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Category: Blog

Doctor holding lense in it's case

PanOptix – Trifocal Intraocular Lens

Doctor holding lense in it's caseAs people age, blurry vision because of cloudiness in the natural lens is extremely common. As the natural lens becomes cloudy, it is known as a cataract. Surgical removal of cataracts is one of the most common operations in the world. The cloudy natural lens is replaced with a clear acrylic lens and vision is restored

Until recently, patients needed to pick the distance at which they wanted the best vision without glasses. Either distance or near reading vision without glasses was the only option. All other distances needed glasses to see clearly.

With the advent of multifocal intraocular lenses several years ago, patients have had the ability to be less dependent on glasses for a wider range of distances. These lenses are not perfect but dramatically reduce the need for constant glasses wear. Earlier models of these lenses were associated with glare at night, reduced vision in dim light, and reduced vision at computer distances.

In Europe, over the past several years a new “Trifocal” lens design was introduced by Alcon Laboratories. In clinical trials, the success rate was high. Over 99% of patients are satisfied with this new technology. Although the three main problems of glare, dim light, and computer-distance vision are still problems with this lens, the percentage and degree of severity are lessened. Because of these successes, the US Food and Drug Administration approved this lens in the United States in 2019.

The PanOptix® lens utilizes the Alcon Acrysof intraocular lens platform, but with a new proprietary optical technology known as “Enlighten”. This advanced trifocal technology design optimizes intermediate (computer) vision without compromising exceptional near (reading) and distance vision.
Over 88% of light is transmitted through the lens. With only about 12% of light lost in transmission, better vision in lower light is accomplished. Halos around lights at night are still a concern but are fainter and less bothersome than with other lenses.

Although the PanOptix® lens doesn’t fully eliminate the need for glasses, over 90% of patients can see nearly 20/20 at all ranges of vision. This is a remarkable improvement over previous designs. Patients interested in decreasing their need for glasses at many ranges of vision and who can tolerate some degrees of imperfect vision should consider investigating this lens. Modern cataract surgery is safe and provides many more options for improved vision, patients should carefully consider their options in this “once in a lifetime” decision.

Image of eye with a laser

Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery – Femtosecond Laser

Image of eye with a laser

As people age, blurry vision because of cloudiness in the natural lens is extremely common. As the natural lens becomes cloudy, it is known as a cataract. Surgical removal of cataracts is one of the most common operations in the world. The cloudy natural lens is replaced with a clear acrylic lens and vision is restored.

In recent years, femtosecond laser technology has added a new level and safety to modern cataract surgery. Femtosecond laser technology systems use a neodymium 1053nm (near-infrared) wavelength light. This feature allows the light to be focused at a 3 microns spot size and accurate within 5 microns at the tissue it is focused. The critical aspect of femtosecond laser technology is the speed at which the light is fired. The focused ultrashort pulses eliminate the collateral damage of surrounding tissues and heat generation associated with slower excimer lasers used in LASIK.

As the laser energy is absorbed by the eye a “bubble” of ionized tissue is formed that cleaves the tissue precisely. This process is known as photodisruption – converting laser energy to mechanical cutting energy. Femtosecond laser technology virtually eliminates collateral damage and can be used to cut tissue on a microscopic scale.

A femtosecond laser makes precise cuts that a manual “scalpel blade” can’t come close to producing. This adds an extra layer of safety and accuracy to the cataract procedure. The incision is so precise that it can be used to reduce corneal astigmatism thereby giving better postoperative vision without glasses. The incisions that the femtosecond laser makes in the cataract lens itself allow the intraocular lens to be well centered. This is extremely important with lifestyle multifocal and high astigmatism correcting lenses.

Color bars

Color Blindness

Color barsWhen we see color, our eyes perceive various wavelengths of light. Our eyes contain two types of cells or photoreceptors that allow us to process light and distinguish colors. There are two types of photoreceptors: rods and cones. Rods detect different light and dark sensitivities while cones detect colors when light is present. This explains why things look different in the dark. Each wavelength of light displays a different shade of color, reds have the longest wavelengths while blues have the shortest.

Color blindness, an often-misunderstood condition, means your eyes don’t see color the way they should. Though many people commonly associate the phrase color blindness with only seeing shades of black and white, that specific type of color blindness is rare. In fact, most patients with color blindness do see color, but in a much narrower range. So what exactly is color blindness?

What is color blindness?

