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Protect Your Children’s Vision By Getting Them To Play Outside This Winter!

child playing snow 640As temperatures drop, some parents may be wondering how to get their kids outside for some healthy outdoor play.

Below, we share tips on fun outdoor activities you can do and explain why playing outside can help your child’s vision.

How Outdoor Play Impacts Myopia

Studies have shown that children who spend at least 11 hours per week outside during daylight hours have a slower rate of myopia progression than children who don’t. Although researchers aren’t exactly sure why, it appears that sunlight and the child’s use of distance vision outdoors may play a role.

So why would parents want to slow down their child’s myopia? The answer may surprise you.

Having myopia in childhood places the child at heightened risk for developing sight-threatening eye diseases later in life. These include cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and glaucoma.

3 Outdoor Activities to Do With Your Kids This Winter

Play With Snow

Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, playing with snow is something that everyone can enjoy. Bundle up your child so they stay safe and warm, and send them out to build a snowman, have a snowball fight, build an igloo, or make a snow angel. Older children and teens may enjoy building a snow maze.

If your kids like a bit of competition, you can conduct a snow castle building contest. This activity can be fun for the entire family!

If you don’t have enough snow to build a snowman or castle, you can play tic-tac-snow on the snow-covered ground.

Go Sledding

Sledding and tobogganing are classic winter activities that your child will love. All you need is a sled and a snowy hill — easy, right?

But before you soar down those snowy slopes, here are some guidelines that will ensure a safer sledding experience:

  • Use a sled that can be steered and has a brake
  • Protect your head with a helmet
  • Dress warmly, but leave your scarf at home, as it can get caught under the sled
  • Children under the age of 6 should always sled accompanied by an adult

Create Outdoor Art

This activity is perfect for kids who like to get a little messy. To make a colorful masterpiece on a canvas of snow, give your child a few squirt bottles filled with water and a few drops of food coloring gel. They’ll have heaps of fun squirting the colored liquid on snow or ice.

They can also paint on snow using watercolors and a paintbrush.

If it doesn’t snow where you live, you can always give your child some sidewalk chalk and let them get creative on the pavement. The important thing is to have your child play outdoors.

At Unger Eye Care, our goal is to help slow down your child’s myopia progression and keep their eyes healthy for a lifetime.

To learn more about our myopia management program or to schedule your child’s eye exam, call us today!

Unger Eye Care serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

Good & Bad Gift Choices For Children With Myopia

mario luigi yoschi figures 640Gift-giving season is just around the corner! If your child has myopia (nearsightedness), you may want to consider giving a gift that supports eye health and slows myopia progression.

Why Does Myopia Progression Matter?

Many parents assume that having myopia is only a matter of blurred distance vision, but that’s not the whole story.

Children who have myopia are significantly more likely to develop sight-threatening eye diseases later in life, like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and macular degeneration. Rapidly progressing myopia further increases the risk of eye disease later in life.

Myopia occurs when the eye elongates, and light focuses in front of the retina instead of on the retina. The exact cause of myopia is unknown, but genetics play an important role. Certain environmental factors may also have an impact.

That’s why it’s important for parents to consider how holiday gifts can affect their children’s eyes and vision.

Gifts That Won’t Help Your Child’s Myopia

The first category of items to consider eliminating from your holiday shopping list includes toys or devices with digital screens. Although the association has not been clinically proven, most optometrists agree that increased screen time has a negative impact on myopia progression.

While spending time on screens is almost inevitable during the pandemic, it’s wise to be realistic about its potential ramifications for children. Even prior to COVID-19, the number of myopic children was steadily increasing, and projected to affect 50% of the world’s population by 2050.

Another gift to rethink: eyeglasses. Tempting though it may be to purchase new glasses for your child this holiday season, it’s important to remember that new specs can only correct blurred vision; they don’t treat the underlying cause of myopia.

Better Gifts For Myopic Children

Try encouraging your myopic child to spend more time outdoors by giving them new outdoor gear. It is well documented that children who spend more time outdoors in the sunshine have a slower rate of myopia progression, so why not add a new bike, basketball, or rollerblades to your gift list?

However, the best gift you can give your child with myopia is a personalized myopia management program.

