the school day, has you covered.

For more information on how to tell if your child needs glasses, and how our eye care practice can help, call us at or visit us in person today!

At New Era Eyecare, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 703-830-3977 or book an appointment online to see one of our Clifton eye doctors.

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Q&A

Can refractive errors cause problems other than poor vision?

Yes. Myopia in childhood has been linked to an increased risk of developing potentially sight-threatening eye conditions later in life. These conditions include glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. Speak to your eye doctor about the best ways to minimize your child’s risk.

Will wearing glasses weaken my child’s vision?

No. Many people mistakenly believe that eyeglasses make your eyes reliant on them, and that this reliance weakens your eyes. Children with refractive errors will experience changes in their vision, even when their nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism isn’t corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

10 Ways to Give Your Eyes Some Love This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the time to express your love and appreciation to those you care about most. But it’s also a great opportunity to take the time to pamper yourself — so why not start with your eyes?

Practice these 10 healthy lifestyle habits to help protect your eye health and vision.

1. Be Mindful of the Food You Eat

Fill your plate with fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grains. A well-balanced diet is good for your body and can lower your risk of eye disease.

Studies show that foods high in vitamins A, C, E, Omega-3, lutein and zeaxanthin are especially beneficial for promoting eye health.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day will keep your body hydrated and your eyes moist — which is essential for preventing dry eye syndrome. To add some flavor to your water, try adding a splash of lemon juice or swap some of those glasses of water for an herbal tea or other non-caffeinated beverage. Caffeinated drinks have a dehydrating effect, so try to limit your coffee consumption as much as possible.

3. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is widely known for its physical and mental health benefits, but studies show that it can also lower your risk of serious eye conditions and diseases. Cardio exercise in particular has been shown to lower eye pressure and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye. So grab your gym bag and get moving!

4. Don’t Smoke

If you’ve been thinking about quitting, there’s no better time than now. Smoking tobacco significantly raises your risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and can also lead to their early development.

Smoking also robs the body of the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to maintain eye health, and contains around 7,000 chemicals that can lead to eye irritation and dry eye.

5. Practice Good Makeup Hygiene

While wearing makeup can accentuate your eyes and make you feel more beautiful, it’s important to note that if not used properly, certain makeup products can adversely affect eye health.

To keep your eyes and vision healthy, make sure to:

  • Clean your brushes and applicators regularly
  • Toss any expired products, or eye makeup you’ve used during an eye infection
  • Only apply makeup to the outer margin of your eyelids
  • Remove your makeup before going to bed
  • Never share makeup or use in-store testers

Following these safety tips will help to lower your risk of eye infections and other serious complications.

6. Wear Sunglasses

Studies show that prolonged UV exposure can damage the eyes and lead to the development of sight-threatening eye conditions, like cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma, in the future.

Purchase a pair of stylish sunglasses with 100% UV protection and wear them any time you venture outdoors — the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the clouds and reflect off of snow, sand, water and pavement. So keep a pair of sunglasses next to your front door and a spare pair in your bag or car to ensure you have UV protection wherever you go.

7. Prevent Eye Injuries

About 90% of vision loss from eye injuries can be prevented by wearing the right eye protection.

Protective eyewear like sports goggles or glasses with polycarbonate lenses are designed with sturdy materials that are less likely to break or shatter while you play sports, and can protect your eyes from small particles that fly in the air when you mow the lawn or engage in DIY projects.

8. Learn First Aid for Eye Injuries

Let’s be real, accidents can happen even if we take all the right measures to protect ourselves. But knowing what to do in case of an unexpected eye injury can potentially save you or someone you love from permanent eye damage or vision loss.

Note: Any type of eye injury should be taken seriously, and promptly examined by an eye doctor.

9. Avoid Digital Eye Strain

Prolonged screen time can cause eye strain, dry eyes, blurry vision and headaches — and lead to a condition called digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome.

