What You Need To Know Before Buying Sunglasses

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What You Need To Know Before Buying Sunglasses

Imagine yourself out on the water at a beach on a hot summer’s day. As you’re enjoying the view, a wave sweeps in behind you. Next thing you know, the stylish sunglasses you were wearing are lying at the bottom of the lake! It’s after times like these when my patients ask whether it’s worth investing in sunglasses, or if a cheap pair will work the same. To that, I say that there is absolutely a difference!

UV protection is #1 priority. UV blocking sunglasses are just as important as slathering on sunscreen. UV damage is linked to numerous eye diseases including cataract, macular degeneration, and skin cancer. Skin is thinnest on your eyelid, and so it is very susceptible to UV damage. Make sure your sunglasses are truly UV blocking by purchasing from a reputable retailer. In Canada, most sunglasses – even inexpensive department store pairs - block UV. It should say 100% UVA and UVB protection, or UV400 protection. They should fit well enough to provide coverage around your eyes too. No matter how dark your sunglasses are, however, never look directly at the sun – it can cause permanent vision loss.

Optical quality. Summer is beautiful with its green trees, sandy beaches, crystal blue water, and gorgeous sunsets! Why wouldn’t you want to see clearly and enjoy all the natural beauty around you? Unfortunately, lenses made of cheaper plastics are not as clear, and have quite a bit of distortion, glare, and colour disruption.

Polarization. Have you ever noticed reflections off the water, making it impossible to see beneath the surface? Have you ever been bothered by glare off other cars on a sunny day? Polarized lenses, such as those made by Maui Jim®, use special technology to cut out glare, making everything appear much more crisp. Everyone can benefit from polarization – whether you drive a car, spend time on the water, walk around outdoors, or play sports. Once you try polarization, you’ll never want to go back! It’s like the difference between watching a movie in HD on Blu-Ray, as opposed to DVD.

It’s About Safety. We all have experienced times when we’re driving with the sun directly ahead, with our visor down in order to see the road while squinting. There is no doubt that wearing a clear, polarized pair of sunglasses improves visibility, reduces distractions, and increases safety on the road.

What About Kids? Sunglasses are just as important, if not more, for children! The WHO estimates that 80% of a person’s lifetime UV exposure has already occurred by age 18. Protect those young eyes, it will pay off in the future!

The Verdict. My advice is to own at least one pair of high-quality polarized sunglasses, and to wear them year-round when outdoors or driving in daylight. If you are concerned about losing sunglasses out on the water, you can always have an inexpensive basic UV-blocking pair for those riskier situations.

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Written by: Dr. Natalia Fong

Image Credit: Photo by Richard Pouncy Jr. 

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What Will It Take for the Raptors To Win?

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What Will It Take for the Raptors To Win?

What will it take for the Raptors to win? A lot of people would say it’s playing tough defense, making the 3-point shots, a great coach and a little bit of luck. But is it luck or the best hidden secret to the game? What’s the secret you may ask? Strong visual skills. Take Steph Curry, for example. He didn’t win three NBA championships for no reason. To be as good as he is, Steph Curry works hard to enhance every aspect of his game and that includes vision training. Here are 5 key skills that the Raptors need in order to be on their A-game and clutch their first ever championship title.   

  1. Court Vision – Being able to multitask visually is crucial to being a successful basketball player. They always say to keep your eye on the ball, but does anyone ever talk about your peripheral vision? 90% of vision is peripheral and 10% is central. Your central vision is key for shooting, but having better peripheral vision is much more important.  Peripheral vision is about knowing where you and everyone else are on the court to give you better perspective.

  2. Visual Endurance – Ever wonder why some players get off to a great start but miss every shot in the last quarter? It takes a lot of energy to focus, track and judge distances all the while making split-second decisions during a game.  Your visual stamina is important, just like keeping in good shape to be able keep up throughout the game (especially when you head into double overtime).

  3. Visual Reaction Time – What does an athlete’s reaction time have to do with their vision? If you’re able to quickly process what you’re seeing, then you can react faster! Think of your vision as your high-speed internet, the faster the download speed the faster you’ll find your Google search! On the court this translates to having a quick offense, defense, creating turnovers, blocking a shot or rebounding a ball.

  4. 3-D Vision – Being able to judge distances requires our two eyes to work together as a team. This is how Kawhi Leonard sunk that epic three point shot in game 7 against Philly. He knew exactly how far to shoot the ball in mid-air to win the game and take us to the next round!

  5. Figure-Ground Vision – To be a successful player you must be able to easily differentiate between objects from background clutter. An example of this is the player’s ability to successfully score a free throw with the distraction of the rest of the crowd in the background waving, clapping and distracting the player.  Or making that critical pass to your teammate rather than having the other team steal it, leading to an easy basket.