Why Myopia Management?

Myopia management is the only effective way to slow down the rate of your child’s myopia progression.

The myopia management program at Unger Eye Care offers three effective and safe treatments for myopia, including Ortho-K lenses, atropine eye drops, and multifocal contact lenses.

A comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger will determine the best treatment option for your child’s eyes and lifestyle.

Consider myopia management — a gift that will help preserve your child’s precious gift of sight. Call Unger Eye Care to schedule an eye exam today.

Unger Eye Care serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

How Safe Are Overnight Contact Lenses?

boy in yellow zip up jacket 3771646Your optometrist recommended orthokeratology (ortho-k) treatment for your child — that is, wearing corrective lenses overnight. However, the idea of having your child wear contact lenses while they sleep may be worrisome. Can it lead to an eye infection, or scratch/ squeeze the cornea?

A closer look into the research done on overnight ortho-k lens wear reveals the extent of any actual risk factors and how they compare to other contact lens options.

What Are Overnight Ortho-K Lenses?

Ortho-k lenses are custom-made contact lenses that are worn overnight to gently reshape the cornea, thus enabling clear vision the following day. Research shows that overnight ortho-k not only effectively removes the need to wear any glasses or daytime contact lenses, but can slow down the progression of myopia. Optometrists, such as , are therefore increasingly using ortho-k for myopia management as well as for patients who no longer want to wear any optical correction during the day.

Is Your Child at a Higher Risk of Eye Infection With Ortho-K?

An extensive study involving 1300 people at Ohio State University concluded that overnight ortho-k carries no more risk than any other type of contact lens modality.

Hygiene plays a vital role in preventing infections with all contact lenses. During the lens fitting process, your eye care professional will provide you and your child with detailed information and guidance on how to clean and store the lenses, as well as what precautions to take. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions regarding the cleaning schedule and use only the appropriate solutions provided for the overnight lenses.

Other Potential Risks With Orthokeratology

Can an Ortho-k Lens Squeeze or Scratch the Cornea?

An ortho-k lens floats on a tear film covering the eye. The reshaping is achieved by hydraulic force that is applied to the thin central part of the cornea without any tissue being squeezed or crushed.

A corneal abrasion can occasionally occur and is usually the result of a fingernail or lens edge scratching the cornea. That said, the risk isn’t any higher with overnight lenses than with other rigid lenses.

Do Overnight Lenses Involve a Higher Risk of Hypoxia?

The cornea needs a regular oxygen supply. This supply is typically reduced when covered by a contact lens. Extended uninterrupted contact lens wear can cause hypoxia and swell the cornea — this applies to all contact lens modalities when worn longer than recommended.

What is Corneal Staining?

This is likely the most common of all contact lens complications. Corneal staining refers to the appearance of tissue disruption and other changes on the corneal surface. This may be due to a variety of causes, such as improper lens fit, foreign bodies, tear film disruption or irregularities at the edges of a contact lens.

A corneal stain can also occur when a specific contact lens solution comes into direct contact with the cornea and the patient has a reaction to the chemicals in that solution. Research shows that children who wear ortho-k lenses are at no greater risk of corneal staining than those who wear soft contact lenses.

What You Need to Remember When Handling Ortho-K Lenses

  • Always wash hands before inserting or removing contact lenses.
  • Make sure to strictly adhere to the cleaning and disinfection routine as instructed by your optometrist.
  • Provide your child with all the necessary assistance and support regarding the care of the lenses. Young children should not handle the lenses on their own.
  • Only use the solutions recommended by Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger. If you feel your child has an issue with any of them, please contact us.
  • Frequently replace the lens case to avoid microbial contamination and make sure you or your child do not touch the tip of the solution bottle.
  • Do not use tap water to rinse your lenses, always use saline solution.
  • Never use a soft contact lens solution for a rigid lens. These solutions are made of different liquids, each with their own guidelines and protocols.
  • If your child feels discomfort or experiences redness of the eye, contact Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger.

How Safe Are Overnight Contact Lenses? from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Overnight Ortho-K Lenses are Safe

Orthokeratology is a safe and effective method of providing clear daytime vision and of slowing down the progression of myopia in children.