Color blindness, also known as color vision deficiency, is a condition that affects the way you see color. Patients with color blindness can see colors, but their deficiency makes it hard to distinguish between certain colors or may cause them to see neutral or gray where color appears. There are various degrees of color blindness but the most fall into the two main types of color vision deficiency: red-green color blindness or blue-yellow color blindness.

Color blindness is often a hereditary condition, commonly passed down from mother to son due to a common x-linked recessive gene. In cases of inherited color blindness, both eyes are affected. This condition may also occur as a result of disease or injury to the eye that damages your optic nerve or your retina but may only affect your eyes differently and worsen over time.

Symptoms and Signs

The signs and symptoms can vary depending on the type of color vision deficiency you have. In cases where color vision is inherited, the signs may not be obvious until someone mentions it as you have always seen colors a certain way. However, in cases where color blindness is acquired later in life, you may notice a shift in the way you see colors.

Common symptoms of color blindness can include having trouble distinguishing colors and the inability to tell the difference in shades of the same color. In severe cases, a person may not see any color at all and instead see in shades of gray, this type of color blindness is known as achromatopsia.

Diagnosis

If you suspect you or your child may have a color vision deficiency, your optometrist can help with a comprehensive eye exam and a simple color vision test. Typically, the test designed to diagnose patients with color blindness consists of the patient distinguishing patterns from colored dots. Patients with a color vision deficiency will have a hard time finding the shape or number in these tests and may not see a pattern at all.

Treatment

There is no treatment cure for patients diagnosed with a color vision deficiency. However, various symptom management options can help patients to distinguish colors properly. Many people diagnosed with this condition learn to adapt without any significant difficulties. Recently, color correcting lenses have been developed and have shown great success in helping patients to see color. However, these lenses may not work on all types of color blindness.

Color blindness can be frustrating, but we are here to help you or your loved one learn to adapt and take hold of their condition. For more information on color blindness or to schedule an appointment, contact Claris Eye Care today.

Exam room

National Glaucoma Awareness Month

Exam roomJanuary is recognized as National Glaucoma Awareness Month and during this month we join optometrists around the nation in spreading awareness about this particular ocular disease. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss, affecting over 3 million people within the United States alone.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects the optic nerve within your eye and its ability to function properly. Your optic nerve is responsible for transmitting visual information from your eyes to your brain. Glaucoma can be difficult as most patients do not experience any symptoms due to the gradual loss of vision. This disease progresses slowly beginning with the peripheral vision, making most unaware until their central vision becomes affected. It is estimated that as much as 40% of your vision can be lost before you notice any significant signs.

This condition is often caused by an increase in pressure within your eye. The pressure is caused by a buildup of fluid naturally made within your eyes. Normally, the fluid can drain easily through your cornea and iris, however, if these drains become blocked or obstructed, the pressure will increase. Eventually, this increased pressure damages your optic nerve tissue and affects your vision, and can lead to eventual blindness if left untreated. Unfortunately, vision loss caused by glaucoma is permanent and cannot be reversed.

As stated above the most common cause of glaucoma is a build-up of pressure within your eyes. Sometimes the increase of pressure is due to an unknown cause, but doctors do believe there are certain risk factors such as age, family history, history of trauma or injury to the eye, and certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, poor circulation, and diabetes.

Symptoms

There are five major types of glaucoma and the symptoms will vary depending on the type with which you are diagnosed.

Open-Angle Glaucoma
Open-angle glaucoma, also known as chronic glaucoma, is the most common type of glaucoma diagnosed annually. There are no signs or symptoms aside from gradual vision loss. For that reason, it is important to undergo annual comprehensive eye exams so that your optometrist can monitor your vision and note any changes.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Angle-closure glaucoma, also known as acute glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma, occurs when fluid within your eye becomes suddenly blocked resulting in a rapid buildup of pressure within the eye. This type of glaucoma is considered a medical emergency. Symptoms associated with angle-closure glaucoma may include severe eye pain, nausea, vomiting, red eyes, sudden blurred vision or vision disturbances, or seeing halos or colored rings around objects.

Congenital Glaucoma
Children born with a defect in the angle of their eyes may prevent proper fluid drainage within the eye leading to a type of glaucoma known as congenital glaucoma. Symptoms may include cloudy eyes, tearing, and sensitivity to light. This type of glaucoma can be genetic and be passed down in families.

