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What Exactly is an Eye Chart?

If there’s one aspect of optometry that everyone recognizes, it’s the traditional eye chart, with its rows of big letters on top, which gradually become smaller the farther down you go. This chart is usually known as the Snellen chart.

Yet how much do you really know about this eye chart? Are all eye charts the same? How are these eye charts used? And when were they invented?

Here’s everything you need to know about eye charts and more!

What is an Eye Chart?

An eye chart is one of the tools your eye doctor uses to assess your eyesight. Based on how well you can see various letters on the chart, your optometrist will determine whether you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) or astigmatism, and will measure the prescription that will give you the clearest, most comfortable vision.

Are All Eye Charts The Same?

There are a number of variations to the standard Snellen eye chart. The one an eye doctor uses depends on the personal needs and abilities of the patient. For example, eye doctors will use charts with pictures or patterns for younger children who may not have learned to read or identify letters and numbers.

There are also certain charts that specifically measure distance vision, while others are better for measuring near vision.

History of the Snellen Eye Chart

The Snellen eye chart was developed by Dutch eye doctor Hermann Snellen in the 1860s. Before this standardized eye chart was developed, each eye doctor had their own chart that they preferred to use.

Having so many different eye charts made it impossible to standardize the vision correction available to patients. Eyeglass makers didn’t receive the defined measurements they needed to accurately design, manufacture and measure the optical prescriptions their patients needed.

For the first time, the Snellen eye chart allowed a person to provide a standardized prescription from any eye care provider they chose to any eyeglass maker, and get the same optical lenses to accurately correct their vision.

How The Snellen Chart Is Used in Eye Exams

The standard Snellen chart displays 11 rows of capital letters, with the first row consisting of a single large letter. The farther down the chart you go, the smaller the letters become.

Your eye doctor will ask you to look through a phoropter – an instrument used to test individual lenses on each eye during an eye exam – and look at the Snellen chart placed 20 feet away. Your eye doctor will prescribe the lenses that provide you with the clearest and most comfortable vision.

In many offices, where 20 feet of space may not be available, you’ll be asked to view the chart through a mirror. This provides the same visual experience as if you were standing 20 feet away.

If you have 20/20 vision, it means you can see what an average person can see on an eye chart from a distance of 20 feet. On the other hand, if you have 20/40 vision, it means you can only see clearly from 20 feet away what a person with perfect vision can see clearly from 40 feet away.

If you have 20/200 vision, the legal definition of blindness, this means what a person with perfect vision can see from 200 feet away, you can see from 20 feet away.

Does 20/20 Visual Acuity Mean Perfect Vision?

No. While eye chart tests identify refractive errors, they can’t detect signs of visual skill deficiencies or diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. These are diagnosed using advanced equipment as part of a comprehensive eye exam with your local eye doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions are essential to ensuring long-term vision and eye health.

For more information, give us a call at or visit us in person at , today!

Q&A With Your Local Optometrist

How do you keep your eyes healthy?

You only have one set of eyes – don’t take them for granted!

Make sure to implement the following habits for healthy eyes (and body). These include:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking plenty of water to hydrate your body and eyes
  • Not smoking, and avoiding 2nd-hand smoke
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Maintaining normal BMI with regular exercise
  • Regular visits to your eye doctor as recommended

What health conditions can an eye exam detect?

A comprehensive eye exam can often detect certain underlying diseases that can threaten your sight and eye health, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumors, autoimmune conditions and thyroid disorders. This is why having your eyes checked regularly is key. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome and the higher your quality of life.

The Link Between Dry Eyes and Depression

The Link Between Dry Eyes and Depression 640×350Depression is a serious illness that impacts a person’s mood and emotional well-being. It creeps into all areas of a person’s life, and can become life-threatening if left untreated.

Not only does depression impact mental health; it can manifest as physical symptoms, too, like insomnia, chronic pain and inflammation, weight loss or gain and heart problems, among others. These physical problems can worsen depressive thoughts — sometimes leading to a vicious cycle.

Interestingly, many patients with depression also suffer from severe dry eye symptoms. The question is, how are these two conditions related?

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome, also known as dry eye disease, is a chronic condition that results from inadequate lubrication of the eyes. Ocular hydration is crucial when it comes to keeping your eyes healthy and your vision clear. Your tears are responsible for maintaining this necessary hydration, and in healthy eyes fulfill their unique mission each time you blink.

Your tear film is made up of three layers, consisting of oil, water and mucus. If any of these layers become compromised, inadequate tear quality or insufficient tear quantity can result and lead to a host of uncomfortable dry eye symptoms.

The most common dry eye symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Gritty eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision

Can Depression Cause Dry Eye (or Vice-Versa)?

This is what researchers are trying to find out.