Let’s hope that our Raptors team have been focusing on their vision along with their basketball drills to cap off a historic playoff run to bring home our first championship trophy!

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Written by: Stephanie Teixeira & Dr. Fabian Tai

Image Credit: Christian Mendoza

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Eyelash Extensions: Are They Safe?

Eyelash Extensions: Are They Safe?

Eyelash extensions have quickly become a rising trend to no surprise; many love having beautiful, long, luscious lashes. To achieve this, single eyelash extension strands are applied to the base of one’s natural lashes using an adhesive glue. During this process, tape is used on the lower eyelid to hold the lower lashes in place.

The Issue. Eyelash extension application is an unregulated procedure that has no standardization of materials. The most common complication we see is an allergic reaction towards the materials used (eyelash extensions, glue, tape). As a result, irritation, redness, and swelling of the eye can occur. The eyelids can also become puffy, and the skin can become dry and flaky – a type of contact dermatitis. Especially in cases of poor hygiene, the lid itself can be infected, resulting in red painful bumps called styes. While all of these are treatable, it’s best to prevent it from occurring in the first place by ensuring that you are going to a trained aesthetician who sources high quality products.

Maintenance is Key. I cannot stress enough how important this is! Artificial lashes provide an extra home for bacteria and debris to build. We’ve seen everything from make-up residue to flaked skin to eyelash mites. These can all lead to itching, irritation, dry eye, and infection. Daily use of lid wipes to remove makeup and debris is crucial to keeping your eyes clean. If you have an overgrowth of bacteria or mites in your lashes, your doctor may recommend tea-tree oil, a naturally occurring essential oil that has antiseptic properties.

What About Makeup and Contacts? Avoid using excessive makeup, and try to use water-based products. Waterproof cosmetics are difficult to remove without using an oil-based make-up remover, which can dissolve the glue and cause the extension to fall out prematurely. Contact lenses are safe to wear.   

Final Verdict: Are Eyelash Extensions Safe? Yes, if done right! And remember, you do get what you pay for. Go to a licensed technician, know what materials they use, and ensure the environment and instruments are sanitary. Check that the adhesive does not contain formaldehyde, ammonia, or latex. Cyanoacrylate compounds can also release formaldehyde, and so it is best to avoid this too. Let them know ahead of time if you have any allergies or sensitivities. If you experience any redness, irritation, or swelling, have the eyelash extensions removed.

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Written by: Dr. Natalia Fong & Dr. Fabian Tai

Image Credit: Photo by Mihai Stefan

Top 5 Tips: Are You Using Your Contacts Properly?

Top 5 Tips: Are You Using Your Contacts Properly?

As days get longer, sunlight gets warmer, and excitement for summer vacation grows, many of us like to trade in our glasses for the convenience and look of contact lenses. Review our top 5 tips on how to use and care for your contact lenses properly!

  1. Invest in quality contact lenses that are safe for your eyes. There are countless brands of lenses, each with different sizes, shapes, moisture, breathability, stiffness, and ability to protect against UV. Did you know the power in your contact lens is rarely the same as your glasses? Only your optometrist can fit you with the best lenses that are crisp, comfortable, and healthy for your eyes’ unique features. Dry eyes with lens wear is not normal, and your doctor can explain different ways to prevent this.

  2. Clean and replace them as your doctor directs. Your eye needs to breathe! An old or dirty lens can starve your eye of oxygen, causing inflammation and discomfort. Worse, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Would you re-wear used socks or underwear? Well, same goes for your contacts! Depending on the brand, your doctor may recommend that you replace them daily, bi-weekly, or monthly. Some lenses must be rubbed and stored with a specific cleaning solution. If you use a storage case, wash it daily and swap it out for a new one every 3 months to prevent a build-up of bacteria.

  3. Never over-wear or sleep in your lenses. Contacts should not be worn for more than 12-14 hours per day, and it is always a good idea to take a break from them at least two days of the week. Sleeping – even napping – in your lenses significantly increases your risk of infection, which can lead to permanent vision loss in severe cases. For days when your eyes are red, feeling irritated, or when you are sick, you should not wear your contacts as it puts you at greater risk of infection and inflammation.  

  4. Always wear sunglasses over your lenses. You wouldn’t apply sunscreen just on your arms while leaving your back exposed, would you? While some (not all) contact lenses have UV protection, contact lenses only cover a small portion of the eye. This still leaves the rest exposed to UV damage. A stylish pair of high definition polarized sunglasses, such as Maui Jim®, cuts glare and ensures your eyes are fully protected.

  5. Avoid exposing your lenses to water. Water can be full of chemicals and bacteria that can adhere to the contact lens. Ideally, swimming with prescription goggles is best for your eyes. However, if you must, wear disposable contacts with goggles, then replace the lenses with a fresh pair immediately after swimming.