Secondary Glaucoma
Glaucoma as a result of another medical condition such as cataracts or eye tumors is known as secondary glaucoma. Certain medications may also raise the risk of developing this type of glaucoma.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma
In some cases, people without an increase in eye pressure may damage their optic nerve and develop glaucoma. The exact cause may be unknown, however, certain risk factors such as poor circulation or high blood pressure may be a factor in this type of glaucoma.

Treatment

To diagnose your condition, your doctor will perform a comprehensive eye examination and check for signs of deterioration or loss of optic nerve tissue. There is no cure for glaucoma so once confirmed, treatment will focus on slowing the progression of glaucoma to prevent any additional vision loss.

Typically, treatment begins with prescription eye drops or medication formulated to help reduce pressure within the eye. If more advanced treatment is necessary, surgery can be performed to ensure clear drainage paths to prevent pressure buildup. In cases of angle-closure glaucoma, immediate medical treatment is necessary to reduce pressure as quickly as possible. If medication is efficient, a laser procedure may be performed to allow the fluid to drain freely and reduce pressure.

The Importance of Eye Exams

Glaucoma cannot be prevented and often there are no symptoms, so early detection is vital to preventing permanent vision loss. Regular comprehensive eye exams can help your doctor note any changes in your vision or damage to your optic nerves. Early diagnosis will help the effectiveness of treatment. Patients who have a family history of glaucoma or pre-existing conditions are at an increased risk and should be screened annually.

For more information on glaucoma or to schedule an appointment, contact Claris Eye Care today.

Image of woman in the snow

Preventing Dry Eye This Winter

Image of woman in the snowIt’s that time of year where cold temperatures, dry outdoor air, and chilling wind can cause you to notice an uncomfortable feeling of dry eyes. During winter, patients frequently ask about how to prevent dry and irritated eyes. Dry eyes often occur during winter and spring as the seasonal changes cause a shift in the humidity of the air outside causing dry and irritated eyes. While we can’t change the weather, we can offer you some advice to help you take care of your eyes this winter.

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye, also known as ocular surface disease, is a common condition that occurs when your eyes do not produce enough of the right kind of lubrication. Your tears are a mixture of water, fatty oils, and mucus, and this complex mixture maintains a healthy surface on your eyes to provide you with clear vision.

If you are experiencing dry eyes, we recommend speaking with your optometrist before seeking treatment. Though seasonal changes can affect your eyes during the spring and winter, your dry eyes may also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Symptoms

The symptoms of dry eye may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty with contacts
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye redness
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Mucus around the eyes
  • A stinging, burning, itching, or scratching feeling in the eye
  • Watery eyes

Treatment

Artificial tears or eye drops can be bought over the counter or prescribed and are ideal for restoring moisture to your eyes. Ask your optometrist about which products may be right for your condition.

Prevention

We recommend using these preventative measures to help you avoid dry eyes this winter.

  • Avoid sleeping or sitting directly under or in front of vents
  • Blink often
  • Protect your eyes outside from harsh winds and UV lights with a wide-brimmed hat or sunglasses
  • Remember to give your eyes a break every 20 minutes while working on your computer
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Use a humidifier indoors to restore moisture into the air

Suffering from dry eyes during this holiday season can be frustrating. If these treatment options and prevention tips do not offer you relief, schedule an appointment today. Regardless of the cause, we are happy to help relieve your symptoms of dry eyes or any other vision health problems you may be experiencing. For more information about winter dry eyes and treatment, contact Claris Eye Care today.

Person checking their blood sugar

How Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision

Person checking their blood sugarDid you know that over 30 million people in the United States are currently diagnosed with diabetes? There is also a large portion of the population that doesn’t know that they have diabetes or prediabetes. As the number rises in our country, spreading awareness about diabetes is vital to the prevention and management of this disease. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and we would like to take time this month to educate our community on the effect diabetes can have on your vision and ways to lower your risk for developing diabetic-related eye conditions.

People who unknowingly have prediabetes or diabetes may miss early symptoms for certain eye conditions. Some conditions may not show signs until they are too severe to ignore, though common warning signs may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots
  • Flashes of light
  • Poor night vision
  • Seeing floaters

If left untreated or if uncontrolled, diabetes, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure can affect the lenses of your eyes causing them to swell and further impact your vision which can lead to blindness. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause damage to your eyes and lead to the following eye conditions.

Blurry Vision

Blurred vision is a common sign that diabetes is not under control. High blood sugar levels can cause the lenses in your eyes to swell resulting in blurred vision. Diabetic patients should not purchase new glasses or contacts without an eye examination to ensure swelling is not the cause of the changes in their vision. It is important to have your blood sugar in a normal range for at least two months so that the swelling can dissipate, and an accurate prescription can be given.