In a March 2022 study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers examined the link between depression and severe dry eye symptoms. The study followed 535 dry eye patients for an entire year.

After a year, the patients who tested positive for depression had more severe dry eye symptoms than the patients who didn’t have depression. Their symptoms were measured based on the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), Brief Ocular Discomfort Index and composite dry eye disease sign score.

Additionally, severe depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms at baseline, six months, and one year.

The study concluded that depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms, which suggests that among patients with moderate to severe dry eye syndrome, those with depression may be likely to have more severe dry eye symptoms.

The researchers said further research is needed to learn exactly why people with depression have more severe dry eye symptoms than those without depression.

Could the sometimes debilitating symptoms of dry eye syndrome actually cause depression and anxiety?

A 2016 dry eye study published in Nature concluded that chronic discomfort and pain from dry eye symptoms can negatively affect the cognitive processes, sleep, mood and mental health. The researchers urged eye doctors to be aware of the higher incidence of dry eye syndrome in people with depression, whatever the underlying cause.

Can Antidepressants Cause Dry Eye Symptoms?

Yes. Antidepressants have been shown to increase dryness in the body, including the eyes. These medications work by blocking signals between nerve cells, which can result in insufficient tear production and dry eye syndrome.

If you’re taking an antidepressant, be sure to inform your eye doctor during your consultation.

How We Can Help

At Thompson Family Optometry in Brampton, we recognize that some of our patients that come in with dry eye symptoms may be suffering from depression.

We’ll diagnose the cause of your dry eye symptoms and offer the most effective dry eye treatments to give you the relief you’re searching for.

Contact us today to schedule a dry eye assessment and take the first step towards regaining your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rick Thompson

Q: Who is affected by dry eye syndrome?

  • A: While dry eye syndrome is most common in adults over 50, it can occur at any age. The following factors can increase your risk of dry eye:
    – Aging
    – Hormonal changes
    – Medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis
    – Prolonged screen time
    – Living in a dry, dusty or windy environment
    – Eye allergies
    – Blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction
    – Certain medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy
    – Vitamin A deficiency

Q: How can you reduce your risk of dry eye?

  • A: While some dry eye risk factors can’t be avoided completely, making some lifestyle changes can help. Practice these recommended tips:
    – Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
    – Wear wraparound sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes from harsh winds
    – Take frequent screen breaks and blink often while using your digital device.
    – Quit smoking
    – Use lubricating eye drops
    – Consume a healthy diet including omega 3 and drink plenty of water.
    – Have regular eye exams

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Bloodshot Eyes – Should You Be Concerned?

You wake up in the morning ready to start your day, only to discover that your eyes are bloodshot. That might not be surprising if you stayed up late to finish a project, had too many drinks at a party or spent time in a smoke-filled room.

But bloodshot eyes can also signal an underlying eye problem. If your eyes appear red or bloodshot, make an appointment with an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause and to receive effective treatment.

Why Do I Have Bloodshot Eyes?

When blood rushes to the front of the eye, the tiny red blood vessels on the white of the eye dilate and become visible. This makes the eyes appear red and irritated.

So why do these blood vessels dilate, causing your eyes to look bloodshot?

Bloodshot eyes tend to be caused by:

  • Dry eyes
  • Irritants such as smoke, pollen and perfume
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Spending too much time in front of the computer

Bloodshot eyes due to lifestyle and environmental irritants may disappear on their own, or you can try to relieve them with over-the-counter eye drops or liquid tears. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, cutting down on alcohol intake and limiting screen time can often be helpful. If allergies are the culprit, oral antihistamines and antihistamine eye drops may relieve symptoms.

At other times, underlying problems requiring prompt medical attention can cause your eye’s blood vessels to dilate. The following are some of these medical conditions:

Conjunctivitis

You’ve probably heard of “pink eye.” It’s another name for infectious conjunctivitis – an infection of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the eyelid and the front surface of the eye.

There are two types of infectious conjunctivitis – bacterial and viral.

If your child has conjunctivitis, they’re not alone. About 12% of kids get bacterial conjunctivitis every year. This highly contagious condition affects children and adults. In addition to reddish eyes, the following symptoms are associated with conjunctivitis:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis – irritated eyes, swollen eyelids, eye discharge, crusty eyelids and excessive tearing
  • Viral conjunctivitis – cold or flu-like symptoms, runny nose, fever, itchy eyes, excessive tearing

If you or your child are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to schedule a prompt appointment with an eye doctor, who can diagnose whether the conjunctivitis is viral, bacterial or due to allergies.

Depending on the diagnosis, your eye doctor will prescribe antibiotic eye drops or creams to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. The viral form may run its course after a few days, but cold compresses and non-prescription eye drops may provide relief.

