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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!


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.


Written by Dr. Natalia Fong & Dr. Fabian Tai

Image Credit: Valeria Zoncoll

Top 5 Causes of a Twitchy Eye


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:

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

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.

Try to cut back on drinking caffeinated tea or coffee.

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

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


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


How much screen time is too much for my kids?


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.