The Focus Is On Vision Health
May is Vision Health Month across Canada and with the growing prevalence of electronic device use at home and in the workplace, by both adults and children, there’s never been a better time to take care of your important visual assets.
From urging parents to have their children’s eyes tested from as young as six months and annually thereafter, to using lenses with blue light-blocker coatings to protect against the harsh lights from phones, computers and tablets, optometrists and opticians are best placed to offer vision advice. And all say that lenses are far more important than designer frames.
“Vision Health Month” is promoted by the Canadian Association of Optometrists and recommends people see their optometrist for regular annual checkups.
It’s estimated that one in seven Canadians will develop a serious eye disease during their lifetime and 75 percent of vision loss can be prevented by timely diagnosis and treatment.
Comprehensive eye examinations can detect the onset of such issues as brain tumours, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Biz X magazine contacted a cross-section of Windsor-area Optometrists and Opticians to pick up tips on vision health, eye safety, eye health and how vision problems can affect a child’s ability to learn.
See for yourself — here are our findings…
In addition to following a healthy diet and getting regular checkups, Optometrist Dr. Lauren Renaud of Kniaziew Optometry (Tecumseh and Chatham locations) recommends that her patients pay attention to their family’s vision history.
“It’s not always a predictor of the future, but it can’t hurt to be aware of past problems and be tested for those issues,” says Renaud, who has been practicing for three years.
Renaud also believes children no older than three should have regular checkups and that parents monitor their child’s use of their glasses should it be recommended they wear them.
“Children can often be made fun of if they wear glasses, so parents need to encourage their children to wear their glasses so they can avoid larger problems in the future,” she stresses.
Renaud also believes that many vision problems can be attributed to the excessive use of computers, tablets and cell phones.
“Normally people blink 20 times a minute, but people using computers often blink only four times a minute, which causes excessive problems with dry eye,” Renaud reveals. “I believe in the 20-20-20 approach, which recommends using a computer for 20 minutes before taking a break by looking at objects 20 feet away for 20 seconds, which helps refocus the eyes.”
Renaud also recommends following a healthy diet, using lenses that block out harmful blue light and being tested for macular degeneration and glaucoma on a regular basis.
Kniaziew Optometry, which has clinics in Tecumseh, Leamington, Blenheim, Essex and Chatham, specializes in eye exams, treatment of eye diseases, emergency eye services and specialized technology.
Dr. Justin Chan, an Optometrist with FYidoctors, informs us that patients should be pro-active when it comes to their vision care, rather than reactive.
“Many people believe they only need to have their eyes tested if they’re having problems,” points out Chan, who has been practicing for 16 years. “To me, if you have eyes that qualifies you for regular testing (then it must be done) particularly in young children who may not recognize what they are missing until there is a problem.”
He continues by stating, “Solving vision issues in children helps them reach their optimum level in the classroom and in life, in the same way that a healthy diet helps us achieve our goals.”
Technology is so advanced today, Chan comments, that potential problems such as diabetes and strokes can be detected without the need for surgery.
“And diet is a major factor,” he adds. “Your eyes are a part of your body — they aren’t an isolated section.”
Chan also recommends using sunglasses with Ultra-Violet protection every time you set foot outside, even on cloudy days, because Ultra-Violet rays can have an impact even when the sun isn’t shining.
“The impact of Ultra-Violet rays is cumulative and the less you expose your eyes the better,” he notes.
Chan also advises people should use different lenses for different jobs and lenses which block blue light from electronic devices are recommended for those using computers, tablets or cell phones on a regular basis.
“You own more than one pair of shoes so why not more than one pair of glasses?” he asks.
FYi has locations in LaSalle, Walker Road and at the Roundhouse Centre on Howard Avenue in Windsor where you will find Dr. Chan. There is also a Tecumseh location.
They specialize in eye exams, eye health education and eye treatments, as well as having a large selection of designer frames, sunglasses and contact lenses.Dr. Anthony DiPasquale & Associates
Eating a healthy diet is a major factor in vision care, according to Dr. Peter DiPasquale, who recommends his patients adhere to the Mediterranean diet which focuses on fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, olive oil and healthy grains.