Avoid symptoms of digital eye strain by limiting screen time as much as possible. If prolonged screen time is unavoidable, practice the 20-20-20 rule: set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to take breaks every 20 minutes to focus on an image at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.

10. Visit Your Eye Doctor

Regular eye exams are crucial when it comes to maintaining your eye health. With an eye exam, your eye doctor can identify early signs of sight-threatening eye diseases and conditions — enabling earlier treatment and increasing your chances for optimal results.

From all of us at New Era Eyecare in Clifton, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

At New Era Eyecare, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 703-830-3977 or book an appointment online to see one of our Clifton eye doctors.

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Q&A

What’s the difference between an eye exam and vision screening?

Vision screenings are basic tests of visual acuity, generally conducted by a school nurse or pediatrician. These screenings can’t identify many vision conditions that impact learning or work performance, and are unable to detect ocular health problems.

A comprehensive eye exam, which is performed by an eye doctor, includes tests for visual acuity and functional vision, as well as close examination of the inner and outer structures of the eye.

How often do I need to have an eye exam?

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), it is important to have your eyes examined every one to two years, depending on your age, whether or not you wear glasses or contacts, your family history of eye disease, and your ocular health to date. Annual eye exams help your eye doctor monitor your eye health and easily identify any changes in your vision.

Untreated Vision Loss Linked to Accelerated Cognitive Decline

Results of a recent study published in JAMA Network Open (July 2021) suggest that significant cognitive decline can result from untreated vision problems in the elderly population.

For the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, researchers gathered data on 1,202 men and women between the ages of 60 and 94. They administered vision and cognitive tests every one to four years between 2003 and 2019 and discovered that those who scored lowest on initial vision tests were more likely to show a cognitive decline over the course of the study. This decline was observed to be quite broad, including memory, language, attention and the ability to identify and find objects.

Good Eye Care Can Help Ward Off Cognitive Decline

Fortunately, this decline isn’t inevitable. A separate study published in JAMA Ophthalmology (September 2018) suggests that the risk of cognitive decline decreases significantly in people who are able to maintain good eye health and clear vision.

One of the doctors in the study, Dr. Bonnielin K. Swenor, observed that people with vision loss will often withdraw from physical and social activity, further increasing their risk of cognitive decline. On the other hand, maintaining good eye health will not only reduce the risk of cognitive decline in and of itself, but will encourage activities and hobbies that will further reduce risk.

Maintaining your long-term eye health and clear vision requires vigilance, but the benefits will extend well beyond your eyes as they will also enhance the quality of life and maintain your cognitive skills. Speak to your eye doctor today about regular eye exams for common eye diseases and conditions. Early detection and treatment of vision problems will contribute to your long-term physical and cognitive health.

At New Era Eyecare, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 703-830-3977 or book an appointment online to see one of our Clifton eye doctors.

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FAQs

How often should I be visiting my eye doctor to maintain good eye health?

Regular eye exams are a key part of maintaining long-term eye health and visual acuity. Early detection and treatment of common eye conditions increases the likelihood that potential eye damage and vision loss can be prevented.

Eye care professionals recommend that adults with healthy eyes and vision see their eye doctor at least once every two years. Those over the age of 60, or who have underlying conditions like diabetes, or who are at risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts or glaucoma, should see their eye doctor at least once a year, or as directed by their optometrist. In these cases, your eye doctor will evaluate your specific circumstances and recommend how often to undergo a comprehensive eye exam.

Are there specific eye diseases that are linked strongly to cognitive decline?

A study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology suggests links between the development of Alzheimer’s or dementia and a history of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts or diabetes-related eye disease.

Glaucoma was also linked to dementia, though no direct link was found to Alzheimer’s.

Links between cognitive decline and eye health were even stronger where study participants had more than one eye disease, or if they had a history of diabetes, stroke, heart attack or high blood pressure.

Why Is My Eyelid Twitching?

What Is An Eyelid Twitch?

Myokymia, more commonly known as an eyelid twitch, occurs when the eyelid muscles spasm uncontrollably. This sensation is generally felt in either the upper or lower eyelid of one eye.

