Monday, April 17, 2017

Allergies (Children)

How common are allergies among children?
Many children are affected by chronic allergies, which may become severe enough to affect their daily activities. However, children cannot always recognize what is wrong or explain their discomfort to family members or caregivers. The observation of specific behaviours and/or eye signs are useful in identifying eye allergies in children.
What are the signs/symptoms among children?
Children with ocular allergies often rub their eyes, blink forcefully and repeatedly or make rolling eye movements in response to the itchy sensation caused by allergies. They may complain that their eyes hurt, or they can’t see well. Their eyes may appear red and watery, similar to, but less severe than, pink eye. Mild swelling of the eyelids and a darkened discolouration of the skin under the eye may also occur. It is important to differentiate eye allergies from other forms of pink eye and eye inflammation by seeing a doctor of optometry. Severe eyelid swelling (causing the eye to remain closed) and/or a yellow or green discharge may signal a potentially serious eye infection and warrants more urgent attention.
What causes allergies among children?
It may be difficult to identify the cause of the allergies. As allergies tend to run in families, children are more likely to suffer allergy symptoms if they have a parent with allergies or asthma. Exposure to certain allergens can trigger a reaction in susceptible individuals. Common allergens include tree, grass and weed pollen; mold spores; dust mites; and cat, dog and rodent dander. Contact with plants (poison ivy, oak, sumac), certain foods (peanuts, milk) and insects may also trigger an allergic reaction of the skin, including the eyelids. Allergies may appear at the first encounter with a specific trigger or may develop after several exposures.
What are the treatments for allergies among children?
Minimizing or eliminating contact with the offending trigger, if it is known, is the most effective way to treat allergies. Make sure your children wash their hands and face frequently and resist touching or rubbing their eyes. Holding a clean face cloth soaked in ice-cold water over closed eyes for 5-10 minutes will reduce itchiness and bring some relief. Non-prescription artificial tear eye drops also will provide relief, especially if they are stored in the refrigerator to keep them cold. Repeating these simple procedures two to three times per day is recommended. Symptoms that persist despite these simple approaches warrant further evaluation by a doctor of optometry. A professional examination of the eye with a bio-microscope provides a magnified view of eye tissues and structures, allowing a doctor of optometry to identify the signs of an allergy and rule out other causes of eye irritation such as bacterial or viral infections. Once the eye allergy is confirmed, your doctor of optometry can recommend and prescribe specific allergy medications depending on the child’s age and the severity of the eye irritation. Non-prescription decongestant and antihistamine eye drops can provide temporary relief from redness and itching in older children, but they often cause a rebound reaction and worsening of symptoms if used longer than a few days. The use of these non-prescription allergy eye drops in children is not recommended unless professionally advised. Prescription allergy eye drops are more effective at reducing inflammation of ocular tissues and may be prescribed by your doctor of optometry for more severe eye allergies, even in young children. A doctor of optometry can advise you when it is useful to see an allergist for formal allergy tests.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Detecting Underlying Health Conditions