Dry Eye Syndrome

If your eyes are chronically bloodshot you may have dry eye syndrome (DES). Signs of DES include:

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • A feeling you have something stuck in your eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes

Dry eye syndrome is most commonly caused by a blockage of the tiny meibomian glands in the eyelids. These glands secrete oil that keeps eye moisture from evaporating too quickly. Without the oil, tears dry fast, leaving your eyes feeling dry, itchy and with a bloodshot appearance.

Too much screen time, aging, certain medications such as antihistamines, and medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dry eye syndrome.

In addition to any medications or in-office treatments your eye doctor recommends, make sure to get plenty of hydration, take frequent breaks from digital screens and use a humidifier in your home.

Uveitis

In addition to bloodshot eyes, if you also experience blurred vision, see floaters or your eyes feel painful, you may have an eye inflammation called uveitis. The causes of uveitis include:

  • Autoimmune or inflammatory condition
  • Infection
  • Medication side effects
  • Cancer (in rare cases)

Unfortunately, uveitis symptoms can often be mistaken for something less serious. That’s the reason it’s important to get an eye exam if your eyes are bloodshot. Left untreated, uveitis can lead to serious conditions such as retinal scarring, cataracts and vision loss.

Depending on the cause and severity, your eye doctor may treat uveitis with prescription eye drops, steroid pills, injections or eye implants.

Eye Injury

It’s vital that all eye injuries receive immediate eye care from an eye doctor.

Even a minor eye injury can cause a big red blotch to form on the white part of the eye (sclera). The cause is a broken blood vessel or a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

Although the appearance of this blood looks severe, and can make the entire white part of the eye appear bright red, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually painless and doesn’t cause vision loss. Any time you notice excessive blood on the eye following an eye injury, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor to assess the health of your eye.

Glaucoma

In rare cases, bloodshot eyes may signal the presence of glaucoma – a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.

While some types of glaucoma don’t show symptoms in the early phases, bloodshot eyes can indicate the type of glaucoma that requires immediate medical care. This disease causes damage to the optic nerve due to excessive pressure within the eye. When this pressure suddenly rises, the eye’s blood vessels become dilated and visible, making the eye appear red.

If you have bloodshot eyes and/or have the following risk factors for glaucoma, immediately schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Aged 60+
  • African American, Asian or Hispanic
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Bloodshot Eyes Won’t Go Away?

Talk to Us Any time you notice bloodshot eyes or blood on the front of the eye, don’t wait. Schedule your eye exam with Dr. Rick Thompson at Thompson Family Optometry in Brampton today.

Q&A With Your Local Optometrist

Can I get bloodshot eyes after LASIK surgery?

LASIK surgery is highly effective minimally invasive laser eye surgery that can correct refractive errors, but like all surgical procedures, it can have side effects. Your eyes may be bloodshot or you could see halos from a few days to three weeks after surgery. Additionally, you may experience other dry eye symptoms. Eye drops and liquid tears can alleviate these symptoms, but if you have any concerns about your eyes following LASIK surgery contact your eye surgeon.

What Should I Expect from a Glaucoma Exam?

If you have a family history and/or other risk factors for glaucoma, and if your eyes look bloodshot, consider scheduling a glaucoma exam. Your eye doctor may perform the following tests:

  • Tonometry – eye pressure test
  • Gonioscopy – to see how fluid is draining out of your eye
  • Vision field test – to examine the functioning of the optic nerve
  • Dilated pupil exam – to detect any damage to the optic nerve
  • Retinal photo or OCT – digital examination of the retina and optic nerve health

Does Your Child Have 20/20 Vision Yet Still Struggles In School?

teacher with kids needing vision therapyYour child aced their school’s vision screening test with 20/20 eyesight. That means perfect vision, right?

Actually, no. 20/20 simply means that your child can clearly see things that are 20 feet away. While that’s good news, clear eyesight doesn’t mean a student has strong visual skills.

There are 17 crucial visual skills that can impact your child’s success in school and on the sports field. Fortunately, most children are able to improve their visual skills with vision therapy.

What Are Visual Skills?

A healthy visual system relies not only on healthy vision, but on the eyes’ ability to move correctly, send the correct information to the brain, and the brain’s ability to interpret this information. If any one of these visual skills is sub-par, it can impact a child’s reading, writing and learning. This, in turn, can harm their motivation and self-confidence.

The visual skills needed to succeed in school (and life) include:

  • Eye movement – the ability to accurately control the eye’s movements
  • Eye teaming – the ability of both eyes to work together
  • Focusing – the ability to maintain clear vision at all distances
  • Peripheral vision – seeing objects at the sides of our vision
  • Saccades – the ability for vision to jump between focal points

When 20/20 Vision Doesn’t Measure Up

When a child scores 20/20 on a simple vision test, problems with visual skills often go unnoticed because basic screenings rarely assess beyond eyesight. It’s no wonder that 1 out of 4 schoolchildren has an undiagnosed vision problem! That’s a lot of children struggling unnecessarily, and well into adulthood.

