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Eye Exams

May is Healthy Vision Month

What does that mean for you? It means that now is the time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

While these are one of the exams we may often let fall by the wayside, they are extremely important to maintain our eye health. Comprehensive eye exams serve several purposes. During these exams, pupils, the circular black area in the center of the eye where light enters, are widened with eye drops or viewed without dilation through a special camera. This allows your Eye Doctor to check for vision problems and eye diseases, verify what stage of diseases your eyes may be in, and helps determine if you need glasses, contacts or other treatments.

Comprehensive eye exams are crucial for all ages, here’s why:

Pediatric exams test for visual acuity, lazy eye, color vision, ocular health, and more. These are extremely important to test for the school years ahead.

For older children and teenagers, myopia (nearsightedness) is one of the biggest concerns that comprehensive eye exams detect. Myopia affects the eye’s ability to see distant images clearly. It is important to identify and treat early with glasses or contacts as children and teens begin to learn in larger spaces, play sports, and drive.

Adult exams are recommended at least every two years, or as recommended by your eye care specialist. Exams for adults are necessary to catch eye conditions that can cause vision loss and even lead to blindness. Some of these conditions are cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

There are several other conditions that comprehensive eye exams can expose that may not be found without a visit to your optometrist.

Outside of eye exams, here are 5 ways you can help protect your vision:

  1. Healthy eating. You know this! Healthy eating helps every part of your body. For your eyes, make sure to add dark, leafy greens and seafood that is high in omega-3 fatty acids to your plate. A great excuse to treat yourself to sushi! We’re adding a spicy sake maki roll to our cart… for delivery. 
  2. Protective eyewear. Whether you’re chopping wood for the bonfire pit, mowing the lawn, painting your bedroom walls, or riding your motorcycle around town, protective eyewear is key. Blue-light protection glasses should also be considered to protect your eyes from all the time spent in front of computer screens.
  3. Sunglasses. Much like protective eyewear, sunglasses help protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation delivered by sun. Not all sunglasses provide the same level of protection. Let us help you pick the best pair!
  4. Clean hands. Wash your hands before putting your contacts in and before taking your contacts out, simply to avoid infection.
  5. Stop smoking. Smoking is known to cause several diseases, but it can also lead to vision loss. It can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and more. Mark your calendar for your comprehensive eye exam and mark it as the day to stop smoking.

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Happy healthy vision month! Get your appointment in the books with us today.

Include Pre-K Children in Back to School Eye Exams

Children with uncorrected vision conditions or eye health problems face many barriers in life. These barriers can occur academically, socially and athletically. Comprehensive vision and eye health evaluations at an early age can break down these barriers and help enable your children to reach their highest potential.

Vision doesn’t just happen. In fact, a child’s brain learns how to use eyes to see just like it learns how to use legs to walk or a mouth to form words. The longer a vision problem goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more a child’s brain learns to accommodate the vision problem.

Eighty percent of all learning is performed through vision which is why a comprehensive eye examination is so important for young children. Early detection and treatment provide the very best opportunity to correct vision problems so your child can learn vision skills to see clearly. Taking this step will make sure your child has the best possible tools to learn successfully.

Preschool Vision

During the infant and toddler years, your child develops many vision skills and begins to learn how to see. In the preschool years, this process continues as your child develops visually guided eye-hand-body coordination, fine motor skills and the visual motor skills necessary to learn to read.

As a parent, you should watch for signs that may indicate a vision development problem, including a short attention span for the child’s age; difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination in ball play and bike riding; avoidance of coloring, puzzles and other detailed activities performed at near reading distance.

There are everyday things that you can do at home to help your preschooler’s vision develop as it should. These activities include reading aloud to your child and letting him or her see what you are reading; providing a chalkboard, finger paints and different shaped blocks and showing your child how to use them in imaginative play. In addition, providing opportunities to use playground equipment like a jungle gym and balance beam and allowing time for interacting with other children and for playing independently are all very important.

