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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