During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor of optometry does much more than just determine your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses. He or she will also check your eyes for common and rare eye diseases, assess how well your eyes work together as a team and look for indicators of many potentially serious health conditions that affect other areas of the body.
Health Conditions Visible in the Eyes
The connection between vision and other systems of the body make routine eye exams an important part of preventative healthcare— regardless of your age or your physical health. Comprehensive eye exams provide optometrists with a close-up look at your blood vessels, the optic nerves, and other complex eye structures, all of which may contain clues to conditions that could pose a serious risk to your health. A number of underlying health conditions can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam, ranging from high blood pressure and diabetes to certain forms of cancer. Other health conditions that may show signs in the eyes include tumours, aneurysms, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, sickle cell disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological or brain disorders.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. High blood pressure usually does not cause symptoms, but if left untreated is a major risk factor for life threatening conditions like heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. Because the eye is the only part of the body in which blood vessels can be viewed without invasive techniques, it can be the first place that high blood pressure is detected.
The retina is a tissue layer lining the inside of your eye. This layer transforms light into nerve signals that are then sent to the brain for interpretation into images. When your blood pressure is too high, for a prolonged period, changes to the retina’s blood vessels occur. During an eye exam, your optometrist will look out for damage to the blood vessels in the retina, helping to detect signs of high blood pressure and identify risks for stroke or heart attack.
Like high blood pressure, diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your retina. If undetected or not controlled effectively, diabetes can impact your vision and put you at risk of other life threatening complications such as heart disease and kidney failure. With as many as one million Canadians living with undiagnosed diabetes, an eye exam can play an important role in early detection of diabetes and assist in effective management of the disease.
A comprehensive eye exam can identify unusual structures and growths inside or around the eye, including a rare form of cancer called choroidal melanoma which develops within the cells that make pigmentation in the eye and can be life threatening if it spreads to other parts of the body.
Brain tumours, depending on their location in the brain, can cause loss of peripheral vision, optic nerve changes, abnormal eye movements, double vision, or other changes in vision. A comprehensive eye exam includes tests of peripheral vision and eye muscle function and can often be the first line of detection of a brain tumour.
Skin cancer can also be detected through an eye exam, as lesions called basal cell carcinomas can show up on the eyelid and, in rare occasions, can spread to the brain through the eye. The eye and its surrounding tissues are one of the most common areas of the body where skin cancer is first diagnosed.
Neurological Conditions and Brain Injuries
The optic nerve in the eye is essentially an extension of the brain and carries signals from the retina’s nerve cells to the brain for processing. Neurological conditions that affect nerve cells, such as multiple sclerosis, may affect vision and be detected through an eye exam.
The muscles attached to the eye that are responsible for coordinated eye movements are controlled through nerves that arise directly from the brain. Several neurological conditions, which affect the brain, including Parkinson’s disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, can affect eye movements and even cause double vision.
Mental health conditions and brain injuries, including strokes, may affect the parts of the brain that control eye coordination and tracking. Strokes can also cause peripheral vision loss. Diabetes can cause nerve damage that can result in double vision. A comprehensive eye exam can detect problems with eye movement, and vision training or spectacle (eyeglass) therapy can improve the ability of the eyes to track and work together.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Digital Eye Strain

Research is showing a rise in the detection of visual problems because of the number of hours spent in front of a computer. Uncorrected hyperopia or myopiaastigmatism and wearing multifocals can all make computer use less comfortable and efficient. Depending on your condition, your eyes could be exerting extra focusing effort or be forced to work harder to maintain a clear image when viewing the screen. Even people with perfect vision may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches with improper computer use. To ensure comfortable and efficient computing, visit your doctor of optometry for a thorough eye exam. Your doctor of optometry will need to know:
  • How many hours a day you use a computer
  • The distance from your eyes to your screen
  • The overall set up of your workstation and your main work tasks
  • The type and location of lighting in your computer area
A doctor of optometry will advise you if you suffer from digital eye strain, or if your ocular discomfort is the result of a more serious vision or health problem. To help reduce the risk of digital eye strain, consider the following tips:
  • Position your screen about an arm’s length from your eyes and 20 degrees below eye level.
  • Set colour and contrast tones to suit your eyes and match the brightness of your screen with your surroundings.
  • Minimize reflected glare on your screen by using dimmer switches on lights and a protective anti-glare screen cover. Also consider positioning your screen so that it sits perpendicular to windows and other bright light sources. If you are having trouble locating the source of the glare, turn off your monitor to reveal a darkened screen and tilt/swivel your monitor until the reflection disappears.
  • Keep your screen free of fingerprints and dust, as both can reduce visual clarity.
  • If you alternate between looking at your screen and paperwork, consider obtaining a clipboard that attaches alongside your monitor so that the two are at the same working distance.
  • Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away (the water cooler, possibly?). This will give your eyes a much-needed break and reduce some of the symptoms mentioned earlier.
  • Remember to blink! Did you know that on average we blink 12 times per minute, but when we’re on the computer, we only blink five times per minute? That can add up to dry eyes. Relieve the discomfort by using artificial teardrops or gels and remembering to blink. Consult your optometrist to determine which eye drops are best to relieve your dry eyes.
  • Ask for anti-reflective coatings on the lenses of your glasses, which can be applied at the time of manufacturing, which allow for more comfortable viewing of screens, fluorescent and LED lights. Your doctor of optometry will talk to you about eyewear designed specifically for computer use.
Symptoms of headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, eye irritation, double vision, excessive tearing or dry eyes and excessive blinking or squinting are all common effects of digital eye strain. Any time you experience these symptoms, you should visit  one of our Doctors of Optometry for a comprehensive eye health examination to rule out a more serious vision problem.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Seasonal Allergies