An eyelid twitch can develop for a number of reasons, and can last anywhere from a few moments to several days, depending on the underlying cause.

Eyelid twitches are usually nothing to worry about, though persistent eyelid spasms can signal a more serious underlying condition.

What Causes Eyelid Twitching?

There are a range of factors that could be causing your eyelid to twitch, including:

Stress.

This is the most common cause. Any type of physical or mental stress leads to the release of cortisol, a steroid hormone in the body that acts as a stimulant and puts your body into “flight or fight” mode. It can affect the nervous system in uncharacteristic ways, including making the nerves stimulate your muscles to twitch.

Fatigue.

Have you stayed awake later than usual, or are you juggling work and family commitments? Your eyelid twitch may be a sign that your body is craving a few more hours of rest and shut eye.

Allergies.

Itchy, watery, irritated eyes can cause eyelid spasms.

Dry eyes.

Dry, sore eyes may sometimes lead to an eyelid twitch.

Eye strain.

Eye muscle fatigue from prolonged reading or using a digital device can lead to blurry or double vision, dry eyes, headaches and, sometimes, an eyelid twitch.

Caffeine.

Consuming too much caffeine can over-stimulate your mind and body, including the muscles in your eyes.

Alcohol.

Similar to caffeine, excessive alcohol intake can have stimulating effects on your eye muscles.

Nutrient deficiencies.

According to research, a deficiency in vitamins B12 or D, or magnesium, or other electrolyte imbalance can cause an eyelid twitch.

Blepharospasm.

This rare eye condition is caused by a neurological problem that leads to uncontrollable facial and eyelid spasms that generally worsen over time.These spasms may also cause an increase in blink rate and intensity.

Neurological disease.

Although uncommon, an eyelid twitch can be a symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease or Bell’s palsy.

How to Stop Your Eye Twitch

  • Schedule an eye exam to find out what may be causing your eyelid twitch. Your eye doctor may prescribe glasses to relieve eye strain, or recommend dry eye treatments, Botox injections or oral medication to treat the underlying problem.
  • Practice stress-relieving activities such as yoga and deep breathing exercises, or simply take some time out of your day to relax.
  • Use eye drops to alleviate eye allergies or dry eye symptoms.
  • Take frequent breaks from the screen and consider wearing computer glasses to reduce eye strain.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption to determine if these stimulants may be the cause of your eyelid twitch.
  • Speak with your physician to find out if you can benefit from taking nutritional supplements and to rule out a neurological disorder, especially if other symptoms are present.

Although an eye twitch is generally not a cause for concern, if it persists for longer than a few days or you notice any changes to your vision, contact our doctors at New Era Eyecare today to schedule an eye exam.

Q & A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Craig Spelke

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a chronic condition that occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears or the quality of your tear film is compromised. This results in a range of symptoms that may include dry, itchy, irritated eyes, and sometimes eye twitches. While mild DES can often be alleviated temporarily with over-the-counter lubricating eye drops, moderate to severe DES generally requires specialized in-office treatments.

Q: How can I relieve eye strain after prolonged screen time?

  • A: Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, can cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms, including headaches, eye fatigue, dry eyes and blurry vision. Computer vision syndrome may cause your eyelid to twitch.If limiting screen time isn’t practical on a daily basis, try to follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something around 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. It is also important to remember to blink frequently and to close your eyes completely. Lastly, speak to your optometrist about wearing computer glasses while you work, as they are designed to eliminate glare from the screen, and reduce eye strain.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Alexandria, Virginia. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

5 Ways to Protect and Improve Your Child’s Eyesight

Your child’s vision is their primary window into the world around them. Keeping their eyesight healthy is an important part of allowing them to experience life to the fullest.

Here are 5 tips on how to protect and improve your child’s eye health:

1. Take them to the eye doctor for routine eye exams

One of the most important take-aways from any article you read on the subject of keeping your child’s vision and eyes healthy, is the need to keep up with routine comprehensive eye exams.

