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Childhood Myopia Is in Crisis Mode on a Global Scale

When it comes to the prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness), the statistics are staggering. By 2050, nearly half of the world’s population—about 5 billion people—will be myopic. Below are a few useful tips to help you prevent your child from being part of that statistic.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia occurs when the eye elongates, causing light rays to focus in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it, while looking at something far away. So, people with nearsightedness perceive distant objects as blurred while close-up objects can remain clear.

Myopia tends to develop during childhood, when the eyeballs rapidly grow (along with the rest of the body), mainly between the ages of 8-18. It can worsen slowly or quickly, but it is not simply an inconvenience. People with progressive myopia are more likely to develop serious eye diseases like cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma later in life—conditions which may lead to permanent loss of vision and even blindness.

How To Know Whether Your Child Is Myopic

Below are some telltale signs to watch for:

  • Blurred distance vision – Objects in the distance are blurred; kids may complain that they can’t see the board
  • Headaches – When myopia isn’t corrected, it can cause eye strain and headaches.
  • Head tilting or squinting – If your child squints or tilts his or her head while watching TV, for example, it may be a symptom of myopia.
  • Looking at objects too closely – If you notice your child moving closer to the TV or squinting as they try to see the writing on the board, it may indicate myopia.

What Parents Can Do to Slow Their Child’s Myopia Progression

  • Encourage your child to go outdoors for at least 90 minutes a day, preferably in the sunshine. Studies show that playing outdoors reduces the risk of developing myopia and slows its progression.
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends staring at a screen, reading and doing close work such as homework.
  • When your child uses a digital screen, make sure that it isn’t too close to the face.
  • Teach the 20-20-20 rule: During screen time, take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object across the room or out the window about 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. James Evans

Q: How is myopia diagnosed?

  • A: Your child’s eye doctor will perform a thorough pediatric eye exam to diagnose myopia, which often includes a visual acuity test, where the eye doctor will use an eye chart made up of letters of varied sizes. If the test results indicate myopia, then the optometrist may shine a light into their eyes and evaluate the reflection off the retina to determine the degree of refractive error for their prescription.

Q: Can myopia lead to blindness?

  • A: High myopia may increase your child’s risk of developing more serious eye conditions later in life, such as cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma. Left untreated, high myopia complications can sometimes lead to blindness—which is why routine eye exams are critical.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Edmonton, Alberta. Visit Village Eye Centre Sherwood Park for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

What You Should Know About Night Blindness

If you don’t see well while driving at night, there’s a chance you have night blindness. Night blindness, or nyctalopia, is the inability to see well at night or in dim lighting. It’s not considered an eye disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem.

Our eye doctor in North Edmonton can help diagnose, manage and treat your night blindness with specialized digital eye exams, so that you can enjoy being out and about at night again.
Here are 4 things you should know about night blindness:

Causes of Night Blindness

The inability to see well at night can be the result of a condition such as:

  • Vitamin A Deficiency — Vitamin A helps keep your cornea, the layer at the front of your eye, clear; it’s also an important component of rhodopsin, a protein that enables you to see in low light conditions. Although uncommon in North America, deficiency of this vitamin can induce night blindness.
  • CataractsA buildup of protein clouds the eye’s lens, leading to impaired vision, especially at night and in poor lighting conditions.
  • Diabetic RetinopathyDamage to the eyes’ blood vessels and nerves can result in vision loss, including difficulty seeing at night.
  • GlaucomaThis group of eye diseases is associated with pressure build-up in the eye that damages the optic nerve. Both glaucoma and the medications used to treat it can cause night blindness.
  • MyopiaAlso called nearsightedness, myopia makes distant objects appear blurry, and patients with it describe a starburst effect around lights at night.
  • KeratoconusAn irregularly shaped cornea causes blurred vision and may involve sensitivity to light and glare which tend to be worse at night.
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)A progressive genetic eye disease which can be associated with other diseases, RP leads to night blindness and peripheral vision loss.
  • Usher SyndromeThis genetic condition causes both hearing loss and vision loss, including night blindness and RP, mentioned above.

Symptoms of Nyctalopia

Since night blindness is a symptom of some serious vision problems, it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly to ensure that everything is in good working order. Contact your eye doctor as soon as possible if you notice that you don’t see as well in dim light as you used to, such as when driving at night or when adjusting from being outdoors in the sunshine to being indoors.

