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Back to School checklist: Eye Exam

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Although this article by the American Optometric Association was released in 2009, its message is still pertinent and important, especially during this time of the year. While parents are getting their kids prepared for a new school year by purchasing supplies and meeting new teachers, it might be easy to overlook their child’s vision. In fact, a shocking 86% of children start school without ever having an eye examination. This is an alarmingly high figure given the strong correlation between vision and learning.

At Bright Eyes, we advise the eye exam schedule that is recommended by the AOA: first eye exam at 6 months, 3 years, and right before school. This allows your eye doctor to identify and treat any vision related problems before they start to adversely affect your child’s learning and development.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that the screenings used at school are not designed to replace a full, comprehensive eye exam. These screenings offer very little beyond determining clarity of vision. A full eye examination will further test how well the eyes work together in unison at tasks such as reading and computer work, as well as assess the health of the entire eye, inside and out.

The article also suggests signs for parents to look for in their child’s vision between eye exams. The AOA recommends that parents contact their eye doctor if their child frequently:

  1. Loses place while reading
  2. Avoids close work
  3. Tends to rub eyes
  4. Has headaches
  5. Turns or tilts head
  6. Makes frequent reversals when reading or writing
  7. Uses finger to maintain place when reading
  8. Omits or confuses small words when reading
  9. Consistently performs below potential
  10. Struggles to complete homework
  11. Squints while reading or watching television
  12. Has behavioral problems
  13. Holds reading material closer than normal

So as the school year begins, if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s vision, do not hesitate to call our office and schedule an appointment.

All the best,

Justin Schoonover

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

AOA School Readiness Summit: Focus on Vision

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The American Optometric Association recently held a School Readiness Summit: Focus on Vision in which doctors, nurses, educators and advocates for children’s health gathered to examine learning-related vision issues that are keeping children from achieving in the classroom. This summit was created to address the concerns that our current system is flawed and a policy shift is needed. The problem is that currently, the U.S. educational system and some health care providers rely heavily on vision screenings to discover the kids that need comprehensive exams. These screenings do catch some types of vision problems but they can miss about 75% of those children that have learning-related vision problems. Detecting these vision problems is very important as “studies show that much of what children learn comes though vision, and undetected and untreated eye and vision disorders in children, such as amblyopia and strabismus, can result in vision loss, additional costly treatments, delayed reading and poorer outcomes in school.”

The take-home statement that the summit produced is that comprehensive eye exams must serve as the foundation to determine school readiness in school-aged children. Another important point established at this meeting is the establishment of the link between healthy vision and classroom learning.

This historic summit is an important step in ensuring that children receive the proper detection and treatment of vision problems before they become detrimental to their learning. Here at Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, we are excited to see these changes being made, since it has been our goal from the beginning to not only catch vision problems at an early stage, evidenced by the InfantSEE program that we offer that provides free eye exams to infants between the age of 6 months and 1 year of age, but to also treat certain types of problems through our extensive one-on-one vision therapy program.

If you have any questions regarding the InfantSEE program, vision therapy program, or would like to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your child before they start school, give our office a call or come in to schedule.

All the best,

Justin Schoonover, CPO

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
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Circle Lens Statement by the American Optometric Association

Although anime or “Circle Lenses” have been around for a while, thanks to Lady Gaga they are surging in popularity right now. But remember that only FDA approved contact lenses prescribed by an eye doctor are considered safe to wear. By law, lenses cannot be sold without a valid contact lens prescription.

If you have any questions about the safety of your lenses, please contact us.

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

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The American Optometric Association (AOA) Statement Regarding Circle Contact Lenses

Patient safety and access to adequate eye care is always our concern. With the growing interest in “circle lenses,” colored plano and prescription contact lenses imported primarily from Asia, the AOA is once again working to inform consumers of the risk of these illegal lenses. And, last month, AOA staff led one of the largest meetings of federal officials concerned about the illegal sale of these and other decorative contact lenses, convened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“With the FDA’s focus of ‘Protecting and Promoting Health,’ the recent gathering served as an outstanding platform to brainstorm with FDA officials,” states Joe E. Ellis, O.D. President of the American Optometric Association. “We found that FDA officials were shocked, as well as dismayed, by how easy these lenses can be obtained, and how aggressively adolescents and young adults are targeted.”

The AOA is responding to numerous requests for information and interviews from media outlets across the country. “We are working with the consumer media to encourage people to visit an eye care professional and get a proper prescription. A beauty fad is not worth causing problems with your sight,” adds Dr. Ellis.

Consumers should not use any contact lenses, whether they are circle lenses, or otherwise, without a proper examination and prescription by an eye care professional. Risks associated with the improper use of decorative contact lenses include conjunctivitis, corneal swelling, eye infection, allergic reaction and corneal abrasion due to poor lens fit and/or improper lens care. Additional problems may result in a reduction of visual acuity, diminished contrast sensitivity, or reduced peripheral vision and other general eye and vision impairments. Optometrists are encouraged to report any violations of the sale of contact lenses, or any adverse health consequences, to AOA’s Washington office.