Although your kid’s school may perform vision screenings, these tests can only detect the most basic issues, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or severe amblyopia. They are not equipped to check for eye diseases that can affect your child’s long-term ocular health, or binocular vision disorders that can hinder their ability to learn.

Our Clifton eye doctor will be able to perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for the presence of these and other conditions. If ocular diseases or vision disorders are detected, your eye doctor will have the equipment and expertise to properly treat them.

2. Limit their screen time

Screens are an ever-present part of our lives. Children can spend hours every day texting, playing video games, watching television, and more. It is all-too-easy to spend way too much time on these digital devices, causing symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eye
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain

Excessive blue light, like the kind that comes from these screens, interferes with sleep and is also thought to increase the risk of macular degeneration later in life.

To prevent symptoms and protect your child’s long-term vision health, limit their screen time, when possible, to approximately one hour, and devices should be turned off a few hours before bedtime to allow your child to wind down.

3. Encourage them to eat healthy foods and get exercise

As with every part of the body, a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring the long-term health of your child’s eyes.

Eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to promote eye health. Good sources include fish such as salmon and herring. For vegans and others who don’t eat fish, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also a great option.

Leafy greens and fruits are also important, as they’re high in vitamins A, C and E, which are all important for the development and maintenance of healthy vision.

Along with a healthy diet, you should encourage your child to get up and exercise. Physical activity is good for the whole body, and that includes the eyes.

Bonus points if you can get your child outside, as sunlight and outdoor play have been shown to slow or even prevent the development of myopia. Just make sure your child wears sunglasses and a sun hat — UV rays have a cumulative effect that could lead to eye diseases like macular degeneration later in life.

4. Help them avoid eye injuries

Eye injuries are an all-too-common occurrence, especially among children.

If you have little ones at home, make sure that paints, cleaners and other dangerous chemicals and irritants are put away somewhere safe. If these ever get into their eyes, they can cause severe damage to your child’s visual system, including permanent loss of vision.

For contact and ball/puck sports, ensure your child wears the right eyewear to protect their eyes from accidental impacts or pokes. Helmets should also be worn where the sport warrants it, to prevent concussions and other head injuries that can have an effect on vision.

5. Reduce eye infections

Even small, common infections such as pink eye can have an impact on your child’s vision.

Hands are some of the most bacteria-filled parts of our bodies. Your child should learn not to touch their eyes with their unwashed hands, as this is the primary way of introducing germs to the eye that may result in infection.

On a similar note, if you have contact lens wearers, be sure to teach them to wash their hands each and every time they put in or take out their contact lenses. They should also learn to store and clean their lenses strictly according to their eye doctor‘s instructions and should change lenses according to their intended schedule. Daily contacts should be changed daily, monthly contacts, monthly.

For more information on how best to protect and improve your child’s eyesight, contact New Era Eyecare in Clifton today.

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Craig Spelke

Q: Can I rely on the vision screenings at my child’s school to catch vision and eye health issues?

  • A: No. School-based vision screenings check for basic visual acuity. Even if your child has perfect 20/20 vision, there may still be issues with visual skills or undetected eye diseases that these types of screenings are not equipped to catch.It is important not to rely on school vision screenings as a replacement for an annual comprehensive eye exam with your local optometrist. During these visits, your eye doctor will be able to assess your child for vision skills such as:

    Eye teaming ability
    Convergence and divergence skills
    Tracking and focusing Visual accommodation

    They will also be able to diagnose and treat conditions such as:

    Amblyopia
    Strabismus
    (Rarely) pediatric glaucoma or cataracts

    These and other conditions can only be diagnosed and treated by a trained optometrist as part of a comprehensive eye exam.

Q: Can vision problems be misdiagnosed as ADHD/ADD?