Cataracts

When your vision becomes cloudy or you experience difficulty focusing, it may be signs of a cataract. With cataracts, the lens of your eye is clouded by debris altering your vision. This is a common condition that can occur in people without diabetes as well. However, patients with uncontrolled diabetes are at a higher risk of developing cataracts earlier and progressing faster. Surgery is often the recommended treatment option for cataracts.

Glaucoma

With glaucoma, pressure builds up within your eye and doesn’t drain damaging nerves and blood vessels resulting in vision changes. There are many different forms of glaucoma, with open-angle glaucoma being the most common. Symptoms may not always be present but can include headaches, blurred vision, watery eyes, halos, and potential vision loss. Treatment options include medication, medicated eye drops, laser eye, and surgical treatments.

Steps to lower your risk

Though diabetes can increase your risk for various health conditions (including your vision), there are many steps you can take to lower your risk, preserve your vision, and prevent or control these conditions. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Routine examinations Once or twice a year, it is highly recommended that you visit your eye doctor for a detailed check-up. Diabetic eye diseases in their early stages usually don’t have any symptoms, but comprehensive and dilated eye exams can help your doctor monitor your condition and detect symptoms early. This is important so that you can begin treatment as soon as possible if signs do appear.
2. Control your blood sugar High blood sugar can affect the shape of your eye’s lens, causing blurred vision until your levels normalize. Routinely check your blood sugar levels and take appropriate measures to manage them as necessary.
3. Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol High blood pressure and cholesterol can also put you at risk for eye disease and vision loss. Keep a blood pressure monitor nearby and check your blood pressure every day. Keep your diet healthy so your cholesterol levels remain under control. Managing both will protect and preserve your vision while also benefiting your overall health.
4. Stop using tobacco If you smoke, your risk for diabetic retinopathy and other diabetic-related eye diseases can significantly increase. Quit smoking and using tobacco products to better your health and reduce your risk.
5. Exercise regularly At the end of the day, your physical fitness level affects your health, including your vision health. It keeps the blood rushing in veins and increases the concentration of more capillaries for blood supply around the area. It’s not only good for the eyes but also your overall health and it helps you manage your weight which is helpful for a diabetic patient.

For more information on how diabetes can affect your vision and how we can help or to schedule an appointment, please contact Claris Eye Care.

Classroom with kids and teacher

Your Diet and Your Eyes

Grocery storeIt’s no secret that a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet can significantly improve your life by boosting energy levels, maintaining a healthy weight, and lowering the risk of developing a variety of health conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. The foods you eat and the supplements you take do affect your overall health and this includes the health of your eyes! Research shows that certain vitamins and nutrients can promote eye health, reduce your risk, and even delay the progression of certain vision conditions.

When you make healthy dietary choices, you can lower your risk for cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and other sight-threatening conditions. Learn how to eat smart with your vision in mind.

Look for these nutrients!

Essential Fatty Acids

These fats are essential to the human body and help to fuel cells and boost your immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important to maintaining proper visual development and retinal function. Tuna, mackerel, salmon, and other fish are excellent sources of omega 3. Nuts, seeds, and legumes are other great sources. We recommend cashews, lentils, and walnuts for our nutty choices!

Lutein & Zeaxanthin

These two nutrients are important to reducing your risk of cataracts and AMD and can be found in most leafy green vegetables as well as eggs.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables and is shown to slow the progression of AMD and the loss of visual acuity. Common sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruit.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E works hard to protect your eyes from free radicals which are known to break down healthy tissue within the eyes. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, whole grains, eggs, and sweet potatoes.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in producing melanin and protecting your eyes from the damaging effects of UV rays and light. Red meats, pork, seafood, tofu, and beans are excellent sources of zinc.

Adding these nutrients into your diet through foods and supplements can significantly improve your eye health. It is often said that you are what you eat, but we argue that what you see is a reflection of what you eat. Protect your vision and eye health by enjoying a varied diet. You can also boost your vision health by staying hydrated and lowering your intake of processed foods and sodium.

For more information on your diet and how it affects your vision or to schedule an appointment, please contact Claris Eye Care today.

Vision and Learning

Vision and Learning

Classroom with kids and teacherVision plays an important role in our ability to learn. Even the most gifted of students can struggle academically if they are unable to see the whiteboard or read close work. As we begin the new school year, we want to remind our patients how important it is, especially for children, to be examined regularly.