What causes seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies are caused by specific allergens such as ragweed, grass or tree pollen. When these allergens come in contact with your body, they are considered foreign particles. The allergens bind themselves to mast cells that are loaded with histamine. In response, your immune system starts to release large quantities of histamine and other chemicals from these mast cells to combat the allergens. It is the histamine action that produces the symptoms of sneezing, coughing, nasal congestion, red, itchy, and watery eyes. Seasonal allergic reactions can begin at any age. Areas that have poor air quality can result in more intense symptoms.

How do you prevent seasonal allergies?

Unfortunately, seasonal allergy symptoms can be difficult to completely eradicate. The first step in the management of this condition involves avoiding the specific allergen you are allergic to. This can be difficult especially if you are active outdoors in the summer. There are simple ways to get some relief, such as keeping the windows of your home and car closed and turning the air conditioner on, remembering that pollen release is at its peak in the morning and early afternoon, and making sure the filters in your furnace are clean.

How do you treat seasonal allergies?

Remedies to relieve ocular symptoms of seasonal allergies can involve oral over-the-counter anti-histamine medications taken during your particular allergy season. For those who suffer from severe seasonal allergies, allergy shots may be the treatment of choice. This is usually preceded by tests performed by an allergist to determine exactly what substances you are allergic to. You can achieve additional comfort by placing a clean face cloth soaked in ice-cold water over closed eyes. Over-the-counter artificial teardrops and antihistamine eye drops can also help reduce red, itchy, and watery eyes. Prescription medications that combine an antihistamine and a mast cell stabilizer work best by providing immediate and long-term relief. For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, the ocular symptoms can be very uncomfortable. Despite all the different remedies out there to deal with seasonal allergies, there is no cure. It is not recommended to diagnose and treat your symptoms yourself. Consult one of our Doctor of Optometry to recommend the best therapy to provide relief from seasonal allergies.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Prevention Information

Good vision is about making good choices. Your best choice is to see your doctor of optometry for a routine eye exam to ensure good vision and eye health. Early diagnosis and treatment are keys to preventing vision loss. Don’t assume that red eyes, pain or unusual visual symptoms will go away on their own. You can never be sure: some eye diseases only show symptoms when the condition is advanced and difficult, or even impossible to treat.

It’s about making smart decisions at home. Everything from sitting at a distance equivalent to at least five times the width of your TV screen; eating the right foods to help deter the onset of certain eye conditions; taking a 20 second break from your computer screen every 20 minutes and focusing your eyes on something at least 20 feet away; wearing proper protective eyewear when undertaking most major indoor or outdoor work; to the simple habit of having your child wear sunglasses outside when the sun is shining. Good vision and eye health means making smart choices at work, too. At the office, being farsighted, nearsighted, or having astigmatism can all make computer use less comfortable.