Symptoms of Night Blindness Include:

  • Reduced contrast sensitivity
  • Difficulty seeing people outdoors at night
  • Difficulty seeing in places with dim lighting, like a movie theater
  • Trouble adapting to the dark while driving
  • Excessive squinting at night
  • Trouble adjusting from bright areas to darker ones

Treatments for Night Blindness

Your eye doctor will want to diagnose the cause of your night blindness in order to treat it. For example, in the rare case of vitamin A deficiency, it can be treated with vitamin supplements and vitamin-A-rich foods; myopia can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Other conditions may require medications or surgery.

If night blindness is caused by a birth defect, Usher syndrome, or retinitis pigmentosa, low vision aids and devices can help you make the most of your remaining vision.

Prevention

While there is no proven way to prevent night blindness resulting from genetic conditions or birth defects, consuming healthy, nourishing foods and taking certain vitamin supplements may prevent or slow the onset of some eye conditions that cause night blindness.

If you experience poor vision at night or in dim lighting, we can help. Contact one of our three conveniently located Edmonton area offices to schedule your appointment today.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. James Evans

Q: Can you request lenses made from glass? Is glass still used for lenses?

  • A: Opticians still sometimes use glass for lenses. However, glass is not used very often because they aren’t as safe. If these glass lenses breaks, they can shatters into many pieces and can injure the eye. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, so they can make your eyeglasses less comfortable to wear.

Q: Can a coating be added to eyeglasses to protect them from further scratches?

  • A: A protective coating can’t be added to a lens after it’s scratched. The coating is applied when the lens is manufactured and can’t be put on later.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Sherwood Park, Alberta. Visit Village Eye Centre Sherwood Park for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Kids Can Wear Scleral Lenses Too!

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), about 14.5 percent of all kids under age 17 wear contact lenses. While it’s most common to prescribe daily disposable contacts for kids, they’re not suitable for all eye and vision conditions.

At our eye care centres in North Edmonton, Downtown Edmonton and Sherwood Park, we regularly perform pediatric eye exams to fit kids with contact lenses, including scleral lenses. Many of our young patients who couldn’t achieve crisp, comfortable vision with regular contacts have been thrilled with their scleral lenses!

What are scleral lenses?

Custom-fit scleral lenses vault over the cornea, coming to rest on the whites of the eye (sclera), and forming a new optical surface. Sclerals also create a reservoir of saline between the contact and the eye surface, perfect for soothing sore eyes.

When do kids need scleral lenses?

Very young children, as small as toddlers, who have a serious ocular surface disease are recommended to wear full scleral lenses because they provide protection over as much of the eye as possible.

When kids have a normal cornea and high refractive errors, or have a corneal condition such as keratoconus, mini-scleral lenses may be worn. These specialty pediatric lenses range from 15 to 18 mm in diameter.

Sclerals can also be helpful for kids with disorders such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, congenital corneal anesthesia syndromes and corneal scarring after trauma.

What are the benefits of scleral lenses for kids?

Due to their oversized shape, sclerals rest on the eye with more stability than conventional contacts, so they’re less likely to be dislodged. The stability also promotes higher comfort, especially for sensitive eyes. Since they have high oxygen permeability, scleral lenses are healthy for the eyes too.

To find out if your child is a candidate for scleral lenses, book a pediatric eye exam with our eye doctor in North Edmonton, Downtown Edmonton or Sherwood Park.

At Village Eye Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 587-410-5920 or book an appointment online to see one of our North Edmonton eye doctors.

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How Can My Child’s Myopia Be Corrected?

At Village Eye Centre, we help children like yours achieve clear and comfortable vision, so they can succeed at the important things in life.

Methods of Myopia Correction

Contact Lenses

Contacts can be a great choice, especially for physically active children or teens who don’t want to worry about breaking or misplacing their eyeglasses. In some cases of very high myopia, contact lenses can offer clearer vision than glasses.

Corrective contact lenses are usually placed in the eyes upon waking and removed at night before bedtime. There are several types, including: soft contacts, daily disposables, extended wear, and rigid gas permeable (hard) lenses. Navigating through the differences between them can be daunting. Fortunately, if you’re located in North Edmonton our eye doctor will be happy to guide you. Speak with Dr. James Evans to determine whether your child is ready for contact lenses.

Prescription Glasses

Glasses are a popular choice among our younger patients. Choosing from an array of styles makes the process fun and exciting! Allowing the children to be active participants in selecting their eyewear increases the likelihood that they’ll actually wear them. There are strong, flexible and resilient frames which look great and are comfortable too.

The optician can customize the lenses with additions and upgrades like impact-resistant or shatter-proof materials, scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coatings, UV filters, and transition lenses that darken in the sun. For those requiring vision correction for distance and near, we also offer bifocal or multifocal lens prescriptions.