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Written by: Dr. Natalia Fong & Dr. Fabian Tai

Image Credit: Artem Bali

Are Our Eyes a Window Into Detecting Early Dementia?

Are Our Eyes a Window Into Detecting Early Dementia?

Did you know that over 170 systemic diseases can manifest in the eye? Just by looking into your eyes, your doctor can help detect things such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid conditions, autoimmune disease, anemia, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and cancer. With today’s rapidly growing technology, scientists may soon be adding Alzheimer’s Disease to that list.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, and 1 in 5 will suffer from it by age 85. Researchers have found that in AD, plaques of an extracellular deposit called amyloid-beta accumulate in the brain. Since the eye is an extension of the brain’s neural tissue, these plaques are also found to build up inside the eye’s retinal neurons.

A special type of low-cost and non-invasive retinal imaging called scanning laser ophthalmoscopy can be used to detect amyloid-beta in the eye. One study showed that this method detected 4.7x more amyloid-beta in retinas of patients with AD. It’s a promising prospect for early detection of AD before clinical signs, such as memory loss, begin to appear. This would open doors for early, preventative treatment.

Research still has a long way to go, however, since studies are still ongoing to determine how accurate this scan would be in diagnosing AD. We wonder how many other neurological conditions might also show up in the eye; perhaps this discovery is only the beginning!

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Written by: Dr. Natalia Fong & Dr. Fabian Tai

Image Credit: Victor Freitas

5 Tips For Taking Care Of Your Baby’s Eyes

5 Tips For Taking Care Of Your Baby’s Eyes

We always recommend a baby’s first eye exam to be at 6 months old. At this age, their visual skills are rapidly developing, and it is important to ensure they are seeing well so that they can learn and explore the world around them. A great question we always get is how we can do eye tests on someone who doesn’t know their 123s or ABCs. Of course, we modify our infant exams to incorporate fun lights, sounds, and toys to check eye alignment and their ability to follow moving objects. We also use patterns to check their ability to see detail, as babies will naturally pay attention to new and interesting patterns. Lastly, we use lights to look at their eye health in a very non-invasive way.

Here are my five tips for taking care of your baby’s eyes:

  1. Baby sunglasses are a must! Up to 80% of a person’s lifetime exposure to damaging UV radiation occurs before age 18. Protect your kid’s eyes as soon as possible, whenever they are outdoors at all times of the year.

  2. To aid visual development, keep reach-and-touch toys within your baby’s focus of about 8 to 12 inches, and help them explore different shapes and textures with their fingers. Remember daily tummy time as it is crucial for developing posture, vision, and motor coordination. Once mobile, give them the freedom to crawl and explore. Stay tuned for our next blog on primitive reflexes, which newborns have that set the stage for proper motor development!

  3. Watch your baby’s eyes carefully, checking to see if they recognize and follow objects or faces. If you ever see an eye turn in or out (i.e. crossed eyes), bring them to see an optometrist.

  4. Make eyelid hygiene a part of their daily routine. Removing debris and crusting will make their eyes more comfortable and reduce the risk of infection. Start with a soft washcloth dampened with warm water. With their eyes closed, gently wipe from the inner to outside corner of the eye.

  5. Did you know a baby’s brain doubles in size by their first birthday? DHA is an Omega-3 fat that is abundant in our brains and retina, and is important for neural, cognitive, and visual development. Ensure your baby gets enough by including enough DHA in your diet during breastfeeding, or by choosing a DHA-enriched baby formula.

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Written by Dr. Natalia Fong & Dr. Fabian Tai

Image Credit: Valeria Zoncoll

Top 5 Causes of a Twitchy Eye

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Top 5 Causes of a Twitchy Eye

Ever wonder why that pesky eyelid will randomly begin twitching for days to even weeks on end? Although eyelid twitches are fairly common and harmless, it is bothersome and is a sign that something has changed in your body which you should pay attention to. Here are the most frequent causes:

1. STRESS
Eyelid twitches will usually subside with stress relief. Make time for rest and relaxation, and consider reducing stress with exercise or meditation.

2. FATIGUE
Ensure that you are getting adequate amounts of uninterrupted sleep, and that you are taking breaks through out the day away from your phone or computer screen.

3. CAFFEINE
Try to cut back on drinking caffeinated tea or coffee.

4. EYE STRAIN
Consult your optometrist to check if blurry vision or fluctuating focus might be causing your eyelid to twitch.

