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Children’s Eyes/Behavioural Optometry
Children’s Eyes/Behavioural Optometry
At Rangiora Eyecare, we have a number of Optometrists who love seeing children, as well as one fully accredited paediatric Optometrist (Catherine Small) in order to offer your child the very best care.
Even though we have five senses, the eyes are arguably the most important as we perceive 80% of all impressions by means of sight. Therefore, clear vision is absolutely crucial in a child’s development. Poor eyesight makes learning very difficult and can often hinder progress in reading and writing at school, but also affect their self esteem and behaviour. We believe all children should have regular eye tests from the age of 3 as sometimes intervention is required immediately to ensure both eyes are developing equally and to their full potential.
Research has shown that 1 in 4 school-aged children have an undiagnosed vision problem that interferes with their learning and sporting abilities which is often easily diagnosed and treated at an eye examination.
Many children will not complain of symptoms, as they have never known any different. This is why we strongly encourage all children to have their eyes tested before they start school, to give them the best possible head start.
Things to look out for as a parent that may indicate your child may have a vision problem are:
One eye drifting in or out
Dislike and lack of concentration on near tasks
Holding material very close
Adopting an abnormal head position to read
Closing one eye to focus
Excessive blinking or rubbing of the eyes
Taking a long time to complete reading comprehension tasks
Using a finger to track along the page when reading
Complaints of words jumping around on the page.
At Rangiora Eyecare, we are proud to be a part of Enable New Zealand Children’s spectacle subsidy. This means that if your child under 16 years of age has a current high health user card, or the parent or child has a valid community services card, your child may be eligible for subsidised eye examinations and glasses.
Myopia, or more commonly known as ‘short-sightedness’ is when the eyeball grows too quickly in childhood, or starts growing again in adulthood. This results in blurry vision and trouble focussing in the distance. The world is becoming increasingly short-sighted, with a prediction that by 2050, half of the world will be myopic. While myopia can be easily managed with corrective lenses, contact lenses or surgery, this does not prevent the eyes from becoming worse, and the associated issues that high levels of myopia can bring. The more short-sighted you are, the more at risk you are of developing retinal tears or detachments, glaucoma, cataracts and myopic macular degeneration, all of which can lead to blindness.
There are a number of ways to help prevent the progression of myopia and we believe that simply correcting the refractive error without considering preventative measures is not providing the highest level of care. Our Optometrists are passionate about staying up-to-date with the latest research and professional development in order to provide the most effective treatment options. If you or your child are at risk of progressing myopia, treatment options will be discussed at your eye examination to determine the best plan for you. These include specialty contact lenses, specially designed glasses lenses and eyedrops, often with a combination being most effective.
The development of myopia has been linked to spending more time on close work such as reading, homework or screen-time. It is important that children are not spending more than three hours a day in addition to school time on close work. Especially when working on screens, it is important to take regular breaks by following the 20-20-20 rule – Take a break every 20 minutes by looking at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
There is compelling evidence to suggest exposure to outdoor light is beneficial in slowing the onset and progression of myopia. Therefore, it is recommended that children are spending at least 90 minutes a day outdoors. However, UV protection is still important so you should wear sunglasses and a hat.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness is New Zealand and the risk of developing it increases with age. Approximately 2% of New Zealanders over the age of 40 years are affected by Glaucoma, while more than 10% aged 80 years or over have the condition. Glaucoma is a group of related eye conditions that cause gradual damage to the optic nerve which leads to irreversible vision loss. Glaucoma is often known as the ‘silent theif of sight’, as generally there are no symptoms, particularly in the early stages of the disease. In fact, you have to lose almost half of your vision before you will notice it. Therefore, the only way to detect Glaucoma early is by having regular comprehensive eye examinations.
Prevention is key, which is why every patient who is seen by one of our highly trained Optometrists will under-go a series of tests to determine their risk of developing glaucoma. This includes measuring the pressure of the eyes, taking a family history and having a detailed look at the optic nerve. Sometimes further investigation is required for those that are determined to be more at risk. This includes a visual field assessment which tests the function of the optic nerve, as well as an ocular coherence tomography scan (OCT) which assess the structure of the optic nerve. This allows us to detect glaucoma as early as possible.