  • A: It is unfortunately common for learning-related vision problems to go undetected. These vision problems can often mimic the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, leading to misdiagnosis and mistaken treatment.As many as 1 out of every 4 school-age children suffers from some form of visual dysfunction. If not properly treated, a child may struggle throughout their entire school career, harming their learning and possibly their long-term self-confidence.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Alexandria, Virginia. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Eyesight

Pregnancy can impact almost every part of a woman’s body and health — including her eyes. In fact, an estimated 14% of pregnant women report experiencing visual changes during pregnancy that usually resolve on their own within a couple of months after giving birth.

Knowing the different visual symptoms that can present when you’re expecting can help alert you to potential underlying health concerns that your physician may need to address.

Normal Visual Changes During Pregnancy

Blurred Vision

Blurred vision is the most common visual symptom that pregnant women may experience. Hormonal fluctuations are usually to blame for the temporary decrease in visual acuity, and your eyesight will likely return to normal soon after giving birth.

The influx of pregnancy hormones causes fluid retention in some areas of the body and can cause the cornea to thicken slightly. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused accurately and vision may be blurred.

Less commonly, blurred vision can signal gestational diabetes, a pregnancy complication affecting 6-9% of pregnant women. The rise in blood sugar level impacts the focusing lens of the eye, leading to blurry vision. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, including gestational diabetes, it’s a good idea to book an eye exam to monitor for retinal changes.

Blurred vision is also a common side effect of dry eye syndrome, a condition characterized by tears that don’t adequately lubricate the eyes, which can be brought on or exacerbated by pregnancy.

Eye Dryness

Pregnancy hormones can cause a reduction in the amount of tears your eyes produce or affect the quality of the tears. These changes can affect a woman throughout her entire pregnancy, but studies show that eye dryness is particularly common in the last trimester. For this reason, some women find it difficult to wear contact lenses in their third trimester and temporarily switch to glasses.

Eye Puffiness

Yet another body part that swells during pregnancy: the eyelids and tissues around the eyes.

Pregnancy-related water retention may cause your eyelids to appear puffier than during your pre-pregnancy days. You may also notice darker areas under the eyes. If your puffy eyes bother you, try limiting your salt and caffeine intake, as they can worsen the problem.

Visual Changes That May Indicate a Problem

The following visual changes warrant a prompt call to your eye doctor or obstetrician to rule out any underlying complications.

Flashes or floaters

Seeing stars during pregnancy can signal high blood pressure, which is associated with preeclampsia — a serious medical condition that requires close monitoring by your physician and possible treatment.

It’s crucial to have your blood pressure monitored throughout your pregnancy, as preeclampsia can potentially endanger the life of mother and child, as well as damage the cornea and retina.

Temporary vision loss

Temporary vision loss is concerning for pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. Vision loss is another warning sign of preeclampsia, so contact your doctor promptly if you suddenly lose any portion of your visual field.

Sensitivity to light

Light-sensitivity can either be a normal side effect of fluid retention in the eye, or it can signal dangerously high blood pressure and preeclampsia.

How We Can Help

At ​​New Era Eyecare, our goal is to keep your vision and eyes healthy throughout your pregnancy and beyond. If you experience any visual symptoms, we can help by thoroughly examining your eyes to determine the underlying cause and provide you with guidance on what next steps to take.

Pregnancy is a wonderful time, when self care should be at the forefront — and that includes comprehensive eye care.

To schedule an eye exam or learn more about our eye care services, call New Era Eyecare in Clifton today!

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Craig Spelke

Q: Why are regular eye exams important?

  • A: Having your eyes evaluated by an optometrist on a regular basis is crucial for detecting early signs of eye diseases and changes in your prescription, including during pregnancy. Many serious eye diseases don’t cause any noticeable symptoms until they’ve progressed to late stages, when damage to vision may be irreversible. Whether or not you wear glasses or contact lenses for vision correction, ask your optometrist about how often to schedule a routine eye exam.

Q: Will my baby need an eye exam after birth?

  • A: According to the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists, babies should have an eye exam within the first 6-12 months of life, even in the absence of noticeable vision problems. Healthy vision is a significant part of healthy overall development, so be sure not to skip your baby’s eye exams!