“It’s been shown in various studies that a healthy diet can have a positive impact on such conditions as macular degeneration,” notes DiPasquale, an Optometrist who has been practicing at his father’s clinic for 10 years. (Amherstburg Optometric Centre)
DiPasquale adds that using products such as lutein and zeaxanthin also helps to prevent macular degeneration by filtering out harmful blue light and Ultra-Violet rays, which are damaging to eye health.
For patients sitting in front of a computer for much of their workday or even at home, DiPasquale also agrees that special blue-light blocker lenses are very helpful in protecting vision.
And when it comes to children’s vision, DiPasquale recommends parents have their children’s vision checked as early as six months and then annually thereafter to maximize their educational experience, “If children are prescribed glasses, I also suggest that parents and teachers monitor a child’s use of those glasses,” he indicates. “Some children resist wearing glasses, but it’s important for their visual development to wear them when prescribed.”
The family-owned clinic, situated at 80 Richmond Street in Amherstburg, specializes in eye examinations, contact lens fittings, retinal imaging and eyewear.
Chorney Vision Centre
Undergoing regular eye examinations is not just about vision, it’s also about detecting other issues such as diabetes, bleeding in the back of the eye and retinal holes or tears, expresses Dr. David Chorney of Chorney Vision Centre.
“I embrace technology because it can be extremely helpful in detecting issues facing my patients,” says Chorney. “The days of just looking at an eye chart are long over.”
He adds, “We’re able to take digital retinal photos to see what’s going on behind the eye and detect small problems before they become big ones.”
Chorney recommends special lenses for patients who work outside and are subject to glare from snow or water, safety glasses for those who work in industrial settings and blue-blocker lenses for those who work with computers on a consistent basis.
“Even if these glasses are non-prescription I still recommend them because your good luck will eventually come to an end if you don’t protect your vision from an early age,” notes Chorney.
Chorney also suggest parents take their children for regular checkups so they can stay on top of potential problems, which a child may not recognize.
“I would certainly start before a child begins school so that their ability to learn isn’t impacted,” states Chorney. “They may be initially afraid of wearing glasses, but with encouragement, it is well worth it because of the difference it can make in a child’s education and self-esteem.”
Chorney has been a licenced Optometrist since 2000 and his centre at 1695 University Avenue West in Windsor, specializes in eye exams, contact lens fittings, LASIK surgery evaluations, retinal exams, sunglasses and lens coatings. In addition to being licenced in Ontario, he is fully licenced in Michigan and runs Main Street Eye Care, 817 N. Main Street in Royal Oak.
A growth in vision testing technology over the past decade has made it easier to detect eye diseases before patients even recognize they’re facing problems, says Optometrist Dr. Tim Guthrie of Guthrie Optometry.
“Tests go way beyond simply reading an eye chart,” indicates Guthrie, who has been practicing for over 20 years. “We’re able to detect potential issues such as macular degeneration or glaucoma before a patient realizes they may face problems in the future.”
In order to protect their vision health, Guthrie recommends following a healthy diet focusing on colourful fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, because all are proven to fight ocular vision issues.
While some optometrists recommend against contact lenses for younger patients, Guthrie believes that with the growing popularity of disposable single-use lenses, this isn’t the problem it used to be in the past.
“These new lenses reduce the complications in my view and by using a fresh, brand-new sterile lens every day, the problems of the past can be avoided,” adds Guthrie.
Guthrie suggests the use of specialized lenses for people using a computer on a fulltime basis.
“Some people can sit in front of a screen all day and be symptom-free, but others require a particular type of lens and since there are a great many options in existence today, I would suggest patients take advantage of the new technology,” he says.
His clinic, located at 7786 Wyandotte Street East in Windsor, offers a full range of optical services including eye exams, contact lens fittings, ocular treatments and a large selection of prescription and non-prescription sunglasses.
All Optometrist photos courtesy of each clinic.
Cover story continues on PAGE 18