Only a functional eye exam performed by an eye doctor can detect subpar visual skills.

Signs Your Child Has a Visual Problem

Schedule a functional eye exam if your child:

  • Has learning difficulties
  • Reads below grade level
  • Exhibits behavioral problems
  • Has difficulty paying attention
  • Frequently rubs their eyes or blinks frequently
  • Squints or covers one eye when reading
  • Has poor hand-eye coordination

How Do You Improve Visual Skills in Children?

If your child is diagnosed with any visual skills deficits, their eye doctor may recommend vision therapy. This form of therapy involves the use of specialized eye exercises, prisms, therapeutic lenses and even fun computer-based games that recalibrate how the brain and eyes work together. Vision therapy involves a customized program to meet the individual needs of each child. The therapy is performed in-office and at home between office sessions.

Vision therapy is ideal for kids because their brains are still developing and have greater neuroplasticity (meaning, their brains are more adaptable to change through the strengthening of neural connections).

While the vision therapy program can range from a few weeks to several months, the results last a lifetime.

If your child is struggling to keep up in school or when playing sports, don’t delay and schedule an appointment with Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson at Thompson Family Optometry.

Our practice serves patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, and Etobicoke, Ontario and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rick Thompson

Q: What is the success rate of vision therapy?

  • A: Vision therapy is a proven method to boost deficient visual skills and treat the visual system. In a multi-center National Eye Institute-funded study, 75% of patients with convergence insufficiency (problems with eye teaming), experienced normal vision or significantly improved symptoms following office-based vision therapy.

Q: Can vision therapy treat strabismus?

  • A: Yes. Vision therapy is the most effective and non-invasive treatment for strabismus— when the eyes don’t fixate or focus on the same place or visual target simultaneously. Eye exercises that train the brain and the eyes to work together can correct the eye turn and may even result in vision improvements, such as 3D vision and binocular depth perception.

References

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Can Your Vision Change After a Concussion?

women rubbing her head from neuro vision problemsIf you’ve hit your head in a fall while playing sports or in any other type of accident, your vision may have been impacted.

Between 69% and 82% of people who’ve experienced concussions report visual problems, such as eyestrain and double or blurred vision.

Head trauma causes the brain to move within the skull. The movement can stretch the fragile cranial nerves and can even damage brain cells. Since vision relies on efficient communication between the eyes and the brain, a concussion can disrupt these neural pathways, affecting your vision.

The resulting condition is called post-trauma vision syndrome (PTVS).

How Does a Concussion Affect Vision?

Our vision depends on our brain’s ability to accurately receive and interpret the images sent by our eyes. Therefore, anything that impacts the brain can severely affect our ability to see clearly. When we suffer head injuries caused by a traffic accident or a serious fall, the resulting head injury can impact the communication between our eyes and brain.

Although your eyes may be healthy, your vision may be blurred, or you might start seeing double or experience eye strain due to post-trauma vision syndrome.

What Is Post Trauma Vision Syndrome?

Post-trauma vision syndrome refers to a number of visual problems that tend to occur following a severe head injury. If you have PTVS, you may have trouble with:

  • Focusing – changing focus from close to far or keeping your vision clear
  • Eye teaming or binocular vision – your eyes’ ability to coordinate
  • Depth perception – judging distance or the relationship of one object to another
  • Eye-tracking – visually following an object or text on a screen or page
  • Peripheral vision – seeing things from the side of the eyes
  • Eye alignment – the eyes aren’t aligned correctly or point in different directions

Any one of these visual problems can negatively affect your ability to perform day-to-day tasks and significantly lower your quality of life. Driving, reading, watching TV, participating in sports, enjoying hobbies and even socializing can become difficult.

Why You Need a Neuro-Optometrist

A neuro-optometrist is trained to diagnose and treat visual problems related to the nervous system caused by head injuries, strokes and neurological diseases. After assessing your visual system for any aberrations, your neuro-optometrist will prescribe a customized treatment plan to strengthen your visual system and improve your quality of life.

What Treatments Improve Vision Following a Concussion?

A neuro-optometrist may prescribe any of the following to relieve symptoms after a concussion and help you see and feel better:

  • Prescription lenses – especially for blurry vision
  • Prism lenses
  • Syntonic phototherapy – the use of light to create balance in the autonomous nervous system and restore vision
  • Neuro-optometric therapy – a customized eye exercise program designed to rehabilitate your visual skills

How Long Do Visual Problems Last After a Concussion?

