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All Posts in Category: Eye Conditions

Back to School

With kids already back in school, it’s easy to get lost in the excitement. We’re buying new clothes, backpacks, books and school supplies to make sure our kids are completely prepared for school. However what often slips the minds of many parents is the importance of an annual eye exam!

Did you know that 80% of a child’s learning in school is done visually? Eye and vision health affect every child’s learning. In fact, many perceived learning disabilities, attention issues and behavioural problems are often vision problems in disguise. Undiagnosed vision problems can affect a child’s performance not only in the classroom, but also in sports and can cause your child to struggle both academically and socially.

But aren’t vision screenings at school good enough?

This is a question we hear a lot. Unfortunately vision screenings performed by a school nurse or by your child’s pediatrician is not equivalent to a comprehensive eye exam. These vision screenings are designed to alert parents to the possibility of a potential vision problem. However they should not replace a proper visit to an eye doctor. Vision screenings are helpful, but they can, and often do, miss serious vision-related problems that an eye doctor would catch.

Because eye exams for children are so important, OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) covers a yearly comprehensive eye exam for every child in Ontario. Experts recommend having an infant’s first eye exam between 6 and 9 months of age and then yearly afterwards in order to ensure proper development and optimal learning. There are many objective measurements that allow us to check the vision and health of your child’s eyes. They do not need to be able to communicate with us during the exam.

So this year when you’re checking off all the things you need to get your kids while they’re back in school, make sure you have them visit the eye doctor!

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Four Foods for Healthy Eyes

4 Foods for Healthy Eyes

Chances are you have been told to eat more carrots because they’re good for your eyes. Well, thank your mom because she was on to something.

There are many different foods for healthy eyes, and they are great to keep in mind when trying to balance your nutrition. Many studies link the relationship of a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of diseases. So here are four foods for healthy eyes to add to your dinner plate.

 

Carrots and Vitamin A for Eye HealthCarrots

What makes carrots sought-after for eye health is that they are high in rhodopsin and beta-carotene (which is converted by the body into vitamin A). Vitamin A and rhodopsin help support a healthy retina, especially the components associated with low light and color vision. Carrots also contain lots of antioxidants and other carotanoids. All these positive components may reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration, and may actually slow down the progression of the disease in patients who have already developed it.

 

Kiwi for Healthy EyesKiwis

Vitamin C is a nutrient powerhouse for our wellbeing. It is an antioxidant commonly found in fruits and vegetables. It’s been shown to improve many aspects of our bodies, including hair, skin and nails, but it also plays a major role in our visual health. When incorporated in your daily diet, Vitamin C has been shown to lower the risk of developing cataracts and slowing the progression of macular degeneration when it is taken in combination with other essential nutrients.

Surprisingly, the fruit that has the highest concentration of Vitamin C is the kiwi. Other good sources of Vitamin C are oranges, strawberries, orange/red peppers and broccoli.

 

Omega-3 Oil for Eye HealthFish

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that maintain the integrity of our nervous system. They are also extremely important for optimal visual development and retinal function. Studies have shown that two types of Omega-3s are important to the visual system: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Low levels of both have been associated with eye diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinopathy of prematurity. Additionally, Omega-3 deficiency is also linked to dry eye disease.

Both EPA and DHA are contained in fatty fish, like salmon and tuna. They can also be taken as supplements and found in lower amounts in foods like nuts, flaxseeds and vegetable oils.

 

Fruits Vegetables for Eye HealthFruits & Veg &…Egg Yolks

While fruits and vegetables may be an obvious choice for a healthy diet, egg yolks may be a surprising choice. What they all contain are two specific carotenoids, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These carotenoids help with multiple functions in the eye, like helping to filter harmful, high-energy blue light (read more about Bad Blue Light). They also act as antioxidants that help support a healthy retina and play a role in the prevention of cataract formation. They may also help prevent macular degeneration.

Unfortunately, our bodies are not able to produce the Lutein and Zeaxanthin that we need, which means it’s important to get them from the foods that we eat. Vegetables like spinach, kale, turnips, and collard greens are great options, as are fruits like oranges and papayas. And egg yolks.

 

As Optometrists, we help patients deal with the debilitating nature of vision loss, and often discovered too late. We are passionate about educating our patients on the importance of a health lifestyle and balanced diet because this has significant impact on the visual system. So grab a kiwi and visit us for a consultation.

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The Light Spectrum and Blue Light

Digital Eye Strain: Your Smartphone and Bad Blue Light

Have you wondered if computers, tablets, or smart phones can damage your eyes?

New research suggests that extended use of digital devices like smart phones increases our exposure to “Bad Blue Light” that can be harmful to our eyes.

What is Bad Blue Light?

Blue light wavelengths between 415-455 nanometers – a wavelength range found to be detrimental to our eyes. Sources that emit higher portions of “Bad Blue Light” include Daylight, Cool White LED screens, and Compact Fluorescent light bulbs. High-resolution computer screens and smart phones have been found to emit up to 30% blue light.

Exposure to Bad Blue Light

A study by the American Association of Optometry explored the relevance of this to our current lifestyles. It found that 67% of adults spend more than 7 hours a day on their computer or cell phone, and 65% of people reported experiencing symptoms of digital eyestrain.

Most surprising was that the study found the most vulnerable age group is children. Nowadays, children are exposed to digital devices from a much earlier age than previous generations. However, young children have not yet built up the natural crystalline lens pigment that would otherwise help protect them from blue light damage.

Blue Light Filters and Digital Devices

How can you help reduce your exposure to blue light?

Blue light filters.

New lenses have been specially designed to block these harmful wavelengths from entering the eye and causing damage. These filters are especially useful for people who spend their workday in front of a computer or who experience eyestrain from using digital devices for extended periods of time.

The Balance of Blue Light Exposure

Interestingly, other studies have found that some level of blue light wavelength absorption is important to regulating our circadian (sleep/wake) cycle; what that exact level is still being studied. Therefore, we should aim for a balance of how much blue light we expose ourselves to and protect ourselves from excessive and prolonged exposure that is proven to be harmful.

In the meanwhile, computer-users should stick to regular eye exams to help prevent and manage any eye conditions.

Want recommendations to fit your lifestyle? Book an eye exam and we can help ensure you’re on the path to eye health.

Blue light infographic

Image: Essilor Canada

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