As long as they carefully follow the instructions regarding hygiene and the handling of the lenses, there should be no reason to worry. Children mature enough to understand the importance of these instructions will also be responsible enough to adhere to them.

Get more information regarding overnight ortho-k lenses at Unger Eye Care. Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger will carry out an eye exam and will happily answer any questions you may have.

Use Your Benefits in 2020 for Ortho-K

something in my eyeDid your new year resolutions include any vision-related intentions? After all, it is the year 2020 — a year for perfect vision. This could be the right time to consider a more effective and worthwhile way to correct your or your child’s nearsightedness.

Consider ortho-k (orthokeratology), a way to correct myopia that could give you or your child clear 20/20 vision. What’s more, it comes with certain financial advantages, as Ortho-k can be eligible for reimbursement with most health-related savings accounts.

Why Use Your Benefits on Orthokeratology?

Whether you have funds that rolled over from the previous year or you just started your new health savings account this year, now is the time to plan how to allocate your benefits in 2020.

Remember, vision-related issues should never be taken lightly. An investment in vision correction pays off in numerous ways. Ortho-k provides a safe, non-surgical, non-invasive, and comfortable corrective option and lets you take advantage of your benefits.

What is Orthokeratology?

Orthokeratology, also known as corneal reshaping therapy, are custom-fit overnight lenses that gently mold your cornea into a shape that bends light correctly onto the retina. This allows you to have perfect vision without wearing glasses or contact lenses throughout the day.

Ortho-k Advantages for Adults

There are advantages to Ortho-k besides the convenience of not wearing glasses or contacts during the day. Glasses or contact lenses often don’t provide clear peripheral vision, something you will have with ortho-k. Moreover, unlike LASIK surgery, which creates a permanent change to the corneal shape and involves the risk of complications, the ortho-k treatment is safe and reversible.

Ortho-k Advantages for Children

For children, there is an additional benefit. Myopia usually worsens until around the age of 21, sometimes at an alarming speed. High levels of myopia, generally above -3.00 dioptres, can pose a higher risk of serious eye diseases later on in life that can lead to loss of vision.

Research has revealed that orthokeratology can slow down the progression of myopia, thus lowering the risks of developing macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and cataracts.

Which Savings Accounts Cover Orthokeratology?

You may not have to pay entirely for orthokeratology out of your own pocket, as many Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) can reimburse this kind of program. A Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) may at times also refund the ortho-k costs. Just make sure to check your specific plan, as not all plans are exactly the same.

Use Your Benefits in 2020 to Correct Myopia With Ortho-K from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Use Benefits for Family Members

It gets even better! You can use these funds either for yourself or for someone in your family. If you have a child with progressing nearsightedness, use the benefits to help him/her get the best vision ever.

Many parents settle for glasses or regular contact lenses as they are less expensive than special ortho-k lenses. However, with a savings account, there is no need to compromise because you get a refund. Give yourself the opportunity to make the year 2020 a year of 20/20 vision for yourself or your child.

At Unger Eye Care, we prescribe and fit orthokeratology lenses and provide all associated services. Contact Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger today to schedule an appointment for an eye evaluation.

We treat patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

What’s Worse For Your Vision: High Myopia (Nearsightedness) or Smoking?

cigarette 110849 640While the detrimental effects of smoking on the lungs and heart are widely known, many aren’t aware that its impact on vision is just as profound. Myopia, on the other hand, is commonly viewed as a benign refractive error that simply requires correction with prescription lenses. The truth is, however, that both myopia progression and smoking increase the chances of developing serious eye diseases that can lead to vision loss.

Here’s the good news — the risks to vision associated with smoking and myopia progression in children are potentially preventable. Just as a chain-smoker can kick the habit to improve eye health, myopia management programs offered at Unger Eye Care can dramatically lower their child’s risk of developing serious ocular diseases later in life.

Let’s Compare Smoking to Myopia Progression

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the eye’s natural lens begins to cloud, causing hazy or blurred vision. Certain factors can contribute to the onset and severity of the condition, such as advanced age, obesity, eye injury, high myopia, and smoking. In fact, according to a recent study, smokers are 2 times more likely to develop cataracts than non-smokers.