By age 3, your child should have a thorough optometric eye examination to make sure their vision is developing properly and there is no evidence of eye disease. If needed, your doctor can prescribe treatment including glasses and/or vision therapy to correct vision development problems.

Here are tips to make your child’s optometric examination a positive experience:

  1. Make an appointment early in the day. Allow about one hour.
  2. Talk about the examination in advance and encourage your child’s questions.
  3. Explain the examination in your child’s terms, comparing the E chart to a puzzle and the instruments to tiny flashlights or a kaleidoscope.

At Cockrell Eyecare we participate in a program designed to seek out vision problems in Pre-K children specifically, three year olds. The program is called SEE TO LEARN. The goal is to detect vision conditions or eye health issues that require attention at an early age. Studies indicate that more than 20 percent of kindergarten children have vision problems, and this number climbs to 40 percent by the time these children reach high school graduation. Many eye conditions require care before the age of five to avoid a permanent compromise in vision.

The SEE TO LEARN program provides free vision analysis to three year olds. We invite you to contact our office in Stillwater @405-372-1715 for more information about this program. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!

Why Your Child Needs an Eye Exam

As the first semester of 2014-2015 school year comes to an end, parents are hopeful their children are meeting and exceeding the minimum standards to excel in school. Most have had a parent-teacher conference and have asked this question. It is important from a parent’s perspective to know that reading ability is the single most influential factor that will determine their child’s success in school.

A child’s academic performance determines many of their future opportunities and their ability to read well early on will impact their entire future. Eighty percent of all learning is performed through vision. Statistics show that about 3 out of ten 10 children are at risk for undiagnosed vision problems so this means that 30% of children are at risk for learning difficulties due to uncorrected vision or eye coordination problems. Children with uncorrected visual and eye coordination problems face many obstacles. They can struggle academically or with social activities and in athletics. If their visual difficulties continue to go uncorrected, they continue to fall behind in school until they reach a point where they can’t catch up and become so frustrated they begin acting out. This behavior becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that can significantly influence the course of a child’s life.

An effort to catch these problems is found in school vision screenings. Vision screenings are an important service provided by most schools and the benefits can be far reaching. There are many children who simply need to have reading glasses or help with eye coordination to improve tracking which in turn improves reading ability. Unfortunately, it’s easy for them to be overlooked and put under various labels such as: learning challenged, learning disabled, ADHD, or ADD. Vision screenings work to prevent this; however, screenings should be recognized as having a limited ability to truly assess a child’s ability to function in the classroom.

Vision screenings typically only evaluate visual acuity or how small of letters a child can see in the distance and at near. According to the American Foundation for Vision Awareness, the methods employed in vision screenings only identify 5% of the vision problems in children. Knowing a child has 20/20 vision in the distance does not indicate whether or not his eyes are able to work together to read materials 12 inches away, whether or not they can properly track letters on a page, or if there is an eye health problem or vision perception problem. In addition to that, fewer than 50% of the children identified in a screening as needing professional eye and vision care ever receive that care, and for those who do, the average time between the screening and the exam is 18 months.

While screenings can be very beneficial, they do not replace a full eye exam. Correcting vision problems from an early age is crucial in allowing a child to succeed to the fullest. Children should receive a comprehensive eye exam beginning in Kindergarten. As a child progresses through school, their academic curriculum changes, and with it, their visual needs. For these reasons, it is especially important that children receive a comprehensive vision and eye health evaluation from an optometrist on a yearly basis. Correcting vision problems from an early age is crucial in allowing a child to succeed to the fullest.

If you would like to schedule an eye exam for your child, or if you have questions regarding children’s vision and school screenings, please contact our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eyecare Center!

The History of Cataract Surgery

Cataracts have been a medical problem throughout history. In early times, strange concoctions and eye drops were used to treat cataracts until physicians in ancient Babylon and India began surgical treatment. Their highly primitive method, known as couching, involved using a sharp instrument to push the cloudy cataract lens to the back of the eye clearing the visual axis or line of sight. This method is still used in some parts of Africa today.