Typically, visual problems caused by a concussion don’t become noticeable for some time. Symptoms of visual problems can appear or remain for weeks, months or even years after the original incident. Any person who has had a concussion should be assessed by a neuro-optometrist, even if they’re not experiencing any obvious visual problems.

If you’re still experiencing any visual symptoms of post-traumatic vision syndrome, even weeks or months after your head injury, it’s essential to see a neuro-optometrist for diagnosis and treatment. If this is your case, we invite you to schedule your appointment with Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson at today.

Our practice serves patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, and Etobicoke, Ontario and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rick Thompson

Q: Can a concussion permanently change your vision?

  • A: In some cases, a concussion can permanently impact your vision, especially if your visual system or optic nerve has been damaged. The good news is that most visual problems caused by a head injury respond well to neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

Q: Why can it take time for concussion-related vision problems to be diagnosed?

  • A: Diagnosis can depend on several factors. If someone has been in a serious accident, their physicians are focused on life-threatening injuries. As a result, all but the most obvious visual symptoms, such as vision loss, may be missed. In other cases, the signs of PTVS can be very subtle and undetectable in a routine eye exam. That’s why anyone who has experienced a concussion should have their vision thoroughly examined by a neuro-optometrist.

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    5 Ways to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

    Dry Eye Air Travel Tips 640×350While traveling can be taxing on the entire body, the eyes are especially vulnerable — particularly when wearing a mask to protect from COVID. When traveling by plane, the dry air can cause your eyes to become red, parched and irritated. While you can’t control all variables during your travels, eye specialists have discovered a number of ways to reduce the chances of experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of “travelers’ dry eye.”

    Here are five suggestions for preventing dry eye from affecting your vision.

    Drink plenty of water. If your body isn’t properly hydrated, it will have a tougher time increasing tear production in a dry atmosphere. Humidity levels on planes are typically below 20%, which is lower than the Sahara Desert! Keep your eyes moist and comfortable by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your flight.

    Wear your glasses. Since contact lenses remove moisture from your eye’s surface tear film, they can contribute to dry eye. Wearing your glasses can help keep your eyes moist.

    Wear a sleep mask. Even when your eyelids are closed, your eyes might lose moisture, which happens frequently when you sleep. On a plane, a sleep mask can help prevent additional dryness.

    Use hydrating eye drops. When you’re in a dry environment, a good hydrating eye drop can provide a brief respite.

    Make sure your face mask fits snugly. When a person’s breath rises upward it can dry out their eyes. A face mask that fits securely around the bridge of the nose can prevent air from reaching the eyes.

    Is dry eye making you miserable, especially when traveling? Put an end to the discomfort and struggle by contacting Thompson Family Optometry. Our dedicated eye doctors will get to the bottom of your dry eye and provide effective, lasting treatment.

    Our practice serves patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, and Etobicoke, Ontario and surrounding communities.

    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rick Thompson

    Q: Can dry eye be cured?

    • A: In some cases, yes. A range of successful treatment options can help manage dry eye for long-term relief. Your eye doctor can also provide in-office treatments for more advanced forms of dry eye disease.

    Q: What type of treatments are available for dry eye?

    • A: Depending on the cause of the dry eye, treatment options include:
      – Lubricants
      – Punctal plugs
      – Topical steroids
      – Warm compresses
      – Protective eyewear
      – Intense pulse light
      – Switching to medications that don’t cause dry eye symptoms

    Looking for dry eye treatment? Contact Thompson Family Optometry today!

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    Do You See Better When You Tilt or Turn Your Head?

    blue eye tilted head to see betterDo you find that you need to tilt or turn your head to see better? This is known as an anomalous and compensatory gesture. Many people – including children – don’t even realize they’re doing this until their neck begins to feel really sore. Naturally, it’s hard to imagine that the source of their problem is their eyes or the optic nerves.

    Why Does My Vision Improve When I Tilt or Turn My Head?

    You may turn or tilt your head for any of the following reasons:

    Eye Misalignment (Strabismus)

    When your two eyes are misaligned or “crossed” (strabismus), they aren’t able to point in the same direction. The result: each eye sends a different image to your brain, which then struggles to merge the images to create one clear, unified 3D image. Moving your head compensates for this and may enable your brain to more comfortably combine the images to see more clearly.

    This misalignment can be caused by a malfunction of the nerve that controls the muscles surrounding the eyes. Depending on which nerves and muscles are affected, the head turn or tilt is essentially an adjustment to enhance the comfort and clarity of vision.

    Duane Syndrome

    Duane syndrome is a specific type of strabismus. It is a congenital disorder of the 6th cranial nerve that controls the lateral rectus muscle. As a result, the eyes may rotate inward and outward and can lead to compensatory head movements.