5. DRY EYE
Make sure you are blinking regularly when looking at screens. Your optometrist can discuss options to help with irritation caused by dry eye

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Written by Dr. Natalia Fong & Dr. Fabian Tai
Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez

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Feeling The Winter Blues

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Feeling The Winter Blues

After all the holiday and new year festivities have ended, winter in Canada can sometimes seem to drag on forever. The lack of sunlight during this time of year can lead to fatigue, mood changes, and disruption to our sleep cycles. Sunlight is crucial since it helps our skin produce vitamin D, an essential nutrient for growth, bone health and immune system function. This sunshine vitamin can also help prevent age related macular degeneration, cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid problems. But what do we do when sunny days are far and few between?

Unfortunately, unless fortified, natural foods contain very little vitamin D. Rather, supplements containing vitamin D3 are best for nourishing your body. Studies show that, in the winter, 40% of Canadians do not have enough vitamin D in their blood. Supplements in the form of drops are recommended over pills, since they are easier to consume and are significantly easier to absorb by the body.

So how much is enough? Health Canada recommends 600 IU (international units) per day for ages 1-70, and 800 IU/day for adults over 70. Osteoporosis Canada recommends 400 - 1000 IU/day for ages 19-50, and 800 - 2000 IU/day for adults over 50. One should not exceed 4000 IU/day. To give you an idea of how much to take, our clinic offers a liquid supplement where one single drop gives you all the vitamin D3 you would need in a day!

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Written by Dr. Fabian Tai & Dr. Natalia Fong

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How much screen time is too much for my kids?

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How much screen time is too much for my kids?

This is the number one question that many parents ask us every day as we find ourselves surrounded by computers, phones, and tablets. The truth is that currently there is no single study that specifies the exact number of hours per day to be on an electronic device. However, the Canadian Association of Optometrists do recommend limiting electronic device use to a maximum of 1 hour per day for ages 2-5, and 2 hours per day for ages 5-18.  

What’s our advice? We always emphasize the importance of taking frequent breaks from screens (i.e. every half hour) and to encourage kids to engage more in outdoor activities. It really is quite that simple! Studies show that increased time spent outdoors reduces the risk of developing nearsightedness (myopia). How? Researchers suspect that sunlight and vitamin D levels affect eye length growth, and help the eye to grow at a normal rate. Just remember to protect their eyes from UV damage with sunglasses while they are outside. 

Excessive screen time can also cause digital eyestrain, resulting in blurred vision, headache, as well as burning and tired eyes. Although technology has helped us grow as a culture in so many creative ways, it’s vital to strike a balance in life and to appreciate the beauty and health benefits that simple things – like fresh air and the outdoors – have to offer.

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Test your eye health knowledge with these commonly asked questions!

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Test your eye health knowledge with these commonly asked questions!

Does sitting too close to the TV damage your vision?

Sitting closer than necessary may give you a headache, but it will not damage your vision. Parents of children and teens who habitually sit close to the TV should consider having their vision measured to screen for uncorrected refractive errors.

Does reading in the dark weaken your eyesight?

You may experience eye strain from reading in dim light, but it will not weaken your eyesight or harm the eyes. Reading in the dark is counterproductive because the parts of the eye that generate the clearest, most precise visual images require light in order to function.

Will using glasses or contacts weaken my eyesight? Will my eyes will eventually become dependent on them?

Vision correction (whether with glasses or contact lenses) focuses light rays entering the eye in order to create a crisp visual image on the retina. It is true that nearsighted children become more nearsighted up until age 30 or so, but don’t blame the eyewear! The focusing power of the eyes changes throughout life. That is one reason why routine eye exams are so helpful. Use of eyeglasses or contact lenses will not weaken eyesight or cause any focusing problem to worsen.

Can children with crossed eyes be treated?

The medical term for cross-eyed is strabismus (STRUH-BIZ-MUSS). There are several different causes for misalignment of the eyes, and a thorough eye exam is necessary to accurately diagnose the problem and its cause. Depending on the cause of the crookedness, some children with strabismus can be managed with prescription eyeglasses, whereas other kinds of strabismus require surgery. Prompt treatment is essential to protect the deviated eye from losing vision – a condition called amblyopia (lazy eye).

Is there anything you can do to prevent vision loss?

Most cases of vision loss can be treated. Depending on the specific disorder, vision loss can be halted, reversed, or even completely restored. See your doctor if you experience decreased vision, abrupt flashes of light, or the presence of a “curtain” that obscures your eyesight. Sudden, total loss of vision is a medical emergency – get immediate help.

Will using a nightlight in your child’s room contribute to nearsightedness?

Some researchers have suggested that use of nightlights may contribute to nearsightedness (myopia); however, there is not enough evidence to support this claim. Keeping a nightlight on in your baby’s room may actually help stimulate the infant’s visual development and eye coordination skills when they are awake.

Do YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT EYE CARE YOU WOULD LIKE ANSWERED?

We'd be happy to answer your eye care questions, e-mail us at info@drfabiantai.com

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