In the 18th century, surgeons progressed to making an incision in the eye to remove the entire cloudy lens instead of pushing it back into the eye. Surgeons initially tried replacing the natural cataractous lens with a small glass lens, but were unsuccessful. This made it necessary for patient’s glasses to have very thick lenses in order to see because the lens of the eye provides such a large portion of the power of the eye. Therefore, once the natural lens was removed, the only alternatives were to wear thick heavy glasses or contact lens.

By the 20th century, surgeons learned to remove only part of the cloudy lens and leave the outer clear capsule in the eye. Then during World War II British surgeons discovered that pieces of Plexiglas from a shattered canopy of a fighter plane, lodged in a pilots’ eye, did not cause any harmful reaction. That is, the material was not recognized by the body as a foreign substance causing an infection or inflammation. Using this light, plastic material, British surgeon Harold Ridley designed a lens that was successfully implanted in the clear capsule left behind. This made thick heavy glasses unnecessary after cataract surgery.

In 1968, American surgeon Charles Kelman adapted a new technology called phacoemulsification to remove cataracts. This sophisticated procedure uses ultrasound through a tiny probe to gently break up the cataract and remove it from the inside of the eye. Phacoemulsification is performed through a tiny 2-3mm incision that does not require stitches unlike previous methods that required much larger incisions and several stitches.

Cataract surgery was revolutionized when ultrasound and plastic lens implant technology were combined. Today, after decades of development, modern cataract surgery is considered one of the safest surgeries performed with millions of successful procedures completed yearly around the world. As of late last year, lasers can now be used to make incisions in the cornea and lens, as well as, soften the lens material to be removed.

Oklahoma is proud to have one of the first surgeons to actually use artificial lens implant technology. Dr. J. Harley Galusha from Tulsa, Oklahoma was introduced to implants while on a mission trip in Africa. After his trip he went to Europe and was able to acquire some of the implants that he successfully used on 5 patients in 1974. He was only the fourth surgeon in the United States to implant the lenses and since that time millions of implants with hundreds of different designs have been implanted. Lens implants used today are foldable, silicone or acrylic, can correct astigmatism, and in some cases are multifocal, similar to bifocal contact lens. These lens implants can be inserted through a micro-incision and do not require stitches. These techniques result in very rapid visual recovery and healing with little down time. Drops are used to avoid infection and swelling for 3-4 weeks after surgery at which time they are discontinued.

After cataract surgery, glasses are required to fine tune vision in the distance and almost always for reading. Patients who required thick lenses for high prescriptions prior to cataract surgery can enjoy thin light lenses afterwards because the majority of the power required is in the lens implant. Most patients can be fitted with glasses 4-6 weeks after surgery. At this point patients are dismissed for yearly eye health examinations.

If you have questions concerning cataracts or cataract surgery, please contact us in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!

The Optomap Retinal Exam

For centuries the art of medicine has been dominated by breaks, bumps, bruises or other symptoms felt by the patient or discovered by the physician. Over time, clinical findings have been enhanced by increasingly sophisticated technology like the microscope, the x-ray, and the MRI. To find an illness, doctors first had to look or listen for the symptom. With chronic eye diseases however, symptoms are often very late in the disease process, and more often than not, are painless. What a patient believes to be the need to change their glasses can actually be a vision threatening condition like glaucoma, macular degeneration or a retinal detachment. Unfortunately, in some cases, by the time the patient makes it in for the exam, the condition has advanced and vision loss is irreversible. Avoiding scenarios like this can only be accomplished through yearly vision and eye health examinations.