    Nystagmus

    Nystagmus, involuntary jerky or shaky eye movements, can cause you to tilt your head in a specific position when the nystagmus is slow or stops. This is called a “null point.” Nystagmus can have a neurological basis, as in cases of:

    • Stroke
    • Trauma to the head
    • Brain tumor
    • Central nervous system diseases, such as multiple sclerosis

    Ptosis

    Ptosis is often called “droopy eyelid,” and can be caused by an injury to the muscles surrounding the eyelid or to the nerves controlling these muscles. People with ptosis will compensate by looking upward to see objects as if trying to see past the eyelid.

    Refractive Errors

    Refractive errors occur when the eye is either too long or the corneal focusing power is too high or too low. They aren’t a result of a neurological problem. However, refractive errors often cause a child or adult to tilt or move their head to compensate for their blurry vision.

    These are the refractive errors that affect eyesight:

    • Astigmatism
    • Myopia (nearsightedness)
    • Hyperopia (farsightedness)
    • Presbyopia (age-related farsightedness)

    In the event of a refractive error, you or your child may also squint your eyes in an attempt to see better. Having an eye exam can determine the type of refractive error and the best way to correct the problem.

    How Can I Stop By Head From Tilting or Turning to See Better?

    If you find that you’re tilting or turning your head to see objects or read better, it’s important to schedule an eye exam to identify the cause of the problem.

    Patients with ocular neurological problems may be experiencing some of these symptoms:

    • Eye strain, headaches or migraines
    • Eye turn or blurry vision
    • Reading or attention problems
    • Difficulty moving the eyes
    • Involuntary eye movements
    • Pressure in the eyes or head
    • Uneven pupils
    • Double vision
    • Droopy eyelids
    • Facial distortion

    If your eye doctor suspects that your eye condition may be rooted in the nerves or the brain, they may recommend an appointment with a neuro-ophthalmologist, who is trained to diagnose and treat eye irregularities with a neurological cause.

    Do you want to get rid of your head tilt and treat your eye problem? Schedule an appointment at Thompson Family Optometry today.

    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rick Thompson

    Q: What are some causes of neurological problems that affect the eyes?

    • A: – Inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis)
      – Swelling of the optic nerve (papilledema) – commonly caused by increased pressure inside the brain
      – Nerve damage leading to paralysis of eye muscles – this leads to strabismus or misaligned eyes
      – Optic neuropathy – can be caused by toxic substances such as alcohol, tobacco or B12 deficiency
      – Stroke or brain tumor

    Q: How is strabismus treated?

    • A: Strabismus, characterized by crossed or misaligned eyes, is treated by:- Eyeglasses for milder cases
      – An eye patch placed over the stronger eye to help the weaker eye become stronger
      – Orthoptics – eye exercises
      – Botox – can temporarily weaken the overactive muscle
      – Surgery on the eye muscles

    References

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    Should My Child Have Vision Therapy?

    Should My Child Have Vision Therapy 640×350Children may fail to recognize that they’re having difficulty reading, or that their eyes are struggling to focus, so it’s up to parents and teachers to be aware of the many visual problems that are common in children of all ages.

    About one in four school-aged children has a visual problem, but school vision screenings aren’t equipped to diagnose the majority of visual deficits.

    This is concerning, given that visual dysfunction is strongly linked to behavioral problems and poor academic performance. Only a comprehensive eye exam can examine your child’s eyesight, determine whether they have visual deficits and assess whether they can be treated with vision therapy.

    What Is Vision Therapy?

    Vision therapy is an evidence-based treatment program developed over decades that has undergone extensive research and clinical trials to prove its effectiveness.

    Vision therapy works by strengthening the communication between the visual system and the brain through a customized program of eye [exercises] prescribed by an eye doctor. Just as physical therapy trains your muscles to function normally, vision therapy applies the same principle to strengthen eye-brain communication. Even children with 20/20 vision can have visual problems, such as eye-tracking, focusing, and eye teaming.

    Can Children Undergo Vision Therapy?

    Vision therapy is ideal for children as it can correct problems early on, while their brains are still developing. Furthermore, vision therapy doesn’t involve invasive procedures or medications, so it’s an appropriate treatment method—even for young children. It’s also engaging for children, as many of the activities and exercises use objects such as prisms, special lenses and computerized exercises.

    VT Works Wonders for the Following Vision Conditions:

    Vision Therapy for Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)

    Strabismus, also known as crossed eye or eye turn, is a condition where the eyes are turned in different directions from each other. One eye might be looking straight while the other is turned in or out. The eye turn might be constant or intermittent.

    Vision Therapy for Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

    Amblyopia is more commonly known as lazy eye and occurs when one eye doesn’t develop the same level of visual acuity as the other eye. Lazy eye results when the brain develops a stronger connection with the clearer eye and fails to process the images sent from the weaker eye. This can eventually lead to permanent vision loss in the weaker eye. Vision therapy works by strengthening the weaker eye to “balance” vision.