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Alexandria, Virginia. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

What To Do if a Mosquito Bites Your Eyelid

Many of us spend the warm weather outdoors, barbecuing, camping, hiking, swimming. Although the itchy mosquito bites are typically associated with summer, mosquitos can be relentless and be a major pest, in the spring and even into the fall.

Why do Mosquitoes Bite?

Mosquitoes are small flying insects, but they don’t actually “bite”. They pierce the skin to reach a person’s blood vessels to access a source of protein for the female’s eggs. Male mosquitoes do not consume blood.

While most mosquitoes are harmless, others may carry dangerous diseases, such as malaria, in certain parts of the world. In rare cases, mosquito bites can cause other complications.

What does a mosquito bite on the eyelid look like?

A mosquito bite on the eyelid typically causes redness and inflammation of the eyelid and the surrounding area.

Since the tissue around the eye is loose, fluid accumulation and inflammation following an insect bite is common. In severe cases, it can even inhibit the eye from opening, especially after lying down, as the fluid gravitates to that area.

The skin around the eye is sensitive, so the itching and discomfort from a bite on the eyelid may feel particularly intense. Rest assured that most of the time the itchiness lasts only a few days, but try to avoid rubbing your eyes as it can exacerbate the swelling and irritation.

Are Mosquito Bites on the Eyelid Dangerous?

Usually not, but they can cause severe itching and swelling.

Young children are at a higher risk for acute swelling from a mosquito bite, as they tend to have a stronger immune response than adults do. While your child’s eye may look concerning, the inflammation should naturally subside within a few days.

Signs of an infected mosquito bite

Although uncommon, there are instances when a mosquito bite can become infected and require medical attention. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • An eyelid that develops a deep red appearance
  • An eyelid that is hot and hard to the touch
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Intense pain around the eye
  • Swelling doesn’t subside after 2-3 days

Sometimes, if the bite becomes infected, the infection will spread to the second eye and symptoms will likely be apparent in both eyelids.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or if your vision is affected by your swollen eyelid, contact us for an eye exam and to determine the best course of treatment. If the eyelid isn’t infected, the following home remedies may help.

Home Remedies to Reduce Eyelid Discomfort and Swelling

Try these tips to help relieve your discomfort and promote healing.

  1. Cold Compresses. Place a cold, wet compress on your eye for around 20 minutes, 2-3 times per day to reduce the swelling and numb the itchiness. Be sure that the compress is not too cold as it can damage the skin around your eye.
  2. Allergy Medicine. Take an antihistamine, either in liquid or tablet form, to reduce itching and inflammation. Be sure to read the directions on the bottle for proper dosage information.
  3. Eye Drops. Eye drops can help further reduce inflammation and provide additional relief, especially if your vision is being affected. Vasoconstrictor eye drops are generally recommended to reduce the swelling of the blood vessels in the eyes. These drops should be used sparingly as they can cause a rebound effect – making the eyes red once they heal. It’s best to consult with your eye doctor before using any eye drops, just to be sure.

Most mosquito bites will heal on their own without any need for additional treatment. However, the eyelid is a sensitive area and may require special care to speed up the healing process.

Experiencing symptoms of an infected mosquito bite on the eye? Have any questions or concerns about your eye health or vision? We’re here to help! Simply contact New Era Eyecare in Clifton and one of our professional eye care professionals will be happy to assist.

Q&A

What is an eye infection?

An eye infection is a condition in which viruses, bacteria or other microbial agents attack the eye, causing itchy and red eyes. The infection can also affect the eyelid, cornea, and conjunctiva (the thin area that covers the inside of the eyelids and outer part of the eye).

​​What are the typical symptoms of an eye infection?

Usually people with an eye infection experience at least one of the following:

Eye pain, persistent itching, grittiness, sensitivity to light, watery eyes, fluid discharge, blurred vision, irritation, swelling and dryness. These symptoms can often be confounded with dry eye disease. To determine the source of the issue and receive optimal treatment, contact New Era Eyecare today.