Vision and Learning

Eyesight and learning are closely related, and clear vision is important to ensuring your child can get the most out of their education. Though many schools provide vision screenings, these tests typically only test distance vision while a majority of learning is completed within reading distance. Various vision conditions can be missed with vision screenings leading to a child being misdiagnosed with a learning disability or attention problem. One in four children who struggle with reading and learning have an undiagnosed vision condition.

As stated above, a vast majority of 80% of classroom learning is processed visually, so any vision problems can have a significant impact on your child’s education. In fact, over 60% of “problem learners” have an undiagnosed vision condition.

It is important to note that learning-related vision problems are not learning disabilities. Learning disabilities do not often include learning problems that are primarily due to visual, hearing, or motor disabilities. However, a child can have a learning disability, a learning-related vision problem, or both. Any vision problems that have the potential to affect academic performance are considered learning-related vision problems. Common vision conditions that may affect a patient’s ability to learn include refractive errors, eye functions, and visual processing disorders.

Learning-Related Vision Problems

The process of seeing begins with the eyes and ends with the brain. Learning problems related to vision are categorized into three types.

  • Refractive Errors – Refractive errors refer to a group of eye conditions that can affect the way light is bent. Common refractive errors include farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism which can affect your child’s visual acuity.
  • Eye Functionality Conditions – Eye functionality conditions refer to how well the eyes work together to focus, focus to view objects at a distance, and complete fine movements which can be important to reading.
  • Perceptual Vision Dysfunctions – Perceptual vision problems rely on the brain for information as a large part of learning is understanding what is being seen and comparing it to information already stored within the brain. Word recognition and the ability to form mental pictures in relation to words are an example of visual perception.

Symptoms

Pay attention to any clear behavior signs from your child such as an inability to focus during close work, complaining of discomfort, or not being able to focus while reading. Common signs of learning-related vision problems may include:

  • Double or blurred vision
  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Placing a book or close work up to the face
  • Repeating, confusing, or omitting words
  • Rubbing the eyes
  • Underdeveloped hand-eye coordination

Diagnosis

A comprehensive eye exam can help to determine if there are any underlying vision conditions causing confusion and difficulty at school. However, a more extensive exam by an optometrist who specializes in learning-related vision problems may help to determine any perceptual or functionality issues that are affecting your child’s learning.

Treatment Options

Learning-related vision problems can be treated through prescription eyewear or vision therapy. Corrective lenses or contacts can be worn at all times or just for certain tasks such as schoolwork or reading. Follow your optometrist’s instructions and be patients as it will take time to adjust to the eyewear. Vision therapy can help with functioning problems and help train the eyes to work together more efficiently. Vision therapy is a specialized service that may not be available at all offices, however, your optometrist will be able to make a referral if necessary.

If you are concerned about you or your child’s performance in school, work, or sports, an eye exam can help determine the underlying cause. For more information on the relationship between vision and learning or to schedule an appointment, please contact Claris Eye Care today.

Woman with no glasses

Amblyopia

Woman with no glassesAmblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a vision development disorder where one eye fails to achieve normal visual acuity or clarity, even with the help of prescription glasses or contact lenses.

This condition often develops during infancy and early childhood. It generally only affects one eye but can occur in both. If detected early, reduced vision or vision loss can be avoided.

What is Amblyopia?

Despite the common name, amblyopia is not a lazy eye. Amblyopia is a developmental vision condition where there is significantly reduced vision in one eye compared to the other. This condition affects the brain’s ability to use both eyes together as a team, causing the brain to actively ignore the information coming from the weaker or amblyopic eye.

Amblyopia can lead to poor visual acuity, poor depth perception, and difficulty focusing your eyes with daily tasks such as reading or driving.

Causes

Amblyopia prevents a patient from using both eyes properly and often occurs due to one of three reasons:

  • Strabismus – The most common cause of amblyopia is strabismus or a misalignment of the eye. To prevent symptoms such as double vision caused by strabismus, the brain begins to ignore the information gathered from the weaker eye. This type is known as strabismic amblyopia. If you notice your child has crossed eyes or an apparent misalignment, schedule an appointment with a pediatric eye doctor for a confirmed diagnosis.
  • Unequal refractive errors – Amblyopia can also be caused by an unequal refractive error between the two eyes despite proper alignment. One eye may have a significant difference in nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism that the other eye does not. This type of amblyopia is known as refractive amblyopia.
  • Vision obstruction – This type of amblyopia known as deprivation amblyopia, occurs when vision is obstructed or hindered during development. This can be the result of congenital cataracts or droopy eyelids that may require surgery for treatment.