    Vision Therapy for Accommodative (Focusing) Disorders

    Many children struggle to maintain focus for hours on end, impacting their school performance. These eye disorders affect a child’s ability to maintain focus or switch focus between various objects or distances, causing blurred vision and attention difficulties.

    Vision Therapy for Eye Movement Disorders

    Vision therapy can treat many eye movement disorders, such as eye-tracking problems and more complex eye movement problems characterized by involuntary eye movements, such as nystagmus. Eye movement problems can hamper reading fluency and cause double or blurred vision.

    Vision therapy is commonly used to treat a form of eye movement disorder called convergence insufficiency, characterized by the inability to maintain focus on close objects or while reading. This can result in eye strain and reduced concentration, significantly affecting a child’s reading grades and even sports performance.

    How Can I Tell Whether My Child Has Vision Problems?

    To determine whether your child has a vision problem and can benefit from vision therapy, our Brampton eye doctor will carry out a comprehensive eye exam, including an assessment of their functional visual skills, lazy eye and more. This test, known as a functional eye exam, goes beyond the standard “20/20” sight test and is performed by eye doctors with experience and years of training in vision therapy.

    Once your optometrist determines that vision therapy is the suitable treatment, he or she will create a personalized plan of exercises and eye activities based on the patient’s condition, age and other factors. The therapy typically includes any of the following:

    • Prisms
    • Lenses
    • Filters
    • Balance boards
    • Metronomes
    • Computer-based activities

    Sessions last between 45 to 60 minutes and take place once or twice a week, or for less serious conditions, every two weeks. Vision therapy typically lasts a few months.

    To find out whether your child has any vision problems or to learn more about vision therapy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson at Thompson Family Optometry today!

    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rick Thompson

    Q: Does vision therapy mean my child will no longer need glasses or contact lenses?

    • A: No. Vision therapy performed under the guidance of an optometrist should not be confused with [unauthorized] programs that promise patients they will no longer need glasses or contacts. Vision therapy doesn’t treat refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism that eyewear is often prescribed to correct.

    Q: How long will it take before my child sees results from vision therapy?

    • A: Some children experience results from vision therapy in the first week, but it typically takes about six to eight weeks to notice a dramatic change. This, of course, hinges on how consistent the child is with performing exercises during the week.

    Our practice serves patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, and Etobicoke, Ontario and surrounding communities.

    References

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    Toys and Games to Help Your Child Succeed in School

    Adult and Child Playing Games

    If your child is showing signs of a learning difficulty, it is important to rule out an underlying vision problem that may be hindering their ability to successfully complete the tasks required for academic achievement.

    Early detection of a vision problem is crucial for preventing years of learning difficulties and feelings of frustration and reduced self-esteem. Contact Thompson Family Optometry to book a comprehensive eye exam and assess whether any underperforming visual skills may be interfering with your child’s academic achievement.

    Below are a few ideas of toys and games that promote children’s visual skills.

    Building Toys

    Building toys fuels the imagination develops spatial awareness and spatial organization skills. These skills are useful in understanding maps, geography and geometry, and solving math problems. Spatial awareness is also essential for sports and dancing.

    When children build with toys, they also develop hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills and visualization skills.

    Popular building toys include Legos, Lincoln Logs, Duplos, Mega Bloks, Magnatiles and Clics.

    Games for Visual Processing

    Children develop visual processing and reasoning by playing checkers, chess, dominoes and Rush Hour.

    Memory games require players to identify pairs from memorized pictures, develop cognitive and visual skills. Puzzles and games strengthen visual skills [utilized] in geometry, math problems and reading comprehension.

    Visual processing skills are essential not only in school but in life. They help us navigate using written directions, detect visual patterns, gather clues from the world around us and notice essential details.

    Spatial Awareness Games

    Spatial awareness is the process by which people become aware of themselves and other objects in the space around them. This is important for developing peripheral vision and a range of visual skills. Playing “ball” sports such as baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball and ping pong develops space perception and hand-eye coordination. These games require a fast reaction and an exact perception of the location of any object around you and how far or close the object is.

    In addition to sports, marbles and pick-up sticks also encourage three-dimensional depth perception, which can also improve visual skills such as eye-tracking, eye muscle coordination and focusing.

    A Child’s Vision Is Vital for Fun and Learning

    Vision involves more than just seeing clearly. It gives children the confidence to join in games and participate in school. Often what appears to be a lack of interest in studies or behavior difficulties can be caused by underdeveloped visual skills.

    School vision screenings are rudimentary and aren’t designed to assess a child’s visual skills. Even a child with 20/20 vision can have visual skills deficits.

    If you suspect your child is struggling in school, bring them to Thompson Family Optometry for a functional vision evaluation.