Depending on your condition, your eyes could be exerting extra focusing effort or be forced to work harder to maintain a clear image on the screen. We provide expert eye health and leading prescription safety eyewear to industries as diverse as forestry and IT, offering comprehensive eye examinations, professional consultation and individually tailored programs to help employees work safely and effectively. Through comprehensive eye health services, such as visual field assessments and vision training, your doctor of optometry can detect, manage and treat conditions such as job-related eyestrain, age-related vision change and disease. Talk to one of our doctors of optometry to ensure you are making the right choices.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Don’t Let Your Job Be a Pain

Millions of Canadians are affected by computer eyestrain, a symptom of computer vision syndrome (CVS), according to Dr. Pavan Avinashi.

“March is Eye Safety in the Workplace Month, and as our nation has moved from a manufacturing society to an information society, computer vision syndrome has become a workplace concern,” Dr. Avinashi said. “While prolonged computer use will not damage vision, it can make you uncomfortable and decrease productivity.”

CVS is caused by the eyes constantly focusing and refocusing on the characters on a computer screen. These characters don’t have the contrast or well-defined edges like printed words and the eyes’ focus cannot remain fixed. CVS can be partially alleviated by changes in the ergonomics of the work area.

“Symptoms of CVS include headaches, loss of focus, burning or tired eyes, blurred vision, and neck or shoulder pain,” Dr. Avinashi said. “Proper lighting and monitor placement can go a long way toward reducing CVS, as can giving your eyes frequent ‘breaks’ from the computer. But the underlying cause of CVS – the ability of the eyes to focus on the computer screen – may only be remedied by specialized computer glasses.”

Dr. Avinashi said a comprehensive eye exam, including questions about a person’s computer-use habits, is the first step. If it is determined that vision correction for computer use is required, an eye doctor can prescribe computer lenses that are designed to improve your vision in the 18” to 28” range, the optimal distance between your eyes and the computer monitor.

Dr. Avinashi is the owner and practitioner of Hollyburn Eye Clinic conveniently located on the North Shore in both North and West Vancouver. For more information, call 604.913.0135 or visit

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Optical Illusions: More Than Meets The Eye

As you stare at an optical illusion you may wonder… are your eyes playing tricks on you?

To fully understand how optical illusions work, it’s important to grasp that the visual system is made up of more than just our eyes. In fact, optical illusions don’t necessarily trick our eyes—they trick our brains.

The Visual System Is Made Of Many Moving Parts

While your eyes play an important role in vision, they are only one component of a larger visual system that includes many different parts such as the optic nerve, the optic chiasm and the visual cortex of the brain, to name a few.
We see when light enters our eyes and is focused onto the retina. The cells in the retina turn light into electrical signals that are then sent through the optic nerve to the brain. This visual information is interpreted by our brains allowing us to form an image in our minds. So, technically, we “see” with our brains. This complex process takes only one-tenth of a second!

Optical Illusions Take Advantage Of The Brain’s Shortcuts

As you can imagine, our eyes take in a lot of visual stimuli throughout the day. To make sure our brains aren’t overloaded with visual information, they often take shortcuts, filling in gaps or creating an image based on past experience.
For the most part, these shortcuts work well for us and we never notice them. The exception is when we’re looking at an optical illusion. Optical illusions take advantage of these shortcuts and fool our brains so that our perception of an image doesn’t necessarily match reality. Optical illusions may trick us, but they actually reveal a lot about how our visual system works.
Watch this video to understand more optical illusions!

Don’t Let Your Eyes Fool You

It’s easy to be fooled by optical illusions, but as your eye care providers, we make sure you’ll never be fooled by your eyes! By visiting your optometrist for regular eye exams, you can be sure that your vision is healthy and strong as well as be on the lookout for early signs of disease. If there’s anything you’ve learned from optical illusions today, it’s that things aren’t always as they appear. The same goes for your vision health. Call us or visit us online at to schedule an appointment today so we can make sure your eyes are in peak condition!

We love our patients. Thank you for the trust you place in us!