However, children with medium to high myopia are 5 times more likely to develop cataracts later in life than non-myopic children.

Macular Degeneration

Smoking is the largest controllable factor that contributes to macular degeneration. Studies show that those who smoke are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop macular degeneration than non-smokers.

Myopic macular degeneration (MMD) is caused by a severe eye elongation and retinal stretching — such as in high myopia — which leads to a damaged macula (the small portion of the retina responsible for detailed central and color vision). The higher the myopia, the greater the risk of developing MMD.

Retinal Detachment

The harmful properties in cigarettes can cause uveitis — an inflammation of the uvea (the eye’s middle layer). Uveitis can lead to retinal detachment, which separates the retina from the layers beneath it. This causes field vision loss, floaters, light flashes, and in severe cases — complete vision loss. Smoking more than doubles the chances of developing this condition.

There also is a causal relationship between myopia and retinal detachment. A child with mild myopia is 21 times more likely to develop retinal detachment, whereas a child with high myopia is 44 times more likely to suffer from this serious condition.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the United States and Canada, occurs when ocular fluid places pressure on the eye, damaging the optic nerve. A few risk factors for glaucoma include high blood pressure, cataracts, and diabetes — all of which are linked to smoking. By kicking the smoking habit, one significantly reduces the risks of developing this vision-robbing condition.

Similarly, children with medium to high myopia are 5 times more likely to develop glaucoma than non-myopes.

What’s worse for your vision? High myopia (nearsightedness) or smoking? from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

How Can Myopia Management Help?

As adults, many of us take actions to maintain good health and preserve our vision, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and not smoking. Let’s do the same for our children. As depicted above, smoking is as dangerous for the eyes as rapidly progressing myopia.

If your child’s prescription rapidly deteriorates, contact Unger Eye Care for a consultation. Let us help your child diminish the risk of developing ocular disease and vision loss with our effective myopia management program.

Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

References

https://www.allaboutvision.com/smoking/

https://www.everydayhealth.com/vision-center/the-aging-eye/tips/smoking-ups-risk-for-age-related-vision-loss.aspx

https://www.allaboutvision.com/parents/myopia-progression.htm

Does Your Child Have Myopia? Send Them Outside!

Girl Smiling Grass Flower blog imageMyopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness, is a refractive error that affects millions of adults and children worldwide. This condition occurs when a person’s eyeball is too long, or the cornea or lens has an irregular shape. A myopic eye focuses the image at the front of the retina, as opposed to directly on the retina. it is often hereditary, especially if both parents are nearsighted.

Recent studies show that the more time spent outdoors can slow the onset or progression of myopia for reasons explained below. These findings are significant, as myopia can seriously impact eye health if left untreated. At Unger Eye Care, we’re here to answer any questions you may have and ensure that your child’s myopia is under control.

How Does Spending Time Outdoors Benefit Myopia?

By spending time outdoors, children train their eyes to focus on distant objects and relax their eyes. Just as with any other muscle in the body, the muscles in the eye need to be trained and strengthened in order to produce clear vision. Experts further suggest that moderate exposure to sunlight has a positive impact on myopia and general eye health.

A recent study was conducted by the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science. The study shows that children who spend 1 extra hour outdoors each week reduce their risk of developing myopia by over 14%.

In contrast, according to the National Institute of Health, children who spend a considerable amount of time indoors watching TV or playing video games are at a significantly higher risk of developing nearsightedness.

Outdoor time should be incorporated into every child’s routine, especially those at risk of developing myopia. Parents and caregivers can make being outdoors fun by playing sports, hiking new trails, enjoying picnics or barbeques, or organizing scavenger hunts.

Why Is Slowing Myopia Progression So Important?

Myopia generally worsens over time, mostly during childhood and into the adolescent years. If your child’s prescription regularly increases, this can lead to more serious complications. Myopia progression heightens the risk of developing other eye conditions and disorders, such as cataracts, glaucoma, or retinal detachment. In more severe cases, permanent vision loss — or even blindness— may occur.

This is why it is crucial to monitor your child’s condition with a yearly visit to Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger. Not sure whether your child has myopia? Refer to the following list.