If treatment is initiated early, vision loss can be prevented and you can continue living life doing all of the things you enjoy. The primary treatments of Glaucoma are aimed at lowering the pressure inside the eyes in an attempt to prevent further vision loss which can often be achieved with eyedrops. Often reserved for the more advanced cases of Glaucoma, there are also laser and surgical treatments. The clinical team at Rangiora Eyecare are at the forefront of optometric glaucoma management and have undergone specialist training in order to prescribe eye pressure lowering eyedrops. They work closely with local Ophthalmologists in both the private and public sector, in order to make a diagnosis and management plan tailored to your specific needs.
Currently, our team has two Optometrists qualified as Glaucoma prescribers, Kimberley Shea and Gavin Lam. Click here to book an appointment today.
Dry eye is a very common eye condition, estimated to affect 1/3 of the population. It is essentially chronic dryness of the ocular surface which can be caused by a deficiency in the aqueous layer which is the thick watery layer in the tears that provides protection and nutrients to the cornea, the lipid layer which is the oily component that provides lubrication and prevents evaporation of the tears, or more commonly a combination of both. This often leads to inflammation which can cause red, burning, stinging, scratchy eyes. This can cause fluctuations in vision, make working on a screen for extended periods of time difficult, and render contact lens wear almost impossible.
There are many things which can make you more susceptible to dry eyes, such as increasing age, female gender, autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, certain medications such as the contraceptive pill, dusty, dirty work conditions, air conditioning as well as certain hobbies.
Treatments for dry eye include lubricating eye drops, hot compresses and massage, antibiotic and/or anti-inflammatory eyedrops, as well as low-dose oral antibiotics. These can all help in restoring the eyes natural balance and break the inflammatory cycle, leading to more comfortable eyes. Eating plenty of omega 3’s can also naturally support a healthy tear film.
It is essential that the underlying cause of dry eye is determined, which our expert Optometrists are able to identify. This will then help them formulate a treatment plan specific to your needs so that the frustrating affects of dry eye do not compromise your lifestyle.
We have a large team of five therapeutically qualified Optometrists which means they can all prescribe eye drops and treat acute eye conditions. We can often see you on the same day to ensure your condition is treated timely and effectively. Some of the more common eye conditions we treat are:
Eye infections: Red, sore, gunky eyes can often indicate an infection such as bacterial, viral or fungal conjunctivitis in which our Optometrists are able to diagnose and treat with appropriate prescription eyedrops.
Allergic conjunctivitis: Allergies can sometimes mimic eye infections and therefore it is important you see an Optometrist to get a correct diagnosis. Allergic eye conditions are often very responsive to treatment, once you have been given the correct prescription eye drops.
Contact lens related red eyes: Contact lens related red eyes can be caused by a number of conditions, ranging from mild dry eyes to sight threatening infections. If you experience any discomfort in contact lenses, you should see your optometrist to identify the cause. These conditions rarely ‘fix themselves’ and it can often be as simple as some eyedrops, a refit of your contact lenses or changes in solutions that you are using.
Foreign body removals: We have the tools and expertise to carry out foreign body removals. The sooner these can be dealt with the better, and with Rangiora being 40 minutes away from the closest hospital, this is not always an option, so we are more than happy to see you at our Rangiora or Kaiapoi clinic. We are also ACC accredited.
Flashes and floaters: While a sudden onset of flashing lights or floaty spots in your vision can sometimes be normal, it can also be a symptom of a retinal tear or retinal detachment which is an ocular emergency as it can be sight threatening. Our optometrists are very experienced in assessing your retina for any signs of these conditions and can arrange a referral to a specialist on the same day if required. Being the only optometry practice in North Canterbury with a state-of-the-art ultrawide confocal retinal scanner, we are able to capture more of your retina than ever before, ensuring the most thorough eye health examination possible.