Symptoms

Amblyopia is typically associated with vision development and as such often occurs during infancy or early childhood. The primary symptom of amblyopia is a loss of vision in one eye, which can be difficult to spot in young children. For this reason, it is important that children have an eye exam at the age of 6 months, 3 years old, and before starting school. This allows your doctor to ensure their vision is developing properly and that both eyes are working together as a team.

Since the condition commonly affects only one eye, children may consistently bump into objects on the affected side, favor one side more than the other, and fail to notice objects on the weaker side.

In some cases, such as strabismic amblyopia, a misalignment of the eyes will be present. However, symptoms may not always be obvious.

Treatment Options

Amblyopia is treatable at any age. When treated early in children, the success rate may be higher at preventing the condition from reoccurring compared to those who may have had the condition long term.

Treatment will focus on strengthening the amblyopic eye and retraining the brain to use both eyes to see clearly. Treatment options will vary on the condition type.

For refractive amblyopia, binocular vision can be achieved by correcting the refractive errors in both eyes with prescription glasses or contacts.

Patching the “good” eye can also help to force the brain to use the information gathered from the amblyopic eye and stimulate proper vision development. You may need to wear the patch several hours a day for a long period before the brain begins to use the eye.

Treatment for strabismic amblyopia may require surgery to align the eye before other treatment options can be considered. After surgery, an eye patch and vision therapy can help the eyes to work together.

Vision therapy helps to better eye focusing, eye tracking, binocular vision, and spatial skills that will help stimulate neural changes beneficial to vision development.

Atropine eye drops can also be placed into the “good” eye which will cause vision to blur and force the brain to rely on the amblyopic eye without the use of a patch.

It is important to note that even for older children or adults who struggle with amblyopia, treatment is important in preventing permanent vision loss or blindness. For more information on amblyopia and our treatment options, please contact Claris Eye Care today.

Close up of eye

Strabismus

Close up of eyeDid you know that there are six muscles attached to your eye to control eye movement? If one or more of the muscles is weakened or underdeveloped, vision problems may occur. A common condition that often occurs due to weakened eye muscles is strabismus, often identified as cross-eyed.

What is Strabismus?

Strabismus is a visual condition where the eyes do not look in the same direction at the same time. It is commonly diagnosed in children due to an underlying condition but may also occur later in life as a result of injury or physical disorder.

When your eye muscles work together, both eyes aim at the same spot, allowing the brain to take the images and form a single 3D image, giving us depth perception. If you have strabismus, two different images are sent to the brain leading to a loss of depth perception and visual confusion.

In young children, the brain may learn to ignore images from the misaligned eye. However, the condition will result in a loss of depth perception. If strabismus is developed later in life and you are diagnosed as an adult, double-vision is often developed as the brain has already learned to receive images from both eyes.

Types

There are different types of strabismus and they are often described by the direction or alignment of the eyes.

  • Esotropia – Refers to the inward turning of the eyes and is what most people associate when they imagine crossed eyes.
  • Exotropia – Occurs when the eyes turn outward and are often called wall-eyed.
  • Hypotropia – Used to describe vertical misalignment where the abnormal eye sits higher.
  • Hypertropia – A vertical misalignment where the abnormal eye sits lower.

It is important to note that the misalignment can be consistent or come and go.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

The main sign of this condition is misaligned eyes. Children may squint one eye to see clearly or tilt their heads to use their eyes together. Adults often describe having double vision and headaches from straining their eyes to try to see clearly.

Strabismus needs to be treated as soon as possible, especially in children, as it may result in permanent vision impairment if left untreated.

Once suspected, visit an optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam and diagnosis. It can be caused by problems with eye muscles, the nerves that transmit information to the muscles and brain, or within the portion of the brain that controls eye movement.

Treatment

Your treatment will vary depending on the severity and underlying cause of your condition. Most often treatment focuses on straightening the eyes and restoring binocular vision. Visual exercises can help to strengthen weakened muscles and corrective lenses can help to straighten the misalignment. Surgery can be considered if necessary, during which the unbalanced eye muscles may be removed to restore proper alignment and function to the eye.

For more information on strabismus and our treatment options, contact Claris Eye Care today to schedule a consultation.

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