Signs of Myopia in Children

Children with myopia may exhibit any of the following:

  • Squinting when reading the board or watching TV
  • Lack of interest in playing sports that require distance vision
  • Positioning oneself at close proximity to the TV or screen
  • Sitting at the front of the classroom to clearly see the teacher and board
  • Holding books close to the eyes

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms or if you’ve noticed some of these behaviors, give outdoor time a try and bring him or her in to Unger Eye Care for a comprehensive eye exam. We offer evidence-based myopia management treatment to slow down the progression of nearsightedness, thus preventing severe vision loss later in life.

Unger Eye Care provides myopia management and other treatments to patients in Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

REFERENCES:

Centre for Ocular Research & Education

National Institutes of Health

Perfect Vision is The Perfect Gift: Ortho-K

girl holiday gifts blog imageAs the holidays approach, most of us have one thing at the top of our to-do lists: gift shopping! This holiday season, give the gift of perfect vision that will have your loved one thanking you every morning. If you or anyone in your family has myopia (nearsightedness), there is no better gift than Ortho-K lenses.

What is Ortho-K?

Orthokeratology (commonly referred to as Ortho-K, corneal reshaping contact lenses or corneal refractive treatment) is a process that uses specialized gas-permeable lenses to safely and gently reshape the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye), by having them worn overnight and removed in the morning. Doing so provides clear vision all day long without the need to wear lenses or glasses. This FDA-approved method of vision correction is suitable for children and adults, is a safer alternative to LASIK, and can be used for myopia, astigmatism, hyperopia (farsightedness), and occasionally presbyopia (farsightedness due to aging).

Give the Gift of Ortho-K

Children and adults with mild to moderate myopia or those who cannot undergo LASIK or other refractive surgeries (for a variety of reasons) are excellent candidates for Ortho-K. Believe us — they’ll be grateful for this gift!

Ortho-k is not only effective for correcting refractive errors but is also great for slowing the progression of myopia in children — rendering it a particularly meaningful gift for a child. By slowing the progression of myopia, you can greatly reduce your child’s risk of developing serious eye conditions and diseases later in life, such as cataracts, glaucoma, or retinal detachment.

While you can’t wrap this gift up in a box, with Ortho-K, your loved ones will truly SEE the difference!

The myopia management program at Unger Eye Care is dedicated to improving your child’s eye health. Call us with any questions you may have – we’re here for you.

Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger provides myopia management and other services for patients in Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

 Why a New Pair of Glasses Is NOT the Best Holiday Gift for Your Child

girl hugging her present 3154363If your child is nearsighted (myopic), it may seem like a great idea to get him or her a new pair of glasses. They will surely improve how well your child sees but, unfortunately, will do nothing to slow myopia progression. You can offer your child MUCH more than a pair of specs — something that will ensure long term vision health care and quality of life: Myopia Management.

Myopia Management is made up of several treatments designed to slow down how quickly myopia, or shortsightedness, progresses. In other words, their prescription will remain the same as they grow older. The treatments include uniquely designed multifocal contact lenses, atropine eye drops, and orthokeratology (“ortho-k”). Evidence suggests that myopia management can reduce the progression of myopia by up to 60% after two years of treatment.

What Makes Myopia Management An Excellent Gift?

Currently, myopia is among the leading causes of permanent vision loss and legal blindness.

As a child quickly develops and their nearsighted vision worsens, the child is at a higher risk of developing dangerous eye diseases later in life, such as retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.

To thwart any of these sight-robbing conditions, Unger Eye Care offers evidence-based treatment to prevent the onset or reduce the progression of myopia in our pediatric patients.

Myopia management enables your child to experience a more mild form of myopia than he or she would have otherwise had without treatment. Having mild-degree myopia means that your child’s likelihood of developing retinal detachment or macular degeneration is dramatically reduced.

So why don’t you make this holiday gift a particularly special one by protecting your child’s precious gift of sight. And the best part? It will pay off well after the holidays are over.

On behalf of Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger and the staff at Unger Eye Care in Troy, we’d like to wish you all the best for the holiday season and the New Year!

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