We Can Help Correct Your Child’s Myopia

If you’re located near North Edmonton, Alberta, an eye exam with our optometrist can determine your child’s exact prescription, and give you the opportunity to receive answers to any questions you may have about your child’s eye health and vision. Progressive myopia, where a growing child’s prescription continues to worsen, is why it’s important for myopic children to undergo eye exams at least once a year.

At Village Eye Centre, our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to recommend the most suitable method of correcting your child’s myopia to meet his or her individual needs. Thanks to the wide range options available, your child will walk away with eyewear that will not only enhance his or her style but will also be a boost of confidence.

Let us help your child see the world in a whole new light. To schedule your child’s annual eye exam or if you have any further questions, contact Village Eye Centre at 587-410-5920 today.

What’s the Difference Between Nearsightedness and Farsightedness?

Nearsightedness, AKA myopia, and farsightedness are both defined as refractive conditions that require corrective eyewear to see clearly. But they’re not the same. Our eye doctor in North Edmonton, Downtown Edmonton, and Sherwood Park explains.

What’s a refractive condition?

A refractive condition means that there’s a problem related to how light is focused when it enters your eye. When the visual system is working properly, light enters the eye and naturally focuses on the retina, which is the inner lining of the eye that’s responsible for detecting light. Then, the brain receives a sharp view of what your eyes are seeing. When the process works right, you don’t need glasses to see. But when the light doesn’t focus correctly, landing before or behind the retina, you have a refractive condition.

What is nearsightedness?

Myopia means that the light rays that hit your eye don’t focus directly on the retina. Instead, they end up at a point in front of the retina. This occurs because your eyeball is elongated or your lens is too curved. As a result, you’ll be able to see close objects clearly but things in the distance are blurry.

What is farsightedness?

Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is the exact opposite of nearsightedness. It occurs because the eyeball is too short, the cornea is too flat, or the curvature of the lens can’t focus light properly. But with farsightedness, the light focuses at a point beyond the retina, causing blurred vision up close. You’ll be able to see distant objects clearly, but near tasks such as reading will be difficult.

Vision correction for nearsightedness and farsightedness

Whether you have myopia or hyperopia, you’re in luck – both of these conditions can be improved effectively with corrective eyewear, such as prescription glasses or contact lenses. LASIK laser refractive surgery is another possible option. To get your vision condition diagnosed precisely and benefit from the best vision solution for your eyes and your lifestyle, schedule an eye exam with our eye doctor in North Edmonton, Downtown Edmonton, and Sherwood Park, Alberta. Already have an up-to-date prescription? Check out our stylish optical collection for a new pair of frames or quality contact lenses!

At Village Eye Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 587-410-5920 or book an appointment online to see one of our North Edmonton eye doctors.

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Nearsightedness & Farsightedness – What Do They Mean?

Your North Edmonton, Alberta, eye doctor explains

Nearsightedness and farsightedness, officially termed myopia and hyperopia – respectively, are both refractive vision conditions. That means they are both caused by refractive errors, which are ocular disorders that affect the eye’s ability to properly focus light on the retina. The retina is the membrane that forms the back layer of the eyeball.

Nearsightedness occurs when the light that enters the eye falls short of the retina. Typically, this happens because the eyeball is elongated. As a result, objects in the distance look blurry to people with myopia. However, vision of near objects remains unaffected. Nearsightedness generally develops during childhood, deteriorates during the teenage years, and stabilizes once the person reaches young adulthood.

Farsightedness is basically the opposite of nearsightedness. Usually, it results from having an eyeball that is too short. As a result, light is focused behind the retina instead of directly on it. For people with mild to moderate farsightedness, close objects appear blurred, while objects in the distance are still sharp. However, high amounts of farsightedness may interfere with clear vision at all distances. Children are typically born farsighted, but as they grow and develop, their eyeballs lengthen and the hyperopia decreases.

Diagnosis of myopia and hyperopia – visit an eye doctor near you

While nearsightedness and farsightedness can cause symptoms, such as headaches, squinting, eye strain, and fatigue, these symptoms alone are not sufficient for making a firm diagnosis.

Both of these vision conditions can be detected during an eye exam performed by a qualified eye doctor. As a part of every eye exam, visual acuity will be tested. You will need to read a basic Snellen eye chart, and your eye doctor will test refraction in order to determine your precise vision prescription for glasses or contact lenses.

Treatment for nearsightedness and farsightedness

Corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses are both effective ways to treat nearsightedness and farsightedness. The prescription lenses work by altering the path of light as it bends into the eyes.