New Federal Recognition and Funding for InfantSEE® Program

I received an email today from the American Optometric Association:

President Barack Obama signed into law a measure that provides nearly $600,000 in new federal resources to help expand the scope and impact of InfantSEE® – the signature public health program of the American Optometric Association (AOA) and administered by Optometry’s CharityTM – The AOA Foundation.

The first direct appropriation, sponsored by Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) totaled $500,000 and is aimed at supporting expansion and outreach of the program.

“Many parents of newborns do not know that the most dramatic development of a child’s visual system occurs within the first year of life,” said Sen. Byrd. “And it is through early detection and treatment of potential problems that parents can help ensure poor vision and eye health does not severely affect their child’s ability to learn and place them at a disadvantage in education and in life.”

The second direct appropriation totaling $90,000 was sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and will support program expansion through outreach in Iowa.

“InfantSEE® is doing much more than identifying and treating risk factors that may cause eye and vision problems later in the life,” said Sen. Harkin. “They are taking prevention to a new level to ensure healthier, thriving children and lower health care costs down the road.”

InfantSEE® assessments are complementary to the routine well-care exams a baby receives from a pediatrician or family physician. Optometrists have the training to identify areas of risk that are critical to vision development and the skills to identify conditions that might not be detected in a routine pediatric wellness exam. In some cases, conditions may need to be monitored, immediately treated or referred to a pediatric eye specialist.

At Bright Eyes, we believe in and support the InfantSEE® program. You can see this post where I discuss Nora’s first eye exam. I will probably do the same when Javier comes in for his exam when he is six months old. If you have a newborn or are expecting, remember that the InfantSEE® exam provides a no-cost vision assessment if your baby is between 6 and 12 months old.

Be well!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

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American Optometric Association responds to Joint Policy Statement about children and reading

For those that follow vision therapy, you likely have read about this Joint Policy Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Ophthalmology; American Academy of Ophthalmology; American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus; and American Association of Certified Orthoptists.

Well, this has created a stir, not so much for the policy that essentially has not changed in decades, but rather the tactics that were used to arrive that the policy statement. This is from the American Optometric Associatio Newsblog:

The policy statement … sheds doubt on the claim that vision therapy treats dyslexia – a claim that vision researchers and clinicians have not made for decades.

It also ignores the evidence of the proven benefits of vision therapy, such as in well-designed studies, most notably the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial (CITT), which was funded by the National Eye Institute. This study showed that vision therapy administered in an eye care provider’s office is the best course of treatment for that condition.

Unfortunately, this is not new. As Leonard Press, O.D., writes in A flawed statement on vision therapy, learning and dyslexia is reissued:

The American Optometric Association in a joint policy statement with the American Academy of Optometry has previously pointed out the flaws with the joint policy statement of the organizations above (1997, at ). A point-by-point rebuttal of the misleading information intended to discredit optometric vision therapy was published by the American Optometric Association in its journal, Optometry. (Bowan MD, 2002). This latest iteration in the form of the Pediatrics article unfortunately recycles the same straw man arguments as the prior joint statements.

The issues of reading and learning are highly complex and multifactorial. I do honestly believe that all professionals involved feel they are acting in the best interest of children. Unfortunately, some organizations are slow to change, even in the face of highly credible evidence.

Be Well!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

Dr Nate Google PlusBright Eyes Tampa on Google PlacesBright Eyes Tampa on FacebookBright Eyes Tampa on TwitterBright Eyes Tampa on YelpBright Eyes Tampa on foursquareWestchase Patch

Opticians, Optometrists, and Ophthalmologists, Oh My!

People are often confused by the eye care field and do not know the difference between the three O’s: Opticians, Optometrists, and Ophthalmologists.

Well, to put it simply:

Opticians are experts in frames and lenses. The sell and repair glasses. In some states they can also fit contact lenses.

Optometrists are doctors that are vision specialists. They deal with the function and health of the eyes. They can prescribe glasses and contacts and can treat eye disease with medication.

Ophthalmologists are doctors that are concerned primarily with the eyes and diseases of the eyes, which they can treat with medicine and surgery. They can also prescribe glasses and contacts.

The American Optometric Association has long known about the confusion between the 3 O’s and has recently produced a wonderful video about our profession:

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This video discusses how Optometrists provide a wide range of care, including:

* Detect and diagnose eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal disorders, lid disorders, and infections such as conjunctivitis.
* Prescribe medication to treat eye diseases.
* Evaluate and treat vision conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia, amblyopia, binocular vision problems.
* Perform minor surgical procedures such as removing foreign objects from the eye.
* Provide pre- and post-operative care, especially for glaucoma, laser, refractive, and cataract patients.
* In some instances, perform laser, refractive or glaucoma surgeries.

The video also shows how Doctors of optometry are on the forefront of advanced research into the development of new treatments for eye diseases and disorders.

* The research dollars awarded by the government through the National Eye Institute to optometrists has quadrupled in less than 10 years.
* Optometric researchers are using these funds to advance solutions in areas such as glaucoma, vision therapy and preschoolers’ access to vision care.

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.


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