At Cockrell Eyecare Center we utilize the most advanced technology available for diagnosis and management of eye disease. One of the instruments we utilize is the Optomap Retinal Exam. This instrument is one of the most sophisticated retinal imaging technologies available today. The test takes just seconds to perform and is usually done immediately prior to you seeing your doctor. The retinal image produced from the Optomap exam is unique in that it gives your eye doctor a much larger view (200 degrees) of the inside of your eye vs. conventional eye exam equipment. Each Optomap image is as individual as a fingerprint or DNA strand. It provides a unique view of your eye health very quickly, and comfortably. The image is captured in less than one second and is immediately available for your doctor to review with you. The image can be minified, magnified or scrolled through to various views of the retina, the retinal blood vessels, macula and optic nerve. It allows the doctor to view your retina without a continuous blinding light for what feels like forever.

We recommend and offer the Optomap Retinal Exam to all patients. We trust in this technology for great baseline information on every patient as well as for continued care and management of their eye health. We strongly encourage those who have greater than normal eye disease risk to consider the technology. Those include patients with a family or personal history of diabetes, vascular disease including heart disease, high cholesterol, and hypertension, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or collagen vascular diseases such as Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. In addition, patients experiencing flashes or floaters, unexplained headaches, recent changes in vision, lazy eye, or those with significantly large prescriptions are all encouraged to have the exam.

Patients who feel they don’t fall into these categories should consider the testing to establish baseline findings for the future. The Optomap retinal images can be aligned side by side to allow the comparison of multiple years of exams. It’s like comparing yearly X-rays or MRI’s over time. One of the greatest benefits of this technology is it allows you to see what your doctor sees and helps you understand your eye health better. Being able to visualize diabetic retinopathy, the actual blood vessels leaking, the beginning of, or advancement of damage from glaucoma, macular degeneration, or the beginning of a retinal tear or detachment, can help you understand your situation more clearly.

If you are interested in learning more about this technology or would like to have an Optomap Retinal Exam please contact our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!

Back to School Eye Exams

Vision screenings are an important service provided by most schools and without question provide benefits. It is important to recognize however, that studies have demonstrated screenings are not as effective as comprehensive eye exams. In fact, The National Institutes of Health found that school screenings catch only 37% of children with poor vision or vision skills. With the limitations of vision screenings and the prevalence of vision disorders in K-12th graders, there is clearly a need for early detection through a comprehensive eye and vision examination performed by an eye doctor.

Comprehensive vision examinations can only be conducted by eye care professionals who have the proper training needed to make a definitive diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Specialized equipment and procedures which are not available as part of a vision screening program are needed to adequately evaluate a child’s eye and vision health.

Listed below are essential elements of a comprehensive eye examination used to insure that learning is maximized through good vision.

  • Visual acuity is measured at several distances so that the child can comfortably and efficiently read, work on the computer or see the board.
  • The refractive state of the visual system such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism is determined.
  • Focusing or accommodation is an important skill that is tested. The eyes must be able to focus on the object at which they are aimed and easily shift focus from one object to another. This allows the child to move attention from a book or paper, to the chalkboard and back. Sustained focus affects the ability to read or write for long periods of time.
  • The doctor evaluates visual alignment and ocular motility which means the muscles aiming each eye converge so that both eyes are aimed at the same object, which is required for depth perception.
  • Binocular fusion (eye teaming) skills are assessed. These skills are critical to coordinate and align the eyes precisely so the brain can fuse the pictures it receives from each eye into a single image.
  • Eye tracking skills are tested to determine if the child can track across a page accurately and efficiently while reading or copying material from the board to paper.
  • Testing color vision prior to beginning school is part of a comprehensive examination because a large part of the early educational process involves the use of color identification and discrimination.
  • Eye-hand coordination is critical for handwriting, throwing a ball or playing an instrument. Visual perception is used to interpret and understand visual information such as form, size, orientation, texture, and color perception. Both are important visual functions that are investigated during a comprehensive eye examination.
  • Ocular health is determined by examining the external and internal structures of the eye.

There is clearly a difference between vision screenings and vision exams. Both are important however, exams will ultimately provide the most effective avenue to ensuring your child has every opportunity to be successful in school.

Please contact our office with questions regarding the difference between an eye health and vision exam vs. a vision screening. We can be contacted in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!