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September 2, 2011 at 8:46 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Healthy Eyes and Eyesight

By Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD More Blogs by This Author

Dr. Jeff Chamberlain talks about eyesight in children and when you should take them to get examined. He also touches on some adult issues with eyesight.
Host, Gerry Barnaby – Hey, how’s it going? Barnaby here. Don’t you hate it when you say, “Hey!  Where are my glasses?”  And then you find them on the top of your head!  I tell you, getting old—your eyes are really the first thing to go as far as the problems you might face.  And this is my friend, Dr. Jeff Chamberlain right here, for another HelloLife Moment.  You are a family physician.  So let’s talk about when you start seeing kids for eye health.  Is it right at birth—do you start taking a look at the peepers?
Dr. Chamberlain – It’s true.  When kids are first born, doctors, we take a look at the eyes.  What we’re really looking for is the red reflex in the eyes.  It’s the same reflex red light that you see when you get red on a camera.  And what that actually is, is the back of the retina.  We’re looking to see, is the retina attached?  Does everything look good with that?  If that’s attached as a newborn, then that’s kind of the first step in saying, okay, your eyes look good.  We don’t really check again until they’re a couple months old after that.  At a couple months old, kids can start focusing on objects and what we do is we use an optomoscope to shine at their eyes.  And we really want to see, are their eyes symmetrical?  Are they straight?  When they look at something are they looking with both eyes in the same place, making sure there’s not a lazy eye.  We do this by seeing, is their reflection symmetrical?  By shining a light in the eye, do I see the reflection in the same corner – point in both eyes, or is one eye looking off to the side and their reflection is not symmetrical?
Barnaby – Yeah, I would think it would be critical that when your kid reaches school age, that you get the eyes checked.  Because all the lessons that they’re learning are visual – and auditory as well, but I mean, if they can’t see, they’re going to be held back.  So. Right around kindergarten, get their eyes checked again?
Dr. Chamberlain – Yeah.  I recommend getting their eyes checked around that kindergarten visit, getting them checked just in general.  Make sure they don’t have blurry vision—that they can see as well as expected.  Again, because otherwise, they might have problems learning in when they’re school.
Barnaby – What about sunglasses?  Do you recommend them?
Dr. Chamberlain – Yes and no.  It depends on the sunglasses.  Cheap sunglasses, that don’t have any UV protection, what they do is dilate the eyes, making the pupils larger. And more UV light goes in, which causes  damage to the eye.  So cheap sunglasses are bad but sunglasses – and they’re not really that expensive, even a ten dollar pair has UV protection as long as they say they do, that filters out the UV light, which is the light that causes damage to the eye.
Barnaby – And, you know, most people think, you know, a little sun, it can’t hurt me that much.  But truly, you can really do some damage to both your eye and your skin if you’re not protected as a younger person. 
Dr. Chamberlain – That’s true.  Studies show that about 90% of the sun damage we get to our eyes and our skin happens by the time we’re 18 years old.  So if you don’t start thinking about it until you’re an adult, most of the damage is already done.
Barnaby – Okay, so zooming ahead to my age—when I first started needing reading glasses at about the age of 40—why?  What’s changed so that suddenly I need assistance to read?
Dr. Chamberlain – So, when we read from a distance our lens in our eye is relaxed.  But when we read up close, there’s muscles that help bend the lens to focus.  And the older we get, the harder that lens gets, so it’s hard for the muscles to bend that lens and so you can’t focus on things up close.  That’s why you have to hold things out at a distance.
Barnaby – Wow.  See?  You learn something new every day.  In this case, a lot of new things!  Thanks so much for the information.
Dr. Chamberlain – You’re welcome.
Barnaby – Alrighty, it’s another HelloLife Moment—the kind of stuff you come to expect at, because we’re all about matching your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.  Oh, there are my glasses.  I keep losing them!

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