When children experience progressive myopia, a variety of methods for myopia control may be suitable. Myopia control treatment can eliminate the need to buy new glasses or contacts yearly, and it can help reduce children’s risk for eye disease in the future. To find out about your child’s candidacy for myopia control, consult a qualified eye doctor and book an eye exam near you.

It is common for myopia and hyperopia to stabilize once people reach their twenties. Once that occurs, refractive laser surgeries – such as LASIK and PRK – become options for treatment. These procedures can permanently resolve nearsightedness and farsightedness by reshaping the cornea to focus light properly on the retina.

Can vision therapy help with nearsightedness and farsightedness?

Clear and fully functional vision depends on more than just sharp visual acuity. Eyesight, the brain, and visual pathways all need to work in sync with each other. When this doesn’t happen, a person can find it difficult to see – even with 20/20 vision. That’s where the role of vision therapy enters the picture.

Vision therapy helps people with particular eye conditions develop the visual skills needed for clear sight, such as:

  • Strabismus (crossed eyes)
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Computer vision
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Learning related visual problems (poor eye teaming and focusing)
  • Sports vision improvement

Optic devices and custom-designed exercises are used to strengthen the eye-brain connection, so eye mobility is enhanced. The person learns how to efficiently process visual cues that the eyes send to the brain. Therefore, vision therapy will not help to treat a refractive vision condition, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness.

At Village Eye Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 587-410-5920 or book an appointment online to see one of our North Edmonton eye doctors.

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Progressive Myopia: When Your Child’s Vision Keeps Getting Worse

What Is Progressive Myopia?

Nearsightedness or myopia is one of the most prevalent eye disorders worldwide and its incidence is increasing. In fact by 2050, myopia is projected to affect half of the world’s population!

Many children diagnosed with nearsightedness (myopia) experience a consistent worsening of their vision as they grow into adolescence. This condition can be so aggressive that for some, each time they take their child to the eye doctor for a vision checkup, their prescription gets higher.

This is called progressive myopia and can be a serious condition for many children now and in the future. Not only is there a financial burden and inconvenience associated with having to replace eyeglasses on a regular basis, but high myopia is a risk factor for many eye diseases later in life such as retinal detachment, early onset cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

What Causes Progressive Myopia?

Myopia is a refractive error that happens when the eye focuses incoming light in front of the retina, rather than directly on it, resulting in blurred distance vision. While an exact cause of progressive myopia is not known, most research indicates that a combination of environmental and genetic factors trigger the condition.

First of all, there is evidence that a family history of nearsightedness is a contributing factor. Additionally, spending a lot of time indoors may play a role in myopia development, as studies show that children who spend more time outside have less incidence of myopia. Lastly, near point stress, which can be caused from looking at a near object for an extended period of time, can prompt the eye to grow longer and result in myopia. Several eye doctors recommend following the 20-20-20 rule when using digital devices (stopping every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds) to reduce near point stress caused by computer use.

What Can Be Done To Prevent or Treat Myopia?

There are several treatments that have been shown to slow the progression of myopia.

Orthokeratology (ortho-k):

Also known as corneal reshaping, this treatment uses rigid gas permeable contact lenses that are worn while the patient sleeps to reshape the cornea, which is the clear, front part of the eye. During the day, the patient is usually able to see clearly, glasses-free. In addition to allowing glasses-free vision during the day, this treatment has been shown to reduce the progression of myopia in many children.

Distance Center Multifocal Contact Lenses:

This treatment uses distance center (which means the area for seeing at a distance is in the center of the lens) multifocal soft contact lenses to provide clear vision and slow the progression of myopia. The lenses are worn as normal contact lenses during the day.

Atropine Drops:

Atropine drops are a daily-use prescription eye drop that has been shown to reduce myopia progression. It can be used alone or in combination with ortho-k or multifocal contact lenses.

Additional Myopia Treatments:

While these treatments are available in all of North America, some countries offer additional options that are approved for myopia control. For example, in Canada, ZeissTM MyoVision glasses that have an innovative lens curvature design are available to help reduce the rate of myopia progression. Additionally some doctors in Canada offer Coopervision MiSight® lenses, which are 1-day contact lenses that are worn during the daytime. These contacts have a multifocal lens design with distance centre and near surround that is specifically designed for children.

Myopia & Your Child

If your child’s vision keeps getting worse, it’s more than an annoyance – it can be a serious risk factor for their eye health and vision in the future. The best strategy for myopia control depends on the child and the severity of the case, and requires consultation with an experienced eye doctor in order to determine the best solution. If your child wears glasses, make his or her vision a priority; schedule an eye exam to ensure stable vision and healthy eyes.