    If an issue with visual functioning is detected, your eye doctor can map out a personalized therapeutic program to suit your child’s needs. Research supports vision therapy as an effective treatment for a wide range of functional vision problems. Vision therapy is like a gym that trains the brain and the eyes to work together and improve eye-brain-body coordination.

    For more information or to schedule a functional vision evaluation, call Thompson Family Optometry today.

    Our practice serves patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, and Etobicoke, Ontario and surrounding communities.

    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rick Thompson

    Q: How common are vision problems in children?

    • A: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2 out of every 1,000 people under the age of 25 have a vision impairment and 5.6% of children with learning disabilities have poor visual skills.

    Q: What eye conditions can vision therapy treat?

    • A: Vision therapy is a non-surgical, personalized program that corrects vision problems in children and adults. The following conditions are commonly treated using vision therapy:
      – Amblyopia or lazy eye
      – Strabismus or irregular eye alignment
      – Binocular vision problems
      – Focusing problems

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    4 Reasons Why 3D Vision is So Important

    Woman Covering One Eye to Test 3D VisionOur sense of depth perception and ability to see in 3 dimensions are often-overlooked benefits of our complex visual system.

    Our eyes gather a significant amount of visual data as we observe our surroundings. Both eyes send this gathered data back to the brain, where it is interpreted and combined into a single cohesive image.

    The fact that the eyes are set a small distance apart from each other allows them to gather slightly different sets of visual information, which the brain interprets as depth and distance when combining the two images. This produces 3-D vision.

    Here are our top 4 reasons why 3D vision is so crucial:

    1. Learning

    3D vision plays a key role in a child’s ability to learn in school. Children who have problems with 3D depth perception will often have difficulty with spatial skills and visualization. This impacts their ability to form letters correctly, develop accurate word memory and easily understand complex shapes. These challenges can significantly undermine their reading speed, spelling abilities, handwriting, understanding of mathematics and comprehension.

    3D vision is especially important in subjects such as geometry, where a sense of depth and space are essential to understanding basic concepts.

    2. Sports

    In sports like basketball, football and soccer, it’s essential to know where other teammates are standing on the field or court in order to pass the ball. It’s also a key part of catching incoming passes and judging the distance to the basket or goal post.

    In baseball, 3D vision is necessary for sizing up the ball as it comes across the plate, for judging distances, swinging, catching and hitting, and running the bases.

    3. Driving

    Driving safely is absolutely tied to depth perception and the ability to see in 3D. Without them, drivers may not be able to avoid hitting other cars, know when it is safe to change lanes, and how far to go when backing into or moving out of parking spots to avoid other cars, the curb or pedestrians.

    Accurate 3D vision is particularly important at night, where there are fewer visual cues, such as the size and movement of nearby objects, to make quick decisions.

    4. Day-To-Day Tasks

    Even the most basic day-to-day tasks, such as shaking another person’s hand, are made easier with proper depth perception and 3D vision.

    3D vision also makes the world around you safer. Crossing the street requires you to estimate the distance between yourself and any cars that may be on the street, as well as the speed those cars are traveling. Even walking downstairs can be hazardous if you can’t properly gauge the distance from each step down to the next.

    Your Eye Doctor Can Help With 3D Vision Issues

    If you’re experiencing difficulties with 3D vision, speak to your eye doctor about vision therapy. This doctor-prescribed, evidence-based regimen of in-office and at-home eye exercises helps reset and strengthen the connection between your eyes and your brain. For 3D vision, this means helping coordinate the signals coming from your brain to each eye, so that the eyes can move and focus in unison.

    For more information about 3D vision, and how our eye doctors can help, visit Thompson Family Optometry today.

     

    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rick Thompson

    Q: How can vision therapy help with 3D vision issues?

    • A: After we perform a functional eye exam to confirm that vision therapy is the right choice for you or your child, we’ll begin creating a customized therapy program for your specific needs. The vision therapy program will help strengthen the connection between the eyes and brain, to help the entire visual system work together more effectively and efficiently. In the case of 3D vision issues, this may mean working on helping the eyes move in unison more effectively or improving the eyes’ ability to converge effectively on objects close-up.Though vision therapy can sometimes take a while to address the problem (4 to 6 months on average), it is usually quite successful.

    Q: What is the difference between a functional eye exam and a standard eye exam?

    • A: A standard eye exam will check for visual acuity and the presence of eye disease. However, a standard exam doesn’t assess eye teaming, convergence/divergence and other problems affecting 3D and binocular vision. That’s why a functional eye exam is so important. If your child is behind in school or having developmental issues, these may be tied to vision problems that can be detected as part of a functional eye exam.

    Our practice serves patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, and Etobicoke, Ontario and surrounding communities.

    Book Online
    Call 905-793-2020